Friday, June 30, 2017

TV Schedule: June 30-July 2

Daytona International Speedway. Credit: Sarah Crabill / Getty Images
By Rebecca Kivak

Set off your firecrackers! NASCAR returns to Daytona, one of the most volatile tracks on the circuit, for some night racing in time for the July 4th holiday.

The Monster Energy Cup Series and the XFINITY Series take to the 2.5-mile superspeedway for some restrictor plate racing and bump drafting.

The Camping World Truck Series is off this week and will return next week at Kentucky.

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

Friday, June 30:
2 p.m. XFINITY Series qualifying, NBCSN (Canada: TSN GO)
4 p.m., Monster Energy Cup Series qualifying, NBCSN (Canada: TSN GO)
7 p.m. NASCAR Countdown to Green: XFINITY, NBCSN
7:30 p.m. XFINITY Series: Coca-Cola Firecracker 250, NBCSN (Canada: TSN 2)
10 p.m., XFINITY Series post-race, NBCSN

Saturday, July 1:
5 p.m. NASCAR America Saturday, NBCSN
5:30 p.m. NASCAR RaceDay: Daytona, FS2
7:30 p.m. Monster Energy Cup Series: Coke Zero 400, NBC (Canada: TSN 2)
11 p.m. Monster Energy Cup Series post-race, NBCSN

Sunday, July 2:
12 a.m. NASCAR Victory Lane, FS1
4 a.m. NASCAR Victory Lane, FS1
5 p.m. NASCAR 120: Daytona, NBCSN

Opinion: The Alarming Disappearance of the Written Word in NASCAR

NASCAR via Getty Images

by Stephanie Stuart-Landrey

This week, Fox Sports announced a layoff of their digital content writers -- including perennial NASCAR fan favorite Tom Jensen -- in order to focus more on their on-air personalities and other content forms. Fans reading the news may think the network doesn't want to focus on written stories anymore.

This is an important time for journalism, more importantly, the written  word.

The past year and a half has been a tough one for motorsports journalists. Popular magazine NASCAR Illustrated, that can be traced back to 1977 and had a circulation of over 85,000, ceased operations in the summer of 2016.

American City Business Journals CEO Whitney Shaw was quoted as saying, "Unfortunately I did not see a pathway to profitability in an environment that is becoming increasingly digital, and where the economics of newsstand sales have changed so dramatically."

The final issue was already put to bed at the time the statement was issued.

This seems to be the trend as of late. More and more sites like and are leaning more toward video clips taken at press conferences and slide shows of photographs with blurbs of information underneath the photo. Digital images and clips to go along with the world's increasingly digital society.

Is this what a nation obsessed with devices has done to print media?

If so, let's go back a couple of years.

There used to be a day when magazines and newspapers ruled the world. America depended on newspapers to get its news, and turned to special interest magazines for in-depth stories on topics like fashion, sports, travel and more. As hand-held devices grew in popularity, and the internet began growing in both bandwidth and subscribers, content providers began putting their media online -- and the demise of print media began.

Today, a lot of print media content providers have either gone fully digital or offer a digital subscription service as well as a paper subscription service. This hasn't even broken the ground of digital media content. As cell phones continue to evolve, there are countless apps that offer news and video content.

Anyone can create the news now. People can record something, and post it to whichever social media outlet they choose, and hours later, it could become a viral news sensation. This leads to instant content for news outlets. Just repost the video, write a little paragraph, and boom! Story published.

Unfortunately, this seems to be what NASCAR is deciding to do now, too.

Scrolling through Twitter the other night, something caught my eye: A tweet from NASCAR about something Tony Stewart said about the "gamesmanship" the Joe Gibbs cars were displaying at Sonoma. I clicked on it, excited to read the story ahead of me. A minute and a half later I closed the tweet, deflated after watching a short video that gave me nothing but a quote.

That's the problem with replacing print media with digital content: It leaves the viewer wanting more. We have the world at our fingertips with our devices, yet more and more of the world we know keeps getting removed from the world.

Don't get me wrong, I love a good quote from Smoke, and I'm not criticizing the media folks who were at the presser. I know it's hard to get a one-on-one interview with the busy winning team owner after a race and dig a little deeper.

But I wanted to know why he felt the Gibbs cars were playing games -- the backstory behind it. What was the owner perspective behind this feeling? How did he feel like it affected his stable of cars? Kevin Harvick still won the race, so it must not have had that much of an effect on their day, so why was it such an issue? These are all questions that might have been answered in a written story on the subject. Instead, what we got was a link to a video clip.

With NASCAR teetering on the edge of so many things, it can't afford to lose more fans. If some outlets of the sport continue to practice video-driven journalism, with major media outlets laying off their talented and seasoned writers, and only posting digital content as a means of disseminating information to the fan base, a lot of fans will be disillusioned.

Let me make one thing clear. I don't hate digital media. I love my iPhone. I'm pretty active on Twitter and Facebook, and I scroll through Instagram daily. I watch a lot of videos. I'm partial to the ones of Keelan Harvick, Brexton Busch, and Cash Bowyer. They're cute kids. I found the video of Kyle Busch at the presser after the Coke 600 to be pretty funny (that's my opinion, not everyone's), and I think there's a way for the modern media to integrate everything together and for everyone to end up happy.

Let's explore that word for a minute. Integration. When things come together. Let's take the Kyle Busch Coke 600 video, for example. There was some great material in that video for written stories. I saw a few people use it to talk about how Kyle was back to the same old Kyle, or how he deserved to be upset after leading the number of laps he led that night.

But there was a lot more that could have been done with that piece of media. It could have been used as an anchor piece for a great story about Busch never being satisfied unless he wins -- a trait which has drawn many of his fans to him. It could have been used in a story about first-time Cup Series winner Austin Dillon. There were so many ways it could have been integrated into different forms of media, and turned into great stories for readers to formulate their own different opinions and stories in their own minds.

To say I was disappointed with the lack of written coverage about Busch's reaction in the media center is putting it nicely. Again, I understand the pressure of that precious time in the media center, and the small amount of time one has to get packed up and get going once the time in the media center draws to a close, but once that video came to light, there was a whole new grounds for a late-night brainstorm.

I think that everyone wins if journalism can find a balance between posting digital media content, like slideshows and videos, and written stories that leave readers with something to think about. So much of NASCAR's past has been captured in written word, and so much of our future will be captured on video. It would be a shame not to leave a written history to go along with the thousands of videos our journalists, along with our fans, are capturing daily.

* The opinions of the writer do not necessarily reflect the views of all writers associated with this site.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

NASCAR Fantasy Fusion: Coke Zero 400 at Daytona

By Carol D'Agostino

Drivers with Most Top 10s (Last 5 Years):
By Race
Clint Bowyer - 4
All with 3 -  Austin Dillon, Ryan Newman and Kurt Busch
All with 2 - Michael Waltrip, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Brad Keselowski, Denny Hamlin, Joey Logano, Trevor Bayne, Kevin Harvick, Jimmie Johnson and Michael McDowell

By Track
All with 5 -  Denny Hamlin, Kurt Busch, Austin Dillon, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jimmie Johnson and Clint Bowyer
All with 4 - Joey Logano and Kevin Harvick
All with 3 - Ryan Newman, Brad Keselowski, Michael McDowell and Trevor Bayne

Recent Pole Winners:  
2016 Greg Biffle
2015 Rained Out

Last Year's Race Winner: Brad Keselowkski

Likely Suspects: Here we are back at Daytona. Try not to over-think your picks this week. Stick with tried and true restrictor-plate greats and your racers will have less of a chance getting caught up in someone else's bad day. Here are some of my favorites for this week: Austin Dillon, Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano, Trevor Bayne, Kevin Harvick, and, of course, Dale Earnhardt Jr. Even on his worst day at Daytona he is much better than most racers.

My 2 Cents: For the second consecutive year my no-brainer pick this week is a tie between Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Austin Dillon. My next picks are Joey Logano, Clint Bowyer, Trevor Bayne and Kurt Busch. I will complete my team with Michael McDowell and Cole Whitt.

My Final Four: Dale Earnhardt Jr., Austin Dillon, Kurt Busch and Michael McDowell.

Points to Ponder:
  • The pole is the most proficient starting position in the field. Six of nine July race winners won from the Coors Light pole.
  • Chase Elliott and Jimmie Johnson lead all active drivers in Coors Light poles at Daytona with two each.
  • Only four active drivers have posted a pole for the Daytona July race: Kevin Harvick (2002), Paul Menard (2008), Matt Kenseth (2012) and Kyle Busch (2013).
  • The Wood Brothers have the most wins at Daytona in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series with 15, followed by Hendrick Motorsports with 14.
  • Dale Earnhardt Jr. leads all active drivers with four wins. Two of them have come in the July race.
  • Austin Dillon leads all active drivers in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series in average finishing position at Daytona with a 12.625. He also leads all active drivers in average finish in the July race with a 6.333.
  • Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kurt Busch lead all active drivers in top-10 finishes in the July race at Daytona with nine each.
  • Kurt Busch leads all active drivers in top-five finishes in the July race at Daytona with seven.
  • Dale Earnhardt Jr. leads the series among active drivers in laps led in the July race at Daytona with 339, followed Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Busch with 137 laps led each.
Remember, if you're playing Yahoo! Fantasy Auto Racing, your pick deadline is Friday, June 30th at 5 a.m. EDT.

Enjoy the race! Post your comments here or follow me on Twitter @purplecatpr.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Rookie Stripe: Lingo You Should Know – On the Bubble

Photo Credit: Carol D'Agostino for Skirts and Scuffs

by Logan Stewart

Sometimes you want something so badly, you can almost taste it. Maybe you’re in the final minutes of a tough exercise class, or maybe you desperately hope that interview went well because you just have to get the job. Or perhaps you’re just waiting for those homemade chocolate chip cookies to come out of the oven, and seconds feel like hours.

When we talk about being on the bubble for NASCAR playoffs (formerly called the Chase for the Sprint Cup), that’s the feeling many drivers have.

The proverbial bubble is common lingo in racing, but unless you follow the sport closely you may not know what it means when someone asks, "Who’s in, and who’s on the bubble?"

The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoffs take place during the races of the last three months of the NASCAR season. They’re part of the regular schedule, but because they're specifically designated as playoff races, only drivers who have qualified by the time they start have a shot at the championship. Drivers race for points all season, earning them if they win races and according to how they finish in the three stages of races. Over the season, drivers are continuously ranked according to where they stand in points. By the time playoffs roll around, some will make it in … and some won’t.

Drivers who are teetering on the edge of making the playoffs are referred to as on the bubble.

Photo Credit: Carol D'Agostino for Skirts and Scuffs
Bubble drivers must be extra cautious and avoid costly mistakes. Strategy between crew chiefs and drivers can be critical to getting into the playoffs, and the stakes are higher. Drivers who don’t earn a playoff berth still race each weekend, but can’t win the coveted championship in Homestead.

No one wants to miss making the playoffs, and if a driver misses out, it can be tough. He or she almost falls off the radar, at least when it comes to media coverage. It likely also means his or her season most likely didn’t end up with a preferred outcome.

Photo Credit: Carol D'Agostino for Skirts and Scuffs
On the bubble is used as a similar term in other sports, but it's been speculated that it originated in the auto racing industry, notably the Indianapolis 500. The Phrase Finder website found notes that the qualifying event is sometimes called “Bubble Day,” and references a quote from The Lima News, May 1970, which says:

“On the ‘bubble’ is rookie Steve Krisiloff whose 162.448 m.p.h. was the slowest qualifying speed last weekend. With only six spots open, Krisiloff’s machine would be ousted if seven cars qualified at a faster speed this weekend.”

Supposedly, as long as you’re on the bubble, you still have a chance. But if the bubble bursts, well… you can guess the ending.

Sounds like living on the edge to me.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Fast Track Facts: Eldora Speedway

credit: NASCAR Media
In mid-July, one of the most anticipated events of the Camping World Truck Series season takes place at historic Eldora Speedway in New Weston, OH: the annual Eldora Dirt Derby. Learn a little more about “The Big E,” as Eldora is known, in this week’s Fast Facts.
  • Eldora Speedway was built by Earl Baltes in 1954. It was originally a quarter-mile track, expanded to three-eighths-mile in 1956, and finally to a half-mile in 1958. Three-time Cup Series champ Tony Stewart purchase the track from Baltes in 2004.
  • The clay oval has 24-degree banking in the turns and 8-degree banking in the straightaways. The one-lap record for the track is 12.707 seconds, set by World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series driver Craig Dollansky in 2002. Eldora Speedway has 17,905 permanent seats, plus “unlimited” seating on the hillside.
  • Eldora Speedway hosted its first United States Auto Club (USAC) sprint car race in 1962. In 1971, the track hosted the first World 100 dirt late model race, offering a $4,000 purse for the winner. These days, the winner takes home a purse of more than $45,000 from the annual Labor Day weekend show.
  • In 1978, when the WoO Sprint Car Series was formed, Baltes quickly booked several events at the track for the new series. Inaugural champ Steve Kinser was given the nickname “King of the Outlaws.” One of the circuit’s biggest races is held annually at Eldora: the Kings Royal, which pays the winner $50,000.
  • From 1981 until 2006, Eldora hosted the one-night 4-Crown Nationals events for USAC Midgets, Sprint Cars and Silver Crown cars, plus the United Midwest Promoters (UMP) Dirt Modifieds. In 2007, Stewart changed the format to a two-night event, with the UMP Mods joining the WoO Sprint Cars on Friday night and the three USAC classes racing on Saturday.
  • In 1994, the Dirt Late Model Dream debuted with a $100,000 purse for the winner. It has been run each year with the exception of 2001, when Baltes hosted the “Eldora Million,” putting $1,000,000 on the line for the winner of the event. Scott Bloomquist is a six-time winner of the Dream.
  • In 2005, Stewart debuted the “Prelude to the Dream,” a charity race featuring auto racing stars from multiple series in borrowed Late Models. The “Prelude” was held from 2005-2012, with Stewart winning three times.
  • Learn more about Eldora Speedway and check out its annual schedule of events at

Monday, June 26, 2017

Travel Tips: Daytona International Speedway – June 29-July 1, 2017

credit: NASCAR Media
The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and Xfinity Series head to Daytona International Speedway for the second time this season as a prelude to Independence Day, with the Xfinity Series Coca-Cola Firecracker 250 on Friday, June 30 and the Cup Series Coke Zero 400 on Saturday, July 1.

Key on-track times:

Thursday, June 29
  • Xfinity Series practice – 2 and 4 p.m. ET
  • Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series practice – 3 and 5 p.m. ET
Friday, June 30 –
  • Xfinity Series qualifying – 2:10 p.m. ET
  • Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series qualifying – 4:10 p.m. ET
  • Xfinity Series Coca-Cola Firecracker 250 – 7:30 p.m. ET
Saturday, July 1 –
  • Pre-race concert featuring country singer Tyler Farr – 5:25 p.m. ET
  • Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Coke Zero 400 Powered by Coca Cola – 7:30 p.m. ET
For a complete schedule of events, including driver appearances and special events in the UNOH 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, Rodney Childers

by Stacey Owens

Crew chiefs are often the picture of calm, cool and collected as they call the shots from the pit box and speak to their drivers in measured tones while giving specific instructions. It's rare to note even a hint of nervousness from any of them. But that doesn't mean it doesn't happen. Just ask Rodney Childers.

"Well, you're always nervous, but the biggest thing is just tires and knowing what we had," Childers said.

Fuel mileage strategy is always important at Sonoma Raceway. Childers knew, however, as the long laps of the season's first of two road course races began to wind down that Kevin Harvick had enough fuel to go the distance. He was more concerned about tires.

"We had one set of stickers laying there and a lot of guys had two laying there. If you would have got a couple cautions there in that last stage, we would have been in trouble. Kevin did a great job. We got our track position there and did a great job saving fuel and everything just happened to work out.  These races out here, sometimes it takes a lot of luck to be in the right spot at the right time, but we had a good car all weekend and was fast, and everybody did everything right," Childers explained.

Charlotte Bray for Skirts and Scuffs
Though Harvick has performed well in multiple stages throughout the first half of the regular season, the Toyota/Save Mart 350 is his first race win of 2017. Has preparing for stage racing affected the way Stewart-Haas Racing has prepared for road course racing?

"I would say the most impressive thing about all of this, and I was thinking about this a few minutes ago, is we got ready to build road course cars. We built chassis over the winter and it wasn't the crew chiefs that all of a sudden decided, 'Hey, we've really got to get on this road course thing, we think that we can win out there.' It was the other people at the shop, the aero group and all the other guys that started pushing this thing forward, and it almost took a few weeks to realize, man, these guys are on it. They want to go out there and they want to run good.
"So it really comes down to how much hard work went into it at the shop. Those guys worked and worked and worked to build the best cars that we could bring out here, and I think it showed all weekend.
"As far as the stage racing part, man, it's tough. You look at it every which way you can look at it, every night this week it's been trying to figure out what's the right thing to do, how many tires do we have laying in the pits, when should we pit, when should we not, do we go after the playoff points in the first stage or do we not, or do we pit early. It's hard, and like I said, sometimes it's luck, too.
"But when you have a fast car, it fixes a lot of problems, and that really comes down to everybody at the shop," Childers explained.

Fans have seen what happens when everybody at the Stewart-Haas shop does their jobs well. They produce champions... champions like Kevin Harvick.


 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; Kentucky basketball, even though at 6' tall, she's never played a day in her life; and her husband who's supportive of her NASCAR obsession and tunes in with her every week... even if it's just to watch the flyover.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Trackin’ Trucks: Two in a Row for John Hunter Nemechek

John Hunter Nemechek crosses the start/finish line at Iowa Speedway.
Credit: Jeff Curry

by Courtney Horn

John Hunter Nemechek earned his second victory in two weeks after taking advantage of a late-race caution at Iowa Speedway Friday night. The NEMCO Motorsports crew took four tires during a pit stop and it paid off tremendously.

Nemechek was the first driver on all fresh tires and when the opportunity came for him to take it three-wide, he didn’t hesitate. Nemechek soared passed Johnny Sauter, who elected not to pit on the last stop, and Chase Briscoe.

“This is unbelievable for sure.” Nemechek said, “We knew that we were gonna have a good truck this weekend running here last year. We led laps last year, qualified on the pole, just didn’t finish it out like we needed to. So we were coming back here looking for some redemption.”

"Somehow it all worked out," Nemechek said. "The last strategy call, taking four tires instead of two, there at the end, we kind of had that strategy if a caution came out towards the end we were going to come no matter what, and no matter who came, just because tires were such a big factor."

Kyle Busch Motorsports dominated Stage 1 of the M&M’s 200 presented by Casey’s General Store. Pole sitter Noah Gragson lead his teammate for the first 16 laps before Christopher Bell passed him and stayed out front, holding a 3.2-second lead to take the stage win.

Bell gambled during the second stage of the night after a one-truck incident involving Mike Senica allowed the leaders to pit with eight laps to go in the stage. Johnny Sauter passed Bell shortly after the restart for his fifth stage win this season.

A multi-truck incident involving Norm Benning, Kaz Grala, and Austin Wayne Self also caused about a 15-minute red flag after Self’s B&D Industries Toyota put down oil on the track.

Sauter held on to finish second, followed by Brandon Jones, Grant Enfinger, and Bell. Enfinger was involved in the Lap 187 incident with Matt Crafton. Crafton spun and hit the wall into Turn 3 after contact with Enfinger sent the ThorSport Racing driver spinning. Crafton finished 19th following the crash.

A Look Ahead 

The Camping World Truck Series take another break in their schedule but return Thursday, July 6th at Kentucky Speedway. Ben Rhodes is still in search of his first series victory. Rhodes finished 13th at the mile-and-a-half a year ago. He sits fifth in the points standings after nine races.

Matt Crafton sits fourth in the standings, 28 points ahead of Rhodes and 95 behind leader Johnny Sauter. Crafton looks to rebound at Kentucky after a late race incident at Iowa.

Nemechek sits eight in the standings despite having back-to-back wins. He finished in the runner-up spot at Kentucky a year ago. Will he have what it takes to capitalize and win three in a row?

Find out on July 6th at 7:30 p.m ET.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Negative Noise: Five Questions for Sonoma and Iowa

(Credit: Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images)
Hold on, let me dust off my soap box.

This week, a lot of people had a lot of conversations, centering around the sport itself. We'll keep talking about it as the race weekend gets underway. The NASCAR Camping World Truck and NASCAR Xfinity Series converge on Iowa Speedway, while the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series heads to Sonoma Raceway.

I discuss the Truck Series’ most recent winner, an old phrase that needs to be hurled out the window, and two headlines that made a lot of noise this week. Strap in, grab a glass of wine and check out this week’s Five Questions.

Can we put Nemechek’s success into words? John Hunter Nemechek pulled off a fantastic Father’s Day gift, winning at Gateway Motorsports Park with his father, Joe, on the pit box. He’s now in the playoffs for NEMCO Motorsports, a small operation that has achieved so much with a young driver at the wheel. When Nemechek won his first race, it was a shock due to those circumstances—but now, it feels almost commonplace. Nemechek has made himself a recurring contender, despite the odds against him (lack of top-tier affiliation, limited sponsorship). He will be a force for years to come, but we can’t let his consistency blind us from the fact his accomplishments are amazing. Keep on keeping on.

Will Iowa impress like in years past for Xfinity? Trucks and Xfinity invade Iowa this weekend, the site of impressive finishes for both series. With Xfinity the butt of criticism for lack of diversity when it comes to the winner’s circle (and I’ll touch on the most recent winner’s problem later on), so Iowa provides an escape from the critiques. NXS regulars flooded last year’s top-10, with Sam Hornish, Jr. coming in and grabbing his first Xfinity win since 2014. That’s exciting and all, but can it get better? Oh yes, it can; there are no Cup drivers in the field. Some of the Truck series standouts (like CWTS Iowa winner William Byron) are now Xfinity drivers. This weekend has the potential to create some great storylines and cut through the negative noise. Let’s hope it works out.

When will people understand the irony of road course ringers? With Cup spending time in wine country, the influx of “road course ringer” talk has begun. This would be a great time to reiterate that the era of the road course ringer is dead; it’s nothing more than a moniker that’s run out of fuel. There are drivers who excel at road courses but also do well on other configurations, with A.J. Allmendinger being an example; his sole MENCS win came at Watkins Glen International in 2014, but he’s backed it up with solid seasons since then. Then, there are drivers who just race road courses and do well. We’ll see a few of them this weekend. This isn’t to discredit their abilities; however, it is proof that the term "road course ringer" makes no sense. In this age of NASCAR, road course specialists aren’t strong picks for wins—making them not ringers. It’s time to put that term to bed.

Is it time to live up to the ‘encumbered’ label? Did you hear the buzz around the sport this week? Two pieces of news broke this week—and I’m here to basically tear them apart. First, let’s discuss Denny Hamlin’s “win” last weekend—and why I put quotes around that word. Because the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing NXS machine’s splitter wasn’t flat enough (a vague penalization, but that’s for another time), the victory was considered encumbered. The term “encumbered” means “to impede or hinder,” which roughly translates to a victory that has restrictions. Not in NASCAR Land; the crew chief was suspended for two races and faced a $25,000 fine. The No. 20 car can’t use the win’s points in the playoffs. Since Hamlin doesn’t compete for NXS points, he receives no blow back—and the win/money/trophy is still his. Imagine how Byron feels, knowing his legal car only lost due to someone’s splitter. None of these penalties means much if the win stands. NASCAR’s rebuttal is that fans should know who won the race when they leave the track, which is understandable—and completely archaic. If fans love the sport enough to go to the track, they’re interested enough to keep up with the mid-week happenings. Technology at our fingertips makes it easy to get the breaking news that Hamlin’s win is invalid and Byron is the new Michigan International Speedway victor. NASCAR needs to go all in on stripping wins if they truly want to deter people from cheating; it’s time to embrace the true meaning of encumbered.

Do we have a personality problem or a closed-minded problem? A post-Michigan column from the Detroit Free Press was shared via USA Today earlier this week. Author Shawn Windsor is completely entitled to his opinion, which is what a column is meant to showcase. However, there is a lack of research that hangs over this piece. Now, there are points with which I agree, like the fact that other sports are struggling with attendance numbers. We also agree that drivers’ personalities aren’t even close to those of their predecessors. This doesn’t strike me as a bad thing at all; although we look back on those beer-slingin’, punch-throwin’ badasses with fondness, some drivers just don’t fit that mold. Larson said after his MIS victory that he was excited to drink wine in Sonoma, and he later said on Twitter he wasn’t a fan of beer. Does that make him any less exciting to watch? Not to me. Windsor goes on to describe how the sport will suffer without Dale Earnhardt, Jr. (a solid opinion that’s accurate to a degree), claiming that no other driver’s celebrity status goes beyond racing. Jimmie Johnson posing for GAP, Landon Cassill profiled by GQ, and Kasey Kahne highlighted in Runner’s World beg to differ. There are more examples as well, but those three link current drivers with large, mainstream publications. The fact of the matter is, the rise of the young guns also brings brand-new personalities that rival the norm and what we would use to describe the ultimate NASCAR driver. Just because drivers prefer wine to beer, metal to country, golfing to hunting doesn’t make them less interesting. Traditional fans should welcome the change with open arms instead of balking at the idea of young millennials “tainting” the driver image. Nevertheless, I respect Windsor’s opinion and appreciate his coverage of the sport; it forced a conversation that needed to happen. 

TV Schedule: June 23-25

Sonoma Raceway. Credit: Chris Trotman/NASCAR via Getty Images
By Rebecca Kivak

NASCAR splits its time on the West Coast and the Midwest. For the first time this season, the Monster Energy Cup Series races on a road course - Sonoma Raceway. Meanwhile, the Camping World and XFINITY Series converge on fan-favorite short track Iowa Speedway.

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

Friday, June 23:
10 a.m. Camping World Truck Series practice, FS1
12 p.m. Camping World Truck Series final practice, FS1
2 p.m. XFINITY Series practice, FS1 (Canada: TSN GO)
3 p.m. Monster Energy Cup Series practice, FS1 (Canada: TSN 2)
5 p.m. XFINITY Series final practice, FS1 (Canada: TSN GO)
6:30 p.m. Monster Energy Cup Series final practice, FS1 (Canada: TSN GO)
8 p.m. Camping World Truck Series Setup, FS1
8:30 p.m. Camping World Truck Series at Iowa: M&M’s 200, FS1

Saturday, June 24:
3 a.m. Monster Energy Cup Series practice (re-air), FS1
5 a.m. XFINITY Series final practice (re-air), FS1
6 a.m. Monster Energy Cup Series practice (re-air), FS1
7:30 a.m. Camping World Truck Series: M&M’s 200 (re-air), FS1
2:30 p.m. Monster Energy Cup Series qualifying, FS1 (Canada; TSN 5)
7 p.m. XFINITY Series qualifying, FS1 (on tape delayed) (Canada: TSN GO)
8 p.m. NASCAR RaceDay: XFINITY, FS1
8:30 p.m. XFINITY Series at Iowa: American Ethanol E15 250, FS1 (Canada: TSN 2)

Sunday, June 25:
3:30 a.m. XFINITY Series: American Ethanol E15 250 (re-air), FS1
1:30 p.m. NASCAR RaceDay, FS1
3 p.m. Monster Energy Cup Series at Sonoma: Toyota/Save Mart 350, FS1 (Canada: TSN 2)

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Caption This Winner for 6-17-17: Aaron Rosser

Congratulations to Aaron Rosserwho contributed the winning caption for this photo of
Ryan Blaney and Bubba Wallace. All winners who include their twitter handles with their entries will be entered in a drawing for the end-of-season prize package of racing swag.

Jedi-in-Training Ryan Blaney Kenobi: "You really should have looked at our records before you agreed to roar like a wookie every time I outqualified you."
Bubba: "You tricked me."
Ryan: *waves hand* "No I didn't."
Bubba: "No you didn't ..."

Thanks to everyone who played Caption This. Check back on Saturday for a new photo and your next chance to submit a caption.

NASCAR Fantasy Fusion: Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma

By Carol D'Agostino

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

By Track
Kasey Kahne - 4  
All with 3 - Kurt Busch, Jimmie Johnson, Kevin Harvick and Clint Bowyer

Recent Pole Winners:
2016 Carl Edwards
2015 A.J. Allmendinger

2016 Race Winner: Tony Stewart

The Likely Suspects: Road racing is always a nice change of pace, but don't over think your picks this week. I will be focusing on these reliable drivers who have perfected their road racing skills: Kasey Kahne, Clint Bowyer, Kurt Busch, Jimmie Johnson and Kevin Harvick.

My 2 Cents: Remember Carol's rule #1: resist the temptation of picking road course ringers. Inexperience racing with Cup drivers negates their road racing prowess. Stick with Cup drivers that are experienced road racers and you'll thank me on Monday. My no-brainer pick this week is a three way tie between Jimmie Johnson, Kurt Busch and Kasey Kahne. My next picks are Kevin Harvick, Clint Bowyer and Jamie McMurray. I'm rounding out my team with Cole Whitt and Michael McDowell.

My Final Four: Jimmie Johnson, Kurt Busch, Kasey Kahne and Michael McDowell.

Points to Ponder:
  • Kyle Busch leads all active MENCS drivers in road course wins with four (Sonoma, two and Watkins Glen, two).
  • Jamie McMurray leads all active drivers in Coors Light poles at Sonoma with three.
  • Six active MENCS drivers have wins at Sonoma; led by Kyle Busch with two victories (2008, 2015). Busch is the only active driver with multiple wins; Kasey Kahne (2009), Jimmie Johnson (2010), Kurt Busch (2011) Clint Bowyer (2012) and Martin Truex Jr. (2013) each have one win.  
  • Hendrick Motorsports leads the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series in wins at Sonoma with six victories; followed by Joe Gibbs Racing with four wins.
  • 20 of the 28 (71.4%) Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races at Sonoma have been won from a top-10 starting position.
  • Five active drivers are tied for the most runner-up finishes at Sonoma: Denny Hamlin, Jamie McMurray, Kevin Harvick, Kurt Busch and Ryan Newman each have one MENCS runner-up finish on the famous road course.
  • Kurt Busch leads all active drivers in top-five finishes at Sonoma with seven. 
  • Jimmie Johnson leads all active drivers in top-10 finishes with nine.
  • Clint Bowyer leads all active drivers in average finishing position with a 11.455.  
Remember, if you're playing Yahoo! Fantasy Auto Racing, your pick deadline is Saturday June 24th at 5 a.m. EDT.

Enjoy the race! Post your comments here or follow me on Twitter @purplecatpr.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Fast Track Facts: Sonoma Raceway

credit: NASCAR Media
One of just two road courses the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series will visit in 2017, Sonoma Raceway is one of the rare tracks that also hosts the Verizon IndyCar Series and the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. Learn more about this track in the heart of California wine country in this week’s Fast Facts.
  • Ground breaking for the track, originally known as Sears Point Raceway, took place in Aug. 1968; the surface was completed in November of that year, and the first race – an SCCA Enduro – was held on Dec. 1, 1968.
  • The 2.52-mile, 12-turn road course went by the name of Sears Point until 2001, after which its naming rights were sold and it became Infineon Raceway from 2002-2012; once the naming rights expired, it became Sonoma Raceway, or often simply “Sonoma.”
  • The track has a permanent seating capacity of 47,000, and can expand to 102,000 seats during major events, including hillside seating and additional terraces added for the events. Track changes in 2002 saw the drag strip separated from the front the front straightaway.
  • A modified 2.2-mile version of the course is used for many races, including the IndyCar Grand Prix of Sonoma. The NASCAR track is a 1.99-mile, 10-turn course which utilizes Turn 4A, a 70-degree turn that replaced the previously-used “Chute” which bypassed Turns 5 and 6.
  • The NASCAR Cup Series qualifying record is held by Kyle Larson (96.524 mph/1:14.354 minutes in June 2015). Jeff Gordon holds the records for, among other items, most wins (five), most top 10s (18) and most poles (five).
  • Find out more about Sonoma Raceway and all of its events at

Travel Tips: Sonoma Raceway – June 23-25, 2017

credit: NASCAR Media
The Monster Energy NASCAR 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 23-25. Sonoma is the first of two road course races on the Cup Series schedule for 2017.

On Thursday, June 22, the annual NASCAR Hauler Parade races 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 23 –
  • Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series practice – noon and 3:30 p.m. PT
  • K&N Pro Series West practice –2 p.m. PT
Saturday, June 24
  • K&N Pro Series West qualifying – 10:15 a.m. PT
  • Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series qualifying – 11:45 a.m. PT
  • Carneros 200 K&N Pro Series West race – 1:30 p.m. PT
Sunday, June 25 –
  • Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Toyota/Save Mart 350 – noon PT
Get tickets and more information about the race weekend at

Monday, June 19, 2017

Travel Tips: Iowa Speedway – June 23-24, 2017

credit: NASCAR Media
NASCAR’s Xfinity and Camping World Truck Series visit Iowa Speedway in Newton, Iowa, for this weekend’s racing action. The Truck Series M&Ms 200 hits the track on Friday, June 23, while the Xfinity Series American Ethanol E15 250 goes green on Saturday, June 24.

Both series have autograph sessions scheduled during the weekend: the Truck Series on Friday at 3 p.m. CT and the Xfinity Series on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. CT.

Key on-track times:

Friday, June 23 –
  • Camping World Truck Series practice – 9 and 11 a.m. CT
  • Xfinity Series practice – 1 and 4 p.m. CT
  • Camping World Truck Series qualifying – 5:05 p.m. CT
  • Camping World Truck Series M&Ms 200 presented by Casey’s General Stores – 7:30 p.m. CT
  • Post-race concert – Easton Corbin
Saturday, June 24 –
  • Xfinity Series qualifying – 5:15 p.m. CT
  • Xfinity Series American Ethanol E15 250 presented by Enogen – 7:30 p.m. CT
Visit for more information on the weekend and to purchase tickets.

Right Sides Only: Notes from the Firekeepers Casino 400 Winning Crew Chief, Chad Johnston

by Stacey Owens

Crew chief Chad Johnston understands that he and his pit crew can't make a car fast at the track; it has to be fast when it gets to the track.

"We're building really fast cars at the shop. You unload with speed, it makes the weekend go a lot faster. Got to tune it to the comfort of him [Kyle Larson], whatever conditions we have on the track. You know, most of that goes back to the shop. You don't make a car fast when it comes here; you build cars fast at the shop," Johnston said.

That's exactly what the guys back at the shop did for race winner Larson who led 96 laps before taking the checkered flag at Michigan International Speedway. The Chip Ganassi Racing employees in the No. 42 garage have consistently been building fast cars for Larson, now a two-time winner this season. Johnston talked about the improvements the race team has been making since last year and how tracks like Michigan suit Larson's driving style.

"I feel like our mile-and-a-half program has been pretty good since the early part of last year, around Charlotte or Dover time. I think we make our cars better every time we come. I think it suits Kyle fairly well. He's real good about moving around and finding grip, doing the things he needs to do to get the car to do what he wants it to do. I feel we have a pretty good handle on where our balance needs to be," Johnston explained.
Charlotte Bray for Skirts and Scuffs
Larson also discussed his affinity for two-mile tracks like Michigan.

"Yeah, our racecars are fast at them. Michigan and Fontana are, you know, very, very similar in shape and size. But the racing surface is way different. Fontana's rough and bumpy. It's a worn-out surface. You have to take care of your tires, move around, find different lanes that work. Here at Michigan, your tires don't wear out nearly as bad. Your line doesn't move around a ton. Really fast, lot of grip.

"They're both fun, because we seem to have good racecars, especially when we come here. Seems like since my rookie season, we've always had fast cars here at Michigan" Larson said.

Both of the cars fielded by Chip Ganassi Racing are top 10 in points. Larson sits atop the leaderboard while teammate Jamie McMurray is seventh. Over the weekend, Larson was asked about why their cars have been so fast this season, and he said his crew chief would be the better person to ask.

"Yeah, I mean, Chad I guess would be the guy to answer that question on why he thinks we're a lot faster. He's at the shop at 7 a.m. or earlier every day working. I think all the hundreds of people that work there kind of came together and put all their ideas into one, just built on everything.

"We had a great off-season. Since I've been in Cup, we haven't had a good off-season. We always start the year off worse than where we ended it. This year was opposite. We ended last year pretty good, but we started this year even better. I think it's everybody working together really hard, getting along good. We have a fun team, a fun race shop," Larson explained.

If this team continues to work well together, just think about how much fun they'll have if they win the championship this fall.


 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; Kentucky basketball, even though at 6' tall, she's never played a day in her life; and her husband who's supportive of her NASCAR obsession and tunes in with her every week... even if it's just to watch the flyover.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Trackin’ Trucks: John Hunter Nemechek wins at Gateway

John Hunter Nemechek does a burnout after his win at Gateway.
Credit: Jeff Curry

by Courtney Horn

John Hunter Nemechek earned his first win of the season Saturday night at Gateway Motorsports Park. Nemechek led 46 laps as well as securing the Stage 1 win during the Drivin’ For Linemen 200.

Nemechek was a top contender much of the evening and regained the lead with four laps to go.

“I was hoping there would be a caution there with 10 or 12 laps remaining because I thought we had the truck to beat if we had track position,” Nemechek said. “We made the call on the green flag pit stop to take two tires and I felt like that was the call to make when the guys in front of us took no tires and we were right behind them. We were running them down.”

The win, which is his first since September 2016, was an emotional one for the 20-year-old. Nemechek thanked his father and a list of sponsors that helped make the day possible.

“Today was a very special day for us,” Joe Nemechek said. “I’ve tutored him the best I know how and tried to teach him all the right values and it’s up to him to do it on the race track. He’s been able to take it and take it to the next level.”

Pole-sitter and Stage 2 winner Chase Briscoe made his way through the field after a late race caution allowed them to gamble for four tires and fuel. Briscoe restarted 13th after only a select few pitted with the Brad Keselowski Racing driver. Briscoe quickly regained the lost positions and finished 2nd for the second week in a row.

Nemechek and Briscoe dominated the race, combining for 134 total laps led.

The only caution for any on-track action came on Lap 148 when the No. 50 of Josh Reaume stalled on pit road after running out of fuel.

A Look Ahead 

The Camping World Truck Series head to Iowa Speedway on June 23, 2017, where Christopher Bell finished ninth a year ago. Bell is 38 points behind points leader Johhny Sauter heading into Iowa after a strong sixth-place finish at Gateway.

Don’t miss Bell and the CWTS during the M&Ms 200 on Friday, June 23rd at 8:30 p.m ET on Fox Sports 1.

Saluting the dads of NASCAR

Today is Father's Day, and Skirts and Scuffs shines a light on the working fathers in NASCAR.

Throughout the sport's history, sons have dutifully carried on the legacy of their fathers and grandfathers. Dale Earnhardt Jr., Chase Elliott, and Austin and Ty Dillon have assumed the mantle of their storied families.

In the family-oriented sport, drivers and their broods are a normal sight on pit road. Keelan Harvick is a mainstay at Monster Energy Series races and a good luck charm for his dad, Kevin Harvick. The daughters of Jimmie Johnson, Matt Kenseth and Ryan Newman light up the track.

In recent years, some of the sport's biggest names have become daddies themselves. Kyle Larson, Kyle Busch, Brad Keselowski and Kasey Kahne have joined the ranks of dads in the Monster Energy Series garage. Larson took pictures with his son, Owen, in front of the driver's pole-winning car Friday at Michigan.

Other drivers are expanding their families. Clint Bowyer and his wife, Lorra, welcomed his second child, Presley Elizabeth, little sister to Cash Aaron, in December. Denny Hamlin and his longtime girlfriend, Jordan Fish, are expecting their second child, a sibling for their daughter Taylor, in August. And Ty Dillon and his wife, Haley, announced last month that the couple is expecting their first child.

For Father's Day, Skirts and Scuffs salutes the dads of NASCAR through the lens of our photographers. These special moments captured at the track show the loving bond between fathers and their kids.