Monday, February 26, 2018

Travel Tips: Las Vegas Motor Speedway – March 1-4, 2018

credit: NASCAR Media
The third weekend of the 2018 NASCAR season finds the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, Xfinity Series and Camping World Truck Series teams heading west to Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Thursday through Sunday, March 1-4. The Truck Series races on Friday night, while the Xfinity Series will race on Saturday and the Cup Series Pennzoil 400 goes green on Sunday.

On Thursday night, March 1, beginning at 6 p.m. PT, the free NASCAR Hauler Parade starts at the “Welcome” sign on the Las Vegas Strip and makes its way north to the track via Sahara Ave. and Interstate 15.

Key on-track times:

Thursday, March 1
  • Camping World Truck Series practice – 2:05 and 4:05 p.m. PT
Friday, March 2
  • Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series practice – 11 a.m. PT
  • Xfinity Series practice – 12:05 and 2:05 p.m. PT
  • Camping World Truck Series qualifying – 3:05 p.m. PT
  • Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series qualifying – 4:15 p.m. PT
  • Camping World Truck Series Stratosphere 200 – 6 p.m. PT
Saturday, March 3
  • Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series practice – 9 and 11:35 a.m. PT
  • Xfinity Series qualifying – 10:05 a.m. PT
  • Xfinity Series Boyd Gaming 300 – 1 p.m. PT
Sunday, March 4
  • Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Pennzoil 400 presented by Jiffy Lube – 12:30 p.m. PT
First-time fan information can be found here, and the track’s rules and policies can be found here.

Get more information on the schedule and purchase tickets at

Right Sides Only: Notes from the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 Winning Crew Chief, Rodney Childers

by Stacey Owens

If you want to win at Atlanta Motor Speedway, you must have a fast car. It's a good thing Rodney Childers thinks about this track during the off-season.

"Yeah, I mean, this has been somewhere that we've always worked on really hard. I think everybody knows how good Kevin is here. Every winter we seem to work on this racetrack and be prepared as much as possible, just put everything into it we can, and in all honesty, over the winter, you don't really know where you stand with all the stuff that had changed with the new scanning process and all, and we kind of would look at each other every week and just kind of wonder how we were going to be. It was pretty awesome to come down here and all four cars have good speed, and just really everybody did a great job all weekend of adjusting on it, and we made it better every time we got on the racetrack and made it better going into the race. Got off a little bit in the middle of the race and got it going there again at the end," Childers explained.

Since he and the crew provided Harvick with a freaky fast car that no doubt made their Jimmy John's sponsor happy, did Childers stray from his strategy because so many other teams had to make adjustments to keep up with the No. 4 car? Maybe just a little.

"Yeah, that's part of it. I love that kind of racing. I love these types of racetracks where you have a lot of fall-off. It gives you options like that. It makes me realize that we need to work on some things and work on our tools to give us a better idea of what we should do and shouldn't do. But we just kind of -- we just kind of winged it a little bit. At first we were just going to go with a once-stop deal to the end, and then everybody started talking about stopping twice. When you look at the leaderboard and you kind of see where you're at and how much you're leading by and all that stuff, you have to just figure it all out in your head of what would be good. Just thankful that it worked out. Everybody did a really good job with it," Childers said.

Charlotte Bray for Skirts and Scuffs
Even knowing that he'd provided Harvick with a race-winning car wasn't enough to completely calm Childers's nerves.

"Honestly, I worried the whole race. I don't know, like I said, it's a lot of fun to come here with him.  He knows what he needs in the race car. He knows what it should feel like, I guess. You know, to lead all those laps over all the years and kind of always give them away, we would sit and joke about it, about there's a curse, you know, and it seems like it had been forever since he won a race here.  But even before I started working with him, I hated racing against him at this place... There's something that he has figured out that he can keep the tires on it and does a good job for us," Childers explained.

Many teams will spend the next 34 races in an attempt to win a single race, but the No. 4 team starts the season with the mindset to win at least one race in the opening five races.

"We've been able to accomplish that some years, and last year we couldn't. You know, I think overall it just gives us a little bit of time to work on our stuff and get it better. Like I said, I had no idea if we were going to run good or bad when we showed up. You don't know where everybody else is with their stuff, and you don't know if you got more downforce, less downforce and more grip or less grip. You don't know any of that stuff. You've just got to get through a few races. And even now... this isn't a good indication of what we have as a company. We need to get through a few weeks and keep working hard and then reevaluate where we're at," Childers said.

Hard work and reevaluations aside, where they are is a step closer to competing for all the marbles at the end of the season. And that's just where everyone else wants to be.


Stacey Owens lives just outside Music City USA. She's always wanted to be a NASCAR writer, so working as a columnist and support editor for Skirts and Scuffs allows her to live that dream every single weekend.
    The sole NASCAR enthusiast in her home, she's hopeful that one of her three daughters might also harbor an appreciation for NASCAR, but it isn't looking good so far.
    This self-admitted grammar nerd also loves country music, though she can't carry a tune; Kentucky basketball, even though at 6' tall, she's never played a day in her life; and her husband who's supportive of her NASCAR obsession and tunes in with her every week... even if it's just to watch the flyover.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

In 1998, Dale Earnhardt changed my life

by Lisa Janine Cloud

Twenty years ago, Dale Earnhardt changed my life.

On the face of it, that statement may seem like hyperbole but I promise you it is not. Had the Intimidator not finally won the Daytona 500 in 1998, I might never have become a NASCAR fan and without NASCAR, my life would have been radically different.

Allow me to explain.

My late husband Tex watched the occasional race our first couple of years together, usually tape-delayed. He’d play them at bedtime and the sound of the cars on the track lulled me to sleep. To this day I find it easy to fall asleep when a race is on TV. He wasn’t a regular viewer, though, and I was busy with work so I didn’t pay much attention.

It was, after all, just a bunch of cars driving in a circle.

But in February 1998, while we were at the corner convenience store, Tex saw the newspaper reporting Dale Sr.’s  historic win and commented, “He finally got his Daytona 500.” Because Tex was an Earnhardt fan, the win meant enough to him that the next Sunday, twenty years ago this weekend, we sat down in front of the TV and watched the GM Goodwrench Service Plus 400 at Rockingham.

Tex’s other favorite driver, Jeff Gordon, took the first of what would be 13 trips to Victory Lane that 50th anniversary season en route to his third championship in four years.

I was hooked.

As time went on, I became a more passionate fan than he was. Fascinated with all that went into the spectacle and science of racing, the personalities and stories sucked me in as solidly as the Daytona draft. He introduced me to open-wheel racing - from CART and IRL to Silver Crown and World of Outlaws - and even lawnmower racing.

As long as I can remember I’ve loved cars and speed. I learned to drive in the family’s 1973 Pontiac LeMans which had a 350 hp V8 engine and went from 0 to 60 faster than you can say “exhibition of acceleration.”

I’ve also always been a sports fan. I enjoy basketball, football, and baseball (Houston Astros! #EarnedHistory). Hockey isn’t exactly a big deal in Houston, but I’ve grown to like it, even though I don’t understand it.

Putting cars and sports together clicked for me in a way nothing else ever has. Add in the personalities and the stories behind them and I’m in my happy place.

When the chance to write for Skirts and Scuffs arose in the middle of the 2011 season, I grabbed it. I had no way of knowing the opportunities that would come my way from that one decision, and how they would impact my life.

The Skirts and Scuffs team became family to me. Beyond the track, we’ve shared laughter and tears, heartbreaking losses and joyful successes. Our shared love of racing brings us together, but our love for each other binds us together.

Sunrise at Texas Motor Speedway, Nov. 4, 2011

Becoming part of the team has afforded me the opportunity to attend races in person. Since November 2011, I’ve made the 290-mile trip to Texas Motor Speedway to cover 13 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup, 13 Xfinity, 10 Camping World Truck, and 5-ish Verizon IndyCar races. (I say 5-ish because I attended only one of the twin races in the 2013 Grand Prix of Houston and the 2016 Firestone 600 IndyCar race rained out and was rescheduled later in the year when I was unable to return.)

Jeff Gordon and his retirement gifts from Texas Motor Speedway
Nov. 2015

I’ve seen the sport I love up-close-and-personal at least twice a year, spent hours in the Media Center face-to-face with its biggest stars, both established and rising. When Jeff Gordon retired, I had a front-row view of the ponies TMS president Eddie Gossage gave him for his children. When Dale Earnhardt Jr., who, in 1998 launched his first championship run in what was then the Busch Series, retired last season, I was privileged to again be up front in the media center.

Dale Jr.'s Appreci88tion tour, Nov. 2017
I witnessed Chase Elliott’s first Xfinity Series win. I covered Jeb Burton’s first CWTS victory after having ridden a pace truck with his father, 2002 Daytona 500 winner, Ward Burton earlier that day. I even interviewed Tony Stewart at a sponsor appearance in 2012.

My first IndyCar Victory Lane memory holds a special place in my heart - Justin Wilson’s last IndyCar win. I had never heard of Badass Wilson before that June 2012 weekend, but I will certainly never forget him.

Justin Wilson's victory presser, June 2012

Seeing IndyCar legends Mario Andretti, Johnny Rutherford, and hometown hero A.J. Foyt in person? A dream come true.

Not only have I been blessed with such access to the drivers and crews, but I have met many of the people who cover the traveling circus that is the NASCAR circuit, which makes watching them on TV or reading their work a richer experience. They are fascinating people who also share a passion for motorsports.

This weekend begins my 21st year of being a NASCAR fan, my eighth season with Skirts and Scuffs, and I look forward to sharing the journey with all of you.

Happy NASCARversary to me.

Thanks, Dale.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Trackin' Trucks: Brett Moffit wins in overtime at Atlanta

Brett Moffitt celebrates with a burnout at Atlanta.
Credit: Jerry Markland

by Courtney Horn

Brett Moffitt surged to the lead during Saturday’s Active Pest Control 200 at Atlanta Motor Speedway, earning his second Camping World Truck Series career victory.

Moffitt took leaders Myatt Snider and Johnny Sauter three-wide in overtime to gain the lead. He won by a 1.326 margin of victory over Noah Gragson. Sauter finished third, while Snider faded to finish seventh.

The win is Moffitt’s first since Michigan in August of 2016, his first with Hattori Racing, and the first win for team owner Shigeaki Hattori.

“It’s unbelievable to even be in a race car at this point, let alone in Victory Lane,” Moffitt said. “We had a really good truck. Kyle (Busch) spun his tires a couple of restarts ago and put us back.

“But right at the end, the 13 (Snider) was a sitting duck, and I just needed a good restart. And hopefully they got into a battle behind us, which they did, and it’s pretty surreal.”

Kyle Busch Motorsports dominated the event by leading a combined 110 laps between Kyle Busch and Noah Gragson.

Busch, who won Stage 2, came down for tires after a Lap 125 caution. Busch left his pit stall before crewmembers could install the lugnuts to his left rear tire. The tire came off as he remained on the apron of Turn 1. He finished in the 21st position, one lap down.

A Look Ahead

The Camping World Truck Series heads to Las Vegas on Friday, March 2, 2018. Ben Rhodes won in September last year after Christopher Bell led 64 laps.

Sauter remains the points leader by 31 points over Matt Crafton. Grant Enfinger sits third, 33 points back.

Don’t miss the NCWTS stars on March 2nd at 9 p.m ET on Fox Sports 1.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

NASCAR Fantasy Fusion: At Atlanta

By Carol D'Agostino

Atlanta Motor Speedway has a long history with NASCAR having hosted 110 Cup races since July 31, 1960, when Fireball Roberts won from the pole. It's experienced a variety of scheduling changes over the years. Up until 2010, there were two races per year, except in 1961, when there were three. This year marks the sixth season with only one event, and in recent years, it shifted from a fall race to a spring race.

For that reason I'll focus on driver averages from the past three races (all spring) and the past six races (three spring and three fall). This will equal out the seasonal shift, making the Atlanta elite rise to the top.

Top 10 Driver Averages

  1.          Kevin Harvick                 
  2.          Brad Keselowski               
  3.          Chase Elliott                 
  4.          Kurt Busch                    
  5.          Joey Logano                   
  6.          Jimmie Johnson                
  7.          Martin Truex, Jr.             
  8.          Kyle Busch                    
  9.          Ricky Stenhouse Jr.          
 10.         Kyle Larson                   

Top 10 Driver Averages

  1.           Kevin Harvick                
  2.           Joey Logano                  
  3.           Matt Kenseth                 
  4.           Jimmie Johnson              
  5.           Martin Truex, Jr.            
  6.           Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
  7.           Kurt Busch                   
  8.           Brad Keselowski              
  9.           Kasey Kahne                  
 10.          Kyle Busch                   

2017 Race Winner: Brad Keselowski

Recent Pole Winners:
2017 Kevin Harvick
2016 Kurt Busch

The Likely Suspects: We were treated to some spectacular racing last weekend and more than a few nerve-racking fantasy NASCAR moments. It will be nice to settle into what I hope will be a somewhat predictable fantasy picks week. These will be my go-to drivers this week at Atlanta: Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski, Kurt Busch, Martin Truex Jr., Joey Logano, Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Busch, Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott.

My 2 Cents: My no-brainer pick this week is Kevin Harvick. My next picks are Brad Keselowski, Chase Elliott, Kurt Busch, Erik Jones and Kasey Kahne. I'll complete my team with Darrell (Bubba) Wallace Jr. and Chris Buescher. Remember when you finalize your starters, if you picked the fifth-place car in the line up, start him, as that is the most proficient starting position at Atlanta.

Second-Look Driver: This week's second-look driver is Trevor Bayne. Bayne has an average starting position of 19.8 and an average finishing position of 17.2 in five starts at Atlanta. In last year's race he finished in 12th place. Kudos to last week's second look driver A.J. Allmendinger, who finished in a respectable 10th place and even led a lap.

My Final Four: Kevin Harvick, Erik Jones, Chase Elliott and Bubba Wallace

Points to Ponder:
  • The most proficient starting position in the field at Atlanta Motor Speedway is fifth, with 16 wins.  
  • Nine different manufacturers have won in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series at Atlanta; led by Chevrolet with 40 victories; followed by Ford (30), Pontiac (11), Dodge (nine), Mercury (eight), Buick (four), Plymouth (four), Toyota (three) and Oldsmobile (one).
  • The Hendrick Motorsports organization has the most wins at Atlanta in the MENCS with 14; followed by Wood Brothers Racing with 12 and Joe Gibbs Racing with 11.
  • Richard Petty leads the series in top-10 finishes at Atlanta with 33; Jimmie Johnson leads all active drivers with 16, followed by Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch with 12 each.
  • Jimmie Johnson leads all seven active series winners with five victories at Atlanta; followed by Kasey Kahne (3), Kurt Busch (3), Kyle Busch (2), Denny Hamlin (1), Kevin Harvick (1) and Brad Keselowski (1).  
  • Jimmie Johnson leads all active drivers in the MENCS in average finishing position at 11.000 in 26 starts.
Remember, if you're playing Driver Group Game, make your picks by 2:30 a.m. ET on Friday, February 23rd, and pick your starters by 2 p.m. ET on race day Sunday, February 25, 2018.

Stay tuned to Skirts and Scuffs all weekend for race weekend photography coverage courtesy of one of our many awesome photographers, Charlotte Bray.

If you haven't seen our Daytona photos yet, our Debbie Ross was there last weekend. Check out her shots on our Skirts and Scuffs Facebook page.

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

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Fast Facts Redux: Darrell Wallace Jr.

Darrell Wallace Jr. at Daytona - Feb. 2018
credit: Debbie Ross/Skirts & Scuffs
Darrell Wallace Jr. comes into the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season as the first African-American driver with a full-time ride in the series since Wendell Scott in 1971. The driver of Richard Petty Motorsports’ historic No. 43 Chevrolet Camaro earned a runner-up finish in this past weekend’s Daytona 500, his first career start in the “Great American Race.” Here are the Fast Facts on this up-and-coming driver, originally published in Feb. 2013.
  • Darrell Wallace Jr. was born Oct. 8, 1993 in Mobile, AL and grew up in Concord, NC. He began racing at age 9 in Legends, Bandoleros and Late Model races; in 2005, he won 35 of the 48 races on the Bandoleros Series’ schedule.
  • In 2010, Wallace Jr. participated in the NASCAR Drive for Diversity program and competed in the K&N Pro Series East. Wallace Jr. won in his first career start in the series at Greenville-Pickens Speedway, becoming the youngest driver ever to win there at age 16. He also became the first African-American driver to win the Rookie of the Year award in a NASCAR series in 2010. In three seasons in the series, Wallace earned points finishes of third (2010), second (2011) and seventh (2012) in points, tallying six wins and 25 top 10 finishes in 36 races, as well as four poles. 
  • In 2012, Wallace Jr. made four Nationwide (now Xfinity) Series starts for Joe Gibbs Racing, earning three top 10 finishes and a pole at Dover. In 2013, he ran full-time in the Camping World Truck Series for Kyle Busch Motorsports, and became the first African-American driver to win a race in a NASCAR national series since 1963 when he won at Martinsville in October of that year. The following year he added four more wins with KBM, including the dirt race at Eldora Speedway and a second-straight win at Martinsville, this time honoring Scott by driving the No. 34.
  • In 2015 Wallace Jr. signed on with Roush Fenway Racing to compete in the Xfinity Series full-time, finishing second to Daniel Suarez in the Rookie of the Year battle and finishing seventh in points. He earned a career-best series finish of second at Dover in 2016 and picked up five-straight sixth-place finishes early in the 2017 season before his RFR team was shut down due to lack of sponsorship.
  • Wallace Jr., whose nickname is “Bubba,” voiced the character Bubba Wheelhouse in the film Cars 3 in 2017.
  • Find out more Wallace Jr. at his website,

Monday, February 19, 2018

Travel Tips: Atlanta Motor Speedway – Feb. 23-25, 2018

credit: NASCAR Media
The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, Xfinity Series and Camping World Truck Series will all race this weekend, Friday through Sunday, Feb. 23-25, at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Georgia. The Cup Series’ Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 goes green on Sunday, while the Trucks and Xfinity Series both race on Saturday.

On Thursday, Feb. 22 at 6 p.m. ET, Darrell Waltrip will be inducted into the Hampton, Georgia Speedway Lane Hall of Fame at Depot Park, followed by the sixth annual hauler parade at 6:30 p.m. ET. Find the parade route and more information about the event here.

Country star Chris Janson will take the stage for the pre-race concert on Sunday at noon ET. Get to the front of the stage with a pre-race pit pass upgrade, available here.

Key on-track times:

Friday, Feb. 23:
  • Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series practice –11:35 a.m. ET
  • Xfinity Series practice – 1:05 and 3:05 p.m. ET
  • Camping World Truck Series practice – 2:05 and 4:05 p.m. ET
  • Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series qualifying – 5:15 p.m. ET
Saturday, Feb. 24:
  • Xfinity Series qualifying – 9:10 a.m. ET
  • Camping World Truck Series qualifying – 10:35 a.m. ET
  • Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series practice –noon ET
  • Xfinity Series Rinnai 250 – 2 p.m. ET
  • Camping World Truck Series Active Pest Control 200 – 4:30 p.m. ET
Sunday, Feb. 25:
  • Chris Janson pre-race concert –noon ET
  • Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 – 2:30 p.m. ET
Find a complete weekend schedule here, and find the Worry Less Fan Guide here.

Find out more about this weekend’s races and purchase tickets at

Right Sides Only: Notes from the Daytona 500 Winning Crew Chief, Justin Alexander

by Stacey Owens

Austin Dillon may have had a lucky penny in his car, but fortunately, he also had crew chief Justin Alexander on his pit box as he won the Great American Race in historic fashion.

On the 20th anniversary of Dale Earnhardt Sr.'s only Daytona 500 win in the iconic No. 3, Dillon, grandson of team owner, Richard Childress, drove that same iconic No. 3 back to Victory Lane in NASCAR's most prestigious race.

Prior to the race, a young fan gave Dillon a "lucky penny," which the driver carried with him throughout the long afternoon of racing. Managing to avoid a number of wrecks that collected a laundry list of drivers, Dillon only led one lap on his way to the record books -- the last one. Luck may have helped Dillon avoid the on-track carnage, but Alexander brought a little more than luck to the team's big win.

Debbie Ross for Skirts and Scuffs

Dillon was confident throughout the 500 miles as well as during the overtime laps that he had a car capable of winning the race. Alexander, however, said that he and the pit crew weren't quite as confident.

"No, we had some struggling, some handling issues, not bad, a little bit early in the race," Alexander explained.

He and the pit crew rallied and made the necessary adjustments to keep Dillon in contention for the win.

"We had to make some adjustments. It wasn't just our car, it was all the cars I was scanning. All the guys out there it seemed like they were having handling issues. We made some decent adjustments on the car, and I think we got it to where he wanted it, and about the second stage, we had made some adjustments that he liked, and he was pretty happy with the car. It definitely took some work for sure on our end, and he did a heck of a job," Alexander said.

Alexander also admitted that the last-lap push for the win was a little nerve-racking.

"Man, it was like slow motion, really. Austin did everything he needed to do. He stayed in the outside line. He side drafted when he needed to. The 43 helped us out there. To win these races, you've got to put yourself in position to be there at the right time, and Austin did what it took. I don't know, it was crazy. It was kind of surreal. Still surreal," Alexander explained.

Surreal. Yep. Winning the biggest race of the year will do that to you.


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