Monday, November 30, 2009

Ask the Skirts: Prize Money

Today we will begin a new series here on Skirts and Scuffs called "Ask the Skirts." If you've got a question we've got the answer, or we can at least find the answer.  Questions come from our readers, twitter followers, and from members of this site. If you've got a question send us an email and we will get the answer!

Today's question is all about prize money:  Trop asks:
After every race we see each driver's winnings given their place at the end of the race. Does the entire amount go to the driver? Is it shared with the team? Does the team owner get a cut? 
That's actually a really good question. One that a lot of people wonder about. There's not really a correct answer because it differs from driver to driver and from team to team. Drivers contracts are usually written to say they get a certain percentage of the winnings for each race. What that percentage is varies from one driver to the next. A rookie driver or one without a high number of wins may only get a small percentage of the purse while a veteran, champion, or driver with a high number of wins usually gets a higher percentage of the winnings. It's thought that most drivers get about 40% of the prize money from the race sponsor. The remainder of the prize money goes to the owner who then distributes it. Some team members like the crew chief or the car chief may also have stipulations in their contracts that give them a certain percentage of the prize winnings as well.

Most drivers also have a base salary they receive for competing each season. This is written into their contracts. Regardless of where they finish in the field they receive this money and any prize winnings from the race are in addition to this salary. Drivers also receive incentives for participating in certain programs. That's why you see all those small logos on the car. Most of those are linked to an associate sponsor program. Let's say for illustration purposes that Skirt and Scuffs has agreed to pay the driver leading at half way a $100 bonus (we are cheap...sorry). Any driver can be eligible for that as long as they carry a sticker promoting our company on the car. If the driver leading at 1/2 way doesn't have the sticker they don't get the money. If you've ever been to a race and seen those large checks they give out during driver introductions that's what those are for. Those are the incentive checks.

Remember if you have a question please send us an email and we will look into it for you.

**Liz Allison's book The Girls Guide to NASCAR provides a great explanation on how this works.
Photo courtesy of foxumon 

What to Read?: DW: A Lifetime Going Round In Circles

Continuing the series What to Read Katy discusses DW: A Lifetime Going Round In Circles by Darrell Waltrip and Jade Gurss.

Perusing the shelves at my local library for a book on NASCAR worth reading is actually more difficult than it sounds. I wasn't in the mood for another history of the sport. I've read three or four of those in the last few weeks and wasn't sure if I could handle another. (Reviews of those coming in the next few weeks) Finally after flipping through several I came across DW: A Lifetime Going Round in Circles. It seemed like the obvious follow up review to Jeff Hammond's Real Men Work in the Pits considering how many years Hammond and Waltrip spent together.

Between Cale Yarborough and Dale Earnhardt in the record books is a man who many of us are familiar with these days because of his job with NASCAR on Fox and Speed TV. We know his catchphrase and wait each Sunday with anticipation for him to say those three little words. When we hear them the green flag flies and for the next few hours we have the joy of listening to his insight and comments on the race and how things have changed over the years.

From his start in Owensboro, Kentucky to his current job as a commentator Darrell Waltrip has never been softspoken. He's never been the guy who stood on the sidelines and let everyone else take the credit for the win. He's never been afraid to tell the media or NASCAR what he thinks. At times that's gotten him in trouble and at times it's lead to improvements in the system. Whether or not you like him as a racer or as a commentator you have to admit that if it weren't for drivers like Waltrip the sport wouldn't be what it is today.

In his book DW: A Lifetime Going Round in Circles Waltrip discusses racing, achievements, failures, personal loss, and his faith. It's not your typical biography of a driver that details each and every race. The book is more about the journey from start to finish and the things that shaped him into the man he is today. Sure you read about those big wins and Championships. The rivalries are in there as well but after reading this book I look at DW in a different light than I did before.

In the book he discusses how there are two Darrell's. One was the cocky self assured guy who partied with the guys while the other was a husband, father, and Christian man just wanting to make his dreams come true. While there is no visual dividing line between the two parts of Walrtip you can see a change in the writing as the story progresses. The beginning of the book is filled with grit and determination as it profiles his years with Junior Johnson and his three Championship seasons. It deals with the struggles he and his wife had in the early years along with the hatred many fans had for him because he spoke out against some of the greats.

About the time Waltrip joined Hendrick and began driving the "Tide Ride" the book changes. Waltrip begins to focus more on his faith, his family, and the strained relationship he had with his siblings, especially Michael. He discusses the founding of Motor Racing Outreach and his desire to become a better man. A man that his family would be proud of and a man who would later become the winner of the Most Popular Driver award.

The story also goes into a side of DW we aren't used to seeing. Still behind it all the determination is there. It was that drive that led Waltrip to leave Hendrick to start his own team and that drive that later made him realize he wasn't cut out to be an owner. Determination led him to climb behind the wheel of a car with a severely broken leg so that he would be the driver of record for the race. A move that DW later called the dumbest thing he has ever done. The determination to go out on top led Walrip to swallow his pride and accept the offer to drive for Dale Earnhardt while Steve Park was recovering from injuries.

DW: A Lifetime Going Round in Circles wasn't what I expected. It's not all racing all the time. It gives a nice comprehesive look into the Waltrip years but there's more to the story. If you want a more detailed history of Darrell's races then grab Hammond's book. If you want to know about the man behind the name "Jaws" and the road from Owensboro to the broadcast booth then pick up this one.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

No new posts today on Skirts and Scuffs. Our team will be spending time with our families and ask you to do the same. Be thankful for everything that you have and enjoy your day of turkey, dressing, and sweet potatoes. (yuck!) We will return with new posts shortly.

Happy Thanksgiving!

~Katy and the team at Skirts and Scuffs!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

RPM/Yates Engine Department & Merger

For my first post & "official" induction into S&S as a contributor, I'll keep it short.

It's been out there for awhile now, the merger that would happen as soon as the last hauler left Homestead in November. Richard Petty Motorsports and Yates--making RPM a Ford team instead of Dodge being the primary manufacturer. Not only will this pair up the boys of RPM with Yates sole-driver, Menard, it will also team up in the engine department. If you're a fan of the sport you've heard on several occasions about the Roush-Yates engines and how fantastic they are, but what about Richard Petty's engine department? They have had their fair-share of failures in 2009--most notably from Kahne who was usually running up front at the time. Impeccable timing, right?

I suppose what I'm getting at is simply whether or not this will affect Roush's performance? I do realize Ford motors are certainly not Dodge engines and vice-versa, but it is something to think about. Every team, no matter how stout the engine department, will have their woes mechanically. It's not always on the engine department itself, but on the company that manufactures the parts put into the engine. But it seems as though some engine departments have it together above others. Hendrick Motorsports is known for having the best of the best in their engine dept. RCR & Roush don't have too many engine failures, although there are the few that creep up on them that are inevitable, and then of course RPM motors that haven't been quite up to par with the other big teams in the sport.

To keep this short:
I believe that the engine department as a whole will benefit from the merger of these dynasty teams. RPM/Roush-Yates Engines will be on-par with Hendrick, or so I believe--meaning closer competition and (hopefully!) an exciting Chase in 2010. I'm personally not a fan of Jimmie Johnson, so I am hoping for Roush and RPM drivers to stick their nose into it come November '10. I would love to see under-dogs such as Menard, Allmendinger, and Sadler benefit tremendously and run up front next season. RPM/Roush-Yates Engine Dept will hopefully figure out what Toyota is doing specifically to create more horsepower & match that in the Ford motors. Chevy has obviously been able to pull out overall seasonally against Toyota the past few years (Johnson's back-to-back-to-back-to-back championships cover that span), and I'm hoping for an upset from Ford. It's been 5 years since Ford has won a championship & that was with former Roush driver Kurt Busch in the inaugural year of the Chase when only 10 drivers were permitted. I'm not a fan of Toyota so I'm thankful that they have yet to win a championship in the Cup series and that we can keep American Manufacturers on top, especially in this economy. Looking forward to 2010!

Only 2.5 more months until Daytona! I'm hoping we'll all be in for a surprise.

The opinions expressed in this post are those of the individual writer and may not reflect those of other contributors.

Successful first season for Stewart-Haas Racing proven by stats

Stewart-Haas first trophy for the team - 2009 All-Star Race

Going into the 2009 season, expectations for Tony Stewart and his new endeavor at Stewart-Haas Racing were fairly low. Actually, the February 2009 edition of NASCAR Illustrated predicted Stewart to finish 15th in the standings, with new teammate Ryan Newman finishing behind him in 19th. No one predicted they would make the Chase, win poles, or even win races. In the end, Tony Stewart and Ryan Newman's first season together at Stewart-Haas Racing was a surprise to most.. in a good way.

Starting out at Daytona, no one knew what to expect from the duo from Indiana. An early practice crash due to a blown tire on the #39 car took out both SHR teammates. After Stewart gave his post race interview, there was a lot of small talk about whether he would revert back to his old ways (he, once again, called out Goodyear for their "horrible" tires). A few days later, during Newman's Gatorade Duel, he got taken out by David Reutimann in the 00 car. In his post-wreck interview he said Reutimann sure knows how to "Root-a-man" out of the way; before that, after he exited his car he went on track and gave David a hands up saying, "hey, what was that all about?". Many people wondered whether this was going to be a tough season for Stewart-Haas Racing, but the stats prove otherwise. (By the way, Stewart finished 8th in the rain shortened 500. Unfortunately, Ryan finished 36th due to another accident).

It maybe was a rough start for Smoke and Rocketman at Daytona, but as time when on their improvement showed tremendously. Stewart followed up his 8th place Daytona 500 finish with two 8th places and a 26th at Las Vegas. A string of 5 top 5 finishes in 6 races (a engine problem toward the end of the spring Talladega race gave him a 23rd place finish) showed how strong SHR was becoming. On May 16, 2009, something happened that no one expected. Tony Stewart won the 2009 All-Star race, and brought home a million dollars! In the next 11 races, Smoke racked up 3 wins (including his first points win as an owner/driver at Pocono, and wins at Daytona and Watkins Glen), 4 poles (due to inclement weather only at Pocono twice, Daytona, and Loudon), 8 top 5's and 1 finish of 11th of worse (that was in the Coke 600, also rain-shortened). After the next race at Michigan International Speedway, Stewart was locked into the Chase. He was the first driver to be locked in, and for a whole week he had that to himself. Unfortunately, from Michigan until Richmond when the Chase started, the Smoke had four not so great finishes of 17th, 11th, 33rd, and 17th. It was a great feat in itself to make the Chase, but let's say it wasn't the best Chase he could have had. He was reseeded 2nd to Mark Martin, which was pretty good and had a victory in the third Chase race at Kansas Speedway. During the Chase he had 2 top 5's, 5 finishes of 13th of worse, and two other finishes inside the top 10. He ended up finishing 6th in the standings, 343 points behind Champion Jimmie Johnson. Overall, a great year for Smoke proves he'll be strong next year and his stats prove it.

Now onto Newman. His last few years at Penske have not been the best (he has not made the Chase since 2005), and no one really expected that to change in 2009. He did not have as great of a season as his teammate, but it's still very commendable considering it's his first year in new equipment. Although he went winless in 2009, Ryan captured 2 poles; one at Charlotte for the Coke 600 and one at Martinsville during the Chase. Between Bristol in March and Pocono in June, Ryan had a string of 8 top 10 finishes in 10 races, which includes 5 top 5's (4 straight in a row from Talladega to Charlotte). A couple of finishes of 14th or worse propelled Ryan to 5 top 10's in a row from Bristol in August to Dover. Ryan made the Chase by a good enough margin to make him feel comfortable going into Richmond. Unfortunately, during the Chase he only had 3 top 10's and 1 pole. A horrific crash at Talladega gave him his first DNF of the season, as well as Stewart's. Ryan's voice was heard in many ways when he let NASCAR know about what he thought about cars getting airborn, and the safety factor in NASCAR. That is definitely a crash no one will forget anytime soon. Besides that, Ryan had a decent Chase and finished 9th in the standings, 477 points behind Champion Jimmie Johnson.

There are some stats about Stewart-Haas Racing's first season that may surprise some people. Tony Stewart has the 2nd most top 5 finishes all season with 15, only second to Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson who are both tied with 16 each. Stewart and Newman both only have 1 DNF all season; only David Reutimann, Casey Mears, and Juan Pablo Montoya have been shut out of DNF's this year. Stewart has the third best number of top 10 finishes with 23, third best to of course.. Jimmie Johnson (24) and Jeff Gordon (25). Up until the last race, Tony had the best average finish of all drivers with 10.2, but after his bad finish at Homestead it dropped to 10.4, second to Jeff Gordon. Ryan is not much farther down that list with a 14.7 average finish. Amazingly, Newman and Stewart both have the biggest percentage of laps completed all season, 99.6% (Newman), and 99.8% (Stewart) respectively.

Overall, it is pretty safe to say Stewart-Haas Racing's first season was a huge success- the stats prove it. Both made the Chase, they won races and poles, completed the most laps out of any driver and team, and had only 1 DNF each. Not only that, but their personalities have really come through, and they are having FUN. That IS what racing is all about right? Even though neither won the Championship, or came that close for that matter, they have a lot to be proud of. Next year should be interesting to watch the Stewart-Haas duo in their second full season together.

Photo courtesy of Jenn and Katy from The Biff Files

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer and may not reflect those of the site or its other contributors.

History in front of our eyes

The very last race of the 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series was a historic one. That word gets tossed around a lot during a season, as drivers are constantly breaking lap records, speed and time records and (almost) all races won in a weekend records. But this time, it truly was historic. In fact, we are a lucky bunch; the history of NASCAR is always around us. How lucky for us to experience something this momentous first hand.

Richard Petty, one of the greatest drivers ever, can still be seen at every race. His unmistakable form reminds us that our history is still very much alive and present. We race at a track that featured races the very first season NASCAR ever waved a green flag. We still race at the first paved oval in the series.

Sure. The drivers all strap into the Car of Tomorrow for every race. And the Cup Banquet has been moved to flashy (and fun) Las Vegas. But the roots of this sport run deep, no matter how many extra layers of concrete are added over them. We should always take a moment to remember the drivers, crew chiefs and people who have made NASCAR what it is today.

So though my focus is on the history of NASCAR’s race tracks, for this column, I wanted to take a moment and congratulate Jimmie Johnson, Chad Knauss, and the entire 48 Team for truly making a mark in the history of NASCAR.  Johnson deserves to stand shoulder to shoulder with the greatest racers in NASCAR. And, if I’m not mistaken, Knauss deserves to stand shoulder to shoulder with a certain ingenious  mechanic and car builder by the name of Smokey Yunick.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Improvement needed if Ragan is to be competitive in 2010

Throughout the 2009 season there were some drivers who seemed to fall off the map. They were the ones who rarely got mentioned on race day. Maybe they did not win a race. Maybe they just had a terrible season. Or maybe they just could not run up front long enough for anyone to bother mentioning them. There are a few drivers who fit this description, but the one I want to focus on is David Ragan.

Amidst his struggles in 2009, Ragan appeared to be in the background when it came to his other Roush Fenway Racing teammates. It seems like a lot of people have forgotten that Ragan narrowly missed the Chase in 2008. Some people may say, "Big deal. Why does that matter?" I’ll tell you why it matters; it matters because it means he almost made the Chase in just his second full year in the Sprint Cup series.

Then again, ‘almost’ only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades. But I digress.

In 2008, Ragan never knew the meaning of "sophomore slump". He never let being labeled a "dart without feathers" stop him from having the best season of his career, during which he got his career high best finish of 3rd at Talladega Superspeedway that April. He collected seven top-five finishes and seven top-ten finishes, and with only two DNFs, Ragan completed 99.3% of the laps in the thirty-six races, and ultimately ended up thirteenth in points.

When the 2009 season began, it seemed like Ragan was set to build on his successes from 2008 as he started the season off with a solid 6th place finish for the Daytona 500. Too bad his season went downhill for the most part. Ragan had only had one more top-ten finish-- 7th at the Pepsi 500 at Fontana in October. All in all, 2009 could be considered the worst season of Ragan’s Sprint Cup career.

The truth is 2009 is reminiscent of his rookie season in 2007. His average finish for both years is nearly the same—24.5 in 2007 and 24.4 in 2009—with 4 DNFs both years. He collected only two top-five finishes and no top-ten finishes in 2007 whereas he managed only 2 top-ten finishes and no top-fives in 2009. However, Ragan had a higher average start in 2009 (26.8) than he did in 2007 (29.1), but he finished 23rd in points in 2007. Ragan concluded the 2009 season with a 34th place finish at Homestead-Miami Speedway, resulting in him ending up 27th in the final standings.

At the end of the 2008 season, it was announced that NASCAR would be limiting teams to only four full-time drivers, which meant that Jack Roush would have to go from having five drivers to four. So for 2009 the speculation then fell on whether David Ragan or Jamie McMurray would be the one to go. Early in the 2009 season, I heard some people say, "If David is doing so terribly then why doesn’t Jack keep Jamie instead?"

There were two main reasons I saw as to why McMurray was the one to go; One being the fact that Jack Roush has spent too much time, money, and effort to get Ragan to where he is now. The second reason? Well, it might have something to do with the multi-year sponsorship deal that Ragan signed with UPS whereas one of McMurray’s primary sponsors, Crown Royal, is going to the #17 of Matt Kenseth in 2010.

The bottom line is this: It doesn’t matter how good or bad the driver is, if he’s got the sponsorship, you keep him. Not that I think Ragan is a bad driver. He has just had a lot of bad luck.

Despite his struggles in the Cup series in 2009, Ragan did pretty well running part-time in the Nationwide series, where he split the #6 Ford with Roush teammate Erik Darnell. In April, Ragan grabbed his first career Nationwide win during the Aaron’s 312 at Talladega when he made a last lap pass right at the line. He edged out Ryan Newman by a mere .030 of a second. Then in August when a late caution brought about an attempt at a green-white-checkered finish, Ragan fought off teammate Carl Edwards in a two-lap shootout during the Food City 250 at Bristol Motor Speedway to get his second Nationwide win.

Believe it or not, there are still people out there who don’t really know who he is. While I was at Bristol for the Food City 250, I heard some people around me say "Who’s that? I’ve never heard of him. Is he a rookie?" after Ragan had won. How could he be so unknown? Maybe it is because he has yet to win a Cup race, and quite frankly, he isn’t mentioned very often during a race unless he has managed to crack the top ten or involved in a crash. Unfortunately, the latter of those two seems to be the more common reason he is mentioned.

2009 marked Ragan’s third full year in the Cup series and while it may not have been the breakout season Ragan had hoped for, he has realized where he and his team need to improve if they want to become competitive in 2010.

"I think what we need to work on the most is being more consistent." Ragan said during his segment on the Moby in the Morning radio show the Tuesday after the Martinsville race in October.

While Ragan had three back-to-back 33rd place finishes in September, I don’t think that is the type of consistency he is looking for.

Consistency does pay off in the long run as far as being competitive and getting wins. Despite the fact that Ragan’s first Cup win continues to elude him, he has shown signs of progress—even though the stats say otherwise. Whether it was getting caught up in wrecks, mechanical failures, or miscues on pit road, some things caused Ragan to finish some races worse than he could have in the 2009 season. He could have gotten a couple more top-tens or possibly a couple top-fives if things had worked out in his favor, but throughout the season he seemed to have a black cloud following him.

While the Roush Fenway Racing organization has a lot of work to do if they want to be competitive next season, the one Roush driver I see making the biggest stride is Ragan. He is the only winless driver on the team. I know he wants to get that first Cup win, and in 2010 I think he’ll get it. Do I see Ragan making the Chase in 2010? I’d love to see that happen, but I honestly don’t see it happening within the next year. Of course, I wouldn’t mind him proving me wrong though.

I could speculate for days over what 2010 may hold in store for Ragan, but the one thing I am sure of is he has a lot of work to do if he is to have any chances of proving he is as good as I believe he is. I believe one day he will become a championship contender and one day, a champion.

Note: I originally intended for this to be an analytical article, but my inner fan took over and it became a mixture of analysis and opinion.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer and may not reflect those of the site or its other contributors.

5 Questions After ... Homestead

A champion was crowned Sunday night at Homestead-Miami Speedway … the same one that was crowned last year, the year before, and the year before that. Different story, same ending. It’s kind of like the difference between movie re-makes: The ending is usually the same, but the journey is different. That’s why everyone keeps tuning in each time the story is re-written. Here are some questions after Homestead:

Were they cheering for Jimmie Johnson? … It was a bit surprising to hear as many cheers as there were when Jimmie Johnson climbed out of his car for the fourth consecutive year. With all of the fans who seemed very unhappy about once again seeing the same champion, I expected boos. At the very least, I expected maybe some quiet cheers. On the contrary, there was much applause and shouts of praise from the grandstands as Jimmie gave his interview over the PA. Though the argument could be made that many of Jimmie’s “haters” left the race as soon as he was named champion, and that would be why there were no boos, the stands were still packed! It looked like almost no one had left. Jimmie may not have won many fans over this season, but has he finally gained their respect?

Where was some of this racing all year? … Though we’ve had some very competitive and exciting races this season, most of them haven’t been memorable at the mile-and-a-half racetracks. They were often more exciting at short tracks, road courses, and superspeedways. The other races were competitive, but drawn out. Clean air proved to be the winner at each race, as the lead car would pull out to a demanding lead and the rest of the field would race single-file. Though clean air was still somewhat important on Sunday night, the racing was fantastic! Many times, ESPN captured racecars going two-, three-, and sometimes even four-wide through the corners. There were several exciting races for the lead, and many storylines surfaced during the race. Why weren’t they racing like this all year? What changed? Most likely, it was because no points were on the line. Few teams really had anything to lose. It kind of reminded me of the All-Star race. Yes? No?

Is Denny Hamlin cocky or confident? … After the race, in victory lane Denny made a promise: “We will win a championship in the next couple of years.” Wow! That’s quite a statement! And, yet, it’s possible. The #11 team was very strong all year and probably should have won more than four races. They’ve run with the 48 throughout most of the year, and finished higher several times. Will Denny Hamlin be the one to bring Johnson’s reign to an end?

What do Ryan Newman, Carl Edwards, Jeff Burton, Clint Bowyer, Dale Earnhardt Jr., and Greg Biffle have in common? … All six of these drivers won at least won one race in 2008 and went winless in 2009. Probably the biggest surprise out of this group is Carl Edwards. Edwards won a season high nine races in 2008, the most of anybody. Roush Fenway Racing as a whole has struggled this year (as Rebecca wrote about in a previous column). Biffle and Edwards both combined to win 11 races last year. Neither won any this year. One has to wonder if they’ll pick it up again next season.

Why all the rivalries? … And why now? At the close of this season, we saw a couple of rivalries flare up … and then quietly fade away into the NASCAR offseason. Brad Keselowski and Denny Hamlin carried on a feud that had been mounting for months, and Juan Pablo Montoya and Tony Stewart had a run-in at Homestead on Sunday night. Montoya and Stewart both declined for comment after their incident (Stewart cut down Montoya’s right front sending him to the garage, and Montoya later retaliated on-track). No doubt, though, if we had a race this coming weekend both would end up in the media center and have things to say. Now, what could have turned into a rivalry now fades off into the winter cold. As for Keselowski vs. Hamlin: To be continued.

Honorable mentions: How many days now until the Daytona 500? … Is Jeremy Mayfield’s just a bit too coincidental? … Did we finally make it through a race weekend without rain?

Monday, November 23, 2009

Most Popular Drivers Announced for Nationwide and CWTS

Ron Hornaday Jr. and Kyle Busch shared the spotlight today at a combined NCWTS and NASCAR Nationwide banquet at the Loews Miami Beach Hotel.

Johnny Sauter claimed the Raybestos Rookie of the Year honor for the truck series. Ricky Carmichael, who had to come from the back of the pack after going to a backup following a qualifying spin, was unveiled as the Most Popular Driver for the NCWTS after the fan vote was

The Nationwide series Raybestos Rookie of the Year was Justin Allgaier, while Brad Keselowski took the Most Popular Driver vote.

Fans will get the chance to watch the NASCAR Nationwide Series/NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Awards Banquet will air, December 4 from 7-9 p.m. ET on SPEED.

Click here to see who was in attendance.

Here's a final chance to have your voice heard...Who were your choices for Most Popular Driver in each series?

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Congrats to Michelle S.

In response to Jimmie Johnson's 4th Sprint Cup Series Title we have given away a pair of the Balance Sunglasses by Gargoyles to Michelle S. Thanks so much for all the participants!

Busch Shows 'em How It's Done Claiming the Nationwide Series Title

Kyle Busch fans of the world it's your moment to shine. For the next 3 months you can proudly proclaim that your driver is a Champion. He might not be the 2009 Sprint Cup Series Champion but being named the Nationwide Series Champion is nothing to be ashamed of. Just ask Carl Edwards, Clint Bowyer, Kevin Harvick, Dale Earnhardt Jr., and dozens of others who have claimed the title over the years.

Not only did Kyle Busch win the 2009 Nationwide Series Championship. He did it in dominating fashion. Whether he was piloting the NOS Energy Drink or Z-Line Designs Toyota Kyle was the class of the field for 2009 earning three poles, nine wins, and an impressive 30 top ten finishes in 35 races. Busch also earned 11 second place finishes and led an astonishing 2698 laps. This feat broke the old record set in 1984 by Sam Ard by 571 laps.

When interviewed following his ninth win of the season and his subsequent title victory Busch said that 2009 was a season of "a lot of records and a lot of frustration."  Say all the mean things about him that you like, hate on him, hate on his fans, but when it's all said and done there is no denying that the boy can drive. Whether he's starting from the pole or working is way through the field after starting at the back he generates excitement and keeps the rest of the field on their toes.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer and may not reflect those of the site or it's other contributors. This post also appears on the Kyle Busch Examiner page and has been republished with permission from the author.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Roush drivers' hold on Homestead in danger

While Jimmie Johnson will make a run for his fourth consecutive Cup championship on Sunday, his competitors at Roush Fenway Racing will try to preserve a long-standing winning streak of their own.

Since 2004, a Roush driver has won the season-ending race at Homestead-Miami Speedway every year. Greg Biffle captured the checkered flag in 2004, 2005 and 2006, Matt Kenseth in 2007 and Carl Edwards in 2008. The organization’s Fords have proven dominant in a race that continues to be billed as the Ford 400, shutting out the likes of the Chevy-backed powerhouse Hendrick Motorsports and the fast racecars of Joe Gibbs Racing, who switched to Toyotas last season.

However, a victory at Homestead may not be a given for the Roush camp on Sunday. The team has been floundering in 2009, a far cry from previous seasons.

Among its five drivers, Biffle, Kenseth, Edwards, Jamie McMurray and David Ragan, the organization has just three wins: Kenseth’s back-to-back victories in the Daytona 500 and Auto Club 500 in February and McMurray’s surprise win at Talladega last month. Two of its five drivers, Biffle and Edwards, qualified for the Chase.

Compare these numbers with 2005, when the team had all five drivers in the Chase and racked up 15 wins, and 2008, when Edwards won a season-high nine races, more than Kyle Busch with eight and three-time champ Johnson with seven.

Kenseth, who started off the year with a bang, entered into a slump that cost him a spot in the Chase, the first time he had missed the playoffs-style system since it was put into place in 2004, after his own Cup championship in 2003. With one race to go, Kenseth has seven top-5s and 12 top-10s in 2009, and sits 14th in points.

McMurray, whose last win prior to Talladega came at Daytona in July 2007, was told by the Roush organization during the summer that he was free to look for another ride for next season. NASCAR had mandated that the team scale back to the four-car cap by 2010. Last week, after much speculation and likely fueled by the Talladega victory, Earnhardt Ganassi Racing announced McMurray will take over the reins of the No. 1 car, which Martin Truex Jr. will vacate after Sunday’s race. The deal reunites McMurray with Ganassi, whom McMurray drove for prior to joining Roush in 2006. In addition to his Talladega win, McMurray has 1 top-5 and five top-10s this season and occupies the 22nd spot in points.

As for the other drivers in the Roush staple, none had as many expectations placed on them as Edwards did for 2009. After his nine wins and second-place finish to Johnson in the points in 2008, Edwards was expected to rival the Hendrick Motorsports driver for the championship. But by the time the Chase got under way, Edwards was winless, nowhere near the threat he had posed the previous year. Edwards sustained a broken right foot during a game of Frisbee in September, which may have derailed any chance of catching up to Johnson. With seven top-5s and 13 top-10s, Edwards sits 11th in points, 520 points behind Johnson. As of today, he would not make it onto the stage at the end-of-the-year Cup banquet in Las Vegas.

Biffle finished third in points last season, behind his teammate Edwards. Both of his victories in 2008 came at beginning of the Chase, winning the first two races at Loudon and Dover. However, flash forward to 2009 and Biffle stands winless, with 10 top-5s and 16 top-10s. He occupies 7th in the points, 321 points out.

David Ragan narrowly missed the Chase in 2008 and finished the season 13th in points, bolstering expectations for a 2009 Chase berth. However, Ragan has struggled this season, with just two top-10s, and sits 27th in points. Before the summer’s announcement that Ragan would stay on as the fourth team in Roush’s staple for 2010, speculation centered on him and McMurray as the drivers most likely in trouble of losing their rides.

Friday’s qualifying session at Homestead offers a mixed view of the team’s chances for victory on Sunday. Biffle was the highest-qualifying Roush driver and will roll out 8th. McMurray starts 11th. Edwards, Kenseth and Ragan have their work cut out for them, starting 24th , 35th and 41st respectively.

Is there light at the end of the tunnel for Roush? Can the organization find its way to Victory Lane at Homestead and close out an otherwise dismal season on a high note?

With the team’s caliber of talent and history, it’s certainly possible. In 2006, after missing the Chase, Biffle won his third consecutive Homestead race, his second win that season. Kenseth’s Homestead win gave him his second victory in 2007.

Three of Kenseth’s seven top-5s this season have come during the Chase; he is also the Roush driver with the most top-5s in the last nine races. Homestead presents McMurray with his last chance to win for Roush, and offers Biffle, Edwards and Ragan one last shot at a victory this season. A trip to the winner’s circle for any of these drivers would give them confidence and momentum heading into 2010.

Whether or not a Roush driver does end up in Victory Lane on Sunday, one thing is certain: the organization will be working feverishly in the off-season to return to championship-winning form.

How do you think the Roush drivers will fare on Sunday? Which one do you think has the best chance at a victory at Homestead? What kind of changes do you think the team needs to make for next season? Please leave your comments below.

What to Read? Real Men Work in the Pits

Continuing the series What to Read? Katy looks at Real Men Work in the Pits by Jeff Hammond.

Newer fans of NASCAR know Jeff Hammond as that guy who hangs out in the booth with Darrell Waltrip and Larry MacReynolds during the NASCAR on Fox coverage. You see him sitting on the panel with the other guys during Trackside and NASCAR Victory Lane but other than that you don't really know much about him. You've heard he was a crew chief back in the day but that doesn't really concern you. It's just another piece of the long history that you don't really care about, right? You are more concerned with the names of today like Chad Knaus, Lance McGrew, or Darian Grubb and the drivers they are attached to.

For those of you this applies to and even some of you that do know the history of Jeff Hammond and his duties as crew chief over the years, I highly recommend picking up a copy of his book Real Men work in the Pits. Published a few years back the book looks at Hammond's life as a jack man for Junior Johnson and his driver Cale Yarborough back when Cale won those three Championships in a row to his days with Hendrick Motorsports and later with Darrell Waltrip Motorsports and even with Roush Racing. The story isn't what you expect from a book about NASCAR. Unlike most biographies covering the sport this one looks at it through the eyes of one of the most respected crew chiefs to ever stand atop the war wagon. It's not a book touting his resume but more a look at the drivers he worked with and the deep respect he had for the man he considered to be his mentor.

Hammond shares personal stories of his childhood and what he felt when he heard the news of the death of his idol Fireball Roberts and later the death of his close friend Dale Earnhardt. Hammond discusses the anger he felt when Yarborough left the Junior Johnson team after winning three titles and his extreme dislike for the new driver who would be taking over for Cale, the one and only Darrell Waltrip. Depite their difference and their inability to communicate in the beginning it was Hammond who led DW to his championships and who followed him when he later moved to Hendrick Motorsports.

I picked up this book on a whim from the library because there was a lot I didn't know about Hammond myself. I was expecting to find a boring read, but instead got a fresh perspective on some of the most well known drivers ever to sit behind the wheel. This book is worth your time and should be put on your reading list if for no other reason than to read Hammond's accounts of the years with DW and the up and downs their relationship took during the stressful time.

Real Men Work in the Pits was published in 2005 and can be picked up for around $20 at most bookstores or online.

Friday, November 20, 2009

The "Kyle Walk" Gets Attention Again at Homestead-Miami

How many times have we seen it this season? Kyle Busch gets out of the car or truck (depending on which series) and makes a beeline for his motor coach. He doesn't stop and tell the media what a crappy day he had and how he would have been a competitor if some silly mistake either on his part or his crew hadn't gotten in his way. He doesn't make a gracous exit. He's been known to pull off his equipment and toss it at the vehicle he just vacated.

Yes, the boy has a temper, and no it's not always been in his best interest to act in this manner but let's stop assuming that everytime he doesn't win he's having a temper tantrum. So what if he leaves his ride sitting on pit lane and heads for the motor coach. He isn't the only guy who does this. Since he didn't win he's not the story of the day. He's not the star of the show, yet the camera guys covering the event seem to find him no matter what and follow him until he goes out of the range of their lenses. How about we stop focusing on these events and spend that 30 seconds, or whatever it is, interviewing one of the top five finishers who get ignored for coverage of the "Kyle Walk." If it was any other driver it wouldn't be an issue, not at all.

It's not a popular opinion to be on the side of Busch, but when you look at the success he has had this season in all three series it's easy to understand why he get's so upset when things don't go his way. Busch honestly believes he has the equipment under him to each and every weekend to take him to victory lane. He's not being a punk. He's being that guy that knows some small mistake led to his downfall in the race and that had that one mistake not occurred his chances of winning were just as good as anyone else. Busch may not be liked by many, fans but it seems as if Busch is harder on himself than anyone in the media could possibly be.
The opinions expressed in this piece are solely those of the author. This piece also appears on the Kyle Busch Examiner and has be republished with permission from the author. 

Women of Nascar: Past and Present

Ladies, Start Your Engines:

As I explored the subject of Women in Nascar, I was pleasantly surprised to find that it's not unusual. Women have been competing in auto racing since the 1940's, and with great success. Acceptance within the different organizations was not without criticism. Having to fight against the preconceived notion that women do not belong on any track or in any vehicle moving at a high rate of speed.

It was at the first official Nascar sanctioned competition in the late 1940's that we were first introduced to three female drivers. These women would be racing modifieds and participating in more than 50 races throughout their careers. Their names, Sara Christian, Louise Smith, and Ethel Flock(Mobley) Combined these 3 women won 20 races in the late 40's.

Louise Smith, a longtime residence of Barnsville, GA. began her NASCAR career with help from the young promoter, Bill France. Mrs. Smith was married to the owner of a junkyard, Noah Smith. Although her husband did not approve of her career choice, he couldn't slow her down. Driving fast was her passion, often being dubbed as a "Hot Shot Driver". She would race anyone she came up against without question.

Louise Smith found her passion racing stock cars. In her career she alone won just under 40 modified events. She had the tendency to be a very aggressive driver and was also known for her breathtaking crashes; Having suffered broken bones in every part of her body at one time or another. It was a race Hillsborough that almost took her life. She had almost 50 stitches not to mention pins in one of her knees. She had been learning how to broadslide her car on dirt-tracks, when on one of the turns she actually went airborne, causing her to roll.

Mrs. Smith traveled to watch the Daytona beach races in 1947. She drove her the families new Ford Coupe for the trip. Upon arrival to the competition, Louise decided to enter the race herself. This was, in Benny Parson's words "The greatest story of all". She ended up wrecking the new car.. Her husband had seen the story in the local paper before she returned home. When asked where the car was , her response was "That 'ol trap broke down in Augusta, Ga." Parsons went on to say "He(Louise's husband) showed her the newspaper, the wrecked car was on the front page."

As the first woman to be inducted in the International Motor Sports Hall of Fame, Louise Smith made a major impact in Nascar. In an interview in 1998 with The Associated Press she was quoted having said "It was hard on me. Them men were not liking it to start with and they wouldn't give you an inch".

After a career that spanned from the mid 1940's through the mid 1950's, Louise Smith put in a decade as a grand patron at Darlington Raceway. She retired in November of 1989. She was quoted by the Associated Press for having said "It's still hard for me to leave a race track, I could stay for ever.'

"The First Lady of Nascar" died on March 4, 2006 at the age of 89 from cancer.

Thanks to the website of:
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Photo contributed by:

Photograph of Louise Smith with her wrecked car from the following websites:
This was the car that she rolled in 1947 at Occoneechee Speedway in Hillsborough, NC

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

White flag waves on ’09 NASCAR season

Fans watch the opening laps of the Pocono 500 at Pocono Raceway in June. (Photo by Rebecca Kivak)

It seems like it was just February and we were anxiously awaiting the year’s first race, the non-points Budweiser Shootout, and of course the daddy of them all, the Daytona 500. Now, 35 races and two non-points races later (not to mention all the Nationwide and truck races), it’s November and we’re down to Homestead, ready to call it a season.

For the last 10 months, NASCAR fans have been practicing their weekend rituals. If you weren’t going to the race, you may have watched the broadcast at home, someone’s house, the local bar or another hangout, accompanied by your choice of beverage . You may have critiqued the singer of the national anthem (how many performers forgot the lyrics?) and waited for those words that get our hearts pounding, “Gentlemen, start your engines!”

Maybe you logged onto Twitter to get race updates from the reporters at the track, or to join fellow fans in cheering on your driver or booing another. Or maybe you turned on Hot Pass, Pit Command, Race View, etc. to follow your favorite driver as he aimed to finish in Victory Lane. Maybe you watched as another driver wrecked one of your fantasy league picks (possibly #blamestremme, for those of you familiar with the popular Twitter hashtag), or maybe you finished the race as the league’s high scorer.

Whatever your ritual is, this is the last weekend of 2009 you will be able to do it. After Sunday’s finale at Homestead, it will be 76 days until the Budweiser Shootout (Feb. 6, 2010), and another 8 until the Daytona 500 (Feb. 14).

So, NASCAR fans, it’s time to sit back, relax, and make the most of it. To make sure you get in your fill before the off-season starts, check out the following schedule of televised NASCAR events from Homestead-Miami Speedway this weekend (all times Eastern):

Friday, Nov. 20:
11 a.m.: NASCAR Live, SPEED
11:30 a.m.: Sprint Cup practice, SPEED
1 p.m.: Nationwide practice, SPEED
3 p.m.: Spring Cup qualifying, ESPN2
5 p.m.: Camping World Truck Series qualifying, SPEED
6:30 p.m.: Nationwide practice, SPEED
7:30 p.m.: Camping World Truck Series race – season finale, SPEED. Green flag: 8 p.m.
10:30 p.m.: Trackside, SPEED
12:30 a.m. (Nov. 21): NASCAR Now, ESPN2

Saturday, Nov. 21:
11 a.m.: NASCAR Live, SPEED
11:30 a.m.: Nationwide qualifying, SPEED
1:30 p.m.: Sprint Cup practice, SPEED
2:30 p.m.: NASCAR Smarts (Homestead), SPEED
2:50 p.m.: Sprint Cup happy hour practice (TV at 3 p.m.), ESPN2
4 p.m.: Nationwide race – season finale, ESPN2. Green flag: 4:45 p.m.
7:30 p.m.: Trackside special edition, SPEED

Sunday, Nov. 22:
10 a.m.: NASCAR Performance, SPEED
10 a.m.: Pre-race NASCAR Now, ESPN2
11 a.m.: NASCAR in a Hurry, SPEED
11:30 a.m.: NASCAR Race Day, SPEED
2:30 p.m.: Spring Cup race – season finale, ABC. Green flag: 3:30 p.m.
8 p.m.: NASCAR Victory Lane, SPEED
10 p.m.: Post-race NASCAR Now, ESPN2

Thursday, November 19, 2009

5 Questions Before ... Homestead

There’s not too much “excitement” going into Homestead but that doesn’t mean your friendly neighborhood Kansas race fan doesn’t have questions!

Are we going to hear “Drive for Five” during the night? … Yes. Whether or not Jimmie Johnson actually wins the championship (most likely, he will), the commentators, and media in general, will be wondering if Jimmie can pull off five in a row next year. The only question on fans’ minds, however, will be, “When will it end?”

Who all is really upset about the offseason? … NASCAR fans usually dread the offseason, and start the countdown to the Budweiser Shootout with about five races to go in the Chase. But right now it just seems like people are so sick and tired of the 48-show that they just want to start a new season fresh. The problem is, who is going to stop the same thing from happening next season? Bonus question: Would fans rather continue watching Jimmie Johnson dominate or endure two months of a NASCAR hiatus?

Will the race be exciting? … Several people have already called this weekend’s race a glorified All-Star race. With only two people really racing for a championship, the 5 and the 48, almost everyone else has nothing else to do but go for the victory! Assuming that Jimmie holds the points lead for the whole race, and there’s no reason to think he won’t, we’ll need something else to pay attention to. With double-file restarts now in effect, we may get to see some aggression from these drivers that we don’t normally get to see.

Will you be paying attention to the race for 10th? … Remember, only the top 10 drivers in points at the end of the race get to go to the banquet in Vegas! 9th through 11th are separated by 109 points in the standings, and Denny Hamlin and Greg Biffle are one wreck or engine failure away from free-falling outside the top 10. Right now, it looks like the race for 10th will be more exciting than the championship.

What about the race for 13th? … Though 13th place doesn’t really mean anything in terms of awards, to the drivers outside the Chase it’s very important. There are three drivers that really want that "best of the worst" title. Right now Kyle Busch holds the position with a 45 point advantage over Matt Kenseth and an 86 point lead over Clint Bowyer. Who are you pulling for?

Honorable mentions: Is it really the end of the season? … What will you do during the offseason? … Did anyone get Denny Hamlin a Brad Keselowski voodoo doll for his birthday?

Opinions expressed are solely those of the author.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

What to Read? The Girl's Guide to NASCAR

Everyone has an opinion when it comes to NASCAR. Just look at all the websites and blogs devoted to the sport. There are thousands of them. There are movies and documentaries about drivers and the number of books written on the topic is astounding. In this column the Skirts and Scuffs team will dive into some of the media, take a look around, and give our honest opinion as to whether it's worth your time or not.

Today Katy will be looking into one of the most popular books about NASCAR written in the last five years. The Girls Guide to NASCAR.

Upon first glance The Girls Guide to NASCAR doesn't look like a book everyone would enjoy reading. The title alone makes it seem like it's a woman's only book that men would have no interest reading. Once you actually get into the book there is a lot of great information both men and women would find helpful, especially if they are new fans. I was a little leery of this book given one review I read which said it was the "ultimate guide for pit lizards" but I thought what the heck and checked out at the library anyway.

Written by the wife of the late Davey Allison, The Girls Guide to NASCAR breaks down the most important aspects of the sport into an easy to understand guide that covers the most basic to more advanced terms. Thrown into the mix Liz Allison discusses the advancements made to safety equipment, her personal loss, and how NASCAR has grown over the years.

While most of the content is geared toward any fan the margins of the pages are filled with little side notes called either “Girlfriend to Girlfriend” , “Did you know”, or “you might be a female NASCAR fan if...” Some fans may find these tidbits intersting. The big problem with some of these sidebar notes is that they perpetuate the idea that women only watch racing because the drivers are hot. For instance one of the notes says, “You might be a female NASCAR fan if … you daydream about a date with Dale Jr.”  Another one notes that the way you can tell whether a drivers girlfriend is serious or not is to look at her credentials, if she's got a hard car she's serious, if it's paper she's not really girlfriend material.

Alison also dives into some information on planning your trip to a race such as what to pack and places to hang out besides the track. She discusses souvenire alley and places you can shop outside the track near every venue on the circuit. Allison also provides ideas for throwing a women's only NASCAR party and determining whether or not your children are old enough to attend the races yet.

All in all Allison did a great job of writing a guide for new fans of the sport. Because it was published in 2006 some of the information is slightly outdated. There is no discussion of the Car of Tomorrow and the points system has changed slightly since the Chase format was first introduced. Other than that The Girls Guide to NASCAR is on target and full of useful information.

If you've got a female fan in your life or just want to brush up on your NASCAR speak pick up this book. It's a quick read written by someone with first hand knowledge of what goes on behind the scenes.
Photo Courtesy of
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer and may not reflect those of Skirts and Scuffs or the other contributors.

5 Questions After ... Phoenix

All three championships were all but wrapped up leaving Phoenix, but there were still some storylines … and some questions.

Did that surprise anybody? … You just knew Jimmie Johnson was going to make a stellar comeback. These are the kinds of storylines the 48 team has put up the last four years. That might have something to do with the fact that they’re the three, going on four, time defending NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion. Does that mean you have to like it? Well, no. It’s just something to think about. No surprises.

Who else is more interested in the NASCAR Nationwide Series Championship than the Cup? … I’ve already had lots of people tell me they are more looking forward to the NASCAR Nationwide Series championship—which is all but locked up—than the Cup series championship, which has not yet been clinched. Kyle Busch clinches the championship just by starting next week. Jimmie still has to race. What’s the difference? I bet you it has nothing to do with the most recent Denny Hamlin/Brad Keselowski feud. Or the fact that Denny Hamlin basically vowed his revenge. Nope. Has nothing to do with that at all.

Does Jimmie Johnson say the same thing every week? … Or does it just seem that way? Every time he wins it seems like he, and to a lesser extent Chad Knaus, have the same answers to every question. Yeah it may have something to do with people ask them the same questions every week, but not every single one! I know Jimmie has a personality away from the racetrack, but why don’t we get to see that guy at the track? People are also more into the Nationwide Series battle because Kyle creates a polarization among fans. People tune in either to see him fail or to succeed. It’s just not the same thing with Jimmie. One wonders if it could be…

Did it seriously rain this weekend? … In the desert of all places? If NASCAR is looking to sell itself to specific markets, the first place we should look are areas in a drought. We’d not only bring them rain, we’d bring them a downpour! If we can get a little rain in the desert, NASCAR can probably bring a lot of rain anywhere else. Bonus question: Anyone think this trend will continue into 2010? Let’s hope not!

Does Tony Stewart have a problem with Dale Earnhardt Jr.? … I’m going to go ahead and answer this one and say “no.” What was said on Tony’s scanner about Jr.’s “talent” was heat of the moment frustration. Remember, these are private conversations that fans have the privilege of listening in on. We’d never have known without NASCAR allowing us to be so involved in the sport. Similar things might be said in other team communications in other sports, but we’d never know about it. That whole exchange was blown way out of proportion, and both of them have probably already had a laugh about it by now.

Honorable mentions: Keselowski vs. Hamlin? ‘Nuff said … Was that first debris caution for a water bottle, a blade of grass, or a trash bag? … Is it really the offseason?

Opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.

Hate the Driver, Not His People

When it comes to NASCAR, few drivers are as hated as Kyle Busch. The odd thing is that the hatred for him seemed to simmer below the surface, only coming out when he wrecked Dale Earnhardt Junior in 2008. He went up against the most “loved” racer in the sport, put him in the wall and there was no turning back. Following that race, even Junior himself said he didn’t envy watching the other driver try to leave the track.

From that moment on, fans loved to hate Kyle Busch. I know this firsthand because, as a Kyle fan who doesn’t hesitate to wear a Kyle hat and shirt at the track, I bear the brunt of the hatred. In Charlotte, after the 2008 Nationwide race he won, fans booed him relentlessly and threw garbage at him and his car. That same year we waited an hour in line to meet him, only to have people in line run their mouth about him. They hated him, but waited in line to meet him.

This year we had the misfortune of sitting beside a group of Junior fans, with a Kasey Kahne fan behind us. The Junior fans said not a word, while the Kahne fan booed Kyle at every chance and complained about what a horrible driver Kyle was.

Fans are quick to point out the fact that he never takes responsibility for his actions and expects everyone to get out of his way, ignoring the fact that most drivers behave the same way. They also complain that he shoves people out of the way if they won’t let him pass. Another driver once did the same thing and he earned the nickname “The Intimidator”. Perhaps Junior fans are just upset that this young “kid” drives more like their hero than his own son, but that’s neither here nor there.

The fact of the matter is that you can hate a driver, but you shouldn’t hate the people connected to that driver. A female Kyle Busch fan parked her car in the infield at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year, decorated with a Kyle flag on the window and several #18 stickers on the car. Care to guess what she found when she returned to her car after the race?

Another fan had ripped the flag from her car, tore it in half and left it on the windshield. She also found beer and mud covering the stickers she and her husband lovingly placed on their car.

This isn’t an isolated incident either. The couple who run the Kyle Busch souvenir hauler told me this year that they had to replace the covering of their hauler several times this season. It seems as though fans loved defacing the M&M logo and anything to do with Kyle Busch.

If this is the way you act, you have no business calling yourself a NASCAR fan. NASCAR fans hate drivers and talk a lot of smack, but they don’t follow through with those actions. In the past I’ve often threatened to kick Junior or Jimmie Johnson in the shins, but I wouldn’t ever actually follow through with it. Not liking a driver is part of being a fan and the world of racing.

When you take the time to ruin something that belongs to someone else, you’re stepping over the line. If you dislike a driver, then talk your smack, buy your other driver’s things and stay out of that driver’s line. Don’t hate on someone because it’s the popular thing to do, or because you think people expect you to act one way.

And if you see someone defacing another person’s property, do something about it! Think of how you would feel if someone did that to you. As much as I dislike some drivers, I’d never to do anything to one of their fans; I have more respect than that. You should have the same amount of decency and common sense yourself. Respect yourself, respect the sport and above all else, respect your fellow fans.
Photo courtesy of Jenn Eblin

Opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The words coming from a regular everyday fan (Brad/Denny feud)

This is in response to follow writer Lauren Shaw’s post “Is Hamlin taking the feud with Keselowski too far?” Of course you guys may know about this heated rivalry between Keselowski and Hamlin and we know all the fans and who’s side they will take. You got a majority of Keselowski/Dale Jr. fans on Brad’s side and the Joe Gibbs driver’s fans is going to be on Denny’s side. And I admit I’m a Kyle Busch fan and I do like Denny Hamlin (I’m not a fan of his, yet). This story is going to be short and sweet, and I don’t want to do any race recaps because it’s obvious we all know what happened from last Saturday’s race from Phoenix. And I must warn you, this is not going to be a stellar opinionated article, but I’m doing this at the best of my ability.

To Lauren: I respect your opinion about this situation between Brad and Denny but my opinion is going to be a little different as you may notice.

For a few months now it seems that Brad Keselowski and Denny Hamlin can’t get away from each other. We have one driver who’s been getting involved in incidents for countless of times this season and only has received just one warning for it. And we have another driver who’s already been a victim to the opposing driver not once, not twice, but three times this year, and five overall. So my question is does Denny Hamlin have the right to be upset with Brad? Of course he does! Maybe Saturday’s comments during the post race may have been unexpected from Denny but he’s mad, he’s highly upset, it does seem that he’s had enough. Denny can’t count on NASCAR to tell Brad to quit his aggressive behavior, they seem to be fine with it. So what can Denny do, just let his frustrations out which is understandable. There is drivers out there that gets upset when they get into incidents and in the heat of the moment they say things that they shouldn’t say, especially to the media because things will get blown out of proportion. No one should take this out of control, mainly the fans. Let Denny and Brad deal with it away the racetrack and we don’t have to worry about this situation again. What comes to mind if you are a fan of any of these two drivers, just be real about it, what would you think if the tables were turned and Denny wrecked Brad? I would expect the fans will be upset about it, and I can’t blame them. But when it comes down to Denny being wrecked by Brad three times this year, you have to feel with what the Denny Hamlin fans are going through. Admit that your driver is wrong, you can’t always make excuses for them. You are still a fan to that driver no matter what, but they are not perfect. But when it comes down if Brad or Denny is taking it too far, neither of them is taking it too far. The one who is taking it too far, it seems that it’s us, the fans. Right now on Twitter we use #TeamDenny and #TeamBrad in our tweets and there is user accounts that is being made for fans to choose which side they are on. All I can say is have fun with it while it lasts, with the finale at Homestead coming up, this feud might be history, or it could be put on the shelf until Daytona rolls around, when the battle heats up in the Sprint Cup Series. I guess the story isn’t over just yet.
The opinions expressed in this post are those of the individual writer and may not reflect those of the group.

Is Tony Stewart being TOO harsh?

A controversial issue was brought out last Sunday during the Checker O'Reilly Auto Parts 500 at Phoenix International Raceway- and no, it wasn't Jimmie Johnson winning again- that most people still don't know about.

A few laps after one of the restarts during Sunday's Sprint Cup race, Dale Earnhardt Jr. took his #88 AMP Chevrolet into the corner, tires on the apron. Unfortunately, he could not keep a handle on the car and spun himself around triggering a numerous car wreck which included chasers Tony Stewart and Ryan Newman, and others like Joey Logano and Bobby Labonte. Confirmed by Nascar officials and Trackpass Raceview, Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Old Spice/Office Depot Chevrolet, had a few choice words for Nascar's most popular driver.

Stewart, already frustrated with his car's handling and not so great run, was back in the pack after pit stops. After the wreck happened and he realized he was involved, Smoke, in the heat of the moment made a somewhat harsh, untrue statement about Dale Jr: he called him a "talentless S.O.B". For all intensive purposes, I'll let you guys figure out what he meant by that.

Now, when I first found out my favorite driver was dissing on one of my other favorite drivers, let's just say I wasn't too happy. My main man, as we all know, is best known for his sarcastic comments and fighting words when he's in the heat of battle. And just by looking at the stats, we all know that Dale Jr. is far from talentless. He has numerous Sprint Cup wins, 18 to be exact- with 88 top 5's and 142 top 10's to add- although the past two seasons have not been his greatest. But did Tony go to far this time, especially considering Little E and himself are known as pretty good friends?

What really signifies being "too harsh?" By now, I think we all know when Smoke makes rude and ignorant comments, he usually doesn't mean it. His initial comments may upset me, but I know he is only angry and frustrated. He is passionate about what he does, and hell.. his chase hopes have gone up in flames this year. Wouldn't you be angry and upset also?

Not only does he have to make up with Jr- which I'm sure by now, he has- it looks like Tony Stewart has another fued on his hands, vs. "Jr Nation". Many, many fans of Jr. were not pleased one bit with Smoke's comments. They are the first ones to know what a bad season for their driver feels like. But, lay off Smoke. He speaks his mind and let's you know how he's feeling at all times, no matter what anyone thinks. And nowadays in the sport, drivers are limited on what they can say because of what NASCAR might do, say, or make them pay. So, in response to my article title, do I think Tony Stewart is being TOO harsh? Nope. Nada. No way.

Do I think he is wrong about Dale Jr? Yes. But it's about time someone who has showed so much passion in the sport his entire life keeps doing that; no matter who gets angry, upset, or offended by his words. That is why Tony Stewart is my favorite driver, and has been since I began watching this sport. His brutal, brutal honesty; whether he is right or wrong, he speaks his mind.

I don't think that's going to change anytime soon.

The opinions expressed in this post are those of the individual writer and may not reflect those of the group.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Is Hamlin taking the feud with Keselowski too far?

(November 13, 2009 - Photo by Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images North America)

For those of you that read my little biography on this site, you’ll notice that I’m a Brad Keselowski fan. A really big one. One friend even called me “the grade A of BK fans”. I’m the kind of fan that will defend him and make up excuses for him even when I know he’s wrong. But that’s just who I am and I don’t see myself changing anytime soon.

So to bring up the feud between Brad Keselowski and Denny Hamlin really gets my blood boiling. I wasn’t a real big Hamlin fan before all the drama started. And the race at Phoenix was the icing on the cake for me. I’m beginning to think that Hamlin is taking this all too far. All of his complaining and little comments are making him look bad while Keselowski sits back and says nothing.

Yes, Hamlin started the on track pushing and shoving this past weekend, which was clear. But Keselowski could and should have stopped it. He didn’t have to bump Hamlin back and he should have stopped after one hit. So my question is: Where was NASCAR when all of this happened? Were they not watching? They should have at least warned Keselowski about rough driving because obviously that hit was intentional. But they didn’t do anything. And, after the race, when Hamlin was strong in his comments, promising to retaliate the next time he’s in a Nationwide car. Uh, NASCAR? What are you going to do when their on track feud ruins another driver’s day? What happened to penalizing when threats are made? NASCAR just said that they aren’t going to “police” their feud. What?

The confrontation that happened after the race was surprising to me. I was proud of Keselowski when he didn’t egg on Hamlin’s angry feelings. He knew that it wasn’t a good idea to talk about it right then. Instead of this being a good thing, what does Hamlin do? Whine and complain to the media that Keselowski wouldn’t talk to him. Will they ever talk it over? I doubt it. I don’t see them just talking it over and resolving everything. They’re both too stubborn.

Hamlin didn’t just stop with threats about Keselowski to the media. He went to Mike Helton and Keselowski’s Nationwide team owner, Dale Earnhardt Jr. What’s Junior going to do? Keselowski only has one more race left with JR Motorsports. No one has reported what was said in that meeting. But I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall in that motor coach.

In my opinion Hamlin should handle all of this like a true racecar driver. No, I don’t mean punching the daylights of Keselowski in the infield. But by showing that he is that amazing racecar driver that he thinks he is. Go out there and win races, finish better than Keselowski, and when asked about the feud, answer it with a mature answer, one that sponsors would be proud of, instead of just insulting Keselowski.

The opinions expressed in this post are those of the individual writer and may not reflect those of the group.

Fan Favorites

If you’re a NASCAR fan, the odds are good that your home is cluttered with memorabilia and merchandise devoted to your favorite driver, or a special race. This new column here at Skirts and Scuffs is dedicated to those favorite pieces of merchandise, regardless of what it is or what makes it special.

Some of you may have held onto an old program from the first race you attended, or that Dale Earnhardt tee-shirt your dad bought you when you were a kid. It might be something a driver signed, something you got from another fan or something you worked your butt to track down. For the first column, I’d like to go ahead and tell you about my favorite piece. Take a look at the picture and see if you can guess what it is.

Give up? That ladies and gentlemen is called a cowl. It was purchased at Richard Childress Racing, which occasionally sells race used merchandise in the gift shop. When I found it, I had no idea what it was, but knowing that it possibly came from Kevin Harvick’s car, was worth the $10 price tag.

That same night my best friend Katy, who also writes for the site, had the opportunity to meet Jamie McMurray and I decided to cart my cowl to the event. Little did I know that three different people would ask me what the dang thing was, where it came from and what it did. By the time I got to the front of the line, I was more than a little exasperated.

With a grin, I dropped the thing on the table and told him not to ask me what it was because I couldn’t tell him. Jamie Mac smiled, laughed and said, “it’s a cowl”. Katy asked what it was because she couldn’t hear him over the crowd and he repeated himself. The woman behind her asked the same question and Jamie started laughing again. This time he yelled out the name and wrote it on the piece, complete with an exclamation point at the end. He then went onto tell us more about where it goes on the car and what it does.

The following morning we attended another autograph signing with McMurray, Ricky Steinhouse Junior and Matt Kenseth, all of whom signed the piece. Jamie remembered us from the night before and before even seeing the piece, stated “it’s a cowl again”, which endeared him both to us.

The cowl is also signed by Clint Bowyer and Kurt Busch. Bowyer and Kevin Harvick both had a laugh over the piece when they learned where it came from and were looking for signs of damage, which would prove that it came from the other’s car.

The cowl is easily one of my favorite pieces of memorabilia and something I plan on holding onto for years to come. It proudly sits against my entertainment center and everyone who sees it, wants to know the story and who signed it. I’ve even had friends bring other friends into my apartment just to see it! It holds a lot of meaning for me because of the stories I have regarding the drivers who signed it and the experience of carrying it around uptown Charlotte for five hours.

If you’d like to share a story about your favorite piece, please send a picture to Include your name and a story detailing what it is and why it’s so special to you.
Photo Courtesy of Jenn Eblin

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Tornados to Join SHR and Newman

In addition to sponsorship from the U.S. Army the #39 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevy driven by Ryan Newman will have sponsorship from Tornados Foods in 2010. Tornados will sponsor Newman for five races in 2010 including the races at Atlanta, Phoenix, Daytona, Michigan, and Martinsville.

The U.S. Army will be the primary sponsor for 15 races in 2010.
Photo courtesy of The U.S. Army on Flickr

Labonte Gets A Ride for 2010

Good news for Bobby Labonte. It was announced this week that Labonte will be behind the wheel of the #71 for TRG Motorsports in 2010. Sponsoring the team for approximately half the season will be who has appeared on the car several times in 2009. Labonte has driven the TRG Motorsports car seven times in 2009 after losing his ride in the Yates/Hall of Fame Racing Ford.
Image courtesy of Flickr user Coba

Friday, November 13, 2009

Big Night for KHI while Busch Remarks on 2010

Heading into Friday nights Camping World Truck Series race at Phoenix International Raceway there were two big stories. The first story was whether or not series points leader Ron Hornaday Jr would win his fourth Championship in the series. The other story of the night revolved around Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick's attempt to win all three races at the track this weekend. The night ended with two drivers happy and another looking on yet again from a second place finish.

It was a big night for the KHI team owned by Kevin Harvick and his wife DeLana. Harvick's win put him one step closer to becoming the first driver in history to win all three races in one weekend. Harvick will compete in Saturday's Nationwide Series race and Sunday's Sprint Cup Series race and must win both to make it into the record books. While the feat has been attempted several times this season, most often by Busch, the "trifecta" has yet to be completed.

The Harvick's will also be celebrating the championship of Hornaday who drives the #33 for the KHI team. With his fourth place finish Hornaday was able to clench his fourth Camping World Truck Series Title and his second for Kevin Harvick Incorporated. The 51 year old is the oldest driver to win a championship in one of the sports top three series.

Busch who started the night in fourth position led several laps but was not able to capitalize and came home in second behind Harvick. Busch who isn't a happy camper when he loses was surprisingly cheerful when interviewed by Speed TV reporters after the race. When asked about his plans for 2010 and the rumors surrounding a new team for next season Kyle said, "I don't have a hauler I don't have a race shop...I've been building a building for over 3 years." Looks like those rumors might be true after all but it may not happen as soon as Kyle or his fans would like.
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer and may not reflect the opinions of the group as a whole. This post also appears on The Kyle Busch Examiner.

Say What? What do you want to know more about?

Across the nation millions of NASCAR fans make their way to the track each season hoping to see their favorite driver take home the checkered. Those who can't make it to a race spend their weekend watching the television broadcast, pre-race shows, and post race wrap ups. Whether you are a long time fan of the sport or someone who just happened to find themselves on the couch one Sunday afternoon, this guide is for you.

Over the course of the 2009-2010 off season and throughout the 2010 season Skirts and Scuffs will attempt to compile a list of the most asked questions by new and old fans alike. This series, called "Say What?", will help new fans get accustomed to the terms older fans are familiar with and will look to provide some additional information that seasoned fans may have overlooked or rules that have changed recently.

We invite you to join us in making this guide better for everyone by submitting your questions to Katy (who will be handling this portion of the site) either through comment on this post or via email. We look forward to making Skirts and Scuffs your one stop to find information, top stories, and opinions relating to NASCAR. Stay tuned for more info on this column in the coming weeks.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Women of Nascar---Past and Present

Ladies, Start Your Engines

I would like to introduce to you several women who have played a major part of Nascar dating back to the late 1940‘s. A time when women weren’t easily accepted as serious opponents. A time when “A Women’s Place” was definitely not behind the wheel of a hot rod pushing speeds of up to 100 miles per hour.

Over the next few weeks, we will be looking at the evolution of Nascar and the impact women have on the sport. We will be meeting some very heroic women; Women who broke through the barrier. They challenged the status quo, forming high performance race teams. Winning several championships, earning the Rookie-of-the-Year title and breaking records along the way.

Highlighting women like Sara Christian and Louise Smith in the late 1940’s, Janet Guthrie in the late 70’s, Patty Moise in the late 80’s to the present with women like Danica Patrick.

All of these women have made their imprint in Nascar Cup Racing. Running races side by side with such well know drivers as Buddy Baker, Ralph Earnhardt, Richard Petty, Bobby Allison, and Dale Earnhardt. Sometimes even finishing ahead of them.

It is my intention to not only learn more about the history of Nascar, but to possibly get a better understanding of where it’s going. Please join me. I welcome your comments or questions regarding the topic and look forward to hearing from you. I hope to post weekly on this topic.

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

Five Questions Before... Checker O'Reilly Auto Parts 500

Heading into Phoenix this weekend, there’s lots to talk about! Jimmie Johnson won last year’s race here and all but sealed up his championship hopes. This year, he’s heading into the race coming off of a rough Texas finish and a 73 point lead. Some questions heading into Phoenix:

Is Jimmie Johnson really in any danger? … Jimmie has won three of his last five races at Phoenix International Raceway, the other two being fourth place finishes. He has an average finish of 5th place and has never finished worse than 15th. Realistically, there is no cause for concern for Jimmie Johnson.

Do these drivers know the meaning of the word “capitalize”? … No, I don’t mean what you do for a proper noun. I’m talking about these drivers “capitalizing” on a mistake made by a fellow competitor, i.e. the competitor that they’re trying to beat for the championship. Jimmie Johnson wrecked at Texas Motor Speedway, and Mark Martin is the only one who really made a big dent in Jimmie’s points lead. It’s not like the drivers didn’t want to pick on some points on Jimmie, but it really ended up being a missed opportunity. Let’s see if Mark Martin and the 5 team can “capitalize” on the slashed deficit.

How many times are we going to hear the word “triple” used over the weekend? … Both Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick are attempting to do what still no other driver has done: Sweep a NASCAR race weekend in all three series at the same track. Kyle came within a lap and a half of completing that sweep last weekend, but his fuel tank didn’t cooperate. Now, we have two fully capable drivers of pulling it off. My concern, though, is how often the broadcasts over the race weekend are going to mention it. Anyone want to keep count?

Will we see another fuel mileage race? … Fuel mileage races aren’t normally very popular with fans, but saving fuel isn’t necessarily the 48’s strong area (Michigan anyone?). So as much as some of you may hate fuel mileage races, that may be the only way for there to be a close battle between the 48 and at least one other competitor. Now the bad news? Jimmie Johnson and the Lowe’s team won a fuel mileage race at Phoenix last year.

Is this season going by way too fast for anyone else? … Each week seems to go by so slowly between races, yet the weekends themselves rush by so quickly you’re not really sure whether you’re coming or going. Let’s hope the offseason goes by as quickly as a NASCAR race weekend!

Honorable mentions: How many times will we hear about Casey Mears’ wedding? … Will there be any rattlesnakes on Rattlesnake Hill? … Do these teams have jet lag yet?

The opinions expressed above are solely those of the author. Aka MINE

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Why I want Danica to succeed in NASCAR

Rebecca's Ramble:

Whether you love her or hate her, looks like Danica Patrick will be driving a stock car next year.

The rumors have been flying for months, but ESPN reporter Ryan McGee broke the news last week that apparently the IndyCar star is close to signing a deal with JR Motorsports, under the helm of fellow spokesperson Dale Earnhardt Jr. According to the report, the two-year deal will have Patrick race part-time in the ARCA and Nationwide series while running a full-time schedule in the IRL in 2010. The deal is expected to be finalized within days.

The schedule sounds grueling, but it will allow Patrick to wade into the NASCAR pool. The 2005 IRL Rookie of the Year will need time adjusting to the many differences between a stock car and an open-wheeler.

I, for one, am thrilled that Patrick may be making her way to NASCAR as early as the Daytona ARCA race in February. I want Danica to succeed in NASCAR, and here's why:

1) The move will bring more attention to NASCAR. The ARCA and Nationwide series do not receive the exposure that the Sprint Cup Series and it cast of characters do. Having a crossover star like Patrick in ARCA and Nationwide will increase interest outside of NASCAR and therefore media coverage of the races she runs. Patrick will also bring her fan base to the sport, which could help increase sagging TV ratings and race attendance.

2) More sponsors will come calling. NASCAR is a money-driven sport. Patrick has proven to be a successful commodity, and where she goes, so does the money. If Patrick makes the move to NASCAR, she would bring her sponsors with her (, which sponsors Patrick in IndyCar, would reportedly sponsor her Nationwide ride.) The move would also likely attract new sponsors wanting a piece of the action. It's a win-win situation for a sport that's been especially hard-hit by the economic downturn.

3) I want to see a woman succeed in the sport. I'm 27 years old. Patrick is 27 years old. That and the fact we like racing may be the only things we have in common, but I would like to see someone like me win a NASCAR race. No woman has ever won a race in any of the three top-tier NASCAR series. Some Patrick stats: She was the first woman to lead a lap in the Indy 500. She finished 3rd in this year's race, the highest finish ever for a woman in the Indy 500. She ended the 2009 IRL season fifth in points, beating her teammate, championship-winning driver Tony Kanaan. With her 2008 win in Japan, Patrick became the first woman to win an IndyCar race. With these stats, I would like to see what Patrick can do in NASCAR.

I've cheered for female drivers in ARCA and truck races, only to see them fall short. I realize the same thing might happen with Patrick. After all, IRL champions like Dario Franchitti and Sam Hornish Jr. have tried to make it in NASCAR, with lackluster results. Franchitti's Cup team shut down last year, and Hornish is still struggling after making his Cup debut in 2007.

But I'm willing to give Patrick a chance. If she wants to take a chance on NASCAR, why shouldn't we take one on her? It's my hope that NASCAR and its fans will give her one.

The opinions expressed in this article belong to the writer and not Skirts and Scuffs. How do you think Patrick will fare in NASCAR? Please leave your comments below.