Newman s title chances take hit following NASCAR penalty THE ASSOCIATED PRESS | September 09,2016 CHARLOTTE, N.C. Ryan Newman s championship hopes were dealt a blow Wednesday when NASCAR docked him 15 points before the final qualifying race for the playoffs. Newman was already on the outside of the 16-driver field and trailed Jamie McMurray for the final spot by seven points. He is now 22 points behind McMurray after the penalty for failing post-race inspection at Darlington Raceway on Sunday night. The Chase for the Sprint Cup championship field will be set Saturday night after the regular-season finale at Richmond International Raceway. Richard Childress Racing will not appeal the penalty, and blamed failing the laser inspection on the car hitting the wall during the race. There was clear damage to the right rear fender and tire, RCR said. NASCAR has told us that the (laser) standard is clear and the car must pass post-race inspection even if damage has been sustained. There are currently three available spots in the Chase field, assuming Chris Buescher finishes Richmond ranked 30th or higher in the standings. Buescher qualified for the Chase with a win at rain-shortened Pocono, but he s got to remain inside the top 30 to be eligible for the playoffs. Buescher has an 11-point lead over 31st-place. If he drops a position, a fourth spot would become open in the Chase field. The three drivers currently in position to make the Chase are Chase Elliott, Austin Dillon and McMurray. Newman would need to pass one of them in the standings to overcome the penalty. In addition to the points deduction, NASCAR also fined Newman crew chief Luke Lambert $25,000. NASCAR on Wednesday also docked 15 points from Kyle Larson, but he s already qualified for the Chase based on his victory at Michigan. Chad Johnston, his crew chief, was fined $22,500 because the car failed post-race inspection. Newman has been an interesting participant in the Chase the last two years because he s used consistent finishes to advance through the elimination rounds rather than wins. Newman has not won a race since 2013, but he mathematically figured out a way to advance to the 2014 championship finale and finished second in the standings. It was an improbable showing that defied NASCAR s desire to put a greater emphasis on winning. Newman again went winless last year, but again threatened to advance deep into the playoffs. He was ultimately knocked out after the second round of eliminations and he finished 11th in the final standings. He s been on the Chase bubble before, and in 2013 had to win the race at Richmond to make the Chase. He was leading when Clint Bowyer intentionally spun to set off a chain of events that cost Newman the race and allowed Bowyer s teammate at the time, Martin Truex Jr., to win the race and claim the final spot in the Chase. NASCAR was rocked by the manipulation scandal and kicked Truex out of the Chase in favor of Newman. The elimination format did not exist in 2013 and Newman finished 11th that season. Notes: NASCAR did not issue any penalties surrounding the finish in the Truck Series race at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park. John Hunter Nemechek used an aggressive move on Cole Custer to nudge Custer from the lead, and the two drivers raced door-to-door through the grass to the finish line. As NASCAR tried to sort the finishing order, Nemechek went to the flag stand to take the checkered flag. Custer then ran and tackled Nemechek in the grass.
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Photo: Facebook Campers sleeping in the Walmart parking lot for longer than an overnight stay are causing safety concerns for those who work at the store. Several employees of Walmart contacted Castanet following a story  about people sleeping in their vehicles for days or even weeks. They wanted to remain anonymous due to concerns they’d lose their jobs for speaking out. One employee said loss prevention officers at the store have been warning those on the job to be careful when leaving work at night. Some of those sleeping in the parking lot have allegedly become threatening, according to an employee. Many panhandle, yell or cause problems for employees and customers. Another employee said as many as 27 drug needles had been found in the parking lot in one day. A truck discovered parked in the lot by Castanet is reported to have been parking in the same spot all summer long. The employee said they were warned to be extra cautious when leaving work and to always lock their vehicles. Others said they ve had to call police after incidents in the store involving those sleeping in the Walmart lot. All wanted to make clear that those who are causing the issues and concerns are not the same campers who pull-up in the RVs and stay for an overnight rest before hitting the road. The issues some employees have appear to be with those who are living in their vehicles, such as vans or trucks, in the parking lot. In a Castanet poll, readers were asked what they thought about camping in the Walmart parking lot. Just over 65 per cent said they felt it was OK to park there if campers cleaned up after themselves; 16 per cent said it is a good place to rest; while about 12 per cent thought it was too messy and nearly seven per cent thought it made the area unsafe. Let Castanet know what you think by emailing [email protected]  References ^ story (www.castanet.net) ^ [email protected] (www.castanet.net)
Top Sprint Cup teams face struggle to stay there By PETE IACOBELLI the associated press | August 25,2016 AP PHOTO Driver Brad Keselowski (2) collides with driver Kurt Busch (41) as Jimmie Johnson (48) gets past during a NASCAR race on Sunday in Bristol, Tenn. BRISTOL, Tenn. Keeping a dynasty seems even more challenging than creating one. Just ask Hall of Fame car owner Rick Hendrick. The NASCAR titan has fielded 11 Sprint Cup champions over the past 21 years, won 242 Sprint Cup races and just two seasons ago had all four of his star drivers Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kasey Kahne in the 16-team championship chase. These days, Johnson is Hendrick s only surefire contender locked into the chase, although he s got others knocking on the door. Hendrick understands it s a time of transition for his proud, powerful organization. You sign guys and you can t believe that Jimmie Johnson, or Dale or Jeff Gordon are 40 years old, Hendrick said. But time moves on. And brings change. Gordon retired last year, although he has driven the past four races for Earnhardt, who is recovering from a concussion that has put his playoffs in doubt. Chase Elliott, Gordon s replacement, stands 12th in points and is a good bet to keep his spot in the chase. Kahne, at 17th, needs a victory to guarantee moving on. I think everybody s looking for that next superstar, Hendrick said. And if you re not willing to invest in the future, then you re going to be in a bind when the time comes. Hendrick took steps toward that last week, signing 18-year-old truck series leader William Byron to race Xfinity cars next season. In Hendrick s eyes, Byron is that budding star who ll keep the organization chasing checkered flags for a long time. Byron raced trucks for Kyle Busch Motorsports and looked to have a future at Joe Gibbs Racing, the current power player in NASCAR. But with Busch, the defending Sprint Cup champion, Carl Edwards and Denny Hamlin all in their 30s (the fourth member is 44-year-old Matt Kenseth), there may not be room for advancement at JGR. David Wilson, president and general manager, Toyota Racing Development, USA, said Byron was a talent they hated to lose. I don t think we were anticipating the next step this soon, he said. I don t think William was anticipating it this soon. Don t fret for Toyota, which is developing several young drivers. Xfinity driver Erik Jones will advance to Sprint Cup with Toyota team Furniture Row Racing next year. Daniel Suarez, a 24-year-old JGR driver, was part of NASCAR Next and its Drive for Diversity program. He became the first Mexican-born driver to win a NASCAR race when he took the Xfinity race at Michigan two months. All, though, will have to wait their time. The JGR quartet think of the Golden State Warriors on wheels have won 10 of 23 races this season and are all locked into the playoffs for a championship run. Edwards, the group s newest member, said the level of cooperation between very competitive teams and drivers keeps all of them sharp. Yeah, we re running really well, but it s not one thing, it s a very good foundation of teamwork and it all starts with Coach Gibbs, Edwards said. It s cool to be a part of it. Roush Fenway Racing, with 135 Sprint Cup wins and two championships, has also dealt with changes in recent years and the need to find young talent. Once a perennial title contender, the organization that featured 2003 title winner Kenseth and Edwards is crossing its fingers looking for one chase entry. Former Daytona 500 winner Trevor Bayne, 25, stands 15th in points, but would get knocked out if race winners Tony Stewart and Chris Buescher both maintain their spots inside the top 30 in points.