LEXINGTON, Ohio -- An undisclosed illness has put Eric McClure in the hospital and he will be replaced by Jeff Green at this weekend's Nationwide race at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
Green, a former Nationwide Series champion and teammate of McClure's at TriStar Motorsports, will fill in behind the wheel for McClure in the No. 14 car at Saturday's Nationwide Children's Hospital 200.
McClure's illness and his replacement by Green were announced in a news release from Team McClure, Inc./Hefty Reynolds Wrap Racing.
McClure's status was listed as week to week.
Veteran selected as NASCAR race's honorary starter
BROOKLYN, Mich. -- A U.S. Army veteran and Purple Heart recipient from Ohio has been selected as the honorary starter for the Pure Michigan 400 NASCAR race after his hope of honoring his 6-year-old son on race day resonated with voters in an online contest, organizers said Wednesday.
David Balestrino Jr. of Youngstown won the contest on the Pure Michigan Facebook page, getting hundreds of votes for his entry on why he wanted to honor Brady by waving the green flag Sunday at Michigan International Speedway. Pure Michigan is the state's tourism campaign.
"While serving in Iraq I missed the entire first year of Brady's life," Balestrino said in a statement. "That was the most difficult thing I ever had to go through." With the honor, he said, he hopes he "can make everyone who has served or is still serving proud."
Balestrino served as a combat engineer from 2003-2009 and received a Purple Heart during service in Iraq. For the contest, people submitted entries of 50 words or less explaining why they should be selected as honorary starter. His entry got more than 800 votes.
As honorary starter, Balestrino will get a pace car ride from NASCAR's official pace car driver and attend the NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers' meeting. TV personality and Traverse City native Carter Oosterhouse is Pure Michigan 400 grand marshal of the event.
Sprint car safety procedures in question
KNOXVILLE, Iowa -- Three-time NASCAR champion Tony Stewart reignited the debate about the danger of open-wheel winged sprint cars when he broke his leg last week in rural Iowa.
It was the third crash in a month for Stewart. It came after former NASCAR driver Jason Leffler died racing sprint cars in June, and longtime driver Kramer Williamson died after a crash earlier this month.
Sprint car racing has always been inherently dangerous -- that's a big part of its appeal -- but the spate of high-profile wrecks has some questioning whether the cars are as safe as they should be.
"They understand that these cars are rocket ships and that there's danger involved. Me as a competitor and seeing what has happened in our sport and what has influenced change for the good in safety, I'm hoping that those with the World of Outlaws and those that are the influencers ... would be willing to step it up," said Jeff Gordon, a four-time NASCAR champion who raced sprint cars early in his career. "They've made slight changes and improvements in this area. Obviously, it's not enough."
Gordon's not the only one concerned about the safety measures in place for sprint cars, which generate tremendous horsepower and can be a ton lighter than a NASCAR race car. Sprint car star Donny Schatz, who last weekend won the famed Knoxville Nationals title for the seventh time in eight years, is among those clamoring for change.
"I'm not confident that safety measures are (being) met in this sport. There are a lot of people that are working hard to perfect things, to make things better. But sometimes people don't see things until people get hurt," Schatz said. "There are some areas that safety can be addressed. But it's also a gray area that no one wants to get involved in."