Purple punch: Earnhardt Jr.'s classic North Wilkesboro memory
RELATED: North Wilkesboro, 20 years later Dale Earnhardt Jr . didn't begin his career in NASCAR's premier series until 1999, three years after the series had moved on from North Wilkesboro Speedway. But Earnhardt Jr., a student of NASCAR history, did compete at the .625-mile track, racing a Late Model entry on at least a couple of occasions. "I ran the Sun Drop (sponsored) car there," Earnhardt Jr. recalled. "Actually, I think we went there twice. With the Sun Drop car I remember qualifying 19th or something; I don't remember how many cars were there but I'm sure they sent a few home so it was cool to make the race." The contentment was short-lived. According to Earnhardt, he "T-boned a guy and had to run the rest of the race with no fenders or hood or anything. So it wasn't a whole lot of fun." The following year, all three Earnhardt siblings -- Earnhardt Jr., older brother Kerry and older sister Kelley -- made the trek to the legendary track to compete in the Late Model race. None of the three managed to qualify, a situation that didn't sit well with their father and team owner, Dale Earnhardt. "Dad had assumed that I would make the race because we'd been running so good at Myrtle Beach," Earnhardt Jr. said. "He said, 'You guys run this race' and there was a race at Myrtle Beach that night; he was going to fly us in his King Air to the beach so we could compete that night and stay in the track points (battle)." But when Dale Jr. failed to make the show, "He told me and my guys to screw off, that we had to drive the damn van all the way from North Wilkesboro to Myrtle Beach to try to make the race. "We had to hustle; we barely made it. He was pissed off that all three cars missed the race." MORE: How end of "tire war" started at track Failing to qualify and having to drive all day to that night's race wasn't the only issue. An incident with "questionable" fuel also took place, but Earnhardt Jr. laughs when he recounts the incident today. "I had a jug of trick fuel for my car," he said. "It was a purple gas jug. We kept it in that purple gas jug so we wouldn't mix it up with the other fuel. It was probably Elf fuel or something just to give my car a little more speed. Or it might have had some propylene oxide in there or something. "One of Kerry or Kelley's guys walked over to get some gas for their car and grabbed the purple jug and a fight ensued between their crew and my crew; it sort of let the cat out of the bag that whatever was in that jug was pretty special. That was kind of comical." Something to laugh about, no doubt, on the long drive from the hills of North Wilkesboro to the sands of Myrtle Beach. &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
Bruce: XFINITY Chase intensity ratchets up aggression
RELATED: Full race results " Series standings " Chase Grid SPARTA, Ky. -- Was Saturday night's opening Chase race for NASCAR’s XFINITY Series an example of good, hard racing or a case of folks driving over their heads? That depends on who one asked afterward. Race winner Elliott Sadler wasn’t pointing fingers, and race winners have rarely been heard to utter a discouraging word. But the JR Motorsports driver said he did notice an uptick in intensity during the VisitMyrtleBeach.com 300 at Kentucky Speedway . "About halfway through the race, it was 'note to self; you can tell it's the Chase because it was caution after caution after caution," Sadler said afterward. "People were tense, eager, frustrated, nervous. A lot of different things going on with drivers right now ... trying to make it to the second (round). "I think people are giving each other less room. Restarts are crazy in the back." They were crazy up front, too. The race, which kicked off a seven-race, two-round elimination playoff for the series, saw the caution flag fly a track record 12 times. More than one-fourth of the race (64 laps) was run under the yellow. Yes, there was even a brief (5 min., 34 sec.) red-flag period. Erik Jones , the top seed and regular-season leader in race wins, got crossed up while racing with Ty Dillon and both the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 20 Toyota and the No. 3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet ended up in the wall. RELATED: See the wreck the caught two title contenders Each is now outside eighth place in points with two races to try and improve their standing; only the top eight (with the exception of a Chase race winner that might be 9th-12th ) advance to the second round. Not surprisingly, Jones wasn't particularly pleased with the early ending to his night and said later that the aggressive driving does cause one to approach the race differently. "Yeah, it makes me try to stay out of trouble," he said. "I didn't want to have something like that happen. ... You try to play defense some. I was for sure." Of course, there was the matter of a reconfigured track that sports new asphalt and distinctly different turns. That, too, played a role in the difficulties for some. And that was to be expected, said Brendan Gaughan , driver of the No. 62 Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing . "It didn't seem like it was any more aggressive than normal," Gaughan said after finishing sixth. "It's a very narrow race track here right now. That Turn 3 is treacherous, man. There's no grip on the entry, there's no width on the entry. It's a treacherous, treacherous place at the moment. ... "It's still Kentucky. I love it." The fight to advance into the next round began early, but it's not the only battle going on and Saturday night's race brought some of that to light. In addition to the driver's championship, there's an owners title at stake and a couple of teams didn’t forget about that. At the end of the regular season, the No. 2 team of RCR was atop the owners' standings, followed by the No. 18 of Joe Gibbs Racing , the No. 1 of JRM with Sadler behind the wheel, and the No. 22 of Team Penske . Chevy, Toyota, Chevy and Ford. You think those folks aren't paying close attention? RCR brought in Sam Hornish Jr . to keep the No. 2 team in the hunt; Penske handed the reins to Sprint Cup driver Ryan Blaney . Sadler got the win, but a solid fifth-place run by Matt Tifft put the JGR No. 18 atop the owners' standings. JRM (No. 1) now sits second thanks to the victory while Hornish, who finished fourth, kept the RCR entry in the mix -- it's now third. Blaney did not fare badly but the way it all shook out left him third on the track and the team now fifth in the owners' battle. Dover, a fast, unforgiving mile of concrete, is up next. Some folks will be looking to rebound, some looking to continue to ride a hot start. If Kentucky was any indication, they better hope they can just hang on.
@nascarcasm: Fight severity threat level system
RELATED: Custer, Nemechek get mixed up after Canada race
Newman's secret to successful proposal? Do it during a fight
RELATED: Newman on his future with RCR Ryan Newman, love guru? The Richard Childress Racing driver had a Chevrolet Q&A with fans ahead of Sunday's Pennsylvania 400 at Pocono Raceway and was asked how he proposed to his wife, Krissie, whom he married in 2004. Many people like to have big, memorable moments when they propose to their partner. When Newman popped the question, he was just trying to warm up his future wife's shoulder. "We had this small fight , not a big fight ; she didn't punch me or nothing," Newman said. "She was sitting on a dog pillow petting one of the dogs and I just reached around her and asked her. "I was just trying to get over the fight , was all I was trying to do," Newman added, much to the delight of those listening. Do you want to know how @RyanJNewman proposed to Krissie? @TeamChevy got the answer! pic.twitter.com/v6V7SFYDEO — RCR 31 Cup Team (@RCR31RNewman) July 31, 2016 Hey, that's one way to do it.
My Chase - Kentucky
Get an inside look at the NASCAR XFINITY Series Chase with the newest video in the XFINITY My Chase video series, coming to you from Kentucky Speedway in Sparta, Kentucky.
Sadler wins first XFINITY Chase race at Kentucky
RELATED: Results " Standings " Chase Grid SPARTA, KY – A huge push from Daniel Suárez on a restart with four laps to go in Saturday night's eventful VisitMyrtleBeach.com 300 sent Elliott Sadler ahead of Ryan Blaney to win the opening race of the NASCAR XFINITY Series Chase at Kentucky Speedway . Sadler's third win of the season and 13th of his XFINITY Series career was about more than just stamping his way into Round 2 of the Chase. The Emporia, Virginia, native fought for the win while thinking of his mother, Bell, who was released from the hospital Saturday, after a week of hospitalization and two surgeries. "We fought through a lot tonight," Sadler said in Victory Lane. "I'm going to get a little emotional on you, I've been in the hospital all week with my mom in ICU watching her fight and fight through a lot of pain and suffering. (She) made her way back home tonight to watch the race. Mom, I love you. She leads so much by example." Sadler also credited his team, who helped Sadler battle from outside the top 15 earlier in the race. "These guys are my heroes," Sadler said. "We had a 10th or 15th place car at best. Still had to come in and really take our time and work on it. Great pit calls by Kevin (Meendering, crew chief) and the guys to get us in position. Got a good push there at the end. I do want to say thanks to Josh Berry for helping me a ton tonight. That kid did some cool things on the restarts. This OneMain Financial team has no quit in them. We just fight till the end. This is a great way to start the Chase." Suárez, who finished second, said he struggled with a tight condition all night but was best at the end of the race. "Right at the end, we were pretty good, maybe just a little tight but we were strong," he said. "I feel like we were the fastest car out there at the end. I just needed one or two laps more to get the win." The inaugural XFINITY Series Chase race offered plenty of excitement and drama. With the "win and advance" format putting a greater premium on victories, drivers found themselves on the edge of control at a track where the racing groove was extremely tight since undergoing a repave in May. "At halfway, we were running 20th," Sadler said. "By my calculations, we were probably 10th or 11th in points, so to fight back that last 100 laps to gain that kind of momentum probably means a lot for us and these guys. I'm so proud of these guys. Dale (Earnhardt Jr., team owner) and Kelley (Earnhardt-Miller, team manager) and all of our partners for Hunt Bros., and Chevrolet and everyone that does so much for us at JR Motorsports. This is a great way to start off the Chase and keeps the momentum on our side, we can relax and go to Dover and have fun there and Charlotte and get ready for the second round." XFINITY Chase drivers Ty Dillon , Brandon Jones and Erik Jones all found themselves in a deep hole after being collected in accidents throughout a caution-filled race. Dillon and Erik Jones tangled while racing for second with 12 laps remaining. The event was red-flagged for five minutes, 34 seconds for cleanup of the Turn 3 incident. RELATED: See the wreck " Jones' take " Dillon's take Jones, the pole sitter who led a race-high 100 laps, took responsibility for the crash. "I just got sucked around," Jones said after the incident. "I tried to slow down but Ty was holding me down there pretty tight on the restart, slamming doors through (Turns) 1 and 2. It was my fault but it's a pretty tough aero situation to be in. "I just couldn't hang on to it. I tried to slow down but he kept slamming down on my door and I did all I could to hang on to it. It definitely looks like we're going to have to run really well at Dover and Charlotte or even win." Behind Sadler and Suárez, Sprint Cup rookie Ryan Blaney finished third while Sam Hornish Jr . and Matt Tifft completed the top five. Tifft, a NASCAR Next alumnus made his XFINITY Series return after undergoing brain surgery in July to remove a remove a benign, low-grade glioma. Sadler leaves Kentucky Speedway with an eight-point lead in the standings and guaranteed admission to the next round of the Chase at Kansas Speedway in three weeks. Suárez (+27 points above the cutoff line) is second in the Chase standings, followed by Brendan Gaughan (+21), Ryan Reed (+19), Darrell Wallace Jr . (+19), Justin Allgaier (+17), Brennan Poole (+16), Blake Koch (+15), Erik Jones (-3), Ryan Sieg (-5), Brandon Jones (-15) and Ty Dillon (-15). &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
See 'The Fight' like never before -- in reverse
RELATED: See the fight as it actually happened Spencer Gallagher and John Wes Townley engaged in one of the silliest NASCAR fights we've seen this past Saturday night at Gateway Motorsports Park , site of the Camping World Truck Series race. By now, you've seen it a dozen times. Believe it or not, it's actually more awkward when played in reverse. Or is it? You know, we can't tell. It's funny frontwards or backwards, which is really the main takeaway here. Give it a watch.
John Wes Townley apologizes for Gateway fight
RELATED: Townley, Gallagher fight at Gateway NASCAR driver John Wes Townley has issued an apology for his involvement in an on-track altercation a week ago during a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Gateway Motorsports Park in Madison, Illinois. Townley was fined $15,000 and placed on probation through Dec. 31, 2016 for his involvement in the altercation with fellow driver Spencer Gallagher during the Drivin for Lineman 200. Gallagher was fined $12,500 and placed on probation through the end of the year. "I want to apologize to NASCAR and my fans," Townley said in the statement. "That's not the way I want to represent myself, (sponsor) Zaxby's or Jive Communications. I'll try my best to make sure it never happens again." The drivers were involved in two separate incidents during the race. The first contact brought out the caution flag on Lap 145 of the 160-lap race. Approximately 10 laps later, they were involved in a second incident, which eventually brought the race under the red flag. Following the second incident, both drivers climbed from their respective trucks and approached one another, with Townley then grabbing Gallagher around the head and wrestling him to the ground. Townley tried several times to punch Gallagher as the pair stood on the lower portion of the racing surface as the fracas continued. Originally scheduled to compete in this weekend's NASCAR XFINITY Series race for Athenian Motorsports at Daytona International Speedway , Townley, 26, and the team eventually withdrew the entry. "Honestly, we went into this season with our sights set on running strong in the Truck Series and ARCA," Townley said. "We've always said that. And we, as a team, don't need to overlook those goals. ... But considering that we have a Truck race (at Kentucky Speedway ) and an ARCA race next week (at Iowa Speedway ), we felt it was better to pour our time and resources into getting ready for next week." Gallagher, who is competing at Daytona this weekend, issued a statement on Monday, June 27, apologizing to Townley. "Additionally, to his team and fans, I am sorry," Gallagher said. "The incident earlier in the race was not intentional and certainly was not meant to cause bigger problems later in the event. "My crew, who have worked so hard to get me to where I am this season, did not deserve to have their night ended in that way. My teammates and all of the guys back at the shop deserve more respect than was shown Saturday night." Gallagher said he was "ashamed" he was involved in an incident "that has allowed so many to view what we do in a negative light." Townley, currently 18th in points, has one career win in the Truck Series in 101 career starts. He is winless in 76 attempts in the XFINITY Series. Gallagher, 26, is winless in 44 career starts in the Truck Series and four in the XFINITY Series. He is 11th in points in the Truck Series.
Race Rewind: Chicago in 15
Relive the first race of the 2016 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup at Chicagoland Speedway as drivers fight to solidify the first spot to advance to the Round of 12.
@nascarcasm: Townley/Gallagher fight gets the 'Napoleon Dynamite' treatment
RELATED: Townley/Gallagher come to blows " Drivers react to fight