Former NASCAR driver Rick Crawford, 59, pleaded not guilty Thursday to a federal charge of enticing a minor.
Crawford was arraigned Thursday in U.S. District Court in Orlando, Florida, after being indicted Wednesday, according to federal court documents. He was arrested last week.
According to allegations in a federal complaint, Crawford met a federal agent posing as a man whom Crawford had planned to pay $50 to $75 to have sex with the man’s 12-year-old daughter. That would be lewd and lascivious battery under Florida law.
The complaint states Crawford denied to agents after his arrest that he was there to meet anyone underage.
“Crawford acknowledged that the communications indicated that a 12-year old girl would be involved, but stated that he found that hard to believe,” the complaint said. “He states he showed up to see whether or not the father had a 12 year old daughter, but claimed he would not have gone through with it if the child had been underage.”
A five-time race winner while competing 13 seasons in NASCAR’s truck series, Crawford faces 10 or more years in jail if found guilty. His trial is scheduled for May 7. NASCAR has removed Crawford from its list of industry experts who could hear appeals of penalties, a NASCAR spokesman said last week.
This article, while generally complimentary of Kevin Harvick, begins with a brief apology.
Harvick is a tremendous NASCAR driver. His 2014 championship season is proof of that. So too are his back-to-back wins these past two weekends, the second of which was his 100th NASCAR victory.
There’s just one thing. In spite of all he has accomplished in a race car, Harvick is – at least by athletic standards – old.
Now, Harvick’s age (he turned 42 in December) hasn’t hindered him at all this season though. Really, his experience has been a boon.
In fact, you could say Harvick – who is the same age as Jimmie Johnson, the Cup Series’ oldest full-time driver – is proof you can teach an old dog new tricks.
That “new trick” came in 2017, when NASCAR implemented stage racing. The new race model was designed to create excitement, drama … and to ensure that fluky one-hit drivers didn’t beat out established, consistent ones come playoff time.
No driver better understood that than Martin Truex Jr. Truex won more stages than any other driver last season, accumulating a hefty points advantage along the way. Of course, since the system was new in 2017, not every driver took advantage of that same tactic.
Truex eventually won the 2017 championship, proving his method works.
Now Harvick, is doing the same.
Three races into the 2018 NASCAR Cup Series season, Stewart-Haas Racing’s Kevin Harvick is the current favorite to win the championship.
Terry Renna AP
Not that Harvick had a bad season in 2017. He was one of the championship four at Homestead, and based on his late-season surge (he won the third-to-last race of the year at Texas), was even considered one of the favorites to win it all. Of course he did not, and Truex did, but the point remains that Harvick was oh so close.
Now, he has closed that gap. He has seen firsthand how that strategy pays off. He has realized there is a new game, and now he is playing it.
There are 33 drivers who have run all three Cup races this season. Harvick is just one of them. Arithmetic is no journalist’s specialty, but that makes his odds … not great, no matter how good he has been. (It should also be noted that Wednesday night, Harvick was penalized by NASCAR for an equipment issue. As a result, he had to forfeit his seven playoff points earned by virtue of his victory at Las Vegas).
Still, just three races in, we have gleaned something substantial about the way this NASCAR season, and future ones, will unfold.
Experienced drivers will recognize how beneficial stage wins are, and they will push themselves and their teams to achieve those. At least the good ones will. Harvick is one of those, and the first to truly execute that plan.
For that reason, he is the new favorite to win the 2018 Cup championship. Should he continue what he’s doing now, he might actually do it.
Today, I am going to be playing the part of Captain Obvious.
It is expensive to go racing. It doesn’t matter what brand of racing you are doing, it is going to cost you a whole bunch. When you are talking about running a full-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series competitively, you are talking about some serious coin.
For each race consider the costs:
Tires – teams can lease up to 16 sets at approximately $2,000 per set.
A top-notch motor from Toyota Racing Development, Roush-Yates, Hendrick or Earnhardt-Childress Engines – $100,000.
The car minus the drivetrain – $200,000 (caveat: can be used for more than one race unless crashed, however, it will need bodywork after each race).
Travel for the whole circus – big teams have their own planes with pilots, smaller teams fly one of the charter services that cater to NASCAR teams or commercial. Considering each team has probably 30 people going to the racetrack to work (not including guests and sponsor representatives), this is not an insignificant proposition. Add to that the cost to get the cars to the track. Not done yet; you still have to consider lodging and meals for all those people and rental cars and vans.
Salaries – top-notch talent, from driver to pit crew to road mechanics to the PR people, ain’t cheap.
These are just the big things; there are other costs (like licenses for team members) that factor into the whole thing that bring the total, conservatively to somewhere in the neighborhood of $500 – $750K each time a team heads to the race track. To be sure, teams are making adjustments to adjust to the new economic realities and finding ways to cut costs, but you can only cut so much. This is why we saw just 40 cars show up at Daytona, 36 at Atlanta and 37 at Las Vegas.
That brings us to this week and the point of all the math (talk about burying the lede).
Matt Dibenedetto, who drives for GoFas Racing (a chartered team, thus guaranteed a starting spot) and has quickly become an underdog fan favorite) took to Twitter earlier this week asking for money to go racing this weekend at ISM Raceway (née Phoenix International Raceway) as his team is unsponsored for the event and they were in danger of not entering.
And in a cool twist, some of his competitors answered.
Denny Hamlin pledged $5,000 to support Dibenedetto’s cause. The last two week’s winner Kevin Harvick quickly matched that. Fox broadcaster Darrell Waltrip then kicked in a $5K donation. Sure, that $15,000 isn’t going to make Dibenedetto competitive overnight, but it will put some tires on the car, pay for a pit crew or defer some of the travel costs to head out west (or stay out west) and the fixed costs for the actually racing are probably already sunk (car, motor, tools and the like). So Dibenedetto’s name is on the entry list.
But here is the rub: For the third-straight week, NASCAR’s premier series is running at less than a full field (despite what Michael Waltrip and NASCAR say about it). I know this refrain is old and tired, but, come on, how does NASCAR let it get to this point. Someone at the top (looking at you Mr. France) needs to recognize that the economics of the sport are broken. NASCAR is making money. International Speedway Corporation and Speedway Motorsports, Inc. (the companies that own most of the tracks) are making money.
Let’s be honest, they are making money on the backs of these teams. It’s NASCAR and the tracks that get the TV money. It’s the tracks that sell the beers and the hotdogs and hamburgers. Besides sponsorship, the only other revenue stream teams have are selling T-shirts, hats and shot glasses, and for the things sold on site, they are splitting with Fanatics, the track and NASCAR. Hell, when it comes to sponsor revenue, you often see NASCAR competing with teams over those dollars.
NASCAR implemented the charter system in 2016 to give team owners some equity and ensure they had cars to fill a field. But this week, you had a real shot at seeing one of the chartered teams not show up at the track for a race. While NASCAR is used to showing up with fewer than 40 cars, lacking a chartered team at the racetrack would be new.
I get that you are not going to effectively curb teams from spending. They operate on one basic equation: money = speed. I hate making comparisons to stick and ball sports, but it is worth noting here. In the big four, teams get a cut of that TV money and the gate money is theirs (I know there are big differences here, but I’m making a point). They get a cut of the beer and other concession sales.
I’ve worked with bands that have gotten a cut of the beer sales from the clubs they play. There is money in NASCAR, maybe not the kind of money there used to be, but there is money. It’s just not finding its way down to the people who play a big role in making the show go.
Andy Cagle can be reached at email@example.com.
USA TODAY Sports
Published 3:40 p.m. ET Feb. 5, 2018 | Updated 4:26 p.m. ET Feb. 5, 2018
USA TODAY Sports sat down with 2017 NASCAR Cup Series champion Martin Truex Jr. to discuss his emotions after winning the title. USA TODAY Sports
With the stage racing that debuted in 2017, there is more side-by-side racing in NASCAR.(Photo: Mike Dinovo, USA TODAY)
Following a successful first season of stage racing, NASCAR?announced on Monday a new fantasy game inspired by the competition format that has created closer, side-by-side racing and more dramatic moments throughout races.
The new NASCAR Fantasy Live follows the NASCAR official scoring system, allows players to make in-race driver substitutions and features incentives for correctly predicting stage wins, race wins and more. It is accessible on NASCAR.com (NASCAR.com/fantasy) and the NASCAR Mobile app.
?In NASCAR, every lap matters,? said Tim Clark, managing director of NASCAR Digital Media. ?The new NASCAR Fantasy Live game reflects the lap-by-lap intensity of modern NASCAR racing by giving fans the opportunity to strategize and adjust their driver lineups in real-time during races.?
Bragging rights are on the line in the all-new Fantasy Live game. ?
Here’s how it works: https://t.co/TbpCsTALvEpic.twitter.com/G4jfLovgx3
? NASCAR (@NASCAR) February 5, 2018
In NASCAR Fantasy Live, players pick five drivers to start prior to each Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series?race. In addition, a sixth ?garage? driver on the roster can be swapped in-race for any active driver before the final stage begins.?
Game scoring follows NASCAR official scoring and rewards points based on race results and driver finishing position for all three stages. Only drivers in the ?starting? position at the end of each race will earn fantasy points.
Individual drivers can be used a maximum of 10 times during the season. If a driver ends the race in the player?s garage, it will not count against the season limit.
During races, drivers running in the top 10 at the conclusion of Stage 1 and Stage 2 receive points, beginning with 10 points for the stage winner, nine points for second place, eight points for third place, and so on.
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Mirroring how Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races are scored, the race-winning driver earns 40 points, the second-place finisher 35 points, the third-place finisher 34 points, and so forth. The final four drivers to finish each race earn one point apiece.
Players can also score bonus points by correctly picking the pole winner (5 points), Stage 1 winner (10), Stage 2 winner (10),?winning manufacturer (10) and race-winning driver (30).
NASCAR Fantasy Live will run throughout the 26-week Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series regular season and culminate with the Brickyard 400?at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sept.?9. The overall points leader after the final race will be crowned 2018 champion and win $10,000.
NASCAR truck driver Noah Gragson hit our radar earlier this week when he was dared to eat a huge glob of wasabi ? and instantly regretted it ? but his week definitely picked up after that.
The 18-year-old received his high school diploma at Texas Motor Speedway before the Camping World Truck Series winstaronlinegaming.com 400 on Friday, where he won his first pole for the race. Graduation ceremonies at race tracks are a relatively recent NASCAR tradition for young drivers, including now-Cup Series driver Erik Jones and current XFINITY Series driver Cole Custer.
Gragson wore his fire suit and shoes under his cap and gown as he received his diploma from Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage.
The Texas Motor Speedway High School graduating class of 2017, @NoahGragson! https://t.co/EtV6QEVB7T? Texas Motor Speedway (@TXMotorSpeedway) June 09, 2017
According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Gragson had a traditional high school experience for two years before finishing his studies online.
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One of his former teachers at (Bishop) Gorman high school), Sharon Olson, became crew chief of his online studies. She tutored him and helped him pass on the high side ? the very high side. Gragson said he aced his online finals, getting A?s from the start of the grid to the back.
After getting his diploma, Gragson finished the winstaronlinegaming.com 400 in seventh place.
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There?s still another week remaining until ?big league? stock car racing hits the high banks at Daytona International Speedway but there?s no shortage of short track action available to consume on Saturday with a pair of events in South Carolina and Califonia respectively.
Both the Myrtle Beach Icebreaker and the Kern County Winter Showdown can be viewed over the internet and feature some of the biggest names in the discipline. The Kern County Winter Showdown is a Super Late Model race featuring the likes of Kyle Busch, Erik Jones and Bubba Pollard. The Myrtle Beach Icebreaker will be main-evented by a 50-lap Tour Type Modified feature and a 125-lap showdown for the NASCAR All-American Series Late Model Stock Cars.
So how can you watch these two events?
The Myrtle Beach Icebreaker will have a free broadcast on both NASCAR’s FansChoice.TV streaming service or on the local South Carolina HTC streaming provider. Late Model qualifying begins at 12:15 p.m. ET with racing starting at 1:45. The event also features vintage, mini stock and charger races. The Modifieds and Late Models are tentatively scheduled for 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. respectively.
The Kern County Winter Showdown will be broadcast live on Speed51.com?s 51TV digital pay-per-view service, 51TV. The full raceday can be purchased for $29.99. That price includes both the 250-lap main event and a 50-lap Lucas Oil Modifieds feature. Since qualifying was rained out on Friday, time trials will be included.
The broadcast for this event begins at 6 p.m,. ET or 3 p.m. locally in Bakersfield, California.
An entry list for the three main events across the two shows have been provided below.