Sunday, September 30, 2012

Brad Keselowski wins at Dover after a late fuel-saving run

Keselowski celebrates at Dover
Photo by Beth Bence Reinke for Skirts ad Scuffs   
Today’s AAA 400 featured long green runs, making it a nail-biting, fuel strategy race for both crews and drivers.

With nine laps to go, Kyle Busch was leading the AAA 400 with teammate Denny Hamlin running second. But when both Gibbs cars pitted for a splash-and-go, Brad Keselowski grabbed the lead and finished strong to take the checkered flag.

“Slow” and steady won the race for the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge. After his final pit stop, Keselowski managed to save fuel for the last leg of the race, while maintaining enough speed to run in the top five. In fact, Keselowski ran in the top five most of the race, even after an extra-long pit stop caused by a jack issue.

Today’s victory is Keselowski’s fifth win this season and his first at Dover International Speedway. After winning two out of three Chase races, he leads the points standings over Jimmie Johnson by five points.

When asked how he won this race by driving slower to save fuel, Keselowski said:

Keselowski ready to climb from his car in Victory Lane
Photo by Beth Bence Reinke   
“It wasn’t easy. The Dodge team and Penske have done an incredible job with these engines with power and fuel balance to go faster. I ran up front all day. I may not have had the best car but hung around in that top five, just creeping around and when you do that, you put yourself in position for good thing to happen.”

Runner-up Jeff Gordon had a fast car and ran near the front all day. Today’s finish was his 14th top 10 this season and his 22nd top 10 in 40 races at the Monster Mile. Gordon is 10th in the points standings, 48 behind leader Keselowski.

Mark Martin started 25th but was an early mover, gaining 11 positions in the first 35 laps and running in the top 10 for the last three-quarters of the race. His third place finish marked Martin’s 32nd top 10 in 53 races at Dover.

Photo by Beth Bence Reinke
Caution report:
Lap 70: debris
Lap 180: debris
Lap 247: debris
Lap 310: debris from the No. 17 car
Lap 318: The No. 17 spins in Turn 4

Race notes:
1. Tony Stewart was unhappy with his car early on and was lapped on Lap 59. By Lap 170 he went a second lap down and finished 20th, three laps down.
2. After the first caution, which came out during green flag pit stops, seven of the Chasers were a lap down. At race end, only six cars were on the lead lap and four of them were Chasers.
3. Kasey Kahne had a fast car all day, but after pitting for a vibration, he returned a second time for a loose lugnut. After losing track position, Kahne finished 15th.
4. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. finished 12th, three laps down, in his second Sprint Cup start in the No. 6 Cargill.
5. Chasers Hamlin, Johnson, Keselowski, Gordon and Bowyer all received bonus points for leading at least one lap.
6. Matt Kenseth pitted when suspension parts broke on his No. 17 car. He returned to the track, spun, and brought out a caution. After repairs, he returned to the track but finished way back in 35th, likely ending his Chase hopes.
7. With 40 to go, the top three cars were all short on fuel – Kyle Busch, Johnson and Hamlin, but only Johnson managed to stretch it until the end.

Finishing order:
1. Brad Keselowski
2. Jeff Gordon
3. Mark Martin
4. Jimmie Johnson
5. Carl Edwards
6. Martin Truex Jr.
7. Kyle Busch
8. Denny Hamlin
9. Clint Bowyer
10. Joey Logano
11. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
12. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
13. Kevin Harvick
14. Bobby Labonte
15. Kasey Kahne
16. Greg Biffle
17. Regan Smith
18. Marcos Ambrose
19. Aric Almirola
20. Tony Stewart
21. Ryan Newman
22. Paul Menard
23. Kurt Busch
24. Jamie McMurray
25. Sam Hornish Jr.
26. Juan Pablo Montoya
27. Jeff Burton
28. Danica Patrick
29. Travis Kvapil
30. David Ragan
31. Casey Mears
32. David Gilliland
33. TJ Bell
34. JJ Yeley
35. Matt Kenseth
36. Landon Cassill
37. Josh Wise
38. Michael McDowell
39. Joe Nemechek
40. Scott Speed
41. Dave Blaney
42. Scott Riggs
43. Reed Sorenson

For Sprint Cup points standings, click here
-------------------------------------------------------

Beth Bence Reinke is a columnist, support editor & media rep for Skirts and Scuffs. She writes "Gibbs Garage," Joe Gibbs Racing Sprint Cup team recaps, for the 2012 season. Her column, “Faith on the Frontstretch,” explores the role of faith in motorsports. Beth is also the author of Race Fans’ Devotions to Go, a devotional book geared toward female NASCAR fans. Follow her on Twitter at @bbreinke or reach her at bbreinke@skirtsandScuffs.com

Nelson Piquet Jr. wins NCWTS - Smith's 350 in Las Vegas

Wesley Hitt/Getty Images for NASCAR
In a race where it is common to need to be in the top five or so to win, Saturday night proved otherwise. During the last lap at the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series - Smith's 350 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Nelson Piquet Jr. edged past second-place finisher Matt Crafton to win the race. Rounding out the top five were: the day's pole sitter Joey Coulter, Las Vegas native Brendan Gaughan and Todd Bodine.

Piquet's lucky number was 13 today as that was his starting position. He quietly crept through the pack (along with several big run offs and a collision or two) to take on Crafton. "We really needed this win. Its probably the best one of my career,replied Piquet when asked about the victory.

Todd Bodine lost control on Lap 1 and took the first slide off the track. Somehow everyone around him was spared. Timothy Peters picked up the race lead. Lap 6 saw Travis Pastrana in his first Truck start get loose and make his own pirouette on the concrete. He headed to the pits for four new tires, eventually finishing 15th.

Other calamities ensued: Lap 28 saw Chris Lafferty hit the apron and slide up the width of the track only to slide back down again - trailing oil on the way down. Turn Four was not friendly. As the sun went down in Las Vegas and the track lights came up, Lap 95 found Piquet in second place with 45 laps to go, while Brennan Newberry made his own trip up and down the track a la Lafferty but he kept managing to run despite damage.

The biggest traffic snarl of the day came with 39 laps to go when Miguel Paludo got a wiggle loose and tapped Justin Lofton enough to made Lofton dive for the apron, taking out Johnny Sauter along with him. Paludo then passed by them to finish 11th. When asked about the incident, Sauter candidly replied, "We have people here that, quite frankly, shouldn't be racing and that's how I feel."

For complete results of the NCWTS- Smith's 350 click here.

Rookie Ty Dillon hangs onto the championship lead by a single point over James Buescher and by 24 over Timothy Peters. Complete points standings here


Saturday, September 29, 2012

Joey Logano sweeps the 2012 Nationwide races at Dover

Photo by Beth Bence Reinke for Skirts and Scuffs   
After 200 laps on concrete at the Monster Mile, Joey Logano made his way to Victory Lane for the second time this year. Logano was sixth-fastest in final practice and rolled off the grid third for the OneMain Financial 200.

After taking the lead on Lap 14, the No. 18 SportClips Toyota dominated the race, leading 184 of 200 laps. The victory marks his 16th win in 105 career Nationwide Series starts. Logano has seven NNS wins in 2012, which includes two at Dover.

Photo by Beth Bence Reinke
Post-race, Logano praised crew chief Adam Stevens for making the right adjustments on the car.

“I told Adam that my monster trophy from last time was lonely and needed a friend so I’m glad I was able to get one for him. This was the last race for Sport Clips for the year so I was happy to be able to get them another victory. Adam Stevens – I don’t know what to say. He’s amazing. He’s given me some great race pieces seven times this year. Can’t thank him enough – second time we came here this year with a dominant race car and leading a ton of laps.”

Paul Menard had an impressive run in the No. 33 Menards/Rheem Chevrolet. After qualifying tenth, Menard ran in the top ten for the majority of the event and took home a second-place finish. Michael Annett was the third-place finisher in the Pilot/Flying J Ford for his first top-10 finish in eight races at Dover.

The 18 atop the scoring pylon at Dover
Photo by Beth Bence Reinke
Caution report:
Lap 47: Competition caution
Lap 117: Oil on the track from No. 51, Jeremy Clements
Lap 177: Oil on the track from No. 39, Tim Andrews

Race notes: 

1. It was the first career pole for Darrell Wallace Jr. in the No. 20 car for Joe Gibbs Racing.

2. After running up front for the first half of the race, Justin Allgaier cut a tire and after visiting the garage, finished in 30th, 36 laps down. Allgaier led 13 laps.

3. Brian Scott started 38th in the No. 11 car, but fought his way up to a seventh place finish. Scott had an emotional post-race interview, remembering his grandmother who passed away just days ago. In tears, Scott said he wanted nothing more than to win for his grandma.

4. Hornish Jr. finished 18th coming off a second-place finish last week. With 35 to go, a tire going down forced him to pit from the second position, dropping him back to the teens.

5. Kasey Kahne started fifth and ran in the top five most of the race, but had a throttle issue and fell back to 11th with about 15 to go.

6. Mike Bliss started at the tail end of the field for missing the drivers meeting.

Finishing order:
1. Joey Logano
2. Paul Menard
3. Michael Annett
4. Elliott Sadler
5. Kyle Busch
6. Cole Whitt #
7. Brian Scott
8. Kasey Kahne
9. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
10. Austin Dillon #
11. Mike Bliss
12. Darrell Wallace Jr.
13. Ryan Blaney
14. Ryan Truex
15. Jeff Green
16. Danica Patrick
17. Joe Nemechek
18. Sam Hornish Jr.
19. Alex Bowman
20. Jason Bowles #
21. Mike Wallace
22. Blake Koch
23. JJ Yeley
24. Timmy Hill
25. Jamie Dick
26. Eric McClure
27. Jeremy Clements
28. Brad Teague
29. Tim Andrews
30. Justin Allgaier
31. Erik Darnell
32. Justin Jennings
33. Tony Raines
34. Kevin Lepage
35. Danny Elfland
36. Scott Riggs
37. Carl Long
38. Chase Miller
39. Josh Wise
40. Michael McDowell
41. TJ Bell
42. Kelly Bires
43. Charles Lewandoski
# = rookie

For Nationwide points standings, click here.

-------------------------------------------------

Beth Bence Reinke is a columnist, support editor & media rep for Skirts and Scuffs. She writes "Gibbs Garage," Joe Gibbs Racing Sprint Cup team recaps, for the 2012 season. Her column, “Faith on the Frontstretch,” explores the role of faith in motorsports. Beth is also the author of Race Fans’ Devotions to Go, a devotional book geared toward female NASCAR fans. Follow her on Twitter at @bbreinke or reach her at bbreinke@skirtsandscuffs.com

NSCS Pole Report: Hamlin wins 12th series pole at Dover


Denny Hamlin won the pole for the AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway with a lap of 22.599 seconds at 139.299 mph. This is Hamlin’s 12th Sprint Cup Series pole and 3rd of the season. Clint Bowyer, Martin Truex Jr., Sam Hornish Jr., and Kyle Busch round out the top five.

Here’s the lineup:
1. Denny Hamlin
2. Clint Bowyer
3. Martin Truex Jr.
4. Sam Hornish Jr.
5. Kyle Busch
6. Greg Biffle
7. Jeff Gordon
8. Ryan Newman
9. Kasey Kahne
10. Brad Keselowski
11. Jimmie Johnson
12. Matt Kenseth
13. Kevin Harvick
14. Joey Logano
15. Carl Edwards
16. Bobby Labonte
17. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
18. Regan Smith
19. Paul Menard
20. Jamie McMurray
21. Aric Almirola
22. Landon Cassill
23. Josh Wise
24. Tony Raines
25. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
26. Mark Martin
27. Marcos Ambrose
28. Kurt Busch
29. Reed Sorenson
30. Casey Mears
31. David Ragan
32. Michael McDowell
33. Travis Kvapil
34. Scott Speed
35. Juan Pablo Montoya
36. Scott Riggs
37. Joe Nemechek
38. Danica Patrick
39. Dave Blaney
40. Jeff Burton
41. JJ Yeley
42. TJ Bell
43. David Gilliland

Who did not make it:
David Stremme
Mike Bliss
Jason Leffler
Cole Whitt
Kelly Bires

Television schedule:
Race at Dover- 1 p.m. ET Sunday on ESPN and RaceBuddy

Darrell Wallace Jr. earns first career Nationwide pole at Dover

Darrell Wallace Jr. wins NNS pole at Dover
Credit: Patrick Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR   
Darrell Wallace Jr. won his first Nationwide Series pole today at Dover International Speedway. The 18-year-old NASCAR Drive for Diversity graduate edged out Justin Allgaier who starts second. Wallace’s lap of 23.091 seconds earned him his first career Coors Light Pole, in what will be his fourth Nationwide start.

Wallace has finished in the top 10 for his three career Nationwide races, all in 2012, and started in the top 10 for two of those events. He led 36 laps in the U.S. Cellular 250 at Iowa in August where he finished seventh.

Wallace’s teammate, Joey Logano, was faster in practice, but will roll off third for the race. After finishing second in the NASCAR K&N Pro East Series race at Dover last night, Wallace Jr. talked with Skirts and Scuffs about his Joe Gibbs Racing team.

“We got Joey, Denny and Kyle, three Cup drivers, as mentors for me and I can go talk to them. Like this weekend I’m racing against Joey in the Nationwide car and definitely need some tips on getting around here (Dover) because we were struggling and he was pretty quick.”

Whatever tips Logano provided worked because his younger teammate starts his No. 20 Freightliner Toyota on the front row.

NNS Pole Report: Bubba Wallace gets his first pole



Darrell “Bubba” Wallace Jr. won the pole for the Nationwide race at Dover with a lap of 23.091 seconds at 155.905 mph. Wallace, a recent NASCAR Drive for Diversity graduate, has two previous poles at Dover in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East. This is his first Nationwide Series pole in only four starts. Justin Allgaier, Joey Logano, Elliott Sadler, and Kasey Kahne round out the top five.



Here’s the lineup:
1. Darrell Wallace Jr.
2. Justin Allgaier
3. Joey Logano
4. Elliott Sadler
5. Kasey Kahne
6. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
7. Kyle Busch
8. Ryan Blaney
9. Austin Dillon
10. Paul Menard
11. Ryan Truex
12. Michael Annett
13. Cole Whitt
14. Sam Hornish Jr.
15. Mike Bliss
16. Alex Bowman
17. Kevin Lepage
18. Blake Koch
19. Michael McDowell
20. Josh Wise
21. Jeff Green
22. Charles Lewandoski
23. Jason Bowles
24. Joe Nemechek
25. Danica Patrick
26. Chase Miller
27. Jeremy Clements
28. Kelly Bires
29. Mike Wallace
30. Erik Darnell
31. Jamie Dick
32. Carl Long
33. Timmy Hill
34. JJ Yeley
35. Justin Jennings
36. TJ Bell
37. Eric McClure
38. Brian Scott
39. Tim Andrews
40. Danny Efland
41. Scott Riggs
42. David Starr
43. Morgan Shepherd

Who did not make it:
Brad Teague
Mike Harmon
Tony Raines

Television schedule:
Race at Dover- 3 p.m. ET Saturday on ESPN and RaceBuddy

NCWTS Pole Report: Joey Coulter wins 3rd pole of 2012 season


Joey Coulter won the pole for the 16th Annual Smith’s 350 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway with a lap of 30.572 seconds at 176.632 mph. This is Coulter’s third pole this season and third of his career. Timothy Peters, David Mayhew, Matt Crafton, and Ty Dillon round out the top-5.

Here’s the lineup:
1. Joey Coulter
2. Timothy Peters
3. David Mayhew
4. Matt Crafton
5. Ty Dillon
6. Brendan Gaughan
7. Miguel Paludo
8. Justin Lofton
9. Grant Enfinger
10. Todd Bodine
11. Johnny Sauter
12. Cale Gale
13. Nelson Piquet Jr.
14. Parker Kligerman
15. James Buescher
16. Jason White
17. Travis Pastrana
18. Ryan Reed
19. John Wes Townley
20. Ron Hornaday Jr.
21. Bryan Silas
22. Brennan Newberry
23. Ross Chastain
24. Ryan Sieg
25. Johnny Chapman
26. B.J. McLeod
27. Dennis Setzer
28. Travis Miller
29. Chris Jones
30. Jennifer Jo Cobb
31. Clay Greenfield
32. Chris Lafferty
33. Norm Benning
34. Chris Fontaine

Who did not make it:
None

Television schedule:
Race at Las Vegas-8 p.m. ET Saturday on SPEED and RaceBuddy

Skirts & Scuffs Fan Spotlight from Dover International Speedway: Tammy Powell-Thomas

Tammy Powell-Thomas
Photo Credit: Beth Bence Reinke   

I caught up with Skirts and Scuffs reader Tammy Powell-Thomas at "The Monster Mile" today. Tammy is a fairly new race fan. As a resident of Dover, DE she used to dislike NASCAR because it was such a hassle driving anywhere on race weekends. In fact, she and her family would leave town and take a trip to Atlantic City. However, in 2009 she changed in her mind.

“I was watching TV one day and I saw Jimmie Johnson in a race and he intrigued me. I’ve been a diehard fan since.” Her friends thought she was just jumping on the Johnson bandwagon because he had so many wins, but that wasn’t the case. “I had no clue he had won that many championships,” Tammy said. “Jimmie is so likeable and down to earth. I follow him on Twitter and he's funny!"

What do you like best about coming to a race? I like the excitement, the fans and the atmosphere. NASCAR fans all seem to be like a big family.

What’s your favorite NASCAR memory? When Jimmie won the 2010 championship. I was in my office at home and it was down to the wire at Homestead. I just screamed, I had chills and was in tears when he won.

What do you like best about Skirts and Scuffs? I like the articles because they're very interesting. I see people tweeting the articles but didn’t realize you had archives. I went back and checked out the archived information.

Favorite driver: Jimmie Johnson, since 2009

Twitter handle: @tpt0413

Many thanks to Tammy for allowing us to showcase her in this installment of our fan spotlight.
---------------------------------------------

Beth Bence Reinke is a columnist, support editor & media rep for Skirts and Scuffs. She writes "Gibbs Garage," Joe Gibbs Racing Sprint Cup team recaps, for the 2012 season. Her column, “Faith on the Frontstretch,” explores the role of faith in motorsports. Beth is also the author of Race Fans’ Devotions to Go, a devotional book geared toward female NASCAR fans. Follow her on Twitter at @bbreinke or reach her at bbreinke@skirtsandScuffs.com

Friday, September 28, 2012

Nelson Piquet Jr. Joins Bryson's FUEL in fight against childhood cancer

Mooresville, N.C. (September 27, 2012) - Nelson Piquet Jr. is taking a stand against childhood cancer, joining forces with Bryson's FUEL this weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Credit: Wesley Hitt/Getty Images
for NASCAR
Bryson's FUEL was founded last year when 4-year old Bryson, son of Jim and Heather Smith of Mooresville, North Carolina, was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia on June 1, 2011. Facing the diagnosis head on, the Smiths sprang into action to help other families dealing with the same reality.

FUEL (Families United to Eliminate Leukemia) strives to provide hope and support to families dealing with cancer, despite the age of their child. Through three key platforms, FUEL is making an impact:
  •  Reach out to families through the Children's Hospitals by providing toys and blankets to children in the hospitals. As well, try to buy a netbook for older children who remain in-patient for extended periods, if they do not have one. This enables them to remain caught up with school and stay in contact with friends.
  • Providing spiritual and financial support to struggling families through the clinic, to provide gas cards, dining cards, co-pay assistance and toys.
  • Working together  with families to do fundraisers to bring awareness and support for children right here in our own communities, that we may not even be aware are fighting this battle.
"Childhood cancer awareness is a cause that I support," Piquet Jr. said. "Bryson and the Smiths are a hometown family and I am honored to be playing a small part in awareness for their foundation."

"We cannot say thank you enough to Nelson for running the FUEL logo on his truck," Heather Smith said. "Taking a stand against childhood cancer is more than a cause, it is our life."

For more information on Bryson's FUEL please visit www.brysonsfuel.org.

- Press release

TV Schedule: Sept. 28-30

Jimmie Johnson won the Sprint Cup race at Dover in June in colorful fashion.
Credit: Geoff Burke/Getty Images
The Sprint Cup Series and Nationwide Series converge on Dover International Speedway while the Camping World Truck Series heads for the bright lights of Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Dover hosts the third race of the Chase.

Track facts
Dover International Speedway, Dover, Del.
Length: 1-mile oval
Type: Short oval
Banking: 24 degrees in turns, 9 degrees on the straightaways

Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Las Vegas, Nev.
Length: 1.5 D-shaped oval
Type: Intermediate
Banking: 20 degrees in the turns, 9 degrees on the frontstretch and backstretch

SPRINT CUP - Dover
Fall 2011: Kurt Busch
Spring 2012: Jimmie Johnson

NATIONWIDE - Dover

Fall 2011: Carl Edwards
Spring 2012: Joey Logano

TRUCK SERIES - Las Vegas
2011 winner: Ron Hornaday

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

Friday, Sept. 28:
10:30 a.m. NASCAR Live, SPEED
11 a.m. NSCS Practice at Dover, SPEED   
12:30 p.m. NNS Final Practice at Dover, SPEED   
2:30 p.m. NSCS Final Practice at Dover, SPEED   
6:30 p.m. NCWTS Practice at Las Vegas
7 p.m. Trackside, SPEED   
8 p.m. NSCS Final Practice (re-air), SPEED   
11 p.m. Trackside, SPEED
11:35 p.m. NCWTS Qualifying at Las Vegas   

Saturday, Sept. 29:
12 a.m. NSCS Practice (re-air), SPEED   
1:30 a.m. NSCS Final Practice (re-air), SPEED    1:30 AM    na   
11:30 a.m. NASCAR Live, SPEED   
12 p.m. NNS Qualifying at Dover, SPEED   
1:30 p.m. NSCS Qualifying at Dover, SPEED 
3 p.m. NNS Countdown, ESPN
3:30 p.m. NNS at Dover: OneMain Financial 200, ESPN. Green flag: 3:45 p.m.
8 p.m. NCWTS SetUp, SPEED   
8:30 p.m. NCWTS at Las vegas: Smith's 350 (tent. Name), SPEED. Green flag: 8:49 p.m.
11 p.m. NSCS Qualifying, SPEED

Sunday, Sept. 30:
12:30 a.m. NCWTS SetUp, SPEED   
1 a.m. NCWTS: Smith's 350 (re-air), SPEED   
4 a.m. NNS: OneMain Financial 200 (re-air), ESPN2   
9 a.m. NASCAR Now presented by 5-HOUR Energy, ESPN2   
10 a.m. NASCAR Performance, SPEED   
10:30 a.m. SPEED Center NASCAR Edition, SPEED   
11 a.m. NASCAR RaceDay, SPEED   
1 p.m. NSCS Countdown, ESPN
2 p.m. NSCS at Dover: AAA 400, ESPN. Green flag: 2:15 p.m. Re-airs at midnight on ESPN2.
6 p.m. NASCAR Victory Lane Special Edition, SPEED   
8 p.m. NASCAR Victory Lane, SPEED   
11 p.m. NASCAR Now, ESPN2

NASCAR Fantasy Fusion: Chase Round 3 at The Monster Mile



Track Classification: Short Track
Similar Tracks: Bristol Raceway • Martinsville Speedway

Phoenix International Raceway •  Richmond International Raceway

Distance: 1 Mile

Drivers with Most Top 10s (Last 5 Years):
By Race
Both with 4 - Jimmie Johnson and Carl Edwards
All with 3 - Mark Martin, Jeff Burton, Matt Kenseth, Kurt Busch, A.J. Allmendinger and Kyle Busch

By Track
Both with 8 -  Jimmie Johnson and Matt Kenseth
Driver with 7 - Carl Edwards
Both with 5 - Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch

Recent Pole Winners:
2011 - Martin Truex, Jr.
2010 - Jimmie Johnson

The Likely Suspects: Always exciting for the fans and challenging for many drivers, "The Monster Mile" is a favorite among the drivers who know how to tame the beast. These elite drivers include Jimmie Johnson, Matt Kenseth, Mark Martin, Jeff Burton, Carl Edwards and Greg Biffle.

My 2 Cents: This week there is a three-way tie for the no-brainer pick: Jimmie Johnson, Mark Martin and Matt Kenseth. My next picks are Ryan Newman, Martin Truex, Jr. and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. I'm rounding out my team with Sam Hornish, Jr. and Aric Almirola. Note: If I had any Greg Biffle starts left I would swap out Ryan Newman and put Biffle in. Jeff Gordon and Kyle Busch are also worthy of consideration. Good luck with your team and enjoy the race!

Post your comments here or email me at ssfantasyracing@skirtsandscuffs.com.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

5 Questions Before the AAA 400 at Dover

Miles the Monster monument in the Fan Zone
Photo by Beth Bence Reinke for Skirts and Scuffs  
Miles the Monster hosts Chase race number three this weekend. Who’s going? I am hoping to meet some Skirts and Scuffs readers at the tweetup. Until then, here are five questions for you to ponder.

Will someone other than "Five-Time" visit Victory Lane?

Jimmie Johnson’s record at Dover is astounding. He is tied with Bobby Allison and Richard Petty for the most wins, with seven each, and Johnson leads all active drivers. "Five-Time" has won a third of his career Cup starts at the track (7 of 21) and has 10 top fives, 15 top 10s and 3 poles.

The other Chase drivers combined have 12 wins at the Monster Mile, and four of those belong to Jeff Gordon. Tony Stewart, Greg Biffle and Matt Kenseth each have two and the two “Juniors” (Earnhardt and Truex) each have one. The other five Chasers have yet to beat the concrete oval.

If history is a good predictor, it will probably take a mechanical issue, a pit road blunder or a wreck to keep J.J. from taking the checkers.

Which non-Chasers will distinguish themselves with good finishes at Dover?

Last weekend at New Hampshire, several drivers outside the Chase finished in the top 10: Joey Logano – 8th, Brian Vickers-9th and Ryan Newman. – 10th. A handful of outsiders have good stats on the concrete track and are a threat to win, or at least finish well.

Carl Edwards boasts an average finish of 8.5 at Dover, along with a win and seven top 5s. Ryan Newman has rocketed to four poles, three wins and six top 5s and has an average finish of 11.7. Kyle Busch has two wins and seven top 5s and his brother, Kurt, won last year’s fall race. Perhaps some of these non-Chase contenders will win or finish up front in the third race of the Chase.

Photo by Beth Bence Reinke for Skirts and Scuff
Are any fun or unusual paint schemes
on tap for Dover this weekend?

The last time NASCAR visited Delaware, Jimmie Johnson’s Madagascar 3 car was a success with fans and on the track. Johnson and his crew members made folks smile as they sported multicolored clown wigs like the one Alex the Lion wore in the movie. Can anyone top a Victory Lane celebration where Miles the Monster wore the wig?

Will Denny Hamlin bring home a “W” at his least favorite track?

Hamlin has made no secret of the fact he doesn’t like racing on the one-mile concrete track. In fact, he has joked that it should be overhauled like the surface at Bristol. During a press conference on Friday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Hamlin was asked why he thinks Dover is such a challenge for him.

“I think a lot of it is because it’s concrete,” Hamlin said. “I think the concrete surface itself just throws me a loop and I don’t have a good feel in my ass for concrete.”

In 13 career Sprint Cup starts, the JGR driver has won neither the pole nor the race at Dover and has only two top-5 finishes. The only other tracks where Hamlin remains winless in as many Cup starts are Charlotte, Daytona and Talladega.

In 2010, the year he was runner-up in the championship standings, Hamlin finished ninth and left the fall Dover race with the points lead. Can he overcome his aversion to Dover, capitalize on his current momentum and take home his first Miles the Monster trophy?

Will any of the top-12 drivers succumb to the concrete oval?

In this year’s June Dover race, one of the current Chase contenders was taken out by a crash. Only nine laps after the green flag, a multicar crash on the backstretch brought out a 20-minute red flag and sent Tony Stewart to the garage. After repairs, he rejoined the race 65 laps down in 38th spot, but worked his way up to a 25th place finish. The race also resulted in blown engines on the cars of David Reutimann, Kurt Busch and Jeff Burton.

Dover has a lot of nuances drivers have to master at once: tight pit stalls, steep banking, the unique way the concrete rubbers in and the elevation changes from the straightaway into the corners. Perhaps all the Chasers can escape a run-in with Miles this weekend, in the form of a crash or equipment failure, but probably not.

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Beth Bence Reinke is a columnist, support editor & media rep for Skirts and Scuffs. She writes "Gibbs Garage," Joe Gibbs Racing Sprint Cup team recaps, for the 2012 season. Her column, “Faith on the Frontstretch,” explores the role of faith in motorsports. Beth is also the author of Race Fans’ Devotions to Go, a devotional book geared toward female NASCAR fans. Follow her on Twitter at @bbreinke or reach her at bbreinke@skirtsandScuffs.com

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Travel Tips: Dover International/Las Vegas Motor Speedway Fan Edition


The NASCAR Camping World Truck (Smith’s 350) is headed to Las Vegas Motor Speedway while both the Nationwide (OneMain Financial 200) and Sprint Cup (AAA 400) Series will be heading to Dover International Speedway to do battle on “The Monster Mile”.

This week’s Travel Tips will consist of fan event information for both Dover International and Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
*** 
-Dover Speedway Fan Events: 

Friday, Sept. 28:
  • NASCAR K&N Pro Series East FREE Autograph Session (1:00-2:00 p.m.) will be held in the FanZone located outside of Turn 4. Drivers participating will include Darrel Wallace, Chase Elliott, Brett Moffitt and many more!
  • “Dialed In with Claire B. Lang LIVE” (7:00-9:00 p.m.) will be held at the Rollins Center at Dover Downs Hotel & Casino. Guests will include NASCAR Cup/Nationwide drivers Danica Patrick and Joey Logano along with NASCAR legendary team owners Richard Childress and Jack Roush. Advance Tickets $5.00, all proceeds will benefit USO Delaware.

Saturday, Sept. 29:
  • OneMain Financial Open Track Session will give race fans the opportunity to walk the frontstretch the morning prior to the NASCAR Nationwide Series race. There will be a 15-minute FREE question-and-answer session with drivers Kevin Harvick, Elliott Sadler and team owner Richard Childress (10:30-10:45 a.m.) held during this event. Ticket holders will be able to enter through Gate 18 for participation in the track session.
  • Giant Speedway Supermarket will be showing “Days of Thunder” at 7:00 p.m. at the entrance to RV Lot 10. Viewing is FREE.

Sunday, Sept. 30:
  • Delaware Food Bank will be hosting a meal-packing event (8:00-11:00 a.m.) in the FanZone to benefit older Americans in need in Delaware. The first 300 fans to assist in this effort can participate in a FREE question-and-answer session with four time champion NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon.
  • Monster FanZone Driver Appearances (10:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m.) will include Clint Bowyer, Martin Truex Jr., Juan Pablo Montoya and David Ragan.

For additional information on the weekend fan events, click here.

For Dover International Speedway fan guide, click here.

For Dover International Speedway frequently asked questions, click here.

For Dover International Speedway weekend schedule, click here.

For weather information, click here.

***



-Las Vegas Fan Events: 

Friday, Sept. 28:
  • NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Driver Autograph Session will be held at the Neon Garage, located in the infield, after completion of final practice. Scheduled time: 6:00-7:00 p.m.

For Las Vegas Motor Speedway first-time fans, click here.

For Las Vegas Motor Speedway frequently asked questions, click here.

For Las Vegas Motor Speedway weekend race schedule, click here.

For weather information, click here.

***

Race Broadcast Schedule:

Sept. 29 – NASCAR Nationwide Series: OneMain Financial 200

TV: ESPN2, 3:00 p.m. ET / Radio: MRN, 3:15 p.m. ET

Sept. 29 – NASCAR Camping World Truck Series: Smith’s 350

TV: SPEED, 8:00 p.m. ET / Radio: MRN, 7:45 p.m. ET

Sept. 30 – NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: AAA 400

TV: ESPN, 1:00 p.m. ET / Radio: MRN, 1:00 p.m. ET


Enjoy a great weekend of racing!


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, September 25, 2012

Fast Facts: James Buescher


photo: Getty Images for Texas Motor
Speedway/Donald Miralle
James Buescher, driver of the No. 31 Chevrolet Silverado for Turner Motorsports in the Camping World Truck Series, is one of seven first-time winners in the series this season. Learn more about this winning driver in this week’s Fast Facts.
  • James Buescher was born March 26, 1990 in Plano, Texas. He is the cousin of Chris Buescher, currently racing in the ARCA Racing Series.
  • Buescher got his first taste of winning in the Bandolero class at Texas Motor Speedway, taking the national championship in the Young Guns division in 2004. He moved into the American Speed Association (ASA) Late Model Series, where he was named Most Popular Driver in 2006 after winning the Late Model Series South title.
  • In 2007, Buescher split his time between the ARCA Racing Series and NASCAR’s Busch East Series (now the K&N Pro Series East); with his win at USA International Speedway in his series debut, he became the youngest winner in the history of the ARCA Series.
  • 2008 marked Buescher’s big move to NASCAR’s Nationwide Series with Braun Racing, followed by spending 2009 in the Camping World Truck Series. In 2010, he spent part of the season with Phoenix Racing in the Nationwide Series, splitting with the team in May of that year and returning to the Truck Series with Turner Motorsports.
  • In addition to his full-time Truck Series ride with Turner Motorsports, Buescher also races part-time in the Nationwide Series for the team. Buescher has one win in the Nationwide Series, which came this year at the season-opener in Daytona. He didn’t get his first Truck Series wins until Kansas in April of this season. He has collected four victories on the season, including his win on Friday, September 21st at Kentucky.
  • Buescher married the former Krishtian Turner between the 2011 and 2012 season in Costa Rica. Krishtian is the daughter of Turner Motorsports owner Steve Turner and was featured on the TLC show “Say Yes to the Dress” in preparation for their wedding. Check out the Skirts & Scuffs interview “Krishtian and James Buescher’s Love Story Has a Fairy Tale Ending” by Amanda Ebersole for more information on the duo.
  • Find out more about Buescher at www.jamesbuescher.com.  

NASCAR Announces 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Schedule


New Cars, Same Fierce Competition In Store For 2013

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Sept. 25, 2012)– NASCAR announced today the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule for the 2013 season, a highly anticipated campaign that will welcome redesigned race cars to the track.

Though unveiled and tested throughout the 2012 season, the new models – Chevrolet’s SS, Ford’s Fusion and Toyota’s Camry – will make their official entrance into NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competition on Feb. 16 with the preseason non-points Shootout at Daytona International Speedway. Qualifying for the “Great American Race” will take place on Feb. 17, followed by the season-opening 55th running of the Daytona 500 on Feb. 24.

“The new NASCAR Sprint Cup cars for next season have dominated fan conversation for more than a year, and the time is approaching to unleash them on the race track,” said Brian France, NASCAR chairman and CEO. “Next year’s schedule again will offer a strong mix of challenges for our talented drivers, and we believe fans will continue to enjoy what they’ve come to expect – the most exciting and competitive racing in the world.”

The 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule, marking the 65th season for NASCAR’s premier series, will have a familiar feel, opening with the Daytona 500 before moving west to Phoenix International Raceway (March 3) and Las Vegas Motor Speedway (March 10) for races Nos. 2 and 3. For the third consecutive season, NASCAR’s playoffs – the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup – will start at Chicagoland Speedway, near one of the country’s biggest markets. The Chase will conclude with the season finale on Nov. 17 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

With Kansas Speedway’s repave project now complete, next season’s Talladega Super-speedway autumn event will return to its traditional spot on the calendar. Talladega’s 2013 Chase race, No. 6 during the 10-race stretch, will run Oct. 20. Kansas will host its 2013 Chase event on Oct. 6.

Below is the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule in its entirety. 

Date   Site
2/16    Daytona International Speedway (Shootout)
2/17    Daytona International Speedway (Daytona 500 Qualifying)
2/21    Daytona International Speedway (Duel)
2/24    Daytona 500
3/3      Phoenix International Raceway
3/10    Las Vegas Motor Speedway
3/17    Bristol Motor Speedway
3/24    Auto Club Speedway
4/7      Martinsville Speedway
4/13    Texas Motor Speedway
4/21    Kansas Speedway
4/27    Richmond International Raceway
5/5      Talladega Superspeedway
5/11    Darlington Raceway
5/18    NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race (Charlotte Motor Speedway)
5/26    Charlotte Motor Speedway
6/2      Dover International Speedway
6/9      Pocono Raceway
6/16    Michigan International Speedway
6/23    Sonoma
6/29    Kentucky Speedway
7/6      Daytona International Speedway
7/14    New Hampshire Motor Speedway
7/28    Indianapolis Motor Speedway
8/4      Pocono Raceway
8/11    Watkins Glen International
8/18    Michigan International Speedway
8/24    Bristol Motor Speedway
9/1      Atlanta Motor Speedway
9/7      Richmond International Raceway
9/15    Chicagoland Speedway
9/22    New Hampshire Motor Speedway
9/29    Dover International Speedway
10/6    Kansas Speedway
10/12  Charlotte Motor Speedway
10/20  Talladega Superspeedway
10/27  Martinsville Speedway
11/3    Texas Motor Speedway
11/10  Phoenix International Raceway
11/17  Homestead-Miami Speedway

Monday, September 24, 2012

5 Questions After: Loudon and Kentucky

Two down, eight to go. The second race of the Chase is behind us and while the championship picture isn't fully developed, we did get answers to our 5 Questions Before: Loudon and Kentucky. 

Brad Keselowski finished sixth, three spots behind Jimmie Johnson. Not Keselowski's best finish at the Miracle Mile, but not his worst. He lost the Chase lead to Johnson, but only by by a single point. Not an insurmountable lead by any means, but just like Hendrick cars run best in clean air, give Five-Time the points lead and it's like four-time champ Jeff Gordon said Sunday, "We have seen others make a run at them (the 48 team), but when they are in this kind of zone, they have not been beat. You know, I think what the 11 did was pretty big today, but he's going to have to do that for eight more weeks."

Jeff Gordon finished third, but because no one ahead of him in points had a problem, he only gained two points on the Chase leader. "It's still going to take a miracle for us to win the championship." Gordon said. "I mean, you've got guys like Jimmie, Keselowski and Hamlin; I mean, these are guys that have been strong all year. You know, Jimmie's won five championships.  These guys are not going to make huge mistakes. But we have to go and race every race."

The closest a non-Chase contender got to victory lane was eighth place. Joey Logano, Brian Vickers and Ryan Newman finished 8th through 10th. Kyle Busch led 48 laps, but engine problems kept him from claiming the win.

Austin Dillon won the inaugural Kentucky 300.  While the series visited Kentucky Speedway at the end of June alongside the Sprint Cup event, this weekend was the series first fall visit to the track, which gave the rookie a chance to sweep. Dillon did so in dominating fashion.

Racing in the Camping World Truck Series did, in fact, get more intense. Although no one could catch James Buescher at the end, the rest of the race held the same nail-biting, screaming-at-the-TV intensity that the other races have held and then some. If you think Cup racing has gotten too tame and you're not already watching the Trucks, then what are you waiting for?

And like cautions breed cautions, questions breed questions. Here are my 5 Questions After Loudon and Kentucky.


Can anyone catch Jimmie Johnson? With the No. 48 team atop the points and seemingly with that golden horseshoe firmly in hand, can any of the other players knock the king off his hill? Can Keselowski or Hamlin keep the pressure on and force a mistake? Time will tell.

What happened to the Fords? Sunday at New Hampshire the highest-finishing Ford was Matt Kenseth in 14th. In Chicago, Greg Biffle was 13th.  Richmond? Kenseth in fifth. Atlanta? Kenseth in 9th. Bristol? Marcos Ambrose in fifth. Not since Michigan has a Ford visited victory lane. What's going on there?

Will all the talk about Darian Grubb's success in the Chase light a fire under Smoke? Sure, with the win at Loudon, crew chief Grubb scored his sixth win in twelve Chase races, but how many of those first five would have have won had Tony Stewart not been behind the wheel? The final race of the 2011 season, it wasn't Grubb who passed 114 cars on the track...it was Stewart. Will the credit being given to Grubb motivate Stewart to remind fans he earned his first two championships with a different team and a different crew chief?

Can Elliott Sadler capitalize on his points lead and keep Ricky Stenhouse Jr. from repeating as champion? Watching the Nationwide series points race this season's been a lot like watching a tennis match. Will that continue or can Austin Dillon come from behind and take it away from both of them?

Can Ty Dillon hold off the hard-charging James Buescher? Or will Timothy Peters rebound from a rough couple of weeks and put the youngsters in their places? With only six races left in the season, there's one thing for sure. It's going to be exciting!

Kurt Busch gets new ride for 2013

Credit: Debbie Ross for Skirts & Scuffs  
Furniture Row Racing Hires
Kurt Busch to Drive No. 78 Chevy in 2013
 
DENVER, Colo. (Sept. 24, 2012) – Furniture Row Racing announced today that Kurt Busch has been hired to drive the team’s No. 78 Chevrolet during the 2013 Sprint Cup season.
 
Busch, a former NASCAR Cup champion, will replace Regan Smith, who joined Furniture Row Racing at the beginning of the 2009 season.
 
“Though we have made strides as a resourceful single-car Sprint Cup team, we are not where we want to be, which led us to the difficult decision of making a driver change as we move forward,” said Furniture Row Racing's general manager Joe Garone.“Kurt’s exceptional driving talent has the capacity to take a team to another level. We look forward to having Kurt join our Denver-based organization and feel his racing experience will play an important role as we plan ahead to 2013.”
 
Garone added, “As our team driver the past four years, Regan has represented Furniture Row Racing with both class and competitiveness. His win at Darlington in 2011 – the first for Furniture Row Racing – will be a memory forever etched in our organization’s history. He is a friend, and will always be a friend of Furniture Row Racing. We wish him all the best.”
 
Busch, a 34 year-old native of Las Vegas, has been a full time driver in the Sprint Cup Series since 2001. He has 427 Cup starts and has scored 24 wins, 89 top-fives, 171 top-10s and 15 poles. He has qualified for the Chase six times in the past nine years and won the 2004 inaugural Chase season championship in only his third full season in the NASCAR Sprint Cup series.
 
“Furniture Row Racing has the commitment, talent and resources to compete at a high level in the Sprint Cup Series,” said Busch. "I have watched with admiration on how this team has grown over the years and that is why I am excited about the opportunity as I eagerly look forward to a new chapter in my racing career."
 
Since the beginning of the 2012 season, Busch has driven the No. 51 Chevrolet for Phoenix Racing. His previous two teams in the Sprint Cup Series were at Penske Racing and Roush Fenway Racing.
###

Smoke Signals: Top 10 Finishes for Stewart and Newman in Sylvania 300


Qualifying for the Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway yielded two top 10 starts for Stewart-Haas Racing, as Tony Stewart qualified third in the No. 14 Mobil One/Office Depot Chevrolet Impala with a speed of 134.568 mph (28.304 seconds), and teammate Ryan Newman qualified eighth with a speed of 133.934 mph (28.438 seconds) in the No. 39 Aspen Dental Chevrolet. Newman, who also participated in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour race on Saturday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, is still seeking his 50th Cup Series pole.

photo: Getty Images for NASCAR/Todd Warshaw
Stewart made the move to the front just four laps into the 300-lap race, getting around pole sitter Jeff Gordon and outside pole sitter Kyle Busch, and increased his lead to 1.4 seconds by Lap 13. Busch reeled in Stewart by the time the competition yellow flag flew on Lap 41, and following pit stops, Stewart placed third. Stewart, like many competitors, complained of tight conditions throughout the race, and crew chief Steve Addington and the No. 14 team continued to make adjustments on each stop.

The combinations finally clicked toward the end of the race: on the final restart with just 22 laps remaining, Stewart rallied from 10th place, passing Newman, Brian Vickers and Joey Logano to move up to seventh at the checkered flag. “It might’ve been a solid result, but we need to be better than that,” said Stewart on the SHR website. Stewart dropped back one spot in the Chase for the Sprint Cup to fourth, but sits just 10 points behind leader Jimmie Johnson.

Newman spent a quiet day in the top 15, resulting in a 10th-place finish. “It just seems like I never got the corner flow right,” said Newman on the SHR website. “We got the balance halfway close, but we never go the entry-middle-exit quite right. So it was a decent finish for the Aspen Dental Chevrolet. It was just not what we wanted. We’ve had Aspen Dental as the primary sponsor twice this year, and we got a fifth at Daytona in July and a 10th today. Two top-10s aren’t bad, but we’d like to get them a win, too.” Newman sits in 14th in driver standings, 24 points behind Kyle Busch.

*****

With Denny Hamlin’s win, Joe Gibbs Racing earned its 100th Sprint Cup Series victory. Stewart, who drove the No. 20 Home Depot car from 1999 to 2008, earned 33 of those wins for the team. Greg Zipadelli, Competition Director at SHR and Danica Patrick’s crew chief on the No. 10 GoDaddy Chevrolet, earned 34 wins as a crew chief for JGR – 33 with Stewart and one with Logano.

Ryan Reed to Make NASCAR Top-Tier Series Debut with Wauters Motorsports

‘19-yr old Driver with Type 1 Diabetes makes first NCWTS Start in Las Vegas’
Las Vegas, Nevada (September 24, 2012)-Ryan Reed will make his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series debut in the No. 5 Racehard.com / RyansMission.org Wauters Motorsports Ford F150 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway Saturday, Sept. 29, 2012.
Reed, who has been a successful development driver for ARCA Racing Series team Venturini Motorsports, will be making his first start on the 1.5-mile Las Vegas track.  In 2012, with Venturini Motorsports, the Bakersfield, Calif. native posted one top-five and five top-10 finishes in 13 events.  Reed scored his career best finish of fifth place at the intermediate sized track; Chicagoland Speedway. 
Reed’s story is a bit different then most 19-year old aspiring race car drivers.  Ryan was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes (T1D) in February 2011 and initially told by doctors his “racing career” was over. Armed with the passion and determination to fulfill his dreams, Reed shifted his focus and poured all his energy into managing his health and educating himself on the disease. He uses his racing platform and personal story to inspire others living with T1D to continue living life to its fullest through Ryan’s Mission. (RyansMission.org)
Reed’s off-track goodwill has made him a National Celebrity Advocate of  JDRF, the world’s largest charitable funder of T1D research.  Today, Reed is only one of three professional race car drivers in the world to compete at the highest levels of racing with T1D.
“It’s pretty exciting to be making my first start in the NASCAR series,” Ryan Reed said. “Since I was a little kid I’ve always thought about what it would be like to drive a (NCWTS) Truck, Nationwide or Cup car, so to be finally doing it is really cool. I think it gives us a head start on next year, whatever we end up doing. Hopefully it will be back in one of these three series.  I think everyone knows that Richie (Wauters) is one of the best in the business so to be driving one of his trucks is an honor.  We’ve been having success racing in a Ford on the ARCA side so the synergy is there and with Richie’s truck being a Ford I think it gives us a really big advantage. 
Team owner Richie Wauters returns to the Las Vegas Motor Speedway – the site of his first victory as a crew chief with Shane Hmiel in 2004.
“Las Vegas is a special track for me to return to,” Richie Wauters said.  “Any place where you have your first victory will always stand out anytime you race there.  We are really looking forward to having Ryan race with the team this weekend.  He’s had success with Venturini’s ARCA team this year at the mile and a half tracks so once we get him used to a race truck I’m sure we’ll have a good result”.
“Las Vegas is a fast track and I’ve had my most successes on mile and half tracks so I think that is going to be good,” Reed said.  “I think it plays into my hand of cards or what have you.  I’ve spent some time in iRacing learning the track –it’s not like jumping in a truck and going around Vegas but it will help me get some tips on where the line is and how big the track is.  I’m definitely been talking to my buddies, Brian Ickler and David Mayhew to get some advice on the track and watching some tapes in preparation. I’m just really excited to go out and see what we can do; I think it is a great combo.”
Racehard.com will serve as the joint sponsor for the Smith’s 350, NASCAR Camping World Truck Series event with RyansMission.org.  RaceHard.com, “where racers shop,” outfits serious racers, professional pit crews and diehard fans, from head to toe. They have a huge selection of pit crew apparel, pit equipment and auto racing safety equipment.
“This is a great opportunity for RaceHard.com and we are proud to be able to help Ryan chase his dreams.  Ryan’s determination and work ethic represents the best in all of us”. Keith Van Dam RaceHard.com general manager said.
The Smith’s 350 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race is slated to begin at 8:30 pm ET and will be televised live on SPEED beginning at 8:00pm. MRN and Sirius Satellite radio will begin live radio coverage at 8:00 pm.

Hendrick Garage: Chasers score three top 5s at New Hampshire

Credit: Jamie Squire/Getty Images
With all four of the Hendrick drivers in the Chase, there's a lot to watch and report, so this week Skirts and Scuffs team member L.J. Cloud joins Lacy Keyser in the Hendrick Garage. Lacy covered the No. 48 and the No. 88, while L.J. kept up with the No. 5 and the No. 24.

How did the Hendrick Motorsports teams fare at the Miracle Mile? Were they able to maintain position or did anyone drop out of contention?


Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 

After finishing second last weekend, Jimmie Johnson came to Loudon full of momentum. Starting 20th, he was going to have to race hard early to get to the front. By Lap 33 the No. 48 was in 11th; when the competition caution came out crew chief Chad Knaus called for two right-side tires. Restarting ninth, Johnson was on a mission the front.

When green-flag stops occurred on Lap 105, Johnson finally cracked the top five. On Lap 110 he led for one lap then hit pit road for his stop; after getting four tries and gas Johnson came out sixth. Throughout the day Johnson kept his position inside the top five.

With 55 laps remaining in the race Johnson still trailed leader Denny Hamlin. He was trying as hard as he could to catch the leader when caution came out with 29 to go. This was Johnson’s chance -with the field bunched up Johnson could steal the lead.

But Hamlin’s 11 car was just too fast for the No.48 of Johnson. Still, although he finished second, Johnson took over the points lead. Is he on his way to his #6pack?

“(We’re) leaving the track that's been fair for me with an above-average finish and going to a track that I love next weekend.” said Johnson. "I hope to get a great finish (there).”


Dale Earnhardt Jr., No.88

Starting 14th Dale Earnhardt Jr. hoped for a fast No. 88 that could quickly gain him positions. Within the first 10 laps he was cracking the top 10; when the competition caution came out he hit pit road. The pit stop lasted longer than expected because Earnhardt Jr. got into his stall way too deep, which cost him positions. He came in eighth and restarted 20th.

From there Earnhardt Jr’s. day was spent driving an ill-handling car. It was too tight or too loose. No matter the adjustments crew chief Steve Letarte made, the No.88 just wouldn’t get the speed driver and crew chief wanted.

When the final caution came out, Earnhardt Jr. pitted. Coming out, he knew he had to gain as many points as he could if he wanted to stay alive in the Chase. With the final nine laps Earnhardt Jr. raced hard and would go on to finish 13th. He didn’t lose positions in the points but he didn’t gain either; he’s still seventh in the point standings.

“We worked real, real hard,” said Earnhardt Jr. on his car problems.” We just didn’t get anything out of it. We just didn’t have a good car all weekend. For whatever reason, I don’t know. This car was just not very good.”
 

Kasey Kahne, No. 5

Starting in sixth place for his 18th race at Loudon, Kasey Kahne turned in a solid performance. He didn't have quite the speed of his Hendrick teammates Johnson and Gordon, but he also didn't have as severe of handling problems as Earnhardt Jr. did, either. The No. 5 Farmers Insurance Chevy stayed consistently in the top ten throughout the race. Kahne came home in fifth place and dropped one spot to fifth in points.

Kahne said his race was decent, but he thought that the car was on the splitter some and chattered the front tires. The long green runs didn't help since they didn't have the time to adjust as well as they needed under green. "We missed it a little bit yesterday, so we had to throw some things at it today just off of Friday and Saturday. The guys did a really good job. It was solid race for us. We weren't quite as fast as we would have liked. Denny (Hamlin) was really good like everybody expected. But, our Farmers Insurance team did a great job again. We'll just get ready for Dover next week. Looking forward to that.”


Jeff Gordon, No. 24

After a frustrating week at Chicagoland, one that could keep him from winning the championship, Jeff Gordon needed to reach into his four-time champion's bag of tricks and pull out a great performance at NHMS. Winning the pole gave him an important advantage: pit stall choice. Getting the first stall made a huge difference in Gordon's day as the No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevy battled handling issues that dropped him as far back as 10th at one point. But Alan Gustafson refused to allow those issues to keep his driver from getting back to the front and Gordon brought home a third-place finish behind teammate Jimmie Johnson.

"You're never happy with anything other than a win." Gordon said. "You know I felt like we got the most out of it.  I felt like we were about the fourth or fifth‑place car and we came home third.  I felt like we did our job today and that's what you have to do.  That's what good teams do:  On the days that you're capable of winning, you'd better go win, and on the days that you're third, you'd better finish third or better.  Today I felt like we were a fifthplace car and we finished third.  So we did our job." 

Gordon and Johnson were also asked about the performance of the No. 11. Their responses came with the timing of a well-rehearsed comedy routine.

Q.  "Did anybody have anything for Hamlin...once he got to the point in clean air, was anybody going to catch him?"

GORDON:  "No."
JOHNSON:  "No.  Kept waiting for him to make a mistake, he did a good job."
GORDON:  "I don't think that thing slid its tires all day."
JOHNSON:  "Never slipped."

Q.  "How can one guy be that dominant?  Seemed like he was the only guy who could pass out there when he wanted to?"
JOHNSON:  "I noticed his rear end moving.  There was like extra skew or something in his rear end.  Let's start that whole mess again.  (Laughter)."
GORDON:  "I'm not sure they know what to look for."