Thursday, June 30, 2016

NASCAR Fantasy Fusion: Coke Zero 400 at Daytona

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

Drivers with Most Top 10s (Last 5 Years):
By Race
All with 3 - Kurt Busch, Ryan Newman, Kevin Harvick and Clint Bowyer
All with 2 - Austin Dillon, Michael Waltrip, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Tony Stewart, Casey Mears, Matt Kenseth, Denny Hamlin, Joey Logano, Jimmie Johnson and Kasey Kahne 

By Track
Both with 6 - Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Denny Hamlin
All with 5- Kevin Harvick and Jimmie Johnson
All with 4 -Austin Dillon, Joey Logano, Casey Mears, Ryan Newman, Greg Biffle, Clint Bowyer and Kurt Busch

Recent Pole Winners:  
2015 Rained Out
2014 David Gilliland

Last Year's Race Winner: Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Likely Suspects: Restrictor-plate racing can play havoc with fantasy scores. Go with elite restrictor-plate racers and hope they don't get caught in the "Big One." Here are some of my go-to drivers this week:  Dale Earnhardt Jr., Ryan Newman, Kevin Harvick, Casey Mears, Denny Hamlin, Kurt Busch, Clint Bowyer, Austin Dillon, Joey Logano, Jimmie Johnson and Greg Biffle.

My 2 Cents: My no-brainer pick this week is a tie between Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Austin Dillon. My next picks are Kevin Harvick, Ryan Newman, Casey Mears and Tony Stewart. I will complete my team with Landon Cassill and Chase Elliott.

My Final Four: Dale Earnhardt Jr., Ryan Newman, Austin Dillon and Chase Elliott.

Points to Ponder:
  • The Wood Brothers have the most wins at Daytona in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, followed by Hendrick Motorsports.
  • The pole is the most proficient starting spot in the field, producing more winners (nine) than any other starting position in the July race at Daytona International Speedway. The most recent was Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the 2015 July race.
  • Jimmie Johnson leads all active drivers in runner-up finishes in the July race with three.
  • Tony Stewart leads the series among active drivers in laps led in the July race at Daytona with 369, followed Dale Earnhardt Jr. with 339.
  • Since the advent of electronic scoring, the closest margin of victory (MOV) in the Cup Series at Daytona International Speedway for the July race was the July 7, 2007 race won by Jamie McMurray over Kyle Busch with a MOV of 0.005 second.
  • Three-quarters (43 of the 57) of the July Sprint Cup races at Daytona were won from a top-10 starting position.
Enjoy the race! Post your comments here or follow me on Twitter @purplecatpr.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Teardown Tuesday: Breaking Down the NASCAR Race Weekend at Sonoma and Gateway

Miss any of the on and off-track action at Sonoma Raceway or Gateway Motorsports Park? Every Tuesday our Amy Branch breaks down the big storylines from the weekend.

Credit: Chris Trotman/NASCAR via Getty Images

Smoke Will Rise

It's been a long, difficult three years for Tony Stewart and his fans. After two severe injuries and unimaginable tragedy, Stewart broke an 84-race winless streak Sunday at Sonoma Raceway in his final start there during this, his final season. He missed the first eight races after breaking his back in an off-track accident, and just like Kyle Busch did last year after his return from injury, Stewart won his first race of the season at Sonoma Raceway. Similar to Jeff Gordon in 2015, Stewart's final season could turn into one last championship run.

A strategic (and lucky) call by rookie crew chief Mike Bugarewicz to pit just before a debris caution put Stewart in the lead on fresh tires after the rest of the field pitted under the caution.

Stewart leading the field rarely bodes well for the drivers behind him; he is as tenacious as a bulldog and passing him is nigh-on impossible ... unless he makes a mistake. Nearing the end of the race, he did, giving second-place Denny Hamlin the chance to pass. Stewart bided his time, wheeling his No. 14 Code 3 Chevrolet flawlessly around the twists and turns of Sonoma's road course.

Stewart patiently waited for Hamlin to make a mistake, and on turn 11 of the final lap, the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing driver did just that -- Hamlin wheel-hopped and took the corner wide. In a classic Stewart move, the Stewart-Haas owner-driver slammed Hamlin out of the way, took the corner, and sailed past the checkered flag to win the Save Mart 350.

You could almost hear the collective NASCAR nation jump to its feet and cheer. Love him or hate him, Stewart is a legend, and seeing him win in his final season -- even if only once -- is the kind of feel-good story fans live for. Stewart's family and crew, cheering him on from his pit box, were beside themselves with emotion.

"It's been a tough three years not just for him but everyone that's close to him," Stewart's father said. "I don't know what to say. We all needed that bad. He really needed that bad."

Could this be Stewart's last Sprint Cup win? Maybe, but few drivers capitalize on confidence as well as Tony Stewart. Could this be another 2011? Maybe; he is eligible for the Chase via a NASCAR waiver, and summertime is when he usually catches fire and starts tearing up the circuit with wins.

The only thing for certain is that this race win was a sweet one, which Stewart and his fans will savor like a fine wine for a long time to come.

... Fight?

It was no Tyson vs. Holyfield.

It was more like a slow, aggressive waltz down the banking of Gateway Motorsports Park in St. Louis near the end of the Camping World Truck Series race. Spencer Gallagher and John Wes Townley tangled twice during Saturday's Drivin' for Linemen 200. The second incident put both trucks in the garage; but not before Townley and Gallagher started wrestling on the track. Townley went after Gallagher and the two grappled for a short while before Townley executed a WWE-style "DDT" on Gallagher and dropped him to the ground. Strangely, Townley was smiling during some of the "fight." Perhaps Gallagher said something funny, or maybe Townley recognized the sight the two of them must be making before the world.

They struggled back up from a prone position, and danced around in a bear hug for what seemed like an inordinately long time. No officials were there yet to break up the disagreement. Townley got a few punches in, and eventually the NASCAR officials came to break up the two fight-huggers.

Both drivers seemed rather relieved when walking away -- tired, hot, and maybe feeling a little silly, both Gallagher and Townley were ready for it to be over. Fortunately, neither driver was harmed during the dance-fight.

Monday, Gallagher apologized to Townley, his team, and his fans for the incident. Both drivers were called to the NASCAR hauler following the race, and fans can expect to see repercussions for both when penalties are doled out on Wednesday.

Bell rings victory bell in Missouri

After a rain delay and three red flags to clean up wrecks, Christopher Bell earned his first Camping World Truck Series victory of 2016 Saturday at St. Louis' Gateway Motorsports Park. Bell, driver of the No. 4 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota, survived a chaotic race which lasted well into the night to take the checkered flag. After a bold decision to restart on the inside lane, Bell took the lead on Lap 153 and held on to the end.

"This one's for my guys," the young driver from Norman, OK, said in Victory Lane. "My guys, they deserve this one. We've been so fast all year long and I just kept making a lot of mistakes. I just can't say thank you enough to all the guys at Toyota, TRD, JBL, everyone at KBM, all my pit crew guys they did an awesome job. Track position was everything. We got awesome motors underneath the hood of these things and all the guys at JGR, they never give up and keep digging."

The win makes Bell the fifth different driver to secure a spot in the Camping World Truck Series Chase. Bell is currently ninth in the standings.

Fast Facts: Spencer Davis

Spencer Davis' head shot from 2015
credit: Getty Images for NASCAR/Grant Halverson
17-year-old Spencer Davis hails from a small town well-known by NASCAR fans of yesterday and today: Dawsonville, GA. Recently announced as a member of the NASCAR Next program, Davis hopes to follow in the footsteps of a former NASCAR Next member from his hometown, Sprint Cup rookie contender Chase Elliott. Learn more about Davis in this week’s Fast Facts.
  • Spencer Davis was born Nov. 9, 1998 in Dawsonville, GA. He began racing at age 6, and went on to collect over 30 victories and championships in go-karts before moving into Late Models Trucks. In 2011, he turned heads with his first major event win at the World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing at New Smyrna (FL) Speedway.
  • 2012 was a breakout year for Davis, who picked up his first Late Model win at Gresham (GA) Motorsports Park; he later picked up a second win on his way to the track championship. He was also seen running among the leaders in October at the All-American 400 at the Nashville (TN) Fairgrounds.
  • After racing in the PASS South Super Late Model and Pro Late Model divisions in 2013, Davis won the Pro Late Model title at the World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing in Feb. 2014, picking up two wins. He also made his NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour debut, running the entire season, finishing ninth in points with seven top 10 finishes in 14 starts and capturing the series’ Sunoco Rookie of the Year award.
  • In 2015, Davis competed in select races on the Whelen Modified and Southern Modified Tours as well as the K&N Pro Series East and West. For 2016, Davis is competing full-time in the K&N Pro Series East, having picked up his first career pole at Mobile in March and his first win at Dominion in May.
  • Learn more about Davis at his website,

Monday, June 27, 2016

Travel Tips: Daytona International Speedway – June 30-July 2, 2016

credit: NASCAR Media
The Sprint Cup and Xfinity Series head to Daytona International Speedway for the second time this season to celebrate Independence Day weekend with the Xfinity Series Subway Firecracker 250 on Friday, July 1 and the Sprint Cup Series Coke Zero 400 on Saturday, July 2.

Key on-track times:

Thursday, June 30
  • Xfinity Series practice – 2 and 4 p.m. ET
  • Sprint Cup Series practice – 3 and 5 p.m. ET
Friday, July 1 –
  • Xfinity Series qualifying – 2:10 p.m. ET
  • Sprint Cup Series qualifying – 4:10 p.m. ET
  • Xfinity Series Subway Firecracker 250 Powered by Coca Cola – 7:30 p.m. ET
Saturday, July 2 –
  • Pre-race concert featuring country duo Montgomery Gentry – 5:50 p.m. ET
  • Sprint Cup Series Coke Zero 400 Powered by Coca Cola – 7:45 p.m. ET
For a complete schedule of events, including driver appearances and special events in the Sprint FANZONE, click here.

Find more information on this weekend and the “World’s First Motorsports Stadium” at the event homepage and the “Visitor Center.”

Get more information and purchase tickets for this weekend’s action at

Right Sides Only: Notes from the Toyota / Save Mart 350 Winning Crew Chief, Mike Bugarewicz

by Stacey Owens

Sometimes the toughest decisions are the easiest ones to make. Sometimes taking a chance that no one else is willing to take works out in the end. Just ask Mike Bugarewicz.

As crew chief for Tony Stewart, Bugarewicz made the tough decision to pit before the rest of the field in Sonoma.

"Yeah, I mean, early in the race, we were running fairly well, and basically pitting according to the strategy we laid out the night before," Bugarewicz said. "We kind of lost some track position there on pit road, and it's tough to pass. People get strung out and it makes it difficult. As we were running there I noticed we weren't passing people. We were still going to be a lap short on fuel unless we saved, which we had that in our plan, but at the end of the day we weren't going to have an opportunity to win just doing what everybody else did, so we had to take a chance here and pit early in hopes that we would get a caution, and we heard NASCAR talking about the debris a little bit, so you know, at that point it's about winning this year, especially for us in the situation we're in. We had to take a chance, and it could have worked out not in favor of us, and we could have lost points today. But instead it worked out, and I'm thankful for that." 
Mike Bugarewicz
Credit: Charlotte Bray for Skirts and Scuffs
Losing points isn't an option for the No. 14 team. Unlike previous winners this season who are all but assured a spot in the Chase, Stewart has no such guarantee. Still outside the top 30 in points, Stewart has ground he must continue to make up since he, like Kyle Busch last year, did not begin his season in Daytona with the rest of the field.

Just because he hasn't solidified his place in the Chase yet doesn't mean that Stewart isn't having fun in his last year of Sprint Cup competition. Again, just ask Mike Bugarewicz.

"One thing I will say, no matter what, every week, it's the last thing I say to him before I leave the car and he actually reminded me of that today. He said, 'If I get angry and start yelling at you today, just remind me to have fun.' I said, 'Yeah, I know how that'll work out for me.' But no, we always talk about that. What's most important for all of us is just enjoy it, take it in. You have to do that," Bugarewicz said.

Sonoma Raceway may not be close to Vegas, but the No. 14 gambled on their final pit stop anyway, despite not being confident it would work. The gutsy call from the crew chief paid off.

"We heard them talking about it [a debris caution], but we didn't know for sure if they'd throw it or not. Kind of just assumed,  with a rag laying on the track earlier and they threw a caution, I figured, well, if there's anything similar to a rag or larger, they're going to throw the caution again. Again, it was just a chance that we took, a chance to get a win. Running 17th, finishing 17th wasn't really going to do us much good, so we had to try something.

Credit: Blaine Ohigashi/Getty Images
"I think almost every race that's won here basically on a strategy deal is just a lucky call by anybody. You know, if it's 10-lap shootout and everybody has tires, then the best guy earns it. But when it comes down to something like what happened today, I just was fortunate," Bugarewicz explained.

The win is Bugarewicz's first as a crew chief.

"Yeah, in some senses, it really hasn't sunk in about being my first win, but I can't thank Gene, Tony, Greg Zipadelli, Brett Frood, all of them enough for the opportunity," Bugarewicz said. "They believed in me. I've only worked at Stewart-Haas. This is my third year, two years with Kevin as his engineer. Every win is sweet whether I'm a race engineer or crew chief or whatever, it's all great. But yeah, that part of it hasn't sunk in yet that it was my first, but our goal from the beginning of the year was to get Tony back in victory lane, and I'm just so glad that we could get him there."

Whether the team defies the odds and grabs a Chase berth remains to be seen, but Stewart's fans are enjoying this win. It's something they've been waiting to see for three long years.


     Stacey Owens lives just outside Music City USA. She's always wanted to be a NASCAR writer, so working as a columnist and support editor for Skirts and Scuffs allows her to live that dream every single weekend.
    The sole NASCAR enthusiast in her home, she's hopeful that one of her three daughters might also harbor an appreciation for NASCAR, but it isn't looking good so far.
    This self-admitted grammar nerd also loves country music, though she can't carry a tune; collegiate football, though she needs a lot of work on her spiral; and Kentucky basketball, even though at 6' tall, she's never played a day in her life

Friday, June 24, 2016

Capitalizing: Five Questions for Sonoma and Gateway

Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR
by Kristen Schneider

This weekend will require you to divide up your attention – but only between two of NASCAR’s three series.

With the NASCAR Xfinity Series off, the Sprint Cup and Camping World Truck Series are taking the spotlight in two separate locations. Each one brings something different to your TV sets this week, so get ready for some thrills. The Trucks invade Gateway Motorsports Park on Saturday night in a stand-alone event bound to pit series regulars against each other. On the west coast, Cup goes road course racing at Sonoma Raceway and tries to find the perfect rhythm in Wine Country.

Of course, there are questions to ask – and I have them here for you in this week’s edition of Five Questions.

Is Byron’s success the sign of a new era? William Byron is the hottest name in the NCWTS at the moment, after capturing his third win of 2016 last week – in his rookie season. That’s pretty impressive for someone who started their career on iRacing. His success signals the new age of technology. In addition to online programs enhancing drivers’ performance, the new digital dashboards, driver-adjustable track bars and pit road cameras are other examples of the ever-changing landscape of racing. NASCAR has hit its peak with all the recent innovations and should keep moving forward. Byron is just one of many iRacing users who have true talent, and they may have a place in the sport with these changing tides. NASCAR is still behind IndyCar and F1 when it comes to technological advancements, but the sport is making tremendous progress in the 21st century.

In Jones versus the Truck series field, who will prevail? With Trucks solo at Gateway Motorsports Park, we should see a series regular get that win – right? Not exactly. Erik Jones will wheel the No. 51 for Kyle Busch Motorsports in place of Cody Coughlin. Coughlin is leading the point standings in a local series and decided to run those races in order to extend his points lead. Jones was free due to the XFINITY Series being on break. Is he a serious threat? Heck, yes. Just like his boss, this kid will challenge for the win in whatever vehicle he sits in. However, there’s only one Jones. The Truck field is full of hungry, talented drivers who want to secure their Chase spot – and they won’t let Jones stand in their way. Drivers like Byron, Matt Crafton, and Timothy Peters are ready for the challenge. As skilled as Jones is, I’m taking the field on this one.

Are road course ringers a thing of the past? It’s the first road course race of the year, and drivers are gearing up to take on Wine Country. The entry list is filled with the usual suspects – and that’s the unusual part. Wasn’t it just yesterday that road course experts would land rides and compete in these events? Those days are long gone, as the drivers that excel on the twisty tracks are those we see every week. The ability to adapt to various types of venues is vital when chasing a championship, even though there isn’t a road course in the Chase. I’m still bitter about that, by the way. Over time, teams decided to use those road course drivers as mentors and spotters instead. Their role has been reduced, that’s for sure. Road course ringers are still important – but in a different capacity.

Will Joe Gibbs Racing’s dominance extend into road course country? There’s no doubt that JGR is the hottest team around, with each driver securing a slot in the Chase already. Everyone is trying to overpower them, and they may believe this weekend to be the prime opportunity. Are their predictions correct? Well, look at JGR’s Sonoma credentials – especially their win with Kyle Busch last year that set off his championship run. The Toyota team has some success there, but their drivers aren’t exactly road course experts. Their four cars will be fast, but I can’t say that human error won’t come into play. Out of the four, my eyes are on Denny Hamlin. After winning the Daytona 500 in February, the only other notable thing he’s done is gather 11 speeding penalties in the span of 10 races. The No. 11 team can use a boost, and this weekend’s results will prove if they’re on the way to championship form. The other three JGR drivers should do quite well and keep the organization afloat in California.

Can former Sonoma winners rebound? There are three drivers that need to salvage their subpar seasons – Tony Stewart, Kasey Kahne, and Clint Bowyer -- and it could happen since they’ve each been victorious at Sonoma. Stewart’s final season hasn’t improved much since his return. Although he has a Chase waiver, he still needs to enter the top 30 in points to use it. If he gets a win, that should move him closer to that goal, and a strong run would rejuvenate his team’s morale. The same can be said for Kahne. The Hendrick Motorsports driver hasn’t found much success in the No. 5, with his best finish of 2016 being fourth place – twice. There are some glimmers of hope, but there need to be more if they want to make the Chase. Kahne’s dirt tracking experience will be his best friend, as it will help with his car control in the turns. All three of these guys are dirt veterans, but Kahne will need to rely on it the most. Bowyer, however, needs a complete 180-degree fix. A strong run would do wonders for his team – and “a strong run” for him is a top 15. It’s baby steps for the No. 15 crew, but sometimes that’s all you can make. This trio needs help getting into the Chase, but this weekend could be the boost they need, as long as they capitalize on the twists and turns. 

TV Schedule: June 24-26

Sonoma. Credit: Robert Laberge / Getty Images
By Rebecca Kivak

NASCAR turns right as the Sprint Cup Series goes road course racing.

The Sprint Cup Series heads to Sonoma for the first road course race of the season. The Camping World Truck Series converges on Gateway Motorsports Park for a standalone event.

The XFINITY Series is off this week and will return next week at Daytona.

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

Friday, June 24:
3 p.m. Sprint Cup Series practice, FS1
6:30 p.m. Sprint Cup Series final practice, FS1

Saturday, June 25:
8 a.m. Sprint Cup Series practice (re-air), FS1
10 a.m. Sprint Cup Series final practice (re-air), FS1
11:30 a.m. Camping World Truck Series final practice, FS1
2 p.m. Sprint Cup Series Qualifying, FS1
5:30 p.m. Camping World Truck Series Qualifying, FS2
8 p.m., NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Setup, FS1
8:30 p.m. Camping World Truck Series Drivin for Lineman 200, FS1

Sunday, June 26:
2:30 a.m. Camping World Truck Series Qualifying (re-air), FS1
4 a.m. Camping World Truck Series Drivin for Lineman 200 (re-air), FS1
8:30 a.m. Camping World Truck Series Drivin for Lineman 200 (re-air), FS1
11 a.m. Sprint Cup Series Qualifying (re-air), FS1
1:30 p.m., NASCAR RaceDay, FS1
3 p.m. Sprint Cup Series Toyota/SaveMart 350, FS1

Thursday, June 23, 2016

NASCAR Fantasy Fusion: Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma

Track Classification: Road Course
Similar Track: Watkins Glen International
Distance: 1.99 miles

Drivers with Most Top 10s (Last 5 Years):
By Race
Both with 5 - Clint Bowyer and Jimmie Johnson 
Kurt Busch - 4
All with 3 - Joey Logano, Kasey Kahne, Kevin Harvick, Carl Edwards and Greg Biffle

By Track
Both with 4 - Clint Bowyer and Jimmie Johnson  
All with 3 - Kurt Busch, Kasey Kahne and Greg Biffle

Recent Pole Winners:
2015 A.J. Allmendinger
2014 Jamie McMurray

2015 Race Winner: Kyle Busch

The Likely Suspects: Road racing has a particular set of elite drivers who just get the lefts and rights. Look for these drivers to run well at Sonoma: Jimmie Johnson, Kurt Busch, Kasey Kahne, Clint Bowyer, Kevin Harvick, Carl Edwards, Greg Biffle, Kyle Busch and Tony Stewart.  

My 2 Cents: Remember, drivers who were open wheelers do well at road racing in NASCAR, but road course ringers usually don't. My no-brainer pick this week is a tie between Jimmie Johnson and Kurt Busch. My next picks are Clint Bowyer, Kasey Kahne, Tony Stewart and Jamie McMurray. I'm rounding out my team with Matt DiBenedetto and Ryan Blaney.

My Final Four: Kurt Busch, Tony Stewart, Clint Bowyer and Ryan Blaney.

Points to Ponder:
  • Tony Stewart and Kyle Busch have the most wins among active drivers at Sonoma with two each.
  • Six different manufacturers have won in the series at Sonoma, led by Chevrolet with 10 victories, followed by Ford with seven, Toyota (four), Dodge (three), Pontiac (two) and Buick (one).
  • The Coors Light pole position is the most proficient starting position in the field, producing more wins (five) than any other starting position at Sonoma Raceway.   
  • Almost three-quarters (19 of 27) NASCAR Sprint Cup races at Sonoma have been won from a top-10 starting position.
Enjoy the race! Post your comments here or follow me on Twitter @purplecatpr.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

ROOKIE STRIPE: 11 Things You Might Not Know About NASCAR Pit Crews

Credit: Logan Stewart for Skirts and Scuffs
Amid the acrid exhaust fumes and drone of activity at a NASCAR race, the busy pit crews of NASCAR seem to blend in with the crowd, and yet they’re impossible to miss. Many have the muscular statures of Greek gods, and work with an intensity so fierce it might remind you of a hungry bear on the prowl. But the jobs of the pit crew are about more than muscle and speed. Much goes into the job description of a pit crew member that you might not even realize.

Here are 11 things to know about pit crews:

1. Race days often start at 5 a.m. or earlier. For most races, with the exception of those on the West Coast, and some within driving distance, teams fly out the morning of the race, usually from a small airport in Concord, N.C. This usually means departure times at the crack of dawn.

2. Depending on the team, pit crews fly on either the team plane or a private airline concierge service that is essentially a shared plane for multiple teams. For races that are closer to the home base of most teams, such as Charlotte, Martinsville, Darlington and Bristol, pit crew members may drive together to the race very early in the morning, often in vans.

3. While setting up on pit road, crews are required to wear black pants and their track shirt, which usually has the team’s main sponsor for weekend.

4. On the team hauler, pit crew members have lockers, just like in a gym, but in a much more confined space. They sometimes have to share lockers. The hauler is their shop on wheels, changing room, locker room and control center all in one.

5. Pit crews will eat a meal with their teammates, often cooking out in the infield near the haulers prior to the race. Most pit crews have a meeting on the hauler an hour before the race.

6. On race day, there’s a NASCAR church service led by Motor Racing Outreach immediately following the drivers’ meeting that many pit crew members, drivers, safety personnel and other pit road visitors attend.

Credit: Logan Stewart for Skirts and Scuffs
7. Pit crews change clothes just before the race, putting on flame-resistant Nomex® socks, pants and long-sleeved shirts underneath their fire suits.

8. Any pit crew member who handles gas wears a fire suit made with a higher grade of fire retardant, making it less breathable. He must wear a Nomex® head sock during pit stops, too.

9. Crew members have to be available the entire race because they never know when an unscheduled pit stop might happen. Even bathroom breaks are risky.

10. A team’s driver, spotter and crew chief communicate constantly on the radio about issues, how to pit and more. All of the pit crew members are on the same frequency, and this is how they know what to do during a pit stop.

11. Even after a late Sunday race and a late flight home, most pit crews will be back at work Monday morning, ready to prepare for the next race.

They say the action in NASCAR never stops, and that's certainly true of pit crews – even when the race is finished.

Credit: Logan Stewart for Skirts and Scuffs
More pit crew-related reading: The anatomy of a pit stop
Why a pit crew looks a lot like a football team
Athletic trainer’s skills land him on NASCAR pit crew
What 8 years in a NASCAR pit crew taught Banjo’s CEO about pivoting

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Fast Facts Redux: Parker Kligerman

Kligerman at Texas in June 2016
credit: Debbie Ross/Skirts & Scuffs
NBC Sports Network analyst Parker Kligerman is back in the driver’s seat in 2016, competing in the No. 92 Ford F-150 in the Camping World Truck Series for Ricky Benton Racing. Learn more about this versatile driver in this week’s Fast Facts, originally published in Oct. 2012.
  • Parker Kligerman was born Aug. 8, 1990 in Westport, CT. Unlike many current drivers, his family had no background in auto racing, but that didn’t stop Kligerman from wanting to participate. He raced go-karts as a teen, and excelled at open-wheel racing while still in high school, racing in the USAC Midget Series in 2007. In 2008, he signed with Cunningham Motorsports and made his ARCA Racing Series debut at New Jersey Motorsports Park. 
  • For 2009, Kligerman drove full-time in the ARCA Series with Cunningham Motorsports as part of Team Penske’s driver development program. Kligerman won nine races that year, finished second in points by five points and won the Rookie of the Year award in the series. He also made his Nationwide (now Xfinity) Series debut with Team Penske at Kansas Speedway in Oct. 2009, winning the pole and finishing 16th.
  • After a part-time season in the Nationwide Series in 2010, Kligerman moved to the Camping World Truck Series full-time with Brad Keselowski Racing, finishing 11th in points with eight top 10 finishes, including two runner-up finishes. After starting the 2012 season with BKR, Kligerman moved over to Red Horse Racing in August, winning his first Truck Series race in October at Talladega and finishing fifth in final points.
  • For the 2013 season, Kligerman joined Kyle Busch Motorsports in the Nationwide Series, earning three top fives and a ninth-place finish in points. He made his Sprint Cup Series debut in November of that year with Swan Racing at Texas Motor Speedway, finishing 18th. Kligerman was hired to race full-time in the Cup Series with Swan Racing in 2014, but the team struggled on and off the track and was sold early in the season.
  • Later in 2014, Kligerman signed on with NBCSN as an analyst, which he continues to do, and also tested an Indy Lights car for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports. He returned to the track in Sept. 2015 at Darlington in the Xfinity Series, and moved back to the Truck Series for 2016, picking up a third-place finish at Daytona.
  • Find out more about Kligerman and RBR Enterprises on their Facebook page

Monday, June 20, 2016

Travel Tips: Sonoma Raceway – June 24-26, 2016

credit: NASCAR Media
The Sprint Cup Series and K&N Pro Series West visit Sonoma, California for the Toyota/Save Mart 350 weekend at Sonoma Raceway this Friday through Sunday, June 24-26. This weekend marks the first of two road course races on the Sprint Cup Series schedule for 2016.

On Thursday, June 23, the annual NASCAR Hauler Parade rumbles through Sacramento, making its way over the Tower Bridge and around the State Capital beginning at noon PT. Find the parade route and more information about the event here.

Key on-track event times:

Friday, June 24 –
  • K&N Pro Series West practice – 10:50 a.m. and 2 p.m. PT
  • Sprint Cup Series practice – noon and 3:30 p.m. PT
Saturday, June 25
  • K&N Pro Series West qualifying – 9:45 a.m. PT
  • Sprint Cup Series qualifying – 11:15 a.m. PT
  • Chevys Fresh Mex 200 K&N Pro Series West race – 1 p.m. PT
Sunday, June 26 –
  • Sprint Cup Series Toyota/Save Mart 350 – noon PT
Get tickets and more information about the race weekend at

Travel Tips: Gateway Motorsports Park – June 25, 2016

credit: NASCAR Media
NASCAR fans in the St. Louis area can visit Gateway Motorsports Park for the one-day Camping World Truck Series event, the Drivin’ for Linemen 200, on Saturday, June 25. The show will also include the USAC Silver Crown Series and the ARCA Midwest Tour.

Fans in town on Friday can check out the NASCAR garages at the track from 5-6 p.m. CT, then head over to Gateway Kartplex for the Party at the ‘Plex, featuring kart racing and entertainment, from 6-10 p.m. CT.

Key on-track event times:
  • USAC Silver Crown practice – 9:30 a.m. CT
  • Camping World Truck Series practice – 10:30 a.m. CT
  • USAC Silver Crown qualifying – 12:30 p.m. CT
  • ARCA Midwest Tour practice – 1 p.m. CT
  • ARCA Midwest Tour qualifying – 2:15 p.m. CT
  • USAC Silver Crown Vatterott College Silver Crown Showdown – 3:30 p.m. CT
  • Camping World Truck Series qualifying – 4:45 p.m. CT
  • ARCA Midwest Tour Illinois Lottery presents ARCA Midwest 50 – 6 p.m. CT
  • Camping World Truck Series Drivin’ for Linemen 200 – 7:30 p.m. CT
Find out more about the race and the track, as well as purchase tickets for the single-day show, at

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Pollex uses to share experience and compassion

Credit: Charlotte Bray for Skirts and Scuffs
by Kristen Schneider

Sherry Pollex wants to do more for those with cancer.

After fighting her battle with ovarian cancer, she felt the need to reach out to others and provide comfort as they faced diagnoses similar to or even worse than hers. Her story inspired those within the NASCAR community and she wants it to reach those outside the sport – those who have the same disease or those who are undereducated about ovarian cancer.

“Once I finished my treatment, I realized I wanted to do more to advocate for women with ovarian cancer but I also wanted to try to reach women before a diagnosis,” Pollex told Skirts and Scuffs. “So, started to take shape. The mission of the site is to empower women to know their bodies, recognize the symptoms of ovarian cancer and learn how integrative and holistic practices may complement conventional medicine.”
Her website tries to remedy issues Pollex had after she was diagnosed, such as not knowing treatment options outside of the standard chemotherapy and radiation. She soon realized how important her attitude was when it came to battling Stage III ovarian cancer. One day over lunch, Krissie Newman, wife of NASCAR driver Ryan Newman, helped her overcome the mental negativity surrounding her five-year survival statistics.

“She [Newman] said, ‘So what is my chance of survival over the next five years?’" Pollex said."I said, ‘I don’t know.’ And she said, ‘Exactly, you have no idea if I’m going to die before you and I don’t have cancer. No one in this room knows when they are going to die. So that’s a bunch of crap.’ She made me realize, we’re all terminal. We’re all going to die, and no one knows when or what we’re going to die from. We have to live each day to the fullest and make memories everyday with our loved ones.”

Since then, Pollex makes it a goal to be positive – even if her own statistics are not good – and spread love and awareness to anyone going through the same battle.

“I really believe your attitude is so important when you get diagnosed and while you're going through treatment," she said. "You have to wake up every day and find the positive in this horrible situation.  There’s a silver lining in everything. “Don’t get me wrong, I had my bad days. But there weren’t many and when I had one, I’d remind myself, tomorrow is a new day and a chance to start over.”

Pollex offers up a bit of herself with each article she writes for her website, a testament to both her character and the importance of support. Nobody should have to fight cancer alone, and she believes a system of loving people is vital during this difficult time.

“People naturally move on with their lives, and someone going through cancer may feel like they don’t want to bother anyone,” she said. “That’s how I felt. Luckily, I had incredible family and friends who didn’t wait for me to ask.”

Those friends? The entire NASCAR community. Immediately after revealing her diagnosis in August 2014, she and her long-term boyfriend Martin Truex, Jr. received an outpouring of love and compassion from fellow racing personalities. When every car carried a teal ribbon decal to raise awareness for ovarian cancer, Pollex was floored.

“It was so surreal,” she said. “I was just so touched that people cared that much. It’s been so amazing to connect with all the NASCAR fans and hear how cancer has touched their lives. Everyone has a story.”

The support for Pollex stemmed from not only her situation but also from her dedication to others. Members of the racing community flocked to her aid due to her passion of advocating for children who suffer from various forms of cancer. She puts on Catwalk For a Cause every May to showcase the kids who are fighting the disease. The event was even more significant this time around – for the first time, Pollex had something in common with her kids as they strutted down the runway.

“This year was special because I was one of them. I’ve gone through the scary diagnosis of cancer and the grueling treatments, and those experiences gave me a whole new appreciation for what these kids go through. I wanted to show them how strong I was since I had taught them to do that for so many years,” she said. “It was amazing to be up on that runway walking with them, feeling empowered by who we are. I don’t take a single day for granted, and while some of them are too young to understand that, I look in their parents’ eyes, and we just get it.”

With her following and experience, she hopes to raise awareness for a disease that’s terribly underfunded. Every year, 21,000 women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer, and 14,000 of them die due to lack of knowledge and research. The symptoms are often attributed to common bodily functions, and action isn’t taken. Pollex’s acronym for the signs – BEAT – highlights the four largest indicators: bloating, eating less yet feeling full, abdominal pain and talking with a doctor about what’s normal or abnormal for your body.

Pollex has done a lot for those with cancer, but she wants to give so much more. is her way of paying it forward, with ‘it’ being the positivity and awareness she gained. Her efforts won’t go unnoticed – and they’ll certainly make a difference.

“I want to be an advocate for women fighting this and help them realize self-care and education is so important.”

Friday, June 17, 2016

TV Schedule: June 17-19

Iowa Speedway. Credit: Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images
By Rebecca Kivak

NASCAR heads to Iowa for Father's Day weekend. The Sprint Cup Series takes a rare week off while the Camping World Truck Series and XFINITY Series head to fan favorite Iowa Speedway for some short-track action.

The Sprint Cup Series will return next week at Sonoma.

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

Friday, June 17:
3 p.m. Camping World Truck Series practice, FS2
4:30 p.m. XFINITY Series practice, FS2
5 p.m. XFINITY Series practice, FS1
6 p.m. Camping World Truck Series final practice, FS1
7 p.m. XFINITY Series final practice, FS1

Saturday, June 18:
4:30 p.m. Camping World Truck Series Qualifying, FS2
6:30 p.m. XFINITY Series Qualifying, FS2
7 p.m. XFINITY Series Qualifying, FS1
8 p.m. Camping World Truck Series Setup, FS1
8:30 p.m. Camping World Truck Series: Speediatrics 200, FS1

Sunday, June 19:
1 p.m. NASCAR RaceDay: XFINITY, FS1
1:30 p.m. XFINITY Series: American Ethanol E15 250 presented by Enogen, FS1

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Teardown Tuesday: Breaking Down the NASCAR Race Weekend at Michigan and Texas

Miss any of the on and off-track action at Michigan International Speedway or Texas Motor Speedway? Every Tuesday our Amy Branch breaks down the big storylines from the weekend.

Credit: Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images
This weekend, the youth of the sport stole the show and gave fans a taste of NASCAR will look like over the next decade or two. Judging by what we saw in Texas and Michigan, it's going to be one heckuva ride.

Credit: Debbie Ross/Skirts and Scuffs

Byron scores second win

At Texas Motor Speedway, the Camping World Truck Series joined Verizon IndyCar for a weekend of "No Limits" racing. While Saturday's Firestone 600 was rain-delayed and eventually rescheduled for August 27, the weather was fine for Friday night's Rattlesnake 400.

Matt Crafton looked to take the checkered flag, but after a six-lap battle, Kyle Busch Motorsports' William Byron passed the veteran and never relinquished his lead. The youngest driver to ever win a Camping World Truck Series race has now won two in his first year.

"It's all about heart, "said Byron, 18. "You have to want it and my team wants it and I see that every day."

Credit: Kena Krutsinger/Getty Images
Suarez breaks through to make history

Saturday, NASCAR turned its eyes to the Irish Hills and Michigan International Speedway for the XFINITY Series Menard's 250 Presented by Valvoline. It looked as if Kyle Busch was going to run away with it; he led a race-high 88 laps.

But Daniel Suarez, the Joe Gibbs Racing rookie from Mexico who recovered from a pit road speeding penalty, passed his mentor and former boss with just two laps to go, and became the first Mexican driver to win a NASCAR national series race. More importantly for the XFINITY rookie and his team, Suarez finally won. He is locked into the Chase, he is leading the points, and he has been incredibly fast all season. The driver of the No. 19 Toyota Camry was nearly speechless after the race.

"I just have no words honestly," Suarez said in Victory Lane. "I don’t think I can speak English or Spanish right now honestly. I can’t thank these guys enough for all the hard work – Joe Gibbs Racing for having the confidence in me along with Toyota, Telcel Mexico, Coca-Cola and everyone who helped put this program together."

Suarez dedicated his win to teammate Erik Jones and his family. Jones's father passed away last Tuesday after a battle with cancer.

"I just have no words to describe what I’m feeling right now," Suarez said humbly. "It’s just unbelievable and to win this weekend with my friend Erik Jones and for the loss of his Dad, it’s just unbelievable. I would like to dedicate this win to him."

Credit: Beth Reinke/Skirts and Scuffs
NASCAR's youthful future is here

Joey Logano, the 26-year old driver for Penske Racing, won from the pole at Michigan International Speedway, locking himself into the Chase after a frustrating first half of the season. He was followed past the finish line by rookie Chase Elliott, 20, and Kyle Larson, 23. Together they combined to make the average youngest top-three finish age in Sprint Cup series history - 23.

"That’s pretty cool," Logano said when informed of the record after the race. "The future of NASCAR is present. It’s going to be big. It’s amazing to see."

Logano is right - the future of our sport is here, and they are fighting every weekend to prove they have the chops their elder competitors do. Fans are seeing a changing of the guard, with young, talented drivers hungry and looking for rides as Jeff Gordon began what is likely be a trickling exodus of the veteran drivers over the next few years.

This year is Tony Stewart's final year in Sprint Cup, and drivers like Matt Kenseth, Dale Earnhardt Jr and Jimmie Johnson may not be far behind. NASCAR drivers used to drive into their 50s and later, and while that does still happen, it seems the youth movement is here to stay, at least for now.

Fast Facts: Matt Tifft

credit: NASCAR Media
Joe Gibbs Racing development driver Matt Tifft juggles rides with a number of teams, many types of race cars (and trucks), and school and work – a busy life for a young man who turns 20 at the end of June. Learn more about this up-and-coming – and busy – driver, and new member of the NASCAR Next program, in this week’s Fast Facts.
  • Matthew Tifft was born June 26, 1996 in Fairfax, VA, and grew up in Hinckley, OH with siblings Maggie and Morgan. Tifft grew up attending dirt late model races with his father’s team, and got into a go-kart himself for the first time in fall 2007. In 2009 he earned his first two national level victories.
  • In 2010, Tifft moved up to dirt and asphalt super late models, winning twice in 2011; he also finished in the top 10 in points at the World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing at New Smyrna (FL) Speedway. In 2012, he was named Rookie of the Year on the ARCA Midwest Tour and finished fifth in points.
  • In 2013, Tifft competed in the K&N Pro Series East and selected ARCA races for Win-Tron Racing, and in 2014 signed with Ken Schrader Racing, registering seven top 10 finishes in 10 ARCA events; he also made his Camping World Truck Series debut for BJ McLeod Motorsports at Martinsville late in the season, finishing eighth.
  • In 2015, Tifft raced 12 times for Kyle Busch Motorsports in the Truck Series, picking up five top 10 finishes, and competed for Ken Schrader Racing and Venturini Motorsports in ARCA competition, finishing a career-best second in Nashville; he also made his Xfinity Series debut with JGR, finishing 10th at Kentucky. For 2016, Tifft will race part time in both the Xfinity Series for JGR and the Truck Series for Red Horse Racing.
  • Tifft is currently a student at UNC-Charlotte studying business.
  • Learn more about Tifft at his website,

Monday, June 13, 2016

Travel Tips: Iowa Speedway – June 17-19, 2016

credit: NASCAR Media
The Sprint Cup Series may be off, but NASCAR’s Xfinity and Camping World Truck Series are still in action this weekend at Iowa Speedway in Newton, Iowa. The Truck Series race will be run on Saturday, June 18, with the Xfinity Series running Sunday, June 19.

Both series have autograph sessions scheduled during the weekend: the Truck Series on Saturday at 2 p.m. CT and the Xfinity Series on Sunday at 10:30 a.m. CT.

Key on-track times:

Friday, June 17 –
  • Camping World Truck Series practice – 2 and 5 p.m. CT
  • Xfinity Series practice – 3:30 and 6 p.m. CT
Saturday, June 18 –
  • Camping World Truck Series qualifying – 3:45 p.m. CT
  • Xfinity Series qualifying – 5:45 p.m. CT
  • Camping World Truck Series Speediatrics 200 – 7:30 p.m. CT
Sunday, June 19 –
  • Xfinity Series American Ethanol E15 250 – 12:30 p.m. CT
Find a complete schedule here.

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

Right Sides Only: Notes from Firekeepers Casino 400 Winning Crew Chief, Todd Gordon

by Stacey Owens

Ever heard the expression, "Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades?" The No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford team led by Joey Logano and his crew chief, Todd Gordon, finally wrapped the horseshoe around the stake. 

After weeks of finishing near the top of the leaderboard, the team, which earned six wins during the 2015 season, won their first victory of 2016, which was an incredibly hard-fought battle at Michigan International Speedway.

Logano had such a strong 2015 season that many fans find themselves wondering why they haven't had the same success this year. Could the new aero package have anything to do with the team's "delay" in finding Victory Lane?

Gordon had some thoughts on that very subject.

"You know, it's a different package, which brings opportunity, and I think when we've had different packages and new packages, our whole Team Penske operation has done a great job of getting us prepared to come to the racetrack and have an idea what we need to work on," Gordon said.

"We showed up with all right speed and had a bullet list of things to work through, executed on Friday with -- pretty proud of everybody executing there, and that really gets the weekend off to a kick. And then we kind of hammered through practice yesterday and knew what we needed to put together for today, and I think from the drop of the green flag Joey was pretty happy with where we were."

As a result of the new package, corner speeds for the race were predicted to be down by roughly 10 miles per hour. Gordon told reporters following the race that he doesn't get any information on lap times during the race, so he couldn't speak for mid-corner speeds. However, he noticed a difference in watching the broadcast. 

"I would say that given lap time and what we saw in practice that we did lose center corner speed, picked up on the straightaway speed a little bit," he said. "I know in talking to Joey after practice, definitely felt the speed loss, the transition. I think when I was re-watching the broadcast, we saw like 40 miles an hour from top speed to mid-corner minimum speed deviation, which is huge compared to what we've been in the past.
"Definitely made the guys lift a lot, which I think is good for racing," he said.
"And to the question of the no skew piece, I think when we get new packages that ... we've got at Team Penske and especially the Shell-Pennzoil team, they're pretty diligent in understanding what we need to do to come to the track and have speed. We did that at the All-Star Race, and I think we performed that again this weekend," Gordon explained.

Credit: Charlotte Bray for Skirts and Scuffs
The crew chief doesn't reveal all his cards, though. When asked about a statement he made during the broadcast about a mistake on the Lap 117 restart and how the team corrected it, Gordon was more reserved with his comments.

"We can't answer all those questions. Yeah, we know where that went, and we'll talk about that internally. But that's the great thing about Joey and restarts; he's a master of it. I'd put him against anybody in this field, and I think we kind of shuffled things around, and you could see that the 24 and 42 could definitely work together on restarts, and we put them in a position there. I'm not going to speak for the rest of it, though," Gordon said.

Whatever the mistake, the team and its crew chief have learned that the key to success is to keep those mistakes to a minimum.

"... a word we talk about a lot is execution, and I think you've got 40 race teams that all have the ability to be very successful. It's how you execute against each other. You can't make mistakes. We aren't good enough to -- the field is so strong, you can't make mistakes and be successful," Gordon said.
"I think execution and having a game plan and understanding what you need, and yeah, we've had opportunities that we've been strong with that just haven't come all the way through, but not getting down over those pieces and knowing that we're continuing to build speed and work forward I think got us to the point where we were today. We're not in any anxiety at this point. We had a terrible month of May with accidents that really weren't of our cause and were just victims of. The great part is this whole team doesn't -- they don't ever give up. I used to talk about that, never give up was the hashtag that they had a couple years ago. They're still that way. We've got a bunch of level-headed people that aren't totally emotionally driven, and they see the big picture -- that we've got speed, we just need to keep doing the things that we do and execute, not make mistakes, and we can be successful, no differently than last year. I think we did an awesome job of that through the whole year last year, and we're getting back to that point," Gordon explained.

Their game plan allows them to join the Chase field with teammate, Brad Keselowski. As the summer heats up, it's a safe bet that this team will keep their big picture in focus -- namely, winning their first Sprint Cup championship.

     Stacey Owens lives just outside Music City USA. She's always wanted to be a NASCAR writer, so working as a columnist and support editor for Skirts and Scuffs allows her to live that dream every single weekend.
    The sole NASCAR enthusiast in her home, she's hopeful that one of her three daughters might also harbor an appreciation for NASCAR, but it isn't looking good so far.
    This self-admitted grammar nerd also loves country music, though she can't carry a tune; collegiate football, though she needs a lot of work on her spiral; and Kentucky basketball, even though at 6' tall, she's never played a day in her life


Saturday, June 11, 2016

William Byron blasts past Matt Crafton for the win at Texas

Credit: Debbie Ross/Skirts and Scuffs
By Lisa Janine Cloud

William Byron stalked leader Matt Crafton lap after lap at Texas Motor Speedway, waiting for the chance to get past the veteran. The 18-year-old rookie grabbed the lead with four to go in the Rattlesnake 400, held off a hard-charging Rico Abreu, and scored his second victory in just his eighth Camping World Truck Series start.

Crafton dominated most of Friday's race despite having a tire issue early that sent him to the pits. Restarting 25th, the two-time series champion drove up through the field and back to the point by Lap 35. Crafton led 133 of 167 laps but said that the last set of tires affected the handling on the No. 88 Tundra. He couldn’t hold off Byron’s relentless pursuit and had to settle for second.

“If I could have done it any differently, I would have.” Crafton said. “We just lost all drive off the corner for whatever reason there. We ran so hard at the beginning of that run that it had zero drive off. It says a lot about this team. If you look at the right side of this Tundra and how beat up this thing is, we led the most laps and should of, could of won this race. It’s all about these guys and never giving up.”

Abreu, Crafton’s ThorSport teammate, made a run for Byron in the closing laps, running what Crafton called a “high, wide and handsome line.” Looking much like fellow dirt racer Kyle Larson, Abreu bounced off the wall once and kept going, but a second impact pancaked the right side of the truck, slowing him significantly. He crossed the finish line in ninth place.

“We’ll just build off of that,” Abreu stated. “Obviously not the finishes we want. I’ve crashed so many trucks by these guys. Duke and Rhonda Thorson (owners), I just thank them for believing in me and giving me this opportunity at ThorSport Racing with Safelite and Curb Records – they’re all here because I’m here. I’m just really disappointed – I wish I could get them better finishes. I know we have speed, I just have a lot of drive and am never going to quit.”

Byron became the youngest driver to win in the Camping World Truck Series at Texas Motor Speedway. Erik Jones previously held that record. Byron also became the second-youngest driver in any series to win, behind Chase Elliott.

Johnny Sauter, Ben Kennedy and Tyler Reddick rounded out the top five. Cole Custer, who received his high school diploma onstage pre-race, finished in 14th.

Crafton leaves Texas still holding an 18-point lead over Timothy Peters.

Unofficial Results:

1   William Byron
2   Matt Crafton
3   Johnny Sauter
4   Ben Kennedy
5   Tyler Reddick
6   Timothy Peters
7   John Hunter Nemechek
8   German Quiroga
9   Rico Abreu
10   Daniel Hemric
11   Ben Rhodes
12   Cody Coughlin
13   Austin Wayne Self
14   Cole Custer
15   Austin Hill
16   Caleb Holman
17   John Wes Townley
18   Cameron Hayley
19   Jesse Little
20   Parker Kligerman
21   Tyler Young
22   Jordan Anderson
23   Wayne Edwards
24   Travis Kvapil
25   Tommy Joe Martins
26   Ryan Lynch
27   Spencer Gallagher
28   Mike Bliss
29   Tim Viens
30   Ryan Ellis
31   Carlos Contreras
32   Christopher Bell

Friday, June 10, 2016

Ideas and Execution: Five Questions for Michigan/Texas

(Credit: Rey Del Rio/Getty Images)
There’s a busy weekend ahead in the world of NASCAR. As the three national touring series race at Texas Motor Speedway and Michigan International Speedway, three events will occur in two different time zones over three days.

Does your head hurt yet? Because mine does.

With The Lonestar State and Irish Hills in mind, I’m inquiring about Darrell Wallace Jr., penalties and more in this week’s Five Questions.

Wait, how many Trucks are entered at Texas? The Camping World Truck Series races at Texas this week – and a lot of people want to join in. Thirty-four trucks are attempting to make the field. However, the maximum number for the field is 32, leaving two teams heartbroken. It’s time to expand the field. These small-budget teams are simply looking for a chance, and how are they supposed to earn vital dollars if they aren’t in the field? This has been a pet peeve of mine for some time, and it is time to do something about it. With 34 drivers trying to compete in the Rattlesnake 400, two teams will go back to the shop and try to manage their expenses. Let’s hope NASCAR does something about it soon.

Where's Wallace? The Xfinity Series is invading Michigan – along with the Sprint Cup Series – and comes off their inaugural, and rain-shortened, race at Pocono Raceway. As the Chase inches closer, there are some drivers who need to get into gear to contend for the championship. One of those drivers is Darrell Wallace Jr., who finished 16th at Pocono. The driver of the No. 6 Roush Fenway Racing Ford has two top fives and three top 10s in 12 starts this year. He is one of those drivers you expect a lot from, but who hasn’t produced much in 2016. RFR has had some recent success on the Cup side, and it should trickle over soon. The entire organization is at a turning point, and Wallace Jr. should be feeling those effects soon. He still has time to clinch a Chase spot with a win – although he’ll make it either way due to his points rank. If he wants to earn some wins and be a stout contender for the title, things need to turn around fast.

Are NASCAR’s intentions misguided? Once again, teams broke the rules, and Kyle Larson will be without crew chief Chad Johnston this weekend after receiving a P3 penalty. The culprit? Lugnuts, of course. This makes me wonder if NASCAR is a bit strict with this rule. As crew chiefs – most notably Rodney Childers – pointed out after the rule’s inception, lugnuts can fall off during the race for various reasons. This leads me to believe the lugnut rule was a poorly-conceived idea from the get-go.

On the other hand, you also have incidents like Brad Keselowski’s jack man hitting the side of the No. 2 to add side force – and an advantage. NASCAR held Keselowski for multiple laps during Pocono, but there were no penalties announced this week for crew chief Paul Wolfe or the jack man. Why no extra punishment if the deed is so dirty? Keselowski rallied back to finish third, by the way, so holding him on pit road didn’t do much. NASCAR is right to be critical, but their focus is off. If all they do is take away a few laps for an intentional hip check, then why wouldn’t teams try it at larger tracks like Pocono? Right idea, wrong execution.

Is Elliott close to his first victory? While some teams need to find their footing, one driver seems to be gliding through all the obstacles. Chase Elliott is maneuvering through his rookie year like a pro, with five top fives and 10 top 10s. He and Alan Gustafson are a match made in Heaven – but will they make it to Victory Lane in their first season together? Never say never; Elliott shined bright at Pocono and could smell that trophy before Kurt Busch took it away. The Hendrick Motorsports prodigy is making gains at an alarming rate, and it’s looking like his first win is right around the corner. Can it come at Michigan? Possibly, but I’m putting my money on either Daytona or even New Hampshire Motor Speedway in July. We’ll see.

All-Star Race, part two? This weekend also features more aero changes. The rear toe reductions are back, an adjustment that made its debut during the Sprint All-Star Race. The other change is a reduction in both spoiler and splitter size. What does all this mean? Less downforce! What does that mean? As we saw with the exhibition race, less downforce equals squirrelly cars and upset drivers. The general rule of thumb is that if it angers the drivers, then it pleases the fans. There will be less craziness, though, due to not having the format. It will also be different because the race is in the daytime – something that enhances the low downforce package’s effects. We should see some elements of the All-Star Race, but these new adjustments will mostly speak for themselves – and it will be impressive.