Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Fast Facts: Hailie Deegan

Hailie Deegan at the 2016 Drive for Diversity combine
credit: Brian Cleary/NASCAR via Getty Images
If NASCAR Next member Hailie Deegan‘s last name sounds familiar, then you’re probably a student of all kinds of motorsports: her father is Brian Deegan, the most decorated freestyle motorcross rider in XGames history who also raced in Global RallyCross and the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series. Learn more about the “Dirt Princess” in this week’s Fast Facts.
  • Hailie Deegan was born July 17, 2001 in Temecula, CA. She began racing at age 8 in off-road trucks, and progressed through a number of off-road series.
  • Deegan was the first female competitor to win a race and a championship in the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series. In 2015, she was the Lucas Oil Mod Kart Regional champion, which she followed up one year later as the overall Mod Kart champ. For 2017, she was the youngest competitor in the Pro Lite category.
  • 2016 also began a new adventure for Deegan, as she was part of NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity combine. In 2017, she was named the youngest member and only female member of the NASCAR Next class, and ventured into Late Model and Super Late Model racing during the season.
  • Deegan, who is a member of Toyota’s driver development program, recently announced a partnership with Under Armour and their #ShePlaysWeWin campaign. Both she and her father are Monster Energy athletes.
  • Learn more about Hailie Deegan on her Facebook page.


Monday, October 30, 2017

Travel Tips: Texas Motor Speedway – Nov. 2-5, 2017

credit: NASCAR Media
The next race in the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoffs is the AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. There’s on-track activity from Thursday through Sunday, Nov. 2-5, as the weekend features all three of NASCAR’s top series: the Camping World Truck Series, the Xfinity Series and the Cup Series.

Key on-track times:

Thursday, Nov. 2
  • Camping World Truck Series practice – 2 and 4 p.m. CT
Friday, Nov. 3
  • Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series practice – noon CT
  • Xfinity Series practice – 2 and 4 p.m. CT
  • Camping World Truck Series qualifying – 3 p.m. CT
  • Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series qualifying – 5:15 p.m. CT
  • Camping World Truck Series JAG Metals 350 Driving Hurricane Harvey Relief – 7 p.m. CT
Saturday, Nov. 4
  • Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series practice – 2and 4 p.m. CT
  • Xfinity Series qualifying – 5:05 p.m. CT
  • Xfinity Series O’Reilly Auto Parts 300 – 7:30 p.m. CT
Sunday, Nov. 5
  • Pat Green pre-race concert – 11 a.m. CT
  • Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series AAA Texas 500 – 1 p.m. CT
Fans can use the race fan checklist to make sure you don’t forget anything.

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

Right Sides Only: Notes from the First Data 500 Winning Crew Chief, Adam Stevens

by Stacey Owens

One crew chief knows he will contend for a championship in three weeks. Three others, as yet, do not know they will also vie for the first Monster Energy Cup. With Kyle Busch's win, Adam Stevens is the first crew chief to advance to the final round of the playoffs. Can he coach Busch to his second championship?

In post-race media discussions, Stevens addressed the Martinsville race finish before he talked about his team's championship hopes.

"Gosh, I don't even know where to start. It was a crazy race. You know, we had a good car. I don't feel like we had the best car. There were stretches where we were certainly capable of leading some laps and definitely top two, but we just kind of lost our track position there late with a bad pit stop after having just stellar pit stops all day long and had a slow one there at the end and got us back in traffic and really fought the balance late. Kind of fought it all weekend, really.
           
"But the last run of the race there, everybody was just set on kill and trading paint and using the bumper and short on tempers, and it got pretty exciting, like these Martinsville races usually do," Stevens explained.

The crew chief was asked about the merit of winning this particular race, the same race that 2016 eventual champion, Jimmie Johnson, won in the Round of 8 to advance to Homestead's finale.

"You know, it's important. You saw the guy that did it last year went and won the championship. I don't know if that bore any fruit for that, but that's what happened. We have the luxury of being able to focus on Homestead, think about Homestead, plan setups, plan practice and think about that weekend solely. But saying that, we still need to go these next two weeks and execute and perform and keep some momentum. You don't want to go and perform poorly and have bad days on pit road and think you're going to flip a light switch when you get to Homestead just because you got to look at a notebook longer than somebody else.
           
"The biggest thing is with only taking four cars there and three races in this round, you can have three Chase winners and only have one car get in on points, and with the bonus point advantage that the 78 has, you know, if he goes and finishes top six or seven, which would be hard to imagine that he wouldn't do that, you know, you're going to get locked out.
           
"You really need to focus on winning a race, and we were able to do that today," Stevens said.
Debbie Ross for Skirts and Scuffs
Since the No. 18 team is locked into the final race, does Stevens have any plans for the next two weeks?

"Ooh, that's a great question. I'm going to find a cup of coffee and see if I can get warm immediately is what I'm going to do. And then I'm going to work, going to work my guts out like I do every week, and we've only got three weeks to go. We're going to go try to build some momentum, have some strong finishes and good pit stops, really focus on pit practice, really focus on Homestead, review the notes from the 78 and the 11 test and our past notes and see if we can put a setup together and a practice plan and a race plan and go down there and race for a championship," Stevens explained.

Does he know how to get his team and his driver ready for that last race?

" Well, we're still trying to get the 11 down there, too. It's week to week. But certainly you'll have to kind of -- you're always looking forward, even through the season, you're not just looking at next week, you're looking two and three and four weeks ahead. So you know, I'm just going to have to carve a little time out of the next two and push that to the Homestead side. I couldn't really give you a percentage at this point, but definitely be thinking about Homestead," Stevens said.

Of course, he's thinking about Homestead. And after the next two races, three more crew chiefs will join him in thinking about Homestead, but only one will hoist that cup. Who will it be? We'll have to wait just a little while longer.

------------------------------------------
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, October 28, 2017

Trackin' Trucks: Noah Gragson earns first win at Martinsville

Noah Gragson climbs the catchfence after winning at Martinsville.
Credit: Debbie Ross for Skirts and Scuffs

by Courtney Horn

Noah Gragson earned his first career Camping World Truck Series victory Saturday afternoon during the Texas Roadhouse 200 at Martinsville Speedway, leading 10 laps and playing spoiler in the CWTS Playoffs.

Gragson made some impressive moves that lead the Rookie of the Year contender to the win. Gragson started fifth and took the lead on Lap 191 after a great restart alongside veteran Matt Crafton.

“We got that caution there at the end, and you can’t pass on the outside in Martinsville – and I did it,” Gragson said. “To be racing here in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, it’s a privilege and all those hours of hard work…

“I knew to myself this morning, I knew I could get it done. I’ve known it this whole year, and I told myself I’m going to get that trophy today, and that’s what we did.”

Gragson parked his No. 18 Toyota on the frontstretch and climbed the catchfence in celebration.

John Hunter Nemechek took another hit to his championship chances in the first race of the Round of 6. Nemechek was running in the 16th position when he smacked the outside wall of Turn 2 with no brakes.

Matt Crafton finished second after a dominating performance, leading 102 laps and securing the Stage 1 win. Johnny Sauter, who won Stage 2, finished third. Harrison Burton and Todd Gilliland rounded out the top five.

Points-leader Christopher Bell battled back from a mid-race spin to secure his 18th top 10 of the 2017 season. Bell, who was leading, spun on Lap 122 after a bump from Crafton. Bell recovered to finish eighth.

A Look Forward Into The Playoffs

The Camping World Truck Series head to Texas Motor Speedway on Friday, November 3, 2017.

Sauter is the defending winner of the race, while Nemechek is in a must-win situation to secure his place in the Final 4 at Homestead.Who will be victorious?

Find out November 3rd at 8 p.m ET on Fox Sports 1.

Friday, October 27, 2017

TV Schedule: Oct. 27-29

Martinsville Speedway. Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images
The third segment of the NASCAR playoffs, the Round of 8, kicks off at Martinsville. The Monster Energy Cup Series and the Camping World Truck Series converge on the famed Paperclip.

The XFINITY Series is on a break and will return next weekend at Texas.

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

Friday, Oct. 27:
1 p.m. Camping World Truck Series practice, FS1
3 p.m. Camping World Truck Series final practice, FS1

Saturday, Oct. 28:
10 a.m. Camping World Truck Series Qualifying, FS1
11:30 a.m. Monster Energy Cup Series practice, NBC Sports App
12:30 p.m. Camping World Truck Series Setup: Martinsville, FS1
1 p.m. Camping World Truck Series: Texas Roadhouse 200, FS1
3:45 p.m. Monster Energy Cup Series final practice, NBCSN

Sunday, Oct. 29:
9 a.m. Camping World Truck series Texas Roadhouse 200, FS1 (re-air)
11 a.m. NASCAR RaceDay: Martinsville, FS1
Noon Monster Energy Cup Series Qualifying, NBCSN
1 p.m. NASCAR America Sunday, NBCSN
2:30 p.m. Monster Energy Cup Series Countdown to Green: Martinsville, NBCSN
3 p.m. Monster Energy Cup Series: First Data 500, NBCSN
7 p.m. Monster Energy Cup Series Post-Race Show, NBCSN
7:30 p.m. NASCAR Victory Lap, NBCSN

Thursday, October 26, 2017

NASCAR Fantasy Fusion: First Data 500 at Martinsville

By Carol D'Agostino
Drivers with Most Top 10s (Last 5 Years):
By Race
Denny Hamlin - 4
All with 3 - Kyle Busch, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jimmie Johnson, Jamie McMurray, Matt Kenseth, Brad Keselowski and Clint Bowyer  

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

Recent Pole Winners:  
2016 Martin Truex Jr.
2015 Joey Logano

Last Year's Race Winner: Jimmie Johnson

The Likely Suspects: Martinsville isn't just about those unnaturally pink hot dogs wrapped in waxed paper. The racing at this track is fast and exciting. Add the dynamic of playoff racing, and it just turns the heat up a notch. My go-to drivers this week will be: Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jimmie Johnson, Jamie McMurray, Matt Kenseth, Brad Keselowski, Clint Bowyer and Joey Logano.

My 2 Cents: And then there were eight. With some significant drivers on the outside looking in, we can see some exciting spoilers in the near future. I would keep my eye on Matt Kenseth in the potential spoiler category this week. When finalizing your team this week remember that road racers are good at short tracks.

My no-brainer pick this week is a tie between Jimmie Johnson and Denny Hamlin. My next choices are Jamie McMurray, Clint Bowyer, A.J. Allmendinger and Ryan Newman. My final picks will be Ty Dillon and Michael McDowell.

My Final Four: Jimmie Johnson, Jamie McMurray, AJ Allmendinger and Michael McDowell.

Points to Ponder:
  • The first starting position is the most proficient starting spot in the field at Martinsville producing more wins (21) than any other starting position.
  • 36 of the 137 (26.3%) Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races at Martinsville Speedway have been won from the front row: 21 from the first starting position and 15 from second starting position.
  • Joey Logano, Ryan Newman, Denny Hamlin and Jimmie Johnson are tied among active drivers for the most Martinsville Coors Light poles with three each. 
  • 13 drivers have won two or more consecutive Coors Light poles at Martinsville Speedway; the most recent was Joey Logano who won three consecutive poles at Martinsville from 2015-2016. 
  • Hendrick Motorsports leads the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series in wins at Martinsville Speedway with 24. Among active Hendrick drivers Jimmie Johnson has nine wins and Dale Earnhardt Jr. (one).
  • 99 of the 137 (72.3%) Monster Energy NASCAR Cup races at Martinsville Speedway have been won from a top-10 starting position.
  • Only eight active drivers have won at Martinsville. Jimmie Johnson leads the series among active drivers with nine wins at Martinsville; followed by Denny Hamlin with five.
  • 24 drivers have multiple wins at Martinsville Speedway; nine drivers have won five or more times; two are active: Jimmie Johnson (nine) and Denny Hamlin (five). 
  • Joey Logano (9.1), Ryan Newman (9.3), and Denny Hamlin (9.7) each have an average starting position at Martinsville inside the top 10.
  • Joey Logano (17 starts) leads all active drivers in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series in average starting position at Martinsville Speedway with a 9.118.     
  • Jimmie Johnson leads all active drivers in runner-up finishes at Martinsville Speedway with four as well as top-five finishes with 19 and top 10s with 24. Dale Earnhardt Jr. trails Johnson in top-five finishes with 13.
  • Jimmie Johnson (31 starts) leads the series among active drivers in average finish at Martinsville Speedway with a 7.548.
Remember, if you're playing Yahoo! Fantasy Auto Racing, your pick deadline is Sunday, October 29, at 5 a.m. EDT.

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

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Rookie Stripe: Lingo to Know – the Frontstretch and the Backstretch

Photo Credit: Debbie Ross for Skirts and Scuffs
I’m far from a contortionist but I do love yoga, and the first time I heard the words frontstretch and backstretch uttered in NASCAR my ears perked up. To me, the passionate yogi, those words conjured up an image of limber muscles, but what they mean in racing is far from easy movement.

The actual definitions of the frontstretch and the backstretch are pretty simple, so as a rookie they’re great words to have in your ever-expanding collection of racing lingo. You know, just in case you need to impress someone.

The Frontstretch – Directly in front of the grandstands, where you might sit if you attend a NASCAR race, is a long, straight stretch of track. At each end is a curved loop where the track turns. This part of the track is called the frontstretch and is usually where the race will start. It is located between the first and fourth turns.

The Backstretch – On the opposite side of the start/finish line where the grandstands are is another straight section of track. It is parallel to the frontstretch, and it’s known as the backstretch. The backstretch lies between the second and third turn.

Fun fact: there are also frontstretches and backstretches in horse racing. Giddyap, y’all.
Photo Credit: Debbie Ross for Skirts and Scuffs
NASCAR tracks come in all different sizes and shapes but the most common is the oval-shaped track, which has a regular frontstretch and backstretch. But there are some exceptions. Pocono Raceway, also known as the Tricky Triangle, is a quirky track and is a tri-oval shaped 2.5 mile track with three corners. It has a front stretch but with three turns, technically doesn’t have a backstretch.

Banking, or how fast a car's downforce and velocity are through a turn, will affect the speed of race cars on both the frontstretch and backstretch. Both frontstretches and backstretches have varying degrees of banking, but not nearly as severe as the looped ends, or corners, of each track. Read more about how banking works.

They’re coming down the backstretch with just five laps to go…get ready for the Big One!

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Fast Facts: Chase Cabre

credit: NASCAR Media
NASCAR Next member Chase Cabre is following in his brother Collin’s footsteps, not just as a driver, but also as a NASCAR Next member and a member of NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity program. Learn more about his young talent in this week’s Fast Facts.
  • Chase Thomas Cabre was for Feb. 7, 1997 in Thonotosassa, FL. He got his first PW-50 motorcycle for Christmas when he was 3, and learned how to ride it with training wheels.
  • At age 6, Chase qualified for and finished sixth in the national championship on his bike, but one year later, his father Lou pulled the plug on the family team after injuries stacked up on the track.
  • In 2006, both Collin and Chase began racing dirt go karts, learning the sport over the next few years until Chase began racing 600cc micro sprints in 2011. From 2011-2013, Chase ran 600 mini sprints in two series, earning 12 wins and 18 top five finishes in 21 starts.
  • In 2016, Chase raced a Late Model in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series, picking up eight top 10s in eight starts. In 2017, he joined Collin at Rev Racing, becoming the first siblings to race together in the NASCAR Drive for Diversity program. Chase currently competes in the K&N Pro Series East.
  • Learn more about Chase Cabre at his website, www.chasecabre.com


Monday, October 23, 2017

Travel Tips: Martinsville Speedway – Oct. 27-29, 2017

credit: NASCAR Media
Just four races remain in the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs, and the First Data 500 at Virginia’s Martinsville Speedway is up next. The race goes green on Sunday, Oct. 29. Also on the schedule for the weekend is the Camping World Truck Series Texas Roadhouse 200 Presented by Alpha Energy Solutions on Saturday, Oct. 28.

Key on-track times:

Friday, Oct. 27 –
  • Camping World Truck Series practice – 1 and 3 p.m. ET
Saturday, Oct. 28
  • Camping World Truck Series qualifying – 10 a.m. ET
  • Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series practice – 11:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. ET
  • Camping World Truck Series Texas Roadhouse 200 Presented by Alpha Energy Solutions– 1 p.m. ET
Sunday, Oct. 29
  • Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series qualifying – 12:05 p.m. ET
  • Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series First Data 500 – 3 p.m. ET
Find Martinsville Speedway fan resources here, and the first-time visitor’s guide here.

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


Right Sides Only: Notes from the Hollywood Casino 400 Winning Crew Chief, Cole Pearn

by Stacey Owens

There are a number of drivers who work week in and week out to improve in their quest for their first win. Those drivers want nothing more than to chalk up a single win for themselves, their team, and their sponsors. Winning seven races? Those would be career numbers for those drivers. Not for Martin Truex Jr. who won his seventh race this season at the Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway.

The No. 78 team has performed at a higher level than most of the field since the 2017 season kicked off at Daytona International Speedway in February. Crew chief Cole Pearn talked about how they have been able to maintain their consistency throughout the season.

"I think it's just a testament to our group. We push every week like it's the most important race of the season to that point. I think if you have that mindset, that's what's going to keep you near the front of the pack. We've been fortunate enough to have strong cars. We continue to work to get them stronger.
           
"I don't know, I mean, we have a really set program that we run every week, how we approach the weekend. I think it's just a testament to our refinement of that over the time, the hard work of everybody at Toyota, JGR, Furniture Row," Pearn said.
Charlotte Bray for Skirts and Scuffs


During the red flag, Truex came over the radio and told Pearn he thought there was a chance that they could win. Given the team's recent successes on 1.5-mile tracks, was Pearn already thinking the same thing?

"Yeah, I mean, I think after everything that happened, we were starting the final stage in a decent spot somehow. So I think then he knocked off a really good restart, we missed that wreck, all of a sudden, boom, we're fourth, sitting with better tires than anybody in front of us. You think, Holy cow, we're in a pretty favorable position at this point," Pearn explained.

The win was, no doubt, bittersweet for the No. 78 team. On Saturday night, the team suffered a great loss. Jim Watson, the team's fabricator, died from a heart attack while in town for Sunday's race. The 55-year-old was with a group from the team who went out go-kart racing. 

According to Pearn, Watson was excited to go. As others raced, Watson had a heart attack and "kind of keeled over when they were done." Pearn said that Watson had texted his wife shortly before the cardiac event and relayed how much fun he was having. Pearn asked his team to, "Take a little bit of solace in that, that he was happy in his last moments."

With a pit road violation and the team's personal loss, Pearn still somehow managed to focus on the task at hand. 

"It's not easy at times. I think especially early on getting knocked out of the lead, it was tough. Then a loose wheel. Saving fuel in the middle of the race. It's just crazy.
            
"I don't know. We kept seeing how the situation was changing, trying to make the best call we could at the time. I think that's the only way we really know how to do it," Pearn said.
Lately, all the team really knows how to do is to win. It's something the remaining drivers in the playoffs know all too well. Pearn, of course, knows that each win is special but that they can't relax until that last lap at Homestead is complete.
"With this format, you can win 34 out of 36 races and lead everything but the last lap, [and] boom, you're not the champion.        
"You got to grasp every win and enjoy it, take all those highs just in case something happens in the last race," Pearn explained.
Just in case something happens. Anyone who has watched the No. 78 team this year knows that the "something" could very well be the team's first championship.
------------------------------------------
Stacey Owens lives just outside Music City USA. She's always wanted to be a NASCAR writer, so working as a columnist and support editor for Skirts and Scuffs allows her to live that dream every single weekend.
    The sole NASCAR enthusiast in her home, she's hopeful that one of her three daughters might also harbor an appreciation for NASCAR, but it isn't looking good so far.
    This self-admitted grammar nerd also loves country music, though she can't carry a tune; 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, October 20, 2017

TV Schedule: Oct. 20-22

Credit: Chris Trotman/Getty Images
It's elimination time. The second segment of the NASCAR playoffs comes to a close at Kansas Speedway. Which drivers will advance to the Round of 8?

The Monster Energy and the XFINITY Series descend on the 1.5-mile speedway. The Camping World Truck Series is on a break this week and will return next week at Martinsville.

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

Friday, Oct. 20:
12:30 p.m. Monster Energy Cup Series practice, NBCSN
2:30 p.m. XFINITY Series practice, NBC Sports App
5 p.m. XFINITY Series final practice, NBCSN
6 p.m. Monster Energy Cup Series Qualifying, NBCSN

Saturday, Oct. 21:
11 a.m. Monster Energy Cup Series practice, NBC Sports App
12 p.m. XFINITY Series Qualifying, NBCSN
1:30 p.m. Monster Energy Cup Series final practice, NBCSN
2:30 p.m. XFINITY Series Countdown to Green: Kansas, NBCSN
3 p.m. XFINITY Series: Kansas Lottery 300, NBC

Sunday, Oct. 22:
12 p.m. NASCAR RaceDay: Kansas, FS1
1 p.m. NASCAR America, NBCSN
2:30 p.m. Monster Energy Series Countdown to Green: Kansas, NBCSN
3 p.m. Monster Energy Cup Series: Hollywood Casino 400, NBCSN
6:30 p.m. Monster Energy Cup Series post-race, NBCSN
7 p.m. NASCAR Victory Lap, NBCSN
10 p.m. NASCAR Victory Lane: Kansas, FS1

Thursday, October 19, 2017

NASCAR Fantasy Fusion: Kansas Cutoff Race


By Carol D'Agostino

Drivers with Most Top 10s (Last 5 Years):
By Race
Both with 4 - Joey Logano and Jimmie Johnson
All with 3 - Kasey Kahne, Paul Menard and Kyle Busch 

By Track
All with 6 - Kevin Harvick, Jimmie Johnson and Joey Logano
All with 5 - Matt Kenseth, Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski
All with 4 - Martin Truex Jr., Kasey Kahne and Kurt Busch 

Recent Pole Winners:  
2016 Matt Kenseth
2015 Brad Keselowski

Last Year's Race Winner: Kevin Harvick

The Likely Suspects: Being back at a cookie cutter track will hopefully allow us all to regain some points after the Talladega crash fest. Look for these drivers to run well this weekend: Joey Logano, Jimmie Johnson, Kasey Kahne, Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick, Matt Kenseth, Brad Keselowski and Martin Truex Jr. 

My 2 Cents: With Talladega in the rearview mirror, we should all be taking a collective sigh of relief. Not so fast. Kansas is a cutoff race this year. My no-brainer pick this week is Mr. Cookie Cutter himself Martin Truex Jr. My next choices are Jimmie Johnson, Kasey Kahne, Ryan Blaney, Paul Menard and Kurt Busch. I will complete my team with Ty Dillon and Daniel Suarez.

My Final Four: Martin Truex Jr., Kasey Kahne, Kurt Busch and Ty Dillon.

Points to Ponder:
  • Fifteen drivers have Coors Light poles at Kansas, led by Kevin Harvick, Jimmie Johnson, Matt Kenseth and Kasey Kahne with three each. 
  • Jimmie Johnson and Kevin Harvick are the only two drivers to win consecutive Coors Light poles at Kansas Speedway (Johnson: 2007-2008 and Harvick: fall of 2013-spring 2014 sweep).
  • Eight drivers have won the pole for the Playoff races at Kansas. The five active drivers are: Kasey Kahne (three), Jimmie Johnson, Kevin Harvick, Matt Kenseth (two each) and Brad Keselowski.
  • There have been14 different winners at Kansas Speedway, led by Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson with three each. Nine of the 14 Kansas winners are currently active. 
  • Eight different drivers have won the Kansas Playoff races. Active drivers are led by Jimmie Johnson (2008 and 2011), Kevin Harvick (2013 and 2016) and Joey Logano. 
  • Hendrick Motorsports leads the series in wins at Kansas with six: Jeff Gordon (three: 2001, 2002 and 2014) and Jimmie Johnson (three: 2008, 2011 and 2015).
  • Matt Kenseth is the only active Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver that has posted consecutive wins at Kansas Speedway (fall 2012, spring 2013).  
  • Kevin Harvick has the series most runner-up finishes at Kansas with three, followed by Carl Edwards, Kasey Kahne, Martin Truex Jr and Ryan Newman with two each.   
  • Jeff Gordon leads the series in top-five finishes at Kansas Speedway with 11, followed by Jimmie Johnson with nine, while Kevin Harvick, Carl Edwards, Matt Kenseth and Greg Biffle each have seven. 
  • Jimmie Johnson leads the series in top-10 finishes at Kansas with 17, followed by Jeff Gordon (14), Carl Edwards (13) and Matt Kenseth (13). 
  • The top five active Kansas Playoff race lap leaders (2004-2016) are: Matt Kenseth (590 laps led, 18%), Jimmie Johnson (536 laps led, 16%), Kevin Harvick (329 laps led, 10%), Joey Logano (199 laps led, 8%) and Dale Earnhardt Jr. (114 laps led, 4%).   
  • Jimmie Johnson (22 starts) leads all active drivers in the MENCS at Kansas Speedway with an average finishing position of 9.591.
Remember, if you're playing Yahoo! Fantasy Auto Racing, your pick deadline is Friday, October 20, at 5 a.m. EDT.

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

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Fast Facts Redux: Gray Gaulding

Gray Gaulding at Charlotte in Oct. 2017
credit: Debbie Ross/Skirts & Scuffs
Gray Gaulding earned the first top 10 finish of his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series career on Sunday, surviving the wreck-filled race at Talladega Superspeedway to come home ninth. Get some updated information on this young driver in this week’s Fast Facts, originally published in June 2014.
  • Gray Gaulding was born Feb. 10, 1998 in Colonial Heights, VA. He began racing motorbikes at age 4 and moved into four-wheel vehicles at age 9. He raced Bandoleros at age 10, winning in his first race.
  • Gaulding became the youngest driver in the NASCAR Legends Division at age 12, winning a Legends car national championship that season. He also beat Cup Series champ Kevin Harvick in a karting event at Harvick’s track, earning himself a driver development program spot with Kevin Harvick Inc. At age 13, Gaulding raced Super Late Models and was named Rookie of the Year in the Pro All Stars Series (PASS), the youngest driver to ever win the award.
  • In 2013 at age 15, Gaulding raced in the K&N Pro Series East and West, winning the pole at Richmond International Raceway and becoming the youngest pole winner in K&N Series history (15 years, two months, 15 days). Later in the year, he became the youngest race winner in K&N West history at Phoenix International Raceway (15 years, eight months, 30 days).
  • In 2014, while Gaulding competed in both K&N Pro Series and the Camping World Truck Series for NTS Motorsports, he was named a member of the NASCAR Next program. Gaulding finished third in K&N Pro Series East competition that season with nine top 10 finishes in 16 races.
  • After competing on a limited schedule in the Truck Series in 2015, Gaulding joined the Roush Fenway Racing driver development program in 2016, then signed on with BK Racing for the 2017 season in the Cup Series.
  • Learn more about Gaulding at his website, www.graygaulding.com


Monday, October 16, 2017

Travel Tips: Kansas Speedway – Oct. 20-22, 2017

credit: NASCAR Media
The Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Kansas will mark Race No. 6 in the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs, with action taking place Friday through Sunday, October 20-22. Also on the weekend schedule: the Xfinity Series and the ARCA Racing Series.

Add to your racing experience at Kansas Speedway with a FanWalk ticket for Friday or Saturday – just a $15 add-on to your grandstand ticket – or get a Pre-Race Pass for Sunday’s Cup Series race for $75 more. Find out about these and other add-ons here, and see a FanWalk schedule here.

Key on-track times:

Friday, Oct. 20 –
  • ARCA Racing Series practice – 9:30 a.m. CT
  • Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series practice – noon CT
  • Xfinity Series practice – 1:30 and 4 p.m. CT
  • ARCA Racing Series qualifying – 2:30 p.m. CT
  • Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series qualifying – 5:15 p.m. CT
  • ARCA Racing Series race – 7:30 p.m. CT
Saturday, Oct. 21 –
  • Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series practice – 10 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. CT
  • Xfinity Series qualifying – 11:05 a.m. CT
  • Xfinity Series Kansas Lottery 300 – 2 p.m. CT
Sunday, Oct. 22 –
  • Pre-race concert with Smash Mouth – 12:15 p.m. CT (time approximate)
  • Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Hollywood Casino 400 – 2 p.m. CT
Click here for the Kansas Speedway Guest Guide.

Find out more about the race and purchase tickets at www.kansasspeedway.com

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Brad Keselowski Gets Fifth Talladega Victory

Brad Keselowski celebrates in Victory Lane in Talladega, Alabama on October 15, 2017
Credit: Jared C. Tilton

by Courtney Horn

Brad Keselowski survived a wild and chaotic day in Alabama to earn his fifth victory at Talladega SuperSpeedway, leading seven laps and advancing into the next round of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs.

Keselowski, who earned the 24th victory of his MENCS career, battled with communication issues most of the day during the Alabama 500.

“It’s a special day any day you can win, but to win at Talladega for the fifth time is something I was never sure I’d have the opportunity to do.” Keselowski said,” Just winning here once felt pretty incredible, and it’s hard to believe that was eightsome years ago.”

“To win here again, it still feels pretty darned good. It doesn’t feel much different. I’m a little older now, but yeah, you never know when your first win or last win could be, and I want to of course soak this one up and be thankful for it.”

Ryan Newman scored his 12th top-10 finish of the season with second, followed by Trevor Bayne, Joey Logano, and Aric Almirola.

There were multiple playoff contenders involved in wrecks during the Alabama 500, with Jamie McMurray taking the biggest hit to his championship hopes early in the race.

On Lap 27 Erik Jones got into the back of the Chip Ganassi Racing driver while the leaders began to pit. The incident also ended the days of Jeffrey Earnhardt, Justin Marks, and Mark Thompson.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished seventh after avoiding multiple wrecks throughout the day, including the “Big One” on Lap 171.

“I thought the car had enough to win before we bent the splitter down, and it was a great car all weekend.” Earnhardt explained, “I’m glad to be able to finish and finish well. That means a lot to me. I know a lot of folks came and traveled here to see us run, so I know their disappointed we didn’t win, but I’m glad they got to see us run the whole event, and hopefully they enjoyed it.”

Martin Truex Jr. took the blame for a 16-car pile-up that resulted in the Furniture Row Racing driver finishing in the 23rd position. Truex made contact with the No. 38 of David Ragan and collected Kyle Busch, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., among three other playoff contenders.

There were 11 cautions during the Alabama 500, three resulting in red flags.

Ryan Blaney and Kevin Harvick suffered significant damage that resulted in the drivers not being able to continue. The accident occurred when Joey Logano got loose while going three wide with Blaney and the No. 6 of Trevor Bayne.

Bayne and Logano were able to continue, earning third and fourth place finishes, respectively.

Rookie Daniel Suarez finished 15th despite being involved in a multi-car accident that resulted in the longest red flag of the evening, at 17 minutes and 14 seconds. Suarez was leading when Chase Elliott turned him from behind. Elliott finished 16th.

Keselowski’s victory came in his 300th start. He sits second in points, 19 points behind leader Martin Truex Jr.

The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series head to Kansas Speedway on Sunday, October 22, 2017. Coverage starts at 3 p.m ET on the NBC Sports Network.

Furniture Row Racing Announces Unique Partnership

Credit: Carol D'Agostino for Skirts and Scuffs

by Courtney Horn

Furniture Row Racing has announced a deal with Bass Pro Shops and 5-hour ENERGY® to co-sponsor Martin Truex Jr. for the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season.

In the 30-race deal, Bass Pro Shops will be the primary sponsor on the hood for 16 races and 5-hour ENERGY for 14 races.

“It’s not often, I think, that you can get two sponsors to work together as well as what we have 5-hour and Bass Pro doing here,” Furniture Row Racing team owner Barney Visser said. “These two companies have been really strong supporters of ours. They had an opportunity with the artwork that was done, and I think you’ll see a little bit of that later. To increase their exposure overall with the same spin that they had, I think it’s a win-win situation for everybody.”

A part of the unique deal includes 5-hour ENERGY being sold inside all Bass Pro Shop and Cabela stores. And 5-hour ENERGY will also have 15- and 30-second video commercials on display.

“I think for me, just proud today to be a part of this team, to see the excitement of Johnny (Morris) and Rise’(Meguiar) and represent to great visible, successful companies.”

The No. 78 Toyota will be called the No. 78 5-hour ENERGY/Bass Pro Shops Toyota or the No. 78 Bass Pro Shops/5-hour ENERGY Toyota.

The Furniture Row Racing No. 78 team will be fully funded for the 2018 season, pending an announcement for the remaining two events of the MENCS schedule.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Trackin’ Trucks: Parker Kligerman Wins Fred’s 250 at Talladega

Credit: Debbie Ross for Skirts and Scuffs

by Courtney Horn

Parker Kligerman made some noise Saturday afternoon in Talladega, Alabama capturing the second victory of his career in the Fred’s 250 Powered by Coca-Cola.

Kligerman, who drives the No. 75 Toyota, led just three laps before pulling into Victory Lane in an overtime finish.

“It’s an honor to race for this team because they’re one of the oldest racing teams in NASCAR,” Kligerman said, “But to win with them is unbelievable.”

Christopher Bell, who clinched his way into Round 2 of the Camping World Truck Series Playoffs at New Hampshire, finished second. Myatt Snider earned the first top-5 finish of his career with third, followed by Grant Enfinger and Austin Cindric.

It was a wild and anxious day for the drivers trying to point their way into the Round of 6. Kaz Grala, who was seventh coming into the weekend, was eliminated from contention after being collected in a wreck early in the race.

The final spot came down to an extensive battle between John Hunter Nemechek and Chase Briscoe.

Briscoe was black flagged on Lap 8 and forced to go to the garage to repair a mechanical issue. He was able to return after nine laps. The Brad Keselowski Racing driver received a break on Lap 59 when a multi-truck accident left playoff contenders damaged.

John Hunter Nemechek suffered damage to the left and right side of his No. 8 Chevrolet after the No. 27 of Ben Rhodes got loose, but Nemechek survived to finish sixth and advanced into the next round of playoffs on points.

The “Big One” came ten laps later when the No. 51 of Myatt Snider made contact with Cody Coughlin, sending the ThorSport Racing driver airborne and on top of Chris Fontaine.

A Look Ahead Into The Playoffs 

The Camping World Truck Series head to Martinsville Speedway in two weeks to start the second round of the playoffs on October 28, 2017.

Bell remains the points leader after earning a top-5 for the 13th time of 2017.

Johnny Sauter won the race a year ago after leading 33 laps. Can he repeat to clinch his way into the Round of 4 and close the gap on Bell?

Find out on October 28th as the CWTS stars return to the Paper Clip. Coverage begins at 1 p.m ET on Fox Sports 1.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Dale Earnhardt Jr. Hopes for One Last Dega Victory

Credit: Debbie Ross for Skirts and Scuffs

by Courtney Horn

Six-time Talladega winner Dale Earnhardt Jr. is looking to add to his legacy this weekend at the track where his family has had so much success. Earnhardt Jr., who announced his retirement in April, will be making his 35th and final start at the superspeedway this Sunday.

“We’ve been looking at this race as a great opportunity for us to come in and get an awesome run or finish and maybe a win,” Earnhardt said. “Just been focusing on the car and trying to get the car to be as good as possible. Make sure it’s driving the way we need to drive it so we can be aggressive in the race.”

Earnhardt said he hasn’t thought about the extra emotions in his final start in the Alabama 500, but acknowledged the motivation the fans provide when coming to see him race well.

“I do know this place has been great to me. We got a lot of fans that come to see us run here, because they see it as a great opportunity to see us run well.”

Earnhardt Jr. will be honored state-wide on Sunday, October 15, 2017 as Governor Kay Ivey declared it “Dale Earnhardt Jr Day” in the state of Alabama.

Earnhardt Jr., who has 12 top-5s and 16 top-10s along with his wins at the 2.5-mile track, will miss learning how to make his car better to work in the draft.

“You either love it or you hate it.” Earnhardt said of plate racing, “It seems like there’s no middle ground.”

“I always enjoy coming to the track and trying to figure out what’s working in the draft and what’s changed and as you change the cars, and we’re gonna have a brand new Camaro next year, how will that work in the draft. I always kinda liked to find that out. Just be able to make moves and find your way up toward the front. That’s always fun when you do something that your team gets excited about.”

Earnhadt Jr. had hoped to wear the helmet camera during Sunday’s event to prepare for his transition into broadcasting, but it obstructs his vision too much. He hopes to wear it at another event before season's end.

“I wanted to wear it one time before the end of the year, so if we saw it next year I could talk about it with some experience.” He explained, “I’ve always felt like if it motivated you, bring it on. Add it to the puzzle.”

Sunday’s Alabama 500 at Talladega SuperSpeedway starts at 2 p.m ET on NBC.



Stage points key for Nemechek at Talladega


John Hunter Nemechek at the NCWTS Playoff Media Day
Credit: Bob Leverone

by Courtney Horn

John Hunter Nemechek enters this weekend eighth place in the standings in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, 14 points below the cutoff. 

The NEMCO Motorsports driver is looking for his third win of the season to advance into the second round of the CWTS playoffs. 

“We have some points to make up, but the stage points definitely play a factor into this year,” Nemechek said. “If this was last year, it would be a must win situation.”

A blown engine took Nemechek out of contention a year ago, but the 20-year-old looks to turn his luck around this year for the first superspeedway victory of his career. 

“We’re just going to go out and do the best we can," he said. "We stayed a lot at the shop this week, late nights working on our truck making sure that everything that’s in our control. We eliminated all mistakes. We just have to run our race, hopefully run up front, win stages, and win the race would be the best thing for us.”

A win would guarantee Nemechek a spot in the next round, but with some help he could make it on points.

“There’s some great guys that are in the field,” he said, “I know Johnny Sauter is a really good friend. There’s been a few guys that I’ve been able to work with in the past running at Talladega twice and Daytona twice. So just being able to work with them in the draft in years past, I think we all gained respect for each other.”

Nemechek’s best showing at Talladega came two years ago when he finished 11th. 

The fred’s 250 Powered by Coca-Cola runs Saturday at 1 p.m ET on FOX, where two Truck Series drivers will be eliminated. Then the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Coors Light Pole Qualifying begins at 4:15 p.m ET on the NBC Sports Network. 

Thursday, October 12, 2017

NASCAR Fantasy Fusion: Round Two, Race Two at Talladega


by Carol D'Agostino

Drivers with Most Top 10s (Last 5 Years):
By Race
All with 3 - Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ryan Newman, Clint Bowyer, Kurt Busch and Brad Keselowski
All with 2 -Kevin Harvick, Joey Logano, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Matt Kenseth, Paul Menard, Kyle Busch, David Ragan and Martin Truex Jr.  

By Track
All with 5 - Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Clint Bowyer, Kurt Busch and Paul Menard  
All with 4 - Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski and Martin Truex Jr.
All with 3 - Jimmie Johnson, Ryan Newman, Aric Almirola, Kyle Busch, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jamie McMurray, Denny Hamlin and David Ragan

Recent Pole Winners:  
2016 Martin Truex Jr.
2015 Jeff Gordon

Last Year's Race Winner: Joey Logano

The Likely Suspects: Talladega fantasy picking is a bit nerve-wracking. You can pick based on past performance, but it is so easy to get caught up in someone else's bad day. Check out DNFs and pick restrictor-plate greats, and then pray a lot!

I'll be focusing on these drivers: Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr., Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ryan Newman, Clint Bowyer, Kurt Busch, Kevin Harvick, Matt Kenseth, Paul Menard, David Ragan, Jimmie Johnson and Jamie McMurray.

My 2 Cents: My no-brainer pick this week is Ricky Stenhouse Jr. My next picks are Brad Keselowski and Dale Earrnhardt Jr. I will round out my team with Clint Bowyer, Kurt Busch and Jamie McMurray. I'll finish it up with David Ragan and Ty Dillon.

My Final Four: Brad Keselowski, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., Kurt Busch and David Ragan

Points to Ponder:
  • The winner of the Talladega Superspeedway Playoff race has never gone on to win the title in the same season.
  • Eleven different drivers have won the pole for Talladega’s Playoff races. Kasey Kahne and Martin Truex Jr. are the only active drivers who earned a pole at a Talladega playoff race. 
  • Five active drivers are tied for the second-most poles at Talladega with one each – Martin Truex Jr., Jimmie Johnson, Kevin Harvick, Kasey Kahne, Chase Elliott and Ricky Stenhouse Jr..
  • The outside front row (second-place) starting position is the most proficient starting spot in the field, producing more winners (20) than any other at Talladega. 
  • Almost three-quarters (68 of the 96) of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races at Talladega have been won from a top-10 starting position.
  • A non-Playoff driver has won the MENCS Playoff race at Talladega Superspeedway five times. Among active drivers Jamie McMurray has done it twice (2009 and 2013). Clint Bowyer also won in 2011.
  • Richard Childress Racing and Hendrick Motorsports are tied for the most wins at Talladega in the MENCS with 12 each. 
  • Ten different drivers have won the Talladega Playoff races, led by Clint Bowyer, Jamie McMurray and Joey Logano with two each. 
  • Nine drivers in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series have posted consecutive wins at Talladega. Dale Earnhardt Jr. leads the series in consecutive wins at Talladega after posting four straight from the fall of 2001-2003.  
  • Dale Earnhardt Jr. leads all active drivers with six wins at Talladega, followed by Brad Keselowski with four.
  • Dale Earnhardt Jr. leads all active drivers with most runner-up finishes at Talladega with five, most top-five finishes with 12, most top-10s with 27. Kurt Busch leads all active drivers with 18.
  • Ricky Stenhouse Jr. leads all active drivers in the MENCS in average finishing position at Talladega with a 10.375.
  • Dale Earnhardt Jr. leads all active drivers in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series in laps led at Talladega with 960 laps led, followed by Matt Kenseth with 517. 
Remember, if you're playing Yahoo! Fantasy Auto Racing, your pick deadline is Saturday, October 14, at 5 a.m. EDT.

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

TV Schedule: Oct. 13-15

Talladega Superspeedway. Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images
Talladega Speedway is as exciting as it is volatile. The 2.66-mile superspeedway hosts the wildcard race of NASCAR's playoffs.

The Monster Energy and Camping World Truck Series converge on Talladega this weekend. The XFINITY Series is on a break and will return next week at Kansas.

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

Friday, Oct. 13:
12 p.m. Camping World Truck Series practice at Talladega, FS1
1 p.m. Monster Energy Cup Series practice at Talladega, NBCSN
2 p.m. Camping World Truck Series practice at Talladega, FS1
3 p.m. Monster Energy Cup Series final practice at Talladega, NBCSN

Saturday, Oct. 14:
10:30 a.m. Camping World Truck Series Qualifying at Talladega, FS1
12:30 p.m. Camping World Truck Series Pre-Race Show, FOX
1 p.m. Camping World Truck Series fred’s 250 Powered by Coca-Cola at Talladega, FOX
4 p.m. Monster Energy Cup Series Qualifying, NBCSN

Sunday, Oct. 15:
11:30 a.m. NASCAR RaceDay, FS1
1 p.m. Monster Energy Cup Series Countdown to Green, NBC
2 p.m. Monster Energy Cup Series Alabama 500 at Talladega, NBC
6 p.m. Monster Energy Cup Series Post-Race Show at Talladega, NBCSN
6:30 p.m. NASCAR Victory Lap, NBCSN
11:30 p.m. NASCAR Victory Lane, FS1

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Caption This Winner for 10-8-17: Ella Dean


Congratulations to Ella Deanwho contributed the winning caption for this photo of
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 

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 again for a new photo and your next chance to submit a caption.
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Rookie Stripe: Not Quite as Easy as ABC – The Classroom for NASCAR’s Best Athletes

Photo credit: Logan Stewart for Skirts and Scuffs
By Logan Stewart

Not very far from Charlotte Motor Speedway, down a small side road, sits a nondescript metal building with a few small windows. On most days, the garage doors in the back are open, and if you listen closely you’ll hear the shrill squeal of an air gun. Inside is one of the most unique training camps around; a top-notch facility for pit crew development. 

Xcalibur Pit School, a premier pit crew training school, offers instruction from basic to expert for anyone hoping to launch a pit crew career. Run by Chuck Efaw, a former pit crew member, and his father-in-law Jeff Rudd, the programs offer the same tools and equipment used in ARCA and NASCAR for pit road pit stops. An indoor pit stop facility provides shelter for days when cold or rainy weather won’t permit outdoor practice. XCalibur students are men and women with an eye on going over the wall and a drive for a NASCAR job. Many are high school or college age, but some are older graduates of the school just trying to keep their skills current and the door open for work.

Something important to know about working in NASCAR: there are no teacher’s pets in racing.

Covering ground

It can be a long road to become a pit crew member in NASCAR’s top series. NASCAR sometimes recruits from professional sports, but many work their way up through the ranks to one of these elite positions. When most people think of NASCAR, they associate it with the popular Monster Energy Cup Series. And like the sport itself, working on a NASCAR pit crew can be a grueling, high-speed job. The craftsmanship of a successful NASCAR team is painstaking, synchronous work, and a team’s pit crew members need to be skilled athletes who excel at their jobs. Experience, adroitness and teamwork get the job done.

According to Efaw, XCalibur has around 60 students enrolled at any given time. Many are trying to improve their skills to earn a coveted, competitive spot on a top Monster Energy Cup series team. It’s tough practice for a tough job; in a given day students are divided into teams and repetitively practice over-the-wall drills. They sweat. The physicality of the job wears on them.

Photo credit: Logan Stewart for Skirts and Scuffs

A need for speed

Beyond pit crew training, XCalibur has a big role: putting together pit crews for ARCA and Xfinity races. Besides the students who show up to practice day to day, Efaw and Rudd’s school normally has 60-70 more students and former students pitting these series on weekends. The better they are, the more chance they have to pit a race.

XCalibur works as a one-stop shop. They decide which students and former students will pit races and in what formation. They manage itineraries, team rosters, team communications, and booking hotels, rental cars and flights. At any given ARCA race, XCalibur Pit School puts together anywhere from 11-16 pit crew teams to work the race. If they have enough ARCA teams they can sometimes buy flights, which cost tens of thousands of dollars to charter, depending on the distance, but rental vans and cars are more common. The Xfinity season is 33 races, the truck season is 23 races and the ARCA season is 20 races.

Efaw emphasizes how draining the travel can be for his students and pit crews, especially when they travel by van. He has had crews pit a race in Iowa, drive to Kentucky to pit a race, drive home to North Carolina, and fly back to Iowa to pit again the next morning.

That’s a tough schedule, student or not.
Photo credit: Logan Stewart for Skirts and Scuffs
But for many XCalibur Pit School students, the speed and competition and drive to part of the sport that to them is so innately American makes the effort worth it.

And for most fans, they pass the test with flying colors.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Fast Facts: Chase Purdy

credit: NASCAR Media
NASCAR Next member Chase Purdy added another Rookie of the Year award to his resume a few weeks ago at Dover International Speedway – find out about this award and his others in this week’s Fast Facts.
  • Chase Purdy was born Nov. 1, 1999 in Tuscaloosa, AL. His racing career began in go-karts at age 9, where he won multiple times before moving up to Bandolero cars at age 12 and Legends cars at age 15.
  • Purdy won the U.S. Legends Young Lions Division National Championship in 2015 before making his full-sized stock car debut in Late Models in 2016. In his first season in NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Late Models, Purdy earned 10 wins and 20 top 10 finishes in 21 starts in 2016. For his efforts, Purdy was named the All-American Series Rookie of the Year, as well as the South Carolina Rookie of the Year and state champion. Purdy was also the runner-up in the Pro Division in the Bojangle’s Summer Shootout Series for U.S. Legends cars at Charlotte Motor Speedway that year.
  • Purdy joined David Gilliland Racing in Super Late Models in 2016, and in 2017 competed in the K&N Pro Series East for DGR. In his first season in the K&N Series, Purdy finished fourth in points with eight top 10s and four poles in 14 races, and took home the Rookie of the Year award. Purdy also competed in three ARCA Racing Series events, earning two top 10 finishes.
  • Learn more about Purdy at chasepurdyracing.com.



Monday, October 9, 2017

Travel Tips: Talladega Superspeedway – Oct. 13-15, 2017

credit: NASCAR Media
It’s the middle race in Round Two of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs: The Alabama 500 at Talladega Superspeedway takes place Sunday, Oct. 15. Also on the schedule for the weekend: the Camping World Truck Series’ Fred’s 250 on Saturday, Oct. 14.

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

There will be a Camping World Truck Series autograph session on Friday at 3 p.m. CT in the Legend’s Village behind the Birmingham Tower outside the frontstretch. On Friday night, the “Big One on the Blvd” kicks off at 7 p.m. CT with a parade beginning in the Turn 3 end of the track. There will also be games and more following the parade. Find out more here.

Key on-track times:

Friday, Oct. 13 –
  • Camping World Truck Series practice – 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. CT
  • Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series practice – noon and 2 p.m. CT
Saturday, Oct. 14 –
  • Camping World Truck Series qualifying – 9:30 a.m. CT
  • Camping World Truck Series fred’s 250 Powered by Coca-Cola– noon CT
  • Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series qualifying – 3:15 p.m. CT
Sunday, Oct. 15
  • Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Alabama 500 – 1 p.m. CT
Get more information and purchase tickets for this weekend’s race at www.talladegasuperspeedway.com.

An emotional win for Martin Truex Jr. at Charlotte

Martin Truex Jr. victorious at Charlotte
Credit: Debbie Ross/Skirts and Scuffs

By Lisa Janine Cloud

Martin Truex Jr. added a sixth checkered flag to the side of the No. 78 Furniture Row Camry Sunday evening at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Not only did he pad his points lead, but he will automatically advance to the next round of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Playoffs. 

While being interviewed by Krista Voda in Victory Lane, Truex Jr. struggled to keep his voice steady but ended up turning away from the cameras to compose himself before continuing with post-race interviews and activities.

Later, in the media center, Truex Jr. explained the rush of emotions included thoughts of his long-time girlfriend Sherry Pollex, who watched the race from home after having another round of chemotherapy this past Monday.

“I couldn't hold it in anymore. Yeah, Sherry, I was thinking about her because she's not here, and I know she really wanted to be. She hates missing ‑‑ seeing our guys succeed. I know our guys love having her around when we win, and she's a fun person to celebrate with, so I thought about that. I thought about winning this first race of the round, the pressure coming off. Just a lot of things, I guess, you know. I was worn out. I just lost it for a minute.”

Truex Jr.’s perspective has been shaped by the roller coaster ride his career has taken. Despite back-to-back Xfinity Series championships, his Cup career yielded only three wins in 10 full seasons prior to 2016. He had four victories in 2016 and led 425 more laps than any other driver but a blown engine at Talladega put him out of contention for the championship. If something could go wrong with a race car, it went wrong for Truex Jr.

“For a long time, it was rough, right, so this sport is humbling as hell,” he said. “You never know what can happen next week. You could win 10 races in a row and then all of a sudden you can't do anything right, you know. So just dealing with the ups and downs and keeping that kind of even keel and keeping your head on straight and understanding the things that are truly important.

“All those things are what I've really learned, and when you get out of the car after a big win, you start thinking about all that stuff, and that's when it hits you. It just hits you like a ton of bricks, and it hit me today in Victory Lane and all of a sudden you can't talk. You feel like an idiot, but there's just so many things that you're thinking about and so much emotion and so much you're thankful for because this stuff is so hard, and you never know if you'll get another chance to do it. You just never know. It's definitely an unbelievable feeling.”

Credit: Debbie Ross/Skirts and Scuffs

Truex Jr. acknowledged that while he enjoys seeing his team succeed, he still feels good about his own success, about finally having something to show for the effort he's expended.

“It's just a really fun group," Truex Jr. said. "They really appreciate it. They work so hard. They put so many hours into this and so much time away from their family. It's nice to see them have success, and you know, for me I enjoy that as much as the wins myself, just seeing them succeed and seeing them be happy and seeing their hard work pay off.

“It also feels pretty damned good for me just after all those years of heartbreaks and getting close and not catching the breaks and all the things going the way you don't want them to, that hey, sometimes it is your turn. That feels good, as well,”