Kurt Busch to Attempt The Indianapolis-Charlotte Double
posted by Phil Allaway
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Andretti Autosport announced this morning that Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet in the Sprint Cup Series, will attempt the Indianapolis 500 in a fifth entry for the IndyCar Series team. Once the Indianapolis 500 is completed, Busch will fly from Indianapolis to Charlotte, jump in his No. 41 Chevrolet and compete in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Busch considers the opportunity to do the double as an old-school throwback moment.
“This is really to challenge myself within motorsports,” Busch said in Andretti Autosport’s press release. “Perhaps I am a bit of an old-school racer; a throwback, I guess. I enjoyed the era of drivers racing different cars and testing themselves in other series. It is tough to do now for a variety of factors, but when the opportunity is there, I want to do it. While NASCAR is my home, I have been fortunate to compete in Pro Stock on the NHRA circuit a number of years ago and test a V8 Supercar. This opportunity was a talk with Michael [Andretti] over dinner one night, a “What if,” and now it’s becoming a reality for me to drive in the Indy 500 with Andretti Autosport. It’s literally a dream come true. To go to the famous Brickyard with the iconic Andretti name, it doesn’t get much cooler or better than that.”
Busch will be doing the Indianapolis-Charlotte double as a Memorial Day mission to men and women serving in the U.S. Military via the Armed Forces Foundation. Fans can contribute to the cause by texting AFF to 50555 to donate $10.
Busch, who has never raced an IndyCar, passed Rookie Orientation at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year during a test session. At the time, Busch was more or less testing the Dallara DW12 for fun.
Busch will be the fourth driver to attempt the Indianapolis-Charlotte double. John Andretti was the first driver to attempt it in 1994. After finishing four laps down in tenth in Indianapolis, Andretti crashed and had engine problems in the 600. Robby Gordon has attempted the double five times, most recently in 2004. However, Gordon failed to make it to Charlotte on time and did not start the 600 in 2000 (P.J. Jones started Gordon’s No. 13 Ford in that instance). Finally, Tony Stewart has attempted the double twice (most recently in 2001) and is the only driver to ever complete all 1100 miles. Neither of the three drivers has won either leg of the double. The best finishes are Stewart and Gordon’s sixth-place finishes at the Indianapolis 500 (although Gordon’s came in 2000, the year he didn’t make it to Charlotte in time to start the Coca-Cola 600), and Stewart’s fourth-place finish in the 2001 Coca-Cola 600.
Danica Patrick, Justin Allgaier Talk About Phoenix Incident
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
A disappointing start to the year for Danica Patrick won’t include continued conflict. Patrick met with rookie Justin Allgaier Sunday, shortly after the Phoenix Cup race after a wreck ruined both drivers’ days. Patrick, who was critical of the No. 51 car on the radio, claiming Allgaier was “driving all over the track” appeared receptive to a conversation that quickly settled differences over what will be a long season.
“She was just upset because she got involved in the crash that we had,’’ said Allgaier to the Motor Racing Network. “She says she’s been through this and that she felt like I needed to settle down at that point. I explained my position on why everything happened. I think she understood where I was coming from. It doesn’t fix either one of our racecars. It doesn’t fix either one of our days. Unfortunately, we were both having pretty decent days.’’
Allgaier wound up 30th due to the incident while Patrick was 36th. The incident, which was caused by Allgaier’s spin also involved the No. 32 team and Travis Kvapil, which wound up 38th after sustaining heavy damage.
Camping World Close to Extending Title Sponsorship of NCWTS
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Marcus Lemonis, CEO of Camping World, Grand Marshal of Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway, and star of CNBC’s “The Profit,” made the announcement over the weekend that the retailer is very close to announcing a deal that would continue its title sponsorship of NASCAR’s Truck Series. The original agreement with NASCAR is scheduled to conclude after the 2015 season.
According to the sanctioning body, no formal contract has been signed, but “the agreement between the two parties has proven to be a beneficial one.”
“In about a month, we’ll be announcing a significant extension to that contract. It’s been great for us,” said Camping World’s Lemonis in a statement. “The NASCAR relationship has worked well for Camping World. When we started, we had 35 stores. Now, we’re up to 120 stores. As we travel the country and we meet new customers in stores, they always are very appreciative of our relationship with NASCAR. It’s been good.”
Gaining a long-term commitment from Camping World to sponsor the Truck Series would be a relief for NASCAR, which is set to lose Nationwide Insurance as title sponsor for the NASCAR Nationwide Series at the end of the 2014 season. The sponsorship of the Cup Series by Sprint runs through 2016.
The NCWTS is back in action on March 29th at 2:30 PM (ET) when the trucks visit Martinsville Speedway in the Kroger 250, which can be seen on Fox Sports 1. Ratings for the season opener were up 11 percent.
Harvick Takes Win At Phoenix In Second Race With New Team
posted by Justin Tucker
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Phoenix International Raceway has become Kevin Harvick’s home away from home. Sunday Afternoon was no exception as Harvick charged to the front early and would dominate for much of the day, leading 224 of the scheduled 312 laps to record his record fifth win on the one mile oval and his third win in the last four races at Phoenix.
Harvick, coming off of a disappointing Speedweeks which was capped by a last lap crash in the Daytona 500 in his debut with Stewart-Haas Racing, set the tone on Saturday by winning both practices while having the best 5 and 10-lap averages in the first practice of the day on Saturday. On Sunday, Harvick and his No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet was nothing short of flawless as he was able to hold Dale Earnhardt, Jr. by .489 seconds after a late race restart to claim his 24th career Sprint Cup Series victory.
“Man, this is awesome,” Harvick said after his dominant victory on Sunday. “Man, this just solidifies so many things and so many decisions. It’s been so much work with all the time and effort that these guys (the crew) have put in—but what a race car.”
Stewart Haas Racing co-owner Gene Haas shared in Harvick’s excitement after the race.
“It took long enough,” Haas joked. “This is phenomenal. I think there was a lot of skepticism last year about what myself and Tony (Stewart) what we were up to, was there a lot of madness to this. Quite frankly, it’s a great team, there’s a lot of synergy at the shop, people working together. I don’t know what we did, but I think we put together a great organization.”
Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt, Jr. continued his hot start to the 2014 season. Earnhardt Jr. would finish second on Sunday, marking his seventh consecutive top 10 finish since the end of the 2013 season. Earnhardt Jr. was pleased with the effort after a coast-to-coast whirlwind week after winning his second Daytona 500 and also gave great praise to the efforts of Harvick and the No. 4 team.
“I’ve got to congratulate Kevin. Those guys were two-tenths faster than everyone all weekend in practice. They were just phenomenal,” Earnhardt said. “To be able to run with them all day was a big confidence builder for us.”
Joining Harvick and Earnhardt in the top 5 of The Profit on CNBC 500K were Brad Keselowski with his second consecutive top 3 run of 2014 in third. Keselowski’s Team Penske teammate Joey Logano would finish fourth, and Jeff Gordon would come home fifth in his No. 24 Pepsi Max Chevrolet.
Jimmie Johnson finished in sixth, followed by Ryan Newman with a nice rebound after Daytona in seventh. Carl Edwards would carry the banner for Roush Fenway Racing by finishing eighth, Kyle Busch was ninth, and Jamie McMurray would finish tenth.
A look at the Profit on CNBC 500K by the numbers. There were 14 lead changes among eight different drivers, there were eight cautions for 39 laps which slowed the race pace to 109.229 MPH.
Next Sunday, the Sprint Cup Series heads to Sin City and the Las Vegas Motor
Starting Lineup: The Profit On CNBC 500K
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday March 1, 2014
Drivers in RED (i) are those ineligible to collect Sprint Cup points
Daytona 500 TV Ratings Down
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Wednesday February 26, 2014
What was the longest weather delay in Daytona 500 history turned out to bring NASCAR lower ratings and TV viewership Sunday night than expected. According to a report Monday from FOX Sports, the 56th running of the Daytona 500 airing at 8 PM (ET) posted a 5.6/10 national household rating/share which averaged 9.3 million viewers. That’s down 44 percent from last year’s 9.9, easily making it the least-watched Daytona 500 of all-time.
Due to the six-hour, twenty-two minute rain delay in Daytona, the race was up against the primetime coverage of the Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony from Sochi, Russia on NBC (15.25 million viewers). FOX also reported that 69% of the pre-rain delay viewers of the race, which began at 1 PM (ET) kept tuning in.
In comparison, the 2013 Daytona 500 on FOX was the most-watched race in five years, posting a 9.9/22 rating/share, commanding 16.7 million viewers. The Daytona 500 in 2012, the first to ever be run on a Monday and in the primetime slot did a 7.7/13 overnight rating/share which resulted in 13.67 million households viewing the race according to Nielsen TV ratings data.
Earnhardt, Jr. Claims Second Daytona 500 Victory
posted by Justin Tucker
Wednesday February 26, 2014
Ten years is a long time. For Dale Earnhardt, Jr., it felt like an eternity. NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver endured many near misses and close calls at the Daytona 500 since his only win in the Great American Race in 2004. Earnhardt had finished second in two of his last three Daytona 500s coming into Sunday’s race. He was also riding the tail of a 55-race winless streak, dating back to Michigan in 2012.
However nothing would stop Dale Jr. on Sunday, not even a 6 hour and 22 minute rain delay from capturing his second Daytona 500 win. Earnhardt Jr. led a race-high 54 laps on the evening and used some timely drafting help from teammates Jimmie Johnson and, on the final restart, Jeff Gordon to separate from the pack and secure the victory.
“Winning this race is the greatest feeling that you could feel in this sport besides accepting the trophy for the championship,” said a jubilant Earnhardt after pulling into Victory Lane. “We could fight off battle after battle. We got a little help at the end there from Jeff to get away on the restart. This is amazing. I can’t believe this is happening. I never take this for granted, man because it doesn’t happen twice, let alone once.”
Aside from the race itself the big story of the race was the 6 hour and 22 minute red flag, which threatened to move the race to Monday evening (had the race been postponed, FOX Sports’ Chris Myers had tweeted that the race would resume at 5:00pm EST). However, Mother Nature would cooperate and would allow the race to be run under different conditions from which they practiced this week. Once the race resumed, the intensity picked up from the changing track conditions. This allowed the pack to race side-by-side and at times 3-wide up to seven rows deep.
Joining Earnhardt Jr. in the top 5 for the 2014 Daytona 500 were: Denny Hamlin who closed out a spectacular Speedweeks in second, Brad Keselowski in third, Jeff Gordon in fourth, and Jimmie Johnson who overcome two wrecks leading up to the 500 in fifth.
Rounding out the top 10 in the Daytona 500 were Matt Kenseth in sixth, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. in seventh and Greg Biffle would bring his No. 16 Ford home in eighth. Austin Dillon would come home ninth in his first Cup Series race in the iconic No. 3 for Richard Childress Racing, while Casey Mears would round out the top 10.
A couple of major contenders for the Daytona 500 win would see their hopes dashed early on as Martin Truex, Jr. would blow up just 30 laps into the race, relegating him to a 43rd-place finish in his debut for Furniture Row Racing. Crew chief Todd Berrier was already in Nashville for a test session before the race was even over. Kyle Busch, meanwhile would have a pit road violation just before halfway and would spend much of the race battling back from that mistake. Busch would eventually finish 19th after leading 19 laps.
Danica Patrick would also be bit by bad luck as she was caught up in a multi-car wreck on lap 145. Patrick would lead her second consecutive Daytona 500, but wouldn’t have the finish to show for it finishing 40th. Tony Stewart would encounter a frustrating evening as well, with a fuel pickup problem derailing his quest for his first Daytona 500 win. Stewart would finish 35th.
A look at the Daytona 500 by the numbers. There were 42 lead changes among 18 drivers, while seven cautions for 39 laps would slow the race pace to 145.290 MPH.
Next week, the Sprint Cup Series heads to the “diamond in the desert,” Phoenix International Raceway for The Profit on CNBC 500K. The Green flag is scheduled for 3:15pm EST.
Nationwide Series Post-Race Quotes: Drive4COPD 300
posted by Thomas Bowles
Tuesday February 25, 2014
Frontstretch Interviews – Courtesy Mike Neff
ELLIOTT SADLER – FINISHED 4th
Thoughts on the race?
It’s definitely a lot different racing than what we’re used to.
Comfortable with it?
Yeah, it’s just different. You’re worried about what you’re doing, but you’re also worried about what everyone else is doing and they’re not doing more than you’re doing. Physically pushing a guy is way better than just riding so you just gotta time it right and push it to the edge.
Happy to start the year with a top 5?
Yeah. Hell, that was the worst we ran all day, I think. I have no idea how they put the 3 car in front of us on that last restart. I hadn’t seen the 3 car hardly all day. When they put us from fifth to sixth, on the outside line, it just really boxed us in. I would have really restarted behind my teammate and given him a good push to the front. Anyways, it is what it is; we’ll take it and move on.
Looked like you were up front all day.
The guys did a good job. We had a fast race car. Great pit stops, just really proud of these guys. The car’s in one piece and we can take it to Talladega now. Great job by my guys. A lot of effort came into coming down here to Daytona and giving ourselves a shot to win. We had that chance to be up front and make some things happen. Fifth is not what we want, but we’ll take it and move on.
Bumping vs Pushing?
It’s way harder. You don’t want to lay on the guy in front of you, so it’s tough racing. A lot different than what we’re used to, ‘cause you gotta go. You gotta drag the brake too ‘cause you don’t want to hit the guys and you don’t want to stay on him. It’s a lot harder mentally than what we’ve done in the past.
Car was strong all day. Pushing vs. Bumping, is that harder to do than just getting on somebody and pushing them?
Yeah, it is a little bit. When you bump ‘em, you jar ‘em, it kinda jacks ‘em a little bit. It’s a little more abrupt, obviously. I thought it was OK there at the end. It was certainly fun and hopefully entertaining. But a little bit of a struggle in the early part of the race and the midpart of the race to see a good race. And that’s unfortunate for the fans. You can’t do that the whole race, you can’t tear up your stuff, knock your grill in, overheat your motor, all that stuff so there’s no sense in doing all that until you get down to the last lap. The 7 and the 6, they did a good job. Man, the 7 really held the 22 and I tight on the bottom. I was rubbing his door and hitting the apron at the same time, no room whatsoever. So it was good; wish we were the ones who could have won but a lot better now than what we were last year.
Going home in one piece makes it a lot better, right?
Yeah. My back feels good. My foot feels good. Past years here, I’ve been going home with pain so I’m alright.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Truck Series Post-Race Quotes: Daytona (Exclusives)
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday February 22, 2014
When you’re on the outside like that, how frustrating is it?
It’s so hard. Timothy Peters has won here. Kyle Busch has won everywhere. Ron Hornaday has been running Trucks forever, probably before I was even born. I was surrounded by veterans there, and like I told them I don’t have a rookie stripe but I’m a rookie. This is only my fourth Truck race ever, my fourth superspeedway race, and man, I figured out when the 17 got up in front of me, I pushed him. And as soon as I pushed him, he took off. And I went with him. And I just kept doing it, and before I knew it, he was leading. And I saw Ron in my mirror, backed up to him, and if it wasn’t for him, I don’t know what would have happened. I gotta thank him big time for that. That was a true teammate move right there. I really appreciate that. He just bounced off me and we got to the front. I tried my hardest to sidedraft Kyle. I was probably touching his door.
Top 5 in the No. 30 truck. This deal come together at the last minute, but you had a heck of a truck. Tell us about your night.
Yeah, I’ve got to thank Turner Scott Motorsports. The guys worked so hard on this Rheem Comfort Products Chevrolet. Exciting! Just got hung up on the outside and had to wait for my teammate there to catch up. And then he got to the bottom, so… I got the old 32 and started pushing ol’ Ryan to the front. So, it’s not bad. We’ll take it. You just don’t want to step over that boundary. You don’t know how far to push and shove. We bumped about six times down the straightaway without latching onto them. Hopefully, that was OK and we came home with a top 5.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Budweiser Duels Post Race Quotes
posted by Matt Stallknecht
Friday February 21, 2014
BUDWEISER DUELS POST-RACE QUOTES
They’re saying the wheel bearing burned up in it. I don’t know what caused it, they’re taking it all apart to figure out what the heck happened. Something abnormal that’s for sure I don’t think I’ve ever had that happen at all. Hopefully, we made the race and hopefully we can fix the problem before Sunday.
WHAT WAS THAT LOUD BOOM ONCE YOU TURNED INTO THE GARAGE?
Loud pop was a tire… thankfully, it popped, hopefully it didn’t hurt anybody. All the heat created in the left front that popped was pretty weird.
REALLY GOOD RUN. WHAT DID YOU THINK OF IT?
Yeah, it was good. We have a car we can work with for the 500. Got a good starting spot, so we’re going to rest easy, fluff and buff our car for a couple of days and get ready for Sunday.
ANY DIFFERENCE ON WHETHER THE TOP OR BOTTOM LANE WORKED?
Yeah, I was just moving around, trying to stay with the flow. For me, this car works on all parts of the racetrack. So I’m pretty happy with it.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.
GOT SHUFFLED BACK, AFTER PIT STOPS AND THEN COULDN’T GET BACK UP TO THE FRONT. WHY?
Nah, we were just sitting there waiting until the last few laps to make a move. You didn’t want to pull down and get sent to the back. Seen a couple of guys get sent to the back really quick so we were just kind of waiting for the end. I felt like we had a good situation there with Ambrose behind us — we had a good run off Turn 2 and I went. It was the last lap, time to go do something, nobody went with us but hopefully Sunday is a different story.
We got a great car. We don’t have to work hard. We learned, we got a good race car. Got a car in one piece, ready to go so we’ll try and get through the next couple of practices, deliver it to the starting group this Sunday and we’ll be real happy.
YOU’RE IN THE DAYTONA 500!
Yeah, it’s pretty awesome. This Whitetail Chevrolet was so fast that I knew all I had to do was stick it behind smart, intelligent drafters and we could have a good finish. That’s what we did in the Duels and I’m excited. I’m excited to go do some stuff with the Nationwide car and have some more practice with this. But to know that we’re locked in the Daytona 500’s pretty cool.
YOU WERE OBVIOUSLY IN FRONT OF THAT MELEE AT THE END. WHEN YOU WERE UP FRONT THERE IN THE BEGINNING, WERE YOU HOPING TO JUST STAY IN LINE AND LET YOU FINISH TOP 5?
I was pretty content to ride and luckily I knew a lot of people around us were. It was nice to have a little calm and not really have to be racing hard the whole time. I knew that the pit stop was going to shake everything up and that’s exactly what happened. Fell back a little bit there but made the right moves at the end to get a good finish.
HOW STRONG ARE THESE RCR CARS?
They’re very strong! They definitely have the capabilities to be winning one of these races.
YOU’RE IN THE TOP 5 FOR YOUR HEAT IN THE DAYTONA 500. YOUR PRIMARY CAR IS SITTING RIGHT IN THE GARAGE, KIND OF WADDED UP. DID YOU THINK THIS ONE HAD IT IN IT?
Yeah, it’s a brand new car also. It’s just not quite as good as the primary but still a damned good car. I’m just proud of everybody at RCR for building such fast race cars. All of our cars have been fast, ECR motor’s been strong, even our affiliate teams have been qualifying really good and racing good. So… excited about 2014! It’s going to be a good year.
WELL MAN, YOU STARTED IN THE BACK BUT WORKED YOUR WAY TO THE FRONT WHEN IT COUNTED MOST. WERE YOU JUST BIDING YOUR TIME THROUGHOUT THE RACE?
Eh, you never know if you’re going to get back up there or not. We had to start at the back, we had to make a run early and see what we could do. We drove right to 10th, or something like that and then it got stagnant. We tried to make something happen, and went to the back again. Drove back up to the front. Again, just really proud of my guys. Matt Kruder did a hell of a job on that pit stop getting just enough gas in to gain some spots there.
RCR CARS SEEM PRETTY DARNED STRONG. DO YOU THINK THE RCR CARS HAVE SOMETHING FOR THEM ON SUNDAY — ESPECIALLY THE THREE JOE GIBBS RACING CARS THAT SEEM TO BE THE CLASS OF THE FIELD RIGHT NOW?
Oh yeah. The 20 car was extremely fast. The 11 didn’t qualify that good, but he’s a good drafter. I think he won. We definitely have something for him.
Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
Amy Henderson · Thursday July 3, 2008
When Bruton Smith talks, everyone listens; and Sunday was no exception. Popping up just prior to his track’s main event, Smith spoke to the media as newly purchased New Hampshire Motor Speedway prepared for the first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event under the Speedway Motorsports, Inc. banner. As usual, all ears were in Smith’s direction as he and NHMS General Manager Jerry Gappens addressed the packed room. The future of the race track was in question, and these two were just the people to provide either comfort or chaos to thousands of New England racing fans.
But once they finished, the motives for Smith’s press conference were clear; rumors of the Speedway’s demise were greatly exaggerated. Instead, Smith has big plans for the 1.058-mile oval that he purchased from Bob Bahre last November. Yes, those plans include upgrades to the facility. No, there won’t be a dragway; but the road course will continue to be an integral part of the track moving forward. And to the question that is perhaps most on the minds of local fans and media alike, yes, there will be two Sprint Cup races at the New England Speedway for the foreseeable future.
That first question came — predictably — right away. Would Smith move one of the track’s dates to either Las Vegas Motor Speedway or Kentucky Speedway?
The answer came fast and succinct. “No,” Smith said, and waited for the next question to be asked. Later in the press conference, Gappens reiterated that tickets for both Loudon races for 2009 will be on sale soon, and the track announced its 27th consecutive sellout of a Cup race to boot.
Well, so much for New Hampshire’s demise; from that point on, talk shifted to a brighter future for a track that’s been a part of the Cup Series since 1993. Smith wasn’t shy when asked about upgrades to the current facility; he said he was looking to add an additional 100 acres of RV parking, and more restrooms to relieve long lines for fans. Lights are on the wish list, too — although a noise ordinance in the town of Canterbury, which abuts the track, currently prohibits night racing. Smith said he hopes that can be revisited, and adds that he has the support of none other than New Hampshire Governor John Lynch for many of his plans.
“I’ve got to be pretty good friends with your governor now, and he has offered his support and support from his office,” said Smith. “You can’t do what we do without cooperation from the city, county, and state. Sometimes they say, ‘Well, we can’t do it yet; we’ve got to study it for three or four months.’ If you go outside, you see we don’t have lights. [But] we’re going to have to overcome that, because I want to put lights in here so if we have to run at night, we can run at night.”
And Smith is a bulldog when it comes to getting his way on speedway projects; just ask the city of Concord, North Carolina. When the city council turned down Smith’s initial request to build an NHRA drag racing facility at Lowe’s Motor Speedway — which boasts a 1.5-mile oval and a dirt track along with the planned drag strip — Smith threatened to move his race track and all the revenue it produced. A few weeks later, about the time that nearby Rowan County offered Smith a sweet deal to build a new track within its borders, Concord acquiesced on the drag strip — but Smith still hesitated. Long story short, the end result left him not just staying put in Concord, but building the new addition requested with the help of an $80 million incentive program from the city. And to top it all off, the drag strip will be accessed on the newly renamed Bruton Smith Boulevard.
So if anyone can change the locals’ minds, it’s Bruton Smith; and the fact that he wants to do just that gives hope New Hampshire will continue to be a primary concern of his moving forward.
As for changes to the track’s racing surface, the future remains unclear. Originally planning to make wholesale changes, Smith now says he’ll weigh all options after seeing some racing action early in the weekend. “I found out that this speedway was far racier than I had realized,” Smith said following Friday’s Camping World East and Saturday’s Whelen Modified Tour and Nationwide Series races. “We had some great races here [Saturday], and I’m very proud of that.”
“We’ve been saying, ‘What are we going to do, what are we going to do?’ I don’t know yet. But we’re working on plans.”
Smith’s tracks do have the reputation for being fan friendly. One of the first things Smith did at NHMS was make pre-race pit passes available for purchase, something that was never done in the past due to the track’s small size. There were portable toilets brought in as a temporary measure to ease congestion at the restrooms, and concession stands had a few more choices — although the track remained “dry” with no alcohol sales to speak of.
One major change that Smith is hoping to make is the addition of a third major event weekend at the Speedway — a move which has not been done since 1998. As a result, SMI is in negotiations to bring the IRL IndyCar Series back to Loudon as early as next year. The series has raced at the speedway in the past, but dropped the track from the schedule following the 1998 season.
“Tony George called me Tuesday, and we talked about having the Indy Cars here,” Smith said with his usual touch of humor. “I call them Indy Cars. A league, to me, is something else – we should just call them Indy Cars. Anyways, we do want to bring them back, and I think it’s possible.”
Smith also addressed his desire for a Sprint Cup race at his newest acquisition, Kentucky Speedway, as well as a second date for Las Vegas Motor Speedway — but again, he expressed that his plans did not include removing a race from New Hampshire’s docket. “We’ll try to accomplish that in another way. We’re working diligently on that,” Smith explained. “We may have to make a drastic move somewhere. I’m more concerned right now over in Kentucky than I am in Las Vegas, because Las Vegas is a second date. The sport needs Las Vegas. We need to have our awards banquet there. Everybody in this garage will tell you they want to go to Vegas again and again.”
“I think our sport needs another race in Vegas. Will NASCAR whip out a Thanksgiving gift? I don’t think so, but somewhere, as I gaze into my crystal ball, I can see another date coming.”
Finally, the issue of the track’s road course was addressed. The road course was the original racing surface at the speedway, before the Bahre family purchased it and turned it into a premiere motorsports facility; and even today, it is still home to the oldest organized motorcycle race in the country.
“We just had the 85th Loudon Classic,” Gappens explained with pride. “It’s very important to what we do, and I did promise the motorcycle people that we would look at trying to give that event a shot in the arm.”
“We do have potential for another major event weekend,” Gappens continued. “I don’t know what that is at this point, but that makes a lot of sense. We also had the Vintage Racing Classic here in May that was very successful, too, and I think there’s a lot of potential to add a car show. I think we could have the vintage cars running on the road course and on the oval, with a static display of cars on the outside.”
“I also think there’s potential for those other two events that we have on the schedule — with the history and tradition — so we can build on those and have a great schedule here for ’09 and moving forward.”
That’s a tradition Smith appears on board with, as he again confirmed his satisfaction with the racing NHMS provides. “I was pleasantly pleased with the shows that we had and how racy it really was,” he said. “Prior to that, I was very determined on making some changes. But we’re [still] going to look at the topographical information, study it, and see if there’s something [we can do].”
“This place reminds me a great deal of Bristol, Tennessee,” Smith concluded. “I guess it’s the people; it’s the area, the enthusiasm. Racing here is almost like it is in Kentucky; it’s like a second religion. If I thought it was going to be this good, I’d have paid Bob more.”
Lucky for Smith, that deal was already done. But if you took him at face value, it seems that the future for New Hampshire Motor Speedway is bright. Should Smith remain true to his word, NASCAR racing should be a staple at the New England racetrack for a long time coming, as should the Loudon Classic and possibly the IndyCar Series as well. Those practicing that second religion might just have the best church in town.
©2000 - 2008 Amy Henderson and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
If Bruton would add some banking to the turns I think it would make for more exciting racing.
As a NH resident, I can speak with authority when I say that Bruton Smith will run into problems and may wind up moving the track and shutting it down. Why? Because he hasn’t figured out yet that when it comes to noise ordinances and such, the governor has absolutely no say or pull in the matter, and folks up in Canterbury will most likely not care if he moves the track because they won’t change the ordinance. You see, Canterbury and Loudon are different towns, and there’s no county government to speak of in NH – it’s town or state (county only takes care of the county courts). Canterbury gets no tax benefits from the track, and little economic assistance from it (not much in the way of hotels and other businesses that make money from the fans), so there’s no incentive to go along with Bruton. At least Loudon gets a lot of property taxes from the track, so he has a little leverage there.
The governor has a two year term, and is the least powerful governor in the country – the executive branch is split between him and the Executive Council at the top. So, he really can’t do much more than be a cheerleader or a facilitator for discussion; there’s no state level office that can push the towns to go along with Bruton, or override their decisions.
He seems to be shmoozing the gov and I haven’t heard of him talking to the locals, which is guaranteed to get their backs up. That’s a bad thing. Add that to the fact that that area is more hardcore NH than the developed southern part, with its typical mistrust of outsiders – and Bruton is VERY much an outsider there – and that they’re the type that don’t react well to threats (like track moves) – and I see trouble looming ahead.
If he wants to make headway, there’s a language he is also capable of speaking that they’ll listen to – the language of money. He needs to go to the local towns and offer incentives to them if they go along – limits to the number of days lights/noise will be allowed, and gifts that would show he’s a good neighbor – like promising to fund improvements or charities in the area. That would go a long way towards easing things a bit.
The other problem for Bruton is finding another area in New England somewhere to build a track should he have to pull that threat – Vermont won’t be interested, Maine is too far away, Massachusetts has boatloads of environmental regulations, same with Connecticut and RI, not to mention lack of space. I would hope someone offered him the way to do that move and stay in New England, but you’ve seen what it’s like in NYC and places north…
Sure, he could just move the races out of the area, and then NASCAR will have no tracks northeast of Pocono and Watkins Glen. Maybe that doesn’t matter, but I don’t think NASCAR would be thrilled.
And as for lights, and night races, why not race at the traditional Noon-1PM time period for a change?
Stay tuned! It’ll be interesting to watch.
Hey Mike In NH,
I’m from VA, about an hour from Martinsville. People there consider the track “Holy Ground” and would (will) do anything to keep their two NASCAR races!!
Even though I love going to the race there, I can see the track losing a date in the future. There were a lot of empty seats for the spring race, and (BTW) the France family owns the track now…
Yanking races from Martinsville?! That’s just not right…
The problem is that lots of people love NASCAR up here in New England (hence the attendance at the races) but apparently that doesn’t include anyone in the Canterbury or Loudon governments, and they’d rather push a big economic engine out of their state than deal with the traffic or noise two or three times a year. Which is pretty sad – a lot of these same people don’t seem to have a problem with Motorcycle Week, but I guess the race weekends impact them more.
I wonder if there’s enough space around Thompson Speedway in NE Connecticut to put a NASCAR track (right now it’s a 1/2 mile paved oval, I believe)? He could buy it, and move the races down there, if the locals are too dumb to see the forest for the trees. Plus, Thompson is not far from Providence, Worcester, Boston, Hartford, or me (heh heh) and closer to NYC than Dover or Pocono. A win win! :) Sigh.. probably not enough room, and then there’s the enviro regs and NIMBYism, of course…
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