Friday, June 24, 2016

Capitalizing: Five Questions for Sonoma and Gateway

Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR
by Kristen Schneider

This weekend will require you to divide up your attention – but only between two of NASCAR’s three series.

With the NASCAR Xfinity Series off, the Sprint Cup and Camping World Truck Series are taking the spotlight in two separate locations. Each one brings something different to your TV sets this week, so get ready for some thrills. The Trucks invade Gateway Motorsports Park on Saturday night in a stand-alone event bound to pit series regulars against each other. On the west coast, Cup goes road course racing at Sonoma Raceway and tries to find the perfect rhythm in Wine Country.

Of course, there are questions to ask – and I have them here for you in this week’s edition of Five Questions.

Is Byron’s success the sign of a new era? William Byron is the hottest name in the NCWTS at the moment, after capturing his third win of 2016 last week – in his rookie season. That’s pretty impressive for someone who started their career on iRacing. His success signals the new age of technology. In addition to online programs enhancing drivers’ performance, the new digital dashboards, driver-adjustable track bars and pit road cameras are other examples of the ever-changing landscape of racing. NASCAR has hit its peak with all the recent innovations and should keep moving forward. Byron is just one of many iRacing users who have true talent, and they may have a place in the sport with these changing tides. NASCAR is still behind IndyCar and F1 when it comes to technological advancements, but the sport is making tremendous progress in the 21st century.

In Jones versus the Truck series field, who will prevail? With Trucks solo at Gateway Motorsports Park, we should see a series regular get that win – right? Not exactly. Erik Jones will wheel the No. 51 for Kyle Busch Motorsports in place of Cody Coughlin. Coughlin is leading the point standings in a local series and decided to run those races in order to extend his points lead. Jones was free due to the XFINITY Series being on break. Is he a serious threat? Heck, yes. Just like his boss, this kid will challenge for the win in whatever vehicle he sits in. However, there’s only one Jones. The Truck field is full of hungry, talented drivers who want to secure their Chase spot – and they won’t let Jones stand in their way. Drivers like Byron, Matt Crafton, and Timothy Peters are ready for the challenge. As skilled as Jones is, I’m taking the field on this one.

Are road course ringers a thing of the past? It’s the first road course race of the year, and drivers are gearing up to take on Wine Country. The entry list is filled with the usual suspects – and that’s the unusual part. Wasn’t it just yesterday that road course experts would land rides and compete in these events? Those days are long gone, as the drivers that excel on the twisty tracks are those we see every week. The ability to adapt to various types of venues is vital when chasing a championship, even though there isn’t a road course in the Chase. I’m still bitter about that, by the way. Over time, teams decided to use those road course drivers as mentors and spotters instead. Their role has been reduced, that’s for sure. Road course ringers are still important – but in a different capacity.

Will Joe Gibbs Racing’s dominance extend into road course country? There’s no doubt that JGR is the hottest team around, with each driver securing a slot in the Chase already. Everyone is trying to overpower them, and they may believe this weekend to be the prime opportunity. Are their predictions correct? Well, look at JGR’s Sonoma credentials – especially their win with Kyle Busch last year that set off his championship run. The Toyota team has some success there, but their drivers aren’t exactly road course experts. Their four cars will be fast, but I can’t say that human error won’t come into play. Out of the four, my eyes are on Denny Hamlin. After winning the Daytona 500 in February, the only other notable thing he’s done is gather 11 speeding penalties in the span of 10 races. The No. 11 team can use a boost, and this weekend’s results will prove if they’re on the way to championship form. The other three JGR drivers should do quite well and keep the organization afloat in California.

Can former Sonoma winners rebound? There are three drivers that need to salvage their subpar seasons – Tony Stewart, Kasey Kahne, and Clint Bowyer -- and it could happen since they’ve each been victorious at Sonoma. Stewart’s final season hasn’t improved much since his return. Although he has a Chase waiver, he still needs to enter the top 30 in points to use it. If he gets a win, that should move him closer to that goal, and a strong run would rejuvenate his team’s morale. The same can be said for Kahne. The Hendrick Motorsports driver hasn’t found much success in the No. 5, with his best finish of 2016 being fourth place – twice. There are some glimmers of hope, but there need to be more if they want to make the Chase. Kahne’s dirt tracking experience will be his best friend, as it will help with his car control in the turns. All three of these guys are dirt veterans, but Kahne will need to rely on it the most. Bowyer, however, needs a complete 180-degree fix. A strong run would do wonders for his team – and “a strong run” for him is a top 15. It’s baby steps for the No. 15 crew, but sometimes that’s all you can make. This trio needs help getting into the Chase, but this weekend could be the boost they need, as long as they capitalize on the twists and turns. 

TV Schedule: June 24-26

Sonoma. Credit: Robert Laberge / Getty Images
By Rebecca Kivak

NASCAR turns right as the Sprint Cup Series goes road course racing.

The Sprint Cup Series heads to Sonoma for the first road course race of the season. The Camping World Truck Series converges on Gateway Motorsports Park for a standalone event.

The XFINITY Series is off this week and will return next week at Daytona.

The following is a handy guide to track events and television coverage at Sonoma and Gateway. All times are in Eastern Standard Time.

Friday, June 24:
3 p.m. Sprint Cup Series practice, FS1
6:30 p.m. Sprint Cup Series final practice, FS1

Saturday, June 25:
8 a.m. Sprint Cup Series practice (re-air), FS1
10 a.m. Sprint Cup Series final practice (re-air), FS1
11:30 a.m. Camping World Truck Series final practice, FS1
2 p.m. Sprint Cup Series Qualifying, FS1
5:30 p.m. Camping World Truck Series Qualifying, FS2
8 p.m., NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Setup, FS1
8:30 p.m. Camping World Truck Series Drivin for Lineman 200, FS1

Sunday, June 26:
2:30 a.m. Camping World Truck Series Qualifying (re-air), FS1
4 a.m. Camping World Truck Series Drivin for Lineman 200 (re-air), FS1
8:30 a.m. Camping World Truck Series Drivin for Lineman 200 (re-air), FS1
11 a.m. Sprint Cup Series Qualifying (re-air), FS1
1:30 p.m., NASCAR RaceDay, FS1
3 p.m. Sprint Cup Series Toyota/SaveMart 350, FS1

Thursday, June 23, 2016

NASCAR Fantasy Fusion: Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma



Track Classification: Road Course
Similar Track: Watkins Glen International
Distance: 1.99 miles

Drivers with Most Top 10s (Last 5 Years):
By Race
Both with 5 - Clint Bowyer and Jimmie Johnson 
Kurt Busch - 4
All with 3 - Joey Logano, Kasey Kahne, Kevin Harvick, Carl Edwards and Greg Biffle

By Track
Both with 4 - Clint Bowyer and Jimmie Johnson  
All with 3 - Kurt Busch, Kasey Kahne and Greg Biffle

Recent Pole Winners:
2015 A.J. Allmendinger
2014 Jamie McMurray

2015 Race Winner: Kyle Busch

The Likely Suspects: Road racing has a particular set of elite drivers who just get the lefts and rights. Look for these drivers to run well at Sonoma: Jimmie Johnson, Kurt Busch, Kasey Kahne, Clint Bowyer, Kevin Harvick, Carl Edwards, Greg Biffle, Kyle Busch and Tony Stewart.  

My 2 Cents: Remember, drivers who were open wheelers do well at road racing in NASCAR, but road course ringers usually don't. My no-brainer pick this week is a tie between Jimmie Johnson and Kurt Busch. My next picks are Clint Bowyer, Kasey Kahne, Tony Stewart and Jamie McMurray. I'm rounding out my team with Matt DiBenedetto and Ryan Blaney.

My Final Four: Kurt Busch, Tony Stewart, Clint Bowyer and Ryan Blaney.

Points to Ponder:
  • Tony Stewart and Kyle Busch have the most wins among active drivers at Sonoma with two each.
  • Six different manufacturers have won in the series at Sonoma, led by Chevrolet with 10 victories, followed by Ford with seven, Toyota (four), Dodge (three), Pontiac (two) and Buick (one).
  • The Coors Light pole position is the most proficient starting position in the field, producing more wins (five) than any other starting position at Sonoma Raceway.   
  • Almost three-quarters (19 of 27) NASCAR Sprint Cup races at Sonoma have been won from a top-10 starting position.
Enjoy the race! Post your comments here or follow me on Twitter @purplecatpr.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

ROOKIE STRIPE: 11 Things You Might Not Know About NASCAR Pit Crews

Credit: Logan Stewart for Skirts and Scuffs
Amid the acrid exhaust fumes and drone of activity at a NASCAR race, the busy pit crews of NASCAR seem to blend in with the crowd, and yet they’re impossible to miss. Many have the muscular statures of Greek gods, and work with an intensity so fierce it might remind you of a hungry bear on the prowl. But the jobs of the pit crew are about more than muscle and speed. Much goes into the job description of a pit crew member that you might not even realize.

Here are 11 things to know about pit crews:

1. Race days often start at 5 a.m. or earlier. For most races, with the exception of those on the West Coast, and some within driving distance, teams fly out the morning of the race, usually from a small airport in Concord, N.C. This usually means departure times at the crack of dawn.

2. Depending on the team, pit crews fly on either the team plane or a private airline concierge service that is essentially a shared plane for multiple teams. For races that are closer to the home base of most teams, such as Charlotte, Martinsville, Darlington and Bristol, pit crew members may drive together to the race very early in the morning, often in vans.

3. While setting up on pit road, crews are required to wear black pants and their track shirt, which usually has the team’s main sponsor for weekend.

4. On the team hauler, pit crew members have lockers, just like in a gym, but in a much more confined space. They sometimes have to share lockers. The hauler is their shop on wheels, changing room, locker room and control center all in one.

5. Pit crews will eat a meal with their teammates, often cooking out in the infield near the haulers prior to the race. Most pit crews have a meeting on the hauler an hour before the race.

6. On race day, there’s a NASCAR church service led by Motor Racing Outreach immediately following the drivers’ meeting that many pit crew members, drivers, safety personnel and other pit road visitors attend.

Credit: Logan Stewart for Skirts and Scuffs
7. Pit crews change clothes just before the race, putting on flame-resistant Nomex® socks, pants and long-sleeved shirts underneath their fire suits.

8. Any pit crew member who handles gas wears a fire suit made with a higher grade of fire retardant, making it less breathable. He must wear a Nomex® head sock during pit stops, too.

9. Crew members have to be available the entire race because they never know when an unscheduled pit stop might happen. Even bathroom breaks are risky.

10. A team’s driver, spotter and crew chief communicate constantly on the radio about issues, how to pit and more. All of the pit crew members are on the same frequency, and this is how they know what to do during a pit stop.

11. Even after a late Sunday race and a late flight home, most pit crews will be back at work Monday morning, ready to prepare for the next race.

They say the action in NASCAR never stops, and that's certainly true of pit crews – even when the race is finished.

Credit: Logan Stewart for Skirts and Scuffs
More pit crew-related reading:

NASCAR.com: The anatomy of a pit stop
Why a pit crew looks a lot like a football team
Athletic trainer’s skills land him on NASCAR pit crew
What 8 years in a NASCAR pit crew taught Banjo’s CEO about pivoting
 

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Fast Facts Redux: Parker Kligerman

Kligerman at Texas in June 2016
credit: Debbie Ross/Skirts & Scuffs
NBC Sports Network analyst Parker Kligerman is back in the driver’s seat in 2016, competing in the No. 92 Ford F-150 in the Camping World Truck Series for Ricky Benton Racing. Learn more about this versatile driver in this week’s Fast Facts, originally published in Oct. 2012.
  • Parker Kligerman was born Aug. 8, 1990 in Westport, CT. Unlike many current drivers, his family had no background in auto racing, but that didn’t stop Kligerman from wanting to participate. He raced go-karts as a teen, and excelled at open-wheel racing while still in high school, racing in the USAC Midget Series in 2007. In 2008, he signed with Cunningham Motorsports and made his ARCA Racing Series debut at New Jersey Motorsports Park. 
  • For 2009, Kligerman drove full-time in the ARCA Series with Cunningham Motorsports as part of Team Penske’s driver development program. Kligerman won nine races that year, finished second in points by five points and won the Rookie of the Year award in the series. He also made his Nationwide (now Xfinity) Series debut with Team Penske at Kansas Speedway in Oct. 2009, winning the pole and finishing 16th.
  • After a part-time season in the Nationwide Series in 2010, Kligerman moved to the Camping World Truck Series full-time with Brad Keselowski Racing, finishing 11th in points with eight top 10 finishes, including two runner-up finishes. After starting the 2012 season with BKR, Kligerman moved over to Red Horse Racing in August, winning his first Truck Series race in October at Talladega and finishing fifth in final points.
  • For the 2013 season, Kligerman joined Kyle Busch Motorsports in the Nationwide Series, earning three top fives and a ninth-place finish in points. He made his Sprint Cup Series debut in November of that year with Swan Racing at Texas Motor Speedway, finishing 18th. Kligerman was hired to race full-time in the Cup Series with Swan Racing in 2014, but the team struggled on and off the track and was sold early in the season.
  • Later in 2014, Kligerman signed on with NBCSN as an analyst, which he continues to do, and also tested an Indy Lights car for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports. He returned to the track in Sept. 2015 at Darlington in the Xfinity Series, and moved back to the Truck Series for 2016, picking up a third-place finish at Daytona.
  • Find out more about Kligerman and RBR Enterprises on their Facebook page


Monday, June 20, 2016

Travel Tips: Sonoma Raceway – June 24-26, 2016

credit: NASCAR Media
The Sprint Cup Series and K&N Pro Series West visit Sonoma, California for the Toyota/Save Mart 350 weekend at Sonoma Raceway this Friday through Sunday, June 24-26. This weekend marks the first of two road course races on the Sprint Cup Series schedule for 2016.

On Thursday, June 23, the annual NASCAR Hauler Parade rumbles through Sacramento, making its way over the Tower Bridge and around the State Capital beginning at noon PT. Find the parade route and more information about the event here.

Key on-track event times:

Friday, June 24 –
  • K&N Pro Series West practice – 10:50 a.m. and 2 p.m. PT
  • Sprint Cup Series practice – noon and 3:30 p.m. PT
Saturday, June 25
  • K&N Pro Series West qualifying – 9:45 a.m. PT
  • Sprint Cup Series qualifying – 11:15 a.m. PT
  • Chevys Fresh Mex 200 K&N Pro Series West race – 1 p.m. PT
Sunday, June 26 –
  • Sprint Cup Series Toyota/Save Mart 350 – noon PT
Get tickets and more information about the race weekend at www.racesonoma.com

Travel Tips: Gateway Motorsports Park – June 25, 2016

credit: NASCAR Media
NASCAR fans in the St. Louis area can visit Gateway Motorsports Park for the one-day Camping World Truck Series event, the Drivin’ for Linemen 200, on Saturday, June 25. The show will also include the USAC Silver Crown Series and the ARCA Midwest Tour.

Fans in town on Friday can check out the NASCAR garages at the track from 5-6 p.m. CT, then head over to Gateway Kartplex for the Party at the ‘Plex, featuring kart racing and entertainment, from 6-10 p.m. CT.

Key on-track event times:
  • USAC Silver Crown practice – 9:30 a.m. CT
  • Camping World Truck Series practice – 10:30 a.m. CT
  • USAC Silver Crown qualifying – 12:30 p.m. CT
  • ARCA Midwest Tour practice – 1 p.m. CT
  • ARCA Midwest Tour qualifying – 2:15 p.m. CT
  • USAC Silver Crown Vatterott College Silver Crown Showdown – 3:30 p.m. CT
  • Camping World Truck Series qualifying – 4:45 p.m. CT
  • ARCA Midwest Tour Illinois Lottery presents ARCA Midwest 50 – 6 p.m. CT
  • Camping World Truck Series Drivin’ for Linemen 200 – 7:30 p.m. CT
Find out more about the race and the track, as well as purchase tickets for the single-day show, at www.gatewaymsp.com

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Pollex uses SherryStrong.org to share experience and compassion

Credit: Charlotte Bray for Skirts and Scuffs
by Kristen Schneider

Sherry Pollex wants to do more for those with cancer.

After fighting her battle with ovarian cancer, she felt the need to reach out to others and provide comfort as they faced diagnoses similar to or even worse than hers. Her story inspired those within the NASCAR community and she wants it to reach those outside the sport – those who have the same disease or those who are undereducated about ovarian cancer.

“Once I finished my treatment, I realized I wanted to do more to advocate for women with ovarian cancer but I also wanted to try to reach women before a diagnosis,” Pollex told Skirts and Scuffs. “So, SherryStrong.org started to take shape. The mission of the site is to empower women to know their bodies, recognize the symptoms of ovarian cancer and learn how integrative and holistic practices may complement conventional medicine.”
Her website tries to remedy issues Pollex had after she was diagnosed, such as not knowing treatment options outside of the standard chemotherapy and radiation. She soon realized how important her attitude was when it came to battling Stage III ovarian cancer. One day over lunch, Krissie Newman, wife of NASCAR driver Ryan Newman, helped her overcome the mental negativity surrounding her five-year survival statistics.

“She [Newman] said, ‘So what is my chance of survival over the next five years?’" Pollex said."I said, ‘I don’t know.’ And she said, ‘Exactly, you have no idea if I’m going to die before you and I don’t have cancer. No one in this room knows when they are going to die. So that’s a bunch of crap.’ She made me realize, we’re all terminal. We’re all going to die, and no one knows when or what we’re going to die from. We have to live each day to the fullest and make memories everyday with our loved ones.”

Since then, Pollex makes it a goal to be positive – even if her own statistics are not good – and spread love and awareness to anyone going through the same battle.

“I really believe your attitude is so important when you get diagnosed and while you're going through treatment," she said. "You have to wake up every day and find the positive in this horrible situation.  There’s a silver lining in everything. “Don’t get me wrong, I had my bad days. But there weren’t many and when I had one, I’d remind myself, tomorrow is a new day and a chance to start over.”

Pollex offers up a bit of herself with each article she writes for her website, a testament to both her character and the importance of support. Nobody should have to fight cancer alone, and she believes a system of loving people is vital during this difficult time.

“People naturally move on with their lives, and someone going through cancer may feel like they don’t want to bother anyone,” she said. “That’s how I felt. Luckily, I had incredible family and friends who didn’t wait for me to ask.”

Those friends? The entire NASCAR community. Immediately after revealing her diagnosis in August 2014, she and her long-term boyfriend Martin Truex, Jr. received an outpouring of love and compassion from fellow racing personalities. When every car carried a teal ribbon decal to raise awareness for ovarian cancer, Pollex was floored.

“It was so surreal,” she said. “I was just so touched that people cared that much. It’s been so amazing to connect with all the NASCAR fans and hear how cancer has touched their lives. Everyone has a story.”

The support for Pollex stemmed from not only her situation but also from her dedication to others. Members of the racing community flocked to her aid due to her passion of advocating for children who suffer from various forms of cancer. She puts on Catwalk For a Cause every May to showcase the kids who are fighting the disease. The event was even more significant this time around – for the first time, Pollex had something in common with her kids as they strutted down the runway.

“This year was special because I was one of them. I’ve gone through the scary diagnosis of cancer and the grueling treatments, and those experiences gave me a whole new appreciation for what these kids go through. I wanted to show them how strong I was since I had taught them to do that for so many years,” she said. “It was amazing to be up on that runway walking with them, feeling empowered by who we are. I don’t take a single day for granted, and while some of them are too young to understand that, I look in their parents’ eyes, and we just get it.”

With her following and experience, she hopes to raise awareness for a disease that’s terribly underfunded. Every year, 21,000 women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer, and 14,000 of them die due to lack of knowledge and research. The symptoms are often attributed to common bodily functions, and action isn’t taken. Pollex’s acronym for the signs – BEAT – highlights the four largest indicators: bloating, eating less yet feeling full, abdominal pain and talking with a doctor about what’s normal or abnormal for your body.

Pollex has done a lot for those with cancer, but she wants to give so much more. SherryStrong.org is her way of paying it forward, with ‘it’ being the positivity and awareness she gained. Her efforts won’t go unnoticed – and they’ll certainly make a difference.

“I want to be an advocate for women fighting this and help them realize self-care and education is so important.”

Friday, June 17, 2016

TV Schedule: June 17-19

Iowa Speedway. Credit: Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images
By Rebecca Kivak

NASCAR heads to Iowa for Father's Day weekend. The Sprint Cup Series takes a rare week off while the Camping World Truck Series and XFINITY Series head to fan favorite Iowa Speedway for some short-track action.

The Sprint Cup Series will return next week at Sonoma.

The following is a handy guide to track activity and TV coverage at Iowa. All times are in Eastern Standard Time.

Friday, June 17:
3 p.m. Camping World Truck Series practice, FS2
4:30 p.m. XFINITY Series practice, FS2
5 p.m. XFINITY Series practice, FS1
6 p.m. Camping World Truck Series final practice, FS1
7 p.m. XFINITY Series final practice, FS1

Saturday, June 18:
4:30 p.m. Camping World Truck Series Qualifying, FS2
6:30 p.m. XFINITY Series Qualifying, FS2
7 p.m. XFINITY Series Qualifying, FS1
8 p.m. Camping World Truck Series Setup, FS1
8:30 p.m. Camping World Truck Series: Speediatrics 200, FS1

Sunday, June 19:
1 p.m. NASCAR RaceDay: XFINITY, FS1
1:30 p.m. XFINITY Series: American Ethanol E15 250 presented by Enogen, FS1

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Teardown Tuesday: Breaking Down the NASCAR Race Weekend at Michigan and Texas

Miss any of the on and off-track action at Michigan International Speedway or Texas Motor Speedway? Every Tuesday our Amy Branch breaks down the big storylines from the weekend.

Credit: Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images
This weekend, the youth of the sport stole the show and gave fans a taste of NASCAR will look like over the next decade or two. Judging by what we saw in Texas and Michigan, it's going to be one heckuva ride.

Credit: Debbie Ross/Skirts and Scuffs


Byron scores second win

At Texas Motor Speedway, the Camping World Truck Series joined Verizon IndyCar for a weekend of "No Limits" racing. While Saturday's Firestone 600 was rain-delayed and eventually rescheduled for August 27, the weather was fine for Friday night's Rattlesnake 400.

Matt Crafton looked to take the checkered flag, but after a six-lap battle, Kyle Busch Motorsports' William Byron passed the veteran and never relinquished his lead. The youngest driver to ever win a Camping World Truck Series race has now won two in his first year.

"It's all about heart, "said Byron, 18. "You have to want it and my team wants it and I see that every day."

Credit: Kena Krutsinger/Getty Images
Suarez breaks through to make history

Saturday, NASCAR turned its eyes to the Irish Hills and Michigan International Speedway for the XFINITY Series Menard's 250 Presented by Valvoline. It looked as if Kyle Busch was going to run away with it; he led a race-high 88 laps.

But Daniel Suarez, the Joe Gibbs Racing rookie from Mexico who recovered from a pit road speeding penalty, passed his mentor and former boss with just two laps to go, and became the first Mexican driver to win a NASCAR national series race. More importantly for the XFINITY rookie and his team, Suarez finally won. He is locked into the Chase, he is leading the points, and he has been incredibly fast all season. The driver of the No. 19 Toyota Camry was nearly speechless after the race.

"I just have no words honestly," Suarez said in Victory Lane. "I don’t think I can speak English or Spanish right now honestly. I can’t thank these guys enough for all the hard work – Joe Gibbs Racing for having the confidence in me along with Toyota, Telcel Mexico, Coca-Cola and everyone who helped put this program together."

Suarez dedicated his win to teammate Erik Jones and his family. Jones's father passed away last Tuesday after a battle with cancer.

"I just have no words to describe what I’m feeling right now," Suarez said humbly. "It’s just unbelievable and to win this weekend with my friend Erik Jones and for the loss of his Dad, it’s just unbelievable. I would like to dedicate this win to him."


Credit: Beth Reinke/Skirts and Scuffs
NASCAR's youthful future is here

Joey Logano, the 26-year old driver for Penske Racing, won from the pole at Michigan International Speedway, locking himself into the Chase after a frustrating first half of the season. He was followed past the finish line by rookie Chase Elliott, 20, and Kyle Larson, 23. Together they combined to make the average youngest top-three finish age in Sprint Cup series history - 23.

"That’s pretty cool," Logano said when informed of the record after the race. "The future of NASCAR is present. It’s going to be big. It’s amazing to see."

Logano is right - the future of our sport is here, and they are fighting every weekend to prove they have the chops their elder competitors do. Fans are seeing a changing of the guard, with young, talented drivers hungry and looking for rides as Jeff Gordon began what is likely be a trickling exodus of the veteran drivers over the next few years.

This year is Tony Stewart's final year in Sprint Cup, and drivers like Matt Kenseth, Dale Earnhardt Jr and Jimmie Johnson may not be far behind. NASCAR drivers used to drive into their 50s and later, and while that does still happen, it seems the youth movement is here to stay, at least for now.