Thursday, April 24, 2014

NASCAR Fantasy Fusion: Night racing at Richmond




Track Classification: Short Track
Similar Tracks: Bristol Motor Speedway • Dover International Speedway 
Martinsville Speedway •  Phoenix International Raceway 
Distance: .75 Mile 

Drivers with Most Top 10s (Last 5 Years):
By Race
Both with 4 - Kyle Busch  and Carl Edwards
All with 3 - Tony Stewart, Clint Bowyer, Jeff Burton and Jimmie Johnson

By Track
Carl Edwards - 7
All with 5 - Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch and Clint Bowyer
All with 4 - Denny Hamlin, Ryan Newman, Tony Stewart, Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson 

Recent Pole Winners:
2013 Matt Kenseth
2012 Mark Martin


The Likely Suspects: The good news this week is there are lots of worthy drivers to pick. Richmond is a track that suits these drivers well: Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards, Tony Stewart, Ryan Newman, Clint Bowyer, Matt Kenseth, Jeff Gordon and Kevin Harvick.

My 2 Cents: Think 2Ps this week: track position and Phoenix. Nearly 80 percent of the races at Richmond have been won from the top 10 spots. Phoenix is similar to Richmond, so check out their stats before picking your final four drivers.  

Jimmie Johnson is my no-brainer pick this week followed closely by Kevin Harvick and Ryan Newman. My next picks are Joey Logano, Tony Stewart and Denny Hamlin. I will finish up my team with Kyle Larson and Austin Dillon.

Post your comments here or email me at ssfantasyracing@skirtsandscuffs.com.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Fast Facts: Ross Chastain

credit: NASCAR via Getty Images/
Todd Warshaw
Ross Chastain, driving the No. 92 BTS/National Watermelon Association Ford F-150 for Ricky Benton Racing in the Camping World Truck Series on a part-time basis in 2014, is a third-generation race car driver, but his family has been doing something else even longer. Find out what the Chastains are known for in this week’s Fast Facts.
  • Ross Chastain was born Dec. 4, 1992 in Alva, Florida. He is an eighth-generation watermelon farmer who graduated from Riverdale High School in Fort Myers. His grandfather, Jim Prevatt, his father Ralph and his younger brother Chad have also been race car drivers.
  • Chastain’s racing career began at age 12 on the local Florida short tracks, racing late models and in the Fastruck Series. In his Florida-based career, he has over 50 feature wins, Fastruck championships in 2007 (Fastkids) and 2008 (Fastruck and Fastruck 6 Pack), the 2008 Late Model championship from Punta Gorda Speedway, the 2010 Orlando Speedworld Late Model championship and the 2011 World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Auto Racing Late Model championship from New Smyrna Speedway.
  • Chastain made his NASCAR touring series debut in 2011 in the Truck Series, racing to a 10th-place finish at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis. In 2012, he competed full-time in the series for SS-Green Light Racing, earning a top finish of third at Bristol and finishing 17th in points. He competed in 15 races for Brad Keselowski Racing in 2013, earning runner-up finishes in Iowa and Phoenix on his way to an 18th-place finish in points.
  • Learn more about Chastain at his website, www.rosschastain.com

Drivers Focused on Winning - But is the New Points System?

                                                  Credit: Charlotte Bray/Skirts and Scuffs  

Earlier this year, NASCAR announced a simpler points structure that was supposed to reward drivers for winning. A win in the first 26 races virtually guaranteed teams a spot in the season ending Chase for the Championship. Points would be awarded based on finishing order, which should mean that the winners so far this season should be atop the leaderboard.

But after eight races, Jeff Gordon sits alone as the points leader, one point ahead of second place Matt Kenseth. Neither driver has a win in 2014. The first driver with a win is third place Carl Edwards, who has one win, and is 19 points behind Gordon.

Meanwhile, Kevin Harvick, who has two wins this season, sits in 22nd place, 111 points out of the lead.

So what is the great equalizer here? How are two drivers with no wins leading the points and a driver with two wins sitting in 22nd?

The answer lies in the driver's finishes along the way. Both Gordon and Kenseth have no DNFs, while Harvick has two. Gordon and Kenseth also have more top-10 finishes so far than the rest of the field, and both have two top fives.

Compare that to Harvick, with his two wins, two top fives and three top 10s (half of what Gordon and Kenseth have), along with two DNFs.

So with the consistent finishers being up front, and the car with the most wins somewhere in the middle, what exactly is the difference in the points system this season? Is winning only an advantage when it comes to making the Chase?

NASCAR wants fans to think that winning is what matters, but what is blatantly clear after the first eight races is that not much has changed. The teams that stay consistent and finish races are rewarded more than those who don't.

As the season continues, it will be interesting to see how the points system unfolds, until it gets to the Chase, and everything is turned upside down. The new Chase format is slightly confusing and works on an elimination style format, much like football or basketball playoffs.

So, after all the rule changes, one thing remains the same. Consistency is rewarded in our sport. It always has been and will continue to be. The Chase was supposedly created after Matt Kenseth consistently raced his way to a Sprint Cup (then Winston Cup) Championship. It was thought that it would provide more entertainment and suspense for the fans. But what's so different? The elimination-style Chase and "winning gets you in" are new, but after 26 races, if a driver is the points leader and still has not won a race, he is provisioned into the Chase.

After 10 years of chasing the championship, I think it's time to return to the format that worked so well for years. Let all 36 races determine the season's champion. Winning and consistency should be rewarded, and a team that performs consistently for 36 races should be rewarded. Also, let's be honest, once the Chase starts, the racing is not as good, since everyone tries to avoid the Chasers as they circle the track.

Let's level the playing field again and give everyone a shot. No more Chases and playoff formats. Show the fans that you can withstand a 36-race season that spans time zones and race track types and be rewarded for it. NASCAR is not basketball, and it won't ever be. We've always been a sport where consistent teams shine, and even with the changes to the points system this year, consistency still reigns supreme.

Monday, April 21, 2014

NASCAR Drive for Diversity moves forward


Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images


Once ruled by drivers from the Southeast U.S., NASCAR has branched out in recent years to include Asian-American drivers, African-American drivers and even, wait for it, female drivers. Moreover, those drivers are talented and skillful behind the wheel and have been impressing veteran drivers with their tenacity and their victories. Darrell Wallace Jr. and Kyle Larson, winners in the Camping World Truck Series and Nationwide Series, respectively, are also both graduates of NASCAR's Drive for Diversity (D4D) program. 

Founded in 2004 and celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, the D4D program has supported more than 30 drivers in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series and NASCAR K&N Pro Series East. Its sole purpose is to provide minority and female drivers the opportunity to compete with a NASCAR team. They're succeeding admirably.

This past November, NASCAR received the 2013 Diversity and Inclusion Award for "its efforts in fostering diversity throughout the sport." In the days that followed the award ceremony, Larson became the first Asian-American driver to win the Sunoco Rookie of the Year award in any of the NASCAR national series. At the seventh annual Diversity Luncheon at Daytona International Speedway, Larson was honored in February 2014 with the Ignition Award, which recognized his push to join the Cup Series following his Nationwide debut in 2012. Larson and seven other recipients were honored at the luncheon. 

Marcus Jadotte, who has recently resigned his position as NASCAR vice president of public affairs and multicultural development, said, "Award recipients acknowledged [at the luncheon] help us embrace the unprecedented opportunities women and diverse individuals are presented with across all disciplines in our industry. We are grateful for the contributions that these individuals and partners are making to our sport." 

Jadotte will continue to serve as a consultant to NASCAR as the organization continues to expand its diversity and multicultural initiatives. Of the work accomplished under his direction, Jadotte asserts, "I am proud of the progress we made and know the stage has been set for much more." The program will continue under the direction of Steve O'Donnell, NASCAR executive vice president of racing operations.

The current D4D class includes drivers from 14 different states and Mexico. The program seeks "marketable minority and female drivers with racing experience at the grassroots level." For more information or to apply to the D4D, visit www.nascardiversity.com

Travel Tips: Richmond International Raceway – April 25-26, 2014

credit: NASCAR Media
Richmond International Raceway hosts NASCAR’s Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series, plus the K&N Pro Series East, this weekend, Friday and Saturday, April 25-26, for the Toyota Owners 400, the ToyotaCare 250 and the BLUE OX 100, respectively.

Denny Hamlin’s Short Track Showdown takes place this year at nearby South Boston Speedway on Thursday, April 24. The charity race features some of today’s top NASCAR drivers against some of the best Late Model drivers in the region, with proceeds benefitting the Denny Hamlin Foundation. Among the drivers scheduled to participate: Hamlin and his Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Kyle Busch and Matt Kenseth, Jeb Burton, Timothy Peters, Hermie Sadler, Ryan Preece and David Ragan. Find out more about the race here and get the schedule for the day’s events here.

New this year: the Track Takeover from 2-4:30 p.m. ET on Saturday, April 26. All ticket holders get exclusive access to the track itself just hours before the green flag, with the opportunity to sign the start/finish line, take a lap around the track, enjoy live music and take part in NASCAR driver Q&As. Learn more about the Track Takeover here.

Key on-track times:

Friday, April 25 –
  • K&N Pro Series East practice – 9 a.m. ET
  • Sprint Cup Series practice – 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET
  • K&N Pro Series East qualifying – 2:05 p.m. ET
  • Nationwide Series qualifying – 3:10 p.m. ET
  • Sprint Cup Series qualifying – 5:10 p.m. ET
  • Nationwide Series ToyotaCare 250 – 7 p.m. ET
  • K&N Pro Series BLUE OX 100 – approximately 9:40 p.m. ET (following Nationwide Series race)

Saturday, April 26 –
  • Sprint Cup Series Toyota Owners 400 – 7 p.m. ET

A complete schedule of events at the track is available here, and race-day activities off the track can be found here.

Check out the driver appearance schedule here and the Fan Guide for RIR online here.

Find even more information at the website’s “Fan Corner” tab.

For updated information for race weekend and to purchase tickets visit www.rir.com

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Checkered Past: 1964 – Dark Days for NASCAR

The 1964 NASCAR Grand National (now Sprint Cup Series) season was one of the longest in NASCAR's history, beginning in Dec. 1963 and running through Nov. 1964. Though there were some high points, including Richard Petty’s first of seven championships and Wendell Scott’s historic first win, it was also a season of tragedy, as three drivers in the series lost their lives in separate incidents.

Joe Weatherly
credit: NASCAR Media
Joe Weatherly, the two-time defending Grand National champion, never got a chance to go for title No. 3. He died of head injuries sustained in a racing accident at Riverside International Raceway on Jan. 19. Weatherly was killed instantly when his head went outside the car and struck the retaining wall; at the time, window nets were not mandated in competition, and Weatherly was not wearing his shoulder harness.

Glenn "Fireball" Roberts
credit: ISC Archives
Glenn “Fireball” Roberts became the second NASCAR fatality in 1964, and though his death was not a direct result of a racing accident, his involvement in an accident early in the May 24 running of the World 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway played a part in his passing. Ned Jarrett and Junior Johnson wrecked on Lap 7 of the race. Roberts, attempting to avoid them, crashed and burst into flames. Jarrett rushed to Roberts’ car and pulled him out, but much of the damage was already done: Roberts suffered second- and third-degree burns to more than 80 percent of his body. Roberts spent the next weeks in the hospital recovering but contracted pneumonia and sepsis (a whole-body inflammation caused by infection) and slipped into a coma on July 1; Roberts died on July 2, more than five weeks after the wreck.

In Sept. 1964, Jimmy Pardue was running fourth in points when he headed to Charlotte Motor Speedway for a Goodyear tire test. In Turns 3 and 4, a tire blew on his car, sending him through the guardrail to the outside of the track. Just one month shy of his 34th birthday, Pardue perished in the wreck; he still went on to finish fifth in points posthumously.


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Faith on the Frontstretch: New beginnings lead to double wins for Kevin Harvick and Chase Elliott

Chase Elliott dripping with red beverage after winning
the NNS race at Darlington April 11, 2014
Credit: NASCAR via Getty images  
“ ... and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” Hebrews 12:1b

The 2014 season brought a mind-boggling number of changes to NASCAR’s highest series. Some aspects of the sport were merely tweaked, while other areas were totally transformed.

Fans watch the newfangled “knockout” qualifying, akin to mini-races with occasional banged-up racecars. Teams and drivers work to adjust to a different aero package. For those who run afoul of the rules, a new penalty system is in place. And the “W” has become the coveted A+ in the revised Chase format.

The countless changes make everything seem fresh. It’s almost like a new beginning.

On top of the sport-wide modifications are the shufflings amongst teams. Newman to RCR. Larson to Ganassi. Allmendinger to JTG-Daugherty. Rookies Bowman and Truex to BK Racing. Kurt Busch in a fourth car at SHR. And the historic and most debated change: the return of the No. 3 car to the Cup garage.

Though too numerous to list, a couple of stand-outs are Kevin Harvick moving to the No. 4 car with Stewart-Haas Racing and Chase Elliott piloting the No. 9 for JR Motorsports. For these two fortunate NASCAR drivers, new beginnings led to double dividends at Darlington.

This past Friday night, Chase Elliott won the Nationwide race with his new crew chief Greg Ives. Since he took the checkers at Texas the previous week, the victory gave him two in a row and made Elliott the youngest winner in Darlington history. In the Saturday night Cup race, Kevin Harvick and new crew chief, Rodney Childers, won the Southern 500, their second victory of the season, making Harvick the first shoe-in for the 2014 Chase.

Two fresh driver-crew chief pairings, two more Ws. A new beginning for each team.

You know what else is like a new beginning? Easter. We celebrate it each year to remind us how Jesus made all things new.

Of course, Easter weekend didn’t start with the anticipation of launching something new. When Jesus died on Good Friday, it seemed like an ending for those who were there.

But that cold, dark tomb was the venue for a bright, new beginning.

On Easter morning, He rose from the dead. Now Jesus lives! We’re doubly blessed, because not only is Jesus in heaven interceding for us, but He’s also alive in the hearts of believers through His spirit. How cool is that?

The best thing about Easter is the promise it gives us. Each person who accepts the free gift of salvation Jesus offers will go to heaven someday. Without the surety of heaven, death can be a terrifying unknown. But knowing you’ll get a new, perfect body and see loved ones in heaven replaces fear with peace.

Celebrating double wins with a new team – like Harvick and Elliott – is exciting. Plus, there’s the possibility of more success to come.

Reveling in the double victories of Easter – Jesus is alive, and He’s with you in spirit – is pure joy. Plus, there’s the guarantee of heaven to come.

May you and your family have a doubly blessed, meaningful Easter. He is risen!

... anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun. ~ 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NLT)
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“Faith on the Frontstretch” appears every 1st & 3rd Wednesday and explores the role of faith in motorsports. Comments or twitter follows welcome: @bbreinke. See you on the Frontstretch!

Want more racing devotions? When you donate $25 to Skirts and Scuffs, we’ll send you a complimentary copy of Beth’s book, Race Fans’ Devotions to Go, a month-long, pocket-sized devotional book for NASCAR fans. Or you can purchase the book in paperback & ebook here.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Fast Facts: Tyler Reddick

credit: NASCAR via Getty Images/
Todd Warshaw
Tyler Reddick, driver of the No. 19 Ford F-150 for Brad Keselowski Racing, is just 18 years old, but has seen a number of racing firsts in his career already. Learn more about this Camping World Truck Series Rookie of the Year contender in this week’s Fast Facts.
  • Tyler Reddick was born Jan. 11, 1996 in Corning, CA. He began racing at age 4 in Outlaw Midget cars, competing in sprint cars shortly thereafter. 
  • As a young dirt driver, Reddick accomplished a number of firsts in his career: the youngest driver to qualify for and sit on the pole for the World 100 dirt late model race at Eldora Speedway, the youngest driver to win the East Bay Winter Nationals, the youngest winner in the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series and the youngest driver to start a World of Outlaws sprint car feature race at age 13.
  • Early in 2012, Reddick made his ARCA Racing Series debut; later that year in October, he made his NASCAR debut in the K&N Pro Series East at Rockingham Speedway, winning the race. In April 2013, he made his Truck Series debut, racing for NASCAR veteran Ken Schrader; later that year, he was named driver for BKR in 2014. Reddick will compete in at least 15 races for BKR in 2014 before going full-time in the series in 2015.
  • Learn more about Tyler Reddick at his website, and learn more about Brad Keselowski Racing at teambkr.com

Friday, April 11, 2014

The Era of Historic Opportunity: Five Questions for Darlington

(Credit: ISC Archives)
To some, history is pointless. The past isn’t important anymore. Who cares about things that happened decades ago?

Those people are wrong, and I’m going to tell you why.

Friday night, Chase Elliott won at Texas Motor Speedway, his first NASCAR Nationwide Series victory. The confetti flew after a performance that told observers one thing: this kid is the real deal. Being the son of former champion Bill Elliott, how could he not?

He isn’t the only one, either; there are many young drivers who are worth watching. Darrell Wallace Jr., Ryan Blaney, Ty Dillon, Dylan Kwasniewski and many more. Most are in the NASCAR Next program, which was created to heighten their stance in the sport. Austin Dillon and Kyle Larson are graduates of the setup, making noise on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series level.

What used to take ages to achieve now happens in a matter of a year. This is the era of historic opportunity. Why don’t we embrace it?

NASCAR is different than it was 10, 20, 30 years ago. Some see that as a miscue, others find it to be a relief. Either way, where the sport once was needs to be recognized. To see the steps made, you have to know where you’ve been.

A win is sweeter when you understand which drivers drove to the checkered flag years before you did. Without history, that taste would be nonexistent.

Knowing about the past is important, and Darlington Raceway’s past is louder than the track itself. With multiple personas, the venue is bound to mess with some drivers’ heads. In this edition, I’m discussing Matt Kenseth, predicting winners and ranting about SAFER barriers. It’s all here in these Five Questions for Darlington.

Will we see an eighth different winner? Seven drivers have visited Victory Lane this season, and you can color me shocked; since The Chase’s inception 2004, that hasn’t happened. The year before that, there were nine different winners in the first nine races. I believe we’ll meet that mark, and I can even tell you who will be hoisting the trophies this weekend (see the next question) and at Richmond (Hint: it rhymes with "Benny Tamlin"). The new and improved Chase structure has heightened competition, which is its purpose, and has drivers scrambling for a win. Chaos will happen at Darlington, but an eighth face will emerge as the victor.

Is it time for Jeff Gordon to tame the Lady in Black? This fickle mistress has tangoed well with Gordon; seven wins, 19 top fives  and 22 top 10s make for a deep understanding for this track. Will he land a win this coming weekend? It seems highly likely if you take his recent performances into consideration. He has the mannerisms of a starving animal, and each race brings him one step closer to satisfying that hunger. The stars are set to align and help Gordon close the deal.

Where are you, Matt Kenseth? Numbers don’t lie: 61.3 percent of Kenseth’s 31 wins in Cup have come from tracks between one and two miles in length. They’re his bread and butter, and that fact was reiterated last season. However, the No. 20 has faded into the background so far, barely making any noise. What’s going on? Kenseth won this race last year, and he knows how to get around it, but that means nothing if he’s not up to par this season. Besides, 2014 Kenseth isn’t as fun as 2013 Kenseth. Bring the other one back.

Are we STILL talking about SAFER barriers? Once again, there was a nasty, unprotected hit, and it happened to Dale Earnhardt Jr. early on in the Duck Commander 500. The impact ruined Earnhardt Jr.’s day and left an impression in the wall. Enough is enough. I’m sick and tired of seeing heart-stopping collision after heart-stopping collision, wondering if the driver will make it out of the car. There isn’t one reasonable explanation as to why every wall at every track doesn’t have SAFER barrier technology. Drivers like Gordon and Kevin Harvick have both attested that money is one of the main factor, and that is appalling. NASCAR is a business, but this is about protecting drivers from serious injury and death. There can’t be bare walls when the cars are going 217 mph. It’s always been time for them to do something about this issue, but now it’s time to actually act on it. If something isn’t done, there are going to be severe consequences, which can range from lawsuits to fatalities. Let’s try to prevent that while we still can, shall we?

Can this be the most promising crop of young drivers in history? Elliott’s win emphasizes a well-known fact: there’s a lot of talent brewing under the age of 21. Wallace, Blaney, Dillon and Kwasniewski are just some of the names blasting onto the NASCAR scene. Up higher on the ladder, the older Dillon brother is battling with Larson and a slew of other youngsters to win the Rookie of the Year honor. This is only the beginning of a beautiful youth movement within the sport. They have resurrected the “no names” and forced themselves to be heard. New chapters of the record books are written every day, and we are first-hand witnesses. Isn’t that phenomenal?

TV Schedule: April 11-12

Darlington Raceway. Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images
She's the Lady in Black, and you always want to be on her good side. NASCAR heads to Darlington Raceway for its new date on the sport's schedule. Instead of Mother's Day weekend, the Sprint Cup and Nationwide series events have been moved up to April.

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

Friday, April 11:
11:30 a.m. NSCS Practice, FS1
1 p.m. NASCAR Live, FS1
2 p.m. NSCS Final Practice, FS1
4 p.m. NNS Qualifying, FS2
6 p.m. NSCS Qualifying, FS1
7:30 p.m. NNS Countdown, ESPN2
8 p.m. NNS: VFW Sport Clips Help A Hero 200, ESPN2. Green flag: 8:16 p.m.

Saturday, April 12:
3 a.m. NSCS Practice (re-air), FS1
3:30 a.m. NNS: VFW Sport Clips Help A Hero 200 (re-air), ESPN2
4:30 a.m. NSCS Qualifying (re-air), FS1
5 p.m. NASCAR RaceDay, FS2
6 p.m. NSCS Pre-Race Show, FOX
6:30 p.m. NSCS: Bojangles' Southern 500, FOX. Green flag: 6:45 p.m.
8 p.m. How It’s Made: NASCAR Engines, Science Channel
11 p.m. How It’s Made: NASCAR Engines, Science Channel
11:30 p.m. NASCAR Victory Lane, FS2

Thursday, April 10, 2014

NASCAR Fantasy Fusion: Earning your Darlington Stripes



Track Classification: Intermediate
Similar Tracks: Atlanta Motor Speedway • Charlotte Motor Speedway • Chicagoland Speedway  Homestead-Miami Speedway • Kansas Speedway •  Kentucky Speedway 
Las Vegas Motor Speedway • New Hampshire Motor Speedway • Texas Motor Speedway
Distance: 1.366 miles

Career Top 5s Among Active Drivers: 
Jeff Gordon- 19
Jimmie Johnson - 8
Ryan Newman - 7
Both with 4 - Denny Hamlin and Tony Stewart  
All with 3 - Dale Earnhardt Jr., Carl Edwards, Kevin Harvick, Kasey Kahne and Jamie McMurray  
All with 2 - Greg Biffle, Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch and Matt Kenseth  
All with 1 - Dave Blaney, Brad Keselowski, David Ragan and Martin Truex Jr.

Career Top 10s Among Active Drivers: 
Jeff Gordon - 22
Both with 11 -  Jimmie Johnson and Tony Stewart   
Ryan Newman 10
Matt Kenseth - 9
Dale Earnhardt Jr. -  8
Both with 7 - Carl Edwards and Denny Hamlin  
Kevin Harvick - 6
All with 5 - Greg Biffle, Kurt Busch and Kyle Busch 
Kasey Kahne - 4
Martin Truex Jr. - 3
All with 2 - Dave Blaney, Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano and Joe Nemechek 
All with 1 - Marcos Ambrose, Clint Bowyer, Travis Kvapil, David Ragan and Brian Vickers 

Recent Pole Winners:  
2013 Kurt Busch
2012 Greg Biffle

The Likely Suspects: Darlington is traditionally a fun race to watch with lots of beatin' and bangin', and more importantly, competitive racing. The performance package of this new car has made the car faster and harder to handle for some drivers. This all adds up as a big plus for the fans watching the race on Saturday night. Darlington's elite drivers include: Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Denny Hamlin, Tony Stewart, Carl Edwards, Kyle Busch, Greg Biffle, Martin Truex Jr., Ryan Newman and Matt Kenseth.

My 2 Cents: If you want to take a break from mindfully picking your fantasy team this team, go for it. Just load up with as many Hendrick Motorsports drivers as possible, and relax. The Hendrick organization has won 14 races at Darlington, more than any other team.

My no-brainer pick this week is a tie: Jeff Gordon and Kyle Busch. Jimmie Johnson is also an obviously fine choice. My next picks are Denny Hamlin, Carl Edwards, Greg Biffle and Tony Stewart. I will complete my team with Kyle Larson and Austin Dillon. When doing final picks this week, focus on teams with the whole package. At Darlington, the most important thing is keeping up with the track, so consider strong crew chiefs.

Post your comments here or email me at ssfantasyracing@skirtsandscuffs.com Enjoy the race!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Fast Facts: Mason Mingus

credit: NASCAR via Getty Images/
Todd Warshaw
Mason Mingus is one of a number of new faces in NASCAR’s Camping World Truck Series, but he’s no stranger to the race track – he’s been racing for the last 12 years. Learn more about this Rookie of the Year candidate in this week’s Fast Facts.
  • Mason Mingus was born Nov. 28, 1994 in Louisville, Kentucky, growing up in Brentwood, Tennessee. As a high school student at Franklin Road Academy, he competed in wrestling, track and football – and, of course, auto racing.
  • Mingus began racing quarter midgets in 2002, moving up to the MMRA Mini Cup Series in 2005 and the MMRA Baby Grand Series in 2008, winning the series championship. In 2009 and 2010, he competed in the Ken-Ten Pro Late Model Series, winning the title in 2010.
  • 2011 and 2012 found Mingus in the Champion Racing Association (CRA) Super Series, as well as racing in the ARCA Racing Series. In 2013, he competed full-time in the ARCA Racing Series, finishing second to veteran Frank Kimmel in the championship battle. Mingus also made his Truck Series debut at Talladega Superspeedway in 2013.
  • In 34 ARCA Racing Series races over three seasons (2011-2013), Mingus collected 25 top 10 finishes.
  • Learn more about Mingus at his website, www.masonmingusracing.com