Friday, September 30, 2011

Gresham crowned NASCAR K&N Series East Champion

With five laps to go in Friday’s NASCAR K&N Pro Series East season finale, a whole bunch was hanging in the balance. Brett Moffitt was leading Darrell Wallace Jr. If he won the race, he might win the championship. But he was losing the grip, lap by lap. Meanwhile, series leader Max Gresham was trying to hold off Dale Quarterly, because if he fell too far back, he’d lose the championship.

But by the time there were four laps left, everything changed.

Moffitt’s right front tire let go and he crashed into the wall, sending Wallace on his way. Meanwhile, Gresham’s parameters switched from “drive for your life” to “just finish.” He did, and Gresham took the 2011 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East championship, while Wallace picked up the race win, becoming the first African American to ever win the pole and a race at Dover.

“It was an emotional win, especially for me, losing my uncle this past Saturday,” Wallace said. “I put his name over mine on the door, and he was riding shotgun with us. He’s the one who put us in Victory Lane.”

It was not a surprise to see Wallace up front. He had whipped the field in practice and  qualifying – he ran a full 1.3 miles per hour faster than the competition in qualifying, which is an eternity by NASCAR standards. But he collided with teammate Sergio Pena early in the race and had to deal with some damage that put him two laps down.

However, the 17-year-old driver felt he’d grown a lot this season, and he put that growth to good use in confronting the situation.

“I’ve learned to not get in over my head in tough situations like today,” Wallace said. “I had a little damage and I thought our day was over with. But I persevered and my team persevered, and we were able to come back to the top.”

Meanwhile, Gresham celebrated his series championship alongside Wallace. Leading by just 21 points following Moffitt’s win in last week’s race, Gresham had no room for error – at least, not until Moffitt gave him some.

“Once Brett took the lead, at that point we had to do what we had to do to finish third,” Gresham said. “And if that meant racing as hard as we had to, that’s what we had to do, because we had to finish third and we knew it. As soon as [Moffitt’s tire blew], it was just a big sigh of relief."

But for a while there, Gresham’s own car was worrying him a bit.

“Those last 10, 15 laps, I definitely had a bad vibration,” he said. “I wasn’t sure what it was. The last few laps there during the caution I was just shaking the car down because I knew something wasn’t right.  It was a good thing I didn’t have to race for position at that time, I could just ride the last three laps out and not have to worry about it.”

Gresham drives in the Joe Gibbs Racing developmental program, and his crew chief, Bryant Frazier, was Tony Stewart’s first crew chief when Stewart joined the team in 1998. Frazier was extremely proud of his latest young driver.

“He did exactly what we set out to do this year – be patient at times, drive hard when we need to, and win races,” Frazier said. “He ran every lap that the K&N Series ran this year, so that’s a testament in itself. Max has done a great job and this team has worked so hard all year long as a group. It’s just been a wonderful year, and that’s all a testament to Joe Gibbs Racing. There wasn’t a time this year where I couldn’t go to a Nationwide or a Cup crew chief and they wouldn’t give you an answer. That’s part of what makes this company as great as it is.”

At age 18, Gresham is now a NASCAR champion, and he’ll be right there with the big names at NASCAR’s awards banquet later this fall.

“It means everything in the world right now,” he said. “I have big stuff happening in the next week and I don’t even know what it is right now. To be a NASCAR champion is pretty much the biggest thing I wanted to do when I started racing, and now I am. This is as sweet as it could be right now.”

Iowa Speedway Welcomes New Executive Management Team

Track Names Doug Fritz as CEO, Stan Clement As President

NEWTON, Iowa — SEPTEMBER 30, 2011 — Doug Fritz, former president of Richmond International Raceway, has been named Chief Executive Officer of Iowa Speedway. Fritz, along with President Stan Clement, will lead Iowa Speedway’s long-term strategic initiatives, events and facilities development and capital reinvestments.

“Iowa Speedway is one of the fastest-growing entertainment and motorsports venues in the country, and I’m thrilled to be joining their team,” says Fritz. “I'm really looking forward to working closely with the loyal race fans and supporters of Iowa Speedway, as well as the staff. Together, we will continue to elevate Iowa Speedway into a premier motorsports destination. The fans will always be our number-one priority, and we will continue to enhance their experience.”

Conrad Clement, chairman of Iowa Speedway, believes Fritz’s industry knowledge will help position the track for record-breaking growth in 2012.

“My family and I have known Doug for more than 20 years through our involvement with Featherlite Trailers,” says Clement. “We worked with him during his previous role at NASCAR as Senior Director of Marketing and Business Development, and most recently, while President of Richmond International Raceway. Doug has 25 years of experience in the motorsports industry and his career has been marked by outstanding accomplishments. We have witnessed his abilities and successes first-hand, and we are very excited to have him as a senior executive on our team.”

According to Iowa Speedway co-owner and NASCAR racing legend Rusty Wallace, Fritz has an amazing ability to promote events. "He is able to connect with fans, sponsors and competitors to make a race truly special. He's definitely an industry leader and will take Iowa Speedway to the next level."

Next year’s schedule includes two NASCAR Nationwide, two NASCAR Camping World Truck and two NASCAR K&N Pro Series races; plus stops from the IZOD IndyCar, ARCA Series, USAC and ASA Midwest Tour. Season ticket renewal packets are in the mail and are available immediately online at For more information please call 866-RUSTY-GO.

Rick Allen: The Voice of NASCAR

The Golden Voice of NASCAR: Rick Allen

NASCAR – many are born into it, others find their way into the sport later in life. Then you find a unique story like Rick Allen, who had racing basically drop into his lap thanks to his golden voice.

Tuning into the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series broadcast each week, one voice stands out amongst the rest, Rick Allen. Allen is a fresh face to NASCAR, especially sitting alongside veterans like Phil Parsons and Michael Waltrip but his voice commands presence.

Headed into college, Allen was involved in football and track and field. After being recruited by numerous colleges to pursue both sports, he received a call from the University of Nebraska to be a walk-on track and field athlete for their team. That is what set forth many big moments in Allen’s life.

“I was a walk-on pole vaulter at Nebraska and probably a very mediocre one at that,” said Allen reflecting on his college days. After giving a short try at pole vaulting, his coach suggested he try decathlons. (Decathlons are a total of 10 track and field events usually including long jump, shot put, discus, javelin, and various running distances.) Listening to the coach, Allen began to learn all the events and started competing as a freshmen in college.

Engrossing himself in something new, Allen was successful and gained recognition. “It opened a lot of eyes, let people know I was around, was a force to be reckoned with and it opened a lot of doors for my future career.” While competing, Rick first grabbed the microphone to make announcements in a joking manner. Lucky for him, one of the coaches heard him and while he was still competing for the team he was approached by a school administrator to announce for a gymnastics meet. “Their announcer was not going to be there. I had never announced anything in my life and don’t know anything about gymnastics. But they told me I would just make the announcements, they would tell me what to say, that is really how it started. I enjoy it and I guess God has blessed me with a voice that is somewhat pleasing and people can understand what I say.”

That one time of announcing for gymnastics led to other sports – baseball, football, basketball – in essence Rick Allen was the voice of The University of Nebraska’s sports. Leading into a job announcing at the local dirt track, another job he was thrown into knowing nothing about, that was the big break for Allen. Fox Sports and NASCAR found him through that dirt track.

“We think you may do well on television” Allen was told as he basically fell into the lap of NASCAR. “It was very similar to when they asked me to cover gymnastics, I said I do not know anything about gymnastics. The owner of the dirt track (in Eagle Nebraska) asked me to be his announcer and I said I did not know anything about racing. He said that was alright, they liked my personality, loved my voice and I would learn racing – no question about that.”

The lack of knowing the sport did not deter Allen, in fact it spurred him to become a student of racing.Sure enough, I am a student at whatever I do, I really enjoy learning as much as I can about what I do, no matter what it is, so I took it upon myself to learn as much as I could about what I was calling on the racetrack at that time. When the call came from NASCAR, I got every article, magazine and publication that came out to try and learn as much as I could about racing. I like to surround myself with people who are very knowledgeable in the sport and that is why I lean on Phil Parsons, Michael Waltrip, Darrell Waltrip, Larry McReynolds, Jeff Hammond, Mike Joy, all of the guys I work with on a regular basis. ”

Allen has found himself learning amongst the legends of NASCAR. Sitting in the announcing booth alongside Daytona 500 winner Michael Waltrip and the experienced Mike Joy, who has been calling NASCAR races since 1981, Allen has come toe to toe with the legends of the sport and learned more through them then any history book could have ever taught him.

Watching the NCWTS races, it is u103600043ndeniable that the cast has a great bond, there is no stiff, staunch attitudes, which makes fans at ease and a part of their family. “The fun thing about my job, I can be absolutely and completely honest, is that I consider Michael Waltrip, Phil Parsons, Ray Dunlap, Hermie  Sadler, Krista Voda, Mike Joy and all those people, close friends. I have phone numbers for all of them, if something comes us that I have a question, I do not feel uncomfortable at all calling them up to ask. They are friends of mine and I trust their opinions and comments. Not only that, we enjoy each others company. We go to concerts together, play golf together, we do things outside of our job because we enjoy each others company.”

Thankful for his job, but more importantly his friends, Allen said, “I have been very blessed that there is such great people that I can be friends with and at the same time, do my job with, they make it all that much more satisfying.”

Watching the NCWTS broadcasts in particular, there have been some standout moments to me as I sit here and reflect. Of course the top of the list each year would be Halloween episodes and getting to see Rick, Phil, Mike, Krista and Ray parade out in a new costume. Do you remember Ray Dunlap as Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz? My favorite has to be the Batman costumes. 

NCWTS Crew Halloween 2009Halloween-01
Speaking to Rick, those are just the fun moments we see, moments of hilarity like that are of the normal. “We have those moments almost every commercial break when we do television shows. It is just that much fun to do what we do, with the people we do it with. When I say that, I am talking everyone involved because we have these headsets – because everyone is talking in the booths, cameras, trucks and they are such a relaxed and easy crew to be with that we will joke and have fun with everyone.”

The saving grace for the giggle fits as I learned, there is a cough button to the microphones that cuts their feed, so when someone starts laughing, they can hit their button. (Except Rick who is usually reading promo ads while Mike and Phil are misbehaving…that Mike always a joker)

Thoughts on the Truck Series

Who better to ask about the hot button issues in the NCWTS than Rick, he is there live and in person each week to watch the battles on track. Given the opportunity, I asked him to weigh in on some topics concerning the series.

AE: The exciting thing right now: the points battle between Austin Dillon, James Buescher and Johnny Sauter. The NCWTS will see a new champion this year. Is this a good thing for the sport?

RA: It’s a great thing in the series. I think everything we are seeing right now is a positive thing.

Specifically with points, Austin Dillon and James Buescher are the top two in the points standings, both of them are 21 years old. When you look at that and say ok, we just got off a season where Todd Bodine won the championship and before that it was Ron Hornaday, two guys that are well into their career and veterans of NASCAR racing. Hornaday is over 50 years old, Todd Bodine is creeping up on 50, and now you have two 21-year old kids battling for the Championship in what is considered to be the feeder series to Nationwide and Sprint Cup. You look at that and say obviously this is working. Here is the youth of the sport excelling in one of the top 3 tiers of NASCAR and that is what NASCAR wants.

That is what was so much fun when Austin Dillon was able to beat both Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick at Chicagoland. Those two drivers are racing for the Cup Championship this year and here you have a truck series driver who was able to upset the two of them. He outraced them and that was a great thing to see.

The stories: Austin Dillon, James Buescher and Timothy Peters and Johnny Sauter, you got a mix of people that are going to have a shot at winning the Championship and maybe fulfilling a dream and it is happening because there is a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.

AE: The biggest complaint I hear while watching races is that Cup drivers are allowed to compete in the other series, many feel it does not give the series regulars a fair shot at the wins. Do you feel there should be yet another rule change regarding this?

RA: I would hope that NASCAR would NOT make it impossible for Cup drivers to compete, I would consider that an injustice against the NCWTS drivers. I really think that it is a yardstick – even if for example Timothy Peters goes out and runs third to Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick, Timothy Peters might walk away saying that was a phenomenal race for us. We raced against the best, we gave them all we had and we were the top series regular coming across the start/finish line. Would they have wanted to win? Yes of course! But, I think they rather race against the best in the sport and see how they stack up, rather then go out and beat everyone in the NCWTS handily and think to themselves could I have beaten the best that day?  If that driver was not in the field, they would never know. In Chicagoland, when Austin Dillon beat Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick, that may have been one of the most gratifying wins of his life.He went up against the best and beat the best. And everything was the same, there was nothing different for Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick then there was for Austin Dillon and James Buescher or anyone else in that field. That is what makes this sport so appealing for young drivers.

Further explaining this idea, Rick told me of going to the Olympic trial is 1992.

“I knew going in there were better people than me, but I got to see how I fared against them. That was a great opportunity for me, to see this is where I fall in line when I am competing against the best. That’s the way I look at it, if I were a driver in the NCWTS, I would want to compete against a Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick, Elliott Sadler, Kasey Kahne,any driver that has accomplished wins at the highest levels, I would want to see how I fared against them.”

104328154AE: The big news coming out of the Trucks series garage is the decision for Kevin Harvick Inc. to leave the series, in the long run, will this help or hurt the NCWTS?

RA: What Kevin Harvick Inc. did was they boosted the series when they first came in and built KHI. They raised the level of competition because of the level of the equipment they were putting on the race track, not only for their trucks but for the other trucks on the track. I am extremely thankful for that.

Now with KHI closing, an opportunity has been opened for Eddie Sharp to purchase equipment from KHI. He will do that and then build upon what Kevin and DeLana Harvick started and what they built up to a point. I think what it does is create opportunity for an owner to increase his awareness and his abilities in a sport that I think he will be very good at. Eddie Sharp Racing has been very successful, they won a Championship in the ARCA racing series and I believe they will now battle for a Championship in the NCWTS. 

We are going to sorely miss Kevin Harvick and his company being at the track week in and week out, without a doubt. I also think that whenever one teams goes away, another team steps up and fills the void. I think that is what Eddie Sharp Racing is going to attempt to do, fill the void and maybe even raise the NCWTS to a new level. That is the exciting part of what we have to wait and see.”

Fans are truly missing out if you are not tuning into the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races each week.

RA: I do not want to cast a negative light on anyone but, I think there are the nay sayers out there that like to promote the negatives out there that are going on in the sport. While I, try to look at the positives. I look at the level of competition we have, the racetracks we go to, the fans who show up to those tracks and enjoy the race put on by the drivers, we are very excited to see the competition. I am thankful that the fans come out, spend their money and take the time to join us.

For Rick Allen, his future is wherever SPEED and Fox tell him to go. Whether it is the NCWTS coverage, Cup and NW practice while on SPEED and also ARCA coverage.

“I am very happy and content to be where I am. I am very thankful I was give these opportunities because it was not a normal path most people take to get to the position that I am in. If my career continues with the Camping World Truck Series for the next 15, 20 even 30 years, I would be very happy.”

Rick Allen and Family
Wherever his career takes him, he has his wife Kris and two sons to share in the joys of it all.

NASCAR By the Numbers and In the Rearview Mirror (looking back at NASCAR's history) are Amanda's two weekly columns with Skirts and Scuffs, but as an Associate Editor her duties are limitless.Amanda also expanded her area of coverage to include exclusive interviews, brought straight to the readers of Skirts and Scuffs. To read her past columns and interviews click here.. Feel free to follow and contact Amanda via Twitter

Skirts and Scuffs Takes on the Chase: Who will tame the Monster?

Credit: Nick Laham/Getty Images
For the third race in the Chase for the Sprint Cup, NASCAR's top series heads to Dover International Speedway. The 1-mile concrete oval, nicknamed "The Monster Mile," is one of the most difficult tracks on the circuit. Dover and its penchant for biting racecars offers yet another chance to make or break a Chase driver's title hopes. Who will come out on the Monster's good side - and one step closer to the championship? 

Fuel mileage dominated the finishes of the first two Chase races at Chicagoland and New Hampshire. Will we see more of the same this weekend - or a good ole' race to the finish?

The ladies of Skirts and Scuffs break down the 12 Chase drivers' chances for Sunday's AAA 400. Here are the drivers in order of their standings after New Hampshire, followed by their stats for Dover.

1. Tony Stewart – Smokin’ the field – By Rebecca Kivak
Top 5s: 10, Top 10s: 5, Wins: 2

Where there’s Smoke, there’s fire. After winning the first two races in the Chase for the Sprint Cup, Tony Stewart is the hottest driver in the Chase right now. With a seven-point lead over Kevin Harvick, the Sprint Cup points leader will be looking to carry this momentum on to Dover, where he has found success, but more so misery as of late.

Stewart has two wins at the Monster Mile, when he swept both events in 2000. In 25 starts here, Stewart boasts 15 tops 10s, including 10 top-5 finishes. His average finish is 12.5 and he has lead 1,072 laps at the 1-mile concrete track. But Stewart has been on Miles the Monster’s bad side in his last two starts, unable to finish above 21st. At the spring race earlier this year, the driver of the No. 14 Chevrolet finished 29th, six laps down with an ill-handling car and after a fueling miscue with the new self-ventilating gas can. His driver rating at Dover, 71.4, is second-worst among the Chase drivers.

It’s easy to see why Stewart is not looking forward to returning to the Monster Mile. But he’s also on a roll, having four straight top-10 finishes - including those two wins - in the last four races. Perhaps it’s Miles the Monster who should be scared of Smoke.

2. Kevin Harvick – Supporting a great cause and looking to overtake the lead – By Kristin Weaver
Top 5s: 2, Top 10s: 8, Wins: 0

After finishing 12th at New Hampshire Motor Speedway last weekend, Kevin Harvick sits second in the Sprint Cup Series standings behind Tony Stewart and ready to take on the Monster Mile in the No. 29 Rheem Chasing the Cure Chevrolet Impala.

This weekend Harvick will be behind the wheel of a black and pink Chevy for National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Harvick's wife, DeLana, will also wear a specifically designed pink and black Rheem firesuit for the race. Prior to the start of the AAA 400 on Sunday, she will present the Young Survival Coalition (Rheem's Charity) with a duplicate firesuit signed by everyone on the No. 29 team.

Harvick’s stats at Dover International Speedway, a 1-mile track, are mixed. The 2007 Daytona 500 winner has an average finish of 17th in 21 races, two top 5s and eight top 10s. Dover International Speedway is known for its mascot named Miles the Monster, who likes to take a bite of cars on the track and hoists the winner’s car off the track. Could this be the weekend we see Miles hoisting No. 29 outside Victory Lane? 

3. Brad Keselowski – No longer a wild card – By Amanda Ebersole
Top 5s: 0, Top 10s: 0, Wins: 0

Starting the Chase as a wild card, Keselowski has proven to be a true contender for the Sprint Cup championship.

As the series heads to Dover, Keselowski has only raced the Monster Mile three times. With finishes of 18th, 22nd and 13th, Keselowski is looking forward to heading to tangle with Miles in hopes of being the driver to slay the Monster.

Via Twitter, Keselowski said, “Feeling really good about Dover this weekend. It's kinda like a bigger concert, high bank version of Bristol. And I LOVE Bristol.”

4. Carl Edwards – Looking to flip his way into Victory Lane – By Unique Hiram
Top 5s: 6, Top 10s: 10, Wins: 1

Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Aflac Ford Fusion, will be headed to a racetrack where he has been very competitive in top finishes, leading laps (416) and capturing a win – Dodge Dealers 400 (September 2007). Edwards is very optimistic about his chances this weekend and he seems to love racing at Dover

“I’ve loved Dover ever since the first time I went there in the trucks with Jack. It’s a fun racetrack.  It’s got a high sensation of speed, but those concrete tracks really boil down to how good your car is and how precise you can get that setup. I feel like Bob and I have really good communication and we’re able to really dial the car in and then the track doesn’t change much, so we can really work towards that goal all weekend and march closer and closer to that perfect setup. There is less firing from the hip and more marching through the setup and changes. I really like that style and that race track is just a lot of fun.”

Edwards is currently seeded fourth in the Sprint Cup Chase points standings, 14 points between leader Tony Stewart.

5. Jeff Gordon – Don’t count him out – By Katy Lindamood
Top 5s: 14, Top 10s: 21, Wins: 4

With 85 career victories, three of those coming in the 2011 season, Jeff Gordon shouldn't be counted out as a possible Sprint Cup champion. Although Gordon has struggled at times at the Monster Mile, he has four career victories to his name. Gordon struggled at Dover in May, finishing 17th, but since then has added two additional victories to his resume and seems to have reignited his fire.

Rebounding from a poor finish at Chicago to finish fourth at Loudon, Gordon knows that his time is running short. In regards to Dover, Gordon considers qualifying well to be the key to a good weekend, saying, “This is a real fast track, so being in 'clean' air makes your life that much easier during the race on Sunday.” Look for Gordon to finish strong this weekend and finally put the doubts about his chances to rest.

6. Kyle Busch – Mid-pack struggles – By Melissa Wright
Top 5s: 7, Top 10s: 8, Wins: 2

This week the series heads to Dover International Speedway to meet up with Miles the concrete monster and to see whose temper will flare. They'll have 400 miles to do it in the AAA 400 on Sunday.

But the rest of the field may have to watch out for Kyle Busch, who is up three positions in the standings this week after yet another fuel mileage race. Busch, driver of the No.18 Interstate Batteries Toyota, has led 20 races this season for a total of 1,188 laps, in which he has four wins, 13 tops 5s, 16 top 10s and one pole and has the season driver rating of 107.4.

Headed to Dover, Busch has an average finish of 13.8 in 13 races here among an average running position of 12.6 (8th best) and a driver rating of 102.0 (5th best). Busch has claimed has two victories at the Monster Mile along with seven tops 5s and eight top 10s.

7. Matt Kenseth – Still in the battle – By Amanda Ebersole
Top 5s: 11, Top 10s: 16, Wins: 2

Returning to the site of his first Sprint Cup start, Matt Kenseth is looking forward to meeting with Miles the Monster.

“Dover has been a good place for us in the past and it’s my favorite race track; I love going racing there. I’m looking forward to going there and hopefully we can put in a good effort and have a fast car to get another good result and keep rolling in the Chase. We’ll just do the best job we can every week, work as hard as we can on our cars and pit stops and hope that our results are good enough each and every Sunday.”

In his 25 races at Dover, Kenseth has an average starting position of 16.7 and an average finishing position of 12.4. With two wins and 11 top 5s, Kenseth looks to make ground in the Chase by returning to Dover.

8. Dale Earnhardt Jr. – Looking to make gains at Dover – By Lacy Keyser
Top 5s: 4, Top 10s: 7, Wins: 1 

Dale Earnhardt Jr. hopes to make gains at Dover International Speedway after having bad luck last weekend. Earnhardt has an average finish of 17.8 in 23 races here. He looks to be strong even after coming off a 17th-place finish at New Hampshire, after blowing a tire on the last lap. Earnhardt will unload chassis # 88-657, which Earnhardt had a 16th-place finish back in August at Bristol and his second-place finish at Kansas.

I think Earnhardt could very well be a threat to this Chase; I wouldn’t count him out just yet. The No. 88 team said they were bringing their A game to the Chase, and I think that’s exactly what they will do.

9. Kurt Busch – Double Deuce looking to rebound – By Unique Hiram
Top 5s: 5, Top 10s: 7, Wins: 0

Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 22 Shell Pennzoil Dodge, is looking to rebound from last week’s trials and tribulations at Loudon. He and his team are looking to move forward so that they can make their way toward the top of the Chase points standings.

"It was kind of strange how things shook out in last year's Chase," offered Busch. "I actually went into the final 10 races of the season pointing to the Dover race as perhaps our biggest hurdle of them all. We were able to pull out a fourth in that race and it turned out to be our best finish during the Chase.”

“We've seen that type of situation carry over this season, too and it’s pretty neat that we've been able to do so well on the atypical tracks – at the tracks and in the races where we haven't had that great of finishes in the past.”

Busch is currently seeded ninth in the Sprint Cup Chase points standings, 28 points behind leader Tony Stewart.

10. Jimmie Johnson – Atypical start to the Chase for Johnson – By Katy Lindamood
Top 5s: 8, Top 10s: 13, Wins: 6

2011 hasn't been a typical season for Jimmie Johnson. Although the team has had many good weekends, they've also struggled mightily at times, causing many to wonder if the No. 48's reign atop the Sprint Cup Series is coming to an end.

Luckily for Johnson, the series is heading to one of his best tracks this weekend, and his opportunity to bounce back has never been better. Johnson and the Lowes Chevrolet have won three of the last five races at Dover Speedway and finished seventh in the spring event after leading 207 of 400 laps.

Following last weekend's race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Johnson said, “You’ve just got to take every race at it comes. You never know what’s going to happen, and in my experience in winning five (consecutive championships), we lost the points lead due to a wreck in the last lap at Talladega and still came back and won. So anything can happen."

11. Ryan Newman - In need of a win to save his Chase hopes - By Genevieve Cadorette
Top 5s: 6, Top 10s: 11, Wins: 3

Ryan Newman heads to one of his favorite racetracks, Dover International Speedway, this weekend  as he sits 11th in points. He has a good history at the Monster Mile; however, the last time the Stewart-Haas driver was at Dover, he started in 28th and finished 21st.

The possibility of winning the Chase this year is unlikely, but to keep the dream alive, Newman needs a second win. After running out of fuel in Chicagoland and a flat tire at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Newman fell from 6th in points to 11th and to rebound from that may prove difficult. But Newman believes he has the team to be competitive enough to run with the leaders.

"We've put ourselves in a hole, but the good news is that we still have eight races to go to make up the difference," noted Newman. "We've been known for our comebacks and the way we fight through adversity. One thing you always hear from our Soldiers is that you never quit and you complete the mission. That's what this Army race team has done and will always continue to do."

12. Denny Hamlin – Struggling under pressure of the Chase – By Holly Machuga
Top 5s: 2, Top 10s: 4, Wins: 0

At this time last year, Hamlin was sitting first in points, so it may be upsetting to find him so low in the Chase this season. However, this season has been one of the roughest for the No. 11 team.

Headed to Dover International Speedway, Hamlin has an average start of 15.5 and an average finish of 20.9. After the fuel issues from last week, the No. 11 team is looking for a win.

Hamlin announced earlier in the week during a teleconference that he would be seeking counseling from a sports psychologist to improve his attitude and outlook on things. When asked about taking chances with eight races to go, Hamlin said, “Yeah, definitely, I believe so. You know, when you have the pressure of winning a championship, a lot goes into that.”

Check back at Skirts and Scuffs on Monday for our Dover recap.

NASCAR on FOX announces changes for 2012

When the NASCAR season starts back up in 2012, NASCAR on FOX will be debuting some new changes to their cast.

The Hollywood Hotel just became a little more crowded, Michael Waltrip will be joining his big brother Darrell and Chris Myers in the booth for prerace.

Where does this leave Jeff Hammond? Hammond is taking his extensive experience as a championship-winning crew chief back to the garages and pit road.  FOX Sports Media Group President, Co-COO and Executive Producer, Eric Shanks debuted the changes today while discussing the 2012 plans for NASCAR on FOX..

“Michael is simply one of NASCAR’s most gregarious, genuine personalities, and we loved the dynamic between him and Darrell when we paired them up on occasion last season,” Shanks said. “Michael has also been featured in numerous television commercials over the last decade, which makes him familiar to a much broader audience. I expect a lot of ‘gotta see’ TV coming out of an all-Waltrip Hollywood Hotel next season.”

Michael will also be contributing to analysis and updates during the race as time allows.

Michael Waltrip now adds NASCAR on FOX to his list on on-air jobs that include work with SPEED and Showtime’s “Inside NASCAR.” Michael is a natural on TV, appearing in numerous commercials for his sponsors including current sponsors Aaron’s, Tums and NAPA. As an owner in the Sprint Cup Series, Waltrip currently fields cars for David Reutimann and Martin Truex Jr.

Jeff Hammond will take his crew-chief experience to the pits, as he says “Real men work in the pits.” Having a former crew chief serving in this role in a first for NASCAR’s network coverage.

“We’re excited about Jeff’s new role,” Shanks said. “It’s a first for televised NASCAR coverage, and no one knows more about cars than Jeff does. Now he’ll be in a much better position to cover and humanize that side of the sport for viewers.”

Jeff Hammond has been a member of the NASCAR on FOX family since 2001, the first year that the network began covering the sport. In his broadcasting career, Hammond received a 2006 Sports Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Sports Personality – Studio Analyst.In his career, he served as the crew chief for Darrell Waltrip during the pinnacle of Waltrip’s career. The duo had an impressive 43 wins which includes Waltrip’s Daytona 500 win in 1989 and the birth of the Ickey Shuffle.

Hammond led Darrell Waltrip to two of his three total NASCAR titles (1982 and 1985). He has a total of 508 NASCAR Cup races under his cap, television credits which include work for FX, ESPN, TNN and Turner.

When the 2012 season returns in February, hold on tight, we will have two Waltrips in the booth at the same time and Hammond roving the pits while Chris Myers tries to navigate it all.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Chevrolet Teams Add Pink Numbers and Bowties for Dover Race

Team Chevy Continues Support of American Cancer Society at Start of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month 

DETROIT – Several Chevy teams will showcase pink numbers and Chevy Bowties in their paint schemes during this weekend’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Dover (Del.) International Speedway in support of Chevrolet’s ongoing efforts to help the American Cancer Society in raising awareness during National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

The participating teams will have pink car numbers on the roof and doors, pink Chevrolet Bowtie on the hood and rear bumper, and pink Impala nameplate on the front bumper.

“October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and Chevrolet is extremely proud to help support the American Cancer Society’s efforts to save lives and create a world with less cancer and more birthdays,” said Jeff Chew, Chevy Racing Marketing Manager. “Several Team Chevy Impalas are carrying the pink awareness message, which will be seen by countless race fans, and hopefully will help to serve as a reminder that we can all do our part in helping in the fight against cancer.”

Chevrolet dealers across the country will be working in their communities to support the fight against breast cancer through the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer program.

In September, Chevrolet donated $29,800 to the American Cancer Society as a result of a combined 149 caution laps during the NASCAR Sprint Cup races at Atlanta Motor Speedway and Richmond International Raceway. Chevrolet had pledged to donate $200 for each caution lap that a specially-themed “Making Strides Against Breast Cancer” pink 2011 Camaro SS pace car led the field during those two races.

Crew Member Michael McLaughlin Violates NASCAR Substance Abuse Policy

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Sept. 29, 2011) – Michael McLaughlin, a licensed crew member for the No. 23 team in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, has been indefinitely suspended from NASCAR for violating the sanctioning body’s substance abuse policy.

On Sept. 27, McLaughlin was found to have violated Sections 12-1 (actions detrimental to stock car racing) and 19 (violation of the NASCAR substance abuse policy) of the 2011 NASCAR rule book.

McLaughlin works as a crew member for the No. 23 truck of Jason White.

Longtime NASCAR executive Ed Bennett named GRAND-AM CEO

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Sept. 29, 2011) – To further strengthen its executive leadership team and create stronger links to key NASCAR assets, GRAND-AM Road Racing announced today that longtime NASCAR executive Ed Bennett has been named chief executive officer of the sports car sanctioning body.

Bennett will continue as an officer of NASCAR, serving as a vice president and chief administrative officer. In his new role with GRAND-AM, he will report directly to NASCAR President Mike Helton.
Tom Bledsoe will continue as president of GRAND-AM with primary responsibility for day-to-day operations of the organization and providing leadership to the industry from a competition and membership perspective.

Bennett, who has been at NASCAR since 1998 and an officer of the company since 2000, will focus on further leveraging the collective strength of both companies through enhanced strategic planning, project management leadership and the acceleration of new business opportunities.

While he will work closely with Bledsoe on competition matters, Bennett will be the primary conduit between GRAND-AM and NASCAR on marketing, sales and communications efforts.

"This move is highly significant, as we continue to grow sports car racing in this country," said Bledsoe. "This will advance our ability to combine the resources and experiences at NASCAR with the vast knowledge of international sports car racing at GRAND-AM to improve the overall environment and opportunities for stakeholders across the board."

Added Bennett: "I look forward to working diligently with both GRAND-AM and NASCAR to take our sports car racing property to the next level. There are a number of exciting initiatives in development at GRAND-AM – and exciting challenges of bringing both organizations closer together to achieve collective goals."

A native of the Daytona Beach area, Bennett graduated from Florida State University with a B.S. in Finance and also earned an M.B.A. from Stetson University. Bennett resides in Lake Mary, Fla., with his wife, Mindy, and daughter, Ailey.

TV Schedule Sept. 30-Oct. 2

Jimmie Johnson celebrates with his daughter, Genevieve Marie,
and wife Chandra in victory lane after hewon the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race
at Dover International Speedway last year. Credit: Russ Hamilton Sr./AP Photo

This week the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and Nationwide Series take to Dover International Speedway. After heading to the ‘The Magic Mile” last week, the Sprint Cup drivers have their work cut out for them at the “Monster Mile." As for the Nationwide Series, they had a week off and the drivers were able to relax a little bit before taking to the track. The Camping World Truck Series heads to Kentucky Speedway this weekend after being in New England last weekend.

The “Monster Mile” has a famed mascot, Miles the Monster. He is known to bite racecars and hoists the winning driver’s car after the race. Who will get the honor to be hoisted by Miles this weekend?

Dover International Speedway is a 1-mile oval with 24-degree banking in the turns and 9 degrees on the straightaways. Brakes are definitely going to be tested this weekend.

This is the second time in 2011 that the Camping World Truck Series heads to Kentucky Speedway. The track is a 1.5-mile tri-oval located in Sparta, Kentucky. The last time the boys were here, Kyle Busch won the race. Will another driver try to dethrone Kyle Busch Motorsports?

The following are the most recent winners at Dover and Kentucky:

Kentucky Speedway
July 2011: Kyle Busch
September 2010: Todd Bodine

Dover/Nationwide Series
May 2011: Carl Edwards
September 2010: Kyle Busch

Dover/Sprint Cup Series
May 2011: Matt Kenseth
September 2010: Jimmie Johnson

The following is a handy guide to the track events and television schedule this weekend at Dover and Kentucky. As always, times are Eastern Standard Time.

Friday, September 30, 2011:
8:00am NASCAR Race Hub, SPEED TV
11:00am - 12:25pm NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Practice
12:30pm - 2:30pm NASCAR Nationwide Series Practice, ESPN2
2:30pm - 4:30pm NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Final Practice, ESPN2
4:00pm - 5:00pm NCWTS Practice
4:30pm - 5 pm NASCAR Now, ESPN2
6:00pm - 7:00pm NCWTS Final Practice
7:00pm Trackside Live, SPEED. Guests: Clint Bowyer and Martin Truex Jr.
8:30pm The 10: Greatest Charlotte Moments, SPEED
11:00pm Trackside Live, Re-air on SPEED

Saturday, October 1, 2011:
11:00am Trackside Live, Re-air on SPEED
12:00pm NASCAR Nationwide Series Qualifying, SPEED
1:30pm NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Qualifying, SPEED
3:00pm NASCAR Nationwide Series Countdown, ESPN2
3:30pm NASCAR Nationwide Series Race at Dover, ESPN2
(In Race Reporter: Elliott Sadler ... 200 laps, 200 miles)
6:00pm NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Qualifying, SPEED
7:00pm SPEED Center NASCAR Edition, SPEED
7:30pm Camping World Truck Setup,SPEED
8:00pm NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Race from Kentucky, SPEED
(150 laps, 225 miles)
10:30pm NASCAR Performance, SPEED
11:00pm Camping World Truck Series Setup, Re-air on SPEED
11:30pm NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Race, Re-air on SPEED

Sunday, October 2, 2011:
4:00 a.m. NASCAR Nationwide Series Race at Dover, Re-air on ESPN Deportes
5:00 a.m. NASCAR Nationwide Series Race at Dover, Re-air on ESPN2
9 a.m. NASCAR Now, ESPN2
9:30am NASCAR Performance, SPEED
10:00am The 10: Greatest Charlotte Moments, SPEED
10:30am Speed Center NASCAR Edition, SPEED
11:00am NASCAR Raceday, SPEED
1:00pm NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Countdown, ESPN
2:00pm NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Race, ESPN
(In Race Reporter: Martin Martin ... 400 laps, 400 miles. Race will re-air at 12:30 a.m. on ESPN2)
6:00pm NASCAR Victory Lane, SPEED (Re-air at midnight)
10:00pm NASCAR Now, ESPN2

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Pattie Petty battling Parkinson's disease

Kyle and Pattie Petty along with NASCAR President Mike Helton.
Credit: Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR

Pattie Petty, wife of retired NASCAR driver turned television analyst Kyle Petty and co-founder of Victory Junction Gang Camp, announced this week that she has been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease.

Parkinson's disease is a disorder affecting the brain and central nervous system that leads to tremors and difficulty with walking, movement and coordination overall. Famous figures Michael J. Fox and Muhammad Ali are both battling Parkinson's disease.

For Petty, she is all too familiar with the disease - her father lived with it for 15 years. When she herself began to experience the symptoms of tremors and aching muscles in 2010, she suspected the disease's early stages.

In the midst of all this, Petty has been working on Victory Junction Midwest, the camp's new location in Kansas City, and vows to continue her work with the camp for chronically ill children.

In a press release issued by the Pettys and Victory Junction, Pattie said: “This ‘official’ diagnosis does not change our efforts in Kansas City. My hands may not be still, and I might move a bit slower right now, but we are moving full-steam ahead to change the lives of chronically ill children in the Midwest.”

“Pattie’s dedication to Victory Junction Midwest is firm,” said Kyle Petty, her husband of 33 years. “Staying active is an important part of managing Parkinson’s and that will not be hard for my wife. Pattie will not let Parkinson’s regulate her life. She will continue her initiative to expand Victory Junction, while our kids and I will support her and help her cope with this disease.”

NASCAR Announces 2012 Sprint Cup Schedule

Today NASCAR unveiled the 2012 Sprint Cup Series schedule - start planning now to head to your favorite tracks.

The major changes: The Daytona 500 is again a week later due to closing a gap in the schedule in week 3 and to also avoid football conflicts. Kentucky and Daytona flipped their June and July dates. Texas' spring date moved back a week due to the Easter holiday and Kansas Speedway moved to accommodate their re-pave.

Also announced is the consistent start times is here to stay. Per @odsteve "went with 1 and 3 eastern this year then 2 and 3 for Chase, except night, will see how it works for 2012."

Stay tuned next week for the Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series schedules.

2012 NASCAR Schedule: 

Saturday, Feb. 18 – Budwesier Shooutout at Daytona

Sunday, Feb. 26 – Daytona 500

Sunday, March 4 – Phoenix

Sunday, March 11 – Las Vegas

Sunday, March 18 – Bristol

Sunday, March 25 – Auto Club Speedway

Sunday, April 1 -- Martinsville

Saturday, April 14 – Texas

Sunday, April 22 -- Kansas

Saturday, April 28 – Richmond

Sunday, May 6 – Talladega

Saturday, May 12 -- Darlington

Saturday, May 19 – All-Star Race at Charlotte

Sunday, May 27 – Coca-Cola 600

Sunday, June 3 -- Dover

Sunday, June 10 – Pocono

Sunday, June 17 -- Michigan

Sunday, June 24 – Infienon

Saturday, June 30 -- Kentucky

Saturday, July 7 – Daytona

Sunday, July 15 – New Hampshire

Sunday, July 29 -- Indianapolis

Sunday, Aug.  5 – Pocono

Sunday, Aug. 12 – Watkins Glen

Sunday, Aug. 19 – Michigan

Saturday, Aug. 25 – Bristol

Sunday, Sept. 2 -- Atlanta

Saturday, Sept. 8 -- Richmond

Sunday, Sept. 16 – Chicagoland (Chase)

Sunday, Sept. 23 – New Hampshire

Sunday, Sept. 30 – Dover

Sunday, Oct. 7 – Talladega

Saturday, Oct. 13 -- Charlotte

Sunday, Oct. 21 – Kansas

Sunday, Oct. 28 -- Martinsville

Sunday, Nov. 4 – Texas

Sunday, Nov. 11 -- Phoenix

Sunday, Nov. 18 -- Homestead

Fast Facts: Ricky Carmichael

Before making his debut in the Camping World Truck Series in 2009, Ricky Carmichael was famous for his exploits on two wheels. Here are some fast facts on the driver of the #4 Monster Energy Chevrolet Silverado fielded by Turner Motorsports known to motocross competitors as “The GOAT.”
  • Carmichael was born November 27th, 1979 in Clearwater, Florida. He began racing professionally in 1996, winning the AMA Motocross Rookie of the Year title. During his pro motocross career, Carmichael amassed 15 championships (10 in motocross and five in supercross), 150 career wins (102 motocross and 48 supercross), two perfect seasons (1998 – 125cc, 8-0 record and 2002 – Outdoor National Motocross, 24-0 record) and five AMA Rider of the Year Awards. He also won three gold medals at the X Games – two in MotoX Step-up and one in MotoX.

  • His nickname, “The GOAT,” is an acronym for “The Greatest of All Time.”

  • Carmichael signed a driver development deal with Ginn Racing, which later merged with Dale Earnhardt Inc., in 2007. He broke into the stock car ranks in the FASCAR Series in Florida that year, then moved up to the NASCAR Camping World Pro Series East (now the K&N Series) in 2008 with Ken Schrader Racing; he was named the series’ most popular driver that year. In 2009 he moved up yet again, this time to the Camping World Truck Series with Kevin Harvick Inc; he was also voted most popular driver in that series.

  • In 2010, Carmichael moved to Turner Motorsports in the Truck Series, also competing in the Nationwide and ARCA Racing Series; he continued with this plan in 2011, getting a top five finish at the ARCA race in Daytona in February.

  • Find out more about Ricky Carmichael at
Image: Paula Thompson, Pocono Raceway, August 2011

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Under the Spotlight: Vickers Drives to Best Performance of 2011 Season

Credit: Debbie Ross for Skirts and Scuffs
Brian Vickers surprised everyone by almost winning the pole for Sunday’s Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway (NHMS). He also drove his No. 83 Red Bull Toyota to a fifth place finish, his highest since the NSCS race at Dover.

Vickers qualified with a time of 28.263 seconds and a speed of 134.763 mph. He held on to the pole throughout much of qualifying until he was eventually knocked off of the provisional pole by the “Rocket Man” Ryan Newman following a rain delay. In what was his best start of the season, had Vickers held on until the end, it would have also been his first pole of 2011.

In the second race of the Chase that came down to fuel mileage, Vickers performed well all day and took home his second top-five finish of the season and second at NHMS. He also led four laps; his first of 2011.Vickers has also had six top-10s this season.

Since returning after taking time off in the 2010 season due to health problems, Vickers has yet to visit victory lane. His last win was in the fall 2009 NSCS race at Michigan. After earning what is arguably his best performance in quite some time, perhaps this is the boost of confidence the team needs in order to finish out the 2011 season with a win.

The No. 83 Red Bull team struggled early in Sunday’s race with maintaining track position, but were able to improve as time went on.

“It was a good run for us,” said Vickers following the conclusion of Sunday’s race. “The Red Bull Toyota guys did a good job all day. We were good in the first stint, but not great. We over adjusted and got way too loose in the second or third stint and lost our track position.”

Vickers tied for second with Kyle Busch for having the most quality passes (passing a top-15 car while under green flag) and placed seventh for turning 10 of the fastest laps in the race.

“The last two runs were awesome,” Vickers said. “The car was so good, probably one of the better cars on the track. We had to pass 20 cars just to get back to the top-five and ran out of time, but I’m really proud of the effort by everyone.”

This weekend Vickers heads to Dover as the NSCS makes its second visit to Dover this season and third stop in the Chase for the Sprint Cup. Prior to his performance at NHMS, Vickers earned his best finish of the season at Dover. Statistically, Vickers has one top-five and two top-10 finishes with an average starting position of 15.8. His best finish to date was 5th place.

Rheem and RCR No. 29 Team Launch "Chasing the Cure" Breast Cancer Awareness Initiative

Young Survival Coalition highlighted in program at Dover International Speedway

WELCOME, N.C. (September 27, 2011) - Rheem and Richard Childress Racing ("RCR") will mark National Breast Cancer Awareness Month with a pink and black paint scheme on the renamed No. 29 Rheem Chasing the Cure Chevrolet for the Oct. 2 AAA 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Race at Dover (Del.) International Speedway.

The special paint scheme of the No. 29 Chevrolet, driven by Kevin Harvick, is part of a month-long program created by Rheem to help raise national awareness of the importance of regular check-ups and early diagnosis in the fight against breast cancer. Young Survival Coalition ("YSC"), the premier global organization helping young women face the challenges of breast cancer, expects that another 10,000 women under the age of 40 in the U.S. will be added this year to the 250,000 who have already been diagnosed. YSC works with survivors, caregivers and the medical, research, advocacy and legislative communities to increase the quality and quantity of life for women diagnosed with breast cancer ages 40 and under.

 The Rheem Chasing the Cure program is a part of the company's "Heart of Comfort" corporate responsibility initiative. Employees throughout Rheem are encouraged to support charitable efforts that strike a chord in their hearts, and bring comfort to others. JR Jones, Rheem president and CEO said, "The women and men of Rheem have joined together to help overcome the challenges of breast cancer as well as to hasten discovery of a cure. Cancer threatens millions of lives each year and breast cancer, in particular, challenges the hopes and dreams of individuals and families around the world, including those of Rheem employees and its distribution partners. Our Chasing the Cure initiative is one of thousands of large and small efforts throughout our nation during the month of October that hopes to contribute to bringing a halt to this challenging disease that threatens all of us."

"All of us at RCR and ECR are proud to partner with Rheem on the No. 29 Chevrolet for the Chasing the Cure program," said Richard Childress, president and CEO of Richard Childress Racing. "It seems like almost everyone has been affected by breast cancer in one way or another, whether directly or through family members or friends. It hits close to home with all of us. I commend Rheem for its month-long effort to raise awareness of the importance of regular checkups as well as the great work done by the Young Survival Coalition. I also commend DeLana for raising further awareness at the track and through the media by wearing the special pink and black Rheem Chasing the Cure firesuit on race day."

DeLana Harvick, wife of Kevin Harvick, will wear a specially designed pink and black Rheem firesuit for the race. She will also present a duplicate version of her firesuit autographed by the entire No. 29 team to Young Survival Coalition during a media event at the Dover Monster Mile Speedway prior to the start of the race.

"I've had friends and family affected by breast cancer," said DeLana Harvick. "With groups like the Young Survival Coalition and programs like Chasing the Cure, it's a great way to promote awareness and early detection."
Beginning in October, Rheem will launch a month-long contest on its Rheem Racing Facebook fan page to build awareness and garner support for breast cancer awareness. The contest will encourage breast cancer survivors to share their best celebratory photo and a 200-word description about why this photo is poignant. The winning entry will be selected by Rheem, RCR and the Young Survival Coalition; Rheem and RCR will award the winner and companion with a VIP trip and racing experience to the season-ending November 20, 2011, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race in South Florida. Rheem Facebook visitors can also request a free Chasing the Cure window sticker. In addition, Rheem has pledged to donate one dollar for the first 10,000 Rheem Facebook fans who pledge one dollar or more to Young Survival Coalition. The No. 29 crew will wear special pink and black Rheem Chasing the Cure T-shirts and hats for the Dover race; these hats and shirts, as well as a special ladies T-shirt,will be on sale at the RCR merchandise hauler at Dover and online at the RCR team store. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of merchandise will be donated to Young Survival Coalition.

"Young Survival Coalition is excited to partner with Rheem as the benefiting charity of the Chasing the Cure initiative," said Jennifer Merschdorf, CEO, Young Survival Coalition. "This program is a wonderful way to educate the thousands of young female NASCAR fans of the fact that there are over a quarter million women living in the U.S. today who were diagnosed with breast cancer before their 41st birthday. We are thrilled that Rheem, RCR and DeLana Harvick are taking up the call to help raise awareness that young women can and do get breast cancer."

Health experts advise visiting a physician regularly-especially if any changes from the norm are detected. A healthy diet and a regular fitness regimen are also important ways of reducing the incidence of cancer. Healthy cooking and small amounts of moderate daily activity can significantly lower lifetime risk for cancer, heart disease and diabetes.

Skirts and Scuffs Takes on The Chase: Tony Stewart 2 for 2 with a win at NHMS


New Hampshire Motor Speedway saw ups and downs for the Chase field and for one driver, a repeat performance. Tony Stewart once again displayed the “Smoke Show” at the end of Sunday's Sylvania 300 after grabbing the lead in the closing laps. Fuel mileage played into the end, same as Chicagoland, and is putting the Chase drivers and their crew chiefs to the test.

The ladies of Skirts and Scuffs recap it all for you once again.

1. Tony Stewart – Smoking the Chase Field With 2 Wins – By Amanda Ebersole 

296104_295279017154791_100000180845886_1401689_565334102_nStarting the Chase in 9th, Tony Stewart may have been counted out by many in the pre-Chase polls. Now two races into the Chase for the Sprint Cup, if you are not including Tony Stewart as a contender, you are seriously off your rocker.

With two wins in the first two races, Stewart is setting himself up for his first Sprint Cup title. Stewart is a two-time Nextel Cup Champion, winning in both 2002 and 2005. Stewart is the only driver to win both the Winston Cup under the old points system, and the Nextel Cup under the Chase format used presently.
Starting in 20th position for Sunday’s race, Stewart gained positions steadily. At lap 30 he had taken the Mobil 1 Chevrolet up to 14th and for a track where passing can be difficult, Stewart was passing cars to make his way to the front.

After the race, Stewart recounted the strategy that earned him the victory. “It was just getting the track position. I mean, it was really hard at the beginning of the race to make up any ground.

"And then we had one restart there where we just, we caught a bunch of guys messing around with each other and we were able to just pick them off two at a time.”

In the end, the dreaded fuel mileage was what won Stewart the race. Clint Bowyer led the race until lap 298 and just two laps shy of the win, ran out of fuel as Stewart ran in second. Crew chief Darian Grubb made sure Stewart had saved enough fuel to make it until the end of the race, but it was close for the team.

“... I felt like I’d saved enough to get us to the end, said Stewart in his post race press conference. “But we came off of turn 2 after we got the checkered and the fuel pressure was down to two pounds, and it stayed there until just shortly after we picked up the checkered flag at the flag stand and we didn’t do any wild burnout or anything like that and ran out before we ever got on pit road?”

2. Kevin Harvick – 7 points behind – Happy will be happier with that Sprint Cup in his hands - By Holly Machuga
296199_295271180488908_100000180845886_1401601_992716235_nAfter coming into the Loudon race first in points, Kevin Harvick leaves sitting seven points behind leader Tony Stewart.

The 29 team started out the day right and hung around in the top 10 and even the top 5. The pit stops and the car were fast. But, just like everyone else, Kevin Harvick had issues with the fuel mileage, which forced him to finish 12th.

Harvick tweeted, “Well it didn’t end like we wanted it to but we will figure the gas mileage thing out in the morning and be ready to go for Dover!”

3. Brad Keselowski – 11 points behind - No longer the underdog of the Chase – By Unique Hiram

317839_294784363870923_100000180845886_1399043_915778341_nBrad Keselowski, driver of the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge, crossed the finish line second as the checkered flag waved for the conclusion of the Sylvania 300 in Loudon. He is now seeded in the third position of the Sprint Cup points standings, 11 points behind new leader Tony Stewart. Keselowski began the race in the 16th position and struggled throughout the day running both just inside and outside the top 20. Approximately with 70 laps to go, he was able to lead a lap gaining one bonus point when race leader Jeff Gordon pitted during a series of green flag pit stops.

"It's funny, because 10 races ago, we left Loudon here 23rd in points," Keselowski said. "Who'd have ever thought we'd be third in 10 weeks? It's been a good road to travel down the last few weeks, and today was no exception. We weren't the fastest car -- I'd be lying if I tried to tell you we were -- but we made good adjustments to our car, got it to where it was a good, solid top-10 car and drove up to fourth or fifth there with 100 to go, 80 to go, whatever that was. ... All in all, I felt like we earned the majority of our good fortune."

Keselowski and his race team are definitely headed in the right direction in order to be deemed true contenders in winning the Sprint Cup Chase championship. Eight weeks to go and consistency is a must for this team to remain competitive.  

298955_294782957204397_100000180845886_1398998_1044156835_n4. Carl Edwards – 14 points behind – Fuel mileage the saving grace for Edwards – By Amanda Ebersole

Heading into Loudon, Edwards and the No. 99 team were 3rd in the Chase standings and with past performance at NHMS, that would be difficult to maintain.

Qualifying did not go well for the Scotts team, relegating the team to a 23rd starting position for Sunday’s Sylvania 300. Passing at New Hampshire can be a challenge, so starting that far back was a disadvantage for the No. 99 team and driver.

Like many drivers, Edwards complained to crew chief Bob Osborne that he was not turning well enough in the center and was loose off. With only five pit stops in the race, the No. 99 pit crew ( or the Flying Ducks as I call them) got to work.

Pitting on lap 234 and taking on four tires and fuel, crew chief Osborne told Edwards that fuel would not be an issue for their team.

Making his way up to 14th with just 50 laps to go, Edwards was on the move. With just 11 to go, he had finally cracked the top 10. In the final three laps other cars began to run out of fuel, Edwards got bumped up in the running order because of all the other cars who ran out, including race leader Clint Bowyer.

Finishing in 8th, Edwards said of the race, “We had a pretty good finish, but we didn’t have a very good day,” Edwards said. “We struggled. This is one tough race track, very, very tough. I’ve got to thank Scotts Winterguard for being on board. We were trying to get them a good showing and at the end we got a couple guys because of fuel mileage and our car was as good as it had been, so we’ll take that eighth place and go on, but I’m just glad to make it out of here with something better than the 15th or 20th we should have run.

“I’m glad we don’t have to run this one in the Chase again, that’s good. Dover is great for us. Kansas will be great. I feel pretty good after our test at Phoenix, so we’ll go and we’ll be really good. It was a decent day for us. We’ll take it and move on.” 

5. Jeff Gordon – 23 points behind - On his way up the points ladder – By Amanda Ebersole

318981_295271560488870_100000180845886_1401613_1717768107_nJeff Gordon has the most experience of any Chase driver and it is showing. Starting the Chase in 3rd, a difficult race at Chicagoland dropped Gordon back to 11th and –25 points behind. 

The word of the day – rebound. Gordon and crew chief Alan Gustafson needed to rebound and get the No. 24 team back on track and they did just that.  

Starting the race in 7th, Gordon was already at an advantage because passing can be difficult on the flat track on New Hampshire. As the green flag fell, Gordon worked his way upward and by Lap 10 was already in third place.

Leading three times for a total of 78 laps, Gordon received bad news with 50 laps to go. Gustafson told him that they did not get the No. 24 Chevrolet full of fuel, after just running out of fuel with 70 laps to go and being forced to pit for an extended pit stop.

Forced to conserve fuel once again, Gordon was a frustrated after the race. “None of us want to put ourselves in that position,” Gordon said. “We were expecting to go a couple of more laps [on the next-to-last run]. We’re making great horsepower but we’re not getting good fuel mileage.”

More frustrating for Gordon was the fact that Tony Stewart, who drives a Chevrolet with a Hendrick engine, got better fuel mileage then he did.

“Tony has figured out a way to do it so you have to give those guys credit. They have the same engines we have and we have got to do a better job at it. I’ve got to do a better job at it,” said Gordon.

After a 4th place finish, Gordon is just happy to have rebounded. “To pull off a top 5, we got what we could out of it,” Gordon said after the race. “We didn’t need to take any chances like we did last week at Chicago. All we can do is look at the good side, and it is good that we made gains in the points. We aren’t making enough gains on the leaders. That is the only frustrating part.”
300725_295270683822291_100000180845886_1401582_307959654_n6. Kyle Busch – 26 points behind - Making gains after a solid finish – By Katy Lindamood 

After a dominating win in Saturday's Camping World Truck Series race, Kyle Busch set his sights on bringing home the checkered flag in his No. 18 M&M’s Sprint Cup car. Unfortunately for the younger Busch it wasn't his day, but it wasn't a wasted effort, as the No. 18 gained three positions in the standings and finished a solid 11th.

Heading into the second of 10 races in NASCAR's playoffs, Busch knew he would have to finish strong to stand a chance of remaining in contention for the title. Starting in eighth, the M&M's Camry handled poorly for the majority of the race as Busch fought to keep the car from spinning out from a loose condition. As the day progressed, the team worked tirelessly on pit road trying to improve track position; however a miscue by Busch cost the team time when he slid through his pit box.

Although Busch was able to finish in 11th, he didn't have an 11th-place car late in the race, but he did have more fuel than many of those ahead of him. Whereas fuel mileage led to a poor finish at Chicago, it helped this weekend.

After the race Busch said, “Track position was important today and I just have to thank the guys for hanging in there with me and fighting hard all day long. We survived and we’ll go on to Dover, which is usually a much better place for me.” 

7. Matt Kenseth – 26 points behind – Hard-fought finish keeps title hopes alive - By Rebecca Kivak 

297806_295270653822294_100000180845886_1401580_2024073470_nMatt Kenseth battled back from an ill-handling car and a mid-race spin to finish sixth at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, one of his most challenging tracks. The driver of the No. 17 Affliction Clothing Ford for Roush Fenway Racing kept his championship hopes alive, making up ground in the points standings after a disastrous finish at Chicagoland.

After starting 27th in Sunday’s Sylvania 300, the former Cup champion was mired in traffic. Within the first 50 laps, Kenseth reported the car was tight and that it was losing rear grip. After crew chief Jimmy Fennig called for major adjustments to air pressure and the track bar, Kenseth was able to climb to 20th when the first caution came out on Lap 86. Unlike the majority of teams who pitted and got two tires, the No. 17 took four and an air pressure change. The adjustments continued to help the car’s handling, and by Lap 144 Kenseth had driven into the 11th position.

After the second caution on lap 156, Kenseth restarted 15th. While racing hard for track position on Lap 173, Kenseth’s teammate Carl Edwards accidentally made contact with the No. 17, causing Kenseth to spin out in Turn 2. This brought out the race’s third caution. Kenseth managed to keep the car off the wall and did not incur any damage. The No. 17 restarted 25th, losing the ground Kenseth had previously made up. 

But Kenseth was determined to make it up once again. By lap 225, Kenseth had cracked the top 15. Nine laps later, Kenseth made what would be his final pit stop, with Fennig assuring the driver of the No. 17 he would have enough fuel until the end. On Lap 274, Kenseth charged into the top 10. As the laps wound down and other cars around him ran out of gas, Kenseth brought the No. 17 home in sixth place. The top-10 finish buoyed Kenseth three spots in the championship standings, from 10th to 7th place. 

“It was great day for our team except for when we spun out because we lost some track position, but overall, it was good,” Kenseth said. 

“I was pretty discouraged after Chicago, although you’ve got to brush that off, but I’m pretty encouraged today because this is probably one of my worst tracks. I don’t feel like I do a good job at all driving on this track. We had a pretty fast car today and we were able to get around here pretty good. We had good pit stops, good strategy, and got a top 10 out of it, so I’m looking forward to Dover.” 

304238_294782370537789_100000180845886_1398978_1660307061_n8. Dale Earnhardt Jr. – 26 points behind but making gains – By Genevieve Cadorette

Dale Earnhardt Jr. started the race in 12th position and finished in 17th and dropped in points to 8th, putting him 26 points behind the leader, Tony Stewart.

He started off strong and moved in the top 10, where he was steady for the race.

His No. 88 Diet Mountain Dew was a very fast car despite the tire difficulty he faced by lap 229 when his right front tire blew and he had to make an unscheduled pit stop.

He started catching up and was in 15th on the final lap when another tire went down.

In the end, he had to settle for a 17th-place finish. 

9. Kurt Busch - 28 points behind - Drama pre-race carries throughout - By Rebecca Kivak 

166957_294783530537673_100000180845886_1399018_332021110_nIt was an eventful weekend for Kurt Busch, though most of the excitement happened before the Sylvania 300 got under way at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. The former Sprint Cup champion had a “Dude, Where’s My Car?” moment before Sunday’s race.

Busch’s No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Dodge was late getting to pre-race inspection, where it failed because of a rear-end issue. NASCAR allowed the No. 22 to fix the problem, but NASCAR did not release the car back to the team until four minutes before engines were fired. During the National Anthem, Busch stood on pit road with his team, minus the car. To add insult to injury, an unhappy Busch used the F-word during a live ESPN interview before climbing into his racecar.

Busch was allowed to keep his starting spot of 5th, which had already been in jeopardy earlier in the weekend, when rain threatened to halt Friday’s qualifying session.

Though Busch had dodged a few bullets entering Sunday’s race, the race itself didn’t go his way. Busch ran in the top 10 for the first 20 laps, but complained of handling issues throughout the race. Busch fell further back and found himself mired in the 20s as the race reached halfway. Despite numerous adjustments to the car, Busch slipped as far back as 26th. Before his final pit stop, Busch led Laps 242-245, gaining one bonus point. The driver of the Double Deuce gained little ground in the last run and was forced to settle for a 22nd-place finish, one lap down. The finish was Kurt’s lowest in the last five races, and dropped him from 4th to 9th in the points standings, losing the most positions of any Chase driver.

“It was a frustrating day,” Busch said. “Our Shell Pennzoil Dodge was certainly a handful. The front tires felt like they were on skids and the car was plowing through the corners. We were late going through inspection and that set the tone for our day. We were able to stay out and lead some laps under green and (crew chief) Steve Addington and the guys kept making changes and got our Dodge better by the end of the race. I just wish we could have started the race with the car that good."

After Sunday's race, Sprint Cup Series Director John Darby said no penalties will be issued to the No. 22 team

10. Jimmie Johnson –29 points – Falling in points but not to be counted out - By Unique Hiram

310578_294782207204472_100000180845886_1398973_1254467623_nFive-time Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson had a less than stellar performance on track at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon. He started the Sylvania 300 in the 10th position and finished 18th after completing all 300 laps of the race. For a majority of the time, throughout the day, Johnson drove inside the top 20 – mostly in the 15th position.

“Today we just didn’t have the speed, and track position was so important,” Johnson said. “We’ll take this one on the chin and go on to the next one. You gotta take every race as they come. Anything can happen, but days like today aren’t what you hope for, that’s for sure.”

On another note, he was able to lead a lap for one bonus point (Lap 238), which could be instrumental when the Chase contenders head to Homestead-Miami in eight weeks. Although today was frustrating for the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet team, I wouldn’t count them out just yet because they have the tenacity to fight back and claim victory. 

316381_294782043871155_100000180845886_1398969_1294885141_n11. Ryan Newman - 34 points behind and Chase hopes fading - By Katy Lindamood 

Seeing the boss put his name atop the Chase race winner's list at Chicagoland, Ryan Newman entered Sunday's Sylvania 300 with high hopes. Claiming victory in the July race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, after starting on the pole, Newman set his sights on a repeat performance but lady luck was not on his side as he finished 25th.

Under bright skies and hotter temperatures than the days leading up to the race, the No. 39 Haas Automations Chevy started from the pole position and looked to be strong leading the first 62 laps, but from there his day only got worse as time went on. Two separate pit road mishaps left the team out of the top 15 and dealing with an ill-handling race car until the final blow came on Lap 296. With just four laps to go, the team had to make an unscheduled pit stop because of a tire that was going down.

Although one member of the Stewart-Haas team is riding the wave of victory, Newman's hopes of becoming the 2011 Sprint Cup champion are fading fast. 

12. Denny Hamlin – 66 points behind - All but eliminated from the Chase after 2 bad races - By Lacy Keyser 

318432_294783087204384_100000180845886_1399004_66626595_nDenny Hamlin has not had a great start to his Chase season, coming off a horrible finish at Chicagoland. Hamlin hoped to bounce back at Loudon but sadly qualifying 28th was going to prove to be a hard task. Hamlin looked to be off to a great start, gained a few positions and by Lap 60 was in the top 20. When the first green flags stop came out, Denny was 19th and  his car was on the free side for most of the day. On Lap 173 Hamlin stayed out when the caution came out to gain track position, Hamlin would restart in the top 10 but due to his loose car he wasn’t able to gain any ground.

With 74 laps to go, Hamlin finally found his mojo; his car looked smokin’ as he cruised into the top 6. With two laps to go, it appeared Hamlin would make an amazing comeback as he charged Jeff Gordon for 5th. But the 11 car ran out of fuel and finished in a heartbreaking 29th place.

Denny’s quote on running out:

“We thought we were good and that’s just strategy racing nowadays. We just came up short right there. The only thing I can think of is we were on a little bit of a cleaner race track that last run, but that was the worst fuel mileage we got all day and I was backing my corner up quite a bit. There’s only two things, either we weren’t getting the fuel mileage we thought or we didn’t get it full or I just used too much. We’ve got to work through it. Another tough day for us, but we’re just figuring out what we need to do to be a little bit more competitive.” 

Check back in with Skirts and Scuffs on Friday for our Dover preview. 

Special thanks to Skirts and Scuffs photographer Debbie Ross for all the beautiful pictures.