Swan Racing Announces Restructuring, No. 26 & No. 30 "Sold" Off
posted by Thomas Bowles
Wednesday April 23, 2014
After a week of uncertainty, Swan Racing’s two teams will show up at Richmond Friday night after a combination of mergers and acquisitions have kept the two teams up and running. The moves, announced in a press release Wednesday will keep rookie Cole Whitt behind the wheel of the No. 26 while J.J. Yeley moves into the No. 30, replacing Parker Kligerman effective immediately.
The solution for Whitt was rather simple: Swan co-owner Anthony Marlowe merged his portion of ownership into a deal with BK Racing. That team will now expand to three cars, with Whitt running full-time (for now) alongside fellow rookies Alex Bowman (No. 23) and Ryan Truex (No. 83). The move will also keep former Swan employees working full-time, rehired by BK as enough money was gathered up to keep the No. 26 up and running. Whitt, who has a best run of 18th this season (Fontana) will remain competing with his crew essentially intact.
“I respect Brandon Davis and everything he has done for the Swan Racing Company,” said Marlowe in the release. “Looking forward, my mission is to ensure Cole Whitt races in every NASCAR Sprint Cup event this season. My friend Ron Devine and the BK Ownership group really stepped up to enable me to keep the No. 26 on the track. Cole and Randy [Cox, crew chief] are off to an auspicious start in 2014 for a new Cup Team and we are gearing up for Richmond. In addition to the No. 26 team’s performance so far this year, the new ‘win and you’re in’ system and qualifying rules were motivating and positive factors in my continued investment in NASCAR.”
As for Swan’s No. 30, the equipment has been sold to Johnathan Cohen and his Xxxtreme Motorsports operation. That team, which has yet to make a race this season with J.J. Yeley will now run that No. 30 with their own Chevys before switching to the new Swan equipment (plus their old number, 44) beginning at Talladega. It’s an opportunity for them to gain speed and perhaps run a full race. Xxxtreme, with patchwork funding has yet to run more than 66 laps in any Cup event, start-and-parking in every race it’s made since making a go at NASCAR’s top level in mid-2012.
“We’ve had a lot of adversity in our organization,” Cohen tweeted after the purchase. “But today, made a big step in the right direction.”
Co-owner Brandon Davis, who had been MIA before Tuesday’s public announcement praised both Marlowe and Cohen in helping keep the equipment, former employees, and one of his two drivers afloat while Swan searches for funding to keep racing.
“Anthony and Jonathan are both young and ambitious NASCAR enthusiasts,” he said in a statement, later reiterating those points on SIRIUS XM Radio. “It is important to keep them in the sport for the long term. I am very relieved to know that the Nos. 26 and 30 teams will be in good hands and will continue to compete the remainder of the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season. Most importantly, most of the team members have the opportunity to continue their employment in the sport and to support their families. This was critically important to me.”
So what happens to Swan’s other rookie, Parker Kligerman? Davis has retained Kligerman’s contract, and while the team has officially suspended operations he’s actively searching for funding to get the No. 30 back on track. Should it happen, it’ll be a one-car program with Kligerman at the wheel despite an ugly start that left the first-year driver 38th in series points.
“We are encouraged by the response we have received from interested parties,” Davis said of Kligerman. “Parker continues to be one of the most talented young drivers in NASCAR. He brought this racing team one of its strongest results in his first race with us [18th at Texas], and we are certain of his success in the future.”
The driver, in his response left the door open to run for other programs. Swan, which has partnered with celebrities like the NFL’s Bill Romanowski and rapper 50 Cent may be able to parlay those connections into funding that gets Kligerman into another car in the meantime.
“Although it’s unfortunate we are having to scale back, I look forward to the future and the exciting things that I’m confident we will accomplish at Swan Racing or with another team,” said Kligerman. “I value the relationship that I’ve had with Brandon Davis and am very grateful for him giving me an opportunity to compete in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Whether I continue to race with Brandon and Swan Racing or end up with another team, I will always give it my all on and off track to be the best I can be.”
Connect with Tom!
Daniel Suarez to Make Nationwide Debut for Joe Gibbs Racing at Richmond
posted by Phil Allaway
Tuesday April 22, 2014
Joe Gibbs Racing announced on Tuesday morning that NASCAR Toyota Series and K&N Pro Series East driver Daniel Suarez will make his Nationwide Series debut in Friday night’s ToyotaCare 250 at Richmond International Raceway. Sponsorship will be provided by Silent Circle, a global service that allows for the sending of encrypted communications and Telcel, a Mexican telecommunications company.
Suarez is thrilled to have the opportunity to race for Joe Gibbs Racing at Richmond.
“I’m excited for the opportunity to make my NASCAR Nationwide Series debut,” Suarez said in a press release. “I want to thank Telcel and Silent Circle for believing in me and making this a reality. I can’t wait for Friday night in Richmond.”
JGR President J.D. Gibbs is very excited to have an up and coming talent such as Suarez in the fold.
“Daniel is certainly someone that has proven to have a lot of talent and we are thrilled this was able to come together and allow him to make his debut at Richmond,” Gibbs said. “I think it’s exciting when you look at the young talent our sport has right now and we certainly feel that Daniel is going to be part of the future for NASCAR.”
For Suarez, the 2014 season has been very successful so far. He started tke K&N Pro Series East season with two wins in three days in New Smyrna Beach, FL and Daytona Beach, FL (as part of the UNOH Battle at the Beach). Despite a crash at Bristol, Suarez still ranks second in points behind Ben Rhodes. In the Toyota Series, Suarez came from behind to win the season opening Toyota 120 at Phoenix International Raceway in front of all the Sprint Cup and Nationwide teams. Another win in Chiapas and a second-place finish at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez’s oval gives him a nine point lead over Antonio Perez.
This will be a very busy weekend for Suarez. With the Denny Hamlin Short Track Showdown moving to South Boston Speedway this year, the K&N Pro Series East Blue Ox 100 will be held immediately after the conclusion of the Nationwide Series ToyotaCare 250. In addition, the Toyota Series will have their fourth race of the season at the Autodromo de Monterrey in Suarez’s hometown on Sunday.
Gene Haas' Formula One License Application Accepted By FIA
posted by Phil Allaway
Friday April 11, 2014
This morning, the FIA announced that the license application submitted by Stewart-Haas Racing co-owner Gene Haas had officially been accepted. As a result, provided that everything comes together financially and technically, Haas’ new Formula One team will have a spot on the grid at the start of the 2015 season.
Upon receiving the news this morning, Haas released the following statement.
“Obviously, we’re extremely pleased to have been granted a Formula One license by the FIA,” Haas wrote. “It’s an exciting time for me, Haas Automation and anyone who wanted to see an American team return to Formula One.”
“Now, the really hard work begins. It’s a challenge we embrace as we work to put cars on the grid. I want to thank the FIA for this opportunity and the diligence everyone put forth to see our license application come to fruition.”
Haas’ team would be the 12th team on the Formula One grid for the 2015 season if all the current teams return. Much like the failed USF1 team that Peter Windsor was involved with, the team would partially be based in North Carolina with an additional European base.
Stewart-Haas Racing is setting up a press conference for Monday to further discuss the move. We’ll have more information here at Frontstretch as soon as it becomes available.
Speeds Approach 220 MPH At Michigan Test
posted by Phil Allaway
Thursday April 10, 2014
On Wednesday, Goodyear held the second and final day of their tire test at Michigan International Speedway. The overall goal of the test was so teams could come up with a solution that would encourage better racing on the two-mile, D-shaped oval, while at the same time allowing for a compound that would not blister.
Much of the headlines from the test seemed to stem from high speeds reported. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. tweeted a computer readout that stated he reached 215.2 mph. Clint Bowyer went a little bit faster at 217 mph, which Bowyer later described as “whites-in-your-eyes fast.” Greg Biffle told ESPN’s Shannon Spake on NASCAR Now that he reached 220 mph and a 204 mph average.
Despite the high speeds, the drivers who tested Tuesday and Wednesday believe that there will be better racing this year in the Irish Hills. Michigan winters are a bit harsher than in most locales on the Sprint Cup calendar. As a result, there is more weathering from year to year.
Earnhardt Jr. appeared to be quite happy with the track.
“I enjoy racing here,” the two-time Michigan winner said. “It’s a fun track. The asphalt is really aging well and it’s just going to keep getting better and better over the next couple of years.”
As is the norm for Goodyear tire tests, no official speeds were announced. However, Earnhardt Jr. stated in the Media Center that while he was going anywhere from 212-215 mph at the end of the frontstretch, he was only dropping down to 180 or so in the turns.
Greg Biffle and Ryan Newman echoed Earnhardt Jr.’s sentiment when asked about the track surface. They expect the track to support multiple grooves for racing when the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series return in June.
As for track management, they definitely appear to like the high speeds. Michigan International Speedway President Roger Curtis spent part of Wednesday retweeting top speed posts. However, Curtis understands that going fast is not the only thing that matters.
“The drivers are posting 200 mph. That’s awesome,” Curtis said. “The fans get very, very excited about that. But at the end of the day, on Sunday when the green flag drops, the numbers ‘two zero zero’ they’re not anywhere in the fans’ minds. It’s lead changes, it’s the competition…”
Since the track was repaved prior to the 2012 season, the number of lead changes at Michigan International Speedway has been relatively flat with the years before the repave. However, the number of cautions are up as well, which can skew the lead change numbers a little. Complaints have come more from a rock hard tire compound, made by Goodyear for safety reasons which has made passing more difficult and actual “wear” (which leads to speed dropoff) hard to come by.
Sherwin-Williams To Sponsor No. 51 Cup Car At Darlington
posted by Phil Allaway
Thursday April 10, 2014
On Wednesday, HScott Motorsports announced that Sherwin-Williams will serve as the primary sponsor of Justin Allgaier’s No. 51 Chevrolet this weekend at Darlington Raceway. The No. 51 will primarily be advertising the automotive finishes division, in addition to the AWX Performance Plus Waterborne Refinish System the company makes.
Allgaier is very happy to have Sherwin-Williams onboard.
“I’m thrilled to have Sherwin-Williams on the car at Darlington,” Allgaier said in the press release. “They are a big supporter of HScott Motorsports and NASCAR. I can’t wait drive the No. 51 with the Sherwin-Williams colors on it at one of my favorite tracks.”
Sherwin-Williams has a fairly extensive history in NASCAR. They currently serve as the “Official Automotive Paint of NASCAR.” Prior to that, the company served as a primary sponsor for a number of cars in what is now the Nationwide Series.
As for Allgaier, Saturday will more than likely be his first career Sprint Cup start at the historic oval. However, in five Nationwide Series starts, Allgaier already has two top-5 and three top-10 finishes. His average result is an excellent 9.8.
Bass Pro Shops Primary Sponsor For Austin Dillon In Two Cup Races
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Wednesday April 9, 2014
Announced Tuesday in a ceremony and car unveiling at their Concord, NC location, Bass Pro Shops and Richard Childress Racing made it official that the national outdoor sports retail giant will be the primary sponsor of Austin Dillon’s No. 3 Chevrolet SS for two races during the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup season at Talladega (May 4th) and Daytona (July 5th).
Bass Pro Shops has been associated with Dillon’s career dating back to 2010, when they sponsored his No. 3 Chevy Silverado in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, and also followed Dillon to the Nationwide Series as a sponsor for his No. 3 Chevy Camaro for RCR. The two won a pair of NASCAR championships together, and the retailer has also served as an associate sponsor for Dillon’s car in the NSCS this season.
During the announcement, Bass Pro Shops noted that the retailer has been involved in the sport of NASCAR since 1998, when they became an associate sponsor of RCR’s No. 3 Chevy Monte Carlo driven by legend Dale Earnhardt.
Now, the sponsor is back on the Cup level, paired with the No. 3 once again and hoping to elevate the program to Victory Lane. Already, Dillon has one pole to start the season at Daytona, where he posted a ninth-place finish, his best result to date during this rookie campaign. 21st at Texas last weekend, he’s currently 11th in the Sprint Cup championship standings.
For the Bojangles’ Southern 500 this weekend at Darlington, Dillon will have Dow Chemical on board as the primary sponsor for the No. 3 car.
Ruud To Sponsor Buescher, No. 99 RAB Racing Toyota
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Wednesday April 9, 2014
RAB Racing announced that Ruud, heating and cooling brand, will be on board the No. 99 Toyota Camry as primary sponsor this weekend at Darlington for the VFW Sport Clips Help-A-Hero 200 NASCAR Nationwide Series race. The brand joins Rheem as a primary sponsor of the car during the 2014 Nationwide Series campaign. Ruud will also sponsor the No. 99 of James Buescher in several other races this season, according to a team statement.
Buescher, the 2012 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Champion, is driving full-time for RAB Racing and making the transition from the Truck Series to the NNS this year. The No. 99 team was recently penalized by NASCAR at Bristol for a P3 penalty (illegal weight added to the car improperly, which was lost during the race), which led to crew chief Chris Rice being fined $10,000 and placed on probation until December 31st. Car chief John Guerra was also placed on probation by the sanctioning body for the incident.
Sitting ninth in points thus far in 2014, Buescher’s best finish this season has been 12th at Phoenix. The 24-year-old, Plano, Texas native has one career win and 14 top-10 finishes in the NNS since his first start in 2008.
Five Sprint Cup Teams Test At MIS For Goodyear
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Wednesday April 9, 2014
After a long winter in Michigan, five NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams visited Michigan International Speedway for a Goodyear Tire Test taking place both Tuesday and Wednesday this week. To prepare for the test, MIS reported having to use the track’s jet dryers to clear and melt snow and ice from the two-mile track.
Due to the snow melt, frost, and rain on Monday night, MIS had to delay the tire test for most of the day because of weepers around the track’s surface. The track crew worked throughout the afternoon to dry up the moisture so that testing could get safely underway. Finally, Greg Biffle took his No. 16 3M Ford Fusion to the asphalt at MIS around 4:00 PM ET as the first driver on track.
In addition to Biffle, Goodyear has scheduled drivers Clint Bowyer; Trevor Bayne; Ryan Newman; and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. to take part in the tire test, which is open to fans from 9 AM to 5 PM today.
Michigan International Speedway is in for a busy summer in the Irish Hills as the track plays host to the Quicken Loans 400 on June 15th, then the Pure Michigan 400 on August 17th.
Logano's Four Tires Triumph Over Jeff Gordon's Two At Texas
posted by Justin Tucker
Tuesday April 8, 2014
Joey Logano would overcome Mother Nature and a green-white-checkered restart with four-time Cup Series champion Jeff Gordon to win the rain-delayed Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. Logano, with his trip to Victory Lane Monday afternoon also became the seventh different Sprint Cup driver to win in 2014 in as many races.
Logano, who led a race-high 108 laps on the afternoon, appeared to be on his way to a dominating victory until two laps to go. That’s when Kurt Busch blew a left-rear tire on his No. 41 Chevrolet, spraying debris all over the track.
“When you got like 40-something laps after the last pit stop, you got a pretty sizable lead, really all you’re thinking is, ‘Where is the white flag? Where is the white flag?’” Logano said after the race. “Then, you go into turn one, you see the [No.] 41 up against the wall. You’re like, Please no caution, please no caution. Boom, it comes out. You got to be kidding me. You get so mad you can barely control yourself.”
This incident, the third for Busch on the day would set up a decisive yellow-flag pit stop before the final restart. Jeff Gordon and the No. 24 team then rolled the dice, jumping from sixth to first with only two tires while Logano and his Penske teammate Brad Keselowski would take four. Keselowski, who was second coming in would then get caught speeding while exiting pit road, eliminating him from contention. The Penske Racing driver, after leading 85 laps in his own right dropped to a disappointing 15th on the afternoon.
“That last caution was a shame,” Keselowski said, who lost a chance to become the series’ first two-time winner. “I was just trying to get a little too much on pit road, wanted to get us out front to be able to win the race and tried a little too hard.”
That left Logano dealing with Gordon and Brian Vickers directly in front on the restart. As the cars accelerated, he wasted no time dispatching Vickers for second and set his sights on the bumper of Gordon’s No. 24 Chevrolet. On the white-flag lap, Logano was able to take advantage of his four fresh tires to get underneath Gordon, clearing him by the exit of Turn 1.
“I mean, coming in sixth, you’re in that position that you can gamble,” said Gordon, who did earn a consolation prize — becoming the Sprint Cup points leader for the first time since the 2009 Coca-Cola 600 (see below). “You’re not going to win it with four tires, you’re not going to win it with none. I knew it was going to be hard to hold those guys off.”
After clearing Gordon, Logano was able to cruise to his fourth career Sprint Cup Series win, his second with Penske in a little over a season with the team. The driver’s confidence is high, stemming from crew chief Todd Gordon whom the 23-year-old was quick to praise after the race.
“He (Todd Gordon) made a last-minute decision to put fuel in it, gave me better balance for what I needed and the guys made the ‘money stop,’” Logano said of the ending. “I was the first guy out with four tires on.”
Behind Logano and Gordon in the top 5 were Kyle Busch in third, followed by Vickers fourth and rookie sensation Kyle Larson in fifth, the only rookie to run inside the top 20. Greg Biffle was sixth, Matt Kenseth seventh, while Clint Bowyer earned his second top-10 result in eighth. Paul Menard earned his fourth top 10 in five races, running ninth while pole sitter Tony Stewart rounded out the top 10.
Monday’s race started in bizarre fashion, under a rare, green-yellow flag condition for ten laps to ensure that the 1.5-mile quad-oval was dry and fit for racing. Jet dryers were still on the track during this period to help the process. Unfortunately, the air from the dryers managed to get inside the wheel wells and affect the hood and roof flaps of several cars. Keselowski’s Ford actually ended up with a damaged hood hinge, resulting in four pit stops during this period for repairs. Many additional cars came down pit road to fix the flaps as well. NASCAR allowed the cars affected to make their stops without penalty, provided that they not add fuel or change tires in the process.
Then, shortly after going green Dale Earnhardt, Jr.‘s day ended prematurely after just 14 laps when he misjudged his positioning and clipped the grass in Texas’ quad-oval. The miscue resulted in the car digging in, popping a wheelie and shooting the No. 88 Chevrolet straight into a SAFER-less wall, resulting in a fiery crash. Not only did that ruin Earnhardt’s day, but it also impacted the race of Hendrick teammate Jimmie Johnson. Johnson wound up with windshield damage and a bent left-front corner of his No. 48 Chevrolet. Losing multiple laps for repairs, Johnson ended up 25th on the day while Earnhardt Jr. was scored dead last (43rd).
“You can’t run through there they way they have these cars on the ground,” Earnhardt said of the incident. “Just a mistake on my part. I just didn’t know I was that close to the grass, and made a mistake.”
Kevin Harvick had another fast race car, one capable of going up and taking the lead away from teammate Stewart on Lap 25. However, Harvick’s run of bad luck continued after blowing an engine just a couple of laps later. Harvick ended up 42nd, sitting just 31 points inside the top 30 needed to make the Chase after his win at Phoenix.
A look at the Duck Commander 500 by the numbers. There were 18 lead changes among nine drivers, while seven cautions for 49 laps slowed the pace to 134.191 MPH.
Next weekend, the Sprint Cup Series heads to legendary Darlington Raceway for the Bojangles’ Southern 500. The Green flag is scheduled for 6:45 PM ET on Saturday night.
Keselowski - Busch Feud And Other Martinsville Sidebars To Follow
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Monday March 31, 2014
Keselowski, Busch Feud
Two former Penske Racing teammates didn’t play the part Sunday, Brad Keselowski and Kurt Busch starting a feud that almost kept the latter from Victory Lane. It all started during the competition caution, on Lap 43 when the two cars made contact on pit road. Keselowski claims Busch turned into him, breaking the front suspension on the Miller Lite Ford in an accident that also included Kasey Kahne.
“I started to check up and I just barely got in the back of him and Kurt (Busch) just accelerated and drove through us, absolutely drove through us,” Keselowski said inside the garage. “I tell you what, I’m about tired of his recklessness.”
So Keselowski went back on-track, found Busch’s No. 41 car and promptly slammed into its right side. Trying to flatten tires, it seemed the endeavor ultimately failed but still fired up Busch to the point he started ranting inside the car.
“Welp, guess we’re going to get in a fight afterwards,” Busch said. “I’m going to **** that dude’s ****ing face!”
After that, Busch got focused, starting a drive that would end with him in Victory Lane. Keselowski, meanwhile ran 38th and still remained frustrated after the race.
“Tell him come here. I’m right here,” he said when told Busch was OK with fighting. “He knows where I’m at. Leave Victory Lane and we’ll go.”
“He does awesome things for charity and he’s probably the most talented race car driver, but he’s also one of the dumbest, so put those three together.”
Busch’s response, initially was to downplay the incident. But when pressed in the media center, post-race he finally broke down a bit. Calling the contact by a damaged Keselowski a “punk-ass move,” Busch said he’d be enacting revenge at a time of his choosing.
At press time, Keselowski had calmed down a bit, claiming he wasn’t trying to wreck Busch on Twitter and that the rivalry would not continue into Texas. No penalties from NASCAR, by the way occurred during the race or are expected for either side.
Crafton Claims Rain-Delayed Kroger 250 Victory
Due to Saturday’s complete washout, the Camping World Truck Series held their second race of the season immediately after the Sprint Cup Series’ STP 500 wrapped up. With a 5:30 PM start time, some feared the race would be called early due to darkness. Ultimately, that was not a concern.
In a quick event, Matt Crafton took the lead from local favorite Timothy Peters on Lap 209. From there, Crafton held off the rest of the pack through two green-white-checkered restarts to claim his first career Martinsville grandfather clock.
In the scrum on the final restart, Darrell Wallace, Jr. rose up to second, while rookie Ben Kennedy was third. Johnny Sauter finished fourth while using the front end of his Toyota Tundra in a manner similar to a battering ram. Ryan Blaney rounded out the top-5 finishers.
For more on Sunday’s Camping World Truck Series race, please check out Kelly Crandall’s Tracking the Trucks race recap at Frontstretch.
Tires Fail To Adhere to Track
Goodyear tire engineers stated Sunday that it takes a track temperature of 80 degrees Fahrenheit in order for their tires to lay down a proper groove in the turns. On Sunday, the track temperature never reached that point during the race. As a result, tire wear was very high on Sunday. Rubber chunks would shear off, early during green-flag runs and gather just outside the racing groove.
Drivers would ask for new tires every 20 laps or so. If there was a caution, nearly the entire field would come in for fresh rubber. There were examples of
“The track conditions today were extremely challenging with the marbles,” said Kenseth, who recovered to run sixth while Stewart wasn’t so lucky (17th). “They just wouldn’t clean them up — I don’t know why. If you had warm tires and you got pushed up in there then you were going to lose 15 spots sometimes — it was that bad.”
If the story sounds familiar to readers, it should. Last Fall, track temperatures struggled to reach 80 degrees through much of the race. However, the tire issues that resulted were not quite as severe.
Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
|Subscribe to The Frontstretch Newsletter|
I was reading through some old (and not-so-old) racing columns and found one that I wrote last year that got me thinking. Actually, it was the comments that I got that got me thinking. I wrote about some of the issues that were making NASCAR less than popular with the fans. You can read about them here if you really want to. But it isn’t necessary.
What really piqued my interest was a comment that, in a nutshell, blamed about 95% of the problems in NASCAR these days on Dale Earnhardt, Jr. Apparently, NASCAR lets Junior run rampant in the garage and on the track, giving him cautions for the asking and, more or less, fixing the races for his benefit or for any other outcome they would like to have.
OK, let me get this off my chest: the NASCAR universe doesn’t revolve around Junior. That’s not a knock on the most popular driver. It’s merely an observation about two factions of fans that I’ve encountered in recent years—those that love Junior, and those that hate him. Love him, and he’s all that and a bag of chips—the greatest driver on the circuit who can do no wrong and is continually shafted by the media and the officials when he should obviously be winning every week. Hate him, and he’s overrated with an inflated ego and NASCAR bends over backwards to accommodate his obviously mediocre talent, and, on top of all that, the fans who love him are obnoxious.
Even NASCAR got in on the “blame Junior” act last year, insinuating in a statement that TV ratings would be higher if Junior was running better. Well, gee, if you listen to the detractors, they did all they could to help the guy—throwing phantom debris cautions, letting Junior and only Junior pass below the yellow line on the plate tracks, making prank phone calls to Jimmie Johnson telling him the race was cancelled… It wouldn’t have surprised me at times to see accusations of little green men fixing the weather to get the guy a rain win.
Poor guy-it must be an awful lot of pressure to be told by one group of fans that the fate of NASCAR rests on your shoulders and by another that the fate of everything rests on your shoulders. It must be terrible to know that people are showering your competition with beer cans because they beat you. Or to hear that NASCAR is fixing races for you—as if that’s the only way you could get a win. You can’t win some days!
Based solely on numbers, Junior is certainly in the top tier of drivers today—17 points wins is nothing to scoff at, certainly better than mediocre, but it’s also hard to argue that he’s the best when both Tony Stewart and Jimmie Johnson, both of whom came on the scene around the same time, have double that number (Stewart is one shy of that). Have the phantom cautions over the years helped Earnhardt? Sure, but they have also helped other drivers. Kyle Busch could vouch for Junior not being the only guy to sneak in a pass below the line at Talladega. Junior hasn’t won a points race this year and the ratings have rebounded over last fall. Contrary to popular belief, Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson aren’t having a slump this year because Junior is getting all the good stuff at Hendrick Motorsports.
Now, don’t go thinking I dislike Junior because I said it’s not all about him. Nothing could be further from the truth. I’ve liked Junior since day one because he’s a class act who would probably be fun to hang out with for a day. Heck, the guy is my neighbor. But I’m not looking at him as a driver or as a person through rose-colored glasses, either. He’s not perfect, and he shouldn’t have to be.
NASCAR has never been about one guy. There are guys that are popular and others that are kind of just there, but all of them have their fans and detractors. Most other drivers just aren’t this polarizing, nor their fans and those that dislike them such zealots. Junior, like every driver on the track every week, has a lot to bring to the table, and sometimes, he screws up. He’s neither lone hero nor archvillain.
Pinning NASCAR’s hopes, or their problems, on one driver, no matter how popular, is a disservice. It’s also short-sighted and narrow-minded. But most of all, putting all that on one man’s shoulders in unfair—unfair to Earnhardt and to his competitors. He’s a shining star in the NASCAR universe, but he’s not the center of it.
©2000 - 2008 Amy Henderson and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
13 NASCAR races, 13 straight weeks with a frontstretch.com article about Dale Junior. Can you come up with someone else to talk about, please? I gotta figure Jeff Gordon or Jimmie Johnson or Tony Stewart or even Kyle Petty are doing something interesting this week. I’ve learned all but what color Dale’s toothbrush is from this website. Lets talk about someone else for a change, please.
Don’t Worry Kevin. Im a Jr fan, But in a year, you’ll have Lagano and Busch to be sick of, Unless youre one of those shrub lovers!
Could you please, please, get your facts straight????
At the Talladega race you mentioned where Jr.
“WON”, NA$CAR admitted after the race they did not penalize Jr. because they were afraid of the fan reactions if they took the win away!
NA$CAR themselves said they awarded the win ONLY because they did not want a riot in the stands if they black-flagged Jr.!!
Spin it the way you want!
But the truth will prevail!
Jr. is nothing but a second rate driver given the best equipment because of his name! Not his talent!
Top ten relevent cup drivers in the 21st century so far are 1) Jeff Gordon 2) Jimmy Johnson 3) Tony Stewart 4) Matt Kenseth 5) Kurt Bush 6) Dale jr. 7) Ryan Newman 8) Kevin Harvick 9) Greg Biffle 10) Kasey Kahne. HONORABLE MENTION: Jeff Burton,Kyle Bush,Carl Edwards,Denny Hamlin and Elliot Sadler.
Dale Junior is overrated by his fans but much more underrated by his detractors. The guy lost a championships by a couple of dozen points, has finished in the top 5 how many times, and has 17 wins.
While I agree that his fans are often obnoxious, I am far more turned off by those who hate him. What is there to hate about the guy? He is honest, he usually drives clean, and he admits to his mistakes.
Wow, what a terrible human being.
If Douglas truly believes Nascar fixed a race for Junior and admitted it, failed to penalize Junior when it should have and admitted it, then I have to wonder why he’s still watching such a farce. No self-respecting fan would watch if he truly believed it. The better Junior does, the more haters that appear to comment on articles about him and the more outrageous their claims become. It’s a lot of fun for his fans to watch so many go off the deep end and completely lose all common sense just because someone wrote a Junior article. People tend not to waste their hate on talentless flacks who don’t deserve the attention. So hate away. Those obnoxious fans truly live for it, and those less obnoxious fans find it endlessly amusing, too.
Dale Jr. is highly overrated. If his name was something such as “Dale Jones, Jr.”, then he would be nothing but some second-rate driver along the lines of some of these journeyman drivers in NASCAR.
Nice to see others are tired of hearing/ reading about Jr. I agree he is good drive but not one of the best. Doesn’t matter what equipment he has, he will never be the driver his father was.
What is there to not like about Dale Jr? Mostly its the way his fans hold him up on a pedestal and think he can do no wrong. They actually think the other drivers should move over and let him win every race. Just because of his name. His fans have ruined him for me. And the media pays him way too much attention for someone who hasnt won in two+ years. Jeff Burton didnt get this much attention when he had his five year long winless streak. And when he finally won, he was quickly forgotton about the next week. Also, half of Dale’s wins have come on the same three tracks. That’s not what I look for in a well-rounded driver. I have a huge list but I’ll end with this one, his deal over his car number. Its not his number, it belongs to the team owner. Rick Hendrick had to give up one of his long time car numbers to accomodate Dale. Did Casey Mears whine and complain about getting the #25 or now the #5 when he joined the team? Nope, he accepted what he was given and appreciated the opportunity. Dale threw a temper tantrum and cried that his step-mom wouldnt give him the #8. And again, his fans were making nasty comments and even death threats to her about it. I lost even more respect for him after that last year.
Jack, Dale has finished in the top 5 in points 3 times in 8 years. And the closest he’s finished was 5th in 2004, 138 points back. In 2006 it was another 5th, 147 points back. In 2003, he was 3rd in points, but 207 back. That’s a lot more than a couple dozen.
Of course NASCAR lets JR. Get away with things that noone else would be able to get away with. Just look at last week and how they reversed the penalty about endangering the safety workers. That was a huge load of B.S. right there. That would not have happened for anyone else.
Hey “Stormin”!! And that’s exactly what happened, and a day later NA$CAR fessed up as to why Jr. was not penalized!
As for me, I am what could be termed the “core fan”, a left over from many years ago!
And it breaks my heart that NA$CAR is changing the sport forever! And not for the better!
Oh sure, I could simply abandon everything and turn my back! But, maybe, just maybe, the sport is worth fighting for!
I know everything is not fair in any sport! How many times did MJ get away with things in the NBA just because he was the biggest draw? I just want to keep the sport of “Stock Car Racing” as honest as one person can!
A large responsibility, but someone has to do it!
Can you honestly say that you will continue to support NA$CAR even though the winner is not really the winner?
All Dale, Jr? Give me a break. Isn’t everyone talking about Kyle Bush? If Jr raced like Kyle, everyone would be in a snit. Emergency workers? Ha! Ha! I may be wrong, but on TV the incident they were talking about & showing was Jr coming down pit road and passing a “blower”. Didn’t see any safety workers anywhere around the blower. Another thing, Sr made Jr work for his opportunity in the sport. How many drivers can actually say that today? You shouldn’t hate Jr because of his fans…that would be akin to hating a school teacher because you didn’t like the students in her class.
Kyle Busch may not be your favorite driver, but a driver he is. The word driver says it all, it’s the man on the track sitting behind the steering wheel with his right foot on the floor. It´s not about how he looks or what he says before or after the race. Heck he could a deaf mute or a motor mouth it doesn’t matter. He could be a pretty boy or uglier than sin. Again it doesn’t matter. He could be born with a silver spoon or dirt poor, doesn’t matter. Kyle Busch has two things rarely found in today’s competitors which I admire. First he has The Fire in the Gut and second he has No time for Political Correctness.
He comes to win. His view is other drivers can concern themselves with top 5´s, top 10´s or selling T-shirts. When you see Kyle Busch drive you cannot help but remember drivers like Curtis Turner, Junior Johnson, Tim Richmond and yes even Dale Earnhardt Sr.
Kyle Busch is a throw back to the old days when driving was the only thing important. Not sponsorships. I doubt any sponsors would have been very impressed with Curtis Turner or Junior Johnson. But like Busch they were drivers and only drivers not corporate salesmen.
Just before he retired as a car owner I recall Junior Johnson’s expressing his disgust that he no longer could he select the best driver available, but a driver that the sponsor would approve. It goes to show what a sorry state of affairs NASCAR has arrived at. However, after reading many responses/comments here at Frontstretch, Its obvious many NASCAR followers cannot see that. So many are concerned with image, and/or popularity and not raw talent. If other things matter to you, aside from on the track driving abilities, then maybe you should switch channels from NASCAR to American Idol.
Does anyone really think Rick Hendrick hired Junior solely for his racing abilities? Remember Rick Hendrick is a businessman that owns racing teams. Hendricks first thoughts are money and profitability. Believe me a driver’s talent is a distant second.
Junior is a business man’s dream. It’s pretty simple, Junior will bring in the money and Kyle Busch will bring back the trophy or the steering wheel. If you are a businessman then go with Junior and the dollar but if you are a real racing fan you have to go with the driver who ever that may be.
I was thinking the other day about the direction of the sport. The drivers we have, where it’s going, and I was thinking about Dale Jr. I’m not a fan of his, but I don’t dislike him either. I think the problem is, there are very few fans in this range. You like him, or you don’t, but there aren’t many middle ground fans. Me personally, I don’t belive this day in age NASCAR could really say “hey, we fudged a race for a driver” and be okay with that. If that’s how you interpreted that, fine, but I’d love to see them saying they gave him something so the fans wouldn’t be upset. The guy has won races, finished high in the points, and did it with mediocre equipment. Just remember this for all you Dale Jr Haters: Dale Jr has never once claimed to be the driver his dad was. I don’t think that’s what his mentality is. And for all you Dale Jr fans: He’s a good driver, who has what it takes to win but he’s not the best out there.
Side Note: Someone above wrote something about Premier drivers, etc, and didn’t list Jr but put down Elliott Sadler? Not hating on Sadler, but he’s not a “premier” driver (or whatever you said) or near the driver Jr is.
Douglas, can you please somehow have some proof that Jr. passed under the yellow line to gain position at Dega? I have been a fan of NASCAR for many years, and I have seen more Fathers and sons in NASCAR than you can imagine. I think all this comes down to, is just jealousy. For all those who say Jr is over8ted, and his fans is what makes him so bad. Please listen to yourselves?
I guess in my way of thinking if your a fan and follow NA$CAR each and every race, then you would automatically know what happened at Talladega that year. NA$CAR published a statement a day later stating why they did not penalize Jr. for that infraction! It was more a matter of crowd control and they did not want the responsibility for the safety of all the innocent fans that would have been caught in the middle of flying debris and such from Jr. Nation!
If you want more information, please do the research!
Douglas, I’m going to go ahead and point ol’ Timmie in the right direction for the story. Most Jr. fans won’t do the research to find proof that Mr. Do No Wrong actually did wrong. So Timmie, here’s an address that will get you started on the road to realizing that Jr. does get special treatment. Copy and paste this, which is just one of many out there:
Hey “Ron”, big thanks.
My problem is I only have dial up available to me so doing research for past articles is really slow and cumbersome for me.
But I do think poor ole’ Timmie is just a part time fair weather fan that does not understand the methods NA$CAR uses to select winners!
MMM, does Mark Martin getting cheated out of a win at Daytona ring a bell? Wonder where that yellow flag went?
Thanks so much for the link Ron. Plus thank you too, Douglas for your reply. However here it would be hard to believe that only Dale Jr. has won a race for so called rules. I have seen quite a few win races with two left front tires on the front of their cars to give them momentum, and I knew that Dale Jr. spun out to keep from getting lapped one time. While I know he nor any other drivers are perfect. This one I did not know. While I know that all the drinking fans in the stands were not only Jr fans that were arrested at Talladega that threw things, only to see about 9 arrested. Some were Jimmie Johnson,Dale Jr., and Tony Stewart Fans, or at least had on their shits, hats or both. Now when people go just for that reason I do not even consider those fans at all. They were barred from Talladega, plus Darlington, which was the very next week turned them down as coming to there track. I do know they were in handcuffs, but sure can’t tell you how long they spent in jail. We can go back to the days of NASCAR, many drivers at one time or another have gotten a very raw deal. Yester year before all the media,you knew when you attended. Talking racing go back and check the Yellow Banana, that Jr. Johnson came up with and Fred Lorenzen drove. Wow how we needed the media back then for sure. Good going guys, and thanks again.
Why do you guys keep blaming Jr for the reporters choosing to write about him. As for nascar cheating for him; lets look at last year whwn they called cautions and race for Gordon and Johnson. Now lets be fair with our facts. Jr may not be the best driver but he is the most popular. As for him getting the best equiptment because of his name , have we forgot about his season last year???????????? And do you really think he gets better than Gordon and Johnson!!!!!!!!! Lets be fair and leave Jr alone. He can not control the reports nor the fans
Hey Timmie! We appreciate the note!
Like anything, guess we pick out when Jr. benefits! Although I do believe I try to be neutral as I like the racing, well, used to like it anyway, more than a single driver!
If we take the 2003 spring Talladega race as an example, what do you think would have happened if a Robby Gordon was the one that put his four wheels over the line and passed a car?
That pretty much sums up how I feel about NA$CAR! No such thing as “unbiased” application of the rules! Whatever rule they may have for any given weekend anyway!
BUT!! Not mentioned in that article was the fact that on Monday following the race, NA$CAR themselves said that they would not penalize Jr. at that point because of the crowd reaction if the win, or first place, was taken away from Jr.!
So in essence, the rowdy Jr. Nation supplied Jr. the win!
Wonder if Jr. even said thank you!
Douglas is a toad. NASCAR never said anything like that. Junior won the race fair and square. They DID, however, give a race to Jeff Gordon by running the last 9 laps under caution, because they felt it would be “too dangerous” to throw the green, and let the race finish under green. Douglas must have watched a race on the fairy channel and dreamed this one up.
Recent articles from Amy Henderson:
Earnhardt Ganassi Racing Announces Partnership with Cessna, Textron
Fans To Decide Format of Sprint Unlimited at Daytona
UNOH and Kentucky Speedway Extend Sponsorship Agreement
Earnhardt Out For Charlotte and Kansas After Talldega Concussion
Piquet, Jr. Wins K&N East Opener
Want to know more about Amy or see an archive of all of her articles? Check out her bio page for more information.