Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Fast Facts: David Ragan

credit: Getty Images/Chris Graythen

David Ragan, driver of the No. 34 Ford Fusion for Front Row Motorsports, is a second-generation
NASCAR driver – his father, Ken, drove in the Cup Series during the 1980s. Learn more about Ragan in this week’s Fast Facts.

  • David Ragan was born December 25, 1985 in Unadilla, Georgia. He began racing Bandolero cars in 1997 at age 12; in 1998, he won 12 races and the national championship. He backed it up with a second championship in 1999.
  • After racing in the Goody’s Dash Series for Cam Strader and the Legends Pro-Division for Mark Martin, as well as in several Late Model events, Ragan entered what was then known as the “A-B-C” program – ARCA Racing Series, Busch (now Nationwide) Series, and Craftsman (now Camping World) Truck Series – at age 18. In 2005, he participated in the reality series Roush Racing: Driver X and became the co-driver of Roush’s No. 6 Ford F-150 in the Truck Series.
  • Ragan made his Cup Series debut with Roush in 2006, and in 2007 he competed for Rookie of the Year in both the Cup and Busch Series; he finished second in the Cup Series contest and won the Busch Series award.
  • In July 2011, Ragan won his first Cup Series race, the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway. Ragan signed with Front Row Motorsports in January 2012.
  • Find out more about Ragan at his website, www.davidragan.com.  

Caption this: Nelson Piquet Jr.

Here's a shot of NNS driver Nelson Piquet Jr.
Wonder what he's thinking? Caption this!

Leave your caption in the comment section below. One entry per person and please leave your name or twitter handle. Anonymous posts will not be eligible to win.

We'll take captions until Thursday evening, then the Skirts and Scuffs staff will vote to choose a winner. Check back this Saturday to read the winning caption.

And yes, there is a PRIZE! The "Caption this" winner will receive a copy of the book, Race Fans' Devotions to Go. The winner must follow instructions for sending us his or her contact info, as specified in the winning caption post.

Bring on your funnies. We look forward to reading them! :o)

Monday, April 29, 2013

Dale Earnhardt Day... April 29, 2013: Being Dale Earnhardt

Credit: Darryl Moran Photography 
Each year, Dale Earnhardt Inc. and the Dale Earnhardt Foundation celebrate the Intimidator's birthday at "the House That Dale Built." DEI's impressive corporate headquarters, that impressive structure of steel and glass affectionately called the "Garage Mahal," now houses a museum dedicated to the career of the company founder.

As usual on this year's "Dale Earnhardt Day," they served cupcakes - an Earnhardt birthday tradition. They also opened the doors on a new exhibit called "Being Dale Earnhardt." The press release says the exhibit "highlights the many facets of the life of the seven-time NASCAR Winston Cup Champion" and asserts that the "new displays will allow fans to step inside the world of Dale Earnhardt."

Think about that for a minute. "Inside the world of Dale Earnhardt."

What was it like to be Dale Earnhardt? A man who, through the strength of his formidable will, undeniable talent and inimitable charisma stamped an entire sport with his indelible image, amassing a fortune along the way. A man who commanded such loyalty that after his death, many of his fans simply walked away from the sport, unable or unwilling to watch races in which their hero didn't line up on the grid. Some of those fans have yet to return.

Those who stayed with the sport or found their way back, often transferred that loyalty to his son, the already popular Dale Jr., holding on to the heir apparent with all the passion and ferocity they had for his father. The weight of that adoration would have shaped the young man's life even had his father lived, but Junior was, to many, all they had left of their hero. They clung to him with a fervor normally reserved for the surviving children of departed family members. Much like Princes William and Harry held the hearts of those who mourned the passing of Princess Diana, Dale Earnhardt Jr. will probably always hold the hearts of those who mourn the passing of his father.

Those fans who loved Earnhardt did so with intensity unrivaled in all of NASCAR, perhaps even all of sports. Richard Petty will always be The King, but Dale Earnhardt will always be The Man.

But how did he reach that point? How did the young man from Kannapolis, North Carolina become the face of the sport for so many years?

Even newcomers to NASCAR probably know that Ralph Dale Earnhardt's father was the 1956 NASCAR Sportsman Champion, Ralph Earnhardt, a textile worker turned racecar driver. Ralph was one of the few drivers who supported his family with his earnings. The Earnhardt patriarch also put his own stamp on the sport. He was the first to understand and use tire stagger and he put reinforcing bars in the driver door for protection, two innovations that are commonplace today.

Ralph didn't want Dale to race, but Dale quit school in ninth grade to do just that. As did many men of that generation, he had a complicated relationship with his father, and ended up with complicated relationships of his own. Ralph died suddenly from a heart attack in 1973, but his death didn't free Dale from his desire to prove to his father that he could make it as a racer.

Married at 17, a father at 18, young Dale Earnhardt wasn't well-suited for family life. Because he couldn't afford the child support payments, Dale allowed his ex-wife's husband to adopt son Kerry. That couldn't have been easy for anyone involved, especially a man with as much pride as Dale.

Yet Dale remarried in 1971, this time to the daughter of engine builder Robert Gee. Daughter Kelley came along. Racing didn't pay the bills like it had for his father, so times were rough. Son Dale Jr. was born in 1974  Earnhardt did a stint as a boilermaker for grocery money but went back to racing as soon as he could. It cost him his marriage. It wasn't until he met and married Teresa Houston in 1982 that Earnhardt managed to successfully combine racing and family.

According to Ed Hinton in his book Daytona, when in later years Earnhardt was criticized for rough driving, he said "They ain't ever seen the kind of rough racing I've had to do in my life, just to survive."

Determined to succeed, Earnhardt began Cup racing in 1975 in the World 600 and started a handful of races over the next few years, but it wasn't until 1979 that he ran a full season. Owner Rod Osterlund had the choice of David Pearson, Cale Yarborough or the brash young Earnhardt. He chose Earnhardt and the rest, as they say, is history. 

"I really liked the kid. Dale was a smart-ass, aggressive, cocky. He didn't give a shit, he was going to the front. A hundred miles into a race he'd take a chance, pass on the outside when he didn't have to. One time at Martinsville he tried to pass twelve cars the first lap, and he took out the whole field. It was immaturity, a lack of experience." 

Lou LaRosa, engine builder for Rod Osterlund 1976-1980   The Last LapPeter Golenbock, Macmillan, 1998   

Earnhardt earned his first Cup win at Bristol in the seventh race of the season driving the No. 2 Chevy (at other times that season it was the No. 2 Buick or Oldsmobile.) In his rookie season he scored 11 top fives, 17 top 10s...and four DNFs. One of those DNFs came in a horrific crash at Pocono in which he broke his collarbone and sternum, taking him out of the car for four races. David Pearson filled in for him and ended up winning the Southern 500 at Darlington. 

Imagine ... you're a rookie and not only is three-time Grand National champion David Pearson your replacement driver, but he wins one of the most prestigious races of the year in your car. 

The next week Earnhardt, far from healed, got back in his car and sat on the pole at Richmond. Earnhardt went on to finish seventh in points and won Rookie of the Year in a class that included Terry Labonte and Harry Gant. And despite being in a number of other injury-causing wrecks, he started every single race from that point forward. 

But that wasn't enough for Earnhardt. In his sophomore season he started out winning the Busch Clash, now known as the Sprint Unlimited. He took the points lead in week two and never let go. He racked up five wins, 19 top fives and 24 top 10s in 31 races, becoming the first driver to win Rookie of the Year one year and the championship the next. 

That was the beginning. The road wasn't always smooth, even for as stellar a talent as Earnhardt. He drove the two seasons for Osterlund, who sold the team mid-season. Twenty races into the 1982 season, Earnhardt moved to Richard Childress' fledgling organization and had four DNFs in 11 races. Childress told Earnhardt to find another ride, that the young team couldn't give him the cars he needed, so in 1983 the Wrangler colors adorned the No. 15 Ford Thunderbird of Bud Moore - the only time in his career that Earnhardt drove a Ford.

After only two wins and 13 DNFs in the '83 season, Earnhardt returned to Childress in 1984, swapping seats with rival Ricky Rudd, one of the few drivers who had no qualms about driving Earnhardt the way Earnhardt drove him. Rudd drove the No. 15 and Earnhardt took the wheel of the No. 3 Wrangler Chevy.

From '84-'86 he won 11 races - but still had 15 DNFs. His take-no-prisoners driving style was rough on equipment and when that equipment wasn't the most durable to begin with, that meant lots of failures. Meanwhile, archrival Darrell Waltrip won his third championship in '85.

But Richard Childress kept making improvements and Earnhardt kept maturing, honing his skills. In 1986 he won five races and his second championship. He and crew chief Kirk Shelmerdine followed that success with the most dominant year of Earnhardt's career. 1987 saw the Earnhardt-Shelmerdine team in victory lane 11 times, in the top five for 21 of the 29 races. He finished out of the top 10 only five times en route to his third Winston Cup.

"He mellowed from being a smart-ass to being a   mature person who used his head driving. He had learned from his mistakes of rushing to the front early and crashing, of getting into trouble, to knowing when to lay back. People look at him now and say, 'He isn't the driver he used to be.' But that's maturity. He knows when not to take a chance...When he was driving for Osterlund, Dale won on aggressiveness. Now he was winning on intelligence, maturity, and thinking."
Lou LaRosa, engine builder for Richard Childress, 1984-1988 The Last Lap, Peter Golenbock, Macmillan, 1998 

His legacy as one of the best of all time was secure, his three titles tying him with Lee Petty, Pearson, Yarborough and Waltrip on the all-time list, but Earnhardt wasn't done. Not by a long shot. From 1988-1991, he took the the GM Goodwrench Chevy to victory lane 21 times and swaggered to yet another pair of back-to-back championships in 1990 and 1991.

With five championships, 53 victories and dozens of disgruntled opponents, Earnhardt's Man in Black persona was well established. Fans either loved Earnhardt or hated him. In his 1993 book American Zoom, Peter Golenbock describes the scene at the 1992 Daytona 500.
"The Earnhardt haters, meanwhile, were eager to see Ironhead, as they derisively called the dour Earnhardt, fail once again at Daytona. Earnhardt is a villain to many, and he is disliked with the same passion pro wrestling fans exhibited to the Iron Sheik, who during the hostage crisis used to stand in the ring and sing the Iranian national anthem. On several cars driving to the speedway, signs could be seen that read, 'Anybody but Earnhardt.' Wherever on the track Earnhardt might be, first or in the middle, everyone would be keeping a close eye on the 3 car."  
Not only did Earnhardt fail again at Daytona, but that 1992 season was the worst since Earnhardt rejoined Childress. With only a single win, the team finished 12th in points. For the first time, a Cup champion finished out of the top ten the season after winning a title. Crew chief Kirk Shelmerdine left the organization to become a driver and Andy Petree came on board for 1993. The two combined to give Earnhardt the third set of back-to-back championships of his career and tied him with Richard Petty on the all-time Cup title list.

In 1995, the unofficial passing of the torch began. The young kid from California via Indiana, Jeff Gordon, beat Earnhardt for the title by just 34 points. Earnhardt's fans hated the kid their hero called "Wonder Boy." He was too young, too clean-cut, not one of them. Over the next five seasons, the Intimidator won just eight races with three different crew chiefs. Gordon earned 43 wins - including two Daytona 500s - and two championships with crew chief Ray Evernham.

Earnhardt finally captured that elusive Daytona 500 in 1998. The scene on pit road will always be a special part of NASCAR lore. But that was his only win of the year while Gordon won 13 races and the Winston Cup for the 50th anniversary of NASCAR.

Some spectators questioned whether Earnhardt still had the fire to compete. After having watched Richard Petty and Darrell Waltrip stay behind the wheel too long, NASCAR Nation winced at the idea of letting go of their hero, but they also didn't want Earnhardt to continue driving if he wasn't going to be competitive.

One race in particular in 1999 showed he still had the will to win at all costs. The famous Bristol night race in which Earnhardt spun Terry Labonte to take the victory resulted in him being roundly booed. Earnhardt shrugged it off with a wry grin, claiming the spin was unintentional, he just meant to "rattle his (Labonte's) cage."

What many people didn't realize was that Earnhardt's 1996 crash caused him lingering discomfort, and he couldn't convey to his crew chief what to do to the car to make it comfortable for him. He had neck surgery in December, 1999, and came back rejuvenated for the 2000 season.

The 2000 season was also Dale Jr.'s rookie year, and Dale, who bristled at being called Senior, demonstrated that he still had that fire in his belly by finishing second in points. The elder Earnhardt came into Daytona in 2001 seemingly poised for a run at a record-breaking eighth championship.

The events of that fateful day in February 2001, have been recounted often enough that there's no reason to recount them here. The tragedy of Dale Earnhardt's death touched the lives of many in ways that go beyond the loss of a champion, a legend, a folk hero.

His passing put the focus on driver safety in a way it probably would never have been otherwise. Advances in driver safety such as the HANS device, the SAFER Barrier and structural reinforcements in the car would have made their way to NASCAR, but not nearly as quickly as they did after the death of Earnhardt. Drivers and fans alike look back and wonder how drivers ever raced without them, to the point when Denny Hamlin hit the wall at Fontana in March, everyone questioned why that wall didn't have the SAFER Barrier.

Of all the legacies left by Dale Earnhardt, that's the most important and lasting.

Janine, aka Lisa or LJ, Cloud, a fifth-generation Texan, lives in Houston and considers Texas Motor Speedway her home track.

She's been a part of the Skirts and Scuffs team since May 2011, going from contributor to media rep, photographer, and associate editor covering both NASCAR and IZOD IndyCar. Janine considers it a privilege to represent the site at the track and to share with readers the excitement of the world of motorsports.

Why I Love NASCAR: Dale Earnhardt By: Chief 187™

Credit: Darryl W. Moran Photography
If there is one driver who defines NASCAR for me, one driver who encapsulates the drama, excitement, competition, and energy of America’s greatest racing series, it would have to be Dale Earnhardt.

Earnhardt was the reason I stayed in NASCAR once I arrived. He was already a champion when I tuned in to the season finale at Atlanta in 1990, a fact I did not know at the time. Pre-race news and interviews told me that Earnhardt had to accomplish a lot within the race to capture the championship – he was, to me, the underdog.

Of course time and history taught me perspective about that race, but I didn't need that at the time. By the time the checkered flag fell and Earnhardt hoisted the Winston Cup in victory, I was an entrenched fan regardless of what led up to that triumph.

Whereas other drivers have loyal fans, endless stories, and great respect for their drivers, Earnhardt fans are a breed unto themselves. Vast in numbers, devoted to a fault, and cohesive in their fandom to the end, they're legion in the world of NASCAR.

Some who don’t follow NASCAR do not understand my loyalty to a man who died over a dozen years ago. Devotion to a racecar driver who was blatantly Southern, unabashedly fierce, driven, and determined, seems foreign to my Yankee friends who aren’t NASCAR fans and never experienced the likes of Earnhardt.

But once you’ve experienced Earnhardt he’s with you forever. He seeped into your soul, raced through your blood, and won your heart. He had supporters and detractors and that never changed after his death. But Earnhardt’s presence was grand.

On this day, which would have been Dale Earnhardt’s 62nd birthday, I have the great opportunity to share why I not only love NASCAR, but Earnhardt himself.
Credit: Darryl W. Moran Photography

From his characteristic mustache, grin, and eyes to his magnanimous reputation, from his love story with his last wife to his joyful exuberance with his children, Earnhardt was both Everyman and The Man.

In addition to being a champion racecar driver, he was an avid good ole boy hunter, a responsible farm owner who was more comfortable in his work jeans or driver’s suit than any other clothing. He was a man who loved to joke and laugh, and as such, people related to Earnhardt.

I loved to watch him race, loved to watch his pre- and post-race interviews, and loved to wear his gear. Once we lost Dale I had to walk away from the sport, regroup as it were. It took years and the realization that walking away only hurt more to bring me back. At least in the NASCAR community – the NASCAR family – I was able to heal and remember Earnhardt with gladness in my heart.

And there is gladness. Many I work with nowadays were too young to remember Earnhardt on the track. Of course, they know who he was, but had no first-hand experiences watching Earnhardt race. That saddens me.

By writing about Earnhardt I feel we keep his inner core alive. We feed the souls of those left hungry for word of their driver, their hero, their friend. My brethren and I connect over Earnhardt stories. We grow closer through our admiration and respect of Earnhardt in these years since his passing.

Earnhardt will live through the generations as a legend. He earned the right.

The myriad reasons I love NASCAR are varied but can all be traced back to one man – Earnhardt. Every notion I have, every comparison I make, and every memory I hold leads back, to some degree, to Earnhardt. I make no apologies for this. He deeply influenced me and inspired me endlessly.

I’m so happy I found my way back to NASCAR. I enjoy the sport, root for the drivers, and enjoy the NASCAR family of which I have become a part. But not for one moment do I forget that the reason I am here, the reason I stay, and the reason I write; it is all because of Earnhardt.

Dale Earnhardt is the reason why I love NASCAR.

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

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Dollansky leads parade to second victory at Salina

Photo courtesy of Craig Dollansky Racing

Clay holds water. It holds water deep below the surface of the track. If you can imagine a sponge that is soaked in water and then you push on its surface, the water comes out of the sponge. The same thing happens with a clay track surface. So three days of rain, and rain until late in the afternoon on the day of a race, is not a good thing. The World of Outlaws proved this last night at Salina Highbanks Speedway.

The normally wide sweeping banks of Salina were narrowed to a basically one groove lightening fast track last night. A track that was too fast and too narrow to allow for much passing. Fans in attendance described the action as “follow the crowd pleaser” racing.

There were more problems than just a wet sloppy track, transponders malfunctioned for whatever reason leaving the finishing order in question until the early hours of the morning. The temperatures, although in the 50’s, were deemed too cold for spectators and the event was pushed through at a weather approaching pace even though the sun had come out briefly before sunset.

With only 22 cars in the field qualifying went quickly with Joey Saldana setting a new track record with a run of 11.177 seconds or 120.784 mph.  The event was originally scheduled for Friday night but wet weather forced the race to run a day later, the cool temperatures equaled big horsepower as all but one of the competitors qualified under the previous track record of 12.874 seconds that had been held by Craig “The Crowd Pleaser” Dollansky.

The heat races showed minimal passing with the most positions gained being a single spot. Heat race winners were Sammy Swindell, Steve Kinser and Craig Dollansky.

The Dash held more of the same type racing with Dollansky showing the way over Outlaws points leader Daryn Pittman.

The A Main was hampered by the groove and a half track and was evidenced by the hard charger of the race Cody Darrah, picking up only four positions. The A would be won for the second time by Craig Dollansky. Dollansky fought off Paul McMahan’s relentless effort through heavy traffic in the 30-lap A-main to remain perfect in Outlaw competition at Salina, where he also won in 2011. Points leader Daryn Pittman was third with Sammy Swindell and Joey Saldana rounding out the top five.

 “It’s a great racetrack, a beautiful facility,” said Dollansky, of Elk River, Minn. “I was up in the grandstands earlier today, it’s just nice all the way around. It was a fast racetrack tonight with the rain, it definitely made for a fast race. To start with we had to put ourselves in position to have a little luck on our side to get a good pill draw for the dash, but then you also have to capitalize on it. It was a great win for this entire race team.”

 “I felt like we were losing some air in the right rear tire and I could feel myself getting tighter, especially behind cars, so I was trying to adjust our line a little bit and watch what we were doing behind lapped cars,” Dollansky said. “Some of those lapped cars we were able to get by pretty easy but we definitely got pretty tight behind some other ones.”

McMahan was trying to seize the lead in his CJB Motorsports machine, but while he could get up to Dollansky he was unable to carry enough momentum to surge past him. Still, it was a remarkable performance after the team was forced to change motors early in the night, putting them behind from the start.

“We started off the night real bad,” said McMahan, a California native who lives near Nashville. “We had to change motors after we broke a pin on the mag so we had to change motors and got no hot laps. We went out to qualify and ended up third quick that made a good night for us. It put us in the dash and we were able to gain a couple of spots in the dash and start fourth in the feature. We got rolling pretty good, we got to third right on the start and got underneath Daryn when he got a little tight with a lapped car. We freed up a lot from the dash to the main event and I just kept trying to run the bottom as hard as I could. Craig was getting a little tight and kind of sliding up a little bit. I was getting close to him off of turn four a couple of times but I just didn’t have enough to get by.”

Dollansky who was in traffic by Lap 3 never missed a mark and held the lead from the drop of the green.

 “You’re trying to hit your marks on every lap and he was opening up the corner far enough where I could actually get underneath him a little bit on entrance to make the tight corner ... but that was the only way I was going to get by him,” McMahan said. “There was no way I was going to be able to drive around him on the top.”

Outlaws points leader Daryn Pittman, who is from Oklahoma, started alongside Dollansky on the front row and tried to hold back McMahan while chasing down Dollansky, but wound up settling for third in the Kasey Kahne Racing Great Clips car.

“If you got in at all too hot you get the air off you and get tight and push up,” said Pittman, who was raised near Tulsa and definitely drew the majority of cheers during driver introductions. “It felt like it would kill the motor and it seemed like it would take a lap for it to get wound up again. It felt like you were going to lose spots. As tough as it was to pass, you still had to be on it and hit your marks, make sure you kept clean air on the wing so the car did work as good as possible.”

In the heat of the summer, a clay surface is a God send to dirt racing. In the spring not so much, just as its ability to hold water is a blessing in the heat and dry of summer, it is equally a curse in the spring and fall when the heavy rains of spring bring life to the earth. It’s an understood thing that Mother Nature is not a race fan. She never has been and likely never will be. But the Outlaws went toe to toe with the elegant lady and this time they broke even and move on to the historic high banks of the Grand Dame of Dirt, Eldora Speedway.

Qualifying: 1. 71M-Joey Saldana, 11.177; 2. 15H-Sam Hafertepe Jr, 11.220; 3. 51-Paul McMahan, 11.245; 4. 82-Lucas Wolfe, 11.271; 5. 29-Kerry Madsen, 11.291; 6. 63-Chad Kemenah, 11.328; 7. 1-Sammy Swindell, 11.383; 8. 6-David Gravel, 11.390; 9. 7-Craig Dollansky, 11.421; 10. 9-Daryn Pittman, 11.424; 11. 11-Steve Kinser, 11.464; 12. 41-Jason Johnson, 11.539; 13. 11K-Kraig Kinser, 11.541; 14. 77X-Wayne Johnson, 11.590; 15. 15-Donny Schatz, 11.608; 16. 4-Cody Darrah, 11.764; 17. 74X-Josh Hodges, 11.779; 18. 2L-Logan Forler, 11.846; 19. 93-Dustin Morgan, 11.878; 20. O5-Brad Loyet, 11.891; 21. 97-Kevin Cummings, 14.086; 22. 1J-Danny Jennings, 12.606

Heat 1 - (8 Laps - Top 6 finishers transfer to the A-feature): 1. 1-Sammy Swindell [2]; 2. 9-Daryn Pittman [1]; 3. 71M-Joey Saldana [4]; 4. 82-Lucas Wolfe [3]; 5. 11K-Kraig Kinser [5]; 6. 93-Dustin Morgan [7]; 7. 1J-Danny Jennings [8]; 8. 4-Cody Darrah [6]

Heat 2 - (8 Laps - Top 6 finishers transfer to the A-feature): 1. 11-Steve Kinser [1]; 2. 6-David Gravel [2]; 3. 29-Kerry Madsen [3]; 4. 15H-Sam Hafertepe Jr [4]; 5. 77X-Wayne Johnson [5]; 6. 74X-Josh Hodges [6]; 7. O5-Brad Loyet [7]

Heat 3 - (8 Laps - Top 6 finishers transfer to the A-feature): 1. 7-Craig Dollansky [2]; 2. 41-Jason Johnson [1]; 3. 51-Paul McMahan [4]; 4. 63-Chad Kemenah [3]; 5. 2L-Logan Forler [6]; 6. 15-Donny Schatz [5]; 7. 97-Kevin Cummings [7]

Dash - (6 Laps, finishing order determined first 10 starting positions of A-feature): 1. 7-Craig Dollansky [2]; 2. 9-Daryn Pittman [1]; 3. 1-Sammy Swindell [4]; 4. 51-Paul McMahan [6]; 5. 6-David Gravel [3]; 6. 71M-Joey Saldana [8]; 7. 15H-Sam Hafertepe Jr [7]; 8. 11-Steve Kinser [9]; 9. 41-Jason Johnson [10]; 10. 82-Lucas Wolfe [5]

A-Main - (30 Laps): 1. 7-Craig Dollansky [1] [$10,000]; 2. 51-Paul McMahan [4] [$5,500]; 3. 9-Daryn Pittman [2] [$3,200]; 4. 1-Sammy Swindell [3] [$2,800]; 5. 71M-Joey Saldana [6] [$2,500]; 6. 11-Steve Kinser [8] [$2,300]; 7. 15H-Sam Hafertepe Jr [7] [$2,200]; 8. 41-Jason Johnson [9] [$2,100]; 9. 6-David Gravel [5] [$2,050]; 10. 29-Kerry Madsen [11] [$2,000]; 11. 82-Lucas Wolfe [10] [$1,500]; 12. 63-Chad Kemenah [12] [$1,200]; 13. 15-Donny Schatz [15] [$1,100]; 14. 77X-Wayne Johnson [14] [$1,050]; 15. 4-Cody Darrah [19] [$1,000]; 16. 11K-Kraig Kinser [13] [$900]; 17. 93-Dustin Morgan [18] [$800]; 18. 74X-Josh Hodges [16] [$800]; 19. 97-Kevin Cummings [21] [$800]; 20. 2L-Logan Forler [17] [$800]; 21. O5-Brad Loyet [20] [$800]; 22. 1J-Danny Jennings [22] [$800]. Lap Leader: Craig Dollansky 1-30. KSE Hard Charger Award: 4-Cody Darrah [+4]

Saturday, April 27, 2013

"Caption this" winner: DaveHitt29

"Grumpy Cat has nothing on me!"

Congratulations to davehitt29 who contributed the winning caption for this photo of Robin Pemberton, VP of Competition for NASCAR.

Please send your full name and mailing address to bbreinke@skirtsandscuffs.com to receive your prize, a copy of the devotional book Race Fans' Devotions to Go.

Thanks to everyone who played "Caption this!" Check back next Tuesday for a new photo and your next chance to submit a caption.

Friday, April 26, 2013

AMSOIL USAC Sprint Car Results Gas City

AMSOIL USAC NATIONAL SPRINT CAR RACE RESULTS: April 26, 2013 – Gas City, Indiana – Gas City I-69 Speedway

QUALIFICATIONS: 1. Thomas Meseraull, 17T, McGhee-11.441; 2. Bryan Clauson, 20, Stewart/Curb-Agajanian-11.601; 3. Dave Darland, 71p, Phillips-11.615; 4. Jerry Coons Jr., 10E, Edison-11.620; 5. Shane Cottle, 2, Epperson-11.684; 6. Brady Bacon, 69, Dynamics-11.7037. Coleman Gulick, 14, Gulick-11.706; 8. Kevin Thomas Jr., 17RW, Dutcher/RW/Tri-Star-11.719; 9. Robert Ballou, 5, Baldwin-11.738; 10. Scotty Weir, 18, Keen-11.788; 11. Chase Stockon, 32, 31 TBI Racing-11.811; 12. Tracy Hines, 4, Hines-11.827; 13. Justin Grant, 11, Walker-11.836; 14. Chad Boespflug, 57, Hazen-11.841; 15. Chris Windom, 39, Walker-11.861; 16. Nick Drake, 55, Cline-11.899; 17. Gary Taylor, 40, Hery-11.925; 18. Hunter Schuerenberg, 35, Byram-11.937; 19. Landon Simon, 41, SST-11.972; 20. A.J. Hopkins, 42G, Jackson-12.151; 21. Tyler Courtney, 23c, Courtney-12.160; 22. Ted Hines, 12, Hines-12.167; 23. C.J. Leary, 30, Leary-12.170; 24. Max McGhee, 17, McGhee-12.235; 25. Logan Jarrett, 29, Jarrett-12.262; 26. Travis Welpott, 18x, Gorman-12.286; 27. Chris Gurley, 12G, Team Automotive-12.444; 28. Tyler, Hewitt, 97x, Hewitt-12.467; 29. Anthony Nicholson, 16, Nicholson-12.796.

FIRST HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Grant, 2. Courtney, 3. Meseraull, 4. Ballou, 5. Cottle, 6. Taylor, 7. Jarrett, 8. Nicholson. NT

SECOND HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Schuerenberg, 2. Weir, 3. Clauson, 4. Boespflug, 5. Ted Hines, 6. Bacon, 7. Welpott. 2:03.48

THIRD HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Leary, 2. Windom, 3. Stockon, 4. Darland, 5. Simon, 6. Gurley, 7. Gulick. NT

FOURTH HEAT: (10 laps) 1. McGhee, 2. Tracy Hines, 3. Hopkins, 4. Coons, 5. Drake, 6. Hewitt, 7. Thomas. NT

SEMI: (12 laps) 1. Cottle, 2. Bacon, 3. Thomas, 4. Taylor, 5. Gulick, 6. Jarrett, 7. Ted Hines, 8. Gurley. 9. Nicholson, 10. Simon, 11. Welpott, 12. Drake, 13. Hewitt. NT

FEATURE: (30 laps) 1. Kevin Thomas Jr., 2. Thomas Meseraull, 3. Robert Ballou, 4. Jerry Coons Jr., 5. Dave Darland, 6. Brady Bacon, 7. Gary Taylor, 8. Tracy Hines, 9. Hunter Schuerenberg, 10. Bryan Clauson, 11. Shane Cottle, 12. Chase Stockon, 13. Chris Windom, 14. Chad Boespflug, 15. C.J. Leary, 16. Tyler Courtney, 17. Max McGhee, 18. Logan Jarrett, 19. Scotty Weir, 20. Justin Grant, 21. Landon Simon, 22. Coleman Gulick, 23. A.J. Hopkins. NT


**Thomas flipped during the fourth heat. Drake flipped during the semi. Simon flipped during the semi. Hopkins flipped on lap 1 of the feature.Gulick flipped on lap 2 of the feature. Weir flipped on the 22nd lap of the feature.

FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-22 Ballou, Laps 23-30 Thomas.

NEW AMSOIL NATIONAL SPRINT POINTS: 1-Schuerenberg-283, 2-Stockon-282, 3-Bacon-277, 4-Clauson-274, 5-Tracy Hines-262, 6-Darland-257, 7-Thomas-247, 8-Ballou-222, 9-Cottle-162, 10-Leary-162.

NEXT AMSOIL NATIONAL SPRINT RACE: April 27 – Putnamville, IN – Lincoln Park Speedway

USAC Midwest Ignite (Dirt) Midget Race Results From Gas City


USAC MIDWEST IGNITE (Dirt) MIDGET RACE RESULTS: April 26, 2013 – Gas City, Indiana – Gas City I-69 Speedway

QUALIFICATIONS: 1. Katlynn Leer, 77x, Leer-13.225; 2. Toby Alfrey, 5, Alfrey-13.333; 3. Stratton Briggs, 2, Alfrey-13.525; 4. Gage Walker, 7, Walker-13.611; 5. Jessica Bean, 9, Bean-13.630; 6. Emmy Gray, 77, Gray-14.043; 7. Cooper Clouse, 14, Clouse-14.153; 8. Austin Nemire, 91, Nemire/Yager-14.770; 9. Bill Kriegbaum, 12, Kriegbaum-15.279; 10. Chris Phillips, 71, Gormly-NT (time of 13.718 disallowed); 11. Joey Greening, 17G, Greening-NT (time of 14.291 disallowed); 12. Sam McGhee, 11, Alfrey-NT.

FIRST HEAT: (8 Laps) 1. . 2. Briggs, 3. Bean, 4. Leer, 5. B.Kriegbaum, 6. Greening. 1:49.51

SECOND HEAT: (8 Laps) 1. Alfrey, 2. Walker, 3. Nemire, 4. Phillips, 5. Gray, 6. McGhee. 1:53.57

FEATURE: (20 Laps) 1. Toby Alfrey, 2. Gage Walker, 3. Stratton Briggs, 4. Katlynn Leer, 5. Jessica Bean, 6. Joey Greening, 7. Chris Phillips, 8. Emmy Gray, 9. Bill Kriegbaum, 10. Austin Nemire, 11. Cooper Clouse, 12. Sam McGhee. NT --------------------------------------------------

FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-3 Clouse, Laps 4-20 Alfrey.

NEW MIDWEST IGNITE (Dirt) MIDGET POINTS: 1-Alfrey-73, 2-Walker-67, 3-Briggs-65, 4-Leer-62, 5-Bean-56, 6-Greening-48, 7-Phillips-47, 8-Gray-44, 9-B.Kriegbaum-40, 10-Nemire-39.

NEXT MIDWEST IGNITE (Dirt) MIDGET RACE: April 27 – Montpelier (IN) Motor Speedway


NSCS Pole Report: Matt Kenseth wins back to back poles with top speed at Richmond

Credit: 285304Robert Laberge/Getty Images

After a heavy fine was dropped on Matt Kenseth following the Kansas race, he showed that isn’t going to stop him as he clenched the pole for Saturday’s night race in Richmond. Kenseth had a speed of 130.334 MPH and a time of 20.716 seconds. This marks the 10th career pole win for Kenseth as well as his first ever back to back pole wins.

Since Kenseth won the pole this one will count for the Sprint Unlimited Showdown - as part of the penalties his fine pole at Kansas won't count. For only the third time this marks a Joe Gibbs front row, with Brian Vickers on the outside pole.

Let’s round out the starting lineup for under the light racing!

1. Matt Kenseth
2. Brian Vickers
3. Jeff Gordon
4. Kasey Kahne
5. Clint Bowyer
6. Juan Pablo Montoya
7. Joey Logano
8. Kyle Busch
9. Martin Truex Jr.
10. Mark Martin
11. Marcos Ambrose
12. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
13. Jamie McMurray
14. Kurt Busch
15. Ryan Newman
16. Jeff Burton
17. Kevin Harvick
18. Dave Blaney
19. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
20. David Ragan
21. Tony Stewart
22. David Reutimann
23. Brad Keselowski
24. AJ Allmendinger
25. David Stremme
26. Jimmie Johnson
27. Josh Wise
28. Carl Edwards
29. Paul Menard
30. Danica Patrick
31. Landon Cassil
32. Bobby Labonte
33. Greg Biffle
34. Aric Almirolla
35. Michael McDowell
36. Travis Kvapil
37. David Gilliland
38. Mike Bliss
39. JJ Yeley
40. Casey Mears
41. Joe Nemechek
42. Timmy Hill
43. Brian Keselowski

Eldora Speedway April 27th ‘Season Opener’ News & Facts

ROSSBURG, OH – A widely used English idiom suggests that “the third time’s the charm” and that’s exactly what Eldora Speedway race fans and race teams are counting on this Saturday (April 27). The historic .500 clay oval will be trying for the third straight week to kick off its 60th consecutive season of racing. Two previous attempts have been thwarted by unseasonably cold and wet weather conditions.Hoping to turn the tables on Mother Nature will be three divisions of racing in an affordably priced ($12 General Admission) event dubbed as ‘Saturday Night SpeedFest’. The UMP DIRTcar Modified and Eldora Stock Car drivers will begin their chase towards 2013 championship titles, while the Tuff Truck division from Waynesfield Raceway Park will make a special visit.

Early season gremlins along the racing trail have defending Modified champion Joey Kramer (Hanover, IN) behind the eight-ball and listed as ‘unsure’ for Saturday night. Not so; however, for the Stock Car defender, Barney Craig (Lima, OH), who has used the past couple of off-weeks to prep his machine and is anxious to go.

With a clean slate before them, the SpeedFest will serve as an equal opportunity for everyone as the race for the 2013 Modified and Stock Car titles gets underway.


ROSSBURG, OH (April 23) – Saturday’s (April 27) kickoff to the 2013 racing calendar will mark the 60th consecutive year of racing at the rural Ohio speed plant that has put Darke County Ohio into the national spotlight. For 41 of those years, drivers have chased for divisional championship honors; compiling 154 titles by 78 different drivers.

Included within those 78 drivers are three sets of brothers: Brian and Chad Ruhlman, Jerry and Scott Bowersock and Kenny and Kevin Gossard. Going into the 2013 points chase, there is another potential brother combination as Aaron Orr attempts to join Scott as an Eldora champion.

The Ruhlmans have combined for the most titles at eight. Brian has accumulated four Late Model and one Modified honors, while Chad has one Late Model and two Modified awards. The Bowersocks and Gossards have each earned a total of four championship drives. Jerry Bowersock has two Modified and one Late Model award on his resume, while Scott has captured a Stock Car title. For the Gossards it’s an even split of two each. Kenny has a Late Model and Stock Car championship, while Kevin’s two limelight appearances came in the Stock Cars.

A 2013 season honor by Aaron would instantly move the Orrs into second place with six earned championships, as Scott has five titles to date. Also, it would mark the first brother combination to earn all of their rewards within the same division – Modifieds.

Saturday’s SpeedFest will showcase three divisions of racing – UMP DIRTcar Modifieds, Eldora Stock Cars and Waynesfield Tuff Trucks – with a 7:30 p.m. race start time on tap.


ROSSBURG, OH (April 23) – For Joey Kramer, the odds of the Hanover, IN chauffeur capturing his second consecutive UMP DIRTcar Modified championship at Eldora Speedway are stacked against him. It has been twelve years since that back-to-back fete was accomplished by Scott Orr; 2000 and 2001.

For the balance of the competitors, that is good news as it seemingly opens the gate for any one of them to enter their name on to the coveted list of Eldora champions. That chase begins this Saturday, April 27.

And the field of aspirants is healthy. Rob Williams (Eaton, OH) is anxious to pick up the pace from 2012 when he challenged Kramer right down to the final laps of the final race only to fall short of a title by a mere five points.

Matt Westfall (Ludlow Falls, OH) is banking on the early season success he is having on area speedways to carry over to Eldora, as is Jeff Babcock (Wayne, OH). Jon Henry (Ada, OH) will join Jerry Bowersock (Wapakoneta, OH) and Orr (Columbia City, IN) as former champions looking to duplicate previous titles, and the list just goes on and on to make the UMP DIRTcar field at Eldora one of the most competitive in the Midwest.

Rounding out Saturday’s 7:30 p.m. tripleheader will be the Eldora Stock Cars in their point race debut and a special appearance by the Waynesfield Tuff Truck division.


ROSSBURG, OH (April 23) – Following a successful run in last season’s Blue Collar Bash, the Tuff Truck division from Waynesfield Raceway Park has been invited to join Eldora Speedway’s Saturday Night SpeedFest tripleheader this weekend (April 27). The mini-trucks will be added to the card that also features UMP DIRTcar Modifieds and Eldora Stock Cars in a 7:30 p.m. racing start.

One team anxious to get back to Eldora is the father/son Sawmiller team; as they have an internal score to settle. Son Mike of St. Marys, OH edged out his father, Jerry, of Wapakoneta, OH in October’s Bash main event. This has set up a race within a race, as each driver, including the Sawmillers will be racing to the checkered flag of victory at the end of 15 laps; but the Sawmillers have their own family grudge match on tap.


ROSSBURG, OH (April 23) – Eldora Speedway owner and three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Tony Stewart was recently featured in USA Today; showcasing how he uses short-track racing as an inspiration in his NASCAR efforts. He will be bringing that formula to his own track over the weekend of May 3 and 4 when he challenges the touring pros of the World of Outlaws (WoO) STP Sprint Cars.

Stewart is no stranger to the Eldora victory lane; having already compiled wins in USAC non-winged Sprint Cars, USAC Midgets, UMP DIRTcar Modifieds and Late Models, NRA winged Sprint Cars and against his peers in the Prelude to the Dream. A World of Outlaws STP Sprint Cars win on the .500 mile Eldora clay oval is next on his bucket list and with three previously earned victories along the competitive WoO trail he knows how to get the job done.

Two full nights of doubleheader racing (May 3 & 4) are on the racing menu, with the Eldora Stock Cars joining on Friday night and the UMP DIRTcar Modifieds on Saturday night.


Complete event information, along with ticket and campsite purchase opportunities, may be obtained by visiting the track’s website www.EldoraSpeedway.com, or by calling the speedway office at (937) 338-3815. Additionally, race fans and race teams can get behind-the-scenes access by following @EldoraSpeedway on Twitter, hitting ‘Like’ at Facebook.com/EldoraSpeedway and view video highlights at YouTube.com/EldoraSpeedwayInc. The new Eldora Speedway app for the iPhone, iPad and Android is now available for download via iTunes and Google Play.

Weather postpones the Rock ‘N Roll 50

WEST MEMPHIS, Ark.-- The highly anticipated Eagle Motorsports Rock ‘N’ Roll 50 presented by Sprintsource.com will have to wait for another day as continued rain fall, coupled with a continuing wet forecast at the Riverside International Speedway, has forced the postponement of the TBJ Promotions event scheduled for Saturday, April 27. 

According to event promoter Tony Bruce, Jr. the Eagle Motorsports Rock ‘N Roll 50 presented by Sprintsource.com will postponed one week, and will be held on be on Saturday, May 4. 

“We hate having to make fans wait for the Rock ‘N Roll 50, but we don’t want everyone to spend time and money to get there only to watch it rain. It wouldn’t be fair to anyone” said Bruce of the decision to postpone. 

All advanced purchased tickets will be rolled over to the new date. Anyone who purchases tickets from http://www.tbjpromotions.com will be e-mailed in the coming days with the option for a refund if they so choose.

Kraig Kinser Tackles Salina Highbanks Speedway

BLOOMINGTON, Ind.— There are very few tracks on the World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series circuit that are as steeply banked as Salina Highbanks Speedway in Oklahoma. In fact, they can probably be counted on just one hand. Kraig Kinser has raced on a number of high-banked tracks over the course of his career and one of those is Salina where he’ll continue a stretch of races in the Midwest with the World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series this weekend.

Kinser will hit the track in the Casey’s General Store/Mesilla Valley Transportation Maxim at Salina Highbanks Speedway in Salina, Okla., on Friday April 26, for a full race program, beginning with hot laps, followed by heat races, a dash and an A-Feature event. In the case of a weather-related postponement, Saturday, April 27, has been reserved as the rain date.

The third-generation driver will be making the second start of his career at Salina Highbanks Speedway, a three-eighths-mile in Northeastern Oklahoma. He made his debut at the venue in 2011 with the World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series, racing his way through the B-main to earn a spot in the 30-lap main event.

“Salina is a very fast track,” said Kinser. “That’s a place where you really get your momentum going with the banking and it’s a horsepower-type track for sure. It’s been a couple of years since we’ve been there and obviously we have different tires heading there this time, so we’ll use what we believe is a good baseline and go from there.”

Kinser, who has competed at four different tracks in his career in Oklahoma, raced for the first time in the Sooner State in March of 2002 at the former State Fair Speedway in Oklahoma City, setting fast time. He made four starts at the historic track early in his career. The 2004 Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year Award winner also set fast time in the World of Outlaws debut at Outlaw Speedway in Muskogee in 2005. Kinser finished third in the series inaugural visit to Tri-State Speedway in Pocola in 2010, marking his best-career finish in the state. He has made seven starts in his career with the World of Outlaws in Oklahoma.

“There have been a lot of World of Outlaws races over the years in Oklahoma and there are some great fans out in that area,” he shared. “I haven’t raced a ton out that way, but the few times I have, we’ve had some good runs and I definitely enjoy going to parts of the country like that, that we don’t get to visit very often.”

The originally scheduled event for the World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series on Saturday, April 27 at Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55 in Pevely, Mo., was cancelled due to rising flood waters in the area and will not be made up. The series will return to the high-banked bullring, Aug. 2–3 for the Ironman 55.

“We always look forward to racing at Pevely, so it’s unfortunate that the weather didn’t cooperate this time around,” shared Kinser. “The Ironman 55 weekend is back to two nights of racing this year, so those are a couple of races we’ll have circled on the calendar come August.”

Kinser is currently ninth in the World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series championship standings on the strength of eight top-10 and three top-five finishes. Entering this weekend’s race, the native of Bloomington, Ind., has finished eighth or better in three of his last four starts, including a pair of fifth-place finishes at El Paso Speedway Park in Texas and Kings Speedway in California.

Kraig Kinser Racing would like to thank Casey’s General Stores, Mesilla Valley Transportation, Maxim, Aerodine Composites, Sander Engineering, Integra Shocks, All Star Performance, FK Rod Ends, Brown & Miller Racing Solutions, Bell, KSE Racing Products, ButlerBuilt, Schoenfeld Headers, Donovan Engineering, Fel-Pro, Brodix, Wilwood, Dyer’s, Barnes Systems, Ringer Gloves, Jakes Custom Golf Carts, and Ben Cook Racing Limited for their continued support.

May 4 Callaway Ignites Cancelled

Callaway, VA........Franklin County Speedway and USAC have jointly announced that Saturday's May 4 Eastern Ignite Midget race has been cancelled. The Eastern Ignite series is slated to resume May 3 at Ace Speedway in Altamahaw, N.C.

NNS Pole Report: Keselowski wins Richmond pole

Credit: Robert Laberge/Getty Images
Despite a challenge from Kyle Busch, Sprint Cup champion Brad Keselowski won the pole for tonight's ToyotaCare 250 at Richmond International Raceway. With a lap of 126.339 mph, 21.371 seconds, Keselowski claims his first Nationwide pole of the season and his second at Richmond.

Busch will start on the outside pole, looking to collect his fifth series win this year.

Rounding out the top 5 are series points leader Sam Hornish Jr., Kevin Harvick and Kenny Wallace.

Jeffrey Earnhardt, making his first start for JR Motorsports, his uncle Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s team, will start 22nd.

The ToyotaCare 250 will air live tonight at 7:30 p.m. ET on ESPNEWS. Green flag is schedule for 7:45 p.m. Pre-race coverage starts at 7 p.m.

Starting lineup:

1. Brad Keselowski
2. Kyle Busch
3. Sam Hornish Jr.
4. Kevin Harvick
5. Kenny Wallace
6. Austin Dillon
7. Trevor Bayne
8. Brian Scott
9. Brian Vickers
10. Reed Sorenson
11. Justin Allgaier
12. Alex Bowman
13. Johanna Long
14. Elliott Sadler
15. Ryan Reed
16. Regan Smith
17. Travis Pastrana
18. Kyle Larson
19. Landon Cassill
20. Mike Bliss
21. Kevin Swindell
22. Jeffrey Earnhardt
23. Nelson Piquet Jr.
24. Jeff Green
25. Joe Nemechek
26. Michael McDowell
27. Scott Lagasse Jr.
28. Hal Martin
29. J.J. Yeley
30. Parker Kligerman
31. Blake Koch
32. Jeremy Clements
33. Joey Gase
34. Dexter Stacey
35. Josh Wise
36. Mike Wallace
37. Eric McClure
38. Robert Richardson
39. Juan Carlos Blum
40. Tanner Berryhill

Did not qualify: Jamie Dick, Derek Thorn, Jason Bowles, Chase Miller, Morgan Shepherd, Stanton Barrett

Rain Pushes Salina Highbanks Speedway Event to Saturday night

SALINA, Okla. — Persistent rain overnight and this morning has forced World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series officials to delay Friday night’s event at Salina Highbanks Speedway to Saturday night, April 27.

All fans who have already purchased tickets can use them for Saturday night’s race. Times for Saturday’s event will remain the same, with the pits scheduled to open at 2 p.m., grandstands at 4 p.m., hot laps at 6:30 p.m. and racing at 7:30 p.m.

Fans with questions about the event at Salina can call the track at 918-434-7223.

Craig Dollansky won the only previous appearance for the Outlaws at Salina. Oklahoma native Daryn Pittman is the World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series championship points leader entering the race tomorrow night.

Salina Highbanks Speedway is 7 miles east of US 69 on Highway 20. The GPS address is 3164 East Highway 20, Pryor, Okla. Click on the link for a map ( http://goo.gl/maps/0AcUH).

Mark Dobmeier to Join Shane Stewart in Museum Autograph Session on Saturday, April 27, at 2 p.m.

KNOXVILLE, IOWA  – Mark Dobmeier of Grand Forks, North Dakota, has agreed to join Shane Stewart of Bixby, Oklahoma, in signing autographs at 2 p.m. on Saturday, April 27, at the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame & Museum in Knoxville, Iowa. David Gravel, who had originally planned to be on-hand, has had to bow out due to tonight’s World of Outlaws (WoO) rainout in Oklahoma.

Said museum executive director Bob Baker today, “We thank Mark Dobmeier for agreeing to sign autographs tomorrow on such short notice. We know fans will want to arrive in Knoxville early tomorrow to meet Mark Dobmeier and Shane Stewart, to tour the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame & Museum, and then to head over to the race track grandstands for the opening night of sprint car races at Knoxville Raceway in 2013.”

Those individuals interested in learning more about the National Sprint Car Museum and the Knoxville Raceway are encouraged to visit www.sprintcarhof.com and www.knoxvilleraceway.com, respectively.

World of Outlaws Driver Profile: Levi Jones

Photo Credit: Levi Jones Racing/Tony Stewart Racing

Driver Profile: Levi Jones
Hometown: Olney, Illinois
Resides: Swansea, Illinois 
Birthday: 6/10/82

Car: No. 12
Age: 31

Team: Jack Rodgers Racing

Levi Jones may well be one of the most prolific USAC (United States Auto Club) sprint car drivers of our time. He is the only five-time USAC Sprint Car and two-time Silver Crown champion. In 2010 and 2011, Jones won both the non wing sprint car and the silver crown championships. He has also competed in USAC Midget competition with success.

In 1998, at the age of 16, Levi began his career in modified midgets and made the jump to full size sprint cars.

In 2012, Levi was leading the TRAXXS Silver Crown points and in the top five of AMSOIL Non Wing Sprint car points when a neck injury, which required surgery, forced him to end his season early.

Levi is a full-time Tony Stewart Racing Silver Crown driver for the 2013 season. He has driven for TSR since 2006.

Jones reached out of his normal comfort zone in Haubstadt, Indiana at the Tri-State Speedway on April 20 when he climbed in the Winged Sprint car entry of Jack Rodgers Racing with the World of Outlaws. Levi qualified 30th and finished seventh in his heat. He was running in the top 3 when a spin relegated him to a ninth place finishing position in the Last Chance Show Down, ending his night.

Drinking It In: Five Questions before Richmond

(Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR)
There isn’t anything as satisfying as watching NASCAR.

It’s as soothing to the soul as chicken noodle soup, a trip back to your hometown, taking a week off work, but nothing can touch the swell of relaxation that goes through the body of a NASCAR fan.

You would think none of this would be calming, yet it has a weird effect, considering what causes it is the utterly consuming roar of stock car engines.

When you stand there, in the center of it all, you can feel the air vibrate around you. The fans around you become frozen. Cars going around, creating a vortex of sparks, burnt rubber and victory. It’s more gratifying than you would expect.

That’s what it’s like at the track. You’re a part of the racing, and the racing is a part of you. It’s that connection you feel that lights you up, makes you scream, brings everything together.

If you’ve never been to an actual race, you need to go as soon as you can.

Because, before you can really drink in the soup, you need to have the bowl within your grasp.

In this week’s Five Questions, I tackle Denny Hamlin’s urge to get back to racing, breakthrough drivers and of course, NASCAR’s behavior as of late. I bring you my inquires.

How crazy will things get under the lights? We’ve gone a few weeks without any on-track incidents, and anxiety is setting in; fans are trembling with built-up vigor. This begs the question of what we’ll see Saturday night. Everyone knows that insanity can result from night racing. Tempers are hot, revenge is cold, and insipid racing is thrown out the window. Can this short track bring us the next rivalry, beat-down, bottle rocket of a battle?

Does Denny Hamlin know what "patience" is? On Wednesday, Denny Hamlin announced that he wasn’t cleared by doctors to race this weekend; his back injury not progressing faster than what he had hoped. This didn’t come as a shock to anyone. It’s disturbing to think that Hamlin isn’t relaxing and following orders. When he’s at the track, shots of him on the pit box make it look like he’s not wearing his brace. All that matters at this time is that he is healing. It’s understandable that he’s pushing the issue; drivers need to drive to survive. However, if he doesn’t calm down and be patient, he could cause more issues that can’t be corrected. Relax, Hamlin. Please.

Who’s due for a breakthrough? When posing this question, three drivers come to mind. All have earned very impressive finishes over the last few races, are in the top 12 in points, and haven’t won (ever or in a while). These drivers - Aric Almirola, Jamie McMurray and Paul Menard - are the top candidates to take on the title of NASCAR’s Official Underdog. Each of them can win at any given track, but it hasn’t happened yet. That’s the anticipation, and that’s the thrilling part. Maybe this weekend will bring answered prayers and glorious victory for one of these dedicated guys.

Can we get some breathing room up in here? It’s getting hot in the NASCAR garage, and it’s not because of the cranked thermostat. Suits - not the fireproof kind - are breathing down the necks of every crew member on every team, suits that are coming down from The Main Office and picking at every single component on these cars. That’s a lot of added pressure nobody in that garage needs. Yes, it’s the president’s, vice president’s and directors’ jobs to make sure everyone is within the rules, but there isn’t any space for comfort or thought collecting. Everyone needs personal space, even in the NASCAR garage.

Will NASCAR’s demeanor harm the racing? Speaking of NASCAR watching every single aspect of the sport nowadays, will this tight leash make the racing less competitive? The sport is in a time of its life where action needs to be high to keep the upscale climb going. With backlash possible with a single misstep, however, the worry lies in if the drivers are going to restrain themselves, whether it be during the race or in the middle of press conferences. NASCAR is unique for the open, relatable feel it radiates, and that should be preserved. If that goes away, that spark it brings disappears also.

TV Schedule: April 26-28

Richmond International Raceway. Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images for NASCAR
NASCAR returns to its Southern roots. The Sprint Cup Series and Nationwide Series head to Richmond International Raceway, the 0.75-mile short track where temper flare in close quarters.

The Camping World Truck Series is on a break until May 17 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

The following is a guide to track events and television coverage at Richmond. All times are in Eastern Standard Time. Events without a channel listed will not be televised.

Friday, April 26:
9 a.m. NNS Final Practice
11:30 a.m. NASCAR Live, SPEED
12 noon NSCS Practice, SPEED
2 p.m. NASCAR Live, SPEED
2:30 p.m. NSCS Final Practice, SPEED
3:30 p.m. Trackside, SPEED
4 p.m. NNS Qualifying, ESPN2
5:30 p.m. NSCS Qualifying, SPEED
7 p.m. NNS Countdown, ESPNEWS
7:30 p.m. NNS: ToyotaCare 250, ESPNEWS. Green flag: 7:45 p.m.
10 p.m. NASCAR Live (re-air), SPEED
10:30 p.m. NSCS Final Practice (re-air), SPEED
11:30 p.m. NSCS Qualifying (re-air), SPEED   

Saturday, April 27:
1 a.m. Trackside (re-air), SPEED
2 p.m. NASCAR Now presented by 5-Hour Energy, ESPN2
4 p.m. SPEED Center NASCAR Edition, SPEED
4:30 p.m. NASCAR RaceDay, SPEED
7 p.m. NSCS Pre-Race Show, FOX
7:30 p.m. NSCS: Toyota Owners 400. Green flag: 7:44 p.m.

Sunday, April 28:

12:30 a.m. NASCAR Victory Lane, SPEED (re-runs at 8:30 p.m. and 12:30 a.m. Monday)

Thursday, April 25, 2013

NASCAR Fantasy Fusion: Richmond short trackin'

Track Classification: Short Track
Similar Tracks: Bristol Motor Speedway • Dover International Speedway 
Martinsville Speedway •  Phoenix International Raceway 
Distance: .75 Mile 

Drivers with Most Top 10s (Last 5 Years):
By Race
Kyle Busch - 5
Both with 4 - Tony Stewart and Carl Edwards
All with 3 - Clint Bowyer, Ryan Newman, Mark Martin, Kasey Kahne, Jeff Gordon and Juan Pablo Montoya

By Track
Kyle Busch - 7
All with 5 - Denny Hamlin, Tony Stewart, Clint Bowyer, Ryan Newman, Mark Martin, Carl Edwards, Jeff Gordon and Kevin Harvick
Jimmie Johnson - 4

Recent Pole Winners:
2012 Mark Martin
2011 Juan Pablo Montoya

The Likely Suspects: The stars of Richmond short track racing include Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch,  Jeff Gordon, Clint Bowyer, Tony Stewart, Ryan Newman, Mark Martin, Jimmie Johnson, Carl Edwards and Jeff Burton.

My 2 Cents: There are a variety of good picks this week. However, you'll want to focus your final picks on where they start. Track position is key at Richmond. In fact, 90 of the 113 (79.6%) NASCAR Sprint Cup races at Richmond International Raceway have been won from a top-10 starting position, including 22 from the pole.

So my definites are a three-way, no brainer tie between Kasey Kahne, Kyle Busch and Clint Bowyer. Tony Stewart should be a great pick too, but I just don't trust this team for performance right now. Mark Martin is my next choice. He could very well earn me some qualifying points. I will finish up my team with Ryan Newman, Carl Edwards, A.J. Allmendinger and Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

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

Jeffrey Earnhardt gets the chance of a lifetime at Richmond

Credit: Debbie Ross for Skirts and Scuffs.

When you think of the name Earnhardt, you either think Dale Earnhardt Sr. or Dale Jr.

On Friday, Jeffrey Earnhardt will make his first start with JR Motorsports. Earnhardt will be driving the No. 5 at Richmond for his uncle Earnhardt Jr. I feel this opportunity is a big break for the young Earnhardt, who’s starting to make his name in the racing business.

But it’s not always easy racing in NASCAR; money and sponsorship can be hard to find. For Earnhardt, getting this big break from his uncle could hopefully open doors. JRM is powered by Hendrick Motorsports engines, one of the top teams in this sport. With great equipment like that, I’m anxious to see how well the young Earnhardt will run.

When I look at Jeffrey's opportunity, I in ways picture how Earnhardt Jr. got his start in this sport: by racing for his dad’s company. Then he went on to race in Cup, and is now racing for Hendrick Motorsports.

I look at the opportunity the younger Earnhardt has, and I see it as a new generation of Earnhardt beginning to take flight. After getting this chance to race for JRM, a known race team, I feel Jeffrey is going to get the recognition needed to make it in this sport.

There’s also another aspect to look at: the value of family. NASCAR has and always will be a family sport, and family always sticks together.

JRM hasn’t had the best of luck the last two seasons: when former driver Brad Keselowski left, the success seemed to leave with Keselowski. Last season also saw the fallout of the Eurys' departure from the team, which caused big changes at JRM for 2013 with the arrival of Regan Smith. So far this season, JRM is second in the point standings.

As for the younger Earnhardt, he hasn’t had the chance to run with a team like JRM. He is running for Rookie of the Year in Nationwide and was set to drive for Go Green Racing. However, due to sponsoring conflicts, his races have been limited.

Racing for JRM gives Jeffrey the chance to show his true potential, whether he gets a ride full-time with them, or the chance of him catching the eyes of another team looking for a young driver. The whole reason Earnhardt Jr. started his team is to give upcoming drivers a chance.

For his nephew Jeffrey, I see this as the chance of a lifetime for the younger Earnhardt. A chance to show his true racing skills. 

Tony Stewart Racing Tandem Trying To Beat Outlaws, Mother Nature

INDIANAPOLIS – As if the competition within the World of Outlaws (WoO) STP Sprint Car Series wasn’t tough enough, Tony Stewart Racing’s (TSR) Steve Kinser and Donny Schatz are also having to deal with the weather since the series made its way to the Midwest. Eleven different drivers have already claimed victory in the first 16 WoO events of 2013, and even Mother Nature has scored a pair. Both TSR drivers look to add to their win totals Friday when the Outlaws return to northwest Oklahoma for an event at the Salina Highbanks.

Schatz, Kinser and the rest of the Outlaws were scheduled to compete Saturday at Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55 in Pevely, Mo., but flooding near the track forced the event to be canceled.

Friday’s visit to the 3/8-mile, high-banked dirt oval will be only the second-ever stop at the facility for the Outlaws. Schatz nearly stole the show during the inaugural event back in May 2011. The five-time and reigning WoO STP Sprint Car Series champion started the 30-lap A-Feature 18th and raced his way up to second. If the race would have been 31 laps, he may have gotten the victory as he was right on eventual winner Craig Dollansky’s bumper at the finish. Kinser followed Schatz to the line after starting third and running inside the top-three throughout the event.

Schatz, driver of the TSR No. 15 STP/Armor All/Chevrolet Performance J&J, and Kinser, pilot of the TSR No. 11 Bad Boy Buggies/J.D. Byrider/Chevrolet Performance Maxim, are two of the 11 winners in 2013 WoO competition. Schatz earned his first win of the season in early March at The Dirt Track @ Las Vegas Motor Speedway and won again two weeks ago in California at Kings Speedway in Hanford. Kinser, the 20-time WoO STP Sprint Car Series champion, picked up his first victory of the campaign April 16 at El Paso (Texas) Speedway. Both drivers are chasing Daryn Pittman and Tim Kaeding, each of whom has scored three wins this season.

Kinser is a 12-time winner in Oklahoma with the WoO STP Sprint Car Series. He scored his first win in the state at Lawton Speedway in 1982. Seven of the 12 victories came at State Fair Speedway in Oklahoma City, and his most recent Oklahoma victory came in 2005 at Outlaw Speedway in Muskoegee. Schatz has one career WoO win in Oklahoma and that came at State Fair Speedway in 2003.

Through 16 of the scheduled 85 nights of racing, Pittman leads the championship standings. Schatz currently ranks fourth with 2,119 points with his two wins, five top-fives and 11 top-10s to date. The Fargo, N.D., racer trails by Pittman by 159 markers. Kinser is beginning to bounce back from a tough start. He currently ranks 11th with 1,962 points, but he is only 16 points out of ninth. “The King of the Outlaws” has one win, one top-five and five top-10s this season and three of those top-10s have come in the last four races.  

Friday at the Salina Highbanks, the grandstands open at 5 p.m. CST. Racing is scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m. More information and ticket details are available at slspromotions.com or by calling 815-344-2023.

Race fans unable to attend Friday’s event can catch all of the action on DIRTVision.com. Fans can listen live as Johnny Gibson, “Voice of the Outlaws,” calls the action as he does at all WoO STP Sprint Car Series events on the DIRTVision.com cybercast, as well as on the DIRT Radio Network. Go to www.DIRTVision.com for more information on all the site features, including live results from the track.

Steve Kinser, Driver of the No. 11 TSR/Bad Boy Buggies/J.D. Byrider/Chevrolet Performance Maxim:

It’s been a couple of seasons since you raced at the Salina Highbanks. What is it going to take to match your podium finish from that event?

“The main thing is we have to start the night by qualifying pretty well. In three of the last four races, we’ve been able to do that. Those were also the nights where we were able to finish inside the top-10. Hopefully, we can start the night out in Salina the same way. If I remember correctly, the track stayed pretty fast for most of the night. We were really leaning on the banking and just building up our momentum. I’d like to be back on the podium again, but maybe a couple spots higher. Winning in El Paso helped us. (Crew chief) Scott (Gerkin) and (crewman) Gary (DuBois) have been working hard this week tweaking a couple of things. We need to keep racing as much as we can and really get to the point where we are racing in the dash every night. To have a shot to win races, you have to start somewhere close to the front. We’ve been able to do that recently and, hopefully, we don’t lose any more races to the weather.” 

Donny Schatz, Driver of the No. 15 TSR/STP/Armor All/Chevrolet Performance J&J:

Throughout your career, you’ve been a driver who could go to the front no matter where you started. Last weekend at Tri-State Speedway, you drove from 24th to 11th. Two years ago, you raced from 18th to second at Salina. What is the key to coming through the field? 

“The key is not to start so far back. These races are hard to win from the back. When I first started racing, my dad always had me go to the back of the heats and try to drive my way forward. I was learning and, with him being a former racer, he knew what it was like to have a rookie driver in front of the heats. It helped me learn how to look a little ways in front of me and understand how to anticipate what might be happening the next time you get to a particular spot on the track. I know it helped me become a better driver. We’ve had some times over the years where we struggled to qualify and that just put you to the back of the field. Your only option is to work your way forward and find a line where everyone else isn’t. You can’t pass by following. That kind of was the case at Salina, if I remember correctly. Just about everybody was pounding the middle to the top of the track and I started moving around. We got the bottom to work and then could also move high if we needed to. It was a fun race. It was almost a really fun race, but we only had 30 laps. I’m looking forward to getting back there.”