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 · Thursday September 29, 2011
It can’t go on like this.
Something must be done.
It’s ruining our sport.
These are some of the things being said around the garage and in the grandstands about a practice that has popped up in NASCAR in the past few seasons: starting the race and parking the car early, claiming some phantom issue, and collecting the prize money for a finish that is usually somewhere between 35th and 43rd place. The so-called start-and-park teams come to the racetrack with no intention of racing for the entire event; they buy only enough tires to practice, qualify, and start the race on, with maybe one more change. (Want to know who’s not planning on going the distance? Take a stroll down pit road before the race and count tires. Start-and-park teams typically have a new set and a set of scuffed practice tires in their pit, while other teams have in the ballpark of eight to ten sets.) They don’t bring a full pit crew, just a driver, crew chief and a couple of guys to work on the car.
And everywhere they go, the ridicule follows: What a disgrace. They’re stinking up the show. It’s ruining our sport.
OK, reality check. What these teams are doing isn’t an ideal advertisement for NASCAR, but it’s hardly ruining the sport.
As for stinking up the show, really? They’re usually gone too fast to cause any problems for the race leaders. And while it’s been suggested to reduce fields to 36 if so many teams are only going to drop out early, does it really matter that much if they start the race and the field is later reduced to 35 by their attrition? There is an argument that start-and-park teams can take a spot in the field from a team that plans to run the distance, and while it’s a legitimate complaint on a week-to-week basis (Steve Park went home at Loudon last week, for example), it’s really not a big issue in the course of a season. Full-time teams are protected by the rule that locks in the top 35 in owner points.
There are not start-and-park teams locked in over teams planning to run a full race every single week. They don’t send full-time teams home, period. On occasion, they do send home a car running a partial schedule and hoping to go the distance, but it’s rare. Other than that, it’s hard to buy the “stinking up the show” argument because they cause little trouble on track and are gone early, totally inconsequential to the race except perhaps for buying a point or two for a frontrunner by cushioning the blow of an early exit.
There have been plenty of suggested solutions to the perceived problem, from prorating money won for the number of laps completed to monetary fines to actually suspending teams who park early. The first has a lot of support, but it’s ill-thought-out. For one thing, what about a team who everybody knows planned to run the whole race but had engine trouble or got wrecked? Under the rule, that team would receive a prorated purse as well, as would any team that ran all day and simply finished a lap or more down. It would have to be applied across all of these teams, and that would be grossly unfair. But the bottom line is that not all the start-and-park teams are the same, and the solution isn’t in penalties at all. Like so much else in NASCAR, it’s in money.
There are two types of teams parking their cars early. One group, luckily the minority, uses starting and parking as their business model. They don’t intend to race full races, sponsored or not. These teams do lack respect for the sport and the fans, and these are the ones most people think of when they hear the words “start and park.” And if these were the only teams doing it, perhaps penalties would be justified. But they aren’t the only ones, and penalizing them would also mean penalizing other teams who are just trying to make it in a dog-eat-dog world.
The majority of the start-and-park teams do it for a simple reason: they want to race, and if they park early, at least they got on the track. If they could afford to race every race, they would, no questions asked. When they have funding, they do race. Joe Nemechek is among these owners. So is Robby Gordon, and he and Nemechek are both winners on the Cup circuit. Nemechek and Gordon are racers, and it kills them not to race, but most weeks for their teams and several others, that’s just not in the cards. They hope that by showing up every week, perhaps a potential sponsor will notice something-great practice laps, a good qualifying effort, a good run while they’re out there-and that they will find the funding to race. In the meantime, they’re getting a little track time and learning something for next time, in case they have more money when they come back.
An example of this is Tommy Baldwin’s No. 36 team, who parked most weeks for two years. Having secured sponsorship from Golden Corral to run at Talladega earlier this year, the team put together a great effort and driver Dave Blaney ran at the front enough for Golden Corral to take notice. They stepped up with money for more races and the team is moving forward. That’s what all these teams are hoping for. They don’t enjoy parking. They don’t do it to beat traffic home. Casey Mears, who has had to park on weeks when Geico doesn’t sponsor the No. 13, said that having to pull into the garage before the end of the race is the hardest thing he’s ever had to do. Teams like these deserve respect, not ridicule.
In a nutshell, if you’re at the track every week, you have a fighting chance to be noticed by a sponsor. If you’re not there at all, you have no chance. That’s the reality these teams face.
But something must be done about them! This much is true, but what needs to be done isn’t imposing some kind of penalty. These teams are penalized every week by the economics of the sport.
The solution to start-and-park teams won’t be found in the rule book or the penalty logs. Instead, it lies in a concerted effort to help these teams find funding. It’s a reality that NASCAR funnels money away from race teams when they add an official sponsor of the sport. While that’s a short term gain for the company, it’s a long term loss if they can’t fill fields and otherwise maintain the overall health of the sport. A comprehensive program where NASCAR would help potential sponsors enter the sport and funnel money to the teams who need it most would only improve the sport overall by making the racing more competitive and more compelling to watch.
Franchising has long been the dirtiest f-word in the sport, but perhaps it’s a possible solution. By moving teams from independent businesses to a collective group under the sport’s umbrella, rules like spending caps and revenue sharing could come into play. Spending caps would almost surely bring new sponsors to the sport, as those priced out of the sport under the current model could come back and be competitive. It’s possible that franchising could, in the long run, revitalize the sport.
There are no perfect solutions, but starting and parking is also not nearly the problem some would make it out to be. These teams rarely affect the qualifying of the field or the race results. Most of the teams doing it are doing it because it’s all they can do, in hopes of attracting a sponsor’s attention, or in the case of the drivers, a better ride. While there are a few parking with no intent to change that, they’re the minority, and penalties couldn’t be applied fairly. The solution to start-and-park teams isn’t in punishment, it’s in finding ways to help them through the difficult economic environment that is today’s NASCAR.
Sometimes, the best solution is the hardest one, especially when the real problem is much deeper that it appears on the surface. The real problem lies in the economics of the sport, not in the teams doing what they can to remain a part of it. Penalties would do nothing but punish people who don’t deserve to be punished. A real solution, much harder to come by, would put an end to it because there would no longer be a need. And if there was no need, the entire sport would be better off.
©2000 - 2008 Amy Henderson and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
Oh Amy, Start and parkers DO indeed stink up the show, just not in your mind. Nice try at attempting to put a “good-guy” spin on them though.
Franchising is a bad idea, just another similarity to other sports. NASCAR has to have the appeal for companies like Havoline or Kodak that left the sport. Long term sponsors like Cheerios and UPS are leaving this season. Companies are not getting a ROI with sponsorship. That’s a bigger problem than S&Ps.
The easiest way to stop the park and starters is to NOT make it worth their while e.g. no credit for starting a race unless you complete X number of laps (say 50 or so). Only pay out prize money to the top 35 finishers, everybody else gets their entry fee back.
No incentives and maybe people will actually race.
Amy, you hit this “perceived” problem on the head in so many way’s. There have always been underfunded teams in NASCAR. Lack of funding is the only real issue. Excepting the Parson’s team, given funding the rest would be more competitive. These teams are the racer types this sport was built on, like Childress, Scott, and others. They build cars within the rules, they qualify under the rules, they spend what they have.
A lot of this “perceived” problem has it’s roots from NASCAR itself and their greed and stripping sponsor $ from the teams. The mega teams haven’t helped either. It all comes down to money and it’s availability. Speed is money.
Do I like to see teams show up with no intent to actually race, NO! Do I like to see the Baldwins, the Nemecheks,the Gordons, try to stay in this sport? Darn right I do! They are doing what they have earned the right to do, each is a former winner. What we don’t need is wanna bee’s like Phil Parsons. How do you separate them? Well maybe like they did with Morgan Shepard, he jumped out and tried to pit his own car and NASCAR stopped him although to be fair, he was actually trying to continue. A simple rule such as requiring a full pit crew and a minimum number of tires like 3 full sets should take care of those that have no intention of actually racing.
TOP 35! Thats the problem. Somewhat in agreement with the article. HOWEVER, the blame is with NASCAR! They have over the years encouraged the practice when they needed to fill a field. Anyone who thinks this is a recent issue hasn’t been following the sport very long.
This should not bother you because I thought about getting up and earning my keep, but just decided to Start and Park (SIT AND COLLECT).
TV coverage could also help S&P’ers get sponsors. Right now, the only way an S&P car gets on TV is if he blows a tire early on, or when he gets lapped by the leaders. Other than that, they don’t even rate a mention. Maybe if the TV cameras could show these guys for a bit early in the race, a potential sponsor might think his money would be well spent. Otherwise, why invest money in something that has no chance of returning anything?
Brian has been ruining our sport since he took over and came up with his brilliant ideas.
The number one problem with S&P’s is caused by NASCAR. When your dying for sponsorship and NASCAR kicks out the ones that want to spend the money to protect the Sprint name thats where you blame. AT&T, Verizon, and Motorola (Robby Gordon had a deal with them) all wanted to stay in the sport. Sunoco complains that the shell logo was too big? Seriously? In this day and age you would think they would ease up and get these companies back into the sport. Then there would be more money for the smaller teams
My idea is to give the S&P group more incentive to race. Have a separate “plan group” for independent teams that pays something like a $25,000 bonus for the highest independent finisher, and maybe $15,000 for the next highest.
The S&P teams don’t take spots from full-time teams?
Lets see- the #38 is full-time, and has attempted to complete every race. How many races have they missed? How many S&P cars made the race? The #71 and #32 also both missed races this season, intending to go the distance. Both are full-time.
One argument is “well, they just weren’t fast enough”. In many cases, they were NOT the slowest cars. In fact cars slower than they were made the race, due to the Top-35 rule.
S&P teams don’t need engines that last, they don’t need setups that can race an entire race. The cars can be optimized solely for a qualifying run.
Yet they make nearly as much as the teams the run the whole race. A team that goes 394 of 400 laps, finishing 34th, makes a whopping $175 more than a team that packed it in 45 laps in and finished 35th.
Where’s the incentive to go the distance?
Prorating the prize money isn’t going to hurt the team who finished even 10 laps down. Yes, they’d make a little less money, but the team that packed it in early would make a lot less.
Sorry, a team getting paid nearly as much for running 10-20% of a race vs running nearly or the entire race, makes no sense.
Joe Nemechek is poised to cash a check that will take him over the $3 Million dollar mark. The “P & S” crowd actually serve a purpose. Without them the “Full Field” requirement in the TV contract would kick in and the TV guys would pay less money if less than a full field takes the green.
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Earnhardt Ganassi Racing Announces Partnership with Cessna, Textron
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