Friday, April 29, 2011

Denny Hamlin wins the Bubba Burger 250 at Richmond International Raceway

Credit: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR
What a week so far for the hometown boy, Denny Hamlin. After winning his own charity race Thursday evening, he went onto win Friday evening's Bubba Burger 250 at Richmond International Raceway.

Carl Edwards started on pole and led the first 43 laps until being passed by Hamlin. Hamlin led a total of 199 of the 251 laps. The race was Hamlin's to lose, but Nationwide regulars Kenny Wallace and Ricky Stenhouse Jr had promising runs. Stenhouse was running second in the closing laps when he ran out of fuel, having to settle for a 21st place finish. Kenny Wallace was also running in the top five most of the race, as high as second at one point. Kenny made a pit stop in the final laps for fuel and ended up with a 14th place finish. After the race Kenny tweeted:

I am getting what I wanted this year...I am back and I run up front..That's what I wanted..My Heart does ache.
Justin Allgaier maintains the point lead over the now second place Elliott Sadler.

Race results:
1. Denny Hamlin
2. Paul Menard
3. Justin Allgaier
4. Elliott Sadler
5. Aric Almirola
6. Brad Keselowski
7. Josh Wise
8. Sam Hornish Jr.
9. Ryan Truex
10. David Stremme
11. Jason Leffler
12. Reed Sorenson
13. Steven Wallace
14. Kenny Wallace
15. Brian Scott
16. Michael Annett
17. Chris Buescher
18. Mike Bliss
19. Joe Nemechek
20. Robert Richardson Jr.
21. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
22. James Buescher
23. Jeremy Clements
24. Scott Wimmer
25. Carl Edwards
26. Timmy Hill
27. Blake Koch
28. Morgan Shepherd
29. Derrike Cope
30. Kelly Bires
31. Charles Lewandoski
32. Eric McClure
33. Mike Wallace
34. Kevin Lepage
35. Carl Long
36. Tim Andrews
37. Mike Harmon
38. Dennis Setzer
39. Johnny Chapman
40. Jeff Green
41. Matthew Carter

Next up: Royal Purple 200 live from Darlington Raceway Friday May 6th at 7pm EST on ESPN2

Pole Report: Crown Royal Presents The Matthew and Daniel Hansen 400

Jerry Markland/Getty Images
Juan Pablo Montoya won the pole for Saturday evening's Crown Royal Presents The Matthew and Daniel Hansen 400. Montoya, with a lap of 20.99 sec and a speed of 128.639 mph, claimed his 7th career pole. Joining Montoya on the front row is Regan Smith, who will be making his career best starting spot.

The complete race lineup:

1. Juan Pablo Montoya
2. Regan Smith
3. Clint Bowyer
4. Kasey Kahne
5. Mark Martin
6. Jeff Gordon
7. Brad Keselowski
8. Carl Edwards
9. Joey Logano
10. Paul Menard
11. Denny Hamlin
12. Kevin Harvick
13. Ryan Newman
14. Bobby Labonte
15. Casey Mears
16. David Stremme
17. Jamie McMurray
18. AJ Allmendinger
19. David Reutimann
20. Kyle Busch
21. Martin Truex Jr.
22. Michael McDowell
23. Greg Biffle
24. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
25. Jeff Burton
26. Joe Nemechek
27. David Ragan
28. Travis Kvapil
29. Dave Blaney
30. Jimmie Johnson
31. Tony Stewart
32. Mike Skinner
33. Matt Kenseth
34. Landon Cassill
35. Marcos Ambrose
36. Kurt Busch
37. Brian Vickers
38. Ken Schrader
39. David Gilliland
40. J.J. Yeley
41. Andy Lally
42. Robby Gordon
43. Tony Raines

Who did not make it: Brian Keselowski

Tune into the race on Saturday at 7:00 pm EST on your local FOX station.

Pole Report: NNS Bubba Burger 250

John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR
Qualifying is complete at Richmond and Carl Edwards will lead the field to the green flag this evening. Edwards, with a lap of 125.046 mph, will be joined by Sam Hornish Jr on the front row.

Complete Race Lineup:
1.Carl Edwards
2. Sam Hornish Jr.
3. Brian Scott
4. Aric Almirola
5. Justin Allgaier
6. Paul Menard
7. Kenny Wallace
8. Kelly Bires
9. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
10. Brad Keselowski
11. Denny Hamlin
12. Mike Bliss
13. Joe Nemechek
14. Steven Wallace
15. Reed Sorenson
16. Jason Leffler
17. Josh Wise
18. Elliott Sadler
19. David Stremme
20. Ryan Truex
21. Chris Buescher
22. Scott Wimmer
23. Mike Wallace
24. Jeremy Clements
25. Michael Annett
26. Blake Koch
27. Jeff Green
28. Derrike Cope
29. Robert Richardson Jr.
30. Morgan Shepherd
31. Charles Lewandowski
32. Timmy Hill
33. Tim Andrews
34. Matt Carter
35. Johnny Chapman
36. James Buescher
37. Eric McClure
38. Dennis Setzer
39. Kevin Lepage
40. Carl Long
41. Mike Harmon

Tonight's Bubba Burger 250 will be broadcast live on SPEED at 7:30 p.m. ET.

NASCAR supports tornado relief efforts

Call to action TV spot will run during Nationwide, Sprint Cup race broadcasts this weekend at Richmond

Through the newly launched NASCAR Unites charitable platform, this weekend the NASCAR community will support disaster relief efforts taking place as a result of this week’s tornado outbreak in the Southeastern part of the United States.

By logging on to NASCAR.COM/Unites fans can support these efforts by volunteering or making a donation.

NASCAR also filmed a call to action television spot earlier Friday featuring Dale Earnhardt Jr., Darrell Waltrip and Mike Helton that will air during tonight’s 24th running of the Bubba Burger 250 NASCAR Nationwide Series race on SPEED and Saturday's’s 57th running of the Crown Royal Presents The Matthew & Daniel Hansen 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race on FOX. Both events will be run at Richmond International Raceway.

'NASCAR Unites' Creates Two Million Ways For NASCAR Fans To Support Children’s Causes

Unifying the motorsports community through volunteerism and fundraising

RICHMOND, Va. (April 29, 2011) – The NASCAR Foundation today announced “NASCAR Unites,” an industry initiative led by The NASCAR Foundation that creates an opportunity for NASCAR fans, drivers, teams, tracks, sponsors and more to unite to improve the lives of children across the nation. NASCAR Unites engages the sport in a collaborative effort to support children’s causes through fundraising, volunteering, sharing inspirational stories and unifying to make a difference.

To support this new initiative, The NASCAR Foundation will operate three major programs in 2011:
  • NASCAR Day – Celebrated this year on May 20, NASCAR Day is an annual charitable celebration that unifies the NASCAR community to better the lives of children. Plans for NASCAR Day activities will include local activities at numerous NASCAR race tracks around the country.
  • Summer of Volunteer Service – This summer, The NASCAR Foundation will encourage fans to pledge at least five hours of volunteer service in an effort to collectively generate more than one million hours of giving back to local communities.
  • Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award – The Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award will recognize active community volunteers. Beginning April 29, fans are encouraged to submit inspiring stories demonstrating a local champion’s support of children’s causes. Volunteer nominations may be submitted online until July 18.
By implementing these programs, NASCAR Unites will offer fans and the NASCAR community “Two Million Ways to Unite for Kids” in 2011. Through NASCAR Unites’ volunteerism and fundraising efforts, The NASCAR Foundation will grant $1 million to children’s charities and generate one million volunteer hours in local communities to help children lead happier, healthier lives.

 “We are so proud to announce the NASCAR Unites initiative,” said Betty Jane France, chairwoman of The NASCAR Foundation. “This is the ‘next evolution’ of The NASCAR Foundation but also, quite simply, just a wonderful idea that extends the reach of The Foundation.

“Within our daily lives, it’s important to remember just how fortunate we are … and to lend a helping hand to those in need. That’s exactly what NASCAR Unites aims to do: Improve lives – in two million ways.”

To achieve these goals, The NASCAR Foundation has designed multiple ways to get involved:
  • To achieve one million volunteer hours, supporters are asked to pledge five volunteer hours. Visit NASCAR.COM/Unites to participate and search for volunteer opportunities.
  •  NASCAR Unites wristbands showcase fans’ passion for children’s causes and encourage acts of service. With a $5 donation, supporters receive a wristband which serves as an icon of the NASCAR Unites campaign.

TV Schedule April 29-May 1

Al Bello/Getty Images
The Sprint and Nationwide series go short track racing at Richmond International Raceway, a favorite among fans and drivers alike. Both series will race under the lights at the .75-mile venue. In Richmond's close quarters, tempers are known to flare, which can make "Saturday night all right for fighting."

The D-shaped oval has 14-degree banking in the corners, 8 degrees on the frontstretch and 2 degrees on the frontstretch. The track held its first race in 1953. Since that time, RIR has undergone four configuration changes as well as one surface change, from dirt to asphalt.

In the last eight Sprint Cup races, Jimmie Johnson claims four wins, Denny Hamlin two and Kyle Busch two. With these kind of track records, will one of them add yet another to the "w" column this weekend?

The following are last year's race winners at Richmond:

Spring: Kyle Busch
Fall: Denny Hamlin

Spring: Brad Keselowski
Fall: Kevin Harvick

Here is a handy guide to track events and television coverage this weekend at Richmond:

Friday, April 29:
10:30 a.m. NNS Final Practice, SPEED
12 noon NSCS Practice, SPEED
2 p.m. NASCAR Live, SPEED
2:30 p.m. NSCS Final Practice, SPEED
3:30 p.m. NASCAR Live, SPEED
4 p.m. NNS Qualifying, SPEED
5:30 p.m. NSCS Qualifying, SPEED
7 p.m. NASCAR Live, SPEED
7:30 p.m. NNS: BUBBA Burger® 250, SPEED
11 p.m. Trackside at Richmond, SPEED

Saturday, April 30:
12 a.m. NNS: BUBBA Burger® 250, SPEED
3 a.m. Trackside at Richmond, SPEED
4 a.m. NNS: BUBBA Burger® 250, ESPN Deportes
12 noon NASCAR Now, ESPN2
12 noon Trackside at Richmond, SPEED
3:30 p.m. NASCAR Performance, SPEED
5 p.m. NASCAR RaceDay, SPEED
7 p.m. NSCS Pre-Race Show, FOX
7:30 p.m. NSCS: Crown Royal Presents the Matthew and Daniel Hansen 400, FOX

Sunday, May 1:
1:30 p.m. Denny Hamlin Short Track Showdown, SPEED
8 p.m. NASCAR Victory Lane, SPEED (reruns at midnight at 9 a.m. Monday)

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Talladega to aid in Alabama disaster relief with $100,000 commitment

For a $50 donation to Red Cross, fans can drive personal vehicles on superspeedway May 6-8

Talladega Superspeedway announced plans today to aid the American Red Cross in relief efforts from the devastation of yesterday’s storms that tore through Alabama, with a $100,000 commitment. Race fans can do their part as well and get a chance at tackling the high-banks of Talladega in turn. For a $50 donation to the American Red Cross, race fans will be able to drive their personal vehicle around the high-banks of Talladega Superspeedway, May 6-8.

“In times of crisis it’s important for all members of the community to come together and lend a helping hand,” said Talladega Superspeedway Chairman Grant Lynch. “I’m challenging all our race fans and others throughout the region to come out and help our neighbors in need. Hopefully the chance to drive Talladega will provide an extra incentive to get more people involved.”

Track rides will begin at approximately 9 a.m. and end at 2 p.m. each day. All vehicles must be street legal and equipped with enough seatbelts for all passengers. RVs and motorcycles will not be permitted.

Cash and check donations will be accepted at the gate of Talladega Superspeedway with all proceeds going to the Alabama chapter of the American Red Cross.

For more information on Talladega Superspeedway, please call the Talladega Superspeedway Ticket Office at 1-877-Go2-DEGA or visit them online at

  • American Red Cross: Text REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation or visit the organization's online donation page
  • Salvation Army: Text GIVE to 80888 to make a $10 donation to the organization's tornado relief fund or visit its website
  • Governor's Emergency Relief Fund To Help Tornado Victims in Alabama: Gov. Robert Bentley has established a fund to aid disaster victims. Donations may be made by credit card or check. For more information, visit the fund's website.

Speak Your Mind: What can be done about Cup driver dominance?

Do you take notice of Sprint Cup drivers racing all three series? Well, as we all know NASCAR did, implementing the one series rule, having a driver declare which series they will run for points in. This alone has not stopped the Cup driver dominance, as we saw last weekend at Nashville when most Cup drivers were enjoying the off week, others were taking to the track to race.
Edwards and Busch battled for the win at Nashville.
Credit: Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR

In this week's edition of Speak Your Mind, we asked our contributors the following questions: Should NASCAR go further to prevent Cup drivers from winning in all the other series? Perhaps by limiting races in their non-declared series? Do you feel that this is even a problem?

Holly Machuga: I think it should go a little bit further as to limit the number of races they can participate in. The Nationwide drivers do not get any sense of winning with Cup drivers winning every single race. Similar problems are found in the truck series.

However, I can see why NASCAR still allows the Cup drivers in all three series and that is for publicity. Many fans would not be as inclined to watch the Camping World Truck series or Nationwide series races if people like Carl Edwards and Kyle Busch were not racing in them.

Lacy Keyser: I do not mind Cup guys in Nationwide but there comes a time when enough is enough. Sorry to say but I hate watching a Nationwide race and it's a Kyle Busch show, or a Carl show, etc. I like drivers like Kevin Harvick, Dale Jr. and Clint Bowyer who race a few races here and there, but not this let's race in Nationwide every week. I want to see Nationwide guys be able to race and perform. It really angers me that NASCAR doesn't make Busch, Edwards, Keselowski, etc. limit their races because I feel they should. It really angers me, why watch a race when Sunday I can pretty much watch the same outcome?

Summer Dreyer: I think the "problem" is exaggerated somewhat, but I definitely think that the series exclusive points rule is a step in the right direction. Maybe NASCAR is looking into making more changes, but are slowly implementing mandates for the Cup drivers to see how the fans respond. For the most part, I've seen a positive response from the new points system in general. If NASCAR decides to limit Cup drivers from the sport, one option they could consider exploring is saying a driver can only run an "x" amount of races across all three series. That way you're not limiting driver development from other series and they can still jump around, while the Cup drivers can't necessarily dominate the lower series. Maybe 50 races would be a good number, but I'm sure there are other options as well.

Genevieve Cadorette: I realize that sponsors want a Sprint Cup driver to drive a Nationwide car or a Truck; I also realize that a team owner wants to build his business and I'm also aware of the fact that Sprint Cup drivers love to race, even if they don't win points or a Championship Cup, they just want to race. With that said, let's also remember there are drivers who cannot race in Sprint Cup - they must work their way up the series until they find themselves in the top series. Sprint Cup drivers winning every week is taking the spot light away from the Truck and Nationwide drivers who need the light to shine on them. I understand they are getting the points and at this point, we may crown a driver who never won a race. In some respects, I thought since Cup drivers are not winning points, why not award the first (Truck/Nationwide) driver to win the points the award (the guitar in Nashville for example). Why are we giving victory lane glory to the guy who isn't winning points?

In Sprint Cup, Jimmie Johnson did not win last year's Homestead race; Carl Edwards did and although we did recognize the winner, we weren't focused on Edwards; we spent more time with Johnson and we should do something similar with the Nationwide and Truck drivers.

Should we limit the races for Cup drivers? Yes, we should. If Cup drivers don't have a race that weekend, why bother go out of their way? The Nashville race is for Truck and Nationwide series, let the Truck and Nationwide drivers race alone and see who wins in their division. It would be nice to see one race without a Cup driver in it.

Another thought crossed my mind. Why not limit how many Cup drivers race in a race? Instead of 5 Cup drivers at a time, how about one at a time? If a Cup driver owns a team, how about promote
their men? Dale Jr. does well in promoting Wise and Almirola, why don't other owners follow suit?

Melissa Wright: I don’t agree with the amount of Cup drivers in the Nationwide Series races. I think that there should be a limit to how many entries there are per track and also, a limited amount of entries per season. They over shadow the Nationwide drivers that run full time, let alone those that have to qualify to make the race. I realize that they bring spectators and sponsorship to the sport but without exposure (which is lacking tremendously) these teams are struggling week by week. At this point it’s not even about points when it’s Kyle Busch winning consecutively or Carl Edwards. Joey Logano found out at the last minute that he had sponsorship to race in Nashville for the Nashville 300. He still had a top 5 finish. He finished 4th. There were three other Cup drivers also were also included, Brad Keselowski, David Reutimann and David Stremme who is to make his debut this upcoming weekend at Richmond. None of these drivers are gaining any points. Yet another disadvantage for the Nationwide drivers.

Onto the winnings: Edwards' winnings were $41,950 and Johnny Chapman received $9,921 for placing 43rd. Chapman had only completed 1 lap. These under-funded teams can’t afford to race against these guys. They have different engine packages and everything. It’s simply not fair. They need to balance it out more than NASCAR having the drivers choose which series they are running for points championship in prior to the beginning of the season.

Cup teams should maybe even race from the back of the field like they did in stock car racing when I grew up. Make it more interesting. Cup should only advance into other series outside of the league in my opinion. I just don’t understand why these same drivers are filling the seat. Owner points can be established if they’d just have faith in someone else. It’s time for some new revelation stories like the “discovery” of Trevor Bayne at Daytona! I’d love to see a field of 43 Nationwide drivers and there be coverage on all of them! Show us what you’ve got and what you’re made of!

Rebecca Kivak: I think NASCAR had good intentions with the one-title rule, and I am seeing more emphasis on the Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series points leaders on a weekly basis. But NASCAR didn't go far enough, as we are still seeing full-time Sprint Cup drivers winning every week in these series. Nothing against the talents of Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards and Brad Keselowski, etc., but when it comes to Cup drivers running the lower-tier series, enough is enough. It's ridiculous that the Nationwide regulars can't win races in their own series. The Sprint Cup-affiliated Nationwide teams have more funds and resources than the Nationwide-only teams, plus the experience of the Cup drivers themselves, so of course the Cup drivers are dominating the races. It's even spreading to the Camping World Truck Series - to have only one series regular win a race so far this season boggles my mind with the variety of talented and experienced regulars in that series.
One of Busch's many NCWTS victories, Nashville Superspeedway
Credit: Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR

Even when Cup was off this past weekend, there were still several Cup drivers in the NNS race at Nashville, so it was no surprise one of them won. It's entirely possible that in the Nationwide Series, we will have a champion with no wins, which is a disservice to the series regulars and the series itself.

I understand how having Cup regulars in these races can draw fans in the seats and TV viewers. When I first got into NASCAR, the Cup regulars were why I started watching Nationwide - I actually knew who some of the drivers were! And I understand that sponsors prefer experienced Cup drivers known to win than unproven or developing drivers. But the Nationwide Series has gone from being a development or feeder series to Sprint Cup Lite, where the heavyweights win every time. Even though I think the Nationwide regulars can learn by racing against Cup drivers, it's also hurting them because they don't have the wins or top 5s needed to show they are ready to advance to the next level.

If I'm going to complain, then I should provide a solution. I said in a past Speak Your Mind that NASCAR needed to go further and limit the amount of races Cup drivers can run in Nationwide and trucks, and I still stand by that. I propose a limit of 10-15 races a year in each of those two series. This could still satisfy sponsors and fans. Maybe teams could even alternate Cup drivers behind the wheel, like Joe Gibbs Racing does with the No. 20 car in Nationwide. This would help put both series, Nationwide especially, back in the hands of their regulars.

Amanda Ebersole: If you asked me this a year ago, I would say no way, there is no problem. Cup drivers in Nationwide is exciting. This year my views have expanded, through learning of the struggles of the start-and-park teams, just trying to make ends meet, I have to say we need to end the double-dipping.

I am not against Cup drivers making occasional starts in other series, such as Kasey Kahne at Darlington in the NCWTS or Tony Stewart making a start in the Nationwide race. That garners attention for sponsors and draws more viewers to the race, and I think that adds fresh hype to the race. Instead, in the current situation I see people each week complain about drivers "stinking up the show" and though I know this is not the drivers' intention, maybe it is time to do something.

My solution: limit the races run in the non-designated series. NASCAR can set the number.

Now we want to hear what you the fans think, leave a comment below and give us your thoughts.

Trevor Bayne Undergoing Medical Tests; Will Not Race in Richmond this Weekend

Credit: John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR
Concord, N.C. (April 28, 2011) – Roush Fenway’s Trevor Bayne has been hospitalized and is undergoing tests for symptoms that are thought to be related to the insect bite he sustained earlier this month.

“Trevor was not feeling well early this week and he is currently being evaluated for lingering symptoms that may be related to his previous insect bite,” said Roush Fenway president Steve Newmark.

“Unfortunately Trevor will not be available to drive the No. 16 Ford for us this weekend in the Nationwide race at Richmond.  As of now, our plans are to use a substitute driver from the Roush Fenway family of drivers in place of Trevor at Friday night’s race.”

“Obviously Trevor wanted to be in Richmond and he’s upset about not being able to compete.  However, his health is our top priority and we insisted that he have these tests to get to the bottom of his symptoms,” added Newmark. “We will work to provide you with further updates as they become available.”

The 20-year old driver was treated and released earlier this month after a reaction from an apparent insect bite on his left elbow that he suffered earlier that week while at home in North Carolina.

Beyond the Byline: Getting to Know Amanda Ebersole

You see their names in the byline of our stories. You may follow them them on Twitter and Facebook, but who are the ladies of Skirts and Scuffs? In this series, our site creator Katy Lindamood goes behind the articles and dives into the lives of some of our most popular contributors.

Today we go beyond the byline with Amanda Ebersole. A contributor with Skirts and Scuffs since early 2010, Amanda is the brains behind In the Rearview Mirror, a column that looks at the pioneers of the sport. Additionally Amanda acts as an associate editor for the site.

Recently I had the opportunity to ask Amanda about her life and love of the sport. I invite you to sit back and get to know one of the most important members of the Skirts and Scuffs family.

Katy Lindamood (KL): Tell our readers a little about your background. Where you're from, what you're involved in other than NASCAR.
Amanda Ebersole (AE): I hail from small town, USA: Lebanon, PA. Never heard of it? Yeap, not surprised. The only thing big around here is bologna. That’s right, bologna. Our town drops a giant 150+ pound bologna on New Year's Eve. Now if you are an ARCA fan, you know that Lebanon is the hometown of Bobby Gerhart.

As for me personally, well, standard life story and is there life other than NASCAR? I do enjoy cooking and trying new things in the kitchen. I’m trying to get the courage to eat fish, but it’s not going too well. I want to travel, that is my hope and dream ... if only my money tree would finally grow.

KL: Amanda, you are an extremely positive person and it comes out not only in your writing, but in your interactions with others. I know it's not always easy to be positive given the circumstances you deal with on a day-to-day basis, but somehow you manage. Would you be willing to share some of your back-story with our readers and the challenges you face?
AE: Thanks, being positive is very important to me. After all the challenges I have faced, I have learned life is too short to take for granted.

As for my circumstances, in middle school I suffered a severe ankle injury that developed into a neurological disorder called Complex Regional Pain Syndrome. It’s a very complicated neurological disorder, and back in 1995 when I got it, doctors still did not have much information on it. I had severe burning pain and explained it as though someone was lighting me on fire from the inside out. Dealing with that as a teenager was hard.  We sought out the best doctors. In doing so, I took a big risk and went with an experimental medication that seemed a cure-all.

Well, long story short, six months into the treatment I woke up paralyzed. It was terrifying!! Doctors thought I had a stroke. Turns out after four months in the hospital, the medication has this as a potential side effect (I was unaware ... I blame it on my age, at the time I was 21, but now I look back and know that it was not me but the doctor who should have known better). While in the hospital they determined I would never walk. I cannot walk unassisted, but I have made leaps and bounds of improvements from that day of waking up totally paralyzed.

Amanda is an animal lover. Her dog Duncan gets comfortable in the chair.
KL: Some of our contributors have been NASCAR fans for as long as they can remember, but for you it wasn't always this way, right? When did your love of NASCAR begin and what was your AHA! Moment? (the moment you felt like this was your sport?)
AE: I think it was 2007, if I am correct. My dad was a fan and would catch a race or two when he was home from work. I would hear him ohhh and ahhh at the excitement of the racing action, always feeling a bit left out not knowing what was going on. I started to flip channels to the race as he watched, to have something to talk about. Now we laugh because my father is an over the road trucker driver and he calls me for all the NASCAR info and every time he passes one of the haulers on the road! (He drives down south mostly so my phone rings frequently some weeks.)

I don't know if I have a true AHA! moment, I watched "Fast Cars and Superstars" in 2007 because I was a WWE fan of John Cena and he was learning to drive from Carl Edwards. I think that moment was a big one. Now NASCAR is my life. (Sorry, John Cena.) Carl Edwards became my driver and that was the beginning of my NASCAR fandom.

KL: Behind each woman who calls Skirts and Scuffs home is a NASCAR fan. For the fan sitting at home races can be an emotional roller coaster. Is there any event in particular that's been emotional for you?
AE: Easiest question so far!! Talladega April 26, 2009! Seeing Carl Edwards spin, flip, then land! That was the time that I remember being hysterical. I screamed ... my parents came running, I was crying and saying "OMG he better be ok" (geesh getting emotional writing this) and when he got out of the car and ran across the line I don’t know if I was happy or not. I just remember being so upset that night that my dad gave me my birthday gift a week early. He had gotten me a Carl Edwards diecast that he found near a truck stop. That was my first diecast and I was so happy. My dad has never gotten me a gift like that and it meant a lot to me.

KL: Other than editing for Skirts and Scuffs, you write a weekly column on the history of the sport. What led to your decision to write In the Rearview Mirror and what have you learned the most about in writing the series?
AE: I have to say, my history teacher would be so proud. I was always a good student of history and I personally think it is something we need to value and respect. Would we have Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Carl Edwards and so on without the greats of yesteryear such as Red Byron, Glenn "Fireball" Roberts, Lee Petty? There was no big AHA moment as to why I wanted to do In the Rearview Mirror, besides the simple word RESPECT! That says it all.

Last summer Amanda built this and says that grilling is one of her favorite ways to cook.
KL: There are thousands of NASCAR websites out there you could have decided to become a part of, though we are extremely happy you chose us. Why Skirts and Scuffs?
AE: I am happy you had me! I have no formal writing experience, just the experience of a passionate fan who (would) rather use her voice as an uplifting experience. My biggest pet peeve is all the negativity surrounding our beloved sport. Come on folks, rally around the sport we all love ... what would you do if NASCAR locked out like football?

Why Skirts and Scuffs? Because women working together is a genius idea!! (Way to go boss) I’ve see women reporters, journalists, but no website like ours. We have a huge list of contributors, all with unique perspectives. That’s what makes Skirts and Scuffs a cutting edge website.

KL: You love spending time in the kitchen. What's your most successful recipe and what's one thing you would never make again? Is there a recipe you want to try but haven't quite gathered the courage yet?
AE: Ouch, tough one. Can I phone my family for help? My best recipe is my cheesecake, it’s a version of Junior's Cheesecake from NYC, the creamiest cheesecake I have ever had. I love to grill though, I could eat chicken on the grill seven nights a week. 

Fish ... no courage to eat it!! I have cooked broiled fish for my dad, but that’s it. I also want to try homemade bread and pizza dough with yeast, but the whole process of let it proof, rise, blah blah ... I am not that patient.

Amanda's birthday cake that her mom surprised her with last year. 
KL: Describe yourself in one sentence.
AE: Rolls with the punches of life. (Wheelchair humor, sorry)

Thank you Amanda for sharing some of the most personal moments of your life with me and our readers. Your positive attitude in the face of adversity is a breath of fresh air.

Learn more about Amanda by following her on Twitter.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Fueled by tragedy, Matt Poole chases his racing dream

Matt Poole. (Courtesy of Matt Poole)
Matt Poole is not your typical racer. Most drivers’ journeys start in their childhood or their teens. But for the Kannapolis, N.C., resident, his started a little later – when he was 40. And it was fueled by the most unfortunate of circumstances. Poole is chasing his lifelong dream of becoming a racecar driver to honor the memories of not one, but two important people in his life.

In 2003, Poole lost the rock of his family: his mother Peggy died after a sudden heart attack. Poole had always told his mother he wanted to become a racecar driver. With a renewed focus, he was set on making his dream come true. But not even three years later, Poole suffered another loss: in 2005, his dear friend Tonya Schultz was murdered by her husband.

When tragedies occur in life, they can either make or break us. But for Poole, the latter was never an option.

"My goal is to make it as far up the racing ladder as my right foot will take me," Poole recently told me.

Poole is on a journey to turn personal tragedy into triumph, and the aspiring driver is growing ever closer to reaching his dream.

Poole started out at SpeedTech Racing School, owned by Randy Baker, son of legendary NASCAR driver Buck Baker. Since then, Poole has tested in the Camping World Truck Series, ARCA Series, Late Models and Street Stocks.

In 2007, Poole gained noticed when he tested a Camping World Truck Series (then the Craftsman Truck Series) truck for Lafferty Motorsports and impressed team owner Chris Lafferty. Poole made his racing debut for Lafferty Motorsports in the Street Stock Series at Hickory Motor Speedway in Hickory, N.C., finishing 12th and 7th respectively in his first two races.

After demonstrating his talent on the track, Poole, who works as a driving instructor at the NASCAR Racing Experience, has labored to get his name out there and has developed a following on social media sites. Recently the 47-year-old racer caught the eye of a racing team. Kansas-based Jeremy Petty Inc., under the ownership of ARCA and Camping World Truck Series driver Jeremy Petty, is interested in developing Poole’s skills, but is lacking sponsorship for the 2011 season. Poole’s dream is on hold as the search continues for a sponsor.

I had the chance to interview Poole and learn more about his racing journey. Poole not only has the heart of a racer, but the fire and determination to overcome the odds. It is my pleasure to share this interview with our readers at Skirts and Scuffs.

RK: When/how did you know you wanted to be a racecar driver?
MP: I grew up about 2 miles from a dirt track, and as kids we used to sneak into the track through the woods to go and check out the race cars. The very first time I ever saw a race car, I knew right then and there that I wanted to drive race cars. The sights, the sounds, the smells of being at a race track had me hooked the very first time I experienced it.

RK: Unfortunately tragedy has touched you not once, but twice. How did your mom and your friend Tonya ultimately inspire you to set out on your racing journey?
MP: It was the death of my mom that originally set me on the path to racing. Tonya knew how bad it hurt me losing my mom. The day mom died, Tonya came to my parents’ house right after we got home from the hospital, and she went to mom's funeral as well. Both my mom and my dad thought the world of Tonya. I decided after mom's funeral that I was going to honor her memory somehow, and since it was my childhood dream to be a racecar driver, I set my mind to racing something, anything, as my way of keeping her memory alive. Ironically, it was Tonya who told me, "I'm not saying this to beat you down, I'm just being realistic. You're too old, you got no experience, and nobody is going to sponsor you. It's not likely you'll ever see the inside of a race car." My reply to her was "You hide and watch." Then after Tonya was murdered by her husband, it only gave me more drive and determination to make it happen. And when I finally got to that first race at Hickory Motor Speedway, I ran my very first race of any kind with a picture of Mom and Tonya taped to the dash of the car. They rode along with me for that first race, and I know somewhere up there they were smiling.

RK: How did your friends and family react to your decision to pursue your dreams?
Poole tests a truck for Lafferty Motorsports
at Hickory Motor Speedway in 2007.
(Courtesy of Matt Poole)
MP: Most of them told me I was crazy. My own father told me I was crazy. They said it would never happen. All the odds were against me, AND I was crazy. They cracked jokes. They took their jabs. But at the same time, they told me "go for it." They wanted to see it happen, but they just didn't think it was likely to happen. But if mom was still here, she would be the first one to say, "Don't ever tell him he can't have something or do something if he sets his mind to it." When it came time for my first race at Hickory, my father told me something he had never told me in my life. He said, "I'm proud of you, and if your mama was here she would be proud of you too" I will never forget that moment, because he had never said that to me, ever.

RK: As you pursue your dream, you are working at NASCAR Racing Experience. What does your job entail? Has this opened up opportunities for you?
MP: My job at NRE is not near as glorious as some would have it to be. Even though I am an "instructor," my job is basically a spotter. I talk to the students on the radio while they are driving the race car, I tell them what line to run, what RPM to run the car at, when they are passing other cars, or when other cars are passing them. It all boils down to watching other people drive race cars, which gives me motivation because I know in my heart if I don't give up I'll be the one driving the race cars one of these days. Other than that it's chores like cleaning cars, loading cars and equipment in the haulers, changing tires and fueling the cars, as well as talking to customers and answering questions.

RK: Like you, Jennifer Jo Cobb has logged lots of miles as a driving instructor (Cobb worked for Richard Petty Driving Experience). How has logging those laps carried over to your racing?
MP: There is a BIG difference between Jennifer Jo Cobb and me, and there is a big difference in our jobs at our respective racing schools. Jennifer Jo Cobb is famous, she has raced a lot more than I have, in several series. Nobody knows who I am yet. When she works at her racing school she drives the ridealong car, giving rides to customers, and she has the experience behind the wheel to give advice to drivers that I don't have yet. She is an established racer, and a good one, and working at a racing school is just a part-time gig for her that shows her love of the sport. It's just a job for me, and I'll never be anything with this company. It would be an honor and a dream come true to be able to race with Jennifer Jo Cobb one of these days, when I make it to that level I know my dream will have really come true. Jennifer Jo Cobb is a female driver trying to make her mark in a male-dominated sport, and I am an older driver trying to make my mark in a youth-dominated sport. Those difficulties could be considered somewhat similar.

RK: You made the decision to donate your winnings to the Victory Junction Gang Camp and the American Heart Association. Why did you decide to donate your winnings, and why these charities?
MP: The decision to donate my winnings was my way of honoring the memories of Mom and Tonya. I chose the American Heart Association because Mom died from a heart attack. That was an easy and obvious decision. I chose the Victory Junction Gang Camp in memory of Tonya, because the camp helps children who suffer from various diseases and health problems, and those kids lives are difficult. Tonya had two children, Kenny and Ava, who were 5 and 3 at the time she was murdered by her husband. Now that their mother is dead, and their father is in jail for life, Tonya's kids are without both of their parents for the rest of their life. Tonya loved kids, and helping kids through the Victory Junction Gang Camp is something that Tonya would absolutely adore. As I progress in racing, there will be other charities and organizations that I will choose to make donations to, and those donations will be made in the name of me, my car/team owner, and any potential sponsors, but always in memory of Mom and Tonya.

RK: You do your own PR, and you have built a following on Twitter and Facebook. How did you come up with the idea to turn to social media? What kind of doors has it opened for you?
MP: I started out doing my own PR and Marketing. I started by doing my own website. I made phone calls, sent letters, and emails, knocked on doors, and I tried everything I could possibly try to get my name out there to the racing community. After I got on Twitter, I started following Summer Dreyer, who along with writing for Skirts and Scuffs, she is also the host of the “Next Time By” radio show on Blog Talk Radio. Summer had me on her show several times as both a guest and a panelist. I give many thanks to Summer for doing a lot to help get my name out there. Not only that, Summer's mother, Tori Dreyer, has recently taken on the role of my marketing director, and she has been working very hard to find sponsorship to help make my racing dream come true. Tori does a fantastic job in motorsports marketing, and I have all the confidence in the world that we will be able to secure sponsorship soon now that I have her in my corner.

RK: You now have the support of Jeremy Petty, Incorporated racing team. How did they become aware of you?
MP: Jeremy Petty, Inc. is based in Kansas. My marketing director, Tori Dreyer, also lives in Kansas and has worked with Jeremy's team doing marketing for them. Tori is the one who gets credit for making them aware of my story, and although I am not under contract with Jeremy Petty, Inc., they have expressed an interest in developing my racing skills. All we need to make that happen is for a sponsor/marketing partner to step up and be a part of my racing dream.

RK: Like many drivers, you are facing the hurdle of finding sponsorship. What would you like to say to any potential sponsors?
MP: I would say to potential sponsors that my racing story is not the garden variety racing story. I'm chasing the racing dream the hard way, I'm working for it, and being a part of my racing dream as a sponsor/marketing partner will put your business in front of the most brand loyal fans of any sport. My racing story is unique because I am the underdog, and I already have a substantial group of fans who are behind me, before my dream has even come true. Go with me to Victory Lane!

RK: Which drivers in motorsports are an inspiration to you?
MP: The drivers who are the most inspirational to me are of course the older drivers. Even though they have been racing for many years before me, the fact that they are racing at their age is an inspiration to me. Especially drivers like Morgan Shepherd, and of course, James Hilton. The fact that they are still racing in their 60s and even 70s shows me that I still have a long racing career ahead of me, all I have to do is get there. I got to meet Morgan Shepard at Charlotte last year and told him my story, and what I have accomplished so far, and he told me, "Don't ever give up." Those words were definitely inspirational to me, especially coming from him. Other inspirational drivers to me would have to be Mark Martin, Kenny Schrader, and just about any other driver who is over the age of 40. Just because I started a little late chasing my dream doesn't mean I should give up. And I won't.

Potential marketing partners and interested media members may contact Matt Poole at or visit his website for more information: Poole also maintains a Facebook page at Matt Poole Racing.

Four More to Go for Hendrick Motorsports

Hendrick Motorsports is poised to claim its 200th race win this year. Which driver will be
the one to bring home the milestone victory? Credit: Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR
Rick Hendrick and Hendrick Motorsports have scored 196 victories since 1984. This year, a history-making victory is in the air.

There is anticipation for Dale Earnhardt Jr. to break his 101-race losing streak, as well as the possibility of him winning his first championship. Jeff Gordon could possibly win his fifth championship or Jimmie Johnson could potentially win his sixth championship. Mark Martin did celebrate his 800th career start recently; will he celebrate in victory lane this year?

Hopes are high and fans have a lot to look forward to.

Which driver do you suppose will be the 200th winner for Hendrick and do you believe it’ll be during a big-deal race, like when the championship is decided?

I believe the possibility of Hendrick winning four more races will be before the 2011 Championship, and I’d like to believe that Dale Earnhardt Jr. could be the lucky number 200.

What are your thoughts? Leave a comment below.

In the Rearview Mirror: Sam Ard - Racing Was Not His Toughest Fight

This week's In the Rearview Mirror looks back at the life and career of Sam Ard. Arguably one of the best NASCAR Budweiser Late Model Sportsmen/Grand National Series drivers, Ard now fights daily against Parkinson's and Alzheimer's.

I had the opportunity to speak with Sam's loving wife Jo and she provided me with great insight for this column. I would like to thank her for her time. I am pleased to present you this week's In the Rearview Mirror.

Joane, Sam, Robert, Melinda and Sharon Ard.
Photo courtesy of Jo Ard
Sam Ard's career in the series, now known as the Nationwide Series, may not have been a long one, lasting only three years. But in those few years, Sam's name appears numerous times in the record books. Ard, who first joined the circuit in 1982 at the age of 43, was driving for a newcomer to the NASCAR circuit, team owner Howard Thomas. Being a new team did not hold Ard and Thomas back; they won their fourth race together - the 1982 DogWood 500 at Martinsville Speedway. Their first season driving was a success, and would have garnered a championship if not for some racing incidents resulting in five DNFs that season. Nonetheless, Ard finished the season second in points, claiming 4 wins, 20 top-5 and 23 top-10 finishes. Jack Ingram won the championship by only 47 points over Sam Ard in what many would consider to be a very successful rookie season.

Sam Ard with wife Jo in  Martinsville, Virginia.
Photo courtesy of Jo Ard
Ard and Thomas started the 1983 season off well, earning the pole position for the Goody's 300 at Daytona. Ard was scored 6th after a hectic finish in which drivers were four-wide to the checkered flag. The second race of the year was the Richmond Eastern 150, where Ard started from the pole and won. From that race onward, Ard would occupy the top of the points standings until the midway point of the season. Sam was scored with a DNF at the Roses Stores 200 at the South Boston Speedway and slipped to second in the points standings. After 10 more races, Ard returned to South Boston, winning the race and the next three races thereafter and regained the points lead. Sam Ard won the 1983 NASCAR Busch Grand National Series Championship. 

While doing my research, I was surprised by my lack of knowledge of Ard's career, partly due to the fact that I was in diapers at the time. I became tuned in when his name was brought up numerous times when Kyle Busch was approaching breaking his record for most wins in a season. Upon looking at the stats, Sam held many records in the Nationwide Series:
  • Record for most career wins in a season (10), set 1983
  • Most short track wins in a season (9), 1983
  • Most races won from pole position throughout career (9), tied with Mark Martin
  • Most races won from pole position in a season (4), 1983
  • Most top-10 finishes in a season (30), 1983
  • Most consecutive races won (4), 1983
The 1984 season saw Sam Ard repeat as its champion, with 8 wins and 24 top-5 finishes, again remarkable. Sadly, Sam Ard was involved in a career-ending crash in the final race of the 1984 season at Rockingham. Ard had simply clenched the championship by starting the race, so as he drove he had to know he was a back-to-back winner. Racing is not always a fair sport. Wayne Patterson blew an engine, there was moisture on the track and Sam Ard slid into it, slamming into the wall. Ard suffered head trauma from this accident. With his 1984 championship, Sam Ard became the first driver in history to win back-to-back championships and also was the first multiple champion in the series.

The crash that ended it all, Sam (00) spinning out at Rockingham.
Photo courtesy of Jo Ard

Now at the age of 72, Sam Ard is dealing with the daily struggles of being diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease and also Parkinson's disease. Doctors have attributed the racing injury to possibly accelerating the progress of the neurological disorder.

The signs were there in 1993 when Sam started getting lost in Nashville, where the couple was living. In 1995 he was diagnosed with Alzheimer's. He is not the only driver to deal with this type of medical situation post-racing career.

After having the pleasure of speaking with Jo Ard, I learned firsthand the daily struggles she faces in being the caregiver for Sam. The couple has little money, just sparse funds from Social Security and money from the Veterans Administration.

One thing that plagues the NASCAR stars of days gone by: no health care and no pension plans. Racing years ago was nothing like today - no $100,000-plus purse for winning. The little money Ard got from a win went back into the team, as Jo told me they would pay for hotel accommodations for the pit crew back in those days.

Sam is being cared for primarily by his wife with help from their daughter Melinda (who is studying to get a medical degree) and several of their grandchildren. The situation is so bad that trophies and other pieces of Ard’s racing memorabilia have been sold to pay the bills. Gone are Ard's two championship rings. All but one of the numerous grandfather clocks Ard took home after his wins at Martinsville are also gone.

Drivers of today's generation have stepped up to help the Ard family. Kevin Harvick and then sponsor Shell Pennzoil donated a minivan to be used to take Sam to medical appointments. More recently, Kyle Busch donated $100,000 to the Ards after Busch tied Sam Ard's record for 10 wins in a season. Busch kindly donated his own money to the family. Jo detailed how Busch's donation was put to use. An accessible bathroom was added to their home, which is definitely a necessity when caring for someone in Sam's condition. Jo fondly mentioned the likes of Busch, Harvick and Dale Earnhardt Jr., all who have stepped up to help the family.  

Harvick, Robert Ard, Delana Harvick and Jim Hunter presenting the minivan to the family.
Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images
To assist the Ards, I have included the address for donations, in care of Motor Racing Outreach. You can also mail contributions directly to their home. Wal-Mart gift cards are especially valuable, since the family uses them for food, clothing, laundry and personal care products for Sam. To send a donation to the Ard family, please use this address:

Samuel J. Ard Care Fund
Smith Tower Suite 405
555 Concord Parkway South
Concord, NC 28027

There are also eBay auctions of Sam Ard memorabilia to raise funds for the family. Please visit

For further information, you can also visit:

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Fast Facts: Richard Childress Racing

Image: Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR

Richard Childress Racing was founded in 1969 by then driver Richard Childress. Since then, it has grown into one of the premier teams in NASCAR – not just Sprint Cup, but Nationwide, Camping World Trucks, and its many development series.

  • RCR currently fields Chevrolet Impalas in the Sprint Cup Series for #27 Paul Menard (Menards), #29 Kevin Harvick (Budweiser/Jimmy John’s), #31 Jeff Burton (Caterpillar), and #33 Clint Bowyer (General Mills/BB&T).

  • Childress also fields Chevrolet Silverados in the Truck Series for #3 Austin Dillon (Bass Pro Shops) and #22 Joey Coulter, as well as ARCA Racing Series rides for development drivers #31 Tim George Jr. and #41 Ty Dillon. In the past RCR has fielded cars in the Nationwide Series as well. 

  • RCR’s winningest driver was Dale Earnhardt, the seven-time Cup Series champion. Earnhardt won 69 of his 76 victories with RCR, as well as six of the seven titles. Earnhardt’s famous #3 has not been seen in a Sprint Cup race since his death at Daytona in 2001, but Austin Dillon, grandson of Childress, drives a black #3 in the Truck Series.

  • RCR operates a museum on site of its shop. It’s housed in what was the original #3 shop and the original museum – now totaling 47,000 square feet. It features 46 race cars, one race truck, and one transporter, as well as numerous pieces of memorabilia depicting RCR history. The curator of the museum is Earnhardt’s famed gasman, Danny “Chocolate” Myers.

  • Find out more about RCR and the RCR Museum at

Scott and Amanda Speed to Welcome Daughter in September

It's a girl! Scott Speed shares the ultrasound picture - Courtesy of Scott and Amanda Speed
Scott and Amanda Speed announced today they'll be having a girl later this year. The couple, due September 24th, made the announcement to their Twitter followers after an ultrasound today.

Finally after months of waiting to know the sex, proud daddy to be Scott tweeted the news to the world saying,
@scottspeed: It's a girl!!!
Amanda, who has a son Rex from a previous relationship, said Monday, "Rex is extremely excited. He wants a sister though, he doesn't want a brother. And Scott wants a boy.... I'm good with either one.”

Amanda went on to say, "If it's a girl that'll be great, but if it's a boy I'm gonna have to hope for the next one to be a girl." Eluding to the fact that there may be more little ones in their future.

The former Red Bull Racing driver and his wife first shared the news of the pregnancy on February 9, 2011 when Scott tweeted,
"Look what we made!!!! HE! Stress the word HE.. Lol is only .33cm long but he growin ;) ".
It was later comfirmed by wife Amanda who said,
''Well I guess @scottspeed put the word out... Yes, I am pregnant!!!! We r very excited!!!!!!!
18 weeks into the pregnancy the couple is excited for the addition to the family, though Amanda did share that the worst part is not being able to "work out like I'm Rocky" and that some of her favorite foods aren't so appetizing anymore.

We congratulate Scott and Amanda on the upcoming birth of their daughter and wish them the best. Stay tuned to Skirts and Scuffs for an update on the Speed family in the coming weeks.

Nautica to sponsor Allmendinger at Richmond Cup race

CONCORD, N.C. (April 26, 2011) – Nautica, a part of VF Corporation and a leader in branded quality apparel, will serve as primary sponsor of Richard Petty Motorsports’ famed No. 43 Ford Fusion for Saturday evening’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway.

“We feel good that an organization as well known as Nautica has decided to showcase its brand on the No. 43 Ford,” said team owner Richard Petty. “We welcome them to the RPM family and look forward to showing them everything the sport has to offer this weekend in Richmond. The No. 43 team has shown great promise this season and AJ is a force to be reckoned with every week. We’re excited to have Nautica here this weekend and we think NASCAR’s legions of fans will be enthusiastic as well.”

The No. 43 Ford Fusion will carry the familiar Nautica logo all weekend at the three-quarter-mile track, with qualifying set for Friday and the race scheduled for Saturday evening. Allmendinger has made eight starts at the track and posted his career best finish of eighth at the venue last fall after starting from the third position.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Stenhouse Jr. Tied for Nationwide Points Lead after Earning Career-Best Nashville Finish*

The No. 6 Ford of Ricky Stenhouse Jr. sits on pit road prior to the Nashville 300
Credit: Whitney Richards
After the disappointing finish last weekend at Talladega Superspeedway, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and his team headed to Nashville Superspeedway with one major goal: take back the points lead after dropping to fourth in the standings last week. Nashville is a track that the team has struggled at since their first time there and that remained the case until Saturday. After starting fourth in the Nashville 300, Stenhouse Jr. ran inside the top-10 the entire race and finished fitfh. His best finish at Nashville, prior to Saturday, had been finishing in the 23rd position.

Last summer, Stenhouse Jr. had a top-10 car in practice but spun out in qualifying. Since he wasn’t locked in, it cost the team their shot at running the race. It was a tough blow to them but this time around it was different. Stenhouse Jr. once again had a car that ran top-10 speeds in practice. He backed it up in qualifying when he put the No. 6 Ford in the fourth starting position. Prior to Saturday, his best qualifying effort at the track had been fifth.

Once the green flag waved, he slipped back a couple positions. Just a few laps into the race, the No. 64 of David Reutimann got loose off of turn two - right in front of Stenhouse Jr. who was able to avoid him. The No. 6 Ford slipped back to the seventh position as the handling went away. Stenhouse Jr. had his hands full with a car that was loose entering the turns, tight through the center and loose off.

Eventually, the car became loose overall and adjustments were made nearly every chance the team had during pit road stops. Despite the handling issues, Stenhouse Jr. continued to run inside the top-10 and he never dropped below the eighth position.  He spent much of the race battling the No. 22 of Brad Keselowski and the No. 20 of Joey Logano.

In the closing laps, Stenhouse Jr. was gaining on Logano for the fourth position but never could catch him. He finished fifth, earning his sixth top-10 finish of the season. This finish moved him from fourth in the standings to tieing Justin Allgaier for the points lead.* 

Next up for the team is the Bubba Burger 250 at Richmond International Raceway. The race is scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m. ET on April 29.  It will be aired on the SPEED channel.

*Although Stenhouse and Allgaier are technically tied with the same number of points (264), the points lead actually goes to Allgaier with Stenhouse being scored in second. NASCAR rules state that in a tie situation the top spot would go to the driver with the most first place finishes, if still a tie goes to driver with the most second place finishes and so on. 

NASCAR By the Numbers: Nashville Recap

The Sprint Cup Series was off to celebrate the Easter holiday but looking at the winners from this weekend you would never know. Kyle Busch won the Camping World Truck Series and Carl Edwards won the Nationwide race, two Sprint Cup regulars.

The Sprint Cup Series returns this Saturday at Richmond International Raceway for the Crown Royal Presents the Matthew and Daniel Hansen 400. Tune into your local FOX station at 7pm for complete flag to flag coverage.

Nationwide Series:
John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR
  1. Justin Allgaier
  2. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
  3. Jason Leffler  -2
  4. Reed Sorenson  -4
  5. Trevor Bayne  -4
  6. Elliott Sadler  -5
  7. Aric Almirola  -7
  8. Brian Scott  -36
  9. Kenny Wallace  -48
  10. Michael Annett  -80
  11. Steven Wallace  -82
  12. Josh Wise  -86
  13. Mike Bliss  -92
  14. Joe Nemechek  -95
  15. Jeremy Clements  -96
Biggest Movers:  Josh Wise +3, Ricky Stenhouse Jr, Trevor Bayne, Michael Annett and Steven Wallace +2
Biggest Losses: Joe Nemechek -4, Elliott Sadler -3

Next Race: Friday April 29 at Richmond International Raceway for the Bubba Burger 250, tune into SPEED at 7pm.

Camping World Truck Series:

John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR
  1. Johnny Sauter
  2. Timothy Peters  -3
  3. Matt Crafton  -4
  4. Ron Hornaday Jr.  -5
  5. Cole Whitt  -12
  6. Austin Dillion  -24
  7. Todd Bodine  -39
  8. Clay Rogers  -43
  9. Max Papis  -45
  10. Parker Kligerman   -51
  11. Ricky Carmichael  -56
  12. David Starr -58
  13. Craig Goess  -58
  14. Brendan Gaughan  -60
  15. Miguel Paludo -61
Biggest Movers: David Starr +4, Craig Goess +2
Biggest Losses: Miguel Paludo -5, Clay Rogers -2

Next Race: May 13th at Dover International Speedway for the Lucas Oil 200. Tune into SPEED at 8pm. NOTE: Race is tape delayed aka not live.

Why I Love NASCAR: Live Cup Races Part II by Chief 187

Cheif 187 returns to the track after many years to witness Kurt Busch win the 2007 Pennsylvania 500 - Jason Smith / Getty Images for NASCAR
My love affair with NASCAR ran hot and cold. I was a terrific fan when my driver, Dale Earnhardt, was winning races and championships. After leaving the South for my native New Jersey my interests divested. I was not among those who enjoyed NASCAR, save my husband, so I let that part of my life take a back seat to other more northern-friendly pursuits. My husband, a loyal viewer and fan, tried to talk NASCAR with me, and I’d try to watch a race here and there, but my heart wasn’t entirely in it. Then I decided to join my husband to watch the drama that is the Daytona 500. I was always willing to start the season and had adored seeing my driver win the 500 in 1998 and receive high fives from every single person on pit road. Maybe he would bring home another victory. It was 2001; Dale and his two drivers for DEI were running first through third. Then, the unthinkable happened and my time as an active NASCAR driver ended. I thought it was going to be forever.
My husband continued to watch NASCAR. I did for a few weeks after Dale’s death; I cheered Kevin Harvick to victory and cried like Chocolate did, unabashedly. I stood up and rejoiced when Junior won in Daytona that July, and cried some more. Eventually I didn’t have the strength to cry anymore. I stepped away. I lost track of who ran what number for what team with what sponsor. I would glaze over when my husband explained a great bit of racing he had witnessed on the television at a NASCAR race. I was done with NASCAR. I handed in my fan card. Until 2007 and social networking came to call.
As a mother of two and a stay-at-home mom I was figuring out my role in my own life. I adored being home with my children, but I definitely felt life was starting to pass me by and I also felt my husband and I needed to get closer. We want to be together and enjoy one another long after the kids leave the nest, and I know that staying friends is a huge part of that equation. So, when he joined a NASCAR social networking group, started ‘blogging’, and made many virtual friends (many of whom were attractive women), I decided to join, too! It was the night of the Coca Cola 600 in May. I was pontificating about the race (I decided to start watching again so I had something to contribute in discussions). My husband said, “Enough! Don’t say it, BLOG it!” He signed me up, gave me my pseudonym “Chief 187” as a complement to his “Racer 187”, and I was off and typing. NASCAR had brought my husband and me closer, writing back into my life, and a virtual world full of amazing friends.
Within a couple of months we felt so much a part of this online community that we desperately wanted to meet up with them. A race meet up was planned for Pocono. My parents, good eggs both of them, agreed to watch our sons so we could go to the race, located about 75 minutes away. We knew Pocono as my husband had been racing there for years with the Vintage Sports Car Club of America (VSCCA). We’d go up every April for the inaugural race of the VSCCA season. We’d never been to a NASCAR race at that venue so we were awaiting the magic that we know to exist.
Race day traffic starts early. We got to the Blakeslee exit off of Route 80 and cars were stopped, lined up bumper to bumper by 9am. Like the Martinsville race in 1992 that I attended, the race day traffic going to the race was jovial, festive, and pleasant. The tiny Pennsylvania town embraced the swelled traffic and tried to capitalize on it with signs from water for sale to NASCAR memorabilia and parking. In fact, the pivotal decision of the day would be where to park; either dump the car early and walk to the track or try to park much closer. We opted for trying our luck and parking closer to the track, a fateful decision.
In the post 9/11 world, security was heightened at the race. A difference from the 1992 race we attended was a slew of see through back packs that grew out of the backs of race goers. Once in, we saw the endless field of haulers selling driver gear. The #3 was still prevalent among the haulers and race fans. Names like Jeff Gordon, Matt Kenseth, Jimmie Johnson, Tony Stewart, Dale Earnhardt Jr., and Kurt Busch were among the teams selling well.
Once we met up with our online friends, fast friendships offline grew. We clicked immediately and headed to the filming of the live Raceday program on Speed hosted by John Roberts, Jimmy Spencer, and Kenny Wallace. They were sponsored by Home Depot who was still Tony Stewart’s sponsor. During commercial breaks the guys would throw orange plastic construction hats into the crowd. My son’s favorite driver after Jeff Gordon was Tony Stewart so when one came flying my way, I was determined to catch it. I leapt into the air higher than this white woman had ever jumped before and snagged the inner lining of the hat. Momentum had the hat still moving when a beefy man to my back left grabbed it. I had not let go as this hat was mine. I looked at the giant and said, “NO.” I was not going to be denied what was rightfully mine. My mother’s tone intimidated this man which was a relief to my husband who, when he recalls the tale, didn’t want a redeaux  of when Cale Yarborough taught Bobby Allison a lesson at the 1979 Daytona 500 by beating his face against Bobby’s fist!
We knew this event was an once-in-a-lifetime experience so we bought seats in the same section as our online friends, contest winners from the site we all visit. It was fantastic with lavish seats, numerous private restrooms, and a fabulous buffet. The race, exciting from start to finish, saw Kurt Busch dominate the day, but cars 2 through 15 dicing it up constantly! I particularly recall Dale Junior, during the last caution, came to pit road so his pit crew could change a shock, which they did without going down a lap!
Earnhardt Jr.'s Pit Crew performs on pit road - 2007 Pennsylvania 500 - Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR
Upon the completion of the race the mass exodus began, but we wanted to hang with our friends longer. We shopped at the haulers. My husband purchased a prized “Parking for Michael Waltrip  Racing Fans Only” sign signed by Michael Waltrip himself. We said our goodbyes, promised to stay in touch (which we most definitely have) and began the long walk back to the car. Like not drinking/having caffeine four hours before bedtime, it is not recommended to drink anything at all during race day at Pocono, because it takes an eternity to get to your car, get out of your space, get into the lane to exit, and to get to Route 80. A trip that normally takes little over an hour stretched to an excruciating 3+ hours in which I had to pee for ALL of it!
Going to my second live NASCAR Cup race solidified my fandom in the post-Earnhardt era. I came back to NASCAR with the intentions of finding common ground with my husband, try out my hand at writing, and make a new community of friends. All that and more has come to fruition. And now, with a few twists of fate, I’m making a living through NASCAR. Going to a live NASCAR Cup race fifteen years after my first one is yet another reason why I love NASCAR.