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 March 1, 2013
Every story has two sides. That’s one of life’s truths — along with the truth itself, generally lying somewhere between those two sides. Often, one side makes itself heard before the other, and opinions get formed without knowing the rebuttal. Or, speculation and empty rumors abound until both sides are heard, and then there’s a judgment call about whom to side with on the issue. It’s a little like a court of law: the prosecutor outlines the case and the defense gives their version of events before the jury gets to decide which one is more accurate, and to choose who’s right and who’s wrong.
Except it’s not always black and white. Sometimes nobody is right, and everybody is wrong.
That happened this week in NASCAR. On Wednesday, the sanctioning body announced that Nationwide Series driver Jeremy Clements had been suspended indefinitely for words spoken during an interview. Immediately, the speculation began. What had Clements said? Was this punishment because of his openly questioning the legitimacy of Danica Patrick winning the Daytona 500 pole? Who was the reporter? Had that reporter tattled to NASCAR on Clements? The questions made the social media rounds, along with some unfounded rumors that included the statement on Patrick, equally unfounded threats toward another driver, and probably at least a dozen more theories, some serious, others in jest.
The rule itself is black and white: NASCAR’s rulebook forbids any public statement ‘‘that criticizes, ridicules or otherwise disparages another person based on race, color, creed, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, marital status, religion, age or handicapping condition.” And they have certainly taken action on violations of that policy in the past. In one respect, the rule is no different than any of the hundreds that specify what may or may not be done on a race car.
Unlike the rules that govern the cars, though the actual infraction isn’t black and white. A race car is legal or it’s not, but rules that govern humans aren’t so simple. NASCAR confirmed Thursday that Clements’ suspension was the result of a racial slur he’d used while talking to the reporter in question. Clements later confirmed that in an interview with ESPN’s Marty Smith but denied that the slur had been directed at anyone. Furthermore, Clements maintained, the comment had been made off the record. Unfortunately for the driver, it was also made in the presence of a NASCAR representative.
In the interview with Smith, Clements said, “When you say ‘racial’ remark, it wasn’t used to describe anybody or anything,” Clements said. “So that’s all I’m going to say to that. And it really wasn’t. I was describing racing, and the word I used was incorrect and I shouldn’t have said it. It shouldn’t be used at all.”
Clements declined to say the exact words for which he was suspended (and you can’t blame him, he’s already been punished for saying them once). Based on his admission, though you can probably make an educated guess about the type of word in question. (Editor’s Note: It was for saying the “n” word, confirmed in a report Friday morning by the reporter, MTV’s Marty Beckerman.)
Clements was right — the word shouldn’t have been used. Period, end of story. There’s no place in today’s society for racial slurs. We’re not in the nineteenth century, folks. Using words of that nature is ignorant and speaks to a lack of sophistication. There is no excuse for them in any conversation, ever. It’s wrong. It just is.
But NASCAR isn’t really right here, either. Should Clements have been penalized? Yes. People of all races find racial slurs offensive, and if the reporter or the official was offended by it, that’s perfectly understandable, even if neither was of the race specifically being degraded. But indefinite suspension (which, incidentally means a minimum of two races and mandatory counseling) is a little over the top. Had it been said on the record, published and had NASCAR found out about it by seeing it in print, that might have warranted their reaction. If it had been directed at a person, then it would definitely warrant it. But off the record and never published? The sanctioning body should have fined Clements, maybe sat him one race. Instead… indefinite suspension? What would they do if it had been published and/or directed, ban him for life?
Plus, I want to say I think that NASCAR would have done the same if the driver in question had been a big-name driver for a big-time team. But I can’t quite say it. Not that I think any of them are running around spouting bigoted remarks left and right, but what if a superstar did let one slip? What if it were someone like title favorite Elliott Sadler, who is one of the series’ biggest stars, driving for its biggest team? I want to say I think they would react in the same way. I certainly hope they would be consistent… but I can’t quite say, with 100% certainty, that I think they would. So if they are, indeed, making an example out of a small team with an extra-large penalty to make a point, well, shame on NASCAR.
But the implications in this mess are so much bigger than one driver’s comment to one reporter. It could potentially impact the way drivers and media interact and how the drivers are portrayed to the fans through those interactions. Media members are acquainted with people throughout the garage, and off-the-record conversations aren’t uncommon by any stretch. Will drivers now be afraid to have these conversations? Will they become more aloof? That impacts race fans because it could change the way drivers are portrayed. If drivers only speak in carefully controlled situations, to avoid any possibility of making a mistake and saying the wring thing, they give the impression that they’re nothing more than sponsor-operated automatons — an impression that some fans already have of many drivers. If drivers have to fear repercussions for every conversation, soon they won’t say anything of substance at all.
We’ve already seen drivers penalized for Twitter comments that NASCAR thinks are unfavorable towards them. Just last week, Brad Keselowski got called to the carpet for stating something that’s been said by plenty of people, just not in a USA Today feature. So, maybe next time, a driver won’t say anything at all of substance. And 43 shallow, empty drivers in every series (36 in trucks) will drive fans away faster than any boring race ever will.
Now, is there a level of trust between NASCAR drivers and the reporters that cover the sport regularly? Yes, and drivers don’t have to live in fear of those reporters running to NASCAR with off-the-record words. But a NASCAR official overheard this one, and that was where the trouble began. Sure, they’ll still talk away from NASCAR’s eyes and ears, but will they always have one eye looking behind them in the garage? Maybe they’ll have to, and that’s a shame.
So this incident is one that could, potentially, have some longer-term repercussions within the sport, ones that could even reach the fans. It has nothing to do with political correctness gone too far. Racial slurs are simply wrong, whether you’re feeling PC or not. You can be interesting, and really quite un-PC and still not resort to using words of that nature. It’s not really a fine line here. What was said was wrong and never should have been said.
Clements was wrong to use the word he used in any conversation, no matter who it was with. If he’d been in a soundproof room with his best friend, he shouldn’t have said it.
But NASCAR wasn’t right in reacting so strongly, either. A hefty fine and a one-race sitting down would have gotten the point across just fine. Maybe he should even take the sensitivity training that NASCAR outlined. But two weeks (and it could be much more, if NASCAR so chooses) seems excessive given the context of the remark.
The bottom line here is that words have power. This one had the power to make NASCAR penalize a driver. It also has the power to be hurtful and cruel, and that kind of word says something rather unsavory about the person who uses them as well. But NASCAR also sent a message to drivers, media, and fans with the punishment, and it wasn’t necessarily the one that should have been sent. It also may or may not be the one that would have been sent to a higher-profile driver, and that’s not ever someplace there should be a question.
When all is said and done, Clements was wrong to say the word he said. NASCAR was wrong to react so strongly given the context in which it was said. And if drivers have to start fearing that they could be overheard and punished for off-the-record comments (or Twitter posts, or Instagram photos…) and they clam up as a result, that hurts their fans and sponsors as well. Outspokenness should, for the most part, be encouraged at every turn by NASCAR, but they don’t.
If you were watching a courtroom drama right now, someone would be reading the verdict. Someone would be right and someone would be wrong and that would be that. But this isn’t a TV show, and there’s no winner. Everyone was wrong… and nobody was right.
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©2000 - 2008 Amy Henderson and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
Sticks and Stones.
Is this really what Nascar has become?
Yes Amy, drivers may clam up. Everytime a person opens their mouth in this PC era, each word is scrutinized. Step over the line and something that you say is magnified and can change your life. The best course of action is to keep your mouth shut.
If the statement wasnt on video, then it is way wrong to suspend him. Give him a fine and tell him to shut up. The kid owned up and apologized, let it go.Besides, only a couple people even know what was said! Pure BS
Getting sicker and sicker of nascar. Next thing they will require is political party preference. pc sucks.
In every article I’ve seen on this so far only the drivers name has been given. Why not the reporters name, the NASCAR official who just had to run and tell and begin this climb from molehill to mountain. Why aren’t they being named? Everything out in the open? That sure would be new for NASCAR.
The spanking of BK was the same spanking drivers, teams, owners, have lived with for years. It’s the NASCAR control game it’s how they’ve always operated. Maybe, just maybe, NASCAR should just listen for a change. Maybe what BK had to say could have been taken as constructive criticism instead of just criticism.
The Clements punishment was a pile of over kill.
It’s Kyle Busch’s fault!
If we just had more drivers like that one that drives the 48 car. That would really PACK the stands.
Kudos for a very insightful column, Amy. You brought up issues that go beyond “what did Clements say and was the punishment fair?”. I too wonder, if a big-name driver had been overheard saying the same thing, would he have been suspended as well?
We could spend weeks debating what is offensive and who gets to make that decision. The bottom line here is that Nascar has an obligation to maintain a positive image and spends a lot of PR money to that end. Nascar has laid out their behavior expectations and drivers have to follow them or face the consequences, or go to work somewhere else.
Where I work, we have a corporate code of conduct that deals with this sort of thing, as I’m sure most businesses do to some degree. Employees (and contractors) are expected follow these rules or they get suspended and counseled, or terminated if deemed necessary.
And Bill B. is right…. this is what the world has become.
Bill B is totally right. As a musician every interview question I get has a very PC answer I give. Truth and honesty has given way to being ‘correct’.
As a long time fan(since 1958)it is terrible what nascrap has become. I used to attend 5-6 races but have now terminated any races other than tv. It has become a great stage for “social engineering” and as such has lost it’s somewhat “bad boy” feeling. You watch, JJ and his likenesses will finish off what little is left of the sport I used to eat, live and breath. Even the writers are starting to spout the PC sermon!!
Welcome to nas$car’s world. While I’m not condoning what Clements said, the reaction from the baffoons at Daytona was way over the top. And isn’t off the record supposed to be a private conversation. But per usual in today’s world tattle tales and snitches are rewarded.
Whatta ya wanna bet he let the term ‘n***er-rig’ slip when referring to repairing something.
Think about this, the people in thr U.S. bad mpouth the POTUS all the time and no one is carted off to prison or finned. What gives NA$CAR the right? Freedom of Speech? What’s that?
FanBoy-2 I was thinking the same thing. I agree he shouldn’t have said whatever it was he said but an indefinate suspension seems over the top. He stepped up admitted it was wrong and should have gotten a fine and maybe a one race suspension as Amy suggested. It seems everything is so extreme now. It’s either no rules or overly harsh enforsement of rules.
Wonder what the pentalty would have been if Bill Lester has used that word? Or, Dale Earnhardt Jr.?
Not sure of the context so the penalty could be to harsh…& The world is far to Pc..But what was he thinking? ..Dosn’t sound like he’s very bright (sponsors look out) but with the way this has come about it’s story of the week …Can’t see that being in Nascar’s best interests…Shoulda took him out back ..stern lecture & move on quietly…& Thanks to some dumba_ _ reporter this kids life is a mess …& why was Martys name hidden away from this..Sure don’t think he’s the guy I’d be giving interveiws
50 Cent, who was at the 500, uses the word all the time. I guess the color of your skin does matter.
Freedom of Speech only applies to the government not being able to censor you. It has no bearing on a private business such as NASCAR. Its their rules and their show.
First of all Amy, working in media, you should know MTV is one of the Goliath’s of Mass media. Clements was a complete knuckle head for saying an off the cuff remark for somebody that writes for MTV. If MTV had printed an article where Clement’s says one thing drivers don’t do is “date
Well if he did make the comment about the Princess and the Pole, we agree 100%, Nascrap has a way of trying to interest non race fans to the race Nascrap thinks the sheep might have remotely hear of THE DAYTONA 500. As for using a word in a “fixing” sorta way, get over it. Nascrap is a joke. I do smell a Carl Long deal goin’ down. And to the tattle tail Nascrap official, run to King Brian for your pat on your head and a good boy comment. Jerk. I would not blame ONE driver for not speaking to anyone if this is the type of garbage that is going to go down.
Welcome to the nanny state! Why can’t we let people say what they want and look like clowns doing it? This country gets weaker by the day.
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