“Big One” strikes on last lap for NASCAR Trucks; Justin Lofton discharged from hospital (UPDATED, with VIDEO)

1 Comment

UPDATED (10:22 p.m. ET): Justin Lofton’s PR team has confirmed via his Twitter account, @JLRacing, that Lofton has been discharged from a local hospital after sustaining a fractured left thumb in today’s last-lap melee at Talladega.

UPDATED (8:28 p.m. ET): NASCAR has confirmed that 11 of the 12 drivers involved in today’s crash have been checked and released from Talladega’s infield care center. As seen in the most recent update, the 12th driver, Justin Lofton, has been transported to a local hospital for further evaluation.

Additionally, Dustin Long of MotorRacingNetwork.com and Bob Pockrass of The Sporting News are both reporting that track officials have stated that there are no structural damage to the walls after the crash.

UPDATED (7:12 p.m. ET): Per reports from Talladega, NASCAR has announced that Justin Lofton, one of the drivers involved in this afternoon’s last-lap crash at Talladega Superspeedway, will be taken to a local hospital for further evaluation. Lofton drives the No. 6 Sharp-Gallaher Racing Chevrolet Silverado.

The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series’ race this afternoon at Talladega Superspeedway was marked by several multi-truck accidents, but none as spectacular as the one that ensued on the final lap of the Fred’s 250.

As the field was coming to the checkered flag, Jeb Burton was clipped from behind by Miguel Paludo and sent into Kyle Busch on the outside. Busch then came down and took Burton into Paludo and Darrell Wallace, and the impact caused Paludo (pictured, No. 32) to flip onto the roof of his truck.

With those behind them proceeding to stack up, Busch continued to slide and went into the inside concrete wall near the start/finish line before coming to a stop. By the time it was all over, 12 trucks had been involved in the entire mess.

“I don’t know what happened,” Busch said to Fox Sports after he had gotten his wind back following the crash; he had climbed out of his wrecked Toyota and sat down against the outside concrete wall in the aftermath.

“Somebody just came up from underneath me and hit me, turned me left and then the wreck was on. When you see the checkered flag and you see things in front of you, you just keep your foot on it and I drove it all the way to start/finish.

“I guess I knocked the wall down there on pit road, so that wasn’t very fun…There were a couple of really good licks that I took, so there was no sense of sitting in a hot vehicle. You might as well get out and get some fresh air.”

Ahead of the chaos, Johnny Sauter went on to win the race over David Starr, Ross Chastain, Parker Kligerman and Dakoda Armstrong.

Michael Andretti looking forward to new Australian Supercars venture

Getty Images
Leave a comment

If it seems like Michael Andretti is out to conquer the world, he is – kind of.

The former IndyCar star turned prolific team owner has won three of the last four Indianapolis 500s and five overall, second only to Roger Penske’s 16 Indy 500 triumphs.

Along the way, in addition to expanding his own IndyCar and Indy Lights operation, the son of Mario Andretti and the primary shareholder of Andretti Autosport has also branched out into Global RallyCross and Formula E racing in recent years.

And now, Andretti has further expanded his brand internationally, following Penske to the world down under — as in the world of Australian V8 Supercars.

Andretti has teamed with Supercars team owner Ryan Walkinshaw, along with veteran motorsports marketer and executive director of McLaren Technology Group and United Autosports owner and chairman, Zak Brown.

Together, the three have formed Walkinshaw Andretti United, based in suburban Melbourne, Australia. The new team kicks off the new season with the Adelaide 500 from March 1-4.

“It’s just extending our brand and putting it out there,” Andretti told NBC Sports. “The Supercars are such a great series.

“It all started with Zach Brown calling me and said ‘You have to talk to Ryan Walkinshaw. He’s got something interesting to talk to you about.’

“We talked and literally in like a half-hour, we said, ‘Let’s figure out how we’re going to make this work.’ And then Zack was like, ‘Hey, what about me?’ And then Zack came in as a partner and it’s cool now that we have the Walkinshaw Andretti United team.

“I’m really excited about that program, the guys at the shop are excited about it, we’ve been doing a lot of things to try and help it because it’s such a cool series and the cars are so cool.

“I went down there to Bathurst, which was to me one of the coolest tracks in the world. I wish I could have driven it, I really do. It looks like a blast.

“It’s amazing how big that series is when you go down there. It’s one of the biggest sports in Australia. It was just a great opportunity for us to extend our portfolio.”

Admittedly, Andretti had some extra incentive to want to get involved in the Supercars world: Penske joined forces with legendary Dick Johnson Racing in September 2014.

The organization came together quickly and the rebranded DJR Team Penske went on to win the 2017 V8 Supercars championship.

“Roger was down there the last few years,” Andretti said, adding that fact as incentive to get his own organization into the series. “So it’s cool to go race head-to-head with Roger. That was also in the back of our minds.”

This is no start-up venture for Andretti. The roots of the new venture began in 1990 as the Holden Racing Team, which went on to become one of the most successful organizations in Australian V8 Supercar racing, having won the drivers’ championship six times and the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship’s top race, the Bathurst 1000 (essentially Australia’s version of the Indy 500), seven times.

Last season, Holden Racing team morphed into Triple Eight Race Engineering and was renamed Mobil 1 HSV Racing.

And now the company has been renamed once again for the 2018 campaign under the Walkinshaw Andretti United banner.

The team will be composed of two Holden ZB Commodores with drivers James Courtney and Scott Pye, as well as a Porsche 911 GT3-R in the Australian GT championship.

What’s next for Andretti’s motorsports portfolio? Right now, it’s pretty full, but you can bet running for championships from Australia (Supercars) to globally (GRC) to Indianapolis (Indy 500) to the U.S. (Verizon IndyCar Series) are at the top of this year’s list.