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 15, 2010
It made for some good jokes passed around on Twitter, while giving a couple of drivers the chance at a needed pit stop (and not for the car). But really, the hole that appeared in Turn 2 at Daytona was symbolic of so much more: the gulf NASCAR has dug itself into over the past several years.
It’s really too bad, despite the efforts the sanctioning body has made to improve the racing — bigger restrictor plates, no-holds-barred bump drafting, etc. — that the 2010 Daytona 500 will be largely remembered for the track breaking up. The fact the race had a record number of different leaders (21), and that it showed everything still right about NASCAR, will, in the end, become secondary to something beyond anyone’s control.
But that’s exactly what will happen. Hundreds of fans who bought tickets to the race left during the first red flag, more during the second. Television ratings won’t reflect how many fans turned off their TVs at dinnertime or switched over to the Olympics. Viewership has fallen for NASCAR over the past few seasons. Fans turning away mid-race — especially following what was, for many, the first offseason in recent memory with real optimism for the new year — does nothing to restore the sport’s image to those who were struggling to care.
Turning fans off before next week’s race at Fontana, which is traditionally one of the least exciting races of the 36-race season, is NASCAR’s worst nightmare. This year more than any other, they needed people to be so excited about the Great American Race, they could endure the marathon parade that is the norm at Auto Club Speedway. And early on Sunday – in fact, all weekend long – it looked like mission accomplished.
The weekend started off with a Nationwide Series race that was exciting enough, though predictable. Once a mid-race crash ended Danica Patrick’s day and the broadcast refocused on the other drivers in the event, it became a decent race decided by lots of bumper shuffling on the final lap. The Truck Series race that night was a bit dicier, though. Bump drafting caused several multi-truck crashes, resulting in a largely reduced field for a wild finish that ended the night. However, both races gave fans something to cheer about. Surely, the Cup cars would produce a great show!
And they did.
Before the second red flag to fix the track, there were 44 lead changes among a record 19 drivers. We had a few small spins early, but no Big One to ruin a large number of teams’ days before the race really even got good. Cars could pass. A.J. Allmendinger was bad fast, driving to the front early. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. looked like the Junior of old, mixing it up and having fun doing it. There were several storylines — underdogs with great cars, battling with veterans trying to regain past glory. No one driver dominated, and several had a real shot to get to Victory Lane. In the end, we even were treated to three (two, if you want to be technical) attempts at a green-white-checkered – with each of them meeting the expectations of “wreckers or checkers” clearly on the minds of many drivers and fans. It was, in short, everything NASCAR and the fans could have hoped for in a race.
But what ended up happening on NASCAR’s greatest stage, even amid a dramatic performance, was a comedy of errors amidst a two-hour, 25-minute total delay that should never have happened.
In order to fix “the hole,” track workers tried Plan A, a cold-mixed filler. That didn’t work, so they went to Plan B, and when that didn’t work, Plan C. While the world watched, drivers were told it would be a short break and to stay in their cars. But reigning Cup champion Jimmie Johnson didn’t enjoy that, or the vague time frame from NASCAR. When asked if he wanted something to eat when crews were allowed to work on the cars, Johnson replied, “I’d prefer something solid and not liquid. I’d love to get out and use the bathroom…”
Watching the continued efforts, it certainly appeared that it was going to be more than a few minutes to fix the hole. But until the moment NASCAR finally allowed drivers to get out of their cars, they continued to tell teams it would just be a few minutes. Really? Why not just come out and say, “This is going to take awhile?”
Anyone would respect that.
Instead, NASCAR tried fix after fix. The jokes flew. Pictures of giant craters abounded on the ‘Net. Several people wondered if they had found Jimmy Hoffa under the track. Snubbed by the broadcast for most of the race, Digger got his revenge. Hey, did they see Atlantis down there? One spotter watched the many unsuccessful attempts to fix it and quipped, “No wonder it’s taking so long to get I-485 (a section of highway in Charlotte that has been unfinished for years) done!”
The jokes were funny at the time, and were clearly attempts to make the best of a bad situation. But they also served as the exclamation point on what many will perceive, first and foremost, about this race — that it was nothing but a series of jokes.
Then, when the hole made its second appearance, things went from lighthearted to hilarious.
During the second red flag, Earl Barban, spotter for the No. 48, relayed to his team that NASCAR officials were asking a representative from each car to go to their team hauler to speak with a NASCAR representative. The crewman wondered aloud what the sanctioning body wanted. Were they planning to call the race?
“No,” said Barban. “Word up here is, they’re looking for Bondo.”
NASCAR, desperate for a way to fix the problem, was asking teams for extra epoxy, when the track apparently didn’t have enough. At first glance, that was pretty funny. And at the same time, it was a little sad. NASCAR had to borrow epoxy from the race teams to fix the track they raced on. The greatest track of them all was crumbling before our eyes.
Not to mention it was a sticky situation, filled with risk for all involved. A hole in the racetrack is dangerous, and a hole that is not fixed safely is just as bad. As much as everybody, from drivers, to media, to fans, wanted to see the race finished, there were seeds of doubt. Mark Martin said after the race that competing with the hole or the subsequent patches was a gamble.
“I don’t think any of us ran much over it. All the stuff was out of it again. There was just a deep hole; everybody made sure they didn’t run over it,” he said. “It was a pretty risky move to race with that pothole out there, but the fans got their money’s worth. At this point in time, that’s pretty important, and nobody got hurt.”
He was right. Three cars (those of John Andretti, Jimmie Johnson, and Kurt Busch) cut tires about the same time that the hole opened up. Andretti hit the wall hard. Safety features or not, that’s never a good thing.
At least the second time, the fix held, leading to one final rule change that came into play – a last minute tweak that would allow for multiple attempts at a green-white-checkered finish. As long as the race leader hadn’t taken the white flag, NASCAR would make three tries at a green flag finish. On the second of those attempts, Jamie McMurray drove to the front and held off all comers, including a charging Dale Earnhardt, Jr. who seemingly came out of nowhere to finish second, and Kevin Harvick, who was looking for his first win since he won this race in 2007.
It was a thrilling end to a competitive race; but NASCAR’s crown jewel will likely be remembered, at least in part, for the chips that blemished it. There were a “hole” lot of jokes made, but the underlying theme was one of dismay. This was the last thing NASCAR needed in what many see as a make-or-break year – something else to turn fans off. If NASCAR’s premier track was falling apart, how could that not be symbolic of the sport’s own fall from grace? Hundreds of fans, bitterly disappointed, went home early. Daytona was literally coming apart at the seams.
But NASCAR fixed it – and that should mean something.
“Obviously, the red flags are unfortunate,” said NASCAR PR’s Ramsey Poston. “No one wants to see that. But hopefully what fans will really remember about this race tomorrow and years to come is that dramatic finish, that No. 88 cutting through the entire field, and a great win for Earnhardt Ganassi with Jamie McMurray.”
One can only hope Poston’s right, that the race itself will be the remembered as the Phoenix Rising from those ashes. It should make people want to watch again next week. Only time will tell if it comes to pass, and change cannot happen overnight. But despite the holes, NASCAR gave people something to cheer about.
The challenge now will be keeping it up and making people remember the race as a great historical drama instead of a comedy of errors.
And another thing…
- I think it’s worth mentioning that the No. 28 Blue Ox Hitches & Trailers car driven by Kenny Wallace was the fastest on the track a couple of times during the Nationwide race. You know, since the actual race broadcast couldn’t be bothered to report on an actual Nationwide driver.
- Speaking of the Nationwide race, I’m not sure who’s sleazier. Roush Fenway Racing for paying five teams to withdraw when it became obvious that qualifying would be rained out and RFR driver Paul Menard would go home, or the team owners who took the money and left. Either way, if I was the sponsor of one of those five teams, they would be looking for a new one on Monday (and rumor has it at least one of them is).
- I love commercials with drivers in them. But does anyone else notice that in the Sprint ad where the family calls every Jimmie Johnson in America (getting football coach Jimmy Johnson, among others), that they could have avoided a lot of phone calls if they knew how to spell “Jimmie Johnson?”
- Speaking of commercials: I’d pay good money to see Kyle Busch race the pink car with the kitties, ponies, and baby seals for a weekend. Especially wearing that uniform … and who could forget “I love you” written on the spoiler?
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I don’t know who gets the blame. The track owners? Nascar? Aren’t they both the same since this is an ISC track? All I know is this… if I was in charge, someone’s head would roll. Someone would be out of a job.
That said, I’m glad I stuck around for the finish. It was a good race, and it was great to see McMurray get the win.
Brian France looked like an un-made bed when he went to the Booth to talk to the 3 Parrots.
He sure was not projecting a good look for the company.
I don’t care what is going on when your in a position like that you have got to at least have the decency
When you don’t your just disrespecting us. But hey there is my answer.
The only person who benefited from that hole was probably Gillian Zucker.
The 500 was looking so good you would hate to follow that show sans red flags.
Amy said: Turning fans off before next week’s race at Fontana, which is traditionally one of the least exciting races of the 36-race season, is NASCAR’s worst nightmare. This year more than any other, they needed people to be so excited about the Great American Race, they could endure the marathon parade that is the norm at Auto Club Speedway. And early on Sunday – in fact, all weekend long – it looked like mission accomplished.
You know, the Feb race at Fontana had the highest ratings out of all the intermediate tracks for all of last season. In spite of the people complaining about the rain-shortened Daytona 500. Last year’s race was a pretty good one, and I expect the same thing this year, despite FS.com’s usual doom and gloom about it.
I hope so too Carl, and that is all I can ask for. Watch each race with an open mind instead of with preconceived notions. If you think it will be a bad race, well you’re usually right. Conservatives like to complain that the liberal media is telling people how to think and how to vote. And here we have FS.com telling people every year that the Fontana races always suck and not to bother watching. I say to let people form their own opinion based on the race itself, and not on what happened previously. From John Roberts on NASCAR RaceDay: “Past results is not an indication of future performance.”
Oh, and one more thing: Congrats Amy on picking Jamie MacMurry to win the Daytona 500 in Mirror Driving on Wednesday. I picked him too in our office fantasy pool. :)
NA$CAR is to blame for the track breaking up. Not for the track condition, for designing a POS car that has no suspension travel therefore causing it to dig into the surface across the bumps. It certainly wasn’t high grip forces ripping up the asphalt. Once it got dark you could see the grinder like sparks from the cars dragging.
The Speedway personnel ran off a local TV news crew because they were showing the hole. The cops were called to make sure WFTV stopped filming.
You know, all last year, whenever I expressed an opinion about Jerk Roush, everybody told me to can it! Now what do you all have to say? roush is a total sleezebag, worse that any of you think the greatest car owner, Rick Hendrick, could ever think of being! After his BS move to pay off those owners so a no-talent goof like Menard could race, I hate that Jerk even more!
Mike, I am not taking sides for Roush but It has been done many times before. Speed Channel’s number 2 God Michael Waltrip (number 1 is Darrell) did it a year or two ago and how many sleazy things go on that we never know about. Espically by HMS. I am no fan of Hendrick. But turn around I have heard good things about Hendrick and Rouse. Just reciently some one ask Hendrick if he would send a plane to get a person out of Haiti. After doing that he sent both planes that he uses to transport crew to the tracks back to Haiti with aid for the victims. There is a little good in the worst of us and a little bad in the best of us. Cheating and back stabing goes in most all business but it don’t make it right. We just have to live with it.
Good Grief. None of those teams “bought out” by Roush were even going to make the race anyway. They made out. Instead of going home with empty pockets, they got a little something and didn’t even have to Start and Park for it.
Yeah, the hole situation sucked. But it could have been a lot worse. Please don’t forget that the amount of water sitting on the track not long ago could be measured in FEET – it was halfway up the wall on the backstretch. The track was built on a swamp – the water table even at dry times is ridiculously high. I’m surprised there weren’t MORE holes (or worse).
Word is now they’re paving after 2011 – which at least one driver after the race won’t be happy about, he likes the track this way.
They DO need to be better prepared for track problems before then.
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