Thursday, July 31, 2014

NASCAR Fantasy Fusion: 400 at Pocono

Track Classification: Superspeedway
Similar Tracks: Daytona International Speedway •  Auto Club Speedway (Fontana)  
Indianapolis Motor Speedway • Michigan International Speedway • Talladega Superspeedway
Distance: 2.5 Miles

Drivers with Most Top 10s (Last 5 Years):
By Race
Jeff Gordon - 5
Tony Stewart - 4
All with 3 - Brad Keselowski, Ryan Newman, Carl Edwards, Greg Biffle, Kasey Kahne and Kurt Busch 

By Track
Jimmie Johnson - 7 
All with 6 - Tony Stewart, Ryan Newman, Jeff Gordon, Kurt Busch and Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Both with 5 - Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin 

Recent Pole Winners:
2013 Jimmie Johnson
2012 Juan Pablo Montoya

The Likely Suspects: Pocono is a track with many proud NASCAR traditions. Hometown fans love the Tricky Triangle and so do these drivers who excel here: Jeff Gordon, Kurt Busch, Jimmie Johnson, Tony Stewart, Brad Keselowski, Ryan Newman, Denny Hamlin and Dale Earnhardt Jr.   

My 2 Cents: The Js duo make my no-brainer picks this week. Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon. I will complete my team with Joey Logano, Ryan Newman, Denny Hamlin, Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Larson and Austin Dillon.

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

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Fast Facts: Ruben Garcia Jr.

credit: NASCAR Media
Second-generation driver Ruben Garcia Jr., another member of the new NASCAR Next class, made his Nationwide Series debut earlier this season after two impressive seasons in the NASCAR Mexico Toyota Series. Learn more about this young driver in this week’s Fast Facts.
  • Ruben Garcia Jr. was born Nov. 21, 1995 in Mexico City, Mexico. He is the son of driver Ruben Garcia Novoa, a veteran of the Toyota Series, the K&N Pro Series West and the Cup Series. The elder Garcia made nine Cup Series starts from 1984-88 with a best finish of 14th at Riverside International Raceway; in 44 K&N Pro Series West races from 1979-88, he picked up two wins at Mesa Marin Raceway.
  • Garcia Jr. made his Toyota Series debut in 2011 as a 15-year-old, starting 11th and finishing 25th at the race in Mexico City. In 2012, he ran the full Toyota Series schedule, earning seven top 10 finishes in 14 races and the Rookie of the Year title for the series. He earned his first pole at Autodromo Miguel E. Abed in Puebla and a top finish of third at Mexico City while finishing 14th in points.
  • Garcia Jr. continued in the Toyota Series in 2013, moving up to fourth in season-ending points and earning his first win at Nuevo Autodromo de Aguascalientes. He continues to race full-time in the series in 2014.
  • Garcia Jr. made his Nationwide Series debut at Phoenix in March, starting 32nd and improving to 25th.
  • Follow Garcia Jr. on Twitter: @rubengarcia4 (please note: most of his posts are in Spanish).

Monday, July 28, 2014

Travel Tips: Pocono Raceway – August 1-3, 2014

credit: NASCAR Media
NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series is joined by the Camping World Truck Series and ARCA Racing Series during its second trip to the “The Tricky Triangle,” Pocono Raceway in Pennsylvania, Friday through Sunday, August 1-3, for the 400 weekend.

The third annual Pocono Celebrity Charity Poker Showdown is Thursday night, July 31 from 6-10 p.m. at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs in Wilkes-Barre, PA. The event benefits the NASCAR Foundation and the Armed Forces Foundation and will featured appearances from NASCAR president Mike Helton, Cup drivers Kurt Busch, Greg Biffle and Alex Bowman, and Truck Series drivers Jennifer Jo Cobb and Joey Coulter among others (subject to change). Find out more about the Poker Showdown here.

Key on-track times:

Friday, August 1 –
  • Camping World Truck Series practice – 9:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. ET
  • Sprint Cup Series practice – 11 a.m. ET
  • ARCA Racing Series qualifying – 12:35 p.m. ET
  • Sprint Cup Series qualifying – 3:40 p.m. ET
  • ARCA Racing Series ModSpace 125 – 5:15 p.m. ET

Saturday, August 2
  • Sprint Cup Series practice – 9 and 11:30 a.m. ET
  • Camping World Truck Series qualifying – 10:10 a.m. ET
  • Camping World Truck Series Pocono Mountains 150 – 1 p.m. ET

Sunday, August 3
  • Sprint Cup Series 400 – 1 p.m. ET

Find out more about the event and purchase tickets at

Travel Tips: Iowa Speedway – Aug. 1-2, 2014

credit: NASCAR Media
NASCAR’s Nationwide Series and K&N Pro Series East and West head back to Iowa Speedway in Newton, Iowa, for the second time this season. The US Cellular 250 weekend takes place Friday and Saturday, Aug. 1-2.

Key on-track times:

Friday, Aug. 1 –
  • K&N Pro Series practice – 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. CT
  • Nationwide Series practice – 3:30 and 6 p.m. CT
  • K&N Pro Series qualifying – 5 p.m. CT
  • K&N Pro Series Autolite Iridium XP 150 – 8 p.m. CT

Saturday, Aug. 2 –
  • Nationwide Series qualifying – 3:40 p.m. CT
  • Nationwide Series US Cellular 250 presented by New Holland – 7 p.m. CT

Visit for more information on the weekend and to purchase tickets.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Clint Bowyer Lends PEAK a Hand in Finding New Talent

credit: Charlotte Bray/Skirts and Scuffs
NASCAR veteran Clint Bowyer knows exactly what qualities he, as a team owner, wants in a young driver.

“You’ve gotta be good across the board – you got to be a total package,” said Bowyer in a recent interview. “You can’t just be an aggressive driver who wins races, you’ve got to take care of your car, you’ve got to finish that thing, you’ve gotta be consistent week in and week out.”

“You’ve gotta win, you’ve gotta win, you’ve gotta win – but you’ve gotta be consistent, handle yourself in extreme situations, you’ve gotta handle the media. I’ve got sponsors on those race cars, and I don’t babysit them each and every week – I need drivers who can handle themselves in any situation for those sponsors. Those guys race three and four nights a week, you can’t be tearing your equipment up, you’ve gotta be able to bring that car – sometimes the very next night – and race it again.”

With those qualities in the back of his mind, Bowyer, his Michael Waltrip Racing teammates Brian Vickers and Jeff Burton, team owner Michael Waltrip and longtime PEAK spokesperson Danica Patrick served as judges and coaches in the 2014 PEAK Stock Car Dream Challenge, a search to find an amateur racer who has what it takes to make it in the big leagues. The competition, featuring 18 drivers with various racing backgrounds, took place in early June at Charlotte Motor Speedway, and featured a number of different situations.

“There are six different stages of the Challenge, from a short track challenge to a big track, to endurance to a dirt track, to car control – there’s even a pressured situation on how to handle the media, so it really does go after all the aspects of our jobs and the best one gets to go on and make a name for themselves,” said Bowyer.

credit: Charlotte Bray/Skirts and Scuffs
“The short track challenge was neat – I really liked that challenge, probably my favorite, because they got a list no different than we do when we come in for a pit stop – track bar, wedge, air pressure…we purposely kind of messed their cars up a little bit, gave them a list of adjustments to fix that and correct that. You’ve got 10 minutes to go out, make some laps, figure out what the car needs, tell us what the car needs, then go out and see if it made it better.”

The PEAK Stock Car Dream Challenge is in its second year, with 2013 winner Patrick Staropoli, a 24-year-old medical student from Plantation, FL recording three top 10 finishes in the K&N Pro Series West, including a win at Irwindale. The 2014 PEAK Stock Car Dream Challenge will air on the Velocity Channel on Saturday, Aug. 2 at 9 p.m. ET.

With his eye on the young talent currently in NASCAR, Bowyer has praise for the young drivers currently racing in NASCAR’s upper levels.

“Kyle Larson – what a talent he is. There’s no question Kyle’s gonna get better as he gains experience – he’s gonna be a force to be reckoned with in this sport for a long time. Chase Elliott’s done a good job at making a name for himself. The Dillon boys, I’ve been close to them for many years racing for Richard (Childress) and watching their careers blossom. But if I had to rate all of them, I’d say this Kyle kid is legit, he’s the real deal and the one everyone is going to be watching for a long time.”

Lorra and Clint Bowyer at the 2013 Sprint Cup Awards
credit: NASCAR via Getty Images/Chris Graythen
While Bowyer is watching the young guns on the track, off the track he’s getting ready to welcome a new member to his family – he and wife Lorra are expecting their first child, a son, in the fall.

“We’re expecting September 26, we’re pretty excited about it,” said Bowyer. “She’s getting pretty close, she’s starting to look like she’s ready.”

Bowyer hasn’t had to go to his counterparts on the track for advice – they offered it freely.

“They came running to me!” exclaimed Bowyer. “Matt Kenseth has been texting me every week, giving me crap about something. I think I always gave those guys a lot of trouble about changing diapers and now they’ve repaid the favor – but I’m ready for it.”

For now, however, Bowyer is focused on making the Chase for the Sprint Cup.

“As long as we keep taking care of business – we’re in it right now, we don’t really have to do anything right now except maintain where we’re at,” said Bowyer. “But I don’t want to do that – I want to go on and win some races this year and compete for a championship. I want to get in championship form – I don’t want to get complacent and think about just getting by – we want to get better and get up there and compete for a championship like we have before.”

Friday, July 25, 2014

The NASCAR Invasion: Five Questions for Indianapolis

Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images
Yeah, yeah, quit your groaning. You know you missed me and, more importantly, Five Questions. I was on a three-week vacation, while the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series took an off-weekend of its own. Now that everyone is recharged, it’s time to dive straight into one of the most historic weekends: the Brickyard 400.

Who’s the better champion, Keselowski or Johnson? In the middle of this week, Brad Keselowski was a traveling man. He was at ESPN headquarters and appeared on many shows, then flew to Eldora Speedway for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race. While in Bristol, Connecticut, he guest-hosted the Marty and McGee podcast with Marty Smith. The two were discussing his role as an ambassador of NASCAR and what it entailed. The 2012 champion revealed that all his appearances that day were on his own accord, no monetary compensation whatsoever. Naturally, this made me wonder if Jimmie Johnson was lacking as a champion or if Keselowski was better at holding the title. Simply put, the drivers are polar opposites yet serve the same purpose: representing the sport in unique ways. Johnson is the prim and proper side of the sport. He’s the marathon runner, philanthropist, buddy to many celebrities. However, Keselowski is the personification of “rough around the edges”. He’s outspoken and real, coming off as relatable to fans. They both do a great job at giving the sport a face, and that’s what matters to me. Tell us your thoughts below.

Will Eldora’s success push for Cup alterations? Wednesday night gave us Trucks on dirt, a new staple for the NCWTS. After the festivities calmed down, I came to a realization: the All-Star Race should be at Eldora. This was soon altered after some Twitter discussion; the All-Star Race should definitely be on dirt. Eldora is now the Daytona 500 for the Truck series, and that shouldn’t be overwhelmed. Instead, the All-Star Race stays in Charlotte, but it’s ran at The Dirt Track. They’ve changed everything else with the race’s format, so why not?

What will we see from the tires? Goodyear is bringing tires from Dover to The Brickyard, and this is quite concerning. If I remember correctly, these tires didn’t do well, and Dover’s track surface is nothing like Indy’s. This makes me slightly nervous.

Can a surprise winner survive Indy? If you listen to the media’s predictions, many are thinking Johnson or Gordon will take the checkered flag Sunday afternoon. Those are the old standbys. I’m taking a different route and going with Matt Kenseth to kiss the bricks. He’s due to get his win, since he’s been on the brink. Another group to watch is the Penske Posse. Both Keselowski and Joey Logano have been stout this year, and there’s nothing that can slow them down. As long as Kez doesn’t lick the infamous bricks, things will be fine.

Does The Brickyard still hold prestige? It’s been a crown jewel race since its inaugural event in 1994. The venue is as historic as a track can be, an IndyCar playground before the NASCAR invasion. Though it is always a notable stop, is it gathering dust? Fans have mixed emotions about The Brickyard, but I stand by it for one solid reason: to keep it alive. If the younger generation only looked at the excitement of the racing, Indianapolis would be a distant memory. I hold the track dear because it signifies NASCAR’s expansion into the unknown, a quality that’s hard to come by these days. The Brickyard is prestigious for me, and it should be prestigious for you, too.

TV Schedule: July 25-27

Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images
It's one of the biggest races on the NASCAR schedule. Everyone wants to know: who'll be kissing the bricks at Indy?

The Sprint Cup and Nationwide series converge on Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the mecca of auto racing. The Sprint Cup drivers will battle for the chance to win the prestigious Brickyard 400. The Nationwide drivers mark their second year racing the historic circuit.

The Camping World Truck Series had fun in the mud Wednesday at Eldora, already a fan favorite.

The following is a handy guide to track events and TV coverage at Indy. All times are in Eastern Standard Time.

Friday, July 25:
8:30 a.m. NNS Practice, FS1
10 a.m. NASCAR Live, FS1
10:30 a.m. NNS Final Practice, FS1
11:30 a.m. NSCS Practice, FS1
5 p.m. NASCAR America, NBCSN
5 p.m. NASCAR Race Hub Special, FS1
11 p.m. NASCAR Race Hub Special, FS2

Saturday, July 26:
3 a.m. NSCS Practice (re-air), FS1
4:30 a.m. NNS Practice (re-air), FS1
9 a.m. NSCS Final Practice, ESPN2
11 a.m. NASCAR K&N Pro Series at State Line, FS1
12 noon NNS Qualifying, FS1
2 p.m. NSCS Qualifying, ESPN2
4 p.m. NNS Countdown, ESPN
4:30 p.m. NNS: Lilly Diabetes 250, ESPN. Green flag: 4:50 p.m.

Sunday, July 27:
6 a.m. NASCAR K&N Pro Series at State Line (re-air), FS2
7 a.m. NSCS Practice (re-air), FS2
10 a.m. NASCAR K&N Pro Series at Columbus, FS1
11 a.m. NASCAR RaceDay, FS1
12 noon NSCS Countdown, ESPN
1 p.m. NSCS: Crown Royal Presents The John Wayne Walding 400 at the Brickyard, ESPN. Green flag: 1:20 p.m.
9:30 p.m. NASCAR Victory Lane, FS1

Thursday, July 24, 2014

NASCAR Fantasy Fusion: Indy

Track Classification: Superspeedway
Similar Tracks: Daytona International Speedway •  Auto Club Speedway (Fontana) 
Michigan International Speedway • Pocono Raceway • Talladega Superspeedway
Distance: 2.5 Miles

Drivers with Most Top 10s (Last 5 Years):
By Race
Tony Stewart - 5
Both with 4 -  Greg Biffle, Jeff Gordon, and Kyle Busch 
All with 3 - Jimmie Johnson and Matt Kenseth

By Track
Both with 4 - Tony Stewart and Kyle Busch
All with 3 - Greg Biffle and Jeff Gordon  

Recent Pole Winners:
2013 Ryan Newman
2012 Denny Hamlin

The Likely Suspects: Indy is an iconic track that is equally loved by the fans and the drivers. The real question this week isn't who will run well, but will Tony Stewart start his summer surge? Stewart is embraced as the local favorite at Indy, but he will share the spotlight with these drivers who run well at IMS: Jimmie Johnson; Jeff Gordon; Greg Biffle; Kyle Busch; Ryan Newman; and Paul Menard.

My 2 Cents: My no-brainer pick this week is a tie between Tony Stewart and Jimmie Johnson. My next picks are Greg Biffle, Jeff Gordon, Paul Menard, and Ryan Newman, I will complete my team with Juan Pablo Montoya who is making his second and final appearance in the Sprint Cup Series this season, and Kyle Larson.

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

Darrell Wallace Jr. Victorious in Mudsummer Classic at Eldora Speedway

Credit: Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images
Darrell Wallace Jr. withstood Kyle Larson's relentless attack to win the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Mudsummer Classic at Eldora Wednesday night.

From the intensity of the heat races to the desperation of the last chance qualifer to the flag-to-flag action of the main event, the sophomore outing at Tony Stewart's iconic Midwestern dirt track lived up to the standard set in the inaugural event last summer. Fans cheered just as loud this year as Norm Benning again raced his way into the main from the last chance qualifier. The four-wide salute was just as impressive, and the main event again delivered the best racing of the Truck season.

Credit:Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images
If rubbin' is racin', then the Truck race at Eldora represents racing in its purest form, with Larson well on his way to master status. Wallace Jr. led twice for 97 laps and won the race, but Larson stole the show.

From his starting place in 11th, Larson took the No. 32 Glad Chevy to the top five and while he only led five laps, he challenged the other front-runners at every turn. On more than one occasion, he spun 360°, bounced off the wall and continued down the track, taking aim at his next target., the nose of the bright yellow Silverado pointing toward the infield even as Larson stood on the gas and aimed straight down the track. Finally, with two to go, Larson slammed the wall for the last time, leaving Wallace streaking to the finish and his third career win.

Larson limped to 26th place finish as Wallace gave Kyle Busch Motorsports their eighth win of the season.

Ron Hornaday Jr. showed that he's still got the right stuff, finishing second despite being attacked by younger drivers such as Wallace, Larson, Ty Dillon and Jeb Burton all night. At times Hornaday seemed to be driving with the right tires on the wall as he banged through the corners.

Finishing in third, Ryan Blaney kept his No. 29 near the front all night.  Behind him in fourth, Ken Schrader's experience on dirt was obvious as he found the best lines to run all night.

Ty Dillon overcame a disastrous error by his crew to finish fifth. Just past half way, an encounter with a spinning Kyle Larson cut a left-rear tire on the No. 3, and when Dillon pitted, the official told crew chief Danny Stockman they could change four tires despite the rule that only the affected tire could be changed. The team added fuel, which was only supposed to be added during competition cautions, so Dillon came back to the pits to put the old tires back on again, but since they couldn't remove the fuel from the truck, officials held the No. 3 in the pits for a lap.

Seventeen-year-old John Hunter Nemechek, with no dirt experience, held his own and finished sixth, with Jeb Burton, Johnny Sauter, Matt Crafton and Austin Dillon rounding out the top 10.

Polesitter Erik Jones' difficulties began early with a spin on Lap 27 and a wreck on Lap 37, putting him four laps down. He finished 29th out of 30 trucks.

The complete unofficial results:

Fin St #    Driver Laps Status         Led
1 6 54    Darrell Wallace, Jr. 150 running 97
2 3 30    Ron Hornaday, Jr. 150 running 17
3 4 29    Ryan Blaney 150 running 0
4 10 52    Ken Schrader 150 running 0
5 13 3    Ty Dillon 150 running 0
6 18 8    John Hunter Nemechek 150 running 0
7 2 13    Jeb Burton 150 running 7
8 5 98    Johnny Sauter 150 running 0
9 9 88    Matt Crafton 150 running 0
10 19 2    Austin Dillon 150 running 0
11 8 19    Tyler Reddick 150 running 0
12 24 77    German Quiroga 150 running 0
13 21 31    Ben Kennedy 150 running 0
14 7 21    Joey Coulter 150 running 0
15 27 2    Tyler Young 150 running 0
16 14 17    Timothy Peters 150 running 0
17 23 9    Chase Pistone 150 running 0
18 16 63    J.R. Heffner 150 running 0
19 26 5    John Wes Townley 150 running 0
20 17 20    Gray Gaulding 150 running 0
21 15 50    T.J. Bell 150 running 0
22 12 35    Mason Mingus 150 running 0
23 20 99    Bryan Silas 150 running 0
24 25 8    Korbin Forrister 150 running 0
25 30 14    Michael Annett 149 running 0
26 11 32    Kyle Larson 148 crash 5
27 29 6    Norm Benning 148 running 0
28 28 80    Jody Knowles 148 running 0
29 1 51    Erik Jones 144 running 24
30 22 3    Mike Affarano 93 overheating 0

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Race Fans “Go Pink” for Pocono Track Walk with Driver Kyle Martel

Kyle Martel and the No. 59 Bill Martel Racing Chevy Silverado at Pocono in 2013.  
Credit: Lauren Kronthal Photography  
If you’re heading to Pocono Raceway for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race on Aug. 2, you might want to wear something pink. After the race, fans will lace up their sneakers at the start-finish line for the “Go Pink @ Pocono 3,” a track walk to benefit the Pennsylvania Breast Cancer Coalition.

NASCAR driver Kyle Martel and his team, Bill Martel Racing, will host the event at their home track, building on the success of last year’s track walk.

“Last year we had 300+ walkers and this year we’re looking to double that,” Martel said. “It’s a unique experience ... race fans get to walk with a NASCAR driver on a track, and they can do it for a good cause, so it’s a win-win for everybody.”

On the heels of a 14th-place finish in the spring ARCA race at Pocono, Martel, who has two top-10 finishes in 16 career ARCA starts, will run the ModSpace 125. He’ll do double duty, making his fourth career NCWTS start in the Pocono Mountains 150 in the No. 59 Hanover Cold Storage Chevy Silverado, with three more truck series races on his schedule for 2014.

BMR is a family-owned team of volunteers led by Kyle’s father, Bill Martel Jr., who also serves as crew chief. The driver is proud of how his team holds their own against NASCAR’s elite organizations.

“You go out and compete against top guys, like Kyle Busch - they’ve got all the money and resources in the world,” he said. “You might not be quite as fast, but you’re pretty close and that is quite an accomplishment, because of how limited you are as a team.”

Martel said he admires Kyle Busch and a lot of other guys competing in the top-tier series today, but identifies most with the path Brad Keselowski has taken to the top with his family-based team.
Martel, center, and fans enjoy last year's track walk at Pocono.
Credit: Lauren Kronthal Photography

“He was always, just like us, working with the negatives to make a better picture. At the end of the day, it makes you a better race car driver and a better person and gives you a sense of pride in what you’re doing.”

That sense of pride, coupled with teamwork and the desire to give back, led the Bill Martel Racing business to sponsor the track walk to benefit Pennsylvania breast cancer patients and their families.

Martel and his crew will make the trek alongside the fans, answering questions, doing autographs and photos and enjoying the Tricky Triangle track. He said last year’s walkers were amazed at the long straightaway and steepness of the banking in Turn 1.

“People were rolling soda cans down the banking, having little races,” he said. “Walking on [the track] --compared to just seeing it from the stands or on TV -- is definitely a big difference.”

For registration details, including how you can get a pink T-shirt or sponsor a customized pink ribbon decal on Martel’s truck, visit the “Go Pink @ Pocono 3” page on the team website.

Follow Kyle Martel on Twitter at @Kyle_Martel and Bill Martel Racing at @bmrpr .

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Fast Facts: Ben Rhodes

Rhodes celebrates his win at Bowman Gray Stadium
credit: NASCAR via Getty Images/ Bob Leverone
Ben Rhodes is another of the young drivers who make up this year’s NASCAR Next class. Learn more about this 17-year-old, who is racing part-time in the Camping World Truck Series, in this week’s Fast Facts.
  • Ben Rhodes was born Feb. 21, 1997 in Louisville, KY. He began racing karts in 2004 at age 7, winning numerous races and titles on both dirt and asphalt before advancing to Bandoleros in 2008. He moved up to Legends cars in 2010, and began racing Late Models in 2011.
  • In April 2012, Rhodes participated in the invitation-only Denny Hamlin Short Track Showdown at Richmond, finishing sixth and earning highest-placing rookie honors.
  • Early in 2013, Rhodes was named’s Late Model Most Popular Driver. In February, Rhodes participated in the inaugural UNOH Battle at the Beach Late Model race at Daytona International Speedway, finishing second to Kyle Larson. He was again invited to Hamlin’s Short Track Showdown at Richmond, finishing third to winner Kyle Busch and runner-up David Ragan. Rhodes also made his NASCAR K&N Pro Series East debut at Bristol Motor Speedway in March 2013, crossing the finish line ninth.
  • In 2014, Rhodes is competing full-time for Turner Scott Motorsports in the K&N Pro Series East and part-time for the team in the Truck Series. Rhodes finished seventh in his Truck Series debut at Martinsville Speedway in March.
  • Learn more about Rhodes at his website,  

Monday, July 21, 2014

Travel Tips: Indianapolis Motor Speedway – July 24-27, 2014

credit: NASCAR Media
The 21st annual Crown Royal 400 at the Brickyard highlights the Super Weekend at the Brickyard, with action on both the oval and road course tracks at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Thursday through Sunday, July 24-27. NASCAR’s Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series are joined at “the Brickyard” by the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship and Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge, both of which will race on the road course.

On Thursday night at 5 p.m. ET, the sixth annual Hauler Parade heads down Main St. in Speedway, IN. The free event will feature more than 40 Sprint Cup Series haulers arriving at 6 p.m. ET; the haulers will then park on Main St. between 10th and 15th Sts. so fans can get a close-up look at the rigs. NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Jarrett will serve as grand marshal for the parade. Find out more about the event here.

Following Saturday’s Nationwide Series race, the Brickfest Music Festival will feature performances by country artists Justin Moore and The Band Perry. The festival continues on Sunday prior to the Sprint Cup Series race with performances headlined by another country star, Brantley Gilbert. Find out more about the festival here.

Key on-track times:

Thursday, July 24 –
  • Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge practice – 9 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. ET
  • TUDOR United SportsCar Championship practice – 10:45 a.m. and 1:45 p.m. ET
  • Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge qualifying – 3 p.m. ET
  • TUDOR United SportsCar Championship – 4 p.m. ET

Friday, July 25 –
  • Nationwide Series practice – 8:30 and 10:30 a.m. ET
  • Sprint Cup Series practice – 11:35 a.m. ET
  • Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge race – 2:35 p.m. ET
  • TUDOR United SportsCar Championship Brickyard Grand Prix – 5:45 p.m. ET

Saturday, July 26
  • Sprint Cup Series practice – 9 a.m. ET
  • Nationwide Series qualifying – 12:10 p.m. ET
  • Sprint Cup Series qualifying – 2:10 p.m. ET
  • Nationwide Series Lilly Diabetes 250 – 4:30 p.m. ET

Sunday, July 27
  • Sprint Cup Series Crown Royal Presents the John Wayne Walding 400 at the Brickyard Powered by – 1:22 p.m. ET

Purchase tickets and learn more about the historic track at

Travel Tips: Eldora Speedway – July 23, 2014

credit: NASCAR Media
NASCAR’s Camping World Truck Series returns to Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, OH for the second annual 1-800 CarCash MudSummer Classic, taking place Wednesday, July 23. The event is the only dirt track race on any of NASCAR’s three top-tier schedules. The historic half-mile clay oval is owned by three-time Sprint Cup Series champ Tony Stewart.

Among the out-of-series drivers on the entry list for the race: Ken Schrader, who won the pole for last year’s race, Austin and Ty Dillon, Michael Annett and Kyle Larson.

The Tuesday Night Tailgate at Eldora will feature the Sunoco American Late Model Series beginning with hot laps at 6:15 p.m. ET. Following the event there will be a post-race party in the Fan Zone featuring music, food and drinks, games and more.

Off-track events scheduled for Wednesday include a Q&A session with track owner Stewart along with Bryan Clauson and Bobby East at 2:50 p.m. ET at the Chevrolet Performance Display in Fan Zone, as well as a tweet-up with “The Orange Cone” and “NASCARcasm” at 4 p.m. ET at the base of the suites in the Fan Zone.

Key on-track event times:
  • Camping World Truck Series practice – 10 and 11:30 a.m. ET
  • Camping World Truck Series qualifying – 5:10 p.m. ET
  • Eldora Dirt Late Models – 6 p.m. ET
  • Camping World Truck Series heat races – five races, 10 laps each beginning at 7 p.m. ET
  • Eldora Dirt Late Models feature – 7:50 p.m. ET (approximate – timed race)
  • Camping World Truck Series Last Chance race – 15 laps beginning at 8:15 p.m. ET (approximate)
  • Camping World Truck Series 1-800 CarCash MudSummer Classic – three segments (60-50-40 laps) beginning at 9:05 p.m. ET

Find out more about the race and the track, and purchase tickets for the one-day event, at

Saturday, July 19, 2014

RCR sweeps front row for the NASCAR Nationwide Series' 300

Polewinner Brian Scott in the garage at Chicagoland Speedway
Credit: Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images

The Nationwide Series stands alone tonight at Chicagoland Speedway, with Brian Scott sitting on the pole. Scott's fourth career Nationwide pole and his second of 2014 is also his second at the Joliet, Illinois 1.5 mile track.

Rookie Ty Dillon made it an all-RCR front row with his second-place qualifying effort, while his rookie-of-the-year rival Chase Elliott rolls off third. Erik Jones beside him in fourth, driving the JGR No. 20 that Kyle Busch has taken to Victory Lane three times this season.

The JR Motorsports No. 5 car has also been to Victory Lane three times this season, and tonight starts in fifth with Kasey Kahne behind the wheel.

Coverage of the " 300"  starts on ESPN2 8:30 PM Eastern, with the green flag scheduled for 8:44 PM.

The starting lineup:

Rank Driver Nbr Car
1   Brian Scott 2 Chevrolet
2   Ty Dillon 3 Chevrolet
3   Chase Elliott 9 Chevrolet
4   Erik Jones 20 Toyota
5   Kasey Kahne 5 Chevrolet
6   Sam Hornish, Jr. 54 Toyota
7   Elliott Sadler 11 Toyota
8   Ryan Blaney 22 Ford
9   Brendan Gaughan 62 Chevrolet
10   Cale Conley 33 Chevrolet
11   Trevor Bayne 6 Ford
12   Kyle Larson 42 Chevrolet
13   Chris Buescher 60 Ford
14   Ryan Reed 16 Ford
15   Regan Smith 7 Chevrolet
16   James Buescher 99 Toyota
17   Ryan Sieg 39 Chevrolet
18   J.J. Yeley 28 Dodge
19   Dylan Kwasniewski 31 Chevrolet
20   Chad Boat 84 Chevrolet
21   Jeremy Clements 51 Chevrolet
22   Mike Bliss 19 Toyota
23   John Wes Townley 25 Toyota
24   Landon Cassill 1 Chevrolet
25   Eric McClure 14 Toyota
26   Dakoda Armstrong 43 Ford
27   David Starr 44 Toyota
28   Matt DiBenedetto 40 Chevrolet
29   Jeffrey Earnhardt 4 Chevrolet
30   Tanner Berryhill 17 Dodge
31   Joey Gase 52 Chevrolet
32   Kevin Lepage 74 Dodge
33   Blake Koch 10 Toyota
34   Jamie Dick 55 Chevrolet
35   Derrike Cope 70 Chevrolet
36   Carl Long 72 Chevrolet
37   Josh Reaume 87 Chevrolet
38   Richard Harriman 23 Chevrolet
39   Mike Harmon 93 Dodge
40   Ryan Ellis 46 Chevrolet

TV Schedule: July 19-20

Chicagoland Speedway. Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/NASCAR via Getty Images
The Sprint Cup Series and Camping World Truck Series are off this week. But NASCAR fans, you can still get your racing fix as the Nationwide Series will be running under the lights at Chicagoland Speedway.

The following is a handy guide to TV coverage and track events at Chicagoland. All times are in Eastern Standard Time.

Saturday, July 19:
7 a.m. NNS Practice (re-air), FS2
8 a.m. NNS Final Practice (re-air), FS2
10 a.m. NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour at New Hampshire, FS1
11 a.m. NNS Final Practice (re-air), FS1
4 p.m. NNS Qualifying, FS2
8 p.m. NNS Countdown, ESPN2
8:30 p.m. NNS: 300, ESPN2. Green flag: 8:44 p.m.

Sunday, July 20:
4 a.m. NNS: 300 (re-air), ESPN2

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Faith on the Frontstretch: When the Race Is Over

A lone plane soars toward the heavens in the flyover at Dover International Speedway on Sept. 29, 2012
Credit: Beth Bence Reinke for Skirts and Scuffs     
“ ... and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” Hebrews 12:1b

When a driver takes the green flag, he has no idea what the end of the race will bring. The best case scenario would be ending the race with a celebration in Victory Lane, maybe even wielding a broom, like Brad Keselowski did in his New Hampshire sweep this weekend.

But in racing, only one driver wins, and outcomes vary for everybody else. A guy could run out of fuel or hit the wall or tangle with a competitor. Sometimes the race is over way too soon, like when Jimmie Johnson’s race day ended on Lap 12, after blowing two tires within a few minutes.

For a stock car driver, when a race ends too soon, there’s always next week or next season. But when a life ends too soon, it’s final.

The ladies of Skirts and Scuffs are saddened at losing of one of our own way too soon: Lisa Reese. Formula 1 fans may remember Lisa as our F1 correspondent from 2011-2012. Lisa’s race of life ended last week without warning, from an apparent heart attack.

Our writer and editor Janine Cloud, who knew Lisa best, shares these thoughts:

“Lisa was one of the sweetest, kindest people I’ve ever been blessed with knowing. As beautiful as she was on the outside, she was even more beautiful on the inside: She had the gift of a caring and listening heart.”

Lisa was a woman of faith who loved her Lord, and our hearts rejoice knowing she’s in heaven. Even so, those of us who knew Lisa are in shock and disbelief that she’s gone.

The race of life is unpredictable, speeding forward, like an 850+ horsepower engine running wide open. Sometimes we’re ready for what’s coming – a joyful event like the birth of a baby – and we embrace it, allowing the moment to blanket us like confetti in Victory Lane. But when it comes to illness and tragedy, we aren't ready. The unexpected passing of friends or loved ones catches us off guard, like an abrupt slam into the wall from a blown tire. A vicious boom, with no confetti.

Maybe you know about loss. Someone is here, and then they’re not. Even when the body remains for a short time, the essence of the person – the soul – has travelled somewhere else.

Where do our souls go when we leave this earth? It’s a question everyone asks. Thankfully, God explains it for us in the Bible. “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved...” (Acts 16:31.)

If you believe Jesus died for every wrong thing you’ve ever done, and ask Him to forgive you and to be your Lord and Savior, you’ll go to heaven when you die. Knowing that when your eyes close for the last time you’ll be welcomed into heaven gives you peace. And death doesn’t seem so scary anymore.

NASCAR drivers get 36 chances, each race with the potential to end in a win. But you and I only get one chance at this race of life. We need to know with certainty what will happen to us when the race ends.

Where are you headed when your race of life is over?

Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” ~ Acts 4:12
“Faith on the Frontstretch” appears every 1st & 3rd Wednesday and explores the role of faith in motorsports. Comments or twitter follows welcome: @bbreinke. See you on the Frontstretch!

Want more racing devotions? When you donate $25 to Skirts and Scuffs, we’ll send you a complimentary copy of Beth’s book, Race Fans’ Devotions to Go, a month-long, pocket-sized devotional book for NASCAR fans. Or you can purchase the book in paperback & ebook here.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Fast Facts: Cole Custer

Cole Custer and his father, Joe, in
victory lane at Richmond
credit: Getty Images for NASCAR
Cole Custer, racing the No. 00 Chevrolet Silverado part-time in the Camping World Truck Series for Haas Racing Development, is one of the new members of the NASCAR Next program. Learn about this up-and-coming driver in this week’s Fast Facts.
  • Cole Custer was born Jan. 23, 1998 in Ladera Ranch, CA. His father, Joe, is the executive vice president of Stewart-Haas Racing. Custer began racing quarter midgets at age 4. The Custer family traveled around the country for the next seven years, competing in QMA and USAC Quarter Midgets. He also competed in Bandolero races at Charlotte Motor Speedway as well as dirt and pavement karting.
  • At age 11, Custer moved into the USAC Midget ranks, as well as into Legends cars. In 2011, Custer won the USAC National Focus Young Guns Championship, winning 15 races in 22 starts. He switched to NASCAR Late Models in 2012, racing in California, Nevada and North and South Carolina and winning 10 races, as well as the Rookie of the Year titles in Nevada and North Carolina.
  • In 2013, Custer moved up to NASCAR’s K&N Pro Series East, also running select K&N Pro Series West races. He ended the season with two wins and six top 10 finishes in K&N East competition, finishing eighth in points.
  • In 2014, Custer will race in the K&N Pro Series East and West as well as nine races in the Camping World Truck Series for Haas Racing Development. He started ninth and finished 11th in his Truck Series debut at Martinsville Speedway; at Gateway Motorsports Park he became the youngest pole winner in NASCAR history (16 years, four months and 22 days) and earned his first top 10 finish in the Truck Series.
  • Learn more about Custer at his website,

Monday, July 14, 2014

Travel Tips: Chicagoland Speedway – July 18-19, 2014

credit: NASCAR Media
NASCAR’s Nationwide Series is joined by the ARCA Racing Series this weekend, Friday and Saturday, July 18-19, for the Rally, Rock and Race weekend at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, IL.

As part of Rally, Rock and Race weekend, there will be a concert Friday night after on-track practice sessions from Switchfoot and Collective Soul beginning at 8 p.m. CT. Friday’s on-track action is free to all Chicagoland Speedway season ticket holders, campers and Saturday ticket holders.

Key on-track times:

Friday, July 18 –
  • Nationwide Series practice – 2:30 and 5:30 p.m. CT
  • ARCA Racing Series practice – 3:30 p.m. CT

Saturday, July 19 –
  • ARCA Racing Series qualifying – 1:30 p.m. CT
  • Nationwide Series qualifying – 3:10 p.m. CT
  • ARCA Racing Series Ansell ActivArmr 150 – 5 p.m. CT
  • Nationwide Series 300 – 7:30 p.m. CT

Check out the complete weekend schedule here.

For additional information on Chicagoland Speedway, and to purchase tickets and Fan Zone pit passes, visit  

Friday, July 11, 2014

Five Questions Before: Loudon and Iowa

 Chris Trotman/Getty Images
This week our regular columnist Kirsten Faith Schneider is preparing to start college, so I'm stepping in with my set of five questions before the New Hampshire Motor Speedway - Iowa weekend. And I'm grateful for the opportunity because I've got a few things on my mind.

This week my friend Lisa Reese died of an apparent heart attack, sitting at her computer. Lisa wrote for Skirts and Scuffs briefly, covering Formula One with passion and in detail. Her passing again reminds me how precious life is, and how important it is to let those you love know how much they mean to you every chance you get, because you never know when it may be the last time.

Kyle Petty knows how important that is. It's been 14 years, but if I still remember Adam Petty every time the traveling circus that is NASCAR rolls into Loudon, New Hampshire, I can't imagine what it must be like for Kyle. I vividly remember hearing the news of Adam's death in a crash during practice that May afternoon in 2000. Words fail. A light that shone so brightly snuffed out too soon. I cried for weeks.

Adam would have been 34 years old yesterday, July 10. It's hard to visualize him as 34, but I imagine he would always have had that broad, beautiful grin, the one that radiated goodness and joy.

So when the cars roar into Turn Three at New Hampshire on Sunday, smile and think of Adam Petty.
Happy birthday, Adam. We miss you. Your legacy lives on in the Victory Junction Gang Camp, and this weekend, Sprint Cup teams honor the Camp's 10th anniversary with special stickers on each car.

On to the questions.

1. Will Matt Kenseth finally get a win?
At the beginning of the season, who would have thought that Aric Almirola would take the iconic No. 43 to Victory Lane before Matt Kenseth? By this time last season, Kenseth had four of his seven wins and was setting the bar high. With six top fives and 11 top 10s, the No. 20 hasn't been bad, it just hasn't been as expected. He won for the first time at Loudon last September in his 500th start, so it's possible.

2. Can Toyota step it up?
Although the last three races at NHMS have been won by Toyotas, only two of the 18 races this season have seen Toyotas in the winner's circle. Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin have wins - can any other Toyota team score one? Clint Bowyer is the top Toyota drive without a win; he sits 12th in points but has only two top fives this season. Brian Vickers has a win at NHMS and is running well ... but will it be enough to beat the Bowtie and Oval teams?

3. Will Kevin Harvick's pit crew finally gel?
How many races would Harvick have won this season if his pit crew had synced as quickly as he and Rodney Childers have. The mind boggles. Harvick's made no secret of his dissatisfaction with the status quo. Will the No. 4 team beat themselves again this week?

4. Can a Nationwide regular beat the Cup drivers?
Kyle Busch, Matt Kenseth, Brad Keselowski and Kyle Larson are all on the entry list for the Sta-Green 200. Can Chase Elliott or Ty Dillon, or maybe even Brendan Gaughan make it a race.

5. Will youth and enthusiasm win out over age and experience at Iowa Speedway in the Camping World Truck Series?
With the Cup Series in New Hampshire, Erik Jones will be behind the wheel of the No. 51, so we know Kyle Busch won't win. Can points-leader Johnny Sauter bring home a trophy? What about Timothy Peters or the cagey veteran Ron Hornaday? Or will it be one of the next generation of NASCAR stars?

All these questions and more will be answered this weekend.

TV Schedule: July 11-13

New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Credit: Rainier Ehrhardt / NASCAR via Getty Images
NASCAR goes short-track racing this weekend. The Sprint Cup and Nationwide series converge on the "Magic Mile" - New Hampshire Motor Speedway - while the Camping World Truck Series heads to Iowa Speedway.

The following is a handy guide to track events and television coverage at New Hampshire and Iowa. All times are in Eastern Standard Time.

Friday, July 11:
11 a.m. NASCAR Live, FS1
11:30 a.m. NSCS Practice, FS1
1 p.m. NNS Practice, FS1
2 p.m. NASCAR Live, FS1
3 p.m. NNS Final Practice, FS1
4:30 p.m. NSCS Qualifying, FS1
7 p.m. NCWTS Qualifying at Iowa, FS1
8 p.m. NCWTS SetUp, FS1
8:30 p.m. NCWTS at Iowa: American Ethanol 200, FS1. Green flag: 8:47 p.m.

Saturday, July 12:
3 a.m. NSCS Practice (re-air), FS1
4:30 a.m. NSCS Qualifying (re-air), FS1
6:30 a.m. NNS Practice (re-air), FS2
7:30 a.m. NNS Final Practice (re-air), FS2
9 a.m. NSCS Practice, FS1
10 a.m. NNS Qualifying, FS1
11:30 a.m. NSCS Final Practice, FS1
2:30 p.m. NASCAR America: Scan All 43 Special, NBCSN
3 p.m. NNS Countdown, ESPN2
3:30 p.m. NNS: Sta-Green 200, ESPN2. Green flag: 3:46 p.m.
8 p.m. NCWTS: American Ethanol 200 (re-air), FS2
10 p.m. NASCAR Race Hub Special, FS2

Sunday, July 13:
3 a.m. NSCS Practice (re-air), FS1
4 a.m. NSCS Final Practice (re-air), FS1
5 a.m. NNS: Sta-Green 200 (re-air), ESPN2
6:30 a.m. NSCS Qualifying (re-air), FS2
8 a.m. NSCS Final Practice (re-air), FS2
9:30 a.m. NSCS Qualifying (re-air), FS1
11 a.m. NASCAR RaceDay, FS1
12 noon NSCS Countdown to Green, TNT
1 p.m. NSCS: Camping World RV Sales 301, TNT. Green flag: 1:15 p.m.
8 p.m. NASCAR Victory Lane, FS1

Thursday, July 10, 2014

NASCAR Fantasy Fusion: Camping World RV Sales 301 at New Hampshire

Track Classification: Intermediate
Similar Tracks: Atlanta Motor Speedway • Charlotte Motorspeedway • Chicagoland Speedway   Darlington Raceway • Homestead-Miami Speedway • Kansas Speedway •  Kentucky Speedway 
Las Vegas Motor Speedway  • Texas Motor Speedway
Distance: 1.058 Miles

Drivers with Most Top 10s (Last 5 Years):
By Race
Jimmie Johnson - 5
Jeff Gordon - 4
All with 3 -Tony Stewart, Kasey Kahne, Joey Logano, Kurt Busch, Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski and Ryan Newman

By Track
All with 6 - Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson 
Ryan Newman - 5
All with 4 - Dale Earnhardt Jr., Denny Hamlin, Tony Stewart, Clint Bowyer, Kevin Harvick and 
Brad Keselowski 

Recent Pole Winners:  
2013 Brad Keselowski
2012 Kyle Busch

The Likely Suspects:  New Hampshire Motor Speedway is a racetrack with an identity crisis. Although it is a flat intermediate track, it races much like a short track. Racing wise, its twin would be Phoenix International Raceway. The likely suspects will be: Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Brad Keselowski, Kevin Harvick, Ryan Newman, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Clint Bowyer.

My 2 Cents:  My no-brainer pick this week is a three-way tie among Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon and Brad Keselowski. My next picks are Denny Hamlin, Ryan Newman and Joey Logano. I'm rounding out my team with Jeff Burton, who will be racing the No. 66 car this week, and Austin Dillon.

Post your comments here or email me at

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Fast Facts: Dylan Lupton

credit: Getty Images for NASCAR
Dylan Lupton is one of a dozen up-and-coming stars chosen for the 2014-15 NASCAR Next program. Meet this young K&N Pro Series West driver in this week’s Fast Facts.
  • Dylan Lupton was born Dec. 7, 1993 in Wilton, CA. He received his first dirt bike at age 6 and has been racing since. He traded in two wheels for four when he began karting, and his father signed him up for the Jim Russell Karting Series in 2007.
  • Lupton’s 2007 season was cut short by injuries, but that made him more determined in 2008, when he returned to the series and won the championship. He competed in other regional karting series in 2008 as well, collecting nine wins on the regional circuit in his first season. In 2009, he picked up the Pro-Kart Tag Jr. Championship along with seven wins.
  • In 2010, Lupton moved into a full-bodied stock car. He struggled getting used to the cars during the first half of the season, but collected his first win shortly after the midway point of the season. He went on to win three more races and the Langers Juice S-2 Sportsman Series Championship, as well as Rookie of the Year in the series. 2011 brought another move, this time to Late Models, as well as three starts in the K&N Pro Series West.
  • In 2012, Lupton headed east to race Late Models for Frank Deiny Jr. Motorsports, but returned home to the west coast for the 2013 season, driving in the K&N Pro Series West for owner Bob Bruncati and Sunrise Ford. He earned his first K&N Pro Series win in 2013 at Evergreen Speedway in Washington, and was named the series’ Rookie of the Year in 2013. He remains with the team for the 2014 season.
  • Learn more about Dylan Lupton at his website,