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
Monday March 3, 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 28, 2011
Be careful what you wish for.
In 2001, NASCAR was on an upswing. The sport enjoyed tremendous growth in the late 1990s, and before the 2001 season began, signs of its vibrant health were everywhere. The stands were full (at one point, Bristol motor Speedway had a waiting list for tickets so long that some estimates said it would be a generation before some people saw a seat, the race fields were competitive, full of entries from a wide variety of race teams, and sponsors were lining up to sponsor racecars as they saw the massive potential for return on investment. A look at the finishing order from the Daytona 500 shows a list of fully-sponsored cars from a variety of businesses: from General Motors to Dodge, from Budweiser and Coors to Miller, from K-Mart to Lowe’s and from Kodak to Kodiak to Pfizer. Everyone wanted a piece of the action back then.
Among the sponsors in that Daytona 500 was a company that was known to everybody but new to NASCAR. The numbers were not released, but reports at the time suggested that the company had paid the highest premium ever to put their name on the hood of a racecar. The sponsorship included an aggressive advertising campaign with a series of television and print advertisements highlighting the racecar driver and the company’s most iconic symbol. You probably remember it: everyone wanted Dale Jarrett to drive the Big Brown Truck.
When UPS came onto the NASCAR scene a decade ago, they brought with them more money than most teams had ever dreamed of. They wanted a name, and they got one in Dale Jarrett and Robert Yates Racing, a team that had won the championship in 1999 and was regarded among the best in the game, a true title contender. And UPS went all in. Money buys speed, they say, and in 2001 UPS believed every word. Only a top team would do. The company had negotiated with the Tyler Jet team a year earlier to sponsor driver Johnny Benson, but that didn’t pan out. In February of 2000, Dale Jarrett passed Tyler Jet driver Johnny Benson in the closing laps of the Daytona 500 for the win, and the rest, as the cliché goes, was history. A team like Tyler Jet wasn’t good enough for the shipping giant, and they turned their interest to Jarrett’s No. 88 team.
Despite bringing that reported highest-paying sponsorship to Yates, despite the popularity of the commercials and the huge amount of airtime those dollars bought the success UPS hoped for didn’t follow. A 30-second commercial slot for a race broadcast cost roughly a quarter of a million dollars (more for the Daytona 500), so a sponsor looks at a race like one long, extended commercial. If 30 seconds of airtime was worth $250,000, and it cost them $500,000 to sponsor the car for that race, they would need a minute of airtime to break even. But running up front would ensure much more airtime; if the logo was shown on air for five minutes over the course of the broadcast, it was worth nearly two million dollars of advertising to that sponsor. Sponsors and teams lived and died by those numbers (and still do, though running up front isn’t the guarantee of sponsor success it once was, nor is running up front the guarantee of a driver finding a sponsor. Times have changed.). UPS bought in-all in.
And as it goes in racing, if one team had $18,000,000 in sponsor dollars, other teams felt they would have to have that to stay competitive, too. When their contracts were renewed or new sponsors signed, the ante went up with each and every contract. A fair estimate of the inflation is that it probably costs twice as much to sponsor a competitive team than it did a dozen years ago. A $12 million sponsor at the turn of the millennium meant a competitive, winning team, a championship contender if there was enough luck to go with the money. $12 million today no longer buys wins and championship dreams. Mixed with the same amount of luck, it could mean an occasional top 10 finish, but in general, it means a mid-pack team.
But in 2001, UPS was sitting pretty. Jarrett won three of the first eight races and took two poles as well. It looked as though UPS was on the fast track to the championship they seemed to take for granted would come. But it never did come. Jarrett led the points off and on and took one more win at Loudon that July. After that, the finishes were feast or famine: following his fourth win of 2001, Jarrett managed three top-5 finishes, with eight finishes of 25th or worse in that same span. UPS saw their title hopes slip away as Jarrett faded to fifth and Jeff Gordon won his fourth title.
Still, Jarrett’s fifth-place points finish was enough to convince UPS that their NASCAR investment was worth it. The championships would come in time, they figured. But they never did. Jarrett’s fifth-place run would be his best points finish for the rest of his career. Still, UPS figured if they threw enough money into the right team, the wins and the championship would come. Along the way, the company scooped up the chance to be the Official Express Delivery Company of NASCAR, giving them exclusive rights to make deliveries to race teams in the garage during a race weekend. And all the while, the cost of sponsorship went up.
While it would be a mistake to pin the outrageous explosion in sponsorship costs solely on UPS, it would be equally remiss to exonerate them from any blame. Coming into the sport with the biggest check of the day certainly played a role in driving the costs into the stratosphere-and that rocket-ship ride, bought at the height of a boom time for the sport and the country, has eliminated many teams from the sport outright and forced others into unsavory positions like starting and parking to pay the bills or running partial schedules, which are still better than staying home. Of the 23 teams in the 2001 Daytona 500, just eight still had cars in that race ten years later. Fifteen race teams, including Robert Yates Racing, have ceased to exist in that time frame, some bought out, most driven out by the skyrocketing cost of the sport and lack of sponsorship.
For UPS, the money continued to flow, but the success never happened. The company moved on to Michael Waltrip Racing with Jarrett in 2007, but the pastures (and the money) were no greener. Jarrett would retire before the 2008 season without bringing them the coveted championship. UPS stayed on at MWR with David Reutimann for a year, but it was becoming clear that the wins and the title were getting harder and harder to achieve even as the cost went up.
So in 2009, UPS moved to Roush Fenway Racing and a young driver, David Ragan, who, everyone agreed, showed great promise. Teams and sponsors were shifting to younger drivers consistently in the late 2000s as television broadcast time dropped through the floor for all but a select few teams. Sponsors had to buy a face as well as a name, and the young Ragan represented that shift for UPS. And all the while, the money flowed, and the cost went up. UPS’s original $18,000,000 was no longer top-of-the line. Ragan, though young and enthusiastic and polite, lacked the star power on the racetrack and among fans to make the investment pay off.
On Thursday, UPS announced that they will leave Ragan’s No. 6 team at the end of this season, opting instead to re-up with NASCAR as the Official Express Delivery Company and to take on associate sponsorship with Carl Edwards’ team, still looking for that elusive championship a decade after joining the game. Only it’s a different game now, one that UPS played a major role in changing. And the change has not been for the better.
The No. 6 team, once Jack Roush’s flagship, will likely shut down after Homestead, unless a sponsor can be found in the eleventh hour. If the trend continues, how many of today’s teams will still be around for the Daytona 500 in 2021? The picture isn’t a pretty one; in fact it’s as bleak as the brown UPS paint scheme. UPS has themselves to thank for helping to drive the cost so high that even they can’t afford it, and NASCAR is more than happy to collect their share in exchange for that “Official” title, even if it means that the competition on track suffers.
In 2001, UPS got greedy when they ponied up a huge amount to sponsor the No. 88, abandoning a small team with whom they nearly reached an agreement in their wake (that team wasn’t around for the 2002 Daytona 500). In 2011, NASCAR’s greed is pulling sponsors away from the teams who need them if the on-track product is to remain worth watching to race fans. In the middle, more than 15 race teams have fallen victim to what UPS, NASCAR, and a few other sponsors continue to exacerbate: nobody can afford to play the game. And the game suffers.
At the start of the 2001 season, NASCAR was at an all-time high. Sponsors wanted in, and they were willing to pay more than other sponsors if it meant a competitive racecar. There was money in it for them, because there was television coverage for the entire field that gained enough advertising time to pay for their investments and turn a profit. Everyone wanted to be a part of NASCAR, and the sanctioning body was able to take on the “Officials”-everything from the Official Express Delivery Company to the Official Snack Food and everything in between. Fans were clamoring for tickets as races sold out. Teams were funded and competitive. Nobody needed a guaranteed starting spot, and nobody had to park early because there wasn’t enough money for tires. Everyone wanted and expected more.
A word of warning to sponsors who put up the most in hopes of beating the best; to team owners who demand more from those sponsors than the next team has; to a sanctioning body that is happy to take sponsors away from the teams that make their final product; to all of us who thought the ride would never end: be careful what you wish for. Getting it is only the tip of the iceberg, and it can drag you down before you know it, but long after you could have turned back. Be careful what you wish for.
©2000 - 2008 Amy Henderson and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
Boy—I was just thinking, what if David Ragan had paired up with Denny Hamlin in the FedEx car at Talladega? Think he might have gotten a message on his radio?
“In February of 2000, Dale Jarrett passed driver Johnny Benson…”
Thank you for having the nerve to print what most knowledgable folks understand is happening to their sport. If the trend of “stealing sponsors DOES NOT STOP the end is near!
Sponsorship in NASCAR is like the real estate bubble – costs have far exceeded the means of even big sponsors to afford. That bubble needs to bust. Costs need to be brought back down. We may see teams rise and fall, but the sport may be better off.
NASCAR has been poaching sponsor from teams for years and will continue to do so at the detriment of the teams.
And with the exclusivity deal in place with a lot of NASCAR’s own sponsors, it’s not going to get any easier for teams to find sponsorship. Tire companies, gasoline producers, and a lot of telecommunications & cell phone companies are banned because of the exclusivity deal leaving numerous teams without sponsorship.
You have to wonder how many active brain cells there are in the Ivory Towers of Daytona.
@autryvilleracefan has half of it. UPS bought in at the height of the Earnhardt bubble, though they could not have known that any more than real estate speculators knew it with the housing bubble or dot com speculators knew it with the dot com bubble. The only difference with the Earnhardt bubble was that it was tied directly to the fortunes of one man — a fact that became apparent after he died.
The part left out was the deleterious effect of our currrent friend and maximum leader, BZF after he assumed the throne. No good has come from his reign except safety improvements and while these are in all ways good (except for the identical excreeable COT cars where what exists for safety under the skin is all that is good — the rest sucks).
Man you hit it right on the head. NA$CAR has been takeing sponsors for a long time. I use to buy what ever product suported the sport. But not any more because I know their product has got to be less quality for all their money is going to Na$car. Official Na$car means nothing to me. And to Jayski how long before they get you dude? So far you have been geting away with it man. Money will take you out also.
It’s not all that long ago that the big dog in US auto racing was the Indy cars. Then greed took over and it became CART and IRL and that led to the Indy cars on Versus…Now you have NASCAR with the same “we know better than you” mentality and heading down the same path (was Talledega even 1/2 sold out?)
Amy, this was the best article I have ever read in my 55 years of being a race fan.And from a female, how about that? You must not get to go to the races at all, because you are not like the male reporters. You see they will not say any thing at all bad about Na$car for they will lose their plush reporter seat and all that goe’s with it in the press box. Oh the many ways they get bought out. You go girl buy you a ticket and set with the real people.
Great article, and right on the money.
In my opinion, even Nascar is preparing for the future with Nascar Productions and the Casino in Kansas.
But what do I know.
Ed Inman, Jayski sold out to ESPN a few years ago. It says so right on his site.
Nascar should not be able to accept “official” sponsorships for anything. Period. They are the sanctioning body and the teams who race should be able to partner with anyone who wants to sponsor them. This crap about only one gasonline company, and one cellphone company, etc. is bull.
This is absolutely a Nascar bubble and it will break and soon. When they allowed multi-car teams, they asked for it. When they started mandating car parts to control the racing on the track, they asked for it. When they started buying up every independent track on the circuit, they asked for it. When they built more seats than the eye could see, they asked for it.
Yep, they asked for it and I will be personnally very gratified when they finally get it. Hopefully someone can pick up the pieces and bring us racing the way it was meant to be.
Good article, Amy, I really enjoyed it.
Amy, This is one of the best NASCAR articles that I have read over the past 60 years of being a race fan. You are an absolute credit to your profession. THANK YOU..!!
Amy, this is a most interesting, informative and thought-provoking article!
Thanks for sharing your thoughts with all of us.
AnnieMack, about the seat issue.
My gosh I miss those UPS ads with Dale Jarrett.
Nice article. Can’t believe the #6 may not be on the track next season.
This is an excellent article, informative and well written. However, I think the problem began when STP hooked up with Richard Petty.
Amy, it is another day and I am still reading your story. Have showed it to every one and read it over and over.Every body loves your write up and agree. I am just worried about you now, you have gone way out of line with this story and told the truth, their is no telling what is going to happen to you. Be carefull it is just not real anymore anyway. The guys have been geting away with these useless stories for a long time and they are all ARE on the take. Call there selvs reporters. YA!
Unfortunately, a driver’s ability behind the wheel isn’t the first priority in NASCAR anymore. This is what BZF’s marketing scheme has created. Most of the sponsors listen to erroneous facts and figures presented by incompetent dolts that don’t have a clue about actual racing. David Ragan shouldn’t be driving the #6 car in the first place. David is a nice guy, but we’ve got plenty of “nice guys” in the sport now. NASCAR is desperate to change into something that isn’t NASCAR. A pretty face, a black driver, or a GLBT team doesn’t mean squat when the racing sucks on the track.
>HankZ: I have been a Johnny Benson fan since before he became the ASA Rookie of the Year in’91. Some of his other accomplishments: ’93 ASA CHAMP,‘94 BUSH Serise Rookie of the Year,‘95 BUSH Champion, ’96 WINSTON CUP Rookie of the Year, 1 win in CUP at Martinsville (02),‘06 CRAFTSMAN TRUCK Champion. And voted Most Popular Driver in the CRAFTSMAN TRUCK Serise ’06,‘07 and ’08. I heard that JB will be back racing trucks next year. I hope so.
There’s only one place to put your blame, and it is spelled NASCAR and not UPS.
Recent articles from Amy Henderson:
Earnhardt Ganassi Racing Announces Partnership with Cessna, Textron
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