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
Monday March 3, 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.
Holding A Pretty Wheel · Amy Henderson · Thursday February 26, 2009
It wasn’t that long ago when every major sport could have taken a page from NASCAR’s book. This was a sport that was fan friendly. The drivers were accessible to the fans and happy to oblige. The sport was rich in tradition and the racing was good. Everyone wanted to win the Daytona 500 and the Southern 500, the two notches in the fencepost that mattered most to teams. It was a family sport that parents could watch with their kids. What was not to love?
Then, seemingly overnight, things began to change, although the changes have come over the course of a few years. The sport is not so fan friendly—watching the sport together has turned into watching the start and then sending the kids off to do their homework. The oldest race on the circuit has been gone for several years, replaced by a “market.” The drivers are scarce in public areas, and the tradition and good racing are all but gone, replaced by trends and fans who will likely only ride this bandwagon until the next stop, and then jump onto the next trend when it rolls in, leaving longtime fans and purists scratching their heads and wondering what happened to the sport they once loved.
Sure, many of them still watch, but it’s not the same as it once was. Where there was once anticipation and blind faith that this would be a good one—after all, it was Sunday, and there was a race-a race!
The problem is, the sanctioning body either doesn’t care or doesn’t have a clue how to fix a sport that is rapidly deteriorating to the point that it will be beyond repair. Yet, there are some ways that NASCAR could win back some fans, make it fun and real and exciting again. And they could make a great start without even making a single rules change for the teams on the racetrack. In fact, there are five simple things NASCAR could do to remind its old fans and new how great the sport was and can be again.
1. Revamp the schedule
I mean, really sit down and start from scratch, and make the schedule about the racing, not about pandering to a “market.” Last time I checked, the “market” was the fans who tune in to races from coast to coast, not a few who largely can’t be bothered. NASCAR sold its soul in the late 1990s, when they allowed North Wilkesboro to be sold for spare parts. They made it worse when their sister company, International Speedway Corporation, sold North Carolina Speedway to rival Speedway Motorsports, Inc. with the condition that the track be closed and its races moved elsewhere. ISC did a nice job making Bruton Smith look like the bad guy, but they essentially used Rockingham, as the track was affectionately known, as a pawn in an attempt to appease SMI with another race date and get out of the inevitable upgrades to Rockingham all in one fell swoop.
NASCAR needs to think outside the box on this one. Their excuse for taking the Labor Day race away from Darlington, where it had been since practically the beginning of time, was that the track wasn’t selling out two races. But they moved the race from the first superspeedway designed for stock cars to a superspeedway that was designed for open-wheel racecars without so much as an afterthought to stock cars. If selling out two races is the criteria, then only tracks who sell out two races should have two races. Right now, that is only Bristol Motor Speedway and New Hampshire Motor Speedway with any consistency. So, if a track cannot support two races, take one away and spread the wealth. If Iowa Speedway can build the seats necessary, race there. If Rockingham Speedway (as it has been renamed) can make some necessary upgrades, race there. Race at Road Atlanta and another road course—including one in the Chase. Give Kentucky Speedway a date. But don’t try to sell Auto Club Speedway on fans as deserving of two races. The races there are disappointing every time out, plain and simple.
Finally, don’t try to pass off the May Darlington race as the Southern 500. The Southern 500 was run on Labor Day weekend, and Mother’s Day was a week off to give the drivers some family time. Used to be a family sport, remember? Don’t try to insult our intelligence or our loyalty by calling this race the Southern 500. Anyone who thinks it’s right or cool to rename it probably was never a fan for a real Southern 500.
2. Get the drivers involved with the fans
The Indy Racing League holds autograph sessions before every race. The drivers are cordial and friendly. And they have to be there if they want to race.
I’m not suggesting that this format would work in NASCAR, but NASCAR should make sure that drivers are more accessible to their fans. It would be easy enough to do—you find an hour on Friday or Saturday or don’t bother to come on Sunday. Would the logistics be tough? Of course, but it could be done. Some drivers would, as necessitated by their popularity and the lack of basic manners of far too many fans, have to be in a segregated area, while others could easily be done at the haulers. Give a certain number of tickets to each gate attendant, to be given to the first fans, age 15 and under, to enter through their gate. Once they run out of one driver, the kids pick from who is left. Letting a few kids meet their heroes each week would do a lot for keeping the sport popular for generations.
But I agree that the drivers already have a lot to contend with. The solution—ban autographs in the garage. Let the corporate types get them in hospitality, and the kids get them in scheduled sessions. If the drivers choose to sign at other times, cool. But while saying they owe the fans might be too strong a statement, many need to remember that they are someone’s hero, and just a smile and a hello would go a long way towards making a race magic for some fans.
3. Start races earlier
Once upon a time, most races started at 1:00 local time. Most fans didn’t complain, and it made both watching the race on TV and going in person an easy family activity. You got home at a decent hour even with traffic, and if you watched on TV, you could have a family dinner before sending the kids off to do their homework and get ready for school on Monday.
Then the networks came along. And they said that the races started too early…couldn’t grab those early ratings from people who ran errands after church. Couldn’t get ratings if…something. So NASCAR caved, and created races like last Sunday’s ridiculousness. If a track wants a night race, it should be on Saturday, with the lone exception of the Coca-Cola 600, which is on the eve of a holiday.
Several friends of mine commented after Sunday’s race that their kids couldn’t watch the end, because it was a school night. There goes the family aspect.
The solution: start Sunday races at 1:00 PM local. All of them. Or schedule them for a Saturday night race. It used to be church, race, family dinner. Now it’s church, green flag, and go your separate ways to do homework and Sunday night chores. The earlier starts were a long standing tradition, and traditions start for a reason.
4. Work with tracks to make a better experience for the fans
NASCAR needs to start with the family business here. Say what you want about Bruton Smith, SMI tracks blow ISC out of the water when it comes to fan friendliness. It was understandable for tracks to make some security changes in the post-September 11th days when everyone was afraid. But while other tracks have kept security up with searches, ISC used the guise of safety to keep fans from bringing coolers in to the tracks and thereby forcing them to spend whatever ISC asks for concessions instead. It’s kind of low to use fear as a tactic to sell beer.
One thing that NASCAR needs to ban at all sanctioned tracks is the ticket policy that allows tracks to force fans to buy package deals in order to get the best seats at a race. Allowing a speedway to tell a fan that they would rather have an empty seat than sell a single race ticket to a fan is nothing short of a disgrace. Fans should be able to purchase whatever seats they want for whatever race they want. Period.
5. Don’t let cheaters prosper
Sure, teams bend the rules. They have done it since the beginning, and it’s part of the game—props to those who don’t get caught, especially under the close scrutiny they get in the garage these days. If teams didn’t push the envelope every single week, the racing would get boring quickly. But when someone is caught enhancing performance illegally, do something about it, and do the same thing every time.
My take is this: if a team gets caught in opening tech, slap them with a hefty fine and send them back through, last in line. Missing laps in first practice is punishment enough for a car that has not been illegal in competition. No harm no foul. You caught us, we’ll fix it and write you a six-figure check. Caught after making a qualifying run? Now they have competed. Toss the time and any guaranteed starting spot along with it. Let a legal car race in your place. Finally, a car with an infraction that enhances performance during a race should forfeit its finishing position and give up all points and purse associated with the race. NASCAR tossed the winner for cheating in the very first race in the series that evolved into Sprint Cup, so the “precedent” argument just doesn’t hold water. If a team can prove that a part failure caused a car to be too low or too high, that’s one thing. If not…stop rewarding them.
NASCAR fans often get asked by newer fans why we stick around if we are unhappy. That’s simple—it’s because we know how great it once was, and just maybe could be again. It’s up to NASCAR not to let that hope fade completely. Fans just want the sport they once loved to be great again. Shouldn’t NASCAR want it to be great, too?
©2000 - 2008 Amy Henderson and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
What a bunch of drivel; assumptions without facts adding up to a big whine.
Racing has been around a long time and goes thru constant evolutions… Please compare what racing was 40, 20, and 10 years ago and you’ll notice that on the whole, it’s still getting better.
Or, do you long for the good ol’ days with fatalaties all season long, racetracks that had little more than a rain gutter in the restrooms for relief, and TV times didn’t matter because there wasn’t TV coverage!
So, Henderson… get over yourself, realize how good things are, and how you’d prolly gripe about anything.
Do something about what you don’t like but don’t spread your gloominess around; that’s not a good attribute to have!
When did whining and griping become the sub-hobby of NASCAR anyhow?
Whining and complaining is the Frontstretch way.
They wouldn’t know what to do with themselves if they weren’t bitching about something or other. Or maybe their demographic is the bitter people of the world.
I haven’t quite figured out why 90% of the articles here are a weekly rehash of the same angry nostalgia, but its definitely the way it is. Though a minority of the writers have apparently tried to ease up on it this year.
I like understanding other people’s counterpoints which is why I keep reading. You just have to look past the unprofessional writing and see the ideas behind them to get any value from it.
But don’t try to sell Auto Club Speedway on fans as deserving of two races. The races there are disappointing every time out, plain and simple.
Disappointing most times out, sure. But Darlington and Rockingham hold 60,000 seats or so. California sells 70,000 to 78,000 tickets. That’s why NASCAR took the races away. Such a shame. But I thought Martinsville was the oldest race on the circuit?
And do we really want another 1.5 mile track on the schedule in Kentucky? I’d rather have Iowa or Rockingham.
It seems to me that there are some key changes which need to be made to better the racing and the competition and the fan enjoyment:
1—Eliminate the Chase and let the points be what they may. Why should guys with a great season all year long be forced to start over for the last ten races?
2—Eliminate anyone from being locked in because of owner points. Give everyone a fair playing field all season long, rather than being able to go to the show and know you’re in before you get there, regardless of qualyfing. Just look at the owner points fiasco that occurred during the off season this year.
3—In the interest of fair competition, limit each organization to two cars—three at the most. Why should teams like Roush, Hendrick, Childress, et. al., be allowed to dominate the scene? Again, this would give the little guys more of a chance.
4—Eliminate the COT, which no one really seems to like anyway, and go back to running what are supposed to be Fords, Chevys, Dodges, Toyotas, or whatever make one wantd to.
1. Brian France’s resignation.
2. Pre-race shows, 20 minutes max
3. Rockingham, at least 1 race from Fontana.
4. Top 35 reduced to Top 20.
5. California, Michigan, and Pocono – 300 mile races.
Bobb, Leo, you call it whining, we call it expressing our concerns, our thoughts, our suggestions, our interests…….. all in the spirit of hoping the sport we love so much will get better (survive). The articles and the posters do it in the hopes that maybe one of the Beach Buffoons might take note that the golden goose is getting a bit fed up (key point there). Not sure how long you have been a fan but if it’s more than 20 years or so you must see that NA$CAR has managed to muck up a pretty good thing in the name of the all mighty dollar. And should they not get their collective heads out of their collective a$$es, then they are going to be out of work. PERIOD.
My five ways.
You people who call that whining couldnt have watched a race in the 80s or 90s because everything Amy said is dead on Its not racing anymore its a ridiculous circus. Ive been watching NASCAR for 25 years. After big E was gone they went Hollywood and never looked back. If they did EXACTLY what amy said, I would be one of many fans who would be thrilled. The reason Frontstretch bi##hes every week is because they, like the true fan base are absolutely sick of the Corporate crap NASCAR has become. When did Being marketable become more important than driving the hell out of a race car. I am a HUGE Jr fan but as bad as I hate to admit it, and by the way I cant stand him, Kyle Bush takes the approach to racing all drivers should which is “Win this race ANY WAY YOU CAN” Ive rambled on enough, but thank you Amy and FS for still seeing it the way we do!
Whining is complaining about something without offereing constructive ideas about how to fix it. The ideas here stem from complaints I have herd from fans, just like you all, not just from my own personal discontent.
Hey Kevin in SoCal. It is true that there have been a very small handful of races at ACS where there has been a decent finish, but by and large, nothing to write home about. The last time ACS hosted a race with a margin of victory less than a half second (a half second is deceptively far apart for cars at those speeds) was 2006, and a margin under .5 has only happened a total of 5 times, or in less than a third of the races. The average margin of victory, not counting two races that finished under catution, is over 2 seconds. While it is true that tracks like Darlington have had large margins, they are also more likely to produce much closer finishes.
To me it isn’t about selling 60,000 vs. 70,000 tickets, it’s about provifing a schedule that provides the best racing for several MILLION fans watching on TV each week.
More whining from the Frontstretch crybabies.
1. Yes, it would be nice if, in some utopia, the schedule were set purely by racing quality. In the real world, the schedule MUST be set by ticket sales and TV revenues. No tickets sold = no tracks to race on. No TV revenues = best talent going somewhere else where more money and fame can be achieved.
2. Nascar drivers ARE more involved with fans than athletes in any other sport. In stick and ball sports the players SELL autographs.
It would be good is all drivers followed Kurt Busch’s example and signed for fans at his souvenir hauler every week, but mandatory autograph rationing as per your suggestion sounds like the Soviet Union.
3. When races started at 1pm I almost NEVER saw a green flag. By the time I was done with church and the church social hour/choir practice, got home, got the kids lunch, and was able to go to the living room I’d missed 20, 30, even 50 laps already.
And I’ve lived in Eastern time all my life. Central zone fans would miss half the race and Mountain or Pacific zone fans might as well forget it completely.
Yes, there was a reason for that early start time — no lights at the track.
4. Eliminating mandatory ticket packages and easing cooler restrictions is the only sensible point made in the 2-week whinefest that has been this website since the season began.
5. If you brought it to the track that way you meant to race it that way. There’s no difference between a shoplifter who gets caught at the door with a purse full of jewelry and a one who makes it out onto the street.
Cheating is cheating no matter when you got caught.
I swear that you moaners and gripers won’t be happy until Nascar is once again a small-time, regional sport of purely local interest where anyone who wasn’t actually at the race has to read about the results on Monday and maybe catch some home video highlights on YouTube.
Let me add one more to your list.
Get someone besides Brian to run it. He’s the one who is gimmicking things up. NA$CAR racing is in a downward spiral, & until the racing improves. No amount of gimmicks are going to help much. If by chance NA$CAR is able to put a track around NYC. They will have about the same results as Calif. Both are huge markets. Huge market that view stock car racing as something beneath bowling. Brian said he was going to get back to basics. About the only basic he seems to understand. Is that racing allowed him to grow up rich, & privileged. Time to find someone who want’s to put on a race. Rather than a show.
I think the reason so many fans are unhappy is because Brian France instituted too many major changes too quickly. If all the changes that he forced on the sport in the last 5 years were spread out over 15, fans would have had time to adjust and acclimate. Think about it, name one other major sport that has made so many radical changes so quickly. In general, people do not like change unless it’s benefits to them are obvious.
Wow! Amy presents her opinion and all of a sudden she is a whiner?
Amy is on the mark.
Na$car and ISC must be broken up that will help alot with most of what you said race stinks can’t sell tickets it’s out give the date to another track But with na$car and isc as one this will never ever never ever happen
The one thing that is misleading is the importance of the saying the race is soldout if New Hampshire should have 2 races because they sellout then all the other tracks have to do is remove seats to correct their sellout problem. What is better a 92,000 seat track that sells out at the last minute or a non sellout at Indy with 200,000 seats out of 252,000 sold. Jayski has a track seating capacity chart on his site so you can compare and see the difference.
All she is doing is voicing the opinion of many disgruntled fans, myself included. If that is seen as “whining” so be it, but at some point you will pull your head out of the sand and realize no one cares about NASCAR anymore but a handful of fan-boys unless somethings is done soon. #1 and #3 are paramount to this.
#2 cracks me up because it is the exact opposite of what we were hearing hear in Indy car country in the late 80’s/early 90’s. Back then, the NASCAR drivers were accessible and the Indy car drivers were jerks. Now the shoe is on the other foot since NASCAR has been fat dumb and happy for awhile, while the Indy car side is just doing what needs to be done to survive. I think whoever has the most fame, money, and endorsements will always be seen this way.
I only discovered this site last year. Is there nothing but complaining on here?
I mean… sheesh… if you really have 90% complaints/10% praise for something… maybe its time to stop watching?
I can’t stand hockey. So I don’t watch. I’m not going to start a blog about how much I hate it.
Not saying there is no room for complaint… but come on. If you’re a NASCAR fan, I just know you get more pumped up every Sunday than you do let down.
We must get rid of that animated gopher. At Fontana, the little vermin invaded my TV at a rate of once every 3.9 minutes of racing. Check out the race breakdowns at Jayski and see how crazy NASCAR and Fox have gotten with this rodent.
Amy said: To me it isn’t about selling 60,000 vs. 70,000 tickets, it’s about provifing a schedule that provides the best racing for several MILLION fans watching on TV each week.
I wasnt trying to justify my opinion of the event, just offering my idea of why NASCAR moved the race. They were penny-wise but pound-foolish. Yes they sell 10,000 more tickets in Fontana, but the TV audience shrinks because the fans at home dont like the racing there.
Good ideas, Amy. And I agree to your last point in the response – isn’t better to make the millions at home happier than to have 20,000 more fans at a race.
I really think the reason you do see so many complaints is that NASCAR listens only to themselves and not the fans.
(example: pre-Chase NASCAR.com (the official mouthpiece) took a poll on whether fans wanted the Chase. 80% voted no – and yet it was put into place as, per Brian, no one really understood the Chase model).
I have not seen NASCAR throw their fans one bone in the last 5 years. The complaining would go down if NASCAR did.
Here’s my thoughts on the issues presented.
1. The schedule revamp: The schedule is ok now, but I would make some changes. Fontana probably could lose a race, not just from the racing perspective, but also to save the teams from having to make additional cross-country hauls.
2. The autograph issue. You make it sound like its inappropriate for someone over the age of 15 to want a driver’s autograph, which I don’t necessarily think is true.
I’ll give you an example of how the first autograph session I went to was setup at Albany-Saratoga Speedway in August 1996. When people came into the track, they got a number. The PA announcer sounded out numbers in groups of 50, I think. Those people would go get in line to meet the personalities there that night (they were Ernie Irvan, Ned Jarrett (who was a “mystery guest”), Kenny Wallace, Ken Schrader and Richard Childress).
With smaller crowds, sessions such as what the IRL already does can work with the lower series like the Camping World Truck and Nationwide Series, with some segregation. It is here where the whacker problem would present itself again.
3. The start times definitely need to be earlier. Your 1pm local time suggestion is fine. I like them earlier not just because that means the races end earlier (which is nice), but also because it allows stuff to be done easier after the race. For me, that means writing the recap after the race to post here. I hate races that end at 10pm on Sunday nights because it’s near impossible to get quotes.
4. Yeah, the cooler rules are a little out of control at most tracks. Of course, if you live anywhere near New York City, it’s expected that if you go to almost any sporting event, they’ll violate your privacy before you can enter. At the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ, they force you to empty your pockets of everything, wand you, and if you have a purse with you, search through it thoroughly before you can enter. Being able to bring anything at all from outside in is a plus. Watkins Glen is an exception to ISC’s policies mentioned here. They let you bring a small, soft sided cooler in with you, but no glass if you’re going to sit in the stands. I’ve been twice and never bought refreshments there.
The package deals (Kansas and Chicagoland) do have to go. It’s racing’s equivalent of a Personal Seat License, something that no one likes except owners of facilities.
5. As for cheaters, I agree with what you say there. They already do what you write in qualifying for the Go or Go Home teams. For it to be used with the other teams would necessitiate the elimination of the top 35 rule.
Good article Amy, usually I find myself at odds with your articles, (although I understand and respect your point of view), but this I couldn’t agree more. Chris, even if we complain about 90% of issues within NASCAR its because_we love racing and remember it when it wasn’t the empty shell of its former self it has become. If you’ve been a longtime fan of a sport, (term used loosely nowadays with NASCAR), and you see it become something far removed from its roots you have to question why. Think of it this way, using football and baseball as an example. When you watch either on tv how close do either of those resemble say a televised game from the 70’s? Pretty darn close..no pre-show, no commentators adding non-stop colorful banter, (o.k, maybe football is a bit guilty of this, but not as bad as the “Hollywood Hotel”). Thing is that when you turned a race on prior to say 2001 maybe, it was the National Anthem, a flyover, start your engines…why? Because it was all about the racing..now? Racing, or lack of thereof, is secondary…I wrote about this last year, racing is almost the last thing on NASCAR’s mind. Now its about who can we get to sing a few tunes before the race..err..show..no, race..wait, show..all well, whichever it may be NASCAR has its priorities messed up. And that is why we complain. Some of us don’t care about anything but who makes the checkered flag first…fairly.
Another point to make. I know people like to take a shot or two at California for being a bit boring. I can agree that the racing is a bit boring there BUT looking at alot of tracks on the circuit many of the races are boring thanks to making just about every track the same while running cars that are exactly like the other cars. I have to admit that when I turn on a race in progress I find myself checking the wall out to see where they are running at. I’m not defending California as much as pointing out that there is alot of dull racing out there with many races being determined on pit road. Imagne that…guys racing at 190 mph yet the race is won while doing 55 mph…(heck, the hauler went faster to get to the track…)
Actually back in the day they never even showed the anthem or command to start engines at most races. You saw it if the race was on ESPN and you watched NASCAR 2 Day on ESPN2 just before the race.
Its whining because it accomplishes nothing. I would think Nascar couldn’t care less about FS and their opinions.
Now if all you guys who agree with Amy actually wrote a letter each to Nascar’s corporate headquarters you might get somewhere.
Grassroots organizing and spending your own time on it might get it changed. Preaching to the choir just promotes Frontstretch itself (in the same way you’re complaining about Na$car mind you).
As for being old enough here or there, you’ve all got your rose colored glasses on remembering the past. I’ve watched a hundred ESPN Classic races and I’ve been watching live since 92. Today is the best broadcast that has ever existed. It isn’t perfect but it is still better than ever. Even Fox.
And you know what? I agree with Amy about 95%. And so what? I still tune in to the races every single week. I put the TV schedule into my computer calendar so I don’t miss anything. And if nothing changes or if Brian makes it even worse, I’ll still keep tuning in because I love watching the racing, the “personalities” aren’t wife-beaters or gang-bangers, and despite everything that has gone on, the drivers are still the most accessible of any major sport.
Ie, we still have the best sport in America and you guys can’t step back and see that.
And you guys can’t even see when you’re wrong. I’m in the “hate Digger” camp. But my kid watched some of the race last week because he noticed a Digger animation. Today during the Nationwide race he asked where Digger was and I told him that was tomorrow. He said he would watch tomorrow instead.
Since I can’t explain loose/tight, fuel strategy, combustion chambers, trackbars, why changing tires in 10 seconds is unreal, etc. to a six year old, that he might actually sit and watch with me tomorrow because of Digger makes every Digger detractor wrong. Don’t you think?
Good article, Amy. The reason so many fans complain here and elsewhere is because of all the things you pointed out. NASCAR’s brand of “racing” is nothing more than a money driven circus. Those here who are whining about our concerns have probably been “fans” for the last five years or so and know little of NASCAR’s history. They don’t know good racing because they haven’t seen it. I would bet they haven’t been to very many races as well. By the way, about the only way a fan can get to a driver today is to be a sponsor employee or friend who can get into a hospitality at the track. Give me the American Lemans Series any day. The only place you can’t go is the hot pits.
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