Survivor Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers Power Rankings: Week 12

Each week during this season of Survivor, I’ll be ranking the castaways in terms of best chance to win the game. Last week, Lauren was voted off after being ranked No. 2 of the seven remaining players.

Week 12 Power Rankings: 

1. Ben (Last week: 3): Everyone wants Ben out of the game, and yet none of them seem to be able to do it. Now, with Lauren gone, does Ben actually have an opening to make something happen? There are two strong pairs — Chrissy/Ryan and Ashley/Devon. So it feels like Ben and Dr. Mike are suddenly in the middle. If Ben and Dr. Mike can team up, they potentially could have a say in how the final three ends up — which would allow Ben to pull off an improbable victory after everyone gunned for him in the final weeks.

2. Devon (Last week: 1): Losing Lauren was a major blow to Devon’s chances of winning this season. Now he’s down to a tight alliance with Ashley, is on the outs with former ally Ryan and saw his once-great bond with Ben dissolve. So now what? He needs to rally and do some damage control. Devon can win if he gets to the final three, but he can’t let Ben get there with him.

3. Ryan (Last week: 5): It’s certainly not looking great for Ryan, but he’s hanging around and still has an outside shot if things fall the right way. I can almost see his game being somewhat similar to Adam, who won a few seasons ago in part because the bigger threats kept taking shots at each other.

4. Chrissy (Last week: 6): I’m still down on Chrissy, although her chances certainly improved with the shocking Lauren elimination. But she’s taking things too personally and not playing with her head on straight, so it might be too late to craft enough of a resume to where the jury would recognize her game as winner-worthy. Would she be willing to work with Ben for one vote?

5. Mike (Last week: 7): You can never count out Dr. Mike, as he reminded us once again in the most recent episode. But here’s the thing: Has he really done enough to win? Aside from being unpredictable, like throwing Lauren’s idol in the fire (#wow), what is he really doing strategy-wise that would result in the $1 million? I think he could get to the final three, but there’s little chance he could actually win.

6. Ashley (Last week: 4): Lauren’s departure might hurt Ashley more than anyone. Now she has no choice but to play second fiddle to whatever Devon decides, and there aren’t any big moves she can orchestrate by herself. Even if she wins out on the rest of the immunity challenges, the jury isn’t going to reward her with the Sole Survivor title.



Week 1: Katrina (ranked No. 6 of 18 remaining players)

Week 2: Simone (ranked No. 17 of 17 remaining players)

Week 3: Patrick (ranked No. 16 of 16 remaining players)

Week 4: Alan (ranked No. 13 of 15 remaining players)

Week 5: Roark (ranked No. 10 of 14 remaining players)

Week 6: Ali (ranked No. 5 of 13 remaining players)

Week 7: Jessica (ranked No. 9 of 12 remaining players)

Week 8: Desi (ranked No. 8 of 11 remaining players)

Week 9: Cole (ranked No. 10 of 10 remaining players)

Week 10: JP (ranked No. 9 of nine remaining players) and then Joe (ranked No. 7 of nine remaining players going into the double episode)

Week 11: Lauren (ranked No. 2 of seven remaining players)

EDM Watch: ‘Danger,’ Marshmello’s collab with Migos, is a bop

It’s been fun to watch Marshmello’s rise as a producer result in more credibility within the hip hop community, opening the door to work with higher-profile artists. There’s yet to be a perfect combination between Marshmello’s joyful trap sound and a rapper (or rappers), but it’s clearly a work in progress.

“Danger” — Mello’s collab with Migos — is another step in the right direction. This song is apparently on the soundtrack of an upcoming Netflix movie called Bright, which is how you’d normally describe a Marshmello song.

Not here, though. Marshmello seems intent to provide a fertile playground for the Migos trio to do their thing, making it sound much more like a Migos song than a Marshmello song.

But that’s fine. “Danger” is good enough to please rap fans while also checking the Trap box for those who like that style of dance music.

Check out the music video below and see if you think Quavo and Co. get the job done.

Fan Profile: Submarine Mike Mitchell and Cheryl Mitchell

This is part of a series of 12 Questions-style NASCAR fan profiles open to people who select that tier on my Patreon page.

Name: Cheryl and “Submarine” Mike Mitchell

Location: Jacksonville, Fla.

Twitter names: @tealjaguar and @submarinemike88

Age: Cheryl – don’t ask a lady her age! Mike: 46.

1. How long have you been NASCAR fans?

Both: Since 1979.

2. How many races have you attended?

Cheryl: More than 40.

Mike: More than 35.

3. Who is your No. 1 favorite driver?

Cheryl: Kevin Harvick.

Mike: Dale Earnhardt Jr.

4. What made you a fan of those drivers?

Cheryl: I was also an Elliott Sadler fan, and Harvick was his car owner at one time. I liked his not wanting to take crap from anyone.

Mike: A combination of being Dale Sr.’s son and the type of person he was.

5. Who is your most disliked driver?

Cheryl: Kyle Busch.

Mike: Kyle Busch and Joey Logano.

6. Why don’t you like those drivers?

Cheryl: His attitude when on track. He doesn’t care who he moves or wrecks along the way.

Mike: Same for Kyle. As for Joey, he comes off as arrogant on track. I don’t see how he can drive with squinty eyes.

7. What is your favorite track?

Both: Daytona, baby!

8. What is one thing you would change if you were in charge of NASCAR?

Cheryl: Quit changing the rules during the season. Stick with your decisions.

Mike: PUBLISH THE RULEBOOK ON NASCAR.COM! All other major sports have rule book online and/or in print!

9. What is one thing you would keep the same if you were in charge of NASCAR?

Cheryl: Leave Daytona 500 qualifying alone. It makes it special.

Mike: Keep the new points system/race format.

10. How often do you yell at the TV during a race?

Cheryl: Not too often. It depends on what’s happening on track and which race it is.

Mike: I don’t yell so much as talk to the TV, especially during pit stops.

11. Do you have any advice for other fans?

Both: If you’re watching at home, NASCAR RaceView Mobile helps keep interest during some long green stretches, plus it has in-car communications.

If you’re going to the race, you must have a scanner or FanVision to hear communications. Bring comfy shoes, especially for Daytona.

Also, it’s OK to hope for autographs, but don’t go expecting one. We plan time to try for autographs on practice days when you have a better chance, especially at Daytona in the fan zone.

12. What else do you want the NASCAR world to know about you?

We’re animal lovers who have two cats — MeowMeow and Gizmo — and a newly adopted dog named Sidney. We’re big fans of other sports as well, especially football and hockey.

“Submarine” Mike Mitchell and wife Cheryl, pictured at Daytona. (Photo courtesy of the Mitchells)

Scott Speed enriched by family bonds, not profits, in Speed RC track business

Scott Speed, the former F1 and NASCAR driver turned three-time Global Rallycross champion, overflows with honesty. He was either born without the instinct to have filters or long ago decided to discard them.

So it’s no surprise that one question into an interview about Speed RC — the indoor racetrack and hobby shop he co-owns with NASCAR’s T.J. Bell — Speed grins from beneath the brim of a flat-billed hat and lets the truth pour out.

“This has probably been the biggest life lesson I’ve ever had because A) I realized I don’t like customers, and B) customers are terrible,” Speed said.

The customers in question come to the store to buy RC car parts, but they don’t understand that Speed is already selling the parts as cheaply as he can. So when some of them try to haggle over prices, it drives him nuts.

“This one guy came in and he wanted to break my balls over some part,” Speed said. “I pulled out my wallet and was like, ‘Here, do you wanna take my credit card? Do you want anything else? How else can I help you? Please, would you like a drink? Now that I think about it, can you take this? I’m gonna pay you $5 dollars to take this.'”

“I was having a bad day,” he said with a shrug.

Speed laughs at the story, because he knows something I don’t: The successful business I thought I was here to write about actually isn’t successful at all.

“It costs me money,” Speed said. “I’ve almost got it to where I can break even or maybe lose $10,000 or $20,000 a year. It will definitely never make money. The margins aren’t there.”

So wait a minute. Why is Speed keeping the doors open if Speed RC doesn’t make money and never will? As it turns out, there’s a compelling reason.


Before we go any further, let’s talk about RC racing. These aren’t the little cars you got for Christmas from Toys R Us and drove around your neighborhood cul de sac until the batteries died.

These are agile vehicles that zip around Speed’s dirt track like mechanical bees, whipping through corners and flying over jumps. They demand an insane amount of skill to master, which is why the likes of Tony Stewart, Jamie McMurray and Justin Allgaier have spent hours at Speed RC in their spare time.

“Most forms of racing come down to 90 percent car, 10 percent driver, right?” Speed said. “Well this is 90 percent driver and 10 percent car. It’s all you! You can’t hide! It’s a big excuse eliminator, and that’s why I love it.”

Lots of people love it aside from just Speed, and many of them will be at the track this weekend. Speed RC will play host to the 350-entry JConcepts Indoor National Series Finals, which brings the best RC racers in the world to compete.

Most of the time, though, the track isn’t hosting elite events. The typical week is closer to the feel of a bowling alley, where amateurs can drop by to play around or those with more experience can go head-to-head in a series of league nights.

Compared to other forms of competitive racing, it’s by far the most affordable. While high-level karting or Late Model racing can cost thousands, a competitive RC car is $500 (an entry level version can be had for as low as $180). And $1,000 will get you the exact car used by the national champion — setup and all.

“It’s down there on the budget list, which I love,” Speed said. “I love the idea that anybody can do it.”

It definitely takes some practice to get good, though. Speed insisted I give it a try, and — holy crap! — my car looked like Milka Duno driving with her eyes closed.

Racers stand atop a wooden platform overlooking the track with a remote in their hands, eyes focused on their cars going around the track. An automated voice calls out the lap times as each car passes the finish line to help drivers track their progress. Though the track layout changes every few months, the good drivers seemed to run about 15-second lap times in the session I was in; meanwhile, my laps were closer to two minutes.

I got in the way of other vehicles, crashed into barriers, flipped over jumps and got stuck against the wall — and that was just the first lap. On the next lap, I was overzealous on one jump and almost took out Bell — who was standing on the course as a marshal.

“I’m glad you can write,” Bell said afterward, laughing.

But while anyone can learn to be fast (one local woman who stands out is a high school math teacher), pro racers seem to pick it up more quickly than others. That’s especially the case for motorcross riders, who grew up going over jumps and handling corners on dirt; somehow, their brains adjust for the different angle.

It all comes down to learning,” Speed said. “I can go around the track a couple dozen times, and based on the lap times I’m hearing and how the car goes around the track, I can figure out what the fastest, most efficient way to go around the track is.

“That’s literally all racing is. You take the car back to the line as fast as you can and you try to analyze: Was that better or worse? It’s really not any different than that. Everybody can develop car control and drive a car super early on in life. Then it becomes learning what the car wants you to do to it to make it go faster.”

Along those lines, it probably won’t surprise you to learn the best NASCAR driver to come through the track recently and quickly get up to speed is none other than William Byron. A regular at Speed RC, Byron has figured out RC racing as fast as he’s figured out stock cars.

Speed had no idea who Byron was when the 20-year-old started showing up, but he was impressed right away.

“Nicest freaking kid,” Speed said. “He’s gone from being a little worse than me to now when me and him race, he will beat me three out of five times.”

Byron faithfully comes to race whenever possible and even won a league race the night before flying to Miami for the start of Homestead weekend, where he captured the Xfinity Series championship.

“To me, what better thing to do during the week than go race?” Byron said. “It takes a lot of mental focus to do that for that period of time and win races. … It kind of gets me prepared for the (NASCAR) weekend.”

On the night I was at Speed RC, no one seemed to pay any mind that a future NASCAR star was in their midst. Byron blended in, sitting at his work station like everyone else who prepped their cars; he even served as a course marshal after his runs (which is the standard track etiquette for each driver after they race).

“Nobody treats me any different, and that’s what you want,” he said.

But as good as Byron is, he’s perhaps not quite at the level of a 16-year-old named Rex Mathis — who happens to be Speed’s stepson.

The dirt at Speed RC was brought from Myrtle Beach to ensure consistency in lap times.


The real brains behind the Speed RC operation is a Speed, but it’s not Scott. It’s his wife Amanda, who grew up in a drag racing family and later worked in NASCAR team public relations — where she met Scott.

It’s Amanda who is constantly working on something for the business (“She’s 700 percent more productive than I am,” Scott said) and is essentially the contractor for a new building that will house Speed RC next year.

She juggles running the business between being a mom to Rex and the two young daughters — Juliet and Ava — she has with Scott.

Like any small business, operating Speed RC can be difficult, exhausting, thankless work. But when the place is packed and Amanda sees people happy, she feels like it’s worth it.

“I mean, yeah, I’d like this place to make money,” she said. “But how many kids are 15, 16, 17 years old back there? They’re not hanging out somewhere doing drugs.

“Or my little girls, they can come here and play with other kids. It’s a fun family atmosphere. You have all walks of life here. It’s cool to me to see everyone in one place, hanging out and getting along.

“We need that, especially in today’s world. You get to know people by name. Everybody here has become family and friends.”

Scott said the track has become “effectively a charity at this point,” not the profitable business he envisioned when drawing up the plans a few years ago. But he remembers how much of a role karting had in keeping him out of trouble as a kid, and he hopes RC cars can be the same sort of activity for local youths.

I never went out and partied because I had something to focus on,” he said. “So it’s really important for me to have some place where Rex can do that, as well as kids his age. I see it as a good club, like the YMCA.”

But there’s one more reason Speed RC is important to Scott, and it’s a big one. Maybe the biggest.

Rex has gotten good enough at RC racing to where he’s attracted sponsorship for his skills. And the fact Scott, 34, can stand alongside his 16-year-old stepson on the platform and compete? Well, that’s worth more than having the business make money.

“It’s hard when you have a stepson to make connection, because you miss the blood aspect,” Scott said. “So you’re trying to connect with the stepson that you don’t know how to connect to. It’s difficult.

“But the racing, it really gave us something to connect over. Therefore, Speed RC is still going.”

Speed RC

Address: 118 Cedar Pointe Dr.; Mooresville, NC.

Phone:  (844) 722-2771


Survivor Healers vs. Heroes vs. Hustlers Power Rankings: Week 11

Each week during this season of Survivor, I’ll be ranking the castaways in terms of best chance to win the game. Last week, JP (No. 9 of nine remaining players) and Joe (No. 7) were voted off in a double episode.

Week 11 Power Rankings: 

1. Devon (Last week: 2): He snuck up on me this year, but the surfer dude is one smart bro and now takes over the top spot for the first time. He orchestrated both of the moves in last week’s episode and claimed to be “sitting in the best possible seat in the game.” Sometimes those comments come back to bite players, but I believe this one. Devon’s plan to split the vote and then tell Joe to vote Ben — while getting Ben to act like he was doomed — was next-level stuff. Now, can he keep it up?

2. Lauren (Last week: 1): She has some really strong play going right now. Lauren has worked well with Ben all season, but you can see she’s not just going to ride that alliance — she was already seen talking with Ashley about when to flip on Ben. So it really seems like the Lauren/Devon/Ashley show at the moment, and Lauren also has the extra vote in her pocket.

3. Ben (Last week: 3): You can see how this is going, and Ben’s alliance already sees he’s a threat with a great story — which means they’re getting ready to come for him. Unfortunately, he won’t make it to the final three. If he somehow does, he will win (and his competitors fully realize that, which is why he’s in trouble).

4. Ashley (Last week: 8): Last week, Ashley showed us she’s not done yet. “I feel like I’m finally playing Survivor,” she said. “I honestly feel like this is my game to lose.” I wouldn’t go that far, but she’s certainly on the right side of the numbers for now. If she can keep herself in the game without being a target, she’ll end up in the final three thanks to her link with Lauren and Devon (but she won’t win).

5. Ryan (Last week: 4): I really don’t see how he escapes this situation. Devon isn’t going to suddenly return to trusting him, and Chrissy is all Ryan really has left. He tried to pitch to Mike last week and it was met with deaf ears, so they’re not really on the same page. It’s been fun to watch Ryan, but I can’t see him pulling it out.

6. Chrissy (Last week: 5): If she somehow makes it to the end, it will be a James Bond-style escape. Honestly, it’s been disappointing to watch her game fall apart. As I’ve mentioned the last few weeks, she was No. 1 in the rankings for awhile but got too cocky and comfortable, and now she’s potentially the next person headed home if she doesn’t pull out another immunity win. If she comes back to play another season, I hope she learns from her mistakes in relying too much on her alliance and letting off the gas, because she’s obviously a very smart player and capable of winning.

7. Mike (Last week: 6): He seems to vote in whatever direction is necessary to keep himself alive, which is why he might stick around a couple more weeks (and potentially outlast Ryan and Chrissy). However, his chances of actually winning are all but gone at this point.


Week 1: Katrina (ranked No. 6 of 18 remaining players)

Week 2: Simone (ranked No. 17 of 17 remaining players)

Week 3: Patrick (ranked No. 16 of 16 remaining players)

Week 4: Alan (ranked No. 13 of 15 remaining players)

Week 5: Roark (ranked No. 10 of 14 remaining players)

Week 6: Ali (ranked No. 5 of 13 remaining players)

Week 7: Jessica (ranked No. 9 of 12 remaining players)

Week 8: Desi (ranked No. 8 of 11 remaining players)

Week 9: Cole (ranked No. 10 of 10 remaining players)

Week 10: JP (ranked No. 9 of nine remaining players) and then Joe (ranked No. 7 of nine remaining players going into the double episode)

Offbeat NASCAR Awards and Superlatives podcast with Brant James

Brant James joins me to help hand out imaginary awards in 10 categories, including: Best NASCAR Twitter Feud, Crankiest Interview of the Year, Biggest Disappointment and Most Valuable Driver.

Is my love affair with the NFL over?

If you read the headline to this post, it looks an awful lot like clickbait. Is my love affair with the NFL over? Click this to find out if it is!

But I’m actually asking the question because I honestly don’t know: Am I heading toward a breakup with the NFL?

The signs are definitely concerning. Sunday was the first time all season I’ve been at home and had a chance to watch the games, since I’m normally on the road at a NASCAR race somewhere.

And yet…I didn’t watch a minute of football on Sunday. Not one. I don’t really have a firm reason why, either.

Before you ask — no, it’s not because of the anthem protests. That has nothing to do with it. And it’s not because I’ve somehow reached a tipping point with CTE/concussions.

But it’s sort of alarming how fast it’s happened, and so I’m trying to figure out why. Football used to be my favorite sport — even above racing. I’ve seen games in 24 of the current NFL stadiums as a fan (my goal was once to see a game in every stadium) and I used to obsess over all things NFL.

Suddenly, though, I just don’t have the same passion for it. Why is that? What happened?

A few theories:

— I cut the cord and no longer have the Red Zone Channel. Now that I watch TV through the DirecTV Now app on my Apple TV, I don’t have access to Red Zone. Maybe I got spoiled by Red Zone, because that’s how I would consume games 90 percent of the time when I had a Sunday at home in recent years. Red Zone had no commercials, the action was constant and it kept things entertaining. Now that I can’t see it, it’s hard to get invested in a normal, three-hour game. Expecting me to sit there and just watch Jets-Chiefs straight through is asking too much.

— I stopped playing fantasy football. I used to run a fantasy football league up until last season, but it got to be too much of a time suck. And since I was on the road at NASCAR races and couldn’t watch the games anyway, I ultimately decided not to play fantasy football. And WOW, does that change things! When I don’t have a player in the Thursday night game or Monday night game or whenever, it removes so much of the reason to watch. And I know there’s always DraftKings, but even that seems pointless without Red Zone or Sunday Ticket.

— My team blows. I’m a huge Denver Broncos fan — that’s the team I care about the most in all of sports — and they suck this year. They’re completely out of it. So there’s no reason to try and find their games on TV or make an effort to follow the AFC West division race, which normally might have kept me interested on a Sunday.

In general, teams aren’t greatAs much as I love parity, it doesn’t make for attractive viewing. After Sunday, 14 teams are within one game of being .500. That’s nearly half the league being incredibly average. And a lot of the “good” teams this year are recently good, which makes it harder to have any feeling toward them. For example: The L.A. Rams are somehow 9-3 and the Vikings are 10-2 (I have no idea how that happened because I haven’t followed it much). A game between a 9-3 team and 10-2 team would normally sound quite interesting — but if they played next week, I probably wouldn’t watch. I’m sorry, but I just don’t really care at the moment.

Check back with me when the playoffs start and I’ll probably care more. Otherwise, there are a lot of other things to do on a Sunday — even if the weather isn’t nice outside — and the NFL just doesn’t have my attention right now for whatever reason.

This all is very surprising to me, because there’s no particular reason I’d suddenly lose the passion for what was my favorite sport. I just don’t feel the NFL is giving me a reason to consume its content. I haven’t been checking scores, watching highlights or following the standings much. I see people make reference to the games on Twitter and post GIFs, but that’s about it.

I’m not bragging about this, because it’s not like I’m happy about it. I’d like to get invested in NFL Sundays again. But the more I think about it, I’m not sure I really miss it.