Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Faith on the Frontstretch: Making It Through a Pit Road Fire

Austin Dillon's car caught fire during the race at Talladega, May 3, 2015.
Credit: Jared C. Tilton / Getty Images      
“ ... and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” ~ Hebrews 12:1b

Pit road has been hotter than usual lately, with fires breaking out during races for the past two weekends. At Talladega, flames erupted around Ryan Newman’s car as the gasman tried to put in the second can of fuel. Thankfully, no one was hurt.

The previous week at Richmond, a more serious fire occurred during the Xfinity race when a spark ignited spilled fuel around Brendan Gaughan’s car. The flames morphed into a giant fireball, catching the gasman and rear tire changer in the flames. A crew member from the adjacent pit stall was also injured, but according to the latest reports, all three will recover.

The crewmen came through the fire, but not unscathed. With singed hair, red skin and scorch marks on their firesuits, the fire left its damaging evidence. Their helmets, fire-retardant suits and gloves provided some decent protection, but depending on its rating, each firesuit only protects a person from a certain temperature for a specified number of seconds.

The story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego is about guys in a fire without firesuits. A long time ago, the king of Babylon punished people who wouldn’t worship his golden statue by throwing them in a fiery furnace. The three young men wouldn’t bow to the golden idol, because they worshiped only God, and King Nebuchadnezzar was pretty ticked off about it. He heated the furnace to seven times hotter than usual, so it was probably way above the 1,800 to 2,100 degrees Fahrenheit of a gasoline fire.

Now what these three guys lacked in protective clothing, they made up for in faith. They told the king something like this: “Our God is powerful enough to deliver us from the fire, but even if He chooses not to, we’ll only worship Him, not your bogus golden idol.”

The furnace fire was so intense that the soldiers who tossed in the prisoners were killed by the heat. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego should have died instantly, too, their bodies consumed by the searing flames. And yet, the king watched in amazement as they not only survived, but walked around in the fire, along with a fourth person: Jesus!

The flabbergasted king called them out of the furnace, and here’s what onlookers observed:

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego came out of the fire, and the satraps, prefects, governors and royal advisers crowded around them. They saw that the fire had not harmed their bodies, nor was a hair of their heads singed; their robes were not scorched, and there was no smell of fire on them. (Daniel 3: 26b-27, NIV)

You probably gasped when the fireballs erupted during pit stops and held your breath until they were extinguished, right? And you were far away, only watching on TV. Imagine the astonishment of spectators, who were close enough to actually feel the fire’s heat, when these guys strolled out of the inferno – unscathed!

Even King Nebuchadnezzar acknowledged the miracle and praised God for saving the men. God is more powerful than anything, even fire.

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were willing to run their races of life God’s way, even if it meant death by fire. I pray for that kind of unfaltering faith to do the right thing, no matter what.

Our lives can heat up pretty quickly, just like that flaming furnace. Without warning, situations can explode in an instant, like a spark igniting a splash of gasoline. When pit road fires break out during my race of life, I’m grateful Jesus will be right there by my side. Do you have that same assurance?
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“Faith on the Frontstretch” explores the role of faith in motorsports and runs every 1st & 3rd Wednesday of the NASCAR season. Follow Beth on twitter at @bbreinke.

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.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Fast Facts: John Wes Townley

credit: NASCAR Media
John Wes Townley, currently competing in both the NASCAR Xfinity and Camping World Truck Series for Athenian Motorsports, has Zaxby’s sponsorship for both rides – find out why in this week’s edition of Fast Facts.
  • John Wes Townley was born Dec. 31, 1989 in Watkinsville, GA. His father, Tony, is the co-founder of Zaxby’s, a chain of chicken restaurants located primarily in the southeastern United States. Tony Townley is also the owner of Athenian Motorsports.
  • Townley began racing in the American Speed Association, competing in two K&N Pro Series East races in 2007. He made the move to NASCAR and ARCA Racing Series competition in 2008, competing full-time in the ARCA Racing Series and finishing seventh in points with eight top 10 finishes. He also raced in three Nationwide (now Xfinity) Series races and seven Truck Series races that year.
  • In 2009, Townley focused on the Nationwide Series, qualifying for 26 of the 35 races that season and finishing 23rd in points. In 2012, he competed for the Rookie of the Year title in the Truck Series, finishing 16th in points and earning his first top 10 finish at Pocono; Ty Dillon won the Rookie award that year.
  • After stints with RAB Racing, Richard Childress Racing, SR2 Motorsports, Red Horse Racing and others, Townley now races for the family-owned Athenian Motorsports in both the Xfinity and Truck Series. The team debuted in the Nationwide Series in May 2014, later adding a Truck Series team to their stable. In 2015, Townley will have K&N Pro Series West driver Dylan Lupton as a teammate, sharing the No. 25 Chevrolet in the Xfinity Series.
  • Follow Athenian Motorsports on their Facebook page.


Monday, May 4, 2015

Right Sides Only: Talladega Winning Crew Chief, Greg Ives

How did Dale Earnhardt Jr. win the Geico 500 at Talladega Superspeedway? He may owe his sixth Sprint Cup win at the hallowed 2.66-mile Alabama track to an eight-year-old.

After the less than stellar finish at Richmond last weekend, Greg Ives's daughter, Payton, told him that he needed to "give Dale better racecars because he can't win with one like that." Strong words from a little girl.

Speaking of that tenacious little girl, Ives almost missed the race at Talladega.

"I was actually just talking to my daughter. She's being discharged from the hospital right now. She had a very significant break to her right arm, right above her elbow, had to get three pins last night.         
"Dale offered to fly me home, that it would be okay if I missed the race. She's my biggest fan, my biggest critic as well. I asked her if she wanted me to come home. She said no, it was my job to go out there and try to win the race. That's the only thing that's going to satisfy her.

"She's pretty tough on me for an eight-year-old. That's good. That's what we need. We need self-assurance that we're doing the right thing, but at times we also need a kick in the butt."

That swift kick in the rear must have worked because in his first year as a Cup crew chief, Greg Ives has a win and a shot at the championship, having punched his ticket to the Chase.

"When you win the race, you can't fall back on the laurels of that win. I'm not going to be satisfied with just one win and kind of locking ourselves in. We got to go into this summer season strong with a lot of momentum, preparing for that Chase now.         

"It's just one of those things that we're going to keep on pushing. Yes, it's great that we have this win. But, you know, we got to step up our program on the short tracks, try to get a win there. Also we need to continue what we've been building on intermediate-wise. We feel we've been very good there, have a little bit of work to do. We have to be good all around so when we get to the Chase we're contenders."

He won't be resting on his laurels, but was still excited about the prospect of a win when it got down to that last lap.

"With all the wrecking and all that stuff going on, it got some excitement as far as if they're going to throw the caution. NASCAR did a great job to make sure we competed all the way to the end.
            
"It's everyone that cars got wrecked at the end. If they were out of harm's way, if the drivers in the car were all right, that's what they need to do. If that would have meant we got beat, then we got beat.
        
"Yeah, there's excitement inside me, there's excitement that we got this win, but I was pretty happy."

Credit: Chris Trotman/NASCAR via Getty Images
That excitement gave way to emotion as Earnhardt Jr. took his victory lap.

"You know the number one thing to do is lead all practices, however that may be, qualify on the pole, win the race here. That's the support we get here. That's the support from the fans.
            
"When you have 43 race cars going by, you still hear the crowd cheering, you can see them jumping up in the stands, that puts a chill around you.
            
"As far as being emotional, yeah, of course, it's my first win as a Cup crew chief, first win thinking about things that are more than just race cars, whether it's my daughter, whether it's my mom, all those sorts of things. That's going to weigh on you.
            
"You work hard to get to a point to be in Victory Lane no matter where it is, what it is. That all gathers up in one lap or one race, you're going to have that.
        
"I'm excited. I'm happy. I feel great about where this race team's going. Obviously I haven't cried yet, so that's good. But I definitely was emotional about it, happy about it. Like I said, just thinking about my daughter with a broken arm, her being tough enough to not want her daddy, that's pretty cool."

The Hendrick Motorsports drivers qualified well, but did Ives have any concern that Earnhardt's fans were restless for a win?

"As far as pressure goes, I think of it as an opportunity to improve. That's how this team looks at it right now. We look at the pressure. What Junior Nation says on our bad days is nothing less than what my daughter will tell me when I get home. They're going to have great things to say, they're going to have bad things to say. The honesty is what I want. I don't care about fluff and buff.  I want the honesty. I want the truth. I want to know we're going to get better. That is the only way this team is going to be in competition when it comes down to Homestead. That's the only way we're going to grow. Honesty, that's what I want."

So did Ives learn anything about his team today?

"There's a lot of new things when you're coming into the team, whether it's the pit crew, the road guys, Dale himself, T.J., you know, you always have that feeling. This helps that scenario or that session kind of get by a little bit quicker.
            
"You know, the decision to be the first one to pit road under green at lap I think it was 154 or 155 was a decision made not just by myself but through a conversation I had with my engineers. We were talking about wanting to be the first ones on pit road. We didn't want to be caught with a yellow out, somebody else being able to leapfrog us. Over 20, 30 laps we were going through different scenarios, how much fuel we needed, when we were going to pit, how that was going to dictate where we're going to line up, whether we would go a lap down if we didn't get enough cars with us.
            
"To be honest with you, it was that conversation that helped us come to pit road. We didn't hear a lot of people chattering about coming at lap 154, 155. We started a conversation amongst ourselves, talked with our teammates on the 48 with Chad and Jimmie. We knew we had at least one.
        
"Right there, that's telling me that I need to have confidence in my team, not that I didn't before, but we need to have those conversations. If we do, we're going to be better collectively and go on to potentially win races."

Talladega can be one of those tracks where strategy matters, or it simply doesn't, as the day plays out. Some drivers and crew chiefs feel incredible pressure to perform well there. Ives is no different. When asked at what point prior to the start of the race did he begin feeling that the No. 88 team could be victorious, Ives responded like someone who'd been atop the war wagon for years.

"When it got put on the schedule... Any race put on the schedule, we need to win at. That's my mentality. I feel like when this started not just yesterday, not Friday morning, not even Thursday, this started when we had that victory at Daytona in the 150s. That gave a confidence boost for Steve who heads up our speedway program, that we're on the right path. He always does a great job with the cars. As far as I'm hard on myself, he's just as hard on himself. Perfection is what we want."

Their season may not be perfect, but Jr. Nation doesn't care. They're thrilled with this win and can't wait to see what the Chase holds for their favorite driver.

------------------------------------

    Stacey Owens lives just outside Music City USA. She's always wanted to be a NASCAR writer, so working as a columnist and support editor for Skirts and Scuffs allows her to live that dream every single weekend. 
    The sole NASCAR enthusiast in her home, she's hopeful that one of her three daughters might also harbor an appreciation for NASCAR, but it isn't looking good so far. 
    Her other interests include country music, though she can't carry a tune; collegiate football, though she needs a lot of work on her spiral; and Kentucky basketball, even though at 6' tall, she's never played a day in her life.

Travel Tips: Kansas Speedway – May 8-9, 2015

credit: NASCAR Media
NASCAR’s Sprint Cup and Camping World Truck Series head to Kansas Speedway this weekend for the Truck Series Toyota Tundra 250 on Friday night, May 8 and the Cup Series SpongeBob SquarePants  400, which goes green on Saturday night, May 9. This is the first of two trips this season to the 1.5-mile tri-oval, with the second weekend being part of the Chase for the Sprint Cup in October.

Key on-track times:

Friday, May 8 –
  • Sprint Cup Series practice – 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. CT
  • Camping World Truck Series qualifying – 3:45 p.m. CT
  • Sprint Cup Series qualifying – 5:45 p.m. CT
  • Camping World Truck Series Toyota Tundra 250 – 7:49 p.m. CT

Saturday, May 9 –
  • Sprint Cup Series SpongeBob SquarePants 400 – 6:46 p.m. CT

Fans can check out the Guest Guide, including the track’s carry-in policy, here.

Get tickets and more information on race weekend as it approaches at http://www.kansasspeedway.com/

Friday, May 1, 2015

TV Schedule: May 1-3

Talladega Superspeedway. Credit: Getty Images
The Sprint Cup and Xfinity series converge on Talladega Superspeedway, one of the most predictable and volatile tracks on the circuit, for some restrictor-plate racing.

The Camping World Truck Series is on a break until May 8 at Kansas.

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

Friday, May 1:
11:30 a.m. XFINITY Series practice, FS1
2 p.m. Sprint Cup Series practice, FS1
4:30 p.m. Sprint Cup Series final practice, FS1

Saturday, May 2:
3 a.m. Sprint Cup Series final practice (re-air), FS1
11 a.m. XFINITY Series Qualifying, FS1
1 p.m. Sprint Cup Series Qualifying, FOX
2:30 p.m. NASCAR RaceDay: XFINITY, FOX
3 p.m. XFINITY Series: Winn Dixie 300, FOX
9 p.m. Denny Hamlin Short Track Showdown (taped), NBCSN

Sunday, May 3:
3 a.m. XFINITY Series Winn Dixie 300 (re-air), FS1
11:30 a.m. NASCAR Race Day: Talladega, FS1
12:30 p.m. NASCAR Race Day: Talladega, FOX
1 p.m. Sprint Cup Series: GEICO 500, FOX
Midnight (Mon.) NASCAR Victory Lane, FS1

Thursday, April 30, 2015

NASCAR Fantasy Fusion: Geico 500 at Talladega


Track Classification: Superspeedway
Similar Tracks: Daytona International Speedway • Auto Club Speedway (Fontana)  
Indianapolis Motor Speedway • Michigan International Speedway • Pocono Raceway
Distance: 2.66 Miles

Drivers with Most Top 10s (Last 5 Years):
By Race
Clint Bowyer - 4
All with 3 - Greg Biffle, Kevin Harvick and David Ragan 
All with 2 - Dale Earnhardt Jr., David Gilliland, Carl Edwards, Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, Jimmie Johnson, Matt Kenseth and Kasey Kahne

By Track
Clint Bowyer - 6
All with 4 - Greg Biffle, Matt Kenseth, Brad Keselowski and David Ragan
All with 3 - Martin Truex Jr., Dale Earnhardt Jr., David Gilliland, Kevin Harvick, Kasey Kahne, Kyle Busch and Ryan Newman 

Recent Pole Winner:  
2014 Brian Scott
2013 Rained Out

2013 Flashback: Throw out those 2014 statistics and crunch the numbers from 2014. You'll thank me later. This 2015 rules package makes 2014 not so important when trying to rack up fantasy points.

Top 15 Finishers at Talladega Superspeedway on May 5, 2013:
  1. David Ragan
  2. David Gilliland
  3. Carl Edwards
  4. Michael Waltrip
  5. Jimmie Johnson
  6. Regan Smith
  7. Martin Truex Jr.
  8. Matt Kenseth
  9. Scott Speed
  10. Aric Almirola
  11. Jeff Gordon
  12. David Stremme
  13. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
  14. Marcos Ambrose
  15. Brad Keselowski

The Likely Suspects: Restrictor-plate racing at Talladega has some predicable fantasy picks, but it is just as easy for a one-car, underfunded team to win as the big dogs. Look for these drivers to perform well: Clint Bowyer, Greg Biffle, Kevin Harvick, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Matt Kenseth, Kasey Kahne, Brad Keselowski, David Ragan and David Gilliland.

My 2 Cents: Talladega racing is just as wild on the track as it is in the infield. Well, almost.

My no-brainer pick this week is a tie between Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Matt Kenseth. My next picks are the Davids -- Ragan and Gilliland. I will complete my team with Clint Bowyer, Kyle Larson, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Greg Biffle.

My final four: Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kyle Larson, Clint Bowyer and David Gilliland.

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

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Fast Facts: Brett Moffitt

Brett Moffitt at Martinsville, March 2015
credit: Getty Images/Daniel Shirey
Brett Moffitt quickly rose through the ranks in the K&N Pro Series East and is now working for Michael Waltrip Racing. Learn more about this young driver in this week’s Fast Facts.
  • Brett Moffitt was born Aug. 7, 1992 in Grimes, Iowa. He began racing karts at age 10, later moving up to IMCA Sport Modifieds, where he won the Harris Clash in 2007. He made the move to asphalt from dirt in 2008, competing in the American Speed Association’s Late Model North Series.
  • In 2009, Moffitt made his NASCAR debut in the Camping World East Series (now K&N Pro Series East). Moffitt won the pole in his first race, taking place at Greenville-Pickens Speedway, and became the youngest driver to do so. He won for the first time in just his fourth start, taking the checkered flag at South Boston Speedway in May 2009; at the time, he was the youngest winner in any NASCAR touring series, a record that stood until March 2010 when Darrell Wallace Jr. took his first win.
  • Moffitt raced in the series for Joe Gibbs Racing in 2010, then moved to Michael Waltrip Racing in 2011. In 2012, he moved once again, this time to Hattori Racing Enterprises; he continued to race for the team in 2013. In Aug. 2012, Moffitt made his Nationwide (now Xfinity) Series debut for RAB Racing at Iowa Speedway, finishing ninth.
  • Moffitt, who is a test driver for MWR, made his Sprint Cup Series debut at Dover in June 2014; he ran seven races for Identity Ventures Racing throughout the season. In 2015, Moffitt was called into action by MWR at Atlanta Motor Speedway, replacing Brian Vickers in the No. 55 Toyota Camry; Moffitt earned his first top 10 in that race, finishing eighth.
  • Learn more about Moffitt at his website, brettmoffittracing.com


Monday, April 27, 2015

Right Sides Only: Richmond Winning Crew Chief, Tony Gibson

Redemption. It was claimed at Richmond International Raceway as the No. 41 Haas Automation team won the Toyota Owners 400 in dominating fashion. 

After leading a race-high and career-high 291 laps, the No. 41 team led by driver Kurt Busch and crew chief Tony Gibson scored the third win of the season for Stewart-Haas Racing. 

Busch started the season under suspension, missing the first three races. How did he feel about the win on Sunday? 

"Well, today is a great day of total team execution... it starts with building a fast race car back at the shop and coming to the racetrack and fine tuning it, and really a great effort from team communication because we felt like we were a fifth-place car after practice, and the way that the team looked at things, we even qualified better than what we thought, and there was still this realization of, 'Hey, let's continue to fine tune it, let's not ignore the lack of speed that we don't have. Let's go for it all.'
             
"And that's what Tony Gibson did, along with Johnny Klausmeier, our engineer. Everybody chipped in. The tire guy had some health problems this weekend, and we had to bring in a backup tire guy, but then Jet made it back to the track to enjoy victory lane with us today.
             
"And why I tell that long story is it's all about team, people, and chemistry within the organization.  For us the last few weeks, we've not given away wins, but we've made some small mistakes and we've had some things go against us that it made us stronger. It really put a bond between all of us to go, 'You know what? This 41 Haas Automation Chevy has got some speed. The wins will come. We don't need to force it, and let's just settle in for the long run.' And so here we are. We're winners in April. It feels good."
His crew chief feels the same way.

"Well, I think like Kurt said, it's about having depth in our team, and we have a lot of depth and we believe in one another," he said. "When I had to bail there after the drivers' meeting at Bristol, normally I can fight through the pain on those things, but this one put me down." 

Gibson missed the Bristol race because of an issue with kidney stones. Engineer Johnny Klausmeier called the race from atop the pit box.
 
"I called Kurt on the phone before the race started and told him, 'Look, I'm not going to make it, so it's up to you and Johnny and Zippy to make this deal happen,'" Gibson said. "Johnny did a fantastic job. He's going to be a crew chief one day. I'm getting old, and he's going to be moving in pretty soon. He's going to be a crew chief. Kurt did a great job communicating with Johnny last week, and it's a race that got away from us, and we didn't win.
             
Credit: Carol D'Agostino/Skirts and Scuffs
"So we came into this week and if we could stay focused and execute a little better ... It's like Kurt said, we really not so much gave them away, but we just didn't execute on a few races we should have won. We knew we had to get better at that as a team. The depth of our team is incredible, whether it's the tire guy or me going down. We have enough depth in our organization and in our team to overcome. That's pretty cool going in to win and know you've got a shot to go for a championship, knowing you've got those kind of people that are working on your race team is pretty cool."

After missing those early races this season, Busch said that he felt he has over-driven after getting back in the car. Gibson doesn't necessarily agree.

"I don't think he drives too hard. I know he beats himself up. I think the thing that we missed early is we didn't execute as far as our practice stuff. Should have had a little bit better practice plan of making longer runs and making sure we had long run speed. I know he goes out and he gives you 150 percent every lap, every practice, and I force some of that on him. I said, 'Man, let's just go out there and while we got 'em down, just kick 'em while they're down, try to win every --  set fast time and win every practice. 

"I don't think he overdrove at all. I know he takes a lot of blame on himself and puts a lot of pressure on himself, but as a team we didn't execute on those races. He needs to drive as hard as he needs to drive. It's our job to put a car underneath of him that he can run that hard with. Today was proof of that."

Crew chief and driver weren't paired until near the end of last season, but they've quickly formed a tight bond and a similar mindset when it comes to how to approach a race.

"It's still four tires and a hunk of steel that's got to meet the racetrack. And I know Kurt, he feels the same way. You know, me and Jimmy Fennig have a lot in common. We're great friends, and I lean on him now, too. We talk every weekend. He's a big influence on my career and where I go. And I know Kurt, he's driven that same way. He believes in engineering just like I do, but sometimes you've got to go with your gut, and you've got to go old school, and I think that's why me and him, me and Kurt hit it off so well. We share the same passion of racing. We don't want to run second. We're hard on ourselves when we've got to be to be better, and I think we both have that same mindset.
         
"I think he makes me be better, if that sounds right, and hopefully I make him be better. Moving forward, I think if we push one another and believe in one another like we're doing right now and our team, we've got a shot to win the championship just as well as anybody." 

Gibson used to work with Alan Kulwicki and said that Busch reminds him of the legendary driver.

"I worked with Alan for a long time, and the desire and the enthusiasm and the want-to is incredible, and the only reason that he wants to know about the race car, because he feels like between his input and our input, we can make a really good product.
            
"I think that's huge.  You have to have a driver that's involved. You have to have a driver that's engaged, and we talked about this last year when they asked me over the winter what did I like about him. He's an engaged driver. He's there early before every practice. We talk on the phone at night or we text back and forth. He looks over data. He's 100 percent involved in this, and he's committed.
             
Credit: Carol D'Agostino/Skirts and Scuffs
"And that's the part that I love about him. I'd rather have a guy like him than a guy who just shows up every once in a while to the shop or just shows up five minutes before practice and climbs in. The more we can be involved and work together, we're going to make a better product."

Was there any time during that three-race suspension that Gibson feared that perhaps Busch wouldn't be able to jump back in upon his reinstatement?

"No, I don't believe that at all. I think we went and did a Vegas tire test there, and we had a tremendous amount of speed at the test, and we felt really good and positive. You're not dealing with a rookie. It's a guy who's won championships and a ton of races. He knows what he's got to do. It's just a matter of we knew we were going to get him back, it was just a matter of when, and he hit the ground running. We weren't fearing for that at all. We knew whenever we got him back, whenever that was, that we were going to put ourselves in position to win races and be fast, so pretty cool."

And that kidney stone? Gibson was asked which he enjoyed more: passing cars or passing kidney stones.

"That's a good question, but passing cars. I had one at Vegas when we landed out there, and I was able to make it through a couple weeks carrying that thing before I got it blasted out, and normally I can overcome the pain just from being at the racetrack and the love of it, but this last one I couldn't do it. But passing cars is the most important thing. The health will come later. I can rest later." 

That rest won't come until November since the No. 41 team has likely secured its place in The Chase and will spend the final 10 weeks of the season trying to win another Sprint Cup championship. 

------------------------------------

    Stacey Owens lives just outside Music City USA. She's always wanted to be a NASCAR writer, so working as a columnist and support editor for Skirts and Scuffs allows her to live that dream every single weekend. 
    The sole NASCAR enthusiast in her home, she's hopeful that one of her three daughters might also harbor an appreciation for NASCAR, but it isn't looking good so far. 
    Her other interests include country music, though she can't carry a tune; collegiate football, though she needs a lot of work on her spiral; and Kentucky basketball, even though at 6' tall, she's never played a day in her life.


Travel Tips: Talladega Superspeedway – May 1-3, 2015

credit: NASCAR Media
The Sprint Cup and Xfinity Series are joined by the ARCA Racing Series as they travel to Talladega, Alabama, home of Talladega Superspeedway. The weekend includes the ARCA Series International Motorsports Hall of Fame 200 on Friday, May 1, the Xfinity Series Winn-Dixie 300 on Saturday, May 2 and the Sprint Cup Series GEICO 500 on Sunday, May 3.

Off-track activities:

Visit the InternationalMotor Sports Hall of Fame and Museum, located adjacent to the speedway. Extended hours for race week are Monday through Wednesday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. CT, Thursday 7 a.m.-4 p.m. CT, Friday 8 a.m.-7 p.m. CT, Saturday 7 a.m.-7 p.m. CT and Sunday 7 a.m.-2 p.m. CT.

On Friday, May 1, all infield guests can take part in the ARCA Fan Walk and autograph session from 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. CT in the ARCA garage area. There will also be an Xfinity Series autograph session from 2-2:30 p.m. CT in the Concourse area behind the OV Hill South grandstands sections D & E; wristbands for the autograph session can be picked up at Guest Services, located near OV Hill South grandstands section L. Currently scheduled to appear: Chase Elliott, Ryan Reed, Regan Smith and Daniel Suarez; others will be announced closer to the appearance.

Key on-track times:

Friday, May 1 –
  • ARCA Racing Series practice – 8:30 a.m. CT
  • Xfinity Series practice – 10:30 a.m. CT
  • ARCA Racing Series qualifying – 2:30 p.m. CT
  • Sprint Cup Series practice – 3:30 p.m. CT
  • ARCA Racing Series International Motorsports Hall of Fame 200 – 5 p.m. CT

Saturday, May 2 –
  • Xfinity Series qualifying – 10 a.m. CT
  • Sprint Cup Series qualifying – noon CT
  • Nationwide Series Winn-Dixie 300 – 2 p.m. CT

Sunday, May 3
  • Sprint Cup Series GEICO 500 – noon CT

Check out guest services information, grandstand guidelines and more here, and get the complete event schedule, including more things to do at the track, here.

Get more information and purchase tickets for this weekend’s race at http://www.talladegasuperspeedway.com/.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Kurt Busch Wins Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond International Raceway

Credit: Carol D'Agostino/Skirts and Scuffs

After waiting a day to run the Toyota Owners 400, NASCAR fans were treated to a rare day race at Richmond International Raceway. After a dominant performance, Kurt Busch and the No. 41 team celebrated in Victory Lane.

Busch has run well since his reinstatement and return at Phoenix International Raceway in March, coming close to victory a couple times, but today he and crew chief Tony Gibson pulled out a flawless win, securing a spot in the Chase.

Busch led the most laps with 291, which is also a career high. This win is his second victory and 11th top-10 finish in 29 career Cup starts at Richmond International Raceway.

Busch said the key to getting to Victory Lane was focusing on his driving style and acknowledging the importance of working as a team.  

“Victory Lane is Victory Lane. At this point in my career I understand that wins are a total team effort. In order for me to win I need to go slower to go faster,” he said.

The race featured very few lead changes and leaders, and a solid performance from Justin Allgaier who finished 18th, coming off an eighth place finish last week at Bristol Motor Speedway. Allgaier ran as high as second.

The unofficial results:
1.     Kurt Busch  
2.     Kevin Harvick  
3.     Jimmie Johnson  
4.     Jamie McMurray  
5.     Joey Logano  
6.     Kasey Kahne  
7.     Matt Kenseth  
8.     Jeff Gordon  
9.     Clint Bowyer  
10. Martin Truex Jr.  
11. Ryan Newman  
12. Kyle Larson  
13. AJ Allmendinger  
14. Dale Earnhardt Jr.  
15. Paul Menard  
16. Chase Elliott  
17. Brad Keselowski  
18. Justin Allgaier  
19. Carl Edwards  
20. Aric Almirola  
21. Greg Biffle  
22. Denny Hamlin  
23. David Ragan  
24. Trevor Bayne  
25. Danica Patrick  
26. Landon Cassill  
27. Austin Dillon  
28. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.  
29. Brett Moffitt  
30. Casey Mears  
31. David Gilliland  
32. Alex Bowman  
33. Michael Annett  
34. Reed Sorenson  
35. Sam Hornish Jr.  
36. Cole Whitt  
37. Matt DiBenedetto   
38. Jeb Burton  
39. Alex Kennedy  
40. Jeff Green  
41. Tony Stewart  
42. Josh Wise  
       43. Joey Gase

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Fire and rain at Richmond International Raceway

Credit:Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images 

Wrecks and driver injuries are almost givens in stock car racing. However, they've become less frequent due to safety improvements to the car and protective devices at the tracks, like Steel and Foam Energy Reduction barriers, more commonly known as SAFER barriers.

Sometimes fans and the media take for granted just how dangerous the sport can be. Then we see an incident like the pit road fire on Lap 109 of last night's ToyotaCare 250 NASCAR Xfinity Race at Richmond International Raceway, which sent three pit crew men to a nearby hospital.

The blaze occurred during a routine pit stop when Brendan Gaughan’s pit crew was fueling the No. 62 car. A spark triggered a brief but large fire that was quickly extinguished by the Richmond International Raceway fire crew. Three injured pit crew members were transported to the hospital -- two from the No. 62 team and one from Eric McClure’s No. 24 team in the adjacent pit stall.

Clifford "Doc" Turner, the gas runner for the No. 24 team was evaluated for inhaling the fire extinguisher chemicals, and released last night. The No. 62 gas man, Josh Wittman, was released today after overnight observation. Anthony O’Brien, rear tire changer for the No. 62 team, is in good condition but remains in the hospital for further evaluation, according to the team.

"It was an emotional night for this entire South Point team and I here at Richmond," said Gaughan. "When I saw the flame and that none of the guys were near my car, I tried to get away as fast as I could. That race car only had more fuel in it that could potentially ignite and I didn't want that to happen. Don't tell me these guys aren't professional athletes. They are the toughest, most athletic guys I have seen."

Race weekend continues tomorrow after rain postponed the NASCAR Sprint Cup race. The Toyota Owners 400 is scheduled to start at 1 p.m. The grandstands will open at 10 a.m. and FOX will broadcast the race.

Kyle Larson anxiously awaits first Sprint Cup win

Credit: Beth Reinke/Skirts and Scuffs

Sprint Cup driver Kyle Larson's racing career boasts numerous accolades and "firsts" in a variety of racing formats, including go-karting, Sprint Car, plus NASCAR K&N East, Camping World and Xfinity Series – with one notable exception – his first NASCAR Sprint Cup win.

Many drivers could say the same about the early part of their NASCAR careers. However, after coming off an amazing 2014 season where he earned the Sunoco Rookie of the Year, and scored eight top fives and 17 top 10s, the expectations were extraordinary. Remarkably, Larson finished the final 10 Chase races with three top fives and three top 10s.

Perhaps it was the impact of those last races that revved up not only the fans, but also Larson and his team, building hopes for a first win.

“It was nice how we ran in the Chase last year and it definitely gave our team a lot of confidence going into this season," Larson said. "That is why we have been a little bit disappointed in the way we have started off this year."

Larson knows the team has the capacity for winning Sprint Cup races, but realizes they need to achieve consistency throughout a race.

“Veterans understand what they need to do to the race car to make it good throughout the course of a run, as well as taking care of it during the race through a run. I am good here (at Richmond) on a short run and not so good on long runs. On 1.5 miles (tracks) I’m really good on long runs and not very good on short runs,” he said.

Although he is disappointed with the early season results, Larson is committed to working hard and running toward the front of the pack.  

“The more we run up front the more opportunities we have to get a win and those wins will start happening if we just continue to run up front. We have to get a little bit more speed in our car and do a better job throughout the race, as a team. We should hopefully get that first win soon.”
Credit: Debbie Ross/Skirts and Scuffs