Kurt Busch to Attempt The Indianapolis-Charlotte Double
posted by Phil Allaway
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Andretti Autosport announced this morning that Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet in the Sprint Cup Series, will attempt the Indianapolis 500 in a fifth entry for the IndyCar Series team. Once the Indianapolis 500 is completed, Busch will fly from Indianapolis to Charlotte, jump in his No. 41 Chevrolet and compete in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Busch considers the opportunity to do the double as an old-school throwback moment.
“This is really to challenge myself within motorsports,” Busch said in Andretti Autosport’s press release. “Perhaps I am a bit of an old-school racer; a throwback, I guess. I enjoyed the era of drivers racing different cars and testing themselves in other series. It is tough to do now for a variety of factors, but when the opportunity is there, I want to do it. While NASCAR is my home, I have been fortunate to compete in Pro Stock on the NHRA circuit a number of years ago and test a V8 Supercar. This opportunity was a talk with Michael [Andretti] over dinner one night, a “What if,” and now it’s becoming a reality for me to drive in the Indy 500 with Andretti Autosport. It’s literally a dream come true. To go to the famous Brickyard with the iconic Andretti name, it doesn’t get much cooler or better than that.”
Busch will be doing the Indianapolis-Charlotte double as a Memorial Day mission to men and women serving in the U.S. Military via the Armed Forces Foundation. Fans can contribute to the cause by texting AFF to 50555 to donate $10.
Busch, who has never raced an IndyCar, passed Rookie Orientation at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year during a test session. At the time, Busch was more or less testing the Dallara DW12 for fun.
Busch will be the fourth driver to attempt the Indianapolis-Charlotte double. John Andretti was the first driver to attempt it in 1994. After finishing four laps down in tenth in Indianapolis, Andretti crashed and had engine problems in the 600. Robby Gordon has attempted the double five times, most recently in 2004. However, Gordon failed to make it to Charlotte on time and did not start the 600 in 2000 (P.J. Jones started Gordon’s No. 13 Ford in that instance). Finally, Tony Stewart has attempted the double twice (most recently in 2001) and is the only driver to ever complete all 1100 miles. Neither of the three drivers has won either leg of the double. The best finishes are Stewart and Gordon’s sixth-place finishes at the Indianapolis 500 (although Gordon’s came in 2000, the year he didn’t make it to Charlotte in time to start the Coca-Cola 600), and Stewart’s fourth-place finish in the 2001 Coca-Cola 600.
Danica Patrick, Justin Allgaier Talk About Phoenix Incident
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
A disappointing start to the year for Danica Patrick won’t include continued conflict. Patrick met with rookie Justin Allgaier Sunday, shortly after the Phoenix Cup race after a wreck ruined both drivers’ days. Patrick, who was critical of the No. 51 car on the radio, claiming Allgaier was “driving all over the track” appeared receptive to a conversation that quickly settled differences over what will be a long season.
“She was just upset because she got involved in the crash that we had,’’ said Allgaier to the Motor Racing Network. “She says she’s been through this and that she felt like I needed to settle down at that point. I explained my position on why everything happened. I think she understood where I was coming from. It doesn’t fix either one of our racecars. It doesn’t fix either one of our days. Unfortunately, we were both having pretty decent days.’’
Allgaier wound up 30th due to the incident while Patrick was 36th. The incident, which was caused by Allgaier’s spin also involved the No. 32 team and Travis Kvapil, which wound up 38th after sustaining heavy damage.
Camping World Close to Extending Title Sponsorship of NCWTS
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Marcus Lemonis, CEO of Camping World, Grand Marshal of Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway, and star of CNBC’s “The Profit,” made the announcement over the weekend that the retailer is very close to announcing a deal that would continue its title sponsorship of NASCAR’s Truck Series. The original agreement with NASCAR is scheduled to conclude after the 2015 season.
According to the sanctioning body, no formal contract has been signed, but “the agreement between the two parties has proven to be a beneficial one.”
“In about a month, we’ll be announcing a significant extension to that contract. It’s been great for us,” said Camping World’s Lemonis in a statement. “The NASCAR relationship has worked well for Camping World. When we started, we had 35 stores. Now, we’re up to 120 stores. As we travel the country and we meet new customers in stores, they always are very appreciative of our relationship with NASCAR. It’s been good.”
Gaining a long-term commitment from Camping World to sponsor the Truck Series would be a relief for NASCAR, which is set to lose Nationwide Insurance as title sponsor for the NASCAR Nationwide Series at the end of the 2014 season. The sponsorship of the Cup Series by Sprint runs through 2016.
The NCWTS is back in action on March 29th at 2:30 PM (ET) when the trucks visit Martinsville Speedway in the Kroger 250, which can be seen on Fox Sports 1. Ratings for the season opener were up 11 percent.
Harvick Takes Win At Phoenix In Second Race With New Team
posted by Justin Tucker
Monday March 3, 2014
Phoenix International Raceway has become Kevin Harvick’s home away from home. Sunday Afternoon was no exception as Harvick charged to the front early and would dominate for much of the day, leading 224 of the scheduled 312 laps to record his record fifth win on the one mile oval and his third win in the last four races at Phoenix.
Harvick, coming off of a disappointing Speedweeks which was capped by a last lap crash in the Daytona 500 in his debut with Stewart-Haas Racing, set the tone on Saturday by winning both practices while having the best 5 and 10-lap averages in the first practice of the day on Saturday. On Sunday, Harvick and his No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet was nothing short of flawless as he was able to hold Dale Earnhardt, Jr. by .489 seconds after a late race restart to claim his 24th career Sprint Cup Series victory.
“Man, this is awesome,” Harvick said after his dominant victory on Sunday. “Man, this just solidifies so many things and so many decisions. It’s been so much work with all the time and effort that these guys (the crew) have put in—but what a race car.”
Stewart Haas Racing co-owner Gene Haas shared in Harvick’s excitement after the race.
“It took long enough,” Haas joked. “This is phenomenal. I think there was a lot of skepticism last year about what myself and Tony (Stewart) what we were up to, was there a lot of madness to this. Quite frankly, it’s a great team, there’s a lot of synergy at the shop, people working together. I don’t know what we did, but I think we put together a great organization.”
Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt, Jr. continued his hot start to the 2014 season. Earnhardt Jr. would finish second on Sunday, marking his seventh consecutive top 10 finish since the end of the 2013 season. Earnhardt Jr. was pleased with the effort after a coast-to-coast whirlwind week after winning his second Daytona 500 and also gave great praise to the efforts of Harvick and the No. 4 team.
“I’ve got to congratulate Kevin. Those guys were two-tenths faster than everyone all weekend in practice. They were just phenomenal,” Earnhardt said. “To be able to run with them all day was a big confidence builder for us.”
Joining Harvick and Earnhardt in the top 5 of The Profit on CNBC 500K were Brad Keselowski with his second consecutive top 3 run of 2014 in third. Keselowski’s Team Penske teammate Joey Logano would finish fourth, and Jeff Gordon would come home fifth in his No. 24 Pepsi Max Chevrolet.
Jimmie Johnson finished in sixth, followed by Ryan Newman with a nice rebound after Daytona in seventh. Carl Edwards would carry the banner for Roush Fenway Racing by finishing eighth, Kyle Busch was ninth, and Jamie McMurray would finish tenth.
A look at the Profit on CNBC 500K by the numbers. There were 14 lead changes among eight different drivers, there were eight cautions for 39 laps which slowed the race pace to 109.229 MPH.
Next Sunday, the Sprint Cup Series heads to Sin City and the Las Vegas Motor
Starting Lineup: The Profit On CNBC 500K
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday March 1, 2014
Drivers in RED (i) are those ineligible to collect Sprint Cup points
Daytona 500 TV Ratings Down
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Wednesday February 26, 2014
What was the longest weather delay in Daytona 500 history turned out to bring NASCAR lower ratings and TV viewership Sunday night than expected. According to a report Monday from FOX Sports, the 56th running of the Daytona 500 airing at 8 PM (ET) posted a 5.6/10 national household rating/share which averaged 9.3 million viewers. That’s down 44 percent from last year’s 9.9, easily making it the least-watched Daytona 500 of all-time.
Due to the six-hour, twenty-two minute rain delay in Daytona, the race was up against the primetime coverage of the Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony from Sochi, Russia on NBC (15.25 million viewers). FOX also reported that 69% of the pre-rain delay viewers of the race, which began at 1 PM (ET) kept tuning in.
In comparison, the 2013 Daytona 500 on FOX was the most-watched race in five years, posting a 9.9/22 rating/share, commanding 16.7 million viewers. The Daytona 500 in 2012, the first to ever be run on a Monday and in the primetime slot did a 7.7/13 overnight rating/share which resulted in 13.67 million households viewing the race according to Nielsen TV ratings data.
Earnhardt, Jr. Claims Second Daytona 500 Victory
posted by Justin Tucker
Wednesday February 26, 2014
Ten years is a long time. For Dale Earnhardt, Jr., it felt like an eternity. NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver endured many near misses and close calls at the Daytona 500 since his only win in the Great American Race in 2004. Earnhardt had finished second in two of his last three Daytona 500s coming into Sunday’s race. He was also riding the tail of a 55-race winless streak, dating back to Michigan in 2012.
However nothing would stop Dale Jr. on Sunday, not even a 6 hour and 22 minute rain delay from capturing his second Daytona 500 win. Earnhardt Jr. led a race-high 54 laps on the evening and used some timely drafting help from teammates Jimmie Johnson and, on the final restart, Jeff Gordon to separate from the pack and secure the victory.
“Winning this race is the greatest feeling that you could feel in this sport besides accepting the trophy for the championship,” said a jubilant Earnhardt after pulling into Victory Lane. “We could fight off battle after battle. We got a little help at the end there from Jeff to get away on the restart. This is amazing. I can’t believe this is happening. I never take this for granted, man because it doesn’t happen twice, let alone once.”
Aside from the race itself the big story of the race was the 6 hour and 22 minute red flag, which threatened to move the race to Monday evening (had the race been postponed, FOX Sports’ Chris Myers had tweeted that the race would resume at 5:00pm EST). However, Mother Nature would cooperate and would allow the race to be run under different conditions from which they practiced this week. Once the race resumed, the intensity picked up from the changing track conditions. This allowed the pack to race side-by-side and at times 3-wide up to seven rows deep.
Joining Earnhardt Jr. in the top 5 for the 2014 Daytona 500 were: Denny Hamlin who closed out a spectacular Speedweeks in second, Brad Keselowski in third, Jeff Gordon in fourth, and Jimmie Johnson who overcome two wrecks leading up to the 500 in fifth.
Rounding out the top 10 in the Daytona 500 were Matt Kenseth in sixth, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. in seventh and Greg Biffle would bring his No. 16 Ford home in eighth. Austin Dillon would come home ninth in his first Cup Series race in the iconic No. 3 for Richard Childress Racing, while Casey Mears would round out the top 10.
A couple of major contenders for the Daytona 500 win would see their hopes dashed early on as Martin Truex, Jr. would blow up just 30 laps into the race, relegating him to a 43rd-place finish in his debut for Furniture Row Racing. Crew chief Todd Berrier was already in Nashville for a test session before the race was even over. Kyle Busch, meanwhile would have a pit road violation just before halfway and would spend much of the race battling back from that mistake. Busch would eventually finish 19th after leading 19 laps.
Danica Patrick would also be bit by bad luck as she was caught up in a multi-car wreck on lap 145. Patrick would lead her second consecutive Daytona 500, but wouldn’t have the finish to show for it finishing 40th. Tony Stewart would encounter a frustrating evening as well, with a fuel pickup problem derailing his quest for his first Daytona 500 win. Stewart would finish 35th.
A look at the Daytona 500 by the numbers. There were 42 lead changes among 18 drivers, while seven cautions for 39 laps would slow the race pace to 145.290 MPH.
Next week, the Sprint Cup Series heads to the “diamond in the desert,” Phoenix International Raceway for The Profit on CNBC 500K. The Green flag is scheduled for 3:15pm EST.
Nationwide Series Post-Race Quotes: Drive4COPD 300
posted by Thomas Bowles
Tuesday February 25, 2014
Frontstretch Interviews – Courtesy Mike Neff
ELLIOTT SADLER – FINISHED 4th
Thoughts on the race?
It’s definitely a lot different racing than what we’re used to.
Comfortable with it?
Yeah, it’s just different. You’re worried about what you’re doing, but you’re also worried about what everyone else is doing and they’re not doing more than you’re doing. Physically pushing a guy is way better than just riding so you just gotta time it right and push it to the edge.
Happy to start the year with a top 5?
Yeah. Hell, that was the worst we ran all day, I think. I have no idea how they put the 3 car in front of us on that last restart. I hadn’t seen the 3 car hardly all day. When they put us from fifth to sixth, on the outside line, it just really boxed us in. I would have really restarted behind my teammate and given him a good push to the front. Anyways, it is what it is; we’ll take it and move on.
Looked like you were up front all day.
The guys did a good job. We had a fast race car. Great pit stops, just really proud of these guys. The car’s in one piece and we can take it to Talladega now. Great job by my guys. A lot of effort came into coming down here to Daytona and giving ourselves a shot to win. We had that chance to be up front and make some things happen. Fifth is not what we want, but we’ll take it and move on.
Bumping vs Pushing?
It’s way harder. You don’t want to lay on the guy in front of you, so it’s tough racing. A lot different than what we’re used to, ‘cause you gotta go. You gotta drag the brake too ‘cause you don’t want to hit the guys and you don’t want to stay on him. It’s a lot harder mentally than what we’ve done in the past.
Car was strong all day. Pushing vs. Bumping, is that harder to do than just getting on somebody and pushing them?
Yeah, it is a little bit. When you bump ‘em, you jar ‘em, it kinda jacks ‘em a little bit. It’s a little more abrupt, obviously. I thought it was OK there at the end. It was certainly fun and hopefully entertaining. But a little bit of a struggle in the early part of the race and the midpart of the race to see a good race. And that’s unfortunate for the fans. You can’t do that the whole race, you can’t tear up your stuff, knock your grill in, overheat your motor, all that stuff so there’s no sense in doing all that until you get down to the last lap. The 7 and the 6, they did a good job. Man, the 7 really held the 22 and I tight on the bottom. I was rubbing his door and hitting the apron at the same time, no room whatsoever. So it was good; wish we were the ones who could have won but a lot better now than what we were last year.
Going home in one piece makes it a lot better, right?
Yeah. My back feels good. My foot feels good. Past years here, I’ve been going home with pain so I’m alright.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Truck Series Post-Race Quotes: Daytona (Exclusives)
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday February 22, 2014
When you’re on the outside like that, how frustrating is it?
It’s so hard. Timothy Peters has won here. Kyle Busch has won everywhere. Ron Hornaday has been running Trucks forever, probably before I was even born. I was surrounded by veterans there, and like I told them I don’t have a rookie stripe but I’m a rookie. This is only my fourth Truck race ever, my fourth superspeedway race, and man, I figured out when the 17 got up in front of me, I pushed him. And as soon as I pushed him, he took off. And I went with him. And I just kept doing it, and before I knew it, he was leading. And I saw Ron in my mirror, backed up to him, and if it wasn’t for him, I don’t know what would have happened. I gotta thank him big time for that. That was a true teammate move right there. I really appreciate that. He just bounced off me and we got to the front. I tried my hardest to sidedraft Kyle. I was probably touching his door.
Top 5 in the No. 30 truck. This deal come together at the last minute, but you had a heck of a truck. Tell us about your night.
Yeah, I’ve got to thank Turner Scott Motorsports. The guys worked so hard on this Rheem Comfort Products Chevrolet. Exciting! Just got hung up on the outside and had to wait for my teammate there to catch up. And then he got to the bottom, so… I got the old 32 and started pushing ol’ Ryan to the front. So, it’s not bad. We’ll take it. You just don’t want to step over that boundary. You don’t know how far to push and shove. We bumped about six times down the straightaway without latching onto them. Hopefully, that was OK and we came home with a top 5.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Budweiser Duels Post Race Quotes
posted by Matt Stallknecht
Friday February 21, 2014
BUDWEISER DUELS POST-RACE QUOTES
They’re saying the wheel bearing burned up in it. I don’t know what caused it, they’re taking it all apart to figure out what the heck happened. Something abnormal that’s for sure I don’t think I’ve ever had that happen at all. Hopefully, we made the race and hopefully we can fix the problem before Sunday.
WHAT WAS THAT LOUD BOOM ONCE YOU TURNED INTO THE GARAGE?
Loud pop was a tire… thankfully, it popped, hopefully it didn’t hurt anybody. All the heat created in the left front that popped was pretty weird.
REALLY GOOD RUN. WHAT DID YOU THINK OF IT?
Yeah, it was good. We have a car we can work with for the 500. Got a good starting spot, so we’re going to rest easy, fluff and buff our car for a couple of days and get ready for Sunday.
ANY DIFFERENCE ON WHETHER THE TOP OR BOTTOM LANE WORKED?
Yeah, I was just moving around, trying to stay with the flow. For me, this car works on all parts of the racetrack. So I’m pretty happy with it.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.
GOT SHUFFLED BACK, AFTER PIT STOPS AND THEN COULDN’T GET BACK UP TO THE FRONT. WHY?
Nah, we were just sitting there waiting until the last few laps to make a move. You didn’t want to pull down and get sent to the back. Seen a couple of guys get sent to the back really quick so we were just kind of waiting for the end. I felt like we had a good situation there with Ambrose behind us — we had a good run off Turn 2 and I went. It was the last lap, time to go do something, nobody went with us but hopefully Sunday is a different story.
We got a great car. We don’t have to work hard. We learned, we got a good race car. Got a car in one piece, ready to go so we’ll try and get through the next couple of practices, deliver it to the starting group this Sunday and we’ll be real happy.
YOU’RE IN THE DAYTONA 500!
Yeah, it’s pretty awesome. This Whitetail Chevrolet was so fast that I knew all I had to do was stick it behind smart, intelligent drafters and we could have a good finish. That’s what we did in the Duels and I’m excited. I’m excited to go do some stuff with the Nationwide car and have some more practice with this. But to know that we’re locked in the Daytona 500’s pretty cool.
YOU WERE OBVIOUSLY IN FRONT OF THAT MELEE AT THE END. WHEN YOU WERE UP FRONT THERE IN THE BEGINNING, WERE YOU HOPING TO JUST STAY IN LINE AND LET YOU FINISH TOP 5?
I was pretty content to ride and luckily I knew a lot of people around us were. It was nice to have a little calm and not really have to be racing hard the whole time. I knew that the pit stop was going to shake everything up and that’s exactly what happened. Fell back a little bit there but made the right moves at the end to get a good finish.
HOW STRONG ARE THESE RCR CARS?
They’re very strong! They definitely have the capabilities to be winning one of these races.
YOU’RE IN THE TOP 5 FOR YOUR HEAT IN THE DAYTONA 500. YOUR PRIMARY CAR IS SITTING RIGHT IN THE GARAGE, KIND OF WADDED UP. DID YOU THINK THIS ONE HAD IT IN IT?
Yeah, it’s a brand new car also. It’s just not quite as good as the primary but still a damned good car. I’m just proud of everybody at RCR for building such fast race cars. All of our cars have been fast, ECR motor’s been strong, even our affiliate teams have been qualifying really good and racing good. So… excited about 2014! It’s going to be a good year.
WELL MAN, YOU STARTED IN THE BACK BUT WORKED YOUR WAY TO THE FRONT WHEN IT COUNTED MOST. WERE YOU JUST BIDING YOUR TIME THROUGHOUT THE RACE?
Eh, you never know if you’re going to get back up there or not. We had to start at the back, we had to make a run early and see what we could do. We drove right to 10th, or something like that and then it got stagnant. We tried to make something happen, and went to the back again. Drove back up to the front. Again, just really proud of my guys. Matt Kruder did a hell of a job on that pit stop getting just enough gas in to gain some spots there.
RCR CARS SEEM PRETTY DARNED STRONG. DO YOU THINK THE RCR CARS HAVE SOMETHING FOR THEM ON SUNDAY — ESPECIALLY THE THREE JOE GIBBS RACING CARS THAT SEEM TO BE THE CLASS OF THE FIELD RIGHT NOW?
Oh yeah. The 20 car was extremely fast. The 11 didn’t qualify that good, but he’s a good drafter. I think he won. We definitely have something for him.
Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
Holding A Pretty Wheel · Amy Henderson · Friday April 26, 2013
While the NASCAR Cup and Truck Series were in Kansas last weekend, a show of a whole different kind was rolling into Charlotte. Just across Bruton Smith Boulevard from Charlotte Motor Speedway is zMAX Dragway, and the NHRA show was in town for Four-Wide Nationals.
It may have been just across the street, but it might as well have been a whole other world.
It was a lot to take in. There were new rules to learn, new interviews to seek, a whole new level of loud. A lot of lessons were packed into one weekend, and I came away richer in knowledge and understanding of a new form of racing. But there were also lessons about NASCAR to be learned, more from the contrast of the two sports than anything else.
Believe it or not, the first thing that came to my mind after spending some time in the pits was … how unfair are we being to Danica Patrick? By “we,” in this case, I’m talking mostly the media, but also of some fans … and the answer really gave me pause. Because really, it isn’t a very nice conclusion at all.
Are we piling on the pressure for Patrick to succeed simply because she’s a woman? Well, yes … and there’s also the pervading sense that she has had a lot of opportunities handed to her because of her gender, and well, to be blunt, she has. But the pressure heaped on her by the media is just ridiculous. No driver could possibly live up to the hype that surrounds Patrick. And the inescapable conclusion is that the hype is due to one thing, and one thing only: her gender.
Everywhere, we’re inundated with trivia: she’s the first female driver to race this track, first to qualify in such-and-such a spot, first to do this “thing.” It’s news that she’s dating a fellow driver because that hasn’t happened very often. Patrick is under the microscope practically 24/7 because she’s a girl. Not only that, but the media are putting the pressure on her for all those “first female” and “best by a female” records because we want a feel-good story.
People can say it’s because she’s a talented racer, but be honest: there are plenty of drivers who match her talent. You can say it’s because she’s an open-wheel star turned NASCAR driver, but that’s not it either, if we’re honest. After all, Sam Hornish, Jr., Dario Franchitti, and Juan Pablo Montoya were all much more accomplished open-wheel racers when they made the move, and they didn’t get this kind of attention.
Not only is Patrick being buried, under undue pressure there’s also a group of fans who actively dislike her because of the attention she receives. And you can’t really blame them; it’s a bitter pill to swallow when a driver is featured extensively in every corner of the media while many drivers of equal caliber barely get a mention. It’s not fair. But it’s also not fair to Patrick. If the media need her to succeed so badly just to get a positive story out of it, something’s wrong somewhere.
She didn’t ask for the attention. She’d probably prefer to learn the ins and outs of Cup racing somewhere other than under the microscope. She’s a rookie, and she hasn’t even raced a lot of these tracks in a Cup car yet. She should be out there logging laps, learning lines, practicing strategy. But she’s not allowed to simply do that, because she’s supposed to set records.
Meanwhile, take a walk through the pits at an NHRA event, and women are a part of every series. They’re there, and have been for years. Shirley Muldowney was winning races and titles in the NHRA’s Top Fuel division — its top class — in the 1970s. All in all, 51 women have driven in NHRA events over the years, and 13 of them have won. Women work on the race teams. They’re just “a part of the scene” in the pits. They aren’t followed by cameras every step they take; not even the most well-known female drag racers, Courtney and Brittany Force, get that kind of constant media attention. And I definitely got the impression that while they do get the extra scrutiny that any racing series’ biggest stars enjoy (or not), it isn’t simply because they’re women. If anything, it’s because their last name is Force, and their father is a 15-time NHRA champion. The better comparison here might be to Dale Earnhardt, Jr., not to Patrick.
I asked Brittany Force, who is a rookie in the Top Fuel division, if she felt extra pressure to perform because she’s a woman.
“I don’t see it like that; I’m (just) out there,” Force said. “The one thing about this sport is, we’re all out here because we have this passion for driving, for drag racing. It’s something we all love. Everybody has been so great out here. My whole year of testing, I had Tony Schumacher and Spencer Massey, other Top Fuel drivers just come over and give me pointers and tips and offer that if I ever had any questions, I could always come ask them. Everybody has been really supportive, and I think that’s the great thing about the sport.”
Seeing the way the women in NHRA racing are treated (pretty much like anyone else; they’re not referred to as “female drivers,” but simply as “drivers”) made me wonder if the undue media pressure is keeping Patrick from performing to her full potential — she’s pulled in so many different directions on a race weekend that it has to take its toll. Maybe it’s time to just let her be another driver.
On a similar vein, the NHRA, from drivers to crews to fans, is a diverse group. The diversity among fans is noticeable compared to the NASCAR crowd. Among the drivers and crews, it’s similar to the way women are viewed … all competitors are simply racers. The diversity didn’t come from a carefully tailored and controlled program such as NASCAR has instituted. It just is. And perhaps that’s why it flourishes.
Race day atmosphere is pretty special in any form of racing. It’s almost like a carnival, with bright-colored booths vying for attention as they hawk their wares. Sponsors have interactive exhibits, where fans can spin a giant wheel or guess the number of hubcaps in a bin to win prizes. The smell of fried food competes with the smell of racing fuel to be the pervading scent. Everyone is having a good time.
The difference was that in the NHRA pits, the drivers are a part of it all. They spend time meeting and talking to fans and they look like they’re having almost as much fun as the fans are. They rarely sign a hurried autograph and walk away; many stopped to pose for pictures, even inviting the fans to come stand by their cars for a photo. Top Fuel champion Antron Brown not only went the extra mile, but he remembered several longtime fans from previous meetings and greeted them like old friends. All the while, he was having fun.
While it would be impossible to grant every fan at a NASCAR race that kind of access, it would be nice to see more drivers signing at their haulers — you used to see it a lot more in the not-too-distant past. And why not have fun with it while they’re there? Some drivers genuinely do; others, far too many look like they’d rather be boiled in oil.
Another thing that intrigued me was that yes, there are bigger teams with more money, but the cars are so on the edge there’s no guarantee that the big money will win. At 8,000 horsepower, a rich team’s engine can break as easily as a poor one’s. And you don’t hear fans grousing that this team is favored or this one only wins because they have the cash, or those guys cheat all the time. That kind of sniping isn’t good for racing.
Someone said to me that NHRA racing today is, in a lot of ways, the way NASCAR was 30 years ago. If that’s true, then how did NASCAR, the media, and even the fans go astray … and how does the NHRA keep from doing it? Maybe it’s because everyone, from media to fans, is looking for the next big story, the next bandwagon to jump on, the newest buzz words. For NHRA fans, the story is simple — it’s the race weekend itself, the drivers, and the roar of the cars on the racetrack. They let the racing be the story. And maybe that’s why, in its simplicity, it’s told so very well.
Perhaps it’s time for everyone to take a long, hard look at the way we view a NASCAR event and the things that surround it. Maybe it’s time to step back, stop pressuring drivers to be something they’re not, to stop looking for a story that isn’t there, to let the racing do the talking. Because while NASCAR and NHRA drag racing are two very different sports, they have one thing in common: the fans are there because they love racing. So why not just enjoy the show?
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©2000 - 2008 Amy Henderson and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
That might be one of the best columns you have written.
While I respect your opinion, Amy, I think you’re also missing the point a bit.
I don’t believe that anyone is being unfair to PSPMW. Since coming to INDYCAR, she has actively tried to gain attention through various means of media, including talking about her “brand.” I have never seen her deflect attention, demand that people focus on her racing skill-or lack thereof-or pay attention to the other drivers in the series she’s in. I have never heard of Michael Schumacher, Ayrton Senna or Sebastian Vettel talk about their “brand.” Nor have I heard of, more gender specific, Shirley Muldowney, Angelle Sampey, Erica Enders-Stevens or the Force sisters talking about their “brand.”
Is is so ironic that her former boss, Michael Andretti, when PSPMW won the pole at Daytona, congratulated Go Daddy, but didn’t mention her by name? I don’t think so. You’re certainly entitled to change your opinion about her, but I don’t share your view. Bottom line, she’s not misunderstood or under too much pressure. She has demanded and asked for the attention, and has come nowhere close to being what her PR people have hyped her to be. And neither she nor any of her enablers/syncophants, etc, can now claim that “ooh, she’s under too much pressure, we should be nicer to her.” You can’t have your cake and eat it too. If you hype yourself up, you better produce. And she never has, at any level, and never will. Well, that’s actually not entirely true. By the standards of what passes for celebrity these days, yes. By the standards of actual success, no, not now, not ever.
So just stop writing about her until she does something noteworthy on the track.
Put a driver in that # number 10 and you will see instant results. What are you talking about ? She is not a cracker jack wheel MAN ! Kurt Busch would have wins already on that team.
For just one race, I would like to see what Johanna Long would do in the #10. Just one race! Bet she would blow everyone’s doors off! Wait, Cup cars don’t have doors! So she would blow the whole darned bodies off! Then the headline would be “Girl Next Door” Upstages “Danicant”.
Smartest guy, I cant figure out your acronym PSPMW. I get Princess Sparkle Pony but whats the MW?
Race fans are sick of the media kissing her pampered little ass. Even with the best equipment she is barely competitive.
I agree that often the media tries to create a story when it isn’t there. For example in other sports, the Tim Tebow and that asian guy who played for the knicks. I understand this stuff sells but journalism should have better standards than to stoop to that level. For this exact reason, I lost interest watching espn because most of it is sensationalized non-stories.
The women in NHRA have earned the respect of the fans by winning. Danica is having trouble with that side of the equation. While this article pretends to ask for less attention to DP, in truth it is just another article calling attention to her. Next week we’ll see a Junior story explaining that he’s proved himself already and doesn’t need a championship (but he’s running good enough that he may get one).
Kevin in SoCal – just a guess, but I think the MW portion of the acronym means “Media hoe”
I’ve been a motorsporrts journalist covering drag racing for almost 50 years, so I’ve seen the hype machine working at warp speed. Some of the responses here have referenced the over-hyping of drivers, usually women, and drag racing has suffered through that as well.
Erica Enders-Stevens was pushed relentlessly by the NHRA — and she not only wasn’t winning races, she wasn’t even qualifying. That didn’t seem to matter to those doing the pushing, but it did to the fans. There was a revolt, so to speak. The fans simply didn’t want to hear another word about Erica until she began delivering on the track, something she’s done — in spades.
That may be one reason why, when Courtney Force, Alexis DeJoria and other women began competing in top quality cars, they received their share of exposure, but weren’t overly pushed by the NHRA, who appeared to have learned their lessons from the Enders-Stevens backlash.
In the case of Ms. Patrick, she was the media anchor for the Indycar series. They had absolutely nothing else going for them, so every bit of effort was based around Danica, and you couldn’t blame them for doing it. Further, it’s apparent that she not only welcomed the attention, she exploited her sexuality at every possible turn. I am not faulting her for that, but it is a fact.
The difference in her Indycar and NASCAR situations is that in open wheel racing she was the only promotable name they had, period. That’s obviously not the case with NASCAR, where there are a number of recognizable names and faces, and the fan base is extensive.
The fault, I believe, is with the media. In this instance there are two “types” of media, one that’s familiar with racing and the other, which isn’t. If you check, most of the hype comes from media people who know little about racing, so they’re naturally impressed by Danica being the only woman, and when she does well, such as scoring the pole at Daytona, they make it a lot bigger than it really is. Note that the motorsports press was far more subdued in their coverage of Danica’s Daytona accomplishment than was the straight press.
The unfortunate truth is that the media should be collectively ashamed of themselves for the way they’ve continued to flit around Danica like moths to a flame while all but ignoring the impressive accomplishments women have made in drag racing.
Danica may have won the pole at Daytona, but she was a non-factor in that and every other race she’s competed in thus far. Whether she ever becomes a winner in NASCAR remains to be seen, but until she starts performing, maybe some of those media people should begin paying closer attention to the women in drag racing.
While Danica may have won the pole for Daytona, Courtney Force WON Funny Car at the Winternationals and Erica Enders-Stevens WON Pro Stock at the season’s second race in Phoenix. Winning ought to count for something, shouldn’t it?
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