Unpublished championship stories: 2021

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Sometimes, the best game stories are the ones that don’t see the light of day. Mike Wilson, Tennessee athletics beat writer for the Knoxville News Sentinel, told my sportswriting class that. Though in the case of 2021, I think we got the best story. As a peek behind the curtain, I wrote four championship columns, […] READ MORE



The White Zone: Kyle Larson goes from pariah to champion

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A year and a half ago, Kyle Larson dropped a racial slur in an iRacing event. The next day, NASCAR indefinitely suspended him and his sponsors departed one after another. The day after, Chip Ganassi Racing fired him. In the span of less than 48 hours, Larson’s NASCAR career slammed head-on into a wall. “After […] READ MORE


Alex Bowman steals victory at Martinsville

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Six laps remained, and Denny Hamlin sat in the catbird seat. He held off Alex Bowman, who overtook him once for the lead, lap after lap for close to 20 laps. Then came contact. Bowman got loose into Turn 3, hit Hamlin and turned him into the wall. “For anybody that wants to think I […] READ MORE


Kyle Larson: ‘I tried to video game it’

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Desperate times call for desperate measures. Coming to the checkered flag of Sunday’s Cook Out Southern 500, Kyle Larson channeled his inner Carl Edwards and rode the wall through Turns 3 and 4 to pull up to Denny Hamlin‘s bumper. “We got to the white,” he said, “and I was like, ‘Well, I haven’t been able to […] READ MORE


Driver thoughts on NASCAR playoffs

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Another season is upon us. Freshly wrapped cars loaded into equally wrapped haulers depart their respective home bases around Charlotte, North Carolina, and head south to the “world center of racing.” Some with new drivers. Others with the same drivers. The new NASCAR Cup Series season brings the biggest overall to the schedule in decades; […] READ MORE


Unpublished championship stories

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During a sports journalism class I took at the University of Tennessee, my professor — Phil Kaplan, south region assistant sports editor for USA TODAY Network — invited writers to speak to us, tell us about their experience on the job. One of those speakers was Mike Wilson, Tennessee athletics beat writer for the Knoxville […] READ MORE


Chase Elliott rebounds from pre-race penalty to win championship

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Chase Elliott climbed out of the car and lied his head on the roof for a moment; absorbing everything. Then he hopped off and jumped into the arms of his pit crew. After his trackside interview with NBC, he walked over and hugged his father, Bill Elliott, and mother, Cindy Elliott. “All you can dream […] READ MORE


The White Zone: Chase Elliott takes next step with Cup title

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Anybody who watched Chase Elliott race super late models in the 2010s realized he was a generational talent. His XFINITY Series championship in 2014, his rookie season, reinforced it. His development progressed in the Cup Series, winning Rookie of the Year honors in 2016. He’s made the playoffs every year of his Cup career and won […] READ MORE


Kevin Harvick Misses Championship Cut, Despite Late Rally

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Kevin Harvick found a secluded spot in his motorhome and talked to the media. Sporting a hoodie and glasses, he answered everyone’s questions like the professional he is. Not one to wear his heart on his sleeve, but not the stone cold stoic, either, he hid his disappointment well. Most people wouldn’t take missing the cut […] READ MORE