Saturday, June 30, 2012

Annett earns career-best Nationwide finish at Kentucky

The Bluegrass State agrees with Michael Annett. The Richard Petty Motorsports driver attained his career-best finish – 4th place – in Friday’s Feed the Children 300 Nationwide race at Kentucky Speedway.

After starting in the ninth position, the driver of the No. 43 Ford broke into the top 5 before Lap 50. He led twice for three laps and ran in the top 5 for the majority of the 200-lap event.

Annett’s Kentucky finish is his best in 120 Nationwide starts and his first top 5 in the series. The 26-year-old Iowa native has collected four top 10s in 2012, his first year driving for Richard Petty Motorsports.

Annett was one of 10 cars to finish on the lead lap at Kentucky after Austin Dillon walloped the field in his first series victory.

“The car was just really good from last night, this afternoon to tonight,” Annett said. “This Pilot Flying J Ford Mustang was fast off the truck, and didn’t do anything stupid all weekend so you could keep making adjustments and be confident in them.

“These guys, they deserve top 5s and it’s a shame it took this long to get one.”

Annett sits seventh in the series standings, 99 markers behind points leader Austin Dillon.

“The summer stretch are my favorite racetracks. We know what it’s like to run in the top 10, top 5 all night and we just need to keep doing it,” Annett said.

Friday, June 29, 2012

NNS Race Recap: Austin Dillon, Pole Sitter and Race Winner in Kentucky

Photo Credit: Geoff Burke/Getty Images for NASCAR
Austin Dillon, driver of the No. 3 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet, captured his first win within 26 race starts in the NASCAR Nationwide Series. He crossed the finish line in dominating fashion – 9.828 seconds ahead of Kurt Busch.

Leading for a total of 192 laps, Dillon was able to break Carl Edwards record of 150 laps led at Kentucky Speedway. Two more exciting facts about the impressive night for this young driver is the fact that he is being shown as the new points leader (2+ over teammate Elliott Sadler) and also nabbed honors as being the highest finishing rookie this season.

Dillon believes that his last pit stop helped to seal the deal for his eventual race win tonight - "That last adjustment, he (referring to crew chief Danny Stockman) got me tight enough to fire off the corners really good. We knew Kurt was good, but our car was just stronger."

Car owner and grandfather Richard Childress is elated about this win for his grandson. He commented on the radio “Dale [Earnhardt Sr.] would be proud tonight, I know he would.”

In an emotional post-race interview with ESPN Pit Reporter Dr. Jerry Punch, crew chief Danny Stockman had this to say about the win: “I believe its been 26 races and it’s just really emotional. I mean – this is what we do it for. Richard and Mike believed in me three years ago to come take this kid to a new level and I feel like we can do it.”

The drivers who finished out the top ten tonight are as follows: Kurt Busch, Kevin Harvick, Michael Annett, Justin Allgaier, Sam Hornish Jr., Brad Keselowski, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Elliott Sadler and James Buescher.

Race Cautions:
1. Lap 25 – Jamie Mosley spins
2. Lap 143 – Debris on the frontstretch

Race Highlights:
1. Kurt Busch finished P2 after losing a cylinder with six laps remaining
2. Four different race leaders – Dillon (192), Allgaier (4), Annett (3) and Stenhouse Jr. (1) with seven lead changes
3. Top three green flag speeds – Dillon (169.073), Kurt Busch (168.595) and Kevin Harvick (168.592)

Unofficial Race Results:

The next NASCAR Nationwide race will be held on July 6 at Daytona International Speedway. The Subway Jalapeno 250 powered by Coca Cola will be broadcast on ESPN at 7 p.m. ET

BREAKING NEWS: Dillon's No. 3 car failed post race tech inspection. Heights on the rear of the car were too low and penalties are expected at the beginning of next week.  Note: Elliott Sadler had the same thing happen earlier this year, it was a six point penalty. 
Unique Hiram is an Associate Editor/Contributing Writer/Media Rep for Skirts and Scuffs. Additionally, she is also the author of "Fast Lane Poetry" which was published April 2011. Unique can be contacted via email or through Twitter.

NSCS Pole Report: Johnson on pole for Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway

Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images
Jimmie Johnson continues his path towards a sixth championship, winning the pole award for tomorrow's Quaker State 400. With a lap of 29.700 seconds, 181.818 mph, Johnson is joined on the front row by 2011 race winner Kyle Busch. This is Johnson's 26th pole in 380 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races.

The starting lineup for the Quaker State 400:

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

Kenseth's season "stressful" while Roush "surprised" by driver's exit

Matt Kenseth shakes hands with team owner Jack Roush after winning
at Dover last May. Credit: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR
While Matt Kenseth was having a “stressful season," his longtime team owner Jack Roush was “surprised” to learn his championship-winning driver would not return after this season.

Roush Fenway announced Tuesday that Kenseth, the 2003 Sprint Cup champion and current points leader, would part ways with the organization after 15 years together.

Kenseth has said he has a deal in place for 2013 and beyond, but can’t reveal yet where he’ll land. Speculation puts Kenseth with Joe Gibbs Racing.

The No. 17 Ford team has struggled to find sponsorship for the last few seasons, leaving many to wonder if the lack of stability played into Kenseth’s decision to look outside Roush Fenway. 

Kenseth admitted Friday at Kentucky Speedway that the search for sponsors had taken a toll on him.

“Yeah, it has been kind of a stressful season to be honest with you - really all off season from leading into last off season and the sponsorship search and all that,” said Kenseth, who started the year with a Daytona 500 win. “That was relieved a little bit by signing Best Buy and Fifth Third and some of these people and starting to fill a car up."

“Getting to this point in the season, it was definitely somewhat stressful not knowing 100 percent sure what I was going to do. It all ended up I guess coming together pretty quickly,” he said.

Without offering details, Kenseth affirmed his decision to leave the team where he’s spent his entire Sprint Cup career.

“I really felt and feel like it is absolutely the right thing to do and the right place for me next year and for my future as well,” he said. “It is kind of hard to explain, but a lot of things pointed and pulled me in that direction. A lot of things happened or didn’t happen that led to that.”

As to what those things are, even Roush himself isn’t sure. The team owner said Friday he was shocked by Kenseth’s decision.

“I will say that I was as surprised as most of you must have been when I learned that he would not be signing with us to go forward. It was a surprise and I had no idea that we were at that point,” Roush said.

While Kenseth said he worried about the unknown, Roush said in his mind the search for funding never put Kenseth’s place with the organization in jeopardy.
“Certainly there was not a sponsorship reason why Matt’s future with Roush Fenway was in doubt, before or during negotiations,” Roush said. “There was no predisposition that we were limited to what we would do with Matt going forward based on the sponsorships that were there. We’ve been very much encouraged and had encouraging conversations with all the sponsors around the 17 team and the other programs we have sought sponsorships for.”

Kenseth and Roush’s differing views on the sponsorship situation reveal a disconnect between driver and team owner.

Furthermore, Roush admitted he’s not as involved in money matters as he is in the technical side of the sport. Had he been more aware, he believes he may have been able to address Kenseth’s concerns and re-sign the driver.

“If I had been as vigilant and diligent and interested in that side of the business as I am on finding why a fuel pump broke or why a connection rod bearing failed or how we could get the next pound of downforce – if I had been taking care of the business side of the business as hard as I tried to take care of the technical side, I might have been able to stop that,” Roush said.

Adding to the Kenseth-to-JGR rumors, Roush said Friday that Kenseth is now joining the “dark side.”

“I won’t have the same sense of wishing for his success on the race track next year that I will for the balance of this year and have in the past, he will from my point of view be moving to the dark side,” Roush said.

The team owner has repeatedly referred to the Japanese manufacturer, which backs Joe Gibbs Racing, as the “dark side.”

Special Edition Under the Spotlight: Drivers still worth watching in 2012

Credit: Debbie Ross/Skirts and Scuffs
Back in February before the start of the 2012 NASCAR season “Under the Spotlight” ran a special edition with predictions of the Sprint Cup Series “underdogs” that would be worth watching this year. With 16 races already behind them, some of those drivers have found consistency and will likely find themselves vying for the championship while others will just have to wait until next year. The sport’s senior series will make their second visit ever to Kentucky this Saturday night for the Quaker State 400. For the sake of comparison, Kentucky is a 1.5-mile oval referred to as “cookie-cutter,” because it resembles several other tracks on the circuit such as Texas, Las Vegas, Chicagoland and Kansas. With little to go on as far as notes from last year’s visit to Kentucky, the teams and drivers will rely on past experience at similar tracks for their setup as well as strategy throughout the race. At this point in the season with just 10 races left before the start of the Chase it’s either go big or go home. This special edition of “Under the Spotlight” will highlight some of the underdogs that are still worth watching in 2012.

Martin Truex Jr.

Currently ninth in the point standings, Martin Truex Jr. helped put Michael Waltrip Racing (MWR) on the map this season as a team capable of competing for a championship. The driver of the No. 56 NAPA Auto Parts Toyota started the season off right, earning a pole in the non-points Bud Shootout. He scored his second pole in April in the Samsung Mobile 500 at Texas where he finished sixth. Truex has a total of eight top 10s and four top-five finishes this season. At this point last year, Truex had just five top-10s and no top-fives (he eventually earned a total of 12 top-10 finishes and three top-fives). He has one of the best average finishes at “cookie-cutter” races (18.34 in 32 attempts), but finished 18th in last year’s inaugural Sprint Cup race at Kentucky. 

“Last year we didn’t really run very well there,” said Truex. “In the past, I have had good runs [at Kentucky] in a Nationwide car. I’ve had several top-fives, so I’m not stressing over last year at all. With the way our teams have worked together and the way our Toyotas have been running, I look forward to the challenge.”

Truex is 76 points behind series leader Matt Kenseth and 30 points ahead of 10th-ranked Brad Keselowski.

Joey Logano

Joey Logano surprised everyone at Pocono a few weeks ago by nabbing the pole while also breaking the track record with a lap of 179.598 mph in 50.112 seconds. Thanks to the repave, a reported 36 drivers broke the record held by Kasey Kahne, but Logano was ultimately the fastest. The weekend got even better for the driver of the No. 20 Home Depot Toyota on Sunday when he took home his first win since 2009, beating veteran Mark Martin to the finish line and becoming the first driver this season to win a race after starting from the pole. After his win, Logano sent a clear message to those who doubted him, saying, “I hope it shuts them all up,” said Logano. “It means a whole lot.” 

In three full Cup seasons, the driver has never finished higher than 16th in the standings, but he currently sits 15th and hopes his boost of confidence will help drive him to a spot in the Chase. Logano is 49 points out of the top 10 and sits third in the wild card standings with his single win. So far this season he has one top-five and six top-10 finishes. He finished the season last year with two poles, four top-fives and six top-10s, but was unable to secure a win. 

Logano finished 14th in last year’s race at Kentucky, but is confident that his experience racing at the track in Nationwide Series can help him this weekend. “[Kentucky’s] just one of those places that you just take to,” said Logano. “Ever since I ran my first Nationwide race there back in 2008, I’ve just had a pretty good knack for Kentucky.” Logano has three consecutive Nationwide Series wins at Kentucky in 2008, 2009, and 2010.

Marcos Ambrose
Credit: Debbie Ross/Skirts and Scuffs

Currently ranked 16th in the standings, Marcos Ambrose never won a pole in his 134 races in the Sprint Cup Series, until two weeks ago at Michigan. Now Ambrose has two in a row – he was able to knock five-time champ Jimmie Johnson from the top spot last weekend at Sonoma and take home his second career pole. His pole-earning lap at Michigan made him the first driver in 25 years to surpass 200 mph during a qualifying lap. In both the races at Michigan and Sonoma, Ambrose earned top-10 finishes (ninth and eighth respectively) bringing his total to four top-10s this season. Last year Ambrose won the race at Watkins Glen and finished the season 19th in the standings with five top-fives and 12 top-10 finishes. Now in his second season with Richard Petty Motorsports driving the No. 9 Ford, Ambrose had a real shot at earning his first win of the season at Sonoma, but it just didn’t happen. Luckily, the driver has become more confident on tracks other than the few road-courses on the circuit – over his first three seasons, his average finish on the 1-2-mile tracks (which include upcoming races like Kentucky, Loudon, Michigan, and Atlanta) was 23.0, but over the last two years, he has averaged 15.4 with 11 top-10s in 25 starts. 

Last year Ambrose finished 20th at Kentucky, but ran as high as sixth. “My team and I are really strong on intermediate tracks like Charlotte and Texas, and Kentucky is a sister track to both of those venues,” said Ambrose. “And I’m looking forward to another strong run this weekend. Hopefully we can end up in victory lane at the end of the night.” 

However, if he can’t secure a win at any of these tracks, there’s always Watkins Glen in August. Entering this Saturday’s race at Kentucky, Ambrose is 65 points out of the top 10 in the standings. 

Other Notable Drivers

Ambrose’s teammate, Aric Almirola, driver of the No. 43 Ford for Richard Petty Motorsports is currently 21st in the standings with two top-10 finishes and an average finish of 19.9. Almirola earned his only pole of the season in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte, where he finished 16th. He is 102 points out of the top-10 in the standings and will run at Kentucky for the first time in the Sprint Cup Series. “Mike Ford (crew chief) has really helped us elevate our entire race program, but especially our mile-and-a-half packages,” said Ambrose. “After (we won) the pole at Charlotte, that has really given us a lot of confidence at the tracks we race at the most.” Almirola has an average finish of 19.2 on these intermediate tracks.

AJ Allmendinger is currently 23rd in the standings with one top-five and two top-10 finishes. He earned his only pole of the season back in April at Kansas. In his first season driving the No. 22 “Double Deuce” Dodge for Penske, Allmendinger hopes that his success on intermediate tracks will continue this weekend at Kentucky, and for the next 10 races heading in to the Chase. With a 28th-place finish in last year’s inaugural Cup race at Kentucky, Allmendinger is 125 points out of the top 10 with hopes of earning a higher finish this time a round and climbing closer toward the top 10 in points. “We’re just hoping to be able to go there this weekend and have a solid performance that starts with practice and qualifying on Friday and continues on through Saturday’s race.”

Despite being 24th in the standings, veteran driver Mark Martin has made a bit of a comeback this season. Just a few weeks ago at Pocono, Martin’s No. 55 Toyota had a solid performance nearly beating Joey Logano to the finish in what would have been his first Sprint Cup win since 2009. Despite not having any wins, the pole has become Martin’s best friend – he has earned three poles this season at Richmond, Phoenix, and Dover. Running only a limited-schedule while sharing seat time with team owner Michael Waltrip, Martin has two top-fives and five top-10s with an average finish of 16.0. Despite his high finishes and ability to start from the front, it seems that Martin has struggled with consistency – the 53-year-old driver has had five finishes of 20th or worse, which have held him back from moving up in the standings. Martin is currently 149 points out of the top 10. The driver will not compete in this Saturday’s race at Kentucky, but instead Waltrip will be driving the No. 55 Toyota.

NNS Pole Report: Dillon on pole for second time this season

Austin Dillon continues his impressive run rookie season in the NASCAR Nationwide series, winning the pole for tonight's Feed the Children 300 at Kentucky Speedway. With a lap of 31.359 seconds, 172.199 mph, Dillon surpassed the Cup stars in the top 4 and he along with Ricky Stenhouse Jr. are the only Nationwide regulars in the top 5.

This is Dillon's second pole in only 26 Nationwide starts.

The starting lineup:
  1. Austin Dillon
  2. Kevin Harvick
  3. Brad Keselowski
  4. Sam Hornish Jr.
  5. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
  6. Denny Hamlin
  7. Justin Allgaier
  8. Kurt Busch
  9. Michael Annett
  10. Cole Whitt
  11. Danica Patrick
  12. Elliott Sadler
  13. James Buescher
  14. Ryan Blaney
  15. Brian Scott
  16. Jamie Dick
  17. Mike Bliss
  18. Josh Richards
  19. Jason Bowles
  20. Brad Sweet
  21. Jeremy Clements
  22. Scott Speed
  23. Tanner Berryhill
  24. Joe Nemechek
  25. Reed Sorenson
  26. Kenny Wallace
  27. Danny Efland
  28. Jeff Green
  29. Scott Riggs
  30. Timmy Hill
  31. Chase Miller
  32. Tim Andrews
  33. Tayler Malsam
  34. Mike Wallace
  35. Erik Darnell
  36. Morgan Shepherd
  37. TJ Bell
  38. Josh Wise
  39. Kevin Lepage
  40. Eric McClure
  41. Jamie Mosley
  42. Johanna Long
  43. Blake Koch
Failing to qualify: John Jackson, No. 72

Tune into the race tonight at 7:30 on ESPN 2.  

Benny Gordon: The driving force behind SR2 Motorsports

Benny Gordon
Credit: John Harrelson/Getty Images
If you’re a fan of the NASCAR Nationwide series, you’ve probably noticed the No. 24 car of SR2 Motorsports. The team was birthed in late 2011 by car owners Jason Sciavicco and Mike Ruch. When the two decided to put together a program for the Cope twins, they enlisted the help of NASCAR driver Benny Gordon, who was Angela and Amber Cope’s driver coach.

“I’ve been racing all my life,” Gordon said. “I know the they came to me to run it and use my stuff.”

Gordon drives, works on his own cars and owns the equipment needed to launch a team, plus he’s brought home a checkered flag or two. In his 8-year stint in the CARS Pro Cup Series, (formerly called USARacing) he was Rookie of the Year in 2003 and won two national championships, in 2005 and 2008.

But Gordon doesn’t offer up his impressive stats, such as winning more than one-fourth of the CARS Pro Cup Series events he started: 32 wins in 112 races. Instead, he humbly talks about his current challenges, such as securing sponsorship and finding the right employees.

“We’re trying to hire people, but that isn’t the easiest thing to do,” he said. “We’re being selective of who we hire to build this team.”
Gordon (center) is as comfortable under the hood as
behind the wheel or atop the pit box.
Photo by Beth Bence Reinke for Skirts and Scuffs

For now, Gordon is a multi-tasker for SR2 Motorsports, switching gears from driving the car to working under the hood to “crew chiefing,” as he calls it.

The team has run the No. 24 in every race so far this season.

“We decided to go to Daytona at the last minute and ran well,” Gordon said about his 12th place finish in SR2’s debut race. “They (Sciavicco and Ruch) bought some more cars and I ran the first six races, but I didn’t have any sponsorship money to continue on.”

That’s when Gordon moved to crew chief and the team brought in other drivers: Tanner Berryhill, Casey Roderick, John Wes Townley, Angela Cope and Gordon’s fellow Pennsylvanian, Tim Bainey, Jr., who drove the car at Dover in his first NNS start.

“So now we’re doing basically rental-type deals and the car is good and locked in the points, so it makes it worthy of the type of money you need to keep the operation going,” Gordon said.
Gordon (left) and crew member
Photo by Beth Bence Reinke 

The change to crew chief didn’t sit well with some of Gordon’s fans, who would rather see him behind the wheel.

“I’ve had a good fan base for a lot of years and I really appreciate all of those people,” he said. “It’s pretty neat that they’ve enjoyed it that much that they want to see me keep going. But I also enjoy the coaching and crew chiefing side of it.”

In fact, Gordon said he almost becomes more competitive from the pit box, because he wants the young drivers to do well. Still, he hopes to drive a few more races himself this season and get Angela and Amber behind the wheel more.

Gordon gives his driver last-minute instructions at Dover
Photo by Beth Bence Reinke
SR2 owns two cars, the No. 24 and the No. 00, which Angela drove at Charlotte in May.

“We would like to have both numbers running at some point,” Gordon said.

To learn more, visit the SR2 Motorsports website or follow them on twitter:

Fun fact: The team name comes from the car owners’ names. S is for Sciavicco. R2 is for two Ruchs, Mike and his sister, Rita. It is pronounced “SR squared.”

SR2 Motorports 2012 NNS season so far for the No. 24 car:

Race                     Driver                  Finish

Daytona             Benny Gordon           12
Phoenix             Benny Gordon           27
Las Vegas Benny Gordon           30
Bristol                Benny Gordon            24
Fontana             Benny Gordon           22
Texas                Benny Gordon           33
Richmond         Tanner Berryhill         29
Talladega          John Wes Townley   15
Darlington   Casey Roderick         40
Iowa                  Casey Roderick          20
Charlotte           Casey Roderick         21
  2nd entry/No. 00 car Angela Cope   36
Dover                 Tim Bainey Jr.             25
Michigan            Angela Cope             28
Road America  Casey Roderick        32

Thursday, June 28, 2012

James Buescher wins at Kentucky, becoming first repetitive winner of 2012

Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

There are no other words to describe James Buescher victory during tonight's UNOH 225 at Kentucky Speedway other than a beat down! Buescher dominated the field for 119 of the 150 laps and was clearly on a mission to become the first two-time winner this season.

While Buescher dominated the lead, racing behind him was intense. “The Onion” Todd Bodine was off to a bad start, spinning in Turn 3 at Lap 23. Although Bodine has done the spin and win before, tonight would not be his night. Bodine’s night ended in a wreck at Lap 69, in an accident involving points leader Justin Lofton and last week’s Nationwide winner Nelson Piquet Jr.

Bodine had a run in Turn 1 and dove beneath Lofton, got loose and Lofton knocked into Piquet, Lofton slammed the outside wall. From Bodine’s point of view, the accident is Lofton’s error.

"I thought Justin was blowing up," Bodine said. "I caught him so fast -- I didn't know what was going on, if he got loose off of [Turn] 4 or what. I caught him so fast, thought he was blowing up, so I went under him, and, obviously, he wasn't blowing up . . ."

"He's got plenty of room outside -- he's got to learn to give some space here. When you get that close and that tight on somebody, you're just taking all their air, and there's absolutely nothing you can do about it."

Bodine and Piquet were done at that point, Lofton was able to continue on and finished the race in 14th, attempting to minimize the points damage.

In his debut, Kyle Larson is making a statement:

A young rookie by the name of Kyle Larson made his NCWTS debut this evening, racing the No. 4 Truck for Turner Motorsports. Larson's story was followed closely by SPEED throughout the race and I have to say, I am thoroughly impressed! He is under contract with Chip Ganassi, this is a name you will be hearing for years to come and you saw him first in the NASCAR Truck Series. Finishing in 10th, the 19 year old driver held his own up against series veterans.

Race results:
  1. James Buescher
  2. Brad Keselowski
  3. Ty Dillon
  4. Matt Crafton
  5. Timothy Peters
  6. Johnny Sauter
  7. Joey Coulter
  8. Jason Leffler
  9. Ron Hornaday Jr.
  10. Kyle Larson
  11. Jason White
  12. Miguel Paludo
  13. Dakoda Armstrong
  14. Justin Lofton
  15. David Starr
  16. Ryan Sieg
  17. Paulie Harraka
  18. Clay Greenfield
  19. Parker Kligerman
  20. Chris Fontaine
  21. Caleb Holman
  22. Brennan Newberry
  23. Tyler Young
  24. Tim George Jr.
  25. Cale Gale
  26. Bryan Silas (relieved mid-race due to illness, replace by Ross Chastain)
  27. Jeff Agnew
  28. Todd Bodine
  29. Nelson Piquet Jr.
  30. Max Gresham
  31. Jake Crum
  32. John Wes Townley
  33. Ross Chastain
  34. CE Falk
  35. Dennis Setzer
  36. Scott Riggs
As mentioned, Lofton's crash created a points shakeup, Timothy Peters is back on top but only by 4 points. 
  1. Timothy Peters
  2. Justin Lofton -4
  3. Ty Dillon -4
  4. James Buescher -9
  5. Parker Kligerman -34
  6. Matt Crafton -42
  7. Joey Coulter -50
  8. Ron Hornaday -53
  9. Nelson Piquet -57
  10. Miguel Paludo -75
  11. Jason White -76
  12. Todd Bodine -78
  13. Johnny Sauter -86
  14. Cale Gale -86
  15. David Starr -91

Denny Hamlin races Iditarod champion in Alaska

Denny Hamlin prepares to race 2012 Iditarod champion Dallas Seavey during a visit to the
FedEx Express Hub in Anchorage, Alaska, on Monday.
Credit: Brian Adams/FedEx Racing
By Rebecca Kivak

Denny Hamlin is used to racing against the big dogs in the Sprint Cup Series. But earlier this week in Alaska, he raced with some actual big dogs.

After Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Sonoma, the driver of the No. 11 FedEx Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing jetted off to the Land of the Midnight Sun. On Monday, Hamlin met more than 1,000 FedEx employees from across Alaska at the FedEx Express Hub in Anchorage.

FedEx's motto is "Every day is race day," and for Hamlin that would turn out to be true. While at the FedEx facility, Hamlin met reigning Iditarod champion Dallas Seavey. After signing autographs for the employees, the two took the action to the parking lot.

Seavey taught Hamlin a quick lesson in the sport of dogsled racing, or mushing. Then the two racers duked it out on a 100-yard course. Hamlin won the first of three races, with Seavey winning the last two.

“It was a lot of fun. Dallas was great to us,” Hamlin said about competing against the Iditarod champion.

Hamlin, 31, was in awe of Seavey, who at 25 became the youngest musher to win the heralded 975-mile event.

Hamlin, left, chats with Seavey during Monday's event in
Anchorage, Alaska. Credit:
Credit: Brian Adams/FedEx Racing
“It was amazing to hear the conditions they go through, being anywhere from 40 above zero (degrees) to 50, 60 below zero during the Iditarod run, thousand-mile run,” Hamlin said. “It's amazing to see what they do on that side and what kind of racing they do.”

The trip was Hamlin’s first to Alaska. In addition to the thrill of dogsled racing, Hamlin will remember the smiles of the FedEx employees who welcomed him.

“It was a great experience,” Hamlin said. “I had never been to Alaska before up until this past weekend, but got a chance to visit the Anchorage hub. There's 1,300 FedEx employees at that hub and greeted all of them with smiles and they just had a great time.”

FedEx has sponsored Hamlin since his entry into the Sprint Cup Series in 2005. Hamlin has participated in a lot of sponsor events since then, but this one gave him an opportunity to reach out to an area not normally on NASCAR’s radar.
“Living in Anchorage, Alaska, they don't get to see a whole lot of racing, nor do they get to see their driver too often. So it was a very exciting time for them,” Hamlin said.

Will a return trip to America’s 49th state be on Hamlin’s itinerary in the future? The driver hopes so.

“It almost feels like a different country that you're in,” he said. “…We were only up there for 24 hours and whatnot. So I didn't get to see all of the things that I would love to see about it.
“So (I) have to make another trip up there to get to experience it, because Alaska, the wilderness and the glaciers and all is what makes Alaska what it is.”

NCWTS Pole Report: Crafton building momentum with pole award

After an extended break, the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series is bank in action and the action is ready to heat up. Temperatures are soaring well above 100 and the action on this Thursday night race will soar as well.

Claiming the pole award for tonight's race was Matt Crafton, carrying over his momentum from a second place finish at Texas Motor Speedway. With a lap of 31.162 seconds (173.288 mph), Crafton is joined on the front row by last week's Nationwide winner, Nelson Piquet Jr.

The starting lineup:

  1. Matt Crafton
  2. Nelson Piquet Jr.
  3. James Buescher
  4. Ty Dillon
  5. Miguel Paludo
  6. Johnny Sauter
  7. Timothy Peters
  8. Parker Kligerman
  9. Cale Gale
  10. Justin Lofton
  11. Ron Hornaday Jr.
  12. Jason White
  13. Todd Bodine
  14. Ross Chastain
  15. Tim George Jr.
  16. Joey Coulter
  17. Brad Keselowski
  18. Jason Leffler
  19. Max Gresham
  20. Jake Crum
  21. Clay Greenfield
  22. John Wes Townley
  23. Paulie Harraka
  24. David Starr
  25. Kyle Larson
  26. Dakoda Armstrong
  27. Dennis Setzer
  28. Bryan Silas
  29. Ryan Sieg
  30. Jeff Agnew
  31. Brennan Newberry
  32. Scott Riggs
  33. Caleb Holman
  34. Tyler Young
  35. Chris Fontaine
  36. C.E. Falk

Failing to qualify: Norm Benning, Jennifer Jo Cobb, Johnny Chapman and Chris Lafferty

Tune into the UNOH 225 tonight on SPEED starting with the setup show at 7:30 pm est.

5 Questions Before: Quaker State 400

Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images
Temperatures are expected to reach triple digits this weekend in Kentucky but that won’t stop race fans from heading to Sparta for the second annual Quaker State 400 weekend, at least those who aren’t still sore from last summer’s debacle.

Here are a few questions on my mind as we head into this triple-header weekend.

1. Will fans actually be able to get to the race, or will they be content listening to the action play out on their car radios while they wait in traffic? 2011 was a public relations nightmare for Kentucky Speedway. Traffic was backed up for miles with little movement for hours. Many fans dealt with overheating engine issues and some even ran out of gas while they waited in the hot summer sun. Although many made it to the stands, thousands were turned away at the gates because of inadequate parking. In the year since, Kentucky Speedway has put millions of dollars into renovating the area to add additional parking, but will that be enough and more importantly, are fans willing to give the track a second chance?  And will Bruton Smith be on hand to direct traffic if it all falls apart?

2. How many times will Matt Kenseth be asked his plans for 2013 and beyond? There’s little doubt that Matt Kenseth parted ways with Roush Fenway without a plan for 2013, but so far the 2003 Champion is keeping quiet about where he intends to move for the next phase of his career. Roush announced Tuesday that the current points leader would part ways with the team at season’s end and that defending Nationwide Series Champion, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. would fill the void. Most sources put Kenseth at Joe Gibbs Racing for 2013 either taking over the No. 20 or driving a fourth car, but there are a few other options that could unfold in the coming weeks. Luckily for Kurt Busch, the news is elsewhere this week.

3. Speaking of Kurt Busch, was his near win at Sonoma last weekend just a fluke? Driving a car that wasn’t put together until midnight on Monday before the race, Busch battled eventual race winner Clint Bowyer hard in the closing laps before breaking something in the rear of the car. After the race an emotional Busch praised his team for their hard work getting the car ready. Busch’s third place finish was his highest of the season and the highest ever on a road course for Phoenix Racing. Has Busch learned anything the past few weeks? One things for certain, he’s got fire in his belly and he’s gonna give it his best. Let’s just hope he remembers to mind his P’s and Q’s in the media center.

4. Will the racing be competitive or will we see more follow the leader at Kentucky Speedway? Those who made it into the stands last year expected to see an exciting race with a close margin of victory. They expected to see lots of passing during the green flag runs. They expected the event to live up to the hype. Instead the 400-mile race was mostly uneventful as Kyle Busch led 125 laps en route to his third victory of the season.

5. Paging Kevin Harvick Okay, so that’s not really a question. 16 races into the season and Kevin Harvick hasn’t even made a blip on the radar. This time last season he had already racked up three of his four victories, but 2011 hasn’t been so kind. The man nicknamed “The Closer” has only three top-five finishes. He’s not the only driver struggling though, but maybe this weekend Harvick can finally break out and earn his first checkered flag of the season. That would be the perfect gift for “Baby Otis” who will be making his debut in the coming weeks.

Strap in tight and remember to hydrate. It’s going to be a scorcher.

Mackena Bell: "If it were easy, everyone would be doing it."

Mackena Bell
Photo courtesy of Rev Racing
Carson City, Nevada native, Mackena Bell is making a name for herself as she progresses through NASCAR's Drive for Diversity program, with Rev Racing.

Headquartered in Concord, N.C., Rev Racing, owned by Max Siegel, is part of the NASCAR Drive For Diversity program, which is the industry's leading development program for minority and female drivers and pit crew members.

This up-and-coming third generation driver got a late start at the age of 12, while racing go-karts with her family.

“When I started racing, it wasn’t anything that I was focused on as a dream or a career, I did it because it was fun,” said Bell.

As her wins continued to increase, this fun turned into a passion, and Bell decided that she was born to be a driver.

“One day I realized this is it, I could not imagine being anywhere else on a Saturday because there is nothing compared to being in a race car,” said Bell.

Working her way up the racing ladder, from Super Outlaw Dirt Karts to Super Late Models, Bell has continued to pursue her dream.

This dream included an education with the Women in the Winner’s Circle Academy, established by former female IZOD IndyCar veteran, Lyn St. James. Past graduates include Bell's mentor, Danica Patrick, as well as former IZOD IndyCar Series driver and the first and only female team owner, Sarah Fisher.

Continuing to pursue her goal to become a successful top female driver, Bell, participated in NASCAR's Drive for Diversity combine, in 2009. Her impressive performance led to an invitation to compete with Position One Motorsports in the Super Late Model division, at Toyota Speedway, in Irwindale, CA. After completing her rookie season with a top-10 points finish, Bell made history by becoming the first female in this division with a podium finish.

Currently competing in her third season with Rev Racing, in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series, she and fellow teammate, Trey Gibson, are competing in a limited schedule at Hickory Motor Speedway. When not racing, Bell also travels with Rev Racing's K&N Pro Series East team to observe and learn from her fellow Drive for Diversity teammates.

With women in NASCAR still being considered a minority, Bell says that the Drive for Diversity program will help her achieve her dreams to compete in the highest levels of motorsports.

Photo courtesy of Rev Racing
“I am so grateful to be working with NASCAR, Rev Racing, as well as great marketing partners like Toyota and Toyota Racing Development who provide the resources necessary to succeed in this sport,” said Bell. “This program has made me what I am today and it is such an amazing opportunity that I am so grateful for.”

NASCAR's Drive for Diversity program has launched the careers of Paulie Harraka, who currently competes in the Camping World Truck Series, along with Joe Gibbs development driver, Darrell Wallace Jr.

“It is awesome seeing former fellow teammates move up and experience success knowing that they were a part of this program,” said Bell. “It gives me a lot of high hopes that I will continue to move up in this sport.”

For women who have a dream to compete in motorsports, Bell shared her words of wisdom.

“My biggest advice to anybody that wants to do something like this, or has any type of dream, is don’t give up. Try to focus on what is important and remember that this dream will not be an easy one to achieve. If it were easy everyone would be doing it.”

Bell will be competing in her No. 4 Toyota Racing Development Camry this Saturday at Hickory Motor Speedway. For more information about Mackena Bell visit or follow her on Twitter Twitter @MaCkeNaBeLL, or on her website at

NASCAR Fantasy Fusion: Kentucky

Track Classification: Intermediate
Similar Tracks: Atlanta Motor Speedway • Charlotte Motor Speedway • Chicagoland Speedway  Darlington Raceway • Homestead-Miami Speedway • Kansas Speedway 
Las Vegas Motor Speedway • New Hampshire Motor • Texas Motor Speedway
Distance: 1.5 Miles

Although Kentucky Speedway has hosted other NASCAR Series races, last spring the track hosted its inaugural Sprint Cup race, which was won by Kyle Busch. Busch was also the polesitter by virtue of owner's points since qualifying was rained out. Since we only have one race in the books, looking at statistics on similar tracks is a good place to start when thinking about your fantasy team.

Drivers with Most Top 10s - Intermediate Tracks (Last 5 Years):
Jimmie Johnson - 73
Carl Edwards - 67
Matt Kenseth - 59
Both with 58 - Tony Stewart and Jeff Gordon
Greg Biffle - 56
Kevin Harvick - 55

Last year's race Top 10:
Winner: Kyle Busch
2. David Reutimann
3. Jimmie Johnson
4. Ryan Newman
5. Carl Edwards
6. Matt Kenseth
7. Brad Keselowski
8. David Ragan
9. Kurt Busch
10. Jeff Gordon

The Likely Suspects: When you look at intermediate tracks and then take the subset of "cookie-cutter tracks" (Atlanta, Charlotte and Texas) an elite group of likely suspects emerges. They include Matt Kenseth, Jimmie Johnson, Kevin Harvick, Tony Stewart, Kurt Busch and Denny Hamlin.

My 2 Cents: My prudent, no-brainer pick is Jimmie Johnson followed closely by Kyle Busch, although Matt Kenseth is also an excellent pick. I will round out my team with Martin Truex Jr., Dale Earnhardt Jr., Greg Biffle, Ryan Newman, Aric Almirola and David Reutimann.

Enjoy the race. Post your comments here or email me at

TV Schedule: June 28-July 1

Can Kyle Busch turn his luck around at Kentucky? Credit: Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images
This weekend NASCAR heads to the Bluegrass State. The Sprint Cup Series makes its second annual trip to Kentucky Speedway. All three series are back on track at the 1.5-mile speedway.

After last year's "Carmageddon" disaster, here's hoping Kentucky makes the most of its second chance.

Last year's inaugural Cup race winner Kyle Busch returns to Kentucky after four weeks of bad luck. Can the younger Busch brother turn his luck around this weekend?

The Nationwide Series goes back to ovals after an eventful race at Road America. The Camping World Truck Series returns after a three-week hiatus for a rare Thursday night appearance.

Track facts
Kentucky Speedway, Sparta, Ky.
Length: 1.5-mile tri-oval
Type: Intermediate
Banking: 14 degrees in the turns, 8 degrees on the frontstretch, 4 degrees on the backstretch

2011 winner:
Kyle Busch

2011 winner:
Brad Keselowski

2011 winner:
Spring: Kyle Busch
Fall: Ron Hornaday

The following is a schedule of track events and TV coverage this weekend at Kentucky. All times are in Eastern Standard Time. Events without a channel listed will not be televised:

Thursday, June 28:
10:30 a.m. NCWTS Practice
12 noon NCWTS Practice
5 p.m. NCWTS Qualifying, SPEED
6:30 p.m. NASCAR Race Hub, SPEED
6:30 p.m. NNS Practice
7:30 p.m. NCWTS SetUp, SPEED
8 p.m. NCWTS: UNOH 225, SPEED

Friday, June 29:
9 a.m. NNS Practice
11 a.m. NASCAR Performance, SPEED
11:30 a.m. NSCS Practice, SPEED
12:30 p.m. NASCAR Live, SPEED
1:30 p.m. NSCS Final Practice, SPEED
3 p.m. NASCAR Live, SPEED
3:30 p.m. NNS Qualifying, SPEED
5 p.m. NSCS Qualifying, SPEED
6:30 p.m. Trackside, SPEED. Guest: Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
7 p.m. NNS Countdown, ESPN2
7:30 p.m. NNS: Feed the Children 300, ESPN2
11 p.m. Trackside (re-air), SPEED
11:30 p.m. NSCS Final Practice (re-air), SPEED

Saturday, June 30:
1 a.m. NSCS Qualifying (re-air), SPEED
3:30 a.m. NNS: Feed the Children 300, ESPN2
12 noon NASCAR Now presented by 5-HOUR Energy, ESPN2
3:30 p.m. NASCAR Performance, SPEED
4 p.m. SPEED Center NASCAR Edition, SPEED
4:30 p.m. NASCAR RaceDay, SPEED
6:30 p.m. NSCS Countdown to Green, TNT
7:30 p.m. NSCS: Quaker State 400, TNT
11 p.m. NASCAR Victory Lane, SPEED

Sunday, July 1:
8 p.m. NASCAR Victory Lane (re-air), SPEED
9 p.m. Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain, SPEED

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Travel Tips: Kentucky Speedway

Kentucky Speedway will play host to a triple-header of night races for the NASCAR Camping World Truck (UNOH 225), NASCAR Nationwide (Feed the Children 300) and Sprint Cup (Quaker State 400) Series’ this upcoming weekend.

Since many race fans will begin descending upon the track area beginning early this week, whether camping out or staying at area hotels, I wanted to give you some insight to a few local attractions and recreation along with upcoming events that may be of interest. Most of these are either located in the vicinity of or within the local communities surrounding the speedway.

In searching the areas located near Kentucky Speedway, I have narrowed it down to the county in which the racetrack is located as well as two of the surrounding counties that have several points of interests and upcoming events.

Carrollton Carroll County – “Where the Kentucky and Ohio Rivers meet” is where this county is located just off Interstate 71 strategically placed midway between Louisville, KY and Cincinnati, OH. It is approximately 14 miles from the speedway and home to General Butler State Resort, which consists of 791 acres of land surrounding a 30-acre lake – sounds relaxing.

· Local Attractions/Recreation: Includes but not limited to - Fishing, Horseback Riding, Miniature Golf, Miniature Train, Paddleboats and Walking/Biking Trails

· Upcoming Events: Race Fest 2012 on June 27, 6 p.m.-10 p.m. This event includes activities such as race car simulators, karaoke and live music along with a car and motorcycle show.

Gallatin County – “Little, but in the middle of it all” is the motto for this small local community. Gallatin County plays host to Kentucky Speedway, which is located in Sparta, KY – one of the cities that make up this incorporated tri-city county that include Glencoe and Warsaw.

· Local Attractions/Recreation: Sugar Bay Gold Course LLC and Craigs Creek Boating

· Upcoming Events: City of Warsaw Summer Riverfront Concert Series featuring The Makeshifts Rockabilly on June 28, 7 p.m.-10 p.m. Free Admission.

Owen County – Known as “The Heart of the Golden Triangle” due to its location to major highways I-75, I-71 and I-64, this county offers a variety of attractions and recreation for visitors. Nestled in central Kentucky, it is only an hour drive from Lexington and Louisville as well as located minutes from the speedway.

· Local Attractions/Recreation: Elk Creek Hunt Club, Elk Creek Vineyards, Owen County Quilt Trail and Perry Park Golf Resort

· Upcoming Events: Owen County Fan Fair 2012

Although I can’t personally endorse any of the places mentioned, I am sure that there will be some adventures and good times to be had in these various local communities. You will note that I did not include places to eat because I realize that everyone has a different preference; however, you can click on the links and see what types of restaurants are in those specific areas.

On June 29, according to posted information on the Kentucky Speedway website, fans will have the opportunity to bid for a chance to participate in Parade Laps with some of the NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers along with providing support to Speedway Children’s Charities. For further details, see link:

Be sure to also view the Kentucky Speedway Fan Guide for information on such things as the fan zone, parking, track maps and tours – just to name a few. And remember coolers are welcome at the track this year! 

Enjoy and have a great race weekend!

Race Broadcast Information:

June 28 - NASCAR Camping World Trucks: UNOH 225, SPEED, 7:30 p.m. ET
June 29 - NASCAR Nationwide: Feed The Children 300, ESPN2, 7 p.m. ET
June 30 - NASCAR Sprint Cup: Quaker State 400, TNT, 6:30 p.m. ET

Unique Hiram is an Associate Editor/Contributing Writer/Media Rep for Skirts and Scuffs. Additionally, she is also the author of "Fast Lane Poetry" which was published April 2011. Unique can be contacted via email or through Twitter.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

In The Hunt with RCR: Sonoma

With no wins and only four top-five finishes in up to nearly two decades of road races for RCR drivers Jeff Burton, Kevin Harvick and Paul Menard, the team generally tries to make it out of Sonoma without major incident. The 2012 season was no exception, with all three drivers managing to improve on their starting positions, Jeff Burton was even received the USG Improving the Finish award for moving up 24 places during the first of the year's two races where right turns count, too. 

While Team RCR isn't burning up the track yet, they're at least holding steady for the time being. With just ten races to go before the Chase, only Harvick looks as if he'll make the cut.

Jeff Burton, No. 31 Wheaties Chevrolet

Start -  35
Finish - 11
Laps Led - 0 
Points Start - 21
Points Finish - 19

Qualifying has never been one of Jeff Burton's strengths and Sonoma was no exception. Maybe it was the Wheaties on the hood, but his 19th start at the California track came within one position of being only his sixth top ten. By Lap 15 the No. 31 was in 25th position and spent the next 70 or so laps steadily working his way into the top 20. With no major handling issues, Burton finished  in 11th place, his best finish at the track since 2007, and climbed to 19th in points.

Kevin Harvick, No. 29 Rheem Chevrolet

Start - 26                
Finish - 16
Laps Led - 0
Points Start -  6
Points Finish - 6

A middle-of-the-pack starting position didn't hurt Kevin Harvick and the No. 29 Rheem machine as much as running out of fuel mid-race while running in the top 10 and having to regain all the places he'd gained. Though he wasn't able to get back to the leaders to score a third consecutive top 10 on the twisting course, he did manage to avoid the late-race cautions and finish in 16th, retaining sixth position in the points.

Paul Menard, No. 27 Moen / Menards  Chevrolet

Start -  23
Finish - 20
Laps Led - 0 
Points Start -  14
Points Finish - 14

The highlight of  Paul Menard's day was on Lap 106 when he, Kyle Busch, and Juan Pablo Montoya spun, bringing out the final caution and setting up the green-white-checkered finish. Prior to that, he started in 23rd,  got as high as 17th, but mostly ran around 20th place, where he ended the day. On the bright side, he didn't get in major trouble and managed to hold on to his points position, but he didn't particularly distinguish himself, and he's no closer to earning a wild card slot.


While the Cup drivers visited wine country, the Nationwide Series raced in cheese country. Road America at Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin provided exciting racing through the entire field, with the RCR team in the thick of it. Austin Dillon in the No. 3 AdvoCare Chevrolet held on to his points position and managed to stay mid-pack without major consequence despite dropping a gear.

“We lost third gear on lap 12 and it’s really hard to recover from something like that. The guys did a great job using pit strategy to help me gain some positions on the race track," Dillon said, "and I did the best that I could shifting using only second gear and fourth gear. We were able to maintain in the point standings even with a 20th-place finish, so that is the bright side of the day.”

Elliott Sadler in the No. 2 Charter Chevy leads Dillon by a mere 11 points despite finishing behind him in 15th place. Sadler tangled briefly with Jacques Villeneuve, and said “Today was disappointing for the No. 2 Charter Chevrolet team. Our guys worked hard all weekend, and it was unfortunate to finish 15th after the incident late in the race. We did everything we could to gain as many spots at the end.” 

Mad Max Papis joined the RCR on track team for Road America and almost stole the whole show. His fender-to-fender battle with Danica Patrick could have decided the race had Patrick not been booted into the gravel by Villeneuve. Papis, who currently coaches Austin and Ty Dillon, hopes to earn a full-time ride with RCR, and finishes like his fourth place could help.

"It was such an honor to drive the No. 33 Rheem/Menards Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing today at Road America," said Papis. "We had a really fast car and overcame a pit road penalty to finish fourth, which says a lot about this team and all our hard work. I can’t thank Rheem and Menards enough for all of their support. I had a blast today.”

Fast Facts: Charlie Kimball

Photo by Lisa Janine Cloud
for Skirts and Scuffs
IZOD IndyCar Series driver Charlie Kimball began driving go-karts at age 9, and 18 years later he’s driving for one of the top-ranked IndyCar teams in the world, Chip Ganassi Racing. He’s also driving with a disease that put his career choice on hiatus for part of the 2007 season. Find out more about Kimball, who was recently awarded for his community and public service, in this week’s Fast Facts.
  • Kimball was born February 20, 1985 in Chertsey, England but grew up in Camarillo, California. Kimball’s father, Gordon, was a Formula One and IndyCar designer.
  • Kimball began racing go-karts at age 9 and won seven National Go-Karting Championships. He tested a Formula Ford on his 16th birthday and as hooked on auto racing – he even bypassed acceptance into Stanford University to pursue racing as a career.
  • From 2002 to 2006, Kimball raced in a series of Formula divisions, including Formula Dodge, Formula Ford and Formula Three. In 2007, with just two races remaining in the Formula Renault 3.5 Series season, Kimball was hospitalized due to the onset of Type 1 diabetes.
  • Kimball returned to action in 2008 in the Formula Three Euroseries, moving up to the Firestone Indy Lights Series in 2009. That same year, he began his partnership with Novo Nordisk, a company dedicated to diabetes care; they continue to serve as Kimball’s sponsor in the IZOD IndyCar Series, which he moved up to in 2011.
  • In 2011, Kimball became the first driver to qualify for the Indy 500 with Type 1 diabetes; he finished 13th.
  • Kimball was recently among the 18 people awarded the Jefferson Award for Public Service in recognition for his work in spreading awareness of diabetes and for helping others pursue their dreams in the wake of diabetes. Others honored this year included musicians Harry Connick Jr. and Branford Marsalis, CIA director David Petraeus, former Buffalo Bills quarterback Jim Kelly and former NHL star Pat LaFontaine.
  • Find out more about Charlie Kimball and follow his blog at

Bombshell: Stenhouse Jr. to replace Kenseth at Roush Fenway Racing in 2013

Credit: Kentucky Speedway
Reaping the rewards of an exciting 2011 Nationwide Series Championship season and a great start to 2012, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. will be moving to the Sprint Cup Series full-time in 2013 for Roush Fenway Racing. The Mississippi native, who just two years ago saw his NNS ride nearly slip from his grasp, will take the seat being vacated by Matt Kenseth.

Yes, you read correctly, Matt Kenseth will part ways with Roush Fenway Racing after the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway in November. 

In a press release issued by Roush Fenway Racing, team owner Jack Roush said, "Matt has been an integral part of this organization for well over a decade and we are extremely appreciative of his accomplishments and contributions to the team, and will always consider him a part of the Roush Fenway family."

Kenseth, who has been with Roush for his entire career, has 22 victories and one championship as driver of the No. 17. Kenseth, reigning Daytona 500 winner, is currently the points leader.

What's in store for Kenseth's future? Speculation seems to put Kenseth behind the wheel of a Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota for the 2013 season, though JGR isn't confirming. If Kenseth does make the move to Gibbs, would it be to pilot the No. 20, currently driven by Joey Logano, or is Coach planning on a fourth team? If there's no fourth team, then what happens to Logano? Back to Nationwide? It's worked for Elliott Sadler. 

As for other options, there really aren't that many open rides up for grabs. If Kenseth wants to say in a Ford, he could make the move to Penske Racing. The team will transition from Dodge to Ford at the conclusion of 2012 and Allmendinger, who has a one-year deal with the organization, has struggled mightily since joining Penske.

But a statement released today from Jamie Allison, director of Ford Racing, seems to signal Kenseth's swan song from the manufacturer. “All of us at Ford are certainly disappointed to hear that Matt will be leaving, and he will be certainly missed by us and the Ford Racing fans," Allison said. "We are thankful for Matt’s winning efforts and championship-caliber success with the Roush and Ford racing programs these past 16 years, both on and off the track. We will focus on this year and look forward to more success on the track in his No. 17 Ford Fusion this season.”

If Kenseth jumps manufacturers, there's an option to join the Stewart-Haas Racing team and take over Ryan Newman's seat, assuming that team owner Tony Stewart and Newman can't reach a deal. Maybe a switch-up at Richard Childress Racing is in the works? Could Jeff Burton be on his way out or is he just a place-holder until Austin Dillon is ready to make the move to Cup? 

No matter where Kenseth ends up, today's bombshell announcement has tongues wagging and fans wondering where Mr. Consistency will land for 2013.