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 · Monday February 1, 2010
NASCAR made a good call—maybe.
The changes our sanctioning body made over this offseason were designed to improve the quality of racing, and that was a great move for a sport taking heavy criticism from all sides, battling slumping television ratings and suffering from dwindling numbers of fans at the track. After all, the bottom line in any of NASCAR’s philosophies should be that racing – quality racing – attracts and keeps fans. Poor racing does not. To that end, the sport made changes to the rules at both Daytona and Talladega that will allow drivers to bump draft wherever they like, and in essence, to reap what they sow if they use bump drafting too aggressively. The Cup cars will also scrap the wing on the rear decklid in favor of a more traditional blade spoiler later this season.
The sport is entering a new decade, looking for a fresh start while leaving behind the 00’s – the era that many will point to as the worst ten-year span in its history. It was ten years that began with the deaths of Adam Petty, Kenny Irwin, Jr., Tony Roper, and Dale Earnhardt and ended with the alienation of many core fans and even once-thriving race teams. During that time, the sport became increasingly the playground of the elite and wealthy and less the grassroots sport it once was. But despite all that, the positive thread woven through much of the decade – made necessary by the string of tragedies that began it – was improved safety. Full-face helmets and neck restraints became the norm instead of the exception, and rules designed to reduce overaggressive driving were instituted. SAFER barriers were installed at tracks, making true Ricky Craven’s prediction that one day drivers would look back in amazement at the days in which they hit concrete barriers. A new race car was designed to give drivers more room and larger crush zones to keep them safe in a crash. And the car has proven to be a safe one, as driver after driver has walked away from a horrific looking wreck, unhurt. Whatever else went wrong in racing over those ten years, it has been nine years since NASCAR had to hold a press conference to announce the loss of a driver – and a husband, father, son, and friend to one of the world’s most dangerous sports.
Now, it’s up to NASCAR to take the correct steps to improve the racing, without doing anything to compromise the safety of the drivers. It’s a combination which, right now, hangs over the new rules as a question mark. These changes may well improve the competition; but, in the process, will the sport take a step backwards on safety?
By allowing drivers free rein on the plate tracks, there is automatically an increased risk of injury as there is an increased risk of wrecks. In this case, risk is a part of the game, and self-policing drivers at this level know that to win, you have to finish. Because of that, I don’t really foresee a huge change in their game plan through most of the race. Plus, the new car has an advantage over the old one in this area when it comes to drafting. The bumpers line up rather easily, and drivers should be able to bump draft in groups of multiple cars while still remaining stable on the track. But any rule that promotes more aggression is going to increase the gamble for these drivers – one which could result in serious injury if they lose.
The bigger safety issue could be the implementation of a major change to the race cars themselves without allowing teams adequate time to test. As it stands, NASCAR will have one two-day open test at Charlotte Motor Speedway before the spoiler is mandated on the racetrack, with the possibility of adding a test at Talladega. To me, that begs a very basic question: Is that really enough from both safety and competition standpoints, given that the CoT was never tested with a spoiler in the first place?
After all, Charlotte and Talladega represent a portion of NASCAR’s tracks – a high-banked intermediate and the baddest superspeedway of them all – but they don’t represent the mile tracks or the short tracks, or even the flat intermediates. Is it really safe not to allow teams to test the new package on these tracks? And how good will the racing be if teams have to spend a large chunk of practice and races trying to figure out the handling of the car?
Drivers and crew chiefs have differing opinions, but many are in agreement that more time and on-track testing would, in the long run, benefit everyone. Stewart-Haas Racing owner/driver Tony Stewart, who has never been afraid to voice his opinion on safety or mechanical issues, says simply, “It will take more time than that” for teams to be ready to run with the new setup.
Joe Gibbs Racing driver Joey Logano also stated that while wind tunnel testing is important and will give teams plenty of information, there is still a need for them to test the setups themselves. “I think they’re going to spend enough time in the wind tunnel that we won’t be way off when we get out there, but I don’t think we know which way it’s going to go. They aren’t done working on it yet,“ commented Logano. “We’ll have to go to some of the racetracks around here. There aren’t many that we can test at to just try and get used to the thing and see what we can do.”
Logano’s crew chief, Greg Zipadelli thinks that the change is positive, but from his standpoint as a crew chief, he would like to see the opportunity to test the spoiler more. “I’m glad they are doing something,” Zipadelli says. “I don’t really see a downside to it, unless for some reason they drive completely different. If the drivers can see better, it’s a positive. I think the intention is that the downforce is going to stay the same – they’re just taking the wing off and putting the spoiler on in its place. When they make rule changes, they bring everybody in the garage closer, so that makes it harder.”
“But I want to test more. I can’t honestly answer [if it’s a safety or competition issue] until after that test. None of our teams [were] at the tire test (held in January at Texas Motor Speedway, where the spoiler was also tested), and that’s another issue.”
Some in the garage have faith that NASCAR will make the right decisions, though.
Travis Geisler, crew chief for Sam Hornish, Jr., believes that the progression of tracks that teams will run the spoiler on, combined with simulator and wind tunnel data, should give teams enough to work with. “Obviously, you’d like to have more time… it’s racing,” Geisler stated. “But, they’re looking at running Martinsville first, maybe Phoenix after that [with the spoiler.] It’s a natural progression where you start out at a short track, so it’s not as much of an impact, and then at Phoenix, where it’s more of an impact. Then you go to Texas, and the race after that is Talladega, so if you were to draw a line through the progression of how it’s going to affect you, it’s kind of increasing from the race they’re talking about bringing it out at. With all the simulations we do, with all the wind tunnel time, I think if they told us we were going to run them at Daytona, we could be ready for it. A spoiler is something that none of us have run without. We’re more used to running spoilers than wings. [Of course,] there are a few areas that will need to be revisited from square one. Setups we developed will be different with that package. That’s part of being in the sport… it’s dynamic, it’s changing, and it’s fun. It’s job security for me.”
Stewart-Haas Racing driver Ryan Newman, a mechanical engineer, judges that NASCAR needs to look at the new package with an emphasis on safety first, racing second. “I just want to know that whatever it is [that they put on the cars], it has to be capable of keeping the cars on the ground going forwards or backwards,” Newman said, whose winged car got airborne at Talladega last fall, resulting in a nasty-looking crash in which he was trapped (albeit unhurt) in an upside-down car. However, Newman doesn’t think that more on-track test time is necessary from a safety standpoint, and that compared to safety, drivability is of little consequence. “I’m not 100% sure that the testing is needed at a racetrack. I think 99% of that work can be done in a wind tunnel or on a computer simulation model. I’m talking about the safety aspects. The driving characteristics of a blade versus a wing at Talladega… [testing out the differences is] more a matter of safety in regards to keeping the cars on the ground.”
So, who’s correct? That’s not a simple answer, and the truth likely lies somewhere in the middle. While the safety of the blade spoiler can be tested in the wind tunnel or on simulators, where does drivability come into play? After all, if the car doesn’t handle well, isn’t there a higher probability that someone will lose control and crash? A high-speed wreck is still a serious risk in racing, increasing the possibility of an injury.
NASCAR has worked hard over the last decade to make the sport safer, and there can be little doubt that they have succeeded. The next step is to make the racing better, whether through rules changes, setup packages on the car, the schedule, or the points system. Fans want quick fixes, but the challenge is to do that without jeopardizing the safety that the sanctioning body has carefully improved. And to do that, NASCAR will need to proceed with caution. Sure, racing by nature has an inherent risk, and nobody who loves the sport should become so complacent as to forget that. But it is also the duty of the sanctioning body to make sure that they make every effort possible to ensure that days like February 18th, 2001 don’t happen again.
The 2010’s should be looked forward to as the decade that brought the good racing back, and not as the decade where the sport takes a giant step backwards in the safety of the drivers. If NASCAR can successfully balance the two, then there will be something to look forward to in the next chapter of this ride.
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Amy, I’ve been wondering about this since the new rules were announced. I’m for taking a wait-and-see approach, with fingers crossed that no one gets hurt in the meantime. That said, I hope the catchfences have been raised enough to keep any car that gets airborne out of the grandstands.
Ill go with Newman. Hes a thoughtful guy and has the technical background to back up what he says.
And to quote you: “And how good will the racing be if teams have to spend a large chunk of practice and races trying to figure out the handling of the car?”
Isn’t this EXACTLY what they have been doing ever since that piece of trash called the POS was introduced?
No one can figure this car out on a consistent basis! (sorry Jimmy & Chad).
Take “qualifying” as an example, the cars NOT LOCKED IN, try to find SPEED to make the race, all the while the cars locked in, just work on race set-ups, TO TRY AND FIGURE OUT WHAT THE POS IS DOING TODAY!
So you enter a race where some 35 teams have fiddled on race set-ups, while 8 cars start the race with unknown set-ups!
Turnip is not wrong about the lack of testing resulting in not helping the teams dial into how this car is best set up.
But I question how much a practice session can really help, when most practice sessions I recall have been limited to only a particular team doing the practicing. How much can you learn at practice when there are only 2 to 6 cars there, not really enough to see how a car handles in traffic. You only learn about how cars handle out front or on their own, and maybe a little bit in a nose-to-tail draft.
Ultimately, there do need to be some more test sessions before they put the spoiler to full time use, but I still don’t think they’ll really have this new setup dialed in until next year.
The Nationwide COT has a spoiler – maybe some of the data from testing that car led to the Cup change as well (though they have an air dam up front and not a splitter). They said at NW COT tests last year that they’d be applying changes to the Cup car that reflect what they’d learned on the NW COT, maybe this is one of them.
Regarding safety after these changes: I think what has made the current car safer can be found in the area surrounding the driver – his location, the safety foam in the doors, the higher roof. Basically, everything that made the car safer when a crash actually occurred. We may see more crashes now with these rule changes, but I don’t think that the drivers will be more at risk in this year’s crashes than last year’s. Given the spectacular nature of the McDowell roll, the Edwards flight, the Logano tumble, and Newman’s flip, I’d say they’ve done about as much as they can when it comes to protecting the cabin and the driver inside it. Now, the fans, on the other hand… suffice to say that even with a catchfence, a fan is at risk even if it’s something as small as a lugnut that gets hurled into the crowd at velocity (and from what I’ve seen the opening in fence meshes would let a lugnut right through).
Whatever!!!! This shite is just a band-aid. Most of the hardcore fans have moved on from the new Nascrap circus and will never be back! Up yours in 2009 Na$crap and up yours in 2010!!! BORING!
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