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 manage the marketing efforts for a produce importer. In 2017 I thru-hiked the Appalachian trail, and since have been focused on pursuing my passions in life such as motorsports.

 

The starting line up for todays Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond Raceway was jumbled before the race even started. Eight cars failed their initial pre-race inspection and had to start from the rear, including four that qualified in the top ten.

Kevin Harvick maintained the lead from the pole as the front of the field filed into position quickly, however the traffic in the back was hectic. Kyle Busch would take the lead on lap 31 as the two traversed lapped traffic.

A competition caution was called on lap 40 due to the rain earlier in the day. Busch would maintain the lead off of pit road and bring the field back to green. He was able to pull away from the field and lead the remaining laps for his fifth stage victory of the year.

A chaotic start to stage two left Kyle Larson with a left rear tire rub forcing him to make an unscheduled pit stop falling off the lead lap. Shortly thereafter Larson would find himself in the turn one wall after losing the left rear again, exiting the race on lap 128.

Tires were a priority, and all cars would pit out of necessity after only 16 laps. Unfortunately for Busch he was caught speeding on pit road dropping him to 24th on the restart as Martin Truex Jr. found himself outfront.

Joey Logano took the lead with six laps left in stage two for the stage victory. The top four cars were within two seconds of the leader. Logano would keep the lead off pit road and lead the field back to the green flag.

Michael McDowell cut a right rear tire going into turn 1 on lap 243 to cause the third caution of the night bringing everyone back down pit road. Truex’s crew got him off of pit road first.

Brad Keselowski who had a strong car all night finally made his way to the lead on lap 266, but Truex would take the lead back on lap 294.

As the race progressed the top five cars were all within two seconds before green flag pit stops started with around 80 laps to go. On the other side of the pit cycle Truex had a two second lead over Clint Bowyer.

With 25 laps to go Bowyer was on Truex’s bumper as Joey Logano closed in on the leaders battling. Less than ten laps to go and all three drivers were within half a second, and Harvick joined the battle a little too late.

Logano put his team Penske Ford in second with five to go, but could not get any closer than the bumper of Truex who took the checkered flag for his first short track victory.

Top five: Martin Truex Jr., Joey Logano, Clint Bowyer, Kevin Harvick, Denny Hamlin

The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series will be back on track in two weeks on April 28th at Talladega Superspeedway at 2:00PM for the GEICO 500.

Todays ToyotaCare 250 at Richmond Raceway started with Riley Herbst making his first Xfinity start from the pole in the #18 Joe Gibbs because of a rained out qualifying effort and Kyle Busch. It rained throughout the day and  the weather continued to be a concern all night.

The Dash 4 Cash was again in play this week as Christopher Bell chased another $100,000 check. Competing with Bell this week was Tyler Reddick, Cole Custer, and Chase Briscoe.

It didn’t take long for Custer to find himself in the lead where he would stay for 18 laps before Justin Allgaier put his Jr. Motorsports Chevrolet out front. Soon the leaders would be navigating lapped traffic as Bell joined the battle. Bell would become the fourth different leader of the race on lap 38.

The first caution of the night would fly on lap 66 as Mason Diaz would find himself in trouble in turn 2. While most teams took this opportunity to service their cars Michael Annett stayed out front for the final laps of stage one, but dropped like a rock.

Allgaier took the green and white checkered for stage one, and lead the field back to the green for the start of stage two. He was able to maintain the lead until Jeremy Clements blew an engine bringing out the second caution of the night. Rain drops were felt amongst the crowd, but the race went back to green.

Allgaier stayed out with five other cars holding off a pack of competitors with fresh tires as the cars ran around the track three and four wide. Custer was the first with fresh tires to make it out front. In all of the chaos Bell got a nudge by Noah gragson getting into turn 3 and spun bringing out another caution shortly before the end of stage two.

NASCAR would manage to get the restart in with four to go, everyone knew this could be the end of the race. Custer pulled away to win stage two, and continued to lead the majority of stage three. David Starr spun on the front stretch to bring out a caution with 38 laps to go.

The restart was short lived as Allgaier spun his tires backing up the field and causing Gragson to get spun in turn 1. The next attempt was better as Austin Cindric took the lead before giving back to Custer with 18 laps to go.

Cole Custer hung on to win the race and $100,000.

Top five: Cole Custer, Austin Cindric, Justin Allgaier, Tyler Reddick, Ryan Seig.

The NASCAR Xfinity Series will be back on track April 27th at 1:00PM ET. at Talladega Superspeedway for the Sparks Energy 300.

Only a few things were guaranteed before today’s NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway. Kyle Busch would not be winning this race, in fact no MENCS competitors would be winning today. Of the entire field of series regulars, four would be racing to win $100,000 in a Dash for Cash! Tyler Reddick, Christopher Bell, Chase Briscoe, and Michael Annett all earned the opportunity last week to compete for the money. Also, Harrison Burton would be making his first start in the series.

Custer’s speed put him on pole, and kept him out front for the first 26 laps before Reddick, and his Dolly Parton Chevrolet, took advantage of lapped traffic to make a pass for the lead. The first caution would come out for a Ross Chastain spin on lap 42 with only thirteen cars on the lead lap.

Reddick would continue to lead after the restart, to eventually battle Justin Allgaier through lap traffic before Allgaier made a last lap pass to win the stage. Unfortunately, Reddick would lift off of the gas prior to the end of the 85 lap stage due to a miscommunication from his spotter.

The stage two restart was hectic, but Allgaier would run out front the entire 85 laps and capture the stage victory under yellow after a caution flew in the closing laps.

Christopher Bell’s crew put his Toyota Supra in second place for the start of stage three where he would pressure Allgaier for the lead until Allgaier’s JR Motorsports Chevrolet had a mechanical failure causing him to exit the race with less than 70 laps to go.

With 40 laps to go the caution came out after Harrison Burton found his No. 18 Joe Gibbs Toyota in the wall. He would still manage to restart 11th, the last car on the lead lap.

Brandon Jones stayed out under the caution to lead the field back to the green flag. Even on older tires Jones was able to maintain the lead. As the laps wound down the top four drivers battled within a second of each other as they wound their way around lap traffic in the closing laps.

Bell took the lead from Jones with 17 to go. Jones found himself in the wall shortly thereafter with a flat right front tire, forcing him to pit under green flag conditions.

Reddick and Custer continued to battled for second as tempers ran hot towards the end, but they would be no match for Christopher Bell who captures his first victory at Bristol Motor Speedway, his second victory of the year, and the $100,000 Dash for Cash prize.

Top five: Christopher Bell, Tyler Reddick, Cole Custer, Chase Briscoe, John Hunter Nemecheck

The NASCAR Xfinity Series finds themselves back on track next week at Richmond Raceway on April 12th at 7:00PM ET.

The Nascar Gander Outdoor Truck Series returned to action today with a short track brawl at the iconic Martinsviller Speedway.

Stewart Freisen started on the pole, but it was Kyle Busch who would soon take the lead and drive away from the field.

The first stage of 70 laps would end eight laps early with a caution. Oil and debris on track would not allow NASCAR to open pit road or have a late stage restart. Busch would win the stage with only 15 cars on the lead lap.

Busch would find himself leading for the majority of the 70 lap stage two when another cation flew with 23 to go. Friesen found himself in the lead on the restart, but with ten to go he was overtaken by Ross Chastain who would go on to win the stage.

The racing was exciting throughout the field with cars side by side through the corners and the outside lane even had a chance as rubber was laid down by the trucks. The bumpers were used as impatient driver pushed their way to the front and the laps wound down.

With exciting racing throughout the field the lead for the race was not exciting and I say that with an odd sort of content. There was however an exciting battle for the race in the earlier laps of stage three when Busch was able to take the lead form Chastain.

After a few corners back and forth it was Busch out front and then he pulled away never to be seen again. Even with two cautions in the last 40 laps there was not a challenge to be seen.

Kyle Busch went on to win his 54th NASCAR truck race.

The trucks will be back at it next Saturday night, March 29th, at 9PM ET for the Longhorn 350 at Texas Motor Speedway.

The Nascar Gander Outdoor Truck Series started with a familiar sight this weekend as Kyle Busch lead the field of 32 trucks to the green flag. The premier series regular went into this race with 52 truck wins already to his name, and he is obviously not done competing in the lower divisions of NASCAR. Whether this is “fair” or not is up for debate, but with or without Kyle Busch, Friday nights are for the Trucks!

The drivers came out of the gate running hard for the first seven laps before a spinning Sheldon Creed Chevrolet would bring out the first caution of the night. Several trucks collected damage as well including veteran driver Matt Crafton. The drivers would go back at it for the remaining laps of the 30 lap stage one, but now one had anything for Kyle Busch as he took the first green and white checkered flag.

Under the caution Busch would take four tires and find himself in eighth for the start of stage two. Stewart Friesen would lead the field to green with Ben Rhodes quickly challenging for the lead. The two would battle as the whole field behind them fought for every inch of track space.

Friesen would hold the lead for the majority of stage two, but eventually we saw the inevitable as Busch passed and drove away for the stage two win.

The start of stage three was the most exciting of the night as trucks went four wide throughout the field again battling for every inch of the track. Busch would eventually pull away from the pack unchallenged.

With 25 laps to go green flag pit stops began as drivers pulled off the track, most taking two tires and fuel. Busch would wait for the other leaders to make their stops before taking two tires and fuel from his crew. As the field cycled through the stops Brett Moffitt was within a second of Busch and gaining.

For several laps Moffitt was closing in and even found himself on the bumper of Bush’s Toyota before a small slip found him a few tenths back before navigating through lapped traffic put him too far back to battle Busch.

Busch would go on to win his 53rd NGOTS race.

The Trucks are back on track for the Alpha Energy Solutions 250 at Martinsville on March 23rd at 2:00PM ET.

Last year NASCAR announced an updated rules package for the MENCS cars with a wide range of early opinions throughout the garage. After an off-season of speculation and an exciting Daytona 500 the much anticipated day has arrived. While not the same package that will be run throughout the year Atlanta gave us a look into what could be the most unique NASCAR season yet.

The race had an exciting start as pole winner Aric Almirola battled fellow Ford driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr. in the early laps before the field began to sort itself out. Almirola would hold the lead until the race off of a crowded pit road during the lap 35 competition caution.

The restart would again be exciting as the cars would run five to ten laps before spreading out and drivers would begin to battle for individual positions. The restarts may have been the most obvious difference for spectators. The cars also looked slower on track, but it was not as obvious, nor did it affect the competition on track.

Kyle Larson who had beat Almirola off of pit road would lead the next 50 laps to take the green and white checkered for stage one. Larson would then loose his lead on pit road as Kevin Harvick would put his Stewart-Haas machine out front to start stage two. However a bump in the middle of turns three and four would allow for Larson to pass and hold the lead through most of stage two including green flag stops before Harvick found his way back to the lead for the stage two win.

Larson would find his way back to the lead early in stage three. During green flag pit stops on lap 223 Kyle Busch, in his 500th career start, cut a right rear tire bringing out a caution. On the restart Ryan Blaney would jump to the lead with an impressive pass on Harvick.

With 52 laps to go during another round of green flag stops the caution would fly again. This time for a collision on pit road between rookie driver Ryan preece, who was currently in the top 10, and BJ McLeod. This time the field was scrambled with only a few cars on the lead lap and the majority of the field having to take a wave around. On the restart it would be Joey Logano and Kurt Busch, in his 650th career start, out front.

Brad Keselowski who received the lucky dog on the previous caution would battle with Penske teammate Logano before taking the lead on lap 32. In the closing laps of the race several drivers including Logano, and their third Penske teammate Blaney would have right front tire issues.

As the final laps of the race wound down Keselowski began to conserve his tires as a hard charging Martin Truex Jr. closed a two second gap all the way to the number two cars back bumper, but didn’t have anything for him on the last lap.

Keselowski who had been battling an illness with flu like symptoms since Friday had a back up driver ready to go, but pushed through to not only complete the race, but win and punch his ticket to the 2019 playoffs.

The Monster Energey Nascar Cup Series next race is scheduled for March 3rd, at 3:30 ET in Las Vegas for the Penzoil 400.

The first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup series race of 2019 was a strange affair for an unofficial start to the season. Paul Menard led over 50 laps of a race that ended 20 laps short of the scheduled 75. There were multiple rain delays, and a lot of single file cars. Even when it seemed as though this would be the cleanest clash in histroy almost every car ended up wrecked.

Menard Started on the pole, thanks to his crew chief drawing the number one spot the night before. While he wouldn't maintain the lead on lap one, courtesy of Kyle Busch, Menard would find himself back into the lead where he would remain for the vast majority of the race.

Within a few laps the cars were already single file as drivers were not eager to challenge one another. It also appeared difficult for drivers to make moves without side drafting or taking advantage of the air passing over the cars. With everyone lined up on the outside it was not advantageous for anyone to be moivng in and out of line.

The first caution flag flew on lap eight when a light rain began to fall. After a short red flag the cars were back on track. As with the first start of the day the cars quickly assembled into a single file line and ran accordingly around the outside of the track. This continued until lap 25 when all but a few cars darted to pit road before a scheduled competition caution.

Following the competition caution the drivers again filed into line on the outside with Menard out front as the Ford drivers proceeded to dominate the day of damp and less than exciting competition for another dozen laps before rain began to fall again.

NASCAR was successful in their attempt to dry the track for racing as the rain subsided once more. The cars returned to the track runing another dozen laps before rain again threatened the racing action. With 20 laps to go Jimmie Johnson made a move to the inside of Menard on the back stretch. As he narrowly side drafted Menard the two collided sending Menard sliding sideways in front of the entire field.

Only three drivers made it thourhg unscaved as the caution car brought only six running cars around the track and back down pit road as the rain came back harder than before.This would be it for the event as the track would be lost to the downpour. A controversial finish that would be debated for several reasons as some would contest that Johnson's number 48 Chevrolet went below the yellow line to complete the pass for the lead.

NASCAR would declare Johnson the winnner as the track was lost. They would also go on to state that Johnson's pass was legal because he was forced below the yellow line by the out of control Wood Brothers Ford. While not the start ot the season most people wanted it seemed most dissapointing for Menard. Kurt Busch would finish second with Logano third, Blaney fourth, and Bowman fifth.

 

The cars will return to the track to compete this Thursday, February 14th, in the Can-Am duels at 7 and 9PM ET to set the full line-up for the Daytona 500.

Homestead Miami has played host to the NASCAR season finale for sixteen years now, and the high speed drama has not slowed. The four championship contenders found themselves putting on a show for the entire 400 miles of the race as they would all race in the top five throughout the  night.

Denny Hamlin qualified on the pole leading the first forty laps of the race trying to defend his annual winning streak before being passed by Kevin Harvick who would go on to win stage one. Although stage points did not count towards the championship tonight, it was truly winner takes all. Harvick’s fellow contenders would also finish stage one in the top five.

Early in the second stage Joey Logano, who had the best short run speed all night, would surge to the lead before Kyle Larson passed him with what was easily the most dominating car not racing for the championship. Harvick would find himself back to the lead for the final lap of stage two, but Larson wasn’t done as he passed Harvick for the stage two victory coming off of turn four. Again the four championship contenders would finish in the top five.

The contenders would continue to trade positions early in the third stage as all night we would continue to be delighted with the close competition between these high caliber teams.

When the lights went down the race heated up. With 75 laps to go Larson got into the wall after characteristically running the high line this evening. Now with the caution resetting the race and a race winning threat out a championship showdown was brewing.

The championship contenders would find themselves in the top four positions again after kyle Busch had to battle back from a poor pit stop, although an underperforming car would cause the team to continue to struggle.

With fifty laps to go Martin Truex Jr. would take the lead before a Havick pit stop would bring him and Logano in for their final green flag stops a lap later. Logano would beat Truex off of pit road, but Harvick would cycle past them. Steve Addington, crew chief for the 18, threw a hail mary leaving Kyle Busch out on track to gain position in the event of a caution. Matt kenseth and Jimmie Johnson would also stay out to catch a caution.

    Fortunately for the top three drivers Brad Keselowski and Daniel Suarez would get together to bring out a final caution with 20 laps remaining. After one last round of pit stops the final showdown would be set with the final four up front; Busch, Truex, Logano, Harvick in that order.

    Busch was unable to hold the lead as Truex Jr. charged to the front. Again it would be Logano shining on the short run as he powered pass Truex Jr. for final lead change of the night giving him his first MENCS championship.

    In a year dominated by the “big 3” it was a fourth driver stepping up to claim the ultimate prize for 2018. An accomplishment that could be surprising if you note that the other drivers were better, and consistently dominated the season especially on 1.5 mile tracks. However fans that have followed NASCAR throughout the season know that Joey Logano is more than a deserving champion who has been a top driver all year.

The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series found themselves in the heart of Texas for their second race in the round of 6. Johnny Sauter secured his spot in the championship race with a win last week leaving three spots between seven drivers. With the pressure on, drivers pushed their trucks to the limits. We saw record speeds as Sauter set a new track record qualifying on the pole for the 221 mile race. Playoff contender Noah Gragson found the tracks limitations when he made significant contact with the wall during his qualifying run.

The race saw frequent cautions as tires and handling plagued competitors in the early runs of the race. Restarts were dicey with drivers vying for every spot, including the lead. The end of the first stage was coming to a close with Sheldon Creed, this years ARCA champion, leading. Knowing every point counts Justin Haley made the pass for the lead before the stage ending caution would fly just laps short of the scheduled 35 laps.

The second stage opened with a wild restart that would result in the biggest wreck of the night. Gragson and Sauter would find themselves involved, but only with minimal damage.

Inexperience at this fast track proved difficult for some but not all as we saw young drivers contending for the lead. Harrison Burton, making his first 1.5 mile truck start, found himself up to second. This next wave of great drivers was on display with the likes of Todd Gilliland and Austin Hill getting involved. Stage two would also end with a caution and it would be Myatt Snider taking the green and white checkered flag.

The final stage was more racing and less wrecking as drivers were able to put together their first long runs of the night. Todd Gilliland and Stewart Friesen found themselves to be the class of the field as they both had a few seconds over third place. It would be Friesen taking the lead before green flag stops began to cycle. Unfortunately for Friesen he was too fast on pit entry, leaving Gilliland in sole possession of a four second lead.

Surprisingly the race would continue green and while Haley found himself closing in it was too little too late as Gilliland put together clean lap after lap to try and secure his first career NCWTS victory. The gap between trucks shrunk, and it was getting closer, but nothing seemed wrong. Then it was obvious coming off of turn two, Gilliland was off pace and out of fuel.

In a serious case of Deja Vu it would be Justin Haley coming through for the victory to punch his ticket to the championship race. This was the same scene we saw play out at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park in August.

The disappointment at CTMP was real, but the look in Gilliland’s eyes on Friday night was heartbreaking. It’s not easy having you first victory taken away twice.

               Have you ever gone back and watched an old NASCAR race, maybe because it’s one of your favorites, or you long for the history of our sport. I sometimes find myself searching on YouTube for a good short track shoot out from the 90’s to pass the time. Often I don’t recall who won, or where anyone finished, and even though it’s not live I still find it exciting. Nothing says nostalgia like the names and cars of old putting it all on the line for a win.

                What draws me to a previous era are the names, Labonte, Gordon, Wallace, and Rudd all with their recognizable sponsors and classic paint schemes. It’s great that fans can look so fondly at the past, but this personification of the “good old days” may contribute to the sports struggle today. I know NASCAR needs to look to the future, but how has the sport not expanded its connection of past and present further than the annual throwback weekend.

                I am proposing the NASCAR Hall of Fame race, an annual exhibition race held to showcase the legends of the sport. It seems obvious that this would be a mass success, and while not imperative to the future, it has to be worth it. If the time and money spent on other exhibition races is deemed practical than this seems more than reasonable. I would venture forth to bet that the HOF race would be one of the highest rated events of the season, and will leave everyone saying “Why did we not do this before?”

An annual invite should be sent to all members of the Hall of Fame. Currently there are only 7 HOF drivers under the age of 70, Rusty Wallace, Dale Jarret, Bill Elliot, Terry Labonte, Mark Martin, Ron Hornaday Jr., and Jeff Gordon. However there is no maximum age for NASCAR competition, as we saw Hershel McGriff race in a K&N Pro race earlier this year at the age of 90. Obviously it would be awesome to see Richard petty and Darrel Waltrip compete I don’t think anyone would fault them for not strapping into a car.

                This leaves us with a possible lack of participation, but even in the next couple of years we should expect to see the induction of at least a half dozen drivers that can still get it done including Ricky Rudd, Bobby Labonte, Tony Stewart, Carl Edwards, Gregg Biffle, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. Still with such a small pool of drivers to choose from we could expand the starting grid further by allowing participants or invitees to include another retired driver of their choice. Drivers such as Sterling Marlin, Jeff Burton, Ward Burton, Michael Waltrip, Kenny Wallace, and Kyle Petty come to mind. Regardless of how it’s done, NASCAR has a deep pool of retired talent that would be willing to race again.

                Owner participation, along with sponsor and manufacturer involvement would be the key to success, but why would they not want to participate. The major cup teams could easily field at least 20 cars, especially for a previous employee or current owner. While putting a car on track for one race isn’t cheap it may be the affordable sponsorship deal some companies want to take advantage of. The right conversations could lead to the return of sponsors like Kelloggs, or Coors while those already participating in the sport may want to rekindle old connections. It could be very possible to see current sponsors like Caterpillar, Arris, Axalta, and Nationwide participating with the obvious driver/ team combinations.

               Selecting the car may be a more difficult task, but nowhere near impossible. Even if they just went out and used the same cars as cup or Xfinity the race would be worth it. Maybe it could give insight to how much fans actually care about the cars effect on racing as compared to the nostalgia of old school NASCAR. It would be intriguing to see them run a generation 3 or 4 car, someone has to have some of the 2014 K&N cars still sitting around. Regardless of the car we want parity for an equal playing field so the greatest drivers in history can show off their talents; laying it all on the line for victory and glory. Although isn’t that what we want now?

                The race would best be run on a short track, I’m not sure anyone could convince me otherwise. Almost all of the driver’s backgrounds are from short tracks, and the larger the track the less participation you may be likely to get. I could see NASCAR running the race at Charlotte, because of the Hall of Fame and it’s the sports “home track”, but please spare us the pain. My first nomination is Richmond Raceway, but I understand that Bristol and Martinsville should be in the conversations, and let us not forget that Rockingham may be prepared to host a race in a couple of years.

                For the sake of the fans I think we need to get as much action out of the week or weekend as possible. While I would like to see the race run the week before Darlington, I understand that those within the sport have lives. It would pair well with the throwback weekend, but NASCAR would have to decide if it were better with a current race, or as a standalone event. Maybe it can get a spot during one of the Xfinity series off weeks.

                There are numerous options for the format which we could spend eternity discussing, but all that matters is we have an exciting event to determine a winner. Sticking with the idea of an action packed weekend, it would make sense to me to have a day of practice, and qualifying (Thursday). Current NASCAR rules for the race would make the most sense, let’s see what these old guys can do on a double file restart or green white checkered. I would propose two qualifying/ heat races with half the field the day before the race (Friday) anywhere from 25 to 50 laps. Then the big event, 200 - 300 laps with stages anywhere between 50-100 laps. Not too many gimmicks, just a great race or races.

                Seriously the details don’t matter, we just want to see the legends of NASCAR on track!

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