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.
Holding A Pretty Wheel · Amy Henderson · Friday May 29, 2009
Author’s Note: My advertised column on conspiracy theories and NASCAR will run next week. I felt that the Earnhardt, Jr. situation warranted some comment this week. But not to fear, The Roswell 500 will run next week.
The announcement that much of NASCAR Nation has been waiting for with baited breath came Thursday: Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and crew chief Tony Eury, Jr. will part ways, effective immediately. Hendrick Motorsports team manager Brian Whitesell will be on top of the pit box this weekend at Dover, and then veteran head wrench Lance McGrew will take the reins on an interim basis while a permanent replacement is sought.
Both Whitesell and McGrew have found victory lane as crew chiefs, Whitesell with Jeff Gordon and McGrew with several drivers from the Camping World Truck Series and up. Though it is easy to lose sight of with the way things have been going, Earnhardt has a decent record himself—his 18 Cup wins rank ninth among active drivers. He has more wins than Carl Edwards, Greg Biffle, or Kyle Busch, in fact. The majority of his success came with a crew chief other than Eury, Jr. All of which adds up to mean only one thing.
It’s do or die time.
Many fans and media have called for Eury, Jr.’s dismissal in recent weeks as their performance was lackluster, to say the least. It came to a head this week at Lowe’s Motor Speedway, where Earnhardt finished a miserable 40th in the Coca-Cola 600 with no immediate mechanical issues. Eury will remain with Hendrick Motorsports’ research and development division. Upon the announcement of the split, Eury expressed a myriad of emotions. “I have mixed feelings, and that’s just natural,” Eury said. “But I enjoy working at Hendrick Motorsports, and this is where I want to be. I’ll do whatever I can to help all of our teams and try to be a part of another championship. I think a new challenge will be good.” That may be Eury putting on a brave face, but it could also be a relief to the beleaguered mechanic, who has taken the brunt of abuse from Earnhardt’s legion of fans for their performance.
Even Earnhardt, who said a few weeks ago that he’d rather not win with Eury than win with another crew chief, was resigned to the need for change and disappointed, admitting that all was not well in the No. 88 camp. “We’ve been sort of at odds with each other over the last couple of weeks. As a whole, our relationship is really, really strong, and we’ve always really had a great enthusiasm to work together. We came to Hendrick with a little bit of a risk. We felt a lot of pressure when we went to Rick to work, but we jumped in with both feet and really felt like we were going to make it happen. It’s really, really disappointing that it didn’t work out like we wanted.”
Earnhardt has a reputation of being kind of, for lack of better words, high maintenance. While able to communicate a racecar effectively to a crew chief—he was praised for just that ability by teammate Jimmie Johnson, who is possibly the best in the business at communicating what a racecar is doing—he has a tendency to let emotion get the better of him when things aren’t going well, and Eury’s weakness was the inability to rein him in when that happened, a combination which often led to a minor (or major) meltdown of the team structure. Earnhardt and Eury are probably the closest driver-crew chief combination in the business. Not even Johnson and Chad Knaus are as tight as the two cousins who grew up racing together.
Which, ironically, may have been the problem all along. It’s hard to tell someone who is your best friend to shut up and drive, even if he needs to both hear and heed it. It’s hard to listen to someone you regard as your equal when they are telling you to shut up and drive and the racecar he gave you isn’t cooperating. And so the vicious circle began: the car not handling right for Earnhardt, Earnhardt growing frustrated as pit stops rolled by and Eury couldn’t fix the car, and finally the communication dissolving completely, causing the car to remain stagnant, at best, while all around them, cars were slowly being adjusted into improvement.
And now race fans everywhere will know for sure if Eury was the problem or if Earnhardt is, as some suggest, overrated as a driver. It’s not an observation to be made in a week or two, but as summer heats up, it will be time to take a long hard look at the No. 88 team, as well as the driver. If they are running where most think Earnhardt is capable of, top 15 each week at the bare minimum, then it’s time to reevaluate what the driver truly is capable of. That doesn’t mean his job is unsafe—there is a lot to be said for having a driver as marketable as Earnhardt is among his HMS teammates whose age and seeming polarization of fans make them slightly less marketable than Earnhardt in today’s world where winning races is only a piece of the puzzle. But it does mean that many people, fans and insiders alike would have to come to an uncomfortable realization that as popular as Earnhardt is, he may never be a championship caliber driver in today’s NASCAR.
If McGrew can turn Earnhardt’s season around, he will find himself a popular man indeed. And it is certainly possible. McGrew has guided drivers of all personality types from wise-beyond-their years Ricky Hendrick and Brian Vickers to the volatile, sometimes explosive Kyle Busch to victory lane. If he can stand up to Earnhardt’s frustration, turn it around so that Junior communicates racecar and not emotion, and then use it to turn the racecars around on the track, then this could be a very successful team indeed. Success remains sight unseen, but it cannot remain that way for long, for the sake of team, driver, owner, and fans. Change blew into Hendrick Motorsports, and with change comes hope.
The time is now.
©2000 - 2008 Amy Henderson and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
“And now race fans everywhere will know for sure if Eury was the problem or if Earnhardt is, as some suggest, overrated as a driver.” I’m not an Earnhardt fan…neither one. But in order to maitain peace in my house during races I must bit my lip most of the time (my wife even owns green fuzzy Amp88 slippers). However, Jr. has a lot to prove right now. He may be NA$CARs most popular driver, but he is far from their best, and I don’t think team member changes are going to fix that…sorry Jr. fans.
The excuses are running out!
(of course I still don’t trust NA$CRAP in that they probably will not inspect Jr.‘s car as close as they would, say a Robby Gordon car, or Carl Long car)
After all, NA$CRAP will do what it takes to fill the stands!
And then say: “yes, the crew chief change really worked”!
Fits right in with you next column on conspiracy theories & NA$CRAP!
JR. NATION fans now have been given a renewable EXCUSE for their OVER-HYPED, OVER-RATED, HIGH MAINTAINCE AVERAGE DRIVER. The renewable 88 LUCKY DOG EXCUSE will now be repeatly used, as the revolving crew chief door begins to spin.
Is Eury Jr. responsible for driving past the Pit Boxes? I think the loose nut on the seat needs more adjusting than any other part on the car. Jr. is filling the void left when Kyle Petty stepped off. The much coveted “Famous name, less talented, also ran, space filler” driver.
Amy, its “bated”, not “baited”..unless of course you have a worm on your breath.
A few of the comments above attest to the fact that, for some reason, there are fans who feel that if Junior isn’t a championship-caliber driver with somewhere even close to his Dad’s level of talent, then he’s over-rated, a prima-donna, and obviously the bastard step-child of Michael Waltrip.
Junior is just a driver named Earnhardt whose name earned him a few breaks that we’d all accept if we were in his shoes. I’m not a huge Earnhardt fan, but if he never wins another race; if he gets fired and never drives in Nascar again, I won’t get the least bit of satisfaction from it.
First off I’m not a member of the JR nation so I’m not blined by the light. Jr. just has not had his head in the game for what ever reason for sometime now this maybe just what he needs to get things going better .Being Dale Earnhardt JR. can not be fun a times always in the spotlight.It is the life he choose but sometimes I bet he wishes he was Joe nobody just another driver.
MJR… Hope she wasn’t peaking over your shoulder when you snuck your post in:)
I remember about ten years ago, watching the Busch series. There was this dude named Earnhardt that won two championships in a row. The kid was absolutely dominant at times. I mean, he just ran away and hid. What happened to that guy?
He’s had flashes of brilliance in the Cup series. Mostly mediocrity. The anus is now on him, for sure.
Jr. had a competiveness in him during his first few years that seems to have disappeared. It seems to me that he is more interested in being a celebrity rather than winning.
Even in Jeff Gordon’s most successful years he and Ray Evernham were constantly working on getting every little bit of performance out of their racecars. Jr. seems to be content coasting along on his prior success and the marketability of his name.
Now is the time for him to decide if he is going to make some personal sacrifices and help get the team back where it needs to be.
And David, I hope the word you were looking for is ONUS.
Amy, thank you for at least not picking Jr’s bones clean as some have done. I am proud to be a Jr fan, always have been and always will be. I have never advocated the removal of Tony Jr as Jr’s CC, instead I have hoped and prayed that Rick would provide some technical leadership to TEJ. Remember that the Jrs’ came to HMS the same year the COT was run at all tracks. The company they came from had none of the technology that is available at HMS. Also bear in mind that in 2007 R&D was put on the back burner at HMS in order to help JJ and JG get a championship. When 2008 came around, just as the Jrs came on board, Jr’s was the best car of all. It was only when they tried some experimental things that 2008 went south. At Homestead, a few laps before the checkered flag, Jr was running in the 8th chase place when a part failed on the car making it undrivable.
Now in 2009 the #88 car has had problems. So has the RCR camp and many others. Hopefully a CC can be found who understands the mechanical issues of the COT and Jr will be able to end the year on a good note. That would make a lot of people happy, and Nascar will be revitalized.
MJR, you a prince of a man. Say hi to your wife and congratulate her on her choice of drivers.
Your dead wrong. Amy has spelled correctly. Type both into a dictionary app. if you don’t believe.
As for Jr., he either needs a new crew chief or a sports psychologist (or both) to get out of this current situation. Some drivers can’t move past a horrific crash. Maybe the one he said he felt his father pull him out of the car is now a physical fear block that even he doesn’t recognize.
Kyle Bush is always blunt, but he’s right. This is it. And in the past, Jr Nation has blamed everyone around Jr. if things don’t go right, Crew Chief, Car Owner, Team, drivers on the race track. I pity whoever becomes Jr.‘s Crew Chief. They better have skin as thick as an alligator.
P.S. . I read further in the Dictionary entry, it says both are becoming acceptablein today’s spellings. Though it admittedly says bated came before baited. : )
Recent articles from Amy Henderson:
Earnhardt Ganassi Racing Announces Partnership with Cessna, Textron
Want to know more about Amy or see an archive of all of her articles? Check out her bio page for more information.