Spade Racing Opens a Box of Panini PRIZM Cards, Part 5 of 12

Pack 5: Cody Ware, a Guy That’s Rare, and a Certain Flair

FIRST LOOK: (note—all autograph cards will be reviewed later) Cody Ware.  He doesn’t seem to have much talent, nor does he seem to have much funding.  So how does he keep his ride?  Its all in the last name.  That’s right—he’s the fifth cousin twice removed of former quarterback Andre Ware.

TO THE BACK: Its nice to know that Chris Buescher is so down-to-earth.  Although to be fair, it would be funny if he DID have an inflated ego from winning two races, one of which was due to fog.

SAY WHAT: “Uh-oh—either I’m in a special trading card or someone spiked my energy drink again.”

RATING: 6 DNF’s out of 10 updated four times weekly

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Track “Facts”: Watkins Glen

Nascar races on all sorts of tracks, from short to long, oval to road course, concrete to asphalt.  Here’s a weekly look at all the tracks of Nascar’s National Touring Series.


2.45 mile asphalt road course

Opened 1956

Lights?  No

Series: Cup, Xfinity

Nicknames: The Glen, New York’s Thunder Road, America’s Bus Tipping Center


1. Watkins Glen hosted Formula 1’s United States Grand Prix from 1961-1980, at which point they left the track, suffering from a lack of investment and crumbling facilities, for the glittering luxury of downtown Detroit.

2. Nascar has never raced on the full-length Watkins Glen circuit (which would include “The Boot”), but there have been requests for the Cup Series to try it, mostly because some fans have way too much time on their hands.

3. This track is seen as vital to the sport’s marketing aims, given its proximity to New York City.  In this case “proximity” means “a four hour and thirty minute drive”. updated four times weekly

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2023 Nascar Cup Series Preview: Pair off in Threes (Part 2)

Part 2: The Teams

Click to enlarge

If 2022 was a year of change in the Cup Series, then what will 2023 be?  Will it see former contenders return to contention?  Will we see those teams who took great leaps forward in 2022 stay on top?  That’s what I aim to figure out.  Here’s the teams of Nascar ranked and graded based on three things: Strength (performance the past few years), Stability (lack of change, amount of sponsorship/funding), and size (how big the team is overall)

Ranking, Car #s, TEAM NAME 

Chevy, Ford, Toyota

All logos courtesy Wikipedia and are the property of their respective teams


Strength: A+
Stability: A

Size: A+

HMS has it all—four championship-contending drivers signed to long-term deals, four cars that never go without sponsorship, and a pipeline of talent both on and off the track via their partial ownership of JR Motorsports.  About the only demerit is the in-house sponsorship of the 5 car, but hey—Rick Hendrick likes what Rick Hendrick provides, even if he is a tough negotiator.

2. 2,12,21,22 TEAM PENSKE (& WOOD BROS.)

Strength: B+
Stability: A+

Size: B+

They won the championship last year, so why aren’t they number one?  Well, the team is top-heavy—the 22 and 12 are championship caliber teams, but the 2 and 21 seem to be a year or two away.  By the way, the 21 is prepared out of the Team Penske race shop, so yeah, its like a fourth team—don’t @ me.

3. 11,19,20,54 JOE GIBBS RACING

Strength: B
Stability: B-

Size: A+

JGR is definitely a team in transition—Christopher Bell asserted himself as a championship contender last year along with Denny Hamlin, while Martin Truex Jr. put in a disappointing campaign by his standards.  Ty Gibbs joins the former 18 team in a car that might have Toyota logos on it more than they’d like.  Surely there’s a brighter future ahead, however, with Xfinity and Truck Series prospects and a secure spot as Toyota’s top team.  And don’t call me Shirley.


Strength: B-

Stability: B-

Size: B+

Last year saw Chase Briscoe break through to become a bona-fide Playoff contender, while the 4 and 10 cars continued to struggle mid-pack.  Regardless, expect Ryan Preece to be a significant upgrade over Cole Custer, who returns to their Xfinity Series team with The Human Spinning Machine, Riley Herbst.


Strength: A
Stability: B

Size: C

Last year was a breakthrough year for Trackhouse, with the 1 car making the Championship 4 and the 99 visiting victory lane.  While they still may have an open race or two on the hoods of the cars, they’ve improved by leaps and bounds.  The only real knock against them is their reliance on Hendrick Engines, which keeps them in “Satellite Team” mode for the near future.  And no, they’re not going to move to Dodge.

6. 23,45 23XI RACING

Strength: B+
Stability: B

Size: C

Say what you want about Bubba Wallace, but he’s a sponsor magnet who keeps this team fully-funded AND can contend for a win or two.  The addition of Tyler Reddick is great for the future of the team, but they’re likely stuck playing second-fiddle to JGR as long as Denny Hamlin is an active driver.  But hey—better to be second-fiddle than to not even be in the band.

Strength: B

Stability: C

Size: B-

Last year’s progress might be stanched by the departure of Tyler Reddick, but the arrival of Kyle Busch could prove to be the shot in the arm this team has needed for over a decade to return to championship contention.  They still have a nice development system in Xfinity, now augmented by their new alliance with KBM in Trucks.  Oh, and Austin Dillon is there.


Strength: C-

Stability: C-

Size: C+

Kaulig Racing would’ve had a solid if not spectacular 2022, if not for the raised expectations compared to Trackhouse.  The move to two full-time drivers will likely help, and the Xfinity team could provide additional reinforcements in the future.  Regardless of what happens, you know they’ll be doing what they do best off the track—filtering leaves.

9. 6,17 RFK RACING
Strength: C-

Stability: C-

Size: D

I think we were all hoping that the arrival of Brad Keselowski as both a driver and co-owner could “stop the bleeding” at the old Roush Fenway organization, but that didn’t happen, with a single win by Chris Buescher being the lone highlight.  Barring even MORE investment this team could be stuck in midfield limbo for years, despite all those random social media awards they always win.

10. 42,43,84 LEGACY MOTOR CLUB (formerly Petty GMS)
Strength: C

Stability: D
Size: C-

Honestly, you could throw a blanket over teams 8, 9 & 10 here—all of them are satellite operations that could either become the next Trackhouse in the coming years or just stay where they are.  This team remains in flux with the arrival of Jimmie Johnson as a co-owner and part-time driver and Noah Gragson as a full-time driver and part-time wrecker.


Strength: D+

Stability: C

Size: D

While they’ve staked their claim as an occasional threat to win at plate tracks, that’s about all you can say for Front Row.  On the plus side they do seem to have a solid base of sponsorship for about 2/3rds the season, and their Truck Series team is successful.  I mean, we can just assume Zane Smith is in one of these rides in 2024, right?


Strength: D-

Stability: C+

Size: D-

We were saying that single-car teams couldn’t survive twenty years ago.  JTG-D does have pretty steady sponsorship thanks to their relationship with Kroger, but that’s really about the only good thing you can say about this team.  Now watch me be wrong and Stenhouse make the Playoffs.

Strength: D

Stability: D

Size: D+

It remains to be seen if Spire is slowly building into becoming a team that can legitimately contend for wins or if they’re just biding their time till someone wants to buy their Charters. And why have they yet to run a Jasper Motorsports throwback scheme?!? 

Strength: D-

Stability: D

Size: D-

They don’t contend for wins, but they do manage to survive.  And they tend to have sponsorship most weekends.  That’s good enough to get them out of last place for me.

Strength: F

Stability: D-

Size: D

I’m not saying I could do a better job—heck, I’d probably do much worse.  But you’d be hard-pressed to find anything positive to say about RWR other than “they still exist”. updated four times weekly

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2023 Nascar Cup Series Preview: Pair off in Threes (Part 1)

PART 1: The Drivers

Its been said that good (and bad) things come in threes.  Well, there’s no better way to kick off the 2023 Nascar Cup season than by exploiting that random synchronicity!  Listed below is the Spade Racing OFFICIAL 2023 predicted finishing order for the regular season, handily sorted into groups of threes.

#, Team, DRIVER (top sponsors) 

Chevy, Ford, Toyota 

R=Rookie of the Year candidate

Special thanks to Jayski for the info and Wikipedia for the pics

THE DOMINATORS--Three drivers who will dominate the regular season.

5 Hendrick KYLE LARSON (HendrickCars, Valvoline)—he’s got the team, the car, the talent, and the stability of a long-term contract.  Now he just needs Rick Hendrick to conclude those tense sponsorship negotiations with Rick Hendrick.

22 Penske JOEY LOGANO (Shell Pennzoil, AAA)—Joey and the 22 crew pick up where they left off with multiple wins, a shot at the championship, and plenty of irritated competitors and fans.

9 Hendrick CHASE ELLIOTT (Napa, Hooters)—Somehow he’ll be solidly in the top-five in points mid-season and some people will still be positing that its somehow a disappointment—including Chase.

MULTIPLE RACE WINNERS--2 or 3 wins make for a solid foundation heading into the Playoffs

11 JGR DENNY HAMLIN (FedEx, SportClips)—An early win, a spring lull, then coming on strong in the summer.  He’s just like Tony Stewart—heck, he even owns a race team!

20 JGR CHRISTOPHER BELL (Stanley et al, Rheem)—C.Bell proves his 2022 was not a fluke by posting a slew of top-five race finishes.  Too bad he doesn’t have a better nickname than “C.Bell”…yet.

45 23XI TYLER REDDICK (Monster, McDonalds)—A slow(ish) start to the season has people wondering if he can adjust to his new ride, but then he posts a bunch of wins.  Bell & Reddick—they’re always in contention together!

SUCCESSFUL YET MILDLY DISAPPOINTINGVery good, but not great, regular seasons

1 Trackhouse ROSS CHASTAIN (Worldwide Express, AdventHealth)—Ross finds out that you win one year, you’re expected to dominate the following year.  He might not post more than a win or two in 2023’s regular season, but I don’t see him going back to the farm anytime soon.

24 Hendrick WILLIAM BYRON (Axalta, LibertyU)—I don’t know if there’s a more-solid, less-conspicuous contender than William Byron.  He’s always great at winning when he needs to, contending for top-tens on the regular, and avoiding questions about his sponsor.

14 SHR CHASE BRISCOE (Mahindra, HighPoint)—Following up a break out season with a solid one.  And to think, this ride almost went to Kyle Lar—er, maybe don’t think about that.

THE QUIET MENThey’ll have their wins, but you won’t think of them as contenders

12 Penske RYAN BLANEY (Menards, Advance)—Once again posting a solid but unspectacular season.  He really IS the next Jeff Burton (sorry, Harrison).

48 Hendrick ALEX BOWMAN (Ally)—Being fourth-worst on your team is usually terrible, but when its the Hendrick Motorsports of the early-2020’s, that’s not a bad thing.  Nor is it bad to have a single sponsor (even if they use hideous colors on their paint schemes).

19 JGR MARTIN TRUEX JR. (Bass Pro, Auto-Owners)—Is it time to retire?  No, no its not.

THE LOUD MENA lot of volume for disappointing (yet Playoff-bound) drivers

54 JGR TY GIBBS (Interstate, Monster) R—There’ll be a LOT of talk about whether or not he deserves this ride.  There might even be an on-track tangle or two.  But then you’ll look up in August and realize he’s the top driver in points without a win.

4 SHR KEVIN HARVICK (Busch Light, Mobil 1)—Will he retire?  Will he contend?  Will he break his losing streak?  Will Busch Light continue to put out irritating commercials?  (Answers: Yeah, Kinda, No, Obviously)

23 23XI BUBBA WALLACE (McDonalds, DoorDash)—He’ll have a disappointing first half of the season, then start contending, then race his way into the Playoffs.  Next, he’ll be eliminated immediately and pick a fight with someone.  Sunrise, sunset…

THE PLAYOFF TIPPING POINTOne makes it, two don’t

99 Trackhouse DANIEL SUAREZ (???, CommScope)—Suarez hasn’t exactly set the world on fire in his Cup career, but he’s still good for contending for the Playoffs despite having a Coke bottle glued to his hand.

8 RCR KYLE BUSCH (Cheddars, Alsco)—Look, its never fun to miss the Playoffs, but Rowdy might just be the odd man out in a year where 17-18 drivers are worthy.  At least we know he won’t be gracious about it.

3 RCR AUSTIN DILLON (Dow, Bass Pro Shops)—He can win, he can contend for top-tens, but he’s still a bit of a stretch to be considered as a “championship contender”.  Too bad the team seems to be completely built around him.

GOOD, BUT NOT GOOD ENOUGHThe “8 win NFL teams” of the Nascar world

21 Wood Bros. HARRISON BURTON (Motorcraft, DEX)—I think we see Harrison make some improvements this year, but he might still be a bit short of contending.  Oh well, at least he’s an improvement over Paul Menard.

10 SHR ARIC ALMIROLA (Smithfield, Rush)—He came back, but was it worth it?  Ehhh, probably not.  On the plus side, its not like he has to worry about Cole Custer taking his job.

41 SHR RYAN PREECE (Haas, ???)—A significant improvement over this team’s 2022 performance, but it might take till the Playoffs for the 41 to revisit victory lane.  On the plus side, its not like he has to worry about Cole Custer taking his job.

DISAPPOINTMENTSNo other way to put it—these drivers and teams expected more

2 Penske AUSTIN CINDRIC (DIscount Tire, Menards)—A winless 2023 leaves him at 50% of Derrike Cope’s career Cup win total.

43 LegacyMC ERIK JONES (Focus Factor, Air Force)—The addition of Jimmie Johnson is nice, but this team is still likely a year or two away from fighting for top-tens on a weekly basis.  Which means another year of Erik pretending to be a Raiders fan.

16 Kaulig AJ ALLMENDINGER (???)—Back to a full-time Cup schedule for The Dinger.  And back to rarely contending for wins outside of road courses and plate tracks.

BAD NEWSTeams and drivers we only hear about when something bad happens

17 RFK CHRIS BUESCHER (Fastenal, Fifth Third)—It was great to see him win last year, but I’m thinking we still see RFK Racing struggle this year.  Maybe they should’ve invested their resources better twenty years ago instead of hiring two dozen development drivers.

6 RFK Brad Keselowski (Kohler Generators, Esperion)—I’m thinking BKes knew this would be a long-term project to resuscitate the old Roush team into a contender, but judging by last year’s penalties he’s getting a bit anxious.

42 LegacyMC NOAH GRAGSON (???) R—We’re all likely thinking that it’ll be a tough transition to Cup for Gragson, going from a top-team like JRM to the mid-level (at best) former PettyGMS team.  Then again he might be easier to ignore wrecking people in 30th.

THE HAIL MARYSThey’ll have an outside shot of winning once in a blue moon

31 Kaulig JUSTIN HALEY (LeafFilter)—Does Haley have the talent to compete in Cup?  Probably, but he’s had few opportunities to show that outside this particular team.  He’s like Austin Dillon without the dumb cowboy hat.

47 JTG-D RICKY STENHOUSE JR. (Kroger, grocery stuff)—If spinning out on your own with about thirty laps to go got you bonus points, he’d be a Playoff contender.

34 Front Row MICHAEL MCDOWELL (Love’s, SpeedCo)—Being great at plate tracks is a little like being great at roulette—its better than being bad at it, but the skill set is a bit random.

HAPPY TO BE HEREDrivers who are likely just appreciative to be employed

7 Spire COREY LAJOIE (???, NEGU)—This generation’s Kenny Wallace, especially since we typically only hear from him on a broadcast during a rain delay.

77 Spire TY DILLON (???)—I’m sure Ty’s a great guy, a decent human being, and has a loving circle of family and friends.  But how the HECK does he keep getting Cup rides?

38 Front Row TODD GILLILAND (???)—How long till he shows up at Front Row and finds Zane Smith being fitted for a seat in his car?

FILLING THE FIELDTeams with limited resources and even more limited futures

78 Live Fast B.JOSH MCLICKI (Motorsports Games, Ziegler)—BJ McLeod and Josh Bilicki are the likely main drivers this year.  Do you think Josh has to towel off the headrest in the car after BJ’s slicker than water hair has been resting against it?

15 Ware ??? (???)—How long till we hear that someone tangentially connected to Dodge is maybe possibly considering the option to buy this Charter?

51 Ware CODY WARE (Nurtec, ???)—Someone has to be last.  And that someone is almost always Cody Ware.

OPEN ENTRIESThree non-Chartered teams who could make some noise

91 Trackhouse ??? (???)—The Project 91 car will likely earn a LOT of attention for finishing 29th in a road course race.

84 Legacy MC JIMMIE JOHNSON (???)—It’ll be cool to see a seven-time champ back in the driver’s seat, but no Chad Knaus means no wins.

62 Beard AUSTIN HILL (Beard Oil)—An annual reminder that Beard Oil is a petroleum distribution company, not something you put in your beard, you hipster. updated four times weekly

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Spade Racing Opens a Box of Panini PRIZM Cards, Part 4 of 12

Pack 4: A Driver from the Past, the Skill of Mast, and a Refractory Blast

FIRST LOOK: Mark Martin—arguably the best driver to never with a championship, dominator of the Busch Series, one of the most-consistent and versatile drivers the Cup Series ever saw.  Oh, and, uh, LOL Viagra or something.

TO THE BACK: So pole positions are the true test?  Well then, give guys like Rick Mast and Loy Allen Jr. a slot in the Hall of Fame, pronto!

SAY WHAT: “Help!  This isn’t a card!  I’m really stuck in this holographic maze!”

RATING: 7 Special Paint Schemes out of 10 updated four times weekly

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Track “Facts”: Knoxville

Nascar races on all sorts of tracks, from short to long, oval to road course, concrete to asphalt.  Here’s a weekly look at all the tracks of Nascar’s National Touring Series.


0.5 mile dirt oval

Opened (for weekly racing) 1954

Lights?  Yes

Series: Trucks

Nicknames: Sprint Car Capital of the World, The Track with the Late Start Time for Trucks


1. Knoxville Raceway’s Nascar history is quite brief (only since 2021) but the track’s is MUCH longer, stretching back to its introduction in 1878 as a horse racing track.  Yes, this track was opened in the 19th-century, making it almost as old as Morgan Shepherd.

2. This track is located in Knoxville, Iowa, not to be confused with Knoxville, Tennessee, where their mayor is a guy who used to pretend to be a burn victim on national TV.

3. The Truck Series moved here in an attempt to reconnect with the sport’s roo—ok, ok, you got me—they came here to spite Tony Stewart for starting the SRX Series. updated four times weekly

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