Thursday, December 31, 2009

Goodbye to 2009

New Years Eve --2009

I wanted to take a few minutes to say how privileged and honored I am to be included in the Skirts and Scuffs blogsite. The women of Skirts and Scuffs can go head to head with most men I know when it comes to the subject of NASCAR. The opinions and their insight is extremely varied and diverse. We come from all parts of the country, from many walks of life and we come together to bring readers and fans our points of view. These are our opinions and we are completely open to receiving comments from those of you who wish to share your opinions.

2010 is going to be the year of the #Girlracer. Women are showing their talent as well as their knowledge and support for favorite drivers and teams in numbers that will only continue to climb. Mark my words, 2010 is going to be a year for the history books in more ways than one.

So in closing, let's all say goodbye to 2009 and welcome the year of 2010 in with a big bang. Be safe in your celebrations, and make sure your all around to enjoy this New Year for all that it brings us.

Thanks again to the writing staff at Skirts and Scuffs for your continued support and friendship. I really think that @NASCARKaty deserves a big hand for bringing us all together.

Happy New Year

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

NASCAR Fans Commit More than 10,000 Hours to Help Those in Need

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (Dec. 30, 2009) – Thousands of NASCAR fans across the country came out to support The NASCAR Foundation throughout the year, enabling the Foundation to raise and contribute $1.8 million in program services to nonprofit organizations across the country. A majority of the contributions went to affect the lives of children and families in need, especially in the areas of pediatric health, fulfilling “NASCAR Dreams,” education and community service.

The Foundation saw an increase in volunteer participation this year, in part due to a strong emphasis placed on community service through The NASCAR Foundation Volunteer Network – 10,000 NASCAR fans involved in community service projects. Record numbers of people came out to serve in their community this year, committing more than 10,000 hours to help those in need, including potentially saving 15,000 lives through The NASCAR Foundation Fourth Annual Blood Drive, raising enough funds to provide 250,000 meals to children and their families, raising awareness at the track about the importance of screening for breast cancer and collecting funds at the track that would enable over 150 kids to attend Victory Junction camp in Randleman, N.C.

“Thanks to the loyal fans of our sport, The NASCAR Foundation continues to fulfill – and exceed – our original vision for the organization,” said Foundation Chairperson Betty Jane France. “To be able to engage so many fans and to provide such a large amount in contributions is both exciting and gratifying. The Foundation is doing important work … meaningful work. We are extremely grateful for the fans’ support which makes that work possible.”

More than $350,000 was contributed this year to organizations with an emphasis on pediatric health, including pediatric cancer and trauma research. The work being done by organizations like The Jeff Gordon Children’s Hospital, the Childress Institute for Pediatric Trauma and Speediatrics is critical to helping children live longer and fuller lives.

The NASCAR Foundation also worked throughout the year to provide life changing experiences and educational opportunities for young people at the track. Throughout the season the Foundation worked with organizations to bring more than 400 kids to the track to get an inside glimpse to the sport, its personalities and learn about the engineering that goes in to putting a stock car on the track every weekend.

One of these groups was students from Phillip O. Berry High School in Charlotte, N.C. Through a NASCAR Day program, The NASCAR Foundation brought students from the school out to the track in May for a tour and meet and greet with 2009 NASCAR Day spokesperson Kevin Costner.

“The exposure that our kids got at the track really has motivated some kids to focus on their technical educational because now they see that if they can do what they need to do academically, then these doors will be open for them,” said Donald Fennoy, principal at Phillip O. Berry High School. 

In May, Victory Junction added The NASCAR Foundation to the elite founder list for surpassing the $1 million-giving mark. Since its inception, The NASCAR Foundation has given more than $1.5 million to Victory Junction through a variety of fundraising means, including NASCAR Day. Collectively, those efforts have sent more than 500 deserving children with chronic medical conditions or serious illnesses to Victory Junction for a life-changing experience

For more information on The NASCAR Foundation’s 2010 projects or on the impact the Foundation made within the motorsports community this year, visit WWW.NASCAR.COM/foundation.

About The NASCAR Foundation
The NASCAR Foundation embodies the compassion of the NASCAR Family and our commitment to serving communities. The Foundation supports a wide range of charitable initiatives that reflect the core values of the entire NASCAR Family. The NASCAR Foundation will use the strength of the sport and its people to make a difference in the lives of those who need it most.

Stewart finishes 4th at Hogs Breath Café International Sprintcar Race

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series owner/driver Tony Stewart finished fourth in the Hogs Breath Café International Sprintcar Race at Tyrepower Parramatta City Raceway in Sydney, Australia, on Tuesday night.

Four-time World of Outlaws Champion Donny Schatz, who drives for Stewart in World of Outlaws, crossed the finish line in second place. Ian Madsen of Sydney took advantage of a restart to open a gap over Schatz in the final four laps to win the race.

Stewart was third fastest in qualifying. The recent wet weather continued to make the track a challenge for the two-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion.

“I’ve got a good car to drive and a great teacher with Donny here so I’m learning a little bit more each night and felt a lot more comfortable tonight compared to the first night I was here,” Stewart said.

“The track was definitely a little difficult tonight, the weather over the last couple of days has really made the track a little trickier than what I’m used to. I’m not used to them being quite as ‘ledgey’ as it was and cars kind of banging the right rear off the cushion, but it makes it fun. You have to work hard at getting into a rhythm and make consistent laps.

“I felt like over the last 15 laps of tonight’s main I got a lot better and my lap times didn’t fall off as much as the cars in front of me and I was making time."

Stewart finished seventh in the Valvoline Australian Sprintcar Grand Prix on Sunday night, where Schatz claimed the victory.

"For a guy who only runs three or four Sprintcar races a year I’ve been pretty pleased with the last couple of nights,” Stewart said.

The Hogs Breath Café International was the second of four Sprintcar races Stewart will run at Tyrepower Parramatta City Raceway during the holidays.

Up next is the Scott Darley memorial race on Saturday night. The two-night event will end Sunday. Stewart, Schatz and All Star Series Champion Tim Schaffer will battle fellow American Jason Johnson and Australian stars Brooke Tatnell, Robbie Farr, Max Dumesny and Ryan Farrell for the $50,000 prize.

Related stories:
Stewart finishes 7th in Aussie race
Stewart to run series of Sprintcar races in Australia

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Fans in the Stands

Don't consider yourself a "writer", but still want to be part of Skirts and Scuffs? How about becoming one of our "Fans in the Stands"? If you are a woman heading to a Camping World Truck Series, Nationwide Series, or Sprint Cup Series race in 2010 we would love to hear from you regarding your experience. Whether you have been to a dozen races or this is your first doesn't matter.

For more information or to get in on this series contact Katy.

Funeral arrangements set for DJ Richardson

WELCOME, N.C. (December 27, 2009) – Funeral arrangements have been made for former Richard Childress Racing pit crew member Donald “D.J.” Richardson, Jr., who passed away Dec. 25 in Massachusetts.

The viewing will be Tuesday, Dec. 29, from 4 to 8 p.m., at Silas F. Richardson and Son Funeral Home in Leominster, Mass. The funeral will be Wednesday, Dec. 30, at 11 a.m. at St. Mark's Church in Leominster, Mass.

In lieu of flowers, a memorial fund for his three children is being established, with details to follow as soon as possible.

Details of a memorial service in North Carolina are pending and will also be made available as soon as possible.

Richardson passed away from complications of the H1N1 virus. He joined RCR in July 2009 and finished the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season as the rear-tire changer for the No. 29 Shell-Pennzoil Chevrolet Impala SS team.

The Massachusetts native began his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career with Andy Petree Racing in 1999. He also worked for Penske Racing, Hendrick Motorsports and Braun Racing.

Click here to view Richardson's obituary

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Stewart finishes 7th in Aussie race

Tony Stewart gets the power down (or up) at Tyrepower Parramatta Raceway in Sydney, Australia, on Sunday. (Photo courtesy of crgphotography on Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0)

Two-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion Tony Stewart finished seventh in the main event at the 30th Valvoline Australian Grand Prix at Tyrepower Parramatta Raceway in Sydney, Australia, on Sunday night.

Stewart made his debut in the Garry Rush Motorsport No. 14 Old Spice Sprintcar. Battling a rain-soaked track, Stewart qualified 29th in time trials. He improved his time in the heat races but just missed the cutoff transfer from the B main. He was given a promoter's pass for the main from the 25th position -- last place. Stewart steadily moved up through the pack to finish seventh.

Reigning World of Outlaws Champion Donny Schatz, Stewart's teammate, won Sunday night's event. The North Dakota native claimed the $10,000 prize in the No. 2 Pick N Payless Shaver machine.

Schatz recently wrapped up his fourth consecutive title in World of Outlaws. How did it feel racing against Stewart, his World of Outlaws team boss?

“Tony is my boss 95 percent of the time and it's pretty neat to see him out here, he loves dirt track racing and loves these types of cars but I think tonight was a little bit trying for him.

“Tony came forward a long ways, learned a lot here tonight, had a lot of fun and got to see a lot of people out here,” Schatz said.

Stewart talked about the challenges he faced on the track. "I think to finish seventh from the tail was OK, it was a good first night for me, obviously not as good as my teammate who won the race but he runs 100 races a year and I get to run three.

“The rain really hurt the racetrack, it was hard, with the rain that we got over the last couple of days it was bound to make the track a little messy but I think everybody did a pretty good job considering the conditions.”

Australian champion Garry Brazier finished second in Sunday's main event, and All Star Series Champion Tim Shaffer from Alquippa, Pa., placed third.

Stewart will return to Tyrepower Parramatta Raceway on Tuesday, Dec. 29, to vie for the $10,000 prize at the Hogs Breath Sprintcar International. On Jan. 2-3, he will battle for $50,000 in the Scott Darley race presented by Coca-Cola.

Related story:
Stewart to run series of Sprintcar races in Australia

Saturday, December 26, 2009

NASCAR Nation Mourns the Loss of Pit Crew Member DJ Richardson

Today the NASCAR Nation is mourning the loss of Richard Childress Racing's DJ Richardson who died  from complications of the H1N1 Virus on Christmas night. Richardson was the rear tire changer for the #29 driven by Kevin Harvick in the Sprint Cup Series. Richardson was 37 years old.

Skirts and Scuffs sends our condolences to the Richardson family and the entire Richard Childress Racing family.

Sharon Hutchens, wife of SHR Director of Competition, loses fight with cancer

Skirts and Scuffs would like to send our condolences to Bobby Hutchens, Director of Competition for Stewart - Haas Racing and his entire family, following the passing of his wife Sharon. Sharon Hutchens lost her fight with breast cancer on Tuesday December 22, 2009. In lieu of flowers the family requests donations be made to the Susan G. Komen Foundation.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the Hutchens family this holiday season.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas

The entire Skirts and Scuffs team would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy Holiday Season. We will be back soon with more content and a few surprises. Have a wonderful weekend!

Merry Christmas! 

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Nationwide Series to run at Road America in 2010

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Dec. 21, 2009) – NASCAR announced Monday, Dec. 21, that it will continue its 17-year streak of racing on a national-series level in Wisconsin with the addition of the historic Road America course to its 2010 NASCAR Nationwide Series schedule.

The Road America 200 at the 4.048-mile, 14-turn track located in Elkhart Lake, Wis., replaces the event previously scheduled at the Milwaukee Mile and will be run on Saturday, June 19.

“We’re excited to be staying in Wisconsin and racing in front of the passionate fans there at a historic venue that’s new to our NASCAR Nationwide Series,” said Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR’s vice president of racing operations.

While Road America is new to the NASCAR Nationwide Series, it’s not the first time NASCAR has raced there. On Aug. 12, 1956, Tim Flock won the only other NASCAR national series race, in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, at the then one-year-old track. In 2001, current NASCAR Sprint Cup driver – and Eau Claire, Wis., native – Paul Menard won there in the former NASCAR RE/MAX Challenge Series.

“It’s a really great race track,” Menard said. “It’s in a very picturesque setting in the Wisconsin countryside. It has every kind of corner you can imagine. When I was a kid, my dad would take me to Road America. The fans love it there.

“By the second practice, I’m sure everyone will be up to speed because the drivers are so good in the NASCAR Nationwide Series. Braking will be the hardest aspect. Strategy will play a big part in this race. I’m really excited about (the series) running there.”

Road America will be the third road course on the 2010 NASCAR Nationwide Series schedule. The series also will race at Watkins Glen International and at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal. As recently as the 2007-08 seasons, the NASCAR Nationwide Series also had three road courses on its schedule, racing at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico City in addition to The Glen and Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.

“Road America is a very unique track that will provide great racing and will test driver skill and ability on what is a very large course,” said Joe Balash, director of the NASCAR Nationwide Series. “And yes, we’ll be prepared to race in the rain if necessary,” he said, in reference to the series’ last two races in wet weather in Montreal. The 2008 event was the first NASCAR national series points race contested in the rain.

Teams will be permitted to participate in a full day of additional event practice on Thursday, June 17, prior to the start of official on-track activity on Friday, June 18

Skirts and Scuffs wants to know your thoughts. How do you feel about the decision to add another road course to the Nationwide schedule? Do you wish another track had gotten the race? Would you rather see a road course added to the Sprint Cup schedule (in addition to the two Cup races at Infineon and Watkins Glen)? Please leave your thoughts below.

(Photo from royal_broil at Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0)

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Revisions to the 2010 Bud Shootout Criteria Announced

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Dec. 23, 2009) – NASCAR announced Wednesday a revision to the 2010 Budweiser Shootout at Daytona format that provides fans with a strong lineup of drivers highlighted by last year’s top performers and a collection of previous winners at the sport’s most-storied race track.

The 32nd annual season-opening event launches Speedweeks at Daytona International Speedway on Saturday, Feb. 6 with green flag set for 8:10 p.m. The new criteria are based upon the following qualifications, with eligibility based on a driver having competed in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series within the last two seasons:

  • The 12 drivers that qualified for the 2009 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup
  • Past NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champions
  • Past Budweiser Shootout champions
  • Past Daytona 500 and Coke Zero 400 Powered By Coca-Cola champions
  • The reigning Raybestos Rookie of the Year

“We’re always looking at ways to make this event bigger and better for our fans and we believe the new format for the Budweiser Shootout puts together an exceptionally strong lineup of our top drivers,” said Robin Pemberton, NASCAR vice president of competition.

“In our discussions with the track, we thought by placing an additional emphasis on the drivers who had performed well at Daytona over the years would create an even more compelling element for the fans to get excited about at the beginning of the season.”

The race distance will continue to be 75 laps (187.5 miles), consisting of two segments – 25 and 50 laps. Both green-flag laps and yellow-flag laps will count. Between segments there will be a 10-minute pit stop allowing teams to pit and change tires, add fuel and make normal chassis adjustments. Crews will be permitted to work on cars and will be allowed to perform functions they would do on a normal pit stop in a regular NASCAR Sprint Cup event. All work must be performed on pit road or in the garage. Changing of springs, shock absorbers or rear-ends will not be permitted.

Starting positions will again be determined by a blind-draw at the annual Budweiser Shootout Draw Party on Thursday night, Feb. 4 on the SPEED stage in the Midway, outside Turn 4.

The Budweiser Shootout – a “non-points” event for NASCAR Sprint Cup competitors – was first held in 1979, originally known as the Busch Clash. Kevin Harvick won last year’s event.

Tickets for all 2010 Speedweeks events are now available online at or by calling 1-800-PITSHOP.

Drivers eligible for the 2010 Budweiser Shootout include:

2009 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Drivers

  • Jimmie Johnson
  • Mark Martin
  • Jeff Gordon
  • Kurt Busch
  • Denny Hamlin
  • Tony Stewart
  • Greg Biffle
  • Juan Pablo Montoya
  • Ryan Newman
  • Kasey Kahne
  • Carl Edwards
  • Brian Vickers
Others (filled by criteria in parentheses)

  • John Andretti (Coke Zero 400)
  • Geoff Bodine (Daytona 500, Budweiser Shootout)
  • Jeff Burton (Coke Zero 400)
  • Kyle Busch (Coke Zero 400)
  • Derrike Cope (Daytona 500)
  • Dale Earnhardt Jr. (Daytona 500, Coke Zero 400, Budweiser Shootout)
  • Bill Elliott (Series champion, Daytona 500, Coke Zero 400, Budweiser Shootout)
  • Kevin Harvick (Daytona 500, Budweiser Shootout)
  • Matt Kenseth (Series champion, Daytona 500)
  • Bobby Labonte (Series champion)
  • Terry Labonte (Series champion, Budweiser Shootout)
  • Joey Logano (Reigning Raybestos Rookie of the Year)
  • Sterling Marlin (Daytona 500, Coke Zero 400)
  • Jamie McMurray (Coke Zero 400)
  • Ken Schrader (Budweiser Shootout)
  • Michael Waltrip (Daytona 500, Coke Zero 400)
What do you think of the new criteria? Is it just a way to get certain drivers into the Shootout or is it a needed change? Let us know in the comments below.

Another Milestone for Jimmie Johnson

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Dec. 21, 2009) – The post-season honors keep piling up for Jimmie Johnson and once again, the four-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion is making history.

Johnson has been named the Male Athlete of the Year by members of The Associated Press becoming the first race car driver to win this prestigious award in the 78 years it has been presented.

Johnson made history this season when he became the first driver to win four consecutive NASCAR Sprint Cup titles, accomplishing a feat that the likes of Richard Petty, Dale Earnhardt, Darrell Waltrip and Cale Yarborough were unable to achieve. In 2009, Johnson won seven races, including four during NASCAR’s “playoffs” – the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.

Johnson and the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet team at Hendrick Motorsports have elevated themselves to the “dynasty” level. And, taking into consideration that this award has been presented in the past to such superstars as Lance Armstrong, Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan, Joe Montana, Carl Lewis, Muhammad Ali, Sandy Koufax, Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, Byron Nelson, Joe DiMaggio, Jesse Owens, and Joe Louis, it’s safe to say that Johnson has etched his named alongside some of sports’ greatest of all-time.

“We’d been wondering the last few years, ‘When is this going to hit?’” Johnson told the Associated Press. “It seems like the answer is now. The wave is finally peaking and we don’t know where it’s going to take us. The fourth-straight title takes it out of our sport and makes it a point of discussion like, ‘Wow, a race car driver won this thing.’”

Johnson received 42 votes from editors at U.S. newspapers which are members of the AP. Tennis star Roger Federer (30 votes) and Olympic gold medalist sprinter Usain Bolt (29) were the only other athletes with totals in the double-digits. Swimmer Michael Phelps, who won a record eight Olympic gold medals in the 2008 Beijing Games, was last year’s recipient.

Skirts and Scuffs wants to know your opinion. Is Johnson the male athlete of the year? Why or why not? If you say no then who would you consider to be the top male athlete of the year? Leave us a comment with your opinions.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Chris Henry Dies in Charlotte, NC at Age 26

The National Football League (NFL) is certainly not NASCAR--but they are tied in one sense. They are the two most watched sports series in the United States today. Today we are all mourning the sudden and tragic loss of Chris Henry. It is not contained to just Cincinnati Bengal's fans, or NFL fans--it is a sports community mourning that such talent would be lost at such a young age. Henry was only 26 years old, and after several run-in's with the law--had just begun to get his life in order. He was engaged and planning a wedding; had three beautiful, healthy children; and his career had begun to take off, until an arm fracture that occured early November against the Baltimore Ravens side-lined him. If it weren't for that hair-line fracture, Henry would have been in Cincinnati preparing for this Sunday's game against San Diego yesterday. He wouldn't have been in Charlotte, NC--specifically Oakdale--getting wedding plans together for the off-season. Isn't it ironic how something so small affected his short life so greatly?

NASCAR ties in with his passing more-so than most think.

I spoke with a friend last night who informed me that the medic's that picked Chris up from Peachtree Rd. in Charlotte, NC were race-fans. Something insignificant but it does show that no matter what specific type of sport is out there, they are intertwined at one point or another. Also, the simple fact that this horrific accident happened in Charlotte, NC--the hub of NASCAR--also proves that although there are boundaries between specific types of sports--You can't say that the path's will not cross.

Rest In Peace, Chris Henry.

You were such a talented individual.

The entire sports community mourns your death.

Chris Henry

The opinions in this article are of the Author and do not reflect upon Skirts and Scuffs or other contributors.

Photo's courtesy of Cincinnati's WCPO Channel 9, and also Gregory Shamus with Getty Images.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Kyle Busch Motorsports: What's in store for 2010? Your thoughts on the matter

Kyle Busch Motorsports - Brian Ickler, Kyle Busch, Tayler Malsam

Rumors flew over the latter part of the 2009 season concerning Kyle Busch and his desire to field a Camping World Truck Series team in the near future. Some said it would never happen while others just waited for the official announcement. That announcement came last Friday (December 11) when the 24 year old Las Vegas native made the annoucement that Kyle Busch Motorsports would field two full time teams in 2010 with the possibility of a third once sponsorship had been secured.

Busch, who began Kyle Busch Motorsports back in 2007 as a late model venture is stepping into the big leagues with major sponsors, recognizable drivers, and a desire to win. Kyle Busch doesn't do anything half way and that's evident by the men he has hired to lead and drive his stable of Toyota Tundras.

Heading up the effort for Kyle Busch Motorsports will be Rick Ren. Ren is best known for leading the Kevin Harvick Incorporated team driven by Ron Hornaday Jr. to two NCWTS titles over the past three years. Ren who left KHI at the end of the season will serve as the director of competition for Kyle Busch Motorsports and said," I like the mix of experience and youth. Kyle is one of the most natural-ability guys who has ever come along in the racing world. There have been great racecar drivers, but Kyle has the opportunity to be one of the all-time greats. Getting the chance to help a guy like that who has a  dream of building his own race team is an honor."

Behind the wheel of the #56 will be up and coming driver Tayler Malsam. The 20 year old Washington native is a relative newcomer to the series with just one season behind the wheel. Joining Ren and Malsam will be Brian Ickler. Ickler is another newcomer to the sport having driven a second Billy Ballew Motorsports team in 2009 alongside his mentor and now team owner. Ickler is set to drive the #18 which will be sponsored by Miccosukee Resorts and Gaming. Ickler will share the ride with Busch competing in events that do fit with Busch's Sprint Cup or Nationwide Series Schedule. A third team is in the works with Johnny Benson set to drive once sponsorship is found. Benson, the 2008 Series Champion, will provide experience and gudiance to this relatively young group of drivers.

What You Had to Say

Of course this annoucement has only fueled more questions concerning Busch. These questions were asked of our writers as well as those following us on Twitter.

1. Are you happy about the announcement for KBM in the truck series?

Overall the response to this question was positive. Most of our writers agree that the addition of KBM to the Camping World Truck Series lineup is a boost for the sport. Especially in filling the void left with the departure of Roush- Fenway Racing from the Truck Series. Our writer Rebecca said, "KMB's announcement has sparked anticipation of the series return for many fans." Also weighing in on this side was Kiara who said "This racing team is going to be good for him (Kyle).  I think because it will give him something to look forward to if he is having a bad day on the Cup side.

On the other side of the debate comes this comment from Melissa who said, "I think that it's too bad. I applaud his drive and his desire to own racing teams.. but you know, I think that he's this *holds up two fingers verrrry close* to being able to compete with Johnson. If he worked on his racing and his consistency I bet he could do it. " That's a great point. Focus is often the reason given for why Busch hasn't been able to capitalize on his talent in the Sprint Cup Series over the past two seasons. It will be interesting to see how much of his focus goes into the Truck Series team and whether or not it hurts his efforts to dethrone Johnson and the Hendrick organization he once drove for.

2. Is 3 teams too many?

While KBM is set to field two full time teams in 2010 a third team is in the works.. Some people think that Busch would be better suited for success if he were to field only one team for his first season. Some believe he is biting of more than he can handle this early in the game, but others say the more the merrier. Gina said, "As much as I want JB to find sponsorship, I think starting out with 2 teams is better than jumping to 3 right away. Next season though, if everything goes good, I say go to 3."

3. Will becoming a team owner calm Busch down?

That firey personality is what Kyle's fans love about him. They love cheering for a guy who isn't afraid to say what he's thinking and they see his "tantrums" as passion. We've seen it before though. A driver who is known as a hot head becomes a team owner and suddenly some of that fire we love so much is gone. Just look at Kevin Harvick. Since the creation of KHI he's been less confrontational and the number of heated words between himself and his competitors has decreased tremendously, though on occasion the Happy of old rears his head. Let's not forget Tony Stewart who has been known to throw a helmet or two. He seems to be more relaxed as an owner and his success in 2009 proved that a new team can contend.

Our responsents were split down the middle as to whether owning team would be good for Busch and his attitude. Gina said, "I think it will calm him down. He'll see that he has a lot more responsibilities and I think it'll make him a better driver too." and Melissa chimed in again saying, " I sure hope not, I like his fire."

4. What about the choice in drivers? Like them? Hate them? Indifferent?

Most people don't care one way or another. To be honest most of the answers we got to this question were more happiness over the prospect of Johnny Benson getting a ride in 2010. Ickler and Malsam are relatively unknown names in NASCAR. While most agree that it's great that Busch is looking into young drivers for his team they are just waiting to see what Busch himself does in the weekends where he will be behind the wheel of the #18.

5. How long will it take the team to win a race?

@ronfrankl petty much summed up the responses we got to this question when he said, "KBM will be successful, particularly when the boss is behind wheel. Hiring Rick Ren from KHI put them on fast track to success." You can't argure with that. Ren was an asset to the Hornaday team at KHI and his experience will help Busch get his dream up and running. Most people aren't expecting Kyle Busch Motorsports to bring home a victory with Malsum or Ickler, but when you put Busch himself behind the wheel anything can happen.

Author's Reactions

For myself there are two sides to this story. There's the writer trying to be impartial and look at it from all angles. Then there is the the fan who knows what she wants to see happen. The skeptic writer Katy wonders if Busch is letting his dreams take over his life at such an early age. Is he more concerned with building a dynasty of his own as an owner than he is with earning a Sprint Cup Series title? Is he setting this up now in case things fall through on the cup side in the next few years? Is this his backup plan? Or is he getting in on the truck series at a point when it's actually growing in popularity? Is he taking a page out of the Tony Stewart Business Plan and taking advantage of everything he has been given in his short career? Will he see the same success Kevin Harvick has seen with his truck series teams? Will Kyle Busch Motorsports become the end all be all team of the future? That's the question on all of our minds.

The fan in me is jumping up and down having a field day with this. She's already been to the Kyle Busch Motorsport website and looked into ticket prices for the 2010 Truck Series races. She's waiting for that first piece of KBM merchandise to show up online and is pinching her pennies in order to pay for it. Fan Katy is exicted about the prospect and can't wait to see what KMB has in store for us in 2010.

Which Katy will be left standing at the end? Will it be skeptic writer Katy or will it be fan Katy? One things for sure with Kyle Busch Motorsports in the mix for 2010 it's going to be an awesome season!

A huge thanks to those who provided input for this piece!

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect those of Skirts and Scuffs or its contributors.
Photo credit from KBM via NASCARMedia

Will money give you a ride with a NASCAR Cup team?

Have you ever wondered how the young guys like Joey Logano, Landon Cassill, and Brad Coleman made it into NASCAR at such a young age? Or how they got in with teams who have great equipment? It's not rocket science to figure it out, but most fans don't see the business aspect of racing unless it's plastered on or a silly-season website.


That's all it takes these days to get a Nationwide or Cup series start, it seems. Guys who are racing at their local short-tracks in their beat up late-models, making every feature and finishing top three every weekend are overlooked because of the kids with parents who are successful and willing to shell out whatever kind of money it takes to get their child into the spotlight.

Kyle Krisiloff's grandmother is Mari Hulman George--who definitely has some pull in the racing community. For those that don't know who Mari Hulman George is, she is the sole chairman and owner of Indianapolis Motor Speedway; the home of the Indy 500 and also the Brickyard 400, two of the biggest races in motor sports.

There was speculation on how Krisiloff's poor performance in the Nationwide series got him a ride with one of NASCAR's most elite teams, Hendrick Motorsports. I'm not hinting that Krisiloff is not talented, but it takes a certain type of talent to race for one of the biggest dynasty's to ever be a part of NASCAR and Krisiloff did not show that talent. Mr. Hendrick had a driver developmental program in which he had signed three drivers to run in the Busch series(what is now the Nationwide series). Blake Feese and Boston Reid were the two other drivers signed to run a part-time schedule. After a season full of poor performance and mangled cars, Rick Hendrick decided to close down the program.

Yet another Hendrick Motorsport prodigy was brought into the stable at an early age and what seemed to be a bright career. Landon Cassill proved himself to be successful in series' below NASCAR, but to what degree? You flip on SPEED and see young men such as Parker Kligerman running without a sponsorship in the ARCA series but finishing second in the championship standings by five points, yes FIVE points! How do guys like Cassill get great equipment, sponsorship, and the support of a solid team and not capitalize--but guys such as Kligerman come into ARCA only planning to run a part-time schedule with limited sponsorship and end up contending for a championship? Yet again, the key word: money.

Earlier this season, Cassill and a few of his crew members went testing & during testing, Cassill apparently thought texting was more important than evaluating his runs and times. A friend of mine was at this test and said that it was a distraction for the team. Why would someone so young with such a fortunate opportunity ruin it with something so petty as texting? Probably because he was handed the opportunity.

Most race fans don't realize that these select drivers have parents putting in hundreds of thousands of dollars a year just to keep up with their sons racing "needs." Whether it's paying a certain percentage of money to a team just to be able to test--or paying a fee to the owner to keep the cars in the shop & the mechanics tinkering on them each and every day. These things are kept on the down-low so that the owners and drivers are not being seen under a negative light.

Denny Hamlin is also a noteable mention. No, he did not grow up with a family who had the $750,000 home on a lake with a farm in Virginia. His lucky break came from racing in Dale Earnhardt Jr's infamous DMP. He raced alongside Martin Truex Jr. and Dale Earnhardt Jr. in this weekly exclusive invite-only online based series. He succeeded in this series and formed a bond with the two former Busch Series champions. Earnhardt Jr. saw potential in Hamlin and immediately mentioned his name to a few owners. Having the respect and recommendation of Earnhardt Jr, owners immediately took notice of the Virginia native. Hamlin had no money to earn his ride, but he had NASCAR's most popular driver's vote of confidence, which to owners is more than money itself considering Earnhardt Jr. is a brand of his own.

You can argue that good ol' racing talent will get you anywhere as long as you keep working hard--but without the support of Earnhardt Jr, Hamlin would still be running locally with maybe a few peeks at the ARCA Re/Max series.

I recently approached a friend of mine who runs in the ARCA Re/Max series full-time and subtly mentioned the fact that a lot of young drivers are getting their breaks because of wealthy parents or relatives. He agreed but also defended this "group" of people saying that they were only taking advantage of the opportunities they were given. Of course someone who belongs to this "group" would say that. I won't bad-mouth him, seeing as he is a friend, but it is common knowledge that not everyone in this world has the priviledge of having banks in their pockets. But there are plenty of young men and women around the United States who have more talent than some of the winningest drivers in the Cup series.

It's guys that came up through the dirt tracks and asphalt short-tracks on Saturday nights in the '90's and early 2000's that make NASCAR so grass-roots today. Drivers that are money-based usually fizzle out once the money well runs out, or their lack of talent is finally discovered and the team itself is coming up with a loss because of the numerous mangled cars in the shops each week. At the same time, drivers getting their "breaks" doesn't seem to be as common as it was for the Waltrip's, Wallaces', etc. The money-based drivers are swiftly replaced by another money-based driver--a never-ending cycle.

These days it's all about the family you were born into and how devoted to your passion they are. For the guys still busting their chops each and every day in the thousands of garage-turned-race-shop's across America, it's a one in a million chance you'll get your break. I applaud you and support you every Saturday night--but it's more than just your local short track followers that you have to prove your worth to. If this is to change, it's up to the fans to create awareness so that NASCAR will take notice and take action.

The opinions in this article are of the Author and do not reflect upon Skirts and Scuffs or other contributors.

Image courtesy of

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Hand Me Down Crew Chief?

It most families, brothers share things while growing up. It might be a pair of hand me down jeans, a car, or even a pretty girl. In most situations, items are handed down from the eldest brother to the younger, so it's pretty rare that an older brother gets something that once belonged to his younger sibling. Yet, that's what happend this week between two of the most talked about brothers to grace the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in recent history.

The item the older got from the younger? A crew chief.

2009 wasn't a great season for either of the Busch brothers when it came to crew chiefs. First Pat Tryson announced his departure from the #2 Miller Lite Dodge driven by Kurt Busch. Tryson's departure announcement just before the Chase for the Sprint Cup was to begin led to much speculation regarding how the team would handle the last 10 races of the season. Even with what many concidered to be a "Lame Duck" crew chief Kurt pulled off a forth place finish in the final standing and earned his second victory of the season at Texas.

Just weeks later Joe Gibbs Racing made the decision to remove Steve Addington as crew chief for the #18 driven by the younger Busch. Addington was replaced by Dave Rogers in a move that had many people talking. Although Addington helped Kyle Busch to win 12 races over the 2008 and 2009 season Busch poor finish in the standings and lack of consistency led to this change.

On Monday Penske Racing announced that Addington had been chosen to replace Tryson as the crew chief for Kurt Busch's team in 2010. When making the annoucement Roger Penske said, "Steve Addington has a proven track record of success in NASCAR and we are excited to welcome him to Penske Racing. By adding Steve to the winning Miller Lite team and working closely with Kurt, we believe we have the combination in place to compete for a championship as we head into the 2010 season."

Will Addington's success with Kyle translate to success with Kurt or will fans of the older brother be wishing Penske had chosen another to replace Tyson? What's your opinion?
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author an may not reflect those of the site or its other writers
Image via Getty Images for NASCAR 

Monday, December 14, 2009

A Woman's Place..............

Making History...

When I originally began this series, my intention was to pay tribute to the talented women involved in the history of Nascar. Introducing you to women who have left their mark on the world of auto-racing. Having pursued their dreams regardless of the consequences, very often suffering life threatening injuries. Although these woman of yesteryear were an important part of motorsports' history, it is the women that are contributing NOW that are making exciting strides in the world of racing.

This series has acquired legs of its own and I am going to do my best to bring the readers of Skirts and Scuffs the stories behind these women, and their contribution to the world of motorsports and beyond. From driving to car ownership and pit crews to commentators, Women have become the nuts and bolts in a very competitive world. No longer is it the male dominated sport it once was.

What motivates these women and who are their mentors? What drives them to become competitors in a 'mans world'? How do they deal with the day to day pressures that come with the territory? What do they do when their helmet comes off? What goals do they have for the future? Can they compete without being compared? These are the things that are fueling my desire to not only challenge the that old adage "A Women's Place.......", but to prove it wrong.

In the coming months you will see one on one interviews with some of the top women in terms of NASCAR racing. Some of these women sit behind the wheel, some stand in front of the camera, and others stand beside their man as they put it all on the line in an effort to bring home the victory. These women have been places many of us only dream of and have bright futures in front of them. We aren't going to tell you who our first interview is with just yet, but I will tell you that you won't be disappointed.

If you are one of these self-motivated, strong female individuals and would like to share your auto racing story with the readers of Skirts and Scuffs, please fell free to contact me at my email address: . Who knows, maybe I'll even contact you first. If you are one of our readers feel free to submit your suggestions for interview topics or the questions you would like to see answered.
Image courtesy of Twitter user Bruce M. Walker

All opinions are of this writers and not that of Skirts and Scuffs or its contributors

Stewart to run series of Sprintcar races in Australia

The 1995 Midget and Sprint cars Tony Stewart drove to win the USAC Triple Crown. Stewart was the first driver to win USAC’s three national championships (Silver Crown, Sprint and Midget series) in the same year. (From csyork65 on Flickr)

Tony Stewart will head ‘Down Under’ for the holidays to compete at Tyrepower Parramatta City Raceway in Sydney, Australia.

Stewart, a two-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion and a former IndyCar Series champion, will pilot a car fielded by Australian Speedway legend Garry Rush in four of the biggest events on the Australian speedway calendar.

“After starting his own NASCAR team at the beginning of the year Tony has had a very long year and his main focus is to come to Australia to unwind while enjoying some time away from the pressure of racing at the top level,” said Rush, one of the directors of Sydney Speedway Pty Ltd, the promoters of Tyrepower Parramatta City Raceway.

“However, he is a true racer at heart and has jumped at the opportunity we have provided him to race at Tyrepower Parramatta Raceway while combining it with some holiday activities both around Sydney and other parts of Australia.”

Stewart will join four-time World of Outlaws Champion Donny Schatz and All Star Series Champion Tim Shaffer on Dec. 26 for the Valvoline Australian Sprintcar Grand Prix and Dec. 29 for the Hogs Breath Sprintcar International.

On Jan. 2-3, the trio will be joined by fellow American Jason Johnson and Australia’s best to battle for the $50,000 to win Scott Darley race presented by Coca-Cola.

Stewart is no stranger to Australia. During the formative years of his career, he competed at the Parramatta venue in a limited campaign.

The 38-year-old has 37 wins in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, including four in 2009, his first year as owner/driver for Stewart-Haas Racing. He has gathered an impressive resume on the oval track during the past 20 years, racking up numerous championships including a trifecta of USAC Championships (Midget, Sprint Car and Silver Crown) in 1995. Stewart won the IndyCar Series championship in 1997.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Speedway In Lights: a Different Look at Bristol Motor Speedway

Many race fans see Bristol Motor Speedway as the site of some of the most exciting races of the NASCAR season, but during the winter, the roar of the engines is replaced by the sound of Christmas music and the illumination of over 1.5 million Christmas lights. Bristol Motor Speedway begins its Speedway In Lights powered by TVA program in November and it runs until January 2nd.

All proceeds from the Speedway In Lights program benefit the Bristol chapter of Speedway Children’s Charities. 2009 marks the 13th year of the Speedway In Lights program, and in those thirteen years, the event has drawn in thousands of visitors and raised more than $4.5 million for the Speedway Children’s Charities. The Speedway In Lights is the biggest fundraiser for the track.

Work begins pretty much as soon as the Sharpie 500 ends in August to start preparing the speedway and the speedway grounds for the event. In September of 2006, I volunteered one day to help out. From 7:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. I was busy checking displays to make sure they worked, sorting bulbs into boxes according to their color, and exchanging old bulbs with new ones in the displays. Despite all that work, it barely made a dent in what needed to get done. With over two hundred displays—some of which are ten feet tall or more—it takes a lot of hard work and dedication for track workers and volunteers to get it all finished before the event begins in November.

On a good night, it takes forty-five minutes from start to finish to drive along the 4.5 mile long route. However, on weekends it can sometimes take forty-five minutes just to get to the ticket booth. The best bet for a shorter waiting time would be to go during the week. Christmas music plays on FM station 100.9 for those who want to listen to the music as they drive along the route.

Visitors take a drive around the track grounds past displays strategically grouped together, such as the Twelve Days of Christmas display that features everything from the partridge in a pear tree to the twelve drummers drumming, and Dinosaur Village is a popular one with the kids that features an erupting volcano and six dinosaur shaped displays. There are even motorsport themed lights. Such as dragsters that race each other and stock cars that race each other. The newest display is the Sea Of Illumination presented by Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies, which actually runs under the grandstands of the track.

The Sea Of Illumination features displays in the forms of sharks, starfish, and other sea life.

The route even allows visitors to drive down the famous Thunder Valley drag strip. The finale of the route leads to the hauler entrance and onto the track, allowing visitors to take a lap around the World’s Fastest Half-Mile. For those in no hurry to leave the track, the infield features the Subway Christmas Village, where the speedway’s media center is turned in the Santa Hut where parents can bring their children to get their pictures taken with Santa. There are vendors on hand selling concessions. There are fire pits for roasting marshmallows, local arts and crafts vendors, a Bristol Motor Speedway souvenir hauler for buying speedway merchandise, and even a few carnival rides for the kids.

Lights strung from the pylon make it look like a giant Christmas tree, and a star is displayed on all four of the giant screens atop the pylon.

For those of you who have visited before, I hope you all enjoyed going as much as I did. For those of you who haven’t visited, I hope you get the chance to go one day. It really is a fun event to go to. I look forward to going every year.

The 2009 Speedway In Lights began on November 13th and will run until January 2nd. The track is opened 6-10 p.m. daily. Tickets for cars are $10 Sunday through Thursday and $12 on Friday and Saturday.

More information can be found at:


The photos used in this post were taken by me. However, the first photo is from 2008. I missed getting a picture of that particular display when I went last Sunday. That one is slightly different this year.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

NASCAR Parrot Head Cup?

A friend of mine recently flew to NYC to attend a Jimmy Buffet concert. It was probably his 10th concert this year. Before I really thought about it, I said, "Once you've seen a Buffet concert, haven't you seen them all?" He looked at me surprised and said, "But I've never seen him at Madison Square Garden!" Once my brain caught up to my mouth, I realized that NASCAR fans and Buffet Fans have many things in common.

How many people have told us 'seen one race, seen 'em all? Once you've seen them go around the track 400 or 500 times, haven't you seen enough?' But, as we know, racing at Martinsville is very different than racing at Daytona. Wouldn't we like to take in 10 or so races each year? So it must be to see Buffet at Madison Square Garden or at Pine Knob. And like the set list can be different at each show, the finishing order is (nearly) always different at each race.

Tailgating at Buffet concerts rivals any Race Morning Parking Lot that I've ever been to. The set up is elaborate, the food is good, and beer is served at any hour of the day. And finally, wearing your Buffet-- Houston shirt is akin to wearing your Talledega-- 2003 shirt at this year's fall event.

Perhaps there is something in common genetically with NASCAR fans and Parrot Heads that drive them to the lengths to attend races and concerts? Perhaps its good music and good times.

Either way, Fins Up Race Fans!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

What to Read? The NASCAR Vault

NASCAR has a long and storied history. Whether you are a fan who is just getting acquainted with the sport or one who has been around for decades the names of Petty, Pearson, Allison, Waltrip, and Earnhardt mean something. They aren't just guys who made a living from racing. They are the men who helped NASCAR grow from a localized sport to a national sport viewed by millions each weekend.

In undertaking this project for Skirts and Scuffs I have found that many histories of the sport are similar. When you are trying to read as many books as possible on the subject it can get a bit monotonous. I was feeling that when I picked up a copy of The NASCAR Vault at the library. (they are starting to know me by name) One look at this book and I knew it was something special. I'm not sure it was the imposing size and weight or the glimpses of history I got as I quickly flipped through the pages, but I knew I wasn't leaving the library without it.

All you have to do is flip open to the first page to realize that this book is a unique glimpse into the past. Marketed as an official history featuring rare collectibles from motorsports images and archives The NASCAR Vault doesn't just tell you about this history; it puts you right in the middle of it. While there are many stories contained in the Vault they aren't the focus of this book. The focus is on the pieces of actual memorabilia that are contained between the stories. Throughout the book you will find several reproductions of graphics, programs, rule books, decals, patches, and brochures. Each is protected in a plastic enclosure.

Want to see the 1948 rule book? Just slide it out of the enclosure and you will find all 33 rules. My favorite of all is #4 which says:
If a car is a convertible type, it must be run with the top up and in proper pace and must be quipped with safety hoops mounted on the frame. 
It's hard to imagine the drivers of today driving a truly stock car on the track but back before the templates and the COT that's what NASCAR was.

Another great piece of memorabilia is the program from the first ever awards banquet held in New York in 1981. If you caught this season's banquet in Las Vegas it's easy to see how far the sport has come in the last three decades. Back then drivers were just excited to get acknowledged. Today they get live televised coverage of the event during prime time and a week of media hoopla to go with it.

Even if you aren't into the history of NASCAR this book is well worth your time to check out. You won't find yourself falling asleep between the pages and you won't find yourself wishing you could just make it to the end of the book sometime this year. If I had to pick just one book this would be it.


The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and may not reflect those of Skirts and Scuffs or other contributors
image courtesy of

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Why Dale Earnhardt Jr Got My Vote??

Every driver in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series has a fan, or millions of fans for that matter. Dale Earnhardt Jr is at the top of that chart. It has shown for the past seven years as he has walked away with the NMPA Chex Most Popular Driver. This was a bit suprising as the 2009 racing season wasn't Junior's best year. However that didn't stop his dedicated fans like me to vote for him. Though the infamous last name might have quite a bit to do with it. It never once affected my vote. I was never really a Earnhardt Sr. fan, even though I knew he could drive like no other. I voted simply because I like Junior.

Dale Earnhardt Jr's season was far from good, showing a bit of improvement in the last four races. So the big question, Why would you vote for someone who didn't win a single race? Personality for me. The guy can run in 43rd position then 90 percent of the time, he is willing to talk and explain what happened or what what went wrong. Not many drivers can or are willing to do that.

Media scrutinized Junior almost every race. That didn't stop Junior Nation from cheering on their favorite driver. Why? Because a true fan never gives up on their driver. You stick with that driver through thick and thin. Since I was eleven years old I have cheered for Dale Earnhardt Jr and I have no plans on stopping.

Hopefully the new year will ring in some ones for the 2009 Most Popular Driver!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

5 Questions After ... NASCAR Banquet!

Unfortunately, the offseason is upon us. However, last night was the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series awards ceremony and there were some very memorable moments. (P.S. My apologies for not previewing the banquet! I had a bad case of the offseason blues!)

How many season highlight clips did they show? … From the beginning of the “pre-banquet” show to the end of the awards ceremony, clip after clip after clip was shown highlighting different storylines of the 2009 NASCAR season. Though the NASCAR Media Group does a fantastic job with each of these, how many of them did we actually need to see? Not to mention the fact that leading up to the banquet coverage, SPEED aired four 30-minute television shows highlighting different aspects of 2009. Many of the clips aired during the banquet seemed like duplicates showed during the shows. By the time the banquet was over, fans were burned out.

Is there a “Jimmie Johnson Retirement Fund”? … Tony Stewart, Ryan Newman, and Greg Biffle seem to think so! Then again, maybe that was just wishful thinking. Who knows? It started when Newman was giving his speech and nonchalantly congratulated Jimmie and his team on their 4th consecutive championship … and then went on to say, “I hope you enjoy your retirement.” Biffle and Stewart both rebutted that they would also like to see Johnson take a NASCAR break. Nice try, boys!

How apparent was the fan presence? … Every driver thanked the fans in their speech, and every time the fans offered up a “you’re welcome” with cheers and applause. At times, drivers were mentioned and introduced and cheers were heard from the seats up above where the fans were placed. Approximately 300 NASCAR fans were in attendance for the banquet, and it showed!

Were the political jokes a bit awkward? … Don’t get me wrong, they were hilarious! Most of them were in good taste and nothing was said that would get bleeped or edited out on regular programming (unless there was something we didn’t see). However, it seemed as though Frank Caliendo got a bit deeper into politics than NASCAR usually ever does. It was a bit amusing to see the faces on some of the audience members.

How fitting was the name of the hotel? … The NASCAR banquet at the “Wynn Las Vegas” hotel … was that on accident? I don’t know, but it works! All of our drivers are “Wynn-ers” (couldn’t resist!) and got to celebrate their season at the hotel that bears the name!

Bonus questions: Did Chad Knaus videotape the banquet? … Who knew Jeff Hammond was so knowledgeable in the world of fashion?! … Who all was more interested in the dates than the drivers themselves?

Peers have advice for Johnson at 2009 Sprint Cup banquet

Jimmie Johnson’s peers have some advice for him – or at the very least, some wishful thinking.

“I hope you enjoy your retirement,” Ryan Newman said during NASCAR’s annual awards ceremony Friday night at the Wynn in Las Vegas. The crowd roared.

Nice try, Newman. But he wasn’t alone in his sentiments regarding Johnson, who made history with his fourth consecutive Sprint Cup title this year.

Greg Biffle and Tony Stewart readily jumped on the bandwagon.

“At least just take a vacation for five or 10 years,” said two-time champion Stewart, who offered his half of Stewart-Haas Racing to Johnson to entice him to retire.

Jokes aside, Stewart acknowledged the 48 team shows no signs of slowing down.

“It’s up to us to find a way to beat these guys,” Stewart said, adding that he was the last driver who wasn’t Johnson to claim the championship.

It was a record-breaking year for Johnson and Hendrick Motorsports. Johnson’s fourth straight title gave the organization its 12th NASCAR championship. Hendrick teams also finished first, second and third in the points, a first for a racing organization in NASCAR.

Friday night’s banquet had a few firsts of its own as well. It marked the first time the event had been held in Las Vegas. For the last 28 years, New York had hosted the ceremony. Also for the first time, NASCAR fans were able to take part, with 300 in attendance.

The industry welcomed the change of scenery. Denny Hamlin said he had never seen so many fans gathered for the Victory Lap as he did on Thursday, when the 12 drivers in the Chase paraded their racecars on Vegas’s famous Strip.

Serving as banquet host was comedian/impressionist Frank Caliendo. Entertainment was provided by Escala, an electronic string quartet from England who reached the final of “Britain’s Got Talent” last year, the soon-to-be-broken-up country duo of Brooks & Dunn, and singer-songwriter David Gray. Comedian John Pinette, who performed in last year’s banquet, returned to deliver more of his wry humor.

Caliendo is probably best known for his impressions of John Madden and George W. Bush. In one bit, he demonstrated what it would be like if Madden provided commentary for a NASCAR race. Other bits included Caliendo as a NASCAR fan interviewing former Dallas Cowboys coach Jimmy Johnson, mistaking him for the Cup champ with almost the same name, and Caliendo in the persona of Dr. Phil giving “advice” to some of the drivers. To Martin: ''You fake retired so many times Brett Favre thinks you're indecisive.'' To Johnson: “Congratulations, Jimmie, but learn to share. That’s all I’m saying!”

In addition to Johnson, the remaining nine drivers who finished 2009 in the top 10 in points were also recognized, in ascending order of points finish: Kasey Kahne, Newman, Juan Pablo Montoya, Biffle, Stewart, Hamlin, Jeff Gordon and Mark Martin.

Hamlin, considered by many to be Johnson’s top challenger for the title in 2010, joked that since Johnson has won the championship every year Hamlin has been in Cup, “I may be your good luck charm.”

Mark Martin, who finished second to Johnson in points, kidded his teammate, “You sure know how to steal a guy’s thunder, don’t you?” After congratulating the 48 team, Martin told boss Rick Hendrick that he was “a true champion as a person” and wanted to be more like him.

Martin also said the 5 car is “the nicest thing he’s ever been in.” He complimented crew chief Alan Gustafson, saying Gustafson was smarter than he is. He thanked everyone at Hendrick Motorsports and the fans for a remarkable season.

Hendrick himself became emotional after receiving NASCAR’s highest award, the Bill France Award of Excellence. The honor was presented by Betty Jane France, widow of former NASCAR chairman Bill France Jr. Speaking about how much his relationship with the chairman meant to him, Hendrick had to stop to compose himself.

When he did, Hendrick told Johnson he was “constantly raising the bar, and when someone isn’t there to challenge you, you find a way to challenge yourself,” which he proclaimed was “the mark of a true champion.”

Johnson said he was amazed at the comments he had received from those he respected in the sport, referring to himself as an “underdog” in his early career. He complimented his teammate Martin, saying the 50-year-old “pushed me to be the best driver I can be.”

And despite his competitors’ best efforts to convince him into retirement, Johnson doesn’t plan to give up the title anytime soon.

“We’ve won four, so maybe we can win five. And that’s what I’m going to try to do.”