Thursday, August 31, 2017

NASCAR Fantasy Fusion: Bojangles' Southern 500 at Darlington




By Carol D'Agostino

Drivers with Most Top 10s (Last five years):
By Race
All with 4 - Kevin Harvick, Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch and Matt Kenseth
All with 3 - Kyle Larson, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Martin Truex Jr., Jimmie Johnson, Ryan Newman and Joey Logano

By Track
Kevin Harvick - 4
All with 3 -Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kyle Larson, Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, Matt Kenseth and Ryan Newman

Recent Pole Winners:  
2016 Rained Out
2015 Brad Keselowski
2014 Kevin Harvick

Last Year's Race Winner:  Martin Truex Jr.

The Likely Suspects: Picking drivers at Darlington is tricky. You know at race's end most of the cars will be sporting some Darlington stripes, but you've got to avoid the wrecks to get to the end. There lies the issue. I'm going to be putting my faith into these elite Darlington drivers: Kevin Harvick, Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr., Ryan Newman, Matt Kenseth, Kyle Larson and Dale Earnhardt Jr.

My 2 Cents: My no-brainer pick this week is a tie between Denny Hamlin and Kyle Larson. My next picks are Kevin Harvick, Kasey Kahne, Ryan Newman and Austin Dillon. I'll round out my team with Daniel Suarez and Landon Cassill.

My Final Four: Denny Hamlin, Kyle Larson, Ryan Newman and Daniel Saurez.

Points to Ponder:
  • The first starting position is the most proficient starting position in the field, producing more winners (20) than any other starting spot at Darlington. The outside front row (second-place) has produced the second-most wins (17).  
  • Hendrick Motorsports has the most wins by an organization at Darlington in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series with 14 victories.
  • 11 different manufacturers have won in the MENCS at Darlington, led by Chevrolet with 41 victories, followed by Ford with 28 and Toyota with five.
  • Kasey Kahne leads all active drivers in Coors Light poles at Darlington with four (2004, ‘05, ’06 and ’11), and is the only active driver with consecutive poles (2005-2006).
  • Jimmie Johnson leads all active drivers with three wins, and is the only active multiple race winner at Darlington. Only five other active drivers have won at Darlington – Martin Truex Jr. (2016), Kevin Harvick (2014), Matt Kenseth (2013), Denny Hamlin (2010) and Kyle Busch (2008).  
  • Jimmie Johnson leads all active drivers in the series in top-five finishes at Darlington with nine, followed by Ryan Newman with seven. 
  • Jimmie Johnson and Ryan Newman lead all active drivers with 12 top 10s, followed by Matt Kenseth with 11.
  • Almost 86% (97 of the 112) Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races at Darlington have been won from a top-10 starting position.
  • Denny Hamlin leads all active drivers in second-place finishes at Darlington with three, followed by Kevin Harvick with two.
  • Denny Hamlin leads all active drivers in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series in average finishing position at Darlington with a 6.273.
  • Two active series drivers have an average finish inside the top 10 at Darlington: Denny Hamlin (6.2) and Kyle Larson (7.0).   
Remember, if you're playing Yahoo! Fantasy Auto Racing, your pick deadline is Saturday, September 2, at 5 a.m. EDT.

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

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

TV Schedule: Sept. 1-3

Darlington Raceway. Credit: Robert Laberge/NASCAR via Getty Images
By Rebecca Kivak

It's Labor Day weekend, which means one thing: NASCAR has its annual date with the Lady in Black.

The Monster Energy Cup and XFINITY Series head to Darlington Raceway, running the throwback paint schemes that everyone looks forward to.

Meanwhile, the Camping World Truck Series takes a hard right at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.

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

Friday, Sept. 1:
12 p.m. XFINITY Series practice, NBCSN
1 p.m. Monster Energy Cup Series practice, NBCSN
2:30 p.m. XFINITY Series final practice, NBCSN
3:30 p.m. Monster Energy Cup Series final practice, NBCSN

Saturday, Sept. 2:
12 p.m. XFINITY Series Qualifying, NBCSN
1:30 p.m. Monster Energy Cup Series Qualifying, NBCSN
3 p.m. XFINITY Series Countdown to Green, NBCSN
3:30 p.m. XFINITY Series: Sport Clips Haircuts VFW 200 at Darlington, NBCSN
5:30 p.m. XFINITY Series Post-Race, NBCSN
5:30 p.m. Camping World Truck Series Qualifying, FS2
8:30 p.m. K&N Pro Series, NBCSN
9:30 p.m. Whelen Modified Series, NBCSN
10:30 p.m. Monster Energy Cup Series Qualifying (re-air), NBCSN

Sunday, Sept. 3:
11:30 a.m. Monster Energy Cup Series Qualifying (re-air), NBCSN
2 p.m. Camping World Truck Series Setup, FS1
2:30 p.m. Camping World Truck Series: Chevrolet Silverado 250 at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, FS1
5:30 p.m. NASCAR Countdown to Green: Darlington, NBCSN
6 p.m. Monster Energy Cup Series: Bojangles’ Southern 500, NBCSN
10:30 p.m. NASCAR Cup Series Post Show, NBCSN
11 p.m. NASCAR Victory Lap, NBCSN

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Fast Track Facts: Darlington Raceway

credit: NASCAR Media
Darlington Raceway is a unique speedway that is steeped in NASCAR tradition – so much so that the annual Southern 500 is now the place to show off throwback paint schemes that relive NASCAR history. Learn more about the South Carolina track in this week’s Fast Facts.
  • Darlington Raceway – also known as the “Lady in Black” and the “Track Too Tough to Tame” – is a 1.366-mile asphalt track that opened in 1950. The brainchild of former racer Harold Brasington, construction on Darlington began in 1949, and the planned true oval became an egg-shaped oval after Brasington promised the previous landowner he would not upset the minnow pond on the property.
  • The first race at Darlington Raceway was the Southern 500, a 500-mile race on Labor Day in 1950 that was co-sanctioned by NASCAR and the Central States Racing Association and drawing more than 80 participants. The race was won by Johnny Mantz.
  • The minnow pond is now long gone, and the track was reconfigured in 1997, when the frontstretch became the backstretch and the turns were renumbered. From late 2003-early 2004, lights were added. The track has a seating capacity of approximately 58,000.
  • Darlington hosted two Cup Series races for a number of years, but in 2003 the Labor Day race was given to Auto Club Speedway in California and the Southern 500 was moved to the Chase in November. In 2005, the track’s only race was moved to Mother’s Day weekend and the Southern 500 name was dropped; it was renamed the Southern 500 in 2009. After holding the race in April in 2014, the Southern 500 returned to its rightful place on Labor Day weekend in 2015.
  • The Cup Series qualifying record at Darlington is held by Aric Almirola, who posted a speed of 184.145 mph (26.705 seconds) in April 2014. David Pearson leads the all-time wins list with 10 trips to victory lane, and also earned 12 poles at the track to lead that statistic. Richard Petty earned 25 top 10 finishes in his record 65 starts at Darlington, and Bill Elliott had a record 35 top 10 finishes there.
  • Learn more about this history track at www.darlingtonraceway.com

Monday, August 28, 2017

Travel Tips: Darlington Raceway – Sept. 1-3, 2017

credit: NASCAR Media
The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and Xfinity Series visit the “Track Too Tough to Tame,” Darlington Raceway in South Carolina, for Labor Day weekend, Friday through Sunday, Sept. 1-3. The Cup Series’ Bojangles’ Southern 500 goes green on Sunday, Sept. 3, while the Xfinity Series runs in the Sports Clips Haircuts VFW 200 on Saturday, Sept. 2.

Festivities kick off on Thursday, August 31 with the 13th annual Darlington Car Hauler Parade and Race Fest. Race Fest begins at 4 p.m. ET at the Florence Civic Center, featuring a KidsZone, live music, a silent auction and more. The Hauler Parade leaves the Civic Center at 7 p.m. ET; it makes its way through Darlington Square before ending at the “Track Too Tough to Tame.” 

Key on-track times:

Friday, Sept. 1
  • Xfinity Series practice – noon and 2:30 p.m. ET
  • Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series practice – 1 and 3:30 p.m. ET
Saturday, Sept. 2
  • Xfinity Series qualifying – 12:05 p.m. ET
  • Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series qualifying – 1:45 p.m. ET
  • Xfinity Series Sports Clips Haircuts VFW 200 – 3:30 p.m. ET
Sunday, Sept. 3
  • Bret Michaels pre-race concert – 4:20 p.m. ET
  • Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Bojangles’ Southern 500 – 6 p.m. ET
Fans attending the race weekend can check out the fan guide here and the event guide here; take a look at some of NASCAR’s throwback coverage here.

Find out more about the event and purchase tickets at www.darlingtonraceway.com

Travel Tips: Canadian Tire Motorsport Park – Sept. 1-3, 2017

credit: NASCAR Media
NASCAR’s Camping World Truck Series heads north of the border for Labor Day weekend, Friday through Sunday, Sept. 1-3, for the Chevrolet Silverado 250 at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in Bowmansville, Ontario, Canada. The Truck Series will be joined by the Canadian Touring Car Championship, the IMSA Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada, the Nissan Micra Cup and the NASCAR Pinty’s Series.

Key on-track times (NASCAR times only):

Saturday, Sept. 2:
  • Camping World Truck Series practice – 9:30 and 11:35 a.m. ET
  • Pinty’s Series practice – 1:05 p.m. ET
  • Pinty’s  Series qualifying sessions – 4:40 and 5:05 p.m. ET
  • Camping World Truck Series qualifying – 5:45 p.m. ET
Sunday, Sept. 3:
  • Pinty’s Series Total Quartz 200 – 11:05 a.m. ET
  • Camping World Truck Series Chevrolet Silverado 250– 2:30 p.m. ET
Find out more about the weekend and purchase tickets at canadiantiremotorsportpark.com

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

TV Schedule: Aug. 26-27

Road America. Credit: Jonathan Ferrey/NASCAR via Getty Images
By Rebecca Kivak

It's the XFINITY Series' time to shine during a rare standalone weekend. NASCAR's second-tier series will turn left - and right - at Road America.

The Monster Energy Series has the week off, and will return to action next week at Darlington for Labor Day weekend. The Camping World Truck Series is also off this week, and will get back on track next week at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.

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

Saturday, Aug. 26:
2 p.m. XFINITY Series practice, NBCSN
3 p.m. Whelen Series Bush’s Beans 150, NBCSN
4 p.m. XFINITY Series final practice, NBCSN

Sunday, Aug. 27:
11:30 a.m. XFINITY Series Qualifying at Road America, CNBC
2:30 p.m. XFINITY Series: Countdown to Green, NBC
3 p.m. XFINITY Series: Johnsonville 180 at Road America, NBC

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Fast Track Facts: Road America

credit: NASCAR Media
Since 2010, the Xfinity Series has been racing at one of the best-known road courses in North America, Road America in Elkhart Lake, WI. Learn more about the host of this weekend’s stand-alone race in this week’s Fast Facts.
  • Road America opened in Sept. 1955 and is located between the cities of Milwaukee and Green Bay. Currently hosting more than 400 public and private events each year, the track still features its original configuration at 14 turns and 4.048 miles. It has open seating and no capacity limitations; grandstands and hillside seating are available throughout the facility.
  • One NASCAR Grand National (now Monster Energy NASCAR Cup) Series was held at Road America in Aug. 1956, with Tim Flock driving his Mercury to victory lane. The Xfinity Series came to the track in 2010 after losing its races at the Milwaukee Mile. There have been seven different winners, with the last three winners coming from the Richard Childress Racing stable: Brendan Gaughan (2014), Paul Menard (2015) and Michael McDowell (2016).
  • In addition to the Xfinity Series, the Verizon IndyCar Series also races at Road America, having returned to the track in 2016. Other series with major events at the track include the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, the SCCA Pro Trans Am Series, the ARCA Racing Series and the MotoAmerica Series for motorcycle racing.
  • Learn more about the track and this weekend’s event at www.roadamerica.com

Monday, August 21, 2017

Travel Tips: Road America – Aug. 25-27, 2017

credit: NASCAR Media
The Xfinity Series has a stand-alone race this weekend, Friday through Sunday, Aug. 25-27, at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. Joining the Xfinity Series for the Johnsonville 180 weekend are the SCCA Pro Trans Am Series and the ARCA Racing Series.

The annual Hauler Parade to Road America takes place Friday at 5:30 p.m. CT. The parade departs from Plymouth High School, travels north on Highway 67 and ends at the track. The free event begins at 2:30 p.m. CT with Family Fun activities.

Fans looking for something to do throughout the weekend can check out public karting, zip lining and disc golf at Road America. Fans 14 and older (parent/guardian must be present if under 18) can participate in karting at the Road America Motorplex, in the infield over the Johnsonville Bridge, in karts that reach speeds up to 40 mph. Fans age 6 and over (70-275 lbs., with a parent/guardian if under 18) can fly on the dual racing zip lines at the Landing Tower near Turn 14. There is also disc golf for all ages located across from the Gearbox concession stands in the paddock (front nine) and west of the Sargento Bridge (back nine); rental discs are available in the Paddock Shop.

Key on-track event times:

Friday, Aug. 25
  • Trans Am testing – 8 and 10:30 a.m. CT
  • ARCA Racing Series optional test session – 9:40 a.m. and 12:10 p.m. CT
  • Trans Am practice – 1:50 p.m. CT
Saturday, Aug. 26 –
  • ARCA Racing Series practice – 8:50 and 11:05 a.m. CT
  • Trans Am practice – 9:50 a.m. and 4:10 p.m. CT
  • Xfinity Series practice – 1 and 3 p.m. CT
  • Trans Am qualifying – 4 p.m. CT
  • ARCA Racing Series qualifying – 5:10 p.m. CT
Sunday, Aug. 27 –
  • Trans Am Race No. 1 (TA, TA3, TA4) – 8:05 a.m. CT
  • Trans Am Race No. 2 (TA2) – 9:20 a.m. CT
  • Xfinity Series qualifying – 10:45 a.m. CT
  • ARCA Racing Series race (timed) – noon CT
  • Xfinity Series Johnsonville 180– 2:14 p.m. CT
Find out more about the track and purchase tickets for the weekend at www.roadamerica.com

Right Sides Only: Notes from the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race Winning Crew Chief, Adam Stevens

by Stacey Owens

Only two races remain until the 2017 playoffs for the Monster Energy Series Cup championship begin, and Kyle Busch is just now hitting his stride. Busch may only have two wins this season, but they couldn't have come at a better time.

With Busch doing well, his crew chief, Adam Stevens, is also feeling pretty confident. Stevens talked about the team's perceived struggles earlier this season.

"Traditionally as a team, I feel like we come out of the box strong each year, are able to chip away a couple wins early. We had the speed to do it earlier this year. But dag-gone it, we just couldn't capitalize. ... 
           
"Still showed the speed here through the summer stretch. But we're starting to be able to put some races together, and that feels really good," Stevens said.

The closer teams get to the playoffs, the more some drivers change their focus. Busch, for instance, is calm and laser-focused as he approaches the 10 races that could lead him to a second championship, but he's also willing to try anything that Stevens suggests in the car.

"... you know, as the races go on and we get closer and closer to the Chase, he seems to find another level of focus. I think we saw a little bit of that tonight.
           
"This is a big deal to him. Winning the race is a big deal. He definitely was focused and had his eyes on the prize," Stevens explained.

As focused as his driver is, Stevens talked a bit about how his crew needs to make some adjustments prior to the start of the playoffs since it seemed that the pit stops were a bit "off" on Saturday night at Bristol Motor Speedway.

"... the car pit fine. I mean, pit ability-wise. We keep up with that, check it at the shop, check it again on the track. Everybody was happy with how it drew out, how the tires came out. We just missed a little something on pit road. One time we had an issue on the front, one time on the back. You know, I feel like we're about half a step off there and we're going to have to clean that up heading into the Chase, for sure," Stevens explained.
Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images

The win on Saturday night was just another win for Busch. It capped off a sweep of the Bristol weekend. Stevens discussed how the attempt at the sweep affected Busch's approach of the race.

"You know, that's something you worry about when you have an extra layer on top of a normal race.  As a crew chief, you need to keep him focused, make sure that he's not elevating his risk level too much, making mistakes.
           
"I think he did a really good job of being aggressive, but really mitigating the risk. There was [sic]times that he could have pushed, and he may have given somebody an inch.
           
"So he really did a great job of keeping the big picture in mind," Stevens said.

If Busch is laser-focused on the playoffs, what will be Stevens' strategy for the final 10 races?

"We've had good speed and prepared good cars. Like Coach says, everybody back at the shop doing all the right things. And we're just starting to put the whole race together. Kyle is doing a great job behind the wheel, really focusing on the finish of the race, making sure we have what we need with our adjustments, all the fenders on the car, all the brakes on the car that we can go out there and run hard at the end. The pit crew didn't start off that great, but they were able to shake it off and rebound from that. I think that bodes well for us heading into the Chase," Stevens explained.

Busch and Stevens will ride their momentum into Darlington Raceway on September 3 following a short break before drivers finish out the season in mid-November. So Busch is going to have a couple of weeks to rest before hitting the track in Darlington? Whew. I'm glad I'm not a driver. 

------------------------------------------
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.




Friday, August 18, 2017

Troubling: Five Questions for Bristol

(Photo by Jeff Curry/NASCAR via Getty Images)
By Kristen Schneider

This week was full of emotions; from fear to joy to worry, people experienced a rollercoaster ride that left a lot of people drained. It was a troubling time.

NASCAR wasn’t immune to these feelings, yet that’s not a bad thing in my eyes. Rather, it helps us better understand everything that’s going on.

Sugar packets, closing doors, and political chatter infiltrated our racing world over the past seven days. How does this all fit together?

Let’s talk about that in this week’s Five Questions.

That’s a crazy story? Our favorite wild child Kenny Wallace avoided an insane Interstate accident this week. On Wednesday, he tweeted a video of himself at a Ruby Tuesday, using sugar packets (actually sugar substitutes, but the effect was the same) to describe the accident. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. responded with his own video reply; he took a nice swig of a beverage (I’m guessing Blue Moon because of the color) and quipped, “That’s a crazy story.” Landon Cassill mimicked Earnhardt’s video with his own drink. Thus, a trend was born, leading to multiple replies and two Twitter moments. I couldn’t stop laughing at the different takes, from Nascarcasm chugging some pickle juice to a race fan guzzling strawberry syrup. Who knew Twitter could be a fun place?

Does BKR’s departure signify a bigger problem? Thursday brought some troubling news for a team vital to the Camping World Truck Series. Brad Keselowski announced his decision to not field Brad Keselowski Racing in the series next year, which sucks a monumental amount. Still, this isn’t a huge shock; Red Horse Racing closed its doors earlier this season, and this news further proves that the system is flawed. The ROI is low in Trucks, meaning the incoming revenue usually fails to exceed the cost, much generate profit. Long story short, that isn’t a sustainable business model. Keselowski’s team regularly gave chances to up-and-coming racers and crew members, something the sport needs. The team closing eliminates two young, capable talents. In addition, this basically removes Ford from Truck competition altogether. Nothing breaks race fans’ hearts more than seeing organizations shut their doors. Something needs to be done to counteract this downward trend. I just can’t tell you what. I’m wishing Keselowski’s drivers Chase Briscoe and Austin Cindric a successful rest of 2017 as they both race for a championship—and future rides.

Can Hemric build upon his runner-up finish? As predicted, Sam Hornish, Jr. mastered the Xfinity’s visit to Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course—but who came in second was a usual suspect. Daniel Hemric piloted his No. 2 Richard Childress Racing machine to a runner-up finish. His first season in the series has been quite successful; the young driver earned three top-fives and nine top-10s in 21 races. These are fantastic stats in a series that has been dominated by William Byron and Cup drivers. Hemric’s only experience with Bristol comes from this season’s earlier Xfinity race and his prior Truck starts. His 2017 Spring start led to a fifth-place finish. Truck-wise, he holds third- and fourth-place finishes. Hemric might be a dark-horse pick for Friday night’s race. 

Where oh where will KuBusch go? Another Silly Season domino fell, and it’s the most recent Daytona 500 winner. Lines got crossed when Kurt Busch said he and Stewart-Haas Racing wouldn’t be working together next season, but the organization suggested otherwise. The latest word is that they’re looking for a co-primary sponsor. How will this play out? I think Busch re-signs with SHR; I can’t see a Daytona 500 champion not having a ride, and the team will pull some strings. However, him being in this position is a bit crazy to me. It speaks to the weirdness of the entire 2017 season; a former series champion and a continually successful driver wouldn’t be searching for a ride any other time, but this year is just special. KuBusch stays put, but that doesn’t make the scenario any less mystifying.


Let’s get…political? Before Earnhardt created a fun Twitter trend, he spoke out after the tragedy in Charlottesville, Virginia. His tweet, in response to a fan, says, “Hatred, bigotry, & racism should have no place in this great country. Spread love.” Earnhardt was the only driver to touch upon this topic at the time. The other person to discuss this is Jeff Gluck, who caught flack for asking people to unfollow him if they disagreed that “People of all races and religions deserve love and should never be afraid to be themselves in the USA.” Gluck responded to a disparaging remark by clarifying that the statement wasn’t political or personal—“It’s a simple statement about basic human dignity.” Let me remind you that readers/donations fund Gluck’s ability to travel and cover races, so this is a risky thing to do (except Gluck also said he doesn’t want the money of those who disagree with his statement on humanity, so go him!). I respect both these men for speaking out and highlighting what’s going on in our world. Angry fans aren’t “peeved”—they’re uncomfortable. The beauty of sports is that it allows you to unwind and shut out the world. It becomes a safe space, which is why people are so mad when political talk infiltrates their sports feeds. This is where “Stick to sports!” comes from, of course. The fact of the matter is when your guard is down is the best time to listen. I understand the purpose of sports is to get away from it all and that having ideologies "fed" to you can be troubling, but to get angry when the real world comes in? When other human beings express how they wish others would spread love? The term "escapism" can only explain so much. If you get upset when an athlete “gets political,” you should ask yourself why it displeases you so much. Earnhardt’s tweets should create a productive discussion within the sport and about its fans. Put things aside and open your mind. Politics and racing can work as long as we all respect each other’s right to have differing opinions. I love a good debate about racing, politics, journalism, whatever—I just like hearing other people’s viewpoints and understanding why they think the way they do. Let’s do a little more of that.

Editor's note: Daniel Hemric finished seventh in Friday night's Xfinity Series Food Series 300. Kyle Busch swept all three stages and is a threat to sweep the weekend after his win Wednesday in the Camping World Truck Series. 

An Open Letter to Kevin Harvick

Kevin Harvick's recent comments about Dale Earnhardt Jr. created a stir. Credit: Charlotte Bray for Skirts and Scuffs
Hello Kevin,

You don’t know me, but I’ve always had respect for you. The comments you made about Dale Earnhardt Jr. really upset me. Not as a ”crazy” Jr fan, but as someone with a deeper level of understanding and admiration of  Earnhardt Jr.

I wasn’t a fan of his because of his dad. In fact, I disliked Jr. I hated that bleached blonde hair he had going on. At the time, I was 8 or 9. Dale Sr. was my hero. He was the whole reason I liked the sport of NASCAR.

I grew up in a Jeff Gordon house; I was the lone wolf, the oddball for liking Dale Earnhardt. My first NASCAR race was the 1998 Daytona 500. Watching Dale Earnhardt win his first Daytona 500 was magical for me. From that day on, Dale Earnhardt was my favorite, despite my family being Gordon fans.

In 2001, when he died I refused to ever watch a single NASCAR race again. I didn’t watch no matter how hard my family tried to get me to root for Earnhardt Jr. I refused. I didn’t want to get attached or call another driver my hero.

Flash forward to 2007. I was 14, getting ready for high school and being a normal teen, when my dad died. That tore me up inside; the pain I felt losing my dad was terrible. I was lost in the world. I didn’t know what to do. 

Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Credit: Charlotte Bray for Skirts and Scuffs
Someone very close to me gave me the book “Driver #8." They told me to read it to see what I felt. Reading that book changed my life. Reading that book made me an Earnhardt Jr. fan.

Learning about rookie Dale Jr. was deep; it made me like him on a different level. My all-time favorite moment in the book was the epilogue, when Jr. talks about his win at Daytona six months after the death of his father and how he felt he was there. From time to time, I'll crack open "Driver #8" just to read that part.

Reading that book didn’t get me over my father’s death, but it sure helped me to cope and become a person again.

You know what else happened? I started watching NASCAR again, and yes, I became a huge Dale Earnhardt Jr. fan to the max. I was happy again. Sundays had purpose again.

Your comments that Dale Jr. has stunted the sport's growth - that he isn’t the most successful - hurt. It upset me because for me, success isn't always measured by wins. While he may not have won the championships that everyone expected, he has had a monumental impact on thousands of fans, myself included. 

You want to know my honest opinion on why Dale Earnhardt Jr. is the most popular driver in NASCAR? His heart. He has the biggest heart, and his actions on and off the track prove why he is a fan favorite. He could have turned his fame into a whole different direction, but instead he’s stayed humble.

Being a Jr. fan has never been easy. You had good days and you had bad days. But those bad days didn’t matter because you had a driver that never gave up. You had a driver who would race his heart out.

While I’m still sad that he’s retiring, I’ll always be a fan.

Even though you said some hurtful things about my driver, I'll always respect you, and who knows what next season will bring. Maybe I'll get me some Harvick gear. Only time can tell, right?

Sincerely,

A Passionate NASCAR fan

TV Schedule: Aug. 18-19

Bristol Motor Speedway. Credit: Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images
By Rebecca Kivak

NASCAR heads to the concrete coliseum: Bristol Motor Speedway, where close quarters breed short tempers.

The Camping World Truck Series took the track Wednesday. The XFINITY Series goes under the lights Friday, and the Monster Energy Cup Series takes the spotlight Saturday.

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

Friday, Aug. 18:
10 a.m. Monster Energy Cup Series practice, NBC Sports App (Canada: TSN GO)
12:30 p.m. Monster Energy Cup Series final practice, NBCSN (Canada: TSN 2)
3:30 p.m. XFINITY Series Qualifying, NBCSN (Canada: TSN GO)
5:30 p.m. Monster Energy Cup Series Qualifying, NBCSN (Canada: TSN 2)
7 p.m. XFINITY Series Countdown to Green, NBCSN
7:30 p.m. XFINITY Series Food City 300 at Bristol, NBCSN (Canada: TSN 2)

Saturday, Aug. 19:
7 p.m. Monster Energy Cup Series Countdown to Green, NBC
7:30 p.m., Monster Energy Cup Series Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race at Bristol, NBC (Canada: TSN 3, 5)
11 p.m. Monster Energy Cup Series post-race show, NBCSN

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Trackin' Trucks: Kyle Busch earns Truck Series victory at Bristol

Kyle Busch celebrates in Victory Lane at Bristol.
Credit: Brian Lawdermilk

 By Courtney Horn 

Kyle Busch overcame a late-race speeding penalty for his third Camping World Truck Series victory this season Wednesday night at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Busch and his teammate, Noah Gragson, started in the rear of the field after each received a speeding penalty at the end of Stage 2. Busch took advantage of the top of the racetrack and was back into the top 10 within 20 laps.

"I knew once I got that penalty that I had to go somewhere, other than where everyone else was," said Busch. "I just started grooming the top and it took about 15 laps for it to come in and then it started going, it was pretty fast."

Busch regained the lead with 33 laps to go and held it until a caution for Austin Wayne Self and Justin Haley allowed for one final restart.

No one was able to get around Busch and he earned his fifth NCWTS victory at the half-mile oval.

Matt Crafton finished second after leading 90 of the 203 laps. Crafton made contact with the No. 19 of Austin Cindric early in the race, but was able to take the lead until Busch made a pass around the ThorSport Racing driver just before the end of Stage 1.

Busch also took Stage 2 of the UNOH 200 ahead of Crafton, Cindric, Ben Rhodes and Christopher Bell.

Bell remained out of contention most of the night, but quietly earned a seventh-place finish for his 13th top-10 this season.

A look ahead

The Camping World Truck Series takes a one-week break before heading to the Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in Ontario, Canada, where John Hunter Nemechek earned his second career win in a wild finish.

Nemechek sits eighth in the points standings after finishing third at Bristol. Nemechek has two wins this season to secure his way into this year’s playoffs. Will he defend his 2016 victory or will someone else punch their ticket with just two races to go in the regular season?

Rhodes sits in fifth place in the standings and has been close to his first career NCWTS victory many times. A crash took the young star out of contention a year ago. Rhodes needs to avoid trouble to better his chances of securing his way into the playoffs for the first time in his career.

Don’t miss Nemechek, Rhodes and the rest of the CWTS stars on Sunday, Sept. 3, at 2:30 p.m ET on Fox Sports 1.

NASCAR Fantasy Fusion: Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race at Bristol

By Carol D'Agostino
Drivers with Most Top 10s (Last 5 Years):
By Race
Joey Logano -5
Jimmie Johnson - 4
Both with 3 - Denny Hamlin and Paul Menard

By Track
Joey Logano - 6
Both with 5 - Jimmie Johnson and Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
All with 4 - Clint Bowyer, Ryan Newman, Kevin Harvick, Denny Hamlin, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and
Matt Kenseth

Recent Pole Winners: 
2016 Carl Edwards
2015 Denny Hamlin
2014 Kevin Harvick

Last Year's Race Winner: Kevin Harvick

The Likely Suspects: This weekend race fans will be treated to a night race at Bristol. Look for these drivers to run well: Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, Joey Logano, Jimmie Johnson, Paul Menard and Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

My 2 Cents: My no-brainer pick is Denny Hamlin. My next choices are Kevin Harvick, Paul Menard, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Chase Elliott and Chris Buescher. I will complete my team with Erik Jones and Ty Dillon.

My Final Four: Kevin Harvick, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Chris Buescher and Ty Dillon.

Points to Ponder:
  • 89 of the 113 (78.7%) MENCS races at Bristol Motor Speedway (BMS) have been won from a top-10 starting position.
  • 12 different drivers have posted consecutive poles at Bristol Motor Speedway. Denny Hamlin is the only active driver to have done so (fall 2013, spring 2014).
  • Roger Penske leads the series among active car owners with the most wins at Bristol with 12; followed by Jack Roush and Rick Hendrick with 11 each.
  • Denny Hamlin and Ryan Newman lead all active drivers in Coors Light poles at BMS with three each.
  • Kevin Harvick leads all active drivers in the series in runner-up finishes at Bristol with five; followed by Kyle Busch with three. Harvick also leads all active drivers in the series in top-three finishes at Bristol with nine. 
  • Matt Kenseth leads all active drivers in the series in top-five finishes at Bristol with 14; followed by Kevin Harvick with 12. Kenseth also leads all active drivers in the series in top-10 finishes at Bristol with 21; followed by Jimmie Johnson (18).
Remember, if you're playing Yahoo! Fantasy Auto Racing, your pick deadline is Friday, Aug. 18, at 5 a.m. EDT.

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

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Fast Track Facts: Canadian Tire Motorsport Park

credit: NASCAR Media
Bowmanville, Ontario, Canada’s Canadian Tire Motorsport Park is one of the newest circuits on the NASCAR schedule, having just added a Camping World Truck Series race in Sept. 2013. Learn more about this historic Canadian road course in this week’s Fast Facts.
  • Originally known as Mosport Park and later Mosport International Raceway, CTMP is a multi-track facility featuring a 2.459-mile, 10-turn road course, two driver development courses and a karting course. The land was selected by the British Empire Motor Club in 1958, with design completed and construction underway by 1960; the 10-turn course was ready for racing in May 1961.
  • The name “Mosport” is a contraction of the term Motor Sport – the term served as the name of the business enterprise in charge of the facility.
  • In 2011, the facility was purchased by Canadian Motorsport Ventures Ltd., a group that included Canadian racer and former “road course ringer” Ron Fellows.
  • CTMP has hosted numerous open-wheel and motorcycle events over the years, including Formula One (the Canadian Grand Prix), USAC Champ Car, FIM Road Racing World Championship and FIM World Superbike Championship. The track currently hosts the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, NASCAR’s Pinty’s Series and the Truck Series.
  • The qualifying record for the Camping World Truck Series was set by Alex Tagliani in Aug. 2015 (110.539 mph/1:20.084). There have been four different winners in the first four years of the event: Chase Elliott (2013), Ryan Blaney (2014), Erik Jones (2015) and John Hunter Nemechek (2016).
  • Find out more about Canadian Tire Motorsport Park at canadiantiremotorsportpark.com

Monday, August 14, 2017

Travel Tips: Bristol Motor Speedway – Aug. 16-19, 2017

credit: NASCAR Media
NASCAR’s top three national series – the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, Xfinity Series and Camping World Truck Series – and the Whelen Modified Tour head to “Thunder Valley” – Bristol Motor Speedway, the quintessential Saturday night short track – for the four-day Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race event, Wednesday through Saturday, Aug. 16-19.

There is plenty going on away from the track as well over the four days at Bristol, including plenty of live music throughout the event, “Young Guns” autograph sessions on Wednesday and the Fitzgerald Peterbilt Transporter Parade and Food City Race Night on Thursday. Find out more about these and other activities here.

Key on-track times:

Wednesday, Aug. 16
  • Camping World Truck Series practice – 9 and 11 a.m. ET
  • Whelen Modified Tour practice –12:30 p.m. ET
  • Whelen Modified Tour qualifying – 3:15 p.m. ET
  • Camping World Truck Series qualifying – 4:35 p.m. ET
  • Whelen Modified Tour Bush’s Beans 150– 6:05 p.m. ET
  • Camping World Truck Series UNOH 200 – 8:30 p.m. ET
Thursday, Aug. 17
  • Xfinity Series practice – 1 and 3 p.m. ET
  • Transporter Parade – 9-10 p.m. ET
Friday, Aug. 18
  • Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series practice – 10 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. ET
  • Xfinity Series qualifying – 3:40 p.m. ET
  • Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series qualifying – 5:45 p.m. ET
  • Xfinity Series Food City 300 – 7:30 p.m. ET
Saturday, Aug. 19 –
  • Pre-race concert with Cody Jinks – 5:45 p.m. ET
  • Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race – 7:30 p.m. ET
Find a full weekend schedule, including scheduled driver appearances, here.

Get tickets and more information about this week’s races at www.bristolmotorspeedway.com.


Right Sides Only: Notes from the Pure Michigan 400 Winning Crew Chief, Chad Johnston

by Stacey Owens

When you're in your 20s, it's fairly easy to work all day, stay up most of the night, and be fresh enough to get up and do it all over the next day. Just ask Kyle Larson who competed in the Knoxville Nationals on Saturday night and returned to the Michigan track at 2:30 a.m. on Sunday before winning the Pure Michigan 400 on Sunday afternoon. Not bad for a weekend, huh?

Larson's crew chief, Chad Johnston, was on hand to help make the car better throughout the afternoon so that Larson could wheel it through traffic.

"We didn't have the best car, and obviously most of the time the best car doesn't win. We just tried to stick with it. We said coming in here, we kind of drew a line in the sand and we hadn't got the performance or the finishes the last three weeks that we felt like the car had speed-wise. We made some changes coming into this race aerodynamically to try to help the car, which I believe hurt it pretty bad in traffic, but it's hard to tell unless you bring it to the track.
           
"We know where we missed it on that, and we just tried to keep ourselves in position and keep focused and try to keep him [Larson] in the best situation that we could on tires compared to the guys around him. We put four on, and the cautions fell like we needed them to, and we were able to get two restarts on the outside.
           
"He drove his butt off there at the end. We had a pretty bad start to -- the first start of the race was probably the worst restart he's had all year, but I definitely would say that the one at the end was probably the best one he's had. When it all counted and the cards were on the table, we were able to execute and come out of here with a finish better than what the car was capable of running, and you're going to win championships that way.
           
"You know, it was a line in the sand, and we'll start over again and go into Bristol, which is going to be a really good track for us, and just start executing races before the last 10 start," Johnston said.

Johnston and his crew set up his car and executed great pit stops, which meant that the rest was up to Larson, especially when it came to the final restart when Larson decided to make it four-wide for a second or two.

"It was just business as normal. We leave it up to him. He's obviously the guy behind the wheel. He's more than capable of making those decisions of what the best move is going to be, way more capable than I am. We just told him that he was on the best tires of everybody in front of him. We tried to give him information that's going to at least make him feel like he's at an advantage, but at the end of the day, that's all him. I mean, we didn't play a part in that. We just put him in position, and he was able to make the restart and put the 78 in a bad spot, and we had fresher tires. I mean, it was pretty straightforward," Johnston explained.

Charlotte Bray for Skirts and Scuffs
Now that the No. 42 team has all but clinched their spot in the playoffs, how will Johnston keep the team focused on the final few races of the regular season before transitioning their focus to the playoff races?

"We've got a great group of guys, and we go into each week trying to win the race, so that's what we're going to do. We're going to celebrate this tonight, and then Monday we're going to re-rack and work on our Bristol stuff, and we're going to go there guns a-blazing, and we're usually pretty fast there and can lead some laps, and I think we learned a lot on how to adjust the car as the race goes, and we're going to try to put three more wins together and see if we can't gain some bonus points and close that gap to the 78 car," Johnston said.

This was the third consecutive Michigan fall race that Larson has won. If the car hadn't been up to par when they unloaded, would Johnston have consulted his notes from previous Michigan races?

"... the sport and the cars evolved so quickly that if you brought back what you won with the previous time here, you'd be lucky to run fifth or sixth with it. You're always constantly trying to make your cars better. Yeah, definitely the good thing about it is there's only a few things that we change, so it's pretty easy to backtrack on where we missed it. But you can rely on your notes from the last time, but you've got to bring something better each and every time that you come or you're not going to be able to compete with the guys that you want to compete with," Johnston explained.

Whether they could have given Larson the best car possible is almost irrelevant.

"To me he's the best talent out there, and if we can put him in position, I think you're going to get that outcome 99 percent of the time. The thing for us is just to give him a car that's fast enough that he can go out there and do what we all know that he can do. I'm sure everybody realized the talent that he has way before that, but that definitely proves that you can never count him out, and he stuck with it and he kept his head, and we were able to steal a victory, but nonetheless, it's still a victory," Johnston said.

You can bet that Johnston will continue to provide Larson with cars that the driver will try to get to Victory Lane before moving on to the playoffs.


------------------------------------------
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, August 12, 2017

Trackin' Trucks: Bubba Wallace earns CWTS victory in Michigan

Bubba Wallace celebrates in Victory Lane at Michigan on Aug. 12, 2017
Credit: Sean Gardner

by Courtney Horn

It had been over two years, and 59 races, prior to the LTi Printing 200 since Darrell “Bubba” Wallace Jr. piloted a truck let alone seen Victory Lane in the Camping World Truck Series. Wallace took advantage of a (tentative) one-race deal at Michigan International Speedway.

Wallace surged to the lead with 11 laps to go after passing Austin Cindric and Christopher Bell for the lead. Wallace was unable to pull away but held them off several times in addition to the No. 51 of Kyle Busch.

“It’s huge,” Wallace said of his sixth career CWTS victory, “Everybody goes through trials and tribulations for a reason. You have a lot more downs than ups in this sport. The ones that can carry themselves and come out on top each and every time from those downs are the ones that are gonna capitalize.”

“I’ve tried to carry a positive outlook on everything I’ve done.”

The win is the first career victory for MDM Motorsports and Wallace’s first race in over a month after subbing for Aric Almirola in the MENCS for a four-race stint, where he finished 11th at Kentucky.

Bell finished second after giving Wallace a push for his victory. Busch, who led the most laps and secured back-to-back stage wins finished third, with Ryan Truex and Cindric rounding out the top five.

John Hunter Nemechek finished 29th after suffering heavy damage from a Lap 4 crash. Nemechek spun and hit the outside wall within Turn 2 after making contact with Chase Briscoe.

Cody Coughlin’s day ended after contact with eventual race winner Wallace sent him airborne into the inside wall at the end of pit road. Coughlin finished in the 21st position.

A Look Ahead

The Camping World Truck Series head to Bristol Motor Speedway on Wednesday, August 16th for another round of mid-week action.

Johnny Sauter heads into Bristol 37 points behind the points leader Bell. Sauter finished 18th at Michigan after a flat tire forced the GMS Racing driver to pit under green. Sauter later had pit road penalties that kept him out of contention for the win.

Sauter finished fifth a year ago at Bristol and could rebound at the half-mile oval to close the gap on Bell.

Noah Gragson sits on the bubble with three races remaining in the regular season. He is in a must-win situation, 22 points behind the cutoff position.

Don’t miss Gragson and the CWTS at Bristol on August 16, 2017, at 8:30 p.m ET on Fox Sports 1.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Not So Subtle: Five Questions for Michigan and Mid-Ohio

(Jerry Markland/Getty Images)
Once again, the world of NASCAR hasn’t lacked headlines—too bad a lot of them linger in a grayish area.

There are issues in the sport we can all agree on—okay, some issues. A few. Maybe. Fans drive this sport and bring what it needs—money. And passion, but mostly money.

So, what happens when they drive it in the wrong direction?

This weekend, as racecars invade the Midwest, I discuss Chevrolet’s hot (or not?) new body style, Mid-Ohio’s promise, and a NASCAR star’s not-so-subtle jab at NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver.

Let’s do this Five Questions thing.

Did the Chevy announcement make you drool? My goodness. Chevrolet revealed the body for 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series competition, and it took my breath away. After driving the Chevy SS, the manufacturer is going with the Camaro for the time being. The fan response seemed split; while many gasped, others rolled their eyes. It’s all about personal preference, as I told one person who said they thought it was ugly. It’s a good-looking car in my eyes, but I’d love to hear opinions that sway the other way. Feel free to comment with your thoughts.

Can Wallace get his groove back with special Truck start? The Irish hills of Michigan host not only the Cup Series but also the Camping World Truck Series. One storyline stands out as the trucks prepare for battle—and it’s a familiar face. Darrell Wallace, Jr., who once dominated in Trucks a few years ago, returns to the series in a MDM Motorsports machine. This is a guy who wants to get his name out there after a successful fill-in stint; he put up fantastic numbers while driving the No. 43 for an injured Aric Almirola—with little Cup experience, mind you. Now, Wallace is racing to find his next home. This team does well in the ARCA Racing Series—NASCAR’s off-the-wall yet lovable cousin—with some young, talented drivers. Wallace’s presence on the track is important to his future, yet where he finishes is crucial as well. I’m wishing Wallace the best. The sport needs him and his personality.

Will Xfinity impress on Mid-Ohio’s curves and turns? I cannot express how much I miss Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. For those who don’t know, the road course gave me my first taste of the media industry when I visited for the Verizon IndyCar Series in 2012. The following year, I covered the XFINITY Series’ inaugural visit. The track sits 30 minutes from my childhood home and holds a sacred piece in my heart. Fans feel the same way (though probably less emotional than I) about the venue due to its ability to put on thrilling NASCAR events. That’s without touching the fact this is a standalone event, a term fans love to hear when it comes to NXS. With no Cup drivers entered, the potential for a season-defining race is there. While eyes hang on William Byron’s stellar rookie (and last) season, the driver to watch is Sam Hornish, Jr., who is driving for Team Penske. Lexington, Ohio will get loud this weekend (talk about no-so-subtle), and for good reason—it’s a racetrack and event that deserves all the attention. Enjoy the Amish hills, everyone.

What’s the consensus on Byron to the No. 5? It’s time to dig into the biggest stories of the week. I’ll take on the least surprising one first. Monday brought the news that Kasey Kahne’s contract with Hendrick Motorsports will be cut a year short, meaning he’s out at the end of this season. The next day brought reports that Byron was the successor, per industry sources. Wednesday brought the confirmation and additional details, including the fact that owner Rick Hendrick will pay Kahne his promised earnings through the end of 2018. Now that we’ve rehashed the situation, how does everyone feel about this situation? First, nobody was shocked whatsoever; the way Hendrick talked after Kahne’s Brickyard 400 win told everyone his mind was made up, that not even a victory could salvage the official agreement. Second, the selection of Byron is also not surprising; when Hendrick signed Byron and people wondered who he would eventually replace on the Cup side, the team owner said Byron wouldn’t replace Jimmie Johnson or Dale Earnhardt, Jr. Well, he didn’t lie, right? Third, there’s hesitancy in the air when comprehending this entire situation. Jeff Gluck wrote on Monday that Kahne will thrive where he can be happy, and that’s a sentiment I agree with; Gluck also pointed out that during a Q and A with the Washington state native, Kahne said he wished he could be happier. HMS may have the great equipment and powerhouse status, but it wasn’t a place he felt at home; he was the outsider of the four, with his other teammates having more developed relationships with not only each other but with Hendrick himself. Combine that with lack of sponsorship, and Kahne is searching for a new organization to hang his hat. This may be the best move for him—but is this the right move for Byron? That’s something I can’t comment on (which is quite shocking, considering I blab about anything). It’s up to Byron, the No. 5 crew, and Hendrick to make the most of this risky move. I don’t think we should expect instant success. Kyle Larson is just now hitting his stride, and Chase Elliott is still learning. With this sport’s learning curve constantly changing, it’s hard to hit the ground running. He will be a good driver, no doubt about it, but the return on investment may take a season or two to appear. I wish everyone in this situation the best as this season ends and their new chapters begin. There’s never a dull moment in this sport, is there?


Were Harvick’s comments regarding Earnhardt too harsh? Okay, let’s get right to it—Kevin Harvick got personal on his Sirius XM NASCAR show “Happy Hour,” and I don’t think it’s cool. He discussed the lack of growth in NASCAR and believes it’s because their most successful driver (Johnson) isn’t the most popular, and vice versa. Harvick added that he knew his comments weren’t popular—and boy, was he right. Look, he has a point; the concept that the sport’s most popular driver isn’t the seven-time champion is weird. However, putting it on Earnhardt’s shoulders isn’t right—because he never asked for this. If it’s anyone’s fault, I’d argue it’s the fans’ fault for choosing him. We have to remember that Earnhardt is the most popular driver because he lost his father, whose legion of fans flocked to the young man during a dark time in their/his lives/life. Fans clung to him in order to grasp the history and tradition of what his father did. Earnhardt didn’t ask for that—and he didn’t ask for the rough times and seasons that followed. It’s difficult to imagine the sport without him, yes, but fans will have to embrace that reality soon enough. So yes, the sport has been stunted by Junior’s popularity. No, that’s not his fault or his doing. The fans wanted tradition and went for the driver with the historic last name. There is nothing wrong with that—except for when his followers don’t give other racers the time of day. This is all on them, and that isn’t a popular opinion, either. Bold thoughts have a time and place, Harvick, but this wasn’t it. Despite the “blame” being misplaced (my thoughts, not fact), that’s not something you say on the radio. That’s something you bring up to the driver themselves, or even to someone higher up in the industry. It’s not a good look when two drivers are giving each other the side eye and having these conversations without having constructive discourse. Those are my two cents. 

TV Schedule: Aug. 11-13

Michigan International Speedway. Credit: Brian Lawdermilk / Getty Images
By Rebecca Kivak

NASCAR splits its time across the Midwest this weekend. The Monster Energy Cup and Camping World Truck Series converge on Michigan International Speedway, while the XFINITY Series turns left and right at Mid-Ohio.

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

Friday, Aug. 11:
11:30 a.m. Monster Energy Cup Series practice, NBCSN (Canada: TSN 2)
1 p.m. Camping World Truck Series practice, FS1
2 p.m. XFINITY Series practice, NBC Sports App (Canada: TSN GO)
3 p.m. Camping World Truck Series final practice, FS1
4 p.m. XFINITY Series final practice, NBC Sports App (Canada: TSN GO)
5 p.m. Monster Energy Cup Series Qualifying at Michigan, NBCSN (Canada: TSN GO)

Saturday, Aug. 12:
3:30 a.m. Camping World Truck Series practice (re-air), FS1
4:30 a.m. Camping World Truck Series final practice (re-air), FS1
8:30 a.m. Monster Energy Cup Series practice, CNBC (Canada: TSN GO)
9:30 a.m. Camping World Truck Series qualifying, FS1
11:30 a.m. Monster Energy Cup Series final practice, NBC Sports App (Canada: TSN GO)
12 p.m. XFINITY Series Qualifying, CNBC (Canada: TSN GO)
12:30 p.m. Camping World Truck Series Setup, FS1
1 p.m. Camping World Truck Series at Michigan: LTI Printing 200, FS1
3 p.m. Camping World Truck Series post-race show, FS1
3 p.m. XFINITY Series Countdown to Green, NBCSN
3:30 p.m. XFINITY Series: Mid-Ohio Challenge, NBCSN (Canada: TSN 5)

Sunday, Aug. 13:
12:30 a.m. Camping World Truck Series: LTI Printing 200 (re-air), FS2
9 a.m. Camping World Truck Series: LTI Printing 200 (re-air), FS1
12 p.m. NASCAR Raceday, FS1
1:30 p.m. NASCAR America Sunday, NBCSN
2:30 p.m. Monster Energy Cup Series Countdown to Green, NBCSN
3 p.m. Monster Energy Cup Series at Michigan: Pure Michigan 400, NBCSN (Canada: TSN 1, 3)
6 p.m. Monster Energy Cup Series post-race show, NBCSN
6:30 p.m. NASCAR Victory Lap, NBCSN
11 p.m. NASCAR Victory Lane, FS1

Thursday, August 10, 2017

NASCAR Fantasy Fusion: Pure Michigan 400

By Carol D'Agostino
 
Drivers with Most Top 10s (Last 5 Years):
By Race
All with 4 - Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowksi and Joey Logano
All with  3 -  Paul Menard, Denny Hamlin, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Clint Bowyer

By Track
Joey Logano -9
Kevin Harvick -7
Brad Keselowski -6
Both with 5 - Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Clint Bowyer

Recent Pole Winners:
2016 Joey Logano
2015 Matt Kenseth

Last Year's Race Winner: Kyle Larson

The Likely Suspects: This week we're back to just turning left at NASCAR's fastest modern track. Look for these drivers to perform well: Clint Bowyer, Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kyle Larson and perhaps Joey Logano. This is normally a top track for Logano. If we don't see him fast here this week, he very well may not make the playoffs. Another driver to watch this week is Chase Elliott, whose Dad, "Awesome Bill from Dawsonville," had a pretty spectacular record at Michigan in the '80s. My bet is Bill's notebook on MIS is now Chase's.

My 2 Cents: My no-brainer pick this week is a two-way tie between Kevin Harvick and Chase Elliott. My next choices are Brad Keselowski, Kyle Larson, Ryan Blaney and Jamie McMurray. I'll complete my team with Trevor Bayne and Ty Dillon. 

My Final Four: Kevin Harvick, Kyle Larson, Chase Elliott and Ty Dillon.

Points to Ponder:
  • The Coors Light pole position is the most proficient starting position in the field, producing more winners (18) than any other starting position at Michigan International Speedway.  
  • Roush Fenway Racing has the most wins at Michigan in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series with 13: Mark Martin (four), Greg Biffle (four), Carl Edwards (two), Matt Kenseth (two) and Kurt Busch (one). 
  • Eight different manufacturers have won in the MENCS at Michigan; led by Ford with 34 victories; followed by Chevrolet with 23. Toyota has four wins at Michigan.  
  • Three-quarters (69 of 92) of the Cup races at Michigan have been won from a top-10 starting position.
  • Among active drivers, Kevin Harvick leads the series in runner-up finishes at Michigan with five.
Remember, if you're playing Yahoo! Fantasy Auto Racing, your pick deadline is Friday, August 11 at 5 a.m. EDT.

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

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Caption This Winner for 8-5-17: Lisa Janine Cloud


Congratulations to Lisa Janine Cloudwho contributed the winning caption for this photo of
Matt DiBenedetto and Alex Bowman. 

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.


Thanks to everyone who played Caption This. Check back on Saturday for a new photo and your next chance to submit a caption.
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Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Travel Tips: Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course – Aug. 11-12, 2017

credit: NASCAR Media
The Xfinity Series visits Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, OH, this weekend, Friday and Saturday, Aug. 11-12, for the Mid-Ohio Challenge. The Trans-Am Series and Formula 4 Series are also on the schedule for the weekend.

Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course is a permanent road course with two configurations - a 2.4-mile, 15-turn track and a 2.25-mile, 13-turn track. The historic track hosts a variety of events each year, including motorcycle racing, vintage sports car racing and the Verizon IndyCar Series. It is also home to the Mid-Ohio School, which offers licensed drivers and motorcycle riders programs in defensive driving and high performance driving, as well as performance track riding programs. Two of the program’s instructors will be in action during the weekend: Greg Vandersluis in the Xfinity Series and Aaron Quine in the Trans Am Series.

Key on-track event times:

Friday, August 11 –
  • Formula 4 qualifying – 8 a.m. ET
  • Trans Am (2) practice – 10:35 a.m. ET
  • Trans Am practice – 11:05 a.m. ET
  • Formula 4 Race No. 1 – 1:05 p.m. ET
  • Xfinity Series practice – 2 and 4 p.m. ET
  • Trans-Am qualifying – 3 p.m. ET
  • Formula 4 Race No. 2 – 5:10 p.m. ET
Saturday, August 12 –
  • Trans-Am (2) Race – 9:30 a.m. ET
  • Formula 4 Race No. 3 – 11 a.m. ET
  • Xfinity Series qualifying – noon ET
  • Trans Am Race – 1 p.m. ET
  • Xfinity Series Mid-Ohio Challenge – 3:30 p.m. ET
Find the Fan Guide to Mid-Ohio here, and a facility map here.

Find out more about the track and purchase tickets for the Mid-Ohio 200 at www.midohio.com

Fast Track Facts: Gateway Motorsports Park

credit: NASCAR Media
Gateway Motorsports Park in Madison, IL – just east of St. Louis, MO – is one of a small number of facilities on the NASCAR schedule that also hosts the Verizon IndyCar Series and the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA). Learn more about the track that hosted the Camping World Truck Series in June in this week’s Fast Facts.
  • Gateway Motorsports Park is a multi-use facility that is home to a 1/4-mile drag strip, a 1.25-mile oval and a 1.5-mile road course; it is also the home of Gateway Kartplex, which is located in the infield.
  • The former St. Louis International Raceway Park was originally built as a drag racing facility in 1967. The first major event at the facility was a CART race on Memorial Day weekend in 1997, scheduled the day before the IRL’s Indianapolis 500 in the days of split series. The track was closed by former owner Dover Motorsports Inc. in Nov. 2010, but reopened in Sept. 2012 under the management of former Indy Lights driver Curtis Francois.
  • From 1997-2010, the track hosted the Busch/Nationwide (now Xfinity) Series, with Carl Edwards leading all drivers with three wins. A unique distinction to the track is its Nationwide Series qualifying record, which is held by both Brad Keselowski and Reed Sorenson, who each qualified with a lap of 33.158 seconds (135.714 mph) in July 2009; both drivers are credited with the record, but Keselowski was credited with the pole because he was higher in owner’s points.
  • GMP first hosted the Truck Series from 1998-2010, and again from 2014 to the present. In 17 races to date, only Ted Musgrave is a multiple-time winner (2001 and 2005). Chase Briscoe set the qualifying record for the Trucks in 2017 (32.888 seconds/136.828 mph).
  • Find out more about Gateway at www.gatewaymsp.com.