With a determined spirit, Vincie climbed to the top and reached ultimate goal

Kaitlyn Vincie's story began in a basement, yet her ultimate goal recently became a reality. (Credit: KaitlynVincie.com)

Kaitlyn Vincie’s story began in a basement, yet her ultimate goal recently became a reality. (Credit: KaitlynVincie.com)

Kaitlyn Vincie doesn’t quit.

The pursuit of her dreams began in a basement, where she filmed herself reporting the NASCAR headlines. She worked for famous Langley Speedway and became the face of their TV updates. Once she was recruited by SPEED, she absorbed lessons about social media and being a road warrior. Race Hub gave her more experience with reporting. She jumped into lighthearted Trackside and focused on drivers’ Twitter and Instagram updates. Now the Virginian blonde is delving into the new challenge of garage reporting on Fox Sports 1.

Life doesn’t slow down, and the fact isn’t lost on her.

“There were a lot of changes out of the gate,” Vincie said in a phone interview. “With the switch [from SPEED to Fox Sports 1], they were trying to find out where to place people. I’m now doing garage reporting throughout the season, and it’s helping me work towards my ultimate goal of pit reporting during races. The thing about pit reporting is that you’re there at the racetrack, and that’s what’s best for me.”

As fans see more and more of her work, it opens up the door for more interaction on social media. The mentions that flow in are a mix of positive and negative.

She is acutely aware of both. “Well, the pro is that it gets my name out there more. There are more fans and viewers reaching out on social media, and they do say some bad things, like, ‘Wow, your hair looked bad on Race Hub today.’ I think it comes with the territory. I try to show no negativity [on Twitter], and there were times I considered deleting. That’s not really an option; Twitter opens the opportunity for promotion.”

Another pro? It linked her to @Nascarcasm, a Twitter humorist who specializes in racing comedy. The two were introduced at Texas Motor Speedway. He, along with three other funny account holders, was contacted by the track to attend the race as a special guest. SPEED put the four behind a curtain, and the Trackside crew interviewed them for a segment.

“He has the NASCAR humor down pat. He’s so funny, a hard worker, definitely found his niche. I’ve met him and his wife, and they are amazing people.”

Then, while in New York, Vincie went to a live taping of David Letterman’s show and got an idea: to add the sarcasm to NASCAR reporting. She contacted Nascarcasm and asked him to do the writing, and the pilot was filmed at her house.

“I wasn’t sure of the response it would get from Fox, but then they liked it and put it on the website. [Nascarcasm] deserves eighty percent of the credit. It’s a tough balance with the serious and funny. You just have to hit it right, and that‘s what he does.”

The endeavor, coined The Mock Run, started earlier this year and was met with praise. Due to Vincie’s dive into garage reporting, the Internet show is finding a new host to carry the witty humor along. Focusing on her day job of feature reporting isn’t a picnic, either.

“There are a lot of moving pieces on Race Hub. It’s a grind. It’s hard to put together a daily show. People really rely on it for their NASCAR news. We have a very diverse group, a very great group.”

When asked about her favorite interview, she noted a July feature with Chris Clayton. The former Army sergeant served six tours in Afghanistan before following his dream of becoming a NASCAR pit crew member. Now, he works for Hendrick Motorsports on the No. 88 car.

“It’s a fantastic story,” she said. “It made for this really inspiring piece that caused you to really reevaluate your life. It’s quite the American dream.”

If anyone knows dreams, it’s her. If anyone knows how difficult it is to get into the business, it’s her. Her success is well-earned, and she learned some advice along the way. “Do not give up on your ultimate goal. The right door will open at the right time. I knew I wanted to be in broadcasting. I knocked on a lot of doors. There will be a point where the right person will believe in you. You have to articulate what you want to the person who can make it happen.”

Kaitlyn Vincie doesn’t quit, and it worked out for the best.

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Mudsummer Classic builds up excitement, Wallace, and dirt track racing

Races on dirt are the most raw form of the craft, full of unbridled passion and a need for speed. It takes a certain type of racer to excel on the surface, to control the restless beast they’re riding. It takes focus, determination, and fearlessness.

It takes a lack of limitations, and when the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series heads to Eldora Speedway, all caution is thrown to the wind.

The Mudsummer Classic rocked the tiny town of Rossburg, Ohio Wednesday night, producing a firework show on and off the track. The race was broken into three segments: 60 laps, 50 laps, and a final 40-lap stretch. That was the best decision because if gave drivers and fans alike to catch their breaths.

Action like that seen at Eldora is best seen, not read. It was full of so much awesome that the human heart almost couldn’t take it. Thankfully, it pulled through.

Darrell Wallace Jr. won the prestigious event, adding to Kyle Busch Motorsports’ dominance this season. The young driver fought hard the entire race, but it was Kyle Larson who applied the most pressure. Larson came in with one goal: winning. In the final stretch, he performed a slide job and slammed the wall. He repeated this until five laps to go, when his truck finally gave up.

After that, Wallace had it in the bag. His eyes were exhausted, yet his smile was vibrant. It was like he had conquered the world.

He did.

It takes many things to be successful on dirt, and that’s because the sport takes and takes and takes. One has to give himself completely to reap the benefits. That is needed in all forms of racing, yet it is highlighted when the air is filled with dust, when the whole venue is shaking with excitement.

That’s racing.

Point Standings after the 1-800-CarCash Mudsummer Classic

1. Ryan Blaney (–)
2. Matt Crafton (-4)
3. Johnny Sauter (-10)
4. Ron Hornaday, Jr. (-19)
5. German Quiroga, Jr. (-26)
6. Darrell Wallace, Jr. (-28)
7. Ben Kennedy (-37)
8. Timothy Peters (-42)
9. Joey Coulter (-57)
10. John Wes Townley (-65)
11. Jeb Burton (-73)
12. Bryan Silas (-128)

Elliott, Nationwide Series carry the fire at Chicagoland

With a beauty only true race fans can understand, the NASCAR Nationwide Series group impressed on Saturday night. The event at Chicagoland Speedway was loud and proud, standing alone and carrying the fire. It was time to shine without Sprint Cup Series regulars filling the field; only two entered the race, and they were no match for the strategic, aggressive game these youngsters played.

Drama occurred early on when Sam Hornish Jr. blew an engine on lap 7, sending the No. 54 Monster Energy Toyota Camry to the garage. The machine is usually run by Kyle Busch, who tends to win when behind that wheel. It was more than disappointing for the driver, who won’t get back in the seat for a few more weeks. This was considered notable because of the weirdness of it; the car falls apart when Hornish is racing, but it ends up in victory lane once Busch takes the reigns. This seems odd, but it’s probably Hornish’s bad luck.

The race as a whole was thrilling. There was action, cautions, and true racing. Young guns running side-by-side for glory and money. Even the two Cup regulars blended in; Kyle Larson and Kasey Kahne tangled and fought with others, no special privileges.

Chase Elliott won the event, capturing his third win, the seventh for JR Motorsports this season. It shoved him into the points lead, but the margin isn’t something to flaunt; Regan Smith is seven points back, and Elliott Sadler is behind by eight.

If there’s anything to learn from the race at Chicagoland Speedway, it’s that, much like winner Chase Elliott, the NASCAR Nationwide Series is carrying the fire for the sake of the sport. It’s a crucial part of the advancement process, and it must be cherished for all its worth. Stand-alone races like this one make its beauty easy to see.

Point Standings after the EnjoyIllinois.com 300

1. Chase Elliott (–)
2. Regan Smith (-7)
3. Elliott Sadler (-8)
4. Ty Dillon (-30)
5. Brian Scott (-47)
6. Trevor Bayne (-50)
7. Brendan Gaughan (-120)
8. Chris Buescher (-123)
9. James Buescher (-154)
10. Ryan Reed (-161)
11. Landon Cassill (-181)
12. Dylan Kwasniewski (-201)

Kentucky performance shows Keselowski’s championship mindset

The Penske power was strong at Kentucky Speedway, but only one could win.

Polesitter Brad Keselowski presented a dominant performance, knocking the rest of the field on their butts. There were only two cars that could rival his speed, Joey Logano and Kyle Busch. Busch’s car was fast late, but he radioed in that he had nothing once the No. 2 passed him for the final time. He took his runner-up finish with a grain of salt.

Logano was probably the biggest threat to Keselowski, the two swapping the lead multiple times throughout the event. However, it was late in the race when his engine went sour. He salvaged a ninth-place finish, nowhere near as sweet as that possible win. Team Penske now has four wins this season, each driver holding two.

Not only is the organization ready for The Chase, but so is Keselowski. In victory lane, he assured, “I really want another championship,” and no one is doubting him. Once this 2012 Sprint Cup titleholder sets his eyes on something, he doesn’t stop until it’s in his possession. If there’s anything to take away from Saturday night’s race, it’s that Keselowski is ready for another championship, and the other competitors better be on the lookout.

Aside from that, the race was a typically run on a 1.5-mile track. The racing was alright. The attendance was horrible. A few tire issues occurred, claiming Denny Hamlin and Kyle Larson early on. The finishing order had a few surprises, such as Ryan Newman in third, Tony Stewart in eleventh, Paul Menard in fifteenth, and Michael Annett in eighteenth.

It was a solid night for Keselowski, and Team Penske was shaping up for a fantastic finish before engine problems plagued the No. 22. However, the No. 2 is stout, and that number may be No. 1 once The Chase comes to a close.

Point Standings after the Quaker State 400 (asterisk denotes number of wins)

1. Jeff Gordon (–)*
2. Jimmie Johnson (-24)***
2. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (-24)**
4. Brad Keselowski (-58)**
5. Matt Kenseth (-63)
6. Carl Edwards (-82)**
7. Joey Logano (-99)**
8. Ryan Newman (-104)
9. Kevin Harvick (-109)**
10. Kyle Busch (-110)*
11. Paul Menard (-130)
12. Kyle Larson (-144)
12. Greg Biffle (-144)
14. Clint Bowyer (-145)
15. Kasey Kahne (-153)
16. Tony Stewart (-158)

Keselowski’s fumble turns into Harvick’s recovery in Kentucky

On the bumpiest track, Kevin Harvick glided to victory lane in The Bluegrass State.

The rough and tumble aura of the NASCAR Nationwide Series race was no match for the No. 5 JR Motorsports machine, which captured the lead after a late-race restart. He fought with fellow Sprint Cup driver Kyle Busch for ages before he finally slipped past. After the restart with five to go, it was all Harvick.

It was all Brad Keselowski previously; the polesitter was dominating before he sped on pit road. Then, it was a game of Catch Up, finishing second. Busch came in third, and recent NNS winner Paul Menard claimed fourth. Busch was going for The Sweep after winning the previous night’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race, but those hopes were dashed.

The real results started with fifth, when Ryan Blaney finished. Brendan Gaughan, Ty Dillon, Brian Scott, Cupster Kyle Larson, and Elliott Sadler rounded out the top ten. A lot of Nationwide regulars had good nights.

Others? Not so much. Ryan Sieg was called to the NASCAR hauler after dumping Jeremy Clements after the caution came out. Whoops. Then, Regan Smith tried to move in front of Ryan Reed and clipped his front bumper. Reed caught the flack for that one. More sauciness came late with Chase Elliott and Trevor Bayne. They bumped a few times, and Bayne hit the wall. The No. 6’s radio frequency was nowhere near pleasant, but no retaliation came. They talked it out after the race.

Harvick’s win at Kentucky Speedway makes the fifth victory of 2014 for JRM. The team is on a roll, as are the Cup regulars, who cannot be stopped this season in NNS.

Because of the Reed incident, Smith lost the points lead to Sadler, who hold a four-point crack over Elliott.

Point Standings after the John R. Elliott Hero Campaign 300

1. Elliott Sadler (–)
2. Chase Elliott (-4)
3. Regan Smith (-8)
4. Ty Dillon (-29)
5. Brian Scott (-47)
6. Trevor Bayne (-59)
7. Brendan Gaughan (-93)
8. James Buescher (-123)
9. Chris Buescher (-127)
10. Landon Cassill (-142)

Pockrass shines light on NASCAR’s condition, future, and fans

Sporting News writer Bob Pockrass is a known figure in the NASCAR world. Typically the first person in the media center, he is dedicated to informing fans about notable storylines about the sport they admire. There is nothing more important to him.

“I have a commitment to readers,” he said. “My passion is readers.”

Growing up in Indianapolis, Indiana, it was IndyCar that caught his eye. The idea of becoming a sports reporter came to him during high school; he loved what sports did to its fans, and he wanted to help add depth. He attended Indiana University, where he majored in Journalism and minored in Business. The Daytona Beach News-Journal picked him up in 1991 after he graduated, and he spent 12 years at the paper. That’s when NASCAR and the Daytona 500 came into the picture.

“All sports have passionate fans. Most people are fans of teams, but [NASCAR fans] root for drivers no matter what. They have such a personal relationship with their driver,” he said when asked what separates NASCAR fans from those who follow other sports. “The good thing about sports is that we can predict, but we don’t know until the green flag falls.”

That made NASCAR his main focus. In 2003, Pockrass went to NASCAR Scene, which turned into Scene Daily. He then transitioned into Sporting News, where he currently resides. He is now a significant member of the traveling media, recently receiving the 2013 George Cunningham Writer of The Year Award from the National Motorsports Press Association. However, the highlight of his career is much more simple.

“When you are listening to the radio, and you hear them talk about something you wrote, that’s always a good thing. People read, and you leave an impact. That’s the highlight.”

The conversation turned to the state of NASCAR and its future, and he had a lot to say on the matter. “It’s a challenge. I think they’re working on it. There are three major players: teams, tracks, and NASCAR. The business model isn’t good for teams. When something happens, one benefits while the other two may not. To me, it’s going to be a challenge [going into the future]. Fans are watching more on TV. With this new TV contract, later on, maybe it will help drivers break into the sport.”

“When the level of competition on-track goes up, so does the number of eyeballs on the sport. TV ratings are stagnant, and I like the fact NASCAR is looking at [the competitiveness]. They need to find selling values for sponsors that also help young drivers,” he explained when talking about what he would personally change.

“They have the right people in the right positions, they just have to find a selling point. [Also] there needs to be point systems in [the Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series], even out the field, best of both worlds. Limit Cup drivers to one-third of races in other series. If the team runs with a sponsor or shares the ride with other developmental drivers, limit them to only half. You have to give [the up-and-coming drivers] opportunities, give them opportunities to win. Then, it comes down to seeing a guy in victory lane and sponsoring that guy.”

NASCAR has already made tons of changes, including the off-season tweaks to The Chase. The new format makes predicting championship contenders quite difficult.

“You’re not going to know, and that makes it so hard to predict. Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Gordon…Joey Logano; you don’t think of him as a championship contender, but what he’s done with Team Penske is impressive. Brad Keselowski, too, they’re good teammates. When you could [Keselowski] out, he goes out and succeeds.”

When Pockrass is at the track, he doesn’t stay in the media center all day. He helps host Tweet Ups with friend and fellow NASCAR writer Jeff Gluck. Originally Gluck’s idea, the two use it to meet with fans and hear their thoughts on current issues within the sport. In return, they try to bring guests such as spotters and drivers.

“We need to know what the fans are thinking. If we help the enjoyment of the fan, it’s like we’re giving back to the sport. We get criticized as media for writing stories about attendance and TV ratings, and some say we’re the reason sponsors leave. At the Tweet-Ups, we get to talk racing with fans and get their opinions. I don’t do it just because of the business aspect.”

Nope. He does it because he’s passionate for readers. That’s a key element if you want to get into the sport, which isn’t as easy as it sounds.

“It’s tough because the media is changing so much. I believe the best way to get into the business is by working in an area with a local short track. Establish yourself. That’s the best way. If you want to be in major media, you have to get a degree. You need to have a passion for readers.”

Those readers feel the same way about Pockrass and his dedication to NASCAR, and it definitely doesn’t go unnoticed.

Edwards becomes The King of Wine Country amid screwy day

Road course racing is something else. A definite rarity, the sight of stock cars running side-by-side while going left and right always excites fans. It’s new, it’s something different, it’s special.

Sunday’s excursion to Sonoma Raceway met all expectations; not only was it thrilling, but it included spinning, flared tempers, and fuel strategy. It had something for every type of fan, a quality that’s hard to come by nowadays.

Carl Edwards became The King of Wine Country after starting fourth. A factor all afternoon, the driver of the No. 99 had to outrun Jamie McMurray and Jeff Gordon late in the race. He flaunted his quiet-yet-prominent road course expertise and topped it off with his signature back flip.

It’s been a interesting year for Edwards, managing to win twice while fighting off speculation for 2015. The only development on that front is that, due to language in his Roush Fenway Racing contract, he can’t officially say anything until September, though many people already know where he’ll be residing. It’s set to be a replay of the Matt Kenseth decision.

Back to the racing: it was a breath of fresh air. Teammates fought, drivers spun, and crews were yelled at. Spin after spin, you never knew who was next. Dale Earnhardt Jr., who finished third, caused a few incidents, sending Kenseth into the wall on one occasion. He’s never been the road course racer, so his finish and aggressiveness were equally shocking. The swerving turns brings out the anger in everyone.

With such a great day behind NASCAR, it’s obvious more road courses should be on the schedule. The fact that they refuse to incorporate more hurts the sport; they fail to see the changes that need to be done, and their inability to adapt will eventually make NASCAR obsolete.

As screwy as Sonoma was, it would be nice to see it again. I bet Edwards wouldn’t mind, either.

Point Standings after the Toyota Save Mart 350 (asterisks note how many wins driver has)

1. Jeff Gordon (–)*
2. Jimmie Johnson (-20)***
3. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (-25)**
4. Matt Kenseth (-65)
5. Brad Keselowski (-68)*
6. Carl Edwards (-71)**
7. Joey Logano (-97)**
8. Ryan Newman (-107)
9. Kevin Harvick (-108)**
10. Kyle Larson (-110)
11. Kyle Busch (-115)*
12. Paul Menard (-121)
13. Denny Hamlin (-127)*
14. Clint Bowyer (-128)
15. Greg Biffle (-136)
16. Kasey Kahne (-151)