Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Fast Facts: Kansas Speedway

Kansas Speedway in May 2014
credit: NASCAR via Getty Images/Jared C. Tilton
Kansas Speedway hosts two NASCAR weekends each season, and in 2014 it hosts the first race in the Contender Round in the new Chase for the Sprint Cup format. Here’s a look back at the short history of this 1.5-mile tri-oval.
  • Kansas Speedway, owned by International Speedway Corporation, opened in 2001. The idea of a speedway in the Midwest took off in 1996, with the focus moving to Kansas City in 1997.Construction began in May 1999, and preferred seats went on sale that July. In May 2000, NASCAR and IndyCar announced events at the track in 2001. The IndyCar Series raced at the track from 2001-2010.
  • Initial seating capacity for the track was 75,000, but upfront demand for the seats in 1999 led to an immediate increase to 82,000 seats. Additional seats were added in 2003 (1,600 seats) and 2005 (1,500); also in 2005, a 7,000 square foot concession and restroom building were built.
  • Lights were added at the track from mid-2010 to early 2011 – this event coincided with the addition of a second NASCAR weekend in 2011. The track was reconfigured in 2012, adding a road course to the facility as well as repaving the oval and adding variable banking. The addition of the six-turn, 2.37-mile road course brought sports car racing to the facility in 2013 and 2014.
  • In addition to the three top NASCAR Series and the IndyCar Series, other series that have raced at the track include the NASCAR Winston West Series, the ARCA Racing Series, the USAC Silver Crown Series, the Indy Lights Series and the GRAND-AM Rolex Series/TUDOR United SportsCar Championship.
  • Learn more about the track and purchase tickets for upcoming races at www.kansasspeedway.com

Monday, September 29, 2014

Tony Stewart Breaks Radio Silence Since Sprint Car Accident

Stewart during driver introductions at Dover International Speedway, Sept. 28, 2014.
Credit: Beth Reinke for Skirts and Scuffs  
Less than a week after being exonerated of criminal charges in the fatal accident involving Kevin Ward Jr., a visibly emotional Tony Stewart sat down to speak with the media. The Sprint Cup champion opened up about his life since that August night in upstate New York and his return to stock car racing in Atlanta.

"We knew everybody had questions, and we knew that everybody was going to want answers to what’s going on. But I think more than anything, we wanted to be able to tell everything from the beginning.”

Stewart said he didn’t know Ward personally but has spent time reading about him since the accident.

“From what I’ve read, I think he had a really promising career as a Sprint Car driver. It sounded like he was doing a good job and learning a lot at a young age, so I think he had a lot to look forward to.”

When asked whether he wants to talk to the Ward family to have closure, Stewart responded, “I want to be available to them if they want to talk about it … I know it was an accident, but I’m offering to talk to them to help them, if it helps them with closure.”

The accident at Canandaigua Motorsports Park wasn’t the first time that Stewart has suffered loss.

“I’ve had close friends die in race cars. I’ve had teammates die in race cars, and there is nothing easy about it … The racing community is a very close-knit family. Anytime you lose somebody in that family, there are drivers and team owners and crew members from other sports that may not have ever met that driver but feel for that family and that driver in their tragedy.”

Stewart did not return to the race car until the Sprint Cup race in Atlanta but admits that “it’s not been business as usual.” The driver who is so passionate about his love for motorsports said, “This is going to be a healing process for me. It makes you think about a lot of things other than driving race cars, but the one thing that’s probably helped me more than anything is being back at the racetrack and being around my racing family and remembering that I have a passion for what I do.”

When asked if he would have done anything differently over the past couple of months, a somber Stewart answered without hesitation.

“I’d have stayed at Watkins Glen that night … I go run those cars to have a good time and that’s all I wanted to do that night. I wanted to go have fun… I do it to have fun, and it didn’t end up being fun that night.”

Talking with the press, Stewart offered, is “another step of making forward progress… to resume what was the best of a normal life before this.” Right now, Stewart is taking life one day at a time.

“Before the accident happened, a day would fly by, and now a day seems like two or three days. I honestly think every day, things will get better, and things will get easier, and I think it will for Kevin’s family as well. Time heals.

“I don’t know that it will ever be normal again, but we’ll find a place to settle into, and we’ll do the best we can like we have to this point. Whether I ever get back to that or not, hopefully through this, I will somehow be a better person. That’s all I can hope for.”

Stewart said he's thankful for support from fans: “They’re just happy that we’re back right now, and that’s been very comforting for us and for me. I’ve really appreciated their support and how they’ve helped welcome me back to the track.”

Many of his fans may have found themselves wondering whether Stewart would return to sprint cars or entertain the thought of leaving motorsports altogether. Stewart did say he has no immediate plans to return to sprint Car racing and doesn’t know “if and when” he’ll ever get back behind the wheel. However, when it comes to racing in general, he will continue to participate in the sport he loves.

“This is what I’ve done all my life. This is what I’ve done for 36 years, and I wouldn’t change anything about it. I love what I do. I love driving race cars, but I think it might change right now as far as how much of it and what I do, but there was never a thought in my head about stopping. That would take the life out of me.”

Of the accident and its aftermath, Stewart said it will always be in his mind.

“It will never go away. It’s always going to be part of my life the rest of my life… It’s going to be a part of Kevin’s family’s life, and it’s never going to go away for any of us, but hopefully, it will get easier for all of us.”

Travel Tips: Kansas Speedway – Oct. 3-5, 2014

credit: NASCAR Media
The fourth race in the 2014 Chase for the Sprint Cup is this weekend’s Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Kansas, with action taking place Friday through Sunday, Oct. 3-5. Also on the race card for the weekend: the Nationwide Series and the ARCA Racing Series.
credit: NASCAR Media

There will be two concerts at the Kansas Speedway this weekend. Following the ARCA race on Friday night, Drowning Pool will perform in the Turn One grandstand area outside of the Hospitality Village; the concert is included with Friday’s $9.89 ticket. On Sunday at 11:15 a.m. CT, Joe Nichols will perform a pre-race concert on the infield tri-oval; the concert is included with Sunday admission.

Key on-track times:

Friday, Oct. 3 –
  • ARCA Racing Series practice – 9 a.m. CT
  • Nationwide Series practice – 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. CT
  • Sprint Cup Series practice – noon CT
  • ARCA Racing Series qualifying – 1:35 p.m. CT
  • Sprint Cup Series qualifying – 4:45 p.m. CT
  • ARCA Racing Series ARCA 98.9 – 7:47 p.m. CT

Saturday, Oct. 4 –
  • Sprint Cup Series practice – 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. CT
  • Nationwide Series qualifying – 11:15 a.m. CT
  • Nationwide Series Kansas Lottery 300 – 2:46 p.m. CT

Sunday, Oct. 5 –
  • Sprint Cup Series Hollywood Casino 400 – 1:16 p.m. CT

Click here for the Kansas Speedway Guest Guide.

Find out more about the race and purchase tickets at www.kansasspeedway.com

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Gordon Makes Statement as "Drive for Five" Continues

 credit: Beth  Bence Reinke for Skirts and Scuffs
In the week between Joey Logano's win at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and the AAA 400 this week, there was a lot of talk about the drivers on the bubble. Those were the four drivers separated by so few points that any one of them could seal his fate based on his finish on Sunday. Well, that popping noise emanating from the garage area at Dover International Speedway was the bubble bursting for AJ Allmendinger, Kurt Busch, Greg Biffle and Aric Almirola as the four were eliminated from Chase contention following Sunday's AAA 400.

Every driver worked hard for the initial 26 races of the season to earn a spot in the Chase and the opportunity to drive for a championship, but because of a rule change made prior to the start of the season, drivers knew they'd have to drive even harder to make it out of the Challenger Round and into the Contender Round of the 2014 Chase.

With a hug for team owner, Rick Hendrick, race winner, Jeff Gordon, thanked his crew chief and his team for giving him "such an awesome race car… I'm having so much fun. All we did was focus on executing as a team and trying to win the race. It wasn't about the points… or squeezing by to get through to the next round. It was about making a statement, and I don't know how you make a bigger statement than what this team did."

Hendrick said he felt like his senior driver had found the fountain of youth as Gordon earned his 92nd career win.

credit: Beth Bence Reinke for Skirts and Scuffs
Kevin Harvick, who finished P13, was the class of the field… until he wasn't.

Having started from the pole, Harvick led a race-high 223 laps until a left-front tire issue on Lap 252 knocked him from the lead. When asked what happened to the tire during a post-race interview, Harvick said, "[We] knocked the inner valve stem out of the left front. A lug nut got in between the wheel and the brake rotor… it's crazy… we're handing out early Christmas presents to people for winning races that we should be winning."

"We can beat every car on the racetrack; we just need some luck. With a little luck, we'll win races and have a shot at the championship."                                                        

The rules are simple; win, and you advance to the next round. Only Keselowski, Logano and Gordon took checkers in the Challenger Round, but the four drivers eliminated on Sunday will have to wait until next year to make another bid for the championship. Each of them, however, can still race for a chance to finish the season inside the Top 10. Any one of them could finish as high as fifth. They simply aren't in the running for the top spot as the field heads to Kansas Speedway for the fourth race in the Chase, where the Contender Round will begin.

Be sure to check our Travel Tips column for schedules and on-track event times.

Friday, September 26, 2014

It Never Is: Five Questions for Dover

Dover International Speedway. Credit: Patrick Smith/NASCAR via Getty Images
Moving on is never easy. Perhaps this is no truer than for Tony Stewart. This week, a grand jury decided not to press charges against the three-time Sprint Cup champion in Kevin Ward Jr.'s death. While Stewart can breathe a little easier, he's still coping with the tragedy and whatever may come next.

In a different kind of moving on, 12 NASCAR drivers will advance to the next round of the Chase after Sunday's race at Dover. Every race counts, and it's getting harder to predict who will get cut. It's entirely possible a bad finish at the Monster Mile will ruin a major contender's chance to advance. Four drivers will not get to move on, and you can bet those drivers on the bubble will try their hardest to stay on the Monster Mile's good side.

I look at "staying alive" in the new Chase format and more in this week's Five Questions.

Will this weekend be a replay of New Hampshire? Let me tell you, the race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway was CRAZY. Not the “crazy cat lady” brand; it was the good stuff. There was a twist with every turn, and the fun isn’t staying in N.H. This weekend’s events at Dover International Speedway will be just as captivating, if not more. Because of the cutoff point, everyone’s nerves are jacked up. Any winless drivers in the Chase are in jeopardy of falling out of contention. Nobody can let their guard down, and that makes for interesting results. Who’s ready for some action?

Which non-Chaser will break up the party? Over the past two races, it’s apparent that non-Chasers aren’t pulling over (and thank goodness they aren’t). Did you see Kyle Larson, Brian Vickers and Jamie McMurray? Those three were exciting to watch, and they aren’t stopping there. They’re the ones to watch throughout the entire Chase. I just love it when the underdogs nip at the Alphas.

Is it me, or is "staying alive" more difficult than it seems? As I mentioned before, nobody can slack in the playoffs. One bad finish, and you won’t be advancing to the next round. I didn’t think it would be that difficult to predict who would get cut. Kurt Busch is in the bottom four? Huh? The whole game has been changed. Maybe it’s not "protect ALL the biscuits" anymore.

How impactful is Waltrip’s DWTS endeavor? Has everyone been keeping up with "Dancing With The Stars"? Of course you have, Michael Waltrip is on! The NASCAR owner/driver has survived two episodes, and the real fun is about to begin. However, how much exposure is the sport getting from this stint? I can’t give you statistics or numbers, but I’m positive it’s working. Why? Because any publicity is good publicity at this point. NASCAR will always be at a disadvantage with its stereotype, so they have a lot working against them. If Waltrip’s goofiness and laid-back attitude make people laugh, maybe they’ll tune into some NASCAR Camping World Truck Series he’s announcing. That’s just another positive effect of his appearance on the show.

What should we expect now that criminal charges won’t be filed against Stewart? A grand jury decided that Tony Stewart won’t be charged in relation to the death of Kevin Ward Jr. It seems like the end of a long, hard road, although it most likely isn’t. The Ward family can possibly file a civil suit against Stewart, but it’s highly unlikely that will happen. Now that the worst has passed, it's going to be time to heal. Stewart’s had a difficult time coping with this, and that won’t go away. Despite this, I believe he and the NASCAR community can collectively gain strength and survive this aftermath. It’s not going to be easy, but it never is.

TV Schedule: Sept. 26-28

Dover International Speedway. Credit: Rob Carr/Getty Images
The first round of the new Chase for the Sprint Cup format will come to an end at Dover this weekend. Four drivers will be eliminated after the Challenger round, and 12 drivers will advance to the Contender round.

Who'll survive the Monster Mile and advance toward the championship? Stay tuned.

The Sprint Cup Series and Nationwide Series take on the concrete racetrack while the Camping World Truck Series tries its luck in Las Vegas.

The following is a handy guide to track events and television coverage at Dover and Las Vegas. All times are in Eastern Standard Time.

Friday, Sept. 26:
10 a.m. NNS Practice, FS1
11 a.m. NSCS Practice, FS1
2 p.m. NNS Practice, ESPN2
3:30 p.m. NSCS Qualifying, ESPN2
5 p.m. NASCAR America, NBC Sports Network

Saturday, Sept. 27:
4:30 a.m. NSCS Practice (re-air), FS1
10 a.m. NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Race at New Hampshire, FS1
11 a.m. NSCS Practice, FS1
Noon NNS Qualifying, FS2
2 p.m. NSCS Final Practice, FS2
3:30 p.m. NNS at Dover: Dover 200, ESPN. Green flag: 3:45 p.m.
10 p.m. NCWTS at Las Vegas: Rhino Linings 350, FS1. Green flag: 10:19 p.m.

Sunday, Sept. 28:
9 a.m. NSCS Final Practice (re-air), FS1
Noon NASCAR RaceDay, FS1
1 p.m. NSCS Countdown, ESPN
2 p.m. NSCS at Dover: AAA 400, ESPN. Green flag is 2:15 p.m. Re-airs at 1 a.m. Monday on ESPN2.
7 p.m. NASCAR Victory Lane, FS1

Thursday, September 25, 2014

NASCAR Fantasy Fusion: First Chase Round Closer at Dover

Track Classification: Short Track
Similar Tracks: Bristol Raceway • Martinsville Speedway
Phoenix International Raceway •  Richmond International Raceway
Distance: 1 mile

Drivers with Most Top 10s (Last 5 Years):
By Race
Jimmie Johnson - 5 
Kyle Busch - 4
All with 3 - Jeff Gordon, Kurt Busch, Carl Edwards, A.J. Allmendinger, Clint Bowyer, Matt Kenseth, Ryan Newman and Joey Logano

By Track
All with 7 - Jimmie Johnson, Clint Bowyer, Kyle Busch and Joey Logano
Both with 6 - Kevin Harvick and Matt Kenseth
Carl Edwards - 5  

Recent Pole Winners:
2013 Dale Earnhardt Jr.
2012 Denny Hamlin

The Likely Suspects: Dover International Speedway always provides exciting racing, however this year this second race is the closer for the first round of the new Chase format, which will eliminate four drivers from championship contention. This race will also tell us if Jimmie Johnson still has it. In addition to Johnson, look for these drivers to run well this week: Clint Bowyer, Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch, Jeff Gordon, Carl Edwards (aka Concrete Carl), Matt Kenseth, Joey Logano, Greg Biffle and Dale Earnhardt Jr.

My 2 Cents: Johnson and Kenseth are usually my go-to no-brainer picks for Dover. However this time I am going with Johnson and Harvick. If you're not feeling the love for Harvick, just insert Gordon or Earnhardt Jr., and I think you'll be happy.

My next picks are Edwards, Newman, Allmendinger and Stewart. Note that if you have Logano or Keselowski starts left, then pick one and pull Biffle. I will round out my team with Danica Patrick and Austin Dillon. Good luck with your team and enjoy the race!

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

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Fast Facts: Dover International Speedway

Dover International Speedway - June 2014
credit: Getty Images/Rob Carr
Dover International Speedway, home to 2014 Chase for the Sprint Cup race No. 3 – and the end of the Challenger Round – is often referred to by its nickname, the “Monster Mile.” Learn more about this one-mile concrete oval in Delaware in this week’s Fast Facts.
  • Dover Downs International Speedway was built in 1969 by architect Melvin Joseph. The first race at the track, then an asphalt oval, was held on July 6, 1969, with Richard Petty taking the checkered flag in the Mason-Dixon 300. Dover has hosted at least two races each NASCAR season since then.
  • Beginning with the 1971 season, all non-NASCAR sanctioned races were removed from the track’s schedule so that they could concentrate on two 500-mile Cup Series races. In 1982, the first NASCAR Late Model Sportsman Series race (now Nationwide Series) was held at Dover; a second race for the series was added in 1986.
  • Also in 1986, expansion began at the track, lasting 15 years. Among the highlights of the expansion: grandstand seating additions that brought the capacity up to 135,000 spectators by 2001, a switch from asphalt to concrete track surface in 1995, the addition of Dover Downs Slots in 1995, reducing race lengths from 500 to 400 miles in 1997 and the debut of the NASCAR Truck Series in 2000. Two Indy Racing League races were held at the track in 1998 and 1999.
  • In 2002, Dover Downs became Dover International Speedway, with the gaming and harness racing side of the company becoming Dover Downs Hotel and Casino.
  • In 2004, the Monster Bridge deluxe seating structure that extends over Turn 3 was opened, and in 2006 the “Monster Makeover” was announced, a second multi-year, multi-phase improvement project. That project included the construction of a skybox complex and the VELOCITY luxury suite in 2007, the 46-foot Miles the Monster Monument in Victory Plaza in 2008, improvements to pit road in 2009 and the widening of grandstand seating in 2011.
  • Jimmie Johnson holds the record for all-time wins at Dover, currently at nine, while David Pearson holds the record for most pole positions at six.
  • Find out more about the track at www.doverspeedway.com

Monday, September 22, 2014

Travel Tips: Dover International Speedway – Sept. 25-28, 2014

credit: NASCAR Media
It’s time for race No. 3 in the 2014 Chase for the Sprint Cup, and the Sprint Cup Series stars head to Dover International Speedway in Delaware for the AAA 400 weekend, Thursday through Sunday, Sept. 25-28. Also on the schedule for the weekend: the Nationwide Series and the K&N Pro Series East.
credit: NASCAR Media

On Thursday, Sept.25, the second annual NASCAR Hauler Showcase and Parade, taking place at the Blue Hen Corporate Center, 655 S. Bay Rd. in Dover, from 4 to 6 p.m. ET. Sprint Cup Series haulers will leave the center at 6 p.m. ET to make their way through downtown Dover and end at the track. Click here to find out more about the event.

Prior to Sunday’s AAA 400, country singer Colt Ford will perform a free pre-race concert on the Victory Plaza stage at 10:30 a.m. ET.

Throughout the weekend, fans can check out a number of events at the track, including driver Q-and-A sessions, autograph sessions and more – click here for the updated listing.

Key on-track times:

Thursday, Sept. 25 –
  • K&N Pro Series East practices – 2 and 3:50 p.m. ET

Friday, Sept. 26 –
  • Nationwide Series practice – 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. ET
  • Sprint Cup Series practice – 11 a.m.  ET
  • K&N Pro Series East qualifying – 12:30 p.m. ET
  • Sprint Cup Series qualifying – 3:40 p.m. ET
  • K&N Pro Series East Drive Sober 150 – 5 p.m. ET

Saturday, Sept. 27 –
  • Sprint Cup Series practice – 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. ET
  • Nationwide Series qualifying – 12:15 p.m. ET
  • Nationwide Series race – 3:30 p.m. ET

Sunday, Sept. 28 –
  • Sprint Cup Series AAA 400 – 2 p.m. ET

Find out more about the race and purchase tickets at http://www.doverspeedway.com/.

Travel Tips: Las Vegas Motor Speedway – Sept. 27, 2014

credit: NASCAR Media
The Camping World Truck Series makes a stand-alone appearance at Las Vegas Motor Speedway this Saturday, Sept. 27, for the Rhino Linings 350.

Key on-track times:

Saturday, Sept. 27 –
  • Camping World Truck Series practice – 9 and 10:45 a.m. PT
  • Camping World Truck Series qualifying – 3:40 p.m. PT
  • Camping World Truck Series Rhino Linings 350 – 7 p.m. PT

All tickets for the Rhino Linings 350 included access to the Neon Garage.

For more information on race day and to purchase tickets, visit www.lvms.com.

Friday, September 19, 2014

TV Schedule: Sept. 19-21

New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Credit: Chris Trotman/Getty Images
The Chase is underway, and New Hampshire marks the second race in the playoffs.

The Sprint Cup Series and the Camping World Truck Series descend on the Magic Mile, while the Nationwide Series has a standalone race in Kentucky.

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

Friday, Sept. 19:                        
Noon NSCS Practice, FS1
1:30 p.m. NCWTS Practice, FS1
2:30 p.m. NASCAR Live, FS1
3 p.m. NCWTS Series Final Practice, FS1
4:30 p.m. NSCS Qualifying, FS1
6 p.m. NASCAR Live, FS1
6:30 p.m. NNS Final Practice, FS1
7:30 p.m. NASCAR Live, FS1

Saturday, Sept. 20:
4:30 a.m. NSCS Qualifying (re-air), FS1
9 a.m. NSCS Practice, FS1
10 a.m. NCWTS Qualifying, FS1
11:30 a.m. NSCS Final Practice, FS1
12:30 p.m. NCWTS SetUp, FS1
1 p.m. NCWTS at New Hampshire: UNOH 175, FS1. Green flag: 1:19 p.m.
4:10 p.m. NNS Qualifying
7:30 p.m. NNS at Kentucky: VisitMyrtleBeach.com 300, ESPNEWS. Green flag: 7:45 p.m.

Sunday, Sept. 21:
12:30 a.m. NCWTS at New Hampshire: UNOH 175 (re-air), FS2
Noon NASCAR RaceDay, FS1
1 p.m. NSCS Countdown, ESPN
2 p.m. NSCS at New Hampshire: SYLVANIA 300, ESPN. Green flag: 2:15 p.m. Re-airs at 12:30 a.m. Monday on ESPN2.
7 p.m. NASCAR Victory Lane, FS1

Thursday, September 18, 2014

NASCAR Fantasy Fusion: Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire

Track Classification: Intermediate
Similar Tracks: Atlanta Motor Speedway • Charlotte Motor Speedway • 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
All with 3 - Jeff Gordon, Denny Hamlin, Greg Biffle, Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Busch, Clint Bowyer and Ryan Newman
All with 2 - Brian Vickers, Brad Keselowski, Tony Stewart, Carl Edwards, Matt Kenseth, Juan Pablo Montoya, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jamie McMurray

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

Recent Pole Winners:  
2013 Ryan Newman
2012 Jeff Gordon

The Likely Suspects: As we enter Chase race #2 one driver, last week's winner Brad Keselowski, has secured his spot in the next round, leaving 11 spots waiting to be filled. Traditionally the following drivers have performed well at New Hampshire. We'll have to see if that continues to hold true as the pressure of the playoff heats up. They are Chase drivers Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Ryan Newman (currently on the bubble at 13th), Brad Keselowski and Denny Hamlin. Non-Chase drivers who run well at "The Magic Mile" include Clint Bowyer and Jamie McMurray.

My 2 Cents: Many of the same drivers who ran well last week, including Keselowski and Gordon, also run well at New Hampshire. When making final picks this week think top 10, Chevy and Ford and Hendrick Motorsports and Roush Fenway.

Jeff Gordon ranks #1 for my no-brainer pick this week, closely followed by a three-way tie between Ryan Newman, Jimmie Johnson and Brad Keselowski. I will round out my team with Carl Edwards, Denny Hamlin, Danica Patrick and Austin Dillon. If you have any Kyle Larson starts left pull Danica and go with Larson and Dillon.

Enjoy the race! Post your comments here or email me at ssfantasyracing@skirtsandscuffs.com

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Faith on the Frontstretch: Every Driver Matters, Every Race Counts

Kyle Larson challenges the leaders at Chicagolang, Sept. 14, 2014.
Credit: Nick Laham/Getty Images  
“ ... and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” Hebrews 12:1b

For the first time in series history, the Chase has an elimination format, with three cut-offs in which four drivers are dismissed from championship eligibility. But unlike other major sports, the journey to crown a NASCAR champion still has a unique feature: Drivers who drop out of contention still get to race each week.

In fact, a full field of 43 drivers keeps racing each week, with every non-Chaser vying for the checkered flag, too, even though he or she isn’t eligible for the championship.

This is great news for the folks in firesuits. It means that even drivers and teams who aren’t in the Chase play a part in the choreography of each race. Every driver matters. And every race counts.

Kyle Larson certainly mattered at Chicago on Sunday. Although Brad Keselowski and Jeff Gordon finished at the front, there was another battle behind them. Rookie Kyle Larson gave Kevin Harvick a run for his money as they battled for third.

“The 42 was better than us,” Harvick said in a post-race interview when asked about the hard racing with Larson. “He passed us the run before and was able to get track position and restart on the bottom.”

On the closing restarts, Harvick was forced into what he called “defensive mode” against Larson. Even though he wasn’t chasing a championship, Larson challenged a veteran who was and snapped up a third-place finish.

In a race, there’s only one winner, so everyone else plays lesser roles and receives tiered rewards. But the winner can’t run a race alone; the competitors are essential. After it’s over, you can look back and see what role each driver played. Larson led 20 laps and challenged the leaders. Jamie McMurray led three times for 32 laps and logged a top-10 finish. Runner-up Jeff Gordon kept Keselowski on his toes.

Real life mimics racing. Lots of people -- with different goals, diverse abilities and colorful backgrounds -- scurry around “doing their thing” at the same time. But for the body of believers in God, each person runs a unique line, pursuing tasks appointed exclusively to him or her.

You may think you’re unimportant at work or in other situations, and that others have better talents and loftier roles in life. But that’s not true. The Bible illustrates this point in 1 Corinthians 12:16-17 using an analogy of the human body:

If the ear says “I am not part of the body because I am not an eye,” would that make it any less a part of the body? If the whole body were an eye, how would you hear?

Both ears and eyes are important for proper functioning of the body, and they have different roles. It’s silly for ears and eyes to be jealous of each other. Likewise, it’s foolish for us to be envious or competitive with each other. The beauty of the body of humanity is its variety of useful parts.

Just like in NASCAR, where every driver matters and every race counts, you matter to God. He has special things for you to do in every nook and cranny of life – home, work, play, church, hobbies, and more. Have you thought about what your God-given purposes might be?

The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ.    ~ I Corinthians 12:12 (NLT)

“Faith on the Frontstretch” appears every 1st & 3rd Wednesday and explores the role of faith in motorsports. Follow on twitter at @bbreinke.

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, September 16, 2014

Fast Facts: New Hampshire Motor Speedway

New Hampshire Motor Speedway
credit: Getty Images/Chris Trotman
This weekend, NASCAR’s Chase for the Sprint Cup visits New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, NH, for the Sylvania 300. Learn more about this New England track, known as the “Magic Mile,” in this week’s Fast Facts.
  • Ground was broken for the former New Hampshire International Speedway on Aug. 13, 1989 on the site of what was the Bryar Motorsports Park road course. The Bahre family redeveloped it into a multi-purpose facility, adding a 1.058-mile oval to the 1.6-mile road course. In addition to hosting NASCAR events, the facility hosts the Loudon Classic motorcycle race annually.
  • NASCAR’s Busch Series (now Nationwide Series) made its debut at the track in July 1990. In July 1993, the Cup Series made its debut at the track, with Rusty Wallace heading to victory lane. That race would be Davey Allison’s last race, as he was severely injured the next day in a helicopter crash at Talladega Superspeedway; Allison would later die from his injuries.
  • From 1992-1998, the track hosted open wheel racing – CART from 1992-1995 and the Indy Racing League from 1996-1998. The IndyCar Series attempted to make a comeback to New Hampshire in 2011, but poor attendance and controversial decisions by race officials left it off of the 2012 schedule.
  • Following the 1996 season, owner Bob Bahre and Speedway Motorsports Inc. CEO Bruton Smith purchased North Wilkesboro Speedway in North Carolina and moved one of its Cup Series dates to New Hampshire.
  • The 2000 season at the track was shrouded in tragedy, as two up-and-coming drivers lost their lives in separate practice accidents. In May, fourth-generation driver Adam Petty lost his life after his throttle stuck exiting Turn Two while practicing for the Busch Series event; less than two months later, Kenny Irwin Jr. died of similar complications while practicing for the upcoming Cup Series race. The accidents led track owners to run restrictor plates for the Cup Series race in September 2000, which Jeff Burton led wire-to-wire.
  • Prior to the 2008 season, Speedway Motorsports Inc. purchase the track from the Bahre family, renaming it New Hampshire Motor Speedway to coincide with other SMI interests.
  • In addition to the Cup Series, NHMS hosts NASCAR’s Nationwide Series, Camping World Truck Series, K&N Pro Series East and the Whelen Modified Tour.
  • Learn more about NHMS at www.nhms.com

Monday, September 15, 2014

Travel Tips: New Hampshire Motor Speedway – Sept. 19-21, 2014

credit: NASCAR Media
NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series heads to New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, NH for the second race in the 2014 Chase for the Sprint Cup, the Sylvania 300. The race weekend, scheduled for Sept. 19-21, will also feature the Camping World Truck Series, the Whelen Modified Tour and the American-Canadian Tour (ACT).
credit: NASCAR Media

On Thursday, Sept. 18, WOKQ FanFest at NHMS begins at
5:30 p.m. ET, with the NASCAR Hauler Parade getting underway at 6 p.m. ET. In addition to driver autograph sessions and celebrity Q-and-As, there will be a concert from Dylan Scott beginning at 9 p.m. ET. FanFest is free and is located in the
S2 Display Lot outside the infield tunnel.

Key on-track times:

Friday, Sept. 19 –
  • Whelen Modified Tour practice – 8:30 and 11 a.m. ET
  • Camping World Truck Series practice – 9:30 a.m., 1:30 and 3 ET
  • Sprint Cup Series practice – noon ET
  • Sprint Cup Series qualifying – 4:40 p.m. ET
  • Whelen Modified Tour qualifying – 5:30 p.m. ET

Saturday, Sept. 20 –
  • ACT practice – 8 a.m. ET
  • 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 UNOH 175 – 1 p.m. ET
  • Whelen Modified Tour F.W. Webb 100 – 3:30 p.m. ET
  • Bond Auto Parts ACT Invitational – 5 p.m. ET

Sunday, Sept. 21 –
  • Sprint Cup Series Sylvania 300 – 2 p.m. ET

To purchase tickets for the Sylvania 300 weekend, or to learn more about NHMS, visit www.nhms.com.

Travel Tips: Kentucky Speedway – Sept. 19-20, 2014

credit: NASCAR Media
The Nationwide Series has a stand-alone race this weekend, Friday and Saturday, Sept. 19-20, at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta. The ARCA Racing Series is also on the racing schedule this weekend.

There will be a Nationwide Series autograph session on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. ET– check the Kentucky Speedway website later in the week for more information.

Key on-track times:

Friday, Sept. 19 –
  • ARCA Racing Series practice – 1 p.m. ET
  • Nationwide Series practice – 3:30 and 6:30 p.m. ET
  • ARCA Racing Series qualifying – 5 p.m. ET
  • ARCA Racing Series Zloop 150 – 8 p.m. ET

Saturday, Sept. 20 –
  • Nationwide Series qualifying – 4:10 p.m. ET
  • Nationwide Series VisitMyrtleBeach.com 300 – 7:30 p.m. ET

Check out the fan guide for Kentucky Speedway here. Information on coolers and what can be brought into the track can be found here.

For additional information on Kentucky Speedway, and to purchase tickets and Fan Zone passes, visit www.kentuckyspeedway.com

Friday, September 12, 2014

Risk It for the Biscuit: Five Questions for Chicagoland

Credit: Brian Kersey/NASCAR via Getty Images
Come one, come all to the greatest event in racing history!

Yeah, I’m exaggerating. So what? This weekend kicks off the Chase, which has a brand spankin’ new format. I’m thrilled to see how it turns out and how it affects the racing. Things are bound to evolve even during the first race.

NASCAR won’t get off easy; I have questions involving Richmond, the Chase, and champions in this week’s column. I’m serving it up with a fresh side of sass as well. Enjoy.

Do the races at Richmond have bigger implications? OK, aside from The Catch Fence Man, both races at Richmond International Raceway SUCKED. That’s the cold, hard truth. I wasn’t expecting it to be the full-blown circus it was last season, but SOME action would’ve been nice. There’s something we can learn from this: Goodyear needs a better tire. If the tires actually had a fall-off quality, then someone could’ve rivaled Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch. I was unaware I was watching the REGULAR SEASON FINALE. C’mon, Richmond. Pack a punch next time.

What should we expect during the Chase? First, I fully expect NO Richmond-esque lulls in excitement (sorry, I’m still bitter). The Chase is in a new playoff version, and we anxiously wait to observe how this actually works. Everything is going to be different; the motto has gone from “risk it for the biscuit” to “protect ALL the biscuits.” Conserving your strength and preserving your ranking is the game plan. Let’s all hope some excitement comes from it.

Who’s D.O.A in the first round? After the first four races, four people will be cut from running for the championship. It’s like a twisted version of "America’s Next Top Model." After much thought, I’ve decided the first bunch to be cut will include Aric Almirola, AJ Allmendinger, Greg Biffle and Ryan Newman. The last two got in on points, and I highly doubt they can knock out victories in the finals. As much as I love underdogs, Almirola and Allmendinger’s respective teams aren’t up to par with the Hendricks and the Penskes. If this were ANTM, though, Allmendinger’s hair would make it to the final four, and we all know who would win the grand prize (I’m looking at you, Kasey Kahne).

And our three champions are …? It’s difficult to predict everything that’s going to happen, so I’m just hitting the big point: who’ll be eliminated first, and who will be crowned champions. Sounds easy enough, right? Eh. Let’s start with the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series: Matt Crafton is currently at the top, and he will stay there. Since the Trucks have fewer races, not much is going to change. Crafton’s been consistent all year. For that, he will be rewarded. The NASCAR Nationwide Series is a bit trickier, with both Regan Smith and Chase Elliott both putting up strong performances throughout the season. Does experience beat out fresh talent? Or vice versa? I’m sorry, Smith, but Elliott’s just too strong. He hasn’t had the miscues the No. 7 team has suffered. It may be a stretch, but that’s one I’m willing to take. Now, for the grand finale, I’m going to select a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion. Drum roll … OK, no drum roll, whatever. This is a difficult decision to make because two drivers stand out in my mind. No, three. No, two. The talent is just too good. If my life depended on a correct guess, then my life is in Brad Keselowski’s hands. There’s something about his attitude and mindset that sticks out to me. Penske power has been the prince to Hendrick’s king-like rule, but it will overthrow them in the end.

A TRIPLE-HEADER WEEKEND?! Can’t you tell that I’m excited?! Many people know my displeasure with the number of races the Trucks put on. Not only are they racing, but IT’S A NIGHT RACE TONIGHT!! I do have some reservations about this deal, though. The events this weekend are at Chicagoland Speedway, which isn’t the most exciting place. However, I’m choosing to remain positive. It’s the beginning of the Chase, the trucks are under the lights … this weekend won’t be anything like Richmond (thank goodness).

TV Schedule: Sept. 12-14

Chicagoland. Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/NASCAR via Getty Images
16 drivers. One championship.

The Chase - and its new format - gets underway at Chicagoland. All three series get back on track at the 1.5-mile intermediate track.

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

Friday, Sept. 12:                              
11 a.m. NASCAR K&N Pro Series Race at Kern (re-air), FS1
Noon NNS Practice, FS1
1 p.m. NSCS Practice, FS1
2:30 p.m. NASCAR Live, FS1
3 p.m. NCWTS Qualifying, FS1
4:30 p.m. NNS Final Practice, FS1
6::30 p.m. NSCS Qualifying, ESPN2
8 p.m. NCWTS SetUp, FS1
8:30 p.m. NCWTS: Lucas Oil 225, FS1. Green flag: 8:49 p.m.

Saturday, Sept. 13:
10 a.m. NASCAR K&N Pro Series Race at Kern (re-air), FS1
11 a.m. NSCS Practice, FS1
Noon NNS Qualifying, FS2
1:30 p.m. NASCAR Live, FS2
2 p.m. NSCS Final Practice, FS2
3:30 p.m. Jimmy John's Freaky Fast 300 Powered by Coca-Cola, ESPN2. Green flag: 3:46 p.m.

Sunday, Sept. 14:
9 a.m. NSCS Final Practice (re-air), FS1
Noon NASCAR RaceDay, FS1
1 p.m. NSCS Countdown, ESPN
2 p.m. NSCS: MyAFibStory.com 400, ESPN. Green flag: 2:16 p.m.
7 p.m. NASCAR Victory Lane, FS1
11:30 p.m. NSCS: MyAFibStory.com 400 (re-air), ESPN2

Thursday, September 11, 2014

NASCAR Fantasy Fusion: Chicagoland ushers in Challenger round

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

Drivers with Most Top 10s (Last 5 Years):
By Race
Clint Bowyer - 5
Both with 4 -  Tony Stewart, Jimmie Johnson and Ryan Newman  
All with 3 - Kasey Kahne, Brad Keselowski and Jeff Gordon

By Track
Clint Bowyer - 4 
All with 3 - Tony Stewart, Brad Keselowski, Jimmie Johnson and Ryan Newman  

Recent Pole Winners:
2013 Joey Logano
2012 Jimmie Johnson

The Likely Suspects: Race fans will get to see a new Chase format this year which opens with the Challenger round in Chicagoland. The not-so-sweet 16 drivers will be looking to bolster their chances to move to the next round three weeks from now. This first race is an awesome time for Chase-spoilers to show that they still have it even though they can't contend for the championship. The top of the spoiler list for Chicagoland is Clint Bowyer who sits in 17th place. In addition to Bowyer, look for these drivers to run well this week: Jimmie Johnson, Ryan Newman, Brad Keselowski, Jeff Gordon, and Kevin Harvick. This has traditionally been a stellar track for Tony Stewart. Can Stewart and Bowyer make some noise this week or will it be the Chasers? Stay tuned.

My 2 Cents: My no-brainer pick is a three-way tie among Jimmie Johnson, Ryan Newman and Mr. Top Seed Brad Keselowski. My next picks are Kevin Harvick, Tony Stewart, Carl Edwards, Austin Dillon and Danica Patrick.

Enjoy the race! Post your comments here or email me at ssfantasyracing@skirtsandscuffs.com.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Fast Facts: Chicagoland Speedway

Nationwide Series at Chicagoland Speedway in July 2014
credit: Getty Images/Jonathan Daniel
Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, IL hosts the first race in this year’s Chase for the Sprint Cup. The 1.5-mile D-shaped tri-oval will host all three of NASCAR’s top-tier series – Cup, Nationwide and Camping World Trucks – this season, and over the years has hosted other series as well. Learn more about this week’s host in Fast Facts.
  • Discussions for a race track in the Chicago area began in late 1995. Spearheaded by Indianapolis Motor Speedway president Tony George and International Speedway Corporation CEO Bill France Jr., a jointly-held company called The Motorsports Alliance was formed, and the search for a site began. Route 66 Raceway, a drag strip that hosts the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series, was already built in the Joliet area; after impact studies were conducted, the Joliet city council unanimously approved the speedway to be built adjacent to Route 66 Raceway in Jan. 1999. Ground was broken for Chicagoland Speedway on Sept. 28, 1999.
  • The speedway officially opened in July 2001, hosting NASCAR and the IndyCar Series. The IndyCar Series raced at the track from 2001-2010, recording five of the series’ 10 closest finishes in their 10-year stay, including the closest finish ever in 2002 (0.0024 seconds, Sam Hornish Jr. over All Unser Jr.). In addition to NASCAR’s top three series, Chicagoland also hosts the ARCA Racing Series, and hosted the Traxxas TORC (The Off Road Championship) Series until 2013.
  • The inaugural Cup Series pole was won by Todd Bodine in 2001; Jimmie Johnson currently leads all competitors with two poles. The inaugural Cup Series race in 2001 at Chicagoland was won by Kevin Harvick – he also won the 2002 race, currently the only driver to post consecutive wins there. Tony Stewart leads all drivers with three victories.
  • Chicagoland Speedway is home to Champions Park, an interactive fan display in a park-like setting. Monuments honoring each of the track’s Sprint Cup and IndyCar winners can be seen throughout the area, located next to the grandstands.
  • Find out more about Chicagoland Speedway at its website, www.chicagolandspeedway.com

Monday, September 8, 2014

Travel Tips: Chicagoland Speedway – Sept. 12-14, 2014

credit: NASCAR Media

The 2014 Chase for the Sprint Cup is on! NASCAR’s annual Chase for the championship takes center stage for the next 10 weeks, and it kicks off this weekend, Friday through Sunday, Sept. 12-14 at Chicagoland Speedway, home of the MyAFibStory.com 400 on Sunday, Sept. 14. The Camping World Truck Series kicks off the action on Friday, Sept. 12, and the Nationwide Series hits the track on Saturday, Sept. 13.

credit: NASCAR Media
Wednesday and Thursday, Sept. 10-11 are busy days away from the track, as Chase Grid Live hits Chicago’s Tribune Tower Plaza, 401 N. Michigan Ave. along the Chicago River. The free fan fest will feature a free concert from Grace Potter & The Nocturnals (Wednesday at 5 p.m. CT) as well as a Q-and-A with the rising stars of NASCAR (Thursday at 3 p.m. CT). Learn more about Chase Grid Live here.

On Thursday, downtown Joliet hosts the 14th annual Race Fan Rally from 4 to 10 p.m. CT. Taking place on Chicago St., the free event features the NASCAR Hauler Parade as well as live entertainment, driver appearances and more. Get more information on the Race Fan Rally here.

Key on-track times:

Friday, Sept. 12 –
  • Nationwide Series practice – 11 a.m. and 3:30 CT
  • Sprint Cup Series practice – noon CT
  • Camping World Truck Series qualifying – 2:05 p.m. CT
  • Sprint Cup Series qualifying – 5:35 p.m. CT
  • Camping World Truck Series Lucas Oil 225 – 7:30 p.m. CT

Saturday, Sept. 13 –
  • Sprint Cup Series practice – 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. CT
  • Nationwide Series qualifying – 11:05 a.m. CT
  • Nationwide Series Jimmy John’s Freaky Fast 300 – 2:30 p.m. CT

Sunday, Sept. 14 –
  • Sprint Cup Series MyAFibStory.com 400 – 1 p.m. CT

For a complete schedule of events at the track, click here.

For more race information and to purchase tickets for the MyAFibStory.com 400 weekend at Chicagoland Speedway, visit http://www.chicagolandspeedway.com/.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Brad Keselowski dominates Richmond closer, earning top seed in the Chase

                                          Credit: Carol D'Agostino/Skirts and Scuffs

Like many times in this NASCAR season, what was expected wasn't delivered at Richmond on Saturday night, but what we got was unpredictable and sometimes bizarre.

The regular-season closer was billed as THE race where winless drivers racing to get into the playoffs would take no prisoners. However, from the green to the checkered flags, what we saw was a dominant win from pole sitter, and now the top seed in the Chase for the Sprint Cup, Brad Keselowski. In fact, Keselowski led 383 laps, the most in a scheduled 400-lap Richmond race.

Wait? Isn't that a rerun from Friday night when pole sitter Kyle Busch gave a primer on speed and dominance in the NASCAR Nationwide Series? Correct. Well at least last night's Sprint Cup race did feature four lead changes as Kevin Harvick, who was the favorite going into the race, tried to keep up with Keselowki on the track. Although the No. 4 showed good speed, it was off the track in the pits that hurt Harvick the most, an issue that has plagued the No. 4 team consistently this year.

For Keselowki, he went into the race expecting to chase Kevin Harvick, but it ended up the other way around.

"I pulled into victory lane and I pinched myself once to make sure I wasn't dreaming. These are nights you don't forget as a driver and you live for. The Miller Lite Ford Fusion was just flying. I couldn't ask for a better way to enter the Chase than to win and take the first seed. We're ready. We want to run for another Cup.  We really feel like this team has it. Team Penske is really clicking," said Keselowski.

Last night's Richmond win was his fourth win of the season, his 14th victory in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, and the 400th win for team owner Roger Penske.

"For me it's a special time. To compete at the level we are. It's so close, this thing can go any way. To me, the pit stops are important. We obviously have put a lot of effort into that," said Penske.

That effort showed as the No. 2 team scored the best pit road times at Richmond with a total average of 39.171 seconds, edging out Joey Logano's No. 22 team, who came in at 39.266. Comparably, Harvick's team had the eighth fastest time with 39.859 seconds.

Finishing ninth and 19th respectively, Ryan Newman and Greg Biffle locked up the final two spots in the Chase. The 16 contenders, in order by seed, are Keselowski, Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jimmie Johnson, Logano, Harvick, Carl Edwards, Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, Kurt Busch, Kasey Kahne, Aric Almirola, AJ Allmendinger, Matt Kenseth, Biffle and Newman.

Last night's race wasn't without weird and scary moments though. A caution was called at lap 331 when a shirtless spectator climbed the Turn 4 catchfence.

In addition, six-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Johnson had to be taken to the infield care center after the race to be treated for dehydration. Johnson was able to climb from his car, but began cramping. He sat in the pits briefly while being treated by medical personnel, but was later transported by golf cart to the care center where he received IV fluids. He is conspicuously missing from the "Sweet 16" group photo of the playoff contenders.

                                         Credit: Richmond International Raceway

As the playoffs unfold in Chicagoland, next weekend we will find out if the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Chase will be unpredictable and crown a new champ or tried and true and reward a previous champion. Stay tuned.

Here are the official results of last night's Federated Auto Parts 400:

1. Brad Keselowski
2. Jeff Gordon
3. Clint Bowyer
4.  Jamie McMurray
5.  Kevin Harvick
6.  Joey Logano
7.  Kurt Busch
8.  Jimmie Johnson
9.  Ryan Newman
10. Aric Almirola
11. Kyle Larson
12. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
13. Brian Vickers
14. Kyle Busch
15. Tony Stewart
16. Danica Patrick
17. Kasey Kahne
18. Paul Menard
19. Greg Biffle
20. Austin Dillon
21. Denny Hamlin
22. Carl Edwards
23. AJ Allmendinger
24. Reed Sorenson
25. Martin Truex Jr.
26. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
27. Marcos Ambrose
28. Justin Allgaier
29. David Gilliland
30. Cole Whitt
31. Casey Mears
32. Josh Wise
33. David Ragan
34. Landon Cassill
35. Mike Bliss
36. David Stremme
37. Michael Annett
38. Alex Bowman
39. Travis Kvapil
40. Joe Nemechek  
41. Matt Kenseth
42. Ryan Truex
43. JJ Yeley

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Carl Edwards expecting a wild ride tonight; so are the fans

                                          Credit: Carol D'Agostino/Skirts and Scuffs

Tonight's Federated Auto Parts 400 will answer many questions -- primarily who's in and who's out of the coveted Chase for the Sprint Cup. But how will it specifically unfold? Carl Edwards is expecting a pretty wild race, and so are the fans.

During a weekend press conference Carl Edwards discussed his thoughts on tonight's season closing race and the upcoming Chase. Edwards, last year's race winner, expects a no holds barred race. "I expect some pretty ruthless racing if a guy has an opportunity. I think you are going to see that not just tonight but at the third race of the Chase, sixth race and ninth race, and definitely in Homestead," Edwards said.

"NASCAR has done a good job of putting us in a position where a lot can depend on one pass, one lap, one restart. Everything can depend on that and I think for us drivers sometimes that is frustrating, but it will definitely create some excitement," he added.

Fans like Todd Bennett of Edinboro, Pa, and Ali Ruscitto of Roanoke, Va., enjoy the excitement of not knowing what can happen, though Bennett is hoping for some rubbin' and racing. "I think the new Chase format has created an element of unpredictability," Bennett, a Dale Earnhardt, Jr. fan said. "I hope Junior takes it all, but I think Newman is going to make it in tonight," he added.

For Ali, admittedly a fair weather fan who enjoyed her first race along with Todd last spring in Richmond, the dark horse potential is an added plus. "When winning and getting to the playoffs is unpredictable, it is more exciting. There's always an off chance that someone you didn't expect will make the playoffs, and that makes it more attractive," she said.

                                          Credit: Carol D'Agostino/Skirts and Scuffs

Richmond is also setting the stage for first-time race fans like the Ramirez/Rosas family who came to Richmond from Chico, Calif., to spend time with brother Julian who just finished basic training.

                                          Credit: Carol D'Agostino/Skirts and Scuffs

In the back is Natalie Rosas. Front row from left, are Yolanda Ramirez, Jessica Rosas, Julian Rosas, and girlfriend Julia Romo.

No matter what the results, tonight's race will be eventful from the race track to the grandstands and in living rooms across the nation. Enjoy!

Kyle Busch dominates Virginia529 College Savings 250; JR Motorsports remains strong

                                         Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)

During driver introductions Kyle Busch was treated to the usual mix of loud boos and some cheers, but when it came to race time Busch showed the fans and the other drivers what a dominant win looks like.

Busch started from the pole position and led all 250 laps of The Virginia529 College Savings 250.

For Busch this was the fourth NASCAR Nationwide Series win this season, the fifth time at Richmond and the series-best 67th of his career. This is the second time he has led every lap in a Nationwide Series race, the first coming at Phoenix in 2011 when he led 200 laps after starting from the pole.

"It's been a while, if you think about it," said Busch. "We’ve had a lot of bad luck lately, and it feels good, trying to get some mojo back."

It wasn't long enough for current series leader Chase Elliott, who finished the race in third behind the driver of the No. 5 JR Motorsports driver Kevin Harvick.

"I felt that our car was just a little off from the time we unloaded," Elliott said. "I think from the spring race to now I don't think we got any better."

There were a total of six cautions called during the race, but none offered a significant chance to change the race's outcome, much to the dismay of second-place finisher Kevin Harvick. "Kyle had a much better car and was able to take off on the short runs and get way out there," said Harvick, who thought he might have been able to catch Busch during the final run, if not for the caution.

With eight races to go in the NASCAR Nationwide Series season, all eyes are on rookie Chase Elliott who has a 19-point lead in the standings over JR Motorsports teammate Regan Smith. For Elliott, the effort to win a race and to win a championship are the same.

"If you can go out and to compete to win races the points lead will take care of itself. The way you show up and to go about to give your best effort to win a race, that's the same effort you need to give to win a championship," he said.

The official race results from the Virginia529 College Savings 250 are:

1. Kyle Busch
2. Chase Elliott
3. Kevin Harvick
4. Ryan Blaney
5. Brian Scott
6. Regan Smith
7. Dakoda Armstrong
8. Elliott Sadler
9. Ty Dillon
10. Chris Buescher
11. Dylan Kwasniewski
12. Matt Kenseth
13. Kyle Larson
14. Landon Cassill
15. Trevor Bayne
16. Ryan Reed
17. Cale Conley
18. Brendan Gaughan
19. James Buescher
20. Mike Bliss
21. Jeremy Clements
22. Kelly Admiraal
23. Ryan Sieg
24. Ryan Ellis
25. Will Kimmel
26. Matt DiBenedetto
27. Hermie Sadler
28. Joey Gase
29. Cody Ware
30. Jeff Green
31. J.J. Yeley
32. Jeffrey Earnhardt
33. Josh Reaume
34. Chad Boat
35. John Jackson
36. Morgan Shepherd
37. Jamie Dick
38. Blake Koch
39. Matt Frahm
40. Kevin Lepage