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COMMUNITY CREATOR: ERIC ESTEPP

YOUTUBE

/outofthegroove

TWITTER

@ericestepp17

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@eric_estepp

PATREON

/outofthegroove

NEW CUP TEAM: DENNY AND BUBBA AND TOYOTA? In this week’s episode of Out of the Groove, host and creator Eric Estepp takes us through all the rumors and suppositions from silly season. And this week - this year, really! - has plenty of silly season rumors for Eric to comb through. What do they mean? How would they change the sport next year? And are any of them even true? Eric dives in. Eric takes us through the rumors that current No. 11 driver Denny Hamlin is in the process of forming a new Cup team. Who would drive it? None other than the ex-43 0 0 4

driver Bubba Wallace, who now needs a new team next year to park his gigantic sponsorship assets. Is Denny Hamlin negotiating a new team with Toyota? Eric checks it out. But Denny Hamlin and Bubba aren’t the only ones making moves this week. What’s going on with Daniel Suarez now that he’s announced his departure from Gaunt next year? Will he find a new Cup team to park his own sponsorships? Eric gives us his take and more in this week’s episode of Out of the Groove!

ROAR! WEEKLY RACING MAGAZINE: SEPTEMBER 17, 2020


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5 THINGS TO WATCH

5

THINGS TO WATCH AT BRISTOL I

t’s go-time. Saturday’s Bass Pro Shops Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway is a high-stakes affair in every sense, with 13 drivers who haven’t yet punched a ticket to the next round of the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs battling for nine remaining spots in the Round of 12. While the Bristol night race is notorious for fireworks of the more figurative variety, there’s never been a more pressure-packed Bristol race than this weekend’s showdown. Following are five things to watch for when the green flag waves on Saturday night. BY JA RED TURNER

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ROAR! WEEKLY RACING MAGAZINE: SEPTEMBER 17, 2020


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5 THINGS TO WATCH

5

THREE DRIVERS WITH NOTHING TO LOSE

O

f the 16 playoff drivers, just three — Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski and Denny Hamlin — are already locked into the upcoming Round of 12. In the case of Harvick and Keselowski, they are guaranteed entry into the next round by virtue of winning a race in this round. Hamlin, meanwhile, is guaranteed to advance on the basis of the points he’s already accumulated. So, while the other 13 playoff drivers must keep race points in the back of their minds this weekend, there’s no reason for Harvick, Keselowski and Hamlin to focus on anything besides winning the race and scoring stage wins, which would give them extra playoff points to transfer to the next round. “It’s really nice to be locked in because Bristol is certainly one of those places where things beyond your control happen quite often,” said Jeremy Bullins, the crew chief for Keselowski, who clinched an automatic berth in the next round with his win this past weekend at Richmond.

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ROAR! WEEKLY RACING MAGAZINE: SEPTEMBER 17, 2020


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5 THINGS TO WATCH

4

FANS — AND A DECENT NUMBER OF THEM

S

ince the mid-March onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, which led to a more than two-month hiatus for NASCAR, no track has welcomed more fans than Bristol Motor Speedway. Back in mid-July, the Tennessee facility opened its doors to roughly 30,000 fans for the NASCAR All-Star Race, and plans call for virtually the exact same reduced capacity for Saturday night’s NASCAR Cup Series race under the lights. By comparison, no fans were allowed to attend last Saturday night’s event at Richmond Raceway, per order of the state governor’s order, and fewer than 10,000 fans were permitted to attend the previous weekend’s event at Darlington Raceway. “We are grateful to those guests who are placing their confidence in us during these unprecedented times,” said Jerry Caldwell, executive vice president and general manager of Bristol Motor Speedway. “We take this responsibility seriously and will work hard to ensure our team and vendors execute this event in the safest manner possible.”

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ROAR! WEEKLY RACING MAGAZINE: SEPTEMBER 17, 2020


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5 THINGS TO WATCH

3

GENERALIZED CHAOS

O

f all the tracks on the schedule, there’s not one with a more colorful history of driver dustups and confrontations than Bristol Motor Speedway — the .533-mile high-banked oval that carries the monikers “Thunder Valley” and the “Last Great Colosseum.” The tension and intensity level always tend to be ratcheted up even more during the fall night race, which this year is not only part of the playoffs for the first time but also serves as an elimination race. “It’s a really exciting race as a fan, but as a driver, it’s a stressful race,” said William Byron, one of the drivers near the cutline for advancing to the next round. “You really have to manage yourself and your car for all 500 laps. You can’t put yourself in a position to take yourself out of contention early on, because it’s so hard to recover. You try to treat it like any other race, but it’s a cool one to win if you can.”

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ROAR! WEEKLY RACING MAGAZINE: SEPTEMBER 17, 2020


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DRIVERS IN GO-FORBROKE MODE

W

ith Saturday night’s race being the cutoff race for reaching the Round of 12, four drivers find themselves on the wrong side of the cutline. Those drivers are William Byron (three points out of 12th), Cole Custer (-8), Matt DiBenedetto (-25) and Ryan Blaney (-27). While it’s quite possible that Byron and Custer could make up enough points to advance without winning the race, DiBenedetto and Blaney both face a virtual must-win situation. So, the strategy for them couldn’t be any simpler or more straightforward. “If there is one track to be in a must-win situation that I would choose, it would definitely be Bristol,” said DiBenedetto, who finished second at the Tennessee short track last fall. “I think we have a good shot at it. It is one that I am excited about and have circled off in this round. … And I have some unfinished business, I guess, after last year as well.”

ROAR! WEEKLY RACING MAGAZINE: SEPTEMBER 17, 2020


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1

DRIVERS ON DEFENSE (SORT OF)

T

he only thing possibly more stressful than arriving at Bristol this weekend on the wrong side of the playoff cutline is arriving only barely ahead of it. Drivers currently in position to advance to the next round but who could miss out with a less-than-stellar performance include 12th-place Clint Bowyer (three points ahead of the cutline), Kurt Busch (+7) and Aric Almirola (+7). “We’ve got to go to Bristol and perform,” Bowyer said. “I like the track. We’ve got some top-10s going, and we’re definitely better, but we’ve got to be great this week. We can do it.” Bowyer’s crew chief, Johnny Klausmeier, has laid out a plan of attack for his driver. “We will definitely be paying attention to those guys within 30 points of us, for sure, to dictate our strategy, but, at the end of the day, you have to go be on the offense,” Klausmeier said. “I think the biggest thing is just to execute and not make any mistakes.”

ROAR! WEEKLY RACING MAGAZINE: SEPTEMBER 17, 2020

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RECAPPING JIMMIE JOHNSON’S NASCAR CAREER

■■ Jimmie Johnson stands in front of a street sign renamed “Jimmie Johnson Blvd.” in his honor at Kentucky Speedway on July 12, 2020.

JIMMIE’S LAST DANCE RETIREMENT DECISION MARKED MAJOR CAREER MILESTONE BY JA RED TURNER

M

ost of the milestone moments that Jimmie Johnson has experienced during his time in NASCAR have involved wins or championships. One of Johnson’s most recent milestone moments did not, however. This milestone occurred on November 20, 2019 — three days after the season-ending race — and came in the most bittersweet of forms when Johnson announced on Twitter that the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series season would be his last as a full-time driver in NASCAR’s top division. “This sport has been good to me and has allowed me to do something I truly love,” the seven-time Cup Series champion said in a one-minute announcement video embedded underneath a tweet that simply read, “#Chasing8 one final time.” The video, which features highlights from Johnson’s Hall of Fame career, has been retweeted over 7,600 times and liked more than 20,400 times. “I showed up chasing a dream and achieved more than I ever thought possible,” Johnson said in the video. The day after Johnson’s announcement, the Hendrick Motorsports driver and 83-time NASCAR Cup Series race winner explained more about his retirement decision at a joint press

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ROAR! WEEKLY RACING MAGAZINE: SEPTEMBER 17, 2020

conference with longtime team owner Rick Hendrick. “Many of you that know me, I like to have a plan and I like to think things through,” Johnson told a room full of assembled media members. “I did plenty of that through the spring and summer, just knowing I have to make a decision. In my mind, I felt like I needed to make a decision by the end of the year. Nothing really hit me in the gut with the feeling that I wanted to stay or stop at the end of 2020. “As the year went on and we rolled into October, the feeling just became real. It really did, and it felt good to think about.” Johnson won’t have much time for deep contemplation in 2021, however, as he recently announced that he plans to compete on a part-time basis in INDYCAR for Chip Ganassi Racing and perhaps make a few NASCAR Cup Series starts as well.


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IN THE HOT SEAT

IN THE HOT SEAT Justin Haley BY ROB TIONGSON

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Throughout the season, Rob Tiongson interviews various drivers in the world of NASCAR. Today, he talks with Justin Haley, driver of the No. 11 LeafFilter Gutter Protection Chevrolet Camaro. ▶▶ You’re in the midst of a terrific season with the win at Talladega and a second consecutive Playoff effort coming next month. How excited are you about your team’s progress with the regular season wrapping up and the Playoffs around the corner? We’re just trying to put all we can in these races and get all the Playoff points that we can and when the Playoffs start, it’s kind of a different story. We’re taking each race one day at a time and being methodical about it. We had the doubleheaders at Dover and Richmond before the Playoffs start. We’re trying to put ourselves in the best spot possible and without practice and qualifying, it’s made it a little harder and put a lot more effort on the team on how they prepare the cars. So, it’s definitely a different scenario than what we had last year. Everyone’s on a level playing field and it’s the same for everyone. At this point, we’re kind of getting used to it. I think when we started at Darlington, it might’ve been a big step for a lot of us. Now, it’s just kind of second nature and I’m liking the no practice deal. I like just showing up and racing, getting it over with, and moving on. So, it’s kind of fitting me and I’m liking it so much.

ROAR! WEEKLY RACING MAGAZINE: SEPTEMBER 17, 2020


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IN THE HOT SEAT ▶▶ The “show up and race” weekend format seems to be a favored change among drivers during the pandemic. When things eventually get back to normal, would you like to see that NASCAR reduces the traditional three day weekend? I would love to see a shorter (weekend) with a shorter practice (session), qualifying, and then race. But I don’t try to speculate as it’s too hard to try to guess anymore and I try to stay out of it. I feel like a short practice, qualifying, and race for a one day show is completely doable. Everything’s going to be OK, right? The cars aren’t going to burn up in flames if we don’t. It’s been OK and like I said, I like it, so we’ll see! ▶▶ Given the unique circumstances this year, how important has it been to still have fan interaction, albeit in a virtual fashion? It’s always important to keep the fans up in their seat. It’s definitely been hard and different. I did the Bristol All-Star Race with the fans but it was just different. I’m just trying to be smart about it. As a driver, you have so much on your plate. You don’t want to go out in public too much because you’re at risk with getting COVID. The whole social aspect of life has kind of gone away for me I’m just taking extra precaution to stay safe so not only has it affected what we do with the fans, but my personal life, I’ve kind of just sheltered myself at my house still. I really don’t go out much and just trying to stay safe. So, it’s definitely different and I feel like I can’t take a risk to get it especially with the Playoffs coming up here pretty soon. 0 2 2

ROAR! WEEKLY RACING MAGAZINE: SEPTEMBER 17, 2020


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IN THE HOTSEAT ▶▶ It’s evident how close you, Ross, and AJ are as teammates. Ross mentioned to me how you’ve made him an even more competitive racer and that you’re the little brother of the team. What’s that mean to you to hear him praise you in terms of your racing efforts? Having affirmation coming from any of your teammates or competitors is always good. Ross has pushed us all coming in from a different aspect. He’s pushed us all to be better as well. Ross and AJ have been great. We all push each other, literally to win, it seems like, at the superspeedways. It’s awesome to have guys that’ll back you up

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and know that you’ll have dancing partners out there in the superspeedways or on the mile and a half on restarts. Just having teammates that you can trust is everything that you could ask for as a competitor and a teammate. I really enjoy having both of them. AJ’s not full-time, but having Ross full-time and having his word up against mine with what the cars are doing always helps. I love the guys. I think it’s a great team right now, and I think everything we have going for us fits well together. I truly enjoy working with them. Ross is still winless and I’d love to see him win just as much as I want to win. I think that goes across the board at Kaulig.

ROAR! WEEKLY RACING MAGAZINE: SEPTEMBER 17, 2020


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IN THE HOTSEAT ▶▶ What’s perhaps three things about you that fans would be surprised to learn? So, I feel like there’s a lot of things that a lot of people don’t know about me and I like it that way. I like to keep my personal life pretty private. That’s just kind of who I am. If you look at my social media, there’s not one personal thing on there. It’s all racing. And a lot of people have kind of told me that I need to open up more but that’s kind of who I am and who I want to be. I wouldn’t have social media if I wasn’t a racecar driver away and I’d throw my phone away and go live on a mountain somewhere. But three things that people don’t know about me? A lot of people don’t know that I have a little puppy named Ace. I’m a dog dad.

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I have a pretty cool RC track in my backyard that’s a high banked oval. All my buddies come over and we race RC stock cars around this little oval in my backyard that me and my brother built. I guess number three would be that I’m a super healthy eater. I haven’t had fast food in six, seven years. I haven’t had a single piece of candy or French fries in six or seven years. I haven’t had a single sip of soda in six or seven years. One day, I woke up and I ate extremely healthy. And I won’t even touch a piece of cake or a cupcake. If you were to offer me one M&M, I’d have to decline. I’d say I have a strange eating habit and it’s definitely tough to be around me when it’s time to eat.

ROAR! WEEKLY RACING MAGAZINE: SEPTEMBER 17, 2020


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AUSTIN DILLON

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17 JIMMIE JOHNSON

700

18 ERIK JONES

645

19 TYLER REDDICK

619

20 CHRISTOPHER BELL

511

21 CHRIS BUESCHER

501

22 MICHAEL MCDOWELL

485

23 BUBBA WALLACE

482

24 RICKY STENHOUSE JR.

473

25 RYAN NEWMAN

424

26 MATT KENSETH

418

27 JOHN HUNTER NEMECHEK 407 28 TY DILLON

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ROAR! WEEKLY RACING MAGAZINE: SEPTEMBER 17, 2020

WINS

POLES

TOP 5

TOP 10

8 0 18 23 4 1 10 20 6 0 15 17 2 0 8 16 1 1 12 18 1 0 4 9 2 1 11 16 1 0 3 10 0 1 11 15 0 1 4 15 0 0 5 16 0 1 2 9 1 0 3 10 1 0 2 6 0 0 2 7 1 0 8 11 0 0 4 9 0 0 6 9 0 0 2 7 0 0 1 5 0 0 2 6 0 0 0 3 0 0 1 5 0 1 3 4 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 2 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 BLUE AREAS HIGHLIGHT PLAYOFF QUALIFIERS


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AUSTIN CINDRIC

1085

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JUSTIN ALLGAIER

866

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BRANDON JONES

758

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NOAH GRAGSON

953

6

JUSTIN HALEY

879

7

HARRISON BURTON

855

8

ROSS CHASTAIN

1011

9

MICHAEL ANNETT

769

10 RILEY HERBST

644

11 RYAN SIEG

616

12 BRANDON BROWN

537

13 JEREMY CLEMENTS

488

14 MYATT SNIDER

449

15 ALEX LABBE

438

16 JOSH WILLIAMS

435

17 JESSE LITTLE

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18 JOE GRAF JR.

328

19 DANIEL HEMRIC

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21 TOMMY JOE MARTINS

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26 VINNIE MILLER

270

27 MATT MILLS

257

28 JEB BURTON

200

29 COLBY HOWARD

196

30 KYLE WEATHERMAN

184

31 KODY VANDERWAL

173

32 KAZ GRALA

131

33 DAVID STARR

126

ROAR! WEEKLY RACING MAGAZINE: SEPTEMBER 17, 2020

WINS

POLES

TOP 5

TOP 10

6 0 13 17 5 0 16 20 3 0 7 14 3 1 8 13 2 0 11 18 2 0 8 16 2 0 12 17 0 0 12 22 0 1 3 16 0 0 4 15 0 0 4 8 0 0 0 4 0 0 1 4 0 2 2 6 0 0 0 3 0 0 0 3 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 8 0 0 1 6 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 5 7 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 3 0 0 0 0 BLUE AREAS HIGHLIGHT PLAYOFF QUALIFIERS


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NASCAR STANDINGS

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GRANT ENFINGER

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SHELDON CREED

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ZANE SMITH

2010

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AUSTIN HILL

2005

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MATT CRAFTON

2005

6

BEN RHODES

2005

7

BRETT MOFFITT

2000

8

CHRISTIAN ECKES

2000

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MEMORY LANE

MEMORY LANE

JEFF GORDON BUMPS HIS WAY TO 2002 BRISTOL WIN BY ROB TIONGSON

W

hen the NASCAR Cup Series took to Bristol Motor Speedway on August 24th, 2002, it was a night for the history books, particularly between two stock car legends. Certainly, the 2002 Bristol Night Race was filled with plentiful action from start to finish. No matter who your favorite driver fared that night, it was a memorable race from the on-track battles to the memorable soundbites. Moreover, the NASCAR Cup Series season took on an unusual look compared to past years. For starters, Jeff Gordon, the defending Cup champion, was mired in a 31-race winless streak while 1989 champion Rusty Wallace had a 49-race dryspell. During this particular season, the likes of Kurt Busch, Jimmie Johnson, Matt Kenseth, Bill Elliott, Tony Stewart, and Mark Martin ran towards the front of the field. With the series taking on a paradigm shift, Bristol seemed to be the perfect venue to return to a semblance of stock car normalcy.

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Qualifying seemed to reward the tough and gritty drivers who took to “The World’s Fastest Half-Mile” with incredible zeal and courage. In fact, Gordon took the pole while Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Michael Waltrip, Rusty Wallace, and Bill Elliott started within the top-five. Despite starting on the pole, Gordon relinquished the lead fairly quickly to Earnhardt on Lap 1. As Earnhardt led the opening 130 laps, carnage followed behind him including Todd Bodine’s backstretch crashes on Laps 7 and 18, Robby Gordon’s spin in Turn 4 on Lap 31, Ricky Craven’s slide in Turn 2 on 57, and Eliott Sadler’s backstretch crash on Lap 69 that included the “use your head” gesture towards Joe Nemechek. While Earnhardt dominated the opening laps, Gordon rocketed his way to the lead on Lap 131 with a clean pass in Turn 2. Seemingly in control for the next 116 laps, Gordon drove his way around Bristol like a slot car that was glued to the track. The race took on a rather quiet complexion until Lap 299, when Jeff Burton, Dale Jarrett, Jeremy Mayfield, Ryan Newman, Mark Martin, Jerry Nadeau, Bobby Labonte, Michael Waltrip, and Kurt Busch crashed in Turn 1. Just 78 laps later, mayhem struck again in Turn 1 when Robby Gordon shoved Jimmie Johnson out of his way on a restart, sending Johnson right into Mark Martin’s car for a Turn 1 crash. Not surprisingly, the mild mannered Johnson, a rookie during this season, found himself feeling the anger from a “Bristol Stomp.”

ROAR! WEEKLY RACING MAGAZINE: SEPTEMBER 17, 2020


“Just like every form of racing that he’s ever been in, it’s always somebody else’s fault,” Johnson said. “He had me turned sideways before we took the green and I didn’t even have a chance to grab the gear. He was beating my bumper cover off of me coming to green because he wanted to restart in front of me. “I’m trying to get my lap back as well. So, he’s just crying up a river like he always does. It’s a shame. We got a chance to win the championship. And we get spun out before we even take the green on a restart. It’s wrong.” By all means, the memorable incident of the evening took place on Lap 404 in Turn 3, when Earnhardt tangled with 2002 Daytona 500 champion Ward Burton. After Burton tagged the Turn 3 wall, the usually reserved Virginian climbed out of his car, grabbed his heat shields, and flung them towards Earnhardt’s car with his arms raised in victory. Following the mishap, Burton expressed his displeasure loudly and clearly to Matt Yocum, a NASCAR on TNT pit reporter. “Junior just didn’t take his time,” Burton said. “We’ve been giving and taking out there all day. I’ve got some really good words for him

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MEMORY LANE but I can’t say it on TV, but I’ve just got to control myself at the moment. I wish I had something I could’ve shot through the window.” Despite Gordon and Earnhardt’s first half domination, the race took on an unusual look with Johnny Benson, Kurt Busch, and Matt Kenseth leading the way due to different pit strategies. With 57 laps remaining, the main contenders worked their way towards the front with Wallace, Gordon, and Earnhardt in the top-five behind leader Kevin Harvick. By Lap 482, Wallace muscled his way back to the lead with Gordon and Earnhardt in close pursuit. As Victory Lane awaited the ultimate stock car warrior’s presence in 19 laps, the lead trio dealt with lapped traffic all around the track. Suddenly, this race became a high speed chess match pitting three of NASCAR’s powerful icons with the grizzled veteran, the rising superstar, and people’s champion all in position to conquer this concrete beast. Laps clicked by quite quickly just as the patience 0 3 8

meter did for Wallace, Gordon, and Earnhardt. Suffice to say, it wouldn’t be an easy task for Gordon to pass Wallace and the same could be said for Earnhardt with Gordon. It would become a race determined by desire and guile. Within five laps from the finish, Gordon caught Wallace quite quickly thanks to lapped traffic. Once Wallace got around Nemechek, he had a mirrorful of Gordon’s No. 24 DuPont Chevy. Shutting the door on Gordon, particularly in Turns 2 and 4 on Lap 497, the 31-year-old Vallejo, Calif. native was determined to take the lead from Wallace for a pivotal victory. In close pursuit of Wallace’s No. 2 Miller Lite Ford Taurus, Gordon used the old “bump and run” technique in Turn 3. Scooting to the inside of Wallace on Lap 498 for the lead, Gordon was three laps away from a Bristol Night Race win. Staving off Wallace for his first Cup win of the 2002 season and first since the Kansas fall race, Gordon treated the race fans to his version of a burnout with Wallace observing his defeat as well as possible. “It’s just racing, I guess,” Wallace observed. “I would’ve like to have won. It’s been a long time since I won, but it’s been a long

ROAR! WEEKLY RACING MAGAZINE: SEPTEMBER 17, 2020


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MEMORY LANE

time since Jeff won too and I know that he wanted it real bad too. We’re real hungry for it and it’s been a long time since I’ve won. I guess my day’s coming. “Man, I tried real hard. To get nailed in the rear end on the last lap and turned sideways, I didn’t expect it. But I got behind that 25 car (Joe Nemechek) and I just couldn’t get around him. That lapped car slowed me down. And when I got to him, I knew I was going to have a problem. I lost the air to the front and it allowed Jeff to get up on me. He just got to me where he could hit me. I tried desperately to knock the s*** out of him but I just couldn’t catch him.” Arriving in the raised Victory Lane near Turns 3 and 4, Gordon embraced car owner Rick Hendrick before leaping in the air, celebrating his win like his maiden victory in 1994 at Charlotte. “I’m so thankful!” Gordon exclaimed to TNT’s Bill Weber. “I just wanted it really, really bad. I wanted to take advantage of an opportunity. These guys gave me such an awesome racecar, great pit stops all night long, and they deserve a win. We don’t deserve to be written about during our losing streak so thank God that’s over. 0 4 0

ROAR! WEEKLY RACING MAGAZINE: SEPTEMBER 17, 2020

These guys stuck together. This is going to do so much for this race team. We’re so fortunate. It’s been an amazing night. I feel like it’s the first time I’ve ever won.” So what was the key to Gordon’s victory at Bristol? For the usually clean, reserved driver, it was about taking a chance, even if it meant angering a respected competitor. “He got bottled up in some traffic,” Gordon observed. “And I knew if I could get to him, I could make a move and he got real loose and he shut the door on me. And once he shut the door on me, I said, ‘Alright, fair game right there.’ So, I got into him a little bit. He got loose and I hope he’ll understand tomorrow!” While Wallace didn’t exact revenge on Gordon, his short track sparring partner, the two legends became friends following their NASCAR Hall of Fame racing careers. Calling races respectively for MRN Radio and FOX NASCAR, the two drivers waged in an incredible battle at Bristol that resonates 18 years later.


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COMMUNITY CREATOR: DANNY B

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HOW SUAREZ CHANGES THE SILLY SEASON CALCULATION In this week’s episode of Danny B Talks, host Danny B takes us through this week’s semishocking news about Daniel Suarez. The 2016 Xfinity Series champion has some packed-in sponsorship wherever he goes, but now that he’s leaving Gaunt next year, his story could have some twists and turns again, similar to last year’s silly season shenanigans with Suarez. So what kind of wrenches does this announcement throw into the gears of the 2021 silly season discussions? First up, this 0 4 2

definitely opens the door to more rumors about Bubba Wallace possibly taking his old spot at Gaunt, or even as dramatic as Denny Hamlin and Bubba Wallace forming a team around that car or the former Leavine Family racing vehicles. Danny takes us through the possibilities, including some bizarre possibilities like Denny Hamlin’s involvement with multiple teams. Where does Danny see this all going? You’ll have to watch the episode and find out!

ROAR! WEEKLY RACING MAGAZINE: SEPTEMBER 17, 2020


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DRIVER Q&A

JUSTIN ALLGAIER GAINS MOMENTUM WITH JR MOTORSPORTS BY JOSEPH WOLK IN

Justin Allgaier is on fire as the NASCAR XFINITY Series playoffs get underway. The driver of JR Motorsports’ No. 7 Chevrolet went winless through the first 19 races. But during the last six contests, Allgaier visited victory lane three times. Now, he’s back as a title favorite and ready to secure his first championship. ▶  WHAT HAS THE NO. 7 TEAM DONE WELL WITH THIS YEAR? “I think the [No.] 7 team has battled adversity. In this sport, momentum is a major part of what moves you forward. We’ve had a lot of things that have gone against our momentum that are out of our control. The team has never given up, and we’ve battled back. We strive to bring better racecars week-in and week-out. Even when it seemed like no matter what we did was wrong, we strive to bring better cars. That’s what led us to lead laps, win stages and, ultimately, pull off some victories.” 0 4 4

▶  WHAT DO YOU WANT TO IMPROVE ON HEADING INTO THE PLAYOFFS? “I’m not sure if you can improve on luck. That would be my number one goal. I use the word execution a lot. We need to make sure we execute the races well. That’s not just a simple answer, either. Execution is on all sides, whether it be the driver, the crew, the car or the guys back at the shop. As a whole, we need to do a good job at doing the right thing week-in and week-out. The biggest part of it is making sure we execute and move forward.”

ROAR! WEEKLY RACING MAGAZINE: SEPTEMBER 17, 2020


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DRIVER Q&A

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OFFICIAL NASCAR MEMBER’S CLUB Q&A

THE LEADER OF THE VIP TRACK TEAM BY DA N GUT TENPL A N

L

iz Errick might be a familiar face to members of the Original NASCAR Members Club, as a leader of the club’s VIP track team. It’s the faces of the club members that make Errick’s job so special to her. “I love seeing the fans’ faces at the end of their days with us,” Errick said. “You can see their excitement at the end of a garage tour. We take it for granted because we’ve been doing it for so long, but it’s always special to see someone spot their favorite driver in the garage. It’s not something they were able to do beforehand. We joke that we’re professional ‘day-makers’.” Errick, who is also in charge of marketing for the Original NASCAR Members Club, recently joined ROAR for a Q&A.

▶  HOW DID YOU GET STARTED WITH THE ONMC? “I grew up in New Jersey, and I was a member first. I moved to North Carolina, and now I work here.” ▶  HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A NASCAR FAN? “Since the early 2000s. In 2012, I became a member of the club.” ▶  WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST EXPERIENCE AS A MEMBER OF THE CLUB? “I was with my family, and I did a garage tour and driver introductions at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.” ▶  WHAT DO YOU REMEMBER ABOUT THAT TRIP? “It was fun. I loved it. When I came to work here, it gave me an idea of what fans are looking for. I started off as a fan, and I try to create those experiences in the garage. If I see a driver out of the corner of my eye, I alert the tour. I’m here to enhance the experience.” ▶  HOW HAS THE PANDEMIC IMPACTED YOUR JOB? “We have people asking if they can do the garage tours, and 0 4 8

ROAR! WEEKLY RACING MAGAZINE: SEPTEMBER 17, 2020

■■ Liz Errick, Original NASCAR Members Club

we’re not allowed in there. It’s heartbreaking for them. I feel really terrible for the fans. There’s nothing they want more than to go to the tracks. They’re understanding, but it’s still hard.” ▶  IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE YOU CAN OFFER AWAY FROM THE TRACKS? “The big perks of being in the club are different this year. We’re constantly trying to find other benefits and anything else we can offer. We’re trying to work with a couple of sponsors from NASCAR to offer discounts. There’s some games we offer and a fantasy league we’re trying to engage everyone in.”


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NASCAR DEFINED-PUMPED FOR BRISTOL

▶▶ Matt DiBenedetto, driver of the #95 Toyota Express Maintenance Toyota, is introduced prior to the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 17, 2019 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

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NASCAR DEFINED-PUMPED FOR BRISTOL

▶▶ Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Busch Beer Chevrolet, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 21, 2016 in Bristol, Tennessee. The race was delayed due to inclement weather on Saturday, August 20. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images) 0 5 2

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NASCAR DEFINED-PUMPED FOR BRISTOL ▶▶ Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Monster Energy/Haas Automation Ford, celebrates after winning the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 18, 2018 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

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▶▶ Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Freight Toyota, celebrates after winning the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 17, 2019 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

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ROAR! - Weekly Racing Magazine - September 17, 2020  

ROAR! is NASCAR’s only twice-weekly digital magazine. ROAR! has 74 different editions starting in February and ending with the Champions Edi...

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ROAR! is NASCAR’s only twice-weekly digital magazine. ROAR! has 74 different editions starting in February and ending with the Champions Edi...

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