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 · Friday March 27, 2009
At the top level of NASCAR, there are so many factors to consider every week. There are sponsors to please, fans to appease, and an owner to answer to. Your job is to try to win races and ultimately the championship. And that’s not just at the top. Don’t think for a second that that is any less Robby Gordon’s goal than it is Jeff Gordon’s, because no matter how lacking the equipment might be, racers race to win, to get the best finish within their power, to bring home the highest points position they can claw their way into. Racing should never stop being fun, and as Ken Schrader said, when it stops being fun, it’s time to retire. But that doesn’t mean that fun can be the top priority anymore.
I always liked that Dale Earnhardt, Jr. is the person he is. He doesn’t try to be something he’s not, and he’s always had fun, because he surrounds himself with people he has fun with. The problem is, it seems to be more about the fun than the drive to win.
It might be fun, but at this level, it’s not a game.
As the ground swells to rocking with the call for a new crew chief for Earnhardt, Jr., the driver continues to defend his choice of Tony Eury, Jr., even taking the lion’s share of the blame for the No. 88’s poor showing onto his own shoulders. That’s admirable, because Tony Eury, Jr. is family, and he and Earnhardt, Jr. grew up together. It’s also not what Rick Hendrick is paying for.
Amid the deluge of criticism of Eury, Earnhardt has stood firmly pat. He has said that he doesn’t worry about whether he and Eury are “the perfect combination or not, that doesn’t mean anything to me. I just like racing with him.” In other words, to Earnhardt, it’s more about having fun than winning. And it all comes back to the fact that at this level, that is simply not how it works. There is simply too much at stake.
I feel badly for both of the Juniors. Is Eury really the problem, the reason for the lack of success? Well, he is, and he isn’t. He is in that he doesn’t command Earnhardt’s respect—he allows his cousin to walk over him at times, and when the communication breaks down as a result, performance suffers. It’s hard to tell if Eury can’t keep up with the car on a changing track or simply can’t keep up with his cousin.
On the other hand, it’s not entirely in Eury’s lap. Earnhardt is under tremendous pressure from all sides, probably including his own, truth be told. He’s being asked to live up to something he can’t. Junior is a good driver, better than many. But he’s not a great driver. It’s unfair to compare him to Jeff Gordon or Jimmie Johnson or especially his late father, because he isn’t that kind of driver. His fans want him to be, and so do his sponsors. But wanting does not make it so. The bottom line is, while Junior is a legitimate top-12 driver, he’s not championship caliber.
I’m not saying he has to be championship caliber, and just because he isn’t right now doesn’t mean he couldn’t be if paired in a more productive crew chief relationship. That kind of thing is hard to speculate on, but there are reasons to back it up—mainly Junior’s own record with Tony Eury, Sr., who he has all but two of his points wins with. It’s not just that “Pops” was a good crew chief, it was that there was a whole different level of respect there. In those days, there were flashes of a better, more disciplined driver in Earnhardt, as well as of a brilliant mechanic in his car chief, Eury, Jr.
I have no doubt that Eury, Jr. has the ability to be a top wrench, because, simply put, Rick Hendrick doesn’t hire hacks. Chad Knaus, perhaps the most brilliant crew chief in Sprint Cup today and a teammate at Hendrick Motorsports, has had nothing but praise for Eury’s skill.
So, they both show promise, and frankly, they do show more of it apart than together. But they have fun together, and that’s what it seems to boil down to for Earnhardt, Jr. If that’s all he is looking for, then perhaps the highly driven HMS isn’t as good a fit for him as it first appeared. Heck, perhaps the Cup series isn’t. Because while racers should love racing, they should also strive to be at the top of the mountain—even if their longtime friend can’t make it and has to stop shy of the summit. Maybe that friend could even make the summit on his own.
But to me, this is make or break time. For Earnhardt, time grows shorter and shorter to make a championship bid. If he is willing to give that up, then perhaps Rick Hendrick made the wrong call. He’s got three drivers in his stable right now who are all desperate to win the title this year, and all willing to do whatever it takes to get there. And he’s got one driver who would rather have fun, when push really comes to shove. To be a top team, you need every person in that shop focused on the goal that is to be the best of them all. They can have fun doing it, but when fun gets in the way of the goal, the whole team suffers in the end. That’s a concept that has never seemed to fit in at HMS—even the underperforming Casey Mears has that singular goal.
It reminds me of that game we played as kids, with the obnoxious song-“One of these things is not like the others.” In this case, one of them is not like the others, nor does he fit the mold of his organization or of most of his sport. I’ve always admired Dale Earnhardt, Jr. for not fitting the mold. But this mold is one he can’t afford to avoid. If the desire isn’t there, that’s not the end of the world. But maybe if that’s truly the case, the two Juniors are better suited for a different world, one where the stakes aren’t quite so high. They would have more fun, and if that is what they really want, it would be, in the end, a good thing.
©2000 - 2008 Amy Henderson and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
Amy, you have never been one to hide your feelings for your “Favorite” Drivers.
Stu, I hardly know where to start.
First off, the whole notion that one car in multi-team shops is an “R&D” car and therefore must run poorly is a load of rubbish. Explain to me how Roush put five cars in the Chase in 2005 and RCR put all three in in 2007…if one of them MUST be an R&D car.
Secondly, perhaps you could explain why of all of his four drivers to be the “R&D” car, Rick Hendrick would choose the most popular driver on his team.
Third, if the 5 car has been an “R&D car” since the days of Terry Labonte, then that would include Kyle Busch’s tenure at Hendrick, which not only shoots down your suggestion that “the Busch brothers would never do this”, but also would indicate that Kyle is a hell of a lot better than Junior at making subpar equipment run well.
I like Junior and I don’t question his motivation. But to say that he isn’t winning because Hendrick wants NASCAR’s biggest icon to test shocks is absolutely absurd.
I’m not a Jr. fan but I feel bad for him. He’s in an impossible situation. He has all the money in the world but cannot do anything normal people do because of his fame. If he devotes himself totally to racing, he will miss out on the enjoyment of the rest life has to give. If he does things that are fun, he will make the racing world mad if he is not in the championship hunt.
I would not be surprised if he decided to retire early and try to have a normal life (which will be impossible). He will be considered a failure by many if he does not win a championship and even if he did, others would consider it a failure if he didn’t win several.
I have to wonder of” having fun” wasn’t taken out of context. There have been many studies done that show if you are in a job and not having fun you are not going to be as successful as if you were having fun. and enjoying what you do. Imagine getting up every day and going to a job you don’t like; eventually you end up with stress, ulcers and generally hating yourself and everyone around you, Now if you were in JR’s shoes; a job that is a high stress fishbowl with an skyhigh amount of mental and physical stress with super high expectations. Mg God, Amy, could you imagine doing what he does every day if he couldn’t look at it as “Fun?” Most people would be running in the other direction as fast as they could.
First off I’m not a Jr. fan. But sometimes I feel for the guy. If one thing both Kyle Busch and Junior share is that both don´t hold back their emotions. If the car sucks, both of them will tell you the car sucks. Recently, both have laid the boom on their crews for poor pit stops. But it was true in both cases. Both of them like to have fun at what they do. Kyle races trucks for free. In Junior’s case “FUN” was taken out of context. What ever happen to honesty and just tell it like it is. Junior and Kyle are the only two drivers that speak their minds, and show their emotions more power to the both of them.
In Junior’s case, when Rick Hendrick hired Jr. he saw $$$$ not wins. Hendrick already has a winning shop #48/#24 and yes Hendrick has always had the R&D shop #5, #25. Look which roof the #88 is under. It’s not so hard to figure out. All of the Roush, Gibbs and Childress cars are much closer together. You will see equipment failures from their flagship cars of #99, #18 or #29. But compare the mechanical failures of #48 or #24 vis-à-vis the #5 or #88.
Kyle Busch really has to thank Rick Hendrick for his recent success. Otherwise, well you get the point. I suggest Junior, tell Rick Hendrick he wants the #88 prepared in the “other building” and see how he reacts.
Great Article, I couldn’t agree with you more!!
Gordon81wins hit the nail right on the head.
Your post is just another in a long line of posts from Jr. apologists trying to justify his poor showing and results. Oh yeah, I thought the 25 was the “R&D”, not the 5 car.
Could it be that Theresa Earnhardt had it correct when she said, “Dale Jr. needs to decide on whether he wants to be a race car driver or a celebrity.
I challenge Stu Gatz to provide solid proof that Dale jr is the research car for the team. Unless they are providing data on how not to work together or how not to win. I am tired of Junior nation apologists making excuses for their boy. I think darn near everyone likes Dale Jr. the person as an individual, I mean what’s not to like? But that’s not what racing and championships are built on. People still treat Jr. like he’s a little child and his daddy just died and we all still need to treat the guy with kid gloves and allow mistakes and excuses for the “Great One’s” son. Get over it folks. He was a grown adult when his father died in the profession they both knew was dangerous and chose anyways. Out there on race day it’s not who your daddy was…..You are either spanking the rest of the field and saying “who’s your daddy!” or being spanked and crying daddy…..Maybe Junior needs to decide if he is going to be a moderately fast traveling billboard of mediocrity or if he wants to be a champion- or join his second Daddy in the booth at Fox….Just sayin……..
I’ve no doubt that Jr. can win….when he WANTS to.
Right now….Kyle wants it more…and the results speak for themselves.
We need more “Kyles” on the track than “drive around” guys.
I still think,all 4 cars at hendrick, shoiuld be in the same room, together!!! Not the 24 and 48 in one end of the building, and the 5 and 88 at the other end of the building!! Do all, you fans, really think that the 24 and48 share everything with the 5 and 88? NOT!!!!!
Meh, Jr made 30 million dollars last year. I’ll have a comment when I make 1. Seems to be working for him.
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