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 August 19, 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?
Finishing a race on old tires might not be what it once was, but finishing on a nearly dry tank of fuel is a make-or-break kind of gamble that can mean the difference between winning or losing, and while Kevin Harvick didn’t win, he did assert his ability to be there in the closing laps, ready to pounce on the smallest mistake.
And when it boils down to it, the willingness to gamble, the ability to be in the position to win races, and the solid teamwork that Harvick and the No. 29 team displayed could be the ingredients for a championship. With two wins, Harvick will be seeded in the top 5 in the Chase and his team is firing on all cylinders at a critical juncture in the season when other top teams have stumbled. It’s still a tall order for a team and driver who know they will be parting ways in 13 weeks, but if they don’t get distracted by next year, they could put an exclamation point at the end of their story.
What… was THAT?
One of the weekend’s feel-good stories had to be seeing Mark Martin pace the field in the closing laps, showing that the driver, if not the car, was still more than capable of closing the deal. And it appears that Martin has closed the deal to fill in for Tony Stewart in the No. 14 as Stewart is expected to miss several weeks after breaking his leg in a sprint car crash two weeks ago. That’s a great move for Martin, provided he can negotiate his way out of his contract with Michael Waltrip Racing and sponsor Aaron’s. He’s reportedly already received Toyota’s blessing to make the move.
And really, the move would be a good one all around. Martin’s experience and talent could put the No. 14 in Victory Lane this fall, while the move would also allow Brian Vickers a head start with the team towards 2014. With a win in the No. 55 already on the table for Vickers, that car could win again with Vickers behind the wheel and give the team considerable momentum heading toward a Chase run for next year. Both teams would be in capable hands and for them, 2014 is already the big picture.
Where… did the defending race winner wind up?
A year ago, Greg Biffle was riding a wave of momentum. His win at MIS propelled him into the points lead and he was looking like a title favorite all the way. And then it all came crashing down; the points lead was taken away with the Chase points reset, Biffle and the no. 16 team were never able to find the magic in the final ten races, and 2013 hasn’t been as kind to Biffle as 2012 was. He led 28 laps, but in the end, Biffle will go in the history ledger in ninth place for the day.
Biffle’s currently in tenth place in points, just four points to the good side of a Chase berth with three races to go. He’s got a win to help his cause, but a title run is not a sure thing for the man who was a frontrunner for a championship just a year ago. Roush Fenway Racing as an organization has struggled this year, and it’s been clear for years that Biffle, despite his senior status with the team, is not the main focus most of the time. Will Biffle be another Jeff Burton—a driver for whom the title was sure to come in another year or two that never came, or can he pull together a Chase run from the ashes?
When… will I be loved?
It’s probably safe to say that Goodyear won’t be very popular this week after a rash of tire failures at MIS which ruined the day several drivers, including perennial Most Popular Driver Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and fan favorite Bobby Labonte. But it’s not just tire failures that make the tire manufacturer the target of this week’s villain award.
No, because the rubber that meets the road plays a role in the cars’ performance, and, ultimately, the quality of racing. While fans often complain about fuel mileage racing, it seems that mileage is the last real strategy game in racing. Sure, there’s the two-or four-tire gamble, but it’s hard to compare today’s tire strategy to that of yesteryear, when tires wore quickly and the handling on the car went away accordingly, forcing teams to make critical pit decisions, often before the end of a fuel run. Those races were fun to watch because the decision of whether to sacrifice speed for track position was so critical, and the wrong choice could be disastrous. With today’s tires, which would make the Flintstones jealous, it’s not uncommon for left-sides to last for two or more fuel cycles, and while at some tracks, four tires have a huge advantage, that’s not the case everywhere. So much strategy has been taken out of racing these days—why not find a tire that can put some of it back in the game?
Why… worry now?
Were you one of those race fans who wrote off the season as a lost cause, a certain sixth title for Jimmie Johnson. If you were, you weren’t the only one…but after four subpar races in a row for Johnson, including a 40th-place at MIS, handing him that sixth silver trophy already might have been a little premature. Johnson doesn’t have to worry about making the Chase; he clinched his spot last week at Watkins Glen, so his team can afford to test a bit, see if they can coax a bit more speed out of the No. 48 before Chicago. But a streak of bad luck at the wrong time can be a momentum killer, and if someone like Matt Kenseth, Kyle Busch, or Kevin Harvick can get on a hot streak while Johnson & Co. are chasing their tails, that could carry over and cost Johnson the title and a chance to chase history a year from now.
In fact, despite the complaints of Hendrick Motorsports having something the other operations don’t, none of the four HMS teams is running at full throttle right now. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. was a threat to win at MIS, until a tire failure derailed his day, but the end result of that puts a Chase berth in jeopardy as he’s now just 20 points ahead of tenth place with three races left to go. Kahne is currently in a wild card position, and with two wins is fairly safe but not yet a lock, and barring a miracle, Jeff Gordon isn’t even in wild card contention. It’s entirely possible that HMS could have just one car in the Chase this year. It’s kind of hard to call them a heavy favorite any more.
On the other hand, Kevin Harvick is getting hot at just the right time, and if Richard Childress racing keeps the focus on his title run, Harvick could be a very real threat.
As for the battle to make the Chase? That’s just getting more heated by the week. Joey Logano’s win puts his hat in the ring, and Kurt Busch has quietly snuck into the top 10 in points, making the wild card race that much tighter. Right now, Kahne and Martin Truex, Jr. hold those spots, but that can change—tenth-place Greg Biffle is just four points to the good and could fall to a wild-card position if he has a bad race or two. Logano, Truex, or Ryan Newman could win a second race, to stake a better claim…the possibilities are many. If you like the Chase, this is about as exciting a scenario as you could hope for this close to Richmond.
How… did the little guys do?
Wood Brothers Racing; Trevor Bayne (No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford): Michigan (and look-alike Fontana) is one of the toughest tracks on the smaller teams, because money buys both speed and handling, and without both, a top finish isn’t going to happen. Bayne’s 21st-place result was the best among the small teams this week. The Wood Brothers operation has a different strategy than many other small teams—rather than spreading their resources across the full season, they run a few races and pour everything they have into them. While that may hurt them from an information standpoint, they do go into the races focused and prepared. Some weeks, like this one, it’s the best approach, but not always.
Connect with Amy!
©2000 - 2008 Amy Henderson and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
Just think, in a few short weeks, all those drivers still in contention to otherwise make a championship will be DONE FOR THE YEAR when the chase starts.
The chase has run it’s course. It’s no longer needed…if it ever was. It’s failed to do what it was supposed to do.
and if my favorite isn’t in the chase, I will have no reason to bother with the chase. I agree with JP – the chase needs to go, it hasn’t produced enough excitement to justify leaving multiple good drivers out of it – who could move up in the points if they ran the full 36 races for points. Locking drivers into or in some cases out of a possible top 10 points finish means that the last 10 races mean nothing to me.
Potentially Gordon, Stewart and Junior will not be in the chase this year. Think that will help attendance and the ratings?
The situation with Tony Stewart has me wondering who would go into the 48 car if Johnson couldn’t run some races.
I don’t for a minute think Jimmie Johnson’s misfortune the last few weeks means anything once the chase starts. The #48 team is still the team to beat and at this point I don’t see anyone else with the consistency to step up and take the trophy from them. If the Toyota engines get a boost in power and reliablility then Kenseth and Shrub stand a chance, and if bad luck finally leaves him alone, Kasey Kahne has a shot. If Harvick puts together a flawless run in the chase then he could win it. And if Jimmie Johnson gets abducted by aliens until Thanksgiving, I can see him losing the championship.
Four sub par races in a row and there you have it. The 48 team’s string of bad luck when they can afford it, even if it continues up until the “Chase”. It’s all wishful thinking for all of us who don’t want to see them do well, but they are going to do well because they’re on a mission. 8 Championships. The only thing that’s going to stop them from that goal is a breakup of the Knaus and Johnson Show. They are head and shoulders above everyone else and cruising. Number 6 coming up and number 7 and 8 not far away. Yep I’m throwing in the towel.They are just that good. Getting real old to watch so I don’t do much of it anymore. Just keep up with what’s going on via the internet sites.
Dan, unfortunately I believe you to be correct and for the rest of us, I agree, not much reason to watch – it’s not even entertaining.
GinaV24…“Potentially Gordon, Stewart and Junior will not be in the chase this year.”
That’s my hope (and for Jr fans it’s not because I have anything against Jr., I just want NASCAR’s chase ratings to suffer). Add in Hamlin and you’d have 4 sizable fanbases alienated for NASCAR’s precious chase.
That’s alright Johnson’s and PSP’s fans will make up for it.
Isn’t it “funny” how after all these years it seems that ONLY the 48 can be SO GOOD so consistently year after year? It’s one thing to be very good for a time but it’s another to do what the 48 has done and continues to do.
And yet we’re all told that these teams are just FULL of super smart people. Where’s the evidence of teams catching up?
Or could it be that because of what Nascar has done in the past (ask Kenseth for example) that teams are overly careful to do ANYTHING that MIGHT draw Nascar’s eyes to their team? Better to be second than to get caught in Nascar’s fishing exhibitions and have the book thrown at you.
End “The Chase”, an insult to true race fans everywhere. Let them race till Homestead. That is the measure of the true Champ..Count THE WHOLE SEASON! A no brainer.
Johnson having a sudden run of bad luck? If you believe that, you must also believe that politicians don’t lie, and that Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny are real. Jimmie is already locked into the dreaded chase. When the points are reset, as of right now, he and Kenseth will be tied for first place. The “run of bad luck” is total B.S.! Chad and Jimmie (Chammie) are experimenting. I was sitting in the stands on Saturday when Jimmie backed it into the wall. The 48 crew were unloading that back-up car before Jimmie even came to rest in the turn four grass! And his blown engine on Sunday? What was Chad trying that didn’t work? Or did it?
Come on people! Give your heads a shake. Chammie will be using these next three races experimenting with all kinds of different things, from set ups to engine builds. Anyone who thinks differently will be sadly disappointed when “5-time” becomes “6-pack”. I only hope the competition isn’t being too fooled by this B.S.!
Bill B, you forget who it is you’re dealing with in NASCAR, it’s the clueless but unable to change Brainless France. I don’t think he cares if one person watches the chase, it’s his brilliant idea and by golly, he’s going to pretend it is perfect, no matter the facts.
I realize that there are Johnson fans out there (my brother and niece both are) but I’m not sure that there are enough Johnson and DP fans out there to take up the slack.
I guess Kurt Busch’s single-car team isn’t one of the “little guys” anymore?
Hey, Old Farmer, I’ve explained several times why they’re not included (money and equipment far above the level of the teams here, on par with RPM, Earnhardt Ganassi, etc.) several times, including the comments last week.
A whole season of Nationwide running only road courses and short tracks with cup drivers banned. I would never miss a lap!
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