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)

“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

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 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,

Joey Logano got his guns with win in rain-postponed Duck Commander 500 at Texas

Credit: Boyd Adams, courtesy of
Sprint Cup Victory Lane at Texas Motor Speedway has everything a kid who grew up dreaming of being a race car driver could imagine a win in the Lone Star state would have. The winner's name in lights, flames, confetti (Texas-shaped, of course), a cool trophy, a cowboy hat, a ring and the iconic pair of pistols that the driver gets to shoot as photographers snap photos. 

This year, the Duck Dynasty added a duck call to the swag.   

When Joey Logano won the Duck Commander 500 on Monday — the race postponed because of rain and track-drying issues Sunday — one of the first things he asked was, "Where are the guns?" 

In earning his fourth Cup win and becoming the seventh different winner in seven races this 2014 season, Logano also became the youngest winner of a Cup event in the history of Texas Motor Speedway. He currently holds the record for youngest driver to win a Cup race, but that was way back in 2009. 

With five full seasons of Cup racing behind him, for him to be the youngest to win at any track now just seems odd, and is a reminder of how young he was when he inherited the team two-time Cup champion and larger-than-life personality Tony Stewart vacated. 

Finally, Logano appears to be emerging as the skilled driver he was touted to be when he earned the nickname "Sliced Bread." With the exception of Daytona, he's been a threat for the pole every week, and he's now got four top fives in seven races, including this win. 

Logano led three times for a race-high 108 laps. He seemed to have the race well in hand when he took the lead on Lap 302, keeping Jeff Gordon, Kyle Busch and Kyle Larson behind him with ease. 

In post-race, Logano recapped the end of the race. 

"When you got like 40-something laps after the last pit stop, you got a pretty sizable lead, really all you're thinking is, 'Where is the white flag? Where is the white flag?'" said Logano. "Brad was able to catch us a little bit. Then you go into Turn One, you see the 41 up against the wall. You're like, 'Please, no caution; please, no caution.' Boom, it comes out. You got to be kidding me.

"You get so mad you barely can control yourself — at least for me. I had to make sure I stayed calm and tried to give Todd the information I needed to, then he had to make the right call. Really, I was so mad, I didn't really tell him what the car did until I was coming down pit road. He made a last‑minute decision to put fuel in it because I heard, 'No fuel, no fuel.' I was like, 'No, no, no, I was tight.' He made the right decision at the last minute to put fuel in the car, give me a better balance for what I needed, the guys made the money stop, put us out as the first car with four tires on, restarted third.

"At that point I got Kyle Busch on the outside of me. I know he's very aggressive on restarts, very good on restarts. My number one goal at that point was try to figure out how he doesn't get clean air and get out to the front. I had to make sure he didn't stick it three‑wide, get in the middle, do something like that."

"The 24 was lucky enough to have a good enough restart with his older tires.  I was able to follow him through, get a second, get a run off of four, cross him over, get the lead. Then we get the win."

"Just awesome. We've been in contention every race this year to win these things. To get the Shell‑Pennzoil Ford in Victory Lane, it means a lot. It's such a tough racetrack. We have had plenty of time to think about this the last couple days.  Pretty cool place to win.  I got a ring, guns, a trophy, a hat, a duck call. That's pretty cool," said Logano. 

Credit: Boyd Adams, courtesy of
Jeff Gordon, whose No. 24 carried the maroon and white of Texas A&M, wound up second after a two-tire stop. "I feel very fortunate to finish second. Joey was the class of the field there the second half of the race. I knew it was going to be hard to hold those guys off."  

Coming home in third, Kyle Busch said, "The Penske cars, I went by one of them in one run like he was standing still, then he went by me in the next run like I was standing still. Kind of crazy the way that happened. They come out of nowhere and took off the last 70 laps, 80 laps, whatever it was. They were going to be tough to beat." 

Brian Vickers also gambled on two tires. "It’s great to get a top-five here.  Just really proud of the effort. We probably didn’t have a car to win, but we made the most of it. We’ll learn from this and we’ll move on to the next race and we gave it our best there at the end.”

The highest-finishing rookie, Kyle Larson, continues to impress, filling out the top five. "There down the backstretch with Kyle and Biffle, the 55, we all had a good run there. I helped Kyle (Busch) kind of get past the 16 a little bit. I had to drag race 55 back to the line. He edged me out there," explained Larson. 

"It was exciting, I thought. Like I said, not quite as crazy as California, but still green‑white‑checkereds are still pretty wild." 

Pre-race favorites Dale Earnhardt Jr, Jimmie Johnson and Kevin Harvick all had issues that took them out of race contention. 

 Earnhardt Jr. clipped the soaked sod of the infield with the splitter, tearing up the front end of the No. 88, sending him into the outside wall, then careening into the inside wall, car in flames. Johnson was behind him and caught a windshield full of debris and never quite overcame the damage. Harvick's No. 4 blew an engine, taking him out of the race on Lap 28.

For the complete finishing order, click here

Earnhardt Jr.'s 43rd-place finish dropped him from first to sixth in points. Gordon took over the points lead for the first time since 2009. For the full points report, click here

Monday, April 7, 2014

Tune in to FOX at 11 am CT for the Duck Commander 500, take two

Cars under cover waiting for tech on Sunday, April 6
Credit Lisa Janine Cloud/Skirts and Scuffs

Air Titans are already busily working on the track at Texas Motor Speedway this morning in preparation for the day's racing.

The forecast for the Duck Commander 500 today looks to be cloudy and cool, but local  meteorologists are optimistic that the race can be completed before another round of showers begins.

According to Kristi King of NASCAR Integrated Marketing Communications, gates and the Sprint Cup garage open at 9:00 am Central Time, with the command to start engines coming at 11:01 am CT and the green flag flying at 11:08 am. CT. There will be no pre-race activities, including driver introductions, just Tony Stewart and Brad Keselowski leading the field to green.

The race will broadcast live on FOX and PRN Radio starting at 11:00 am CT.

Those fans able to return to the track will use the same tickets and sit in the same seats as on Sunday. Additional tickets can be bought at the gate.

Fans who can't make it back have a full year to use the ticket at any of the other races at TMS>

The race was called Sunday evening after weepers kept the armada of Air Titans (both versions) and jet dryers from getting the track dry enough for racing. North Texas, like much of the country, experienced a winter with more than the usual number of ice storms and snow that likely affected the racing surface.

In addition, the sky just would not stop crying. Intermittent showers kept the roads slick and made the egress from the track soggy.

Unfortunately, Skirts and Scuffs reps will be unable to bring you updates from the track today but we hope you enjoyed the coverage we were able to provide.

Travel Tips: Darlington Raceway – April 10-12, 2014

credit: NASCAR Media

The Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series visits the “Track Too Tough to Tame,” Darlington Raceway in South Carolina, Thursday through Saturday, April 10-12 for the annual Bojangles Southern 500 for the Cup Series and the VFW Sport Clips Help a Hero 200 for the Nationwide Series.

Festivities kick off on Wednesday, April 9 with RaceFest, featuring the 10th annual Darlington Car Hauler Parade. RaceFest begins at 4 p.m. ET at the Florence Civic Center, with the Hauler Parade leaving the Civic Center at 7 p.m. ET; it makes its way through Darlington Square before ending at the “Track Too Tough to Tame.” 

Key on-track times:

Thursday, April 10 –
  • Nationwide Series practice – 1 and 2:30 p.m. ET

Friday, April 11
  • Sprint Cup Series practice – 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. ET
  • Nationwide Series qualifying – 4:05 p.m. ET
  • Sprint Cup Series qualifying – 6:05 p.m. ET
  • Nationwide Series VFW Sport Clips Help a Hero 300 – 8 p.m. ET

Saturday, April 12
  • Sprint Cup Series Bojangles Southern 500 – 6:30 p.m. ET

Fans attending the race weekend can check out FAQs here and the Darlington 2014 Event Guide here.

Find out more about the event and purchase tickets at

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Jeff Gordon gets a Twelfth Man Pit Crew with Texas A&M School of Engineering

Credit: Lisa Janine Cloud/Skirts and Scuffs
Gig 'Em Aggies! 

Credit: Debbie Ross/Skirts and Scuffs
Can I get a "Whoop! Whoop!"? 

This week Jeff Gordon discovered the power of the Twelfth Man as his team turned the No. 24 Axalta Chevy Texas Aggie maroon and white to represent the Texas A&M School of Engineering. Gordon will be starting - fittingly enough - from the 12th spot in today's Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. 

In his media center visit Saturday, Gordon said, "I had an opportunity to go to Texas A&M on Thursday and with the engineering students as well as the football team. Impressive campus, and a lot of excitement and buzz over there as well as here at the race track. Being here in Texas and having Texas A & M on board our Axalta Chevy SS is really cool."

Credit: Debbie Ross/Skirts and Scuffs
Why Texas A&M? And more importantly, why Jeff Gordon?

"I just think it is a great partnership. Charlie Shaver, the CEO from Axalta, is here and he is an alumni from Texas A & M, so connecting the engineering that goes on within one of the largest coatings companies in the world, as well as the engineering that happens within the teachings of engineering that happens over at Texas A & M as well as how that connects to motorsports, it just makes sense," said Gordon. 

In addition, 25 students of TAMU School of Engineering are at the track this weekend.

"We are going to have a lot of those students out here this weekend who won the opportunity to be our 12th man. Just the incredible support we’ve gotten just representing them. I feel like I've gotten some extra pressure on me to go out there and perform as well," said Gordon. 

Saturday, students watched from the Axalta suite, and got to listen to crew chief Alan Gustafson and Hendrick consultant, three-time Cup champion crew chief Ray Evernham talk about engineering's importance to NASCAR.

“We have tapped into engineering schools and students probably a little bit more around the Carolinas and in the Midwest, but I’m not so sure that we have tapped into schools like Texas A & M," said Gordon. "I think a lot of it is because maybe they just don’t realize that could be a potential path for them. As well as the tie to Axalta and the coating systems and all the engineering that goes into what makes their brand and their product so successful and why engineers are so important to them as well.”

Gordon was impressed by the intensity of the students and by the school as a whole.

"What an impressive facility that they have, the whole campus is just amazing. A lot of construction going on too, so it’s only growing.”

Janine, aka Lisa or LJ, Cloud, a fifth-generation Texan, lives in Houston and considers Texas Motor Speedway her home track. She graduated from the University of Houston-Clear Lake (Go Coogs!) with a degree in Theater Arts.

She's been a part of the Skirts and Scuffs team since May 2011, going from contributor to media rep, photographer, and associate editor covering both NASCAR and IZOD IndyCar. Janine considers it a privilege to represent the site at the track and to share with readers the excitement of the world of motorsports.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Tony Stewart grabs the pole for the Duck Commander 500 at Texas

Photo by Boyd Adams, Courtesy of
Tony Stewart has great timing and a fast racecar. Put the two together, and he's magic. Smoke waited until literally the last possible minute to make his run for the top starting spot in the Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on Saturday. He slipped past Brad Keselowski as time expired in the final session, earning his 15th career pole and first this season.

Credit: Lisa Janine Cloud for Skirts and Scuffs
"This is the first time I've been able to do something impressive for the team and I'm excited about that," said Stewart.

"Tony's on his game. It's qualifying day and he's on the pole," said Kevin Harvick of his teammate and boss. Harvick starts third despite having put down a track record 198.282 mph in the first session. By comparison, Stewart's pole-winning lap was just 195.454, topping Keselowski's lap by .035 mph.

Greg Biffle ran fastest in the second segment but will start fourth in front of teammate Carl Edwards.

Filling out the top 12 are Denny Hamlin, Trevor Bayne, Ryan Newman, Marcos Ambrose, Joey Logano, Kurt Busch, and Jeff Gordon. Busch is in backup car after a crash in practice on Friday.

Weather nearly played a part in qualifying, with raindrops misting the track. Certainly the 55° temperature affected the speeds.

Full starting lineup:

Tony Stewart
2Brad Keselowski
3Kevin Harvick
4Greg Biffle
5Carl Edwards
6Denny Hamlin
7Trevor Bayne
8Ryan Newman
9Marcos Ambrose
10Joey Logano
11Kurt Busch
12Jeff Gordon
13Paul Menard
14Kyle Larson
15Jamie McMurray
16Jimmie Johnson
17Aric Almirola
18Martin Truex Jr
19Dale Earnhardt Jr
20Austin Dillon
21Casey Mears
22Justin Allgaier
23Brian Vickers
24Danica Patrick
25Clint Bowyer
26Matt Kenseth
27Michael Annett
28Michael McDowell
29Kyle Busch
30Alex Bowman
31Ricky Stenhouse Jr
32Kasey Kahne
33AJ Allmendinger
34David Reutimann
35Dave Blaney
36Parker Kligerman
37Travis Kvapil
38Reed Sorenson
39David Gilliland
40Landon Cassill
41Josh Wise
42Cole Whitt
43David Ragan