NASCAR Changes Qualifying Format
posted by Summer Bedgood
Tuesday March 11, 2014
Following safety concerns regarding NASCAR’s new qualifying format, the sanctioning body is introducing some changes in preparation for this weekend’s race at Bristol Motor Speedway. According to the Associated Press, NASCAR is banning teams from cool-down laps after their qualifying attempts, but will instead be allowed to hook up cool-down units to the engine through hood flaps.
Late Tuesday afternoon, a release from NASCAR fully detailed the changes. Teams will be allowed a single cool down unit to be connected through the right or left side hood flap, however the hood must remain closed. Additionally, two crew members will be allowed over the wall while cooling down.
“The qualifying is new to all of us and as we have said over the past several weeks, we are looking at it from all aspects,” said Robin Pemberton, vice president of competition and racing development. “Following discussions, both internally and with others in the garage area, we moved quickly to make a few revisions that will be effective starting with our two national series events at Bristol Motor Speedway this weekend. We believe this will only enhance and improve what has demonstrated to be an exciting form of qualifying for our fans, competitors and others involved with the sport. Moving forward we will continue to look at it and address anything else that we may need to as the season unfolds.”
The move comes after three weeks of NASCAR’s new knockout qualifying system, where multiple cars are allowed to make qualifying attempts at the same time instead of the traditional one-car-at-a-time procedure. Drivers and teams had complained that the new rules didn’t allow them to cool their engines down on pit road, and the cool-down laps caused a dangerous situation with slower cars staying on the track at the same time that other cars were running by them at much higher speeds.
The rule will begin this weekend in Bristol, a track that has a much narrower racing surface than Daytona, Phoenix, and Las Vegas.
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!
Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
Amy Henderson · Monday April 15, 2013
In a Nutshell: Kyle Larson was the class of the field from the drop of the green flag until the drop of the checkered. He held off Sprint Cup driver Joey Logano and CWTS veterans Brendan Gaughan and Johnny Sauter on a green-white-checkered finish to win his first career Truck event. Chase Elliott rounded out the top 5 in Rockingham.
Who Should Have Won: Larson. It’s only been a matter of time since he made his series debut last year. Still, given the skill and poise he showed, It was hard to believe that Larson was running just his fifth career CWTS race. Larson led 187 of 205 laps en route to complete dominance on Sunday.
Welcome to the newest addition to Tracking the Trucks! In this section for each race, we’ll take a look at the most important things to know just in case you weren’t able to watch it. Love it? Hate it? Let me know in the comments below.
Kyle Larson has huge potential If Larson continues to show the talent behind the wheel in a Cup car a couple of years from now, he is going to have a heck of a career. He may be just 20 years old, but he drives like a veteran most of the time and is a threat to win in every CWTS or Nationwide Series race he enters. His race on Sunday was nearly flawless, and he got a perfect restart on the G-W-C, not phased in the least at having a charging Logano to his outside. All in all, Larson made the race look like a Sunday drive, while the rest of the field was wrestling it out behind him.
He had a scary moment in Friday night’s Nationwide race, blowing a tire and nearly slamming into a safety truck. In the split second he had to make an evasive move, Larson threw the car to the left, putting it in the wall rather than endangering the safety workers. And he showed up at Rockingham the next morning as if nothing out of the ordinary had happened¸ hopped in the truck, and engineered a winning weekend. That grace under fire could take him places. We won’t know what Larson can do in a Cup car until he has some experience, but if he’s as good in those cars as he is in Nationwide and Trucks, he’ll be a superstar. Jimmie who?
Joey Logano is taking some lumps Logano arrived from Texas at 3 AM, the only Cup driver to enter Sunday’s event (though his Cup teammate and truck owner Brad Keselowski was also at the Rock). Coleman Pressley practiced the truck for Logano on Saturday, and judjing by the crowd’s reaction to Logano during driver introductions, they’d have rather Pressley had stayed in the truck.
Logano was introduced to around of booing from fans in the stands, and though it wasn’t as loud as it was in Martinsville for last week’s Cup race, the boos seemed to outdo the cheers. It seems as though the reaction is stemming from Denny Hamlin’s injury at Fontana and/or the block he threw on Tony Stewart in that same race. It’s clear that it could be a tough ride for Logano in the coming weeks, no matter where he races.
ThorSport is on it in 2013 ThorSport entered 2013 needing a turnaround after a lackluster 2012, and they’ve done a 180 so far. Johnny Sauter was one of only a couple of drivers who looked as though he might be able to challenge Larson on Sunday, and he did best him for one lap just after a restart. He got nipped for a podium finish by Brendan Gaughan on the green-white-checkered, but his fourth-place run was good enough for him to stretch his point lead over Jeb Burton and it’s beginning to look like the road to this series’ title will lead through Sauter.
Meanwhile, Matt Crafton quietly passed a career milestone this week: 300 consecutive starts. Crafton, who finished sixth on Sunday, is third in points . The veteran Crafton is similar to another guy named Matt—Sprint Cup Champion Kenseth. Crafton might not be flashy and he might not win every week, but like Kenseth, he is certainly capable of reminding everyone he’s there and racking up top 5 and top 10 finishes.
But James Buescher isn’t Meanwhile, the defending champion struggled at Rockingham after getting spun by Mike Harmon on lap 144. He’d recover to finish in the lead lap in 14th, but after three races in 2013, the reigning champ has yet to score a top 10 finish, and he’s getting outrun by his rookie teammate Jeb Burton, who has two poles, to top 5’s and has finished in the top ten in every race this year. If Buescher is going to repeat, he needs to bounce back.
Rockingham’s old pavement is tough on drivers A weathered track makes for great racing (track owners, take note), but the surface at Rockingham really makes drivers work for it. A couple of laps in the pace car illustrated just how bumpy and slick the racing surface is (and that the pit road entrance is nearly a blind corner-yikes). A special shoutout needs to go to James Buescher, who chauffeured me and the other media members around.
But, a weathered, slippery track with bumps and tricks doesn’t put the drivers off—all weekend long most of the competitors sang the praises of the tough old track that refused to go quietly into the NASCAR history books…perhaps NASCAR should think about that.
*The veterans had their say*While much of the talk at Rockingham was about the young guns, with Larson dominating and Jeb Burton setting a track record while taking the pole, the veterans were a big factor on Saturday. Sauter had his worst finish on 2013…fourth. He’s experienced, and he’s tough, and he drove like it on Sunday. With top 6 runs of their own, Brendan Gaughan and Crafton also delivered a memo to the young guns on Sunday: they will have to beat old age and treachery if they want to take home this year’s top prize.
Questions You Should Be Asking Yourself After This One
1. Why wasn’t Ron Hornaday, Jr. parked for wrecking Darrell Wallace, Jr. ?
NASCAR is reviewing an incident that occurred between Ron Hornaday, Jr. and Darrell Wallace, Jr. under caution late in the race. Hornaday, upset with Wallace for earlier contact, said he only meant to “brush up” Wallace, but he ended up putting Wallace’s No.54 truck in the wall. Because the incident took place under caution, NASCAR may punish Hornaday; they parked Kyle Busch for the remainder of the weekend after he intentionally wrecked Hornaday under caution at Texas in the fall of 2011.
However, Busch was also immediately parked for the rest of the truck race. NASCAR’s immediate reaction here? They sent Hornaday to the end of the longest line. What gives? Perhaps a couple of things were at play with Busch’s penalty (and a similar penalty given to Kevin Harvick): One, Busch had a record with NASCAR. While NASCAR denied that had anything to do with Busch’s parking, it had to be on thier minds as they discussed penalties. Also, Busch was not a CWTS regular and the move had immediate championship implications. NASCAR may have considered one or both of those things at that time.
The sanctioning body may still decide to further penalize Hornaday, and given their past punishments, that would be entirely appropriate. The bottom line is that no matter what Hornaday’s place is in the history of the series, he still broke a cardinal rule of racing and the lack of consistency of the reaction was puzzling.
2. Is it just a matter of time until Jeb Burton or Chase Elliott is in victory lane?
Well, yes. Both of these youngsters—remember that Elliott is still a teenager and Burton is not yet 21—have shown that they aren’t riding anyone’s coattails in this game, even if their fathers are both Daytona 500 champions and Elliott’s has a sprint Cup title and a zillion Most Popular Driver awards. They’re here because they earned their way to NASCAR’s elite ranks by racing late models whenever and wherever they could, and that experience is serving them well now.
Burton, who has made winning the last two CWTS poles look easy, has yet to finish outside the top 10, and given Turner Scott Motorsports’ excellent power, he could easily continue that streak next week. Elliott, not to be outdone, has finished no worse than sixth in his first two career CWTS races. Both of these youngsters will win races in this series; it’s just a matter of when.
And after his second top-10 run in his first two races, you might want to keep an eye on Erik Jones, too.
3. Is the Rock ready for a Truck/Nationwide double?
Well, yes. And no. The crowd on Sunday, while not as big as it was last year, was still darn impressive for a stand-alone Truck Series race. It’s clear that the fans support the track that they had once thought was gone from NASCAR forever. They’ve been vocal about wishing that the Sprint Cup Series would return to the high-banked, abrasive mile. A Nationwide race would be well-received.
The problem is that hosting a Nationwide race is also expensive. Sanctioning fees and guaranteed purses are higher, and if the stands aren’t full, the track won’t break even. That might not be as hard to take for International Speedway Corp. (though it’s why Martinsville does not host a NNS race) or Speedway Motorsports, Inc., but it could break the bank for Andy Hillenburg. And if that happens, Rockingham’s savior might risk losing everything he has gained. It’s a gamble that fans could lose on, too.
And a Cup race? As great as that would be, the track doesn’t have the infrastructure to support that series any more. The backstretch grandstands are gone (fans now occupy them at Z-Max Dragway), and the bathroom facilities and other amenities are antiquated by today’s standards. In the meantime, the Rock is the perfect track for the Truck Series—tough, gritty, and still a sentimental favorite like an old pickup. It may have seen better days, but it has earned every scratch, dent, and ding, and ding.
Truck Rookie Report
No. of Rookies in the Race: 12 (Ryan Truex did not race; add Erik Jones, Chase Elliott, Kyle Larson and Tyler Young based on just four previous starts, Caleb Holman based on just 9 CWTS starts, and a debuting Tyler Reddick)
No. of Rookies to Finish in the Top 10: 5:Larson (1st), Elliott, (5th), Burton (7th), Ryan Blaney (9th), and Erik Jones (10th).
*Rookie of the Race: * Jeb Burton (though Elliott and Larson finished higher, they aren’t Rookie of the Year candidates)
“Long day—wow, long day! We started dead last, shotgun on the field. The truck hit the track in qualifying. We went a lap down early, got the lucky dog, and then went around and got another caution. Our Toyota Tundra was fast all day—it really was. Track position was our factor that killed us all day. We were a little better than the finish again, but going to Iowa here next for me—got a little bit of off time, which is disappointing. I would like to stay in the truck and keep this momentum going.” -Erik Jones, finished 10th
“If (Ron Hornaday, Jr.) wanted to brush me up then I brushed him up earlier in the race so he should have took note of that. He just flat out wrecked us. It’s unfortunate. It was fun; we just couldn’t hit it all weekend. Put it up to the top on that last restart and we were making up some ground. Got to him and he wasn’t going to give me the top, so I knew what to do—I had to take his line away. I didn’t put him in the fence or anything and he just pulls that bonehead move. I will go have a word with him—I’m all happy; I’m not going to throw a punch or anything.” -Darrell Wallace, Jr. on his tangle with Hornaday
Sauter extends his point lead to 16 over Jeb Burton. Matt Crafton is four pints behing Burton in third, and Ron Hornaday, Jr. and Ryan Blaney round out the top five. The next five on the charts are Ty Dillon, Miguel Paludo, James Buescher, Ryan Sieg, and Darrell Wallace, Jr.
We’re still just three races into the 22-race schedule, so it’s hard to paint a championship picture just yet, but Sauter is certainly making a case for himself as title favorite, and because ThorSport is so strong, Crafton’s also a contender for his own first championship. Burton will be tough, and Hornaday, though he may not have the equipment of the top contenders, is still the best in series history. Buesched and Dillon showed last year that they can make a run at it was well, and Gaughan is hungry for redemption. I’ll be surprised if the championship doesn’t come from within this group.
“It means a lot to me—finally, a national victory. We got a second at Phoenix and another second at Bristol, so it feels good to finally get the monkey off our back and pull us out a win. I was pretty nervous that last restart because I knew Joey was on a lot newer tires than me and I’m not normally that good on restarts, so I’ve been trying to work had on that and it paid off. I was able to be number one and hold on for the win. It was a great day. We didn’t make any changes. It was perfect from the start and I just had a lot of fun today.” -Kyle Larson, race winner
“I was passing a ton of cars on the newer tires. That’s Rockingham for you. That’s what makes this race track so cool, because you can play a strategy like that. When we got the last caution, I thought it was playing out perfect for us. I just got beat (on the restart). I spun my tires, so it was all my fault. I was so mad at myself. I felt like we should have won this race. We might not have had the truck to win, but we had the strategy to win.” Joey Logano, finished second
“It was fun, as always; probably one of the best race tracks we go to all year. I can’t thank Andy (Hillenburg) enough and everybody…All in all, great day for us. Top-5 are what we need to do if we’re serious about this championship…Two wins and a fourth, I don’t know anybody that would shake their head at that. I’m proud of everybody and we just need to keep digging. We’re having fun and that’s half the battle.” -point leader Johnny Sauter, finished fourth
Up Next: The Camping World Truck Series joins the Sprint Cup teams at Kansas Speedway for a Saturday afternoon race on April 20th. The race, scheduled for 2:00 PM ET, will be televised on SPEED; it can also be heard on your local MRN affiliate or SiriusXM Channel 90.
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Great race, and yes they need a busch race here but without cup drivers trying to steal the show. The boos for sliced bread logano may have been because the fans don’t want cup drivers in the truck series. The series does just damn fine without them looking for a cheap win. I seriously doubt all those boos were from hamlin fans. As for the block on Stewart, uhhhh, it’s what any driver out there would have done (especially Tony) so if anybody was booing because of that they’re just clueless idiots.
100% spot on Tony
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