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.
Amy Henderson · Monday July 15, 2013
Looking for the Who, What, When, Where, Why and How behind Sunday’s race? Amy Henderson has you covered with each week with the answers to six race day questions, covering all five W’s and even the H…the Big Six
Who…gets my shoutout of the race?
There are a lot of deserving drivers this week—Bobby Labonte, Kurt Busch, Jimmie Johnson to name a few. But while my shoutout isn’t really supposed to go to the race winner, part time drivers aren’t supposed to win races, either, and in the end, Brian Vickers flat deserves all the accolades he gets. Three years ago, Vickers didn’t know if he would even be able to race again after doctors discovered blood clots in his legs and lungs. Two years ago, Vickers didn’t know where he might race again as his Red Bull team was shutting down. Last year, he put in an admirable performance in an eight-race stint with Michael Waltrip Racing and he entered this year as a full-time Nationwide competitor but with no Cup ride secured, though he was rumored as the frontrunner to take over the No. 55 in 2014 after the departure of Mark Martin.
After Sunday’s performance, No. 55 crew chief Rodney Childers said that Vickers coming on board is very likely, and really, if sponsor Aaron’s were to balk at Vickers after what he’s shown he can do in the car, they’re crazy. Part-time drivers have to overcome working with a crew that’s used to another driver and a car that’s not necessarily set up exactly to his tastes because the team simply isn’t as familiar with his preferences. Yet Vickers has climbed in that car in almost all of his scheduled races and performed like he was never out of the seat. Because Vickers has been around for so long, it’s also easy to overlook the fact that he has not yet passed his 30th birthday—he’s just now coming into the prime of his career and that could mean the beginning of a long and fruitful relationship for both Vickers and Aaron’s.
What… was THAT?
It shouldn’t be rocket science, but apparently, a fair (and easy to make consistent) penalty policy for race weekends is beyond NASCAR’s grasp. I’m not interested in conspiracy theories or any of that nonsense, but why was Jimmie Johnson allowed to race this weekend after failing postqualifying inspection and having his second-place time disallowed? By the rule book it was because Johnson had a provisional available, but why on Earth does NASCAR allow a team whose time has been tossed for a car out of spec to use a provisional at all? Sorry, 48 fans, but Johnson and his team should have been watching this one on TV…as should every team whose time is disallowed for a qualifying infraction. It would be easy to give a team the chance to prove a part failure…and if they couldn’t? Well, sorry; have a safe trip home.
The penalty system would be much fairer and more transparent if there was a set system in place for penalties based on when a violation occurred during a race weekend. Opening tech? Make them sit out practice to fix it and represent; the car never took to the track, so no harm, no foul. Before qualifying? Put them on the clock to fix it(and don’t allow work to start until the first car is on track), and if they can’t, they don’t get a time—but if they do have a provisional available, let them use it as the car didn’t actually compete illegally. After qualifying, if they can’t prove a failure, toss the time and send them packing. If they pass post qualifying but can’t get through prerace, make them fix it, and if they don’t get to the grid on time, they shouldn’t have made that adjustment, should they? Finally, if it’s after the race, strip the finish, the points, and all money won and put an asterisk next to the driver’s name on the final race report for posterity. That would be fair, and it would be transparent; fans would know exactly what was coming and they wouldn’t have to wait until Wednesday to know what NASCAR might decide to do this week, to this team.
Where…did the defending race winner wind up?
Kasey Kahne entered 2013 looking like a title favorite, but he’s not found the consistency that a title run will require. He’s got speed to spare; Kahne has always been able to squeeze speed out of a race car, but he doesn’t always have the finishes to show for that. Loudon was no exception, as Kahne was running in the top ten late in the race, looking for more, only to get loose and shuffled out of the lead pack. He was able to finish a respectable eleventh, but Kahne wasn’t looking for respectable at NHMS, and respectable doesn’t win many titles.
What’s the magic formula for the No. 5 crowd? That’s not as easy as it sounds. Kahne isn’t slow, and while his luck hasn’t been as abysmal as teammate Jeff Gordon’s, his consistency hasn’t matched Jimmie Johnson’s or Dale Earnhardt, Jr.‘s this year either. There are times when a driver’s own speed gets him in trouble; Kahne is no exception though he does keep his nose fairly clean. Bottom line? It’s not one thing that’s keeping Kahne from being a top title favorite…but there’s no magic solutuion, either.
When…will I be loved?
Aggressive driving is part of racing, and arguably necessary for winning. But a smart driver knows when and where to be aggressive and when and where to bide their time and be patient. During the first half a race, patience is a virtue, and a veteran driver should know that. Apparently Kevin Harvick forgot on Sunday. Sure, they were three-wide, and Marcos Ambrose was possibly driving over his head, but that wasn’t a reason to wreck him so early in the race; had Harvick backed out and let everyone regroup, he had all day to make up a lost spot or two. Instead, Harvick chose to punt Ambrose into traffic, ruining not only Ambrose’s day, but also AJ Allmendinger’s and Casey Mears’ days. The No. 51 and No. 13 teams were just hoping for a decent day, but instead, they got backmarker finishes for their trouble.
Had the incident happened on lap 295 with Ambrose keeping Harvick from being able to contend for a top finish, a bumo and run would have been justified. Flat dumping a driver, intentionally, before the race has even really settled into a groove? That’s just poor form. Harvick isn’t wondering where his next ride will be and the No. 29 team isn’t wondering where the money to fix a torn-up car will come from. For Ambrose, Allmendinger, and Mears, that’s not the case.
The points in the bottom half of the top ten through 20th remained volatile, with Kurt Busch and Tony Stewart falling out after misfortune ended what looked like winning runs. Brad Keselowski and Kasey Kahne slid back into the top 10 after a day that was solid, but not a race-winning day for either. The wild-card spots are currently in the hands of Martin Truex, Jr. and Stewart, but with a few teams looking like they’re on the brink of a breakthrough win, there’s plenty of room for that to change.
It was a bit surprising last week that many people were abuzz with talk about the success of Kurt Busch and his “small” Furniture Row Racing team. FRR is only a small team on paper, folks. That’s not to take away from Busch, who is an immensely talented driver, but this is where the team, which operates as a fourth Richard Childress Racing team, should be running every week. FRR’s competition director is an RCR employee, anf the teams share information and resources at a level that’s at least that of Stewart-Hass Racing and Hendrick Motorsports, if not even higher. Given this, the No. 78 is running where they should be running—and they’re right in the middle of the RCR pack, trailing Kevin Harvick in points but comparable to (and slightly better than; not surprisingly considering Busch’s talent) the Nos. 31 and 27. This isn’t the same as a team like Phoenix Racing or Germain Racing suddenly showing Chase potential; it’s a team running exactly where they should be expected to run.
How…did the little guys do?
Front Row Motorsports; David Ragan & Josh Wise & David Gilliland (No. 34 Taco Bell Ford & No. 35 MDS Transport Chevy & No. 38 Jong John Silver’s Ford): Gilliland and Ragan carried the flag for the small teams this weekend, finishing 18th and 19th, respectively. Gilliland’s run was his best without a restrictor plate all year, and Ragan had his best finish since winning at Talladega and his second-best of 2013. These are exactly the kind of finishes this team needs at the non-plate tracks in order to move to the next level. They’ve proven they can do it if circumstances are right, now they have to make them right even when they aren’t.
©2000 - 2008 Amy Henderson and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
Thank you, Amy, for a fair assessment on the 48’s failed inspection. How many times does a car need to fail before nascar say’s “that’s it…go home”?
If nascar is truely fair shouldn’t there be some penalties coming this week against the 48?
Instead, the 48 gets a good finish and builds his points lead. SO looking forward to having “SIX TIME!” forced on us…..NOT. LOL.
Ugh, so agree about the 48 and with JP’s comments. Six-time – gag me with a spoon!
Harvick was so out of line. He did that and then Menard dumped Gordon. They are both brainless IMO.
Huh? When’s the last time a car went home because it failed postqualifying inspection? For as long as I can remember, the punishment for failing postqualifying inspection has been disallowing the qualifying time and sending the car to the back of the grid for the race. I’m no 48 fan, goodness no, but your argument doesn’t hold water, Amy.
On a separate note, a fun stat: Joe Nemechek received the Lucky Dog a staggering FIVE times yesterday, I think tying the all-time record. It got him a rare lead-lap finish, which was good to see.
While I agree that a car that fails inspection AND post-qualifying inspection shouldn’t be allowed a provisional, in this case there were only 43 cars at the track so no one was “bumped”. Now, the real mess was when both Johnson and Gordon were allowed to race at Sonoma in 2007 after failing inspection, not being allowed to even attempt qualifying, nor running any practices, which went against NASCAR’s rulebook at the time that stated that a “locked in” car had to at least practice and attempt to qualify.
Looking at Johnson’s 6th Place finish, I can’t help but wonder if they didn’t intentionally sandbag that finish to avoid automatic mandatory inspection (I believe the top 5 get mandatory inspections).
Doug, I didn’t know that about the rulebook and why it was not enforced properly at Sonoma in 07. Interesting, but not surprising since NASCAR is notorious for writing its rules in pencil and enforcing them by throwing dice.
Not sure if Johnson has enough brains to sandbag a finish – although Chad probably does and he’s the one who does the “thinking” in that duo.
@Doug: The top 5 do not go to R&D. it’s the winner, one random car and an additional random engine. Thie week, the 16 was the random car and 18 was the engine. I was surprised it wasn’t the 48; last time NASCAR found something close to the line (but within tolerance) on that car, it was the “random” for several weeks in a row.
@Zetona: I never said that a car had been sent home before (though they have, and still would if they didn’t have a provisional available; cars under top 35 rule went home if not locked in, raced if in top 35. If there were a lot of cars and the car with a violation wasn’t in line for a provisional, they’d go home.)It’s just my opinion that they SHOULD be sent packing and not allowed to race, especially if a legal car goes home instead. That didn’t happen this weekend, but it could have.
Finally, @Doug: NASCAR also never before, or since, that race at Sonoma pulled a car from practice AND qualifying. The following week that year, 17 cars had template violations in opening tech, and all were allowed to fix it and practice and qualify like normal. IMO, NASCAR realized they messed up with the Sonoma deal and that’s why they let those cars (one of which had been in their own R&D Center that same week for inspection)race. Not that NASCAR would ever admit to a mistake…
Amy, are you kidding me! FRR is running where they are supposed to??? Now does anyone want to argue that money buys speed? I don’t recall seeing FRR listed among Forbes five most valuable teams in NASCAR. Read The Five Richest Teams in NASCAR. Forbes listed them, as #1. Hendrick 357million twice the value (read resources $$$) of #2. Gibbs listed as 168 million, #3. is Roush at 166 million, #4. is RCR at $139 million. Stewart-Hass is #5. FRR is NOT an elite team. If the #78 seat becomes available today no driver now driving for Hendrick, Gibbs, Roush, to include I bet even MWR would trade their ride for the #78. I too am not a fan of Kurt, but one thing we all have to admit, he is exciting to watch. He doesn’t just ride around and log laps. Instead he is stirring the pot of the rich teams. If RFF had the big bucks that you seem to think, then Kurt would not be looking elsewhere for greener pastures.
“Marcos was probably driving over his head”? When has he not? I compliment Harvick for booting him. How many times has the 9 taken someone out by over driving and just slip on by?
Nascar’s handling of qualifying inspection seems pretty consistent. If you’re locked in, or there’s noone to bump you, you get to race. I think it was Carl Long or someone a few years ago that failed, but there were more than 43, so he went home.
DQ’ing a car and running with 42 really only punishes the fans of that team (of which I am not, but the point is relevant). We know that the penalty that really matters are points. They can take those whether or not the car races.
So, Ambrose gets a pass every week?
Last week he took out Kasey Kahne with a hard right at Daytona. This week he decides to come down on Harvick. Probably needs a new spotter….
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