Monday, November 12, 2018

Travel Tips: Homestead-Miami Speedway – Nov. 16-18, 2018

credit: NASCAR Media

The championships for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup, Xfinity, and Camping World Truck Series will be decided this weekend, Friday through Sunday, Nov. 16-18, during Ford Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Florida. Four drivers in each division will be vying for their respective titles as the 2018 season comes to a close.

On Friday, Nov. 16 beginning at 7:30 a.m. ET, the Hot Rods and Reels Charity Fishing Tournament takes place on the infield lake at HMS. The event, which benefits the Darrell Gwynn Quality of Life Chapter of the Buoniconti Fund to Cure Paralysis, allows fans to spend quality one-on-one time with top NASCAR personalities; past participants have included Tony Stewart, Martin Truex Jr., Ryan Newman, and Clint Bowyer. Find out more about the tournament here.

Check out the Ford Car Show on Sunday, Nov. 18 from 9:30 a.m.-2 p.m. ET on Speedway Blvd. near Gate 1. Only 150 spots are available for the show, and NASCAR celebrities will be on hand to judge the cars – find out more here.

Key on-track times:

Friday, Nov. 16
  • Camping World Truck Series practice – 8:45 and 10:05 a.m. ET
  • Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series practice – 1:35 p.m. ET
  • Xfinity Series practice – 2:35 and 5:05 p.m. ET
  • Camping World Truck Series qualifying – 3:45 p.m. ET
  • Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series qualifying – 6:10 p.m. ET
  • Camping World Truck Series Ford EcoBoost 200 – 8 p.m. ET
Saturday, Nov. 17
  • Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series practice – 11:35 a.m. and 2 p.m. ET
  • Xfinity Series qualifying – 12:35 p.m. ET
  • Xfinity Series Ford EcoBoost 300 – 3:30 p.m. ET
Sunday, Nov. 18
  • Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 – 2:30 p.m. ET
Find a complete weekend schedule here.

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

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Trackin’ Trucks: Brett Moffitt Wins at ISM Raceway

Credit: Debbie Ross for Skirts and Scuffs


by Courtney Horn

Brett Moffitt earned his fifth victory of the season on Friday night at ISM Raceway, along with the chance to compete for the championship next weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Moffitt went from the third position to first in the remaining laps on the final restart of the night, ultimately winning by .456 seconds over second-place finisher Noah Gragson.

“I wasn’t sure if I wanted a caution to come out or not, but in hindsight I did,” Moffitt said. “Where we were sitting, we were locked into Homestead mathematically. When that caution came out, I was kind of nervous. I didn’t know what was going to happen. Then when the 18 (Gragson) took the top (lane for the restart), I really didn’t know what the hell was going to happen.

“I was just hoping the 98 (Enfinger) got rolling to where he didn’t stack up the inside, and fortunately he got a good restart, and I dove down to the apron. Our truck was really good running the actual apron through (Turns) 1 and 2 all night long. I made a lot of passes there. I stuck it down there and went for it and was able to clear off (Turn) 2 and drive away.”

Gragson earned his way into the Championship 4 on points over Enfinger, who was in contention to win the race before the No. 54 of Riley Herbst spun in Turn 4.

A spin by John Hunter Nemechek brought out a red flag that lasted 10 minutes and 47 seconds. Nemechek finished 29th.

A Look Ahead to the finale

The Camping World Truck Series season finale is set for next Friday at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Moffitt joins teammates Justin Haley and Johnny Sauter who secured their way into the Championship 4 with wins. Haley earned his place with his win last weekend at Texas, while Sauter won at Martinsville on Oct. 27th.

Sauter has the best finish at Homestead of the four drivers competing for the title. He won at the 1.5-mile track in 2011.

The four drivers will battle it out for the championship on November 16th at 8 pm/ET on Fox Sports 1.
Photo credit: Debbie Ross for Skirts and Scuffs


Friday, November 9, 2018

Dear Kasey: An Open Letter for One Final Goodbye

Credit: Debbie Ross for Skirts and Scuffs

by Courtney Horn

Dear Kasey Kahne,

I was ten years old when I discovered you in the Busch Series season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway in November of 2003. 

You won that race. The first of many throughout the top three national series (18 Cup, eight Xfinity, and five Trucks), but it wasn’t until the following year when you took over the famous No. 9 from Bill Elliott at Evernham Motorsports that I really took notice. 

Those baby blue eyes and the smile you had to match them were second to none, which is coincidentally where you finished a lot that year, earning you the Rookie of the Year honors after 13 top-five finishes and 14 top-10 finishes with four Pole awards. 

I know a lot of people were wondering if and when you would ever win, but I didn’t have any doubts that you would soon find Victory Lane. It took you 11 races into the 2005 season, but you did it on the same night you won your sixth career pole award. 

The night you won I was watching with my older sister and father, which was our routine at the time. I was so overcome with joy that night that I’m pretty sure I didn’t get any sleep at all (It’s a good thing you won on a Saturday!). 

Your time in NASCAR has been with me throughout many different milestones in my own life. I graduated high school, spent almost three years in college trying to figure out what it was that I wanted to be, and eventually grabbing my first job. 

I have also been introduced to many great people because of you. It was because of you and your No. 5 Farmers Insurance Thank A Million Teachers campaign that I introduced a friend to a whole new sport that quickly became one of her favorites to watch every week. 

I am going to miss turning on my television every Sunday to watch you do what you love with so much dedication and with a never-give-up attitude. I don’t recall a time when you ever gave up without a fight. That’s who you always have been and that’s one of the many reasons why people are fans of yours. 

When you announced your retirement I was shocked, but I was content knowing that you would get to spend it the way you wanted, including getting to watch your son Tanner grow up. 

There were many ups and downs throughout your time in NASCAR, but there are a lot of great memories that I have gotten to make because I was a fan of yours. It was unlike being a fan of any other driver. You were an amazing driver and incredibly dedicated to all your fans, which is why you were the All-Star fan vote winner. 

Your final season and all the accolades you should have gotten were derailed in the most unexpected way, but I am happy to know that outside of a NASCAR car, you are perfectly healthy. 

That’s all that matters to Kahne Nation. 

Thank you, Kasey, for your dedication to this sport and your fans. Thank you for your will, determination, and everything you have taught me these past 15 years. 

We wish you the best in all your future endeavors. 


Sincerely, 

A loyal fan

Courtney


Thursday, November 8, 2018

NASCAR Fantasy Fusion: ISM Raceway playoff closer

By Carol D'Agostino

Drivers with Most Top 10s (Last 5 Years):
By Race
Both with 5 - Kevin Harvick and Joey Logano
All with 4 - Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch, Brad Keselowski and Jamie McMurray

By Track
Kevin Harvick - 9
Kyle Busch - 7
All with 6 - Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano and Denny Hamlin
Matt Kenseth - 4

Recent Pole Winners:
2017 Ryan Blaney
2016 Alex Bowman

Last Year's Race Winner: Matt Kenseth

The Likely Suspects: Sunday's race at ISM Raceway (Phoenix) is an elimination race to determine the three remaining drivers who will race for the championship at Miami-Homestead. Joey Logano has already punched his ticket. Although we were expecting drama, things just got hotter. Last week's winner, Kevin Harvick, was hit with a L-1 penalty which leaves the #4 team only three points above the cutline. In other words, Harvick will be on a mission this weekend as will a few other drivers who want to race for a championship or just win a race as a spoiler. When it comes to ISM, these are my go-tos: Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch, Matt Kenseth, Joey Logano, Chase Elliott and Brad Keselowski.

My 2 Cents: Try not to overthink your picks this week. Yes, this race will dictate who will race for the championship, but in the end the traditional Phoenix elites will rule. If I had any Harvick starts left, he would be my no-brainer pick. Instead I will go with Kyle Busch.

My next choices are Joey Logano, Erik Jones, Daniel Suarez, Jamie McMurray and Matt Kenseth. I will round out my team with Alex Bowman and William Byron. If you have any Chase Elliott starts left, pull Daniel Suarez.

My Final Four: Kyle Busch, Erik Jones, Jamie McMurray and Alex Bowman.

Second-Look Driver: This week's second-look driver is Matt Kenseth, last year's race winner. In the last race nine races at ISM, Kenseth has scored two Top 5s and four Top 10s. Last week's second-look driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr. finished 11th at Texas Motor Speedway after starting 17th.

Points to Ponder:
  • Seven different drivers have won the Monster Energy Series Playoff races at ISM Raceway, led by Kevin Harvick with four Playoff wins (2006, 2012, 2013 and 2014), Jimmie Johnson (three: 2007, 2008, 2009), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (two: 2004, 2015), Kyle Busch (2005), Carl Edwards (2010), Joey Logano (2016) and Matt Kenseth (2017) each have one win. 
  • Four times the winner of the ISM Raceway Playoff race has gone on to win the title.
  • Three manufacturers have won Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoff races at ISM Raceway – Chevrolet (10 wins) Ford (two) and Toyota (two).
  • Kevin Harvick leads the series in Playoff race laps led at ISM Raceway with 744.
  • Of the 24 pole winners at ISM Raceway, 12 of them have won multiple poles, five are active: Ryan Newman (four), Jimmie Johnson (three), Kyle Busch (three), Denny Hamlin (two) and Martin Truex Jr. (two).
  • Kevin Harvick leads the series in wins at ISM Raceway with nine victories (’06 spring race and Playoff race, ’12 Playoff race, ‘13 Playoff race, ’14 spring race and Playoff race, ’15 spring race, ’16 spring race and ’18 spring race).
  • Hendrick Motorsports leads the series in wins at ISM Raceway with 10, followed by Roush Fenway Racing with seven.
  • Eight of the 44 (18.2%) Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races at ISM Raceway have been won from the front row: five from the pole and three from second starting position. 
  • Chase Elliott (five starts) leads all active drivers in average finishing position at ISM Raceway with a 6.800.
Remember, if you're playing Driver Group Game, make your picks by 8 a.m. EST on Friday, Nov. 9th, and your final picks by 2:20 p.m. EST on race day Sunday, Nov. 11th.

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

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Rookie Stripe: 5 Reasons to be a NASCAR Fan in 2019

Photo credit: Debbie Ross for Skirts and Scuffs
By Logan Kureczka

The 2018 series is in its closing hours as the clock ticks toward Homestead Miami, where a new NASCAR champion will be crowned. But when February rolls around all engines will be go as a fresh 2019 season of competition comes to life at racing’s most elite level.

Even if you’re still learning the ropes of NASCAR, you’re still a fan. Racing, and NASCAR in particular, isn’t the easiest sport to understand, but that’s what makes it exciting, right? Rules can change from year to year as can drivers, teams and crew. Its evolving, malleable format means that no two seasons or races ever look the same.

As we head into the 2019 season, here are five reasons to be a NASCAR fan now more than ever.

1. The Playoffs. Despite the Daytona 500 being the biggest race in NASCAR, anyone who doesn’t follow the NASCAR playoffs is missing out on the gripping stage-based race format implemented by NASCAR several years ago. The format was changed to increase aggressive racing strategy and making racing more exciting, and many fans will tell you that it’s done just that. Check out the Rookie’s Guide to Playoff Points.

2. Drivers are changing teams.
A fun element of NASCAR is that just like other professional sports, NASCAR drivers can change teams, pairing fresh drivers, crew chiefs and pit crew who have never worked together before. After the 2018 season, Kurt Busch is expected to move to Ganassi Racing to drive the No. 1 car. Rumor has it that Martin Truex Jr. will move to Joe Gibbs racing after Furniture Row Motorsports closes, and word on the track is that Daniel Suarez is trying to make a move to the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 41 car. Ryan Newman is expected to head to Roush Fenway Racing as the driver of the No. 6 car next year, and Ryan Preece takes over AJ Allmendinger’s ride in the No. 47 car for JTG Daugherty Racing.

3. NASCAR drivers are more accessible than many professional athletes. Many NASCAR drivers come from strong racing roots and grew up racing in small karting or dirt track races. They’re used to being in close proximity to fans, and many of them make themselves available to fans through autograph sessions, Q&As, or even at the track. Sometimes they might pick you out of the audience for a selfie.
Photo credit: LJ Cloud for Skirts and Scuffs
4. Young, talented, hungry drivers need fans. While some have decried the glory days of NASCAR to be long gone with the loss of talent like Dale Jr., Tony Stewart and Jeff Gordon, new talent like Chase Elliott, William Byron and Daniel Suarez are hot on their heels on their way to being racing stars. Many of NASCAR’s newer drivers have huge raw talent, and with fan backing they’ll skyrocket to fame. (How to pick your favorite driver.)

5. NASCAR has become more athletic. If you’re a sports fan all-around, NASCAR now boasts some of the top athletic talent in professional sports. Many teams recruit pit crew from college and pro sports including football, and train them just like pro athletes, even hosting combines like those put on by by the NFL. And even though they are driving for hours on end, drivers know the importance of being conditioned. Many run, bike, do yoga and even surf to stay in shape.

Photo credit: Charlotte Bray for Skirts and Scuffs
For more check out Jayski’s unofficial team charts for the upcoming 2019 season.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Travel Tips: ISM Raceway – Nov. 9-11, 2018

credit: NASCAR Media

The Can-Am 500 on Sunday, Nov. 11, at ISM Raceway in Phoenix, AZ, is the last race before the championship finale of the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs. Stars from all three of NASCAR’s top series will be racing in Arizona Friday through Sunday, Nov. 9-11, as the Camping World Truck Series and Xfinity Series also set their Championship contenders.

The Trackside Bar & Grill, formerly the Busch Garage, is part of the new ROLL-BAR, now featuring a permanent building and new restroom facilities. Passes to the ROLL-BAR are available for Saturday and Sunday and feature upgraded food stations; complimentary beer, wine, and Coca-Cola products; a preferred parking pass; driver appearances and more – get details here.

Key on-track times:

Friday, Nov. 9
  • Camping World Truck Series practice – 8:30 and 10:05 a.m. MT
  • Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series practice – 11:35 a.m. MT
  • Xfinity Series practice – 12:35 and 2:35 p.m. MT
  • Camping World Truck Series qualifying – 3:35 p.m. MT
  • Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series qualifying – 5 p.m. MT
  • Camping World Truck Series Lucas Oil 150 – 6:30 p.m. MT
Saturday, Nov. 10
  • Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series practice – 9:30 a.m. and noon MT
  • Xfinity Series qualifying – 10:35 a.m. MT
  • Xfinity Series Whelen Trusted to Perform 200 – 1:30 p.m. MT
Sunday, Nov. 11
  • Pre-race concert featuring Chris Janson – 10:30 a.m. MT
  • Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Can-Am 500 – 12:20 p.m. MT
Click here for the complete weekend schedule and here for the driver appearance schedule. “Raceday FAQs” can be found here.

Purchase tickets and get more information about the weekend at www.ismraceway.com.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Kevin Harvick Tames Treacherous Texas


credit: Lisa Janine Cloud/Skirts and Scuffs

by Lisa Janine Cloud

Kevin Harvick held off Ryan Blaney in a late-race restart to win the AAA Texas 500 in overtime at Texas Motor Speedway. He then won a fan for life by lifting a boy out of the stands, setting him down in front of the race-winning No. 4 Mobil 1 Ford, and taking a selfie with him.

"Sometimes I need a reminder of what you mean to people, and why you come to these races," Harvick explained.

He led five times for 177 out of 334 laps and scored both stage wins en route to securing his spot in the finale of the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs. While he was dominant, he was not handed the win. Young Blaney made him work for it in the last few restarts, even wresting the lead from him at one point. But in the final faceoff, Harvick made a wise lane choice that helped him hang on to the lead.

“That last restart I knew I needed to pick the top," Harvick said. “I wanted to be on the bottom to be safe, because the top got such a good sidedraft getting into one, and the outside groove got rubbered up. I thought if I could keep him from finishing the corner, I could drive back by him. It all worked out.”

Blaney finished second after leading three times for 40 laps.

“We got by the 4 on that one restart, but I just couldn’t hold him off. He was really good," Blaney said. "I kind of missed one and two by an inch and he took advantage of it. We needed to be mistake free and then some, and I just couldn’t be that. Then we had another shot at it. The last one, he took the top like I knew he was going to, and he motored around me.”

In third was Joey Logano, last week’s winner, who applauded Harvick’s victory. Logano led four times for 54 laps.

“We had a top-five car,” Logano said. “We got out front where we could lead laps for a little bit, and just when the front tires would give up, that is when the 4 was just stellar. He was stupid fast. He was able to do a lot. Congrats to them. That is two Fords in and two to go.”

“Our SportClips Camry was pretty fast and had okay speed,” said Erik Jones, who finished fourth. “Just didn’t have the fire-off speed that we needed to contend there the last short runs, but a good day for us. Running top five, top 10 – we kind of know what we need to work on to get a little bit more to get up there with the 4, the 12 and those guys. We’ll go to work. Texas has been a good place, so hopefully,we can come back in the spring and get a win.”

As for the other Playoff contenders, Chase Elliott wound up in sixth and is not a fan of the repaved and reconfigured track.

“Yeah, just a really frustrating race track ever since they ruined it two years ago. I hate that,” he said.

Elliott is in a must-win position going into Phoenix to advance to the finale, 39 points below the cut line.

Kurt Busch wound up seventh and is 25 points below the line.

“We are in a good position,” Busch stated. “There are a lot of other people who would like to be right here. We just didn’t have the speed the 4 car had today and hopefully we will get it next week.”

 Aric Almirola ended up eighth and expressed displeasure with Logano.

“We were a third-place car, and that restart there where we finally were in position," Almirola said. "We fought all day from the back and started at the tail and worked diligently all day to get up to the front, and finally got ourselves in position to at least have a shot and race with those guys.

"The 22 just went down in Turn 3 and put it right on my door and about wrecked us both. I am not sure. I will have to talk to him. He just continues to make things harder on himself. If that is the way he wants to race me when he is already locked into Homestead, and we are out here fighting for our lives, that is fine. When Homestead comes around, if I am not in, he will know it.”

When asked how far he would take it, Almirola stated, “I will just make it really difficult on him. He made it really difficult on me today which was really unnecessary. He could have run fourth, fifth, 11th, it doesn't matter. He is still going to go to Homestead and race for a championship. It is just not smart.”

Martin Truex Jr. finished ninth after starting from the back, while Kyle Busch wound up 17th. Both Toyotas had difficulties throughout the race.

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Cole Custer victorious at Texas

credit: Lisa Janine Cloud/Skirts and Scuffs


by Lisa Janine Cloud

Speed. Danger. Fun.

That’s what the Texas Motor Speedway posters for the NASCAR weekend promised, and with the Xfinity Series O’Reilly Auto Parts 300 finish Saturday, the track is two for two on that promise.

Cole Custer powered to his first win of the season and the second of his career by outrunning Tyler Reddick on the last lap. There were a few tense moments as the two tangled on the backstretch, but Custer saved it and held on for the win.

Custer came into the race seventh of the eight drivers fighting for playoff berths. This win put him in the final four in style.

“We haven’t won all year but we have been so close. It starts to frustrate you.” Custer said. “We kept going and this is a perfect time to do it. Thank you to all the fans. Texas is always a great place to come. Thank you, guys.”

Reddick took the points lead with his second-place finish, taking over from Elliott Sadler, who ended up eighth in his final appearance at Texas Motor Speedway. Sadler dropped to third in points, seven behind Reddick.

After a first-lap incident that inflicted some damage on the No. 22, Austin Cindric finished third and was happy to do so.

“I had damage from lap one of the race when they had that big stack up and I nursed that damage. That damage got worse and then our contact with the 20 later made that worse. We were basically damaged the whole day. I honestly think we had a race-winning car and I think that shows in the final stint. That is a testament to the team and the work those guys did over the wall,” Cindric said. 

“It was a lot of fun in the end now that I look back on it and say that I survived.” With a points deficit of 61, Cindric must win in Phoenix or be eliminated.

John Hunter Nemechek attempted to play spoiler to the championship contenders around him, trying to score back-to-back wins, but he had to settle for fourth.

Justin Allgaier hung on to finish fifth after complaining throughout the race about the handling of his car. At one point in the race he told crew chief Jason Burdett that, “The word frustrating doesn’t even begin to describe this” saying that the track was “tricky” and “treacherous.” Allgaier heads to Phoenix 12 points below the cut line.  

The race slowed for caution 13 times, a new track record even without the two stage-break cautions, as the previous mark was 10, set in the 2003 spring race.

Daniel Hemric, who won the first stage and led 42 of the 200 laps, ended up in ninth. He sits 12 points out of the final four, while polesitter Christopher Bell suffered damage on Lap 1 from contact with Cindric, but it was their dustup on Lap 133 that put Bell out of the race, relegated to a 32nd-place finish and is now 34 points out of the final four, 20 back from Matt Tifft who ended up seventh.


NASCAR Xfinity Series playoff contenders discuss racing at Texas Motor Speedway


credit: Lisa Janine Cloud/Skirts and Scuffs
by Lisa Janine Cloud

For NASCAR Xfinity Series drivers Daniel Hemric and Christopher Bell, coming to Texas Motor Speedway seems like a family reunion.

The two Xfinity Series Playoff contenders were joined by Cole Custer in advance of Saturday afternoon’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 300.

Hemric, whose No. 21 South Point Chevy was second-fastest in first practice and sixth in final practice, explained, “My wife’s from Oklahoma, grew up in Texas - Oklahoma, back and forth. For us it’s like a family reunion. With our schedules and whatnot we don’t get a lot of time to see our families, so coming here it’s like a family reunion. And when you have all that many people coming to the racetrack to support you, it makes you want to put on a really good show."

As a driver, he thinks that Texas Motor Speedway is a challenging track to run. “The fact that after the repave it’s a little bit different, what have to ask out of the racecars and the setups and team side of it. It’s a challenge, and it’s different. We have a couple of variables this week that we haven’t had in the past with different tire construction and build so it’s going to be interesting how it all plays out.”
credit: Lisa Janine Cloud/Skirts and Scuffs

Norman, Oklahoma native Christopher Bell was seventh on the speed charts in first practice and fifth in second practice with his Game Stop NBA2K19 Toyota. He agreed with Hemric. “Texas is my home race track so I get to come here and I’ll have a bunch of family here so that will be cool.”

“As far as the race track itself, the old Texas was my all-time favorite NASCAR track. it was really fun. Each time you come back here the track weathers a little bit more and hopefully over time it will get back to that really wide where you can spread out and run all over, and that’s the Texas we love.”

credit: Lisa Janine Cloud/Skirts and Scuffs
Custer does not have a Texas or Oklahoma connection but still enjoys racing at the Great American Speedway. His No. 00 Autodesk Ford ran fourth in first practice and first in final practice.

“I think the biggest thing, and way you have to look at the fun is that it is a challenge and you have to figure it out every single time,” Custer explained. “It is different with the tire and how they drag the Tire Dragon and how it works rubber in. It’s kind of a challenge getting your car right between the two ends. It is a challenge all weekend and I find fun in figuring that out, figuring out the problems.”

The O’Reilly Auto Parts 300 could make or break Bell and Custer’s bid for the Xfinity Series Championship. Bell sits one below the cutoff line for the final four and Custer is 21 points below. Hemric is 13 points to the good but that cushion could evaporate with a bad day.

Tune in at 3:30 p.m. CT to see how it all plays out.

Friday, November 2, 2018

Todd Gilliland comes up short on fuel, Justin Haley grabs win at Texas

credit: Lisa Janine Cloud/Skirts and Scuffs
by Lisa Janine Cloud

Heartbroken.

That’s the only way to describe Todd Gilliland after his last-lap loss to Justin Haley in the Camping World Truck Series JAG Metals 350 at Texas Motor Speedway Friday night.

Gilliland led twice for a race-high 60 laps, including from Lap 124 through the last lap when his No. 4 JBL/SiriusXM Toyota ran out of fuel, crushing his hopes for scoring his first career Camping World Truck Series win.

The young driver did take some comfort in the fact that his team is capable of winning races, but as he addressed reporters with poise, it was obvious that this one’s going to sting for a while.  

credit: Lisa Janine Cloud/Skirts and Scuffs

Haley had accepted that he’d finish second. “We’re lucky, but we’re running fast trucks,” he said. Beyond that, he said he was speechless. “I don’t even know what to say. It was pretty surreal.”  

The 220.5-mile race saw the pole winner, Johnny Sauter, fall back early because of a flat tire, and quite a few trucks were involved in wrecks, slowing the race five times, plus the two stage-break cautions, a total of seven yellows for 36 laps.

Ben Rhodes finished second, his 12th top-ten finish this season. Brett Moffit came in third and Gilliland managed to limp back in fourth place and was the highest-finishing rookie.

Haley becomes the second Gallagher Motorsports truck to lock in a berth in the season finale. Teammate Sauter’s win at Martinsville put him in the final four. Sauter also leads the points standings by 19 over Moffitt.

Ryan Blaney fires off fastest lap for AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway

credit: Lisa Janine Cloud /Skirts and Scuffs
by Lisa Janine Cloud

Ryan Blaney put his Team Penske No. 12 Accella/Carlisle Ford on the pole for Sunday’s AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway with a blistering 200.505 mph lap, just a touch under Kurt Busch’s record of 200.915 mph set in 2017 and just .3 seconds faster than second-place qualifier Clint Bowyer.

Blaney was happy to have won the pole but wanted to break the record.

“I would have liked to gone 201 mph to be honest with you. I mean, it is super fast, that is a product of it being night time and a little colder outside and a good handling race car,” Blaney explained. “Honestly, we go to a lot of tracks now that are pretty close like Michigan where you go faster than that. Here it is super fast today. It doesn't really feel like it, you are just trying your best to hit your line. You won’t see much of that stuff next year, so enjoy it now.”

credit: Lisa Janine Cloud for Skirts and Scuffs
Blaney could not hide his excitement over the pole award Henry Repeating Arms Big Boy lever action rifle, which perhaps made up for not setting a new track record.

While the pole was his first at the Great American Speedway, Blaney has two others in the 2018 season and five total in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.   

Stewart Haas teammates Kevin Harvick and Aric Almirola roll off in third and fourth, respectively, with the No 2 Wurth Ford of Brad Keselowski rounding out the top five.

Not only was William Byron the fastest-qualifying rookie, but he was the fastest Chevy. Byron was the only bow-tie to break into the final round of time trials.  

Tune in to NBCSN Sunday at 2 p.m. Central Time (after turning your clocks back an hour) to see who how things turn out!
Your AAA Texas 500 starting lineup:
Pos.   Driver 

1 Ryan Blaney
2 Clint Bowyer
3 Kevin Harvick
4 Aric Almirola
5 Brad Keselowski
6 Denny Hamlin
7 Kurt Busch
8 Joey Logano
9 William Byron
10 Kyle Busch
11 Paul Menard
12 Erik Jones
13 Martin Truex, Jr.
14 Ryan Newman
15 Trevor Bayne
16 Chase Elliott
17 Ricky Stenhouse, Jr.
18 Alex Bowman
19 Daniel Suarez
20 Jamie McMurray
21 Chris Buescher
22 Kyle Larson
23 Jimmie Johnson
24 Ty Dillon
25 A.J. Allmendinger
26 Austin Dillon
27 David Ragan
28 Regan Smith
29 Michael McDowell
30 Bubba Wallace
31 Matt DiBenedetto
32 Landon Cassill
33 Ross Chastain
34 Parker Kligerman
35 J.J. Yeley
36 Kyle Weatherman
37 Corey LaJoie
38 Reed Sorenson
39 Joey Gase
40 David Starr
41 Timmy Hill

2018 a "Dream Season" for Hailie Deegan

credit: Lisa Janine Cloud/Skirts and Scuffs
by Lisa Janine Cloud

The 2018 K&N Pro Series West season garnered more attention than usual in large part because of Hailie Deegan's emergence as a legitimate contender. The 17-year-old Temecula, California, native left her name in the record books as the first female driver to win a K&N Series race.

On her way to winning Sonoco Rookie of the Year, Deegan racked up 12 top-10 finishes in 14 starts, including five top fives along with the historic win in her No. 19 Toyota Camry for Bill McAnally Racing. She also earned two poles and led 40 laps.

 “This has been my dream season,” Deegan told the media at Texas Motor Speedway. “Everything we wanted to accomplish was accomplished this year. With everyone on my team, with my crew,  and everyone on the BMR [Bill McAnally Racing] team, they gave me the opportunity to do that.”

Despite her rookie success, Deegan understands that she’s just getting started and has much to learn as her career progresses, but she does have goals.

“This season really, it was just a learning year for me. I had a lot of goals I wanted to accomplish and needed to accomplish for myself to keep the ball rolling in my career.” Deegan explained. “I knew I needed to win, even though I knew it could happen or it could not. Halfway through the season, I knew it was possible but everything had to work out good. For next year, I am hoping to run in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West and run for a title.”

Though she understands that opportunities are opening up in other forms of racing, such as open-wheel, she is focused on where she is.

“I came from off-road racing. It’s a lot different from open-wheel racing. Just the whole concept of it. It’s almost like a different sport compared to dirt racing where I came from. NASCAR is more my suit of racing I feel like. It would be a lot of work and I don’t know if I’d be as good at. It would take a lot to learn it,” Deegan said.

The biggest adjustment in moving from dirt trucks to stock cars, Deegan believes, has been gaining experience. “I lack experience compared to some of these guys racing stock cars who have raced on pavement for a while. I started racing at eight-years-old. The dirt racing definitely helps the learning curve. But in the end, I lack a lot of experience compared to these guys since this is technically my first whole year in a stock car. I think once we get more experience, we will get better and better.”

Deegan’s plan for 2019 is to run in K&N again--for a championship. Although she doesn’t have any deals currently put together in other series, she would like to run ARCA, K&N East or whatever would get her more seat time.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

NASCAR Fantasy Fusion: Texas

By Carol D'Agostino

Drivers with Most Top 10s (Last 5 Years):
By Race
Kevin Harvick - 5
Brad Keselowski - 4
All with 3 - Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr., Matt Kenseth, Kurt Busch and Joey Logano

By Track 
Both with 8Joey Logano and Kevin Harvick
All with 7 - Jimmie Johnson, Brad Keselowski and Martin Truex Jr.
Kyle Busch - 6
All with 4 - Chase Elliott, Matt Kenseth, Jamie McMurray and Denny Hamlin

Recent Pole Winners: 
2017 Kurt Busch
2016 Austin Dillon

Last Year's Race Winner: Kevin Harvick

The Likely Suspects: There are two tales of Texas, the traditional Texas elites and the up-and-coming drivers giving the traditional guys a run for their money. I will focus on these drivers this weekend: Kevin Harvick, Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr., Brad Keselowski, Matt Kenseth, Kurt Busch, Joey Logano, and Ty Dillon

My 2 Cents: My no-brainer pick this week is Kevin Harvick. My next picks are Kyle Busch, Chase Elliott, Erik Jones, Jamie McMurray, and Ty Dillon. I will round out my team with William Byron and Chris Buescher.   

My Final Four: Kevin Harvick, Chase Elliott, Erik Jones and William Byron.

Second-Look Driver: This week's second-look driver is Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Ricky runs fairly decently at Texas with an average finish of 12 with one top five, two top 10s and five top 20s. Last week's second-look driver AJ Allmendinger finished in 14th after starting in 15th place.

Points to Ponder:
  • A total of 24 different drivers have won Busch Pole Awards at Texas Motor Speedway, led by Kurt Busch with three poles.
  • Jimmie Johnson leads the series in wins at Texas with seven victories (2007, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 sweep and 2017) in 30 starts – a winning percentage of 23.3%. 
  • Four active drivers have multiple wins at Texas Motor Speedway: Jimmie Johnson (seven), Kyle Busch (three), Denny Hamlin and Matt Kenseth. 
  • Roush Fenway Racing and Hendrick Motorsports lead the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series in wins at Texas Motor Speedway with nine each, followed by Joe Gibbs Racing with seven. 
  • The third starting position is the most prolific starting spot in the field at Texas Motor Speedway, producing more wins than any other starting position with seven – most recently: Kevin Harvick’s win in last season’s Playoff race.
  • Four different manufacturers have won a MENCS race at Texas, led by Chevrolet and Ford (13 wins each); followed by Toyota (six) and Dodge (three).
  • A total of 19 different drivers have finished runner-up in the Monster Energy Series at Texas Motor Speedway, led by Jimmie Johnson with five second-place finishes.
  • A total of 61 different Monster Energy Series drivers have finished in the top 10 at Texas Motor Speedway, led by Jimmie Johnson with 21 top-10 finishes.
  • Chase Elliott (five starts) leads the series in average finishing position at Texas with a 7.4.
Remember, if you're playing Driver Group Game, make your picks by 8 a.m. EDT on Friday, Nov. 2nd, and your final picks by 3 p.m. EDT on race day Sunday, Nov. 4th.

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

Monday, October 29, 2018

Travel Tips: Texas Motor Speedway – Nov. 1-4, 2018

credit: NASCAR Media

The middle race in the Round of 8 in the 2018 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. 1-4, 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. 1
  • Camping World Truck Series practice – 3:05 and 5:05 p.m. CT
Friday, Nov. 2
  • Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series practice – 1 p.m. CT
  • Xfinity Series practice – 2:05 and 5:30 p.m. CT
  • Camping World Truck Series qualifying – 3:10 p.m. CT
  • Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series qualifying – 6 p.m. CT
  • Camping World Truck Series JAG Metals 350 – 7:30 p.m. CT
Saturday, Nov. 3
  • Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series practice – 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. CT
  • Xfinity Series qualifying – 12:40 p.m. CT
  • Xfinity Series O’Reilly Auto Parts 300 – 3:30 p.m. CT
Sunday, Nov. 4
  • Josh Abbott Band pre-race concert – noon CT
  • Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series AAA Texas 500 – 2 p.m. CT
Find a complete schedule for the weekend here.

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.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Trackin’ Trucks: Johnny Sauter wins at Martinsville

Credit: Debbie Ross for Skirts and Scuffs

by Courtney Horn

Johnny Sauter earned his sixth Camping World Truck Series victory of the season Saturday at Martinsville Speedway, leading 148 of 200 laps during the Texas Roadhouse 200.

Sauter retook the lead from Myatt Snider with 34 laps to go to earn his spot into the Championship 4.

“These guys busted their tails – everybody at GMS Racing,” Sauter said. “We came here, and we had done a lot of work with a new setup and we had it all ready to go. And we came here, and it was raining (on Friday) and I was like, ‘Now what?’

“And they said we’d run the old stuff because we couldn’t run that now. Just so proud of everybody at GMS Racing. I’m going to Homestead to fight for a championship. That’s what it’s all about.”

The win makes the GMS Racing driver the only driver within the series with four wins at the half-mile track.

Brett Moffitt finished second after starting in the 17th position and battling through traffic. Snider finished third, followed by Ben Rhodes and Kyle Benjamin.

Stewart Friesen finished 11th after a flat tire caused the Canadian to spin on Lap 62.

A Look Ahead (Into The Playoffs)

The Camping World Truck Series head to Texas Motor Speedway on Friday, November 2nd.

Sauter remains the points leader over Kyle Busch Motorsports’ Noah Gragson by 29 points and 38 points ahead of Moffitt.

Grant Enfinger is fourth in the standings after a late-race wreck resulted in a 14th place finish, Justin Haley and Matt Crafton are fifth and sixth, respectively.

Who will win at Texas? Sauter won at the track one year ago. Will he extend his points lead by winning again or will another driver secure their place into the Championship 4?

Find out November 2, 2018 at 8:30 p.m/ET on Fox Sports 1.

Friday, October 26, 2018

NASCAR Fantasy Fusion: The Round of 8 at Martinsville

By Carol D'Agostino

Drivers with Most Top 10s (Last 5 Years):
By Race
Denny Hamlin - 5
Matt Kenseth - 4
All with 3 - Kyle Busch, Jamie McMurray, Martin Truex Jr., Kevin Harvick and Brad Keselowski 

By Track
Both with 7 - Matt Kenseth and Brad Keselowski
All with 6 - Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin and Clint Bowyer
All with 5 - Jimmie Johnson, Joey Logano and Kevin Harvick

Recent Pole Winners: 
2017 Joey Logano
2016 Martin Truex Jr.
2015 Joey Logano

Last Year's Race Winner: Kyle Busch

The Likely Suspects: Short-track racing at Martinsville has its own set of fantasy elites. My go-to drivers this week are: Kyle Busch, Matt Kenseth, Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano, Denny Hamlin, Martin Truex Jr. and Kevin Harvick. And never, ever count out Jimmie Johnson at Martinsville.

My 2 Cents: A good bet for racing at the "Paper Clip" is Kyle Busch. My next choices are Joey Logano, Matt Kenseth, Clint Bowyer, Paul Menard and Chase Elliott. My final picks will be Alex Bowman and Michael McDowell.

My Final Four: Joey Logano, Clint Bowyer, Chase Elliott and Alex Bowman.

Second-Look Driver: This week's second-look driver is AJ Allmendinger. In nine Cup races at Martinsville, Allmendinger has one top 5 and five top 10s. This could be a race where he runs very well and "auditions" for his next ride. Last week's second-look driver, Kyle Larson, finished third after starting in 27th with a backup car after he crashed his primary car in practice. Despite the performance from the back to the front, he failed to make the round of 8.

Points to Ponder:
  • Joey Logano (19 starts) leads all active drivers in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series in average starting position at Martinsville Speedway with an 8.368. 
  • Joey Logano (8.4), Ryan Blaney (8.6), Denny Hamlin (9.4) and Ryan Newman (9.7) each have an average starting position at Martinsville inside the top 10.
  • Joey Logano leads the series among active drivers with the most poles at Martinsville with four – 2015 sweep, spring 2016 and fall 2017.  
  • 27 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers have multiple poles at Martinsville, but only five are active – Joey Logano (four), Denny Hamlin (three), Jimmie Johnson (three), Ryan Newman (three) and Jamie McMurray (two).
  • Jimmie Johnson leads the series among active drivers with nine wins at Martinsville, followed by Denny Hamlin with five. Eight active drivers have won at Martinsville.
  • Hendrick Motorsports leads the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series in wins at Martinsville Speedway with 24 wins
  • The pole is the most proficient starting spot in the field at Martinsville, producing more wins (21) than any other starting position. 
  • About a quarter (36 of the 139) 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 the second starting position.
  • Jimmie Johnson leads all active drivers with four runner-up finishes at Martinsville and 19 top fives. Close behind is Kyle Busch with three runner-up finishes and 14 top fives.
  • Jimmie Johnson leads all active drivers in top 10s at Martinsville with 24, and best average finish at Martinsville Speedway with a 7.909. He's followed by Denny Hamlin with 18 wins and an average finish of 10.08 in 25 starts.
Remember, if you're playing Driver Group Game, make your picks by 8 a.m. EDT on Saturday, Oct. 27, and your final picks by 2:30 p.m. EDT on race day Sunday, Oct. 28.

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

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Rookie Stripe: The Rookie’s Guide to Understanding Playoff Points

Photo credit: Debbie Ross for Skirts and Scuffs
 The NASCAR Monster Energy Series playoffs are underway.

Each fall, the playoffs pit the 16 lucky drivers who earn a slot against one other on the grueling road to the championship. In the races that follow, eliminations leave just four drivers vying for the big win in the final race at Homestead Miami Speedway. Only one will take home the coveted championship.

It’s a high pressure road to get to the playoffs. Drivers and teams earn a berth by racking up points during the year, and drivers whose performances have been lackluster are already at a disadvantage.

(Note: All three tiers of NASCAR including the Camping World Truck Series, Xfinity Series and Monster Energy Series have playoffs, but this guide covers the Monster Energy Series. For more information on all three series, see this article on NASCAR.com.)

Cheering on your favorite driver is clearly of supreme importance, but just as important for the Rookie NASCAR fan is to understand how the points system for the playoffs (formerly known as the Chase) works. You’re not a real fan if you can’t throw around some lingo and talk the walk, and we all want to impress our friends, right?

Here are some basics of playoff points:

Drivers Have Been Accumulating Points Before the Playoffs Start.
NASCAR is more of a game of numbers than you might realize. First talking point: playoff points are different from regular season points, though they’re accumulated during the regular season. Even as drivers race in the early part of the season they hone in on racking up those playoff points, because it will help advance them to the next round during playoffs.

There are several ways drivers earn playoff points during the regular season:
Photo credit: Debbie Ross for Skirts and Scuffs
  • Drivers get points based on performance in Stages 1 and 2 if they win a Stage (they get one playoff point). 
  • If a driver wins a race they get five playoff points. 
  • The top 10 ranked drivers at the end of the regular season earn points -- the regular season champion earns 15 playoff points, the runner-up to the season champion gets 10 points, third runner up gets eight points, fourth place gets seven points, all the way down to tenth place which gets one point. 
The Playoffs Start with the Round of 16.
While every driver participates in each race, only the top 16 drivers are actually competing for the championship in the last 10 races. All drivers start the Round of 16 (which is the start of the playoffs) with the same amount of points, plus whatever playoff points they’ve earned. Here’s what else to know:
  • After the Round of 16 race comes the Round of 12 (subsequent race), then the Round of 8, then the Championship race which is the four remaining drivers. Drivers are eliminated after each round. 
  • In the Round of 12, points reset. All drivers have the same amount of points again, and playoff points earned earlier in the season and during the playoffs carry over again. This repeats for the Round of 8. 
  • If a Round of 16 driver wins during the playoffs, they automatically advance to the next round. This is also true for the Round of 12 and Round of 8.  
  • The remaining drivers are determined based on the highest points. 
  • If there is a tie for the last car that will advance, whoever has finished highest in the Round of 16 advances. This is also true for the Round of 12 and Round of 8.  
  • During the Championship race at Homestead Miami, the race between the final four drivers is a one-race shootout. Whoever has the highest finish in points wins the Series, regardless if they win the race. 
Drivers Who Dominate During the Season Have an Advantage.
Because playoff points carry over from the regular season to the postseason, drivers who score big early on have a significant edge over the rest of the field. As the season winds closer to the playoffs each year, for those who haven’t won a race nor have they accumulated many points there’s enormous pressure to win one of the last regular season races to guarantee a spot in the playoffs.

With NASCAR’s current rule book, drivers are often motivated by playoff points because they need as many as possible. In 2018, Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch and Martin Truex, Jr. were dubbed the “Big 3” because of their dominance all season long. They had earned so many points through wins and Stage wins that they carried a massive advantage over other drivers going into the playoffs. 

Monday, October 22, 2018

Travel Tips: Martinsville Speedway – Oct. 26-28, 2018

credit: NASCAR Media

The Round of 8 in the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs begins with this weekend’s First Data 500 at Virginia’s Martinsville Speedway, which goes green on Sunday, Oct. 28. Also on the schedule for the weekend is the Camping World Truck Series Texas Roadhouse 200 Presented by Alpha Energy Solutions on Saturday, Oct. 27.

The annual Martinsville Speedway Hauler Parade takes place Friday, Oct. 26, beginning at the intersection of Memorial Blvd. and DuPont Rd. at 7 p.m. ET – find out more about the event here. There will also be a free FanFest event on Saturday following Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series qualifying, beginning at approximately 5 p.m. ET – find out more here.

Key on-track times:

Friday, Oct. 26 –
  • Camping World Truck Series practice – 12:05 and 2:05 p.m. ET
Saturday, Oct. 27
  • Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series practice – 9 and 11:30 a.m. ET
  • Camping World Truck Series qualifying – 10:05 a.m. ET
  • Camping World Truck Series Texas Roadhouse 200 Presented by Alpha Energy Solutions – 1 p.m. ET
  • Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series qualifying – 4:05 p.m. ET
Sunday, Oct. 28
  • Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series First Data 500 – 2:30 p.m. ET
Find Martinsville Speedway’s fan guide here, and the first-time visitor’s guide here.

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

Thursday, October 18, 2018

NASCAR Fantasy Fusion: Kansas Round Two Closer


By Carol D'Agostino

Drivers with Most Top 10s (Last 5 Years):

By Race
Joey Logano - 4
All with 3 - Kevin Harvick, Denny Hamlin, Jimmie Johnson, and Kurt Busch

By Track
Kevin Harvick - 7
All with 6 -  Joey Logano, Kyle Busch, and Jimmie Johnson
All with 5 - Martin Truex Jr., Kurt Busch,  Matt Kenseth, and Brad Keselowski

Recent Pole Winners:  
2017 Martin Truex Jr.
2016 Matt Kenseth
2015 Brad Keselowski

Last Year's Race Winner: Martin Truex Jr.

The Likely Suspects: It is tempting to focus picks for a Playoff round closer on those drivers on the bubble desperate for a win to keep their championship hopes alive. But just like the drivers do fantasy players should stick to the game plan and work the stats. My Kansas go-tos are Kevin Harvick, Jimmie Johnson, Martin Truex Jr., Joey Logano, and Brad Keselowski.

My 2 Cents: The 2018 Cup Playoffs have provided both challenging times for fantasy NASCAR players and "sitting-at-the-edge-of-your-seat" racing excitement for everyone. My no-brainer pick this week is Kevin Harvick. My next choices are Martin Truex Jr., Ryan Blaney, Clint Bowyer, Austin Dillon, and Paul Menard.  I will complete my team with Chris Buescher and Ross Chastain.

My Final Four: Kevin Harvick, Ryan Blaney, Clint Bowyer, and Chris Buescher.

Second-Look Driver: This week's second-look driver is Kyle Larson. Kyle is one of those desperados needing a win to continue to the next round. However, he is a desperado that can run well in Kansas. Kyle has a pair of top-five finishes at Kansas, including a fourth-place finish this spring when he led 101 laps. Last week's second-look driver Landon Cassill had a decent day in Talladega, finishing in 22nd place after starting in 38th place.

Points to Ponder:
  • A total of 15 drivers have won Busch Pole Awards at Kansas Speedway in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, led by Kevin Harvick with four poles.
  • Nine of the 14 Kansas winners are currently active – Jimmie Johnson, Kevin Harvick (four), Matt Kenseth, Joey Logano, Martin Truex Jr. (each has two) and Ryan Newman, Brad Keselowski, Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin (each has one).
  • Hendrick Motorsports leads the series in wins at Kansas with six.
  • A total of 17 series drivers have finished runner-up at Kansas Speedway, led by Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex Jr. with three second-place finishes each, followed by active drivers Kurt Busch and Ryan Newman with two second-place finishes each. 
  • A total of 17 series drivers have finished runner-up at Kansas Speedway, led by Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex Jr. with three second-place finishes each, followed by active drivers Kurt Busch, Kasey Kahne and Ryan Newman with two second-place finishes each. 
  • Kevin Harvick (25 starts) leads all active drivers in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series at Kansas Speedway with an average finishing position of 9.6, followed by Jimmie Johnson (10.0).
Remember, if you're playing Driver Group Game, make your picks by 8 a.m. EDT on Friday, October 19th and your final picks by 2 p.m. EDT on race day Sunday, October 21st.

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

Monday, October 15, 2018

Travel Tips: Kansas Speedway – Oct. 19-21, 2018

credit: NASCAR Media

The cut-off race to the “Round of 8” in the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs is this weekend’s Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, KS, with action taking place Friday through Sunday, Oct. 19-21. Also on the weekend schedule: the Xfinity Series and the ARCA Racing Series.

Add to your racing experience at Kansas Speedway with a DC Solar 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.

Key on-track times:

Friday, Oct. 19 –
  • ARCA Racing Series practice – 10:30 a.m. CT
  • Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series practice – 1:05 p.m. CT
  • Xfinity Series practice – 2:05 and 4 p.m. CT
  • ARCA Racing Series qualifying – 5:05 p.m. CT
  • Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series qualifying – 6:10 p.m. CT
  • ARCA Racing Series Kansas 150 – 7:30 p.m. CT
Saturday, Oct. 20 –
  • Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series practice – 9:30 a.m. and 12:05 p.m. CT
  • Xfinity Series qualifying – 10:40 a.m. CT
  • Xfinity Series Kansas Lottery 300 – 1:55 p.m. CT
Sunday, Oct. 21 –
  • Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Hollywood Casino 400 – 1:20 p.m. CT
Click here for the Kansas Speedway Fan Guide, including parking information, facility maps and gate policies.

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

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Aric Almirola wins at Talladega

Credit: Charlotte Bray for Skirts and Scuffs


by Courtney Horn

Aric Almirola earned his way into the Round of 8 in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs with his win on Sunday during the 50th annual 1000Bulbs.com 500 at Talladega Super Speedway.

Almirola snapped a 149-race winless streak dating back to July 6, 2014, when he won at Daytona International Speedway.

“We kinda talked about it in our competition meeting that we needed to be committed to each other.” Almirola said, “We needed to score as many stage points as we can. We needed to score more stage points than the 12, we needed to score more stage points than 42 and the 88. We knew all that.

“Going into the weekend that was our focus, was to be committed as an organization.”

It looked like Stewart-Haas Racing was going to sweep the first four positions before Hendrick Motorsports’ Alex Bowman got loose and collected teammate William Byron and the No. 23 of JJ Yeley.

Stage 1 winner Kurt Busch lead the field to the green on the final restart but ran out of fuel alongside Stage 2 winner Kevin Harvick. The No. 14 of Clint Bowyer went on to finish in the second position.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. earned his seventh top 10 in 11 starts at Talladega Super Speedway, finishing third.

Credit: Courtney Horn for Skirts and Scuffs

“We definitely had to fight hard today.” Stenhouse said, “We weren’t near as good as we normally are at the speedways, so that was a real bummer, but we fought hard and made a lot of adjustments to try and make our car faster.”

Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano rounded out the top five.

Jimmie Johnson recovered from an early crash on Lap 63 and a later penalty for too many crewmen over the pit wall, finishing seventh, earning him his third top 10 in four races.

Kyle Larson finished 11th after suffering significant damage from hitting the wall on the backstretch. The Chip Ganassi Racing driver lost one lap, but received the free pass at the conclusion of Stage 2.

Harvick continues to lead in the standings over Kyle Busch by 17 points and 24 points ahead of Kurt Busch.

Chase Elliott holds the cutoff position by one point over Team Penske’s Brad Keselowski, though Elliott's win at Dover last weekend locks him into the next round. Ryan Blaney is 10th, five points behind Elliott.

The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series heads to Kansas Speedway on Sunday, Oct. 21st. Coverage starts at 2 p.m/ET on NBC.

Construction for Talladega Transformation product beginning Oct. 21, 2018.

Credit: Talladega Super Speedway


by Courtney Horn

Talladega Super Speedway and the International Speedway Corporation announced on Sunday, October 14, 2018 that the construction for it’s new infield project will start on October 21st – just days after the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoff event.

The construction project that they have titled Transformation will feature a new Turn 3 Oversized Tunnel. The tunnel will be two lanes, have a height of 16 feet and eight inches, a width of 28 feet, and a length of 208 feet – approximately allowing vehicles the size of race haulers to enter and exit.

The new project will cost $50 million and is expected to be complete by the fall NASCAR events in 2019.

“This new tunnel is certain to be one of the most popular elements of our Transformation project, serving both our competitors and our fans,” Talladega Super Speedway chairman Grant Lynch said, “Traffic flow will be greatly improved, enhancing the race weekend experience for thousands who visit our famed facility each year.”

In addition to the announcement of the new fan experience, Talladega Super Speedway announced that Creek Enterprises, Inc has been named the first “Transformation Partner” of the “We Transformed Talladega SuperSpeedway” lineup.

“We are extremely excited to partner with International Speedway Corporation and to assist with the client experience redevelopment of Talladega SuperSpeedway,” said Creek Enterprise, Inc. President Jason Derby.

“Our values are a perfect match with ISC as we both focus on providing high-quality services, superior customer relationships, and services that drive business value. Like Creek Enterprise, ISC puts the customer first and works diligently to deliver a superior client experience during each and every interaction.”

All other corporation announcements by the company will be announced at a later date. 

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Trackin’ Trucks: Timothy Peters survives to win at Talladega

credit: Debbie Ross/Skirts and Scuffs
by Courtney Horn

Timothy Peters survived a last-lap crash during the Fr8Auctions 250 at Talladega Super Speedway to earn his 11th career victory.

Peters made contact with Kyle Busch Motorsports’ Noah Gragson while battling for the lead on the final lap. The contact sent the No. 18 Toyota spinning and put Peters in victory lane for the first time in three years.

“It was really special.” Peters said of the victory, “If I kept my head on straight I knew I’d have a shot to win.”

“At the end of the day, you don’t know when you’re next time’s gonna go or come. It’s a tough business.”

Peters earned his third career victory at the 2.66-mile track racing for GMS Racing. He is the first Camping World Truck Series driver to earn three victories at Talladega.

Myatt Snider finished in the runner-up position, earning the ThorSport Racing driver a career-best finish.

“I’m just really proud of everybody that gave me a phenomenal pushing truck.” Snider said, “That thing could push all day long no matter who it was behind. Just really proud of all my guys.”

David Gilliland finished third, Justin Haley finished fourth, and Wendell Chavous finished fifth. Wendell’s finish was a career best in his last CWTS start. He has 50 starts in the series.

Stewart Friesen finished 6th, Jordan Anderson 7th, while Bryan Dauzat, Max Tullman, and Austin Hill rounded out the top 10.

There were two “Big Ones” on Saturday, one of which caused a red flag for 11 minutes and 42 seconds.

Haley made contact with the No.47 of Chris Fontaine that caused a 10-truck pile-up, collecting Parker Kligerman, Johnny Sauter, Spencer Gallagher, Matt Crafton, Ben Rhodes, John Hunter Nemechek, Bo LeMastus, and Justin Fontaine.

A Look Ahead (Into The Playoffs)

Saturday’s race at Talladega was an elimination race for the Camping World Truck Series, cutting the playoff field from eight drivers to six at race end.

Four drivers advance into the Round of 6 on points. Those drivers are Noah Gragson, Brett Moffitt, Sauter, and Crafton.

Sauter holds the lead by 17 points over Gragson and 22 points ahead of Moffitt. Grant Enfinger is sixth, 35 points behind.

The CWTS return on Saturday, October 27th at Martinsville Speedway. Catch the event at 1 p.m/ET on Fox Sports 1.