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Dale Earnhardt Jr. announces break from racing, Jeff Gordon steps in

It’s official. After much talk and concern over concussion symptoms displayed by NASCAR superstar Dale Earnhardt Jr., it's been announced that his break from driving may end up being out for longer than anyone first thought.

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The symptoms kept Earnhardt from racing in New Hampshire on July 17.

Jeff Gordon will come out of retirement and return to Sprint Cup racing to act as Earnhardt's replacement for the next two races at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Pocono Speedway.

NASCAR fans will recall that Gordon has had much success at Indy, winning five times at the storied track -- including at the inaugural Brickyard 400 in 1994.

In terms of Earnhardt's health, reports have indicated that he has been battling balance problems and nausea -- possibly from a pair of back-to-back crashes in Michigan and Daytona.

"(My doctors) can give me a lot of exercises that retrain my brain to handle what I need to handle -- it's just going to take a lot of patience," Earnhardt said in a podcast, according to ABC News. "I take my health and quality of life as a top priority. … I am going to take this slow and strictly take the advice of my doctors."

Rascal Flatts responds to brutal attack on NASCAR veteran Mike Wallace, daughter

Three people have been arrested in connection with an assault on former NASCAR Sprint Cup driver Mike Wallace and his daughter after a Rascal Flatts concert Friday night in Charlotte, North Carolina, according to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department.

Wallace posted a note on Facebook about the assault, which he said sent him and his adult daughter Lindsey Wallace Van Wingerden to the hospital, ESPN reported.

Rascal Flatts responded to the incident on Twitter.

He sat down with WSOC-TV on Sunday evening to share his horrifying story.

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Wallace told WSOC that he was in the parking lot and said the question that prompted the attack was, “How did you like the show?”

According to Wallace, a group of people started screaming at him and then beat him up after he asked that question.

Wallace was at the show with his family and his daughter tried to help him, but she said the group then turned on her.

The 57-year-old said he suffered a concussion. His daughter was also rushed to the hospital after she tried to protect her father.

She said she can't comprehend the motives behind the fight.

“It scares us to think we can't even go to a concert together without someone going to attack you or what's going to happen next,” Wallace Van Wingerden said.

Wallace received 12 stitches and lost three teeth in the fight, but told WSOC his greater concern was for his daughter.

“I woke up. I see my daughter laying on the ground, which is devastating for a father,” he said. “I mean, that's the worst thing in the world.”

“We were told on site that CMPD at the PNC Theater, that they've dealt with this group on two or three separate occasions so far this concert season,” Wallace said. “The people this happened with are actual contractors with PNC. They're maintenance crews. Their company provides maintenance and yard landscaping services from what we're told.”

Three men were arrested in the assault, which happened at the PNC Music Pavilion: Paul Lucas, 29, Nathan Lucas, 22, of Indian Trail and Randolph Mangum, 24, of Monroe.

Nathan Lucas and Mangum were charged with misdemeanor simple assault, while Paul Lucas was charged with misdemeanor assault on a female, according to police records. All were released after posting bond and will appear in court July 22.

“The physical side is going to heal,” Wallace Van Wingerden told WSOC. “The bruises are going to heal. There's doctors gonna fix things, but now it’s the emotional parts. You see these flashbacks knowing there are people out there.”

“It's a weekend we did not plan on having,” she said. “I could think of a lot better things to be doing on Father's Day, that's for sure.”

The eldest brother of the Wallace racing family, which includes Rusty Wallace and Kenny Wallace, Mike Wallace had 197 starts in his Sprint Cup career, his last coming in the 2015 Daytona 500.

He has competed in 17 Cup races in the past 10 years. His last full NASCAR season was in 2013 when he competed in the Xfinity Series, where he has four career wins in 494 starts.

American Pharoah retires after winning final race

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Horse racing icon American Pharoah is leaving the racing world at the top. The colt took first in his final race at the Breeders' Cup Classic, winning $5 million. 

"I'm so proud of my staff," trainer Bob Baffert told ESPN. "There's a lot of pressure training a horse like this and I'm happy for all the fans here, all of America; they love this horse. He did it the right way." 

All in all, American Pharoah won nine of his 11 races, and in winning the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes, became the first horse to capture the Triple Crown since 1978. (Video via NBC

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There's no doubt American Pharoah has helped bring horse racing back into the mainstream after the sport faced declining attendance and drug controversy. It will be interesting to see how the sport fares as the colt hangs up his horsehoes. 

According to NBC Sports, he's earned more than $8.6 million for his owner during his career and is now headed to a breeding farm in Kentucky. 

This video includes images from Getty Images.

Tony Stewart to retire after 2016 season, reports say

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NASCAR's Tony Stewart will retire after the 2016 season, multiple news outlets are reporting.

According to The Associated Press, the three-time Sprint Cup Series champion will announce his retirement at a Wednesday news conference, said an unnamed source "familiar with Stewart's plans." Clint Bowyer likely will replace Stewart as driver of the No. 14 Chevrolet for Stewart-Haas Racing in 2017, ESPN reports.

>> AUGUST 2014: Tony Stewart involved in fatal collision with other driver

>> SEPTEMBER 2014: Grand jury to weigh case of NASCAR's Tony Stewart

Stewart's team has not commented on news reports of the announcement.

Stewart, described by the AP as "a lock for NASCAR's Hall of Fame," has 48 Sprint Cup victories and 582 starts in 17 years. He won championships in 2002, 2005 and 2011. 

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But according to, which broke the retirement news, Stewart has "not been the same person" in recent years. In August 2014, Stewart struck and killed Kevin Ward Jr., a driver who was walking on the track, at a race in upstate New York. Stewart faces a wrongful death lawsuit in the case. And in 2013, Stewart was injured in a crash in Iowa and missed one-third of the season.

Read more here.

NASCAR legend Buddy Baker dead at 74

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NASCAR legend Buddy Baker has passed away.

Baker, who won 19 cup races, including the 1980 Daytona 500, announced last month he had lung cancer.

>>PHOTOS: Buddy Baker through the years

Most recently, Baker hosted a show on Sirius XM Radio. They announced his passing around 6:30 a.m. Monday.

Baker was among the nominees for the NASCAR Hall of Fame’s class of 2016.

He was 74 years old.

WATCH: Airborne crash stuns, injures fans at Daytona NASCAR race

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Dale Earnhardt Jr. won the rain-delayed Sprint Cup Series race at Daytona International Speedway, which ended at 2:41 Monday morning with a horrific last-lap crash

The outcome was not in doubt as Earnhardt dominated the race. But as the pack of cars chased him on a two-lap overtime sprint to the finish, contact in traffic sent Austin Dillon's car flying upside down into the catch fence.

"That catch fence took a hell of a shot," Earnhardt said.

>> Click here to watch the video

The car tore down a section of fencing, and Dillon sailed back onto the track. His mangled car landed on its roof, and Casey Mears' crew members raced to pull Dillon from the wreckage.

WFTV's Christian Bruey reports that eight fans declined treatment, four were treated on site and one was taken to a hospital in stable condition.

>> PHOTOS: Horrifying airborne crash at Daytona NASCAR race

The crew members quickly waved to signal that Dillon was fine, and the driver climbed from the car and raised his arms in the air.

Sunday's crash happened along the same front stretch as a serious crash happened during 2013's Nationwide Race.

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Thirty-three people in the stands were injured in that incident when Kyle Larson's race car crashed.

Race officials found out what went wrong, then fixed and reinforced the fence to try to keep it from happening again.

For more videos and coverage from the scene, visit WFTV.

PHOTOS: Confederate flags at Daytona

5 things to know about American Pharoah's Triple Crown win

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American Pharoah became the first Triple Crown winner in 37 years Saturday at the Belmont Stakes.

>> RELATED: American Pharoah wins coveted Triple Crown

Here are five things you need to know about the victory:

>> PHOTOS: American Pharoah wins Triple Crown

1. American Pharoah is the 12th horse in history to win the Triple Crown. According to CNN, the previous 11 horses to sweep the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont include Sir Barton in 1919, Gallant Fox in 1930, Omaha in 1935, War Admiral in 1937, Whirlaway in 1941, Count Fleet in 1943, Assault in 1946, Citation in 1948, Secretariat in 1973, Seattle Slew in 1977 and Affirmed in 1978.

>> PHOTOS: Winners of horse racing's Triple Crown

2. American Pharoah's time was the sixth-fastest in Belmont history. The 3-year-old colt finished the 1 1/2-mile race with a time of 2:26.65 and a lead of 5 1/2 lengths, The Associated Press reports.

>> PHOTOS: 13 horses that lost the Triple Crown at Belmont

3. Prior to American Pharoah's Triple Crown win, 13 other horses had won two of the year's three major races and fell short at the Belmont since 1979. According to Sporting News, they include California Chrome in 2014, I'll Have Another in 2012, Big Brown in 2008, Smarty Jones in 2004, Funny Cide in 2003, War Emblem in 2002, Charismatic in 1999, Real Quiet in 1998, Silver Charm in 1997, Sunday Silence in 1989, Alysheba in 1987, Pleasant Colony in 1981 and Spectacular Bid in 1979.

>> Special section: Triple Crown

4. This was American Pharoah trainer Bob Baffert's fourth try for a Triple Crown. He fell short previously with Silver Charm, Real Quiet and War Emblem. Owner Ahmed Zayat also has experienced several losses in his 10 years in the racing business, including three second-place finishes in the Kentucky Derby with Bodemeister, Nehro and Pioneer of the Nile, according to the AP.

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5. With the win, Pharoah's stud fee can be as high as $100 million. If the offspring prove to be as successful as their father, the stud fee for future generations would rise steadily, according to Time.

NASCAR drivers, fans pay tribute to announcer Steve Byrnes, dead at 56

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Longtime Fox NASCAR announcer Steve Byrnes died Tuesday of cancer, the network announced. He was 56.

>> PHOTOS: Notable deaths in 2015

Byrnes, who had neck and throat cancer, was diagnosed in September. The NASCAR community showed its support by renaming last weekend's Sprint Cup race in his honor. Fans and drivers also rallied behind him with the hashtag #ByrnesStrong. Learn more here.

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Click here or scroll down to see how social-media users paid tribute to Byrnes.

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