Saturday, November 17, 2018

Trackin’ Trucks: Brett Moffitt wins at Homestead and claims 2018 NCWTS title

Brett Moffitt celebrates with his team in Victory Lane at Homestead
Credit: Chris Graythen

by Courtney Horn

The underdogs of the 2018 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series became champions on Friday night at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Brett Moffitt became the series champ after a dominant performance during the Ford EcoBoost 200, leading 59 of 134 laps. Moffitt’s win at the 1.5-mile track is his sixth of the season.

“Those were longest 12 laps of my life,” Moffitt said about the final leg of the race.

The championship is the first for the 26-year-old and for his underfunded Hattori Racing Enterprises team. Moffitt and his No. 16 Toyota were hounded with sponsorship woes throughout the season, fearing they wouldn’t make it to several of the tracks on the series schedule despite winning multiple times.

“I have a lot of friends, family here, and just the effort that HRE put in all year and (crew chief) Scott (Zipadelli) and these guys, when we didn't even know if we were going to make it to the track,” Moffitt said. “I don't think everyone understands when we say we have nine or 10 full-time employees, that the last three to five weeks they've been working seven days a week and working until midnight if need be. More times than not they were doing that.”

Zipadelli reiterated Moffitt’s statement.

“It’s kind of amazing really, and it feels good,” Zipadelli said. “Going into this race, everyone asks 'Are you nervous?' Nope. We’re not even supposed to be here. We exceeded all the expectations of our peers and competitors.”

Credit: Debbie Ross for Skirts and Scuffs

And they did.

Their six wins were only matched by 2016 NCWTS champion Johnny Sauter, who finished in the 12th position.

“We are such a small team,” Team owner Shigeaki Hattori said. "But everybody did a great job, and I'm so, so happy for all the team and the team members and all the team families. Thank you.”

Moffitt won the race by two seconds over Grant Enfinger. He lead the final 28 laps in an event that only saw two cautions for end-of-stage breaks.

Noah Gragson finished third after suffering a cut tire with less than 40 laps to go. He battled back, but it was not enough for the Kyle Busch Motorsports driver to contend for the championship.

Myatt Snider earned the Rookie of the Year honors after finishing 14th.

The final 2018 NCWTS standings for the championship 4:
Champion: Brett Moffitt
Second: Noah Gragson
Third: Justin Haley
Fourth: Johnny Sauter

Thursday, November 15, 2018

NASCAR Fantasy Fusion: Crowning the Monster Cup Series Champion

By Carol D'Agostino

Drivers with Most Top 10s (Last 5 Years):
By Race and Track
All with 5 - Matt Kenseth, Denny Hamlin, and Kevin Harvick  
All with 4 - Jimmie Johnson, Joey Logano, Brad Keselowski, and Kyle Busch   

Top 10 Driver Ratings at Homestead
Kyle Larson........... 109.3
Kevin Harvick.........106.8
Matt Kenseth...........106.8
Martin Truex Jr.........104.1
Kyle Busch................ 98.9
Chase Elliott.............. 97.0
Denny Hamlin........... 95.9
Jimmie Johnson.........95.2
Brad Keselowski........90.4
Joey Logano.............. 89.0
Note: Driver Ratings compiled from 2005-2017 races (13 total) among active drivers at Homestead-Miami Speedway. SOURCE: NASCAR Media

Recent Pole Winners:  
2017 Denny Hamlin
2016 Kevin Harvick
2015 Denny Hamlin

Last Year's Race Winner: Martin Truex Jr.

The Likely Suspects: It will be easy to get swept up in the sentimental "favorite driver" scenario when picking your fantasy team in this last race of the season, but don't go there. Stay focused and use the stats and maybe just a bit of your gut when picking this week. My Homestead go-tos: Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr., Matt Kenseth, Denny Hamlin, Jimmie Johnson, Joey Logano Brad Keselowski, and Kyle Larson.  

My 2 Cents: Drama and championship excitement will be doled out in large volumes this weekend as we see one racer crowned as the champion, a race team folding up for good and drivers like Matt Kenseth, Jamie McMurray, and Daniel Suarez finish the season with an unknown racing future.

If only I had Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch starts left they would be tied for my no-brainer pick. Instead, my no-brainer pick is the self-proclaimed "favorite" Joey Logano, followed by Martin Truex Jr. My next picks are Matt Kenseth, Jamie McMurray, Ryan Newman, and Austin Dillon. If you have any Chase Elliott starts left, pull Matt Kenseth out and put Chase in. I will complete my team with Alex Bowman and William Byron.

My Final Four: Joey Logano, Jamie McMurray, Ryan Newman, and Alex Bowman.

Second-Look Driver: This week's second-look driver is Matt Kenseth, who was also last week's second-look driver. Matt has one pole, one Top 5, five Top 10s and the third-best driver rating at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Last week at ISM Raceway (Phoenix) Matt finished seventh after starting 17th.

Points to Ponder:
  • A total of 14 different drivers have won a Busch Pole Award at Homestead-Miami Speedway, led by active drivers Kurt Busch and Jimmie Johnson with two poles each.
  • Among active drivers, Denny Hamlin leads the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series in wins at Homestead-Miami Speedway with two.
  • Roush Fenway Racing leads the series in wins at Homestead-Miami with seven, followed by Joe Gibbs Racing with six.
  • Six of the 19 (31.5%) Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races at Homestead-Miami have been won from the front row: two from the pole and four from the second starting position. 
  • A total of 16 different Monster Energy Series drivers have finished runner-up at Homestead-Miami Speedway, led by Kevin Harvick with three second-place finishes; followed by Jimmie Johnson with two.  
  • A total of 36 different Monster Energy Series drivers have finished in the top five at Homestead-Miami, led by Kevin Harvick with nine top fives and Jimmie Johnson with five among active drivers.
  • A total of 53 different Monster Energy Series drivers have finished in the top 10 at Homestead-Miami, led by Kevin Harvick with 15 top 10s; and Jimmie Johnson with 11 among active drivers. 
  • Kevin Harvick leads the series in average finish at Homestead-Miami Speedway with 6.764.
Remember, if you're playing Driver Group Game, make your picks by 8 a.m. EST on Friday, November 16th, and your final picks by 2:30 p.m. EST on race day Sunday, Nov. 18th.

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

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

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. 


A loyal fan


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

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


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.