Unpublished championship stories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: 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


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


The White Zone: NASCAR has an identity crisis

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Kevin Harvick summed up the problem with the NASCAR playoffs. “That’s the system that we work in and it’s obviously skewed more towards entertainment than the whole year,” he said. NASCAR stared into the abyss for years. Now, it’s staring back at us. NASCAR is at an identity crossroad. What we witnessed, Sunday, at Martinsville […] READ MORE


Kyle Busch saves enough to end winless drought

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For Kyle Busch, the question was simple: Did he have enough to make it on fuel? Wednesday, the answer was yes. While’s he’s out of the championship battle, Busch saved enough fuel in the closing laps of the rain-delayed NASCAR Cup Series Autotrader Echopark Automotive 500 to win for the first time in 2020. Yeah,” Busch […] READ MORE


Effect of high-downforce at Darlington

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Saturday, Darlington Raceway provided the slipping and sliding that comes with a worn out surface. Sunday, however, high-downforce negated much of it. The Cook Out Southern 500 featured many of the high-downforce aero package’s problems that have been on display time after time after time after time, this season. Passing the lead car was a Herculean […] READ MORE


Elliott and Truex collide in closing laps at Darlington

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It was a classic case of two drivers fighting for the same real estate. In the waning laps of Sunday’s Cook Out Southern 500, Martin Truex Jr. was pursuing Chase Elliott for the race lead. While Truex had the faster car, he struggled to overtake Elliott. Rounding Turns 3 and 4, however, he took the high line […] READ MORE


Late wreck keeps Johnson out of playoffs

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Ever the consummate professional, Jimmie Johnson went to victory lane to congratulate William Byron and his crew. Why wouldn’t he? The young man who used to trick-or-treat at his house will now race in the playoffs for a championship, after scoring his first career NASCAR Cup Series victory. He was especially happy for Byron’s crew chief, Chad Knaus. […] READ MORE


Tire gamble keeps Johnson in playoff hunt

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With 17 laps to go, Jimmie Johnson found himself in a situation he’d not been in for a long time; leading in the closing laps of a NASCAR Cup Series race, thanks to a tire gamble. He rallied from a speeding penalty earlier in the day to a spot in the top-five, but didn’t have the […] READ MORE