Thursday, October 18, 2018

NASCAR Fantasy Fusion: Kansas Round Two Closer


By Carol D'Agostino

Drivers with Most Top 10s (Last 5 Years):

By Race
Joey Logano - 4
All with 3 - Kevin Harvick, Denny Hamlin, Jimmie Johnson, and Kurt Busch

By Track
Kevin Harvick - 7
All with 6 -  Joey Logano, Kyle Busch, and Jimmie Johnson
All with 5 - Martin Truex Jr., Kurt Busch,  Matt Kenseth, and Brad Keselowski

Recent Pole Winners:  
2017 Martin Truex Jr.
2016 Matt Kenseth
2015 Brad Keselowski

Last Year's Race Winner: Martin Truex Jr.

The Likely Suspects: It is tempting to focus picks for a Playoff round closer on those drivers on the bubble desperate for a win to keep their championship hopes alive. But just like the drivers do fantasy players should stick to the game plan and work the stats. My Kansas go-tos are Kevin Harvick, Jimmie Johnson, Martin Truex Jr., Joey Logano, and Brad Keselowski.

My 2 Cents: The 2018 Cup Playoffs have provided both challenging times for fantasy NASCAR players and "sitting-at-the-edge-of-your-seat" racing excitement for everyone. My no-brainer pick this week is Kevin Harvick. My next choices are Martin Truex Jr., Ryan Blaney, Clint Bowyer, Austin Dillon, and Paul Menard.  I will complete my team with Chris Buescher and Ross Chastain.

My Final Four: Kevin Harvick, Ryan Blaney, Clint Bowyer, and Chris Buescher.

Second-Look Driver: This week's second-look driver is Kyle Larson. Kyle is one of those desperados needing a win to continue to the next round. However, he is a desperado that can run well in Kansas. Kyle has a pair of top-five finishes at Kansas, including a fourth-place finish this spring when he led 101 laps. Last week's second-look driver Landon Cassill had a decent day in Talladega, finishing in 22nd place after starting in 38th place.

Points to Ponder:
  • A total of 15 drivers have won Busch Pole Awards at Kansas Speedway in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, led by Kevin Harvick with four poles.
  • Nine of the 14 Kansas winners are currently active – Jimmie Johnson, Kevin Harvick (four), Matt Kenseth, Joey Logano, Martin Truex Jr. (each has two) and Ryan Newman, Brad Keselowski, Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin (each has one).
  • Hendrick Motorsports leads the series in wins at Kansas with six.
  • A total of 17 series drivers have finished runner-up at Kansas Speedway, led by Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex Jr. with three second-place finishes each, followed by active drivers Kurt Busch and Ryan Newman with two second-place finishes each. 
  • A total of 17 series drivers have finished runner-up at Kansas Speedway, led by Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex Jr. with three second-place finishes each, followed by active drivers Kurt Busch, Kasey Kahne and Ryan Newman with two second-place finishes each. 
  • Kevin Harvick (25 starts) leads all active drivers in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series at Kansas Speedway with an average finishing position of 9.6, followed by Jimmie Johnson (10.0).
Remember, if you're playing Driver Group Game, make your picks by 8 a.m. EDT on Friday, October 19th and your final picks by 2 p.m. EDT on race day Sunday, October 21st.

Enjoy the race! Post your comments here or follow me on Twitter at @purplecatpr.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Travel Tips: Kansas Speedway – Oct. 19-21, 2018

credit: NASCAR Media

The cut-off race to the “Round of 8” in the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs is this weekend’s Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, KS, with action taking place Friday through Sunday, Oct. 19-21. Also on the weekend schedule: the Xfinity Series and the ARCA Racing Series.

Add to your racing experience at Kansas Speedway with a DC Solar FanWalk ticket for Friday or Saturday – just a $15 add-on to your grandstand ticket – or get a Pre-Race Pass for Sunday’s Cup Series race for $75 more. Find out about these and other add-ons here.

Key on-track times:

Friday, Oct. 19 –
  • ARCA Racing Series practice – 10:30 a.m. CT
  • Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series practice – 1:05 p.m. CT
  • Xfinity Series practice – 2:05 and 4 p.m. CT
  • ARCA Racing Series qualifying – 5:05 p.m. CT
  • Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series qualifying – 6:10 p.m. CT
  • ARCA Racing Series Kansas 150 – 7:30 p.m. CT
Saturday, Oct. 20 –
  • Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series practice – 9:30 a.m. and 12:05 p.m. CT
  • Xfinity Series qualifying – 10:40 a.m. CT
  • Xfinity Series Kansas Lottery 300 – 1:55 p.m. CT
Sunday, Oct. 21 –
  • Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Hollywood Casino 400 – 1:20 p.m. CT
Click here for the Kansas Speedway Fan Guide, including parking information, facility maps and gate policies.

Find out more about the race and purchase tickets at www.kansasspeedway.com.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Aric Almirola wins at Talladega

Credit: Charlotte Bray for Skirts and Scuffs


by Courtney Horn

Aric Almirola earned his way into the Round of 8 in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs with his win on Sunday during the 50th annual 1000Bulbs.com 500 at Talladega Super Speedway.

Almirola snapped a 149-race winless streak dating back to July 6, 2014, when he won at Daytona International Speedway.

“We kinda talked about it in our competition meeting that we needed to be committed to each other.” Almirola said, “We needed to score as many stage points as we can. We needed to score more stage points than the 12, we needed to score more stage points than 42 and the 88. We knew all that.

“Going into the weekend that was our focus, was to be committed as an organization.”

It looked like Stewart-Haas Racing was going to sweep the first four positions before Hendrick Motorsports’ Alex Bowman got loose and collected teammate William Byron and the No. 23 of JJ Yeley.

Stage 1 winner Kurt Busch lead the field to the green on the final restart but ran out of fuel alongside Stage 2 winner Kevin Harvick. The No. 14 of Clint Bowyer went on to finish in the second position.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. earned his seventh top 10 in 11 starts at Talladega Super Speedway, finishing third.

Credit: Courtney Horn for Skirts and Scuffs

“We definitely had to fight hard today.” Stenhouse said, “We weren’t near as good as we normally are at the speedways, so that was a real bummer, but we fought hard and made a lot of adjustments to try and make our car faster.”

Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano rounded out the top five.

Jimmie Johnson recovered from an early crash on Lap 63 and a later penalty for too many crewmen over the pit wall, finishing seventh, earning him his third top 10 in four races.

Kyle Larson finished 11th after suffering significant damage from hitting the wall on the backstretch. The Chip Ganassi Racing driver lost one lap, but received the free pass at the conclusion of Stage 2.

Harvick continues to lead in the standings over Kyle Busch by 17 points and 24 points ahead of Kurt Busch.

Chase Elliott holds the cutoff position by one point over Team Penske’s Brad Keselowski, though Elliott's win at Dover last weekend locks him into the next round. Ryan Blaney is 10th, five points behind Elliott.

The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series heads to Kansas Speedway on Sunday, Oct. 21st. Coverage starts at 2 p.m/ET on NBC.

Construction for Talladega Transformation product beginning Oct. 21, 2018.

Credit: Talladega Super Speedway


by Courtney Horn

Talladega Super Speedway and the International Speedway Corporation announced on Sunday, October 14, 2018 that the construction for it’s new infield project will start on October 21st – just days after the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoff event.

The construction project that they have titled Transformation will feature a new Turn 3 Oversized Tunnel. The tunnel will be two lanes, have a height of 16 feet and eight inches, a width of 28 feet, and a length of 208 feet – approximately allowing vehicles the size of race haulers to enter and exit.

The new project will cost $50 million and is expected to be complete by the fall NASCAR events in 2019.

“This new tunnel is certain to be one of the most popular elements of our Transformation project, serving both our competitors and our fans,” Talladega Super Speedway chairman Grant Lynch said, “Traffic flow will be greatly improved, enhancing the race weekend experience for thousands who visit our famed facility each year.”

In addition to the announcement of the new fan experience, Talladega Super Speedway announced that Creek Enterprises, Inc has been named the first “Transformation Partner” of the “We Transformed Talladega SuperSpeedway” lineup.

“We are extremely excited to partner with International Speedway Corporation and to assist with the client experience redevelopment of Talladega SuperSpeedway,” said Creek Enterprise, Inc. President Jason Derby.

“Our values are a perfect match with ISC as we both focus on providing high-quality services, superior customer relationships, and services that drive business value. Like Creek Enterprise, ISC puts the customer first and works diligently to deliver a superior client experience during each and every interaction.”

All other corporation announcements by the company will be announced at a later date. 

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Trackin’ Trucks: Timothy Peters survives to win at Talladega

credit: Debbie Ross/Skirts and Scuffs
by Courtney Horn

Timothy Peters survived a last-lap crash during the Fr8Auctions 250 at Talladega Super Speedway to earn his 11th career victory.

Peters made contact with Kyle Busch Motorsports’ Noah Gragson while battling for the lead on the final lap. The contact sent the No. 18 Toyota spinning and put Peters in victory lane for the first time in three years.

“It was really special.” Peters said of the victory, “If I kept my head on straight I knew I’d have a shot to win.”

“At the end of the day, you don’t know when you’re next time’s gonna go or come. It’s a tough business.”

Peters earned his third career victory at the 2.66-mile track racing for GMS Racing. He is the first Camping World Truck Series driver to earn three victories at Talladega.

Myatt Snider finished in the runner-up position, earning the ThorSport Racing driver a career-best finish.

“I’m just really proud of everybody that gave me a phenomenal pushing truck.” Snider said, “That thing could push all day long no matter who it was behind. Just really proud of all my guys.”

David Gilliland finished third, Justin Haley finished fourth, and Wendell Chavous finished fifth. Wendell’s finish was a career best in his last CWTS start. He has 50 starts in the series.

Stewart Friesen finished 6th, Jordan Anderson 7th, while Bryan Dauzat, Max Tullman, and Austin Hill rounded out the top 10.

There were two “Big Ones” on Saturday, one of which caused a red flag for 11 minutes and 42 seconds.

Haley made contact with the No.47 of Chris Fontaine that caused a 10-truck pile-up, collecting Parker Kligerman, Johnny Sauter, Spencer Gallagher, Matt Crafton, Ben Rhodes, John Hunter Nemechek, Bo LeMastus, and Justin Fontaine.

A Look Ahead (Into The Playoffs)

Saturday’s race at Talladega was an elimination race for the Camping World Truck Series, cutting the playoff field from eight drivers to six at race end.

Four drivers advance into the Round of 6 on points. Those drivers are Noah Gragson, Brett Moffitt, Sauter, and Crafton.

Sauter holds the lead by 17 points over Gragson and 22 points ahead of Moffitt. Grant Enfinger is sixth, 35 points behind.

The CWTS return on Saturday, October 27th at Martinsville Speedway. Catch the event at 1 p.m/ET on Fox Sports 1.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Bubba Wallace’s Dega plan: Stay out of trouble, focus on future

Credit: Kathryn Gaskill for Skirts and Scuffs

by Courtney Horn

Bubba Wallace doesn’t just want to stay out of trouble this weekend at Talladega Super Speedway; he needs to. The Richard Petty Motorsports driver does not have a backup car if he wrecks in either of the two Saturday practices.

“Out of all the speedway races we’ve had we’ve ran okay, but then the cars were totaled at the end. That’s a part of it. We’re gonna go out and do our own deal til the race starts.” Wallace said, “That was new news to me going into this weekend.”

Wallace’s best finish at the 2.66-mile track came in 2014, when he finished ninth in the Camping World Truck Series event.

Credit: Debbie Ross for Skirts and Scuffs

The Alabama native is excited to be back at his hometown track and hopes to repeat what he did earlier this year in the Daytona 500, “I know that was awhile ago, but we still relive those moments. Those little highlights of success, I still relive and think about constantly.”

Wallace looks for a smooth final few races before starting over in February with a new rules package. The Rookie of the Year contender voiced concerns over it earlier this year.

“If it’s not the right way they can scrap it and go to something else.”

Wallace and his No. 43 Chevrolet still need sponsorship for the 2019 season.

“We’ve had a number of great partners throughout the year to get us where we’re at, but we still need more. We’re greedy and we want more funding to help our speed, to help in all resources that go into making a race team successful.”

Wallace is 27th in the standings, 120 points behind William Byron, who is 22nd.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

NASCAR Fantasy Fusion: Talladega Playoff Race


by Carol D'Agostino

Drivers with Most Top 10s (Last 5 Years):
By Race
All with 3 - Kurt Busch, Ryan Newman, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Clint Bowyer, Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski
Both with 2 -Kevin Harvick and Paul Menard

By Track
All with 5 - Kurt Busch, Paul Menard, Clint Bowyer, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., and Brad Keselowski
Both with 4  - Kevin Harvick and Ryan Newman

Recent Pole Winners: 
2017 Dale Earnhardt Jr.
2016 Martin Truex Jr.
2015 Jeff Gordon

Last Year's Race Winner: Brad Keselowski

The Likely Suspects: Fantasy picking for Talladega is not for the faint of heart. Certain drivers thrive at this fast track though. This will be the last time we'll be able to refer to Talladega as a restrictor plate track as the restrictor-plate will be replaced by a tapered spacer in 2019. For the last hoorah for restrictor plates, look for these drivers to perform well: Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano, Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr., Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ryan Newman, Clint Bowyer, Kurt Busch, Kevin Harvick, Matt Kenseth, Paul Menard, David Ragan, Jimmie Johnson and Jamie McMurray.

My 2 Cents: My no-brainer picks this week are the Team Penske crew Joey Logano, Brad Keselowski and Paul Menard. My next picks are Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Chase Elliott and and Ryan Newman. I will round out my team with David Ragan and Bubba Wallace.

My Final Four: Brad Keselowski, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., Ryan Newman and David Ragan

Second-Look Driver: This week's second-look driver is Landon Cassill. Cassill has proven to be quite capable at Talladega, finishing in the top 11 in three of the last eight races here. Last week's second-look driver, Jimmie Johnson, had a dismal day at Dover which started during the prerace parade laps when the No. 48 experienced a lower ball joint failure sending him to the garage. Later in the race he got a pit road penalty and finished 36th, 17 laps down.

Points to Ponder:
  • A total of 10 different drivers have won the Talladega Playoff races, led by Brad Keselowski, Clint Bowyer, Jamie McMurray and Joey Logano with two wins each.  
  • Four active drivers are tied for the third-most poles at Talladega with one each – Martin Truex Jr., Jimmie Johnson, Chase Elliott and Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
  • The outside front row starting position is the most proficient starting position in the field, producing more winners (20) than any other starting spot at Talladega. 
  • Kurt Busch and Jamie McMurray lead all active drivers in top fives at Talladega with eight each. 
  • Kurt Busch leads all active drivers in top 10s at Talladega with 19.
  • Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (11 starts) leads all active drivers in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series in average finishing position at Talladega with an 11.400.
  • Jimmie Johnson leads all active drivers in laps led at Talladega with 470 in 32 starts.
    Remember, if you're playing Driver Group Game, make your picks by 8 a.m. EDT on Saturday, October 13th and your final picks by 2 p.m. EDT on race day Sunday, October 14th.

    Enjoy the race! Post your comments here or follow me on Twitter at @purplecatpr.

    Wednesday, October 10, 2018

    Travel Tips: Talladega Superspeedway – Oct. 12-14, 2018

    credit: NASCAR Media

    It’s the middle of Round Two of the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs: time for the 1000bulbs.com 500 at Talladega Superspeedway, taking place Sunday, Oct. 14. Also on the schedule for the weekend: the Camping World Truck Series Fr8Auctions 250 on Saturday, Oct. 13.

    While you’re at the track, visit the International Motorsports Hall of Fame and Museum, located adjacent to the speedway. The Museum will have extended hours during race week.

    There will be a Camping World Truck Series autograph session on Friday at 2 p.m. CT at the Camping World display in the Fan Zone. On Friday night, the “Big One on the Blvd” kicks off at 7 p.m. CT with a parade beginning in the Turn 3 end of the track. There will also be games and more following the parade – find out more here.

    Saturday night, the infield concert will feature country star Chris Janson, who will hit the stage at approximately 9 p.m. CT. DJ Mark A.D. starts the festivities around 6 p.m. CT, followed by newcomer Chris Shrader at approximately 7:30 p.m. CT. The concert is open to all infield guests and Sunday race ticketholders.

    Key on-track times:

    Friday, Oct. 12 –
    • Camping World Truck Series practice – 9:05 and 10:35 a.m. CT
    • Camping World Truck Series qualifying – 4:35 p.m. CT
    Saturday, Oct. 13 –
    • Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series practice – 10:05 a.m. CT
    • Camping World Truck Series Fr8Auctions 250 – noon CT
    • Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series qualifying – 3:35 p.m. CT
    Sunday, Oct. 14
    • Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series 1000bulbs.com 500 – 1 p.m. CT
    Get more information and purchase tickets for this weekend’s race at www.talladegasuperspeedway.com.

    Thursday, October 4, 2018

    NASCAR Fantasy Fusion: Round Two opener at Dover

    by Carol D'Agostino

    Drivers with Most Top 10s (Last 5 Years):
    By Race
    Kyle Busch - 5
    All with 4 -  Jimmie Johnson, Matt Kenseth, and Joey Logano
    All with 3 - Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Larson, and Clint Bowyer

    By Track
    Both with 7 - Jimmie Johnson and Martin Truex Jr.
    All with 6 - Kyle Larson, Matt Kenseth, Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano, and Clint Bowyer
    Kevin Harvick - 5

    Recent Pole Winners:
    2017 Martin Truex Jr.
    2016 Rained Out
    2015 Rained Out
    2014 Kevin Harvick

    Last Year's Race Winner: Kyle Busch

    The Likely Suspects: Dover International Speedway is my home track. Nicknamed the Monster Mile, it is a tough track to master, but for some drivers, the high-banked track is their playground.  These drivers have developed a knack for Dover: Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Busch, Matt Kenseth, Jimmie Johnson, Joey Logano, Kyle Larson, and Clint Bowyer.

    My 2 Cents: As we enter this second round of playoff races, I believe we'll see some non-playoff drivers strutting their stuff as spoilers. My no-brainer pick this week is Martin Truex Jr., who may be looking for redemption this week. My next picks are Kyle Larson, Matt Kenseth, Chase Elliott, Daniel Suarez, and Clint Bowyer. I will round out my roster with William Byron and Chris Buscher. At Dover, I would never count Jimmie Johnson out. Perhaps we'll see Martin Truex Jr. and Jimmie Johnson replay last weekend's drama minus the crash.

    My Final Four: Martin Truex Jr., Chase Elliott, Clint Bowyer, and William Byron.

    Second-look driver: This week's second-look driver is Jimmie Johnson. Johnson leads all drivers with 11 wins at the Monster Mile. He has 17 top-five finishes and 24 top 10s in 33 starts. His driver rating of 117.2 is far beyond anyone else in the field. Busch is second at 105.5. Last week's second-look driver AJ Allmendinger finished seventh at the Roval after starting second.

    Points to Ponder:
    • The second-place starting position is the most proficient starting position in the field, producing more winners (18) than any other starting position at Dover International Speedway. 
    • Ryan Newman leads all active drivers in Busch poles at Dover with four.
    • Two active drivers have posted consecutive poles at Dover: Ryan Newman (fall 2005 and spring 2006), and Denny Hamlin (fall 2012 and spring 2013).
    • A total of 35 different Monster Energy Series drivers have won at Dover International Speedway, led by Jimmie Johnson with 11 wins.
    • Hendrick Motorsports has the most wins at Dover in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series with 19: Jimmie Johnson (11). 
    • Kyle Busch leads all active drivers in runner-up finished at Dover with four.  
    • Jimmie Johnson and Matt Kenseth lead all active drivers in top-five finishes at Dover with 17 each as well as top-10 finishes at Dover with 24 each. 
    • Chase Elliott (five starts) leads all active drivers in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series in average finishing position at Dover with a 5.0.
      Remember, if you're playing Driver Group Game, make your picks by 8 a.m. EDT on Friday, October 5th and your final picks by 2 p.m. EDT on race day Sunday, October 7th.

      Enjoy the race! Post your comments here or follow me on Twitter at @purplecatpr.

      Monday, October 1, 2018

      Travel Tips: Dover International Speedway –Oct. 5-7, 2018

      credit: NASCAR Media

      The next round of the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs starts at Dover International Speedway in Delaware with the Gander Outdoors 400 weekend, Friday through Sunday, Oct. 5-7. Also on the schedule for the weekend: the Xfinity Series and the K&N Pro Series East.

      On Thursday, Oct. 4, the NASCAR Hauler Parade begins at the Legislative Mall in downtown Dover at 5 p.m. ET. Cup Series haulers will make their way through downtown Dover and end at the track at approximately 5:45 p.m. ET. Click here to find out more about the event.

      Prior to Sunday’s race, country music newcomer Jimmie Allen will perform a free pre-race concert on the AAA Stage at Victory Plaza at 11:15 a.m. ET. Find links to listings of all the weekend activities here.

      Key on-track times:

      Friday, Oct. 5 –
      • K&N Pro Series East practice – 9 a.m. ET
      • Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series practice – 11 a.m.  ET
      • Xfinity Series practice – 12:05 and 2:30 p.m. ET
      • K&N Pro Series East qualifying – 1:20 p.m. ET
      • Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series qualifying – 3:40 p.m. ET
      • K&N Pro Series East Crosley 125 – 5 p.m. ET
      Saturday, Oct. 6 –
      • Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series practice – 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. ET
      • Xfinity Series qualifying – 12:05 p.m. ET
      • Xfinity Series Bar Harbor 200 presented by Sea Watch International – 3 p.m. ET
      Sunday, Oct. 7 –
      • Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Gander Outdoors 400 – 2 p.m. ET
      Find out more about the race and purchase tickets at www.doverspeedway.com.