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.
Amy Henderson · Monday April 30, 2012
Did you see all of the race action this weekend? Or, like a lot of busy fans, did you miss a late-night adventure, a Friday controversy, or a juicy piece of news? If you did, you’ve come to the right place! Each week, The Frontstretch will break down the racing, series by series, to bring you the biggest stories that you need to watch during the week ahead. Let our experts help you get up to speed for the coming week no matter what series you might have missed, all in this week’s edition of Pace Laps!
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: Edwards Call was Legit With Richmond now in the rearview mirror, it’s hard to say that this week was uneventful. The controversy began with the opening technical inspection for the Nationwide Series on Thursday and didn’t end with the checkered flag in the Sprint Cup race on Saturday. The hottest topic of conversation this week: Carl Edwards’ penalty for jumping the lap 318 restart. In case you missed it, that restart was a game-changer for Edwards, who dominated much of the race but was only able to finish tenth after being black-flagged and forced to serve a pass-through penalty. Edwards and his fans are still questioning the call.
There are three things to take into consideration here. First, Edwards’ team alleges that they thought they were leading. The scoring pylon at Richmond and the ticker on FOX’s broadcast showed the No. 99 on top… but it wasn’t—meaning that when Edwards passed on the poutside before the start-finish line, he was in violation of NASCRA’s rules. That error was caused because the scoring system is triggered by the transponders on each car; Edwards had edged ahead of actual race leader Tony Stewart while cleaning his tires as they took the one to go, and that put the No. 99 incorrectly on top of the pylon. In reality, there was no way that Edwards could have been the race leader, as he had pitted under the caution and Stewart stayed out, and there was no way he could have taken the lead under those circumstances. NASCAR was firm that the No. 99 team should have known that. And you do have to wonder why, if Edwards truly didn’t know he wasn’t the leader, he didn’t try to push the issue before the restart and take the onside lane. That he didn’t says his team had an inkling.
Second, even if he had been the race leader, Edwards clearly accelerated before the restart zone. Even though the leader controls the start, he can’t start before that area on the racetrack, and the replay shows that Edwards clearly did. So, according to NASCAR, he’d have been black flagged even if he was the leader. He’d already come close earlier in the race, making NASCAR pay close attention to him this time.
But finally, should the restart have been allowed to happen? Going forward, NASCAR could make a couple of minor changes, including reviewing timing and scoring info on the pylon or TV feed before allowing a race to go green and having a pit road official notify the team who is leading, or by prohibiting drivers from passing the leader under caution, even while scrubbing tires. Whether changes are made remains to be seen. –Amy Henderson
Izod IndyCar Series: Some New-And Surprising Indy 500 Pairings Emerging There are 33 spots on the starting grid for the Indianapolis 500 but only 26 teams competing on a weekly basis in the IZOD IndyCar Series. That means there are always one-off special combinations of owners and drivers. Dan Wheldon’s winning effort last year is proof that some of these pairings can be pretty potent in a race where just about anything can happen.
Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing announced a deal this week for Michel Jourdain, Jr. to race the 500 with sponsorship from Office Depot Mexico. Jourdain competed in the 500 only once, in 1996, where he finished 13th, one of three starts he made in the Indy Racing League. He went on to make 152 starts in CART and Champ Car between 1996 and 2004, some of those with Team Rahal before that team moved to the Indy Racing League. Jourdain moved to the NASCAR Nationwide Series and Camping World Truck Series from 2005 to 2008 and has been racing in various rally and sports car series since. He will be classified a veteran but will participate in a refresher course in conjunction with the Rookie Orientation Program on May 10. Jourdain will run as a teammate to Takuma Sato, the team’s full time driver, who got his first podium result with a third place finish in Sao Paolo this week. The team won the Indy 500 with Buddy Rice in 2004.
With spots up for grabs, don’t be surprised to see more one-off owner-driver pairings happen before teams roll into Indianapolis. With money and prestige on the line, everyone wants a piece of the pie. –Toni Montgomery
NASCAR Nationwide Series: Visual Inspection Nabs Six at Richmond… Now What? Think the fallout from Jimmie Johnson’s C-post violation at Daytona was a big deal? This one’s has the potential to be bigger. ESPN’s pre-race show at Richmond noted that NASCAR was far from happy after confiscating six front bumpers from Richard Childress Racing’s and Turner Motorsports’ NNS teams in pre-race inspections, and there seems to be little doubt that points penalties are going to stem from what was reportedly a very deliberate effort to gain a competitive edge.
Of course, there’s the inherent problem of penalizing six race teams for equipment that never saw the race track, and thus never gained said competitive edge. But the larger issue is that, unlike the No. 48 team episode in the Cup Series, one that impacted only one race team in a series where the points get reset with 10 races to go, three Nationwide Series teams in the top 10 in points are all going to be impacted by any penalties to come. Further, there is no reset to count on, so the fallout is going to stick with Elliott Sadler, Austin Dillon, and Justin Allgaier, as well as the other teams who got caught, through all of the 2012 season.
Like the Cup Series penalty, the infractions were discovered on visual inspection. However, unlike the C-pillar, because the nose section of the car is factory designed, NASCAR has an exact factory piece for each model to compare against. But the waters are once again muddied by the fact that Sadler says his team raced with the same piece twice before—and won—and it has therefore been subject to—and passed—several previous inspections; this was a key point in the No. 48 appeal, which eventually resulted in their penalty being drastically reduced. In light of the recent appeal and subsequent overturning of a similar penalty, what NASCAR chooses to do with this is a bit cloudy. Will they come down harshly on the teams for violation a specific rule about altering a factory-designed piece, or will they back off given the recent sting of defeat on the No. 48 appeal?
Granted, this is not an issue specific to the Nationwide Series. But this story is going to impact the title chase in a big-time way. –Bryan Davis Keith
Grand-Am: Rain, Rain, Go Away! In the third race of this season, this weekend’s Grand Prix of Miami, the big story was the torrents of rain which resulted in multiple spins, sending cars off the track. At times, visibility was so low spectators could barely see the headlights from the cars. Drivers also carried the infamous “towel on a stick” to clear the inside of their windshields. With water pooling up in the corners and the grass, there were more cars spinning than wrecking from other causes, especially in turn 2, where most of the incidents happened. Amazingly, no one ended up stuck in the muddied grass, and most were able to make their way back onto the track.
Perhaps the most impressive spin came from Barber Motorsports Park winner, the Spirit of Daytona No. 90, with Richard Westbrook behind the wheel. Leading the race following the second caution period for heavy downpours, Westbrook hit a large puddle in turn 2 and spun, thanks in part to some help from Enzo Potolicchio. Grand-Am officials were not pleased with the contact by the driver of the No. 8 Ford and assessed a stop-and-go penalty that dropped his team to fifth in the Daytona Prototype running order. The problems for the No. 8 team continued when they spun, ultimately forcing a pit stop for cleanup. With nearly an hour remaining, officials chose to throw the white flag in the interest of safety, giving SunTrust Racing their first win of the season in the Daytona Prototype class. In an impressive run, the No. 69 Ferrari, piloted by Jeff Segal at the time (teammate Emil Assentato), took the GT Series lead under green flag conditions and held on through pit stops, giving the manufacturer its first victory since November 2003.
But even after this impressive victory, the rain was what will be remembered by most fans. And though all ended well, could there have been more precautions taken to keep drivers safe? -Rick Lunkenheimer
Short Tracks: Josh Richards has decided to make the ultimate leap of faith in his young career, relocating to Charlotte, NC, and giving up a second place standing in the World of Outlaw Late Model Series in order to try to find a full time home in NASCAR. Richards has made several starts in the Camping World Truck Series for Kyle Busch Motorsports and had hoped to make the move to a full-time Truck ride for 2012. Unfortunately for Richards, that did not materialize; so he made the last minute decision to return to dirt for the season. Now he is very close to announcing a NASCAR ride in the next week or two and so has chosen to get out of his family ride and focus all of his attention on the asphalt world of NASCAR.
For this past weekend, the Richards family decided to put Tim Fuller in the two-time series championship seat, which was a boon for Fuller. The 2007 World of Outlaw Late Model Rookie of the Year had just decided to abandon his own efforts at chasing the series, so this is an opportunity of a lifetime for Fuller to show what he can do in top flight equipment.
Nothing is guaranteed beyond this weekend for Fuller or the Richards’ house car. Fuller finished in fifth place in the North Alabama WoO event, for a good start to the weekend. The second race, at Tazewell Tennessee, didn’t end quite as well for Fuller. He came home in 18th place in the fastest 50-lap feature in the history of the World of Outlaw Late Models.
What is up next for both Fuller and Richards is anyone’s guess at this point. Fans will certainly find out over the next week or two what the future holds for both drivers and the Richards famous house ride. Stay tuned; this could be a big step for two up-and-coming young stars. -Mike Neff
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I find it hard to believe there was no talk during caution of who was leading. Every time I have listened to nascar scoring while at the track, they give an update on position leading up to the restart.
You forgot one key point. A NA$CAR official on the spotter tower told the 99’s spotter they were leading multiple times. This was relayed to the driver. NA$CAR is culpable in this mess, but have tried there best to weasel out of any culpability, which is surprising.
As for Josh Richards, he deserves a ride. He has obvious talent, is a winner, and should be an easy sell to sponsors. Plus he’s already a better driver than Danica Patwreck.
There were multiple things that caused the confusion.
1) The caution came during green-flag pit stops, which always screws things up.
2) Tony’s pit location meant that to stay on the lead lap, he had to beat the pace car (or the leader if no pace car was out) to the start/finish line. He did that, but didn’t beat the pace car to the exit of pit road so he “lost” a lap via the scoring loops.
3) NASCAR determined he had had beat the leader to the start/finish line, and let him around the pace car. (this was before they waved Kyle around as the Free Pass car). Tony ran around the track and caught the back of the field.
4) Meanwhile, Carl pitted while Tony was at the back of the field. Now you had a mess of cars ahead of the leader. The scoring loops still weren’t valid as it would take more laps to sort it out.
5) For some reason, officials told both the 99 and the 14 they were the leader. I suspect the official who told the 99 crew simply mailed it in by looking at the scoring pylon rather than getting word from race control.
6) Carl tried to make up for the “disadvantaged starting position” by mashing the gas right at the restart box… except he was about a car length early. Tony saw Carl jump out, and he too mashed it but unhooked (just as he had all night) and made it REAL obvious.
Either way, Carl incurred a penalty. Even if he WAS the leader, he still hit the gas early.
If the 99 was scored the leader when the crossed the start/finish line for the 1 to go, why didn’t the 14 regain it at the next scoring loop? Or is it only controlled at the start/finish line. Or was Edwards ahead of the 14 at each scoring loop? That part doesn’t make sense, unless I’m ill informed on how that all works.
Regardless, Nascar’s call on Edwards was correct. He jumped the restart and it wasn’t close. Those saying the restart area was the white box to the inside are wrong. It was a double red line on the wall next to Carl.
Carl should be happy with that finish, considering he was rumored to be the one calling for the caution for debris after his penalty. Being one of Nascars favorites, they gave him his wish apparently and he got a chance to catch the leaders again. They probably felt bad for penalizing him.
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