Kurt Busch to Attempt The Indianapolis-Charlotte Double
posted by Phil Allaway
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Andretti Autosport announced this morning that Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet in the Sprint Cup Series, will attempt the Indianapolis 500 in a fifth entry for the IndyCar Series team. Once the Indianapolis 500 is completed, Busch will fly from Indianapolis to Charlotte, jump in his No. 41 Chevrolet and compete in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Busch considers the opportunity to do the double as an old-school throwback moment.
“This is really to challenge myself within motorsports,” Busch said in Andretti Autosport’s press release. “Perhaps I am a bit of an old-school racer; a throwback, I guess. I enjoyed the era of drivers racing different cars and testing themselves in other series. It is tough to do now for a variety of factors, but when the opportunity is there, I want to do it. While NASCAR is my home, I have been fortunate to compete in Pro Stock on the NHRA circuit a number of years ago and test a V8 Supercar. This opportunity was a talk with Michael [Andretti] over dinner one night, a “What if,” and now it’s becoming a reality for me to drive in the Indy 500 with Andretti Autosport. It’s literally a dream come true. To go to the famous Brickyard with the iconic Andretti name, it doesn’t get much cooler or better than that.”
Busch will be doing the Indianapolis-Charlotte double as a Memorial Day mission to men and women serving in the U.S. Military via the Armed Forces Foundation. Fans can contribute to the cause by texting AFF to 50555 to donate $10.
Busch, who has never raced an IndyCar, passed Rookie Orientation at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year during a test session. At the time, Busch was more or less testing the Dallara DW12 for fun.
Busch will be the fourth driver to attempt the Indianapolis-Charlotte double. John Andretti was the first driver to attempt it in 1994. After finishing four laps down in tenth in Indianapolis, Andretti crashed and had engine problems in the 600. Robby Gordon has attempted the double five times, most recently in 2004. However, Gordon failed to make it to Charlotte on time and did not start the 600 in 2000 (P.J. Jones started Gordon’s No. 13 Ford in that instance). Finally, Tony Stewart has attempted the double twice (most recently in 2001) and is the only driver to ever complete all 1100 miles. Neither of the three drivers has won either leg of the double. The best finishes are Stewart and Gordon’s sixth-place finishes at the Indianapolis 500 (although Gordon’s came in 2000, the year he didn’t make it to Charlotte in time to start the Coca-Cola 600), and Stewart’s fourth-place finish in the 2001 Coca-Cola 600.
Danica Patrick, Justin Allgaier Talk About Phoenix Incident
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
A disappointing start to the year for Danica Patrick won’t include continued conflict. Patrick met with rookie Justin Allgaier Sunday, shortly after the Phoenix Cup race after a wreck ruined both drivers’ days. Patrick, who was critical of the No. 51 car on the radio, claiming Allgaier was “driving all over the track” appeared receptive to a conversation that quickly settled differences over what will be a long season.
“She was just upset because she got involved in the crash that we had,’’ said Allgaier to the Motor Racing Network. “She says she’s been through this and that she felt like I needed to settle down at that point. I explained my position on why everything happened. I think she understood where I was coming from. It doesn’t fix either one of our racecars. It doesn’t fix either one of our days. Unfortunately, we were both having pretty decent days.’’
Allgaier wound up 30th due to the incident while Patrick was 36th. The incident, which was caused by Allgaier’s spin also involved the No. 32 team and Travis Kvapil, which wound up 38th after sustaining heavy damage.
Camping World Close to Extending Title Sponsorship of NCWTS
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Marcus Lemonis, CEO of Camping World, Grand Marshal of Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway, and star of CNBC’s “The Profit,” made the announcement over the weekend that the retailer is very close to announcing a deal that would continue its title sponsorship of NASCAR’s Truck Series. The original agreement with NASCAR is scheduled to conclude after the 2015 season.
According to the sanctioning body, no formal contract has been signed, but “the agreement between the two parties has proven to be a beneficial one.”
“In about a month, we’ll be announcing a significant extension to that contract. It’s been great for us,” said Camping World’s Lemonis in a statement. “The NASCAR relationship has worked well for Camping World. When we started, we had 35 stores. Now, we’re up to 120 stores. As we travel the country and we meet new customers in stores, they always are very appreciative of our relationship with NASCAR. It’s been good.”
Gaining a long-term commitment from Camping World to sponsor the Truck Series would be a relief for NASCAR, which is set to lose Nationwide Insurance as title sponsor for the NASCAR Nationwide Series at the end of the 2014 season. The sponsorship of the Cup Series by Sprint runs through 2016.
The NCWTS is back in action on March 29th at 2:30 PM (ET) when the trucks visit Martinsville Speedway in the Kroger 250, which can be seen on Fox Sports 1. Ratings for the season opener were up 11 percent.
Harvick Takes Win At Phoenix In Second Race With New Team
posted by Justin Tucker
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Phoenix International Raceway has become Kevin Harvick’s home away from home. Sunday Afternoon was no exception as Harvick charged to the front early and would dominate for much of the day, leading 224 of the scheduled 312 laps to record his record fifth win on the one mile oval and his third win in the last four races at Phoenix.
Harvick, coming off of a disappointing Speedweeks which was capped by a last lap crash in the Daytona 500 in his debut with Stewart-Haas Racing, set the tone on Saturday by winning both practices while having the best 5 and 10-lap averages in the first practice of the day on Saturday. On Sunday, Harvick and his No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet was nothing short of flawless as he was able to hold Dale Earnhardt, Jr. by .489 seconds after a late race restart to claim his 24th career Sprint Cup Series victory.
“Man, this is awesome,” Harvick said after his dominant victory on Sunday. “Man, this just solidifies so many things and so many decisions. It’s been so much work with all the time and effort that these guys (the crew) have put in—but what a race car.”
Stewart Haas Racing co-owner Gene Haas shared in Harvick’s excitement after the race.
“It took long enough,” Haas joked. “This is phenomenal. I think there was a lot of skepticism last year about what myself and Tony (Stewart) what we were up to, was there a lot of madness to this. Quite frankly, it’s a great team, there’s a lot of synergy at the shop, people working together. I don’t know what we did, but I think we put together a great organization.”
Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt, Jr. continued his hot start to the 2014 season. Earnhardt Jr. would finish second on Sunday, marking his seventh consecutive top 10 finish since the end of the 2013 season. Earnhardt Jr. was pleased with the effort after a coast-to-coast whirlwind week after winning his second Daytona 500 and also gave great praise to the efforts of Harvick and the No. 4 team.
“I’ve got to congratulate Kevin. Those guys were two-tenths faster than everyone all weekend in practice. They were just phenomenal,” Earnhardt said. “To be able to run with them all day was a big confidence builder for us.”
Joining Harvick and Earnhardt in the top 5 of The Profit on CNBC 500K were Brad Keselowski with his second consecutive top 3 run of 2014 in third. Keselowski’s Team Penske teammate Joey Logano would finish fourth, and Jeff Gordon would come home fifth in his No. 24 Pepsi Max Chevrolet.
Jimmie Johnson finished in sixth, followed by Ryan Newman with a nice rebound after Daytona in seventh. Carl Edwards would carry the banner for Roush Fenway Racing by finishing eighth, Kyle Busch was ninth, and Jamie McMurray would finish tenth.
A look at the Profit on CNBC 500K by the numbers. There were 14 lead changes among eight different drivers, there were eight cautions for 39 laps which slowed the race pace to 109.229 MPH.
Next Sunday, the Sprint Cup Series heads to Sin City and the Las Vegas Motor
Starting Lineup: The Profit On CNBC 500K
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday March 1, 2014
Drivers in RED (i) are those ineligible to collect Sprint Cup points
Daytona 500 TV Ratings Down
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Wednesday February 26, 2014
What was the longest weather delay in Daytona 500 history turned out to bring NASCAR lower ratings and TV viewership Sunday night than expected. According to a report Monday from FOX Sports, the 56th running of the Daytona 500 airing at 8 PM (ET) posted a 5.6/10 national household rating/share which averaged 9.3 million viewers. That’s down 44 percent from last year’s 9.9, easily making it the least-watched Daytona 500 of all-time.
Due to the six-hour, twenty-two minute rain delay in Daytona, the race was up against the primetime coverage of the Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony from Sochi, Russia on NBC (15.25 million viewers). FOX also reported that 69% of the pre-rain delay viewers of the race, which began at 1 PM (ET) kept tuning in.
In comparison, the 2013 Daytona 500 on FOX was the most-watched race in five years, posting a 9.9/22 rating/share, commanding 16.7 million viewers. The Daytona 500 in 2012, the first to ever be run on a Monday and in the primetime slot did a 7.7/13 overnight rating/share which resulted in 13.67 million households viewing the race according to Nielsen TV ratings data.
Earnhardt, Jr. Claims Second Daytona 500 Victory
posted by Justin Tucker
Wednesday February 26, 2014
Ten years is a long time. For Dale Earnhardt, Jr., it felt like an eternity. NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver endured many near misses and close calls at the Daytona 500 since his only win in the Great American Race in 2004. Earnhardt had finished second in two of his last three Daytona 500s coming into Sunday’s race. He was also riding the tail of a 55-race winless streak, dating back to Michigan in 2012.
However nothing would stop Dale Jr. on Sunday, not even a 6 hour and 22 minute rain delay from capturing his second Daytona 500 win. Earnhardt Jr. led a race-high 54 laps on the evening and used some timely drafting help from teammates Jimmie Johnson and, on the final restart, Jeff Gordon to separate from the pack and secure the victory.
“Winning this race is the greatest feeling that you could feel in this sport besides accepting the trophy for the championship,” said a jubilant Earnhardt after pulling into Victory Lane. “We could fight off battle after battle. We got a little help at the end there from Jeff to get away on the restart. This is amazing. I can’t believe this is happening. I never take this for granted, man because it doesn’t happen twice, let alone once.”
Aside from the race itself the big story of the race was the 6 hour and 22 minute red flag, which threatened to move the race to Monday evening (had the race been postponed, FOX Sports’ Chris Myers had tweeted that the race would resume at 5:00pm EST). However, Mother Nature would cooperate and would allow the race to be run under different conditions from which they practiced this week. Once the race resumed, the intensity picked up from the changing track conditions. This allowed the pack to race side-by-side and at times 3-wide up to seven rows deep.
Joining Earnhardt Jr. in the top 5 for the 2014 Daytona 500 were: Denny Hamlin who closed out a spectacular Speedweeks in second, Brad Keselowski in third, Jeff Gordon in fourth, and Jimmie Johnson who overcome two wrecks leading up to the 500 in fifth.
Rounding out the top 10 in the Daytona 500 were Matt Kenseth in sixth, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. in seventh and Greg Biffle would bring his No. 16 Ford home in eighth. Austin Dillon would come home ninth in his first Cup Series race in the iconic No. 3 for Richard Childress Racing, while Casey Mears would round out the top 10.
A couple of major contenders for the Daytona 500 win would see their hopes dashed early on as Martin Truex, Jr. would blow up just 30 laps into the race, relegating him to a 43rd-place finish in his debut for Furniture Row Racing. Crew chief Todd Berrier was already in Nashville for a test session before the race was even over. Kyle Busch, meanwhile would have a pit road violation just before halfway and would spend much of the race battling back from that mistake. Busch would eventually finish 19th after leading 19 laps.
Danica Patrick would also be bit by bad luck as she was caught up in a multi-car wreck on lap 145. Patrick would lead her second consecutive Daytona 500, but wouldn’t have the finish to show for it finishing 40th. Tony Stewart would encounter a frustrating evening as well, with a fuel pickup problem derailing his quest for his first Daytona 500 win. Stewart would finish 35th.
A look at the Daytona 500 by the numbers. There were 42 lead changes among 18 drivers, while seven cautions for 39 laps would slow the race pace to 145.290 MPH.
Next week, the Sprint Cup Series heads to the “diamond in the desert,” Phoenix International Raceway for The Profit on CNBC 500K. The Green flag is scheduled for 3:15pm EST.
Nationwide Series Post-Race Quotes: Drive4COPD 300
posted by Thomas Bowles
Tuesday February 25, 2014
Frontstretch Interviews – Courtesy Mike Neff
ELLIOTT SADLER – FINISHED 4th
Thoughts on the race?
It’s definitely a lot different racing than what we’re used to.
Comfortable with it?
Yeah, it’s just different. You’re worried about what you’re doing, but you’re also worried about what everyone else is doing and they’re not doing more than you’re doing. Physically pushing a guy is way better than just riding so you just gotta time it right and push it to the edge.
Happy to start the year with a top 5?
Yeah. Hell, that was the worst we ran all day, I think. I have no idea how they put the 3 car in front of us on that last restart. I hadn’t seen the 3 car hardly all day. When they put us from fifth to sixth, on the outside line, it just really boxed us in. I would have really restarted behind my teammate and given him a good push to the front. Anyways, it is what it is; we’ll take it and move on.
Looked like you were up front all day.
The guys did a good job. We had a fast race car. Great pit stops, just really proud of these guys. The car’s in one piece and we can take it to Talladega now. Great job by my guys. A lot of effort came into coming down here to Daytona and giving ourselves a shot to win. We had that chance to be up front and make some things happen. Fifth is not what we want, but we’ll take it and move on.
Bumping vs Pushing?
It’s way harder. You don’t want to lay on the guy in front of you, so it’s tough racing. A lot different than what we’re used to, ‘cause you gotta go. You gotta drag the brake too ‘cause you don’t want to hit the guys and you don’t want to stay on him. It’s a lot harder mentally than what we’ve done in the past.
Car was strong all day. Pushing vs. Bumping, is that harder to do than just getting on somebody and pushing them?
Yeah, it is a little bit. When you bump ‘em, you jar ‘em, it kinda jacks ‘em a little bit. It’s a little more abrupt, obviously. I thought it was OK there at the end. It was certainly fun and hopefully entertaining. But a little bit of a struggle in the early part of the race and the midpart of the race to see a good race. And that’s unfortunate for the fans. You can’t do that the whole race, you can’t tear up your stuff, knock your grill in, overheat your motor, all that stuff so there’s no sense in doing all that until you get down to the last lap. The 7 and the 6, they did a good job. Man, the 7 really held the 22 and I tight on the bottom. I was rubbing his door and hitting the apron at the same time, no room whatsoever. So it was good; wish we were the ones who could have won but a lot better now than what we were last year.
Going home in one piece makes it a lot better, right?
Yeah. My back feels good. My foot feels good. Past years here, I’ve been going home with pain so I’m alright.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Truck Series Post-Race Quotes: Daytona (Exclusives)
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday February 22, 2014
When you’re on the outside like that, how frustrating is it?
It’s so hard. Timothy Peters has won here. Kyle Busch has won everywhere. Ron Hornaday has been running Trucks forever, probably before I was even born. I was surrounded by veterans there, and like I told them I don’t have a rookie stripe but I’m a rookie. This is only my fourth Truck race ever, my fourth superspeedway race, and man, I figured out when the 17 got up in front of me, I pushed him. And as soon as I pushed him, he took off. And I went with him. And I just kept doing it, and before I knew it, he was leading. And I saw Ron in my mirror, backed up to him, and if it wasn’t for him, I don’t know what would have happened. I gotta thank him big time for that. That was a true teammate move right there. I really appreciate that. He just bounced off me and we got to the front. I tried my hardest to sidedraft Kyle. I was probably touching his door.
Top 5 in the No. 30 truck. This deal come together at the last minute, but you had a heck of a truck. Tell us about your night.
Yeah, I’ve got to thank Turner Scott Motorsports. The guys worked so hard on this Rheem Comfort Products Chevrolet. Exciting! Just got hung up on the outside and had to wait for my teammate there to catch up. And then he got to the bottom, so… I got the old 32 and started pushing ol’ Ryan to the front. So, it’s not bad. We’ll take it. You just don’t want to step over that boundary. You don’t know how far to push and shove. We bumped about six times down the straightaway without latching onto them. Hopefully, that was OK and we came home with a top 5.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Budweiser Duels Post Race Quotes
posted by Matt Stallknecht
Friday February 21, 2014
BUDWEISER DUELS POST-RACE QUOTES
They’re saying the wheel bearing burned up in it. I don’t know what caused it, they’re taking it all apart to figure out what the heck happened. Something abnormal that’s for sure I don’t think I’ve ever had that happen at all. Hopefully, we made the race and hopefully we can fix the problem before Sunday.
WHAT WAS THAT LOUD BOOM ONCE YOU TURNED INTO THE GARAGE?
Loud pop was a tire… thankfully, it popped, hopefully it didn’t hurt anybody. All the heat created in the left front that popped was pretty weird.
REALLY GOOD RUN. WHAT DID YOU THINK OF IT?
Yeah, it was good. We have a car we can work with for the 500. Got a good starting spot, so we’re going to rest easy, fluff and buff our car for a couple of days and get ready for Sunday.
ANY DIFFERENCE ON WHETHER THE TOP OR BOTTOM LANE WORKED?
Yeah, I was just moving around, trying to stay with the flow. For me, this car works on all parts of the racetrack. So I’m pretty happy with it.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.
GOT SHUFFLED BACK, AFTER PIT STOPS AND THEN COULDN’T GET BACK UP TO THE FRONT. WHY?
Nah, we were just sitting there waiting until the last few laps to make a move. You didn’t want to pull down and get sent to the back. Seen a couple of guys get sent to the back really quick so we were just kind of waiting for the end. I felt like we had a good situation there with Ambrose behind us — we had a good run off Turn 2 and I went. It was the last lap, time to go do something, nobody went with us but hopefully Sunday is a different story.
We got a great car. We don’t have to work hard. We learned, we got a good race car. Got a car in one piece, ready to go so we’ll try and get through the next couple of practices, deliver it to the starting group this Sunday and we’ll be real happy.
YOU’RE IN THE DAYTONA 500!
Yeah, it’s pretty awesome. This Whitetail Chevrolet was so fast that I knew all I had to do was stick it behind smart, intelligent drafters and we could have a good finish. That’s what we did in the Duels and I’m excited. I’m excited to go do some stuff with the Nationwide car and have some more practice with this. But to know that we’re locked in the Daytona 500’s pretty cool.
YOU WERE OBVIOUSLY IN FRONT OF THAT MELEE AT THE END. WHEN YOU WERE UP FRONT THERE IN THE BEGINNING, WERE YOU HOPING TO JUST STAY IN LINE AND LET YOU FINISH TOP 5?
I was pretty content to ride and luckily I knew a lot of people around us were. It was nice to have a little calm and not really have to be racing hard the whole time. I knew that the pit stop was going to shake everything up and that’s exactly what happened. Fell back a little bit there but made the right moves at the end to get a good finish.
HOW STRONG ARE THESE RCR CARS?
They’re very strong! They definitely have the capabilities to be winning one of these races.
YOU’RE IN THE TOP 5 FOR YOUR HEAT IN THE DAYTONA 500. YOUR PRIMARY CAR IS SITTING RIGHT IN THE GARAGE, KIND OF WADDED UP. DID YOU THINK THIS ONE HAD IT IN IT?
Yeah, it’s a brand new car also. It’s just not quite as good as the primary but still a damned good car. I’m just proud of everybody at RCR for building such fast race cars. All of our cars have been fast, ECR motor’s been strong, even our affiliate teams have been qualifying really good and racing good. So… excited about 2014! It’s going to be a good year.
WELL MAN, YOU STARTED IN THE BACK BUT WORKED YOUR WAY TO THE FRONT WHEN IT COUNTED MOST. WERE YOU JUST BIDING YOUR TIME THROUGHOUT THE RACE?
Eh, you never know if you’re going to get back up there or not. We had to start at the back, we had to make a run early and see what we could do. We drove right to 10th, or something like that and then it got stagnant. We tried to make something happen, and went to the back again. Drove back up to the front. Again, just really proud of my guys. Matt Kruder did a hell of a job on that pit stop getting just enough gas in to gain some spots there.
RCR CARS SEEM PRETTY DARNED STRONG. DO YOU THINK THE RCR CARS HAVE SOMETHING FOR THEM ON SUNDAY — ESPECIALLY THE THREE JOE GIBBS RACING CARS THAT SEEM TO BE THE CLASS OF THE FIELD RIGHT NOW?
Oh yeah. The 20 car was extremely fast. The 11 didn’t qualify that good, but he’s a good drafter. I think he won. We definitely have something for him.
Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
Holding A Pretty Wheel · Amy Henderson · Friday July 2, 2010
Last Friday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Sprint Cup veteran Mark Martin noted that the racing has changed during his career. That in itself is not surprising, as Martin’s tenure in Cup has spanned the better part of 25 years now. But the change Martin referred to-a change in the on-track attitudes of the drivers themselves-has come about largely in the second half of this decade, and to Martin’s way of thinking, it’s not good for driver or team.
“You wouldn’t be able to keep a job if you raced 20 years ago if you drove for somebody and wrecked as many cars as you wreck today, you wouldn’t keep a job” Martin said from NHMS on Friday. “The teams could not justify it. They didn’t have the manpower; they didn’t have the money; they could not repair these cars and get them back out there. You wouldn’t last. But it’s a different day and age now.”
Yes, it is. Part of the change comes with the trend of hiring less experienced drivers to fill seats once filled by veteran racers. As teams hire younger and younger divers, torn-up racecars are naturally going to come with the territory. Talent cannot replace experience in a pinch, and many young drivers simply don’t have the necessary experience to know what to do in almost any situation, at almost any track. Video games and simulators, no matter how realistic, can’t replace real seat time. But on that front, as young drivers age and mature, they gain that kind of experience. They learn to avoid the avoidable, to lessen the impact of the unavoidable.
But Martin wasn’t just speaking of experience. After all, every driver has to start somewhere. Martin did, made mistakes, and learned from them. But Martin also learned how to cultivate more then experience on the racetrack-he built a career on cultivating respect, and that’s something he and others say is lacking in today’s Cup racing.
“You don’t see Jeff Burton and I running over each other and Bobby Labonte and a number of the veterans. We still try to race the way we (always) raced.”
Which meant that they raced as hard as they could, but they also raced as cleanly as they could, when they could. You raced others the way they raced you in those days-careful not to run over a driver who had been nothing but courteous to you. As a young driver, a rookie, especially, you gave the veterans a wide berth for one of two reasons: you wanted and needed to earn their respect, and they would wreck you if you didn’t. And so the young drivers learned how to race.
But in today’s NASCAR, racing others the way they race you is becoming the exception, not the rule. It’s not a question of talent. Jeff Burton echoed Martin’s sentiments, saying “it takes zero skill to run over top of somebody.”
No, it isn’t a question of talent. You don’t get to the Cup level without that. It’s about a sense of fair play versus a sense of entitlement, about doing what’s right versus doing what’s easy. It’s about a change from give and take on the race track to just taking. And because of that, it becomes an issue of trust.
Reigning Cup champion Jimmie Johnson, who is in his ninth full season of Cup competition, has also seen the shift. “As a rookie, I was very aware of needing to take two or three lumps before I pass one out. So there’s something there that I have always been a little bit different in that respect…When I’m around people, I still try to respect them and race them like they race me,” said Johnson Friday at New Hampshire.
“And I think you’ll see a group of cars that race that way-and then chaos. I know when I get around Jeff Burton, I can race him hard. If I run him over, he’s going to come run me over. So there are certain guys you know how to race. It used to be a group of maybe 10-15 cars that would play the give-and-take game and now it’s down to three to five.”
Ironically, Johnson’s words played out in the late going at Loudon when he and Kurt Busch traded paint in a pair of bump and run moves in which the two champion drivers moved each other out of the way in the final laps. Afterward, Johnson expressed surprise with Busch, who made the first move, not because Busch had used the bumper on Johnson, but because Busch hadn’t done it before, and Johnson hadn’t expected it from him. Still in that instance, both drivers put on a clinic on how to race the right way. Either could have easily have ended the battle by putting the other into the wall, and they didn’t. Johnson said afterward that he had wanted to at first, an instantaneous reaction to the surprise, but in the end, neither crossed the line. Lately, that’s too often not the case.
If a driver can only count on three to five other drivers to race him consistently, that creates a real problem, the end result of which will inevitably be torn up racecars and bruised egos. Part of the problem is attitude-there are a few racers, most of them still quite young, who race with a sense of entitlement. Because they are who they are, they seem to believe they are more entitled to this piece of real estate or that position than the next guy with a smaller name and fewer souvenir sales.
Another part is pressure-sponsors want results, and they want them now. Drivers aren’t given the time to develop in a lower series; they aren’t even given much time to learn in Cup before their jobs are in jeopardy if they aren’t posting top finishes. As unrealistic as these expectations usually are, they change the game, and often not for the better.
But the responsibility for on-track behavior ultimately sits in the driver’s seat. Drivers can’t control pressure, but they can control attitude and how that pressure affects them. All too often, the biggest lesson in racing-to finish first, first you must finish-goes miscomprehended and unheeded.
Not all of the drivers agreed that people were racing too hard. Interestingly enough, though, the ones who passed recent incidents off as “just racing” are many of the drivers who don’t always race others with respect.
And that’s part of the problem-too many drivers don’t understand that the lack of respect displayed on track is a problem. They pass it off as hard racing, but it’s not-hard racing can only be accomplished with mutual respect. Otherwise, it inevitably turns from hard racing into hard wrecking. There is a difference between hard racing and dirty racing. But some guys don’t seem to understand that.
Martin adds one other reason for the change in racing: racing has shifted from being about sportsmanship to being about entertainment. What would not have been tolerated by car owners or the sanctioning body has become acceptable because controversy drives ratings. It drives ticket and t-shirt sales. “20 or 25 years ago, it was about the sport,” Martin remarked. “It wasn’t really about the thrill, it was about being a part of something you loved, and it was smaller, less entertainment oriented…You just had to do the best you could with what you had to work with and close the deal the best you could. So it is different now. It’s much more entertaining. It is what it is.”
It’s too bad that many of today’s young racers will likely never listen to Martin’s words, let alone take them to heart. If they were satisfied with doing the best they could with what they have and what they know, without feeling as though they are entitled to more simply because they are young and talented, the racing would be real racing, with real respect. And with the talent these drivers have, what a show that would be.
©2000 - 2008 Amy Henderson and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
Amy, you hit the nail on the head! Now I might sound old, but “back in the day” we went to the races to watch drivers race hard and smart. I was at the track when the famous pass in the grass happened, and at other tracks where they use to put 3 cars where only 2 would fit and they would all come out of the corner nose to tail and nobody got wrecked. We also got to see drivers moving drivers with out wrecking and either cheered or booed depending on who it was being moved. The interesting thing is that I have stopped going to the races since I have started doing on track days for fun. But I do remember sitting on pit road at Carolina Motorsports Park for my last session of the day and listening to the Darlington Race where Kurt Bush and Ricky Craven were going neck and neck to the finish line. Great finish with Ricky winning and then I was signaled to enter the track for my run. That seemed like the last time i wish I was at that race! Now it is nothing but entertainment and who will make the highlights for the biggest crash! That aint racin the way I know it!
Tom and Amy: Just how was the “pass in the grass” a sign of respect? (For the record, it was not a pass, since Earnhardt already had the lead. But the result was a cut tire for Elliott – just like the Busch v. Burton contact at Charlotte.) Just how was it any different than what we see on the track today? Earnhardt Sr. made a career out of bumping cars out of the way. If they wrecked, he “hated that it happened.” If they didn’t wreck, it was due to their own skill. If anyone in the sport ever had an air of “entitlement” about him, it was Irondhead. Ironically, he was good enough to win without being a bully – he just wouldn’t have won as much. He was the Intimidator because when drivers saw him in their mirrors, they knew he would wreck them to get by, so many simply let him go.
How much gets glossed over as time goes by and due to his death! Some of us remember those days as they really were, not through the the eyes of nostalgia and phony sentiment.
And of course racing IS entertainment – that is the point of all professional sports. And it is a lot more entertaining for me to see greater safety features which allow drivers to give as good as they get – something which was a tragedy waiting to happen 10 or 20 years ago. (And which eventually DID happen more than once.) The good old days were not that good.
Not to say that a tragedy isn’t gonna happen these days but, with the cars that are run today, it’s more likely to be a fan that dies than a driver. So, there isn’t a overall compelling reason not to wreck that other car. Call it ‘respect’ if you will but mostly it was fear of being hurt your own self that policed the sport
The problem I see with all the talk about “respect” that crops up from time to time is that those who are complaining about lack of respect are frequently defining respect as deference.
Not wrecking people on purpose — yes.
Not taking stupid risks at stupid times — yes.
Letting someone else win because winning requires using bumpers or fenders to move (not wreck, MOVE), someone out of the way — no.
How can you expect the drivers to have respect when the sanctioning body disrespects the drivers and fans alike. We know when there is a banner covering an entire grandstand at a track we’ve been to before, and they say it’s a sellout. We know there are certain drivers that get preferential treatment and others that get shafted, based on whether nascar likes them or not. We know leading a race or being in the top 10 most of the day does not mean your car will be shown if you are not one of the big guys. We know who will and will not get fined and or suspended for infractions or causing wrecks. We know that if there is a caution for debris – that debris should be shown. Nascar has control of the broadcasts and you see and hear ONLY what they do or don’t want you to. When the broadcasters own cars in the race, and they have sons, brothers, nephews and neices participating in the race it is wrong. The amount of tv time to these relatives and the other drivers in the cars they own is one of the reasons there are banners covering empty seats. The drivers know this too. When nascar starts acting credible, then and only then, can we expect respectfull racing.
Wow, good article and comments. I made a comment last week that is solid. This crowd might get it. Aero push is a huge problem, back in the day soft grippy tires were the trick. Nascar hardened the tires after Kenny and Adam died,This created the problem. Racing is broken. Nascar use to be a smart mans game, now we get desperate fool racing. Can’t blame drivers when these cars will not pass on the track, leads to desperate fool. Add the domination of knaus and the media hype. OK, these guys are desperate. Soft tires make the driver save his stuff. Soft tires let you get a lap back. Soft tires punish the fools who race so hard on lap 6-20. Soft tires let more straties work out on the track it’s called passing something that I haven’t seen in a while. Hard tires = Aeropush and desperate circus of fools and no passing. Nascar now is desperate itself.
Absolutely the most intellgent responses to an article on this sight for a long time. The train of thought flows all the way down to the local tracks and regulars there, dirt and or asphalt!
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