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 October 29, 2010
You see it every week now in the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series: less than halfway through the race, a seemingly undamaged car pulls into the garage and the team packs up and heads home early. The results sheet shows an electrical or brake failure, and the owner collects a backmarker paycheck. It’s a practice known as start and park, and it’s been increasing in the sport over the last few seasons.
It’s terrible. It’s a blight on the sport and it shouldn’t be allowed. Or so say many race fans, quick to disparage the practice as a greedy team owner and/or driver trying to make a quick buck on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon. They’re getting rich on the purses and not putting any of that back into the team. They don’t really want to race, they just want to make money. NASCAR really should do something about them.
Not so fast.
Starting and parking has become an ugly reality in NASCAR today, but the blame isn’t being focused in the right direction. Whether fans are overestimating hugely what anyone is making form those deals or accusing the drivers of not being real racers, they’re misinformed. Nobody is getting rich and nobody is going home satisfied at the end of the day. There is a problem, but it’s not the teams starting and parking that holds the lion’s share of the blame. It’s partly NASCAR’s and partly the economy’s.
The teams that start and park don’t do it for the money. Even a backmarker car costs as much as the last place purses they take home. They certainly don’t do it for the fame-they can do without the derision they hear every week. They do it because they want to race and right now, it’s the only way they can.
With the cost of racing going up and sponsor interest in the sport going down, teams can no longer race successfully on the shoestring budget of a small or part-time sponsor. On the flip side of that, the sponsors who may consider NASCAR might be more likely to gamble on an established team rather than a brand-new one. The teams have some equipment, they have a driver, and they know the racetracks. Those things are stacked in their favor should someone come calling.
I used to be on the fence about the start and park teams. There are a couple in the Nationwide Series who were doing it to help fund a team car as the Cup interlopers gobbled up the available sponsors, and I never took issue with that. On the other hand, there are times when a team planning to run the full race is outqualified by someone who only plans to make a few laps, and that doesn’t feel right either. But then I talked to a couple of start and park drivers, realized why they do it, and my opinion changed. It stinks that they have to, but the reality is that it’s better than not racing at all.
I spoke with Michael McDowell (then with PRISM Motorsports; McDowell now drives the No. 46 for Whitney Motorsports, still a start and park team) a couple of months ago about their situation, and McDowell said, “It keeps 15 families fed that wouldn’t otherwise be fed. That’s the hard part that people don’t always understand is that nobody is leaving here driving a Mercedes or a Lexus or flying on their helicopter back to the house.” Again, nobody is getting rich here. But the unemployment line is a bit shorter.
Another reason that McDowell mentioned also made sense. “We’re doing this because we have to, but we’re also doing it because if we keep the team together, we keep the people together so that if we do land a sponsor, we’re ready to go.”
That’s actually a smart move. These teams do learn something each week at the track. Casey Mears said that his Germain Racing team, which starts and parks when they don’t have part-time primary sponsor Geico on board, runs practices and qualifying as if they were planning on running the entire race, gathering data on handling and tires as every other team does. That gives them something to work with when they do have a sponsor on board.
Anybody who thinks that drivers like to end their day early is wrong. They don’t. They drive these cars because there’s nothing else right now. And if you’re not driving at NASCAR’s top level at all, you get forgotten in a heartbeat. So they pull into the garage when they’re told to. But that doesn’t mean they like it.
The only thing that hurts worse is not racing at all.
For the most part, especially in the Sprint Cup Series, these aren’t no-name drivers. Mears is a winner on the Cup circuit with Hendrick Motorsports. McDowell was tapped to drive for Michael Waltrip’s then-fledgling team. Former Cup champion Bobby Labonte has done it occasionally. I promise none of them want to do it.
“The hardest thing for me to do in my career was the first time I ever had to pull in,” said Casey Mears at Martinsville. “I’ve raced since I was three or four years old, and I’ve never pulled in halfway or partway through a race. It’s one of the most painful things I’ve ever done.”
After hearing that, watching Mears pull into the garage halfway through the race was just that-painful to watch. He didn’t want to. None of these guys want to.
Really, NASCAR is partly to blame. It could just be poor timing, but starting and parking didn’t become a problem until after NASCAR changed qualifying rules, doing away with the old time-and-provisional system under which anyone could race in, while the big names were still protected with provisional starting spots. Perhaps the new system forced teams to reevaluate-they had to put that much more into qualifying for one of a handful of open spots, and that meant taking away that much more from the actual race.
NASCAR also, in their haste to make a few more dollars, has robbed small teams of potential sponsors, taking their money instead to make them the “Official oil/cereal/whatever of NASCAR.” Had the sanctioning body steered those companies towards the teams in the garage instead, the entire sport could have been healthier, with more full-time teams competing for both starting and finishing position every week, making the racing better and perhaps keeping some more fans around for the long haul.
The big teams share a bit of the blame, too. The seemingly endless driving up of costs has pushed many, many teams out of both the Cup and Nationwide Series in recent years. What used to cost $10 million now costs $25 million and more, and there are few sponsors willing or able to pony up that kind of money to an upstart team. $10 million is a stretch, and it simply can’t compete. A couple hundred thousand dollars per race isn’t much if the top teams are spending a million or more. There’s simply no incentive to sponsor a team when going in, there’s no realistic way they will get exposure. Not when the television cameras focus on the big-money teams, sometimes because they’re getting sponsor money from those same companies paying the bills for the biggest teams on the circuit. There’s all risk and no reward for smaller sponsors in today’s NASCAR.
So those teams do what they can to survive, clinging to the hope that a sponsor will come along who can take a chance on a team that already has a driver and can qualify into races at a lot of the tracks on the circuit because they have the knowledge to do so.
Sure, it’s awful to watch. Sure, it’s sad to see the sport come to this. But the teams themselves aren’t the bad guy. They’re racers. They go through the sweat and tears that it takes to race every week-knowing that it won’t last, that just when they feel the car coming to them, they’ll get called to the garage. Just when they’ve found that perfect line, the race is over for them. They won’t see a huge paycheck or a cut of the point fund at the end of the year. But they do it anyway. Because the only thing worse is not racing at all. And real racers race. It’s simply what they do; they know no other way.
Nobody, fan, driver, crew member, or car owner, wants to see teams start races and park every week. Unfortunately, it’s part of the reality of competing in today’s NASCAR for many teams not among NASCAR’s elite. Don’t be quick to hate them; hate the climate that created them. Next time one of them pulls into the garage, feel his pain and know he doesn’t want to do it. Know that his heart beats in time with the engines and all he wants is to pull back out there-but he can’t, because the team has nothing left. They do it for the love of the sport, not for spite and not to make a quick buck. Racing a little is better than not racing at all. Maybe that doesn’t make them deserving of derision and ridicule. Maybe that makes them racers.
©2000 - 2008 Amy Henderson and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
NASCAR also, in their haste to make a few more dollars, has robbed small teams of potential sponsors, taking their money instead to make them the “Official oil/cereal/whatever of NASCAR.”
Ditto that statement.I never liked that offiical sponsor thing!Nascar is already getting big bucks from Sprint and the television deals,plus sanction fees from all those weekly tracks across the country.
Nascar help your product out!Tell these companies to talk to the owners and drivers who make up your starting lineups!
What’s a shame is that the guys that don’t S&P and run the whole race don’t get much more than those that do S&P. There should be some proration factor that takes into account laps ran when awarding the prize money.
I agree with Phil, that’s an excellent point. I would add that a lot of these official sponsors, like Sunoco and Goodyear, are car-related and take away a lot of potential sponsors that would be interested.
I think I said under another column that NASCAR kills the goose for the golden egg a lot.
Good article. Although I wouldn’t even have a problem with start-and-parks if they were totally in it for the money. If teams that want to race don’t like it, they need to qualify better.
What ever happened to NA$CAR’s “we’re putting our foot down on the S&P” stance they “said” they were going to take. Wasn’t this a couple seasons ago they came out and said this? Did they not say “if you S&P and the reason you gave doesn’t match our post race inspection then you’re in trouble.” Typical NA$CAR – all teeth and growl without any actions to back it up. And, your are correct, NA$CAR created this problem and now they have to live with it. Again, typical NA$CAR, they got their talley-whacker in the ringer and can’t figure out how to get it loose.
The other sad thing to watch is how nas$car has booted major sponsors out of the sport because certain companies like sprint have contracts that chase other companies of the same ilk away. Let’s see. AT&T, motorola, verizon, etc. Add the high cost of running a team and you can see what the powers that be in nas$car don’t see or don’t care as long as they line their pockets with cash. The Start and parkers are just trying to survive.
This article brings up many good points some I agree with and others I do not.
Lets start with those that I agree with
2. nasacar has also took many of the smaller sponsers who used to support these smaller teams.
Now the ones I disagree with,
2.Amy talks about the 15 people that are employed because of the start and park team. How about the whole crew that is employed by the team that planned on racing the complete race and has a crew at the shop to rebuild and tear down the car everyweek (I believe this would be more then 15 employees)
NASCAR tolerates this because without them they would have had short fields at most races this year. I totally agree, NASCAR needs to loosen controls on “official sponsors”, especially in times where sponsors are hard to find. I find it hard to believe a Verizon souvenir hauler would be a threat to Sprint and their massive at track displays. This problem won’t be solved until the economy/fan interest returns and brings major sponsors back to the sport. I think most of these teams are just trying to survive until times get better, and then they have a base to build from when they have full funding.
If these S&P’s REALLY want to race – go to the lower series. Go to the local tracks go to the likes of K&N or ARCA. I don’t understand how these guys make money expecially when they have to go cross country & don’t make the race. There must be something to this if they can continue doing this week in & week out. Maybe Na$car is slipping them money under the table to help make Na$car look good by having a full field.
What you say may be true for most Start and Parkers, but….. Prism, owned by Phil Parsons, is designed strictly as a Start and Park business and by design keeps real racers from making the show. Please quit defending him.
Very nice article and sad but so true. The fat cats are ruining it for the middle class. Barak Ofrance is making big money and that’s about it.
One of the things that makes me mad is when they refer to the post nextel/sprint champions as sprint cup champs. Winston was a major reason for the rise of the sport and then they are stripped of their rightful honors by the latest pocket filler.
And then not to mention the double standards. Martin had a much bigger advantage last week with his car far from making the templates but was fine but Bowyer was illegal!!!
nascar is a joke these days and they aren’t even smart enough to realize it and fix it. I hope Barak Ofrance is in the unemployement line in the near future.
Those of you that are saying these guys are getting rich off starting and parking, then why aren’t some schmos off the street trying to do this, since according to you this practice is pretty lucrative? Apparently you didn’t or wished not to read the part about the $25 million to field a car. Earning $70K a race is nothing.
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