Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Infineon Raceway Unveils "PG&E Tickets for Troops” Program

SONOMA, Calif. (May 31, 2011) – For the second consecutive year, Infineon Raceway has partnered with Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) and the USO of Northern California to offer race fans a patriotic way to support the men and women of the Armed Forces with the “PG&E Tickets for Troops” program.

For just $20, race fans can say “thank you” to military members in a way they will never forget – by sending them to a very special race this year. The “PG&E Tickets for Troops” program enables anyone – from everyday citizens to corporations – to sponsor Active Duty military, Veterans and Reservists and send them to either the Toyota/Save Mart 350 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event on June 26, or Military Appreciation Day at the Indy® Grand Prix of Sonoma on August 28.

Those who purchase tickets for troops will be included in the “PG&E Tickets for Troops” online listing at infineonraceway.com, listed in the souvenir program and featured on Jumbotron screens on race day.

Each race day will feature a patriotic theme with an air show by the Patriots Jet Team, followed by the singing of the National Anthem, military fly-bys and an Army cannon national salute.

Infineon Raceway wants to ensure that all military members, past and present, have the opportunity to experience great racing action in Sonoma. The raceway offers special discounts to members of the Armed Forces and veterans who wish to purchase discounted tickets directly for any 2011 major event.  For tickets, call the Infineon Raceway ticket office at the number below.  

The “PG&E Tickets for Troops” program is the perfect way for race fans to share their passion with the men and women serving our country. Don’t miss your chance to be a part of this very special “PG&E Tickets for Troops.” Visit infineonraceway.com/ticketsfortroops or call 800-870-RACE (7223) today for tickets and to show your support.

Stewart-Haas Racing Review-Coca-Cola 600 not so kind to two Coke drivers

Getty Images for NASCAR

Ryan Newman got caught up in someone else’s wreck and Tony Stewart faded in the closing laps to leave the two Stewart-Haas Racing drivers happy that NASCAR’s longest race, the Coca-Cola 600, was finally over. Although both drivers are part of the Coke family of drivers, neither seemed to catch a break during the Memorial Day weekend event at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Newman, driver of the No. 39 U.S. Army Chevrolet Impala for SHR, came into the race excited to be representing the U.S. Army on Memorial Day weekend. Earlier in the week, Newman visited soldiers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and spoke with amputees. “I’m glad you came by,” one of the soldiers told Newman.

The U.S. Army Chevrolet driver, however, had another day where his car was just ok and his luck was bad. Newman was driving behind Mark Martin and David Gilliland when the two became entangled and Newman could not avoid plowing into the sliding cars.

“I couldn’t get the car pulled down in time and they (Martin and Gilliland) bounced off the wall and came back and got me,” Newman said. “We were just a by-product of it. We shouldn’t have been in that position, we should have been out front. Just disappointed in our day. The US Army Chevrolet was not good but the guys fought hard. Just got on the unfortunate side of an unfortunate accident."

Newman’s crew made repairs that allowed him to return to the race and gain five positions and he finished the race in the 31st spot. Newman dropped three places to 10th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup standings.

Stewart had a decent day going and seemed headed for a top-10 finish. But with about 20 laps to go and running in the ninth spot, Stewart told his team the engine was not performing as he felt it should. A late-race caution extended the race beyond its scheduled 400 laps and Stewart, like several other drivers on the lead lap, was low on fuel.

On the restart for a green-white-checkered finish the No. 14 Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevrolet was slow. A struggling Stewart was following the car of Jeff Burton when it spun off turn one in front of him and he had to brake to avoid hitting Burton and he lost even more spots.

"Yeah, I was a little disappointed in the beginning," Stewart said in a press conference Tuesday recalling Sunday's race. "I thought we were actually going to be able to move up through the field a lot quicker than we did. We really just maintained where we started for the most part. It seemed like the groove was right around the bottom, and it didn't seem like very many guys were able to actually move up to the high side like we were able to do at the All-Star Race."

Stewart finished 17th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race but led five laps during a green flag pit sequence. He picked up on spot in NASCAR Sprint Cup standing moving up to the ninth spot.

The Sprint Cup series heads to Kansas this week where Stewart has two wins, five top fives and seven top 10s. Newman has one win, three top fives and four top 10s there and neither driver has a Kansas pole.

Alex Tagliani to race in the NAPA Auto Parts 200 presented by Dodge

With the support of the Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge, Ram Quebec Dealers COOP

Montreal, May 31, 2011 - Thanks to the support from the Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge and Ram Quebec Dealers COOP, Alex Tagliani will have the chance to compete in two NASCAR races the weekend of August 19 and 20 during the NAPA Auto Parts 200, presented by Dodge. As the curtain rises on the weekend and before his home crowd at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, the Lachenaie, Quebec driver will participate in the NAPA Autopro 100, NASCAR's Canadian Series event, before taking the green flag for the 200-mile NASCAR Nationwide Series race. For the first event, Tagliani will be at the wheel of a Dodge Avenger prepared by Dave Jacombs Racing. For the main event, he will drive a Dodge Challenger. Both of Tagliani's racecars will support the number 12.

"With the confirmation that Tagliani, who is in great form this season, will be starting the NAPA Auto Parts 200 presented by Dodge, and knowing that Carpentier, Ranger and Villeneuve will also be there, Quebec race fans can count on a seeing a quartet to be reckoned with, as each of these drivers will be driving excellent racecars," exclaimed François Dumontier, president of Octane Management and delegated promoter of the NAPA Auto Parts 200, presented by Dodge.

"For the fifth anniversary of our annual high-end stock car programming, we could not imagine a more attractive scenario. More than ever this year, we can dream that one of our own will make history by winning a major NASCAR series race. On behalf of our spectators, I would like to thank our partner Dodge and particularly the Quebec Dodge dealers, for the support given to Andrew Ranger and now Alexandre Tagliani."

"We are privileged to be able to associate ourselves with Alex Tagliani for the NASCAR race program in Montreal August 19 and 20. For us, supporting Quebec racers, who tend to excel at the highest levels, is a natural fit. We are also especially proud to be able to help them race in front of their hometown fans here in Quebec," added Jean Gosselin, president of the Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge and Ram Quebec Dealers COOP.

"Dodge is proud to be the presenting sponsor and a major partner of the promoter of the Nationwide Series event in Montreal. Motorsports is part of the Dodge DNA and furthermore, racing inspires many of our products. This explains why we both recognize and support a passion shared by the drivers and all the fans who will gather in Montreal for one of the greatest motorsports events there is. Through their strong relationship with Dodge Motorsports, the Dodge dealers of Québec have made it possible to secure the Nationwide series #12 Dodge Challenger for Alex Tagliani exclusively for the Montreal Nationwide Event being held this summer, supplying him with the very best equipment in NASCAR today for that race." said Mr. Ed Broadbear Vice President Marketing at Chrysler Canada.

For over a decade now, Tagliani has pursued a career in professional auto racing, an undertaking which saw its beginnings in Formula Atlantic. He has started 163 races in North American single-seat racing series and has registered one win, thirty-four top-5 and twenty-seven top-10 finishes along with five pole positions, the most recent of which came at the 100th Anniversary of the Indianapolis 500. To top this milestone off, Alex became the first Canadian in history to do so. In NASCAR, he has participated in thirteen rounds of the Canadian Tire Series including three at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. His honours include one win, two top-5, three top-10 finishes, and two pole positions. He has also started two Nationwide Series races, including one in Montreal in 2009. In 1999 in his last Formula Atlantic campaign, he earned the pole and scored the victory during the race in Montreal, part of the Grand Prix du Canada.

Tickets for the 2011 Montreal NAPA Auto Parts 200, presented by Dodge are currently on sale. To order the best grandstands tickets available and see drivers Andrew Ranger, Alexandre Tagliani and Jacques Villeneuve at the wheel of their Dodge Challenger's on Friday, August 19 and Saturday, August 20, along with other NASCAR stars, fans must call now 514-397-0007 or order online anytime at www.circuitgillesvilleneuve.ca.

Mandated by Stock-Car Montréal, a wholly-owned subsidiary of International Speedway Corporation (ISC) based in Daytona Beach, Florida, Octane Management is, since 2009, the delegated promoter of the NAPA Auto Parts 200, Presented by Dodge. ISC is the leading promoter of motorsports in North America, hosting over 100 major racing events each year

The Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge, Ram Quebec Dealers Association is composed of 93 dealers who proudly offer such brands as Dodge Grand Caravan, Charger, Journey and Challenger, Ram trucks and a complete line of Jeep vehicles.

Joe Gibbs Review: Coca-Cola 600

Credit: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

The end of the Coca-Cola 600 was perhaps most shocking for Joe Gibbs Racing. While Kyle Busch was already out of the running, Denny Hamlin contended for his strongest finish of the season and Joey Logano hung near the back of the lead lap. Within seconds, Hamlin was out of fuel and Logano picked up 18 positions to finish third.

Kyle Busch, #18 M&M's Toyota (Started: 21, Finished: 32)
News broke on Tuesday, May 24, of Busch’s speeding offense outside of Charlotte, N.C. He was test driving a yellow Lexus LFA that Toyota had loaned to the Joe Gibbs Racing drivers. Busch was clocked at 128 mph (which begs the question—what was his highest speed?) in a 45 mph zone.

Fans were split on the issue. Should NASCAR penalize the driver for his disregard of the law? They did not, in spite of Busch’s current probation from his earlier on-track altercation with Kevin Harvick. Joe Gibbs, on the other hand, refused to rule out a future punishment for Busch.

NASCAR and JGR aside, one entity did have a fitting punishment in mind for the driver: his #18 Toyota Camry. After jetting to the front of the field and dangling a potential win, the car inexplicably wrecked. Twice.

In the first wreck, Busch’s car spun left and plowed through the grass. His was the first car in two weeks to come away with minimal damage (#09 Thank A Teacher Today/Security Benefit Chevrolet of Landon Cassill and the All-Star Race #99 Aflac Ford of Carl Edwards had both been wrecked by the Charlotte infield). Busch restarted 21st, still on the lead lap.

Just 20 laps later, his car careened right (careening left earlier had not done enough damage in spite of the infield’s previous record of eating stock cars whole). Busch hit the wall and the damage was done. The #18 limped to the garage where crews worked on it for 14 laps. Busch made one final trip around the track before the team determined it was too damaged to finish the race. Busch ended with his second DNF of the season.

Busch dropped to 5th in point standings (-2).

Denny Hamlin, #11 FedEx Express Toyota (Started: 4, Finished: 10)
After qualifying well, Hamlin ran in the top-10 for nearly the entire race. The first caution gave Hamlin just what he needed to dominate the field. In spite of losing a spot on pit road and coming out third on the restart, a mere two laps later found him in the lead.

Hamlin fell back to third and at Lap 140 gave the fans a taste of the words he learned from Busch brother, Kurt (and possibly Chad Knaus). Hamlin colorfully reported that the infamous JGR engine problems were back. The #11 continued to run in the top-10 even though Hamlin swore he had no power.

The ninth caution of the night (brought out by #09 Landon Cassill’s lawn-care business) found a frustrated Hamlin on pit road for an extended pit stop. The #11 pit crew (two-time champions of the Pit Crew Challenge) removed and replaced Hamlin’s carburetor in record time (new challenge for next year’s competition?). Hamlin restarted on the lead lap in 27th.

By the time teammate Kyle Busch’s car brought out his second caution, Hamlin was back into the top-10. A green-white-checker finish (courtesy of the #48 Lowes Chevrolet of Jimmie Johnson and Hendrick Motorsports’ engines) found Hamlin restarting third and just a little too close on fuel. As second place Kasey Kahne (#4 Red Bull Toyota) drifted by (out of fuel), and Dale Earnhardt Jr. (#88 National Guard Chevrolet) slowed into turn 4 (out of fuel), the #11 ran out of fuel and coasted beneath the checkered flag in 10th place.

Hamlin rose to 12th in point standings (+1).

Joey Logano, #20 Home Depot Toyota (Started: 23, Finished: 3)
After Logano’s 21st birthday (May 24th) was upstaged by teammate Kyle Busch’s speeding infraction, the Home Depot driver was looking for revenge (not really).

Clearly, Logano made a wish when he blew out his birthday candles to be more like Kevin Harvick (#29 Budweiser Chevrolet), who also has a bone to pick with Busch. Logano narrowly missed getting collected by Bobby Labonte (#47 Reese Towpower/DKMS Toyota) on Lap 100. He managed to snag two Lucky Dogs and a wave around to remain on the lead lap. After running in the 20s for the greater portion of the race, Logano climbed into the teens and into the top-10 around Lap 300. At 99 laps to go, Logano was in the top-five.

In the spirit of pulling a full blown Harvick (coming out of nowhere to win the race), Logano again dropped from sight. When the #48 brought about the green-white-checker finish, Logano sat comfortably in 21st position. By the time the checkered flag dropped, not only had Harvick pulled a Harvick, Logano had flown 18 positions forward into 3rd.

It seems things are looking up for the youngest Joe Gibbs driver. Maybe now that he’s old enough to celebrate with Victory Lane champagne, he’ll be at the front of the field more often.

Logano rose to 23rd in point standings (+5).
This column is based purely on the opinion (and sense of humor) of the author. It does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the other ladies of Skirts and Scuffs. 

AdvoCare to Sponsor Labor Day Weekend NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Night Race at Atlanta Motor Speedway

Multi-Year Contract Increases Strong Presence Within Motorsports Community

HAMPTON, Ga. (May 29, 2011) – AdvoCare International, LP, an award-winning, premier health and wellness company headquartered in Plano, TX., will be the title sponsor for Atlanta Motor Speedway’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series night race on Sept. 4, 2011.

The multi-year contract between AdvoCare and the Speedway calls for AdvoCare to sponsor the track’s Labor Day Weekend NASCAR Sprint Cup Series night race in addition to being the official performance elite products of the Speedway. The partnership also adds to the strong AdvoCare history and relationship to both sports and motorsports. NASCAR figures utilizing AdvoCare products include Mark Martin, Richard Petty and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series veteran driver David Starr. The AdvoCare National Spokesperson is New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees.

“We recognize this as an extraordinary way to move our relationship with the motorsports community to the next level. This will be a great time for NASCAR fans to learn more about and benefit from the AdvoCare products and business opportunity. We are excited by what it will mean for everyone involved,” said AdvoCare President and CEO Richard Wright.

AdvoCare is also a platinum sponsor of Operation Homefront, an organization dedicated to providing emergency assistance to those serving in the military and their families.

Since 1993, AdvoCare has offered general nutrition, weight loss, energy and sports performance products of the highest quality developed through comprehensive research and backed by a Scientific & Medical Advisory Board. AdvoCare offers more than 70 exclusive products and a business opportunity that empowers individuals to explore their ultimate potential. For more information on AdvoCare and/or this sponsorship, visit www.advocare.com or call 800-542-4800.

The Biggest Labor Day Celebration in the USA will be at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Labor Day Weekend when NASCAR Night Racing returns to Atlanta Sept. 2-4 for three NASCAR night races in one weekend.

Tickets for the AdvoCare 500 are on sale and priced as low as $39 or $19 for students. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit www.atlantamotorspeedway.com or call (877) 9-AMS-TIX.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Dale Earnhardt Jr. leads but falls to a seventh place finish

Dale Earnhardt Jr. at the All-Star Race
Credit: Debbie Ross for Skirts and Scuffs
Dale Earnhardt Jr. was about to win a race and not just any race, it was the Coca-Cola 600. It's been since June 17, 2008, since his last win, 104 points races ago  Tonight, everyone would've celebrated. Junior Nation was heard in the stands, shouting loud and proud. Then there was silence as the No. 88 National Guard Chevrolet started to go slower and slower until reaching the checkered flag in 7th place.

Junior ran in second and restarted in the front row alongside Kasey Kahne. He took the lead and right around turn 4, he slowed down and suddenly ran out of fuel.

"We weren't supposed to make it," he told reporters, "we were going to run out of gas and we knew it."
"I'm disappointed we didn't win, but if we would have won, it would have been a gift."

Dale Jr. is still fourth in points. His win is going to come and although it hasn't happened yet, there is six months left of the season; there are more races left than what we've already raced.

"We ran good tonight," Dale Jr. said. "I'm real proud. We'll be around for a long time."

NASCAR By the Numbers: Hometown Racing at Charlotte

Racing in Charlotte is always special for NASCAR drivers and teams, it's the hometown of most and that means time off from traveling. The racing did not disappoint. Matt Kenseth won the NNS race and after a fuel mileage ending Coca-Cola 600, Kevin Harvick claimed the checkered flag. Who fell in and out of the top 15 this week? Let's take a look ...

Camping World Truck Series:

There was no race this week but due to a rule infraction from the No. 33 team of Ron Hornaday Jr., the top few points positions have changed.

1. Cole Whitt
2. Johnny Sauter  -1
3. Matt Crafton  -17
4. Austin Dillion  -20
5. Ron Hornaday Jr.  -28
6. Timothy Peters  -35

Up next: O'Reilly Auto Parts 250 from Kansas Speedway, Saturday, June 4, at 2 p.m. ET on SPEED

Nationwide Series:

The points battle is closer than ever with the top three drivers separated by only two points. Sadler (10th), Stenhouse Jr. (4th) and Sorenson (5th) all had strong runs at Charlotte securing their positions atop the leaderboard for another week.

Credit: Debbie Ross for Skirts and Scuffs
1. Elliott Sadler
2. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.  -1
3. Reed Sorenson  -2
4. Justin Allgaier  -22
5. Aric Almirola  -51
6. Jason Leffler  -54
7. Kenny Wallace  -73
8. Steven Wallace  -100
9. Brian Scott  -113
10. Josh Wise  -136
11. Michael Annett  -141
12. Joe Nemechek  -158
13. Mike Bliss  -159
14. Jeremy Clements  -177
15. Mike Bliss  -178

Biggest Movers/Biggest Losses: All gains and losses this week were either +/- 1

Up next: The Inaugural STP 300 from Chicagoland Speedway, Saturday, June 4, at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN

Sprint Cup:

The Coca-Cola 600, the longest and most physically demanding race of the year came, down to the dreaded fuel mileage. JR Nation should be proud of the showing Dale Jr. had throughout the race. Carl Edwards now has his largest points lead to date after Jimmie Johnson had some difficulties and Kevin Harvick's win jumps him into second.

Credit: Debbie Ross for Skirts and Scuffs
1. Carl Edwards
2. Kevin Harvick  -36
3. Jimmie Johnson  -37
4. Dale Earnhardt Jr. -43
5. Kyle Busch  -53
6. Kurt Busch  -68
7. Matt Kenseth  -71
8. Clint Bowyer  -80
9. Tony Stewart  -89
10. Ryan Newman  -92
11. Greg Biffle  -102
12. Denny Hamlin  -106
13. A.J. Allmendinger  -110
14. Mark Martin  -111
15. Juan Pablo Montoya  -116

Biggest Movers: Kevin Harvick, Kurt Busch and A.J. Allmendinger +3
Biggest Losses: Ryan Newman and Mark Martin -3, Kyle Busch -2

Up Next: STP 400 from Kansas Speedway on Sunday, June 5, at 1 p.m. EST on FOX

Amanda takes NASCAR seriously and is willing to pass up other activities to watch the boys have at it. NASCAR By the Numbers and In the Rearview Mirror (looking back at NASCAR's history) are Amanda's two main focuses with Skirts and Scuffs, but as an Associate Editor her duties are limitless. Amanda also frequently writes the post-race recaps for Skirts and Scuffs. Feel free to contact Amanda via Twitter.

Why I Love NASCAR: Television

Unlike these fans celebrating with Carl Edwards after his All-Star win,
many fans enjoy the race from the comfort of their couch each week.
Credit: Drew Hallowell/Getty Images for NASCAR
Recently I did a three-part series about live racing being one of the many reasons I love NASCAR. As I reported, I’ve been lucky enough to attend three live Cup races and have enjoyed each experience immensely. But the bulk of the races I’ve seen have been broadcast on television. This is, quite frankly, a very comfortable way to watch NASCAR races.

As a young NASCAR fan in Virginia, I was uninterested in the actual racing involved in a Cup race. The miles dragged on for me, my eyes became droopy, and a mid-race nap was a preferable way to watch the marathon event. But, I was awake and completely tuned in with rapt attention to the pre-race and post-race editions of the race day coverage. The journalists and commentators became celebrities to me. The drivers’ personalities mattered more than the horsepower they harnessed or the lap speeds they qualified. I liked to see the drivers as three-dimensional beings, not jockeys in a firesuit.

Eventually, perhaps through osmosis or because my husband’s savant-like knowledge of all things NASCAR grew, I began to immerse myself in the racing. Of course I still connected to the humanity of the pre and post race spots, but the racing became much more exciting as I came to understand what it took to muscle the car, the strategies implemented to put oneself in contention for a race win or a points lead. Drafting became a part of my working vocabulary and I practiced on the highway, tucking in behind professional truckers. Conserving fuel I could understand as being poor, young students who lived on a pittance, we were also conserving our fuel. Slowly I began to see how different talents were needed at different types of tracks. Through the week in and week out exposure to NASCAR races on my television I witnessed the importance of teamwork; Dale Earnhardt and Rusty Wallace didn’t win races alone, they were part of a well-oiled machine where every piece worked in conjunction with another piece to create a winning combination.

Through Benny Parsons I learned about the different track locations and, especially, the foods they were known. These interludes whet the appetite not only for the delicacies he was sampling, but to explore each NASCAR track for its own special traits. Television broadcasts afforded me a backlog of knowledge, entertainment, and racing trivia, terminology, and history. Through television I could witness the benediction, singing of the National Anthem, and flyover completely. It was right there on the screen with my eyes glued to it.

Although the cast of characters has changed, BP and Dale Earnhardt passed, DW and Dale Jr. are respectively in the booth and on the track, the excellent broadcasting still comes through. Jeff Hammond explains the ins and outs of a Cup car, Mike Joy, a throwback to my early days who is like an old, dear friend, steers DW and Larry McReynolds through calling the race, and each year, twice a year, we are treated to the reasons we must eat a Martinsville hot dog!

Being at the race is an unparalleled experience, but watching NASCAR Sprint Cup races from home on the television is a terrific alternative. From clean bathrooms to reasonable food, comfortable couches to luxurious naps, and the plethora of NASCAR-driven information available throughout the broadcast, watching racing on television is yet another reason why I love NASCAR.

Chief 187 is a writer, columnist, and blogger as well as creator of the widely popular Chief 187 Chatter. Her column “Why I Love NASCAR” and other articles are featured on Skirts and Scuffs. She can be reached via Twitter by following @Chief187s. To find out more please visit http://Chief187.com.

Kevin Harvick wins the Coca-Cola 600

Kevin Harvick crosses the finish line after leader Dale Earnhardt Jr. ran out of gas.
Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images for NASCAR
Kevin Harvick won the Coca-Cola 600 on a race that ended in fuel mileage. This was his 3rd win of the season and his first points victory at Charlotte Motor Speedway; Harvick does have an All Star Race victory as well. Winning the longest race of the season is a huge victory; Harvick admitted to not liking this track, even with this victory, he says it’s "not his style."  I asked him to explain what he meant by that statement but he couldn’t and said he thinks he stinks and has no style. He told reporters “I griped and griped and griped all day long about terrible we were.” He admits “to be in Victory Lane says a lot about this team.”

Harvick says it (the track at Charlotte Motor Speedway) has been a struggle for him since the start of his career; except for the second place finish (and I’m assuming the All Star Race win).

In response to how he feels about Dale Jr. losing the race, Harvick said “I feel so stinking bad for him,” Oddly, it’s the second time Harvick passes the No. 88 for a win when Dale Jr. was leading this season.

The win puts Harvick second in points and -36 behind Carl Edwards.

Credit: Geoff Burke/Getty Images for NASCAR

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Jamie McMurray retires early from the Coca-Cola 600

Credit: Robert Lebarger/Getty Images for NASCAR
Jamie McMurray, driver of the No. 1 Bass Pro Shops/Hope for Joplin Mo Chevrolet, pulled out of the Coca-Cola 600 at lap 181 because of an engine failure.

He told reporters that he had no warning that there was trouble because his engine ran well all night. He's not really sure 'what' happened but said the "motor let go." A guess is that it's was a rod. He said that "you can break a valve spring and kind of baby it for the remainder of the race but whatever broke, it shook really hard and smoked. Usually when oil runs out the bottom, it's not so good."

Jamie started the race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway in 35th position. This is his second 'DNF' this season; the previous was in Phoenix, AZ due to a crash.

Back Seat Driver: The Kyle Busch "Incident"

Kyle Busch and Joey Logano speak with Wendy Venturini before the All-Star Race
Credit: Debbie Ross for Skirts and Scuffs

You have to hand it to Kyle Busch. Perhaps he subscribes to the theory that there’s no such thing as bad publicity. At any rate, he certainly knows how to keep his name in the headlines. Since April 22 he’s won 3 Camping World Truck races, 2 Nationwide races, a Sprint Cup race, gotten into a probation-inducing conflict with fellow driver Kevin Harvick, and had high-profile Formula One driver Kimi Raikkonen drive one of his KBM trucks, putting his young organization in the international spotlight.

That should be enough attention for anyone, right? Evidently not for Kyle Busch. If you’re a NASCAR fan, you know that on Tuesday afternoon, Rowdy received a speeding ticket. News of the event spread across social media at roughly 100 times the same speed Busch was going — which as you’ve probably heard and read, was 128 mph. In a 45-mph zone. At first people thought it had to be a joke, but all-too-quickly the ridiculous-sounding rumor proved to be true.

I’m sure you’ve read the stories, the press releases, the blog posts. You’re aware that Kyle was traveling on Perth Road in Troutman, N.C., a town of fewer than 2,000 people. By now you also know his wife, Samantha, was with him. You’ve also likely seen or heard his public apology for his “lack of judgment,” which had an air of familiarity to it after a similar apology he gave for punting the #29 Budweiser Chevrolet of Kevin Harvick into the pit lane wall during a confrontation after the Darlington race.

Therein lies the rub. In other words, that’s why I’m sounding off over this incident. Had this been an isolated event in an otherwise pristine career, I’d think it was foolish and dangerous, of course, but not something to be overly concerned about having happen again. If it were my favorite driver under the gun here, I’d be upset with him. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. Kyle Busch didn’t get the nickname “Rowdy” by singing off key in the church choir, folks, so it’s no surprise when he behaves badly.

I’m going to pause here and give a disclaimer or two. First, the opinions expressed here are my own. I respect your right to disagree. Second, if you hadn’t noticed, I’m not a fan of Kyle Busch on or off the track. That does not mean I don’t respect his talent or accomplishments. It was obvious from the time he began racing at age 16 in what was then the Craftsman Truck Series that Kyle was at least as talented as his older brother Kurt, if not more talented.

However, it’s my opinion that because of the almost instant recognition of that innate ability, Kyle Busch’s emotional growth froze at 16 years of age. Success came so easily and so quickly to him that he didn’t have any point of reference. He had the best opportunities and the best equipment available to him immediately so he never had to learn about delayed gratification. He never learned that you can’t always do what you want to do when you want to do it, regardless of the consequences. Oh, sure, he learned the lingo, the pat recital of gratitude to his sponsors and owner, but his adolescent attitude and antics belied his words, and make it difficult for me to believe he’s anything approaching sincere when he apologizes now.

But I digress. My point is that Kyle, though he’s now 26 chronological years old, is still that 16-year-old boy.When Lexus handed him the keys to their demo model of the LFA so he could take it for a spin, he reacted the way many people would when given the opportunity to drive such an attractive new toy: he tested its limits. That’s completely understandable … I did the same with a rented Dodge Charger, discovering that it would reach 100 mph with ease. The difference is that while I broke the speed limit, I did it on a stretch of freeway that carves through pastures and farmland, and at a point where I knew there were no roads crossing and no houses around. Illegal, yes, but I resisted the urge to floor it in the kind of area that Perth Road is.

I’ve never been there, but Dustin Long of the Greensboro News-Record describes it like this: “The two-lane road winds and dips through the countryside, homes here and there, a fire station nearby and a sign warning of curves ahead. There's no breakdown lane and power line poles stand within feet of the road in spots. Double yellow lines mark much of the road since Perth Road is not straight enough to safely pass.”

The News & Observer of Raleigh, N.C., put together this map to illustrate. Have a look, see what you think.

It’s easy to understand why area residents would be upset. Take a minute to look at this report from WCNC. Watch the road behind those speaking.

Remember, Kyle Busch lives in the area. His truck team headquarters are near here. There’s no way he didn’t know the type of road on which he was driving. He simply didn’t stop to think of the consequences of his actions. Again. Just as he didn’t stop to think how that #29 car would react when pushed from behind at just the right angle. Kyle didn’t have the self-awareness to say to his wife, “You know, I’m going to want to put this baby through its paces. I better get a closed course so no outsiders get hurt if something goes wrong.”

And when he glanced down at the speedometer — because you know he had to have looked, what’s the point in driving that way if you don’t know how fast “fast” is? — he didn’t have the maturity or responsibility to say, “Wow, this car can go fast. I better not push it, this is a populated area. Better try this on a track instead,” and then do exactly that. It’s likely, given the statement of the deputy who cited him, that this professional race car driver viewed the sassy little yellow concept car as a “toy” in comparison to his work vehicle. Toyota/Lexus’ specs for the LFA state it’s got a 552 hp engine, when the standard Sprint Cup car has about 865hp when unrestricted. Piece of cake for a professional, right?

Consider this. Motor Trend reviewed the LFA and said its first impression was that “The LFA rides hard. Really hard. No variable shocks; the chassis is chef's choice only. On smoother stretches of autobahn, the stiffness is largely irrelevant, but it's not hard to imagine the LFA growing tiresome during extended drives on brittle roads.”

I’m betting Perth Road’s pretty brittle. Imagine that stiff suspension hitting a bump at the speed Kyle was driving. Now remember that there are poles only 10 feet from the roadway in some places. One would think that a professional would be able to gauge the danger in a situation and avoid it. But Kyle’s not emotionally mature enough to make that distinction. That may sound harsh, but who’s the one doling out apologies for “poor judgment”?

Dwight Drum of bleacherreport.com spoke with Kyle Petty, whose family is synonymous with professional stock car racing.

“The highway is a public area,” Petty said. “It’s supposed to be used responsibly. I don’t care if you’re in a car, a big truck or a motorcycle. It doesn’t make any difference. It’s not your personal playground. It’s not to come out and do stunts on. It’s not to come out and run 100 in a 55 anything like that. That’s not what it’s for. If you want to go do that, then go to a track. There’s plenty of tracks around and plenty of safe places to go play and have fun, if you want to have fun on a bike or a car. It doesn’t make any difference what you’re in .... All you can say about it is that it’s totally irresponsible.”

There are those who, while not condoning Kyle Busch’s actions, don’t believe they should be blown out of proportion. I understand that other drivers have done it, that he’s not the first and won’t be the last driver to ever make an error in judgment in his private life. That doesn’t excuse this driver, this time, or the one before that, or the one before that. You don’t justify bad behavior by saying “everyone’s” doing it. If that’s the case, then “everyone” needs to stop, too! Just ask the families who still grieve the young men who made that error and discovered that Perth Road and speed don’t mix.

But at the same time, I don’t believe that NASCAR as a sanctioning body has any reason to get involved. Kyle was on his own time, away from the track, and while his actions may have been detrimental to stock car racing in some people’s eyes, it would be rather hypocritical of The Powers That Be to point fingers at someone driving too fast on back roads. At least he wasn’t hauling moonshine and running from the revenuers.

That doesn’t mean Kyle Busch should not face any professional consequences. Unlike other driving positions, such as truckers, chauffeurs, or delivery people, Kyle’s work isn’t contingent on him maintaining a valid state driver's license. Therefore, the fact that he will most likely lose his operator’s license through the courts doesn’t affect his ability to drive in NASCAR. That’s a curious rule, and one I’m not so sure I like, but there it is.

As an employee of Joe Gibbs Racing, however, Kyle Busch should face significant repercussions. As a professional athlete, he likely has a conduct clause in his contract and if he doesn’t then shame on Coach Gibbs. The same holds for Kyle as a representative of Mars, Inc. and Interstate Batteries. Considering how much money Kyle makes, a fine won’t really hurt him much. JGR should donate the money to a relevant charity, though, if they don’t already routinely do so.

However, there are other ways to take Kyle to task. Joe Gibbs has been quoted from various sources — including live updates via Twitter on Media Day — as saying he’s considering his options to be sure Kyle understands this is “serious.” Some sort of public service work, possibly with the B.R.A.K.E.S. (Be Responsible And Keep Everyone Safe) program that NHRA star Doug Herbert founded in memory of his sons, aged 17 and 12, who were killed in 2008 while speeding near their home in North Carolina. That option would be a good one, of course.

Big brother Kurt Busch says he believes Kyle’s learned his lesson. I hope I’m wrong, but I really doubt it. At least at this point in the story, he hasn’t. He’s given the canned apology speech, but I didn’t get the impression he was particularly remorseful, especially with so many other drivers saying they would have done, or have done the same thing.

Kyle Busch needs something to give him a vivid picture of the risk he took with his own life and that of those around him. Something to shake him up. Something to penetrate his Kevlar composure. Sure, he's going to have his day in court. He's been there before, he knows the drill. So what if he loses his regular operator's license? He can afford to be chauffeured around.

No, I think Kyle should have to either ride with the EMTs who respond to accidents, or spend some time working in the county morgue or medical examiner’s office. Or both. Spend some time with the families of those who lost loved ones to drivers who were found guilty of the same things for which he was ticketed.

Perhaps then they wouldn’t seem like misdemeanors.
The opinions expressed in this post are those of the author and may not reflect those of Skirts and Scuffs administrators or other contributors. 

Drivers to watch for at the Coca-Cola 600

Credit: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
The Coca-Cola 600 is considered one of the premier races in NASCAR. Six hundred miles takes a great car, teamwork and stellar driving. These are some drivers I think you should be watching for in tonight's Coca-Cola 600:

Brad Keselowski won his second career pole on Thursday and said afterward, “I know it sounds cliché, but it’s awesome!” when he responded to a question asking about how feels about the pole. Keselowski has a sense of humor - when he was asked why he’s suddenly faster, he answered that his crew chief “does live on Perth Road so he probably got some secrets.” (Kyle Busch was cited for speeding this week on Perth Road in Iredell County, N.C.)

Last weekend, Keselowski did race his way into the All-Star Race with a second-place finish in the Showdown. He managed to finish 18th, one lap down.

Although he scored the pole position for Sunday, he did finish in 25th during the first practice on Saturday and in final practice he finished in 22nd.

A.J. Allmendinger driving the No. 43 US Air Force Ford has eight starts at Charlotte Motor Speedway and will start second on Sunday. Previously his best career finish at the Coca-Cola 600 was last year with a 14th-place finish. Thursday he qualified second, while finishing in 24th in his final practice run. At the moment, Allmendinger is 16th in points. Allmendinger is looking for his first career win in NASCAR'S Sprint Cup Series.

The talk of the weekend happens to be about Ricky Stenhouse Jr., who became the first Nationwide driver to win a series race this season after Sprint Cup drivers have been dominating all season. Stenhouse Jr. had the fastest lap time in practice on Thursday. Following that up, on Saturday he won the pole for the Nationwide race and finished in fourth. On Sunday, he will make his debut in ninth position to drive in his longest race to date. (Ricky is driving the No. 21 Wood Brothers Ford in place of Trevor Bayne.)

Carl Edwards won last weekend's All Star Race and is looking to pull off the Charlotte double and win both the All Star and the Coca-Cola 600. Carl Edwards goes into the race as the current points leader with 24 points over Jimmie Johnson. Edwards has ended a long winless streak and is now, along with his Roush Fenway teammates, one of the fastest cars on the track. To date, Edwards has 19 career wins, with one of them coming at Las Vegas this season.

Coca-Cola 600: A salute to our troops

NASCAR will do a special salute to the troops this Sunday night before the boys take to the track for 600 miles of racing. A number of drivers will feature a special patriotic paint scheme on their cars and today's grand marshal is Master Sgt. William Gibson, who was the first service member with an above-the-knee amputation to return to battle.

It’s Memorial Day weekend and to many, that means grilling, boating, camping or relaxing at home enjoying the day off from work. To many others, it’s a day to remember the ones we lost in our Armed Forces.

Today, I’ve decided that since NASCAR  honors our U.S. Armed Forces and with me personally having many friends who have bravely served our country in the last 11 years or longer, I wanted to send a special salute, a special thank you in this blog. I'm also sending a salute to all who serve, regardless if I know you or not.

Today, drivers are being sponsored by different branches and so if you serve for these branches, look for them on the track:

To the friends I’ve made who served at Hanscom Air Force base in Bedford Mass, also known as the “Beantown Crew” including: Chris Zilka, Phil Rose, Jamie and Chris, Matt Sicola., Nathan Layton/Shelah Jokinen Layton, Adam Howes, Chris Walters: A.J. Allmendinger, driver of the No. 43 Ford for Petty Motorsports, starting second tonight and is sponsored by the U.S. Air Force.

To Brian Duchane and all serving in the U.S. Army: Ryan Newman is sponsored by the U.S. Army and he will be starting the No. 39 Chevrolet in 12th.

To Ana Cutting and all who serve in the National Guard: Dale Earnhardt Jr. will be driving the No. 88 National Guard Chevrolet. He’s starting 25th tonight.

Jimmie Johnson is starting in sixth and is sponsored by Lowes Summer Salute and he's honoring everyone who serve in the military.

David Reutimann is driving the No. 00 Aaron's Armed Forces Foundation Toyota starting in seventh, and last but certainly not least, Dave Blaney is in 42nd and his No. 36 Chevy is sponsored by the Disabled American Veterans.

Kevin Harvick, who starts tonight 28th, will also drive a special version of his No. 29 Budweiser Chevrolet, he calls it a "bad-a** jet-fighter looking car."

Once again, from myself and everyone at Skirts and Scuffs, thanks to all the United States servicemen and women who have proudly served our country, past or present.

Stenhouse Jr. Earns Fifth Top-5 Finish of the Season at Charlotte

Teammates Kenseth, Edwards, and Stenhouse Jr.
Credit: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
Last weekend, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. left Iowa Speedway as a first-time winner. Riding that wave of momentum, he returned to North Carolina with hopes of contending for the win at Charlotte Motor Speedway in the Top Gear 300. Saturday, with a new sponsor on board, Stenhouse Jr. proved once again that he is one of the best performing Nationwide Series regulars so far this season. The No. 6 Fastenal Ford topped the speed charts in final practice on Thursday evening, and held the top position in qualifying on Saturday as Stenhouse Jr. earned his second pole of the season.

He led the first 12 laps on Saturday afternoon before being passed by teammate Matt Kenseth (substituting for Trevor Bayne) in the No. 16 Ford. On lap 19, he fell to 4th after being passed by the No. 33 of Kevin Harvick. Stenhouse Jr. pitted under the competition caution on lap 25 for right-side tires, fuel, and a wedge adjustment. He had slipped back to the 5th position by lap 45 as the car had become tight through every turn. The handling got worse through the following green-flag run, and Stenhouse Jr. pitted under the next caution for four tires, fuel, a wedge adjustment, and a track bar adjustment.

The adjustments helped a little, but the No. 6 Ford continued to run just outside the top-5. In the second half of the race, Stenhouse Jr. began to make a move back toward the front. He cracked the top-5 again on lap 104 as he passed the No. 22 of Brad Keselowski. About thirty laps later, green-flag stops had begun and the No. 6 Ford hit pit road for four tires, fuel, and more adjustments. The caution flag waved again on lap 147, and Stenhouse Jr. was among the few drivers who opted to pit. The No. 6 team made quick work of a four tire stop and making the necessary adjustments, but a lug nut fell off the left side and caused a slight holdup. The pit road mistake left Stenhouse Jr. restarting 12th, but it didn’t take him long to charge back through the field. In the closing laps, he climbed back inside the top-5 to finish 4th, earning his fifth top-5 finish this season, while Roush Fenway Racing teammates Matt Kenseth and Carl Edwards finished 1st and 2nd, respectively. Stenhouse Jr. gained one position in the standings to 2nd, just one point behind leader Elliott Sadler.

“Congratulations to Matt [Kenseth]. We finished one-two-four. We were planning on the one-two-three, and I kind of missed that.” Stenhouse Jr. said. “We just got really tight there at the beginning, lost rear grip at the end. Just couldn’t quite get that last spot for us to get that one-two-three finish. It was a lot of fun.”

Next up is the STP 300 at Chicagoland Speedway on June 4. Coverage is set to begin at 7:30 p.m. ET on ESON.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

NNS: Matt Kenseth wins at the Top Gear 300

Credit: Geoff Burke/Getty Images for NASCAR
Matt Kenseth won for the third time in his career at Charlotte Motor Speedway; for Nationwide Series it's his first start and victory of the season. Kenseth's celebrated his 28th victory in 248 starts in the Nationwide Series races. Kenseth started third in the No. 16 Fastenal Ford Mustang, driving in place of Trevor Bayne.

Bayne was in Kenseth's pit box today and looks forward to returning to the track next weekend. Kenseth said to the press in victory lane earlier, "this is the first Nationwide COT race I've run. I haven't run in over a year, so it was nice to get in this car and come out here and have some fun on Saturday."

Carl Edwards drove his No. 60 Fastenel Ford Mustang to a second place finish after starting in fifth place. Post race he said, "That was a lot of fun. I hope the fans enjoyed that." This is Edwards' seventh top ten finish in 13 races at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. is this weekend's hot ticket after he started on the pole today. He drove his No. 6 Fastenel Ford Mustang to a fourth place finish and was the highest finishing Nationwide only driver.
The three Roush Fenway Fords were hard to distinguish in matching Fastenal sponsorships this week.
Credit: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
All three drivers are scheduled to start in the Coca Cola 600 tomorrow night. Edwards will start in row two in the 3rd position; Kenseth will start in row ten in 19th position and Stenhouse Jr. will make his very first Sprint Cup race (in place of teammate and friend Trevor Bayne) in row five in 6th position. Stenhouse will be climbing into the infamous No. 21 for Wood Brothers Racing, a seat many legends have filled.


1. Matt Kenseth
2. Carl Edwards
3. Kyle Busch
4. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
5. Reed Sorenson
6. Brad Keselowski
7. Steven Wallace
8. Brian Scott
9. Aric Almirola
10. Elliott Sadler
11. Joey Logano
12. Sam Hornish Jr.
13. Justin Allgaier
14. Michael Annett
15. Cole Whitt
16. Kevin Harvick
17. Josh Wise
18. Mike Bliss
19. Danny Efland
20. Kenny Wallace
21. Jason Leffler
22. Kasey Kahne
23. Timmy Hill
24. Morgan Shepherd
25. Mike Wallace
26. Jeremy Clements
27. Kimi Raikkonen
28. Eric McClure
29. Joe Nemechek
30. Derrike Cope
31. Jennifer Jo Cobb
32. Dennis Setzer
33. Kevin Lepage
34. Blake Koch
35. Jeffrey Earnhardt
36. Robert Richardson Jr.
37. John Jackson
38. Tim Andrews
39. Carl Long
40. Mike Harmon
41. David Green 
42. Kelly Bires
43. Jeff Green

Race Command For The 52nd Coca-Cola 600 To Be Delivered By Heroic Marine Who Returned To Combat After Losing Leg

Master Sgt. William "Spanky" Gibson, First Above-the-Knee Amputee to Go
Back to Battlefield, Will Give "Gentlemen, Start Your Engines" Command
at Charlotte Motor Speedway

CHARLOTTE, N.C., May 28, 2011 - Even in a long line of American
military heroes, Master Sgt. William "Spanky" Gibson stands out. He's
the first service member to return to the front lines after losing a leg
above the knee.

Coca-Cola and racing fans around the country will pay tribute to
Gibson's unmatched heroism and the unending service of the entire U.S.
military during the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway this
Memorial Day weekend.

Gibson is delivering the command for the 52nd running of the
Coca-Cola 600 (May 29, 6 p.m. on FOX) as a guest of Coca-Cola. Joining
Gibson in delivering the most famous words in motorsports will be John
Falkenbury, president of the North Carolina chapter of the USO, the
organization that brings a touch of home to American service members
around the globe.

Gibson's military service is a story of strength, determination,
and unwavering commitment to country and colleagues. In May 2006, while
serving with the Marines in Iraq, Gibson and fellow service members on
patrol in Ramadi came under sniper attack. Gibson was struck in the left
knee. Despite a devastating injury, he continued to return fire.

Back in the United States, Gibson never lost focus of his goal
to return to battle. Fitted with a prosthetic leg, he learned to walk,
run, ski and swim. After competing in the grueling Escape from Alcatraz
Triathlon, his commanders offered him a return stint in Iraq - a
deployment Gibson eagerly accepted.

Gibson, who now works at the Pentagon, will be joined at the
track by his family, including his father, William Gibson, Sr., a
Vietnam War veteran who will be celebrating his 71st birthday on race

"Paying tribute to America's military has become part of the
Memorial Day weekend tradition as thousands of fans gather for the
Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway," said Ben Reiling, Director,
Sports Marketing, Coca-Cola North America. "By recognizing a true hero
like Master Sgt. William "Spanky" Gibson, Coca-Cola is inviting racing
fans everywhere to join together in celebrating all of America's
dedicated service members."

In addition to honoring Gibson, Coca-Cola 600 festivities will
pay tribute to all veterans and active U.S. military servicemen and
women. The spectacular pre-race show will include a military assault
demonstration by Special Operations soldiers from Ft. Bragg, N.C.,
on-stage recognition of Medal of Honor recipients, the unfurling of an
11,250 square-foot American flag by family members of active-duty
soldiers, and an inspiring flyover by military aircraft.

Tickets for Troops

Coca-Cola and North Carolina-based Coca-Cola Consolidated are
partnering to provide 600 tickets to troops stationed at area bases. The
companies have purchased the tickets through a program called  Let the
Troops Race, which gives individuals and companies the chance to
purchase tickets for just $20 to send a member of the U.S. armed forces
to the Memorial Day Weekend race.

In addition, Charlotte Motor Speedway offers specially priced
race tickets to all members of the U.S. armed forces who wish to
purchase tickets directly. Military personnel can contact the ticket
office at 1-800-455-FANS and supply a military identification number for
specific details.

Coca-Cola and NASCAR

The Coca-Cola 600 is the longest continuous race sponsorship in
NASCAR. Coca-Cola has been involved with stock car racing for more than
50 years and has been the official sparkling beverage of NASCAR since
1998.  Through its partnerships with International Speedway Corporation,
Speedway Motorsports, Inc. and Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Coca-Cola
refreshes racing fans at the majority of NASCAR-sanctioned tracks.  A
signature part of the brand's NASCAR association is the Coca-Cola Racing
Family - a group of top drivers that includes Greg Biffle, Clint Bowyer,
Kurt Busch, Jeff Burton, Denny Hamlin, Bobby Labonte, Joey Logano, Jamie
McMurray, Ryan Newman, Tony Stewart and alumni drivers Dale Jarrett, Ned
Jarrett, Kyle Petty and Michael Waltrip. Coca-Cola Racing Family members
make appearances and are featured in advertising, promotions and

About The Coca-Cola Company

The Coca-Cola Company (NYSE: KO) is the world's largest beverage
company, refreshing consumers with more than 500 sparkling and still
brands.  The Company's portfolio includes 15 billion dollar brands,
including Coca-Cola, recognized as the world's most valuable brand, as
well as Diet Coke, Fanta, Sprite, Coca-Cola Zero, vitaminwater,
Powerade, Minute Maid, Simply and Georgia. Globally, we are the No. 1
provider of sparkling beverages, juices and juice drinks and
ready-to-drink teas and coffees. Through the world's largest beverage
distribution system, consumers in more than 200 countries enjoy the
Company's beverages at a rate of 1.7 billion servings a day. With an
enduring commitment to building sustainable communities, our Company is
focused on initiatives that protect the environment, conserve resources
and enhance the economic development of the communities where we
operate. For more information about our Company, please visit our
website at www.thecoca-colacompany.com.

About the USO

The USO (United Service Organizations) lifts the spirits of America's
armed forces and their families. We provide a touch of home to troops
wherever they serve through centers at airports and military bases
around the world, top quality entertainment and innovative programs and
services tailored to meet the needs of troops and their families. The
USO is not a government agency and relies on the generosity of the
American people. The USO is also supported by Worldwide Strategic
Partners AT&T Inc., BAE Systems, The Boeing Company, Clear Channel
Communications, The Coca-Cola Company, Gallery Furniture, Lockheed
Martin, Microsoft Corporation, Northrop Grumman Corporation, S & K Sales
Co. and TriWest Healthcare Alliance. Other corporate donors, including
the United Way and Combined Federal Campaign (CFC-11381), have joined
millions of individual donors to support the USO.  For more information,
please visit www.uso.org.

Dollar General and Charlotte Motor Speedway Partner to Fight Breast Cancer With Dollar General 300 Miles of Courage Oct. 14 race

Event supports Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation and honors 300 survivors

CONCORD, N.C. (May 28, 2011) - Dollar General and Charlotte Motor Speedway are renaming the Oct. 14 NASCAR Nationwide Series race the Dollar General 300 Miles of Courage. The newly-named race will sport a pink theme to raise awareness of breast cancer and raise funds for Susan G. Komen for the Cure, the nation's leading breast cancer awareness and research organization.

The race will also honor 300 breast cancer survivors in the "ring of survivors."

"Breast cancer is a devastating disease that affects millions of our customers and friends," said Rick Dreiling, Dollar General's chairman and CEO. "As a longtime supporter of Susan G. Komen for the Cure, Dollar General is pleased to bring this disease to light on the race track through the Dollar General 300 Miles of Courage, while recognizing those who have fought the disease and won."

Fans at the Dollar General 300 Miles of Courage will notice a colorful change at Charlotte Motor Speedway. A special pink race logo will grace the frontstretch grass for the Friday evening race. In addition, the speedway will incorporate the pink motif on the official Toyota Camry pace car, tickets and event branding.

Dollar General will exchange its traditional yellow for pink on its race cars at the Dollar General 300 Miles of Courage. The special pink race logo can be seen today on the No. 32 Dollar General Chevrolet driven by Reed Sorensen in the Top Gear 300.

The Dollar General 300 Miles of Courage will also honor breast cancer survivors. Susan G. Komen will identify local survivors who will receive a special invitation to attend the race, along with a guest. Survivors will receive pink merchandise such as t-shirts and hats and will be honored before the race starts in a "ring of survivors" on the frontstretch.

To raise funds for breast cancer research, Dollar General 300 Miles of Courage frontstretch tickets, which offer great views of pit road and the world's largest HDTV, are on sale now, along with commemorative Dollar General 300 Miles of Courage car magnets. Proceeds from magnet sales will be donated to Susan G. Komen for the Cure.
Speedway Children's Charities, the official charity of Charlotte Motor Speedway, is joining Dollar General in embracing the pink initiative by providing fundraising support for the race event.
"The Dollar General 300 Miles of Courage takes place in the middle of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month so this cause is a natural fit for Speedway Children's Charities to support," said Marcus Smith, president and general manager of Charlotte Motor Speedway and president of the Charlotte Chapter of Speedway Children's Charities. "So many families and children in the NASCAR community are affected each
year when a parent is diagnosed with this disease. Susan G. Komen provides college scholarship support for children who have lost a parent or guardian to breast cancer, and we look forward to raising money for those programs to help kids in our area."
Tickets to the Dollar General 300 Miles of Courage with the fundraising car magnet start at $22 and can be purchased by calling the Charlotte Motor Speedway ticket office at 1-800-455-FANS (3267).

Pole Report: NNS Top Gear 300 from Charlotte Motor Speedway

Credit: Geoff Burke/Getty Images for NASCAR
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. continues his hot streak and puts the No. 6 Fastenal Mustang for Roush Fenway Racing on pole for today’s Top Gear 300. With a lap of 28.88 seconds (183.994 mph) Ricky will be joined on the front row by Kevin Harvick.

1. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
2. Kevin Harvick
3. Matt Kenseth
4. Kyle Busch
5. Carl Edwards
6. Reed Sorenson
7. Sam Hornish Jr.
8. Aric Almirola
9. Kasey Kahne
10. Elliott Sadler
11. Joey Logano
12. Brian Scott
13. Brad Keselowski
14. Cole Whitt
15. Justin Allgaier
16. Steven Wallace
17. Jason Leffler
18. Michael Annett
19. Joe Nemechek
20. Josh Wise
21. Kenny Wallace
22. Kimi Raikkonen
23. Jeremy Clements
24. Mike Wallace
25. Mike Bliss
26. Tim Andrews
27. Blake Koch
28. Kelly Bires
29. Jeffrey Earnhardt
30. Kevin Lepage
31. John Jackson
32. Derrike Cope
33. Timmy Hill
34. Eric Mcclure
35. Jeff Green
36. Dennis Setzer
37. Carl Long
38. Mike Harmon
39. Danny Efland
40. Jennifer Jo Cobb
41. Morgan Shepherd
42. Robert Richardson Jr.
43. David Green

Failing to qualify: Chase Miller and Charles Lewandoski

Tune in to the Top Gear 300 on your local ABC station today at 2:30 pm EST.

Drivers to watch in today's NNS Top Gear 300

Kimi Raikkonen chats with car owner Joe Nemechek in the garage at CMS
Credit: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
Kimi Raikkonen: The Formula One world champ will debut in NASCAR’S Nationwide Series today driving for Kyle Busch Motorsports. Last weekend was his first race for the NASCAR’S World Camping Truck Series, he started 31st and finished in 15th. Thursday was his first day driving the Nationwide Kyle Busch Motorsports Perky Jerky Toyota and he clocked a speed of 176.220 in 30.642 seconds. He goes out 15th today in qualifying.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr: Ricky is having quite a week after becoming the first Nationwide driver to actually win a race this season. (In case you missed it Ricky won the John Deer Dealers 250 from Iowa Speedway.) He’s making strides in Charlotte this week, recording the fastest time in practice on Thursday and earning him the right to go out and qualify 30th today. Tomorrow night, Stenhouse Jr. will be driving in his longest race to date in teammate Trevor Bayne’s car; he races the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane & Auto Ford. He qualified the Wood Brothers car to start in the fifth row, in 9th position with a lap time of 28.309 seconds at 190.752 mph. There have been a lot of surprises in racing this year and there are sure to be a few to come this weekend.

Jeffrey Earnhardt: He will make his third start in the Nationwide series today driving the No. 41 Pepsi Max/Nuts off/Fastwax Chevrolet. After a challenging time in the Truck Series, Earnhardt’s luck has brought him to the Nationwide series; he clocked a speed of 170.455 in 31.680 seconds.

The Nationwide Series goes out to qualify at 10 a.m. ET today, which will be aired on SPEED and the Top Gear 300 Nationwide Race starts at 2:30 and airs on your local ABC station.

Friday, May 27, 2011

A Chat with TMS President Eddie Gossage

Miss Sprint Cup, Ft.Worth Mayor, TMS President Eddie Gossage, and David Starr
Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Eddie Gossage is like most hard-working Americans; he works late sometimes, and on those occasions has been known to share a peanut butter sandwich with his wife before turning in, and lets exhaustion wash over him once he’s safely tucked into his bed. But no one else’s day clocked in at over 24 hours long, filled with NASCAR’s best of the best, ended after a spray of champagne in Victory Lane, is delayed by hours of traffic from departing fans, and disallows sleep because the man’s brain is frantically making notes on how to make things even better next time. Eddie Gossage is the President of Texas Motor Speedway. He oversaw every minute detail that led to the creation of his life’s project. Recently I was delighted to spend half an hour in Mr. Gossage’s presence and learned a lot about NASCAR’s most colorful track president.

Eddie Gossage was a self-described “silly young man” who didn’t tear it up in college with a strong grade point average, but he had an inner drive, perception, and intuition that led to the young Mr. Gossage capitalizing on his strengths and getting gainful employment. After spending time in Wisconsin with Miller Brewing as a publicist and then in Charlotte working for Howard Augustine “Humpy” Wheeler Jr. at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Eddie Gossage honed his skills, gleaned tons of information, and formulated a plan that led to the creation of The Great American Speedway. Thirty-five when the project began, he is still young and fit, showing no signs of slowing down, even after a cancer scare in 2009. Nowadays Mr. Gossage seems even more in command with a quiet calm that illuminates from the inside out.

The quiet calm, however, does not affect his philosophy at work. When I posed the question what makes Texas Motor Speedway an influential track in NASCAR, Mr. Gossage replied simply and eloquently, “You have to be the first, most creative, strive for the best. Why race for second place ever in anything that you do?” Eddie Gossage even relayed that, “The staff runs this place. I tell my staff, ‘Let’s do things better and do things first.’ I am a competitive person. I’m not sure the competitiveness serves me well all of the time. Hiring good people is the key. I’d rather hire the person who has the pride, desire, desire to succeed… if they have these things they can be taught the other things.”

When asked how he defends TMS on criticism that the “cookie cutter” track offers “lackluster racing” Gossage responded with the following assessment, "First of all, the best most newsworthy, most intriguing race of 2010 was the AAA Texas 500 during the Chase. It was a fascinating race with Kyle Busch showing who was number one, you had Jeff and Jeff, the two least likely, ‘discussing’ things out in Turn 2. It was an interesting winner in the end showing what he’d do in 2011. On the other hand, we didn’t have a great race in April. There is no racetrack that will produce barn burners every time.” Now, anybody who says cookie cutter racetrack clearly doesn’t know anything about racing. I will tell you, I’m a short track guy. My favorite short track on the planet is Slinger Super Speedway in Slinger, Wisconsin. It’s a ¼ mile high-banked oval; it’s literally fighter jets turned loose inside a gymnasium. It’s one of those amazing places you’ve got to see! I like dirt tracks, asphalt, road courses, and ovals. I like racing; I don’t know why you gotta be for one and not the rest?"

When questioned on why he and the team at TMS decided on night racing in April for the running of the Samsung Mobile 500 he explained, “First of all, you gotta know my history, I’m originally from Nashville, TN and the fairgrounds there used to run Cup races at night, two a year. They were the only two Cup races at night in the 70's until Bristol had a night race in 1979. My entire career has been night racing. When I was in Charlotte we put in the lights and went night racing in a Super Speedway. We had the first nighttime IndyCar race here at Texas when we opened here in 1997. Night racing is just what you do. Didn’t we all become race fans at some Saturday Night short track? I’m nostalgic on that kind of thing. Good racing doesn’t have anything to do with night or day, spring or fall."

Good racing is nearly irrelevant in Mr. Gossage’s line of work. His business is promotion and filling the seats of his enormous speedway, which he does quite nicely. From season ticket holders to the value tickets offered, TMS brings in loyal fans consistently. Publicity, ad campaigns, and the TMS “American Sweethearts” all are used to entice, seduce, and secure fans for the two events Texas Motor Speedway claims each Sprint Cup Season. The criticism is there, but setting foot in Mr. Gossage’s Great American Speedway for a Cup race would be the ultimate adventure. Mr. Gossage knows his business and, as he explained, does it first and does it best. Texas Motor Speedway just moved to the top of my list for where I want to go to see my next race.

Chief 187 is a writer, columnist, and blogger as well as creator of the widely popular Chief 187 Chatter. Her column “Why I Love NASCAR” and other articles are featured on Skirts and Scuffs. She can be reached via Twitter by following @Chief187s. To find out more please visit http://Chief187.com.

Through the Lens: Charlotte Motor Speedway All-Star Weekend

Rebecca Kivak, Debbie Ross, and
Melissa Wright meet up at the
Last weekend Charlotte Motor Speedway played host to thousands of NASCAR fans. Flocking to the hometown of the sport, fans from all across the United States hoped to get a glimpse of their favorite driver. In the midst of all the fandom, fast cars, and family fun was Skirts and Scuffs contributing photographer Debbie Ross.

With her small, but mighty camera Debbie captured some amazing photos of one of the most anticipated races of the season.  Click on the view full album link to see the full gallery.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Pole Report- Keselowski on the pole for Coca Cola 600

Brad Keselowski earned his second pole at Charlotte Motor Speedway for the Coca-Cola 600 on Thursday. His speed was 192.089 with a time of 28.112. Rounding out the top five were AJ Allmendinger, Carl Edwards, Denny Hamlin, and Jeff Burton.
6. Jimmie Johnson
7. David Reutimann
8. David Ragan
9. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
10. Clint Bowyer
11. Jeff Gordon
12. Ryan Newman
13. Mark Martin
14. Martin Truex Jr.
15. Greg Biffle
16. Paul Menard
17. Kasey Kahne
18. Brian Vickers
19. Matt Kenseth
20. Regan Smith
21. Kyle Busch
22. Tony Stewart
23. Joey Logano
24. Marcos Ambrose
25. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
26. Kurt Busch
27. Bobby Labonte
28. Kevin Harvick
29. Juan Pablo Montoya
30. David Gilliland
31. Travis Kvapil
32. David Starr
33. Michael McDowell
34. J.J. Yeley
35. Jamie McMurray
36. Joe Nemechek
37. Casey Mears
38. David Stremme
39. Mike Skinner
40. Andy Lally
41. T.J. Bell
42. Mike Bliss
43. Scott Wimmer

Who did not make it:
Landon Cassill
Robby Gordon
Dave Blaney
Tony Raines
Scott Riggs

Television schedule:
Practice- 11:30 AM ET Saturday on Speed
Practice- 12:50 PM ET Saturday on Speed
Coca-Cola 600- 6 PM ET Sunday on FOX 

Trevor Bayne optimistic about future

Credit: Geoff Burke/Getty Images for NASCAR
Trevor Bayne has the best attitude for a 20-year-old guy. He's upbeat, positive and optimistic about the lessons he has learned this year. The media was excited to speak with NASCAR’S youngest Daytona 500 winner about his illness these past few weeks and Bayne was excited to be at Charlotte Motor Speedway. He told the press, “I missed you guys!” Not a quote you generally hear from celebrities or athletes.

Steve Newmark, President of Roush Fenway Racing, opened the press session by thanking press saying,  “...express sincere gratitude to everybody in this room and all the media for the respectful way in which you guys have treated this story." He continued to say, “We really do appreciate the fact that you guys respected the privacy of a 20- year-old and let us work through this.”

Eddie Wood, the co-owner of the Wood Brothers Racing, took the time to thank the press as well, “I am like Steve and want to echo the thanks to everyone for the respect they gave our race team as well as Trevor going through all of this.”

Carl Edwards flew to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota to visit and bringing a guitar to him. Tony Stewart was using his plane to fly Bayne's family back and forth to the hospital while team owner Jack Roush flew him back and forth to the Mayo Clinic. Michael McDowell was there (at the Mayo Clinic) with him for five days and everyone in the garage texted him at least once to see how he was. Bayne told press that “it has been incredible to me and a real eye opener of how supportive everyone is in our sport.”

Bayne’s excitement, positive and optimistic energy was certainly inspiring and if you were in a bad mood or feeling sorry for yourself, you suddenly forgot that feeling after listening to him for a minute.

Bayne told press “I think I finally just had to accept that nobody knows. I can promise that if I was just tired or not feeling great I would have still been in the race car because I am a racer.”

Doctors at the Mayo Clinic treated Bayne for things they thought it could be. Initially the cause of illness was thought to be an insect bite. There was no evidence of Lyme Disease, but they treated it just to knock it out and since then symptoms went away. “Everything is 100% back to normal and that is pretty exciting.”

Bayne’s symptoms were double vision and inflammation, which was temporary. His biggest hope is that “it was an isolated event that is temporary and is gone now. The diagnosis, I don’t have it yet.” Steve Newmark interrupted by saying that he wanted to add that doctors that he has seen, which was multiple, particularly at the Mayo Clinic, have cleared him as being fit for racing.”

Bayne’s positivity could be because of his faith and told press he didn’t really ask why me? “I think this year is just helping me figure out what I am made of. I think that if you can handle the biggest high you can have the largest bottom you can have then the rest of the year should easy from here.”

Doctors told Bayne to stay hydrated. He told press that “Michael McDowell always says that hydration is the key to life, joking around with me, but now it really is.”

Bayne also told us that although he doesn’t know what the diagnosis is, it’s not terminal or cancer or leukemia. They thought it was Lyme but didn’t think it was as serious.

“Spinal taps at midnight is not exactly what your looking forward to but it happens.” He told reporters they did MRI's and at one point he had 16 needles in his body at once. They even had shock pads that he didn’t know exsisted.

With all that was happening, Bayne’s biggest concern was how fast he could get back. He asked doctors everyday how long it would take. “For some reason God put peace in my heart. You would think that the first day when I woke up my roommate and asked if I was cross-eyed or something that I would be freaking out. But I was just like, ‘Well, let’s go to the doctors boys.’ So we loaded up and went to the doctor and I had a peace about it.”

He is helping Ricky Stenhouse Jr., teammate and best friend get ready for his debut in the Coca-Cola 600. He says he’s an awesome kid and he’s pumped for him. “I texted him yesterday,” said Bayne, “and told him to own this thing because he deserves it. I think he’s going to do a great job.” Bayne went on to say that he told Stenhouse Jr. “To just enjoy it. It is his first Sprint Cup start. When I was in Texas I was so overwhelmed by everything “I was like, 'Man, I ran a Cup race.'”

Bayne told press that he is pumped about going back to Michigan and Chicago. He raced at Chicago twice so far and he said he has “a little experience there but not a ton.” He’s really excited about Michigan and getting back in both cars.