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 · Friday July 6, 2012
There’s been a lot of talk this year about the lack of caution periods in Sprint Cup races. By now you’ve heard the theories on what’s causing the long green flag runs and whether anything can be done to break them up. Last weekend, Speedway Motorsports, Inc. owner Bruton Smith got involved in the discussion, saying that the solution is mandatory caution periods during every Cup race.
You read that right. Smith wants competition yellows during the races, because long green flag runs are “ruining” the races.
I noted my disgust with the whole idea in The Big Six earlier this week, but there’s much more to the whole story than a couple of paragraphs can adequately discuss. Mandatory cautions have been used in races when weather conditions cause drastic changes to a track between practice or qualifying and the race. They usually happen somewhere between 20 and 50 laps into the race, to give teams a chance to check their tires and adjust setups for the different conditions. To level the playing field, if a competition caution is to be used, teams can’t pit for fuel before that time. And these are fine. They’re thrown for safety reasons, not to manipulate the outcome of a race. Nobody wants to see a driver hurt because of an unexpected problem that comes about because of a green racetrack or one that’s at a significantly different temperature than expected.
But Smith wants to see mandatory cautions thrown later in the races, for the sole purpose of forcing restarts to add to the excitement. In other words, he wants to take the questionable debris cautions that often seem to appear for no reason when one team is dominating a race and make them a mandatory part of every race. And there are some people who don’t see a problem with this?
Let’s take a closer look at that. First off, many fans already dislike when a yellow flag is thrown for debris that isn’t obvious to them. One major complaint is that the broadcasting networks don’t show this debris, leading to speculation that NASCAR is throwing the yellow flag to tighten up the field, not to save someone from running over something that could cut down a tire. If fans are clamoring to see the debris, why would they want to see a caution that they know isn’t for anything other than to create something that isn’t there?
And then there are the other obvious questions: When throughout the race would mandatory cautions be used? At what tracks should they be seen? Would they hurt the legitimacy of the racing? Those are good questions. Smith said he’d like a flag at the halfway point of a race. But how quickly does that become a slippery slope? It’s not hard to picture NASCAR trying such an idea and liking the results without thinking of the eventual consequences; they do that all the time. So the next thing you know, we’re having a yellow flag at half way and ¾ of the way through each race. And if NASCAR thinks that’s a good thing, well, why not throw one with 20 laps to go, or ten?
And then pretty soon the legitimacy of the race winners are in question. Imagine the outcry when Dale Eanrhardt, Jr. has a five-second lead with 20 laps to go, when the competition yellow comes out. Someone else gets off pit road first, beats Earnhardt on the restart, and uses the clean air to go on to win. And it doesn’t matter who that dominant driver is, the bottom line is, it was his race to lose until the caution comes out for no reason and allows someone else to take a win they really didn’t earn.
Well, some might say, if the leader was really that good, why couldn’t he hold the lead on pit road or on the restart? There are any number of reasons, many of which aren’t that driver’s fault. Sure, maybe his team dropped the ball or he just whiffed the restart. Or maybe someone else blocked him in his pit or knocked him sideways on the restart. In any case, why tinker with the natural result of a race? On the flip side, maybe that driver would have run out of fuel, cut a tire, or experienced a mechanical failure that would have allowed someone else to win. The wondering what could happen as the laps wind down is part of the excitement of watching a race.
And the thing is, NASCAR can’t pick and choose. If there’s a scheduled caution, no matter who’s leading, they have to throw it. Fans, think about that for a minute. If your favorite is that leader and has the win taken away because of a caution that was thrown for no other reason than to close up the field, would you really be okay with that? And what about if there’s already a great race for the lead going on when the caution is due to come out? Should NASCAR have the ability to take that away from fans simply to create a restart that may or may not be as exciting as the green flag battle?
How about the “where?” question? If NASCAR were to add a halftime, wouldn’t it have to be at every track? That means at tracks like Daytona, Talladega, Martinsville, Richmond, or Bristol, fans are going to have to endure laps of cars following the pace car instead of the action that was happening before the competition flag! That just doesn’t make sense. I suppose NASCAR could pick and choose the tracks where they have these caution periods, but that just makes it seem even more like a shameless sham.
Would mandatory cautions hurt the legitimacy of the racing? Of course they would. Racing is a game of skill, but also one of chance. Things can change the face of a race in an instant. NASCAR doesn’t need to fake that.
Race fans often bring up years past as examples of how good racing can be. While there were some great races back in the day, there were plenty where the ending was less than exciting. Take a look at race results from the 1975 season in what is now the Sprint Cup Series (then Winston Cup). In 30 races, no more than four cars finished on the lead lap. Ten times, a full one third of those races, the margin of victory was counted in laps, not seconds…meaning that only one driver completed every lap. That number includes the 1975 Daytona 500, Southern 500, and Coca-Cola 600. There were plenty of close finishes, too…but plenty were no contest. Yet nobody was complaining that there should be extra cautions to add some excitement!
Have we really become such an ADD society that a race allowed to play out on the track is no longer enough entertainment for race fans? Are we so lacking in imagination that we need to have the races falsely manipulated to provide a satisfying ending?
The current state of TV coverage is partly to blame for fans’ displeasure; we all know that. They show such a limited view of the race that fans usually miss a great deal of the action on the track, which makes the race seem less exciting then perhaps it is to the fans at the track. That is a problem…but it’s a problem whose solution lies with the networks redefining how they cover races, not with finding a gimmick to make the limited racing they show artificially enhanced.
The Chase system also shoulders some of the blame, as does the simple cost of racing. There are drivers racing more to make the Chase than to win races, and others using much of the season as a test session. There are others whose teams can’t afford for their driver to take too many unnecessary risks at one point a pop because they don’t have enough replacement cars. These factors do cause a different breed of racing. But again, the solution to one badly conceived ploy to create fake excitement is not to add another one. Cost cutting is a much more vital and real issue for NASCAR to work to correct than throwing pseudo-cautions to close up the field.
Throwing these cautions would only add to the rising cost of the sport because, no matter what some people say, one reason to create more restarts is to create the potential for more wrecks. That some fans do watch for the crashes is the sport’s dirty little secret; nobody wants to say it, but it’s there, a niggling little reality. As I was leaving the media center after the All-Star event, I overheard a conversation in which a pair of female fans said that the race was boring…not because of the on-track action, but because there weren’t any wrecks. As much as fans want to deny that there are those among them who want the chance for more crashes, there are. And as the old adage goes, cautions breed cautions…which makes the whole idea a thinly veiled attempt to cause not just one restart, but several, with some spins and hard feelings in between. And while the sport may need rivalries, it doesn’t need to make them that way.
In reality, the racing hasn’t changed as much in recent years as people like to think. Since NASCAR began, there have been great races and there have been clunkers. For every race with a margin of victory of inches, there’s one where it’s measured in laps. That’s just the reality of the sport. Plenty of things have changed: the way races are broadcast; the incessant focus of the cameras on just a few chosen drivers; the Chase and the top 35 rule making getting a good finish more important than making a daring move to gain position and risking losing a Chase berth or a guaranteed spot in the field; the cost of competing creating an ever widening gap between the haves and have-nots. Drivers don’t show up at the track not wanting to win any more than they did 40 years ago, but the consequences of not finishing grow larger with each passing year.
Could it also be that the fans themselves have changed? We live in a world of instant gratification, and a 500-mile stock car race rarely provides that. As people get older, they sometimes look at the old days through rose-colored glasses. What was mediocre at the time grows better as time goes by and we block out the not-so-nice parts. Perhaps this plays a role. Perhaps the new breed of race fans who came on board in the last decade expecting the nonstop excitement of a video game or action movie expected too much, misled by advertising campaigns and slogans that make the sport look like every race has a finish with the leaders three wide and inches apart and hair-raising crashes every few laps. That was never reality, and perhaps the sport should have been marketed more like baseball than rough-and-tumble football-a game of strategy where nothing is certain until the last pitch and where a no-hitter is every bit as exciting as a slugfest.
Whatever the case, adding mandatory cautions is not a road NASCAR should even think about heading down. There are many ways to improve things, but those start with examining the reasons behind the complaints, not as a band-aid for some deeper wounds. Building gimmick upon gimmick until nobody even remembers what a pure race was won’t fix anything. It will only alienate some fans and cater to a dwindling few. NASCAR needs to fix what’s broken, not break what’s still right.
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GREAT idea Bruton! That will just about complete the transformation of NASCAR into the automotive division of the World Wrestling Federation. You and Brian can get to wear silk capes at the races now.
Yes, Amy, there were boring races back in the day, but dang it they were honestly bought boring and that is what I want: Honest, real “stock car” racing. I applaud and support the safety improvments. I do not applaud nor support the gimmicks — from the top 35, lucky dog etc. on down including the wind tunnel designed cars. Though the 2013 car will be an improvement visually it still will have a problem with me and that problem is, for lack of a better place, rooted in the photo of the finish of the 1st Daytona 500 which as a kid I attended. Three cars: a Pontiac, A T-Bird and an Oldsmobile wearing their own sheet metal. That was stock car racing the way Big Bill & Co intended and that is what built the sport and that is what I want back.
How about entertaining a view that the cars take part of the blame? I watched a replay of Kyle Busch winning at Charlotte driving No. 5 for Rick Hendrick a 300 miler. The cars were beautiful, the front had at least 3 inches clearance, air had to passing under the car. The bodies weren’t twisted AND they were running practically bumper to bumper. That was 7 years ago, we have gone through the track scraping “twisted sister” and the track scraping COT. We have heard the term “aero push” ever since at least then. The first one I saw twisted was Tony Stewart, I tried to sound the alarm, but what can one person do? Gibbs did it and then everyone else had to do it… Childress even built NEW twisted sisters for the ARCA circuit, old CUP cars, my rearend.
The racing is just a high speed parade now, there is NO WAY anything can be tried?? Even in ONE RACE, talk about RIGID my “goodness”. As to last week with Kasy Kahne, I’m sorry, I didn’t see the same race. I saw 48, 24, 29, 14, 39, 15, 20, 18, 11, and even 8 having problems. That didn’t affect at all how other cars do in the results? NASCAR is so rigid they can’t even try with a “half time”, a time out when a few minor repairs can be made and the “show” (which is all they have) can be improved??? Baseball has “innings”, football has change of possession, what the heck, let us get some good auto racing, amen. I’m crazy, you bet, I want to see some CAR racing!!!!
July 6, 2012 6:59 AM
Hell, all you need to do to see some innovation is trim that front spoiler and let them do what they want with the rear spoiler. Want more speed then deal with more instability; want to be conservative, stand that thing upright.We would find out who really does know how to drive AND who knows how to set up a car.
Nice write-up. I totally agree. The biggest problem facing the sport is not a lack of cautions. In my opinion they are the “aero-push” and the cost of the sport/lack of sponsorships available. I think a part of the lack of cautions are, like the article says, many teams that can’t afford to be tearing up equipment and won’t take as many chances.
I’m wondering if it is time for NASCAR to take some sort of aggressive action to decrease costs because right now its obvious that the cost to sponsor a Cup team for a full year is well above what companies are willing to pay in this economy. The teams with one primary sponsor are few and far between now (48, 11, 27). When a Roush can’t get full sponsorship for the 17 there is a big problem.
I get the sense many in the sport just think they can wait out the economy, and the money will flow back in. However, I can’t see where in the foreseeable future where with the exception of the “top stars” companies wanting to pay $25-30 million a year to sponsor a race team.
I think the biggest problem now is that the drivers don’t want to “race” anymore. If they didn’t have a cushy contract and made a percentage of what the car won in prize money, they might be more inclined to “race”.
Just drop the green flag and let the best “legal” car win. Goodbye Johnson.
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