NASCAR to once again honor Wendell Scott in this weekend’s race at Phoenix

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As it has done each year since 2010 on the first weekend of March, NASCAR will once again honor the legacy of Wendell Scott during this weekend’s four races at Phoenix International Raceway.

The weekend is designated because it marks what is now the 53rd anniversary of Scott’s first race in the NASCAR Grand National (now Sprint Cup) Series.

Every car that competes in the NASCAR Sprint Cup, Nationwide Series, Mexico Toyota Series and K&N Pro Series West races will have a commemorative decal of Scott applied to either the B or C post of each vehicle during the entire weekend. Scott was recently among 20 drivers nominated for induction into the NASCAR Hall of Fame’s Class of 2015.

Although he won dozens of races on regional tracks across the Southeast, Scott became — and remains — the first African-American driver to win a Grand National race in NASCAR history, having done so on Dec. 1, 1963, in a 200-lap/100-mile event at the half-mile Speedway Park dirt track in Jacksonville, Fla.

In contrast to today’s racing standards, Scott’s average winning speed in the race was a relatively slow 58.252 mph, while pole-sitter Jack Smith’s top qualifying speed was just 70.921 mph.

Driving a Chevrolet Bel-Air he purchased from future NASCAR Hall of Famer Ned Jarrett, Scott started from the 15th position in the 22-car field, ultimately passing Richard Petty – whose car was experiencing mechanical problems – with 25 laps remaining to go on and capture the checkered flag.

Scott’s win was steeped in controversy. Buck Baker, who finished runner-up, was initially declared the winner of the race, but that was changed several hours later when scoring officials realized Scott had indeed won by two laps.

Scott’s win stood as the only victory by an African-American driver in NASCAR’s three premier series (Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Camping World Trucks) until last fall, when Darrell “Bubba” Wallace won the trucks race at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway on Oct. 26, 2013.

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Ricciardo: Red Bull has ‘decent chance’ of Abu Dhabi F1 victory

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Daniel Ricciardo believes Red Bull stands a “decent chance” of signing off from the 2017 Formula 1 season with a victory in next weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

After a slow start to the year, Red Bull made massive gains across the course of the season by developing its RB13 to end the season as front-runners, rivaling Mercedes and Ferrari for pace.

The Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi has a number of slow-speed sections that should suit the RB13 car, with Ricciardo optimistic about his chances of not only ending his podium drought at the track, but even winning the race.

“Yas Marina has actually been one of my favorite tracks over the years,” Ricciardo said in Red Bull’s pre-race preview.

“It’s been a bit like Suzuka for me though, a track that I’ve always enjoyed and gone well on but not quite reached the podium at. I broke that trend in Suzuka this year so hopefully I can do the same in Abu Dhabi.

“When you have so much time away from the car in the off season it helps to sign off with a strong result as it makes you feel like you really deserve a break.

“I think we should have a strong car in Abu Dhabi. I said I want another win before the season is out and I think we have a decent chance of achieving that.”

Red Bull has claimed three race wins through 2017, with Ricciardo’s victory in Azerbaijan being followed up by successes for teammate Max Verstappen in Malaysia and Mexico.