Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Travel Tips: Texas Motor Speedway Fan Edition



Texas Motor Speedway will play host to a triple-header weekend of racing which includes two consecutive nights of competition with the NASCAR Camping World Truck (WinStar World Casino 350) and Nationwide (O’Reilly Auto Parts Challenge) Series. The event-filled, fast-paced weekend will be capped off with the eighth Chase for the Sprint Cup (AAA Texas 500) Series race on Sunday. 

Lisa Janine Cloud (Media Rep) and Debbie Ross (Photographer) will be providing live coverage for Skirts and Scuffs from “The Great American Speedway.” Be sure to follow them both on Twitter: @LJC777 and @dross411 for the latest news, race updates and fantastic photos.  

This week’s Travel Tips will consist of fan event information about events happening during the race weekend.
***
Thursday, Nov. 1:
  • No Limits Carnival (1:00 p.m. – 11:00 p.m.) – The four-day carnival event will be located outside of Turn 2, between the Lone Star Tower and Gate 9. Some of the featured rides are a 65-foot tall Century Wheel, Carousel, Cliff Hanger, Hurricane Super Slide, Tornado and YoYo. Admission Cost: Day Pass $20, Weekend Pass $40 and Twilight Special (tickets sold after 8:00 p.m.) $10.
  • Charity Event – Fox Sports presents Busch Whacked Mud Run (4:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.) This event will be support military troops and their families. Participants will include: Kurt Busch (2004 Cup champion & Event Host), Jimmie Johnson (five-time Cup Champion), Denny Hamlin and Clint Bowyer (2012 Chase contenders), Ty Dillon (NCWTS Rookie), Wendy Venturini (SPEED TV Reporter) and many more. Event Cost: $55, Runners and $15, Spectators.
Friday, Nov. 2
  • NNS Driver Appearance (11:00 a.m.) – Elliott Sadler is scheduled to make an appearance at OneMain Financial – Lake Worth, located at 6548 Lake Worth Blvd.
  • No Limits Carnival (1:00 p.m. – 11:00 p.m.)
  • NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (2:10 p.m.) – Qualifying Day powered by The Dallas Morning News. This event will be broadcast live on SPEED.
  • NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (3:40 p.m.) - Qualifying Day powered by The Dallas Morning News. This event will be broadcast live on ESPN2.
  • NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (7:00 p.m.) – WinStar World Casino 350
  • NSCS Driver Appearance (7:00 p.m.) – Dale Earnhardt Jr. is scheduled to make an appearance at Billy Bob’s – Fort Worth, located at 2520 Rodeo Plaza.
  •  
Saturday, Nov. 3
  • NSCS Driver Appearance (2:15 p.m. – 3:15 p.m.) – Aric Almirola is schedule to make an appearance at Brookshire’s, located at Texas Motor Speedway.
  • NASCAR Nationwide Series (3:05 p.m.) – Qualifying Day powered by The Dallas Morning News. This event will be broadcast live on SPEED.
  • NASCAR Nationwide Series (6:30 p.m.) – O-Reilly Auto Parts Challenge

Sunday, Nov. 4:
  • NSCS Driver Appearance (9;15 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.) – Bobby Labonte is scheduled to make an appearance at Brookshire’s, located at Texas Motor Speedway.
  • No Limits Carnival (8:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.)
  • NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (2:00 p.m.) – AAA Texas 500

For Texas Motor Speedway Fan Guide information, click here.

For Texas Motor Speedway weekend schedule, click here.

For weather information, click here.   

For local restaurant information, click here.  

For local area attraction information, click here.

***

Race Broadcast Schedule:   
Nov. 2– NASCAR Camping World Truck Series: WinStar World Casino 350
TV: SPEED, 7:30 p.m. CT / Radio: MRN, 7:45 p.m. CT 

Nov. 3– NASCAR Nationwide Series: O’Reilly Auto Parts Challenge
TV: ESPN, 7:00 p.m. CT / Radio: PRN, 7:00 p.m. CT 

Nov. 4 – NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: AAA Texas 500
TV: ESPN, 2:00 p.m. CT / Radio: PRN, 2:00 p.m. CT

Enjoy your race weekend!

Women in NASCAR Presents: Patricia Driscoll

Photo Credit: Charlotte Bray/Skirts and Scuffs

Patricia Driscoll, girlfriend of 2004 NASCAR Nextel (now Sprint) Cup champion Kurt Busch, was gracious enough to take some time out to speak with me on behalf of Skirts and Scuffs at Kansas Speedway. She gave our readers a little insight on the path that has led her to become a beautiful mom to seven-year old son Houston, heavily involved in NASCAR, a huge national military advocate and to meeting the love of her life.

After meeting Patricia, I truly believe in the phrase “big things come in small packages.”

Her story begins here …

Texas Beginnings to NASCAR Involvement

Patricia Driscoll was born and raised in El Paso, TX. She loved participating in sports as well as dancing ballet professionally at an early age. It was interesting to find out that she was one of the first female high school football players (5A Division) in the State of Texas, competing as a kicker. “At my high school they kept saying that Bo Derek did everything so I was the Bo Derek there. They would say that Bo Derek had nothing on Pat.” She also participated on the volleyball team, was captain of the swim team and dance team as well as on the varsity track team as a freshman.

Although Patricia’s involvement with NASCAR is extremely heavy nowadays, she admits to not being a diehard fan of the sport initially. “I had an uncle who had a drag racing habit and I didn't care about any of that stuff. I would go over to his house and always saw NASCAR on his television. Those guys were always running around in circles and I didn't understand what was so interesting about those things.”

As time passed, she developed a great relationship with Aaron’s Corporation who were big sponsors for both the Armed Forces Foundation and NASCAR. Additionally, she sat on the National Rifle Association (NRA) Board with NASCAR team owner Richard Childress, who suggested that Patricia make a trip out to one of the circuit's tracks and experience the sport firsthand.

“Again, I didn't know anything about NASCAR and he was just that guy who owned a team. He told me that you ought to just come out and hang out, realize what a fascinating sport this really is and that there is a lot to it. You will see how each team is not built equally. So, it has been a really great adventure and my partnership with NASCAR has grown where they are an official military charity and they have us bringing wounded troops to the track every weekend. It has been a great cause and this is the most patriotic sport in America.”

Successful Businesswoman to National Military Advocate

Beginning her career as a government employee, Patricia shared that she always had a huge interest in the technology aspect of intelligence and homeland security, especially growing up near the Mexican border. “Obviously a big concern of ours was drug trafficking, stolen cars and people trafficking. It was something of big interest to me.” Her father was employed with U.S. Customs, Aviation and she found it to be intriguing because of the missions and fighting illegal drug activities.

Additionally, her maternal grandfather was a spy and Army Air Corps aviator who fought battles in conflicts from World War II through Vietnam. “He did all kinds of missions throughout the world and disappeared a lot. He was a really neat guy, always fascinating stories and I think that growing up as a kid it was something that very much interested me so I started my defense company which has provided a lot of solutions to the government on different aspects that I can't talk about.”

With her personal experience in serving alongside a number of service members abroad, Patricia understands the sacrifices that are made by those individuals especially in the time of war. “In serving right alongside with service members, I've always felt we need to take care of these people. They are the ones who are putting on the uniform and the ones who are making a commitment. They are our brothers-in-arms so I feel we have a responsibility to take care of them.” She also made mention of the many civilians, contractors and government employees who are serving beside their military counterparts and encounter many of the same dangers as well as sacrifices on a daily basis in the various countries.

Due to the Patricia’s success as a businesswoman and close working relationship with several Congress members in Washington, DC, she was specifically sought out to take over the responsibilities as President and Executive Director of the Armed Forces Foundation which is a 501(c)(3) non-profit charity organization. Under her leadership, the foundation’s revenues have increased from $100,000 to over $8,000,000 annually. Some of the programs that are housed within and supported by this organization include but are not limited to: PTSD/TBI (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder/Traumatic Brain Injury) Outreach, Family Assistance Program and MWR (Morale, Welfare & Recreation) which is a partner with NASCAR Troops to the Track.

"A laptop and cell phone with extra battery power" allow her to remain involved with business operations despite extensive travel. As much as Patricia loves the responsibilities of serving as both a CEO and Executive Director, she shares that family life is extremely important to her.

Credit: Debbie Ross for Skirts and Scuffs
Love and Family Life

Through her numerous works with the foundation and Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, she managed to meet the love of her life and form a very strong family unit in the process. “I love my boys more than anything; they are obviously the number one priority to me. My personal time, I would consider it spending time with my family, Kurt and Houston, and those are things that really make me happy. As much time as I can get of that is really what I want.”

Patricia says she met the love of her life, Kurt Busch, at Walter Reed. “The funny thing is we met at Walter Reed and that obviously to me is always a good sign. You didn't meet him at a bar. Your mom always says that you should meet someone at church, right? That is about as close to church as you are going to get. It was funny because I remember walking up to the back of him because someone told me that I was going to be seated at the same table because we were going to be doing some tours as a group.”

Unfortunately, Patricia wasn't initially happy about this because her staff provided information that Busch had declined to participate in a meet-and-greet “Troops to the Track” event for the foundation; therefore, she was already putting together an on-site game plan to make him excited about the what the foundation was doing for the troops in partnership with NASCAR.

“It is funny how you walk up to someone, you know that your life is about to change forever and you just get that strange feeling. I just knew that my life was changing forever, it was just something and I couldn't put my finger on it. Yes, you can just say it was love at first sight and we had so many things in common. I loved his passion for people and realized that I had the wrong Busch (in regards to the meet-and-greet decline) because it was his brother. It was not him and he was actually doing something for our foundation that very week so I felt like a fool. It is not very often that I’m wrong so that was a fun experience to be wrong.”

When Patricia is able to have some down time, which is very rare right now, she loves salsa and merengue dancing; however, working out is a consistent routine for her - as you can tell by her well-toned arms and physique. She also enjoys photography, cooking and entertaining. Family time entertainment between she, Kurt and Houston involve wrestling, boxing and LEGOS. “When you've got boys, they want to be rough especially the little one because he loves to play war all the time. We will get out the NERF guns and run around or we will play laser tag. We are a pretty physical group and we don’t really sit down very much but I do enjoy the nights when we decide to watch a movie or something together.” Yes, reading and homework are hugely factored into the equation for "The Three Amigos" as well.

I had to ask how Patricia felt about Houston wanting to become a NASCAR driver. “Well, I was kind of hoping that when Kurt decides to retire maybe 10 years from now that would be the end of it," she laughed. But I see that Kurt has had a very big influence on his life, he is excited about the whole scene and he loves it here. He is just energized about being around all of this stuff…Kurt has been delaying putting out the go-karts, but he can’t delay anymore now that the new shop is built and the parking lot is calling for the go-karts to come out. So, I guess I’m ready.”

As we know there are always misconceptions about drivers and their lives and I gave Patricia the opportunity to share her thoughts on what she feels is the biggest misconception about Kurt. “Well, there is no doubt in my mind that Kurt has been upset with some media members and they have fired back and keep firing back. But then we also have some great friends in the media who know him as a person and are very fair. Yes, I do feel there are some things that he does which are wrong but so does everybody else here but he is an easy target to pick on. I feel like he is guy that has been cut open, left out in the water and the sharks just keep circling around and people just like to dog pile. I hate it because I see what such a wonderful person he is, his commitment to the troops as well as doing charity work and to us as a family is very significant.” 

Patricia is a multi-faceted woman with a huge heart, fierce tenacity and great personality who has accomplished quite a bit. She plans to continue being a powerful advocate for the many wounded warriors in our nation. Patricia and Houston have definitely grabbed the heart of the “gentle giant” Kurt Busch and it is quite obvious that the future holds great things for all of them.  

 Official Twitter Accounts:

Patricia Driscoll

Kurt Busch

Official Kurt Busch Website, click here.

If you will be at Texas Motor Speedway this upcoming race weekend, be sure to support the charity event “Fox Supports presents Busch-Whacked Mud Run” on Thursday, November 1. You have the chance to win $500 or four HOT passes for next year. For more information or to register for the event, click here.

On a personal note, I would like to thank Patricia Driscoll for all that she does for the military community because she is a passionate advocate and phenomenal trailblazer. Having served in the military (active duty and reserves) for the past 20 years. as well as having many ties through loved ones (family and friends) who are currently serving here and abroad, it is amazing and an honor to have someone selflessly working hard to make things better for my brothers- and sisters-in-arms.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

5 Questions After....Tums Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway

This past weekend I had the opportunity to head out to Martinsville Speedway for the first time. After 19 years following NASCAR I can now put a check beside this bucket list item. I'm happy to say that the short track lived up to my expectations in every way possible...except for maybe the hot dog...but more on that in a minute.

The championship pictures are becoming clear, so here are my five questions after.

Hamlin speeds out of the garage after electrical issues
caused major problem for the No. 11.
Credit: Katy Lindamood
Are Denny Hamlin's Championship hopes really over?  Hamlin entered Sunday's race third in points with the potential to make up ground on the leaders. One of the favorites at Martinsville, Hamlin's day was mired with one problem after another. Two pit road speeding penalties put the FedEx Express Toyota back in the pack, though Hamlin was able to make up spots on the track as the laps ticked off.

Then the ultimate blow occurred. Seemingly without warning Hamlin lost power to his gauges and the team was forced to the garage to diagnose the problem. Hamlin ended the day fifth in points with only three races left. It's relatively safe to say that it's down to a two-man battle at this point and that Hamlin will have to wait another year.

Can Clint Bowyer rain on someone's parade and potentially steal the Championship? While it's certainly a possibility Bowyer could sneak in and win the title, it's unlikely. Bowyer now sits just 26 points out of the lead. He's shown a lot of power the last few races earning a win in Charlotte and leading 151 laps at Martinsville. But with time running out one of the leaders would have to experience a major problem....anything can happen right? This is NASCAR. Regardless of where Bowyer finishes the season no one can argue that he's given Michael Waltrip Racing the validity they've been searching for.

Keselowski prepares for Sunday's race at Martinsville
Credit: Katy Lindamood 
Jimmie or Brad? Brad or Jimmie? Last season we saw the tightest points battle in the history of NASCAR and this year it's looking like we might get the same. Johnson has proven time and time again that he can turn it on during the Chase and Keselowski has shown the tenacity needed to be Champion. After leading the points for five of the last six weeks, Keselowski sits two points behind Johnson following Martinsville. I'm not ready to hand the trophy over to Johnson just yet, are you?

Will James Buescher be the next NCWTS Champion? Survey says, yes! Denny Hamlin wasn't the only Championship contender who experienced heartbreak this weekend. Ty Dillon had a strong piece in Saturday's Kroger 200 but a tire failure forced the No. 3 to the pits multiple times for repairs. Dillon went from leader to 21 points behind Busesher in a matter of minutes. The good news for Dillon is that the same fate could meet Buescher in any of the next three races, catapulting him back to the top. The bad news is that two of the three are 1.5 mile ovals where Buescher has dominated in 2012.

And finally, what's up with they hype of the Martinsville hot dog? I experienced my first red/pink dog on Friday and while I admit it was a good hot dog, it wasn't anything spectacular. One was plenty for me this time around. I watched people flock to the concession stands throughout the course of the weekend buying them by the handful. The only thing I can figure out is that it's the novelty which keeps competitors, crew members and fans going back for more. A hot dog is a hot dog, but the feeling you get when you bite into something that's rare and part of the history - that's something else entirely.

Fast Facts: Ryan Newman

Credit: Getty Images/Jerry Markland
Ryan Newman, driver of the No. 39 US Army/Haas Automation/Quicken Loans/Tornados/Outback Steakhouse Chevrolet Impala for Stewart-Haas Racing in the Sprint Cup Series, earned the nickname “Rocket Man” while at Penske Racing after earning 42 poles from 2002 to 2008. Learn more about this animal-lover and father of two in this week’s Fast Facts.
  • Ryan Joseph Newman was born December 8, 1977 in South Bend, Indiana. Newman began racing in 1982 as a 4-year-old behind the wheel of a quarter midget; at age 9, he already has a resume that included over 20 victories, the Kokomo (Indiana) track championship and the Eastern Grand National Quarter Midget Championship in the Junior Stock Division. Newman racked up numerous feature wins and titles, leading to his inductions into the Quarter Midget Hall of Fame in 1993 – at 15 years of age.
  • Newman moved into a full-sized midget car in 1993, racing in the All-American Midget Series and later in the USAC National Midget Series. In 1995, Newman was named Rookie of the Year in Midget Series, then followed that up with the same honor in USAC’s Silver Crown Series in 1996. Newman earned his first major USAC win in the “Night Before the 500” race at Lucas Oil Raceway in Indianapolis in 1997.
  • In 1999, Newman raced in all three USAC national series – Midgets, Silver Crown and Sprints – and added more impressive statistics to his resume: the 1999 Silver Crown championship and the 1999 Sprint Car Series Rookie of the Year, making him the only driver to win the ROTY title in all three series. While doing all this, Newman was studying vehicle structure engineering at Indiana’s Purdue University; Newman graduates with his bachelor’s degree in August 2001.
  • Newman caught the eye of famed championship motorsports team owner Roger Penske and signed on with his team in 2000. In 2000 and 2001, Newman ran what was then known as the “A-B-C” plan – various races in the ARCA Racing Series, the NASCAR Busch Series (now Nationwide Series) and the Cup Series. He racked up wins in both the ARCA and Busch Series, and won his first Cup Series pole at Charlotte in 2001.
  • In 2002, his first full-time season in the Cup Series, Newman won the Rookie of the Year Award over Jimmie Johnson, winning six poles and collecting one win and 22 top 10 finishes. He continued to impress in 2003 when he won 11 poles and went to victory lane eight times. As a member of Penske Racing, Newman amassed 43 poles, 13 wins and had a best finish of sixth in points three times.
  • In 2009, Newman moved to Stewart-Haas Racing with fellow USAC graduate Tony Stewart as his teammate and team owner. In his first three seasons with the team (2009 through 2011), he earned six poles, two wins and 46 top 10 finishes.
  • Newman and his wife Krissie have two daughters, Brooklyn Sage, born November 18, 2010, and Ashlyn Olivia, born July 16, 2012. Together the Newmans founded the Ryan Newman Foundation, which works towards educating and encouraging people to have their pets spayed or neutered as well as adopting from animal shelters. The foundation also educates people on the importance of outdoor conservation and provides scholarship funding for the Rich Vogler Scholarship Program, a program close to Newman as he was a scholarship recipient.
  • Find out more about Ryan Newman at his website, www.ryannewman.org. Find out more about his foundation at www.ryannewmanfoundation.org.  

Monday, October 29, 2012

Hendrick Garage: Emotional win at Martinsville

Jimmie Johnson celebrates after winning the Tums Fast Relief 500 at
Martinsville Speedway. Credit: John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR

As the Chase winds down, the 2012 Sprint Cup Champion is getting close to being revealed but with three races left anything can happen. 
John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR

Kasey Kahne, No.5

Kasey Kahne’s day at Martinsville was uneventful, but he still managed to stay alive in the Chase for the Sprint Cup.
By the first caution on Lap 46, Kahne went from 15th to the top ten. The No. 5 spent the day inside the top ten; as the race progressed he marched to the top.

Leading 12 laps beginning with Lap 366, as the race neared its end he couldn't hold off Johnson and Kyle Busch, going on to finish third. Kahne sits fourth in the point standings.

"Felt good to have a good run at Martinsville. It's a tough track for me. Has been since I came into the Sprint Cup Series.  Definitely felt good to run pretty well today," Kahne said.

"I was thinking after the race, we were making adjustments. Kenny Francis, we make a small adjustment this way, I'm too tight, make it this way, I'm too loose. The windows are so small that I
have at this track."  

Kahne continued, "You look at the 48, you watch how Jimmie drives this place, Jeff Gordon, their window is so much bigger. It's trying to figure out how to get where they're at with your feet, the braking, the throttle, things like that. We'll keep working on that. Two of the best guys to learn from and hopefully we can keep getting better at this track."  
A memorial sticker on the side of Jeff Gordon's No. 24 car -
remembering the Hendrick plane crash eight years ago.
Credit: Katy Lindamood/Skirts and Scuffs 
Jeff Gordon, No. 24
Jeff Gordon has won seven times at Martinsville. Starting 11th would only showcase why Gordon has won here so often.

As the race started Gordon quickly jumped to second by Lap 35. Gordon’s pit stops were also a key factor in his day, having great stops and being out fast helped to maintain his position in the top five. Battling with teammate Jimmie Johnson for most of the race, Gordon was determined to get the top spot.

On Lap 67 he finally did steal it from Johnson and lead a total of 92 laps, but in the end, Gordon couldn't pass the front-runners and so wouldn't get his eighth win. He finished his day in seventh and is sixth in the point standings.  

Jimmie Johnson, No.48

For Jimmie Johnson, going to Martinsville is always emotional, remembering everyone who died in the Hendrick plane crash. For Johnson, winning at Martinsville is for their memory. 

He won the pole Friday, and with points leader Brad Keselwoski starting 32nd, the points standings were looking good for Johnson as the race started.

When the green flag dropped Sunday, the No. 48 quickly drove away from the field. Johnson’s day seemed easy, leading and not often being caught. He was plagued by radio issues which caused him to not be able to hear his spotter Earl. Despite those issues, Johnson was unfazed, he led a total of 193 laps on the way to taking the checkered flag. Earning his seventh victory at the Paper Clip, Johnson snagged the points lead from Keselowski. Maybe "Mr. Five-Time" is on his way to a Six-pack.

“We just had a great race car,” explained Johnson.” And I think we've also learned our lesson here in the past in not pitting late and that certainly came into play and we made the right decision there. I’m so torn with emotion right now with winning here; and I’m so happy to be in the point lead," Johnson said.

Remembering his fallen friends, Johnson stated, "But I can’t help but think of all the people in 501RH a few years back. Also, you can see on my car, Rick (Hendrick) wrote here in here Todd Rose passed away recently and I certainly want to mention him as well.

"I’m ecstatic about the win today and ecstatic about the point lead, but this is no cake-walk. These guys are bringing their best each and every week and we've got to keep working hard to keep this Lowe’s Chevy up front; and we’re in good shape."

The No.88 on pit road before the start of the race.
Credit: Katy Lindamood/Skirts and Scuffs
Dale Earnhardt Jr. No.88

After taking two weeks off from racing due to multiple concussions, Dale Earnhardt Jr. came to Martinsville hungry and missing racing.

The day seemed to be great for Earnhardt Jr. and the No. 88 team, battling inside the top ten all day and even getting as high as third. On the final caution, however,  Steve Letarte elected to stay out and not pit. This hurt the No.88 as fresh tires were faster than old. Earnhardt looked to be coming back when an accident caused him to spin out. Earnhardt Jr. was none too pleased with the No. 99 of Carl Edwards, but Sam Hornish Jr. had gotten into Edwards which caused him to spin Earnhardt Jr. out. 

What appeared to be a solid top-ten finish didn't end so well for Earnhardt Jr., finishing 21st after his crash and being 12th in the point standings.

"It felt pretty good,” Earnhardt Jr. said on returning to action.  "I was just really pissed off about how we finished that race.  That was really ridiculous.  I mean you've got to use a little common sense. That was not a good move."

Smoke Signals: Newman, Borland Reunite at Martinsville

Stewart-Haas Racing owner/driver Tony Stewart qualified the No. 14 Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevrolet Impala seventh for the TUMS Fast Relief 500, following a fast lap at 97.257 mph (19.470 seconds). His teammate Ryan Newman, working with “new” crew chief Matt Borland, qualified 17th in the No. 39 Quicken Loans Chevrolet with a speed of 96.835 mph (19.555 seconds). Borland, who served as Newman’s crew chief at Penske Racing from 2002 to 2006, takes over for Tony Gibson, who will be serving as Danica Patrick’s Sprint Cup Series crew chief for her final two races of 2012 and onward.

Stewart had a rough day at best at Martinsville, fighting an ill-handling car throughout the race as no adjustments could give him what he needed to get around the track. Stewart finished 27th, two laps down to the leaders.

“No matter what we did to the car – and we made a lot of adjustments – it didn’t do anything to make it better,” said Stewart on the SHR website.
Credit: Katy Lindamood/Skirts and Scuffs
Newman’s star shone brighter than his boss’ did at Martinsville, as the new tag team of Newman and Borland rallied from two laps down to finish 11th. He also battled tight conditions on the 0.526-mile short track early on, and as with Stewart’s team, no changes seemed to help. Borland called for major changes on a green-flag pit stop on Lap 375, which brought Newman back on track in 28th place, two laps down. The team fought back and took advantage of two wave-arounds on late race cautions to get back on the lead lap; Newman gained seven spots in the final 19 laps on his way to his 20th top 15 finish of the season.

“It was a good rebound by our Quicken Loans team,” said Newman after the race on the website. “Our car was entirely too tight, and it wasn’t working from about the second run of the race on. We made wedge and track bar changes, and it didn’t help. We made air-pressure changes, and it didn’t change anything. Nothing was working, but we kept taking big swings at it, and we kept trying to fix it. We got two laps down, but we were able to use the wave-around to our advantage and get back on the lead lap and drive up to 11th there at the end. It would have been nice to have gotten a top-10 in my first race back with Borland, but I’m proud of what we did as a team today. It’s a good start for us.”

Stewart’s rough day cost him spots and points in the Chase for the Sprint Cup, falling from seventh to 10th in the standings; Stewart is now 71 points behind new points leader and Martinsville race winner Jimmie Johnson. Newman remains 15th in points, 70 points back of Kyle Busch.

Wilson to Oversee RCR No. 31 Program for Rest of 2012 Season



WELCOME, N.C. (October 29, 2012) - Championship-winning Richard Childress Racing crew chief Shane Wilson will replace Drew Blickensderfer at the helm of the No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet team with driver Jeff Burton for the final three races of the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season. 

"I want to thank Drew for all of his effort with the No. 31 Caterpillar team this season," said Richard Childress, president and CEO of Richard Childress Racing. "He's a great crew chief and I can't say enough about his dedication to RCR. Making the move now, before the season is over, gives Drew some additional time to pursue other opportunities. 

"Shane is a proven winner and I appreciate his willingness to step into this role for the balance of the 2012 season."

Luke Lambert, who currently calls the shots for RCR's NASCAR Nationwide Series driver championship point standings leading No. 2 team with Elliott Sadler, will take over the No. 31 team crew chief duties for the 2013 season. Lambert served as interim crew chief for the No. 31 team in 2011.

"Luke is proving this season that he's a strong, young crew chief who can win races and compete for a championship," added Childress. "Announcing his move to the No. 31 team in 2013 will not take anything away from his focus on the No. 2 team winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series championship. That's his No. 1 priority. We merely wanted to show that we have both an interim plan for the rest of this season and a long-term plan for the future."

MWR Weekly Wrap-Up: Clint Bowyer impressive in the title hunt

Credit: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

While all three Michael Waltrip Racing cars were looking very capable of winning at Martinsville, the clock tolled once again for Jimmie Johnson. While Johnson now takes the points lead, Clint Bowyer is fighting tooth and nail to remain in the title hunt, a mission he successively achieved this week. With just three races to go, the clock is ticking, but the entire No. 15 team knows that it is go time!

Clint Bowyer, No. 15 Pink Lemonade 5-hour ENERGY
Started: 8th
Finished: 5th
Points: 3rd (-26)


Clint Bowyer has proved he is in it to win it, carrying the MWR banner to another top 5 finish and remaining in the title hunt.

Leading a race high 151 laps, Bowyer saw the win slip from his grips after stalling in his pit box. On the final restart with just 10 laps remaining, Bowyer pitted and restarted in the seventh position. Racing to the fifth position, Bowyer heads to Texas just 26 points behind new points leader Jimmie Johnson.

Bowyer recapped his day, saying, “As soon as we got crowded up I got way too tight. I kept losing everything I could gain - everything I would gain on the track I would lose on pit road. It is what it is - it’s a team effort and it’s the team that got us here. We win or lose together. That No. 2 (Brad Keselowski) - it’s unbelievable, they just keep doing what they’re doing and we can’t seem to run them down any. It was a good day for us. It was a lot of fun out there - we led laps and did what we wanted to do. Just came up short from winning the race.”

Even when not racing, Vickers was captured at the
track supporting the MWR team here at the
Bank of America 500.
Credit: Charlotte Bray/Skirts and Scuffs
Brian Vickers, No. 55 MyClassicGarage.com
Started: 2nd
Finished: 8th
Points: 14th (owners)

Redemption was served.

Do you remember the Fall 2011 race where Brian Vickers was a one man wrecking crew? Well that was the old Brian Vickers, he now shows a clear focus, drive and passion for his career. I have to personally say that I am surprised he is not getting a full-time Cup ride based on his performance this season!

After starting in the second position, Vickers led twice for a total of 27 laps. A stray tire cost the team some track positions but Vickers was able to rebound and race his way back to eighth position. In just eight races this season Vickers has accumulated five top 10 finishes.

 "My race was good - not as good as we wanted," Vickers said.  "I think when you come into a day with a car you think can win and you don’t win with it, you’re always frustrated no matter how well you do.  It was another top 10 - we’ve had a lot of those this year, which is great.  Should have been another top five and maybe even a win so you can’t complain about that.  The guys did an amazing job with the car all weekend.  I can’t thank everyone at Michael Waltrip Racing enough - Toyota, MyClassicGarage.com and Aaron’s for making all this possible."

Wrapping up his 2012 season, Vickers said, "It was a short year, but we made the most of it.  We had a lot of top 10s and a lot of top fives in only eight races. We contended for wins on more than one occasion. We led laps and we raced our way there."

Mark Martin will be back to wrap up the 2012 season - Texas, Phoenix and Homestead. On another scheduling note, the 2013 schedule will remain split between Vickers, Martin and Waltrip once again.

Martin Truex Jr, No. 56 NAPA AUTO PARTS
Started: 12th
Finished: 23rd
Points: 7th (-63)

Like his teammates, Martin Truex Jr. also had a strong day at Martinsville. Well, that was until he got busted with a penalty. At the time he had been running in the top 10 for the first half of the race.

The Lap 238 penalty was driver error for which he took full blame. On the restart, Truex changed lanes before the start/finish line. After having to serve a pass through penalty, the No. 56 dropped to two laps down and was unable to gain that valuable track position back. Finishing the race 23rd, Truex fell to seventh in the Chase standings and is officially out of title contention. Racing for wins only, the next three weeks should be very exciting!

"This one is on me. I have never made a mistake like that before. I hate it for this entire NAPA team because we had a top 10 car. All we can do is look towards Texas and get us a race win," Truex said post-race.

Why I Love NASCAR: Tony Stewart by Chief 187™

Credit: Lisa Janine Cloud/Skirts and Scuffs

There may be no greater character in this year’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Chase than Tony Stewart. Outside of the hot-headed duo of the Brothers Busch, Stewart is the driver with the most mouth. But he has earned the right, some say, to speak candidly because his record shines brightly in the books.

Stewart won three NASCAR Sprint Cup championships: 2002, 2005, and is the reigning 2011 champion. He accomplished the first two Cups driving for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) in the No. 20 Home Depot Chevrolet.

In 2009 Stewart parted ways with JGR and fielded his own teams under Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) – his No. 14 and that of Ryan Newman in the No. 39.

Team ownership has changed Stewart in part. He is still a fantastic driver, does not mince words, and is aggressive, but now restrains himself in certain situations because he understands his role as team owner demands diplomacy.

In addition to Newman as teammate, Stewart decided to field a car for NASCAR starlet Danica Patrick – a deal made possible with Tommy Baldwin Racing and David Reutimann this season.
As Patrick’s boss for 10 Cup races, Stewart has had to carefully choose his words for the media about his driver’s abilities and performance. His talents on the race track may just be rivaled by his talent for acting in front of the post-race camera when discussing Patrick.

Aside from his role as boss to the lackluster Patrick this season, Stewart has had to deal with the financial stresses of being a team owner. Sponsor Office Depot announced in the September race in Atlanta that they would be parting ways with SHR.

Fortunately, by October 5th, Bass Pro Shops came on board to sponsor Stewart’s car for select races in 2013.

This goes to show what an absolute nightmare the economy is in NASCAR when the longtime favorite, three-time, defending Sprint Cup champion cannot keep a sponsor on his car and cannot retain full sponsorship for the next season.

This trend is accepted now. Sponsors regularly pay only for certain races and not entire seasons anymore.

Stewart seems nonplussed. He is still a racer first and foremost and is in the thick of another Chase.

The 2012 Chase, however, is not going as well as the record-setting one Stewart ran last year that led to his third championship.

By this time in the Chase in 2011 Stewart had won at Chicagoland Speedway, New Hampshire, and Martinsville. He, of course, went on to win Texas and Homestead-Miami which tied him in points with Carl Edwards. Only the five wins versus Edwards’ one were enough to propel Stewart to the championship. Five wins out of 10 in the Chase was extraordinary.

But this year Stewart hasn't found the magic he tapped into last year to win in the Chase and put
himself in strong contention for the Cup. What was a potential win at Talladega became a nightmarish end for Stewart, who moved to block but instead was tapped by a hard-charging Michael Waltrip on the last lap. The wreck sent Stewart sailing through the air, flipped, and hitting the roofs of several of his competitors before landing on his tires. Stewart miraculously walked away from the incident.

Going into Martinsville Stewart sat seventh in points, 47 points behind the leader Brad Keselowski. A 27th-place finish dropped him to 10th, 71 behind race winner and points leader Jimmie Johnson.

Regardless of his finish in this year’s Chase, Stewart has proven he is NASCAR royalty with his three Cups, his team ownership, his capitalizing on the popularity of Patrick, and his ability to still speak out when things ruffle his feathers.

Stewart running boldly in the Sprint Cup Series is yet another reason why I love NASCAR.

Gibbs Garage: Kyle Busch finishes second as Hamlin’s Chase hopes fizzle in emotional race

Denny Hamlin drives through the garage before the race.
Credit: Katy Lindamood for Skirts and Scuffs  
The weekend at Martinsville had to be an emotional rollercoaster for Denny Hamlin. On Saturday night, he had a double celebration as he won the NCWTS race in the No. 51 for Kyle Busch Motorsports on his girlfriend Jordan’s birthday. But Sunday’s Cup race was more like a Halloween nightmare as a series of problems left him with a dismal 33rd place finish.

The No. 11 FedEx Express Toyota started fifth and was fast from the get-go. But almost 50 laps in, during the first caution, Hamlin was nabbed for speeding entering pit road, and restarted 32nd. He wheeled past car after car and re-entered the top 10 on lap 112.

At that point, Hamlin’s team shared his optimistic comment on twitter, “What’s a race without a little adversity?”

Although he continued to run up front and even led for six laps, there was more misfortune to come. When Hamlin pitted for four tires, fuel and an adjustment under the fifth caution, he exited in first place, but was again penalized for speeding entering pit road. He restarted 28th and did a repeat performance of working himself up into the top 10 over the next 25 laps or so.

The FedEx crew fixes electrical problems to get Hamlin back on track.
Credit: Rainier Ehrhardt/Getty Images  
When asked about the pit road issues, Hamlin said, “I was doing what the crew chief said. I don't know if that's the right thing as far as NASCAR is concerned. They assured me there was no way the speed on entry with the timing lines, there's a little bit of underestimation on how quick these cars can launch when you do take off. I think there was something more to that than what we thought.”

By the three-quarter mark, Hamlin drove into the top three and inherited the lead on Lap 353 as green flag pit stops cycled through. Shortly after his green flag stop, gauges in the FedEx Express Camry went haywire, and the car shut off. Switching ignition boxes helped temporarily, but an electrical malfunction left Hamlin sitting in a dead car on the frontstretch. After quick diagnosis and repair in the garage, Hamlin was back on track in 33rd spot, 34 laps down, and that’s where he crossed the finish line.

“It ended in disappointment,” Hamlin said. “We overcame the pit road penalties, things like that. Just had a great car. When these things happen, you just got to suck it up and move on. There's nothing I can do about it. We still drove our tails right back up to the front twice, passed the 48 car about three times, four times.”

All in all, Hamlin’s one-liner from the commercial played during the race sums up his day: “No bueno, Carlos.”

The M&Ms Halloween Toyota being prepped for the race.
Credit: Katy Lindamood for Skirts and Scuffs 
Kyle Busch drove an orange M&Ms car, but by race end he was feeling blue. Busch was visibly distraught as he spoke to reporters after the race, but not being able to pass winner Jimmie Johnson during the last few laps was only part of his heartache.

Busch described the loss of 21-year-old Raine this week. “We worked as hard as we could and we had an angel riding with us today and weren't able to capitalize for Raine (Angelley) and his family, the loss they had earlier this week. Raine was a kid Samantha and I took under our wings about a year ago, kidney issues, liver issues, passed away this week. It's heavy hearts for all of us. Wish we could have won him one.”

Busch rolled off third and kept the M&Ms Halloween Camry in the top five or six until after the third caution. Shortly after the restart Busch spun due to his right rear tire going down, and ended up in 30th after pitting for fresh tires. He worked his way back into the top 10 by the halfway mark and the top five by about Lap 340, and stayed at the front for the rest of the race, which was his 290th career Cup start.

On the restart with five to go, Busch was second behind leader Jimmie Johnson and crossed the finish line in that spot for his best career finish at Martinsville.

“Jimmie did a good job,” Busch said about the last few laps, then described his own day. “So close, yet so far away it seems like here at Martinsville, time and time again. Struggled early, got behind. Spun out there, was able to work on it, get ourselves a pretty decent car. Probably a third- or fourth-place car. Can't say enough about the effort, the guys did a good job.”

Logano's No. 20 Home Depot/Red Beacon car.
Credit: Katy Lindamood for Skirts and Scuffs 
Joey Logano qualified 14th for the TUMS Fast Relief 500. After an initial jump into the top 10, he spent the first quarter of the event in the top 15, fighting handling issues. Then during the third caution, the No. 20 car was too fast exiting pit road and had to restart 31st. A determined Logano wheeled it back into the top 15 for the middle leg of the race.
Around the halfway mark, the No. 20 crew had trouble when an air gun broke during a two-tire pit stop. Logano was called back in to check the lugnuts and the crew changed the other two tires at the same time. Once again, the Home Depot/Red Beacon Toyota dropped to the back of the field. Logano lost a lap, but was able to get it back later by taking the wavearound.
Positioned in the outside line on a couple of late-race restarts, Logano said it didn’t seem like the cars on the outside got moving as fast as the inside line.
“I feel like we could have had a much better finish had we just been in the right lane there at the end of the race,” Logano said. “Jason (Ratcliff) made a good two-tire call late to get us track position. We started eighth on that last restart and like what normally happens here at Martinsville, the outside lane just didn’t go. I was working hard to try and get down into the inside but there was just a huge line of cars. We restarted eighth and ended up 14th or 15th before we found a hole.”
Logano’s thoughts on his 16th-place finish: “There at the end of the day, I feel like we had the car the best it had been all day long. We made huge improvements in our car over how we were in practice. We just didn’t get the finish to go along with that.”
Points standings after Martinsville:
Denny Hamlin – 5th (49 points behind Chase leader)
Kyle Busch – 13th
Joey Logano – 17th (+1)
------------------------------------------

Beth Bence Reinke is a columnist, support editor and 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

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Indian GP: Sebastian Vettel Wins With Sights On Title

Sebastian Vettel-Red Bull Racing Ltd/Getty Images
For the second time in two years, Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel started from pole and handily won the Indian Grand Prix. It was a dominating victory with no challenges from any other drivers. If there was a skip in Red Bull's day, it came toward the last laps when Vettel's under-tray produced sparks under braking and teammate Mark Webber suffered a KERS failure, enabling Ferrari's Fernando Alonso to pass for a second place podium, 13 points and 9.4 seconds behind Vettel.

Webber managed to stay slightly ahead of both McLarens for a third-place finish. "It was a difficult race, very difficult for me to get into a rhythm, we had a few issues we needed to manage on the car but fair play to the other guys it was good, tough grand prix," he said, "Lewis and Fernando were very strong on the hard tire and with our KERS it was very difficult."

This was the first time Vettel has finished first four consecutive times during one season and he has equaled the record for leading every lap of a race for three consecutive grands prix which was set by the legendary Ayrton Senna for McLaren in 1989. For today's win Vettel applauded his entire crew, "I think it’s been an incredible two years for us, both times to come here and win the race, get the pole on Saturday and win the race on Sunday is fantastic. I don’t know what is it about this circuit but I really like the flow of it. Big thanks to the team, as I said on the radio, every single one is pushing very hard and I think there’s not one thing that stands out and makes the difference: not today, not yesterday, not this weekend. I think it’s all of us working hand in hand together." 

The McLarens rounded out the top five as Lewis Hamilton came in fourth, right on the heels of Webber. This leaves Hamilton all but out of the chase in the Driver's Championship. Needing 75 points, he would have to win the remaining three races in order to take the championship. Teammate Jenson Button followed Hamilton past the checkered flag for fifth. Felipe Massa finished sixth, secure with the knowledge that his contract has been extended one year through 2013. Later, teammate Alonso tweeted: "I am so happy to continue another year with @Felipe1Massa as a team-mate! I'm sure we are the best team! #ForzaFerrari". 

Lotus's Kimi Raikkonen came in seventh and while he's third in the standings and 67 points out, he is all but eliminated from the Driver's Championship. Rounding out the top ten are Force India's Nico Hulkenberg, Lotus's Romain Grosjean, and Bruno Senna, in an effort to save his spot with Williams, coming in tenth. 

The Driver's Championship has clearly come down to Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso. It is difficult to see the Spaniard taking home the prize as Vettel and Red Bull seem above the the field, but Alonzo remains optimistic. When asked if his second place finish was bittersweet, Alonso replied, "It’s not easy at the moment to fight with Red Bull...Yeah, we lost points but I think this was more or less the plan this weekend: we were not fast enough to compete against them, so we lost the minimum points, which is finishing second, so as I said, better races will come. We were quite fast in a straight line but we are still missing a little bit of grip in the corners that hopefully will come in the next races."

Here are the top five drivers as they stand in the hunt for the Driver's Championship:

1. Sebastian Vettel       Red Bull        240
2. Fernando Alonso     Ferrari           227
3. Kimi Raikkonen      Lotus             173
4. Mark Webber         Red Bull         167
5. Lewis Hamilton      McLaren        165

This website is unofficial and is not associated in any way with the Formula One group of companies. F1, FORMULA ONE, FORMULA 1, FIA FORMULA ONE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP, GRAND PRIX and related marks are trade marks of Formula One Licensing B.V.

Championship picture changes with Johnson’s win at Martinsville

Credit: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
Martinsville once again belongs to Jimmie Johnson and the No. 48  team. With the win today Johnson secures the series points lead from Brad Keselowski. Keselowski, who started the day seven points ahead of "Five-Time," is now two points back with only three races remaining.

The lead change wasn't the only shake up in the points. Denny Hamlin was forced into the garage midway through the race after electrical issues caused the No. 11 Toyota to lose power multiple times over the course of a green-flag run. Hamlin’s misfortune, which also included  two pit road speeding penalties, allowed for Clint Bowyer to move up in the rankings. Kasey Kahne gained one point finishing third and joked saying that at this rate he might catch up to the leaders by next year.

The Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota duo of Brian Vickers and Bowyer had solid runs with Bowyer leading a race high 151 laps. After the race Bowyer said, “I thought we had a car capable of winning. As soon as it got cool, I got a little bit tight in, but we lost track position when they beat us out of the pits there and I never could regain it.” Bowyer is now third in the points and 26 behind Johnson, still in the title hunt.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. returned to the track for the first time since a concussion post-Talladega, maintaining a top 10 car for most of the afternoon, the driver and team look refreshed all weekend. Contact from Sam Hornish Jr. and Carl Edwards derailed the hopes of finishing strong. In a typical short track deal, Hornish touched Edwards who then touched Earnhardt Jr. That contact resulted in a 21st-place finish for the No. 88 team. For Jr Nation's loyal fans, they will take it, just happy to have their driver back behind the wheel.

Final Results:
  1. Johnson
  2. Ky. Busch
  3. Kahne
  4. Almirola
  5. Bowyer
  6. Keselowski
  7. Gordon
  8. Vickers
  9. Labonte
  10. Biffle
  11. Newman
  12. Menard
  13. Hornish Jr.
  14. Kenseth
  15. Ku. Busch
  16. Logano
  17. McMurray
  18. Edwards
  19. Cassill
  20. Montoya
  21. Earnhardt Jr.
  22. Burton
  23. Truex Jr.
  24. Ambrose
  25. Mears
  26. Ragan
  27. Stewart
  28. Allemendinger
  29. Schrader
  30. Gilliland
  31. Kvapil
  32. Harvick
  33. Hamlin
  34. Leicht
  35. Blaney
  36. Reutimann
  37. Speed
  38. Wise
  39. McDowell
  40. Stremme
  41. Nemechek
  42. Riggs
  43. Sorenson

Roush-Fenway Racing makes milestone start at historic Martinsville Speedway

Matt Kenseth has 462 Cup starts and 24 wins
Credit: Katy Lindamood/Skirts and Scuffs
Martinsville is a track full of history. From the early days of NASCAR to the modern era, the Paperclip has been the one constant on the schedule. For 65 years the half-mile oval has been bringing fans to their feet and drivers to tears, some in frustration and others in pure joy. In a day and age where everything is being repaved and reconfigured, Martinsville is the same as it's always been: treacherous and unforgiving. That doesn't keep drivers and fans from enjoying the action-packed racing within the close confines of those curbed corners. Martinsville is special. It always has been and always will be.

Given the rich history of Martinsville, it's only fitting that one of the most successful teams in all of racing will reach a monumental milestone this weekend. For the last 25 years Roush-Fenway Racing has been racking up wins - and the starts needed to score the wins. From the first start in 1988 with driver Mark Martin to today's stable, the organization has developed young drivers into determined men with one goal in sight - winning the Sprint Cup Series title. 

Carl Edwards has 297 Cup starts and 19 wins
Credit: Katy Lindamood/Skirts and Scuffs
Today the team celebrates their 3000th Sprint Cup Series start. Yes, 3000th. Over the years Roush has fielded Sprint Cup Series cars for 17 different drivers, including Martin, Jeff Burton, Kurt Busch, Ted Musgrave, Jamie McMurray and David Ragan.

The team boasts an impressive resume of two Sprint Cup Series titles along with 130 wins dating back to Martin's first victory at Rockingham in 1989. The 3000th start will be credited to the driver who takes the green flag first. 

Greg Biffle has 356 Cup starts for Roush with 18 wins
Credit: Katy Lindamood/Skirts and Scuffs
Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Ford, fondly recalled his first start for the team, which came in 2004 at Michigan. "Greg Biffle won the race and all five of Jack Roush's Fords finished in the top 10. I finished 10th and it was a great day. I can't tell you how neat that was. That race was 400 miles long and it could have been 4000 miles long and I wouldn't have cared. I was so pumped to be driving one of Jack's Cup cars."

So when you sit down in front of the television or climb the bleachers at the track to watch the Tums Fast Relief 500, remember you are watching history in the making - not only for Martinsville Speedway, but for one of the most successful organizations to ever compete.

That's something we can all appreciate. 

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Hamlin earns KBM their first NCWTS win of 2012

Credit: Katy Lindamood/Skirts and Scuffs
Denny Hamlin only led six circuits in Saturday's Kroger 200, but they were the six most important laps of the race. Hamlin took the lead after the final caution, earning his second straight Martinsville victory and the first for the team this year.

Timothy Peters dominated the first quarter of the event leading 59 laps while Kevin Harvick led 101 laps before a flat tire forced him to pit road for an unscheduled stop. Peters went on to finish seventh and Harvick 12th. Matt Crafton took the lead after Harvick’s stop, leading the next 33 laps en route to a fourth-place finish.

Brazilian native Nelson Piquet Jr. pushed the limits earning a second-place finish. Piquet told members of the media that coming from a Formula 1 background, Martinsville has always been a concern. Admitting he may have been a bit too aggressive this weekend he said it’s all about learning the limits and adjusting.

The big story of the race wasn't the win or aggressive driving, but the shakeup in the points standings. Ty Dillon, who came into the race leading by a single point, experienced a tire failure, bringing out a caution and forcing the driver to pit multiple times for repairs. Dillon finished 28th, six laps down. James Buescher’s sixth-place run puts him into the championship lead by 21 points with only three races left, two of which are on mile-and-a-half tracks where he’s dominated in 2012.

Ryan Truex, who made his series debut, experienced transmission issues and finished 32nd.

Results:
  1. Hamlin
  2. Piquet Jr.
  3. Coulter
  4. Crafton
  5. Riggs
  6. Buescher
  7. Peters
  8. Blaney
  9. Kligerman
  10. Scott
  11. Gresham
  12. Harvick
  13. White
  14. Sauter
  15. Paludo
  16. Starr
  17. Richards
  18. Townley
  19. Lofton
  20. Sellers
  21. Agnew
  22. Bodine
  23. Chastain
  24. Holman
  25. Greenfield
  26. Sieg
  27. George Jr.
  28. Dillon
  29. Silas
  30. Young
  31. Benning
  32. Truex
  33. Hornaday Jr.
  34. Merrell
  35. Gale
  36. Fontaine

Airtel Indian GP: Race Preview

Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull)/Getty Images
This time last year, Sebastian Vettel had already secured the Championship two grands prix earlier and then led the Indian GP from pole to finish, securing a Grand Chelem. From the viewers' perspective as well as some writers', last year's race was a bit of a snoozer with most of the excitement and talk not about the winner, but a collision between Felipe Massa and Lewis Hamilton with Massa receiving a penalty. But ask any driver and they will all tell you how exciting it was. That said, it is a new year, the Championship is not set and the points are tight.

Personally, I think seeing any new circuit is exciting. Buddh International Circuit has turns and straights that are like no other in Formula One and includes elevation changes that range from four to ten degrees.  Mathematically there are six possible drivers that have a shot at the championship, although realistically it has come down to two: Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull) and Fernando Alonso (Ferrari) and it is the beginning of the end game for the Championship.

While Lotus' Kimi Raikkonen and McLaren's Lewis Hamilton (third and fourth, respectively) have not given up the fight, their hopes for the championship are dim.  When asked about his chances this year, Raikkonen (as only Raikkonen can) dryly replied, ''Yeah, of course. We've had a chance. It's the difference like in 2007. We had a car that you knew that could win all the races and right now we are not the fastest car so we need more help to really win it, but we will keep trying and hopefully we can achieve it. We will try until there's no chance but it's a bit different situation. But if we can improve the car in the next three races, you never know, so...''

Hope springs eternal, but even he will admit his chances are slim. In a season that has seen so many ups and downs, bad starts and almost every driver having a bad ride at some point, luck and experience has played large this season. If there is anyone in this field that can come from behind to win, I would put my money on Raikkonen. What stops me is that I do not believe he has the car to do it. This just isn't his year. I feel it is not Hamilton's year either. It has come down to a match race between Vettel and Alonso and with the former winning the last three races handily and passing Alonso by 6 points, I do not see him stopping. But if anyone can take a lesser car and run it first to the finish, it would be Alonso. With 100 points still up for grabs it could still go to either man.

For its inaugural season, Buddh International Circuit proved to be dirty off line and not much better online. It was dusty. They have added astroturf and planted close to 100,000 new trees. Combine those changes with a surface that's matured for a year and the grip should improve immensely.

Because of dust and turns that put the tires under full lateral load, Pirelli has chosen the yellow-soft and silver-hard compound tires. These are the same choices they made last year, only this year's compounds are slightly softer. Still, it is an interesting choice of tires as they have skipped the mediums completely. For dust, the soft tires would be preferable. However, high speed turns can chew through softs in no time, hence the hard compound. It could mean up to a full second in timing depending on tire choice. As I say almost every race, tire choice and tire management on track is extremely important and at this circuit even more so than usual.

There will be two DRS zones this year just as last year. The first detection zone will be at the exit of Turn 15. The second will be just prior to Turn 3. 

It is expected to be sunny and in the high 80s throughout the weekend. To check for any changes in the conditions you can access local weather here.

Please join us after the Indian Grand Prix for a full report.

This website is unofficial and is not associated in any way with the Formula One group of companies. F1, FORMULA ONE, FORMULA 1, FIA FORMULA ONE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP, GRAND PRIX and related marks are trade marks of Formula One Licensing B.V.

NCWTS Pole Report: Timothy Peters snags pole, track record at Martinsville

 After a slight delay for rain, Timothy Peters came out on top in the Camping World Truck Series for Saturday’s race at Martinsville. Peters had a lap of 19.641 seconds at 96.411 mph. This is Peter's second pole this season and sixth of his career. Matt Crafton held the previous track record at 96.352 mph. Kevin Harvick, Brian Scott, Nelson Piquet Jr., and Denny Hamlin round out the top five.

Here’s the lineup: 
1. Timothy Peters
2. Kevin Harvick
3. Brian Scott
4. Nelson Piquet Jr.
5. Denny Hamlin
6. Ty Dillon
7. Matt Crafton
8. Johnny Sauter
9. Jeff Agnew
10. James Buescher
11. Ryan Blaney
12. Todd Bodine
13. Parker Kligerman
14. Justin Lofton
15. Joey Coulter
16. Ron Hornaday
17. Ryan Truex
18. Matt Merrell
19. David Starr
20. Miguel Paludo
21. Max Gresham
22. Cale Gale
23. Scott Riggs
24. Josh Richards
25. Tyler Young
26. John Wes Townley
27. Jason White
28. Ryan Sieg
29. Caleb Holman
30. Clay Greenfield
31. Ross Chastain
32. Bryan Silas
33. Tim George Jr.
34. Chris Fontaine
35. Norm Benning
36. Peyton Sellers

Who did not make it:
Grant Enfinger
Brennan Newberry
Dennis Setzer
Jake Crum
Todd Peck

Television schedule:
Race at Martinsville- 1:30 p.m. ET Saturday on SPEED and RaceBuddy

Ryan Truex to start first NCWTS race from 11th position

Ryan Truex / Credit: Katy Lindamood 
The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series has seen a surge of young talent in 2012. In the first 18 races eight different first-time winners have taken the checkered flag including rookies Ty Dillon and Ryan Blaney. Blaney won in only his third start for Brad Keselowski Racing, becoming the youngest winner in series history.

Today another young driver hopes to make history and join the list of first time winners. Ryan Truex, younger brother of Martin, will make his debut after running part-time in the Nationwide Series since 2010. Truex will pilot the No. 27 Hillman Racing entry. With this start Truex is carrying on a family tradition joining his father and brother who have made starts at Martinsville, all in NASCAR sanctioned events.

Truex becomes the tenth driver to pilot the Hillman Racing entry in 2012. Of his start at the track Truex said, “When it comes to race time patience will be the key to be there at the end in order to bring home a strong finish.

20-year-old Truex was ninth fastest in practice on Friday and qualified 11th for the Kroger 200. Tune into the race today on SPEED at 1:30 pm ET.

2012 Indian GP- Circuit/Driver Facts

Buddh International Circuit/©2012 MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS
Formula One Team

This will be the second Indian Grand Prix; the race joined the calendar in 2011. Those who have not had experience racing here yet had little to say but those with experience on this circuit such as Heikki Kovalainen (Caterham) and Bruno Senna (Williams) sang its praises. When asked about what he thought of the upcoming weekend, Kovalainen replied, ''Last year was the first year that we raced here. I think the event itself was really successful. Especially the circuit; I think they've done a great job here with the circuit. I think the layout is one of the best in the calendar, enjoyable to drive here and we can set up the car nice and low and get them gripping quite well.'' Echoing Kovalainen's sentiments, Bruno Senna said: ''Of course I agree with Heikki regarding the track; its one of my favorites in the calendar as well and coming from last year to this year, the improvement on the facilities and everything is quite impressive.''

Changes to the Circuit Since 2011

  • The grass to the right before Turns 5 and 16 have been replaced with asphalt. The asphalt on the exit of Turn 15 has been extended.
  • The additional curbs behind the apex curb and Turns 6, 7 and 8 have been lengthened by 16.40 feet at each end.
  • An area of artificial grass has been laid behind the apex of Turn 7.  A 3.28 feet wide strip of artificial grass has been laid behind the curb around the inside of Turns 10 and 11. The verge on the right between Turns 8 and 9 has been leveled.
  • The curb, artificial grass and asphalt run-off area on the right after Turn 9 have been extended as far as the 'oval' track loop.
  • The guardrail on the right before Turn 10 has been re-aligned further from the track.   
When asked about whether the changes to the track will make the race faster or more interesting, Narain Karthikeyan (HRT), who is closely associated with this track replied, ''No, the layout remains the same, just that the curbs are extended a little bit in Turns 5 and 6 and then they put some astroturf to keep the dust down because a lot of cars were going off in that particular corner last year. Apart from that, as everyone has said, the layout is fantastic. It's nice to drive on, it's pretty flowing and it's fast.''

The Buddh International Circuit is a 60-lap race with each lap being 3.185 miles long, making it a 190.916-mile race total. The highest point of elevation is 45.931 feet and the width of the track varies between 45.931 and 65.616 feet. The fastest lap was set here last year by Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull) with a time of 1:27.249.

Driving/Driver Facts

The race is held in Great Noida, a community planned in the 1980s, and is an extension of the planned urban region of Noida, incorporated in the 1970s and designed to accommodate the rapid growth of New Delhi. Noida is an acronym for New Okhla Industrial Development Authority, the managing authority of the development.

Buddh International Circuit features several challenging changes of elevation - none of which are entirely natural. Four million cubic tons of earth were bulldozed into place during circuit construction. One of the most notable sections of the Circuit is the multi-apex Turns 10 and 11. It has been likened to Spoon corner at Suzuka and also to Turn 8 at Istanbul Park. Unlike both of those, it is a clockwise turn.

The first 13 races of 2012 were all clockwise circuits, and Buddh is the only fully clockwise circuit of the last seven races. Marina Bay (Singapore) , KIC Yas Marina (next weekend in Dubai), Circuit of the Americas (Austin,TX), and Interlagos (Brazil) are all counter-clockwise with Suzuka (Japan) being a figure eight layout. This presents drivers with new physical demands, especially on their upper body, head and neck areas as they go through turns in the opposite directions. 

India is the first country to have its inaugural race won by the reigning World Champion (Sebastian Vettel) since Michael Schumacher managed the feat at Bahrain's Sakhir Circuit in 2004. Since then, Formula One has gone to Shanghai, Istanbul, Valencia, Singapore, Abu Dhabi and Korea without the man with the No. 1 on his car taking a podium.

India was Vettel's ninth and final victory of the 2011 season. He had wrapped up the 2011 Drivers Championship two races earlier at Suzuka. This did not diminish his motivation as he went on to take pole positions in the next two races; however, a puncture in Abu Dhabi led to his only retirement of the season. In the next race, which was the season finale, a gearbox problem relegated him to second behind team-mate Mark Webber.

Vettel's victory in the 2011 race was his first F1 Grand Chelem. For those not in the know, there are four conditions that must be met to achieve this feat: 1) the driver must win pole 2) The driver must win the race 3) the driver must secure the fastest lap and finally, 4) the driver must not lose the lead at any point during the race including pit stops. It's a huge accomplishment and one which Vettel repeated earlier this month in Japan. Vettel has been leading grands prix for 145 consecutive laps. He took the lead from Lewis Hamilton (McLaren) midway through the Singapore GP and was in first place from lights to flag in both the Japanese and Korean grands prix. Alberto Ascari holds the record for consecutive laps led with 305 during the 1952 season.

Webber finished second in Korea, following Vettel over the finish line to make it the first 1-2 finish for any team in the current season. Red Bull Racing achieved it three times in 2011 but 2010 was the last time any other team has managed this feat. During that season RBR finished 1-2 four times, McLaren three times, and Ferrari twice.

And now, a look at this weeks circuit:
Buddh International Circuit
Watch the Indian Grand Prix live on SPEED Sun Oct 28 at 2:00am ET.

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