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 Pertty Wheel · Amy Henderson · Friday October 23, 2009
Halfway through the Chase for the 2009 Sprint Cup, things are…well, things are predictable. Jimmie Johnson has the points lead (I know, shocker). No. 48 haters, can, I suppose, take heart in one statistic: no winner of the fall race at Charlotte has ever gone on to win the whole shebang. But really, around NASCAR Kingdom, many fans and media are firmly (if prematurely) focused on Johnson. Part of that is natural—Johnson is, after all, the reigning (and reigning and reigning) series champion, and that alone draws a certain amount of scrutiny. Being the point leader five races from the end is going to draw attention. There have been four pervading storylines focused on the No. 48 this week, and there have been a whole lot of headlines surrounding them.
The problem is, all four are a bit…er, misguided.
Thing One flying around is the seeming willingness to hand Johnson the Cup trophy right now. While he does have the biggest lead ever in the Chase after five races, this is also the first time that Talladega Superspeedway isn’t included in those first five races. And Talladega just might be the one thing to level the playing field in a way that NASCAR cannot. Unless a driver has a full race worth of points lead heading in, there is a complete chance that that driver will come out without the lead when the smoke clears and the carnage is counted. And Johnson’s record at Talladega, though vastly improved in recent years, is spotty at best. Restrictor plate racing is Johnson’s weakest skill, though he’s still better than many drivers—but even if he’s picture perfect, there’s no guarantee that someone else won’t cause the wreck that sweeps him up. And with just three races to go after ‘Dega, making up lost points will be a tall order.
Sure, Johnson is a hell of a clutch driver, and his large points lead bodes well for an unprecedented fourth Cup title, but the record books aren’t written yet. Best not to go handing out trophies before the last lap-just ask Derrike Cope how that works out.
Thing Two, with all due respect to the Cat in the Hat (the real one, not Jack Roush), is that the Chase schedule was somehow created by NASCAR in an attempt to help Johnson win the title—and that it should be changed. Now, just hold on here. First of all, the schedule was not altered when the Chase was devised. The final 10 races are the same as they were before the Chase, so NASCAR really didn’t just sit down and think, “Hmmmm…how can we let this one guy win multiple titles? I KNOW! We’ll stack the last 10 races so he will magically avoid every wreck, equipment failure, and anything else, and dominate this Chase thingy.”
I suppose NASCAR could restructure the Chase to include Johnson’s 10 worst tracks. In order to do that, they would need both restrictor plate tracks, both road courses, Bristol, Indianapolis, Richmond, Homestead, Las Vegas, and Michigan. I’m fairly certain a lot of teams other than Johnson’s would be pretty unhappy with that schedule—as would a lot of fans. And my guess is that a restructure would only make Johnson’s team redouble their efforts at those tracks, which would probably yield similar results to what they do now. Not only that, but the last time NASCAR tried to penalize excellence (by restricting Toyota’s horsepower in the Nationwide Series) instead of allowing the other teams to catch up on their own, it created a very much deserved backlash from fans and media. If it was wrong then, it’s wrong now. You can’t have it both ways.
Thing Three (We’ve now stretched beyond Seuss, folks!) that I’m tired of hearing about is how Johnson’s dominance (or Junior’s slump or Jeff Gordon’s very existence) is somehow “bad for the sport.” No, it’s not. NASCAR has worse problems than a nice guy who drives clean winning multiple titles. Think about that—in itself, it’s the result of one of NASCAR’s gimmicks to attract fans—had NASCAR left the points system alone, you’d theoretically have seen three different champions in the last three years. The top 35 rule, terrible television broadcasts, and lackluster racing are all far bigger problems than Jimmie Johnson winning a few races a year. If one driver winning a lot of races and championships was that detrimental, how on Earth did the sport survive Richard Petty, Dale Earnhardt, or Jeff Gordon?
Johnson’s dominance simply coincides with the inevitable—all the new, casual fans that jumped on the NASCAR bandwagon at its height because NASCAR was suddenly the cool thing to talk about around the water cooler have jumped right back off and moved on to the next trend. They weren’t so much fans of the sport, they were fans of the fad. Now that it’s over, the original core fans feel alienated by all the changes that NASCAR made in their vain attempt to hang onto the bandwagoneers. And Jimmie Johnson didn’t invent any of it—he was just along for the ride.
Finally, Thing Four (these Things really do multiply…) is the assertion that if Johnson is winning, his crew chief, Chad Knaus, must be cheating. Given that the sanctioning body has cracked down harder on Knaus than anyone else for the past four years or so, that’s pretty hard to buy. The No. 48 has been taken and torn down after the last four races in a row and passed every inspection NASCAR put it through. The non-story that they almost broke a rule is getting old—you can find 20 or more cars on the racetrack every week that almost break a rule, but the fact is, they’re legal. Almost gets neither a cigar nor a penalty.
The fact is, the No. 48 has played within the rules at every race. One columnist actually wrote that if Knaus is legal within the rule book, then he must be cheating in an area not covered by the rule book. The problem with that theory is…that isn’t cheating. It’s been done since the first NASCAR race and will be done long after Jimmie Johnson and Chad Knaus retire. If it’s not outside of a written rule, it’s legal. In order to cheat, you have to break an actual rule. If NASCAR chooses to MAKE a rule based on someone working outside the lines of the rule book, well, then it’s a rule and the teams had better abide by it from then on. Here’s a novel idea-Johnson’s team wins because they are just that good.
With five races to go in the Chase, there should be three dozen storylines focused on a dozen drivers, so why all the hype over something that hasn’t happened yet to a driver who hasn’t done anything but drive his bottom off for the last three Chases? Some fans claim jealousy, others claim NASCAR poster boy. Many don’t like Johnson because he gets so much coverage, and yet they keep talking about him. But whatever the reason, keep this in mind; Johnson’s team doesn’t care what people say, and they are just that good.
With five races to go, isn’t it time we all found something else to talk about?
©2000 - 2008 Amy Henderson and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
“…that the Chase schedule was somehow created by NASCAR in an attempt to help Johnson win the title…”
Do I think NASCAR has allowed JJ/CK to cheat? NO. Do I think NASCAR has bent the rules for JJ/CK. NO. Do I think other teams are inferior to JJ/CK? NO. What I do think..why things have culminated into a JJ/CK free for all is..NASCAR backed themselves into a corner..a corner JJ/CK are very comfy in. The ban on testing (don’t you think team “newbies” Stewart-Haas, Martin..as good as they have done this year .. would have excelled even more with testing) and how about all the “convenient” debris cautions..to “reel in” the field…the COT…if you get the lead you keep the lead..you can be any one of probably 20 cars..most likely one of 10. The “wave around” and “lucky dog” rules…come on now…4 laps down and win the race??? And let’s not forget the “Chase”….you can enter after being 400 points down in the regular season..and win the championship?? Come on now..JJ may get his 4th in a row crown..but there will always be an asterisk … a TEN race championship..how would he do in a 36 race championship? So kudos to JJ/CK for being comfy in the corner NASCAR has created…but when is NASCAR going to wake up and realize that corner is getting pretty small…and there is not enough room in it for fans, drivers and sponsors.
It is what it is.Jimmie wins,More power to him and the 48 team.
I will only address “thing three”. Yes the bandwagon fans are leaving but that’s not the only fans leaving. Do you pay attention the the comments from fans saying things like “I used to go to three races a year but now…” or, “I’ve been to every Charlotte races since 1985 but now….”. They are the fans you should be worried about leaving and those fans aren’t leaving because of JJ’s dominance. They are leaving because of all the changes BF has made to totally change the sport. If the girl you fell in love with changes too much you eventually leave (for instance if they were religous and now they hang out in bars instead). That is how much this sport has changed in the 5 years since BF took over.
POINT 1 (All other points are a result of this point): Brian France is running NA$CAR. Wonder why ratings are down, fans are watching football or sleeping, racing is pathetic, and stands are empty???? It all begins with the idiot in charge.
Great story there, Amy…
Yeah, Johnson has the biggest lead after 5 races in Chase history; yeah, Jimmie Johnson is chasing an unprecidented 4th straight championship… yeah, the media has already handed the 2009 cup trophy to Jimmie and Chad… but can’t we all focus on something else?
I’m still waiting on a Frontstretch column about Bobby Labonte.
Hey, Carl-did you read the first section of my column? It was about how ridiculous it is to hand anyone the championship at this juncture. I clearly said it was a silly thing for anyone to focus on right now.
We ran a lengthy interview with Bobby Labonte this summer. You may have to cut and paste the link, but it is here: http://www.frontstretch.com/ahenderson/25611/
Josie… I do agree that the Chase plays a role in Johnson’s success…just as the old system played a role in Matt Kenseth’s title and Terry Labonte’s second championship…just as the pre-modern-era system played a role in championship battles back in the day. I’m not a fan of the Chase system, but this is far from the first time that a team has won titles by “working the system.”
California was put in the Chase to placate Bruton Smith, who was hoping that the more lucrative Labor Day date would help attendance at Atlanta or wherever he plans to move that date to in the future. It would be hugely inflating the importance of Jimmie Johnson to believe that his skills at any track have that big an influence on NASCAR’s decision making. Not to mention, his average finish at Fontana is just four places higher than his Atlanta average, meaning only about 16 or so points in the final tally. NASCAR isn’t going to bank on a championship margin of only 16 points.
I do agree that there are older fans leaving the sport too-but what i have seen in many of them is differnt-they don’t go to races, they
I certainly don’t believe it is “all due to Johnson”. Unfortunately for JJ..he is reaping the “rewards”..good and bad..justified and unjustified..for NASCAR’s blundering management. I wonder..all the media who put JJ up as one of the “best ever”…do they really believe it? Or .. is it more hype to keep people interested in a lagging market? As I’ve said..I give JJ/CK credit for their accomplishments…they are tops when it comes to a ten race championship..but if we wanted to see who is the best after 10 races why don’t we have a 10 race season and be done with it? You can’t compare a steering wheel with a football or basketball or baseball..you can’t compare “the Chase” to the World Series or the Superbowl…those teams are only pitted against each other..not all the teams in the entire league. I just don’t get it. But it is NASCAR’s stick and ball….maybe that is why they are so confused..someone needs to tell them these are cars running around a track and not balls bouncing in a court!
The chase is artificial like the leader of nascar. In your response about thing three you liken matt’s and labonte’s championships to Johnson’s. THEY WENT THE WHOLE YEAR, 36 RACES. IF there was a problem give more points for 1st and 2nd place. 20-30 each. The chase breeds point racing until the last ten races. Boring at the first of the year and pointless at the end. A driver could be 600-700 points out of first place at the beginning of the chase and win the championship.
The only reason I continue to read these columns is to see if any writers are willing to wake up and continue to shout out for us fans “the chase,BF, and the top 35 rule are killing the desire of fans to go to tracks or even watch it on tv”
Totally un-biased column as always Amy .
I did cut and paste the link and I remember the interview with Bobby. I remember thinking at the time that it was a pretty lame interview, not so much because of the questions but because of Labonte’s dismissive answers. I’d forgotten about that interview, basically because it was forgetable.
My point about Johnson was that you, a member of the media, spent an entire column telling us there’s more to focus on than the media’s obsession with Johnson.
As hard as I am on you Frontstretch writers from time to time, I want you to know it’s because your website is second to none in the sport and I’ve come to expect nothing but your best work.
How can we possibly talk about anything else when, after 5 races, it’s evident we’re (YAWN) looking at #4. Thanks Brian France, you worthless piece of…
I get the feeling after reading Amy Hendersons writings that she was one of the early ones to hop on the FadWagon. I’m not saying this in a derogatory way and if she likes the product more power to her.
This is not my Nascar, and I do not attend multiple races each year like I used to, and I do not watch. I do come to Frontstretch to keep up on the sorry state of the sport and commiserate with other like minded fans who remember what stock car racing is really about.
I used to watch MTV when they actually played music vidios.
I used to watch VH1 when they actually played classic music vidios.
I used to watch CMT when they actually played country music vidios.
I used to watch SpeedVision before it became a mouthpiece of Brain Frances Nascar.
I used to watch Nascar races when they actually showed real racing.
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