Saturday, May 31, 2014

Double Wins at Dover Put Kyle Busch Closer to Another Triple-Race Sweep

Kyle Busch takes home his second win in a three-race weekend, May 31, 2014
Credit: Beth Bence Reinke for Skirts and Scuffs  
Kyle Busch hoisted a Miles the Monster trophy for the second time in 24 hours as he celebrated his 66th Nationwide Series victory in 280 starts. Busch joked that he has two big Monster trophies, which he called the mom and dad, and a bunch of “kid” ones, meaning the truck and NNS trophies, which are smaller.

“I guess I need some aunts and uncles now. We’ll work on that tomorrow and see if we can roll out of here with another one.”

The historic win makes Busch the first driver to win both the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and Nationwide Series at Dover in one weekend. He’s also the only driver to sweep all three NASCAR national series in a single weekend -- Bristol in 2010.

When asked if concrete tracks seem to work for him, Busch said he’s good at places like Bristol, Dover and Nashville.

“I think it’s more of the high bank. I think it’s more the speed that you get to carry here. You’ve got a lot of work to do in the corners and not a lot of time to rest down straightaways here.”

Busch said he probably considers the sweep at Bristol at the top of his list of racing accomplishments, and compared it to a possible sweep at Dover.

“The Bristol sweep ranks right up there, so I’d say this one (Dover) would rank right up there, too.”

The day didn't go as well for polesitter Joey Logano. His streak of four consecutive Nationwide wins at Dover ended when he finished third.

“I guess all good things must come to an end,” Logano said. “I feel like I had the winning car but we were too loose there. We were loose that last run and couldn’t pass anyone. As soon as I got close enough to a car I would lose all the air on it and get free and really couldn’t get there.”

Trevor Bayne came close to catching Busch but could not quite get to him in time. His second-place finish was Bayne's second top-five of the season.

And although Regan Smith came home 10th, he retained the Nationwide Insurance series points lead by four over ninth-place finisher Elliott Sadler and 22 over rookie Chase Elliott, who ended up fifth.

Unofficial results:

Pos.  Car No.     Driver Sponsor  
1 54    Kyle Busch Monster Energy    
2 6    Trevor Bayne AdvoCare    
3 22    Joey Logano Hertz    
4 20    Matt Kenseth Resers    
5 9    Chase Elliott NAPA Auto Parts    
6 42    Kyle Larson Target Ticket    
7 2    Brian Scott Shore Lodge   
8 3    Ty Dillon Bulwark / Airgas   
9 11    Elliott Sadler OneMain Financial   
10 7    Regan Smith Breyers   
11 60    Chris Buescher Ford EcoBoost    
12 62    Brendan Gaughan South Point Hotel & Casino    
13 39    Ryan Sieg RSS Racing    
14 1    Landon Cassill Meding's Seafood    
15 99    James Buescher Rheem    
16 43    Dakoda Armstrong WinField    
17 87    Joe Nemechek Herbal Mist Teas    
18 14    Jeff Green Hefty Ultimate/Reynolds Wrap   
19 44    Paulie Harraka Buckle Up/Click It Or Ticket  
20 51    Jeremy Clements RepairableVehicles.com   
21 23    Timmy Hill Lilly Trucking  
22 19    Mike Bliss TriStar Motorsports    
23 52    Joey Gase Jimmy Means Racing    
24 70    Derrike Cope Youtheory   
25 93    Josh Reaume JGL Racing   
26 31    Dylan Kwasniewski Rockstar    
27 16    Ryan Reed ADA Drive to Stop Diabetes   
28 28    J.J. Yeley JGL Racing   
29 17    Tanner Berryhill National Cash Lenders    
30 4    Jeffrey Earnhardt FastWax / Austin Hatcher Foundation   
31 33    Cale Conley IAVA   
32 74    Mike Harmon The 30 Days Foundation    
33 40    Josh Wise The Motorsports Group  
34 13    Carl Long Headrush    
35 76    Tommy Joe Martins Martins Motorsports   
36 55    Todd Bodine SS-Green Light Racing   
37 89    Morgan Shepherd King's Tire   
38 15    Ryan Ellis RWR   
39 46    Matt DiBenedetto The Motorsports Group   
40 10    Blake Koch Heroes Behind the Camo / SupportMilitary.org    


Tony Stewart Not Worried About Winning, Meets Challenges With Laughter

Stewart in the Cup garage at Dover, on May 30, 2014.
Credit: Beth Bence Reinke for Skirts and Scuffs  
Tony Stewart isn’t worried that he’s winless so far this season. Because drivers are racing at tracks for the first time with the new rules package, he said it’s still too early to panic.

“We luckily have been able to win at least one race a season in my entire Cup career,” Stewart said. "I don’t think there is ever a point where, especially in this format, you get panicked. Because you don’t have to be stellar in the points, you just have to get a win. Our track record shows that we can get it.”

Stewart does indeed have a win in each of his 16 seasons in the NASCAR’s premier series and has racked up multiple wins in 14 of those years. In 2000, the same year he swept at Dover, he accrued a career-high six wins.

As last year’s spring winner at the Monster Mile, Stewart prefers the hot, slick conditions from that day to this weekend’s cool temperatures, but he’s still optimistic about his chances.

“A cool day like today we are all going to be flying around here. If we can get a decent starting spot, that will make the day a lot easier.”

One thing in his life that’s not easy is his continuing rehab for his broken leg. Stewart said he hates everything about working out – sweating, getting out of breath, soreness – but he makes the best of it by having fun.

“They work me hard in therapy, but it’s kind of like everything else you do in life,” he said. “…There is no reason to make yourself miserable doing it. We have a lot of fun. We joke around, we kid and we laugh a lot. That laughter covers up a lot of pain in therapy.”

Stewart rolls off from the 20th spot for Sunday’s race, probably not the starting position he was hoping for. But since he thrives under tough conditions, even painful physical therapy, maybe the cooler track and mid-pack start are just the challenges he needs to end up in Victory Lane again.

Friday, May 30, 2014

It’s a Knockout Win for Kyle Busch at the Monster Mile

Kyle Busch has a little Monster refreshment after defeating another monster, May 30, 2014
Credit: Beth Bence Reinke for Skirts and Scuffs   
Kyle Busch’s sponsor may be Monster Energy, but the driver himself is a beast on the track. Fans are wondering, “Can anyone can beat Kyle Busch in the truck series?” Not this week -- again.

Busch’s win in the Lucas Oil 200 is his third in a row and his fourth victory in the series this season. This is the fourth Miles the Monster trophy Busch will take home.

“Being here at Dover, you know, we’ve got four of these little rascals, so we’re starting a family, I guess you’d say,” Busch said.

The race got ugly early with multiple cautions for wrecks. Only seven laps in, a three-car accident involved the trucks of Mason Mingus, Gray Gaulding and Bryan Silas. Soon afterwards, Justin Jennings spun in the No. 63 and Bryan Silas got sideways again, this time in Turn 3. A final wreck with less than 30 to go took out Ben Rhodes and caused Gaulding’s truck to limp down pit road for repairs.

Brennan Newberry’s No. 9 hit the wall. The 24-year-old from Bakersfield, CA had been running in top 10, but the crash ended his day.

Things looked a little iffy for Busch at that point because he'd entered pit road under green, then had to make a pass-through when Newberry wrecked. Matt Crafton took over the lead and Busch restarted seventh, but in typical Rowdy fashion, he barreled forward, at one point gaining five spots in three laps.

Undoubtedly the most disappointed driver of the day was Crafton. After running in the top two spots most of the race, Crafton blew a tire and hit the backstretch wall unbelievably hard, crunching the right side of the vehicle. Fortunately, he was unhurt.

“Matt was really good today,” Busch said. “It’s a shame that he had his troubles there and got knocked out of the race. It looked like a really, really hard hit … just from the tire marks and the paint on the wall. Those are certainly hits that you never want to see guys go through.”

Busch earned his eighth career perfect driver rating in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series in the event.

Complete unofficial results:
Pos.        Car No.        Driver                               Sponsor
1 51    Kyle Busch Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award   
2 29    Ryan Blaney Cooper Standard Performance Products   
3 98    Johnny Sauter Nextant / Curb Records    
4 33    Brandon Jones Exide   
5 21    Joey Coulter Allegiant    
6 8    John Hunter Nemechek Hard Rock Energy    
7 31    Ben Kennedy Click It or Ticket    
8 19    Tyler Reddick Reese Towpower    
9 77    German Quiroga NET10 Wireless    
10 17    Timothy Peters Red Horse Racing    
11 30    Ron Hornaday, Jr. Rheem    
12 5    John Wes Townley Zaxby's    
13 92    Scott Riggs BTS Tire / Goodyear Fleet HQ /Wynn's 
14 0    Cole Custer Haas Automation    
15 50    T.J. Bell America's Linemen   
16 54    Darrell Wallace, Jr. ToyotaCare    
17 2    Tyler Young Randco / Young's Building Systems    
18 13    Jeb Burton Estes  
19 63    Justin Jennings Mittler Bros. Machine & Tool 
20 10    Jennifer Jo Cobb Driven2Honor.org   
21 20    Gray Gaulding Gemini Southern / Krispy Kreme   
22 32    Ben Rhodes Alpha Energy Solutions   
23 88    Matt Crafton Rip It Energy Fuel / Menards   
24 39    Ryan Sieg Pull-A-Part Used Auto Parts    
25 99    Bryan Silas Bell Trucks America Inc.   
26 35    Mason Mingus Call 811    
27 9    Brennan Newberry Qore-24   
28 57    Norm Benning Norm Benning
29 7    Jake Crum Thunder Exhaust    
30 8    Jimmy Weller III Geneva Liberty Steel / Integrated Metal Prod.   
31 56    Raymond Terczak, Jr. Raymond Terczak, Jr.
32 42    Charles Lewandoski Randco / Young's Building Systems  
33 40    Todd Peck Arthritis.org    
34 0    Ryan Ellis Grimes Irrigation & Construction   
35 36    Blake Koch Mittler Bros. Machine & Tool   

Denny Hamlin Plays Santa for Children with Autism at Dover

Hamlin speaks to the media about autism awareness, May 30, 2014
Credit: Beth Bence Reinke for Skirts and Scuffs     
It’s Christmas in May for some kids in Delaware this weekend, thanks to Denny Hamlin and his sponsor, FedEx. The driver and his team have found a unique way to bless some young NASCAR fans in attendance at Dover International Speedway.

“We’re going to go up to the Toys R Us down the street and load up a truck full of toys,” Hamlin said. “Autism Speaks and Toys R Us have had a partnership for a very long time, and have come up with 10 toys or so that are specific for children with autism. We’re going to load up a bunch of those toys tomorrow afternoon and bring them over to the (autism) hospitality area here at Dover. “

While many families can hop in the car for outings like a baseball games, concerts or the zoo, these families can’t, because the environments provide too much sensory input for their autistic children. But they can attend a race at the Monster Mile, where there’s a special area dedicated to providing a calm atmosphere to make the kids more comfortable.

The whole family can watch the race from an air-conditioned hospitality area tucked into the backstretch grandstands. If their child needs a break, parents can usher him to a “quiet zone,” with dim lighting and less noise, to regain his bearings.

The autism-specific toys are geared to help kids with autism engage in playtime alongside other children, while helping them develop creativity and language skills.

Artie Kempner, Autism Speaks board member and Coordinating Producer for NASCAR on Fox, said approximately one in 68 children in the U.S. is on the autism spectrum, meaning the child displays some autistic symptoms or characteristics.

“There are a lot of kids on the spectrum who love to watch NASCAR,” Kempner said. “Whatever it is, whether it’s the cars being the way they look going around in a circle – there’s a symmetry to it, and a lot of folks on the spectrum, they just get into that symmetry.”

Hamlin said the number of children affected by autism is increasing. “What people don’t understand is that a lot of families are affected by autism, and a lot of the NASCAR family: the Sadlers, [Jamie] McMurray. So nine times out of 10, you’re gonna know someone who’s affected by it.”

Credit: Beth Bence Reinke for Skirts and Scuffs
In keeping with the autism awareness theme, Hamlin and ESPN analyst Brad Daugherty will host registered fans in a Track Walk around the one-mile concrete oval to benefit Autism Speaks and the NASCAR Foundation.

For the FedEx 400 benefiting Autism Speaks race, the No. 11 car is sporting a sky blue paint scheme covered with puzzle pieces containing names of fans.

“They came up with doing a paint scheme with different puzzle pieces, and people were able to donate $11 to have their first name and last initial on the race car,” Hamlin said. “With that, they were able to raise a little over $40,000 that will go to autism as well. It’s a big month for autism.”

Technology, a double-edged sword: Five Questions for Dover

(Credit: NASCAR via Getty Images)
The world is constantly changing, and you can instantly read about it on your smartphone. Whatever the news is, wherever it is, it can be accessed from a device in your pocket. We have everything we’d need to know right at our fingertips.

That is both phenomenal and terrifying.

We don’t have to think anymore. Oh, what’s the capital of Montana? I’ll plug it in the Google for you. Who was the last president to be assassinated? Search, enter, done. If it can be Googled, Binged or something, why bother having that information in your head? That’s where society is at the moment, and it’s sad.

Another development is the need to post about our lives via social media. I’ve definitely indulged in this one, but people take it even further than tweeting about their high school prom. Typing thoughtlessly can lead to backlash, but it could have major implications; nowadays, employers are looking up possible employees on Facebook and Twitter, putting an emphasis on what is posted. Teenagers now have to be cautious, though they should’ve been worried all along.

In the NASCAR world, Twitter has been a vital source of connection. It opens up those within the sport to fans, a link not forged in previous years. Chats, Instagram photos, sponsor mentions dip into uncharted waters. It’s almost a way of life. Headlines wrote themselves when Dale Earnhardt Jr. finally joined Twitter after his Daytona 500 win in February. The truth is, he scanned Twitter and did a bit of investigating. Why? He wanted to see if it was worth making himself that vulnerable.

Many drivers have cut back on Twitter usage due to negativity. Matt Kenseth doesn’t post as much. I almost forgot Jamie McMurray had an account. Where’s Ryan Newman? They’ve been driven away, by people who abused that privilege.

Technology is a sword, double-edged with opportunity and volatility. It’s time to be aware of the good and the bad.

Because it’s always changing.

Dover, Delaware, is where the party’s at this weekend. All three series are racing at Dover International Speedway, and that’s reason enough to celebrate. It’s time to talk Jimmie Johnson, winless streaks and even Twitter in this week’s edition of Five Questions.

Did anyone else think the Coca Cola 600 was sorta . . . blah? This may be just me, but the race was really underwhelming. No, it’s not because Johnson won; it lacked something overall. It may have been clouded by the Indy 500 glitz, and that’s unfair to the race. However, that’s how it’s been forever, and the 600 has lived up to hype in the past. The most important aspect of the weekend was a success, though; NASCAR’s patriotism was on full display, and that’s what makes this race so significant. In that way, NASCAR stole the show, the only show truly worth stealing.

Why were we worried about Johnson again? The winner of the 600 was none other than the six-time champ. He and Chad Knaus took notes from Kenny Francis, the crew chief of teammate Kasey Kahne, and used them to their advantage. This comes after a slight drought in his win column. So, why were we worried? I like to think we entertain ourselves with the impossible. The No. 48 going winless and not getting a Chase slot? What a story! Unfortunately, it was inevitable they would get a victory, and there are most certainly more to come.

Who’s next to shatter a winless streak? Not winning can be difficult, just ask a few of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers. Newman and Kenseth are winless, along with Kasey Kahne, Martin Truex Jr., Clint Bowyer and Greg Biffle. With a talented list like that, it’s hard to decipher who will end up in victory lane next, but I’ll take my chance. The next winner will be Kenseth, and he proved it Sunday night. He’s out of that post-championship-run-slump and ready to take charge. Of course, there’s always a dark horse, and Truex may be it. He had a great run going at Charlotte before being plagued with axle problems.

Will an action-packed weekend at Dover call for a revival? As I mentioned above, all three NASCAR series are racing at Dover. The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series holds court early Friday evening, while the NASCAR Nationwide Series takes center-stage Saturday afternoon. Of course, Cup reigns supreme on Sunday afternoon, but is all this racing enough to add flair to the sport? With NBA and other sporting events taking place, it’s easy to see NASCAR getting shuffled back a bit. However, could all this action help? Yes, if it’s actually exciting. Dover’s called The Monster Mile for a reason, so let’s see if it lives up to the moniker.

Do the pros of social media outweigh the cons? The new age of technology has been both embraced and shunned by parts of the sport. I discussed both sides above, and now I’m asking the real question: is being prevalent on Facebook or Twitter worth the hassle? Yes; it gives a unique opportunity to expand the connection between driver and fans, possible sponsors and fellow racers. It gives the driver a chance to boost their image by making them more human. If we can see them as human, then an important connection is forged. It’s up to the individual person to decide where to draw the line. There needs to be a filter on all users, especially those in the public eye.

TV Schedule: May 30-June 1

Miles the Monster looms over Dover International Speedway. Credit: NASCAR via Getty Images
This weekend NASCAR goes to the Monster Mile. All three series converge on Dover International Speedway, the 1-mile concrete track where Miles the Monster waits to take a bite out of the racecars. The track is one of the most difficult on the NASCAR schedule.

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

Friday, May 30:
11 a.m. NSCS Practice, FS1
12:30 p.m. NCWTS Qualifying, FS1
2 p.m. NNS Final Practice, FS1
3:30 p.m. NSCS Qualifying, FS1
5 p.m. NCWTS SetUp, FS1
5:30 p.m. NCWTS: Lucas Oil 200, FS1. Green flag: 5:45 p.m.
8 p.m. NASCAR Race Hub Special, FS1

Saturday, May 31:
3 a.m. NSCS Practice (re-air), FS1
4:30 a.m. NSCS Qualifying (re-air), FS1
9:30 a.m. NSCS Practice, FS1
10:30 a.m. NNS Qualifying, ESPN2
12:30 p.m. NSCS Final Practice, FS1
1:30 p.m. NNS Countdown, ESPN
2 p.m. NNS: Buckle Up 200 Presented by Ticket or Click It, ESPN. Green flag: 2:15 p.m.
7:30 p.m. NCWTS: Lucas Oil 200 (re-air), FS2
10 p.m. NASCAR Race Hub Special, FS2
11 p.m. NSCS Practice (re-air), FS2

Sunday, June 1:
12 a.m. NSCS Final Practice (re-air), FS2
3 a.m. NNS: Buckle Up 200 Presented by Ticket or Click It (re-air), ESPN2
9 a.m. NSCS Final Practice (re-air), FS1
10 a.m. NSCS Qualifying (re-air), FS1
11:30 a.m. NASCAR RaceDay, FS1
12:30 p.m. NSCS Pre-Race Show, FOX
1 p.m. NSCS: Fedex 400 benefiting Autism Speaks, FOX
7 p.m. NASCAR Victory Lane, FS1

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

NASCAR Fantasy Fusion takes on The Monster Mile




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

Drivers with Most Top 10s (Last 5 Years):
By Race
Both with 4 -  Kevin Harvick and Matt Kenseth  
All with 3 - Jimmie Johnson, Clint Bowyer, Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards, Tony Stewart and Joey Logano

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

Recent Pole Winner:  
2013 Denny Hamlin
2012 Mark Martin

The Likely Suspects: My home track -- Dover International Speedway -- is just as exciting for the drivers as it is for fans. The concrete "Monster Mile" provides the quintessential nail-biting, short-track racing that will keep you standing or at the edge of your seat for the entire race. Miles the Monster has a few "friends" here and they include: Jimmie Johnson, Matt Kenseth, Carl Edwards, Kevin Harvick, Joey Logano, Kyle Busch, Clint Bowyer and Brian Vickers. 

My 2 Cents:  My no-brainer pick this week is a tie between Jimmie Johnson and Concrete Carl, aka Carl Edwards. My next picks are Matt Kenseth, Greg Biffle, Martin Truex Jr., and last year's winner Tony Stewart. I will complete my team with Kyle Larson and Danica Patrick.

Remember this week you can blindly pick anyone from Hendrick Motorsports and you'll be golden. This racing organization boasts 15 Sprint Cup wins at Dover, more than any other race team  

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

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Fast Facts: Kenzie Ruston

credit: NASCAR/Mike Medows
NASCAR recently announced the new class in their NASCAR Next program, highlighting up-and-coming drivers. Among the drivers named to the program for 2014 was Kenzie Ruston, currently competing in the K&N Pro Series East for Ben Kennedy Racing. Learn more about Ruston in this week’s Fast Facts.
  • Kenzie Ruston was born Oct. 21, 1991 in El Reno, OK. She began racing Bandolero cars at age 14, running only a few races before getting her first victory. She spent much of the season at Texas Motor Speedway, finishing second in points at TMS as a rookie. The following season at TMS, she won the Spring Nationals in Bandolero Young Guns and finished fourth in national points.
  • At age 16, she moved into Legends cars, finishing third in points in the Young Lions division winter series at TMS and second in the Summer Stampede at TMS. In 2009, Ruston won seven championships and became the first woman to win the US Legends Car Asphalt National Championship.
  • 2010 saw Ruston move into Super Late Model cars, finishing 12th in points in the Pro All Star Series (PASS) Southern Division in her first season in a full-bodied stock car. In 2011, she competed in more than 20 Super Late Model races and made her ARCA Racing Series debut; the following year, she finished second in points in the ARCA/CRA Super Series Championship.
  • Ruston made her NASCAR debut in 2013, racing in the K&N Pro Series East and earning a career-best third-place finish at Greenville-Pickens Speedway; she finished sixth in points. In 2014, she’s driving the No. 96 Chevrolet in the series for BKR.
  • Learn more about Ruston at her website, gokenzie.com

Monday, May 26, 2014

Kurt Busch Double Duty: Solid Indy 500 Debut Goes South in Charlotte

Busch shares a laugh with Scott Dixon and Juan
Pablo Montoya during driver introductions at Indy
credit: IndyCar Media/Jim Haines
It wasn’t quite the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat, but Kurt Busch’s “double duty” debut didn’t end quite as well as he hoped.

Busch, who started the 2014 Indianapolis 500 from P12 in the No. 26 Suretone Honda entry from Andretti Autosport, finished on the lead lap in sixth place in the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing,” completing the first 500 miles of the 1,100 schedule for the day on Sunday.

“What an unbelievable experience,” said Busch after his IndyCar debut. “It is a dream come true to have an Andretti Autosport car to drive at Indy. I’m sure the car was a top five car. I was on edge those two restarts, making adjustments, trying to find air. I had to lift a little bit in turn two all day.”

Busch, Houston and Patricia Driscoll
at Indy
credit: IndyCar Media/Chris Owens
“All in all, I’m very pleased. I can’t believe the execution of this team. It’s a team effort, not just an individual. To be able to post a sixth-place finish was beyond my wildest expectations. We settled in and ran laps and tried to pace ourselves. I just tried to feel the car all race long. My throat’s real dry because I was smiling the whole time and fresh air was coming in my mouth.”

Busch, his girlfriend Patricia Driscoll and her son Houston – as well as a doctor and nurse to monitor the 2004 Cup Series champ – then headed south from Indianapolis to Concord, North Carolina, where fans and fellow competitors were cheering his arrival.

Unfortunately, his luck didn’t extend to Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Busch's helicopter arrives at
Charlotte Motor Speedway
credit: Getty Images/Matt Sullivan
After starting at the back of the pack due to missing the drivers’ meeting, Busch worked his way through the field in the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet for Stewart-Haas Racing, running in the top 15 and on the lead lap at the midway point of the race. An incident on pit road left Busch with rear end damage and a broken left rear shock just past the halfway point. On Lap 225, Busch reported to his team that he had dropped a cylinder, and one lap later, another. Busch nursed the engine as long as he could until it expired on Lap 271.Busch finished 40th at Charlotte Motor Speedway, completing 406.5 miles of the scheduled 600 in the Coca Cola 600.

“The motor blew,” said Busch. “It acted like it swallowed three cylinders all at once, and so it was really slow. It's kind of a shame, you know. It almost symbolizes how tough it has been this year on the Haas Automation team. We gave it our all, and the way we were clawing it up there and got a lucky break with the caution one time. I thought we were making good gains on the car, and it was great to race in traffic.”

“To feel the stock car right after driving the Indy car was a day I'll never forget. I can't let the mood here with the car dampen what happened up at Indy today. That was very special. It takes a big team – it takes a team everywhere. Andretti Autosport gave me a top-five car to try and win the 500 with, and these Stewart-Haas guys gave me a good car tonight. The motor just went, sometimes that happens. All in all I gave it my all. I tried hard. I had a lot of people helping me out. I want to say thanks to Gene Haas, Tony Stewart, Michael Andretti and this whole group. Everyone worked hard on this on both sides.”
Houston, Patricia and Busch at CMS
credit: Getty Images/Jared C. Tilton

Busch summed up his experience as a challenge he enjoyed, and said he’d do it again – with the right support.

“Today is a memory I’ll have forever,” said Busch. “It was a challenge I put forth for myself. I enjoyed it. I soaked it all in up North. I loved racing up in Indy in front of all the Indiana natives and the Hoosiers. They love their speedway up there. That speedway loves them. That’s what I really saw out of that track today. There was a grand stage to stand on and represent NASCAR. We brought her home in sixth place. I didn’t think I had anything for those top five guys. They were racing hard. And those were the top five in that series. They’re strong. They’re tough.”

“I’d love to do it again,” he continued. “And at the same time, you’ve got to do it with quality teams. The teams really can make the big difference in all of this. And I have to thank Andretti and I have to thank Stewart-Haas.”


Busch’s attempt will also open up the door for more drivers to attempt “the double.” Will the next one be Busch’s Cup Series co-owner Tony Stewart, who is currently the only driver to complete all 1,100 miles of “the double,” or Busch’s brother Kyle, who has also expressed interest in running both races? Will it be Danica Patrick, who made her name in the Verizon IndyCar Series and became the first woman to lead laps in the Indy 500, or one of the Sprint Cup Series drivers who got their starts in open-wheel racing, like Kasey Kahne or Kyle Larson? Will it be someone with Hoosier ties, like Indiana natives Ryan Newman or Jeff Gordon? Tell Skirts & Scuffs in the comments what you think!

Travel Tips: Dover International Speedway – May 29-June 1, 2014

credit: NASCAR Media
The first race weekend of the 2014 season at Dover International Speedway is the FedEx 400 weekend, Thursday through Sunday, May 29-June 1. All three of NASCAR’s top-tier series – Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series – will be in action at “the Monster Mile” in Delaware.

On Wednesday, May 28 from 5-7 p.m. ET, the Delaware Office of Highway Safety presents Night Out with NASCAR at the Starboard, 2009 Coastal Highway in Dewey Beach, Delaware. The question-and-answer session and autograph signing will feature NASCAR drivers Reed Sorenson, Paulie Harraka and Ben Kennedy.

On Friday, there will be a free Camping World Truck Series autograph session in the FanZone at 1:30 p.m. ET – autographs are on a first-come, first served basis.

Ticket holders for Saturday’s Nationwide Series race will be able to enter the track beginning at 8 a.m. ET for the Open Track Session. Fans can walk the frontstretch from 8-9 a.m. ET with Sprint All-Star Race winner Jamie McMurray, Sorenson and Harraka, who will also participate in a fan question-and-answer session with Riki Rachtman as part of the event.

Key on-track times:

Thursday, May 29 –
  • Camping world Truck Series practice – 1:30 and 3 p.m. ET

Friday, May 30 –
  • Nationwide Series practice – 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. ET
  • Sprint Cup Series practice – 11 a.m.  ET
  • Camping World Truck Series qualifying – 12:35 p.m. ET
  • Sprint Cup Series qualifying – 3:35 p.m. ET
  • Camping World Truck Series Lucas Oil 200 – 5:30 p.m. ET

Saturday, May 31 –
  • Sprint Cup Series practice – 9:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. ET
  • Nationwide Series qualifying – 10:40 a.m. ET
  • Nationwide Series Buckle Up 200 Presented by Click It or Ticket – 2 p.m. ET

Sunday, June 1 –
  • Sprint Cup Series FedEx 400 benefitting Autism Speaks – 1 p.m. ET

Find the complete on-track schedule here.

Fans can check here throughout the week to find an updated list of fan activities at and around the track this weekend, and check out the official fan guide here.

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

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Guide to Memorial Day Weekend Racing: Monaco Grand Prix, Indianapolis 500 and Coca-Cola 600

At Charlotte Motor Speedway, flags fly to commemorate Memorial Day.
Credit: Charlotte Bray/Skirts and Scuffs  
Memorial Day weekend means different things to different people. Gratitude for those who served our country. Beaches. Backyards. Barbecue. But in the world of motorsports, the last Sunday in May is the closest thing to a high holy day as it gets.

For NASCAR fans, it's the longest race of the year, one of the crown jewels of the sport, the Coca Cola 600. Formerly known as the World 600, it's a race that challenges the endurance of both man and machine. It's the marathon of stock car racing.

Outside the world of NASCAR, the day is held in reverence for the running of two of the most famous races in the world: the Monaco Grand Prix and the Indianapolis 500. From the hairpin turns of the streets of Monte Carlo to the yard of bricks at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, it's a global celebration of speed and skill.

For this one day, NASCAR Nation steps outside the comfort zone of fenders and roll cages to watch the best of open-wheel racing. To truly appreciate the spectacle, though, you'll need to know some background. Skirts and Scuffs has you covered. Here's a breakdown of each race, with the starting grids.


Formula 1 Grand Prix of Monaco   

Points leader Lewis Hamilton on the Circuit de Monaco
©2014 MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS Formula One Team 
NBC Pre-race coverage 7:30 a.m ET, Green flag 8 a.m. ET 
Circuit de Monaco, Monaco
78 laps on a 3.340-kilometer street course (260.5 kilometers)

Lewis Hamilton started from the pole for three of his four wins thus far in the 2014 season, and aimed to do so again during qualifying on Saturday, but his Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg thwarted his efforts. Rosberg laid down the fastest lap then had a problem that resulted in him going onto the escape road, which brought out a caution, effectively ending the session. Hamilton leads Rosberg by three points in the F1 championship standings, and while this is only the sixth of 19 grands prix, the tension between the teammates is palpable.

Other drivers to watch: Four-time series champion Sebastian Vettel, the 2011 race winner, and Fernando Alonso, two-time series champ and two-time winner at Monaco.

Qualifying results for this race:

RankCar No. DriverAbbreviationTeam Speed (km/hr)
16  Nico RosbergROSMercedes158.233  
244  Lewis HamiltonHAMMercedes158.111  
33  Daniel RicciardoRICRed Bull Racing157.415  
41  Sebastian VettelVETRed Bull Racing157.080  
514  Fernando AlonsoALOFerrari156.795  
67  Kimi RaikkonenRAIForce India155.371  
725  Jean-Eric VergneVERToro Rosso 155.068  
820  Kevin MagnussenMAGMcLaren155.038  
926  Daniil KvyatKVYToro Rosso 153.976  
1011  Sergio PerezPERForce India153.510  
1127  Nico HulkenbergHULForce India154.459  
1222  Jenson ButtonBUTMcLaren154.178  
1377  Valtteri BottasBOTWilliams153.992  
148  Romain GrosjeanGROLotus153.767  
1513  Pastor MaldonadoMALLotus153.453  
1619  Felipe MassaMASWilliams-----  
1721  Esteban GutierrezGUTSauber152.703  
1899  Adrian SutilSUTSauber152.695  
1917  Jules BianchiBIAMarussia151.566  
204  Max ChiltonCHIMarussia150.435  
2110  Kamui KobayashiKOBCaterham150.051  
229  Marcus EricssonERICaterham147.115  


Verizon IndyCar Series Indianapolis 500

Kurt Busch leaving pit lane for his qualifying attempt.
Credit: Walter Kuhn, Verizon IndyCar
ABC Prerace coverage 11 a.m. ET, Green flag  12:12 p.m. ET
Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Speedway, IN
200 laps on a 2.5-mile paved track (500.0 miles)

For most NASCAR fans, the main storyline for the Indianapolis 500 revolves around Kurt Busch's attempt at running both the 500 and NASCAR's Coke 600 in the "double." His IndyCar ride is from Andretti Autosports, his NASCAR gig is for 1997 IRL Champ Tony Stewart, who tried five times to win the Borg Warner trophy, including two doubles of his own. Busch starts the 500 in 12th, outside the fourth row.

That fourth row is oddly interrelated. Immediately to Busch's left, in 11th, Scott Dixon makes his twelfth start at the Brickyard. The New Zealander, known as Dixie, won the 2008 Indy 500 and finished second in 2007 and 2012. Dixon scored the IndyCar Championship for Target Chip Ganassi in 2008 and 2013.

On the inside of the row, in P10, sits Juan Pablo Montoya. JPM won the 2000 Indy 500 for Target Chip Ganassi and he returns to the Brickyard in an open-wheel car after spending the last seven years driving stock cars. With the exception of his five-and-a-half seasons in F1, Montoya drove exclusively for Ganassi, but his return to open wheel is for Team Penske, for whom Kurt Busch drove stock cars between 2006-2008.
Side note: Montoya earned more than three times as much for his 39th-place finish in the 2013 Daytona 500 ($318,693) than he's earned so far this season in four IndyCar starts ($98,236.)

Watch for Row Four to try to move up fast.

But keep an eye on Helio Castroneves, who wants to win for the fourth time, and his Team Penske teammate Will Power who's hungry for his first Brickyard win.


Qualifying results for this race:
RankNbrDriverTeamSpeed
120  Ed CarpenterEd Carpenter Racing231.067  
227  James HinchcliffeAndretti Autosport230.839  
312  Will PowerTeam Penske230.697  
43  Helio CastronevesTeam Penske230.649  
577  Simon PagenaudSchmidt Peterson Motorsports230.614  
625  Marco AndrettiAndretti Autosport230.544  
734  Carlos MunozAndretti Autosport230.146  
867  Josef NewgardenSarah Fisher Hartman Racing229.893  
921  J.R. HildebrandEd Carpenter Racing228.726  
102  Juan Pablo MontoyaTeam Penske231.007  
119  Scott DixonTarget Chip Ganassi230.928  
1226  Kurt BuschAndretti Autosport230.782  
1398  Jack HawksworthBBA/BBM with Curb-Agajanian230.506  
1419  Justin WilsonDale Coyne Racing230.256  
157  Mikhail AleshinSchmidt Peterson Motorsports230.049  
1610  Tony KanaanTarget Chip Ganassi229.922  
1711  Sebastien BourdaisKV SH Racing229.847  
1816  Oriol ServiaRahal Letterman Laningan Racing229.752  
1928  Ryan Hunter-ReayAndretti Autosport229.719  
2015  Graham RahalRahal Letterman Laningan Racing229.628  
2118  Carlos HuertasDale Coyne Racing229.251  
2263  Pippa MannDale Coyne Racing229.223  
2314  Takuma SatoAJ Foyt Enterprises229.201  
2468  Alex TaglianiSarah Fisher Hartman Racing229.148  
256  Townsend BellKV SH Racing229.009  
2683  Charlie KimballNovo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing228.953  
275  Jacques VilleneuveSchmidt Peterson Motorsports228.949  
2833  James DavisonKV Racing Technology228.865  
2941  Martin PlowmanAJ Foyt Enterprises228.814  
308  Ryan BriscoeNTT Data Chip Ganassi Racing228.713  
3122  Sage KaramDeyer & Reinbold Kingdom Racing228.436  
3217  Sebastian SaavedraKV AFS Racing228.088  
3391  Buddy LazierLazier Partners Racing, Inc. 227.920  


NASCAR Sprint Cup Coca-Cola 600

Jimmie Johnson on the pole for the Coca-Cola 600
Credit: Charlotte Bray/Skirts and Scuffs
FOX Pre-race coverage, 5:30 p.m. ET,
Green flag: 6:16 p.m. ET
Charlotte Motor Speedway,
Concord, NC
400 laps on a 1.5-mile paved track (600.0 miles)

Kurt Busch's drama continues at Charlotte Motor Speedway after he's completed a full day's work in Indianapolis. He's got Parker Kligerman on standby in case the timing doesn't work out but since The Outlaw sits 28th in points, he'd like to avoid having Kligerman start the race for him, and having Kligerman finish the race would be almost as bad.

As compelling a storyline as "The Double" is, just as at Indy, it's not the only story.

Jimmie Johnson scored his first pole of the season and hopes to notch his first win of the season at the track formerly known as "Jimmie's House." Johnson's been on the pole for the 600 twice before and won from it once.
Johnson's Hendrick teammate Jeff Gordon only ran 11 laps of practice Saturday because of debilitating back spasms. Gordon has Regan Smith ready to climb in the No. 24 if necessary. While Gordon, who has the longest streak of consecutive starts of all active drivers,  may turn the car over to Smith after starting the race, it would have to be a dire situation for the three-time 600 winner not to take the green flag.

Other points of interest:

Brad Keselowski starts from the front row for the seventh time in 12 races.
Danica Patrick rolls off fourth, her second-best Cup start and only her fifth from the top ten. Third-fastest in final practice, she hopes to follow up her seventh-place Kansas finish with an even better one in the 600.
Kyle Busch was fastest in final practice but will start in the back of the field because he crashed his primary car in that practice.

Qualifying results for this race:


POS 
Car #DriverSponsorBest Speed
148Jimmie JohnsonLowe's Patriotic194.911
22Brad KeselowskiMiller Lite194.567
35Kasey KahneFarmers Insurance 193.618
410Danica PatrickGoDaddy193.334
515Clint BowyerCherry 5-Hour ENERGY  193.244
611Denny HamlinFedEx Office193.119
718Kyle BuschM&M's193.092
822Joey LoganoPennzoil Platinum192.472
99Marcos AmbroseTwisted Tea191.673
1088Dale Earnhardt JrNational Guard/Superman191.272
114Kevin HarvickBudweiser Folds of Honor193.959
1220Matt KensethHome Depot Husky192.898
1343Aric AlmirolaUnited States Air Force192.692
1421Trevor BayneMotorcraft/Quick Lane Tire & AutoCtr192.486
1578Martin Truex JrFurniture Row192.438
1655Brian VickersAaron's Dream Machine192.027
1751Justin AllgaierHendrickcars.com191.945
1814Tony StewartBass Pro Shops-Mobil 1 Chevrolet191.925
1933Brian ScottShore Lodge191.884
2047AJ AllmendingerBush Beans191.829
2127Paul MenardSerta / Menards191.707
2299Carl EdwardsFastenal189.98
2317Ricky Stenhouse JrFastenal189.208
2416Greg BiffleFastenal184.344
2542Kyle LarsonTarget190.84
261Jamie McMurrayCESSNA190.255
2724Jeff GordonDrive to End Hunger189.673
2841Kurt BuschHaas Automation Made in America189.553
2923Alex BowmanDr. Pepper Toyota Camry189.514
3095Michael McDowellJPO Absorbents189.148
3126Cole WhittSpeed Stick Toyota Camry189.115
323Austin DillonCheerios189.062
3338David GillilandLove's Travel Stops188.732
3413Casey MearsNo. 13 GEICO Chevrolet SS188.534
3534David RaganTaco Bell188.455
3683Ryan TruexBurger King Toyota188.422
3798Josh WisePhil Parsons Racing188.258
3866Joe NemechekTestoril187.963
397Michael AnnettPilot Flying J Chevrolet187.806
4040Landon CassillHillman Racing187.559
4136Reed SorensonTBA187.207
4231Ryan NewmanQuicken Loans186.89
4332Blake KochSupportMilitary.org185.931