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.
Frontstretch Staff · Monday June 4, 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: Will Busch Force NASCAR’s Hand on Probation? Will this week be the one where we find out if the word “probation” comes with any teeth attached? It could prove to be, as Kurt Busch, slapped with that penalty for a postrace pit road incident at Darlington, was called to the NASCAR hauler on Sunday morning following a postrace interview on Saturday when Busch cursed and made a veiled threat to Sporting News reporter Bob Pockrass. Pockrass asked if being on probation had impacted the way he raced — a legitimate question after Busch traded barbs with Justin Allgaier during and after the 5-Hour Energy 200 on Saturday. Busch, whose comments on the situation had already included a not-so-veiled shot at the sanctioning body, had said, “He thinks we purposely hit him and so he drove like a you-know-what all day and [tried] to door us and try to do stupid things out on the track. I’m on probation, so I can’t even pick my nose the right way.”
When asked by Pockrass, as a follow-up if he had raced differently because of his probationary status, Busch snapped, “It [being on probation] refrains me from not beating the (expletive) out of you right now because you ask me stupid questions. But since I’m on probation, I suppose that’s improper to say as well.” (Click here for a full video of Saturday’s incident) Unfortunately for Busch, this media run-in isn’t his first; the driver lost his seat at Penske Racing, at least in part due to a similar tirade against ESPN reporter Dr. Jerry Punch last year. NASCAR determined at that time that the tirade was serious enough to violate Section 12-1 of the NASCAR rulebook (actions detrimental to stock car racing – inappropriate hand gesture; abusive language), and fined Busch $50,000.
This time marks the first one in recent years, and perhaps the most serious that a driver has tested NASCAR’s tolerance while already on probation, though several others have had repeat incidents once the penalty was ended. If this incident is considered a violation, further fines, points penalties, or even a suspension would be on the list of consequences. All eyes will be on NASCAR Tuesday as a message, and possible consequences will be handed down to show that this penalty either means zero tolerance… or not. –Amy Henderson
Izod IndyCar Series: Owners Pushing for a Change at the Top The IZOD IndyCar Series was basking in the glow of a successful Indianapolis 500 this week. But then… Twitter happened. It was IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard himself who tweeted on Tuesday #INDYCAR @indycar it is true that an owner is calling others trying to get me fired. I have had several owners confirm this. disappointing.
Bernard’s tweet seemed to shift the focus off building on the momentum the series gained at Indy, rolling towards a sold out event at Belle Isle and onto politics instead. In fact, it even overshadows the two-hour red flag in Detroit as chunks of the racing surface came up and had to be repaired (for the complete story on the Belle Isle Grand Prix, check out our IndyCar race report) as the big story this week. The move was confusing to some in the series, especially after such a strong marquee event. There have been some complaints from team owners, though, most notably about higher chassis costs than teams were told to budget for, and also concerning an adjustment to the single turbocharger configuration used by Honda that Chevrolet protested. That manufacturer claims they were left out of discussions about the change. However, Bernard had previously asked that teams not go to the media with these complaints, instead asking that they be worked out within the series.
Talk about breaking your own rules; Bernard, all of a sudden has pulled a 180 and posted about it on Twitter. After the tweet, Speed.com reported that IndyCar founder Tony George and team owners Mario and Michael Andretti, John Barnes, and Kevin Kalkhoven were pushing for the change. However, Mario Andretti says he has spoken to Bernard and told him it was hearsay.
Team owner Roger Penske commented that he prefers that the focus be on racing instead, commenting, “I’m not in favor of making a change in the middle of the season. There are things I’ve been upset about — the turbocharger, for example — but I moved on. It’s time for all of us to focus on racing and getting on the same page.” That’s easier said than done; after Belle Isle, rife with track issues the controversy is sure to intensify. Will Bernard weather the storm or be blown out of town? The answer may come as soon as just a few weeks. –Toni Montgomery
NASCAR Nationwide Series: Title Contenders Or Could Haves, Would Haves, Should Haves… The good news for Richard Childress Racing? They left Dover with the points lead and with three cars that finished in the top 10 (both Dillon brothers and new point leader Elliott Sadler). The bad news? Even though they were able to cash in on the self-induced troubles of Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., the fact remains that the No. 6 car was faster than the Nos. 2, 3 and 33 on Saturday.
Despite the recent maladies striking the defending champs, Roush Fenway Racing is consistently putting top 5 cars on the track and have proven to be one of only a handful of entries capable of racing with the JGR Toyotas. That two-car tandem is working wonders; right now, they’re close to duplicating a ridiculous stretch of Victory Lane visits in 2008-09, before the Nationwide COT came into play. The same can’t be said for Richard Childress’ Chevrolets, which have been consistent top-10 finishers but on Saturday at Dover were powerless to drive their way through traffic the way Logano’s winning Toyota (and Stenhouse’s Ford briefly) was.
To see Ty Dillon’s debut go so well, Sadler take the lead and Austin Dillon move into title contention over the course of 200 miles at Dover had to be a breath of fresh air for the organization in their return to Nationwide racing. That being said, with a stretch of “Ford favorite” events ahead – including Roush’s unofficial home track at Michigan – RCR is going to have close the equipment gap fast if they want this lead to stick. – Bryan Davis Keith
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series: Ty Dillon Continues to be Rookie to Watch Before the checkered flag flew over the Lucas Oil 200 on Friday afternoon, Ty Dillon and the late Ricky Hendrick were tied for the best-ever start by a rookie with five top-10 finishes to open the year. But all of that changed when Dillon brought his No. 3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet home in sixth, claiming the record as his alone. With that best start for a freshman, the 20-year-old has a stronghold on the Rookie of the Year standings with his closest active competitor more than 30 points back. (Author’s Note: John King sits second but no longer has a ride; his position will drop with each race he misses.) And if that’s not enough, he sits within striking distance of the championship points lead, just 13 points behind leader Justin Lofton.
To put the younger Dillon brother’s performance in perspective, let’s compare how Ty and reigning CWTS champion Austin Dillon opened their rookie seasons, both driving Richard Childress Racing’s No. 3 truck. Austin’s 2010 season started with finishes of 26th, 10th, 16th, 14th, sixth, and 21st in the first six races, compared with Ty’s ninth, second, eighth, ninth, 10th, and sixth. Right away, you can see where Ty has outperformed his older brother already, and that has plenty to do with starting positions and the importance of track position in the Truck Series. Ty has started no worse than 12th this year, including four starts inside the top 5. Whether the forward progression will continue remains to be seen; however, it’s become very clear that racing is in the Dillon brothers’ blood. There is definitely a strong future for Ty, not only in the Truck Series, but beyond as he progresses through Nationwide and eventually to Cup. –Beth Lunkenheimer
Grand-Am: Series to Expand to Three Divisions On Friday, Grand Am announced it will be adding a new class to the series. Slated to begin with the 2013 Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona, the “GX” class will encompass cars from different manufacturers, including cars running technologies not currently in Grand Am, such as alternative fuels, hybrid powertrains, and turbochargers. While participating companies have not been announced, multiple entries are expected in the near future.
“When there are manufacturers looking to compete, we need to find a model that works to include them in the Rolex Series,” Grand-Am President and CEO Ed Bennett said. “It’s good for the fans, providing another whole group of exciting cars they can relate to. And the fact that the GX class will get to debut at the Rolex 24 just adds to the anticipation and excitement.”
There’s no hint about which particular automobile companies are being targeted; however, don’t expect to be kept in the dark for long. What is even more intriguing, though, beyond the participants are the different technologies that may be introduced. Whether the new class will take off as much as the Daytona Prototype and GT classes remain to be seen, though. The big question mark, and one that won’t be answered until 2013 is whether the GX class can be competitive enough to not become a hindrance to the other two classes already on the track. -Rick Lunkenheimer
Short Tracks: Two Strikes And You’re Out? Four weeks ago, it was Kingsport Speedway and a header that didn’t feel right. This week, it was a rear brake blower that, at least according to the officials, is not allowed. Whatever the case may be, for the second time in as many races, Ronnie Bassett, Jr. has been stripped of a UARA win. Bassett won two of the first three races to open the season, finished second in the third, and was poised to run away with the series championship. As a result, when his team rolled into Kingsport, they were supremely confident that the season-long title was within their reach; but the postrace inspection after they once again took the checkered flag was extensive and eventually, the cylinder head of the winning car’s engine was declared illegal because it didn’t feel right. Ford Racing Technology upheld the belief of the inspectors on the subsequent appeal, and Bassett’s win was officially thrown out.
After that incident, Bassett’s team purchased new engines, had them certified by Ford, and proceeded to Anderson to get back on the winning track. A year ago, Bassett scored his first win at Anderson in this race, only to have the win thrown out on an engine violation. He returned last fall and dominated the race once again, making Anderson seem like an ideal place for him to restart his pursuit of the series title. Toward that end, Bassett did everything in his power by taking the checkered flag first. But then came the second blow of the season when his car failed postrace inspection over the rear brake blower. The technical inspection violation awarded the victory to Scott Turlington, although even Turlington’s crew chief went to the UARA trailer to argue that the decision was bogus. It will be interesting to see where this all shakes out in the next week or two and whether the Bassett family will continue supporting this series after having a second win taken away this year. -Mike Neff
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Stop stop stop! The media needs to stop with the Kurt crap! It seems to go in cycles….Stewart, Harvick, Kyle, Kurt…. It seems if a
I guess when you wags drum the Busch brothers out of racing, we will have to hear you all drone over how Dale Jr. is just about to end his losing streak of “who cares how many” races, as if it is ever going to happen. You want excitement in drivers, then when they don’t act like robots, you bait them into anger.
Just want to make sure I understand your logic.
Also, the other drivers that exhibit more human qualities face the same trials and tribulations (look at Gordon’s luck this year) yet, somehow by some unknown phenomenon, they act like adults (most of the time). Go figure.
i whole heartedly agree with Lydia and Conelly. This particular confrontation seems as if it’s presented by most of the media without some of the context just like last year. This time Kurt seemed to feel that another driver was playing him and he had his hands tied by nascar. The media know that if kurt’s level of frustration is high enough, he’s liable to blow up and yield a story. Plus, if you’ve ever listened to sirius’s coverage of friday driver press events you know that Pockrass is no dummy when it comes to being passive aggressive or asking challenging or inflammatory questions in a polite and professional manner. As for kurt, Heck even last year’s tirade was presented without a lot of context. A frustrated driver known to be hot head is taken out of the race by yet another equipment failure and is made to wait and wait and wait for an interview he most likely didn’t want to give in the first place. Jerry Punch offers no apology or consolation but stands there trying to be invisible while he waits for the bozos in the truck. Kurt swore at him but was more clearly mad at the situation… big deal. Ok, with more context he’s still a jerk but maybe he’s only a jerk with a small letter j as opposed to a capital J. It’s no excuse for poor behavior but with more of the context it certainly changes the way I look at the story.
Seems you guys missed hornish’s payback… now there’s a story brewing. This on ain’t over.
Bill…I’m assuming you know what a metaphor is? But I’ll play your silly games..
Babydufus… That was quite the subtle payback Hornish gave Danica! Let’s hope Danica and Sam are “less than human” as Bill suggests a non vanilla driver must be….this cage fight could be better then those two “animals” Brad and Carl!!
Couldn’t agree more with Lydia as well. You know Kurt is pissed so just go piss on him somemore and see if you can make a story out of nothing.
connelly makes a very good point. Take a look at the rest of the field and imagine what NASCAR would look like without “Rubberhead” and “Wild Thing”. It would be as entertaining as watching paint dry. And the key word here kids is indeed “Entertainment”. It is what herr France strives for and what rule change after rule change is made for…to make the show on Sunday watchable. If you want to see what racing was like before all the rules (and the restrictor plate) keep an eye out for replays on ESPN Classic. Watch Bobby Allison win a race by 2 laps. See cars fly up and over the catch fence, etc. The question is: would you rather watch paint dry or watch em when they were ‘just good ol boys runnin what they brung…”?
i also agree that reporters are agressive got to get that story also is it because hornish is also both so he gets off
True enough, Brian. Things were way different in the old days, and probably more fun to watch. BUT.. sponsors weren’t pouring the millions of dollars into the sport for their PR benefit and drivers weren’t paid millions of dollars to answer some annoying questions. If these guys want the bucks they need to put up with what comes with it. Otherwise there are plenty of Saturday night short tracks where they won’t be bothered by those pesky reporters.
Bill is right, we need more vanilla drivers (JJ)with no emotion what so ever. More of them means more empty seats in the grandstand next to me! If I wanted to watch well mannered gentlemen, I would watch something else.
There is a lot of gray area between being vanilla and being a dick to your team, peers, reporters, fans and anyone else that crosses your path.
Let me ask you all something, well those of you who work. When you have a bad day can you flip off your boss, kick customers in the nuts, and tell vendors to go f themselves? If so, I want your job. If not then why should sports figures? They make the big bucks, they should have to adhere to a higher standard than the rest of us schmucks that work for peanuts.
Bill B…..a dollar is a dollar..a job is a job….just because someone has a talent that pays more money doesn’t mean they owe anyone more then the average “smuck”! But all is fine in NASCAR land..Busch is suspended from Pocono..that should give the reporters columns for the balance of the week..Is everybody happy!?!?!
I just want to say, first, I’m not a Kurt or Kyle fan. But,I don’t think Kurt should be chastize for what happen at Dover. Some, not all of these so-called reporters or journalist should have common sencewhen approaching a driver or other member in the garage area. They (reporters?) try to get a story by asking a stupid question at a time that person is up set for what ever reason. They tried it on Dale Sr. and others These (Prima-donna reporters) think the world owes them a good story. Nascar should butt out and let the problem take care of it’s self. Where it be car owners or sponsors or another driver. Richard Childress did it the proper way. the old fashion way. It always works. It was practiced in my days of racing and worked great. My driver would confront another driver or vice versa take a swing or two and it is over. then we all go to the local bar and be friends again. Next week, back at it. and we still had fun. It Works!
Sorry, I don’t buy into the talented prima-donnas need to be given special treatment school of thought.
If you want a prima-donna diva, I give you Darrell Waltrip, who cries way too often.
Ok, about KuBusch, too bad so sad. He should learn from Stewart and take care of Rick and Brian and then you can say what you want. But the good news is we don’t have to listen to the Dipstick brothers in the booth anymore this season!
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