Friday, July 21, 2017

Silly Season picks up speed: Five Questions for Indianapolis

Alex Bowman and Dale Earnhardt Jr. at Texas Motor Speedway, November 2016
credit: Lisa Janine Cloud for Skirts and Scuffs

by Lisa Janine Cloud

Kristen Schneider is on the road this week, so she graciously consented to allow me to step in and ask five questions that are burning a hole in my brain. Thanks, Kristen, I hope you had fun at Eldora!

Speaking of Eldora, congratulations to Matt Crafton, who piloted the No. 88 Menard’s Toyota Tundra to a Stage 1 win and then his first Eldora Dirt Derby victory. Moonlighting in dirt late models the last few years finally paid off with that coveted Golden Shovel trophy Wednesday night.

The No. 88 was in the news for another reason today as a major domino fell in the maze that’s this year’s Silly Season. Hendrick Motorsports revealed that Alex “The Showman” Bowman will replace Dale Earnhardt Jr. behind the wheel of the No. 88 Nationwide/Axalta Chevy in 2018, to the delight of Bowman’s growing cadre of fans. The move isn’t a huge surprise given Junior’s endorsement of the young driver, but until the announcement was official, speculation ran wild about who would get that call.

That speculation leads us to the actual questions for this week.

Where will Matt Kenseth land when the Silly Season music stops? With the No. 88’s seat filled, Kenseth’s down one option for 2018. He could still land in an HMS ride if Mr. H. buys out the final year of Kasey Kahne’s  contract. Perhaps he’ll fit in with the other champions at Stewart-Haas Racing if Danica Patrick hangs up her helmet. Furniture Row is a possibility as well, but at this point it’s all just speculation.

Can Bowman build better chemistry with crew chief Greg Ives than Junior had with Ives? 
Let’s be real here. Regardless of what Junior said out of the car about his relationship with Ives, if you’ve listened to the 88 scanner during a race, you know that the two just never gelled. At first soft-spoken Ives seemed, to this listener at least, to be intimidated by Earnhardt Jr. He didn’t instinctively know what to stay to calm his driver the way Steve Letarte did. When Bowman drove the No. 88 last season during Junior’s absence, he and Ives seemed to communicate well. Those were special circumstances, though, so it remains to be seen whether Bowman and Ives click long-term.

Will restrictor plates and aero ducts make the Xfinity race at the Brickyard watchable?
Per NASCAR, the Xfinity cars package for Indianapolis Motor Speedway features a ⅞ inch restrictor plate like the ones used at Daytona and Talladega, aero ducts on the lower front bumper area, and a taller spoiler - splitter combination. Seems rather complicated to me, and I’m not sure how restrictor plates will affect racing the corners of a flat track designed for open-wheel cars but at this point, it can’t get much worse, can it? The chances of NASCAR stock cars racing at Lucas Oil Raceway again are essentially nonexistent, so why not give plate racing a chance?

Can Kyle Busch break his winless streak and put his name in the history books at Indianapolis Motor Speedway? The No. 18 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing will feature the Skittles livery this weekend as Busch attempts to put his team in the history books as the first to win three consecutive Brickyard 400s. Jimmie Johnson leads active drivers with four Ws, two back-to-back. Jeff Gordon leads all drivers with five wins spread across 20 years, 1994 - 2014. But no driver in ANY regular touring series has ever won three races in a row at the hallowed Brickyard. Not AJ Foyt, not Rick Mears, not Helio Castroneves. Only Mark Martin in the IROC Series won three consecutive times at Indy. With JGR on the rise again a evidenced by Denny Hamlin taking the checkers at Loudon, perhaps Rowdy will be trying to get Brexton to kiss the bricks on Sunday.

Will another first-time winner complicate the playoff picture? Whether it’s a first-time-this-season winner or another first-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup winner, a different face in Victory Lane this weekend will stretch everyone’s nerves almost to breaking. Drivers such as Kyle Busch, and Kenseth were expected to take a trophy or two this season, but haven’t yet done so. Joey Logano has a win, but it’s encumbered and doesn’t really count for anything. Junior’s had some flashes of potential but nothing that would signal a win is imminent. Meanwhile, Chase Elliott, Erik Jones and Daniel Suarez lurk near the front week in and week out. It’s not a matter of if they’ll win, but when. Where better to get that first trophy than the prestigious Brickyard?

Tune in to NBCSN on Saturday, Jul 22 at 3:30 PM E.T. for the Xfinity Series Lilly Diabetes 250 and on Sunday at 3:30 PM E.T. for the Brantley Gilbert Big Machine Brickyard 400.

TV Schedule: July 21-23

Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Credit: Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images
By Rebecca Kivak

NASCAR heads to the mecca of auto racing, Indianapolis Motor Speedway. When all is said and done at the famed Brickyard, who'll kiss the bricks?

The Monster Energy and XFINITY Series take to the track this weekend. The Camping World Truck Series got down and dirty in the dirt at Eldora on Wednesday.

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

Friday, July 21:
6 p.m. K&N Pro East Series: United Site Services 70, NBCSN

Saturday, July 22:
7:30 a.m. Camping World Truck Series: Eldora 150, FS2 (re-air)
9 a.m. Monster Energy Cup Series Practice, CNBC
11 a.m. Monster Energy Cup Series Final Practice, CNBC
12:30 p.m. XFINITY Series Qualifying, NBCSN
2 p.m. Monster Energy Cup Series Final Practice, NBCSN (re-air)
3 p.m. XFINITY Series Countdown to Green, NBCSN
3:30 p.m. XFINITY Series: Lilly Diabetes 250, NBCSN
6 p.m. Monster Energy Cup Series Qualifying, NBCSN

Sunday, July 23:
12:30 p.m. NASCAR RaceDay, FS1
2 p.m. Monster Energy Cup Series Countdown to Green, NBC
2:30 p.m. Monster Energy Cup Series: Brantley Gilbert Big Machine Brickyard 400, NBC
6 p.m. Monster Energy Cup Series Post-Race Show, NBCSN
6:30 p.m. NASCAR Victory Lap, NBCSN
11 p.m. NASCAR Victory Lane, FS1

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Trackin' Trucks: Matt Crafton Snaps Winless Streak at Eldora

Matt Crafton celebrates his win at Eldora.
Credit: Sean Gardner

by Courtney Horn

Matt Crafton soared ahead of Stewart Friesen on a late-race restart that helped him pull into Victory Lane for the first time in 27 races while earning his first Eldora Dirt Derby 150 win at Eldora Speedway.

Crafton secured the Stage 1 win Wednesday night, hung around in the top ten during the second stage, and quietly made his way back to the front with 40 laps to go to battle with Friesen, who had the dominant truck of the night.  

"My first dirt win! A lot of fun," Crafton said, "In the second part of that race we downright just stunk. It was my fault. We over-tightened it a little bit in the first run. It got free and we just went back to the way we started the race.

"I knew I was getting beat down low. Finally, at the end, I said, 'Well, we may have to tear the right side off to get the win.' I started doing it and this truck became a rocket ship."

Friesen led the first 33 laps of the night before Crafton took the lead at the end of Stage 1. The first stage ended under caution after Christopher Bell spun and suffered significant damage after Kaz Grala made contact with the right side of the No. 4 Toyota.

A multi-truck wreck on Lap 42 collected Max Johnston, Korbin Forrister, and ended the day of ThorSport Racing’s Ben Rhodes. Rhodes finished 30th and sits seventh in the NCWTS points standings.

Friesen earned the Stage 2 win over Ty Dillon, but Friesen was forced to pit unexpectedly during the Stage 2 break for a right-front tire that appeared to be going down.

Friesen restarted sixth and regained the lead on Lap 115. He led the most laps of the night, but the veteran Crafton in the No. 88 Menard’s Toyota took advantage of the top lane of the race track and was able to resume the lead for the final time with 17 to go.

Chase Briscoe, Grant Enfinger, and John Hunter Nemechek rounded out the top five, while Bobby Pierce finished sixth.

A Look Ahead
The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series heads to Pocono Raceway on Saturday, June 29, 2017, at 1 p.m. ET. Only three races remain before the playoffs begin.

Bell looks for his fourth win of the season after finishing ninth at Eldora. A good run at Pocono can help the Kyle Busch Motorsports driver close the seven-point gap in the series regular points standings, where Johnny Sauter holds the lead. 

Ryan Truex sits eighth in points after a 20th place finish, a good run at Pocono can solidify his chances at making the playoffs for the first time.

Don’t miss the truck series on July 29th at 1 p.m. ET on FOX.

NASCAR Fantasy Fusion: Brickyard 400

By Carol D'Agostino

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

By Track
All with 4 - Kyle Busch, Matt Kenseth and Joey Logano
All with 3 - Kyle Larson. Denny Hamlin and Kevin Harvick

Recent Pole Winners:
2016 Kyle Busch
2015 Carl Edwards

Last Year's Race Winner: Kyle Busch

The Likely Suspects: It's best not to overthink Indy. Stick with the drivers that consistently perform well, and you should rack up the points. My Indy elites include Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin,  Joey Logano, Kevin Harvick, Martin Truex Jr., Jimmie Johnson, Ryan Newman, Kyle Larson and Paul Menard.

My 2 Cents: My no-brainer pick this week is a tie between Kyle Busch and Kyle Larson. My next picks are Jimmie Johnson, Kasey Kahne, Clint Bowyer and Ryan Newman. I will complete my team with Landon Cassill and Michael McDowell.

My Final Four: Kyle Busch, Kyle Larson, Ryan Newman and Landon Cassill.

Points to Ponder:
  • Hendrick Motorsports leads the series in wins at Indianapolis in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series with nine, followed by Joe Gibbs Racing (five) and Richard Childress Racing (three).
  • Four different manufacturers have won at Indianapolis, led by Chevrolet with 16 victories, followed by Ford (three), Toyota (two), Dodge and Pontiac each have one. Chevrolet won 12 straight races from 2003-2014.
  • Jimmie Johnson leads all active series drivers in wins with four.
  • Jimmie Johnson (2008-09) and Kyle Busch (2015-16) are the only two drivers that have posted consecutive MENCS wins at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. 
  • 19 drivers have won Coors Light poles at Indianapolis. Among active drivers, Kevin Harvick has the most poles with two.
  • The Coors Light pole is the most proficient starting position in the field, producing four winners -- more than any other starting position at Indianapolis.   
  • Six of the 23 (26.1%) Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races at Indianapolis have been won from the front row: four from the pole and two from second place.
  • 15 of the 23 (65.2%) MENCS races at Indianapolis have been won from a top-10 starting position.
  • Matt Kenseth leads all active drivers in top-five finishes at IMS with eight and in top-10 finishes with 11.
  • Kyle Busch leads the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series in average finishing position at Indianapolis with a 9.000.  
  • Among active drivers, Matt Kenseth leads the series in runner-up finishes at Indianapolis with three, followed by Kyle Busch with two.  
Remember, if you're playing Yahoo! Fantasy Auto Racing, your pick deadline is Friday, July 22nd at 5 a.m. EDT.

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

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Fast Track Facts: Indianapolis Motor Speedway

credit: NASCAR Media
Long known as the hub of open-wheel racing, Indianapolis Motor Speedway hosted its first NASCAR Cup Series race in 1994. Learn about the famed “Brickyard” and its NASCAR history in this week’s Fast Facts.
  • “Indy” opened in 1909 and hosted the first Indy 500 in 1911. The 2.5-mile rectangular oval has permanent seating for more than 235,000 spectators, and infield seating can raise the total to approximately 400,000.
  • The rectangular-shaped track is banked to 9.2-degrees in the turns and flat in the straightaways. The all-time one-lap speed record was set by Arie Luyendyk in 1996 in an IndyCar (237.498 mph). The NASCAR track qualifying record was set by Kevin Harvick in July 2014 (188.889 mph).
  • Jeff Gordon won the inaugural Brickyard 400 in 1994 – he holds records as the youngest driver to win the race (23 years, two days), the driver with the most wins in the Brickyard 400 (five – 1994, 1998, 2001, 2004 and 2014) and the driver with the most poles for the race (three). The oldest winner of the Brickyard 400 is Bill Elliott, who was 46 years, 300 days old when he won the race in 2002.
  • An Xfinity Series race was added to the weekend schedule in 2012; Kyle Busch has won three of the five Xfinity Series races, including the last two (2013, 2015 and 2016).
  • 16 drivers have competed in both the Indy 500 and the Brickyard 400: A.J. Allmendinger, John Andretti, Geoff Brabham, Kurt Busch, Patrick Carpentier, A.J. Foyt, Larry Foyt, Robby Gordon, Sam Hornish Jr., Jason Leffler, Max Papis, Danica Patrick, Scott Pruett, Tony Stewart, Danny Sullivan, and J.J. Yeley. In addition, Scott Speed competed in the Brickyard 400 and the Formula One United States Grand Prix, and Juan Pablo Montoya and Jacques Villeneuve competed in the Indy 500, the Brickyard 400 and the F1 race.
  • Find out more about the Brantley Gilbert Big Machine Records Brickyard 400 and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway at

Monday, July 17, 2017

Travel Tips: Indianapolis Motor Speedway – July 21-23, 2017

credit: NASCAR Media
The Brantley Gilbert Big Machine Records Brickyard 400 on Sunday, July 23 highlights the annual NASCAR weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Friday through Sunday, July 21-23. The Xfinity Series joins the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series for the weekend, competing in the Lilly Diabetes 250 on Saturday, July 22.

On Friday, July 21 from 4:30-8 p.m. ET, the annual Hauler Parade heads down Main St. in Speedway, Indiana, a free event that is now part of “Fan Fest.” The parade itself begins at 6 p.m. ET at Allison Transmission, and the event will feature a number of NASCAR drivers, including (subject to change) Kevin Harvick, Ryan Newman, Brad Keselowski and Chase Elliott among others. The weekend now also includes 400 Fest, a two-night concert scheduled for Friday and Saturday. Find out more about both events here.

Key on-track times:

Friday, July 21 –
  • Xfinity Series practice – 1 and 3 p.m. ET
Saturday, July 22
  • Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series practice – 9 and 11 a.m. ET
  • Xfinity Series qualifying – 12:45 p.m. ET
  • Xfinity Series Lilly Diabetes 250 – 3:49 p.m. ET
  • Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series qualifying – 6:15 p.m. ET
Sunday, July 23
  • Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Brantley Gilbert Big Machine Records Brickyard 400 – 2:49 p.m. ET
Find a complete schedule of events for the weekend here.

Purchase tickets and learn more about the historic track at

Right Sides Only: Notes from the Overton's 301 Winning Crew Chief, Michael Wheeler

by Stacey Owens

Some days, things just don't go your way. Other days, things work out better than you'd expect. The No. 11 team experienced both of those days this weekend.

Crew chief Michael Wheeler talked about the team's difficulties that ultimately led to their first victory of the season.

"We've been working our butts off all year long, and this weekend is another one of those testaments where we wrecked the primary car on Friday and had to double down and get to work. The guys in the team, guys in the shop, they really worked their butts off to get here. We weren't the fastest car all race long. We had a top-five car. There was probably one or two guys a little bit faster, but we were in contention all day and made it happen," Wheeler said.

The Joe Gibbs Racing teams have watched, along with every other team, how well the Furniture Row Racing team led by Martin Truex Jr. have performed this season. Those JGR teams, however, watch with a bit more scrutiny since they share an alliance with Furniture Row. This past Friday, Kyle Busch talked about how frustrating it's been to watch Truex succeed with the same equipment the JGR teams use but had yet to find Victory Lane. Kyle Busch wasn't the only frustrated one at JGR.

"Yeah, there's moments where you're frustrated and there's moments where you're actually motivated," said Wheeler. "They've been a great car for the last few years before they were with us, and now that they're with us, they're better. But at the same point, we've learned stuff from them, too, watching them, seeing how they're doing, and they're beating the field, not just us. So when they beat us and they beat the field, it's like, okay, they're the best car.
"You know, we've been getting closer and closer. They won last week; we finished top five. There's no shame in that. It's made us all work a little harder and made us realize what's most important. We're getting better every week, and I'm really happy about that. As much as we're climbing the hill, fortunately, we're starting to peak at the right time, and I think come playoff time, we'll be right there," Wheeler explained.
Charlotte Bray for Skirts and Scuffs

Wheeler is a Long Island native and could consider New Hampshire Motor Speedway his home track. As well as JGR teams have run in New Hampshire in recent years, it must feel good to go home again. Denny Hamlin talked a bit about JGR's dominance of the one-mile track. 

"Well, I think it probably started with Tony Stewart many, many years ago. I watched him many times get around this racetrack, and the track has changed a lot over the years. The cars have changed. But just kind of being a student to the game and seeing what all he's done. He was a great leader, and really, I think, when I got to drive his car at Richmond in my rookie year during a test and kind of felt what he thought was a good short track package, I just kind of levitated to that ever since I got in a race car on a short track, and I think it's raised all of our games. Really the short tracks and flat tracks weren't really Kyle's forte.
"We worked together so much now over the last few years, he's really good if not exceeded beyond that. Matt has came in and been dominant at this racetrack and so we look at him and look at his notes, and so I think it's just kind of a feeding off of all the good things that have happened here, and everyone is just working off of that and getting better," Hamlin explained. 

Wheeler agreed with his driver, "Yeah, like Denny said, once you get a package here that works good and you understand why, it's easy to kind of duplicate over time, do different tire changes and aero changes. It might take a race or two to get it back, but once the drivers get a good feel for what it takes to get around here, get in the corner, get off the corner, you can go year in, year out and try to get that same feel for them again. Just really at all the tracks, they're intermediate and they know what it takes to make a car go fast around the track; give them that feel the next time you go back there is what you try to search for." 

This win marked the first win for Hamlin in roughly 20 races. Though the team has run well, they just haven't been able to seal the deal until now. Is Wheeler relieved?

Wheeler affirmed that getting to victory lane provided "a big sigh of relief."

Hamlin's fans are breathing those same sighs of relief.

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.
    This self-admitted grammar nerd also loves country music, though she can't carry a tune; Kentucky basketball, even though at 6' tall, she's never played a day in her life; and her husband who's supportive of her NASCAR obsession and tunes in with her every week... even if it's just to watch the flyover.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Travel Tips: Eldora Speedway – July 18-19, 2017

credit: NASCAR Media
The Camping World Truck Series returns to Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, OH for the fifth annual Eldora Dirt Derby on Wednesday, July 19. The event is the only dirt track race on any of NASCAR’s three national series schedules. Also on the schedule are the Super DIRTcar Series Big-Block Modifieds. The historic clay oval is owned by three-time Cup Series champ Tony Stewart.

Among the out-of-series drivers on the entry list for the race: Ken Schrader, who won the pole for the inaugural race; fan favorite Rico Abreu and last year’s pole sitter Bobby Pierce.

Key on-track times:

Tuesday, July 18 –
  • Spectator gates open at 3 p.m. ET
  • Super DIRTcar Big-Block qualifying – 6 p.m. ET
  • Camping World Truck Series practice – 7 and 9 p.m. ET
  • Super DIRTcar Big-Block heat races – 8:15 p.m. ET
  • Super DIRTcar Big-Block feature – 10:15 p.m. ET
Wednesday, July 19 –
  • Spectator gates open at noon ET
  • Super DIRTcar Big-Block practice – 4:45 p.m. ET
  • Camping World Truck Series qualifying – 5 p.m. ET
  • Super DIRTcar Big-Block heat races – 6:30 p.m. ET
  • Camping World Truck Series heat races – 7:30 p.m. ET
  • Super DIRTcar Big-Block feature – 8:25 p.m. ET
  • Camping World Truck Series Last Chance race – 8:45 p.m. ET
  • Camping World Truck Series Eldora Dirt Derby (150 laps) – 9:30 p.m. ET
Find out more about the race and the track, and purchase tickets for the event at

Saturday, July 15, 2017

TV Schedule: July 15-16

Credit: Matt Sullivan/Getty Images
By Rebecca Kivak

NASCAR heads to New Hampshire, the Magic Mile, for the feel of short-track racing. The Monster Energy and XFINITY series take to the short oval.

The Monster Energy Series held qualifying Friday. Kyle Larson won the pole, but was stripped of the top starting spot after his No. 42 Chevrolet failed post-qualifying inspection. Martin Truex Jr. will instead start first in Sunday's race.

The Camping World Truck Series is off this week but returns Wednesday for the sole dirt-track race of the year at Eldora Speedway.

The following is a handy guide to track events and television coverage for the rest of the weekend at New Hampshire.

Saturday, July 15:
10 a.m. Monster Energy Cup Series practice, NBC Sports App
11 a.m. XFINITY Series Qualifying, CNBC
12:30 p.m., Monster Energy Cup Series final practice, NBCSN
3:30 p.m. XFINITY Countdown to Green, NBCSN
4 p.m. XFINITY Series: Overton’s 200, NBCSN

Sunday, July 16:
12 noon NASCAR RaceDay, FS1
12:30 p.m. Monster Energy Cup Series Qualifying (re-air), NBCSN
2:30 p.m. Monster Energy Cup Series Countdown to Green, NBCSN
3 p.m. Monster Energy Cup Series Overton’s 301, NBCSN
6:30 p.m. Monster Energy Cup Series Post-Race Show, NBCSN

Friday, July 14, 2017

A Simple Request: Five Questions for New Hampshire

Photo by Jonathan Moore/Getty Images
I’m breaking the rules a bit. Whoops.

Rule breaking is frowned upon in racing, especially NASCAR—but this is necessary for what I want to say. I’ll touch on it more at the end of this column.

Hopefully, teams won’t break any rules this weekend, or they’ll face some harsh penalties (*cough* Larson *cough*). Both the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and the NASCAR Xfinity Series head to New Hampshire Motor Speedway, a track that measures 1.058 miles. It will be thrilling to see who can maneuver the short oval and succeed as the second half of the year gets underway.

This week, I’m talking babies, new manufacturers, and a simple request. Here are your five questions for New Hampshire.

What’s in the NASCAR water? We dedicate a lot of time to Silly Season, but NASCAR’s also in the middle of Baby Season. Kevin and DeLana Harvick announced this week they’re expecting baby number two, revealing the news a few days after their son Keelan’s fifth birthday. A few days before that was when Joey and Brittany Logano said they’re having a boy via burnouts. Also on the baby watch list: Ty and Haley Dillon, as well as Denny Hamlin and Jordan Fish. Cute kids galore, yes—but I’m staying away from that water fountain.

Should car changes be the next move? The latest rumblings in the NASCAR world include the sport looking at new manufacturers. They even posed their question to members of the NASCAR Fan Council, according to Reddit. Of course, the earliest a new manufacturer could join the sport would be 2019, so there’s a tiny bit of time for NASCAR’s efforts to come to fruition. Is this a good idea? Sure, I guess; I’m not certain it would alleviate the parity, but new manufacturers would be fun. My main thought regarding this is that the sport’s in such a state where they have to reach out to new manufacturers rather than the other way around. Things have definitely changed, that's for sure. NASCAR should press hard for new manufacturers and stick their neck out a bit. Why not take the risk?

Have Cup guys stopped infiltrating the Xfinity win column? No. Twelve of the 16 NXS races were won by full-time MENCS drivers. That sucks. William Byron’s back-to-back victories broke up the monotony, but…it still sucks. Byron is quickly becoming the go-to Xfinity guy, making it difficult for other regulars to catch up. Even if they could, they would be met with a sea of Cup competitors. I’m bringing this up because something needs to happen with this series, whether it be a new car or what have you. It’s hard to watch. When Cup regulars are winning 75-percent of the races, it goes from NXS to Cup Light. I’ll ponder on this more and come back with a few solutions in two weeks.

Can team No. 22 right the ship? When I compare this year to last season, one thing strikes me as odd—the lack of noise from Logano. Sure, he has a win under his belt, along with seven top-fives and 10 top-10s. Some drivers would kill to have those stats. However, the recent numbers are less than stellar. Out of the last 10 races, the No. 22 finished outside of the top 20 six times; three of those finishes were worse than 30th. Now, Kentucky Speedway was a bright spot, with him bringing his Ford home in eighth. Is the rough patch over? New Hampshire could provide a springboard for the second half of the season; Logano has two wins, six top-fives, and eight top-10s in Loudon, with four of those top-10s coming in the last five races there. It could be a great weekend for the No. 22 crew.

This isn’t really a question—but it’s my column, right? As I said before, I’m breaking the rules a bit with this column. Well, this “question” does, but I do what I want. All I want to say is that we need to send Sherry Pollex and Martin Truex, Jr. positive vibes. As many people know, Sherry battled ovarian cancer a few years ago and built a charity/awareness network on her experience. After Truex’s win on Saturday, it was revealed she went in for another surgery due to a recurrence. There’s no word on what this means for them (and it’s a personal matter that they aren’t required to share with the masses), but it’s important to keep them in your thoughts. As Truex made it to victory lane, I saw many tweets complaining about the announcers discussing Truex finding his speed a few seasons ago and that coinciding with Sherry’s diagnosis. Given, those tweeters didn’t see her hospital selfie until afterward—but that doesn’t mean their posts are forgiven. You can be tired of the “underdog” trope, one that Truex and the No. 78 have seemingly shaken. I mean this in the nicest way possible—it’s not about you. None of this is about you, or the win, or even racing in general. So please, as much as your fingers are itching to type out how much you hate hearing about Truex overcoming a rough start to his career and watching the love of his life go through one of life’s hardest battles, just shut up. Spread positivity instead.