Monday, October 31, 2016

Travel Tips: Texas Motor Speedway – Nov. 3-6, 2016

credit: NASCAR Media
The next race on the 2016 Chase for the Sprint Cup schedule is the AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. There’s on-track activity from Thursday through Sunday, Nov. 3-6, as the weekend features all three of NASCAR’s top series: the Camping World Truck Series, the XFINITY Series and the Sprint Cup Series.

Raceday University is a Sunday-only pre-race hospitality option which includes grandstand seating, a hospitality area with food and Coca-Cola products, pre-race pass for the Jake Owen concert and driver introductions and more. Currently on the schedule to appear at Raceway U: Tony Stewart, Ryan Newman, Jack Roush, Kyle Larson and spotter TJ Majors. Find out more about Raceday U here.

Key on-track times:

Thursday, Nov. 3
  • Camping World Truck Series practice – 2:30 and 4:30 p.m. CT
Friday, Nov. 4
  • Sprint Cup Series practice –11:30 a.m. CT
  • Xfinity Series practice – 1:30 and 4 p.m. CT
  • Camping World Truck Series qualifying – 2:45 p.m. CT
  • Sprint Cup Series qualifying – 5:45 p.m. CT
  • Camping World Truck Series Striping Technology 350 – 7:30 p.m. CT
Saturday, Nov. 5
  • Sprint Cup Series practice – 9:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. CT
  • Xfinity Series qualifying – 10:45 a.m. CT
  • Xfinity Series O’Reilly Auto Parts Challenge – 2 p.m. CT
Sunday, Nov. 6
  • Jake Owen pre-race concert – 11 a.m. CT
  • Sprint Cup Series AAA Texas 500 – 1 p.m. CT
First-time fans can check out these videos for some tips for the track, and use the race fan checklist to make sure you don’t forget anything.

Find out more about the weekend and purchase tickets at http://www.texasmotorspeedway.com/.

Our Lisa Janine Cloud and Debbie Ross are heading to Texas Motor Speedway to bring you race coverage, so be sure to follow us this weekend on Twitter and Facebook.

Right Sides Only: Notes from the Goody's Fast Relief 500 Winning Crew Chief, Chad Knaus

by Stacey Owens

What's the quickest way to cure the stress of racing for a spot in the Championship 4 at Homestead-Miami Speedway (other than a Goody's Fast Relief headache powder)? It's simple; you win. That's just what Jimmie Johnson did at Martinsville Speedway.

By winning his ninth grandfather clock at the "Paper Clip," Johnson became the first driver to advance to the final round, which guarantees he can race for a record-tying seventh championship. Since the Chase format was changed two years ago, Johnson hasn't progressed beyond the Round of 12. With wins at Charlotte and now at Martinsville, he can once again make a run for history.

Crew chief Chad Knaus is as excited as his driver is about the chance for another Sprint Cup championship.

"We were really pumped up to come in here with the 48, 88 shop, [and] everybody at Hendrick Motorsports," Knaus said. "We had an opportunity after winning when we did in Charlotte to really focus on this race to come in here with the best product we possibly could.
             
"It was good. We established ourselves as, I think, a contender early, running in the top 10. Then we had some problems. Jimmie did an amazing job being able to go out there and navigate through the field, get back up to the front. Then we caught a timely caution, made some good adjustments on the racecar. Jimmie did awesome early on in that last stint, was able to get the lead, go out there and do what we did.
             
"It was a great, great day  a lot of fun. We really enjoyed it."

Credit: Charlotte Bray for Skirts and Scuffs
Johnson is the sole Hendrick Motorsports driver remaining in the Chase. Will Knaus rely on other HMS teams for information and assistance as the races wind down?

"There's not a whole lot we can do, to be honest, [other] than just be good teammates. With what we have with the roster at Hendrick Motorsports, our drivers understand what it is we need to do, our crew chiefs understand it, our teams really get it," Knaus said.
             
"It's been very encouraging over the course of this Chase to watch our teams work together. There's only so much you can do within the bounds of the rules, obviously.
             
"Alan Gustafson and Greg and Keith have done a fantastic job of working together with the 48 car, and us with the 24 when they were trying to battle through for the advancement in Talladega.
             
"The drivers on the track, I think you can just watch and see what happens. They're very courteous to one another. That's what you have to have.
             
"Not every team is like that. But fortunately enough with what Hendrick Motorsports does, the way Rick wants us to manage it, that's what we have at HMS, is a lot of respect for one another," he explained.

Next up on the schedule is Texas Motor Speedway. It's become a perennial favorite for Johnson who's won the last four fall races at the track. Having secured a spot in the final round, Johnson doesn't necessarily have to perform well there next weekend, but we are talking about a six-time champion.

"Yeah, it's unique, obviously, because that [Texas] is one of our favorite racetracks," Knaus said. "We're encouraged to go there. I really do want to go win that racetrack because it's such a great Jimmie vintage 48-style racetrack. The tires fall off, there's a lot of moving around, there's pit strategy, there's track position, there's driver line commitments. There's a lot of things that play into that race which is a ton of fun for us.
             
"But that being said, we need to now sit back, look at our car allocation and make sure that we're taking the best product that we possibly can to Homestead. When I get to the shop tomorrow, we're going to get together, look at what it is we've got, we may make a quick decision, maybe make a change.
            
"I don't think there's going to be a big change because I think we've got a bunch of really, really good racecars to take to Homestead. So we go to Texas and we try to do the best we possibly can for Lowe's and all of our corporate partners and everybody on the 48 team.
             
"If we can go and run in the top five at Texas, run in the top five at Phoenix, that just shows the strength of the team and brings us into that last race with a little bit of high stepping."
Credit: Robert Laberge/Getty Images

For all the talk about a potential seventh championship, Knaus views the next few weeks a little differently.

"... it's not about the numbers. It's not about seven," he said. "It's not about tying Dale. It's not about tying Richard. It's not about beating Dale or Richard, beating Jeff for most wins. I think you guys miss what we're about.
             
"We want to go win Texas. You follow me? We want to go win Homestead. We want to go win Phoenix. Then, guess what, in a few months Daytona is rolling around; we want to win that one, too. That's the way we approach every single race. It's not about what we're eclipsing," Knaus explained.

One race at a time. That's how Johnson and Knaus approach a season. And it's within reason that as they approach the end of this season, they will eclipse the others vying for the championship trophy.

--------------------------------------

     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, October 29, 2016

Caution Clock Chaos: Johnny Sauter wins at Martinsville, punches ticket for Championship 4

Johnny Sauter celebrates at Martinsville on Oct. 29, 2016.
Credit: Jerry Markland

by Courtney Horn 

Johnny Sauter secured his chance to run for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship with Saturday’s Texas Roadhouse 200 victory at Martinsville Speedway.

Sauter, who led the second-most laps, held off Chase Elliott by 0.316 seconds for his 12th career victory.

“To be able to come to a place like this that’s been pretty kind to me over the years, to get a win here was extra special,” Sauter said.

Along with the victory at Martinsville, Sauter is already looking forward to Homestead, where he won in 2011.

"The key deal is liking a race track, and I can’t think of a better race track to decide a championship than Homestead," Sauter said. "It’s a very racy place – you can run all over the race track. I feel like we are peaking at the right time. I feel like we’ve kind of saved some of our best bullets, so to speak, for the end, and we can go and really work hard on our Homestead piece for these next couple weeks.”

Unlike his teammate, Sauter, Ben Kennedy’s title hopes are in jeopardy after an incident with Ben Rhodes resulted in an 18th-place finish.

Rhodes sent the No. 33 Chevrolet driver spinning in Turn 2. In addition, John Wes Townley, having no where else to go, ran into the back of Kennedy.

Kennedy exchanged some words with the No. 41 ThorSport Racing driver on pit road after the race.

"He just wrecked us," Kennedy told reporters. "He tried to wreck us earlier and failed. On to the next."

Still, Rhodes took responsibility for the incident.

"I owe him an apology for sure," Rhodes said. "I know he’s in the Chase. I thought I could nudge him cleanly but got into him a second time and spun him around."

How the Chase is Shaping Up 

The Camping World Truck Series moves on to the second race of the Chase at Texas Motor Speedway next weekend.

Two-time CWTS champion Matt Crafton is looking for redemption. Crafton currently sits fifth in the Round of 6 after a broken left rear brake caliper ended his day at Martinsville.

William Byron sits fourth in the standings and looks for a seventh victory during his rookie campaign.

Christopher Bell and Timothy Peters finished fourth and fifth, respectively, and look to continue their solid performances to secure their spots in the Championship 4.

Watch the NCWTS drivers battle it out Texas style on Nov. 4, 2016 at 8:30 p.m. ET on Fox Sports 1.

Friday, October 28, 2016

All or Nothing: Five Questions for Martinsville


Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/NASCAR via Getty Images  





by Kristen Schneider
 
NASCAR is going from the sport’s largest track to the smallest, but the intensity is anything but shrinking.

Talladega Superspeedway wasn’t the chaotic show many expected. There was a sigh of relief from teams who were spared from the wrecks that did occur. This weekend will test if they can make it through another dance with disaster. Martinsville Speedway is tiny but fierce, and crazy things can happen at this paperclip-shaped venue.

So many questions are hanging over this weekend as the Sprint Cup and Truck Series run at Martinsville. I attempt to tackle a few in this week’s edition of Five Questions, so read on – if you dare.

Will the elder NCWTS statesmen wake up? If you’re a fan of the Truck Series veterans, you probably aren’t a fan of the current Chase Grid; Timothy Peters, Matt Crafton and Johnny Sauter are near the bottom after the reset. Of course, this means youngsters William Byron and Christopher Bell are at the top of the heap. This is a bit strange, because experience usually overrules youth, but that isn’t the case today. Can Martinsville be the place for the older group to step it up? Yes, and it’s going to be tough to deny them. With five wins among the three of them, the odds are in their favor. They're all strong this season – and anything can happen at a short track.

Where did Kennedy come from? One name not previously mentioned is Ben Kennedy – and that pretty much sums up his Chase performance. He is in this round, and his performances are solid and consistent, yet quiet. He scored his first career victory at Bristol Motor Speedway, and he collected four top fives and nine top 10s. Did you not notice that? Well, neither did I, and that’s his M.O. this season; he's a silent, yet serious, threat. His average Chase finish is 11.5, which is decent considering how others are doing. That's in line with his 11th-place finish in Martinsville’s spring race. He also finished fourth at Texas Motor Speedway earlier this season. A win is feasible within the next two races, and that would put him in the final four – something many probably didn’t consider when filling our Chase Grids. Fast and consistent wins the championship, right?

Which eliminated drivers can redeem themselves at The Paperclip? Between the two series, six drivers failed to advance to the next round of their respective Chases. Now they all have the same goal – to go out and kick more butt by winning. Martinsville may be the perfect place to do that, as short tracks  provide both chaos and opportunities. Who will play spoiler? In Trucks, put your money on John Hunter Nemechek. He’s won at The Paperclip before, and he's as aggressive as they come. The kid wants to catch a break – and catch some owners’ eyes in the process. On the Cup side, Brad Keselowski is one to watch. After winning four races during the regular season, the 2012 Sprint Cup Series champ fell out of the top eight after two difficult weekends in a row. His teammate, Joey Logano, is still in the Chase and was strong in last year’s October race. Keselowski has never been the type to lay low, so he won’t end the season silently. Although the hype surrounding the Chase is quite deafening, there are others waiting to strike by claiming the checkers.

Did Joe Gibbs Racing drivers break the 100-percent rule? There is a lot of controversy surrounding the race at Talladega Superspeedway – and it doesn’t involve excessive carnage. In fact, it's about the exact opposite. JGR drivers Carl Edwards, Kyle Busch and Matt Kenseth rode around in the back of the field and collected top-30 finishes, advancing to the next round of the Chase. This angered some people, who claimed their strategy broke the 100-percent effort rule. Others weren’t as offended and chalked it up to smart racing. The latter are right. Why? Because times have changed, and this isn’t the era of “all or nothing.” With the Chase and rising cost of racecars, the desire to play it safe and advance is more prominent than the urge to win a race trophy. That trio had the right mindset. Why would they risk it all and possibly be eliminated if they managed to skate by on a worse finish? Their other teammate, Denny Hamlin, had to run up front to secure a transfer spot – and he accomplished that alone. Although they weren’t “good teammates,” the three of them had a good strategy. People are just mad it actually worked.

Is NASCAR’s latest rule the answer to our prayers? Early Wednesday morning, the industry received word of a major change. Sprint Cup regulars with five or more years of NSCS experience will be limited to 10 NASCAR Xfinity Series and seven NCWTS events. The rule, which will take effect next season, is an attempt to remedy the fans’ anger toward Kyle Busch, Hamlin and others who seem to be hogging the lower series wins. As you can gauge by fan reactions, it’s a big freakin’ deal.

My thoughts? This is a move in the right direction. It proves that NASCAR is listening to the fans and wants to create an enjoyable event. Also, if Cup guys race in fewer events, there will be a broader variety of winners. Those are the positives. Now here’s the bad news. Sponsors won’t like this move, which will affect team funding and who gets the opportunity to drive for these organizations. This rule doesn’t touch on the dominance of Cup-affiliated organizations, either. There may also be an initial dip in interest due to some fans hating this idea and boycotting the series. Overall, the rule has potential to do great things for the Xfinity and Truck Series. If the level of competition can rise to the occasion, there will be nothing to fret about. At this point, it’s up to the remaining drivers to put on a show worth watching. 

TV Schedule: Oct. 28-30

Martinsville Speedway. Credit: Drew Hallowell/Getty Images
By Rebecca Kivak

NASCAR comes to the "Paperclip" - Martinsville Speedway, the oldest track on the circuit.

The Sprint Cup Series opens the Round of 8, and the Camping World Truck Series opens its Round of 6 at the Virginia short track.

The XFINITY Series is off this week and will return next week at Texas Motor Speedway.

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

Friday, Oct. 28:
11 a.m. Sprint Cup Series practice, NBCSN
12:30 p.m. Camping World Truck Series practice, FS1
2:30 p.m. Camping World Truck Series final practice, FS1
4:30 p.m. Sprint Cup Series Qualifying, NBCSN
6 p.m. NASCAR America, NBCSN

Saturday, Oct. 29:
9 a.m. Sprint Cup Series practice, CNBC
10 a.m. Camping World Truck Series Qualifying, FS1
Noon Sprint Cup Series final practice, NBCSN
1 p.m. Camping World Truck Series SetUp, FS1
1:30 p.m. Camping World Truck Series: Texas Roadhouse 200 Presented by Alpha Energy Solutions, FS1

Sunday, Oct. 30:
11 a.m. NASCAR RaceDay, FS1
Noon NASCAR America Sunday, NBCSN
12:30 p.m. Sprint Cup Series Countdown to Green, NBCSN
1 p.m. Sprint Cup Series: Goody's Fast Relief 500, NBCSN
5 p.m. Sprint Cup Series Post-Race Show, NBCSN
5:30 p.m. Victory Lap, NBCSN
12:30 a.m. NASCAR Victory Lane, FS1

Thursday, October 27, 2016

NASCAR Fantasy Fusion: Round of 8 Opener at Martinsville



Track Classification: Short Track
Similar Tracks: Bristol Motor Speedway • Dover International Speedway
Phoenix International Raceway • Richmond International Raceway
Distance: .526 Miles

Drivers with Most Top 10s (Last 5 Years):
By Race
Jeff Gordon - 5
Both with 4 - Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Denny Hamlin
All with 3 - Jimmie Johnson, Tony Stewart, Ryan Newman, Clint Bowyer and Kevin Harvick

By Track
All with 6 - Jeff Gordon, Clint Bowyer and Brad Keselowski
All with 5 - Matt Kenseth, Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Denny Hamlin
All with 4 - Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick, Jamie McMurray and Ryan Newman

Recent Pole Winners:  
2015 Joey Logano
2014 Jamie McMurray

Last Year's Race Winner: Jeff Gordon

The Likely Suspects: With drivers like Martin Truex Jr., Chase Elliott, Austin Dillon and Brad Keselowski now out of the running, will they become spoilers? I'm thinking yes, but we'll have to wait to see how the drama unfolds. As we roll into Martinsville, I am focusing on these drivers: Jeff Gordon, Denny Hamlin, Jimmie Johnson, Ryan Newman, Clint Bowyer, Kevin Harvick and Brad Keselowski.

My 2 Cents: Jimmie Johnson and Martinsville Speedway go together like hot dogs and baseball (or the Martinsville hot dog and waxed paper!). However, my no-brainer picks this week give Johnson a little company: Jeff Gordon and Denny Hamlin. My next choices are Tony Stewart, Clint Bowyer, AJ Allmendinger and Ryan Newman. My final pick will be Regan Smith.

My Final Four: Jimmie Johnson, Tony Stewart, Ryan Newman and Jeff Gordon.

Points to Ponder:
  • A baker's dozen of drivers (13) have won two or more consecutive Coors Light poles at Martinsville Speedway. The most recent was Joey Logano who won the last three poles at the track.  
  • There are 49 different drivers who can boast wins at Martinsville Speedway, led by Richard Petty with 15. Jeff Gordon leads the series among active drivers with nine wins, followed by Jimmie Johnson with eight.
  • A total of 59 drivers have Coors Light poles at Martinsville Speedway, and Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with seven.  
  • Three active drivers have a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series average finish in the top 10 at Martinsville: Jeff Gordon (6.761), Jimmie Johnson (7.517) and Denny Hamlin (9.524).
  • Jeff Gordon has participated in the most Cup Series races at Martinsville Speedway without a DNF (46).
Enjoy the race! Post your comments here or follow me on Twitter at @purplecatpr.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

How Fans Can Support NASCAR's Limits on Cup Drivers in Xfinity and Truck Series

Daniel Suarez wins at Dover International Speedway, Oct. 2, 2016.
Credit: Beth Reinke for Skirts and Scuffs
By Stephanie Landrey

Early this morning, NASCAR released a new rules package for 2017 that places limits on the number of starts a Cup driver can make in the XFINITY and Truck series over the course of the season. It also clearly states that once each series starts its respective Chase, no Cup drivers will be allowed to participate.

What do the rules say?
According to NASCAR, in the 26 races leading up to the XFINITY Chase, drivers who compete full time at the sport's top level, and have been for at least five years, will have a maximum of 10 starts to use. These drivers are banned from the four Dash4Cash races, too.

Drivers who have fewer than five years of full-time experience in Cup, such as Chase Elliott and Kyle Larson, may still race freely in the XFINITY Series, but they're not allowed to compete for the title. Once the XFINITY Chase is underway, no five-year veteran Cup drivers will be allowed in the field, but those with fewer than five years are only prohibited from racing in the season finale.

For the Camping World Truck Series, which runs a shorter schedule than the other two series, top tier drivers will have only seven starts to use in the first 16 races. Again, only drivers who have raced fewer than five years in Cup may participate in Chase races, with no Cup drivers in the final race of the NCWTS Chase. 

How will these rules affect the races?
The new rules mean that last-lap passes -- like the one Joey Logano made on Elliott Sadler a couple weeks ago in Charlotte -- won't be allowed anymore. Had Sadler won that race, he would have been locked in to the next Chase round. Instead, he had to continue to points race.

The same scenario happened the next week at Kansas, where the undisputed King of the XFINITY Series, Kyle Busch, was leading in the final laps. Again, Sadler was behind him, and he had to play second fiddle to a Cup driver again, instead of moving to the next round with a win. Daniel Suarez also might have been able to race Sadler for the win, given the chance.

Because Sadler and Suarez missed out on wins and had to continue racing for points, their teams were on edge for every pit stop, every part they put in the car, everything. Though every week is stressful, when a team is locked into the next round of the Chase, they get a little bit of leeway and are free to experiment a little bit with the setup in attempts to hit on something for the next round.

Races where XFINITY Series regulars missed out on wins got under fans' skin this season, and Twitter and Facebook exploded. Fans demanded that Cup drivers be limited from the lower series, so that the younger guys could actually get experience, get fans, and learn what they need to learn before competing with the Harvicks and Buschs of the sport. This isn't a new outcry of injustice; fans have been calling for limited Cup driver involvement for years. So why now? Why did it take so long for NASCAR to react?

Maybe, just maybe, they realized that the Chase format was tainted when they had drivers leading who couldn't win the title but could put the field two laps down. Maybe they grew tired of the angry tweets. Maybe the voice of reason, Dale Earnhardt Jr., discussed it with them. Perhaps they've been talking about it for years and decided this was the right time. Whatever the trigger was, they acted, and it's a good first step.

You can't expect them to take Cup guys out of the series altogether. The argument is true. The Cup drivers are the draw for ticket sales to the lower division series, so there's a certain economic aspect that can't be ignored. So while the Cup drivers are running their limited starts, do yourself a favor, get to know an XFINITY driver. Don't get to know them because they drive a Chevy or a Ford or because they drive for a certain team; get to know them because you like them. Maybe you like their driving style, maybe you read a story about them and it piqued your interest. At any rate, get to know them, and start following them. These young drivers are the future of our sport, and they're working hard to try to show you that they're worthy of your respect.

Fans have called for this action for years. Now that the new rules are in place, NASCAR Nation needs to stand behind the sanctioning body and support the drivers in the lower series.

What can fans do to thank NASCAR for putting these rules in place?
If you're going to a race next year, see an a XFINITY race. You might even get two for one. Twice this season when the XFINITY series was rained out the day before the Cup race, either ticket became valid for a Sunday doubleheader.

There are lots of ways to show your support for the XFINITY and Truck series. Buy the drivers' merchandise, watch the races on TV, follow the up-and-coming drivers on social media. The worst thing fans can do now is let them see empty stands. We wanted this, so stand up, find a driver and support him or her.

Overall, just show NASCAR that you wholeheartedly support our sport's future. Fans displaying excitement and a love for racing can make a difference. Watch the rest of the races this year, and get ready for a great 2017.

Rookie Stripe: The Chase for the Sprint Cup — a Refresher

 
Photo credit: Logan Stewart for Skirts and Scuffs
The Chase is mind-boggling all around.

NASCAR’s championship includes four elimination rounds that lead to one winner of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. In the throes of the Chase, there's an elevated level of competition bordering on the savage  that keeps you on the edge of your seat or screaming at your TV. It’s an addictive, manic, feverish thrill.

As a rookie fan, the Chase can be utterly confusing.

“I have news for you: there is no plan. Expect the unexpected.” – Kevin Harvick, Chase Media Day, September 15, 2016

The odds of making it in
A driver must qualify for the Chase to have a shot at winning the title. Drivers who fail to qualify will still run each week and can still win a race, but they aren’t eligible to win the championship. Some of the toughest days for drivers are after the Richmond race when they don't make the Chase at all, or when they're eliminated during Chase rounds. Some drivers may spend their entire Sprint Cup careers struggling just to make the Chase. The full Rookie Stripe guide to the Chase explains the nuts and bolts of the pathway to the championship including how drivers qualify based on wins and points and how waivers work — and gives you a brief history of the Chase itself.

Evenly divisible
If you need something simpler, here’s my advice. Remember that there are 16 drivers who make the NASCAR Sprint Cup Chase Series, which has four rounds to determine the series champion. During the Round of 16, all of the drivers are still in contention to win. After each round, the four drivers at the bottom in points are eliminated. So, for the Round of 12, a dozen drivers are in contention to win, and so on. The champion is determined at the final race at Homestead–Miami each year.

Photo credit: Logan Stewart for Skirts and Scuffs
These are the tracks that host each round:

Round of 16 – Chicagoland, New Hampshire, Dover

Round of 12 – Charlotte, Kansas, Talladega

Round of 8 – Martinsville, Texas, Phoenix

Round of 4 – Homestead-Miami

Photo credit: Logan Stewart for Skirts and Scuffs
Make sure to check out NASCAR’s 2016 Chase Grid , which offers a visual look at how the Chase plays out, and an update on current standings.

“This is the Chase; anything can happen. By this time next week we could be at each other’s throats.” – Carl EdwardsChase Media Day, September 15, 2016 
Photo credit: Logan Stewart for Skirts and Scuffs

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Fast Facts Redux: Brian Scott

Brian Scott at Charlotte Motor Speedway, October 2016
credit: Charlotte Bray/Skirts & Scuffs
Racing at Talladega Superspeedway often leads to memorable finishes, and this past weekend’s event was especially memorable for Brian Scott, driver of the No. 44 Ford for Richard Petty Motorsports in the Sprint Cup Series. Learn more about this weekend’s runner-up in this week’s Fast Facts, originally published in May 2013.
  • Brian Joseph Scott was born Jan. 12, 1988 in Boise, Idaho. His father, Joe, is owner of Shore Lodge and Whitetail Club in Idaho, while his great-grandparents were the founders of Albertsons grocery stores; both companies have sponsored Scott throughout his career.
  • Scott has been racing since age 12, beginning on dirt tracks then moving to asphalt ovals in 2006, where he raced Late Models and in the USAR Pro Cup Series. In 2007 he made his NASCAR debut in the Camping World Truck Series at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, racing for his family-owned team. Scott competed full-time in the Truck Series in 2008, finishing second in Rookie of the Year standings, and won his first Truck Series race at Dover International Speedway in 2009.
  • In 2010, Scott moved up to the Nationwide (now Xfinity) Series and once again finished runner-up in the series’ Rookie of the Year battle. He spent the 2011 and 2012 seasons with Joe Gibbs Racing before moving to RCR in 2013. In 2012, Scott added a second Truck Series win to his resume with his victory in Phoenix for Kyle Busch Motorsports.
  • Scott moved to Richard Childress Racing in 2013, earning two runner-up finishes (to Kyle Busch at Indy and Brad Keselowski at Richmond after leading 239 of 250 laps). That year, he made his Cup Series debut for RCR at Charlotte in October. In three full-time seasons at RCR, Scott finished a career-best fourth in points in 2014.
  • After also running part-time in the Cup Series for RCR in 2015, Scott moved to RPM full-time for the 2016 season, picking up his career-best runner-up finish in the series at Talladega in October.
  • Scott married Whitney Kay during the 2014-15 off-season. The couple has a son; she also has a daughter, Brielle, from a previous relationship.
  • Learn more about Scott on his Facebook page, and about RPM at richardpettymotorsports.com


Monday, October 24, 2016

Travel Tips: Martinsville Speedway – Oct. 28-30, 2016

credit: NASCAR Media
There are just four races left in the 2016 Chase for the Sprint Cup, and up next is the Goody’s Fast Relief 500 at Virginia’s Martinsville Speedway, which goes green on Sunday, Oct. 30. Also on the schedule for the weekend is the Camping World Truck Series Kroger 200 on Saturday, Oct. 29.

Key on-track times:

Friday, Oct. 28 –
  • Sprint Cup Series practice – 11 a.m. ET
  • Camping World Truck Series practice – 12:30 and 2:30 p.m. ET
  • Sprint Cup Series qualifying – 4:40 p.m. ET
Saturday, Oct. 29
  • Sprint Cup Series practice – 9 a.m. and noon ET
  • Camping World Truck Series qualifying – 10:15 a.m. ET
  • Camping World Truck Series Texas Roadhouse 200 presented by Alpha Energy Solutions– 1:30 p.m. ET
Sunday, Oct. 30
  • Sprint Cup Series Goody’s Fast Relief 500 – 1 p.m. ET
Find the Martinsville Speedway fan guide here and information on the track’s carry-in policy here.

Find out more about the weekend and purchase tickets at http://www.martinsvillespeedway.com/

Right Sides Only: Notes from the Hellman's 500 Winning Crew Chief, Todd Gordon

by Stacey Owens

Few things in life are actually frightening. Some people are afraid of thunderstorms. Others fear heights or falling from great heights. There are even some people who are afraid of clowns. (OK, I understand that one.) For Chase drivers who want to advance to the Round of 8, however, the idea of having to win at Talladega Superspeedway is terrifying.

Fortunately, the No. 22 team doesn't scare easily. The team came together at crunch time and worked all afternoon to make improvements to a car that wasn't exactly the best one on the track.

Crew chief Todd Gordon spoke about the day after the team's impressive win at the storied Alabama track.

"Just super proud of everybody on the Shell-Pennzoil team," Gordon said. "Didn't exactly have the racecar that had enough speed to start the race. We kept working on it. Had a little mishap with the jack there that first pit stop. Fortunately got a chance to get back and get it cleared up. Wasn't any damage to the racecar.
            
"Guys did a great job to cycle us out. Got us to lead there later on a pit stop cycle. Joey did a great job driving forward.
        
"Proud of everybody at Team Penske and the racecars they put forward. Obviously, Brad had a lot of speed today. We had it there at the end when we needed it. Just proud of everything there."


Credit: Charlotte Bray for Skirts and Scuffs


Of the eight teams that advance to the Round of 8, Logano drives the lone Ford of the bunch. Does Gordon view that as detrimental to his driver?

"I don't think so. I think the great part about Team Penske is we really operate as one team with multiple cars. The effort is no less because it's one and not two," Gordon said.
            
"I think if you looked at last year, once Brad got bumped out last year, they came back and were on a tear.
            
"There's no letdown in Paul, Brad, the whole Miller Lite team. They'll focus forward on making speed, which will challenge us and help us build a better notebook. Actually, in ways it's not a negative, and may be a positive. We're that much more open to each other."
            
The race was a must-win for Team Penske.

"It was a tough weekend to come here because we were both [Logano and Keselowski] out of the top eight. We both needed something to be successful. We kind of knew what it was. We worked together.
        
"But going forward, it's all about just wins and success. The whole team will continue the path that they've been on," Gordon explained.

Four teams are no longer on that path and will conclude their seasons out of championship contention, as eight teams soldier forward to Martinsville next weekend in hopes of advancing to the final round.

--------------------------------------

     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.
 

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Caution Clock Chaos: Grant Enfinger Earns First Career CWTS Victory at Talladega


Grant Enfinger celebrates at Talladega, Oct. 22, 2016.
Credit: Jerry Markland  
by Courtney Horn

Alabama native Grant Enfinger claimed his first Camping World Truck Series win, leading 45 of 94 laps in the fred’s 250.

“This is pretty unbelievable,” Enfinger said. “I came here as a fan, and that’s how this whole deal started. We all came up here sitting in the stands watching. It’s pretty unbelievable this moment right here.”

Enfinger won in his 13th start, and although things haven't always been easy for the GMS Racing driver, he has persevered.

“I’d say it’s probably more a testament of stubbornness. It’s definitely been a long, hard road to get here for me,” Enfinger said. “There’s probably been times when I should have already given up, but I just can’t bring myself to do it.”

Enfinger's GMS teammates Ben Kennedy and Johnny Sauter avoided being caught up in the Big One to clinch their positions into the next round of the Chase.

Daniel Hemric, who came into Talladega already below the cutoff, wasn’t so lucky. Hemric was involved in three separate incidents, including the multi-car wreck that left his Brad Keselowski Racing teammate, Tyler Reddick and 13 other drivers with damage.

The most haunting moment was on Lap 51 when Dylan Lupton spun and collected Brandon Hightower and Cody Ware. Hightower hit the outside wall before spinning across the track into the inside wall, which had a SAFER barrier.

How the Chase is Shaping Up

The Camping World Truck Series heads to Martinsville next week to start the Round of 6, and William Byron remains the championship leader by 14 points.

Timothy Peters scored a third-place finish to advance to the Round of 6. Also advancing are Kyle Busch Motorsports' Christopher Bell, as well as Kennedy, Sauter and Matt Crafton.

Crafton is seeded sixth in the standings after blowing an engine on Lap 88 at Talladega. Crafton held enough points to advance him to the next round, while Hemric and John Hunter Nemechek (blown engine on Lap 13) saw their championship hopes come to an end.

Catch the Truck Series stars at Martinsville as they try to punch their tickets to Homestead on Oct. 29th at 1:30 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 1.

Friday, October 21, 2016

The Quiet Ones: Five Questions for Talladega

Credit: Patrick Smith/Getty Images  
This is probably the most terrifying weekend of the entire season.

Both the Camping World Truck Series and Sprint Cup Series are racing at Talladega Superspeedway, and there's even more stress involved than usual. This is a Chase cutoff race, and it is going to be full of chaos.

Although drivers may want to curl up in a ball and close their eyes, it's crucial to be aware of their on-track surroundings. This is going to be the most anxious race of their careers, and they just have to accept it.

As teams prepare for inevitable carnage, I’m wondering about fairness, who’s getting cut, and why we haven’t heard more from some drivers. I tackle all of that in this week’s Five Questions
Is it fair to have a restrictor plate track as the cutoff race? This is a question that comes up every year, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t one worth discussing. Talladega Superspeedway will serve as the cutoff race for both series. The quintessential wild card will determine the Chase fate for six unlucky drivers. The track’s unpredictable nature adds another level of tension – and maybe it’s unnecessary in some people’s eyes. The Chase is hard enough, so why make it a million times harder than it needs to be? Talladega’s role in the playoffs is to eliminate those who already put themselves in a hole. As ironic as it seems, for those who fail to win their way in, the Chase is about consistency, which is the exact thing NASCAR wanted to eliminate. I know, it’s confusing. If you fail to advance after Talladega, it could have been prevented by your own efforts.

During the first round of Truck eliminations, who’s up a creek? Two Truck drivers need a paddle this weekend. Daniel Hemric and John Hunter Nemechek are tied for the last spot, and they're in the worst position. What are the stats? Well, there really aren’t any; both only have one start at Dega, and they finished 28th and 11th, respectively. If you want to take that into account, Nemechek has the advantage. Winning here is easier said than done, and both will have to risk it all to contend for the victory. Unfortunately, risk doesn’t always come with reward at Talladega.

Will Peters add to Talladega success? On the other end of the spectrum is Peters, who is only two points out of fourth. The veteran driver has this track figured out, with two victories, three top fives, and five top 10s. Those are the stats drivers dream about at night. Although the stress isn’t ideal, Peters is more than capable of pulling off a win this weekend. He doesn’t have anything to worry about if he races the way he’s always raced. With his consistent season so far – five top fives and 12 top 10s – it’s safe to say Saturday will be a breeze for the Red Horse Racing driver.

Can Brad Keselowski pull off another Chase miracle? The Chase can be a real witch, and Keselowski knows this all too well. He is currently 11th in points, sitting seven points behind the eighth-place driver. This is similar to his Chase position a few years ago when he needed to win to advance – and he did it. We shouldn’t expect anything less from the 2012 Sprint Cup champ. With four wins in 2016, it’s confusing that he’s in this bind at all – but there’s nothing he can do but win or put together a complete race while avoiding the Big One. That should be easy enough, yet there are three other drivers doing the exact same thing. Those three are probably some of the sport’s toughest, so Keselowski might have to watch his rearview mirror near the end of the race.

Is Martin Truex Jr. falling flat? This may sound stupid since the No. 78 crew has four wins this season, but Truex, Jr. hasn’t dazzled us recently. He brought his Toyota home 13th and 11th in the past two races after knocking out three victories. The spotlight is on the drivers below the cut line as well as Kevin Harvick, who locked himself in after a rough outing at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Truex is under the radar – but why? My guess is that he and his team are conserving their equipment for the next round. He wants to knock out a win and guarantee a spot in that final four. They're most likely aiming for a win at Martinsville Speedway, which is the wild card event in the third round. His silence is somewhat puzzling – but the quiet ones tend to be the most powerful.

TV Schedule: Oct. 21-23

Talladega Superspeedway. Credit: Sean Gardner / Getty Images
By Rebecca Kivak

Unpredictable and volatile. That's Talladega in a nutshell.

The Sprint Cup and Camping World Truck Series stop at the biggest track on the circuit. Talladega
hosts an elimination race in both series.

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

Friday, Oct. 21:
1 p.m. Camping World Truck Series practice, FS1
2 p.m. Sprint Cup Series practice, NBCSN
3 p.m. Camping World Truck Series final practice, FS1
4:30 p.m. Sprint Cup Series final practice, NBCSN
10:30 p.m. Sprint Cup Series practice (re-air), NBCSN
11:30 p.m. Sprint Cup Series final practice (re-air), NBCSN

Saturday, Oct. 22:
4 a.m. Camping World Truck Series practice (re-air), FS1
5 a.m. Camping World Truck Series final practice (re-air), FS1
10:30 a.m. Camping World Truck Series Qualifying, FS1
12:30 p.m. Camping World Truck Series SetUp, FOX
1 p.m. Camping World Truck Series fred's 250 Powered by Coca-Cola, FOX
4 p.m. Sprint Cup Series Qualifying, NBCSN
6 p.m. Whelen Modified Series: Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park (taped), NBCSN
9:30 p.m. Sprint Cup Series Qualifying (re-air), NBCSN
10:30 p.m. Camping World Truck Series fred's 250 Powered by Coca-Cola (re-air), FS1

Sunday, Oct. 23:
7:30 a.m. Camping World Truck Series fred's 250 Powered by Coca-Cola (re-air), FS1
11:30 a.m. NASCAR RaceDay, FS1
1 p.m. NASCAR America Sunday, NBCSN
1:30 p.m. Sprint Cup Series Countdown to Green, NBCSN
2 p.m. Sprint Cup Series Hellmann's 500, NBCSN
5:30 p.m. Sprint Cup Series Post-Race Show, NBCSN
6 p.m. NASCAR Victory Lap, NBCSN
12:30 a.m. NASCAR Victory Lane, FS1

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Timothy Peters Looks To Make History at Talladega

Timothy Peters celebrates in Victory Lane at Talladega, Oct. 24, 2015.
Credit: Todd Warshaw
 
by Courtney Horn
 
Timothy Peters gives credit to everyone at Red Horse Racing for his success with restrictor plate racing, especially at Talladega Superspeedway. Peters is the two-time defending winner of the fred's 250.

The driver of the No. 17 Toyota Tundra sits fifth in the Camping World Truck Series inaugural Chase standings, 16 points ahead of the cutoff position. Peters finished ninth at Las Vegas two weeks ago, and is looking to become the first person in CWTS history to win three consecutive races at Talladega Superspeedway.

“I wish our finish would reflect how we qualified at Las Vegas, but it could have been better it could have been worse for sure,” Peters told Skirts and Scuffs. “Going into Talladega, where we’ve had a lot of success before, at the end of the elimination race of the Chase, it gives us a lot of confidence and a lot of momentum.”

That momentum has earned him three top-10 finishes in the last four races and an average finish of 9.67 in 2016. Although this statistic might not have won the title in past seasons, it may help Peters advance into the Round of 6.

Peters doesn't look at Talladega any differently now that the series has the knockout-style format. He embraces the position that he's in heading into the weekend as well as the format, where two drivers will be eliminated in the first cutoff race of the Chase.

"It makes everybody elevate their game and really concentrate a lot on winning,” Peters said. “You go back and look at our finishes that we’ve had over this year, you don’t have an average finish that in years past would win you a championship. It just goes to show you the Chase, how it elevates every team, and I feel like I have a great team with Red Horse Racing.

"We’ve been attacking it one race at a time, and hopefully that win will come this weekend.”

A win would do a lot for Peters and the No. 17 team, whose last win came at Phoenix in 2015.

“It would be a really cool accomplishment to know that we would be the only one that has ever done it. Not putting the cart in front of the horse by any means,” Peters said. “It just makes my job a lot easier and gives me that confidence knowing that we have a legitimate shot to go three in a row.”

NASCAR Fantasy Fusion: Round of 12 Closer at Talladega


Track Classification: Superspeedway
Similar Tracks: Daytona International Speedway •  Auto Club Speedway (Fontana) •
Indianapolis Motor Speedway • Michigan International Speedway • Pocono Raceway
Distance: 2.66 Miles

by Carol D'Agostino

Drivers with Most Top 10s (Last 5 Years):
By Race
Both with 4 - Clint Bowyer and Brad Keselowski
Both with 3 - Martin Truex Jr. and Ryan Newman

By Track
Clint Bowyer - 6
Brad Keselowski -5
All with 4 - Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Busch, Matt Kenneth, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Paul Menard and Ryan Newman

Recent Pole Winners:  
2015 Jeff Gordon
2014 Brian Vickers

Last Year's Race Winner: Joey Logano

The Likely Suspects: Talladega fantasy picks are totally literal and figurative. You make your choices, like you do every week, but let's face it, they can be more "fantasy" than almost any other week. Even the best drivers can be victim of the bump-and-run for the win or the ultimate big one. I focus on blending past performance with mastery of  restrictor-plate racing. And the truth is, not having Dale Earnhardt Jr. as an option this week is going to be difficult.

I will be looking at these drivers to perform well: Clint Bowyer, Brad Keselowski, Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Busch, Ryan Newman, Matt Kenseth, Paul Menard and Jimmie Johnson.

My 2 Cents: My no-brainer pick this week is a tie between Brad Keselowski and Kurt Busch. I will round out my team with Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ryan Newman, Austin Dillon and Paul Menard. I'll complete finish it up with Alex Bowman and Brian Scott.

My Final Four: Brad Keselowski, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., Paul Menard and Alex Bowman

Points to Ponder:
  • Four active drivers are tied for the most poles at Talladega with one each – Jimmie Johnson, Kevin Harvick, Kasey Kahne and Brian Scott.
  • Although 45 different drivers have won at Talladega Superspeedway over the years, Dale Earnhardt leads them all with 10 victories. Brad Keselowski leads all active drivers with four wins.
  • Richard Childress Racing and Hendrick Motorsports are tied for the most wins at Talladega in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with 12 each. 
  • Second place is the most proficient starting spot in the field, producing more winners (20) than any other starting position at Talladega. 
  • Ricky Stenhouse Jr. leads all active drivers in the Cup Series in average finishing position at Talladega with a 12.200.
Enjoy the race! Post your comments here or follow me on Twitter at @purplecatpr.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Faith on the Frontstretch: Making a Connection in the Post-Race Interview

Credit: Charlotte Bray for Skirts and Scuffs  
 by Beth Reinke

“ ... and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”    ~ Hebrews 12:1b

Fans love to hear from NASCAR drivers right after their race ends. Whether it’s a dominant contender lamenting a blown engine or an underdog excited about a career-best finish, we relish the spontaneous reactions. Their emotions draw us in and make us empathize, because we have up-and-down days, too.

Many of the most colorful post-race interviews take place on pit road while the winner is in Victory Lane. As the non-winning drivers pull onto pit road after the final lap, they shed their in-car gear and don sponsor caps and sunglasses.

A few years ago, though, there was a fleeting debate about whether or not drivers should wear sunglasses during on-camera interviews. Some of today’s drivers -- including Carl Edwards and Brad Keselowski -- purposely remove their eyewear when they speak with reporters.

After this week’s runner-up finish at his home track, Edwards flipped his glasses up to chat with NBC’s Mike Massaro, as seen in this video. With the glasses gone, Massaro could see Edwards making eye contact with him throughout their chat. Just as importantly, those watching the broadcast got to see his facial expressions. When drivers do interviews without their shades, fans can see the drivers’ eyes – and the emotions reflected in them.

Our eyes reveal our true feelings, even when we’d prefer to hide them. Maybe that’s why it’s easier for drivers who finished poorly to shield their eyes with sunglasses. It’s hard enough to climb out of the car and answer questions about a bad race day, let alone having to look people in the eye at the same time. They may not want to display that disappointment for everyone to see.

The thing is, intentionally removing dark eyewear is a classy type of “interview etiquette.” It shows respect for the media person who is doing the interview because it’s a little disconcerting to ask someone questions when you can’t see his eyes. In any conversation, being able to make eye contact puts people on more equitable footing.

Taking off the sunglasses may be a sign of humility, too. It’s like saying, “OK, I’m bummed about how the race went, but I’m only human, so I don’t mind talking about my bad day with y’all.” Race fans love to see their drivers get real and be transparent about how they feel. And making eye contact helps drivers connect with both the interviewer and the fans.

Looking each other in the eye and sharing what went right or wrong about our day – that’s the stuff of friendships and relationships, right? There’s a degree of vulnerability in expressing emotions while looking at someone, but it’s also a basic human experience.

Connecting with God means we need to look at Him, too. Of course, we can’t actually see Him or look into His eyes on this side of heaven. But “keeping our eyes on God” is another way of saying we keep our hearts turned toward Him. Then on good days, we can thank Him, and when the race isn’t going in our favor, we can look to Him for help.

When you talk to God, there’s no microphone or camera recording anything. No one else sees. It’s just you and your Heavenly Father. You don’t need to hide your emotions behind sunglasses or anything else.

God sees you. He loves you and can help with whatever you’re going through. Go ahead, just talk. Be real with Him. He’s listening right now.

Friendship with God is reserved for those who reverence him. With them alone he shares the secrets of his promises. My eyes are ever looking to the Lord for help, for he alone can rescue me.    ~Psalm 25:14-15 (LB)
-------------------------------------

“Faith on the Frontstretch” explores the role of faith in motorsports and runs every 1st & 3rd Wednesday of the month during the NASCAR season. Follow Beth on twitter at @bbreinke.

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

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Fast Facts: Blake Koch

credit: NASCAR Media
Xfinity Series driver Blake Koch got off to a late start in his racing career, but that hasn’t stopped him from climbing the NASCAR ladder all the way to a spot in the first-ever Xfinity Series Chase for the Championship. Learn more about Koch, who has advanced to the Round of 8, in this week’s Fast Facts.
  • Blake Koch was born Aug. 7, 1985 in West Palm Beach, FL. His four-wheel racing career began after he graduated from Northwood University at 22, but prior to that he was considered by many to be one of the top 20 motorcross drivers in Florida.
  • Koch made a smooth transition to race cars – so smooth that, after just 20 races, he landed a spot in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West with Richard Childress’ driver development team in 2009. Koch finished eighth in points and was runner-up for Rookie of the Year that season. He also made his Nationwide (now Xfinity) Series debut that year at Memphis Motorsports Park for MacDonald Motorsports, finishing 17th.
  • After competing part-time in the West Series in 2010, Koch raced full-time in the Nationwide Series in 2011 with MacDonald Motorsports, finishing 18th in points and once again earning runner-up honors in the Rookie of the Year battle. Over the next few years, Koch raced for a number of teams, including Rick Ware Racing, The Motorsports Group, SR Motorsports, RAB Racing and TriStar Motorsports.
  • 2014 found Koch racing close to a full-time schedule in the Nationwide Series with numerous teams before he settled in at TriStar Motorsports with sponsorship from LeafFilter Gutter Protection in 2015, finishing 17th in Xfinity Series points. In 2016, Koch joined Kaulig Racing – formed by the owner of LeafFilter – and earned his first career top 10 finish at Daytona in February; Kaulig Racing has an alliance with Richard Childress Racing.
  • Koch has also competed in the Sprint Cup Series (six races in 2013 and 2014) and the Camping World Truck Series (10 races from 2012-2014).
  • Koch and his wife Shannon are parents of two children, son Carter and daughter Bailey.
  • Learn more about Blake Koch and follow the rest of his season at www.blakekoch.com


Monday, October 17, 2016

Travel Tips: Talladega Superspeedway – Oct. 21-23, 2016

credit: NASCAR Media
Four more drivers will be done after ‘Dega. Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama hosts the third race in the Round of 12 in the 2016 Chase for the Sprint Cup, the Alabama 500, on Sunday, Oct. 23. Also on the schedule for the weekend at Talladega is the Camping World Truck Series’ fred’s 250 on Saturday, Oct. 22 – the first-ever knock-out race for the Truck Series Chase.

While you’re at Talladega, visit the International Motorsports Hall of Fame and Museum, located adjacent to the speedway. The Museum will have extended hours during race week.

There will be a Camping World Truck Series autograph session on Friday at 4 p.m. CT in the Hospitality Village behind the Birmingham Tower outside the frontstretch. Wristbands for the session can be picked up at the main Guest Services office at OV Hill South Section L. Drivers scheduled to appear (subject to change) include William Byron, Daniel Hemric, Rico Abreu, Ben Rhodes and Jennifer Jo Cobb. Additional driver appearances can be found on the Talladega schedule page.

On Saturday, beginning at approximately 7:15 p.m. CT, Tim Dugger will open the show for country singer Jerrod Niemann, who takes the stage at approximately 9 p.m. CT. DJ Michaelis will keep the show going at 8:20 p.m. CT. The concert is free to all infield guests and any fan presenting a Sunday race ticket.

College students can get a special deal for Sunday’s race and all the extra weekend festivities. Chase University, featuring an appearance by the driver of the No. 24, Chase Elliott, costs $24 and includes a ticket for the Alabama 500, admission to Friday night’s “Big One on the Blvd,” admission to Saturday’s concert, free camping and parking in the College Zone and a chance to mingle with Elliott before the race on Sunday. Get more details here.

Key on-track times:

Friday, Oct. 21 –
  • Camping World Truck Series practice – noon and 2 p.m. CT
  • Sprint Cup Series practice – 1 and 3:30 p.m. CT
Saturday, Oct. 22 –
  • Camping World Truck Series qualifying – 9:30 a.m. CT
  • Camping World Truck Series fred’s 250 – noon CT
  • Sprint Cup Series qualifying – 3 p.m. CT
Sunday, Oct. 23
  • Sprint Cup Series Alabama 500 – 1 p.m. CT
Get more information and purchase tickets for this weekend’s race at http://www.talladegasuperspeedway.com/.


Right Sides Only: Notes from the Hollywood Casino 400 Winning Crew Chief, Rodney Childers

by Stacey Owens

If you ask Rodney Childers what he thinks about Kevin Harvick's ability to close when it counts, he'll give you his "trickle down" theory.

"[The pressure to find success] comes from Kevin. It feeds down through him as far as being confident and being determined and working hard. That comes down through me, then our shop foreman, our car chief," Childers said.

Of course, without the guys at the shop having built a fast car that Harvick can move to the front of the pack, that theory doesn't mean much. Fortunately for the No. 4 team, that's exactly what happens.
            
"We're just fortunate to have a lot of guys that won't quit. They don't take 'no' for an answer. They don't care how many hours they work. They don't care what they have to do. They just try to make it happen.
           
"It's cool to be in that environment and be around people like that. It's something that we all hope that we can do sometime in our lifetime," Childers explained.
Credit: Charlotte Bray for Skirts and Scuffs
It wasn't necessarily a "must win" at Kansas Speedway, but when faced with the uncertainty of next week's elimination race at Talladega Superspeedway, the Hollywood Casino 400 sure felt like a "must win."

"But it definitely feels good to get out of here and be able to go to Talladega and not worry about things. Just go back to the shop and work on our Martinsville car and Phoenix car and Texas car.
            
"Really happy to be in Victory Lane, for sure," Childers said.

Not having to worry about Talladega allows the team to focus on races in the next round.

"You always want to go win a race, but on the other hand you can't control it," Childers said. "Our focus is going to be on Martinsville and moving forward. We've got nice stuff to take to Talladega. We were planning on going down there to have to win the race there. We'll definitely go down there and race hard. It's just nice to be able to focus on the weeks going forward.
            
"This past week was rough on the whole race team, to be honest. Let those guys go see their kids and families a few nights. It's going to mean a lot to them. Everybody [can] catch their breath and get ready for Martinsville."

While the No. 4 team is catching its collective breath, the rest of the field (and most of the fans) will be holding their breaths, waiting on the inevitable carnage that is Talladega, which will end in four Chase drivers ending their bid for a 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.
 

Friday, October 14, 2016

TV Schedule: Oct. 14-16

Credit: Jamie Squire/Getty Images
By Rebecca Kivak

NASCAR heads to Kansas as the Chase races on.

The 1.5-mile track hosts the second race in the Round of 12 in the Sprint Cup Series, while the XFINITY Series starts its Round of 8.

The Camping World Truck Series is on an extended break and will return Oct. 22 at Talladega.

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

Friday, Oct. 14:
1 p.m. Sprint Cup Series practice, NBCSN
2:30 p.m. XFINITY Series practice, NBCSN
3:30 p.m. Whelen Series: Charlotte Motor Speedway (taped), NBCSN
4:30 p.m. XFINITY Series final practice, NBCSN
6 p.m. Sprint Cup Series Qualifying, NBCSN

Saturday, Oct. 15:
11 a.m. Sprint Cup Series practice, NBC Sports App/NBCSports.com
Noon XFINITY Series Qualifying, CNBC/NBC Sports App
12:30 p.m. XFINITY Series Qualifying, NBCSN
1:30 p.m. Sprint Cup Series final practice, NBCSN
2:30 p.m. XFINITY Series Countdown to Green, NBCSN
3 p.m. XFINITY Series Kansas Lottery 300, NBC
7:30 p.m. Sprint Cup Series practice (re-air), NBCSN
8:30 p.m. Sprint Cup Series Qualifying (re-air), NBCSN

Sunday, Oct. 16:
11:30 a.m. NASCAR RaceDay, FS1
1 p.m. NASCAR America Sunday, NBCSN
1:30 p.m. Sprint Cup Series Countdown to Green, NBC
2:15 p.m. Sprint Cup Series Hollywood Casino 400, NBC
6 p.m. Sprint Cup Series Post-Race Show, NBCSN
6:30 p.m. NASCAR Victory Lap, NBCSN
Midnight NASCAR Victory Lane, FS1