Saturday, April 21, 2018

John Hunter Nemechek Clears Sunday Schedule “Just In Case”


Xfinity Series driver and Ganassi Racing developmental driver John Hunter Nemechek has just cleared his schedule for this upcoming Sunday “…just in case”
"I bet a yellow "M" would look great on this firesuit"
“Well, as a driver, I need to be ready at any time”, Nemechek said.  “That’s why at around 9:30pm (ET) tonight, I made sure I didn’t have anything going on this Sunday.  I mean, you never know when you’re going to have to run a race, and that’s job #1 for me.”
Nemechek said that, if something were to happen that would cause him to race on Sunday in the upcoming Cup race, he would be sure to be an asset to the Ganassi Racing team.
“I’m all about learning, but more so, I’m here to help”, Nemechek said after booking a flight from the Charlotte area to central Alabama.  “I mean, when I’m out there, its all about helping my teammate.  I’m never going to argue with anyone on my team—and I’m certainly never going to confuse them with another driver, like, oh, I dunno, Kurt Busch for instance.”
Nemechek refused to say what the cause was for the recent change of plans, but seemed to intimate that he was ready if his team should need him.
“I’m ready, willing, and able, if the need should arise”, Nemechek said.  “You know what Douglass Adams said: ‘Don’t Panic’.  And he also pointed out what the answer to life, the universe, and everything is too, y’know.”

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Nascar Pick Challenge: Uncle Max vs. Mystery Picker—Richmond


A win!  Finally, a win in the Cup Series!  My luck is finally turning around!  I mean, you’ve seen how bizarre its been to start the year for me, right?  And if it wasn’t for Mystery Picker’s obsession with Kevin Harvick, I’d be leading this little competition.  But the comeback started Monday, and it will continue Saturday evening.  Because Uncle Max is back, baby!

Xfinity Series ToyotaCare 250 (1 win)—Austin Cindric—an exciting race with no Cup guys to ruin it.

Cup Series Toyota Drivers 400—MYSTERY PICKER (2 wins) PICKS Kyle Busch.  Favorite (1 win): Joey Logano—nice to see the Mystery Picker ripping ME off for a change.  Next Favorite: Kyle Larson—Chevy gets back on track at a non-aero track (for real this time).  Dark Horse: Chase Elliott—Hendrick FINALLY gets it turned around (for real this time).

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Local Tire Distributor Makes Bid for Nascar Contract

After a start to the 2018 season that has seen numerous issues related to tires—which are exclusively provided by Goodyear—a new competitor has offered to take over the contract—Clay Stevens Tire Warehouse. 
“We’ve been providing excellent service at discount prices to residents of the tri-County area since my father founded this company in 1947”, said Clay Stevens Tire Warehouse co-owner Al Stevens. “We’ve been looking to expand beyond our home base of six locations, and we feel that Nascar would make a perfect method to do that.”
Stevens said that his chain, famous for its “Buy 11 tires and the 12th’s 50% off!” loyalty program, has the personal touch and flexibility to serve the world’s biggest stock car racing series. 
“I always tell my managers that if there’s a problem they can’t solve to call me ASAP”, Stevens said. “It’s not how many customers we serve, it’s how well we serve our customers.
“Besides, with Goodyear, all they offer is the Goodyear Eagle. Now, that is a fine tire, but we can offer a wide variety of tire options from various brands that will handle best on any type of road or racetrack.”
Stevens said that he has had experience dealing with spikes in business (specifically the “pothole madness of 2013”) and would be able to handle the nearly 5,000% increase in business that would come his way if such a contract were to be approved by Nascar.
“We treat everybody fairly, so teams can be assured that while we might not have as many sets of tires available at Goodyear, we’ll have the right tire at the right price. Besides, it’s not like Goodyear’s been at that great at keeping up inventory lately, am I right?”

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Kyle Busch Wins Race Moved Up To 1am Start Time


Kyle Busch continued his mastery of Bristol Motor Speedway, winning today’s Food City 500 from the pole in a race which started shortly after 1am ET due to threats of rain in the area.
“It’s great get back to victory lane here at Bristol”, a noticeably drowsy Busch said after the win.  “This really goes out to all the guys on my crew who were able to get us some decent cups of coffee today.  Or is it this morning.  Or tonight?  I don’t know—all that matters is that we won, and I can go back to bed by sun-up.”
The race’s start time had originally been scheduled for approximately 2:15pm ET today.  However, threats of rain in the area saw the start time originally pushed back about an hour to around 1pm ET.  Upon further consultation with area meteorologists, however, the start time was progressively moved further and further back throughout the day on Saturday, with track officials eventually settling on a 1am ET start time to avoid any and all weather issues.
“Everything we do, its all for the fans”, track owner Bruton Smith said in the official statement before the start-time was cemented at 1am ET.  “And we know that fans will come out at any time with any notice to see one thing—me…wait, I mean, racing.”
The race was aired live on Fox, bumping originally scheduled programming of skin cream infomercials and “Living Single” reruns.  Local officials around the track were said to be OK with the start time change, as it was discovered that nobody lives within five miles of the track.
“We were OK with Bristol moving their start time to the overnight hours, after consulting with our media partners.”, Nascar Chairman Brian France said from his Daytona Beach offices.  “In fact, we hope that this expands our market reach into the coveted ‘Haven’t Slept for Five Days due to Fear of a Heart Attack’ Market.”
The race itself, meanwhile, featured 28 different leaders, three fist-fights following wrecks, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. running as a relief driver.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Nascar Pick Challenge: Uncle Max vs. Mystery Picker—Bristol


Well, last week was rough.  And I’m not just saying that because my Cup pick finished dead last.  Remember the car trouble I was telling you about?  Well, just my luck that i finally got the money together, got everything taken care of—and I get a flat tire.  So there I was, on my way home from work, stranded on the side of the road.  Thankfully I had roadside assistance, but there’s nothing quite like trying to make awkward conversation with a guy you just met at 11:30pm.  Besides that there’s a big shakeup happening with management at work, so I’ve been working plenty late to try and impress the visitors from regional headquarters.  Here’s hoping I have better news for you with next week’s picks—and some more wins to my name!

Xfinity Series Fitzgerald 300 (1 win)—Brandon Jones—JGR sweeps the top three spots with no help from the Cup brigade.

Cup Series Food City 500—MYSTERY PICKER (2 wins) PICKS Ricky Stenhouse Jr.  Favorite: Kyle Busch—oh, so the Mystery Picker’s getting a little cocky, eh?  Next Favorite: Kyle Larson—Chevy gets back on track at a non-aero track.  Dark Horse: William Byron—upset of the season (so far).

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Spade Racing Movie Previews: Spring Preview


Its that weird time of the year when it could be 80 degrees and sunny one day and 40 degrees and rainy the next, with wind and snow in the forecast.  There’s no better way to avoid Mother Nature’s mood swings than in a climate-controlled movie theater.  Here’s a look at some upcoming movies with a Nascar theme.

20 Weeks—new fans react to being over four months into the season and realizing they’re only at the halfway point.

Overboard—Fox producers work their hardest to create rivalries—Harvick vs. Larson, Hamlin vs. Wallace Jr., Waltrips vs. Senility.

The Rider—an animated movie about a bug that latches on to a car during an Xfinity Series race.  Since the car belongs to RSS Racing and is driven by Jeff Green, this will be a short film.

Rampage—Jimmy Spencer returns to Nascar to explain what’s wrong with kids today.  Tagline: Still at large.  Very, very large.

Armed—a bored Carl Edwards decides to enter the non-lucrative world of competitive arm wrestling.

I Feel Pretty—Darrell Waltrip deals with the world seeing his hair without a dye-job (documentary).

Racer and the Jailbird—(insert Gene Haas and/or Rick Hendrick joke here)

Sunday, April 8, 2018

NascarMania: Showcase of the Mortals


Tonight is the night—NascarMania, the grandest stage race of them all!  Here’s a look at the scheduled bouts (Card Subject to Change)

PreShow presented by www.100whatifs.com

Jimmy Spencer The Giant Battle Royal—30 drivers compete to win a golden hairpiece

Truck Series Tag Team Challenge—The Stalwarts (Matt Crafton and Johnny Sauter) vs. KBM: The Next Generation (Todd Gilliland and Harrison Burton) vs. The International Experience (Stewart Friesen and Brett Moffitt, ‘fighting under the flag of Japan’)


Main Show “Curtain Jerker” Bouts

Matt “Second to None” Tifft vs. Daniel Hemric “Flair”—winner gets to replace Ryan Newman in 2019

Austin “AC” Cindric vs. Chase “CB” Briscoe vs. Ty “No Initials Needed” Majeski—winner will be Austin Cindric, even if he loses


Preliminary Bouts
First Win Six-Pack Scramble—Erik “Jonestown” Jones, Alex “Zona Zoomer” Bowman, William “The Lord” Byron, Chase “Naughton Jr.” Elliott, Daniel “Hey Nineteen” Suarez, and Ty “Big Face” Dillon compete to become the next first-time winner in Cup

Denny “Special Delivery” Hamlin vs. Bubba “I Already Have a Nickname” Wallace Jr.—loser must leave the rec basketball league

Lumberjack Match—Kyle “The Golden Elk” Larson vs. Kevin “Too Many Nicknames” Harvick—the ring will be surrounded by media members trying to incite a fight between the two


Championship Bouts

Tag Team Championship--The Welcome-ing Committee (Ryan Newman and Austin Dillon) vs. The Jack Pack (Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Trevor Bayne)

Intercontinental Championship--“Steely” Daniel Suarez vs. DJ “Tanner” Kennington

Six-Man Tag Team Championship--The Penske Posse (Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano, and Ryan Blaney) vs. Smoke’s Speedsters (Clint Bowyer, Kurt Busch, and Aric Almirola)

World Nascar Championship--Kyle “Man of 1,000 Nicknames” Busch vs. Martin “The Turnpike Terror” Truex Jr.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Nascar Pick Challenge: Uncle Max vs. Mystery Picker—Texas


First off, congrats to my nephew Mike on his first-ever book, available now on Amazon via www.100whatifs.com!  I’ve thought about doing some writing of my own, but I’m guessing there isn’t much of a market for strategies on how to win your office Stanley Cup Playoffs pool.  Which, I might add, I have done for four years in a row.  Sure, only one other guy does it, but why let a lack of enthusiasm get in the way of success.
Let’s get to the picks quickly—I’ve been busy all week dealing with car trouble.  Nothing like having a transmission slowly going south right around the time you’re overdue for an oil change and a tire rotation.

Xfinity Series My Bariatric Solutions 300—Ryan Blaney—could this be a prelude to his first Cup win of the year?

Cup Series O’Reilly Auto Parts 500—MYSTERY PICKER (2 wins) PICKS Kevin Harvick.  Favorite: Martin Truex Jr.—what’s Mystery Picker’s obsession with Happy?  Next Favorite: Ryan Blaney—right about that time.  Dark Horse: Erik Jones—EJ gets his first Cup Series win.

Monday, April 2, 2018

The First-Ever Book From Mike Mackler of Spade Racing—NOW AVAILABLE ON AMAZON!!!


Yes, for the first-time ever, a book from Spade Racing’s webmaster/head-writer/janitor—“100 Stock Car Racing ‘What Ifs’ Unauthorized”.  BUY IT NOW ON PAPERBACK OR KINDLE.  From the back cover:

Nascar has a long and storied history, but it also has a past littered with “What If?” questions.  Join author Mike Mackler as he takes a look back at stock car racing’s 100 most-intriguing hypotheticals:
—What if Jeff Gordon had gotten a ride in IndyCar?
—What if Curtis Turner was never banned by Nascar?
—What if restrictor plates were never implemented?
and 97 other varieties of the most-interesteing question of them all: “What If?”

This book has taken me months to read, and it would satisfy me immensely if you, the loyal reader of Spade Racing (yes, you!) would buy a copy, either on paperback or on Kindle.  And don’t worry—things are staying the same here at Spade Racing with plenty of fun and frivolity throughout the 2018 season.


Also available via 100whatifs.com

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Know Your Nascar Fans—Parking Lot Edition

er...snowout

If you’re going to a Nascar race, you might be wondering how you can tell one fan from the other—especially once you realize how packed the parking lot is despite the sport “dying” for the past ten years.  Well, thankfully you can figure out who likes what and for how long just by looking at their car!  “Stereotypes—they’re a real time-saver!”

A Fan Because of Their Kid(s)
This car is usually covered in Cars merchandise (Lightning McQueen, etc.).  You’ll occasionally find some M&M’s Racing decals as well, and once in a while some “they gave this away” bumper stickers (bonus points if its MBNA-related).  It’ll usually be a minivan, although don’t scoff—grocery-getters are sneaky-great tailgating vehicles.

Here to Party
No Nascar decals at all—in fact, the only decals you WILL find are usually PG-13-rated (i.e. “The Shocker” hand signal).  Usually an SUV with some years on it, occasionally it’ll wind up being a sedan that is typically driven to a white-collar job at an office complex.  After all, who needs to have fun ALL the time when you can just get black-out drunk every few weekends?  WARNING—don’t park too close or you might come back to vomit on your doors.

Pissed at the NFL
Look on the rear window for the logo of the closest pro-football team X’d out.  These trucks, usually pick-ups that look like they’ve never towed anything other than a U-Haul trailer, are relatively new, just like the fandom contained within.  Be careful not to engage these fans too much, lest you wind up hearing about how “all these Nascar guys are great, ‘cept for that Bubba Wallace kid.”

Earnhardt Sr. Diehard
3 decals.  3 flags.  3 posters hanging on the windows.  Almost always a well-maintained 90’s era Chevy, these are your hardcore “Fans of the Man”.  Helpful and handy, although getting up a bit in age, always willing to share their tailgate grub with you, as long as you’re willing to hear them regale you with Kirk Shelmerdine stories.

The Bandwagon
Freshly-applied Martin Truex decals adorn this newer car, although if you look closely enough you can make out the shadows of the removed 18 stickers from before.  Jeff Gordon brought them into the sport, but apparently it’ll take the local sports team winning a championship to take them out.  On the plus-side, they usually have the best limited-edition beers.

The Outside Insider
The rare car with no decals, this guy wanders from tailgate-to-tailgate wearing a polo shirt that looks like it MIGHT be official.  Typically falls into two categories—either a guy who claims to be a driver’s brother, or a woman who claims to be a driver’s baby momma.  Don’t ask why they’re not in the pits unless you want to get screamed at from behind some expensive-looking sunglasses.

In From The Hills
An ancient-looking pickup truck with somehow-older-looking decals—did they even make Harry Gant bumper stickers?  A surefire winner for “Biggest Beard in the Parking Lot” is on-board, and you’ll find them heading in early for the race, since their buddy the security guard lets them take the old entrance to their seats.  Best tailgate food, bar none.

The Smartass

Plenty of ironic decals on a small car that’s seen better days.  Wears a Timmy Hill t-shirt he bought online.  Seems to be there alone.  WARNING—might wind up including you on a list like this.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Nascar Pick Challenge: Uncle Max vs. Mystery Picker—Martinsville


(Editor’s Note: Mystery Picker’s win total was adjusted to include both of his wins this year so far (Atlanta and Phoenix—I apologize for the error.)

Y’know, there’s really nothing like going to work in the snow.  As a member of the management team, I have to come in unless there’s a state of emergency—after all, they don’t trust just anyone to handle the cash drawers.  So here I am, sitting behind the counter, watching big fluffy flakes fall outside, without a single customer in the store.
Its times like this that make me wonder about life, destiny, and stuff like that.  I mean, was I meant to spend an afternoon babysitting a bunch of merchandise, or did I have some greater purpose?  And if my life has been predetermined by a higher power, then can anything I do truly be called a failure?  That thought in particular comes in handy when I look at what remains of my March Madness bracket.

Truck Series Alpha Energy Solutions 250 (1 win)—Harrison Burton—feel-good win for a Virginia kid.

Cup Series STP 500—MYSTERY PICKER (2 wins) PICKS Kevin Harvick.  Favorite: Kyle Busch—I guess the Mystery Picker forgot that Martinsville isn’t on the west coast.  Next Favorite: Kurt Busch—seems right about that time for Kurt to pick up a win that people forget about in about a month.  Dark Horse: Bubba Wallace Jr.—Bubba rides “Big ‘Mo” into victory lane with people complaining it was fixed.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Nascar Announces Revolutionary “Stageless” All-Star Race Format

In keeping with the tradition of Nascar trying new race formats in non-points events, Nascar officials announced earlier today that they will be attempting a revolutionary new concept in this year’s All-Star Race—a race with no stages.
"We're this close to getting our
Playoff system right--just let us make a
few dozen more changes"
“What we will attempt this May will be a first in recent memory for Nascar—a race with no stages”, Nascar Chairman Brian France said in a teleconference from his office in Daytona Beach.  “We at Nascar have always been about pushing the envelope for what we present to the fans, and we feel that this ‘stageless’ format, while strange and unusual, will give our fans a fresh perspective on what drivers and teams can do.”
While the length of the race (typically around 100 laps) has yet to be determined, France said that the simple introduction of a race without any pre-determined breaks should be enough to spike interest.
“Just imagine it—you go to a race and you have no idea when the first caution period will be”, France opined.  “That would make anybody wonder how drivers, pit crews, and crew chiefs would handle the strategy of that.  We’ll provide a ‘guide to stageless racing’ in the days before the race, just to make sure fans know what to expect, or NOT to expect, at the race itself.”
Nascar is working with TV partner FS1 to make sure that they are prepared to have their announcers possibly talk for upwards for 30 consecutive minutes due to the lack of a stage break.  Furthermore, Nascar Officials will make sure that all drivers are properly hydrated before attempting what could be over 150 miles of non-stop racing.
“We’re already expecting ticket sales to be fast and furious”, France said, “and I’ll be sure to watch the action from my offices here in Florida.”

Sunday, March 18, 2018

BREAKING NEWS: Dale Earnhardt Jr. Announces Comeback


In a stunning development that has shocked the racing world, recently retired driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. announced a comeback today, stunning fans and former competitors alike.
“I never thought I’d see or hear this, but there it was, plain as day on the tv”, a longtime fan explained.  “I mean, I’m the biggest Dale Jr. fan you could find, but even *I* thought he was done until what I saw today.  It really just goes to show you that you never know what someone will do once they realize what retirement is all about.”
Earnhardt Jr., Nascar’s most-popular driver for years on end, left the sport after the 2017 season in order to leave on his own terms.  Today’s comeback, however, shows that the lure of competition could be too strong for even the most-stubborn of former drivers to resist.
“I was real impressed with Dale Jr.’s decision today”, said former teammate and current broadcaster and DW wrangler Jeff Gordon.  “It’s funny—when *I* retired, I knew I wasn’t going to come back.  Then, ironically, I had to because of Dale Jr’s injuries.  Weird how things work out like that sometimes.  Wait, DW—hands off that Danica cardboard standup.”
Earnhardt Jr.’s comeback announcement has sent shockwaves through the sports world, with some predicting that this could change the way we see sports as we know it.
“What I saw and heard today, it really could be a new day for us”, a TV executive said when reached for comment.  “Ratings are down for sporting events across the board, but with Dale Jr.’s appeal to Nascar fans, we could see a ripple effect that goes across all programming.”
Dale Jr., however, was much more humble in his assessment of his announcement today.
“Nah, it wasn’t any big deal”, Dale Jr. said when reached for comment.  “I never thought I’d be announcing a comeback either, but hey—NBC really wanted me to guest-spot on their golf tournament coverage, and getting to see a guy go from two over par to challenging for the lead—man, what a comeback!”

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Nascar Pick Challenge: Uncle Max vs. Mystery Picker—California


Well, another busy week at work ahead for me.  Its strange, it seems like March always seems to be one of my twelve busiest months.  We're all buckling down, but I'm especially trying to make a good impression.  Sure, my picks haven't been coming through lately.  And sure, this is the first time I can remember when I haven't been confident in my March Madness pool.  And sure, my landlord is selling my townhouse complex to a gigantic corporation who might move me out--but I'm not working hard because I'm worried about money--I do it for the love.
(Editor’s Note: Later investigations revealed Uncle Max's claims to be true, although his busier schedule appears to be due to an attractive new assistant manager transferring in.)

California 300—Austin Dillon—The cowboy-hatted one continues his early-season run…in a lower series.

Cup Series Auto Club 400—MYSTERY PICKER (1 win) PICKS Paul Menard.  Favorite: Kevin Harvick—Paul Menard?  Please...  Next Favorite: Kyle Larson—hard to pick against the Cali boy on a 2-miler.  Dark Horse: Aric Almirola—though it would be ironic if his engine blew from too many RPMs.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Gray Gaulding’s Name The Most Reassuring Thing About BK Racing

An offseason of turmoil has led into a 2018 Nascar Cup season of uncertainty for BK Racing. In fact, the most reassuring thing about the team currently is it’s driver’s name—Gray Gaulding. 
“Every day I show up for work I know it could be the last”, said pit crew member Steve Hunter. “From late paychecks to terrible finishes, there’s not much for this team to rely on. But at least the guy out in front, our driver, has the kind of name that instantly puts you at ease. 
“Gray Gaulding”, Hunter said, a smile creeping across his face. “See? Makes you feel better just saying it.”
Gaulding is a relatively unheralded driver with a thin resume in Nascar’s national touring series. However, while a poll revealed that less than 8% of fans know who he is, a whopping 91%, when informed of his name, believed he could be the kind of reliable, reassuring person who could work for a retirement planning firm or be a small town accountant. 
“With a name like Gray, that alone has a calming effect on the psyche”, said psychologist Zane Brian. “When you add in the Gaulding, it ascribes a level of maturity and steadfastness one doesn’t expect to find racing for a team currently in bankruptcy proceedings.”
BK Racing is currently sparring with suppliers, partners, and the IRS in court. The presiding judge was prepared to order liquidation, until being informed that Gaulding had been hired to drive for the team. The judge is now reportedly “willing to let this thing play out—after all, the driver sounds like a reassuring guy.”

Sunday, March 11, 2018

A History of Fan Complaints Affecting Race Outcomes in Nascar


After being penalized for a bowed-in roof on his car last weekend, Kevin Harvick has been critical of Nascar’s penalty process all week, claiming that he was only penalized once social media users pointed out his aerodynamic irregularity.  Surprisingly, this is NOT the first time fans have affected Nascar scoring after a race.  Here’s a look back at the times when fans let themselves be heard to the decision makers in Daytona Beach:

1959: An unidentified fan comes forward to “Big” Bill France mere hours after the race with a conclusive image of the race’s famed “photo finish”.  France quickly stuffed the photo into his suit jacket, saying that “its too soon to end the drama—I mean, decide a winner”.

1963: Wendell Scott is waved-off from the win, despite clearly finishing first, after the race promoter finds a fan who claims that Scott was down a lap.  The promoter figures it won’t matter much in the long run, as nobody will remember the results of an obscure race 55 years in the future.

1979: In the first race after the legendary 1979 Daytona 500, hundreds of fans call in to Nascar headquarters complaining that the Carolina 500 finished without a fist fight.

1990: After winning his first (and only) Cup race under controversial circumstances, Brett Bodine received fervent support shortly after the race in the form of a phone call into Nascar scoring.  The caller, claiming to be the President of the Brett Bodine Fan Club, was unable to explain how he got an internal Nascar phone number, why race celebrations could be heard in the background, or why he sounded like Brett Bodine with a kazoo in his mouth.

1995: After a thrilling finish to the Bristol Night Race, numerous Dale Earnhardt fans call Nascar headquarters to explain how Rusty Wallace should be suspended for trying to hurt The Intimidator with a water bottle.  All of the fans were also quick to add that Earnhardt wrecking Terry Labonte was purely a “racing deal”.

2002: The Daytona 500 featured a memorable bonehead move when Sterling Marlin attempted to fix his car under the red flag.  Fans sent a number of emails and made numerous phone calls post-race to ask if Marlin would race the following weekend or simply retire due to embarrassment.

2006-2010: After a number of races won by Jimmie Johnson, Nascar receives a number of phone calls asking to speak to a variety of different officials, namely Mike Hunt, I.P. Freely, and Jacques Strappe.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Nascar Pick Challenge: Uncle Max vs. Mystery Picker—Phoenix


Sooo, the Mystery Picker has a win now, does he?  Well, well, well—its easy when you have the first choice every week, isn’t it?  I don’t want to come off as a whiner, but really—I’m at a major disadvantage here.  I don’t even know who I’m picking against—it could be someone with inside knowledge for all I know!  Meanwhile, I’m here just sharing MY knowledge, doing the best I can!
It just goes to show that life isn’t fair.  Whether its someone refusing to go out with you because you let it slip that your car doesn’t have a working passenger side door, or finding out that your tax service closed up in the middle of the night and now you have to do them yourself, sometimes life just sucks.

Xfinity Series DC Solar 200—Christopher Bell—this kid is the real deal—the results are about to show that.


Cup Series Ticket Guardian 500(k)—MYSTERY PICKER (1 win) PICKS Kevin Harvick.  Favorite: Kyle Busch—Toyota stops the Ford train out west.  Next Favorite: Jimmie Johnson—The Camaro—no aero?  No problem.  Dark Horse: Alex Bowman—no better place to prove he belongs in the 88.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

WWE Fastlane: On Rusev Day, WWE Parodies YOU!


3 here represents the number of fans he had
Typically here on Spade Racing we (er, me) like to talk about how pro-wrestling influences Nascar.  But at WWE’s annual Fastlane pay-per-view event, its the opposite—Nascar influences pro-wrestling, and it goes far beyond just the name.  Here’s a look at what you can expect to see:

Stage Wrestling: The match will be stopped at the five and ten minute marks to allow wrestlers to make any needed adjustments to their fighting styles.  Strange how all the matches go long enough to include both stage breaks, isn’t it?

Pit Stops: Wrestlers will be allowed to make a sub-20-second break with their crew, applying Nascar concepts to sports-entertainment.  So, basically, oiling up the wrestlers even more.

Evil Authority Figure: All decisions at this event will be made by a Brian France-like chairman who will constantly antagonize fans and competitors alike.  This has NEVER been tried in pro-wrestling before.

Restrictor Plate Wrestling: No actual restrictor plates will be used—instead there will just be 40 competitors in the ring at once, and eventually it will look like a car crash.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Teams Preparing to Switch to Manual Lug Wrenches for Pit Stops


After another week with multiple issues involving Nascar’s own provided air guns on pit stops, multiple teams have announced that starting next weekend they will begin using manual lug wrenches for pit stops.
Doubles as a weapon
“We knew there would be growing pains with this program, and we’ve decided to let those pains happen without us”, said an unidentified crew chief for a major team after today’s race.  “We’re going back to the old-fashioned way of elbow grease, a long metal handle, and jumping on the wrench when the lug nut is stuck.”
"Nah, its still got some life in it"
Nascar has reportedly allowed the use of manual lug wrenches, and while elated that the antiquated system will “show off the athleticism of the pit crews”, are disappointed that so many teams are abandoning their air gun system.
A Nascar spokesman addressed the issue, saying, “Yes, there have been issues with the new air guns provided by Nascar headquarters—but how could we have seen that coming?  I mean, look at our history—have we ever had issues implementing anything?  Group qualifying, stage racing, the playoff format—we rarely have to change anything once we’ve implemented it.”
The unidentified crew chief stated that they will begin holding tryouts for tire changers at the team’s race shop on Tuesday, and encouraged weightlifters, professional wrestlers, and World’s Strongest Man competitors to apply.
“This won’t be a job for just anybody—you’re literally going to have to carry your weight with this job”, the crew chief said.  “We expect to have some growing pains of our own, but still, its better than relying on whatever Daytona (Nascar’s headquarters) is supplying to us.
“Of course, if Kevin Harvick wants to keep using the Nascar air guns, that’s totally fine by us.”

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Nascar Pick Challenge: Uncle Max vs. Mystery Picker—Las Vegas


Returning for 2018, here is Spade Racing Writer/Webmaster/Janitor Mike Mackler’s Uncle Max, this year competing against a mystery Cup Series picker all season long.

Sometimes, its just not your weekend—twice in a row.
I had a shot at the Truck Series race only for Kyle Busch to lose it on pit road.  Then I missed out on the Kevin Harvick Fest in the Xfinity and Cup Series races.  On the plus side, the “Mystery Picker” is doing just as badly so far.
Its a lot like when you’re in a contest at work, and all your competition does just as badly as you.  Or when you show up to your high school reunion and see that none of you went on to achieve your dreams.  Or when you realize you’ve had a bad 2017, only to later realize that 2016, 2015, and 2014 weren’t all that great either.  What I’m trying to say is that sometimes nothing goes your way, but its not going anybody else’s way either.  And no, I’m not just typing like this because of a terrible first date on Saturday Night, so just wipe that thought from your mind.

Truck Series Stratosphere 200—Kyle Busch—Retribution for the driver and absolution for the pit crew come on Friday.

Xfinity Series Boyd Gaming 300—Kyle Larson—Outlasts Kyle Busch to thwart any attempt at a sweep.

Cup Series Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500—MYSTERY PICKER PICKS Kevin Harvick.  Favorite: Brad Keselowski—the Ford train keeps on rolling, just not with the guy the Mystery Picker thinks.  Next Favorite: Martin Truex Jr.—it’d be pretty big to win at one of his five home tracks.  Dark Horse: Jamie McMurray—a surprise first-ever Cup Series Camaro win.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Timmy Hill Displays Personalized “Magazine Cover” in Shop Office

On a recent tour of his home racing shop, cameras caught a framed copy of “Racing Edge Magazine” featuring Timmy Hill on the cover, listed as “Racing’s Next Big Thing!”, an apparent “spoof” magazine cover available at most drug store photo departments.
“Oh that?  It was a gift from a friend of mine”, said Hill when reached for comment.  “I think he said something about it being a ‘look into the future’, although he texted me that after I asked him, so I don’t know if he was being serious or not.”
The video package, put online to promote Hill to potential sponsors, also showed several other unique items of memorabilia.  This included a large trophy with an inscription reading “Most Improved at Gear Shifting Game, 2015”, believed to be won at a local firemen’s carnival.  Further inspection also revealed a plaque with a late model car etched into the metal plate below the word “WINNER”, but no event name, date, or personalization beyond Hill’s own autograph in metallic marker.
The “Racing Edge Magazine” cover lists such apparent stories as “10 Hottest Drivers On The Rise” and “Championship Secrets”, emblazoned below the image of Hill’s face.  No UPC code or mailing label is present, although the frame appeared to block out most of a website where such magazine covers can be ordered for the special person in your life.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Denny Hamlin Now Communicating Exclusively in Sign Language


After over a week of controversy involving his comments on other drivers and interactions with Darrell “Bubba” Wallace Jr., Nascar star Denny Hamlin has announced that he will only be “speaking” in American Sign Language for the foreseeable future.
Denny's not the first Nascar driver to
communicate in sign language
“This is my last official statement for awhile”, Hamlin told a group of assembled media before today’s race.  “From now on, I will only speak using my hands in sign language.  From now on.  Starting now.”  Hamlin then slammed his hand on the podium for effect.
Hamlin apparently learned how to communicate in sign language for a recent Toyota Racing commercial, in which he “speaks” with a hearing-impaired fan before a race.
“I’m not about doing anything partial-way”, Hamlin signed for the media members.  “When I had the opportunity to learn this beautiful way of speaking, I decided to learn it everything.”
Hamlin’s new vow of “silence” appears to also transfer over to Twitter, where he is only communicating in emoji’s as of this morning, his most-recent post being a series of smily-faces and cars.
“I desire they had a black and orange car for my phone”, Hamlin continued to sign.  “I can still speak so much through Twitter, and with this language I have mastered so fastly.”
As a result of the switch to non-verbal communication, Hamlin appeared to shrug off commenting on rumors that he has refused to talk to Bubba Wallace Jr. following their dust-up at Daytona.
“There’s nothing for me to say”, Hamlin signed, “about the Bubba.  He makes his decisions and I concrete flower New Jersey—“
Hamlin then broke his vow, yelling out “AHH, hand cramp!”

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Nascar Pick Challenge: Uncle Max vs. Mystery Picker—Atlanta


Returning for 2018, here is Spade Racing Writer/Webmaster/Janitor Mike Mackler’s Uncle Max, this year competing against a mystery Cup Series picker all season long.

Sometimes, its just not your weekend.
It started off with me having to work Friday Night rather than getting to watch the Truck Series race like I wanted to.  Then, my pick for the Xfinity Series race loses BY THE CLOSEST MARGIN IN HISTORY.  As if that wasn’t enough to put me in a bad mood, I found a leak in my bathroom and had to call maintenance to get it fixed (I rent, what of it?).
Then Sunday came.  Oh, I was feeling pretty good about my Kurt Busch pick.  And after the “Mystery Picker”’s pick of Chase Elliott got knocked out, I was feeling even better.  But then the maintenance guy came over and at THAT MOMENT I saw Kurt Busch wreck.  And then I had to explain to a plumber why I was so angry at a Nascar race.

Truck Series Active Pest Control 200—Kyle Busch—pretty easy to pick up a win when you’re the only Cup driver racing in a lower series race.

Xfinity Series Rinnai 250—Joey Logano—pretty easy to pick up a win when you’re one of the only Cup drivers racing in a lower series race.

Cup Series Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500—MYSTERY PICKER PICKS Kyle Larson.  Favorite: Denny Hamlin—the guy knows how to bounce back from controversy—lets see if the Mystery Picker can bounce back from a bad pick.  Next Favorite: Martin Truex Jr.—never to early to prove that your championship season was just the start of something big.  Dark Horse: Ryan Newman—RCR proves the doubters wrong…again!

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Carl Edwards and Dale Earnhardt Jr. to Team Up in Sitcom Pilot

NBC has announced that they have enhanced their partnership with recently retired driver Dale Earnhardt Jr., going beyond the usual commentator roles of Olympic and Super Bowl coverage to put Nascar’s Most Popular Driver in a brand-new sitcom with fellow former driver Carl Edwards.
“We’re calling it ‘Start Your Engines’, and we think that’s just what this premise will do for Nascar fans and fans of comedy alike”, said NBC executive Scott Wilson.  “After these two legends ride off into the sunset, they discover that retirement wasn’t its all REVVED up to be, so they go into business together with their own auto restoration shop—they’re the original odd couple!”
Both Earnhardt and Edwards were present at the press conference to announce the show’s creation.
“I really just fell in love with the script”, Earnhardt Jr. said.  “Acting is something I never dreamed of doing, but then again I never dreamed of being a mayonnaise spokesman, either.  Life is all about taking on what’s in front of you—wether its driving, broadcasting, or trying to finish a carburetor for a very important customer the same night you’re having dinner with your in-laws!”
“There wasn’t going to be much that would take me off my farm in Missouri—it would’ve had to have been a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity”, said Edwards.  “And once that opportunity got taken by Ryan Blaney, I decided to jump at this opportunity—I mean, they haven’t cast it yet, but whoever gets the role of Debbie, the tart-tongued receptionist with a heart of gold has the fast-track to an Emmy Award.”
The show is just the latest in NBC’s attempts to cross-promote their Nascar properties with the rest of its programs, although “Start Your Engines” has yet to find a timeslot or debut date.
“We’ve thought about premiering this show after the Super Bowl, but then we though, ‘Why don’t we premiere it after Nascar’s Super Bowl, the Daytona 500!’”, Wilson said.  “Unfortunately it turns out that we don’t have the rights to the Daytona 500, but I’m sure we’ll find a place to debut it somewhere.
In a related story, producers of the 90’s ABC sitcom “Thunder Alley” have filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against the producers of “Start Your Engines”.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Danica Patrick Dedicates Final Nascar Race to Her Creepiest Male Fans


Upon finishing her 191st and final Nascar start in today’s Daytona 500, the soon-to-be-retired Danica Patrick dedicated the race especially to her creepiest male fans.
courtesy Sports Illustrated
“I’d just like to dedicate this race to all the men who’ve followed me far too closely throughout my racing career”, Patrick said upon exiting her stock car for the final time.  “From when I started way back in IndyCar and had grown males holding up poster-board signs for me, to the guys who still want me to autograph my cheesecake shots from Maxim, they’ve really made things memorable for me.”
An emotional Patrick went on to thank several specific groups of fans who’ve forced her to hire personal security throughout her career.
“There’s the guys who sent shredded t-shirts to me after I went public with my relationship with Ricky (Stenhouse Jr., her ex-boyfriend), Danica said, becoming visibly wistful.  “There’s all those lengthy letters I get from prisons around the country.  And there’s that one guy out west who constantly bids on my firesuits when they come up for sale—hearing that he wants “only the sweatiest stuff” really meant a lot to me.”
Patrick endured criticism for her lack of success throughout her Nascar career, however she said that the support of her fans—and her creepiest male fans in particular—made it all worthwhile.
“Knowing that if someone yelled out ‘Danica sucks!’ in the crowd, that a guy in one of my t-shirts would make a frightening comment about ‘having a future with me’, meant that the strangest of the bunch always had my back”, Patrick said.  “I wanted to personally thank all of you for sending all those emails to GoDaddy wanting “really uncensored versions” of all my commercials.  It just won’t be the same without you.”
Patrick will finish up her racing career at the Indianapolis 500, where she’s expected to be heavily booed by IndyCar’s hardcore fans—all four of them.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Nascar Pick Challenge: Uncle Max vs. Mystery Picker—Daytona


Returning for 2018, here is Spade Racing Writer/Webmaster/Janitor Mike Mackler’s Uncle Max, this year competing against a mystery Cup Series picker all season long.

So, this is how its gonna be, Mike.  You saw how well I did last year.  You saw how quickly I picked up on this whole Nascar thing.  You KNOW I’ve always been at least your second-favorite Uncle.  And yet you put me in a competition?  A competition about sports gambling?  My expertise against someone you won’t even reveal until the end of the season?!?
Well, I’d be glad to.
You see, I, Uncle Max, have never been afraid of competition.  Wether its competition against fellow assistant managers for a new iPad case, competing against family in the annual trivia contest, or racing people from red lights in my car even if they don’t realize they’re in a race, I thrive off competition.  And this year, 2018, I will prove to Spade Racing once and for all that I am the greatest picker in the history of this website!

Truck Series NextEra Energy 250—Grant Enfinger—nothing like locking yourself into the playoffs in week one, rendering the rest of the regular season relatively pointless.

Xfinity Series Power Shares QQQ 300—Elliott Sadler—#1 is #1 in the #1 race  of the year.

Cup Series Daytona 500MYSTERY PICKER PICKS Chase Elliott.  Favorite: Kurt Busch—Chase Elliott?  Yeah, right.  He’ll look great coming in second place again.  Next Favorite: Brad Keselowski—Bad Brad gets his win in early before the Fords start their whining.  Dark Horse: Daniel Suarez—Hey, it could happen.

Friday, February 9, 2018

2018 Spade Racing Nascar Xfinity Series Preview: Who Makes the Playoffs, and Where’s the Drama?


The Nascar Xfinity Series has been in an odd spot for some time now—while it can provide exciting on-track action, fans often grouse about the dominance of Cup drivers dipping down a level to boost their egos against inferior competition.  So why should you, the fan, care about the Xfinity Series?  Well, just take a look at who will be in this year’s playoffs—and look at the drama:

THE CHAMPION
20 Christopher Bell (JGR)—He’ll catch on quickly, win a few races, then use his superior JGR equipment and pit crew to fight through the playoffs, before tallying a win in the finale.  DRAMA: Will JGR jump the gun and move him up to Cup for 2019?  Daniel Suarez, your seat is getting warm.


THE ALMOST-CHAMPIONS
00 Cole Custer (SHR-Biagi)—Ol’ Double-C finally “gets it” and joins C-Bell as the only other multiple-race winner amongst Xfinity regulars.  DRAMA: Will SHR let Kurt Busch walk in order to start Custer’s First Stand in Cup?

1 Elliott Sadler (JRM)—The wily veteran leads regulars with the most top-fives and top-tens and he points’ himself through to the final round, where a poor race dooms his championship chances yet again.  DRAMA: Will he EVER win a championship?

19 Brandon Jones (JGR)—Running JGR equipment does wonders for Jones’ advancing career, and he finishes the season as the odds-on favorite for the 2019 title…if Christopher Bell moves on.  DRAMA: What did Rowdy say to him after Jones moved him out of the way for the win?


THE CONTENDERS:
7 Justin “Thunder” Allgaier (JRM)—Its a better year than the past few for The Little Gator, but he’ll still need pit strategy to get to victory lane.  DRAMA: Is it time to go back to dirt racing full-time?

21 Daniel Hemric (RCR)—Hemric continues his growth with RCR despite being shut out of victory lane.  DRAMA: Can Hemric make “the leap” in RCR equipment?

16 Ryan Reed (RFR)—Reed continues his mastery of plate-racing “strategy”, but is more impressive in finally keeping his DNF’s down…until the playoffs heat up.  DRAMA: Does Reed make the move to Cup with Front Row Racing?

2 Matt Tifft (RCR)—Its a tough year adjusting to RCR Chevy’s, although he shows some promise in non-companion races.  DRAMA: Is 2019 “the year” for Tifft and RCR?


THE LONGSHOTS:
11 Ryan Truex (Kaulig)—This single-car team gets a feel-good win at one of the Iowa races, but otherwise limps into the playoffs and is eliminated.  DRAMA: Is RCR equipment holding Kaulig Racing back?

9 Tyler Reddick (JRM)—The year is as varied as the multiple paint schemes on this JR Motorsports car, but brighter days are on the horizon.  DRAMA: Did he REALLY race Allgaier too hard in the playoffs?

24 Kaz Grala (JGL)—Kaz posts three strong finishes on the road courses and is steady enough on other tracks to make the playoffs on points.  DRAMA: Who will offer Kaz a better ride?

5 Michael Annett (JRM)—Annett barely makes it into the playoffs, and is quickly eliminated.  DRAMA: Is it finally time for JRM to move on with another driver?


JUSSSSST MISSED IT
23 Spencer Gallagher (GMS)—Gallagher overcomes a slow start with some solid runs, but is edged out by Annett by a few points.  DRAMA: Does GMS move up to Cup next year?

39 Ryan Sieg (RSS)—Nascar’s Official Underdog posts another solid year, albeit one that again sees him on the outside of contention.  DRAMA: How long can one guy keep his independent team together?

4 Ross Chastain (JDM)—The Watermelon Man has another year in which a tenth-place finish counts as a victory.  DRAMA: Is it time for Ross to move back to the Truck Series?

51 Jeremy Clements (JCR)—Last year’s feel-good story can’t conjure any magic, although he makes it through another year which is a victory in itself.  DRAMA: If offered a ride with a mid-level team, would Jeremy take it?

01 Vinnie Miller (JDM)—Its a long year of adapting to the Xfinity Series for JD Motorsports’ new driver.  DRAMA: Will JDM make it through the full season with all four cars?


THE INTERLOPERS
18 Rowdy, Preece, and the boys (JGR)—Joe Gibbs and Kyle Busch continue their assault on the Xfinity Series record books, but Ryan Preece manages to find victory lane again.  DRAMA: Is it time Ryan Preece got a full-time ride for JGR?

22 Penske All-Star Car—Both BKes and JoLo find victory lane as this car goes through more paint schemes than, well, something that would go through a lot of paint schemes.  DRAMA: Why do people blame Rowdy, but not the Penske guys?

3 RCR All-Star Car—Austin Dillon finds victory lane and Ty manages to contend.  DRAMA: Where’s Brendan Gaughan?

42 John Kyle Larsonchek (Ganassi)—Kyle Larson gets a win or two, while John Hunter Nemechek looks strong in every race he’s entered in.  DRAMA: Will JHN finally get a full-time Xfinity ride next year?

60 Roush Driver Development Team—Ty Majeski, Austin Cindric, and Chase Briscoe find its hard to compete when you’re constantly being taken out of the car.  DRAMA: Will Austin Cindric return to Penske next year for a full-time Xfinity ride?


98 SHR All-Star Car (SHR-Biagi)—Kevin Harvick shows speed in the few races he runs, as per usual.  DRAMA: Will this entire team shut down once Cole Custer moves to Cup?

Friday, February 2, 2018

2018 Spade Racing Nascar Cup Series Regular Season Preview and 2023 Predictions—because previews for one year are for wimps!


After an offseason of change, Nascar is finally gearing up for its 2018 season.  With a number of drivers retiring, moving on to new places, and changing sponsors, who will step up to victory lane?  Well, here’s some answers and a look to the future:

Car #, Driver, Top sponsor(s)

MULTIPLE RACE WINNERS
18--Kyle Busch (M&M's, Interstate Batteries): The Rowdy One continues his assault on the Nascar record books—and this THIS series, it actually matters.  Where will he be in five years:  A two-time champion constantly threatening retirement.

11--Denny Hamlin (FedEx): The sneaky-great career continues.  Will this be the year he finally breaks through for the championship?  Mmmmaybe.  Where will he be in five years:  The first driver since Mark Martin to have a successful part-time Cup schedule.
Discount Tire steps up to sponsor
Brad Keselowski in Cup for 10 races

78--Martin Truex Jr. (Bass Pro Shops, 5-Hour Energy): Is it Toyota’s aero and engine dominance, or simply the fact that they have the highest-concentration of talent?  Yes.  Where will he be in five years:  Contentedly settled into the old Matt Kenseth “always a threat to win” role, still awkward when being interviewed by Michael Waltrip.

2--Brad Keselowski (Miller Lite, Discount Tire): Ford’s great white (colored car) hope makes the best of an outdated aero package.  Where will he be in five years:  Still winning races while preparing to restart BKR with an eye on Cup.

48--Jimmie Johnson (Lowe’s): Jimmie’s the first Chevy driver to adjust to the new Camaro, but it still might be a while until he finds victory lane.  Where will he be in five years:  Preparing for his first year out of the driver’s seat replacing Dale Jr. at NBC.

No more red 42 car...
SINGLE RACE WINNERS
42--Kyle Larson (Credit One, DCSolar): Kyle tries to get used to a new car model, while fans try to get used to him not running a red car.  Where will he be in five years:  The new driver of the Hendrick Motorsports 48 car.

14--Clint Bowyer (Rush Truck Centers, Mobil 1): The good ol boy finally finds his way back to victory lane.  Where will he be in five years:  Occupying the Kasey Kahne spot of “what happened to his career?”.

22--Joey Logano (Pennzoil/Shell, AAA): JoLo rediscovers his touch, but only collects a single checkered flag.  Where will he be in five years:  Coming off a narrow loss of his elusive first championship.

9--Chase Elliott (Napa, 3M): I’ll call it now—Chase finishes second a few times early, wins the All-Star race, then wins the 600 in dramatic fashion.  Where will he be in five years:  Coming off a narrow win of his elusive first championship.

4--Kevin Harvick (Busch Beer, Jimmy Johns): Harv has a tough start to the year before getting into the swing of things as the weather heats-up.  Where will he be in five years:  Preparing for his final year as a full-time Cup driver for the newly-renamed Stewart-Haas-Harvick Racing team.

12--Ryan Blaney (a bunch of Penske associate sponsors, Menards): Ryan Blaney, appropriately, wins the Jeremy Mayfield Memorial Guy Who Leads the Points Early for Some Reason Award.  Where will he be in five years:  Moving to a rejuvenated Ganassi Racing team for a chance to be “The Man”.

17--Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (Fastenal, Fifth Third Bank): The “leader” of the Roush brigade continues his success on plate tracks.  Where will he be in five years:  Running mid-pack for the most-part, but getting his name out there as a part-time broadcaster.
New look, new car, new driver

88--Alex Bowman (Nationwide, Axalta): The first first-time winner, and the first first-time winner conspiracy theory subject of 2018.  Where will he be in five years:  Having been controversially forced-out at HMS a few years back, currently preparing for a strong second year at Stewart-Haas-Havick Racing.

SNEAKING INTO THE PLAYOFFS WITHOUT A WIN
31--Ryan Newman (CAT, Grainger): He won’t impress much, but then you’ll look up around Darlington and realize he’s locked himself in on points.  Where will he be in five years:  Retired and serving as a driver coach for up-and-comers like Buddy Baker before him.

3--Austin Dillon (Dow, American Ethanol): See above.  Where will he be in five years:  Coming off the best-year of his career, with people wondering if it was him finally “getting it”, or RCR-Germain finally getting outside help to turn around their team.

41--Kurt Busch (Haas, Monster): A year of drama—is he getting crummy equipment so he’ll leave?—still results in a playoff berth…barely.  Where will he be in five years:  Happily retired for a few years, waiting to see if he’ll get inducted to the Hall of Fame.

JUST MISSING THE PLAYOFFS
1--Jamie McMurray (McDonalds, Cessna): He tries to point himself in, but comes up a position or two short at Indy.  Where will he be in five years:  Prepping for retirement and serving as Ganassi’s Nascar team driver coach.
Lord Byron's scheme

24--William Byron (Liberty U, Axalta): Byron contends for a number of races, barely misses the final Playoff spot, and yet still has people calling his rookie year a “disappointment”.  Where will he be in five years:  Still smarting from his near-miss championship a few years back, but determined to win one—and become the first-ever Nascar racer with a doctorate from Liberty U.

20--Erik Jones (DeWalt, Reser's): A tough year adjusting to JGR equipment sees a late-season surge fall short—followed by a win in a Playoff race.  Where will he be in five years:  Dueling with Kyle Busch frequently on the track but glad to not come with even a tenth of the controversy.

DISAPPOINTMENTS
Slightly different look for Suarez
19--Daniel Suarez (Arris, Stanley): People will question if he really “belongs” in Cup, ignoring the fact that he comes with solid sponsorship.  Where will he be in five years:  Forced-out at JGR, Suarez moves to Roush Fenway Racing to prove that his fuel mileage win wasn’t just a fluke.

13--Ty Dillon (Geico, Twisted Tea): A year of improvement still falls short, as Pop-Pop makes plans to absorb the 13 team into RCR ownership.  Where will he be in five years:  Still running for RCR-Germain Racing and finally posting some wins in Cup.

47--AJ Allmendinger (ClickList, et al): Two disappointing runs of his own doing at each road course race show that JTG-D might have maxed-out on performance…until they switch to an HMS alliance.  Quietly retiring from Nascar in order to focus on sports car racing.

10--Aric Almirola (Smithfield): The most-disappointing of the major team drivers, they openly start testing set-ups for the Playoff-bound teams mid-year.  Where will he be in five years:  AA came on like wildfire in 2019, but unable to replicate that year, he’s fallen back into the middle of the pack.

BACK OF THE PACK
21--Paul Menard (Menards, Motorcraft): Well, its about time we find out just how good Ryan Blaney was…and just how lucky Paul Menard is.  Where will he be in five years:  Retired from full-time racing, but still running Xfinity and late-model races in the midwest.

6--Trevor Bayne (Advocare, Performance Plus): Chris Buescher to the 6 car in 2019, anybody?  Where will he be in five years:  Out of big-time racing, but still running local tracks from time-to-time.
Sponsor for only a few races, but seems
to have been designated the "main scheme"

43--Bubba Wallace Jr. (ClickNClose, STP): Nothing short of a hail mary pit strategy call will help this team in major rebuilding mode.  Where will he be in five years:  The surprise choice to replace Alex Bowman in the 88 car has a Terry Labonte-style career renaissance in HMS equipment.

37--Chris Buescher (Kroger, etc.): Ryan Reed to the 37 car in 2019, anybody?  Where will he be in five years:  Trying to lead Roush Fenway back to glory with a less-fluky Cup win under his belt.

38—David Ragan (1000Bulbs, Shriners): The numbers don’t lie, even if the drivers change—this team is still well behind the best AND the rest.  Where will he be in five years:  Running part-time for a mid-level Xfinity Series team.

34—Michael McDowell (Love's, K-Love): Focus on the positives, like road course strategy and plate track roulette.  Where will he be in five years:  Running sports-cars again as well as serving as an occasional road course ringer.

95—Kasey Kahne (Procore): Kasey falls into the Clint Bowyer “I’m Stuck Here” role and never sniffs the front of the pack.  Where will he be in five years:  Running sprint cars again for his own team.