Monday, April 30, 2018

Travel Tips: Dover International Speedway – May 3-6, 2018

credit: NASCAR Media

The first race weekend at Dover International Speedway for the 2018 NASCAR season is the AAA 400 weekend, Thursday through Sunday, May 3-6. All three of NASCAR’s top-tier series – Monster Energy NASCAR Cup, Xfinity and Camping World Truck Series – will be in action at “the Monster Mile” in Delaware.

On Friday, there will be a free Camping World Truck Series autograph session in the FanZone at 11 a.m. ET. Be sure to get your wristbands, which will be handed out beginning at 10 a.m. ET at the Delaware Office of Highway Safety Booth in the FanZone.

The OneMain Financial 200 is the fourth and final race in this year’s Xfinity Series Dash 4 Cash. Xfinity Series drivers Justin Allgaier, Elliott Sadler, Brandon Jones and Spencer Gallagher are eligible for a $100,000 bonus at the end of the race; Sadler has won the last two Dash 4 Cash bonuses.

Key on-track times:

Thursday, May 3 –
  • Camping World Truck Series practice – 2:05 and 4:05 p.m. ET
Friday, May 4 –
  • Xfinity Series practice – 9:35 a.m. and 2:05 p.m. ET
  • Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series practice – 10:35 a.m.  ET
  • Camping World Truck Series qualifying – 1:05 p.m. ET
  • Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series qualifying – 3:20 p.m. ET
  • Camping World Truck Series JEGS 200 – 5 p.m. ET
Saturday, May 5 –
  • Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series practice – 9:30 a.m. and noon ET
  • Xfinity Series qualifying – 10:35 a.m. ET
  • Xfinity Series OneMain Financial 200 – 1:30 p.m. ET
Sunday, May 6 –
  • Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series AAA 400 Drive for Autism – 2 p.m. ET
Find a complete schedule of fan activities and on-track activities here, and find the driver appearance schedule here.

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

Right Sides Only: Notes from the Geico 500 Winning Crew Chief, Todd Gordon

by Stacey Owens

Some people don't put much stock in momentum. Of course, those are usually the people who don't have any momentum. As of this weekend, crew chief Todd Gordon and the No. 22 team have that momentum into which other teams are currently not putting much stock.

Gordon talked about that momentum after the win.

"It's a great momentum builder. I think as the season's gone on, we've worked on trying to make ourselves better. It's very well-documented. We had a very difficult struggle through the year last year. We ended the year with a little momentum and a direction. I think everybody dug in in the off-season to figure out where we needed to go.

"We've been doing that. Haven't gotten quite to this position. But we came to a racetrack where Joey Logano is one of the best plate racers. Brad is as well. And they work off each other.

"It's a great accomplishment to get ourselves Playoff eligible and carry this momentum forward because it's the next step from what we've had with several top-10 finishes this year," Gordon explained.

Before the win, however, the team had to get through a difficult first stage. Gordon discussed the difference between practice and the race itself as well as the changes he had to make to the car to make it more stable for the remainder of the race.

"There's a couple things that happen here. Obviously the new ride height package, I don't know if it's as visible to you guys, it totally changed speedway racing for us. We're able to keep the cars lower, get the cars faster. There's a lot more you can play of speed versus handling, where before when we had the package we had last year, where the rear shocks and the rear springs were issued, heights were kind of set, there was less of a box to work within.

"With the change we had with speedway racing this year, now teams get to play how much handling, how much speed do I want to trade off.

"I think you saw that with a lot of cars. We saw it at Daytona, as well. Everybody came here thinking Talladega has not been a handling race. With this new drop package, where we could go with it, you could get yourself where you couldn't handle.

"I think we did a good job as a team at Daytona to understand what we needed to work on and what made a significant difference. We worked through that with practice with a couple drafting runs we had. You can't really tell, you don't see the real picture until you have 40 cars out there. We can try to draft with five or six, but when you stand in line, you have decent air on the car, you don't know how bad the car is going to get.

"Having an experienced drafter like Joey, he's aware during practice of what we need to work on. We made some changes coming into the race. I thought we had good stability. I thought we made a good adjustment on the first stop to add some more stability to our car without taking a lot of speed away.  From that point, we strategized where we kept our track position with tires and fuel," Gordon said.

Charlotte Bray for Skirts and Scuffs
Following the inevitable "Big One" at Talladega Superspeedway, Gordon had to keep his driver focused.

"You look at it, and I would say outside of the direct teammates, if you look through history here and rewatch the end of races here, Joey and Kevin Harvick find each other. That's been something, even when Kevin was in a Chevrolet, I think they see things a lot the same. They tend to find each other and work together.

"To look at it and say you've got four teammates with all the same powerplants that Roush-Yates provides, it put us in a situation where we try to keep a relationship with those guys and work as one Ford.

"I think you do what you can within that. We're going to race 'em at the end, but it's easier to race with Kevin and Kurt than it would be to race with the Hendrick guys for us.

"We had good speed. I think all of us had good speed. Kudos to the Roush-Yates guys. I think with two to go we had the top five spots with Fords. It's a pseudo teammate. It's not what our teammates were. It's a relationship that we continue to try to build because I think together we can all be successful," Gordon explained.

Gordon talked about the team's relationship with other Ford teams.

"When you look at these speedway races, you got to be in a position. You can't do anything on your own. When you look at the draft, I mean, it's seconds that you give up if you're by yourself. Even to the point, you know, four is borderline working. Within Team Penske we can control a lot of things.  You have to look at attrition and what happens.

"You try to find those guys that have common interests. I would say our relationship with Stewart-Haas and with Roush Fenway, we have a common goal:  we want Ford to be in Victory Lane. We want our own Ford to be in Victory Lane, but we all want Ford to be there.

"You look to work with the guys that you know have similar stuff to you and have similar interests.  That's a relationship that, as Ford brought Stewart-Haas into the mix, they continue to push us to make our stuff better. We see that. When Kevin outruns us, there's no excuses. Same motor, same body spec. We have work to do.

"It's a great relationship where we can push each other to be better," Gordon said.

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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... 
as long as she allows him to obsess over college football every fall.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

NASCAR Fantasy Fusion: GEICO 500 at Talladega


By Carol D'Agostino

Drivers with Most Top 10s (Last 5 Years):
By Race
Both with 3 - Jimmie Johnson and Paul Menard
All with 2 - Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr., Brad Keselowski, Aric Almirola, Jamie McMurray, Denny Hamlin and Ryan Blaney
By Track
All with 5 - Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Brad Keselowski, Clint Bowyer, Paul Menard and Kurt Busch
All with 4 - Kevin Harvick, Ryan Newman and Aric Almirola

Recent Pole Winners:  
2017 Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
2016 Chase Elliott

Last Year's Race Winner: Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

The Likely Suspects: You may want to consult an old priest and a young priest when picking this week. Yup, it's the picking and praying game at Talladega. My focus will be on: Ricky Stenhouse Jr.,
Paul Menard, Brad Keselowski, Aric Almirola, dare I say -- Kyle Busch -- as well as Jamie McMurray and Ryan Newman.

My 2 Cents: I'll be going with statistics and past performances and hope that my restrictor-plate go-to guys are carrying their lucky charms. My no-brainer pick this week is Ricky Stenhouse Jr. My next choices are Brad Keselowski, Kevin Harvick, Paul Menard, Aric Almirola and Jamie McMurray. I'll complete my team with David Gilliland and Chris Buescher.

Second-Chance Driver: This week's second-look driver is Trevor Bayne. Bayne is a decent restrictor-plate racer, plus he has something to prove this weekend in light of the fact that he'll be sharing a ride with Matt Kenseth starting in Kansas. At Talladega, Bayne has one top five and three top 10s and has led 43 laps in 14 races. Last week's second-look driver, Aric Almirola, finished 17th in Richmond after starting 25th.

My Final Four: Brad Keselowski, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Jamie McMurray and David Gilliland

Points to Ponder:
  • Richard Childress Racing and Hendrick Motorsports are tied for the most wins at Talladega in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series with 12 each. 
  • Nine different manufacturers have won in the MENCS at Talladega, led by Chevrolet with 40 victories, followed by Ford with 26 and Toyota with three.
  • The outside front row starting position is the most proficient starting position in the field, producing more winners (20) than any other starting spot at Talladega.
  • Six active drivers are tied for the second-most poles at Talladega with one each: Martin Truex Jr., Jimmie Johnson, Kevin Harvick, Kasey Kahne, Chase Elliott and Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
  • Brad Keselowski leads all active MENCS drivers with five wins, followed by Joey Logano, Jamie McMurray, Clint Bowyer and Jimmie Johnson with two wins each.
  • Jimmie Johnson and Kevin Harvick lead all active drivers with three runner-ups each.
  • Jamie McMurray leads all active drivers in top fives at Talladega with eight.
  • Kurt Busch leads all active drivers in top 10s at Talladega with 18.
  • Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (nine starts) leads all active drivers in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series in average finishing position at Talladega with a 10.375.
Remember, if you're playing Driver Group Game, make your picks by 12:35 p.m. on Saturday, April 28, and pick your starters by 2 p.m. EDT on race day, Sunday, April 29.

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

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Rookie Stripe: Treading Water -- The Dangers of Dehydration for NASCAR Drivers

Photo credit: Lisa Janine Cloud for Skirts and Scuffs
By Logan Stewart Kureczka

Racing may seem like no sweat for NASCAR’s top drivers, but in the compact space of a race car cockpit, soaring temperatures can pose a threat unlike anything they encounter from competitors.

Drivers strapped in behind the wheel for hours on end face interior temperatures that can easily climb to 120 or 130 degrees (sometimes higher depending on conditions). Heat travels through the car’s interior and floorboards, and in order to preserve precious energy needed for speed, the cars are not air conditioned.

Even though a fire suit acts has fire retardant properties, its main job is to protect the user from fire, not to cool a human being. According to The Physics of NASCAR: The Science Behind the Speed, the body temperature of a driver is important beyond reasons of more than keeping the driver happy and comfortable. When temperatures soar into the triple digits it can pose a life-threatening situation. Heat can take an extreme toll on drivers, causing dehydration and worse. It can impact their mental state behind the wheel and ultimately how they perform, as well as their safety.

Keeping the driver cool and hydrated is much more than a comfort issue. Heat can cause mental and physical exhaustion and promote “irritability, anger and other emotional states that may result in rash or careless behavior,” according to a study done at the University of Western Australia. A driver who loses more than 3 percent of his body weight in fluids is at risk for fatigue-induced errors…a driver can sweat the equivalent of ten pounds of body weight during a race which is comparable to the fluid loss of football players and marathon runners. [1] 


In October 2017 Kyle Busch got so overheated at Charlotte Motor Speedway that he exited his vehicle, laid down on the grass and had to have ice and cold compresses applied to his body. He later said he felt nauseous and it was the hottest he had ever been inside a car. Jimmie Johnson had a similar experience at Richmond International Raceway in 2014 when he began to cramp and sat down on the pavement, and later went to the infield care center for a bag of fluids to help him recover.
Photo credit: Lisa Janine Cloud for Skirts and Scuffs
Searing temperatures are nothing new to NASCAR drivers and teams, but figuring out how to fight them, especially when it comes to safety and performance, can be daunting. In modern day racing, teams have begun to put special emphasis on keeping dehydration at bay and focusing on the science behind fluid loss and human performance. Hotter tracks have more humidity, which can make the dehydration risk higher. These days, some drivers also compete back to back days in both the Xfinity and Monster Energy series, which elevates their level of dehydration risk even more.
Photo credit: Charlotte Bray for Skirts and Scuffs
The fight for hydration is real and sweat is unavoidable in NASCAR. As teams anxiously track the weather in the week leading up to each race, they experiment delicately with an ever-changing blend of science and strategy that hopefully in the end, keeps them safe and on top.

[1] Leslie-Pelecky, Diandra. The Physics of NASCAR: The Science Behind the Speed. February 2008.Print.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Travel Tips: Talladega Superspeedway – April 27-29, 2018

credit: NASCAR Media

The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and Xfinity Series are joined by the ARCA Racing Series at Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama, Friday through Sunday, April 27-29. The weekend schedule includes the ARCA General Tire 200 on Friday, the Xfinity Series Sparks Energy 300 on Saturday and the Cup Series GEICO 500 on Sunday.

Visit the International Motorsports Hall of Fame and Museum, adjacent to the speedway, for a glance back at the history of motorsports. Extended hours will be available during race week. Check the website for details.

On Friday, all infield guests and renewal guests can check out “The Big One on the Blvd” for a giant parade and party. On Saturday night, Uncle Kracker will hit the infield stage at approximately 9 p.m. CT. The concert is open to all infield guests and anyone with a Sunday race ticket.

Key on-track times:

Friday, April 27 –
  • ARCA Racing Series practice – 8:30 a.m. CT
  • Xfinity Series practice – 10:35 a.m. and 12:35 p.m. CT
  • Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series practice – 11:35 a.m. and 1:35 p.m. CT
  • ARCA Racing Series qualifying – 2:30 p.m. CT
  • ARCA Racing Series General Tire 200 – 5 p.m. CT
Saturday, April 28 –
  • Xfinity Series qualifying – 10 a.m. CT
  • Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series qualifying – 12:05 p.m. CT
  • Xfinity Series Sparks Energy 300 –2 p.m. CT
Sunday, April 29
  • Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series GEICO 500 – 1 p.m. CT
Check out the grandstand guide here and frequently asked questions here.

Get more information and purchase tickets for this weekend’s race at www.talladegasuperspeedway.com.

Right Sides Only: Notes from the Toyota Owners 400 Winning Crew Chief, Adam Stevens

by Stacey Owens

It's difficult to win a race. It's even more difficult to win two races. Winning three consecutive races puts a driver in a different league altogether. Yet this weekend marked the second time this season that a team has won three races in a row. Adam Stevens, crew chief for Kyle Busch, is the first one to explain that the level on which they're competing starts, not at the track, but at the race shop.

"To win races at this level, you really can't have any weak links. Sometimes you have to have good fortune. The key to that is preparing good cars and making good decisions. That all starts back at the shop. The hard work and dedication of all the men and women at Joe Gibbs Racing that put their heart and soul into these cars, give us something we can be competitive with. Then it's up to us at the tracks to make good decisions, have good practices, make good changes, not make any mistakes.

"A huge part of that tonight was pit stops. Didn't have green-flag runs early. Late we started getting some cautions. We were able to rachet it forward by virtue of some strong pit stops. The cleaner the air got for us, the better our car got. We were able to make a couple adjustments late and were able to win this thing," Stevens said.

Carol D"Agostino for Skirts and Scuffs
Stevens would also be the first one to say that he's the reason the race didn't start so well for the No. 18 team.

"We started in the back because I screwed up qualifying. It was a crew chief error. I told him to run two laps. He took that at face value. By the time I realized that our second lap wasn't good enough, he had already crossed the line, shut it off. There wasn't enough time to get it fired back up and try again. You wouldn't want to put another heat cycle on them any.

"We didn't make (indiscernible) with a tight practice schedule, only having three sets of tires. We didn't have the tires up to temperature when it was time to go. That was all on me. We started in the back and only had two laps on our tires. A lot of those guys had five, six, seven laps. That was part of the advantage moving forward.

"I think we made really good changes. Going into the race, probably had a little bit more motivation to probably maybe be a little bit more aggressive than what we would if we would have qualified in the top six or seven like we probably should have. We had to make bigger changes to make sure that we were going to have what we needed in the race. Paced himself. Didn't have too much coming up through traffic, which is what you need to do," Stevens explained.


Charlotte Bray for Skirts and Scuffs
Changes aside, Stevens also discussed how the track at Richmond changes from day-to-day.

"Richmond, it's always a little bit different. The setups change. What it takes to be fast tonight might not be what it takes to be fast even tomorrow night, let alone a few months from now.

"It wasn't a dominant effort. Nobody dominated really. You saw four-car races for the lead pretty much the entirety of the race. It's all about the little things at Richmond. You have to have all the details right, and small adjustments can show up big on the stopwatch.

"Sometimes it's easy as driver and crew chief to forget that. Sometimes you're a little closer than you think you are when you're far off," Stevens explained.

They may have started far off, but this team has been a little closer than everyone else for three weeks in a row. How long can they keep this streak alive? Tune in next week when teams travel to Talladega Superspeedway where anything can happen.

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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, April 22, 2018

Kyle Busch goes to Victory Lane at Richmond Raceway for three wins in a row

CREDIT: Carol D'Agostino/Skirts and Scuffs
By Carol D’Agostino

The talk going into the Toyota Owners 400 race at Richmond Raceway was about long green runs, keeping up with track changes and the chance of Kyle Busch making it three wins in a row. Three hours and eight minutes later, with a few beating and banging incidents, prerace banter came true on all three counts.

The race was dominated by long runs, and for the second time in Kyle Busch’s 14-year Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series career, he won three consecutive races.

Busch, who started the race from 32nd position, said it was a team effort.

I wasn't sure we were going to have any dominance. But we certainly put ourselves in position all night long to have that opportunity and that chance to go out there and win the race, thanks to our pit crew. The guys did an amazing job the last two pit stops. They got us out front where we needed to be. They got us the lead."

Despite winning at a track where the boos often outnumber the cheers, Busch climbed into the grandstands after winning the race.

Don't worry, I was definitely eyeing it out, like who's there, who's there, who's there,” Busch said jokingly in the media center after the race. “I saw a lot of 18 stuff, so I just decided to go up there, get some guys and some kids some high fives, what's ups. Fortunately I got back out of there. They held onto me for a second, then my brute strength ripped me out of their arms and brought me back to civilization on the racetrack."

The win was Busch’s 46th victory in 471 MENCS races, tying Buck Baker for 15th on the Cup Series all-time win list. This is Busch’s third victory and eighth top-10 finish this season. At Richmond, this is Busch’s fifth victory and 19th top-10 finish in 26 races.

Rounding out the top-10 finishers at the Toyota Owners 400 were Chase Elliott, Denny Hamlin, Joey Logano, Kevin Harvick, Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Larson, Brad Keselowski, Clint Bowyer and Daniel Suarez.

Kyle Busch goes into next week’s race in Talladega Superspeedway as the points leader, 56 points ahead of Joey Logano.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Providing relevance is job #1 for Richmond infield redevelopment project

RENDERING/Richmond Raceway
By Carol D’Agostino

Fans visiting Richmond Raceway for September’s playoff weekend will be treated to an enhanced “full immersion” experience not yet available at any other track on the NASCAR circuit. Construction on the $30 million infield redevelopment project began after September’s race weekend in 2017.

During a hard hat tour of the Cup garage area, Derek Muldowney, vice president of International Speedway Corporation (ISC) and president of ISC Design & Development, explained that goal of the project is to keep the sport more relevant to the fans by creating an enhanced “up close and personal experience.”

The new fan engagement strategy includes garage walkways. Currently, fans at tracks can purchase special garage passes that gain them entrance to the garage area with a view outside each team’s individual garage. With this new engagement strategy, fans will be able to walk through the inside of the garage from an open walkway where they can see all the teams at work. A mere low fence will separate fans from their favorite race teams as they prep their cars for the race.

In addition to the garage walkway, fans will also be able to watch cars go through technical inspection stations in the new infield from special viewing areas as well as gain access to pre-race activities, driver appearances, and other special entertainment.

Richmond’s infield redevelopment project is getting the attention of the drivers especially those who call Richmond their home track. “I am proud of what is going on here,” said Elliott Sadler, the Emporia, Va., native. “Every track needs to create a niche. We are a point in time when all NASCAR tracks need to bring more bang for your buck at the track. This is a direction we need to go,” Sadler added.

Chesterfield, Va., native Denny Hamlin spoke out in favor of racetrack owners reinvesting in their facilities and advocated for changes that reflect new fan preferences for enhanced amenities. “Fans don’t like sitting in 90-degree aluminum bleachers anymore. It’s a different world than what it used to be,” Hamlin said. He continued with a little tongue-in-cheek humor, “They want to be in the Lexus stadium with concierge bringing them a beer every two minutes. People are pretty high maintenance now and you have to keep up with that,” he added.

The new Richmond infield will officially be named the DC Solar FanGrounds. Tickets to the infield will be an add-on to a grandstand ticket purchase.

When completed the back of the garage area will open up and fans standing behind a low fence
will view all the team garages from garage walkways.
PHOTO: Carol D'Agostino/Skirts and Scuffs



Friday, April 20, 2018

Christopher Bell wins ToyotaCare 250 at Richmond Raceway with his teammate at his heels


CREDIT: Carol D'Agostino/Skirts and Scuffs
By Carol D’Agostino

Debuts, winning streaks and the Dash 4 Cash were the storylines going into tonight’s NASCAR Xfinity Series ToyotaCare 250 at Richmond Raceway. The buildup for the race did not disappoint. When the final flag waved it was Christopher Bell who took the win.

For Bell this was his second victory in 16 NASCAR Xfinity Series races, and his first victory and fifth top-10 finish this season. The win also marks his first victory and second top-10 finish at Richmond. Bell was the highest-finishing rookie in the race.

Lurking in Bell’s shadow in the final 78 laps, and almost stealing the race recap headline, was Bell’s teammate, Camping World Truck Series contender Noah Gragson, who made his Xfinity Series career debut this evening driving the No. 18 Switch Toyota Camry. Gragson started in the 11th spot and led 10 laps.

A disappointed Gragson addressed the media after the race.

“I found something there at the end of the second stage on old tires. I made up some ground, but was never able to get back to the lead,” Grayson said. “I’ve come a long way in the past year, but have a long way to go. I have the drive and the fight to win. I am learning the most I can."

Gragson will be racing in the next two weeks at Talladega Superspeedway and Dover International Speedway

“Track position ultimately won me the race,” said Bell. “I was worried about how he (Gragson) was running me down. But I tried to focus on running my race instead of focusing on Gragson."  

Bell came off of a disappointing finish last week at Bristol after crashing out early in the race.

Elliott Sadler finished in third place and won the Dash 4 Cash, his fourth win for the program.

“It is so good running here at my hometrack. We got too tight at the end,” Elliott said. Although he wasn’t ungrateful he would have traded in the $100,000 bonus for a win. “A memory in Victory Lane is something that lasts a lifetime, and getting a win at my home track where I came to as a child with my family would be so special,” he added.

Elliott goes into next week’s Talladega race leading the driver points standings by 29 points over Christopher Bell.


Round two of Dash for Cash unfolds tonight at Richmond Raceway

Spencer Gallagher, Justin Allgaier and Elliott Sadler speak in the Media Center at Richmond
CREDIT: Carol D'Agostino for Skirts and Scuffs
By Carol D’Agostino

Short track racing at Richmond Raceway provides its own level of drama, but when the flag waves to start tonight’s ToyotaCare 250 NASCAR XFinity Series race there will be 100,000 reasons for four drivers to make some noise.

Tonight’s race marks the second stop for the NASCAR Xfinity Series Dash 4 Cash program where Justin Allgaier, Daniel Hemric, Elliott Sadler and Spencer Gallagher will compete for a $100,000 bonus. Allgaier took home the big check last year at Richmond, becoming the only driver to win at least one round in the Dash 4 Cash program the past two seasons (2017 Phoenix, Richmond; 2016 Indianapolis).

The program’s first 2018 winner, Ryan Preece, would have qualified for the second round, but was not scheduled to run this weekend due to his part-time schedule. Preece’s spot went to the next-highest finisher, Spencer Gallagher.

An additional part of the Dash 4 Cash this year is participation by Comcast who is donating a total of $40,000 to local organizations in race markets at each Dash 4 Cash stop on behalf of the Internet Essentials program. Internet Essentials is the country’s largest program for getting low-income households online. Last weekend’s donation in Bristol supported the Quest Foundation for Washington County Schools in Tennessee.

The NASCAR XFinity Series Dash 4 Cash program will continue at Talladega Superspeedway next Saturday and will conclude at Dover International Speedway on May 5.

Tune in to tonight’s ToyotaCare 250 to see if Justin Allgaier can defend his Dash 4 Cash Richmond win. The race begins at 7 p.m. ET and will broadcast on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

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Thursday, April 19, 2018

NASCAR Fantasy Fusion: Richmond

By Carol D'Agostino

Drivers with Most Top 10s (Last 5 Years):
By Race
Joey Logano - 5
All with 4 - Kevin Harvick, Kurt Busch and Martin Truex Jr.

By Track
Joey Logano - 9
Kurt Busch - 8
Both with 6 - Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex Jr.
All with 5 - Brad Keselowski, Kyle Busch, Jamie McMurray, Denny Hamlin and Ryan Newman

Recent Pole Winners:
2017 Matt Kenseth
2016 Rained out
2015 Joey Logano

Last Year's Race Winner: Joey Logano

The Likely Suspects: The Richmond elite drivers usually have open wheel experience. These drivers traditionally run well here: Joey Logano, Kevin Harvick, Kurt Busch, Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin.

My 2 Cents: My no-brainer pick this week is Kyle Busch. My next picks are: Joey Logano, Kurt Busch, Daniel Saurez, Jamie McMurray and Kasey Kahne. I will round out my team with William Byron and Chris Buescher.

My Final Four: Kyle Busch, Kurt Busch, Ryan Newman and William Byron

Second-Look Driver: This week's second-look driver is Aric Almirola. Aric has gotten off to a great start this year. His average finishing position at Richmond is 14.3. He has one Top 5 and four Top 10s. Last week's second-look driver Daniel Suarez finished in a respectable 11th place after starting 12th on the grid. Daniel also scored bonus points for leading five laps.

Points to ponder:
  • Petty Enterprises has the most wins at Richmond in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series with 15 victories; followed by Joe Gibbs Racing with 12, Hendrick Motorsports with 10 and Richard Childress Racing with nine.
  • The pole starting position is the most proficient starting position in the field, producing more winners than any other starting position at Richmond with 24. 
  • Only five active MENCS drivers have been able to win from the pole: Kasey Kahne (2005), Jimmie Johnson (2007), Kyle Busch (2010), Brad Keselowski (2014) and Denny Hamlin (2016). 
  • Denny Hamlin leads all active drivers in Busch poles at Richmond with three (2006, 2008 and 2016); followed by Joey Logano and Jimmie Johnson with two each. 
  • Kyle Busch leads all active drivers in wins at Richmond with four victories (spring 2009, spring 2010, spring 2011, spring 2012). 
  • Kyle Busch (25 series starts) leads all active drivers in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series in average finishing position at Richmond Raceway with a 7.400. 
  • Kyle Busch leads all active drivers in series runner-up finishes at Richmond with six; followed by Denny Hamlin, Kurt Busch, Kevin Harvick and Ryan Newman with two each. 
  • Kyle Busch leads all active drivers in top-five finishes at Richmond with 15; followed by Kevin Harvick (12) and Denny Hamlin (10). 
  • Kevin Harvick leads all active drivers in top 10s at Richmond with 21; followed by Kyle Busch and Ryan Newman with 18 each.
Remember, if you're playing Driver Group Game, make your picks by 2:59 a.m. EDT on Friday, April 20, and pick your starters by 6:30 p.m. EDT on race day, Saturday, April 21.

I'll be covering the race weekend at Richmond for Skirts and Scuffs, so be sure to check back at here for your racing news. Enjoy the race! Post your comments here or follow me on Twitter at @purplecatpr

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Fast Facts Redux: Alan Kulwicki

1992 Cup Series champ Alan Kulwicki
credit: NASCAR Media

On the heels of what was one of the most epic championship battles in NASCAR, the 1993 NASCAR Cup Series season was one of the most tragic in series’ history, as it lost two of its rising stars, including its reigning champion, in separate aviation accidents just months apart. April 1, 2018 marked the 25th anniversary of 1992 Cup Series champion Alan Kulwicki’s death – here are a few Fast Facts on the driver who did it his way, originally published in March 2013.
  • Alan Dennis Kulwicki was born Dec. 14, 1954 in Greenfield, Wisconsin. He began karting at age 13, then moved into stock cars on dirt ovals in Wisconsin, and later into late models. After graduating from the University Wisconsin – Milwaukee in 1977 with a mechanical engineering degree, Kulwicki began racing on asphalt tracks in the area and wrapped up track championships at Slinger Super Speedway (1977) and Wisconsin International Raceway (1979 and 1980); in 1979 and 1980, he also competed in regional and national events on the American Speed Association (ASA) circuit as well as in USAC Stock Cars through 1985.
  • In 1984, Kulwicki competed in his first NASCAR races in the Busch Grand National Series (now Xfinity Series); in 1985, he made his first Cup Series start. In 1986, he competed full-time in the Cup Series with support from team owner Bill Terry; after Terry pulled his support from the team mid-season, Kulwicki fielded his own team, often working as a one-man show as driver, owner, crew chief and mechanic. He had some trouble keeping help from race to race as he was known for being demanding (Ray Evernham only lasted six weeks with Kulwicki), but with just two full-time crew members, one car and two engines, Kulwicki was named 1986 Rookie of the Year, competing in 23 of the season’s 29 races and finishing 21st in points.
  • After finishing 15th in points in 1987 and winning three poles, Kulwicki won his first Cup Series race in 1988 in the second-to-last event of the season at Phoenix; instead of the conventional victory lap, Kulwicki turned his car around to honor the fans with a “Polish victory lap.” Kulwicki was approached by the legendary Junior Johnson to drive for his team in 1990 and again in 1991, but Kulwicki turned him down both times.
  • Kulwicki gained Hooter’s as a sponsor on his No. 7 Ford Thunderbird during the 1991 season, initially as a one-race deal after the driver they sponsored missed the race at Atlanta Motor Speedway; after Kulwicki’s eighth-place finish in the race, the sponsorship became a long-term one. That deal continued into 1992, when Kulwicki and his “Underbird” weren’t even considered contenders for the championship. That season, Kulwicki took the championship by just 10 points over Bill Elliott, overcoming a 278-point deficit with just six races remaining in the season; he was the last owner-driver to win the title until Tony Stewart won the Chase for the Sprint Cup in 2011. Members of that championship-winning crew included crew chief Paul Andrews and future Cup Series crew chiefs Tony Gibson and Brian Whitesell.
  • On April 1, 1993, while returning to the Tennessee area for the weekend race at Bristol, a small plane carrying Kulwicki and three others went down before its final approach to the Tri-Cities Regional Airport near Blountville, killing all on board.
  • Kulwicki may have left the racing world too soon, but his impact is still felt. In 2015, the Alan Kulwicki Driver Development Program was founded; current Roush Fenway Racing Xfinity Series driver Ty Majeski was the inaugural winner of the trophy. Other winners were Alex Prunty (2016) and Cody Haskins (2017). Kulwicki is also nominated again for the 2019 NASCAR Hall of Fame class, after tying Ron Hornaday Jr. for the nod in 2018; Hornaday was voted in during a head-to-head vote.


Monday, April 16, 2018

Travel Tips: Richmond Raceway – April 20-21, 2018


credit: NASCAR Media

Richmond Raceway in Virginia hosts the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and Xfinity Series this weekend, Friday and Saturday, April 20-21, for the Cup Series Toyota Owners 400 and the Xfinity Series ToyotaCare 250.

The Track Takeover returns to Richmond on Saturday from 3-4:30 ET. All ticket holders get exclusive access to the track just hours before the green flag, where they’ll get to sign their name to the start/finish line and share an experience with driver Austin Dillon. Find out more here.

Key on-track times:

Friday, April 20
  • Xfinity Series practice – 8 and 9:40 a.m. ET
  • Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series practice – 11:05 a.m. and 12:35 p.m. ET
  • Xfinity Series qualifying – 4:05 p.m. ET
  • Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series qualifying – 5:30 p.m. ET
  • Xfinity Series ToyotaCare 250 – 7 p.m. ET
Saturday, April 21 –
  • Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Toyota Owners 400 – 6:30 p.m. ET
A complete schedule of events at the track is available here.

Check out the Richmond Fan Guide here, and get the track’s grandstand guidelines here.

For updated information for race weekend and to purchase tickets visit www.richmondraceway.com.

Friday, April 13, 2018

What's Next? Five Questions for Bristol




The field takes the green flag at Texas Motor Speedway last weekend.
Photo Credit: Lisa Janine Cloud for Skirts and Scuffs
By Stephanie Landrey

It's been an interesting open to the season so far. We've seen some domination, and we've seen other teams coming apart at the seams early on. We've watched mandated equipment fail week after week, and nothing to replace it, as of yet.

There's a lot buzzing around NASCAR as it prepares to go on another entitlement sponsor hunt, but let's face it...

This is Bristol Baby!

What happens when Monster Energy steps away from the Cup Series?
This could turn out to be interesting. In times where tracks are seeing attendance down but television ratings up in the key 18-34 demographic, NASCAR is looking for every way to maximize its reach. Monster doesn't want to necessarily end the relationship, but it's highly unlikely that a full series sponsor will exist after 2019. NASCAR is working hard to revamp its business model, and feels that shared entitlements (quite possibly with the tracks it races at and the television stations it's featured on) could be a better deal for everyone. Directors are even looking at the series not carrying an entitlement sponsor name, period. Whatever happens, we have to agree that the partnership with Monster has been beneficial for everyone involved. Monster has gotten a ton of television exposure, and NASCAR is seeing increased ratings. This evolving topic will be an interesting one to follow.

Who will win the coveted Dash 4 Cash this weekend?
This weekend there are no Cup drivers entered into the Xfinity series race. Let me say that again...

There are no Cup drivers entered into the Xfinity race.

Fans have been calling for less Cup driver involvement in its sister series for years. NASCAR has even set limits to the number of races that Cup drivers can run, and when they have to stop running Xfinity races during the season. This was done in hopes that more Xfinity drivers would get exposure to tracks, and hopefully get some wins under their belt. This weekend Christopher Bell, Cole Custer, Daniel Hemric, and Ryan Preece have all earned the right to race for $100,000 at Bristol. Who will walk away with the money? Based on past performance, I say Christopher Bell. It's going to be a great fight though! Make sure to watch.

Chad Knaus
Photo Credit: Lisa Janine Cloud for Skirts and Scuffs


Calling the 48 team, where are you?
Let's face it. The 48 team of Jimmie Johnson has had a dismal start to the year. DNFs, tire failures and other issues have plagued the seven-time series champion since Daytona. Jimmie and Chad continue to work hard to get the team to where they need to be, but it seems that every week brings a new issue. Will this be the week that "Seven-Time" gets his first win of the season? Let's not forget that the 48 team does start to get hot towards the middle of the season.

Can Kyle Busch continue his streak at the top?
The No. 18 team has had strong runs all year, finally getting their first win at Texas Motor Speedway last weekend. Can he get his second win of the season this weekend, or will he be the bridesmaid once again. Bristol has always been very kind to the younger Busch brother, so it will be interesting to see what unfolds, especially since he holds the pole for Sunday's 500 miler.

Kyle Busch in Victory Lane at Texas Motor Speedway.
Photo Credit: Lisa Janine Cloud for Skirts and Scuffs


Will there be any surprises this weekend?
Could this be the week that Kyle Larson gets his first win of the season? Will Clint Bowyer win on another short track? It's all possible. Bristol is a long race, and much of what happens to the standings are dependent on what happens on pit road. Track position is going to be at a premium this weekend, and tempers will most likely flare at some point. This could shape up to be one of the more interesting weekends on the schedule, and that's fine by me.