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#pounditFriday, January 27, 2023

Auto Racing

Video: Cole Custer’s car catches fire at Michigan

Cole Custer car fire

Cole Custer had to make an escape from his No. 41 car after it caught fire in the middle of Sunday’s race.

Roughly halfway through Sunday’s FireKeepers Casino 400 at Michigan International Speedway, a fire emerged near the left front tire of Custer’s No. 41 Ford, prompting a caution flag. Custer initially seemed unaware of how rapidly the fire was growing as he pulled in for a pit stop. As the car came to a stop, the entire left front side burst into flames as firefighters raced to douse the blaze. Custer’s crew chief even had to tell him to get out of the car immediately.

Custer was fine after heeding the warning, though his day was obviously over with his car up in flames.

The 24-year-old has had some bad luck and bad results all season, with this being the latest example. Though he had a pair of top-ten finishes in his last four races, he had none all season prior to that.

Kyle Busch’s wife Samantha posts about being at Mall of America during shooting

Kyle Busch and his wife Samantha

Nov 17, 2019; Homestead, FL, USA; NASCAR Cup Series driver Kyle Busch (18) celebrates after winning the NASCAR Series Cup Championship with his wife Samantha Busch after the Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Busch and his family were at the Mall of America on Thursday when a shooting took place, and Kyle’s wife shared information about the matter on Instagram.

A gun was fired inside the Nike store following a “conflict between two groups at the cash registers … the conflict ended with one person pulling a gun and firing shots,” according to FOX 9.

The shooting sent mall visitors scurrying and fleeing in panic. The Mall of America then went into a lockdown as police responded to the shooting.

Coincidentally, NASCAR driver Busch happened to be at the mall at the time of the incident. He was riding rides with his son, while his wife Samantha was at a store. Kyle and his son Brexton were even captured on video by Andy Paras exiting the mall.

On Instagram Friday, Samantha posted about the experience.

“We were at the @mallofamerica yesterday when a shooting happened,” Samantha wrote. “We had been spending the afternoon riding the rides in the center of the mall and then the girls split up to shop while the boys stayed for more rides. Then chaos ensued. I was standing at the entrance of H&M which is on floor 1 when I heard screaming from above. A group of people were running and yelling. My brain instantly thought it was just teenagers being goofy and then a split second later herds of people on levels 2 and 3 were running. Next a wave of people started down our corridor and that’s when I heard people shouting “active shooter in the mall”.

“You know the logical thing to do is run out the doors but with Kyle and Brexton still somewhere inside I froze where I was. Thank God when I called Kyle he answered as he and Brex were next in line for a ride and they didn’t know what was happening. We stayed on the phone with each other while the girls went running outside, getting as much distance from the mall as we could, and the boys made a beeline to the closet parking garage to get out of the building. People were crying, shouting on cell phones, sirens going off, everyone was confused and didn’t know what was happening, which was the scary part. You didn’t know if it was one person, multiple people, where exactly they were in the mall or outside too, where was it safe to go?

“We ended up finding out it was a dispute between two groups that ended in shots fired. It’s a lot to process as an adult but really hard as a parent to explain to your child what happened yesterday. Why it happened, what to do in a situation like that, what to do if it was another type of situation. How much do you cover without making it worse for them?

“Squeezing the family a little tighter today.”

The shooting did not lead to any deaths, and no serious injuries were reported.

NASCAR was at Indianapolis last weekend and is in Brooklyn, Mich. this weekend. The Mall of America in Bloomington, Minn. is about 9 hours away from the Michigan International Speedway.

Aaron Rodgers discusses relationship with ex-girlfriend Danica Patrick

Danica Patrick before a race

May 27, 2018; Indianapolis, IN, USA; IndyCar Series driver Danica Patrick during the 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Aaron Rodgers and Danica Patrick dated for about two years before they split in 2020. The Green Bay Packers star has said very little publicly about the relationship since, but it sounds like he has fond memories of the time the two spent together.

During his wide-ranging interview with the “Aubrey Marcus Podcast” that was released this week, Rodgers brought up his relationship with Patrick. He said the former NASCAR driver was “great” for him and that the two connected on a spiritual level.

“I was dating Danica, and that relationship was great for me because she is on her own journey and spirituality is important to her,” Rodgers said, per Francesca Bacardi of Page Six. “We both were finding our way, learning about different things [and] practicing meditation techniques.”

Many have speculated that there is bad blood between Rodgers and Patrick. Part of that stems from the fact that Rodgers seemed to quickly move on after splitting with Patrick when he got engaged to actress Shailene Woodley just months later. Though, Rodgers and Woodley have since also called it quits.

Patrick has spoken openly about having high dating standards in the wake of her split with Rodgers. She and entrepreneur Carter Comstock also called it quits earlier this year. Rodgers seems to think highly of Danica, but we would not count on any rekindling of that flame.

F1 star Lewis Hamilton joins NFL ownership group

Lewis Hamilton at a press conference

Oct 20, 2018; Austin, TX, USA; Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain (right) is interviewed after Hamilton takes the pole position during qualifying for the Unites States Grand Prix at Circuit of the Americas. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Lewis Hamilton is broadening his horizons and getting involved in NFL ownership.

The Formula One star has joined the Denver Broncos’ new ownership group, the organization announced Tuesday. Details of the investment were not available, but in a statement, the team’s owners said Hamilton would bring his “resilient spirit and standard of excellence” to the franchise.

Hamilton shared his excitement over the deal on his Twitter account.

The 37-year-old driver is regarded as one of the sport’s greats, with a joint-record seven F1 titles. In 2020, the Sunday Times Rich List estimated his net worth at over $250 million, so he would certainly be capable of making a significant investment into the Broncos.

The Broncos’ new ownership group has been linked to some big names. One of them was Peyton Manning, though the former quarterback seems to have other plans for the moment.

AJ Allmendinger collapses out of car after race

AJ Allmendinger points

Jun 26, 2022; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; NASCAR Cup Series driver AJ Allmendinger (16) waives to fans as he walks the stage during driver introductions before the Ally 400 at Nashville Superspeedway. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

AJ Allmendinger absolutely battled through some tough conditions during Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, but he still managed a top-10 finish.

Allmendinger’s cool suit wasn’t working, and he also ran out of water in his bottle late in the race. The driver of the No. 16 Chevrolet was overheated and dehydrated, but he kept his focus enough to finish 7th. However, finishing the race came at a cost.

Allmendinger collapsed and hung over the edge along the track after getting out of his car.

Allmendinger received some attention from his wife and had cold towels draped over him to help him cool down.

Allmendinger, Chris Buescher and Joey Logano were all taken to the care center after the race to be evaluated. All three were released following their evaluations.

Allmendinger, who drives for Kaulig Racing, won Saturday’s Xfinity Series Race at the Brickyard. He finished seventh in the Cup Series race despite his dehydration and overheating.

Ross Chastain penalized for taking short cut on final lap

Ross Chastain takes the access road

Ross Chastain went off-course during the Verizon 200 at the Brickyard on Sunday in Indianapolis and was penalized as a result.

There was a big pileup of cars on the final lap of the NASCAR Cup Series race as the pack approached Turn 1. Rather than get bunched up with all the traffic, Chastain decided to take a shortcut.

Thanks to the slick maneuver, Chastain ended up competing with eventual race winner Tyler Reddick for first. Reddick took the checkered flag, and Chastain was next to cross the finish line.

But Chastain’s second-place finish did not last long.

NASCAR penalized Chastain for taking the access road, leaving him with a 27th-place finish when all was said and done.

The driver of the No. 1 Chevrolet said after the race that he was not planning to take the shortcut; it just happened as a reaction because he wanted to avoid the cluster of cars.

“Just trying not to be in the carnage there in Turn 1. I thought we were four-wide. Couldn’t go any farther right. Decided to take the NASCAR access lane out there. … Just pure reaction,” Chastain said in his post-race interview on NBC.

Chastain was a trend-setter too. Austin Dillon followed Chastain and took the access road. He was likewise penalized 30 seconds, and finished 30th.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. hints at positive Kyle Busch contract news

Kyle Busch in a hat

Jul 23, 2022; Long Pond, Pennsylvania, USA; NASCAR Cup Series driver Kyle Busch walks on pit road during practice and qualifying for the M&Ms Fan Appreciation 400 at Pocono Raceway. Mandatory Credit: Matthew OHaren-USA TODAY Sports

Dale Earnhardt Jr. hinted at some possible positive news regarding Kyle Busch’s contract situation.

Busch will be a free agent after the season, and it’s unclear what he might do next. Will he remain with Joe Gibbs Racing after spending the last 15 seasons with them? Or will he explore other options?

While commentating for NBC during Sunday’s Verizon 200 at the Brickyard, Earnhardt Jr. was asked for his thoughts on Busch’s contract situation. He suggested something good was coming.

“I just pay attention to the way Kyle does his interviews. And if he’s frustrated, and he’s giving you negative remarks in his interviews, it means to me things must not be going that well,” Earnhardt Jr. said. “Over the last couple of weeks, the conversation has gotten a lot more mild, and there’s been smiles on the face of that driver of the 18 car. I think things are getting a little bit closer and he’s starting to understand how to get what he wants.

“I think the 18 car is the one he wants to drive. I think they’re going to come to some terms soon.”

Busch has driven the No. 18 car since joining JGR in 2008. The 37-year-old also drives part-time in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series for his team, Kyle Busch Motorsports.

Busch seems to be ready to make some concessions salary-wise for next season. Two possible complications have to do with Mars ending their sponsorship of the 18 car, as well as the future emergence of Ty Gibbs as a potential Cup Series driver for JGR.

Chase Elliott asked if he wants Denny Hamlin’s trophy for Pocono win

Chase Elliott with a hat on

Mar 20, 2022; Hampton, Georgia, USA; NASCAR Cup Series driver Chase Elliott (9) during the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Chase Elliott may have been awarded Sunday’s Cup Series race due to technical reasons, but he’s not about to demand a trophy.

Elliott was declared the winner of the M&M’s Fan Appreciation 400 Sunday at Pocono Raceway after the top two finishers, Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch, were disqualified. The Nos. 11 and 18 cars failed a post-race inspection, giving the win to Elliott, whose No. 9 Chevrolet finished third.

On Monday, Elliott was asked whether he wanted the trophy from Hamlin for winning the race. The Cup Series leader said receiving the trophy really wasn’t a big concern for him, especially since he didn’t feel he earned it.

“I hadn’t really even thought about it,” Elliott said. “Honestly, if he wants to keep it, he can keep it as far as I’m concerned. He crossed the finish line first. I haven’t really thought about that. That’s a great question.

“I didn’t really feel like I earned it on track yesterday. If he wants to keep it, then I’m good with that.”

Elliott now has four Cup Series wins this season. He is first in the regular season standings and leads the playoff race.

Joe Gibbs Racing issues statement about disqualification

Joe Gibbs wearing a hat

Apr 30, 2022; Dover, Delaware, USA; NASCAR Xfinity Series owner Joe Gibbs walks on pit road prior to the A-Game 200 at Dover Motor Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Matthew OHaren-USA TODAY Sports

Joe Gibbs Racing issued a statement on Monday after declining to fight the penalties they received from NASCAR.

On Sunday, JGR’s Nos. 11 and 18 cars finished 1-2 at the M&M’s Fan Appreciation 400 at Pocono Raceway. But both cars were disqualified after failing post-race inspections, giving the victory to third-place finisher Chase Elliott.

JGR had until midday Monday to appeal NASCAR’s penalties but declined to do so. They issued a statement about the situation and acknowledged the issues with the cars driven by Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch.

“In our review of the post-race infractions on the 11 and 18 cars at Pocono it was discovered that a single piece of clear tape was positioned over each of the lower corners of the front fascia ahead of the left-front and right-front wheel openings on both those cars. The added pieces were 2 inches wide and 5.5 inches long with a thickness of 0.012 inches and installed under the wrap. This change in our build process was not properly vetted within our organization and we recognize it is against NASCAR’s rules. We apologize to everyone for this mistake and we have made changes to our processes to ensure that it does not happen again,” JGR competition director Wally Brown said in a statement.

JGR essentially admitted “we got caught.”

All cars are subject to a pre-race inspection. But the wraps aroudn the cars are not removed prior to races, which explains why these issues weren’t discovered until after the race.

Sunday marked the first time since 1960 that a Cup race winner was disqualified. Both the top two finishers in the race were disqualified in this case.

Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch cars disqualified after failing inspections

Chase Elliott with a hat on

Mar 20, 2022; Hampton, Georgia, USA; NASCAR Cup Series driver Chase Elliott (9) during the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Joe Gibbs Racing appeared to have enjoyed a banner day at Pocono, but all that changed not long after the M&M’s Fan Appreciation 400 came to a close.

JGR drivers Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch finished 1-2 in the race, but their cars failed postrace inspections. The Nos. 11 and 18 cars were disqualified, making third-place finisher Chase Elliott the winner of the race.

“We were shocked to learn of the infraction that caused our two cars to fail NASCAR’s post-race technical inspection. We plan to review every part of the process that led to this situation,” Joe Gibbs Racing said in a statement.

NASCAR said they discovered material on the front fascia of both cars that could impact the aerodynamics of the vehicles.

The issues were not found during pre-race inspections because NASCAR does not remove the wraps of cars before races.

Both the Nos. 11 and 18 cars will be taken to NASCAR research and development for further inspection. The Nos. 34 and 47 cars were randomly selected to undergo the same process.

This is believed to be the first time since 1960 that a Cup Series winner was disqualified. Elliott ends up winning the race without ever having led a lap.