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 April 19, 2013
Two series, three violations among four teams, seven suspensions, 81 driver and owner points, and $250,000 in fines. Those are the results after NASCAR penalty day this week after the sanctioning body saw the violations at Texas and Rockingham.
Sprint Cup driver Martin Truex, Jr.‘s No. 56 Toyota was found to be too low in post-race inspection, and though Truex’s second-place finish will stand, Truex was docked six points and his crew chief fined. Also in the Cup garage, NASCAR confiscated the rear-end housings from the Nos. 2 and 22 cars of defending Cup champion Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano. Because of new rules pertaining directly to those parts, plus a perceived intent to gain an illegal advantage, Keselowski and Logano lost 25 points apiece, and their crew chiefs, Paul Wolfe and Todd Gordon were suspended for six points races and the All-Star event, along with both car chiefs, team engineers, and Penske Racing Competition Director Travis Geisler.
Meanwhile, at Rockingham, four-time champion Ron Hornaday, Jr., angry with the way rookie driver Darrell Wallace, Jr. raced him, deliberately turned Wallace under caution, destroying Wallace’s truck and ending his day early. At the time, NASCAR moved Hornaday to the end of the longest line for the restart, and later docked him 25 points and fined him $25,000.
But here’s where it gets confusing at just about every turn. The penalty for Truex’s team was expected and clear cut. Too low means too low. NASCAR already has a built-in tolerance for wear and tear, and the No. 56 exceeded it. The six-point penalty is also pretty standard for recent similar violations. Because the team chose not to appeal, it most likely means they can’t prove a part failure (similar penalties have been overturned on appeal when the team could prove something broke). In other words, NASCAR was consistent in their ruling based on others, and there was transparency; everyone from teams in the garage to fans at home can understand exactly what the violation was and, going forward, can be reasonably confident that NASCAR is going to treat similar incidents in a similar way.
That transparency is exactly what NASCAR needs. Unfortunately, it’s also exactly what didn’t happen with the other penalties issued.
The Penske situation is awfully convoluted, and it never had to be. Starting from the beginning, there are clear rules on the areas that NASCAR said the Nos. 2 and 22 went astray. According to NASCAR rules, “all suspension systems and components must be approved by NASCAR. Prior to being used in competition, all suspension systems and components must be submitted, in a completed form/assembly, to the office of the NASCAR Competition Administrator for consideration of approval and approved by NASCAR. Each such part may thereafter be used until NASCAR determines that such part is no longer eligible. All suspension fasteners and mounting hardware must be made of solid magnetic steel. All front end and rear end suspension mounts with mounting hardware assembled must have single round mounting holes that are the correct size for the fastener being used. All front end and rear end suspension mounts and mounting hardware must not allow movement or realignment of any suspension component beyond normal rotation or suspension travel.”
That’s a mouthful, but it’s also pretty clear. What’s not clear is the nature of the violation itself. NASCAR originally said that the Penske teams had violated “the spirit of the rule,” which is to keep teams from being able to skew the rear ends of the race cars, in turn making them handle better. OK, that’s fair enough—the fans and manufacturers were vocal that they didn’t like the “crab-walking” look that the fourth-generation cars and even the CoT sported.
But “violated the spirit of the rule?” Really? Doesn’t that translate roughly into, “it doesn’t technically break one of these rules, but it has the same end result on the car?”
Sure. Maybe. On one hand, this sure looks a lot like a penalty that NASCAR issued to the No. 48 team last year, based on nothing more than a visual inspection and an official who thought that something “didn’t look right.” That penalty was drastically reduced on appeal, most likely because of the lackadaisical way NASCAR handled it; the car was never put on the templates, and they had previously approved the car. If this past history is the case now, shouldn’t NASCAR have learned that a part not looking right isn’t going to fly if there is no basis of comparison to what’s legal? But, if this incident is something similar, why not say exactly what looked wrong? Not doing so hurt NASCAR’s credibility, in the case of the No. 48, and it hurt that same credibility now. If the piece was technically legal but something NASCAR didn’t want the team to use, then they should have made them change it, created a specific rule against it, and been done with it. That’s happened in the past and everyone moved on; no harm, no foul.
On the other hand, if the piece was legal and Penske Racing simply didn’t submit it for approval according to the rules… well, shame on them. A similar situation happened in 2011, with Joe Gibbs Racing, when that organization had some unapproved oil pans on their cars, which NASCAR confiscated. Those parts also require prior approval, and because the team failed to get it, they took a hit. The resulting penalty, however, was a $50,000 fine and probation for the rest of the year for the crew chiefs, probation for the car chiefs and Senior VP of Racing Operations at JGR. Again, the oil pans were not illegal; they were unapproved. That’s still a rule violation, though, and a penalty was warranted. But if this week’s case was a simple failure to have a part approved, why not penalize in accordance with prior occurrences of the same situation instead of coming down on the team as if they had blatantly cheated?
The third possibility is that NASCAR did, in fact, find a blatant cheat on the cars. After all, there isn’t a written rule against every single thing a team could do to trick out a car; that would be impossible. For example, there wasn’t a specific rule regarding an infraction on the No. 48 at Daytona in 2006, when the team modified the rear suspension adjustment points to raise or lower the rear window, nor was there one specifically prohibiting the exact mechanism that crew chief Todd Berrier had on the No. 29 in 2005 that made the fuel cell appear full when it wasn’t. There is no way NASCAR could have anticipated those exact violations, but that didn’t mean they were legal or in the “spirit of the rules.” And there are catch-all rules that cover parts that NASCAR doesn’t deem legal that aren’t written in as technically illegal. NASCAR came down very, very hard in both those cases, as they should have.
So, then, what’s the problem here? Well, for some reason, NASCAR hasn’t said exactly what the issue found on the Nos. 2 and 22 is. And that’s the truly troubling part here. If the rear-end housings were tricked out enough, like the previous violations on the Nos. 29 and 48, why not just come out and say what the team did? I doubt anyone would have a problem with NASCAR’s position if there was, in fact, a blatant attempt at cheating. The problem is, we don’t know. It’s likely that there was something along those lines, but why not disclose it?
If there was more transparency here, it could well be that NASCAR is being completely consistent. But without it, people will never be sure, and it’s the nature of fans to question NASCAR’s motives because, frankly, their lack of forthrightness gives them a reason to. That’s why there’s so much debate over this incident and the similar one last year: fans have to choose sides, and they don’t have the information needed to do so in an informed manner.
In the situation at Texas, all that needed to be done was for NASCAR to outline exactly what they found on those rear-end housings. Had they done so, the penalties might not be so perplexing. After all, no fan wants teams cheating, and if that was the case, NASCAR was within their rights to penalize, though one could argue that the penalties were still pretty stiff for a car that never raced with an illegal part. And if those parts were not technically illegal, NASCAR should have told the team never to run them again and promptly made a rule to be sure they would not. Then, they could have moved on. Sure, there would have been a few naysayers—there always are. But at least everyone would know exactly what went down.
Finally, there was the Hornaday incident. This one is, in some ways, even more convoluted than the Penske issues. While NASCAR was inconsistent on Sunday, the lack of clarity was apparently over a year ago, when they parked Kyle Busch for wrecking (ironically) Hornaday under caution at Texas in 2011. At that time, after a remarkably similar incident, Busch was parked not only for that event, but for the remainder of the weekend, including the Nationwide and Sprint Cup races.
Given Busch’s punishment, which NASCAR said at the time was due to the gravity of the incident and not his repeated run-ins with other drivers or his being a regular in another series and seriously impacting the CWTS championship race, fans rightfully expected Hornaday to be sitting out Kansas.
Except he’s not.
NASCAR didn’t park Hornaday at Rockingham (they sent him to the end of the longest line) and they didn’t park him for Kansas, instead docking 25 points and fining him 25 grand. Given that Hornaday can still earn some points this week, that’s not as severe a penalty as Busch got. Yes, you can make the argument that NASCAR couldn’t dock Busch CWTS points because he was ineligible to earn any, but they did, in essence, dock him an entire race worth of points in Sprint Cup, his primary series. The argument about the championship doesn’t hold a lot of water, either. The Truck Series doesn’t have a points reset, so every point is valuable, and Wallace took a hit in both the title and Rookie of the Year hunts.
But NASCAR said in 2011 that Busch’s penalty wasn’t due to his being a repeat offender, and perhaps that’s where they weren’t telling the truth. Had the official line been that they had simply had enough of Busch’s repeated on-track run-ins, which he’s had just about every year in one series or another, fans might have accepted the lighter penalty for Hornaday. Or, if NASCAR’s stance then had been that Busch was not a series regular and Hornaday was, that also might have helped fans understand the difference in punishments. Instead, there’s a pervading sense of unfairness at play.
Now, everyone is left to speculate why NASCAR didn’t follow their own precedent. And what the sanctioning body has is a bunch of divided, angry fans instead of a fan base that can understand and support the call. The easy (and correct) thing to do would have been to park Hornaday for the remainder of last week’s race and all of this week’s. Everyone, except Hornaday, then goes home more or less happy, or if they’re Hornaday fans, they’re still pissed off, but they get why it was done.
The problem NASCAR had this week wasn’t so much with the penalties they issued, which, especially in the case of the Penske teams, may well have been warranted. Instead, they hid behind catch phrases and sidestepping, dividing the fan base and making everyone wonder what’s going to happen next, whether they’re playing favorites, who’s a scapegoat and what’s legit. The fix for it is so simple, though: make the rule book available, if not directly to fans, at least to the media covering the sport who are charged with explaining NASCAR’s actions to the masses. Then, disclose the exact nature of infractions and the subsequent penalties.
In other words, NASCAR needs transparency. They need it in order to have consistency, because with transparency, consistency isn’t even a question. If everyone knows what the rules are, how teams will be penalized when they’re broken, then they may not like the consequences, but at least they’d know they were fair. If everyone knows exactly what the infraction was, they will understand why a penalty was harsh, or why it was lenient. Fans want to know that the sport treats violations fairly and consistently. And for that to happen, there must first be clarity.
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It’s time for the media to stop being scared and step up to the plate. Ask Nascar the hard questions and then FOLLOW UP on it. Don’t just take the PR BS that Nascar gives out. This is an excellent oportunity for someone from the big outlets like ESPN, or USAToday or the AP to make a name for themselves.
If we all want Nascar to stop sliding down and grow back to what it can and should be then it’s time for the media to do IT’S job.
The fans can only do so much.
To be fair I can’t stand Penske – He’s stretched rules in every series he’s run. BUT… I defended the #48 car last year because Nascar never came up with hard facts (even though it was possible) and I will defend Penske untill Nascar comes up with hard data. “It doesn’t look right” is no reason.
As far as Hornaday is concerned he’s had far more incidents than even Kyle has had over the years. He pretty much has bullied someone every year I can think of. Amy, even you called for M&M to drop Kyle so why not the same treatment for Hornaday?
in the 80’s and 90’s, I never missed a Nascar Race, always went to the Spring and Fall Bristol Race, and bought Shirts, Hats, Trading Cards, and more dealing with Nascar. I taped all the races and saved them for future viewing…. fast forward to the past 10 years…. I do not buy Nascar items, Driver items, team items, etc… I have watched maybe a seasons worth of races in the past 12 years and have loosely kept up with the news…. THIS YEAR.. I started watching more races, have been more interested etc…. was even thinking of buying a few driver and team/Nascar related items….. after the past week and weekend…. I will NOT purchase the items, and will be happy to spend my time doing something besides watching NASCAR…. Thanks Nascar, you’ve helped me financially in both money and time
A long writing explaining
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