Uncle Max vs. Last Year’s Winners: Martinsville

Thanks to everyone who checked in on me last week—the only thing worse than getting a cold is getting a cold in the middle of a pandemic.  Everybody was terrified I had COVID-19, and even though its nice to have people avoid me for non-odor-related purposes, dirty looks DO get old after awhile.

Arguably the only thing worse than getting sick is going back to work once you’ve gotten better.  You get out of your rhythm, the substitute screws up your whole system for getting things done, the World Series pool isn’t set up—its just crazy all around.  Oh well—with an unpredictable holiday rush coming up, I can’t afford to get sick again—ya hear that, germs?

Friday Night TRUCK SERIES Hall of Fame 200 (4 wins) Matt Crafton—old reliable.

Saturday Afternoon XFINITY SERIES Draft Top 250 (4 wins) Austin Cindric—leaving nothing to chance.

Sunday Afternoon CUP SERIES Auto Trader 500.  LAST YEAR’S WINNER (8 wins) Martin Truex Jr.  FAVORITE: (2 wins) Kevin Harvick—the domination continues.  NEXT FAVORITE: (2 wins) Brad Keselowski—easiest way to advance?  Win.  DARK HORSE: (1 wins) Clint Bowyer—a farewell victory.

2020 Donruss Panini Nascar Cards Unboxing PACK 29 (2.5)

After unboxing and unwrapping a box of 2020 Donruss (Panini) Nascar trading cards, I decided to keep going.  Now we dive into two “Blaster Boxes”—small boxes of 7 packs each.  Join us as we go through each eight-card pack to find the good, the bad, and the downright weird.

PACK 29—Flashback, Crashback, and Aflac
Quite the collection of talent here, with four Cup champions, one “ooh so close” and arguably Nascar’s most popular driver of the modern era.  And then there’s also Paul Menard and Jeremy “don’t print what I say” Clements.  Classy use of Dale Jr. doing a Dale Sr. “three” salute in victory lane, by the way.
FIRST THING’S FIRST: While this is a nice enough Race Kings card, I wish they’d been able to use an old Home Depot-era picture to really match with the orange border.

SECOND LOOK: Hey, remember when Kyle Busch ran a throwback Snickers scheme?  And remember who that throwback scheme honored?  Of course not—it was Bobby Hillin Jr., the Ricky Stenhouse Jr. of his time.

TO THE BACK: Carl Edwards is certainly Top Tier, but his card remembers when he lost the Cup championship on a tiebreaker.  It was his finest season, but you’d think they’d just say he came in a close second and let it be.

FINAL SCORE: 8 HANS devices out of 10

Halloween Havoc: Nascar Edition

WWE is bringing back WCW stalwart pay-per-view event Halloween Havoc as an NXT special this Wednesday.  Much like how WCW and the nWo “co-promoted” events in 1998, WWE will be doing so with Nascar.  Here’s a look at what you can expect to see:

(Card Subject to Change)


Tyler “Mr. TR” Reddick vs. Christopher “Liberty” Bell.  Winner gets to lose to “King” Cole Custer for Rookie of the Year honors.


Joey Logano Scarecrow on a Pole Match—Clyde “Chase” Elliott vs. Ryan “The Rocketman” Newman vs. Kyle “Rowdy” Busch.  Winner gets to beat the effigy senseless for five minutes.

Jack o Lantern of Opportunity Match—“The Byron Boy” Erik Jones vs. Ty “The Other” Dillon.  Must use the sledgehammer hanging above the ring to smash open one of two jack o lanterns.  One contains a contract to race for Richard Petty Motorsports, while the other contains eight races with JR Motorsports in Xfinity.  Fans decide who’s the real winner.

Chamber of Horrors Match—Team Rick Ware Racing vs. Team Premium Motorsports—not a match per se, but more of a testimonial contest to see which team’s drivers’ dreams have been perverted the worst by modern-day Nascar.

Ghost of Nascar Future Match—Darrell “Bubba” Wallace Jr. vs. Daniel “Team-a-Year” Suarez.  Winner’s new race team gets immunity from high expectations for 2021.


Spin the Wheel, Make the Deal—“Dangerous” Denny Hamlin vs. Kevin “Happy” Harvick.  A giant wheel is spun by special guest referee Kyle “NWO 4 Life” Petty to determine the stipulation of the match.  Possible stipulations:

Pit Crew Member’s Glove Match

“Waste Management” Lumberjack Match (all are members of the Logano “family”)

Roll Bar Cage Match

Beat the Crash Clock Match

Untinted Helmet Visor in Sunset Match (basically a blindfold match, only worse)

Latter Match (all results unofficial until both competitors pass post-match inspection)

Uncle Max vs. Last Year’s Winners: Texas

Editor’s Note: Uncle Max is out sick this week with non-COVID related cold symptoms.  Here’s his picks that he texted to me this morning:

Saturday Late Afternoon XFINITY SERIES O’Reilly 300 (4 wins) Chase Briscoe—no better way to celebrate getting a Cup ride.

Sunday Early Afternoon TRUCK SERIES Speedy Cash 400k (4 wins) Zane Smith—wake up with a win.

Sunday Late Afternoon CUP SERIES Auto Trader 500.  LAST YEAR’S WINNER (8 wins) Kevin Harvick  FAVORITE: (2 win) Denny Hamlin—Bounce-back time.  NEXT FAVORITE: (2 wins) Chase Elliott—popular win for a non-Texan.  DARK HORSE: (0 wins) Kyle Busch—a Dark Horse?  In 2020, yes.

2020 Donruss Panini Nascar Cards Unboxing PACK 28 (2.4)

After unboxing and unwrapping a box of 2020 Donruss (Panini) Nascar trading cards, I decided to keep going.  Now we dive into two “Blaster Boxes”—small boxes of 7 packs each.  Join us as we go through each eight-card pack to find the good, the bad, and the downright weird.

PACK 28—Paint, Quaint, and Appropriate it Ain’t
And here we get the super-duper-mega-Blaster-exclusive exclusive—reflective orange Optic.  In addition we get a pretty good range of talent, even if it leans a bit too much towards the past for my tastes.

FIRST THING’S FIRST: Its a pretty awesome design (looks even better in person), but really—has anyone ever associated glitz, sparkle, and “bling” with Mark Martin?  Bonus points for Mark wearing a Matt Martin hat here, which matches with the orange border.

SECOND LOOK: Maybe its because its an older picture, but the paint-effect on this Race Kings card really looks nice.  Wouldn’t be out of place on someone’s wall, where they refer to its as a “rare piece of art” despite being #8901/15,000.

TO THE BACK: Only in Nascar will you see the elusive Mexican-Michigan connection.

FINAL SCORE: 7 fuel cans out of 10

Spade Racing: THE ROOKIES—Mid-October Rakings

New for 2020, Spade Racing will take a monthly look at the heralded Cup Series rookie class to determine who’s hot and who’s not.  The PRETTY grade: Performance Relative to Equating Team’s Typical Year (its pretty much how well each driver is doing considering their equipment).  Here’s how things look going into today’s Kansas Playoff race:

1. Cole Custer (Stewart Haas Racing). Best race finish: 1st (Kentucky).  PRETTY grade: B.  Cole’s had an up-and-down run since the last rankings, posting a top-ten, top-twenty, and two sub-20th-place finishes.  He’s guaranteed the best spot in the Cup points by virtue of his win and Playoff berth, but his top spot is THESE rankings could still be challenged…something that I’m sure keeps him up at night.

2. Tyler Reddick (Richard Childress Racing).  Best race finish: 2nd (Texas).  PRETTY grade: B.  RCR’s comeback year continues, as Tyler posted another top-five since the last ratings.  Another one could push him past Cole Custer for the top spot—although no trophy will be issued due to, uh, COVID concerns…yeah, that’s it.

3. Christopher Bell (Leavine Family Racing).  Best race finish: 4th (Pocono).  PRETTY grade: C-.  On the one hand, its been a rough stretch for C.Bell, with four sub-20th place finishes in a row.  But on the other he’s gotta be feeling the way we all did about two weeks before graduating high school—Senioritis vs. Leavinitis?

4. John Hunter Nemechek (Front Row Motorsports).  Best race finish: 8th (Talladega twice).  PRETTY grade: C+.  JHN continues his success on superspeedways with an 8th place finish at Talladega.  I don’t know what the odds are of finishing in the same spot at the same plate track twice in the same year, but I’m guessing its the same as the chances of Kyle Busch growing a respectable goatee.

5. Brennan Poole (Premium Motorsports).  Best race finish: 9th (Talladega).  PRETTY grade: D+.  Yeah, he posted his first top-ten of the season.  But that came two weeks after he was taken out of the car.  Such is the up and down life of a Nascar independent.

6. Quin Houff (StarCom Racing).  Best race finish: 13th (Talladega).  PRETTY grade: D+.  Finally some improvement from the StarCom gang, who notched a thirteenth place finish at Talladega.  But even with Brennan Poole missing a race, Quin’s STILL behind him in the points—and, thus, behind him in these rankings.

Uncle Max vs. Last Year’s Winners: Kansas

Well, here we are—Last Year’s Winners have officially clinched the title for 2020.  But am I stopping picking?  No!  You know why?  Because the season isn’t over yet!

Huh, you know, I thought that would sound a little more inspiring than it did.

Anyways, its important to fulfill your sports gambling-related duties.  Everyone hates that guy who quits Fantasy Football after seven weeks (Jerry, I’m looking in YOUR direction), and Confidence Pools aren’t any fun when everyone loses interest by Thanksgiving.  I guess what I’m trying to say is, if you can’t win, make sure you lose with honor.

Saturday Late Afternoon TRUCK SERIES Clean Harbors 200 (4 wins) Austin Hill—how many harbors does Kansas have?

Saturday Night XFINITY SERIES Kansas Lottery 300 (4 wins) Harrison Burton—the young’un sets himself up for a big year in 2021.

Sunday CUP SERIES Hollywood Casino 400.  LAST YEAR’S WINNER (8 wins) Denny Hamlin  FAVORITE: (2 win) Martin Truex Jr.—same make, different driver.  NEXT FAVORITE: (2 wins) Kevin Harvick—back on track with bonus points to spare.  DARK HORSE: (0 wins) Erik Jones—have helmet, will travel.

2020 Donruss Panini Nascar Cards Unboxing PACK 27 (2.3)

After unboxing and unwrapping a box of 2020 Donruss (Panini) Nascar trading cards, I decided to keep going.  Now we dive into two “Blaster Boxes”—small boxes of 7 packs each.  Join us as we go through each eight-card pack to find the good, the bad, and the downright weird.

PACK 27—A Midpack Bash, Waltrip Flash, and Mark Martins Clash
After the three cards for two Hall of Famers there’s a pretty steep drop-off to the middle of the pack.  Speaking of the stars here, we get the two faces of Mark Martin—happily smiling and mournful that he’s getting stuck driving that ugly AAA car next year.  Erik Jones, on the other hand, looks exactly the same, honoring the same stoic personality of former DeWalt driver Matt Kenseth.

FIRST THING’S FIRST: Here’s yet ANOTHER parallel—some cards have this extra-special “dazzle” background on them.  They look cool, but we’re looking at upwards of 500 possible cards (not including memorobilia and autograph inserts) for a set that should probably have less than half that, tops.

SECOND LOOK: From the looks of his firesuit Jeb Burton is wondering where he left his iron.

TO THE BACK: Ross Chastain’s Xfinity Series success gets a closer look here—a fortuitous decision since he drives there full-time this year.  Nice job avoiding talking about all the Kaulig Racing disqualifications, too!

FINAL SCORE: 3 pit passes out of 10

Matt DiBenedetto Secures Future, Is Worried About Future

Popular underdog Matt DiBenedetto locked up his ride at Wood Bros. Racing for another year this week, inking a contract extension through 2021.  Immediately after doing so, he announced he is concerned about what the future holds for him in Nascar.

Courtesy Wikipedia

“I’m really glad to have everything sorted out for 2021”, DiBenedetto said at the virtual press conference announcing the deal.  “There’s more uncertainty than ever in this sport, and to be in the famed number 21 Ford with Penske backing really puts me in a secure place.”

“I’m really worried about what the future holds for me in Nascar”, DiBenedetto said immediately afterwards.  “There’s more uncertainty than ever in this sport, and not having a ride lined up for 2022 really puts me in a vulnerable place.”

When questioned about his seemingly contradictory feelings, DiBenedetto did little to clear up any confusion.

“There’s been a lot of uncertainty about what 2021 holds, but I’m glad to have all of that in my rearview mirror”, DiBenedetto said happily.  “I think I’ve shown that I belong here in Cup competition in a top-level ride like this one, and the only thing missing now is a win.”

“There’s been a lot of certainty about what 2021 holds, but I’m worried to have no idea what I’m doing in 2022 right in front of me”, DiBenedetto countered in a nervous, wavering tone.  “I think I’ve shown that I belong here in Cup competition in a top-level ride like this one, and the only thing missing now is a contract.  Oh, and a win would probably help too.”

DiBenedetto has captured a number of fans’ imagination with his “rags to riches” story rising through the ranks of the sport with little financial or commercial support.  He seems to be keen to continue that rise regardless of what the distant future holds.

“I won’t rest until this team is in victory lane”, DiBenedetto said, before adding, “I won’t rest until I have a ride lined up for 2022.”

Uncle Max vs. Last Year’s Winners: Charlotte Roval

My mood is still pretty much like my standing against Last Year’s Winner—failing to improve.  And time is running out.

For picks—time stretches out endlessly when you’re in retail.

For what its worth even if I fail to win this weekend—which would officially eliminate my “FAVORITE” from winning on its own—I’ll still keep picking through the end of the year.  And no, I won’t try to combine all three of my win totals in Cup to compete against Last Year’s Winner…although I guess that’s not such a bad idea if there was money involved.

By the way a reminder that these picks are for entertainment purposes yada yadda.


Saturday Afternoon XFINITY SERIES Drive for the Cure 250 (4 wins) Austin Cindric—and watch Chase Briscoe win yet again because I didn’t pick him.

Sunday CUP SERIES Bank of America Roval 400.  LAST YEAR’S WINNER (7 wins) Chase Elliott  FAVORITE: (2 win) Kyle Busch—a Hail Mary for both of us.  NEXT FAVORITE: (2 wins) Denny Hamlin—controversy-free this time.  DARK HORSE: (0 wins) Chris Buescher—sneaky-good on road courses.

2020 Donruss Panini Nascar Cards Unboxing PACK 26 (2.2)

After unboxing and unwrapping a box of 2020 Donruss (Panini) Nascar trading cards, I decided to keep going.  Now we dive into two “Blaster Boxes”—small boxes of 7 packs each.  Join us as we go through each eight-card pack to find the good, the bad, and the downright weird.

PACK 26—Tire Track, Throwback, and some Plate Flack
Tire swatch alert!  We get a limited-edition piece of Aric Almirola’s tire here.  There’s also another orange parallel (for Jimmie Johnson), and my hand looking very creepy hovering over Brittney Zamora.

FIRST THING’S FIRST: The tire is part of the “Race Day Relics” collection.  Just a thought, but when the tire isn’t from a particularly memorable race (nor is it even noted what race its from), is it really a “Relic”?

SECOND LOOK: Alex Bowman’s Tim Richmond throwback.  Sure, its not the same sponsor, car number, model of Chevy, or a driver with any connection to him.  Nor is it necessarily a driver Nascar should be honoring.  But at least it looks sweet.

TO THE BACK: When you realize just how many starts Michael Waltrip made at Daytona (eighth-most all-time) it really puts his wins there in perspective, eh?

FINAL SCORE: 8 roof hatches out of 10

More Nascar Cup Series Schedule Changes

Earlier this week Nascar announced a raft of schedule changes for the 2021 Cup Series (hope you like road courses!), but with SO many changes, a few fell through the cracks.  Here’s a look at further changes to the 2021 schedule that you may have missed:

—The race at Auto Club Speedway will be immediately followed by a demolition derby in order to destroy the track in preparation for its forthcoming redesign into a short-track.  So far Ricky Stenhouse Jr. is the only driver confirmed.

—Kansas traded a race date with Martinsville, who then immediately traded it back.  You know, just to mess with people.

—In order to maintain the heritage of Dover International Speedway, Nashville’s race will have a mandatory hour-long red flag period in order to fix broken concrete.

—Much like he trademarked the term “Roval” for Charlotte Motor Speedway, Bruton Smith is expected to officially dub the dirt track at Bristol “Sorry We Screwed Up Resurfacing the Track”.

—With Circuit of the Americas and Road America both getting Cup dates, expect Nashville Fairgrounds to make a play for a race date in 2022 under the name Nashville America Speedway.

—In the time it took you to read this, an idiot has whined online about how taking a date from a track they’ve never been to will somehow ruin the sport.

Uncle Max vs. Last Year’s Winners: Talladega

How am I doing?

Well, lets see—I’ve been slammed at work the past two weeks getting the store ready for the holidays.  I lost my scheduled day off when two other assistant managers called in sick (I’m typing this on my lunch break, aka eight minutes in my car).  Idiots are still coming in without masks or, worse, masks hanging from one ear.  My car needs an oil change…and new tires.  I have an eye-twitch that seems to get worse every time I try to get rid of it.  I lost every single bet I placed last weekend on the NFL (who the hell plays for a TIE?!?).  And I’m staring down a loss to “Last Year’s Winner”.

Anyways, hows about you?

Saturday Early Afternoon TRUCK SERIES Chevy Silverado 250 (4 wins) Austin Hill—the start of a chalky weekend of picks.

Saturday Late Afternoon XFINITY SERIES Ag-Pro 300 (4 wins) Chase Briscoe—too hard to pick against (despite my run of bad luck picking him).

Sunday CUP SERIES Yellawood 500.  LAST YEAR’S WINNER (7 wins) Ryan Blaney  FAVORITE: (2 win) Joey Logano—my last ditch effort is gonna be a strong one.  NEXT FAVORITE: (2 wins) Chase Elliott—well, unless all the contenders get wiped out in The Big One.  DARK HORSE: (0 wins) Ryan Newman—better make a feel-good win pick just to be safe.