Saturday, Dec 09

Earning less than $8,000 on Friday evening is not going to cover the damage which Ryan Ellis sustained during a late-race incident with Jake Crum. Ellis, 24, was making his third career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series start, and second with FDNY Racing, an organization which runs a limited schedule.

Ellis was arguably intentionally hit by Crum on Lap 87. After Crum discussed his side of the story to Speedway Digest on Saturday afternoon, we spoke to Ellis on Sunday evening to hear what he had to say.

“My initial reaction was that I had no idea what had happened. I didn’t know if I came up a little bit and he came down and it was a racing incident, but obviously the information that I got was that I got dumped. I went on the radio and was like ‘did we get turned?’ And you could hear me yell it on the broadcast. I kind of got dazed. I asked David Ragan (who was spotting for Ellis) if we got turned and he was like ‘yeah he hooked you.’ I was like ‘alright, who was it?’ I heard that from David Ragan and I was like ‘I’m going to go kill this guy’ (he joked). Luckily, at that point I hadn’t seen the video of what happened, so I was able to make a rational decision of how to handle it – walked out and gave him the ‘what for’ signal. I thought I saw some kind of hand gesture from him, but I don’t know,” Ellis said over-the-phone.

The tone in Ellis’ voice elaborated on his displeasure of what occurred. Both drivers were racing for severely underfunded teams, and the incident hurt each of them.

 “I went over to his hauler and was waiting for him after the race, but that kind of got blown out of proportion. I had seen the replay and once I did, I was just really mad because that was when I saw I was going in a straight line. I was waiting by the hauler to see his side of the story and just talk to him to figure out if I made him mad. It was different. Sitting there over night, I really started to think why he hasn’t reached out to me. He reached out to me eventually, we talked and he said he hit the wall during the race. I think we both agreed that he shouldn’t have put himself in that position. There were no hard feelings outside of that. A lot of people say that it was purposeful, and pretty much everybody told me they thought it was on purpose at this point. I’ll try to give him the benefit of the doubt. I don’t want a bad name in racing just like he doesn’t. All of us guys trying to make it need to stick together. I’m not going to retaliate because I don’t have any money to retaliate.”

Crum claims that his No. 82 truck for Empire Racing sustained damage to his right front toe-in after Ellis and he got together in a wreck on Lap 30. However, Crum said that he forgot about the earlier incident with Ellis, and was just trying to get a side draft to pass him, but because of the toe-in issue, he was at a severe angle while racing with Ellis which he did not realize would evidently send the No. 28 truck straight into the wall.

“It seemed like a very severe angle to side draft at. It looks horrible on tape. NASCAR has a lot of really, really close footage. They are not happy about the situation. I spoke to (NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Director of Competition) Chad Little and he is pretty concerned about the incident, and I am not sure what they are going to do. I gave him my side of the story and told him that I am not going to hold anything against Jake. I don’t really know him and this is our first incident,” Ellis said on the incident.

They tried calling each other, but Ellis missed the calls due to practicing his Nationwide Series car at Iowa on Saturday afternoon. Eventually, both drivers spoke, and discussed the incident. They agreed to disagree, yet they have forgiven each other for the incident. There are no hard feelings for each other, but Ellis has gained plenty of support from his peers since the incident.

“I spoke to pretty much everyone in the Nationwide Series today and they all doubt Jake’s story, and they think it was on purpose. I’ll try to make my own judgment on that though.”

Now, both drivers might not be able to race with their perspective organizations. Crum is unsure whether or not he will obtain sponsorship to return to Empire Racing, but stated will have some meetings with the team to discuss his future. Meanwhile, since FDNY Racing gives all the money which they earn to multiple charities, the organization might not be able to return to the race track this season.

“At this point I don’t know. We’re trying to put together some fundraisers to put the truck back together. We were supposed to be out racing at Pocono, but that was our Pocono truck and it’s completely destroyed. It’s not fun for anybody. I don’t know if we’ll be back on the track this year, but we’ll try to find a way,” said Ellis who also will drive for Jennifer Jo Cobb Racing in the Camping World Truck Series.

Sam Hornish Jr. is back in victory lane. However, this time, it is with a new organization. After making the move to Joe Gibbs Racing from Team Penske over the off-season, Hornish is running a part-time schedule this season.

On Sunday afternoon, the 35-year-old Ohio native was able to capture his first victory with his new team. Hornish dominated the Get to Know Newton 250 at the Iowa Speedway, leading 167 of the 250 laps. In just his second start of the year in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, last year’s championship runner-up held off Ryan Blaney throughout the day. Blaney and Hornish were the only two drivers to lead during green flag conditions, swapping the lead eight times amongst each other.

The victory marks the second straight for JGR after winning at Talladega with Elliott Sadler, and it is the organization’s fourth victory of 2014. The win is also JGR’s second victory at the Iowa Speedway with the lone other one coming in 2010 with Kyle Busch, who usually pilots the car Hornish drove to victory lane.

“We had a great car all day long. The Monster Energy No. 54 was just awesome. Adam Stevens made some great calls. I am so blessed that this opportunity came around. It is pretty darn awesome,” Hornish said in victory lane.

The JR Motorsports tandem of Regan Smith and Chase Elliott ended the day in the third and fourth positions. However, Smith ran outside of the top-five for the majority of the race, struggling to find the handle on his No. 7 Chevrolet. Meanwhile, Elliott had a competitive car on the long runs, but took approximately 20 laps to run lap times which were equivalent to the leaders.

Track position proved to be extremely important on Sunday afternoon.  Landon Cassill took two tires on a late pit stop, attempting to get some track position after running just outside of the top-10. However, the strategy proved to work as Cassill stayed inside of the top-10 for the duration of the race, earning his second consecutive top-10 finish.

Elliott stretched out his points lead to two markers over Elliott Sadler, who finished fifth after having a tangle with Brian Scott where both drivers simultaneously were loose off of turn four heading onto the frontstretch. Both drivers were able to save their cars, but were not able to advance their positions due to the ground they lost while battling side-by-side.

Michael McDowell finished seventh in his season debut for JGR. McDowell was racing with Hornish and Blaney for the lead throughout the day, and was the lone driver to take the lead besides those two. Chase Pistone finished 14th in his first career Nationwide Series start for Turner Scott Motorsports. Pistone was sent to the back of the pack to begin the race along with Ryan Reed, but was able to capture a solid finish. Austin Theriault also made his Nationwide Series debut at Iowa, and was able to run approximately 10th at certain points during the race. Theriault finished 15th in his first race for JR Motorsports. Cale Conley was running inside of the top-15 early in the race, but started to drop back as his No. 33 car evidently had a tire going down.

After rubbing fenders with Carl Edwards, the Mac is back. Jamie McMurray has won his first career NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race on Saturday evening, holding off an extremely hard charging Kevin Harvick.

McMuray led 31 laps en route to his third race at Charlotte (two points paying races and now the All-Star Race). The win is Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates’ first win at the Sprint All-Star Race.

Kyle Busch won the first segment after pole sitter, Carl Edwards, led the first nine laps. Busch was under heat from Jeff Gordon, but was able to hold him off by a half of a second.

Denny Hamlin stayed out after the first round of pit stops while Keselowski, Newman and Kurt Busch took two-tires only, trying to advance from the middle of the pack.

Kasey Kahne won the second segment after Denny Hamlin stacked up the field with a tire going down due to making contact with Greg Biffle while going three-wide on the front stretch.

Strategy came into play as four drivers opted to stay out after the second segment, but only had seven laps on their tires as they attempted to improve their total average finish. However, Kahne was able to win the third segment as well after maneuvering through traffic.  Kahne hit the wall in the fourth segment, and said on his radio “"I hit it hard. I blew it bad.” Then, Kahne hit the wall hard at the conclusion of that segment.

“I can’t believe that happened…we had a great car. I blew a right front getting into one,” Kahne radioed into his No. 5 team after the second incident.

Jeff Gordon had “something break” during segment four, causing a fire to erupt from his No. 24 Chevrolet. Martin Truex Jr. had nowhere to go as Greg Biffle and he slammed into one another, ending both of their evenings.

Harvick won the fourth segment after having a hard fought battle with Jamie McMurray, who led 15 laps in that sector of the All-Star Race.

Here are the unofficial results from the Sprint All-Star Race:

1). Jamie McMurray

2). Kevin Harvick

3). Matt Kenseth

4). Dale Earnhardt Jr.

5). Carl Edwards

6). Jimmie Johnson

7). Clint Bowyer

8). Brian Vickers

9). Denny Hamlin

10). Brad Keselowski

11). Kurt Busch

12). Tony Stewart

13). David Ragan

14). Kasey Kahne

15). Josh Wise

16). Ryan Newman

17). Jeff Gordon

18). Martin Truex Jr.

19). Greg Biffle

20). A.J. Allmendinger

21). Kyle Busch

22). Joey Logano

Carl Edwards has won his second straight Sprint All-Star Race pole award. Edwards, the winner of 2011 All-Star Race, was able to outclass the rest of the 22-car field during the most abnormal qualifying session NASCAR has to offer.

The driver of the No. 99 Ford was able to pull off the top lap time at 110.268 seconds during a session in which drivers had to run a regular qualifying lap, then pit for four-tires, and go back onto the race track. Kyle Busch ran the second quickest pace, but that was .85 seconds off of Edwards’ blistering pace. In 18 regular-season races at the Charlotte Motor Speedway, Edwards has an average finish of 11.8, but has three top-five finishes in eight career All-Star Races.

Multiple cars experienced mechanical issues during the qualifying session due to the roaring speeds entering pit road. Tony Stewart had an extensive amount of smoke coming out of his No. 14 Chevrolet. The team immediately went to work in the garage as his team Tweeted they will be changing the transmission, rear end gear, driveshaft and axle prior to Saturday evening’s All-Star Race. Ryan Newman also had problems during the qualifying session after having trouble on pit road.

Several drivers missed their pit box while entering pit road. Approximately half of the field had trouble getting into their pit stall, or they had slow stops due to NASCAR’s policy where crew members could not climb over the wall until the car had fully stopped.  

Each of the Hendrick Motorsports cars qualified fourth through seventh, and ran solid lap times along with having respectable pit stops. Kevin Harvick will start third in his No. 4 Chevrolet. Sprint Showdown winner, Clint Bowyer, will start ninth in his No. 15 Toyota while A.J. Allmendinger qualified 17th. Sprint Fan Vote winner, Josh Wise, qualified 19th in his No. 98 car for Phil Parsons Racing. 

Jake Crum and Ryan Ellis were two drivers that needed to have good runs on Friday evening for the North Carolina Education Lottery 200 at the Charlotte Motor Speedway. After both drivers got into an incident early in the race, Crum and Ellis were racing side-by-side on the backstretch on Lap 87 when Crum drove into Ellis, damaging each of their underfunded trucks.

Whether it was intentional or not, Crum and Ellis were each driving for part-time organizations. Crum was able to continue on, but Ellis was not.

Making his first start since a 19th place finish at Bristol last August, Crum was poised to have a solid evening while driving for Empire Racing. However, he was collected in an accident less than 20 laps after the incident with Ellis, destroying his No. 82 Ford.

Ellis had plenty of support on social media as drivers such as Dale Earnhardt Jr., Parker Kligerman, David Ragan (who was spotting for Ellis) and Kasey Kahne commented on the incident which seemed to be intentional. After the race, Ellis explained his side of the incident, and requested for Crum to message him on Twitter to discuss things over.

“Initially we had gotten together where he ran me down on the apron and wrecked us which was fine because neither of our trucks got hurt. I really just forgot about it. I tried to side draft him a little bit to try to get a position back, and I just miscalculated how close we got,” Crum said on Saturday afternoon on the phone.

“We came down and I just got into the back of him. I felt really bad for what had happened. A few laps later, we got blown to pieces. I hate that (the wreck with Ellis) happened. It wasn’t intentional. I don’t race like that and I don’t intend to just wreck a guy on purpose. It was just my mistake that I hope never happens again.”

Crum also stated that the car was damaged during the first incident, and his right-front toe “was pretty messed up.”

However, no matter what Crum has to say, Ellis’ FDNY Racing Chevrolet is destroyed. FDNY Racing is a part-time organization that runs based upon volunteers that like to race. Ellis does not make any profit in driving for FDNY Racing, and was just going out there to have a good run for the team’s owner, New York native, Jim Rosenblum.

“We exchanged texts back and forth. I tried to call him a couple of times, but he’s in Iowa doing the Nationwide stuff, so he said he’s going to call me later.”

Ellis is currently preparing to race the No. 46 car at Iowa for The Motorsports Group. Crum, however, is working on possibly getting some more races with Empire Racing, but could not comment whether or not he will be able to get back on track with the team this season.


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