NASCAR loses admirable man

People sugarcoat all the warts and peccadilloes in honoring the dead.

But there will be no revisionist history when his NASCAR friends and family gather Wednesday at Darlington Presbyterian Church for a celebration of Jim Hunter's life.

He was a great guy.

Hunter died Friday in Daytona Beach, Fla., after a 12-month battle with cancer. He was 71.

Hunter's most recent position was NASCAR vice president of corporate communications, but he was a kind of guy who was hard to box in with one title.

His career in motorsports spanned portions of six decades as a journalist and public relations professional.

Hunter was many things. A friend, a mentor, a guy who could engage with drivers, officials and media without missing a step or taking sides.

I remember years ago when I took a break from sports, he looked me in the eye at Daytona International Speedway and said, "You are always welcome here."

He meant those words earnestly.

"That is a sign of a great person and their legacy is how many people are going to be saying great things about Jim and what he meant to the sport and how dearly missed he is going to be," Jeff Gordon said. "You are going to hear it over and over and over for a long time."

Budweiser not backing out: Kasey Kahne's move to Red Bull Racing will not affect Budweiser's sponsorship of the No. 9 car at Richard Petty Motorsports for the final three Sprint Cup events of the season.

There was speculation the sponsor would not be on the car past last weekend's race at Talladega Superspeedway after a report surfaced Anheuser-Busch would not make its final payment to RPM because Kahne wasn't driving anymore.

"The Budweiser car is a fixture in (the series) and we look forward to finishing out the season," an Anheuser-Busch spokesperson said.

For the third consecutive week, Aric Almirola will drive the No. 9, as the schedule takes drivers to Texas Motor Speedway this weekend. Kahne has been released from driving the No. 9.

— George Diaz

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