Austin Dillon is still celebrating his Daytona 500 victory and Bubba Wallace is relishing his sudden breakout as NASCAR’s newest star.
Denny Hamlin? Well, he’s in the middle of another feud, and it’s only the second week of the season.
NASCAR moves from the Daytona 500 this weekend to Atlanta Motor Speedway with a bit of a hangover from the biggest party of its season.
Hamlin earned a call to the NASCAR hauler for a comment he made last week on the “Barstool Sports” podcast in which he claimed 70 percent of NASCAR drivers take the prescription drug Adderall to help with concentration.
Adderall is on NASCAR’s banned substance list without a doctor prescription.
Hamlin claimed it was a joke made on an irreverent podcast, but Wallace didn’t let it go after nudging Hamlin for second place in the Daytona 500. The two raced door-to-door to the finish, and Hamlin has repeatedly said the contact cut his tire.
But after his historic second-place finish — Wallace was the first black driver in the Daytona 500 field since 1969 — he took a shot at Hamlin for the final lap racing that in Hamlin’s mind went too far.
“He might need to take some Adderall for that one,” Wallace said on the Fox broadcast after he climbed from his car.
Told of the crack in his post-race news conference, Hamlin again maintained Wallace’s contact had cut his tire. He didn’t respond to the Adderall mention and exited the room.
Once outside the media center, he bumped into Wallace, and the two had a brief but heated exchange.
Public sentiment is on Wallace’s side — few fans have forgiven Hamlin since he wrecked Chase Elliott at Martinsville last fall — and Hamlin angrily took to Twitter to tell his side of the story.
Hamlin late Tuesday night called his Twitter critics “idiots,” and explained he had no beef about the ending of the race. His problem was the final question of his news conference, when he was asked for a response to Wallace’s remark.
“I had no issue until not only did he place blame on me but then went on to make personal comments about myself. I left the media center and saw Bubba 30 secs later,” Hamlin posted in a series of tweets.
“Anyone who wouldn’t take offense to the stupid things that was said has absolutely no backbone. I have one,” he concluded.
Wallace was dubious of Hamlin’s take on the last-lap racing on Sunday night, but believed the two would move on to Atlanta and be fine. He did, however, wonder if he was going to be kicked out of the Hamlin-led recreational basketball and golf leagues.
Turns out, though, that it wasn’t just NASCAR that was annoyed with Hamlin’s Adderall assessment.
Kevin Harvick used his Tuesday night SiriusXM show to note plenty of drivers are upset with Hamlin.
“Those 70 percent of drivers he referred to are mad,” Harvick said. “Whether he thinks it was an off-the-cuff comment and something he meant to say or not to say, it still offended most everybody in the garage. If you’re going to play around, joking and think it’s not something that everybody is going to take offense to. I think he’s probably seeing that nobody really appreciated it and it put everybody in a bad spot.”
Angry drivers are just one of many things to keep an eye on at Atlanta.
There are so far only 36 cars entered for Sunday’s race, which would make it the smallest field in decades. Only 39 cars competed at Atlanta last year, and that was the smallest field in 20 years.
NASCAR had allowed a maximum 43 cars starting in 1998, and hit that number until only 42 cars showed up at a 2014 race in Kentucky. Under the charter system, with only 36 cars guaranteed spots in the field, NASCAR cut the field to a maximum of 40 each week.
But the bulk of the purse goes to the chartered teams, and it’s a financial burden for “open” cars to show up every week and fight for the remaining four slots in the field.
The new charter system meant that only 40 cars tried to make the Daytona 500, which made the qualifying races pointless because no driver was battling for a spot in the field. Asked about the small car counts at Daytona, NASCAR executive Steve O’Donnell said the series prefers a strong entry list over backmarkers and field fillers.
“I think it is one of the best fields we’ve had, it’s deep,” O’Donnell said. “In the future, would we like to see more? We probably would. But when you look across all of sports now, the idea of sending someone home with a major sponsor, it just doesn’t happen in sports today. It’s not just a reality for NASCAR, it’s all motorsports, and sports in general.”
Team owner Roger Penske also wasn’t bothered by the field size.
“What we need is the continuity with all the same drivers and cars running across the whole season,” he said. “I think this is really a sign of the times, and that’s the way it’s going to be.”
And, keep an eye on the Toyota teams, especially Martin Truex Jr.
The most dominating manufacturer of 2017 came up empty at Daytona, and Truex, the defending series champion, led just four laps in three races. Toyota drivers did not win a single Cup event at Daytona.
But Atlanta at 1.54-miles is in Truex’s wheelhouse, and he won seven races on intermediate tracks last year. Truex’s average finish last year in 11 races at 1.5-mile tracks was second.
“While Daytona is the biggest and most prestigious race to win, the season actually starts at a downforce track,” Truex said. “Atlanta should give us a good indication how we fare against the competition.”
So, yeah, NASCAR rolls its show into Atlanta with everyone mad at Hamlin, Wallace out to prove he’s the real deal and Truex and the Toyota camp trying to reclaim their footing.
Buckle up, it’s going to be a long season.
Hillary Clinton: ‘fun to watch FOX when it’s someone else being blitzed’
Jason Decrow / AP
Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is interviewed during a gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on Dec. 4, 2013, in New York.
Step aside, Jon Stewart. There’s a new political satirist in town.
Hillary Clinton, the former secretary of state and a potential Democratic presidential candidate, took an apparent shot at Fox News during the Super Bowl on Sunday.
It’s so much more fun to watch FOX when it’s someone else being blitzed & sacked! #SuperBowl
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) February 3, 2014
The tweet, which had been retweeted more than 30,000 times by the start of the game’s fourth quarter, was apparently a reference to the cable news channel’s coverage, which has been highly critical of Democrats and the September 2012 terror attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya. Clinton has come under fire for the State Department response to the attack.
The Fox broadcast network — which aired the Super Bowl — and the Fox News Channel are both owned by the Fox Entertainment Group subsidiary of 21st Century Fox, a division of News Corp.
Racial discrimination in teen years could mean health problems later
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Racial discrimination isn’t just a civil rights issue — it can also affect teenagers’ health, a new study suggests.
Adolescents who experienced frequent racial discrimination without emotional support from parents and peers had higher levels of blood pressure, a higher body mass index, and higher levels of stress-related hormones at age 20, placing them at greater risk for chronic disease as they get older.
While other studies have looked at perceived racial discrimination and health among adults, this study, published Monday in the journal Child Development, is the first of its type to track the effects in youth. The good news: Teens who did receive emotional support didn’t show the biological effects of racial discrimination.
Researchers wanted to look at the relationship between racial discrimination and what scientists call allostatic load, basically the “wear and tear” on the body over time caused by frequent and repeated stressors. Frequent activation of the body’s stress response causes a cascade of problems including high blood pressure, cardiac disease, stroke and increases in the body’s inflammatory response. The researchers also wanted to determine whether parental and peer support would help mediate that stress, leading to potentially better health outcomes.
The study involved 331 African Americans, all of whom lived in the rural South, who were asked to rate the frequency of perceived discrimination at ages 16, 17 and 18. These discriminatory events included racially based slurs and insults, disrespectful treatment from community members, physical threats, and false accusations from business employees or law enforcement officials.
When the adolescents turned 18, the youths were asked to assess their peer emotional support during these years. Caregivers, too, were surveyed regarding the emotional support they provided, with questions including “If my child talks to me I have suggestions about how to handle problems,” and “If my child needs help with school or work, she/he can ask me about it.”
Blood pressure, body mass and stress-related hormones were assessed when youths turned 20. The researchers controlled for variables including low economic status, depression, or unhealthy behaviors such as drug use, for example, all of which can affect health.
Although many African Americans, as well as other minorities, experience discrimination as a stressor, only a small percentage show increases in the biological havoc that stress can cause.
“People ask why is that, and one reason we’ve shown is that it’s due to emotional support, which is important at all times in life, but especially during adolescence,’ says lead investigator Gene Brody, Regents Professor and Director of the Center for Family Research at University of Georgia. “These kinds of relationships can be a protective barrier from stress-changing biology.”
In recent years, racial discrimination as a stressor affecting biology has been the subject of numerous studies, mostly involving adults, says David Williams, a professor of public health at the Harvard School of Public Health. Other research has shown that racial discrimination and resulting health problems are a global phenomenon.
“It is not just an African-American problem, it is a universal problem, affecting the health of disadvantaged populations across the world,” adds Williams, the developer of “The Everyday Discrimination Scale,” which is widely used to assess perceived discrimination. “When a person’s sense of human dignity is violated, there are physiological consequences.”
Although the study does have some limitations since researchers still must determine the mechanism by which parental or peer involvement actually worked in reducing the stress response, it challenges researchers to explain “the how” of their findings, says Megan Gunnar, Regents Professor and Distinguished McKnight University Professor, Institute of Child Development, University of Minnesota.
“While we are working out the how this comes about in the body, this study provides us with rich targets for increasing resilience in youth and, as if we needed them, more arguments for working to reduce racism and discrimination in our society.”
For caregivers the message is simple. “Just sitting with them, gauging how they are doing is not race specific, it is important across all races, and can have a powerful effect in buffering the effects of discrimination,” says Brody.
Child, 4, dies after being pulled from Norwegian Cruise pool
Richard Drew / AP
People pause to look at the Norwegian Breakaway on the Hudson River in New York in May 2013. A 4-year-old child died after being pulled unresponsive from a swimming pool on the Norwegian Breakaway on Feb. 3, 2014.
A 4-year-old child died after being pulled unresponsive from a swimming pool on a Norwegian Cruise Line ship off the coast of North Carolina on Monday, cruise line and Coast Guard officials said.
Crew members were able to revive a 6-year-old boy also found in the pool. He was airlifted to a hospital, where his condition was unknown.
The two children were found in the morning on the Norwegian Breakaway, the cruise line said in an announcement on its Facebook page. The statement did not give the ages of the children, but Coast Guard Petty Officer Adam SanSoucie said they were 4 and 6.
An emergency medical team on the ship gave both children CPR, but the younger child died, the cruise line’s statement said. The older child, a boy, was airlifted with his grandmother and a nurse to a hospital, the company said. It did not identify the gender of the younger child.
SanSoucie said the boy was taken by Marine rescue helicopter to Carteret General Hospital in Morehead City, N.C. The boy was then transferred to Vidant Medical Center in Greenville. A spokeswoman there didn’t immediately return a phone call Tuesday.
“We extend our deepest sympathies to the family during this extremely difficult time and are providing full assistance and support,” the cruise line said in its Facebook statement. “The family is in our thoughts and prayers and we ask that you please keep them in your thoughts and prayers as well.”
The 4,000-passenger ship was bound for Florida. The Norwegian Cruise Line website describes the Norwegian Breakaway as the “newest and largest ship embarking from NYC” to winter destinations including the southern Caribbean, Bahamas and Florida.
— The Associated Press
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