News Analysis: Matt Kenseth will step away from NASCAR after this season

What happened: Matt Kenseth, in an interview with NBC Sports’ Nate Ryan, acknowledged what has seemed increasingly apparent over the last few months — that he will not race in NASCAR next season, and perhaps never again. Kenseth said there were no good opportunities to race in the Cup Series in 2018 and though he was open to a return, he didn’t “really feel it’s in the cards.” (He said a lot more than that, so you should read the interview — linked above — if you haven’t.)

What it meansThis appears to be the unsatisfying end of the road for a future Hall of Fame driver and another big blow to NASCAR. The Cup Series will now have lost Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart, Carl Edwards, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Matt Kenseth all within a span of three years. It’s an entire generation of star power leaving all at once.

News value (scale of 1-10): Eight. Even though people knew Kenseth was probably going to be the odd man out in Silly Season, it’s still jarring to realize this could be the end. But it’s also a relief, because now Kenseth can be celebrated for the next two weeks and his fans will have at least a brief chance to say goodbye. Although Kenseth is understated and probably doesn’t care much for recognition, it would have been sad for him to step out of the car for the final time at Homestead and just walk away without any fanfare.

Three questions: Can the NASCAR industry scramble to pay proper respect to the 2003 Cup champ in the next few weeks? Will we see Kenseth back behind the wheel at some point, or is this really it? How crazy have the economics of the sport gotten when an elite driver who can still win races can’t get a top ride for next season?

Matt DiBenedetto gives his Martinsville take from ‘total race fan’ perspective

Matt DiBenedetto was out of the Martinsville race last week after just 187 laps, so he watched the dramatic finish as a fan, he said Saturday during a media session.

“That was the most exciting race I’ve ever watched,” DiBenedetto said.

But the GoFas Racing driver couldn’t help but wonder what he would have done in a similar situation as Denny Hamlin or Chase Elliott.

DiBenedetto said he didn’t have a problem with what Hamlin did because “it wasn’t intentional” and the Joe Gibbs Racing driver was trying to do a big bump-and-run that went bad.

He certainly wouldn’t have apologized in Hamlin’s situation.

“There’s no way in hell I would apologize for that,” DiBenedetto said. “You don’t want to wreck anyone, but that’s the situation you’re forced into. Winning is everything and finishing second doesn’t matter.

“I’d do everything in the world. I’d move my grandmother out of the way on the last lap to have a chance at winning the championship. I’d be like, ‘I hate I wrecked him. I didn’t want to do that. But yeah, I was trying to move him out of the way. We’re racing at Martinsville and I want to go to the championship.'”

On the other hand, even though he said Hamlin didn’t have anything to apologize for, DiBenedetto said he likely would have gotten physical out of pure anger with the situation.

“From Chase’s standpoint…I would be so angry, just out of passion and caring that I would probably lose my mind,” he said. “From an outsider’s perspective, props to him for being so calm, but as a fan, I wanted to see him get out and just be so angry that I don’t care if he shoved him. I was heated just watching it.

“Not that Denny did anything wrong, but if it were me, I probably would have gotten physical in some sort of way — just because I wouldn’t have been able to help it. Your guys work so hard all day every single day for you to have a shot at winning. For it to be taken away, I’d be mad.”

DiBenedetto smiled.

 

“But that’s my take as a total race fan,” he said.

 

Chase Elliott fails to make qualifying attempt at Texas

Chase Elliott’s car went through NASCAR’s laser inspection platform for a third time with just minutes remaining in the first round of qualifying. He was so sure his car had passed, Elliott immediately put on his HANS device and helmet and prepared to get in the car.

But as his team started backing up the car toward the garage instead of pushing it toward pit road, Elliott realized he wasn’t going to get to qualify on Friday. He slowly unbuckled his helmet and followed the car toward his team’s garage stall.

Elliott, 26 points below the cutoff line with two races to go, will now start 34th Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway.

“As you all know, I think qualifying well is important for stage points, so I think it puts even more emphasis for us on having to go compete for a win,” Elliott told a small group of reporters afterward. “It keeps it simple. Jimmie (Johnson) did it in the spring (after starting from the back), and if we get our car driving good (Saturday) afternoon, it’s definitely doable.”

Elliott was puzzled as to why teams seem to struggle with inspection at Texas. His No. 24 was one of seven cars that did not make a lap — Matt Kenseth and Joey Logano were other notables — and Elliott also had to start from the back in the spring race.

The 24 team, knowing how important qualifying was, apparently took a big swing at fixing the area in question after its first failed inspection attempt. Team members, including crew chief Alan Gustafson, appeared surprised and frustrated when it did not pass on the second attempt.

“You’re kidding me,” Gustafson said.

And when the car came through a third time, the team seemed absolutely certain it would get Elliott on the track with a minute or so remaining in qualifying.

Instead, the car didn’t pass yet again.

“We got caught ‘cheating’ when we were trying to pass,” Elliott said. “I don’t know why that was. We were fixing our area of failure in a way larger area than what we failed by. I don’t know why we couldn’t get the (laser) to produce the green light.”

Highlights from Friday press conferences at Texas

A quick roundup of the media center happenings Friday at Texas Motor Speedway…

Chase is still pissed

Chase Elliott, who has been declared as the “People’s Champion” by Texas Motor Speedway, made it clear he is still upset with Denny Hamlin following their incident at Martinsville last week.

“Definitely not happy about it and I don’t think a whole lot has changed,” he said. “But no, I am not going to answer your questions about whether I am going to get him back or not. Don’t even ask, because you are not going to hear it from me. Just don’t go there.”

OK then!

But Elliott did answer some questions about the incident, saying he’s not out of the playoff picture on points despite being in a 26-point deficit to the cutoff position, that the fan support after Martinsville was “definitely unexpected” and the People’s Champ banner was “definitely strange.”

Elliott also said he hasn’t paid any attention to the Martinsville fallout this week, only turning on the TV to watch Netflix and refreshing his Twitter so he could see college football news, because “as you all know, the Georgia Bulldogs are ranked No. 1 right now in the country.”

“I was more consumed with that than this other stuff,” he said.

Blaney on Harvick: NBD

Ryan Blaney shrugged off the post-Martinsville discussion with Kevin Harvick that included jabs at the end of the conversation.

“We weren’t happy with each other,” Blaney said. “Both of us had our conversations and what we were upset about. I felt like we handled it fine. It was a stern talking-to (from Harvick).

“I have a lot of respect for Kevin. He helped me a lot when I got started a couple of years ago. It is just Martinsville racing, pretty much. We had a talk and I think we are fine. I am sure we are over it. Those (jabs) were just to reassure that we were good.”

Dale Jr. got a horse (kind of)

You knew Eddie Gossage was going to go big on the Dale Jr. retirement gifts, and he definitely did by riding a horse into the media center.

But the horse wasn’t actually a gift — it was to signify the track is sponsoring a therapy horse in Earnhardt’s honor.

As far as actual gifts, Gossage gave Earnhardt the top of the scoring pylon from his first Texas win, lit up with a No. 8. That was a pretty badass present, actually.

And to finish off the gifts, he gave the Earnhardts a custom-made baby stroller in the shape of a pink car.

Bubba — and NASCAR — get a sponsor

NASCAR had been working to help Richard Petty Motorsports find sponsorship, and a deal with mortgage brand Click n’ Close was apparently the result of those efforts.

RPM announced it will have three races of sponsorship from Click n’ Close, and NASCAR announced the brand will become the “Official Mortgage Provider of NASCAR.”

Anyway, Click n’ Close will sponsor RPM’s No. 43 car for the Daytona 500, as well as a Phoenix and Texas race next season. So although RPM has a ways to go to fill out the car with sponsorship, at least it’s now three races closer.

As a side note: The car was unveiled as a Ford, but Ford put out a statement before the news conference saying it has not received a commitment from RPM to return to the manufacturer next season.

Jimmie Johnson isn’t worried

Despite having the worst season of his career — at least in terms of average finish (15.5) — Johnson says he can make it to Homestead after entering Texas three points below the cutoff.

“I do feel good about getting in,” he said. “I think we are all just so used to momentum and we haven’t had that extremely high positive momentum, race-winning momentum on our side just yet. One thing I know about our team is when we get hot — and we can get hot quick — great things can happen.”

Also…

In news that didn’t take place inside the media center, Team Penske announced Miller Lite is reducing its sponsorship of the No. 2 car from 24 races to 11 next season.

That’s a big yikes, considering Miller has been such a longtime and loyal sponsor.

But Discount Tire will step up to fill the void on Keselowski’s car next season, sponsoring 10 races — including the Daytona 500 and Homestead.

Fan Profile: Jeremy Vitt

These 12 Questions-style fan profiles are one of the rewards offered as a tier on my Patreon page. You can catch up on the other profiles so far this season here.

Name: Jeremy Vitt

Location: Waco, Texas

Twitter name: @vitt32

Age: 29

1. How long have you been a NASCAR fan?

Since 1994.

2. How many races have you attended?

Around 20.

3. Who is your No. 1 favorite driver?

Jeff Gordon and now Chase Elliott.

4. What made you a fan of those drivers?

I grew up as a Jeff Gordon fan. My grandfather was working for Goodyear and we used to go to many a dirt race. He told me this kid from Indiana was the best Midget racer he ever saw and that I should become a fan. Needless to say, the 24 didn’t disappoint.

I’ve followed Chase for awhile, as a friend of mine is from near Dawsonville, Ga., and I’ve visited numerous times. We actually watched Chase one time in a go kart and talked to him when he was probably 10 or 12 years old. I’ve also met members of the Elliott family, and they are such a great racing family and seem very humble.

5. Who is your most disliked driver?

Jimmie Johnson.

6. Why don’t you like him?

First off, Jimmie is an amazing person and is one of the most humble and gracious winners I have seen.  But from a racing standpoint, I dislike him because he has without a doubt taken away many wins and probably a championship or two from Jeff Gordon. I view it probably how Dale Earnhardt Sr. fans felt about Jeff coming into the sport in the mid 90’s. I’ve always felt that Jimmie hasn’t done a great job of acknowledging that without Jeff, he would quite possibly never had a chance at Cup, let alone a chance with the infrastructure Hendrick has provided. With that being said, I have met Chad Knaus, Earl Barban and Jimmie before, and they were incredibly down to earth and seemed like great people.

A quick funny story: When I met Chad, I was working for University of Kansas athletics at the time, where there is quite the tradition when it comes to basketball. Chad and I were talking about what I do for the sports teams and how they are similar to his race team. He mentioned he thought we had a great football team and had no clue that KU had a basketball team! He then reminded me all he did was eat, sleep and s–t racing. Makes sense why those two have been incredibly successful!

7. What is your favorite track?

Darlington. Can’t beat the history of that track and the uniqueness.

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

Pick a point system and rules package and stick with it for a while. Minor changes are surely needed every now and again, but as fans we can’t get accustomed to one package for very long before it changes again. I’m in the minority, but I loved the old points system! I know it’s never coming back, though, and I think what we have now is the second-best option.

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

The accessibility of the drivers. I have noticed a difference through the years as teams become less and less available, but for the most part drivers still go out of their way to sign and greet fans.

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

Not a bunch, really. I’m a pretty low-key guy, but when Jeff had a chance to win at Martinsville a couple of years ago, I was pacing around the living room.

11. Do you have any advice for other fans?

Just be involved. Racing to me isn’t a sport; it’s a lifestyle. I don’t mean that to be a cliche, but it truly is. I work in the athletic world, and I love the stick and ball sports such as football, basketball and baseball. But racing is completely different. Get involved with going to appearances and getting to the track early and supporting your driver’s sponsor when you can. The NASCAR community truly is one big family and we as fans play a very important role in that family. 

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

My one fun fact about myself and the NASCAR world is that I have sung the national anthem a few times at Kansas Speedway and was able to do it for a Cup race. It was an amazing experience and I was able to meet many a driver and team members.

Social Spotlight with Ryan Truex

Each week, I ask a member of the racing community to shed some light on their social media usage. This week: Ryan Truex, who drives for Hattori Racing Enterprises in the Camping World Truck Series.

I see you’re on most of the forms of social media that exist. Can you rank them from your favorite to least favorite?

It changes weekly depending on how things go. I like Instagram because I don’t get a lot of rude comments on there when I post stuff, and usually the stuff people say to me is nice. I’d say Instagram and Twitter switch back and forth between first for me, and those are the two I use the most.

I honestly don’t post that much on Twitter. I use it more to kind of just talk to people and kind of annoy my friends and say dumb stuff to them — like people like Landon Cassill. On Instagram, I feel like people are nicer. It’s definitely between those two.

I used to use Snapchat a lot. Honestly, I kind of just forget about it now. I don’t get on as much. Facebook, I’d say I probably use the least. I barely ever post on there. Honestly, I just forget. Twitter and Instagram are just so much easier to jump on it, kind of jump into a conversation, kind of push whatever you want to push.

That’s weird though, because you say that you’re on Snapchat, you use Snapchat a lot to look at other people’s feeds, but you don’t think to post your own content there?

I don’t like to say stuff just to say stuff. I don’t tweet just to tweet, you know? If I want to say something, I want it to be something good that I can get across properly.

I really just like to respond to people and annoy people. That’s the most fun. I’m a very sarcastic guy — I don’t know if you realize that — so I try to make sure that I portray that properly on Twitter. A lot of people just think I’m an ass sometimes. (Laughs) My friends think that, too. Honestly, that’s probably their number one opinion of me. But that’s just how I am.

I love Twitter because I can just jump into any conversation if I want to. I think that’s the best part about it, that you can be a part of any conversation you want and really get your opinion out there, which I don’t do that very often because usually I get a lot of crap for it.

So your friends’ number one opinion of you is that you’re an ass. Is that really true?

Yes. (Laughs)

That’s not sarcasm.

I don’t know, maybe it is.

Why do you think people are nicer on Instagram than on Twitter?

I don’t know. I guess because Instagram, your profile is just pictures of you going about your daily life. It’s not so much you just having 140 characters to say something about somebody or tweet at somebody or respond at somebody with something negative. I mean, (Instagram) comments are negative sometimes, but usually those guys aren’t following you if they don’t like you. They’re not gonna actively search your Instagram page and go to a post and say, “You suck” or “You’re an idiot,” whatever.

But with the tweet, especially if you tweet your opinion about something or try and jump into a conversation, then you have 20 or 30 people jump in and tell you how dumb you are. But that’s all part of it. That’s the beauty of Twitter, everybody has a voice.

I don’t like the people that say stuff just to say stuff. If you can be funny about it, or you have a good point as to why you don’t like me or if I did something to you or something like that, then that’s fine. But if you say something just to say something or whatever, that’s when I get the itchy block finger. (Laughs)

#goryan

A post shared by Ryan Truex (@ryan_truex) on

I do notice that when you pick your spots to jump in, it’s usually like less than 10 words probably. Like you just drop a little comment in there, kind of just sneak in and shoot a little dart. Sometimes, like you said, it’s very sarcastic. Do you know that people are going to take it the wrong way? Are you trolling people a little bit?

Yeah, sometimes, but it’s never anything like too crazy, you know? I mean sometimes people take it the wrong way, but people that know me know how I am, know what I mean, and yeah, it’s never anything too serious. It’s not like I’m pushing anybody’s buttons the wrong way.

But yeah, I’m a man of few words. So that’s why when I do post or when I do tweet, I make sure it’s right, because it’s usually 10 words or less, and I’m a believer that less is more.

So you talked about the itchy block finger that you get sometimes. It sounds like you’re a blocker instead of a muter when somebody rubs you the wrong way?

Yeah. I used the mute feature a lot, and sometimes I’ll use it, say if there’s a sports event going on or something I don’t care about, a lot of people I follow are tweeting about it, I’ll mute them. Then sometimes I’ll forget (they were muted).

And then they’re lost forever in your feed.

Yeah, because when they tag you in stuff or mention you, you don’t see it. And I’ve probably hurt some feelings if I said everybody I’ve muted before. I forget a lot.

Honestly I block more people for talking about Martin (Truex Jr., his older brother) than anything, just because I don’t care to see it. I don’t care if they talk about me or say stuff about me, but I think it’s the ones, people that tweet that don’t understand or don’t really know what they’re talking about (who get blocked).

Life’s too short to clog your brain up with stuff that doesn’t matter like that. So if it’s something dumb or uncalled for, stuff like that, then yeah, I’ll block them because I have no need to ever see that person’s opinions anymore. It’s not gonna affect me positively, so I try to just block all that out. But like I said, if it’s funny and it makes me laugh — even though it’s mean — I can respect that.

So if you’re going to be mean, at least be funny about it.

Yeah, exactly. There’s plenty of accounts I haven’t blocked that constantly troll me. But that’s fine. Not everybody’s gonna like you. I don’t aim to please everybody. I know there’s people that aren’t gonna like me and that’s fine. There’s no need to try and please everybody, because then you’re not really your true self. So that’s my number one thing: I try to be myself, whether that’s me being quiet or staying out of something, or jumping in and being sarcastic. Whatever it is, I try not to stray away from my true self too much.

Do you find it funny at all when people troll you with the “Ryan Truex Jr.” type stuff, or are you just like, “Come on, guys.”

Speaking of that, I’m gonna show you this. So my “Go Ryan” shirts have been really good, and people really like them. And I’ve been trying to think, this whole “Ryan Truex Jr.” thing, how can I spin it that direction? So I came up with this shirt here.

This says “Ryan Truex Jr.” and has a red X through the “Jr.” This is going to be a big seller, I think.

I hope people like it. See, this is like the less is more approach to me. It’s the same with the “Go Ryan” shirts. There’s barely anything going on, and I feel like it’s to the point and gets the message across. At the end of the day, that’s what I’m all about.

Let’s talk about the “Go Ryan” shirts, because that’s something that did pretty well on social media. It got a lot of attention, it’s still getting a lot of attention. I mean, Dale Jr. wears the shirt. A lot of people tweet about buying them. Have you been surprised at that whole reaction?

Yeah, honestly, I really have. I came up with the idea last year. Originally, I had an 81 on it, and I kind of sat on it for a while. My girlfriend was the one who came up with the idea of me drawing something. She thought it would be original and nobody’s ever really done that, so I drew it up and I decided to just throw “Go Ryan” on the side because I thought it was corny, kinda funny.

I sat on it for a while, I sent it to a few friends and kind of just got opinions on it, and everybody loved it. So eventually I just went for it. Really, was the Junior retweet that got it viral. So thanks Dale, for sure. But him and Amy both, they got them and they started wearing them, and then everybody wanted one. Everybody wants to be like Junior, you know? He’s the guy.

Like I never asked him to tweet about it or anything. There’s times where he would respond to people’s tweets with him wearing the shirt and say like, “This is the most underrated shirt” and stuff. I’m like, “God, man!” Every time he (tweeted) it, it was already sold out, so I couldn’t even do anything with it. Yeah man, it’s been awesome, and it’s really cool.

My whole career, I’ve never had apparel aside from hats that I get made. I’ve never had a T-shirt before. I’ve always wanted to have them and I kind of didn’t have really anybody helping me do that kind of stuff, so I just had to do that on my own — and I can only do so much with my God-given artistic ability. (Laughs) So yeah, I built my website by myself and set everything up. And it’s kind of just a one-man show.

So it’s been really cool that people like it and have reacted positively to it. I still get surprised when I see people wearing them at the track, because it’s just crazy to me that I came up with the idea, put it on a shirt, put it on a website, shipped it out and people like it and show up with their support. So it’s been awesome and I hope this new shirt does just as well, because this one really gets a good message across that I’m not a “Jr.” (Laughs)

That’s very clear. So you also have this clothing company that’s you’re a big part of with Ryan Reed. I think it’s just you guys, right? STGR Supply. So do you use social media for those purposes as well? Do you operate any of those accounts or anything like that?

Yeah, I operate all of them. Honestly, I kind of don’t have time for everything. It’s tough. It’s nice running trucks because we get some off-time and it kind of works out perfectly for me to jump around. But that stuff, I haven’t been able to be as hands-on with it as I want to be. I mean, I’ve been hands-on through the whole process, but sometimes I get sidetracked. You can see sometimes on the social side, it gets behind.

Really, the biggest thing that’s helped is Martin wears the hat like every single weekend and I’ve never asked him to. I just gave him one and he loves it and wears it all the time — the camo one with the wrenches on the front. Like every single weekend, he’s got that thing on. So that’s the best exposure ever. I don’t have to do anything, he just wears it and it works.

That’s just something that me and Ryan started a year or two ago because we’re both kind of into fashion, and that’s something that’s definitely not at the forefront in the NASCAR world. So we kind of wanted to bring that side into racing a little bit. I know there’s a lot of guys out there like me, young guys that are into wearing cool clothes and looking good and love racing as well. I feel like that’s kind of an untapped market.

We honestly just do it for fun. I don’t really look at it as a way to make a lot of money or anything, it’s just kind of a way to express more of my creative side and my passion for clothing and that kind of stuff.

It’s been blowing up a lot more recently with Martin wearing it and people getting a lot more interested in it. So I’m trying to do a lot more with it behind the scenes to get it more professional, just get it out there more. I’m working on it, the offseason will be a good time to dive into it because right now with the schedule, we have three or four races in a row. So it’s kind of tough to juggle all of that as well as my merchandise stuff, too.

What do you enjoy most about being on social media? It’s clear that you’re a consumer of it, you’re probably on it several times a day. What do you get out of it that you value?

I think the interaction with people. For every bad comment you get, you get 30 or 40 good ones. A lot of times, you don’t get a chance to respond to every single one. I try to like tweets as much as I can so people know that I’m reading them. But it is appreciated and it does help. If you just read a good tweet or a good Instagram comment or on Facebook or whatever, if somebody says something nice and says you’re a good driver or “You deserve to be here,” that kind of stuff, that for me goes a long way, because it’s to the point and you know that’s their true thought. We’ve got 140 characters to get something across. When people can do that, you know they mean it, you know they’re sincere, it’s definitely a confidence booster — for me at least.

I’ve grown up in the social media age. I opened my Twitter account my first year in K&N when I was 16 years old. So it’s been a huge part of, honestly, my entire career — especially Twitter. That was really the first social media I was on aside from Facebook — but that wasn’t really a forum for athletes or anything; that was more of a MySpace-type thing back then.

And honestly, I get all my news from Twitter. I try to filter a lot of it because everyone tries to be first and you never know what’s right and what’s wrong, but at the same time you get a lot of good info. I get a lot of good stuff from you and ol’ Bob (Pockrass). He’s probably my number one follow because if I want to know what’s going on, or I want to know the schedule for the day, I don’t look for my schedule that’s hidden in my backpack somewhere, I just go to Bob’s account (@bobpockrass), because you know he’s got every practice time, what channel it’s gonna be on, if it’s on the app or on TV, what this driver said if this guy’s mad. You know everything. He’s like a robot, honestly.

He’s like a machine.

He really is — and no discredit to you or anyone else.

No, I don’t take offense to that at all.

Bob’s just — business is booming with Bob at all times.

Survivor Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers Power Rankings: Week 6

Each week during this season of Survivor, I’ll be ranking the castaways in terms of best chance to win the game. Last week, Roark was voted off after being ranked No. 10 of the 14 remaining players.

Week 6 Power Rankings: 

1. Ben (Last week: 4): He didn’t show anything strategically in the last episode to get him moved up, it’s just more that the top three — Ryan, Chrissy and Ali — left me a bit more uncertain about their long-term prospects.

2. Ryan (Last week: 1): Look, Ryan did the right thing by keeping his ally Chrissy in the game — even at the risk of angering Ali. Hopefully he can mend fences with Ali. If not, he made a huge mistake by not getting Ali on board with the Roark vote. Never blindside your own allies. How will he explain this one?

3. Chrissy (Last week: 2): Ryan saved her this time, and I still really believe in her long-term game. But she can’t have too many more close calls like that.

4. Mike (Last week: 5): You can never underestimate Dr. Mike! That’s according to Dr. Mike, anyway. And heck, he found the immunity idol and formed more of a bond with Jessica. All good news!

5. Ali (Last week: 3): It was harsh news to Ali to find out ally Ryan didn’t vote with her when she wanted Chrissy out. This next episode is crucial to see how she moves on from that.

6. Devon (Last week: 6): It’s the Ashley/Devon show over on the blue tribe, but we’ll see what happens in a two-two split. Would they really go to rocks?

7. Jessica (Last week: 11): She’s starting to move up the ladder. I was impressed that she was willing to work with Dr. Mike and they found the idol together. If she doesn’t rely on Cole for everything, it could be helpful for her game in the long run.

8. Ashley (Last week: 8): It’s good that she and Devon are on the same page, and if they could get Joe out, it would be a major accomplishment. But they’ll probably need to pull in Desi to do that, and I don’t know if they can.

9. Lauren (Last week: 7): She didn’t do anything wrong, but I don’t really feel like she has a great alliance with anyone (the kind that would protect her if she really became a target).

10. Joe (Last week: 9): Look, Joe is very smart. But I’m not sure he can successfully play like Tony all the way to the end. That’s why I’m going to keep him lower in the rankings for now.

11. Desi (Last week: 12): We just don’t see much of Desi on the show. It’s hard to know if she’s making any moves, but I don’t think she is.

12. JP (Last week: 13): Each week, JP is sort of just…there. You have to play strategically in order to win.

13. Cole (Last week: 14): The spoon-licker with gross habits and a huge mouth isn’t going to win.


Eliminated: 

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)