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, bubbawallace.com.

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 www.atlantamotorspeedway.com

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

Sunday, February 18, 2018

NASCAR Fantasy Fusion: 2018 Season Opener at Daytona


by Carol D'Agostino

The Daytona 500 is always an exciting race. Drivers get to shake off the rust from the off season and begin what they hope will be a championship-winning one. The challenge is there's at least 39 other drivers who have the same idea. NASCAR Fantasy players have been chomping at the bit as well. This year we've lost a mainstay game as Yahoo Sports Fantasy Auto Racing has been discontinued. However, a new game called Driver Group Game has emerged which mirrors that Yahoo game.

NASCAR Fantasy Fusion is here to help you make your weekly picks so you can earn bragging rights at the water cooler come Monday morning. This year, I am adding a new section called "Second Look Driver" for that driver who may not be on your radar, but should be. Here's my take on this week, although it's only fair to warn you at Daytona anything can and will happen. Good luck!

Drivers with Most Top 10s in the Last 5 Years:
By Race
All with 3: Denny Hamlin, Joey Logano and Jimmie Johnson
All with 2: Regan Smith, Kurt Busch, Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski and Austin Dillon 
A.J. Allmendinger - 1

By Track
Clint Bowyer - 6
All with 5: Denny Hamlin, Kurt Busch, Jimmie Johnson and Austin Dillon
Both with 4: Joey Logano, Ryan Newman and Michael McDowell
Regan Smith - 2

Last Year's Race Winner: Kurt Busch

The Likely Suspects:  The Daytona 500 is not for the faint of heart fantasy players. It's a restrictor plate race folks, so pickem' and pray. My focus will be on these drivers: Denny Hamlin, Joey Logano, Kurt Busch, Brad Keselowski, Austin Dillon and Michael McDowell.

My 2 Cents: The Daytona 500 is an amazing race because you can draft from the back to the front in a mere lap, so don't count out those eight drivers who are being sent to the back after mangling their primary cars in the Duels on Thursday. It's the one race where a relative unknown can win. It is also notorious for making fantasy players a little crazy.

My no-brainer pick is Denny Hamlin. My next choices are Brad Keselowski, Kurt Busch, Austin Dillon, Clint Bowyer and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. I'll round out my fantasy team with Michael McDowell and Brendan Gaughan. 

Second-Look Driver: The first Second-Look Driver of the season is A.J. Allmendinger. A.J. has had some consistency issues, but when he's on, he's on. Last year he finished third at the Daytona 500 and has an 11.25 average finish in the last four races at Daytona International Speedway.

My Final Four: Denny Hamlin, Kurt Busch, Austin Dillon and Michael McDowell

Points to Ponder:
  • The pole position is the most proficient starting position in the Daytona 500 field, producing more winners (nine) than any other position; followed by second-place (seven wins) and fourth-place (seven wins).
  •  Jimmie Johnson leads all active drivers in Daytona 500 top-five finishes with seven. (Johnson is tied with NASCAR Hall of Famer Fred Lorenzen for ninth most-all-time). 
  • Dale Earnhardt and Richard Petty each posted a series leading 16 top 10s in the Daytona 500. Kevin Harvick leads all active drivers in Daytona 500 top-10 finishes with eight. 
  • The Wood Brothers have won 15 races at Daytona, more than any other organization.
If you are planning Driver Group Game remember to make your picks by 2:30 p.m. on race day (February 18).  

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

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Come play Fantasy NASCAR with us!

by Carol D'Agostino

Here we are at the opening of a new race season. New rules. New drivers. New car numbers. And even a new NASCAR Fantasy racing game. A mainstay in the NASCAR Fantasy world for nearly two decades, Yahoo Sports Fantasy Auto Racing, has officially been discontinued.

Never fear. Fantasy Racing Cheat Sheet, a statistical tools web site, has taken on the challenge of introducing the "twin" of the Yahoo game. Kinda an almost identical twin. Close enough for this NASCAR Fantasy racing fan. The game is called Driver Group Game.

You can play along with Skirts and Scuffs in a Private League. Check out my weekly column for tips and picks suggestions.

Good luck!


Trackin’ Trucks: Johnny Sauter wins at Daytona

Credit: Debbie Ross for Skirts and Scuffs

by Courtney Horn

Johnny Sauter held off GMS Racing teammate Justin Haley by .098 seconds to win the season opener Friday night at Daytona International Speedway.

Sauter led 39 laps to earn the third Daytona victory of his career. Sauter, who won Stage 2 of the NextEra Energy Resources 250, regained the lead on Lap 92 and stayed out front for the remainder of the night.
Sauter celebrates in Victory Lane
Credit: Brian Lawdermilk
“I felt like we executed flawlessly,” Sauter said. “I don’t even remember the pass for the lead. We had good track position and we lost it a couple times. I’m just so thankful to be driving this truck. This is the best group of guys I’ve ever been around, and it’s great to start the season off like this.”

Sauter dedicated the victory to his crew chief Joe Shear, whose wife passed away in December.

“This is very, very, very special,” Shear said. “I don’t know if a lot of people know, but I lost my wife in December. She’s looking down on us. She was in love with racing just as much as I was.

“She was looking over us and helped us to this win. And I’m so grateful to be in the position that I’m at and have these people around me. This means so much. I’ll never forget this one.”

Haley finished second in his first Daytona event. The 18-year-old was not able to run the 2.5-mile track a year ago because he was too young.

“Those final laps were crazy,” Haley said. “I finally got shuffled back a little bit there on the last lap, and there wasn’t that much energy on the high side.”

Veteran driver Joe Nemechek finished third, followed by Ben Rhodes and Scott Lagasse Jr.

Grant Enfinger and Dalton Sargeant earned top-10 finishes after being involved in a multi-car crash on Lap 55 when Enfinger’s Ford got loose in Turn 4.

John Hunter Nemechek blew a tire on Lap 73 and collected five other drivers, including Myatt Snider, Brett Moffitt, and Stewart Friesen.

A Look Ahead 

The Camping World Truck Series head to Atlanta Motor Speedway on February 24, 2018. Christopher Bell dominated a year ago, while Matt Crafton finished in the runner-up position.

Can Crafton earn an early season victory? Find out next Saturday, February 24th at 4:30 p.m ET on Fox Sports 1.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

TV Schedule: Feb. 15-18

Kurt Busch wins the 2017 Daytona 500. Credit: Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images
Start your engines! The NASCAR season officially gets underway this weekend with the Super Bowl of racing, the Daytona 500.

Speedweeks continues at Daytona International Speedway with the Can-Am Duels on Thursday, which helps complete the starting lineup for the Daytona 500. The Camping World Truck Series starts its season Friday and the XFINITY Series on Saturday.

The Great American Race kicks off the Monster Energy Cup season Sunday. Who'll be hoisting the prestigious race trophy at the end?

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

Thursday, Feb. 15:
2:30 p.m. Camping World Truck Series practice, FS1
4:30 p.m. Camping World Truck Series final practice, FS1
5:30 p.m. NASCAR RaceDay, FS1
7 p.m. Monster Energy Cup Series: Can-Am Duels at Daytona, FS1

Friday, Feb. 16:
3:30 a.m. Monster Energy Cup Series: Can-Am Duel at Daytona (re-air), FS1
Noon XFINITY Series practice, FS1
1 p.m. Monster Energy Cup Series practice, FS1
2 p.m. XFINITY Series final practice, FS1
3 p.m. Monster Energy Cup Series practice, FS1
4:30 p.m. Camping World Truck Series qualifying, FS1
7 p.m. NASCAR RaceDay, FS1
7:30 p.m. Camping World Truck Series NextEra Energy Resources 250, FS1

Saturday, Feb. 17:
2:30 a.m. Camping World Truck Series NextEra Energy Resources 250 (re-air), FS1
4:30 a.m. Monster Energy Cup Series practice (re-air), FS1
5:30 a.m. Monster Energy Cup Series practice (re-air), FS1
7:30 a.m. Camping World Truck Series NextEra Energy Resources 250 (re-air), FS1
9:30 a.m. XFINITY Series qualifying, FS1
Noon Monster Energy Cup Series final practice, FS1
2 p.m. NASCAR RaceDay: XFINITY, FS1
2:30 p.m. XFINITY Series: PowerShares QQQ 300, FS1
5 p.m. XFINITY Series Post Race, FS1

Sunday, Feb. 18:
1 a.m. XFINITY Series: PowerShares QQQ 300 (re-air), FS1
3:30 a.m. Monster Energy Cup Series final practice (re-air), FS1
11 a.m. NASCAR RaceDay, FOX
1 p.m. Monster Energy Cup Series Pre Race, FOX
2:30 p.m. Monster Energy Cup Series: Daytona 500, FOX

Travel Tips: Speedweeks at Daytona – Feb. 15-18, 2018

credit: NASCAR Media
The 2018 NASCAR season kicked off Sunday with Brad Keselowski winning The Clash at Daytona and Alex Bowman claiming the pole for the Daytona 500. This week, Daytona International Speedway continues to host Speedweeks at Daytona, culminating with the Daytona 500 on Sunday, Feb. 18. This weekend, fans will see the season-opening points races for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, the Xfinity Series and the Camping World Truck Series.

Fans heading to Daytona for Speedweeks will want to check out the UNOH Fanzone for off-track activities, including garage tours, driver and team appearances, live music and the kids’ area. Find out more about the UNOH Fanzone here.

The annual Hot Rods and Reels charity fishing tournament, benefitting the Darrell Gwynn Quality of Life Chapter of the Buoniconti Fund to Cure Paralysis, takes place Friday, Feb. 16, at 8 a.m. ET on Lake Lloyd at the track. Find out more about the event here.

Key on-track times for the second weekend of Speedweeks at Daytona:

Thursday, Feb. 15 –
  • Camping World Truck Series practice – 11:35 a.m., 2:25 p.m. and 4:35 p.m. ET
  • Can-Am Duel qualifying races for the Daytona 500 – 7 p.m. ET
Friday, Feb. 16 –
  • Xfinity Series practice – 12:05 and 2:05 p.m. ET
  • Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series practice – 1:05 and 3:05 p.m. ET
  • Camping World Truck Series qualifying – 4:30 p.m. ET     
  • Camping World Truck Series NextEra Energy Resources 250 – 7:30 p.m. ET
Saturday, Feb. 17
  • Xfinity Series qualifying – 9:35 a.m. ET
  • Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series practice – 12:05 p.m. ET
  • Xfinity Series PowerShares QQQ 300 – 2 p.m. ET
Sunday, Feb. 18
  • Pre-race show on pit road featuring Rascal Flatts – 1:45 p.m. ET
  • Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Daytona 500 – 3 p.m. ET
Get information about and purchase tickets for Speedweeks at Daytona, and find a complete schedule for Speedweeks, including scheduled driver appearances, at www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com

Monday, February 5, 2018

Travel Tips: Speedweeks at Daytona – Feb. 10-14, 2018

credit: NASCAR Media
The “off-season” is over: It’s time to head back to the track and kick off the 2018 season at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, FL, home of Speedweeks at Daytona beginning Saturday, Feb. 10, and culminating with the Daytona 500 on Sunday, Feb. 18.

During six days of on-track action, fans will see the season openers for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, the Xfinity Series and the Camping World Truck Series, plus the ARCA Racing Series. Fans will also see the Advance Auto Parts Clash at Daytona and Daytona 500 qualifying during the opening weekend.

Fans heading to Daytona for Speedweeks will want to check out the UNOH Fanzone for off-track activities, including garage tours, driver and team appearances, live music and the kids’ area. Find out more about the UNOH Fanzone here. Fans can also check out the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America, located in the Daytona Ticket and Tours building.

Key on-track times for the first weekend of Speedweeks:

Saturday, Feb. 10 –
  • Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series practice – 10:35 a.m., 1:05 and 3:05 p.m. ET
  • ARCA Racing Series Lucas Oil 200 Driven by General Tire – 4:45 p.m. ET
Sunday, Feb. 11 –
  • Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Daytona 500 qualifying presented by Kroger – for the front row of the Daytona 500 and for starting positions in the Can-Am Duel – 12:15 p.m. ET
  • Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Advance Auto Parts Clash at Daytona – 3 p.m. ET
While there are no on-track activities for the NASCAR teams Monday-Wednesday, Feb. 12-14, the NASCAR Racing Experience Ride-Along Program will run each day from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. ET. Find out more here. A number of Daytona Tours are available from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. ET Monday-Wednesday, and you can learn more here.

Get information and purchase tickets for Speedweeks at Daytona and find a complete schedule at www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com