11 interesting things that happened Friday at Dover
It was an interesting and somewhat bizarre Friday at Dover International Speedway as NASCAR got their tripleheader weekend rolling.
Check out everything you need to know from Friday's action at the Monster Mile.
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Earnhardt's special co-pilot
Dale Earnhardt Jr. will be carry the name of Ailee Gilliland on the top of the door of his No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet. Gilliland is the Nationwide Children's Hospital Patient Champion, a hospital located in Columbus, Ohio.
For the month of June, Earnhardt's signature gloves will be red for Safety Awareness and in support of Gilliland.
After racing 600 grueling miles in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway last Sunday night, Johnson turned around and participated in his foundation's Fit Fest in South Carolina.
Johnson has a ton of stamina for how hard he trains, but the seven-time champ is still feeling all the miles logged, on both two and four wheels.
“Yeah, I’m slowly getting back," Johnson said. "It’s amazing how far I wore down my battery through the 600-mile race and the four-hour mountain bike race the next day. But it was very well attended and supported and a lot of money was raised for the public education program that my wife and I are supporting."
After earning his first career race win and putting the No. 3 back in Victory Lane, Austin Dillon is still waiting for the major milestone to really hit him.
“I don’t think I have slowed down enough yet to really just know that I’m a NASCAR Cup Series winner," Dillon said. "It sunk in a couple of times like those opportunities I’ve had with my grandfather and the race team. Those are the most special times, but going through my phone and Twitter, I’m still kind of going through my phone right now and thanking people. That is cool.”
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Matt's mic drop
Playing along with Kyle Busch's post-race mic drop in the media center following the Coca-Cola 600, Busch's Joe Gibbs Racing teammate, Matt Kenseth, performed a mic drop of his own Friday at Dover.
No. 32 hauler damaged
In a freak accident, the hauler carrying Matt DiBenedetto's No. 32 Go Fas Racing Ford received significant damage. Whilte entering the infield, a garbage truck shifted on Dover's steep banking and collided with the hauler, shearing part of the left side.
After a dust up on-track in opening XFINITY Series practice Friday morning between Spencer Gallagher and Joey Gase, the pair exchanged some words in the garage area. Gallagher was forced to a a back-up car after damage from the incident with Gase.
Camping World Truck Series driver and Daytona winner Kaz Grala (right) was unable to make it to his high school graduation, so the graduation was brought to him.
Behind his hauler, FOX NASCAR analyst Michael Waltrip (left) awarded Grala with his diploma from Worcester Academy, located in Worcester, Massachusetts.
Small team, big-time sponsor
It's been a struggle for Jeffrey Earnhardt's low-budget No. 33 Circle Sport/TMG team to find sponsorship so far this year.
But that all changed when it was announced that Hulu would become the primary sponsor on the car for 19 races this season.
Earnhardt spoke about just how much it means to land a big-time sponsor.
"...Being a small team, it’s huge for us," Earnhardt said. "Every dollar goes a long way and there have been races where we haven’t had sponsorship and that is tough on anyone, but it’s even tougher on a small team like us. To be able to have good companies like Hulu come on board is huge and not just being able to have more funding going to the track, but to get us more exposure and branding is a huge plus too."
In the Coca-Cola 600, fluid and debris from Jeffrey Earnhardt's No. 33 car caused a fiery crash between Chase Elliott and Brad Keselowski.
Earlier in the week on Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s weekly podcast, Dale noted that Jeffrey was trying to contact him to get Elliott's number to apologize.
"Jeffery sent me a text after the race and he just apologized," Elliott said. "And I told him I said ‘man it’s not your fault.' It’s just one of those incidents where I was just in a bad spot, he had a parts failure that was not his doing and I get it.
"I appreciate him reaching out and taking the time and effort to do that," Elliott added. "It meant a lot to me just because I thought it showed a lot about his character and the kind of person he is. I don’t really know Jefferey all that well, so it was kind of cool to see what kind of person he is and cares if nothing else."
Kyle Busch will lead the field to the green flag in Sunday's Monster Energy Series race, earning his first pole since Indianapolis in August 2016.
As the frustration builds for Joe Gibbs Racing as they have yet to win in 2017, Busch's qualifying performance was a huge step toward ending the winless streak.
“To sit on the pole here means a little bit for us – it gives us a really good pit selection for Sunday and, more importantly, just gives us the track position right off the bat,” Busch said.
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Toyota flexed their muscle by sweeping the top-four starting spots in Friday's qualifying session.
Martin Truex Jr. was a close second behind Busch, followed by Joe Gibbs Racing drivers Daniel Suarez and Matt Kenseth.
Starting up front is crucial in order to earn those all-imporant playoff points for winning stages and races.
Truex talked about just how much it's been on the minds of those on his No. 78 Furniture Row Racing team.
"Last weekend, we lost an opportunity to possibly get another stage win just by losing I think three spots on pit road with five or six laps to go in one of those stages, so it’s – everybody is pushing hard to get them and they’re going to be really important," Truex said Friday. "We were actually talking about them today in the hauler – how important they’re going to be come playoff time and the guys that don’t have them are going to be scratching their heads saying, ‘Why didn’t we get more of these playoff points throughout the season.’
"It’s going to be big," he added. "We’re just happy we’ve been able to collect a bunch of them so far.”