Monday, November 29, 2010

Jamie McMurray and wife welcome baby boy

Jamie and Christy McMurray at the Daytona champion's breakfast
in February. (Motorsports Images & Archives)

After an incredible season, Jamie McMurray and his wife Christy have something else to be thankful for this year. On Thanksgiving, the couple welcomed their first child, son Carter Scott McMurray, into the world at 8:34 a.m. Carter is 7 lbs, 12 ounces and 20 inches long, according to McMurray's official website.

The 2010 season has been prolific in more ways than one for McMurray's No. 1 team at Earnhardt Ganassi Racing. McMurray won three Sprint Cup races, including two of NASCAR's premier events, the Daytona 500 and Brickyard 400, in what has been likely the best season of his career. The McMurrays' new addition also marks the eighth - you read that right, eighth - baby born to members of the No. 1 team this year.

The birth is the latest in the NASCAR baby boom. McMurray joins fellow Sprint Cup drivers Elliot Sadler, Carl Edwards, Juan Pablo Montoya, Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson and Ryan Newman in expanding their families in 2010. Just over a week ago Newman and his wife Krissie welcomed a baby girl.

But the baby boom isn't over yet. Sam Hornish Jr. as well as SPEED personality Wendy Venturini are expecting babies next month.

Richard Petty and financial partners take control of RPM

Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR (2009 photo)

Concord, N.C. (November 29, 2010) — Racing legend and all time NASCAR win leader Richard Petty is back in the driver’s seat.

Richard Petty Motorsports signed and closed a sale of its racing assets to an investment group comprised of Richard Petty, Medallion Financial Corp. (Nasdaq:TAXI) and DGB Investments.

Richard Petty, a seven-time NASCAR champion has won 200 races, including 10 Daytona races. Known in the NASCAR world as The King, Petty will serve as chairman and will be actively involved in overseeing day-to-day operations of the company. As previously announced, the team will operate the legendary No. 43 car driven by AJ Allmendinger and the No. 9 car driven by Marcos Ambrose.

“Today is a great day for me, my family, our fans and our wonderful sponsors. Ford, Stanley, Best Buy, Valvoline, Reynolds, Air Force, Super 8, Paralyzed Veterans of America, WIX Filters and Menards have supported me through thick and thin and I thank them from the bottom of my heart,” said Petty.

Andrew Murstein, President of Medallion Financial, commented: “We could not be happier to be able to acquire these assets together. Richard is one of the greatest names, not only in NASCAR, but in all sports. His name and image are a world recognized brand with unlimited potential to grow and expand in racing. Ample working capital has been invested in the company to insure this great team and legend will not only continue to perform, but will thrive and be back in the winner’s circle.”

“George and Foster Gillett deserve a great deal of credit for running a successful race team,” commented Petty. “They made a significant investment into the business and helped get back into Victory Lane. Going forward, we have put together an all-star ownership team consisting of myself, Medallion, and VeriFone CEO Doug Bergeron.”

Medallion Financial, a publicly traded investment company, has invested over $3 billion in companies since its IPO in 1996 and its board members include such notables as former New York Governor Mario Cuomo, former Connecticut Governor and Senator Lowell Weicker, and another King of his sport, Hank Aaron. The Murstein family is the largest shareholder in Medallion, owning approximately 20 percent.

DGB Investments is an investment vehicle of Canadian-born investor Douglas G. Bergeron, CEO of VeriFone Systems, Inc. (NYSE: PAY), San Jose, Calif. In 2001, Bergeron and DGB participated in the acquisition of VeriFone Systems from Hewlett-Packard in a transaction valued at $50 million. Today, VeriFone’s market value exceeds $3 billion dollars and Bergeron remains CEO and one of the largest individual shareholders.

Douglas Bergeron commented, “With Richard Petty’s unmatched name and reputation in the motorsports industry, I know this investment is well-timed to succeed. We are going to help put Richard Petty Motorsports back in victory lane.”

Petty concluded, “Our partnership with Andy Murstein and Doug Bergeron will help take us to a whole new level and I could not be more excited about our future.”

Champion's Week kicks off in Vegas

Jimmie Johnson does a burnout on the Las Vegas Strip during last year's
Victory Lap in Las Vegas. (Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Johnson to be honored; schedule of events to start Wednesday

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The champion is crowned, the celebration awaits.

What a party it promises to be.

The 2010 edition of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion’s Week in Las Vegas will fete Hendrick Motorsports’ Jimmie Johnson, who earned an unprecedented fifth consecutive series title following the Nov. 21 season-finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

With events starting Wednesday, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion’s Week is full of fan-friendly activities that showcase the nation’s No. 1 form of motorsports while honoring its top driver and its loyal fan base.

Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR
After a 28-year run in New York, the annual postseason celebration made its Las Vegas debut last year, capped, as always, by the champion’s Friday-night coronation. This year’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards Ceremony returns to one of the city’s premier resorts, Wynn Las Vegas, on Friday, Dec. 3.
SPEED will once again broadcast the event, live at 9 p.m. ET.

Comedian Frank Caliendo and country rockers Rascal Flatts will entertain during the awards ceremony. Joining them will be “Viva ELVIS by Cirque du Soleil,” a special performance of dance, acrobatics and music celebrating the King of Rock ‘n Roll, Elvis Presley.

The ceremony culminates several days of whirlwind activity involving not only the series champion, but also the other 11 drivers in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup – NASCAR’s “playoffs.” Those drivers, together with Johnson, comprise the top 12 in the series’ final standings.

“It's just been an amazing experience, amazing for myself and the team,” Johnson said of his five-title run. “I think it's been great for our sport to see the comparisons drawn to other sports that have been able to link together multiple championships. It's been awesome, a ton of fun.”

Daytona vs. Michigan in holiday food drive competition

BROOKLYN, Mich. and DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — In the spirit of competition off the racetrack, Michigan International Speedway and Daytona International Speedway are having a friendly contest to see which track can collect the most food items for people who need it the most this holiday season.

Although it is a competition, both tracks aren’t looking at it as a win-lose situation. All the food donated at MIS and DIS will go to families in need. MIS’ donations will benefit the CCIS Food Pantry in Brooklyn, while Daytona’s will benefit the Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida.

The overall weight of all donations collected for each track will determine the winner. The winner of the competition will receive lunch courtesy of the other track.

MIS has already collected some 2,100 items, thanks to a sizable donation from Brooklyn Elementary School. The students collected food throughout the Thanksgiving week.

“This is not only a fun contest, but one that really can make a difference in the lives of the givers and the receivers this holiday,” MIS President Roger Curtis said. “We hope our friendly rivalry with Daytona will inspire others to participate and donate something.”

“We hope the heightened excitement around our contest with MIS will benefit area families who rely on Second Harvest during the holiday season,” said Daytona International Speedway President Joie Chitwood III. “We encourage all our employees and local fans to stop by and help make this a wonderful holiday for our community.”

All MIS fans can get involved with this competition. Non-perishable food donations will be accepted at the speedway’s Administration Building from Monday, Nov. 29, to Friday, Dec. 3.

Donations of a non-perishable food item or unwrapped toy may also be made at the speedway’s Track Drive for Charity, scheduled from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 4. With every donation, fans will receive a lap around the two-mile oval at a controlled speed. Longtime MIS sponsor GFS Marketplace will provide cider and donuts for all fans who attend the track drive.

All DIS fans that bring at least three (3) cans of food to the DIS ticket office counter on Friday, Dec. 3 and Saturday, Dec. 4 will receive a free admission for the new Daytona International Speedway All-Access Tour.

Daytona International Speedway will also host the WESH-TV “Share Your Christmas” food drive, which also benefits the Salvation Army, on Monday Dec. 6.  Later that day, Volusia County Sheriff Ben Johnson’s “Caravan that Cares” will begin its route from the main Daytona International Speedway parking lot on International Speedway Boulevard. Fans are encouraged to drop off their non-perishable donations at the Daytona ticket office lobby through Monday, Dec. 6.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

NASCAR Off-Season Week 1: Focus on Reed Sorenson

Reed Sorenson speaks with crew chief Jimmy Elledge
during his stint driving for Red Bull this summer.
(Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Throughout the NASCAR off-season, I am going to be posting a weekly look at a lesser-known driver from the Cup, Nationwide and Trucks Series. For week one, we will be taking a closer look at Reed Sorenson.

Being at the track as a toddler while his father raced, it is no wonder Sorenson found a love of racing. Reed first drove a racecar when he was 6 years old, behind the wheel of a Quarter Midget. He competed in Regional Quarter Midget racing for several years, most successfully in 1997. That amazing season found Reed finishing in the top 10 in 42 of his 43 starts, taking home the National Championship, 40 top fives and 22 wins. Anyone watching back then could have guessed we would someday see Reed in the Cup Series.

Sorenson's five years in Legend Cars were just as successful; he won over half the races he started during his rookie season. Reed posts totals including 84 wins and 152 top five finishes in 183 starts. By the time Sorenson graduated from high school in 2004, he had a developmental deal with Chip Ganassi Racing. The 2004 season found Reed in ARCA and Nationwide racing. Sorenson claimed top-five finishes in all three of his 2004 ARCA starts; his first start at Charlotte Motor Speedway found him in the fourth finishing spot and his second ARCA race found him in Victory Lane. In his 2004 Nationwide starts, Reed claimed one top five finish, three top 10s and led several laps in the October race at Atlanta.

2005 brought Sorenson to the Busch Series as a full-time driver and eligible for the Rookie of the Year award. He won his first race, ended his freshman season in fourth place, and second in the ROTY competition to Carl Edwards. Reed joined the Cup ranks on a part-time basis in 2006 while also running as a full-time Busch Series driver. With five top-10 Cup finishes and 14 top 10s in the Busch Series, Reed put together a solid year in which he finished 24th in the Cup standings, 10th in the Busch Series and fourth in the Cup Series ROTY. 2007 brought Reed his first pole start in the Cup Series, a third-place finish at his home track of Atlanta, and a fourth-place finish at Charlotte.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Hendrick Motorsports announces changes for 2011

Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR
Junior Nation has been waiting a long time to hear this: Lance McGrew and Dale Earnhardt Jr. are parting ways.

On Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2010, Hendrick Motorsports announced the changes made for next season. Crew chiefs are being shuffled around as are garages. Although Jimmie Johnson and the #48 team have won a lot of races as well as their five Sprint Cup championships, the rest of his teammates have not won a single race this past season. Rick Hendrick, owner of the Hendrick Motorsports team and 10-time owners' champion, spoke with reporters on a telephone conference Wednesday morning. He mentioned that the idea to make the following changes started after the Texas race.

Steve Letarte will now be Earnhardt Jr.’s crew chief and the #88 team will now be working with team #48’s garage. The seven-time winner of the Most Popular Driver award, Earnhardt Jr. hasn't won a race in two seasons nor has he made the Chase these past two years. He finished the 2010 season 21st in points.

Personally, I believe this will be a positive change for Earnhardt Jr. He does not need a nanny (as Terry Blount, senior writer for ESPN.com mentioned in his article) but Letarte’s optimistic personality along with Earnhardt’s boyish charm and humor will be a good mix, and Earnhardt Jr. will be in very strong hands. Both Letarte and Earnhardt Jr. are people persons, and Letarte's biggest strength is helping his driver find their confidence again.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Chase Coverage: Homestead Wrap-Up Report

After 10 races, the 2010 Chase for the Sprint Cup came to a thrilling conclusion at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

What started as a three-man battle for the title between Denny Hamlin, Jimmie Johnson and Kevin Harvick gave way to one of the most exciting season finales in memory, if not the most exciting race of the year. All three contenders had problems during the race, keeping fans on the edge of their seats wondering who would come out on top.

In the end, one man was left standing: Jimmie Johnson came from behind in the points to hoist his fifth consecutive Sprint Cup championship, a first in the history of NASCAR.

Skirts and Scuffs congratulates Johnson on his historic achievement.

There's also the matter of who won the last race of 2010. That would be Carl Edwards, who dominated at Homestead to finish out the season with back-to-back wins. Will Edwards be a possible contender for the 2011 championship? Read on to find out his thoughts.

Here's what our contributors had to say about how the Chase drivers did during the final race of the 2010 season.

1. Jimmie Johnson - Champion - 6622 points - Rebecca Kivak
Jimmie Johnson went into Homestead second in the points standings and emerged as the first consecutive five-time champion in the history of NASCAR. Faced with racing for the title in the season finale, a situation he hadn't found himself in in five years, the driver of the No. 48 Lowes Chevrolet delivered on the track to the very last lap, finishing second in Sunday's Ford 400. But the road to a fifth title wasn't easy. Johnson overcame three slow pit stops by his crew and made the fewest mistakes of the top 3 title contenders in a race that kept fans guessing until the very end.

Johnson's 6th-place starting position in the Ford 400 gave him an edge over points leader Denny Hamlin, who started 37th, and third-place Kevin Harvick, who started 28th. Within the opening laps Johnson had moved up to third. He continued to run in the top 5 for the first 70 laps and was the only title contender to lead a lap, which he did on lap 72.

During the race Johnson worked to stay ahead of Hamlin, who had his own problems after spinning out early in the race and later a confusing pit call, and Harvick, who had the speed until a late-race speeding penalty set him back.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

2010: Most competitive year in Sprint Cup Series history

The April race at Talladega set a record
for the highest amount of lead changes
- 88 among 29 drivers - at any track in Cup
Series history. (Todd Warshaw/Getty Images)
Records set in lead changes and leaders per race

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Nov. 23, 2010) – The recently completed 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season goes down as the most competitive in the 62-year history of the sport’s premier series.

Two major competition records were broken this past season in the series: average lead changes and leaders per race.

There was an average of 25.4 lead changes per event in 2010, the most in the history of NASCAR Sprint Cup competition. 

Additionally, there was an average of 11.4 leaders per event, also the highest average since the series’ inaugural year of 1949.

The previous highs in both statistics were 24.9 lead changes in 1981 and 11.0 leaders in 2006.
In all, 55 different drivers led at least one lap this season – another record. The previous most was 51, in both 2005 and 2007.

Passing numbers, too, were at their statistical peak this season. NASCAR began recording passing numbers in 2005, with the inception of Loop Data. This season, those numbers were higher than any of the past six years.

There were a total of 1,299 green flag passes for the lead (Note: Those are lead changes all around the track, not just at the start-finish line). The previous high was 994 in 2006.

There were also 116,327 total green flag passes. The previous high was 110,226 in 2009.

The tight on-track competition led to a closer-than-ever points battle. The 15 points separating the top-two drivers going into the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway were the fewest in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup’s seven-year history. Five-time champion Jimmie Johnson became the first driver since 1992 to overcome a deficit with one-to-go to capture the title.

Five races broke or matched track records in either most leaders or lead changes this season:

Talladega: Both Talladega races were exceptionally competitive, but the spring event made history. There were 88 lead changes among 29 drivers during the April 25 event, both all-time series records – at any track, ever.

Daytona: There were 21 different leaders in the season-opening Daytona 500, the most ever at a track whose history dates back to 1959.

Infineon Raceway: The first road course race of the season, the June 20 event featured 12 lead changes, the most ever at Infineon. The last lead change belonged to 2010 series champion Jimmie Johnson, who won the first road course race of his career.

Phoenix: There were 13 different leaders in the spring Phoenix event, tying a track record.
Texas: The autumn event at Texas had 33 lead changes, setting a track record.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Four series champions honored at NNS/NCWTS banquet in Miami

NASCAR Nationwide Series champion Brad Keselowski,
center, with crew chief Paul Wolfe and team owner Roger Penske.
·   Brad Keselowski, No. 18 JGR Toyota Are NASCAR Nationwide Series Driver, Owner Champions
 

·   Todd Bodine, No. 18 KBM Toyota Win Driver, Owner Titles in NASCAR Camping World Trucks

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. (Nov. 22, 2010) – For the first time in NASCAR national series history, four championships in two different series were awarded simultaneously.

NASCAR Nationwide Series team owner champions Joe Gibbs Racing
with (from left) Jason Ratcliff, Kyle Busch, Joe Gibbs and J.D. Gibbs.
Brad Keselowski and Todd Bodine officially were crowned the 2010 driver champions of the NASCAR Nationwide Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, respectively, on the Americana Ballroom stage at the Loews Miami Beach Hotel on Monday evening.

Keselowski was honored with his first NASCAR national series title as champion of the NASCAR Nationwide Series. Bodine received his second championship ring in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, joining Ron Hornaday Jr. (four) and Jack Sprague (two) as the only drivers in the series with multiple titles.

Also, the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota captured a record-tying third consecutive NASCAR Nationwide Series owner championship, while the No. 18 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota won the owner crown in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series as a first-year team.

The champions were joined on stage by the drivers who finished in positions 2-5 in the final standings, along with each series’ Raybestos Rookie of the Year.

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion Todd Bodine.
After a fan vote on NASCAR.com, each series’ Most Popular Driver also was revealed. Keselowski and Narain Karthikeyan were chosen by the fans in the NASCAR Nationwide and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, respectively. Keselowski took home the award for the third consecutive year, tying him with Kenny Wallace for the most awards in that category.

Carl Edwards, Kyle Busch, Justin Allgaier and Paul Menard finished second through fifth and were honored along with Keselowski in the NASCAR Nationwide Series.

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series team champions
Eric Phillips, Kyle Busch and Rick Ren.
Aric Almirola, Johnny Sauter, Matt Crafton and Austin Dillon were second through fifth in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series standings, and joined Bodine on stage.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. earned the Raybestos Rookie of the Year Award in the NASCAR Nationwide Series. Dillon claimed the honor in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. Stenhouse is the fifth rookie winner for Jack Roush.

SPEED personalities Rick Allen and Krista Voda served as hosts of the event. The NASCAR Nationwide Series/NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Awards Banquet will air on Dec. 3 from 7 to 9 p.m. ET on SPEED, prior to the live telecast of the 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards Ceremony from Las Vegas.

Johnson achieves 'Drive for Five' as Edwards dominates Homestead

Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR
Johnson first driver in NASCAR history to win five straight Sprint Cup titles; Edwards wins second consecutive series race

By Reid Spencer
Sporting News NASCAR Wire Service

HOMESTEAD, Fla. (Nov. 21) — NASCAR has a rock star — and perhaps after a fifth straight championship for unsinkable Jimmie Johnson, the sport will realize it.

Johnson ran second to Carl Edwards in Sunday’s season-ending Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway to secure the first come-from-behind title in his skein of five championships.

Edwards’ victory was perfection. He led 190 of 267 laps in winning his second straight Sprint Cup race and the 18th of his career.

“Why didn’t you set the cars up like this before, Bob?” Edwards joked with crew chief Bob Osborne after the race. “That was the best performance down the straightaway I’ve had in a long time.”

The race for the championship was anything but perfection. And it wasn’t the high drama fans had anticipated from the closest Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup since the introduction of NASCAR’s playoff format in 2004.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Chase Coverage: Homestead Preview

Sam Greenwood / Getty Images for NASCAR


It all comes down to this. It's the final race of the 2010 Sprint Cup Series season, the end of the Chase. A champion will be crowned.

Will it bring Denny Hamlin his first Cup title, the driver who overcame a knee problem to battle back and put himself atop the points standings? Will it be a historic-making moment for champion Jimmie Johnson? Will it be Kevin Harvick's first championship, the ultimate icing on the cake after a dramatic turnaround from last year's woes?

With the tightest championship battle in Chase history, we will have to tune in Sunday to see who will prevail. The stage is set for one of the most exciting finales in recent history, a battle that will go down to the last lap. May the best man win.

While the focus is on the title battle, the race winner will have bragging rights going into next season. A win in the last race of the year can go a long way to bring momentum for a team entering into 2011.

Our contributors run down the Chase drivers' chances for the finale at Homestead-Miami. Come back Tuesday to find out how the Chasers finish out the 2010 season. 

1. Denny Hamlin - Holly Machuga
Following his “disappointing” finish of 12th at Phoenix last weekend, Denny Hamlin remains first in points going into the final race of the 2010 season. Thus far, he has eight wins, 14 top-fives, 18 top-10s, and two poles. He also has an average finish of 12.9. Hamlin has led 20 races all season, with a total of 1,184 laps led.

At Homestead-Miami, Denny has one win (2009), three top-fives, and three top-10s. In five races, he has an average finish of 10.6. Also, he has a driver rating of 94.7, seventh best out of the drivers.

There are two ways that Denny can win the championship this weekend. One, he could win the race. Two, he could lead the most laps and come in second. That is the only way that the FedEx team could be guaranteed their championship over four-time champions, the Lowe’s team.

If there is a tie, the champion will be the one who won the most races. This would make Denny the 2010 champion.

I am excited to see how this plays out! I can not believe that this is the last race!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Nationwide Pole Report: Logano and Busch Front Row Domination for Ford 300

How do you make an interesting series, even more interesting?  The answer is simple you have teammates on the front row.  Oh wait, we have seen this plenty of times in the 2010 season when it comes to the Nationwide Series.  Joey Logano wins the pole in the Game Stop Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing with a lap of 31.487 (171.499 mph.).  His teammate Kyle Busch in the NOS Energy Drink Toyota only -0.005 behind.  Is having his teammate on the front row a good or bad thing?  Only time will tell.
LoganoPoleFord200

Other than figuring out the Owners’ Championship, why should we be watching the last Nationwide race of 2010?  How about Danica Patrick in the JR Motorsports Go Daddy No. 7 starting fifth on the grid?  Her best start ever in the series.  Will this be the race in which people realize she is good at what she does behind the wheel? 

For all the racing action, the place to be is ESPN 2 starting at 4 p.m. with the NASCAR Nationwide Countdown with the actual race starting at 4:30 with the green flag at 4:45.  Enjoy the racing!
  1. Joey Logano
  2. Kyle Busch
  3. Brad Keselowski
  4. Aric Almirola
  5. Danica Patrick
  6. Martin Truex Jr.
  7. Kevin Harvick
  8. Carl Edwards
  9. Trevor Bayne
  10. Cole Whitt
  11. Brendan Gaughan
  12. Sam Hornish Jr.
  13. Paul Menard
  14. Kasey Kahne
  15. Jeremy Clements
  16. Kevin Lepage
  17. Shelby Howard
  18. Justin Allgaier
  19. David Gilliland
  20. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
  21. Reed Sorensen
  22. Jason Leffler
  23. Parker Kligerman
  24. Mark Green
  25. Steve Wallace
  26. Colin Braun
  27. David Starr
  28. Joe Nemechek
  29. Eric McClure
  30. Brian Scott
  31. David Reutimann
  32. Dennis Setzer
  33. Jeff Green
  34. Mike Wallace
  35. Michael Arnett
  36. Tony Raines
  37. Kenny Wallace
  38. Mike Bliss
  39. Morgan Shepherd
  40. Jason Keller
  41. Robert Richardson Jr.
  42. Chase Mattioli
  43. Brian Keselowski

Friday, November 19, 2010

WIN Series: Johanna Long


Johanna Takes on Homestead
Johanna Long, a native of Pensacola, Fla., began racing go-karts at the age of 8. Then she moved up to Legends cars. She then moved on to the Pro Late Model division as a 15-year-old at her home track of Five Flags Speedway.

She will attempt to bring home a great finish under the lights as she competes in the Camping World Truck Series' season finale tonight at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Long will be driving her Panhandle Motorsports Toyota Tundra in the NASCAR’s Ford 200, making her first appearance at the 1.5-mile oval.

Long has been driving since she was 5 years old. She is a former Blizzard Series Champion on the Gulf Coast. Several top teams have shown much interest in the teen driver, and she has given them good reason. Homestead-Miami is Long’s seventh career start in the NASCAR’s Camping World Truck Series. In her previous six starts, Long has two top-20 finishes.

She qualified for Friday night's race in 21th position with Jennifer Jo Cobb in 32nd. Prior to qualifying, Long spoke with me in a short phone interview via Skype. Below you will find the link to the unedited interview. I hope you enjoy this first-time interview for the WIN Series.


The #20 Toyota Tundra is also sporting a decal depicting the 43rd Annual Snowball Derby. Long stated in a recent interview, “I'm excited to have the Snowball Derby decal on the truck this weekend. Late models are my roots, my comfort zone and my first love, so it's nice to be able to showcase the Derby where I'm racing now - the Truck Series. The Snowball Derby is a tough week of racing, and I look forward to it every year. A lot of people know me from the Derby and the Blizzard Series - so it's nice to show where I came from in the sport. I'm looking forward to shedding some light on these races, as well as my home track of Five Flags Speedway. Plus, it might give me a little luck going into the weekend!"

It’s Long’s hope to move into 2011 with momentum from a great finish at the Miami track. This could potentially pave the way for her to debut in 2011 as her rookie year with the support of the right sponsors, some good luck and the continued support of her growing fan base.

Race Results:

Johanna finished in 20th position. A great finish for the 2011 rookie hopeful. I will be posting a more in-depth interview on Johanna for the readers of S&S and the fans of Johanna Long. Link will be posted on Twitter when post is ready to read.

Trucks Pole Report: Dillon Gets Lucky 7th Pole for Ford 200

Lucky number seven might work in the favor of Austin Dillon, who won his 7th pole for the 2010 season for Friday's Ford 200 in the Bass Pro Shops / Tracker Boats Chevrolet with a 31.649 lap (170.622 mph) for Richard Childress Racing. Only 0.148 seconds behind is Kyle Busch in the Toyota Tundra / TRAXXAS Toyota in the last race of his first season as driver and team owner of Kyle Busch Motorsports.

Ford200 After Todd Bodine won the championship last week, what does this race mean? Actually it finalizes where the other racers in the series are placed on the rest of the grid, but will it bring lots of closure after a season of many interesting ups, downs and in-betweens.
For all of the racing action you can catch the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Race coverage starting with the Set Up starting at 7:30 p.m. ET and the race coverage starts at 8 p.m.!
  1. Austin Dillon
  2. Kyle Busch
  3. Johnny Sauter
  4. Elliott Sadler
  5. Aric Almirola
  6. Justin Lofton
  7. Matt Crafton
  8. Todd Bodine
  9. Ron Hornaday Jr.
  10. Mike Skinner
  11. Tayler Malsam
  12. Cole Whitt
  13. Max Papis
  14. Brad Sweet
  15. Timothy Peters
  16. Jason White
  17. Travis Kvapil
  18. David Starr
  19. David Mayhew
  20. James Buescher
  21. Craig Goess
  22. Ricky Carmichael
  23. John Jackson
  24. Miquel Paludo
  25. Johanna Long
  26. Jeffrey Earnhardt
  27. Hermie Sadler III
  28. Ryan Sieg
  29. John King
  30. Mario Gosselin
  31. Brent Raymer
  32. Jennifer Jo Cobb
  33. Shane Sieg
  34. Norm Benning
  35. Derek White
  36. Tom Hessert

Ryan and Krissie Newman welcome first child

Bobby Allison speaks with Ryan and Krissie Newman earlier this month at Darlington Raceway
in a ceremony remembering Jim Hunter. (Streeter Lecka/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Ryan Newman and his wife Krissie will end the NASCAR season as first-time parents. The Newmans welcomed daughter Brooklyn Sage on Thursday, Nov. 18.

Ryan announced the birth on his Twitter page:

RyanNewman39: We have a little baby girl! Mom and baby are both doing great! Our beautiful baby girl is named Brooklyn Sage Newman!

The Newmans were married in 2004. Ryan announced Krissie's pregnancy during the Brickyard 400 race weekend in July.

Last weekend while Ryan was racing at Phoenix, Krissie remained in North Carolina, awaiting the birth of their child. Ron Hornaday Jr. stepped in to practice Newman's No. 39 Sprint Cup car in case the expectant father was called away for the birth.

The Newmans are the latest to give birth in a NASCAR baby boom. During the season, drivers Elliot Sadler, Carl Edwards, Juan Pablo Montoya, Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon and Brendan Gaughan welcomed new additions to their families.

The baby boom will continue into the off-season. Jamie McMurray, Sam Hornish Jr. and Speed TV journalist Wendy Venturini are expecting babies next month.

You can learn more about Krissie Newman by reading her one-on-one interview with Skirts and Scuffs for our Woman in NASCAR Series.

Sprint Cup Pole Report: Kahne Uses His Wings to Grab Ford 400 Pole

KahnePoleMiami2010In the No. 83 Red Bull Toyota Camry, Kasey Kahne won his fourth pole for the 2010 season at Homestead-Miami Speedway with a lap of 30.525 seconds (176.904 mph.). This is the first of hopefully many poles for Kahne in a Red Bull Toyota. Just behind him on the grid is the winner of last week’s race at Phoenix International Raceway, Carl Edwards, in the Aflac Ford Fusion for Roush Fenway Racing, 0.031 behind the leader.


A few things to watch for this weekend’s race: Greg Biffle qualified 27th in a backup car after crashing into the wall during the early practice today. As for the top three Chasers, Denny Hamlin qualified 37th, Jimmie Johnson qualified 6th, and Kevin Harvick qualified 28th. I do not know what to expect on Sunday, other than a nail-biter of a race. Will we have a new champion or will Johnson win his fifth in a row?

For all of the racing action, you can find the full TV Schedule on Skirts and Scuffs. The NSCS Countdown airs at noon Sunday on ESPN 2 with the race coverage changing over to ESPN at 1 p.m. EST. This is the last race of the season and probably the one in which everyone will be watching. 
  1. Kasey Kahne
  2. Carl Edwards
  3. Jamie McMurray
  4. Bill Elliott
  5. A.J. Allmendinger
  6. Jimmie Johnson
  7. David Reutimann
  8. Mark Martin
  9. David Ragan
  10. Regan Smith
  11. Jeff Gordon
  12. Elliott Sadler
  13. Matt Kenseth
  14. Jeff Burton
  15. Kurt Busch
  16. Paul Menard
  17. Clint Bowyer
  18. Brad Keselowski
  19. Joey Logano
  20. Marcos Ambrose
  21. J.J. Yeley
  22. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
  23. Ryan Newman
  24. Aric Almirola
  25. Martin Truex Jr.
  26. Sam Hornish Jr.
  27. Greg Biffle
  28. Kevin Harvick
  29. Joe Nemechek
  30. Mike Bliss
  31. Tony Stewart
  32. Bobby Labonte
  33. Kyle Busch
  34. Casey Mears
  35. Andy Lally
  36. Dave Blaney
  37. Denny Hamlin
  38. David Gilliland
  39. Travis Kvapil
  40. Juan Montoya
  41. Scott Speed
  42. Kevin Conway
  43. Landon Cassill

TV Schedule Nov. 19-21

The Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup trophy, made
by Tiffany's.
(Sam Greenwood/Getty Images for NASCAR)
After nine months of racing action, the 2010 NASCAR season draws to a close this weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

The 1.5-mile track has had its share of dramatic moments: champions have been made here and for others, championships have been lost. But Sunday's Ford 400 race may be the most anticipated in quite some time. With Denny Hamlin, also the defending race winner; Jimmie Johnson and Kevin Harvick separated by only 46 points, there is no clear favorite to win the 2010 Sprint Cup championship. The title is on the line and it may go down to the very last lap, setting up what could be the most exciting race all year. May the best man win.

The 2010 champions have been determined in the Camping World Truck Series and Nationwide Series, but in both the owners' championships have yet to be determined.

In Nationwide, a flat tire caused Kyle Busch to finish 16th, trimming the No. 18's lead in owner points to 41 ahead of the No. 22 car driven all season by 2010 Champion Brad Keselowski. Can Keselowski close the deal and secure Roger Penske his first NASCAR owners' championship? Defending race winner is last year's champion Kyle Busch.

In the Truck Series, the owners' title seems all but certain for first-year team owner Kyle Busch. Busch's No. 18 truck holds a 120-point lead over second-place Germain Racing and 2010 Champion Todd Bodine. Despite a dominant lead, you can expect Busch to go for the win Friday and add to his impressive series-high seven victories (that's half of his truck starts in 2010). Defending race winner is Kevin Harvick.

As the white flag waves on the 2010 season, here is a guide to this weekend's track events and TV coverage at Homestead-Miami Speedway. (All times are in Eastern Standard Time):

Friday, Nov. 19:
3 p.m. NSCS Qualifying, ESPN2
5 p.m. NCWTS Qualifying, SPEED
6 p.m. NASCAR Live, SPEED
6:30 p.m. NNS Final Practice, SPEED
7:30 p.m. NCWTS SetUp, SPEED (reruns at 12:30 p.m.)
8 p.m. NCWTS: Ford 200, SPEED. Green flag: 8:18 p.m. (reruns at 1 a.m.)
10:30 p.m. Trackside at Homestead-Miami, SPEED. Guests: Jeff Burton and Kurt Busch. (reruns at 3:30 a.m.)
1:30 a.m. NASCAR Now, ESPN2

Saturday, Nov. 20:
10:30 a.m. The Racing Chef, SPEED
11:30 a.m. NNS Qualifying, SPEED
1 p.m. NASCAR Live, SPEED
3 p.m. NSCS Final Practice, ESPN2
4 p.m. NNS Countdown, ESPN2
4:30 p.m. NNS: Ford 300, ESPN2. Green flag: 4:45 p.m. (reruns at 3:30 a.m.)
8 p.m. Trackside at Homestead-Miami, SPEED
11 p.m. NASCAR Performance, SPEED
11:30 p.m. NASCAR Smarts, SPEED

Sunday, Nov. 21:
7:30 a.m. NASCAR Performance, SPEED
8 a.m. NASCAR Smarts, SPEED
8:30 a.m. NASCAR in A Hurry, SPEED
9 a.m. NASCAR Now, ESPN2
9 a.m. NASCAR RaceDay, SPEED
12 noon NSCS Countdown, ESPN2
1 p.m. NSCS: Ford 400, ESPN. Green flag: 1:15 p.m. (reruns at 3:30 a.m. on ESPN2)
8 p.m. The Edge: Grand American Road Racing, DISC HD
8 p.m. NASCAR Victory Lane, SPEED (reruns at 2 a.m. and 9 a.m. Monday)
10 p.m. NASCAR Now, ESPN2

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Chase Coverage: Phoenix Wrap-Up Report

Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR

With every race the 2010 Chase for the Sprint Cup becomes more exciting. At Phoenix, it was the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. One Chaser's winless streak ended in the desert, while the dominant car - and championship contender behind it - lost the race as well as ground in the standings. 

Points leader Denny Hamlin seemed all but certain to run way with Sunday's race in the desert. Then everything changed as it all came down to fuel mileage.

The nearly 70-point lead Hamlin had built up during the race was nearly wiped out as the fuel-mileage gamble worked against him and in Jimmie Johnson's and Kevin Harvick's favor. We now have the closest points battle in the history of the Chase with one race to go. This sets up a final blowout for the title at Homestead, which could come down to the last lap.

A delighted Carl Edwards couldn't wait to "flip" after a 70-race winless stretch, the end of a rare perfect weekend for the driver 4th in the standings.

How did you favorite Chase driver come out in the fuel-mileage game at Phoenix? Our 12 contributors bring you the story on each of the top 12 after the Kobalt Tools 500.

1. Denny Hamlin - Holly Machuga
Denny Hamlin continues to lead the points standings with 15 points over Jimmie Johnson after a 12th-place finish at Phoenix International Raceway.

The team had a great run Sunday and led the majority of the race. What ruined their day was being 12 laps short on fuel. Unfortunately, Hamlin was forced to conserve fuel and fell to the 12th position. This opened the rest of the race up for anyone else to win.

Post race, Denny was asked what he needs to do to win this Chase come Homestead. He answered, "For me I guess as soon as I leave Phoenix, I have to leave Phoenix in Phoenix."

To clinch that championship spot, Hamlin has a few options. One, he can lead the most laps and come in second. Or, two, he can win the race.

If it comes to a tie with Jimmie Johnson, the driver with the most wins will be the champion. Denny would overrule Johnson with eight wins.

With one more race to go, the Chase has become extremely interesting. We'll all be watching the FedEx team during the final race in the 2010 Sprint Cup season.

WIN Series Update - Jen Jo Cobb

Making History
x2_370672c
Her Way

Homestead marks the end of the season for many drivers, but it's really the beginning of the next season for the team owner. Getting sponsors in line, getting drivers under contract and having cars, and/or trucks in Jennifer Jo Cobb’s position, to race. This can all weigh on how they do during these final weekends.

The Chase might be of importance to the 12 who are involved, but there are many other drivers out there who don’t have the money or sponsors to race a full schedule. Some of the drivers are working on deals throughout the current season to make sure they get as much seat time as possible in the next season.

At Jennifer Jo Cobb Racing, things are really falling into place. Although she stated in our recent Women in NASCAR interview that she couldn’t help but feel a bit disappointed that she wasn’t at least finishing in the top 15 at every event, she is very optimistic in how next year is already lining up.

When Jennifer takes the checkered flag at Homestead-Miami (Fla.) Speedway, she’ll make NASCAR history in her LillysCosmetics.com Ford F-150 at Friday nights Ford 200 Camping World Truck Series race. Cobb will surpass Tammy Jo Kirk as the highest-finishing female in one of NASCAR’s top-three series, boasting 17th in the final point standings.

Roush Rewind: Kobalt Tools 500

Last weekend’s race at Phoenix International Raceway marked the 9th race in the 2010 Chase. While the on-track drama from Texas the week before didn’t really carry over to the Kobalt Tools 500, Phoenix created its own brand of drama in the form of the tightest Chase battle heading into the final race of the season, with Denny Hamlin, Jimmie Johnson, and Kevin Harvick all within reach of becoming the 2010 champion.

For Roush Fenway Racing, last weekend was one of their best of the season. David Ragan had a strong car for Sunday’s race, but following a bad restart, he lost positions he just couldn’t make up. Ragan finished 25th, two laps down. Matt Kenseth came to Phoenix riding the wave of momentum from his 2nd place finish at Texas the weekend before, but he had to battle handling issues to finish 7th. Greg Biffle fought an ill-handling racecar, but held on to finish 4th. After winning Saturday’s Nationwide race, Carl Edwards was looking to win on Sunday to sweep the weekend at Phoenix, and he successfully did just that.

5 Questions Before ... Ford 400





Five questions probably won’t be enough for all the questions so many have heading into the weekend (and the offseason), but I’ll give it my best shot. After all, this will be the next to last “5 Questions Before/After” column until Daytona. My goodness, where did the season go?




Here are some questions on my mind heading into the (sniff) season finale…





Who will win the championship? … This one is the biggie. When was the last time we went into a weekend and didn’t have a pretty good idea of who would win the title? Most would probably answer Homestead-Miami Speedway in 2004. It’s been a long time coming, and now we have a fight on our hands. With Denny Hamlin leading Jimmie Johnson by only 15 points and Kevin Harvick by only 46, it will be a season NASCAR fans will remember for a long time.





Will the title be decided by a fuel mileage race? … It wouldn’t be the first time fuel mileage played a role in a race at Homestead, which can be the most exciting (yet nerve-wracking) type of racing as long as it’s not your favorite driver involved. While a battle between Johnson and Hamlin for the victory on the final lap of the race would probably be a more ideal situation, involving the crew chiefs and pit crews at the very end of the championship race would be very interesting as well. Judging by last weekend’s race at Phoenix International Raceway, a fuel mileage race could very well cause a huge points shakeup that would turn the heads of race fans everywhere. Can you tell I’m excited?





Can the Fords continue their upswing? … With Carl Edwards winning his first race in two years last weekend in Phoenix, Elliott Sadler’s pole run at Texas Motor Speedway a couple of weeks ago, and Greg Biffle continuing to rack up top-10 finishes it seems the Ford Racing camp is building up some momentum for the 2011 season. History shows that this track traditionally favors the Fords, with six of the 11 races run here won by a Ford driver. Add to that the name of the race is the Ford 400 and I’m thinking we may see a Ford in Victory Lane this weekend!





How much trash-talking will we hear this weekend? … Already, press conferences involving crew chiefs, owners, and drivers have included a heavy dosage of trash talking and mind games, not to mention all the post-race ego-trips that have occurred at least once a week since the Chase for the Sprint Cup began at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. From the Friday press conferences, sponsor-related driver appearances, and countless pit road and garage interviews that will occur between now and the drop of the green flag, there will plenty of time for the championship contenders to drop a few hints to their competition.





What happens after Homestead? … Aside from Champion’s Week in Las Vegas, and a testing session at Daytona International Speedway to try out the new racing surface, there isn’t much to keep race fans entertained over the offseason. While some use other favorite sports such as hockey or football to keep them entertained, others employ the business of the holidays to pass the time until Daytona rolls around. However, if this race lives up to expectations, there will be plenty to talk about between now and then.





Bonus Questions: Where did the season go?! … How many times will ESPN show the points dropdown during the race? … Who will need to be practicing their speeches before the banquet?



--
Photo courtesy of NASCAR Media. Opinions expressed are solely those of the author.

It's a showcase showdown between Clint Bowyer and Austin Dillon!

Clint Bowyer and Austin Dillon, c'mon down! The two Richard Childress Racing drivers stopped by "The Price is Right" in a segment that aired Monday on the popular long-running CBS game show.

Bowyer and Dillon filmed the segment back in October. They presented NASCAR-themed showcases to the final two contestants.

Which showcase would you rather have? Check out Bowyer and Dillon's "Price is Right" debut here:

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Carl Edwards dominates at Phoenix

What would have turned into a two-year losing streak for Carl Edwards ended on Sunday when he brought home the victory at the Kobalt Tools 500 at Phoenix International Raceway.
carlvl
Photo courtesy of Genna Short

While Edwards didn’t dominate the race, he did dominate the weekend. He started by winning the pole and setting a new track record of 136.389 miles an hour, snatching the spot from Kurt Busch, who was the first to break the six-year record.

A win on Saturday afternoon’s Wypall 200 added another award to Carl's growing award collection.

Edwards completed the weekend by taking the victory on Sunday afternoon.

The 99 car led the field to the green and had no problem holding his lead for the first six laps. Kurt Busch snatched the lead away from him by lap seven and the two chased each other back and forth until Denny Hamlin took the lead under green on lap 66.

The 11 car dominated the race, losing the lead during a caution but quickly gaining it back after the lap 105 restart. Hamlin had, at one point, opened up a 5.4 second lead over Jimmie Johnson and clinched the most laps led by lap 217, earning five crucial bonus points.

The final lead change for the win took place on lap 266. Hamlin was low on fuel and eventually had to pit for fuel on lap 298, just 14 laps short of the finish. He muscled his way from 19th back up to a respectable 13th place finish by the end of the race.

In the end, Denny Hamlin’s race dominance came to nothing but a top 15 finish, leaving him just 15 points ahead of Jimmie Johnson.

Meanwhile, Carl Edwards had his first taste of victory in the Sprint Cup series, breaking a winless streak which fell just one race short of two full seasons.

“It was a great day for us. The race started, I felt like we had the best car. Then here comes Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, Jimmie Johnson. Really I think their cars were better in the middle part of the race. Bob (Osborne) made really good adjustments. The track came to us a little bit. “

WIN Series UPDATE - Caitlin Shaw

image

"I'm not trying to set the world on fire right now. I want to get seat time."

Caitlin Shaw breaks record with her
qualifying attempt at Phoenix

In a recent interview regarding the progression of female drivers in the NASCAR family, Jennifer Jo Cobb, DeLana Harvick and Lyn St. James commented on the possible addition of a sixth female in the 2010 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, breaking a record, which stands currently at five, set in 2009.

Caitlin commented on her record-breaking attempt for last week's Lucas Oil 150 at Phoenix:

"It's pretty cool to be a part of that," Shaw said. "But I think that really, whether you're male or female, it's about having the experience and the sponsorship behind you."

I have no doubt that New Mexico native Caitlin Shaw, will be adding her name to the list of Truck Series drivers, Amber Cope, Angela Cope, Jennifer Jo Cobb, Johanna Long and Michelle Theriault, next season. Caitlin has been involved with racing in one way or another since she was 9 years old. Proud parents Kelly and Leslie Shaw had no idea that one day Caitlin would follow in her father’s footsteps.

Her first race was at the age of 10 competing in the quarter midget division. She made her way up to the Senior Novice Division, taking second as a rookie. Next up was the mini sprint series, in which not only was Caitlin the youngest driver to race the series, but she was the first and only female.

In July 2009, Caitlin made her NASCAR debut in the CWTS at O'Reilly Raceway Park. Caitlin qualified 32nd and ended up finishing 24th in Tom DeLoach’s #1 Red Horse Racing Toyota Tundra machine. Caitlin commented after the race, "It was such an adrenaline rush!"

UPDATE:
Caitlin qualified 33rd for the Lucas Oil 150 in the No. 72 Chevrolet for DMG Racing. Her attempt set the record for the most women (six) competing in a single season of  NASCAR's top three series. Caitlin's night ended early when she spun on lap 88 and hit the wall in turn 4. She finished 30th.
 
After the race Caitlin tweeted this:

"My 2nd NCWTS race was a great experience. Unfortunately I rolled in a little higher/harder to set up a pass and lost grip on the track......but it was a great learning experience. I want to thank Mario, Johnny Chapmann, DGM Racing, and all of you for your support. Thank you!"


Also on Twitter, Caitlin stated that, "I'm planning to run a partial schedule. I don't have anything confirmed though."

Below you will find a video posted on her weekend at Phoenix-



Related links:
Shaw could be part of history in Truck Series start
Women in NASCAR: Caitlin Shaw

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

5 Questions After ... Kobalt Tools 500k





As Brian Vickers so eloquently put it on Twitter, “Going to be an awesome weekend in Miami for NASCAR. If you're a fan and not excited you might want to check your pulse!” For a while, it seemed as though Denny Hamlin might run away with the race and that he may secure himself his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship before we head to the season finale. Not so fast! Fuel mileage ultimately locked up the points, shrinking the margin to just 15 points between Hamlin and four-time and defending champion Jimmie Johnson. Plus, Kevin Harvick still has something to stay about this title, just 46 points behind Hamlin head into Homestead. Still not excited? Yeah. That’s what I thought.




Here are some questions on my mind after this weekend’s races…



So who IS the favorite? … Do we go with Hamlin, the new kid on the block who seems to be getting the hang of this NASCAR thing? Should we go with the seasoned champion who hasn’t lost a championship since 2005? What about the veteran who dominated the regular season standings? Regardless of who comes away with the trophy this weekend, there’s no doubt that all three are extremely deserving of the title “2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion.” But between now and Sunday, hundreds if not thousands of predictions will be made from within NASCAR Nation on which of the trio of competitors will leave Homestead with a big check, a big trophy, and an even bigger smile. Of all the predictions, though, it doesn’t seem like any one person agrees on whom exactly is the clear cut favorite to win it all.





Why was Denny Hamlin so mad after the race? … I know that Hamlin was obviously frustrated about losing a race that was his to win and leaving Phoenix with a slimmer points margin than he had originally hoped for. However, if I hadn’t known any better, Hamlin’s reaction after the race would have had me thinking he lost the points lead as a whole and now had to try and gain it back next week. Instead, he still has a 15 point lead over Johnson and 46 over Harvick. It’s not necessarily the most settling points margin a driver has ever had, but it’s better than not having the lead at all right?





Are Johnson and Knaus showing some cockiness? … I wouldn’t normally describe Johnson and crew chief Chad Knaus as the “cocky” type, but after Phoenix they seemed to have quite a bit to say. Here is what Johnson said after the race: “I know what my mindset is and I hope the pressure of us being on his (Denny Hamlin) heels really works on his mind throughout the course of the week – he and his crew. Those guys better be on their toes. Not only do they have the 48 to worry about, but they have the 29 (Kevin Harvick) and one race winner take all – it’s going to be one hell of a show.” Hmm … you would think the pressure would be on Johnson to beat the No. 11 team, rather than hoping that they can “worry” that team out of a championship. I’m sure it’s all an attempt at mind games—similar to what Hamlin and his crew chief Mike Ford were saying in their press conference after Texas—it’s interesting to hear trash talk from the team that is currently behind points.





Did anyone even care that Carl Edwards won? … The fact that this is the fourth question out of five speaks volumes. The focus right now is on the championship, a fight that Edwards has no dog (or duck) in. The last few seasons, Homestead has been a virtual lock, so focusing in on the individual race winners wasn’t much of an effort. Now, top-10 runs by non-Chase drivers are overlooked, storylines are limited to the three drivers in the title hunt, and even winless streaks being broken isn’t enough to turn our attention away from the points standings. If Edward’s traditional victory backflip—and trek into the grandstands—isn’t enough to grab our attention for even a little bit, I think it’s safe to say this might be one of the most memorable NASCAR seasons in recent years.





Is Kevin Harvick “lurking”? … Sorting through all of the pre-weekend madness, it seems most are focusing mainly on Hamlin and Johnson and almost completely discounting Harvick as a threat to the title. Harvick has a “Where did he come from?” racing style, constantly tricking people into thinking he’s a non-factor only to show up in a final sprint to the finish, usually coming out on top. Heading to a racetrack where Harvick has finished in the top five in three of the last four races, “Happy” has them right where he wants them.





Bonus questions: Where did Kasey Kahne think he was going with that fuel can? … How nice was it of Jamie McMurray to offer Jimmie Johnson his water bottle? … How many times will Carl Edwards go up in the grandstands before he is kidnapped?


--
Photo courtesy of NASCAR Media. Opinions expressed are solely those of the author.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Johanna Long off to Homestead!

Long Hopeful for 2011 NASCAR Season; Brings a Little "Snowball" to Sunny Homestead-Miami Speedway at the Ford 200

18-year old makes first run at 1.5-mile oval; No.20 truck paintout to feature historic Snowball Derby

Mooresville, NC (November 15, 2010) - NASCAR driver Johanna Long, 18, is setting her sights on competing in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series' season finale - the Ford 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway "under the lights" on Friday, Nov. 19. Driving the No.20 Panhandle Motorsports Toyota Tundra, she'll be bringing a little "snowball" to sunny Miami by featuring a decal of the historic late model weekend - the 43rd Annual Snowball Derby. Held at Five Flags Speedway from Dec. 1-5, Long, the defending Blizzard Series champion, will be driving her late model in the weekend's races. After Miami-Homestead (her seventh NCWTS attempt in 2010), Long is also hopeful for a rookie year in 2011 if the right marketing partner can come along.

Continuing the Girl Scouts partnership this year, Long will also take on two of the local Girl Scouts - from Girl Scouts Council of Tropical Florida - as "honorary pit crew" members for the team at the Ford 200. Long partnered at each track this year with a local council, speaking about her journey in motorsports, hard work and determination in whatever they choose to do in life. She will also have her "honorary pit crew" members cross the stage with her at driver introductions.

"I'm excited to have the Snowball Derby decal on the truck this weekend," said Long. "Late models are my roots, my comfort zone and my first love, so it's nice to be able to showcase the Derby where I'm racing now - the Truck Series. The Snowball Derby is a tough week of racing, and I look forward to it every year. A lot of people know me from the Derby and the Blizzard Series - so it's nice to show where I came from in the sport. I'm looking forward to shedding some light on these races, as well as my home track of Five Flags Speedway. Plus, it might give me a little luck going into the weekend!"

Long will make her seventh career NCWTS start at Homestead-Miami Speedway, while juggling the preparations for the upcoming legendary Snowball Derby. A native of Pensacola, Fla., she began her racing career in go-karts at eight years old and then moved on to Legends cars. She then made the big jump to the Pro Late Model division as a 15-year-old at her home track of Five Flags Speedway. She posted three wins and became the youngest track champion - in the long history of Five Flags Speedway. She won at other tracks as well enhancing her racing reputation and move up another level to the Super Late Model division where she competed against and often beat her father Donald, an accomplished racer in the now-defunct All-Pro Series.

This season she made another major jump in the racing ranks, moving to the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series with Panhandle Motorsport - running a limited schedule this year to gain track knowledge and experience on the Speedways. Her season-best finish of 17th came at Indianapolis Raceway Park. She also has qualified among the top 20 in all six of her previous starts, with a top qualification of 9th at Texas Motor Speedway in November.

"I have such great people around me this year, teaching me so much about the tracks. Plus, it has been really awesome to get support from so many of the veteran drivers, all of whom don't hesitate to get me in a car to do track walks. I'm really hopeful for a Rookie season in 2011 - it's time to show what I can do with a full year. We're looking for marketing partners now, and it's critical for that to happen. If anyone out there wants to help support our efforts, please be in touch - let's keep this momentum going!"

FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THE SNOWBAL DERBY:
The Snowball Derby draws the best and brightest Super Late Model teams from all across the land to Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Florida. For more information about the week's events from December 1-5, 2010, visit http://5flagsspeedway.com/ or www.speed51.com.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Carl Edwards wins the Wypall 200 at Phoenix

 

Carl Edwards outran the competition by a full five seconds during Saturday’s Wypall 200 at Phoenix International Raceway.

carlsatStarting second in the race, he quickly took the lead from Joey Logano and led a race-high 153 laps. It was his second consecutive win in the fall Nationwide race at Phoenix and his 29th career victory in the series. It was also his fourth win at the track overall in Nationwide.

"This is the best car I've ever had in the Nationwide Series," he told crew chief Mike Beam over the radio after the race had ended.

Although he ran second in practice and started second in the race, in the end, he came out first.

"I wouldn't have imagined this thing would be that fast today. A great day for us. Man, it's just unbelievable how fast this thing is. After three or four laps, I could do whatever I wanted with it. I'm really blessed to have the crew that I have."

Kevin Harvick, Joey Logano, Brad Keselowski, and Reed Sorenson rounded out the top five.

Dale Jr.'s racecar features 'Paint the 88' contest-winning design

Donnie Floyd, who works in the 5 and 88 shop, applies decals to the No. 88 Chevrolet
featuring the winning 'Paint the 88' design. (Courtesy of Hendrick Motorsports' website)

A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity was offered to Junior Nation by Mountain Dew this year. It was the chance to paint and design the #88 Diet Mountain Dew-sponsored car driven by Dale Earnhardt Jr. for the race in Phoenix, Ariz., this Sunday, Nov. 14.

More than 10,000 fans entered the contest, which began in July. The final decision was made in September by Earnhardt Jr. He picked the design by Jason Corino of Colorado Springs, Colo.

"I was really interested to see what the fans would come up with and what their opinions are about what our car should look like," Earnhardt Jr. said in a press release. "You want that reaction and connection with your fans, you want them to have input into what you are doing. It was a great program and as a fan you have to get excited about something like that." 

Corino, 36, who does not have a background in design, researched past paint schemes driven by Earnhardt Jr. for ideas as to what his favorite driver would like. His design integrates the traditional green and white colors associated with Mountain Dew.

"There are no words to explain how I feel, other than it was a once-in-a-lifetime chance, and I'm excited," Corino said. "I can't wait to see the car on the track. Thank you so much Dale Jr. and Diet Mountain Dew."

On Friday night, Earnhardt Jr. was at the Phoenix Coyotes hockey game where they showed off the car on the ice. To see a video of the racecar presentation, click here. Earnhardt Jr. also took time to meet fans, answer questions and sign autographs.

Jeff vs. Jeff - is it really over?

After last weekend’s AAA Texas 500, all eyes have been watching Jeff Burton and Jeff Gordon. After a wreck took both out of contention on lap 191, the two were involved in an altercation. Gordon, evidently displeased, had approached Burton and shoved him. Burton flew right back at him and got a couple punches thrown before officials stepped in to separate them.

The question everyone is asking this week is how will this affect the way they race on Sunday? Was the feud a one-race deal or will the emotions somehow carry over into this week?

Jeff Gordon says the two have talked it out.

"It went good. I'm never going to agree with what went on at Texas. And we had a good conversation and like I said on Sunday, I have a lot of respect for Jeff and always have and I may have lost some for him but I still really respect him for what he brings to the sport and what kind of race car driver he is,” said Gordon. "And I feel like we were able to laugh about it and now we can just start focusing on Phoenix and move on."

They seem to have patched things up but it has been clear in the past that these things can often be carried over. Burton doesn’t think so, however.

"I feel like it's over. Like I said earlier, it's a chance for me to learn, a chance for both of us to learn. You know, I took the brunt of the responsibility, and I'll continue to do that,” Burton replied when asked if he felt the incident between himself and Gordon was really over.

While it seems clear that both parties have moved on, the question still looms, is this kind of passion good for NASCAR? This is where they differ in opinion.

"I think what the fans want is they want to see the passion. They want to see how much it means to us out there. And when something like that happens and you show that, I think they get fired up about it,” Gordon stated.

"Yeah, they want to see some controversy in a scuffle like that. But they want to really try to sense what it's like to go through a situation like that. And when you show your emotions in that way, which from time to time I think are very good, you get those types of reactions and it draws a lot of attention and I don't think that's a bad thing."

Burton’s opinion on whether it was good for the sport was very different.

“You know the whole debate about what's good for NASCAR, what's not good for NASCAR, I don't know. I know the fans on the back straightaway thought it was cool. I could hear that, but I'm torn between what's good for NASCAR and what's not good for NASCAR.”

Conscience may have something to do with it. He went on to say, "I try to conduct myself in a way that will make me and my team and my kids proud of me,even when things aren't good, and you can certainly cross a line. I come to the race to race. I don't come to the race to be a part of the show.”

As to whether or not it really is over, that is to be decided.

Apparently, The Price is Right

for Clint Bowyer and Austin Dillon

Don’t miss the upcoming episode of Drew Carey’s, The Price is Right.  Driver of the #33 Cheerios/Hamburger Helper Chevy, Clint Bowyer and NCWTS Rookie, Austin Dillon will make an appearance on CBS’s  very popular, long running Game Show.  This special episode will air on Monday, November 15th.  See your local programming guide for appropriate times in your area.

The two drivers will be presenting the showcases at the end of the show.  With each showcasing NASCAR themed prizes that include a visit to North Carolina to see the NASCAR Hall of Fame, a trip to Miami for the final 3 races of the 2010 Season.  Along with the prizes will be a Chevy Impala LS.

Chase Coverage: Phoenix Preview

Overview of the spring race at Phoenix. (Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

The Chase heads to the desert for race #9, the second-to-last race of the 2010 Sprint Cup season. The heat is on at Phoenix International Raceway as the battle continues to tighten between the top 3 in the points standings. Only 59 points separates the top 3 drivers.

Denny Hamlin, Jimmie Johnson and Kevin Harvick all have something to prove at Phoenix. In the history of the Chase, the driver leading with two races to go has always gone on to win the chamionpship. This bodes well for leader Denny Hamlin, but not for four-time champion Jimmie Johnson, who for the first time in the last four years is not sitting in that top spot. Will the pit crew swap between the 48 and the 24 turn things around? Let's not forget Kevin Harvick, who is very good at the one-mile flat track. All three qualified mid-pack for Sunday's Kobalt Tools 500, but you can bet it won't stay that way once the green flag drops.

With the title hunt this close, fans can look forward to an exciting race in the desert. Let's see what 12 of our contributors have to say about the Chase drivers' chances at Phoenix.

1. Denny Hamlin - Holly Machuga
Denny Hamlin goes into the second-to-last Sprint Cup race first in points. He has earned eight wins, two of them being within the Chase, 14 top-fives, 18 top-10s, and two poles. His average finish is a 12.9.

At Phoenix International Raceway, Hamlin has five top-fives, six top-10s, and one pole. In 10 races, he has an average finish of 11.6. This puts him eighth best out of all the drivers in Sprint Cup. It is a decent track for him, and he can look to earning his first win and possibly third Chase win this weekend.

Last week, Denny surpassed four-time championship driver Jimmie Johnson for the points lead after his win at Texas Motor Speedway. He also won this race in the spring after getting knee surgery for his torn ACL.
Now that the No. 11 team is in the lead, they won’t just coast. They will race for the win and race the hardest they have raced all season. This is sure to be an exciting end to the year!

Bristol Motor Speedway Strives to Exceed Fans’ Expectations



The racing might be over this year for Bristol Motor Speedway, but that doesn’t mean fans should just wait until the next race to stop by if they get the chance. You never know what might happen when you make a side trip to the World’s Fastest Half-Mile.

Yesterday, I was sitting at home when my best friend Jordan texted me asking if I wanted to ride to the speedway with her. Well, I was supposed to work that evening, but I called my mom, who agreed to go in to work for me (Thanks, mom!) so I could go. Jordan picked me up, and we headed for the speedway, which is about an hour and a half from my house. Being on Twitter, Jordan sent an update saying we were heading to Bristol. Our main reason for going up there was to just see what kind of deals the souvenir shop had. Little did we know that our random trip to Bristol would turn into a once in a lifetime experience.