Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Fast Facts Redux: Alan Kulwicki

1992 Cup Series champ Alan Kulwicki
credit: NASCAR Media

On the heels of what was one of the most epic championship battles in NASCAR, the 1993 NASCAR Cup Series season was one of the most tragic in series’ history, as it lost two of its rising stars, including its reigning champion, in separate aviation accidents just months apart. April 1, 2018 marked the 25th anniversary of 1992 Cup Series champion Alan Kulwicki’s death – here are a few Fast Facts on the driver who did it his way, originally published in March 2013.
  • Alan Dennis Kulwicki was born Dec. 14, 1954 in Greenfield, Wisconsin. He began karting at age 13, then moved into stock cars on dirt ovals in Wisconsin, and later into late models. After graduating from the University Wisconsin – Milwaukee in 1977 with a mechanical engineering degree, Kulwicki began racing on asphalt tracks in the area and wrapped up track championships at Slinger Super Speedway (1977) and Wisconsin International Raceway (1979 and 1980); in 1979 and 1980, he also competed in regional and national events on the American Speed Association (ASA) circuit as well as in USAC Stock Cars through 1985.
  • In 1984, Kulwicki competed in his first NASCAR races in the Busch Grand National Series (now Xfinity Series); in 1985, he made his first Cup Series start. In 1986, he competed full-time in the Cup Series with support from team owner Bill Terry; after Terry pulled his support from the team mid-season, Kulwicki fielded his own team, often working as a one-man show as driver, owner, crew chief and mechanic. He had some trouble keeping help from race to race as he was known for being demanding (Ray Evernham only lasted six weeks with Kulwicki), but with just two full-time crew members, one car and two engines, Kulwicki was named 1986 Rookie of the Year, competing in 23 of the season’s 29 races and finishing 21st in points.
  • After finishing 15th in points in 1987 and winning three poles, Kulwicki won his first Cup Series race in 1988 in the second-to-last event of the season at Phoenix; instead of the conventional victory lap, Kulwicki turned his car around to honor the fans with a “Polish victory lap.” Kulwicki was approached by the legendary Junior Johnson to drive for his team in 1990 and again in 1991, but Kulwicki turned him down both times.
  • Kulwicki gained Hooter’s as a sponsor on his No. 7 Ford Thunderbird during the 1991 season, initially as a one-race deal after the driver they sponsored missed the race at Atlanta Motor Speedway; after Kulwicki’s eighth-place finish in the race, the sponsorship became a long-term one. That deal continued into 1992, when Kulwicki and his “Underbird” weren’t even considered contenders for the championship. That season, Kulwicki took the championship by just 10 points over Bill Elliott, overcoming a 278-point deficit with just six races remaining in the season; he was the last owner-driver to win the title until Tony Stewart won the Chase for the Sprint Cup in 2011. Members of that championship-winning crew included crew chief Paul Andrews and future Cup Series crew chiefs Tony Gibson and Brian Whitesell.
  • On April 1, 1993, while returning to the Tennessee area for the weekend race at Bristol, a small plane carrying Kulwicki and three others went down before its final approach to the Tri-Cities Regional Airport near Blountville, killing all on board.
  • Kulwicki may have left the racing world too soon, but his impact is still felt. In 2015, the Alan Kulwicki Driver Development Program was founded; current Roush Fenway Racing Xfinity Series driver Ty Majeski was the inaugural winner of the trophy. Other winners were Alex Prunty (2016) and Cody Haskins (2017). Kulwicki is also nominated again for the 2019 NASCAR Hall of Fame class, after tying Ron Hornaday Jr. for the nod in 2018; Hornaday was voted in during a head-to-head vote.


Monday, April 16, 2018

Travel Tips: Richmond Raceway – April 20-21, 2018


credit: NASCAR Media

Richmond Raceway in Virginia hosts the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and Xfinity Series this weekend, Friday and Saturday, April 20-21, for the Cup Series Toyota Owners 400 and the Xfinity Series ToyotaCare 250.

The Track Takeover returns to Richmond on Saturday from 3-4:30 ET. All ticket holders get exclusive access to the track just hours before the green flag, where they’ll get to sign their name to the start/finish line and share an experience with driver Austin Dillon. Find out more here.

Key on-track times:

Friday, April 20
  • Xfinity Series practice – 8 and 9:40 a.m. ET
  • Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series practice – 11:05 a.m. and 12:35 p.m. ET
  • Xfinity Series qualifying – 4:05 p.m. ET
  • Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series qualifying – 5:30 p.m. ET
  • Xfinity Series ToyotaCare 250 – 7 p.m. ET
Saturday, April 21 –
  • Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Toyota Owners 400 – 6:30 p.m. ET
A complete schedule of events at the track is available here.

Check out the Richmond Fan Guide here, and get the track’s grandstand guidelines here.

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

Friday, April 13, 2018

What's Next? Five Questions for Bristol




The field takes the green flag at Texas Motor Speedway last weekend.
Photo Credit: Lisa Janine Cloud for Skirts and Scuffs
By Stephanie Landrey

It's been an interesting open to the season so far. We've seen some domination, and we've seen other teams coming apart at the seams early on. We've watched mandated equipment fail week after week, and nothing to replace it, as of yet.

There's a lot buzzing around NASCAR as it prepares to go on another entitlement sponsor hunt, but let's face it...

This is Bristol Baby!

What happens when Monster Energy steps away from the Cup Series?
This could turn out to be interesting. In times where tracks are seeing attendance down but television ratings up in the key 18-34 demographic, NASCAR is looking for every way to maximize its reach. Monster doesn't want to necessarily end the relationship, but it's highly unlikely that a full series sponsor will exist after 2019. NASCAR is working hard to revamp its business model, and feels that shared entitlements (quite possibly with the tracks it races at and the television stations it's featured on) could be a better deal for everyone. Directors are even looking at the series not carrying an entitlement sponsor name, period. Whatever happens, we have to agree that the partnership with Monster has been beneficial for everyone involved. Monster has gotten a ton of television exposure, and NASCAR is seeing increased ratings. This evolving topic will be an interesting one to follow.

Who will win the coveted Dash 4 Cash this weekend?
This weekend there are no Cup drivers entered into the Xfinity series race. Let me say that again...

There are no Cup drivers entered into the Xfinity race.

Fans have been calling for less Cup driver involvement in its sister series for years. NASCAR has even set limits to the number of races that Cup drivers can run, and when they have to stop running Xfinity races during the season. This was done in hopes that more Xfinity drivers would get exposure to tracks, and hopefully get some wins under their belt. This weekend Christopher Bell, Cole Custer, Daniel Hemric, and Ryan Preece have all earned the right to race for $100,000 at Bristol. Who will walk away with the money? Based on past performance, I say Christopher Bell. It's going to be a great fight though! Make sure to watch.

Chad Knaus
Photo Credit: Lisa Janine Cloud for Skirts and Scuffs


Calling the 48 team, where are you?
Let's face it. The 48 team of Jimmie Johnson has had a dismal start to the year. DNFs, tire failures and other issues have plagued the seven-time series champion since Daytona. Jimmie and Chad continue to work hard to get the team to where they need to be, but it seems that every week brings a new issue. Will this be the week that "Seven-Time" gets his first win of the season? Let's not forget that the 48 team does start to get hot towards the middle of the season.

Can Kyle Busch continue his streak at the top?
The No. 18 team has had strong runs all year, finally getting their first win at Texas Motor Speedway last weekend. Can he get his second win of the season this weekend, or will he be the bridesmaid once again. Bristol has always been very kind to the younger Busch brother, so it will be interesting to see what unfolds, especially since he holds the pole for Sunday's 500 miler.

Kyle Busch in Victory Lane at Texas Motor Speedway.
Photo Credit: Lisa Janine Cloud for Skirts and Scuffs


Will there be any surprises this weekend?
Could this be the week that Kyle Larson gets his first win of the season? Will Clint Bowyer win on another short track? It's all possible. Bristol is a long race, and much of what happens to the standings are dependent on what happens on pit road. Track position is going to be at a premium this weekend, and tempers will most likely flare at some point. This could shape up to be one of the more interesting weekends on the schedule, and that's fine by me.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

NASCAR Fantasy Fusion: Food City 500 at Bristol

By Carol D'Agostino

Drivers with Most Top 10s (Last 5 Years):
By Race
All with 3: Clint Bowyer, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ryan Newman and Kyle Larson
All with 2: Chase Elliott, Jimmie Johnson, Joey Logano and Denny Hamlin  

By Track
Joey Logano - 6
All with 5: Jimmie Johnson, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ryan Newman, and Kevin Harvick
Clint Bowyer - 4
Jamie McMurray - 3

Recent Pole Winners: 
2017 Rained out
2016 Carl Edwards
2015 Matt Kenseth
2014 Denny Hamlin

Last Year's Race Winner: Jimmie Johnson

The Likely Suspects: Bristol brings out both ends of the driving perspective: patience and wildness. Drivers with those characteristics tend to perform well at Bristol. My eyes are on these drivers this weekend: Jimmie Johnson, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Clint Bowyer, Ryan Newman, Kyle Larson, Joey Logano and Kevin Harvick.

My 2 Cents: My no-brainer pick this week is Ricky Stenhouse Jr. My next picks are Kyle Larson, Joey Logano, Clint Bowyer, Ryan Newman and Erik Jones. I will complete my team with Darrell Wallace Jr. and Matt DiBenedetto.

My Final Four: Joey Logano, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Erik Jones and Matt DiBenedetto

Second-Look Driver: This week's second-look driver is Daniel Suarez. Daniel has been cleared for racing this weekend despite having sustained an avulsion fracture in his left thumb in a wreck on Lap 4 in Texas. Although he only has two races under his belt in a Cup car at Bristol, I expect him to finish in the teens this weekend. Last week's second-look driver Kasey Kahne finished 17th in Texas, after starting 28th.

Points to Ponder:
  • The race winner has started from the pole 24 times (21.6%) -- the most productive starting position in the field.
  • Roger Penske leads the series among active car owners with the most wins at Bristol with 12, followed by Jack Roush and Rick Hendrick with 11 each.
  • Eight different manufacturers have won in the MENCS at Bristol, led by Chevrolet with 45 victories, followed by Ford (36), Toyota (9), Dodge (8), Pontiac (8), Buick (4), Plymouth (3) and Oldsmobile (1).
  • Kyle Busch leads the series among active drivers in wins at Bristol with six.
  • Ricky Stenhouse Jr. leads the series among active drivers in average finishing position at Bristol with a 10.8 in 10 series starts.
  • Kevin Harvick leads all active drivers in runner-up finishes with five, followed by Kyle Busch with three. Harvick also leader all active drivers in top fives at Bristol with 12, followed by Jimmie Johnson with 11.
  • Jimmie Johnson leads the series among active drivers in top 10s at Bristol with 18. 
    Remember, if you're playing Driver Group Game, make your picks by 2:59 a.m. EDT on Saturday, April 13, and pick your starters by 2 p.m. EDT on race day, Sunday, April 15.

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

    Wednesday, April 11, 2018

    Travel Tips: Bristol Motor Speedway – April 13-15, 2018

    credit: NASCAR Media

    The K&N Pro Series East and Xfinity Series join the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series at Bristol Motor Speedway, Friday through Sunday, April 13-15, for the Food City 500 weekend.

    On Friday night in the Hospitality Village from 4-9 p.m. ET, Food City Race Night is a free event that will feature live entertainment, show cars, and special appearances by NASCAR celebrities including (subject to change) Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr., Daniel Hemric, Ryan Reed and many more. Find out more – including a list of celebrities and appearance times – here.

    Key on-track times:

    Friday, April 13
    • Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series practice – 12:30 p.m. ET
    • Xfinity Series practice – 1:35 and 3:35 p.m. ET
    • K&N Pro Series East practice – 2:30 p.m. ET
    • Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series qualifying – 4:45 p.m. ET
    • K&N Pro Series East qualifying – 6 p.m. ET
    Saturday, April 14
    • Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series practice – 8:30 and 11:05 a.m. ET
    • Xfinity Series qualifying – 9:35 a.m. ET
    • Xfinity Series Fitzgerald Glider Kits 300 – 1 p.m. ET
    • K&N Pro Series East Zombie Motors 150 – 4 p.m. ET
    Sunday, April 15
    • Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Food City 500 – 2 p.m. ET
    The complete schedule for this weekend can be found here.

    First-time fan information can be found here, and fan FAQs can be checked out here. The track’s rules and regulations can be found here.

    Get more information on the schedule and purchase tickets at www.bristolmotorspeedway.com.

    Sunday, April 8, 2018

    Kyle Busch shoots the guns at Texas Motor Speedway

    Credit: Lisa Janine Cloud/Skirts and Scuffs
    by Lisa Janine Cloud

    Kyle Busch held off perennial rival Kevin Harvick to win the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 Sunday afternoon, putting the No. 18 Interstate Battery Toyota in Victory Lane at Texas Motor Speedway for the third time in his career. Each of Busch’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup victories at TMS has come while carrying the Dallas-based company’s livery.

    With his first checkered flag of the 2018 season, Busch tied Bill Elliott on the all-time wins list with 44. The Las Vegas native also has eight Xfinity Series and three Camping World Truck Series trophies from the Great American Speedway.


    “It’s just certainly a team effort and a great win,” Busch said. “My guys were awesome on pit road. Adam Stevens (crew chief) and my guys did a phenomenal job of getting me a great race car today. This Interstate Batteries Camry was flying and you know we might have been just a tick behind the 4 (Kevin Harvick) on overall speed, but when we were out front and we were where we needed to be there at the end, we were just able to hold them off and then run the right line in order to hold them off. Can’t say enough about all these guys - everybody on this Toyota. It was rocking today.”

    Harvick, who started on the outside pole with the No. 4 Busch Light Ford, led early and often, but pit stop errors plagued the team. Crew chief Rodney Childers claimed the NASCAR-supplied air guns were a big part of the problem. On the team radio, he referenced two guns having as much as 3,000 RPM difference, one around 9,000 and one around 12,000 RPM.

    Harvick, not known for being reticent with his opinions, said post-race, “We had a pathetic day - two days - on pit road because we can't get pit guns that work in our pit stalls. Today we had to pit under green ‑ got ourselves a lap down because the pit guns work half the time, they don't work half the time. Yesterday we had four loose wheels because the pit guns can't get the tires tight.  Our guys did a great job with a really fast race car. I feel bad for the guys on pit road because they get handed just absolutely inconsistent pieces of equipment. Today it wound up costing us a race.”

    Jamie McMurray finished third, his best finish since Talladega in May 2017. He quietly worked his way up from 24th for his first top five of the season.

    “Yeah, it was basically just a really good day for us,” McMurray said. “From the start of the race, the car was pretty good, especially on the long runs. Then fortunate to miss a lot of wrecks that happened and survived. Then had good pit stops. All around, just a pretty solid day for our team.”

    One of those wrecks changed the complexion of the race, affecting seven cars and prompting an 11-minute red flag. Jimmie Johnson, Brad Keselowski and Denny Hamlin were put out of contention.

    Martin Truex Jr. and Kyle Larson each took hard hits when they blew right-front tires in separate incidents, but were treated and released from the Infield Care Center.

    New Kids on the Track Erik Jones (4th) and Ryan Blaney (5th) finished well, with Jones leading 64 laps, third-most of the race. Joey Logano came in sixth, his sixth top-10 finish of the season, and pole-sitter Kurt Busch landed in seventh.

    With his eighth-place finish, Darrell Wallace Jr. scored his second top 10 with the No. 43. Martinsville winner Clint Bowyer landed in ninth, and William Byron’s 10th-place finish is his first in the Cup series.

    Other notable finishes: Matt DiBenedetto in 16th and Ross Chastain in 18th.

    Kyle Busch took the lead in the MENCS points standings, while Harvick holds the playoff standings lead.




    Saturday, April 7, 2018

    Ryan Blaney scores first Texas win in Xfinity Series

    credit: Lisa Janine Cloud/Skirts and Scuffs
    by Lisa Janine Cloud

    The Xfinity Series My Bariatric Solutions 300 at Texas Motor Speedway ended much the same as it began - with Ryan Blaney and the No. 22 Fitzgerald Glider Kits Ford up front and fast. Blaney scored his first victory at the Great American Speedway Saturday afternoon.

    With colder temps than ever recorded for a race at TMS, the first two stages of the race featured plenty of spins, cautions, chaos. By lap 105, though, the racers settled down and went to work. Blaney led 132 laps, taking point for the final time on Lap 154.

    Christopher Bell finished second, putting him in the Dash 4 Cash next week at Bristol Motor Speedway. Bell led for 10 of the 200 laps but couldn’t quite catch the Penske No. 22 which has now won three races in a row with three different drivers.

    Blaney admitted that teammates Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski put a bit of pressure on him to win. "You never want to be the guy who breaks a streak," said Blaney post-race.

    Third place went to Daniel Hemric, who will also compete in the Dash 4 Cash along with fourth-place finisher Cole Custer and Ryan Preece who came in fifth.

    Although he wound up in eighth place, Elliott Sadler still leads the point standings.

    In case you’re wondering about Bayley Currey, who was featured in one of this week’s Five Questions, his Xfinity Series debut ended in 22nd place, ahead of team owner BJ McLeod who came home 29th.

    Be sure to tune in for the Fitzgerald Glider Kits 300 at Bristol next week.

    Kurt Busch leads Stewart Haas 1-2-3 start at Texas

    credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images
    Kurt Busch scored the Busch Pole Award and accompanying Henry Repeating Arms Big Boy lever-action rifle Friday afternoon at Texas Motor Speedway. Qualifying for the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 halted after the first round because of lightning in the area, and Busch was the beneficiary with a lap of 27.360 seconds at 197.368 mph in the No. 41 Haas Automation/Monster Energy Ford.

    “It was a unique situation with just having the one round,” Busch said of the qualifying effort. “The thought that weather was in the area hadn’t crossed our minds but yet you have to play all three rounds as smart as you can. We went a little bit aggressive on that first round and it paid off.”

    Stewart Haas Racing teammate Kevin Harvick put the No. 4 Busch Light Ford on the outside pole with his (27.395 seconds, 197.116 mph).

    “It was good. We had a good lap and just got beat by a little bit. I think we didn’t really realize that was going to be the last one but we thought maybe there was a chance.” Harvick explained. “We kept it in the family and that is a good thing for Stewart-Haas Racing and hopefully we can continue the trend of running well for the rest of the weekend.”

    The most recent Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series winner, Clint Bowyer, rolls off third giving Stewart-Haas Racing the organization’s first 1-2-3 start.

    Penske’s Ryan Blaney starts fourth in the No. 12 Menard’s Ford, fastest of the “New Kids on the Track.” The Toyotas of Denny Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr. roll off side-by-side on the third row, breaking up the blue oval party, though Joey Logano slipped in at seventh, followed closely by Kyle Busch in the eighth position. The Chevys of Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Larson round out the top 10.

    Track conditions on Sunday will be radically different than for qualifying and for practice Saturday, so teams may not have gained much, if any, information that will help them on race day. 

    Starting lineup:


    Rank
    Driver
    Car number
    Manufacturer
    1
    Kurt Busch
    41
    Ford
    2
    Kevin Harvick
    4
    Ford
    3
    Clint Bowyer
    14
    Ford
    4
    Ryan Blaney
    12
    Ford
    5
    Denny Hamlin
    11
    Toyota
    6
    Martin Truex, Jr.
    78
    Toyota
    7
    Joey Logano
    22
    Ford
    8
    Kyle Busch
    18
    Toyota
    9
    Jimmie Johnson
    48
    Chevrolet
    10
    Kyle Larson
    42
    Chevrolet
    11
    Brad Keselowski
    2
    Ford
    12
    Aric Almirola
    10
    Ford
    13
    Trevor Bayne
    6
    Ford
    14
    Daniel Suarez
    19
    Toyota
    15
    Darrell Wallace, Jr.
    43
    Chevrolet
    16
    Alex Bowman
    88
    Chevrolet
    17
    Austin Dillon
    3
    Chevrolet
    18
    Chris Buescher
    37
    Chevrolet
    19
    Paul Menard
    21
    Ford
    20
    Chase Elliott
    9
    Chevrolet
    21
    Erik Jones
    20
    Toyota
    22
    A.J. Allmendinger
    47
    Chevrolet
    23
    Ty Dillon
    13
    Chevrolet
    24
    Jamie McMurray
    1
    Chevrolet
    25
    Ryan Newman
    31
    Chevrolet
    26
    Ricky Stenhouse, Jr.
    17
    Ford
    27
    Michael McDowell
    34
    Ford
    28
    Kasey Kahne
    95
    Chevrolet
    29
    David Ragan
    38
    Ford
    30
    Matt DiBenedetto
    32
    Ford
    31
    Ross Chastain
    15
    Chevrolet
    32
    Gray Gaulding
    23
    Toyota
    33
    William Byron
    24
    Chevrolet
    34
    Cole Whitt
    72
    Chevrolet
    35
    Landon Cassill
    0
    Chevrolet
    36
    Harrison Rhodes
    51
    Chevrolet
    37
    Reed Sorenson
    55
    Chevrolet

    Five Questions before Texas

    credit: Lisa Janine Cloud/Skirts and Scuffs


    by Lisa Janine Cloud

    This week's action puts the Xfinity Series and the Monster Energy Nascar Cup Series at Texas Motor Speedway in Ft. Worth. Or more precisely, No Limits Texas, established 1997.

    Race rituals include cowboy hats, six-shooters, and rifles, of course. Repaved before last April's race weekend after track drying became an almost impossible task, drivers are feeling their way around, trying to get used to the new surface and configuration. While they're doing that, let's look at some questions.


    Who will qualify for the Dash 4 Cash? 
    The My Bariatric Solutions 300 results will set eligibility for Bristol edition of the popular contest in which four full-time Xfinity Series drivers compete for $100,000. Richmond, Talladega, and Dover host the other three Dash 4 Cash races. In addition to the driver award, Comcast will donate bonus money, a total of $40,000, within those four communities as part of the company’s Internet Essentials program, which is designed to help low-income Americans get online.

    Who in the heck is Bayley Currey?
    Hailing from Driftwood, Texas (near Austin and San Marcos), Bayley Currey will attempt to make his first Xfinity Series start this weekend. He’ll be driving for B. J. McLeod in the No. 8 with CHASCO Constructors on the car. The No. 8 has seen action two other drivers have taken the wheel of that No. 8 this season - Caesar Bacarella and Tommy Joe Martins. Currey ran three Camping World Truck Series races last season and one so far this season. In first practice, he finished 28th of 40 and 32nd of 41 in second practice. Not too shabby for his first time in an Xfinity car!

    Can Jimmie Johnson get his eighth win at TMS?
    No driver has won more at the Great American Speedway than Seven-Time. Despite this season’s lackluster performance, the No. 48 must be considered a threat when the green flag falls in Texas. Johnson not only won seven times but has five second-place finishes in 29 starts. He rolls off ninth on Sunday afternoon.
    While qualifying was on hold for lightning in the area, Johnson said, “I was just telling Alex (Bowman) we started off and struggled pretty bad.  I think the track was just really far off from what we anticipated. At the very end of practice, things started going much better for us and popped off a decent lap there and making good gains. We are excited either way.” As strong as the Fords are, no one should count Johnson out until the checkers fly.

    Can Bowyer bring it?
    The proud new owner of a grandfather clock from Martinsville, Clint Bowyer’s performance thus far in 2018 has been encouraging. A win, two top fives, and three top tens out of six starts is a good way to start the season, and the Kansas native is optimistic.

     “All four of our Stewart-Haas cars are fast again here at a totally different race track. It is crazy how you can get your cars with a good balance on them and really roll them through the corners good and for whatever reason in today's day in age it doesn’t matter if it is at Texas Motor Speedway running 200 mph or last week at Martinsville. It seems if they are fast at one track they are going to be fast at the next. It is real fun to be in a Ford right now,” Bowyer said in his media availability Friday. He starts third behind SHR teammates Kurt Busch and Kevin Harvick.

    Can a New Kid on the Track score a win in No Limits, Texas?
    Texas Motor Speedway president Eddie Gossage is known for capitalizing on current controversy and conflict to promote races. This race, he has cast the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series youngest drivers as “New Kids on the Track,” a play on the boy band New Kids on the Block. Cartoon versions of Daniel Suarez, Darrell Wallace Jr., Ryan Blaney, Chase Elliott, Erik Jones, William Byron, and Alex Bowman pose as if for an album cover or a promotional shot. To the side, a smaller poster states that the average age of winners in the first six races is 38.5.

    When asked about the reference during media availability, Suarez and Blaney didn’t know who NKOTB were, and Jones pointed out that he was born in 1996. “We were actually just talking about it in the hauler and I don’t know the New Kids on the Block.” Jones said. “I was born in 1996 and the last year they were a group was 1995. They asked me what new kid on the block  was and I was like ‘man, I’ve got to be honest with you, I have no idea’. I saw that though. It’s cool. It made me laugh. I liked the sign they put next to it better. At first I thought Harvick actually put it there. I was like that, that’s pretty funny, but then I realized the track did it.”

    Joey Logano was the youngest Cup winner at TMS. In 2014 he was 24 but had five full-time Cup seasons under his belt. While the Xfinity Series and Camping World Truck Series have seen young winners, Cup races tend to go to older, veteran drivers like Johnson and Harvick. That could change this Sunday, but odds are against it.

    Tune in to FOX Sports 1 at 1 p.m. Central Time on Sunday to find out!