Thomas Latzkowski

Thomas Latzkowski

Originally from central New York, I was first introduced to NASCAR through my uncle. I quickly developed an interest in the sport that has only grown over the last 20 years. I have a bachelors degree in agriculture business from SUNY Cobleskill, and currently work as an operations manager in New Jersey. In 2017 I thru-hiked the Appalachian trail, and since have been focused on pursuing my passions in life such as motorsports.


The NASCAR Cup Series has returned to Bristol Motor Speedway for the most notorious night race in all of stock car racing. Saturday nights race started with Penske teammates on the front row, and Gibbs teammates in the rear after failed pre-race inspections.

Brad Keselowski quickly jumped out to the lead, but only held the top spot until lap 18 when Kevin Harvick took control of the race before Rickey Stenhouse brought out the first caution of the night on lap 29 after contacting Jimmie Johnson. This caution would replace the competition caution originally scheduled for lap 30.

Tyler Reddick and Matt DiBenedetto win the race off pit road with two tires, but Keselowski quickly moved to the lead after the restart. Before the end of the first stage it would be Chase Elliot taking the lead and winning the stage.

Kyle Busch managed to race from the back of the field to second. Unfortunately for DiBenedetto he was unable to maintain a spot in the top ten to capitalize on stage points with his teams’ pit strategy. After the pit stops it was Busch out first and bringing the field to the green flag for the start of stage two.

Dibenedetto took a huge blow to his championship opportunity as he was forced to pit with a loose wheel on lap 185. With 38 laps to go in stage two it was Martin Truex Jr. pitting with a loose wheel. Shortly after leaving pit road Truex slid up the track and got hit hard from behind by teammate Denny Hamlin who received most of the damage from the incident.

It was not long after the incident between the Gibbs teammates that William Byron made hard contact with the #95 car trying to avoid lapped traffic. Byron would bring is car to the garage, ending his race and championship hopes.

Kyle Busch would maintain the lead through the pits and to the end of the stage which came with another caution as Ryan Newman went spinning. In a turn of events it was DiBenedetto earning the free pass. Busch maintained the lead for another 31 laps until Kevin Harvick found his way around the #18.

Problems continued for several playoff contenders as Keselowski loss power steering while Kurt Busch and Alex Bowman were both forced to pit with loose wheels.

Green flags stops started around lap 370, but would be interrupted by a caution on lap 407, leaving only six cars on the lead lap for the final 82 laps.

The final run was an epic battle between two NASCAR legends. Busch only managed to take the lead for a moment, before Harvick surged upfront once more. Busch continued bring pressure but could not get to the Harvick’s bumper before the end of the race.

Kevin Harvick is the sole championship favorite after scoring his 58th career win and a league leading 9th win this season.

Top 5: Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch, Erik Jones, Tyler Reddick, Aric Almirola

Eliminated: Cole Custer, William Byron, Ryan Blaney, Matt DiBenedetto

The NASCAR Cup Series will be back in action on September, 27th at 7:00PM ET for the South Point 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

NASCAR has returned to Kentucky motor speedway this week for an unusual daytime race due to this season jumbled schedule. The cup series last daytime race at the venue was won by Matt Kenseth in 2013. Unfortunately for Kenseth, him and Martin Truex Jr. would start from the rear of the field after failing pre-race inspection.

Kyle Busch was this week’s lucky winner, drawing the pole for the race. Busch would hold on to his lead for a dozen laps before Aric Almirola moved into the lead, hold it through the lap 25 competition caution, and dominate the remaining laps of the initial stage.

Almirola maintained the lead into stage two, with Logano and Matt DiBenedetto keeping pace. Towards the end of the stage it was Blaney working his way through the top five to quickly take the lead from Almirola before green flag pit stops started with ten laps to go.

The stops had almost cycled through, but with seven laps left in the stage Kenseth had a tire go down a spun out, binging out a caution. Brad Keselowski was the last car to pit, and with great luck from the caution was able to maintain the lead. Keselowski hung on to win the stage after a restart with one lap to go where teammate Blaney gave him a drag race to the green and white checkered.

Stage three would start with Blaney in the lead, but soon Truex Jr. would find himself out front. While the track had comers and goers it seemed difficult for drivers to move through the field.

Green flag stops started with less than 60 laps left in the race. With 38 laps to go the yellow flag flew after Brendan Poole had a tire go down. Austin Dillon also spun as he avoided entering the suddenly closed pit road.

On the restart it was Truex Jr. and Blaney dueling out front of a chaotic field of competitors jockeying for position. Jimmie Johnson, who missed last week with Covid19, made it from ninth to third and was chasing down the two leaders before John Hunter Nemecheck slammed the wall bringing out another caution with 23 laps to go.

The field didn’t make it too far after the green flag dropped as Johnson went spinning through the infield off the bumper of Keselowski. In that short run Blaney was able to take the lead and control the next restart, but it was Kevin Harvick with the power move to make it three wide to take the lead.

It was not over there as the caution came out again for Kenseth spinning with seven laps to go. The ensuing restart was one of the most chaotic in NASCAR as they race three wide for the lead over the final several laps. Blaney made a hard charge for the lead before making contact with Harvick and it was Cole Custer on the outside from fourth to first on the last lap to pull off the most unexpected win of the season.

Top five: Cole Custer, Martin Truex Jr., Matt DiBenedetto, Kevin Harvick, Kurt Busch

The cup series will return to action on Wednesday at 7:00 PM for the All-Star race at Bristol.

One more lap, Dover

Friday, Oct 11

Sometimes drivers just need one more lap to change the outcome of a race. The fast speeds of NASCAR don’t always leave us with enough time to express ourselves in the moment. Here is one more lap of thoughts for us to digest after another exciting weekend of racing.

Turn 1: Dover International Speedway hosted its 100th cup race. Now the 10th track to reach this milestone, Dover has been hosting the cup series since 1969. The uniqueness of this track cannot be understated. Looking up as you stand next to the high banked turns you know there can not be another place like this. Holding your breath every time the drivers dive into the turns on the edge, and letting it out when they somehow make it without a wreck, it’s Dover. With a lot of discussion regarding new schedule changes, I don’t think we should take the monster mile for granted.

Turn 2: The Xfinity series has too many back marker teams. Across all series I think the number one issue that hinders NASCAR from attracting new fans is the lack of competition throughout the fields. Nowhere is this worse than in the Xfinity series where only a handful of teams can compete for wins and a title. In the 29 races this year only 14 drivers, out of a 38 car field, have finished on the lead lap more than 50% of the time. Also only six series regulars have won this year, and that’s four drivers excluding road courses (Cindric) and superspeedways (Annett). That’s one win to Chase Briscoe (Iowa) and 19 wins between the big three. Hi NASCAR, you have a competition problem!

Turn 3: These cars can’t pass, and it’s disappointing. Air is such a factor everywhere we go, but to see it at a place like this is frustrating. I still think dover is a great track, but this package does not help it. Even worse is that the only time we see passes for the lead is when the leader can’t pass lapped traffic. It’s entertaining because you get a wad of frustrated drivers fighting for position on track, but is that what we want? I still like to watch the leader try to fend off second place as they navigate the traffic, but I’d rather see a more genuine battle for the win.

Turn 4: Talladega ready to host the last superspeedway race of 2019. Not only do viewers get to enjoy the high speed action of superspeedway racing, but fans at the track get to enjoy the new renovated infield. The tensions will rise as opportunities dwindle and desperate playoff drivers need to win, who is going to take advantage of the opportunity. The MENCS and NGOTS will be on track next weekend, October 12th and 13th.

Denny Hamlin, making his 500th start, qualified on the pole for Sunday’s Drydene 400 at Dover International Speedway after beating out Kyle Larson by three thousands of a second.

Joey Logano had rear end issues before the race started and was in the garage when the green flag flew. Hamlin and Larson pulled away from the lead, but only for a few laps before Chase Elliot also had an issue with his axel.

The two leaders again pulled away from the field as Larson challenged for the lead, before dropping back as the two navigate lapped traffic. As the run went on Larson fell back to fourth before he came to pit road starting the first cycle of green flag stops.

Hamlin maintained the lead after stops and won the first stage. Hamlin continued to maintain the lead through yellow flag stops and on the following restart. Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex Jr. also showed competitive speed through the second stage.

Truex Jr. was the first driver to pit road for green flag stops in stage two. The remaining leaders quickly followed, and while Hamlin maintained his lead, it was Truex Jr. challenging for the lead.

In the closing laps of stage two it was Truex Jr. taking the lead as they fought through a lot of lapped traffic. Larson joined the battle taking the second position as things get dicey between the leaders. Even Harvick found himself battling for third without much success. At the end of stage two it was Truex Jr. with the green and white checkered.

Larson won the race off pit road, and was able to maintain the lead over Hamlin after the restart. Truex Jr. had some misfortune with a slow stop losing five spots on pit road.

After leading 218 laps, but running second Hamlin reported a possible engine failure, but it was Ryan Blaney with brake issues to be the next playoff contender in the garage. Shortly after Truex Jr. passed Hamlin for second, but trailed Larson by over 5.5 seconds.

With 80 laps to go the leaders began another cycle of green flag stops and on the other side of the cycle was Larson extending his lead to over 6.5 seconds.

With forty laps to go Truex Jr. had the gap down to less than two seconds as Larson found it difficult to navigate some of the faster lapped traffic. Larson was quick to extend the lead again as Truex Jr. had to struggle to pass the same cars.

Truex Jr. was unable to get back to Larson before the end of the race and it was Kyle Larson with the win to snap his 75 race winless streak.

Top Five: Kyle Larson, Martin Truex Jr., Alex Bowman, Kevin Harvick, Denny Hamlin

The MENCS will be back on track next week at Talladega Superspeedway for the 1000bulbs 500 on October 13th at 2:00PM ET.

On Sunday afternoon Denny Hamlin will become the seventh active driver to record his 500th Career start, and with a fast car as he earned the pole position for the Drydene 400.

His first start was the 2005 Banquet 400 at Kansas Motor speedway. Mark Martin won that day, while Hamlin brought it home 32nd. In the following 498 starts Hamlin has 35 wins, 156 top fives, and 253 top tens. In his first full season, 2006, the young driver managed multiple victories and a third place points finish. Hamlin has made the playoffs every year in his career with the exception of 2013 where he missed four races due to a back injury.

Of those seven active drivers Hamlin, 38, is the second youngest behind Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch. He is also fourth among active drivers in wins with 35, last year was the first winless season of his career, but four wins in 2019 has helped make up for that.

It’s not quite the 500 starts that is impressive about his career, but the amount of consistent success Hamlin has produced for over a decade against some of the sports most talented drivers of all time. In his tenure Hamlin has been successful enough to driver for the same team with the same sponsor his entire career thus far. Not many drivers can say that, but it’s been an honor to watch the Virginian native wheel the number eleven Fedex car for the last fourteen years.

Hopefully in the coming years Hamlin can deliver that elusive championship he has been so close to many times in his career.

Chase Briscoe qualified on the pole for the NASCAR Xfinity Series Use your melon drive sober 200 at Dover International Speedway, however Briscoe had to go the rear after making changes due to an electrical issues. Playoff contender Michael Annett also had to start at the rear of the field. 

On the first lap Tyler Reddick got loose and made contact with the wall causing cars to check up when the 19 of Brandon Jones crashed into the back of Harrison Burton causing major damage to both Joe Gibbs Racing Toyotas. The biggest damage was Jones’ playoff hopes.

On lap 14 championship favorite Christopher Bell had to bring his car to pit road for service because of low fuel pressure, causing him to quickly go down multiple laps and taking him out of contention for the victory.

Mike Harmon brought out a caution on lap 20 after getting spun off of turn four and making hard contact with the inside wall where his car would come to a stop on the front stretch.

The race would run green to the end of stage one with Justin Allgaier in the lead for his sixth stage win. Annett and Briscoe were able to drive all the way into the top ten.

Allgaier maintained the lead through pit stops and selected the outside lane to bring the field to the green flag for stage two. Allgaier was quick to put his fast Jr. Motorsports Chevrolet out front.

The entirety of stage two went without caution as Allgaier led all 45 laps to beat Austin Cindric by just under a second, with Briscoe behind them in third.

Allgaier was unable to maintain his lead off of pit road. Cindric led the field to the green flag, but it was Briscoe taking the lead and driving away.

With less than 40 laps to go green flag pit stops started as drivers had to navigate one of the hardest pit entries on the circuit. It was Dillon Bassett bringing out the caution before the end of the cycle as he was the one to spin attempting to enter pit road.

Cole Custer who had yet to pit was the biggest benefactor now with the lead and only several cars on the lead lap including Annett, and Justin Haley who needed to win to make the next round of the playoffs. Allgaier got the free pass while Briscoe and Cindric took the wave around.

Custer put his car out front as Allgaier took chase before a caution came out with 13 laps to go as Ray Black Jr. spun and other cars got collected in turn two. Now all of the top competitors thus far in the race were on the lead lap and out front for a final ten lap shootout.

Annett had a tough restart and stacked up part of the field as Custer pulled into the lead again, before pulling away from Allgaier to win his 7th race of the season, and the golden monster trophy.

Top five: Cole Custer, Justin Allgaier, Austin Cindric, Justin Haley, Chase Briscoe

The NASCAR Xfinity Series will be back on track for the second round of the playoffs with the Kansas Lottery 300 at Kansas Speedway on October 19th at 3:00PM ET.

The superstars of the NASCAR Monster Energy Series were on track today qualifying for the Drydene 400 which will be run tomorrow at 2:30PM.

Drivers found themselves on edge throughout the qualifying session attempting to get the most out of each lap. Most drivers commented on the difficulty of this track with the exception of Jimmie Johson whose success at Dover has come naturally. Johnson ended up 11th at the end of qualifying.

Denny Hamlin who will be making his 500th start on Sunday set a fast lap to pace the field early in the session, despite Hamlin admitting his struggles at Dover in contrast to the success he has found at most tracks.

Several drivers came close posting fast laps, including Kyle Larson who was within three thousands of a second, but it was Hamlin on the pole with a new track record, and his second pole award this season.

Top 10: Denny Hamlin, Kyle Larson, Martin Truex Jr., Kevin Harvick, Chase Elliot, William Byron, Aric Almirola, Erik Jones, Kurt Busch, Ryan Blaney.


One more lap, Bristol

Tuesday, Aug 20

Sometimes drivers just need one more lap to change the outcome of a race. The fast speeds of NASCAR don’t always leave us with enough time to express ourselves in the moment. Here is one more lap of thoughts for us to digest after another exciting weekend of racing.


Turn 1: Matt DiBenedetto! Can we just take a moment to appreciate that at the end of three nights of amazing short track racing we saw a fan favorite ‘underdog’ come within a dozen laps from winning his first MENCS race. Just last week he was notified that he would not be returning to the number 95 Levine Family Racing Toyota. At his lowest point this weekend surrounded by media DiBenedetto reiterated his passion “I want to win in the cup series, that's what I’ve said and that’s my goal. I’m here to keep climbing the ladder”

Matt almost did it, and he did it with flair. Knowing it was his time to get in the ring and start throwing punches, the 28 year old donned a boxing outfit for driver introductions. We are all staring at a crowd favorite, with talent and personality, now he just needs a ride for 2020.


Turn 2: Tough trucks get hot under the lights. This weekend's NGOTS UNOH 200 was an old school bumping and beating Bristol race. NASCAR put traction compound on the bottom groove, and cleaned off the top lane. This created a mostly one lane track for a lot of the race and required drivers to use the bumper to get past others. The second lane did come in through the race, but it wasn’t used as much as we would see the following nights.

During the entire race we saw carnage as there were numerous cautions and short runs. A lot of teams ended up in the garage with fenders falling off their trucks.

Ross Chastain was the most liberal with his bump and runs, especially towards the end of the race where he pressed the issue putting himself on the bottom of a three wide fight in the middle of a corner.

When the smoke cleared drivers were talking, and yelling up and down pit road. There was even a scuffle in the garage area. Chastain put it best “This what built this place, you come in this tunnel theres quotes about rattling cages, there's helmets being thrown, if we are going to fill this place up the carshield chevy is going to be the one adding the excitement.”


Turn 3: Austin Cindric, the big 4? Cindric is not actually comparable to the top three drivers in the Xfinity series, but he may be the most likely to disrupt the party come the playoffs. Currently the fourth seed Cindric is only 16 playoff points behind Tyler Riddick in third and 31 behind Bell in first. The young Team Penske driver has had his share of struggles this season, but has put together fairly consistent results before breaking through with two wins the last three races. Both were on road courses which caters to his driving style, but that doesn't mean he cannot compete on the ovals. Cindric again impressed with a top five at Bristol and next week at Road America favoris him to close the playoff point, and let’s not forget the Roval during the playoffs. The Biggest question is if he makes it to Homestead, can he get it done?


Turn 4: The MENCS is off for a weekend before the nostalgic throwback race at Darlington, but the NXS will pay a visit to Road America before heading to the historic track. The NGOTS will also visit a road course this coming weekend going across the border to rub fenders at the Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.

While I’m disappointed to not see premier series drivers on the edge fighting for the playoffs, I am thrilled that we are going to get more road course action. Both tracks have always put on great events and these drivers are slowly becoming talented and well rounded competitors.

Austin Cindric continued his recent hot streak following up back to back wins with another pole award. The Food City 300 featured the cup series drivers of Kyle Busch, Joey Logano, and Erik Jones. Tyler Reddick failed pre race inspection multiple times and was forced to start at the rear as well as a drive through penalty to start the race. 

Christopher Bell and Cole Custer battled early in the top five before lap traffic held them up and Custer got into the wall collecting Bell as well. Their cars spun to a stop before getting hit by cup regulars Jones and Logano, who would both bring their cars to the garage afterwards. Shortly after the restart John Hunter Nemecheck had a flat bringing out another caution.

Justin Allgaier would make his way past Busch on lap 64, but Busch continued to pressure for the lead until a caution for debris came out with 14 laps to go in the first stage.

After the restart Reddick would challenge for the lead before making contact with teammate Allgaier and spinning causing a caution. Brandon Jones drove past both drivers and would earn his second stage win of the year.

Noah Gragson started stage two in the lead, but wasn’t able to hold off Busch for more than a couple laps. By now the second lane had come in and drivers were all over the track.

The first caution of stage two came out when Ronnie Bassett Jr. literally lost his left rear tire and spun out in front of the leader Busch before crashing into the sand barrels at the entrance of pit road. The race was subsequently put under the red flag.

Busch held on to the lead to win stage two, but then had to pull of the track for engine issues, putting an end to his day. Busch was easily the race favorite, but anything can happen under the lights at Bristol.

Then there was Reddick in the lead, after an up and down night. Allgaier pushed himself through the pack and back up front, but Reddick was on his bumper with Jones intail. Must have been dejavu.

With about 80 laps to go Michael Annet went around bringing out another caution. Allgaeir stayed out, majority of the leaders behind him got new tires.

Allgaier was still the fastest car, Reddick second, and Ryan Seig in third before losing control of his car making contact with the wall multiple times. Seig continued on track smoking before receiving the black flag and bringing his Ford Mustang to pit road.

Ryan Seig was running third when he lost control of his car, and made contact with the wall multiple times. His car continued around the track, but began to smoke more and Seig brought his car down pit road.

Reddick was now catching Allgaier with 30 laps to go when teammate Noah Gragson had tire issues and had to bring his car down pit road when a caution came out for another incident on the track involving David Starr.

 Allgaier stayed out under the caution as did others, and Nemecheck was the first car with tires in eight. Allgaier continued to be the fastest as care behind him battled. With 12 to go brandon jones charged to second before overshooting the corner and making hard contact with the wall.

Than it was Allgaier with a flat tire as he lost control of his car and surrendered his lead to Reddick who would hang onto the win for a Jr. Motoarsports team that has had a tough week.

Top Five:Tyler Reddick, Chase Briscoe, John Hunter Nemecheck, Jeremy Clements, Austin Cindric

There are four races until the playoffs. The NXS will be on track next weekend, Saturday August 4th at Road America at 3:00PM ET.

Sometimes drivers just need one more lap to change the outcome of a race. The fast speeds of NASCAR don’t always leave us with enough time to express ourselves in the moment. Here is one more lap of thoughts for us to digest after another exciting weekend of racing.


Turn 1: Tensions were high this week as drivers battled on and off the track. It started with the trucks beating on one another at the Eldora Dirt Derby, but it was Watkins Glen that delivered the sparks. It all started in the ninety degree turn one as William Byron and Kyle Busch made contact sending busch spinning, but the talented Busch would make it back to Byron’s bumper putting him through the grass in the bus stop. Under the next caution Byron went to give the bump back, but Busch break checked him and both continued with a lot of damage.

Busch would then find himself in another altercation with Bubba Wallace Jr. that ultimately ended with Bubba spinning Busch as they entered turn one, under caution.

The altercation looked dangerous, and I am surprised not much was said afterwards. Johnny Sauter was suspended for a similar incident in the truck series. It makes you wonder about the amount of influence fan interest has in NASCAR'S decision making.

Jimmie Johnson and Ryan Blaney also had a run in, it may be the closing playoff window, but for the first time I thought I might see seven-time fight. Even after the altercation comments from both sides indicated some intimidation and a possible escalation in future races. I’m sure we can expect more aggression as the playoffs approach.


Turn 2: Mid-tier teams have had recent success. The likes of Matt DiBenedetto, Erik Jones, and Chris Buesher have brought some competition and consistency to the track. Jones who is in the best equipment of this group has struggled, drawing his seat into question, but the young star has double his top five total with four in the last four races. He has accumulated nine top tens in the last 12 races. 

DiBenedetto is having a career year in his first year with Levine Family Racing as he is starting to find his grove with four top tens, including two top fives, in his last seven races.

Buesher has put himself in this group of breakthroughs with 11 straight finishes of 18th or better and only two finishes worse than 23rd all season. 

Turn 3: Road Courses and short tracks almost every week! Even though it is not ideal and fans are still clambering for more, NASCAR has done an acceptable job of providing a mix of racing including road courses and short tracks on a regular basis. This week we had a dirt track and the fastest road course. Next week the Xfinity series will visit another road course. The last time all three series visited a 1.5 mile track was Kentucky the weekend of July 13th. The next time we only have a 1.5 mile track will be Las Vegas the week of September 15th. That’s two months of variety for our favorite summer pastime. The season continue to mix up unique tacks, short tracks, 1.5 miles tracks, and superspeedways. Maybe it’s not perfect, but we do get variety between the three series and that has to be appreciated.


Turn 4: This weekend the Xfinity series heads to the Mid-Ohio road course as the MENCS and NGOTS put their speed on display and Michigan International Speedway. Another exciting race with left and rights as all three series close in on the playoffs. The high speeds of Michigan are going to be roaring as the MENCS drivers look to retaliate after a tense race at Watkins Glen. The NGOTS will host its final race of the regular season. Grant Enfinger is fighting to win the regular season championship, as Matt Crafton hopes to hold onto the final spot. Crafton the only driver in the playoffs without a win has to be feeling threatened as any driver including both KBM trucks could win and secure the eight seed going into the round of eight at Bristol.

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