(UPDATED) Rain-postponed Duck Commander 500 is underway at Texas Motor Speedway

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The rain-postponed Duck Commander 500 is underway at Texas Motor Speedway – 21 hours after it was originally scheduled to kick off before unending rain and several thunderstorms prevented any racing action on Sunday.

While weather conditions are cloudy and temperatures are in the mid-60s, NASCAR officials and teams are likely approaching the race with the famous tagline of comedian Larry The Cable Guy: Git-R-Done – and as quick as possible.

Or at least get one lap past halfway (168 laps) of the 334-lap event to make it official.

The reason: the National Weather Service is predicting a 30 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms after 2 p.m. ET (the race began at 12:09 p.m. ET).

That prediction continues all the way up until 2 a.m. ET Tuesday – which, by the way, will be sunny with a high of 72.

Pole-sitter Tony Stewart held the lead for the first 10 laps as NASCAR officials determined the track’s viability for full-speed racing. The first 10 laps were run under competition caution green/yellow conditions before the race went full-tilt green on Lap 11.

NASCAR had scheduled a second competition caution at Lap 35 to check tire wear due to all-green conditions following yesterday’s rain. However, because Dale Earnhardt Jr. crashed on Lap 13, the competition caution has been delayed to Lap 48.

This is the seventh race of the 36-race NASCAR Sprint Cup season. There have been six different winners in 2014 thus far: Dale Earnhardt Jr. (Daytona 500), Kevin Harvick (Phoenix), Brad Keselowski (Las Vegas), Carl Edwards (Bristol), Kyle Busch (Fontana) and Kurt Busch (Martinsville).

“There’s a couple spots that are just damp, but the the guy up there in the pace car up there has a pretty good plan here to get us out there, let us run a couple laps under caution to see if the heat of these cars and motors help dry this thing out out a little bit,” Stewart said on Fox Sports while taking one of several pace laps prior to the start of the green flag. “(Track officials) have been out here since 5:30 (a.m. CT) and have done an awesome job.”

Keselowski went back into the pits on Lap 2 because the hood of his car was loose and popped up the hinges to keep the hood intact.

Ryan Newman also had to come into the pits on Lap 3 for the same issue, as well as to make sure his roof flap was secure.

Ditto for Danica Patrick’s car on Lap 4.

All three cars apparently came too close to jet dryers during parade laps and the blowback from the driers apparently got under the cars and loosened the flaps and hoods.

Several other drivers brought their cars onto pit road, including Kyle Busch and Clint Bowyer, to have their cars looked over as a precautionary measure.

IndyCar: Schmidt Peterson Motorsports expands mentoring program for tech school students

Photos: Schmidt Peterson Motorsports
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IndyCar team Schmidt Peterson Motorsports announced today that it is extending and widening a unique sponsorship and mentoring program that began last season with students from Lincoln Technical Institute.

The program began last year, with students from several Lincoln Tech branches attending select IndyCar events for an entire weekend.

The students, primarily from auto and diesel training programs, got an insiders experience with the team, taking part in team meetings, watching team workers prepare and service the No. 5 Arrow Electronics Honda of driver James Hinchcliffe, sat on pit boxes during practices, qualifying and, of course races.

The overall experience was to get students more interested and involved in potential careers in the IndyCar field.

“We said at the beginning of last season that we knew our students would benefit and learn from the professionalism and drive of the Schmidt Peterson Motorsports team,” Lincoln Tech President and CEO Scott Shaw said. “But the experience they received working with the entire pit crew team and in particular crew member Cole Jagger – a Lincoln Tech graduate himself – went beyond even our own expectations.

“We were grateful for the time they spent mentoring our students, and we are thrilled to once again be part of the racing legacy of team owners Sam Schmidt and Ric Peterson.”

Lincoln Tech will once again serve as an associate sponsor on Hinchcliffe’s car for the entire 2018 IndyCar season. In addition, it is expanding its Mentor Program to select students to attend a minimum of nine IndyCar races from six last season.

Students are selected based upon their grade point average, attendance, conduct and overall commitment to becoming outstanding automotive technicians. An interest in IndyCar and a desire to work in the industry is also considered.

One student that took part last season, Tyler Crist of Lincoln Tech’s Denver campus, joined the team at the IndyCar race in Long Beach last April, watching as Hinchcliffe won the event.

“It was the best weekend of my life,” Crist said after the event. “It reminded me of why I joined this field in the first place and to never give up on my dreams.”

Jagger will oversee the expanded mentoring program this season. For Jagger, being involved especially hits home, as he is a graduate of Lincoln Tech’s Indianapolis campus.

“I totally enjoyed working with the Lincoln Tech students that participated in the Mentor Program last year and look forward to meeting this year’s group,” Jagger said. “Being a Lincoln Tech grad, I hope the students realize that if you have a passion for cars, a career in racing is something that’s not out of reach. If I can be an example for them to follow, that makes it even more rewarding.”

In addition to the at-track activities of the mentoring program, several Lincoln Tech branches across the country will utilize CNC computerized machining and manufacturing tools to assist in creating car parts for SPM.

“Through this unique partnership, we’re able to hopefully find the next class of talent that could one day be part of our organization,” SPM president Jon Flack said. “We’re looking forward to another year of the mentorship program and having their students be ‘boots on the ground’ gaining real-life experience with our team.”

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