The Latest: Pastor keeps politics from Talladega prayer

TALLADEGA, Ala. (AP) — The Latest on NASCAR’s race at Talladega Superspeedway (all times local):

12:45 p.m.

Megachurch pastor Robert Jeffress steered clear of politics in his pre-race invocation at Talladega Superspeedway.

Jeffress is the Dallas pastor who has made comments warning of “a civil war-like fracture” if President Donald Trump is impeached. He kept his 44-second prayer politics-free.

Trump tweeted the statement Jeffress made last month on “Fox & Friends Weekend” in which the senior pastor of First Baptist Church warned, “If the Democrats are successful in removing the president from office, it will cause a civil war-like fracture in this nation from which our country will never heal.”

Former NASCAR chairman Brian France recruited several drivers to attend a 2016 Trump rally and endorsed the then-candidate.

Two months later at a race at Texas Motor Speedway, Phil Robertson, founder of the Duck Commander company, prayed in his invocation that “we put a Jesus man in the White House,” and added “all right Texas, we got here via Bibles and guns.”

Edward Graham, who works in a Christian missionary aid organization and is the youngest son of evangelist Franklin Graham, was on hand to give the command to start the engines.


11 a.m.

Chase Elliott will lead his three Hendrick Motorsports teammates to the green flag for Sunday’s playoff race at Talladega Superspeedway.

With rain in the forecast, NASCAR altered the pre-race schedule and moved the start up about 15 minutes.

Elliott starts on the pole and is joined on the front two rows by Hendrick title challengers Alex Bowman and William Byron, along with Jimmie Johnson.

Stakes will be high in the middle race of the second round of NASCAR’s playoffs ahead of next week’s elimination race at Kansas. Only Kyle Larson has secured a spot in the round of eight.

Elliott won at Talladega in April to end a streak of seven consecutive wins by Ford drivers at the Alabama superspeedway.

Last year’s winner, Aric Almirola, leads Ford drivers in the next six positions. Erik Jones is the highest starter for Toyota at 11th.

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