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 · Wednesday March 21, 2012
The decision of Chief Appellate Officer John Middlebrook created a ripple in the NASCAR community, creating every reaction from elation to outrage as word got out that Middlebrook had chosen to overturn nearly all of the penalties NASCAR had handed the No. 48 team of Hendrick Motorsports on Tuesday. The original consequences, stemming from a questionable C-pillar on the Daytona 500 car for five-time Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson had been six-week suspensions for No. 48 crew chief Chad Knaus and car chief Ron Malec, 25-point deductions for Johnson and car owner Jeff Gordon, and a fine of $100,000 for Knaus.
After all was said and done, Middlebrook ruled that NASCAR had been too heavy-handed in the decision to penalize the team, and overturned all but the monetary fine, placing Knaus and Malec on probation through May 9. Both will be with the No. 48 at Auto Club Speedway this weekend and beyond, while Johnson jumps from 17th in driver points to 11th. The outcome was almost the best possible for the team and its fans, but it has left others in a state anywhere from scratching their heads to irate that “Cheater Chad” was getting away with something yet again. Those people will say that Middlebrook and Hendrick are longtime friends and that’s why the appeal was upheld, that the team got away with something shady, that Johnson raced an illegal car.
Just hold on.
First of all, none of that is true. While Middlebrook and Hendrick do have a previous relationship, this instance isn’t the first time Middlebrook has reduced a penalty. In fact, he’s now heard four appeals and reduced the penalty every time. So while there may be a debate about whether Middlebrook has a bias against NASCAR’s rules, there isn’t one about favoring one team over another in the process. Did the team get away with anything? No. They had to fix the car before it was allowed on the racetrack, so the car that Johnson raced in the Daytona 500 (for a whopping two laps before falling victim to a wreck) was a legal racecar. It was inspected at least twice more after the initial inspection and passed.
What Middlebrook’s decision did was to bring the penalty almost in line with a July 2011 incident in which the No. 18 did not pass prerace inspection due to a C-pillar issue and was forced to make repairs before having the car reinspected and continuing with their weekend without further penalty. The $100,000 fine still upped the ante this time around, but it’s much closer to what was done for the same infraction previously. And while some will argue Knaus’ previous record, the fact is that the No. 18 has been penalized more often in the past five years than the No. 48, so that argument holds no water.
But the real issue here isn’t whether Knaus and his team pulled a fast one on NASCAR and the competition; it’s about how NASCAR polices the sport. It’s not about the number on the side of the car that brought the appeal or about any one race team in the garage. It’s about so much more. In the big picture, Middlebrook’s decision is a good one for every single team that brings a car to the racetrack.
Why? Mainly, it sends a message that “It didn’t look right” is not a valid reason for slapping a race team with a hefty penalty. There is simply too much at stake for the sport’s sanctioning body to take such a lax approach to the inspection process. There are so many factors that can potentially affect a sight line: light and shadow, the angle of a decal, the color or shine factor of paint, the viewing angle. Simply eyeballing a car that has been prepared to fit tolerances within fractions of fractions of inches just doesn’t cut it.
While the No. 48 incident happened in the season opener, imagine this scenario: heading into Phoenix in November with two teams locked in a championship battle, rolling into opening inspection at the penultimate race of the year, an inspector decides something “doesn’t look right” on one of the cars and refuses to put the template on. That team is then docked enough points that it’s all but guaranteed that the championship is out of its grasp, even if the team is able to fix it and race. Imagine if that organization is one that has never received a major penalty before. Imagine that there was, in fact, no infraction, and that would have been proven in a complete inspection. Not only is NASCAR taking away a potential championship with no actual proof of any rules violation, they’re denying race fans the chance to see the championship play out, all because of an issue that may or may not have even been real. Can you say PR nightmare?
Had the penalty been upheld, that would have become a very realistic scenario. Hopefully, Middlebrook’s ruling will force NASCAR to step back and realize that they must be consistent with the inspection process before they consider if a team is not playing by the rules.
Furthermore, it sends the message that arbitrary punishments among different teams for the same infraction are not kosher. It’s one thing to step up the punishment if teams don’t get the memo, but quite another to go from no penalty at all (the right call for the No. 18 at Indy) to a debilitating points deduction and suspensions all at once. Bumping it up from no penalty to a hefty fine and probation sends the message loud and clear that if teams continue to work in the same area of the car they are asking for trouble. Whether teams should ever be penalized for something found in opening technical inspection is very debatable, but at least you’re keeping points out of the picture. And if a third team should choose to risk massaging the C-pillar and gets the next step on the ladder? Well, perhaps they should have known better.
Whether or not the fact that the car never raced with a questionable part or measurement was part of this verdict, again, perhaps the decision itself will force NASCAR’s hand in looking at how they penalize. Taking points when none were earned is simply ridiculous. Fines and suspensions are never warranted for a car that never earned one single illegal point – that’s one thing – because if the car that earned the points was legal in the end, there is no reason for NASCAR to take them. (If the car is found to be outside of tolerance after a points-paying event, that’s a whole other matter.).
All things considered, even if the No. 48 had gotten away with something at Daytona (and they didn’t, because the car in question never got on track until it was fixed to NASCAR’s satisfaction), Middlebrook’s ruling to drastically reduce the penalty is one that all race teams and fans should be happy about. Why? It kept NASCAR from setting a precedent that would be truly detrimental to stock car racing – far more detrimental to the sport as a whole, in fact than a single car managing to get away with a minor rules infraction. Suddenly, an inspector’s eyeballs would be good enough to change the entire direction of a sport. Is that what you want?
Sometimes, it’s more important to look at the big picture than at instant gratification. While crucifying one team may have given that to some, in the larger scheme of things, it could have set a precedent with ominous and sweeping implications for everybody in the future. That’s the picture that needs to be in focus here. It’s not about one team and what they might maybe have done or not done. It’s about an entire sport and how that sport is policed. The message John Middlebrook sent to NASCAR was loud and clear: the policing of the sport needs to be consistent, and it needs to be based on a compelling (not simply eyeballed) evidence of wrongdoing. Now it’s up to NASCAR to heed that message for the good of all.
Editor’s Note: Looking for the other side to this story? Check out Matt McLaughlin’s column here which claims this decision was the wrong move. And most importantly, let us know what you think!
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©2000 - 2008 Amy Henderson and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
Well this sparks an interesting scenario. What if (and of course this could never happen) going into the final race at Homestead, all 12 “Chase” drivers are within 40 points of each other. And during pre-race inspection the top 11 teams are found to be in such gross violation of the rule book that all 11 are slapped with a 50 point penalty. Forget about the money for this one – it would only confuse things. How does NA$CAR go about running the race?
- Do we wait for the appeals to be heard – keep in mind that this Johnson/Hendricks C-post issue took more than a month to resolve? – Does NA$CAR postpone the race for 30 days? – Do they run it and see what happens? – Do they just hand the championship to the 12th driver/team that had no penalty?
Wow – something to think about…..ok my nap time is over, time to stop dreaming.
Good call on this one.
In your what-if scenario, can you imagine the outrage if that penalized car was Jr’s? Oh, wait, NASCAR would be afraid to make that kind of call on him vs. the ones the haters love to hate like Johnson or the Busch’s.
This article has been sponsored by GM, Lowes Home Improvment and HendrickCars.com
Bowyer gets blown out of the water for an infraction while Hendricks and Middlebrook dance away merrily hand in hand. We know who runs the sport and it sure as hell isn’t nascar.
Well said Amy!
You hit the nail on the head with this one!
lucky dog.top 35 rule,chase and now this crap shoot no wonder Fans are leaving in droves !!
A gentleman high up in the NASCAR rules making foodchain once told me that if the lawyers didn’t have to approve everything in the various NASCAR rule books, things would go much better. NASCAR’s rule books have always been reactive in their writing instead of making a proactive, clear black & white rule and standing by it.
The real issue here for me was that the penalties, fines, etc. were all issued on a car that was never put through Tech inspection.
Had the car been put through the templates and tech process and failed then by all means, suspensions, penalties, fines, etc all stand. Bowyer failed tech, not an unofficial casual inspection.
For a car that “didn’t look right” and was repaired prior to any tech inspection then fines are the way to go.
I think the correct penalty for this situation is correct
If this were Toyota and Kyle Busch nascar and Amy would feel differently.
I literally laughed out loud when I heard that Chad and Hendrick got away with cheating again, but I laughed even harder when I saw Amy wrote yet another “I love those Hendrick boys” article.
$1 says the 48 wins the always exciting Fontana race this Sunday where he’ll get to speak of how happy he is of Nascar’s decision.
Can we just crown him this years champion already and get on with it.?
Meanwhile the rest of us are still wondering “when will true justice be done?”
You can not eye ball a car that never hit the track or even made it to inspection & just make a call on it because it looks funny…Chad is an idiot for his in car comments…On your pole here you can see 52% are just die hard 48 fans (just like no journalism amy) All Emotion & no facts…I Fully believe they tried to fool Nascar but Nascar did not use the process’s they have & that makes it a waste of time (foolish folks) ..Now why don’t they get a laser light system set up for inspection that would have caught this & no Im not a fan of the 48 but this was improper for Nascar to do half a job & then make the example…Hendricks to Chad “you may be the finest crew chief ..but next time Shut Up!”
Its amazing how quick you were to praise nascar for parking Rowdy in Texas, because of his history of “rough” drivering. But do not want to admit or see Knaus/Hendrick punished for thier history of “cheating”
I find it odd that RCR /Bowyer got thier money back put still lost 150 points, for an infraction that could have happened on the track (Bowyer’s car pasted prerace inspection). While Hendrick/Knaus Lose pocket change but get points back after bring car to track that FAILED prerace inspection.
Knaus/Johnson history of “cheating” No points, no suspension, $100,000
Wilson/Bowyer no history of “cheating”
Less not forget Carl Long who was run out of nascar ($200,000 Fine) for on engine that was 1/6” to big, in the All star quailifing race.
If I owned a race team I would want Knaus on the box, he is not afraid to work in the “gray” area’a the other crew chief can not seem to find. And when he gets outside the “gray” nascar only slaps his wrist.
Hey all, thanks for stopping by and reading.
Pete, I clearly stated that NASCAR made absolutely the correct call by not penalizing the No. 18 for the exact same infraction at Indy, so I’m not sure why you think I should feel differently about the 48. Both teams should have been treated the same to begin with.
WCFan, a couple of things you didn’t mention that have bearing. One, Bowyer’s car was found illegal after a race, meaning it actually competed that way. Had his team been able to prove that a broken part had caused the infraction, it’s very likely that the penalty would ahve been overturend on appeal, as that has happened before when the team had proof. IMO, taking points that were earned illegally is far different than taking points that were earned with a legal car because that car was corrected before it ever got on track.
Second, if you look at the past five years, several crew chiefs have more infractions than Knaus and several teams have more violations than the No. 48. I put the stats out there in a column for all to see. Funny how lots of people ignore those facts.
IMO, what Kyle Busch did at Texas isn’t comparable to this incident. He willingly and calculatingly put the life of a competitor in danger. NASCAR said it wasn’t because of prior issues with Busch, it was because of that single incident. If Jimmie Johnson or any other driver made the same move, they would, IMO have deserved the same punishment, but comparing it to a prerace inspection (where at least 3 other cars also had questionable C-pillars but were allowed to fix them and nearly half the cars presented with some issue that NASCAR made them address)is apples to oranges. The only valid comparison is that there was a racecar involved.
I was talking to a friend yesterday who thought that the penalty shouldn’t have been overturned, and I asked this: Would you still be out for blood if this scenario had occurred at Homestead with the No. 14 or 99? Or would you be outraged that NASCAR levied a penalty without properly inspecting a car? That’s the real issue here, not whether or not the 48 had a funny C-pillar.
Sometimes I think NASCAR fans on this website are more concerned with punishing Johnson and/or Busch for every little thing, than they are with being fair to all.
Amy, yeah they caught them before he raced it at Daytona but what about the 5 races he used it before he got caught? Upheld penalty? more like slap on wrist.
Richard swore just like Rick that his team would not bring on illegal car to track. Are you saying Rick’s word is more truthfull then Richard’s.
Please name the many crew chief’s that have more infractions then Knaus. I am not talking about minor prerace infractions,too high,too low. All most every week there are team’s having to fix minor discrepancies. these are not the same as flared fenders, slow rebound shocks and others violations that Chad as done. Amy there are times that you to seem to ignore the facts.
I will admit that I do not like Rick Hendrick and believe he gets Special treatment by nascar and can give examples of such. Carl Long engine 1/6” to large $200,000 fine, Jeff Gordan’s T-Rex do not bring back to track(if this car was legal why could he not race it again?)
I know this is past news, but I believe Carl Edwards put Brad’s live at risk twice and was not parked.
WCFan…You are right about the Bowyer car in that it COULD have happened during the race…but unfortunately, the team couldn’t prove that it did. The burden of proof here is on the accused. Knaus, in fact, had a penalty for a very similar infraction changed on appeal because the team was able to prove a part failure.
Again, I outlined exactly who has more infractions since 2007 in a recent column. I don’t remember all of them off the top of my head. I believe Frank Kerr was the worst offender, along with Rodney Childers. Among teams, the 7 has the most, but several others, including the 18, had more than the 48. If you’re using the Bowyer penalty as a comparison, than those “minor prerace infractions” must be included as they are no further off than Bowyer’s car was. These are the facts, I’m not ignoring any of them. To me, the same infraction warrants the same response form NASCAR, not a different one for each team. (And speaking of facts, just to clarify, the slow rebound shocks were also used on the No. 5 of Kyle Busch that week and were NOT deemed illegal because there was no existing rule against them. They were 100% legal at the time they were used by both Johnson and Busch. Same deal with T-Rex. NASCAR changed the rule afterward in both cases.) But again, the point of my column wasn’t to vindicate the 48, it was to point out how bad it would be for the sport if teams could be penalized whenever, where ever for a car that was never even inspected. That sets a very dangerous precedent. It’s not about one team, it’s about what’s right for the entire sport. “It didn’t look right” isn’t good for the sport.
FWIW, I think Edwards also should have been parked for his retaliatory actions.
I do not have the time to research all the slaps on the wrist nascar have given to Chad and Hendrick compared to other drivers/crew chiefs/teams. I wish I did.
When you wear 48 colored glasses it’s easy to say everyone is a “JJ hater”.
I wish the late, great David Poole were still with us to research and write a book on this subject.
I’m also waiting for former Hendrick employees and Nascar imspectors to step up and talk. But it would be hard to fight against all the Hendrick/Nascar money that would be going against you.
Hopefully, one day, the light will shine bright and save this once great but slow dying sport.
My dislike of Rick Hendrick and the perferentail treatment his teams receive is the reason I would have liked to have seen these punishments upheld.
Amy, while I disagree with you more times then not I like your passion and debating different points of view.
Completely agree. “ doesn’t look right” is completely arbitrary and absurd. If you can’t measure it, you can’t complain about it.
Rick & Chad win again—wonder how much it cost them under the table?
I’m sick of JJ, RH, CK—that’s all we ever hear about, it seems. End the lovefest, Amy, & do some unbiased reporting. Nascar is NOT all about the Hendrick operation; at least it’s not supposed to be.
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