Drivers like Kurt Busch and Kevin Harvick may be in the championship hunt under NASCAR's new system, but are they truly championship-worthy? Amy Henderson weighs in.
Vito Pugliese · Thursday April 17, 2014
Knockout Qualifying Moved from FS2 & FS1 to FOX: For Talladega, at least. While many fans do not have access to FOX Sports 2 (thereby negating the change to the qualifying format), the new knockout qualifying format has been delivering double-digit ratings increases every weekend so far. While FOX has been airing the sessions five to 10 minutes delayed (for reasons that make no sense), it is unclear if the Talladega sessions will be “live” as they occur. Any racing at Talladega is cause for celebration, and any delay in the action particularly with the new format which has been an unqualified success so far, is puzzling at best and incongruent at its core.
Stewart-Haas Drivers to Formula One?: Absolutely not says Gene Haas. Not that he really needed to. NASCAR fans may bash each other’s favorite drivers, but when the opportunity for them to compete with the world’s greatest presents itself, it is one that they often salivate at. Mainly because former Formula One drivers have not fared so well as of late; Juan Pablo Montoya won a couple of road course races, Scott Speed had his turn at Red Bull as they were working to get their legs under them, and Kimi Raikkonen’s weekend in Charlotte a few years ago resulted in some classic Kurt Busch quality audio drops in broken mono-tone English yelling.
Danny Peters · Thursday April 17, 2014
Time For a Breather:
After a frenetic first eight weeks of the mammoth ten-month NASCAR season we get our first moment to breathe this weekend as the engines go silent in honor of Easter. And so far, even the strongest and most vociferous of critics would have trouble denying it’s been anything other than a fantastic start to the 2014 campaign. We’ve had seven winners in eight races, eight different pole sitters, three or four genuinely terrific races and only one real stinker at Phoenix International Raceway; whilst the new Chase format is radically changing the way teams with wins under their belt approach each weekend. Add the revitalized qualification procedure into the mix and tires that do actually degrade across a fuel run and you have all the makings of a recipe for sustained success this year.
Beth Lunkenheimer · Thursday April 17, 2014
The Camping World Truck Series has been around since 1995 and has quite the history, even if it isn’t anywhere near as long as the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series. But that doesn’t mean the series hasn’t seen its fair share of great drivers. This week, I bring to you the five best drivers in series history.
Ron Hornaday, Jr.
You can’t talk about the all-time greats in the Truck Series without mentioning Ron Hornaday, Jr. He holds nearly every record in the series and isn’t quite ready to stop yet, having scored top-10 finishes in both races this season. The winningest driver in series history sits atop that leaderboard with 51 victories and also leads in most top 5s (153) and top 10s (224). Hornaday remains as the only four-time champion in the series, followed closely by three-time champ Jack Sprague. The 55-year-old’s legend is one that continues to build and will likely do so as long as teams are willing to put him behind the wheel.
Kevin Rutherford · Thursday April 17, 2014
Some say momentum doesn’t exist in sports.
They’ll say it’s nothing more than a feeling, a faux sense of confidence that doesn’t actually propel a player — or in this case, a driver — to anything more than what they would have achieved on skill, luck or other circumstance alone. Whatever happens was going to happen anyway, whether the player had a strong lead-in or not.
I’m a little more in favor of momentum. Doesn’t a heightened sense of confidence generally help a person’s output, or the opposite when one’s had a rough string? When a few fairly exciting things happen in a row to you, don’t you usually feel on top of the world and like nothing can slow you down?
Amy Henderson · Wednesday April 16, 2014
Summer Bedgood · Wednesday April 16, 2014
So Kevin Harvick finally broke the streak of a new winner each weekend. Not that seven different winners in eight races is a bad track record for NASCAR, but it was bound to happen eventually. Who would have ever predicted, though, that Kevin Harvick would have two wins before Matt Kenseth or Jimmie Johnson would have even one? In fact, who would have predicted that Penske Racing would combine for more wins than Hendrick Motorsports? Eight races in or not, the parity in winners this season has already been substantial and there are many names still missing from that list.
With that said, the top two drivers in points—Jeff Gordon and Kenseth—are both winless to date this season, a prime example of why NASCAR’s new Chase system was put together in the first place. While Kenseth and Gordon have obviously been the most consistent on the track, their lack of wins will hurt them once we get down to Chase time (unless one of them is leading the points).
Toni Montgomery · Wednesday April 16, 2014
This is Open Wheel Wednesday and I promise this will be about IndyCar, but first a little sidestep. I spent last weekend having my first excursion into the world of NHRA drag racing. You wouldn’t think NHRA and IndyCar have a lot in common, other than being motorsports, but it turns out they actually do. NHRA faces many of the same issues that IndyCar does. Miniscule TV ratings, less than wonderful network coverage packages, attendance at the track, and ultimately as a result of all of these, keeping the sponsors that pay the bills happy. Sponsors who keep the series, and the competitors in it, afloat.
They have to do all of this while trying not to get squashed by the 800 pound motorsports gorilla that is NASCAR, who, while fighting ratings and attendance issues of their own, still completely blow the competition out of the water. IndyCar, who scored a 0.6 rating on their season opener, would kill to have the “dismal” 3.2 NASCAR scored in Darlington last weekend.
Frontstretch Staff · Wednesday April 16, 2014
Kevin Harvick was not going to be denied his second win of the season. After a string of poor finishes, he dominated the race, leading 238 laps. However, Harvick was shuffled back on the final pit stop when he took four tires. Fresh rubber proved the right call as Kevin drove his way to the front, passing Dale Earnhardt, Jr. with one lap to go on the second green-white-checkered attempt.
A majority of the Power Ranking leaders had strong finishes at Darlington. Models of consistency Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson and Matt Kenseth still have yet to claim that all-important win but recorded their sixth, fifth and sixth top-10 finishes, respectively. Others did not fare so well, though. Kurt Busch recorded his second consecutive finish outside the top 30 after winning at Martinsville. He now sits only 5 positions from being excluded from the Chase. Joey Logano also has a win, but broke a front hub relegating him to a 35th-place finish and dropping him four positions in points.
Mike Neff · Wednesday April 16, 2014
Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. came into the Nationwide Series in 2010 after a near championship run in the ARCA series in 2008. He started off the season with DNF results thanks to crashes in five of twelve races. At that point, he failed to qualify for a race at Nashville and Jack Roush pulled him out of the car for the next race to help him realign his racing focus. The end result was back-to-back Nationwide Series titles in 2011 and 2012 and then a Rookie of the Year title in the Cup series in 2013. Stenhouse learned some tough life lessons during his inaugural full season in the Nationwide Series and it ended up making him a champion.