Damar Hamlin Collapse Stokes NASCAR Fears, Chili Bowl Cheerleader, Lightning Strikes Dale Jr. Team, Suarez Birthday

Videos by OutKick

The NFL regular season is done, college football wraps up tonight, and I spent eight hours yesterday watching a NASCAR Daytona 500 commercial every five minutes on FOX.

That, folks, is when you know racing season is just about here.

But, of course, it ain’t here yet. We still have a tiny bit of offseason mixed drink left (shoutout to all those brave ‘Dry January’ souls this month), so we’re gonna continue to scrape the bottom of the barrel until our fingernails are reduced to dust!

And by bottom of the barrel, I mean … Ryan Newman?

Ryan Newman!

Ol’ Rocket Man himself trended in a big way last Monday for all the wrong – but also right – reasons, so we’ll get to him in a bit.

We’ll also talk about Mother Nature starting 2023 with a BANG over at JR Motorsports, Tyler Reddick and his girl checking out the Broncos’ season finale, Daniel Suarez celebrating a birthday and, yes, the Chili Bowl!

Four tires and a couple scuffed Goodyears (we’re not wasting the sticker tires today), Monday Morning Pit-Stop – the ‘For The Love Of God, Is This Offseason Over Yet?’ edition – is a GO!

Damar Hamlin collapse reminds NASCAR fans of Ryan Newman.
Ryan Newman trends after Damar Hamlin collapse. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Damar Hamlin collapse revokes Ryan Newman NASCAR memories

I hate to do this, because, yes, I’ll admit that I’m pretty tired of this story at this point.

BUT, this is the first time we’ve talked since Damar Hamlin’s cardiac arrest last Monday night during the Bills-Bengals game, so I have to at least touch on it.

One of the first things I thought about it while it was happening was Ryan Newman’s horrifying crash in the 2020 Daytona 500. I was at the track that day, and everything I saw Monday night was eerily similar.

The FOX broadcast, like ESPN’s, had no idea what to do. They wouldn’t show us Newman, and ESPN would – and couldn’t – show us Hamlin. That’s when you knew something was wrong.

It took what seemed like forever to cut Newman from his car, and get him into the ambulance and across the street to the hospital. And then you waited days for answers. At one point, let’s be real honest here, you thought he was gone.

I don’t recall a moment during a sporting event where those thoughts ever entered my mind until Damar Hamlin went down last week. Apparently, I wasn’t alone.

As I said earlier, Newman trended on Twitter almost instantly.

Newman survived and so did Hamlin. Thank God for both.

Let’s not cut it that close again.

Lightning strikes Dale Earnhardt Jr. NASCAR team truck

OK, now that the serious stuff is out of the way, let’s talk lightning!

How about this video that’s now gone viral of a lightning strike absolutely hammering a truck in the JR Motorsports’ (Dale Jr.’s Xfinity team) parking lot.

Yowza. Growing up in Florida, you’re taught to be TERRIFIED of lightning. There’s just some things you don’t mess with, and lightning is near the top of the list.

If there’s even the slightest rumbling of thunder in the sky, my wife won’t go outside. Won’t do it. It could be totally clear skies with one tiny dark cloud, and we’ll sit inside for an hour until it goes away.

We can do alligators and panthers and snakes and sharks down here, but not lightning. That’s where we draw the line.

And, frankly, can you blame us? Look at those videos! You want that piercing through you while you’re trying to walk the dog? Didn’t think so.

Christopher Bell not among NASCAR stars in Chili Bowl this year.
No Christopher Bell in this year’s Chili Bowl.

We’ve reached the Chili Bowl portion of the offseason

Ah yes, it’s finally Chili Bowl week. The annual week that pretty much signals the end of the offseason, and the beginning of the motorsports year.

The week-long midget car event held in Tulsa features over 370 entries this year, including a couple NASCAR fellas. Shockingly, neither Kyle Larson nor Christopher Bell – two Chili Bowl vets – are competing, but Alex Bowman and Chase Briscoe are giving it a go.

Other names you may recognize include JJ Yeley, Josh Bilicki and Carson Hocevar (trucks).

Oh yeah, former Oklahoma Sooners cheerleader Taylor Reimer, who made midget car history last year when she became the first woman driver to ever win a National Midget race, will also be in the field after finishing 11th last year.

Boomer Sooner!

Tyler Reddick takes in terrible Broncos, Russell Wilson

Couple quick notes on our way out …

Weeks after Ross Chastain was on the field for the Chargers game with Miss North Carolina, Tyler Reddick and girlfriend (wife? I don’t know!) Alexa De Leon found themselves on the sidelines for another Chargers game – this time in Denver.

Can’t imagine spending a Sunday watching Russell Wilson, but hey, to each his own.

Anyway, Reddick was obviously there for the football, while his wife was just trying to catch a sneak peak at Wilson’s wife, Ciara.

Tyler Reddick and NASCAR girlfriend Alexa De Leon.
Tyler Reddick and Alexa De Leon are big Broncos fans apparently!

Fun fact, by the way, on these two lovebirds. Apparently, they had a deal in place back in 2019 that Tyler could name their first kid if he won the Xfinity championship, which he did.

Baby Beau Reddick was born the following January, and is an absolutely STUD. What a damn name.

Daniel Suarez turned 31 over the weekend

Finally, we can’t get out of here without wishing NASCAR’s favorite Amigo, Daniel Suarez, a happy 31st birthday.

It’s been a massive offseason for Suarez, who got engaged to Julia Piquet in November, partied with Ross Chastain in December, and attended Bubba Wallace’s star-studded wedding on New Year’s Eve.

Have a damn offseason, Danny!

OK, that’s all I got today. Feel like we did our best given the fact that literally nothing is going on.

Hold your applause!

Anyway, we’re just about there, ladies and gents. Rolex is a couple weeks away, followed by the Busch Light (yum) Clash in California (ew) and something called the Daytona 500.

Take us home, Larry!

Written by Zach Dean

Zach grew up in Florida, lives in Florida, and will never leave Florida ... for obvious reasons. He's a reigning fantasy football league champion, knows everything there is to know about NASCAR, and once passed out (briefly!) during a lap around Daytona. He swears they were going 200 mph even though they clearly were not.

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