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 · Friday January 31, 2014
Welcome to the Frontstretch Five, a brand-new column for 2014! Each week, Amy Henderson takes a look at the racing, the drivers, and the storylines that drive NASCAR to produce a list of five people, places, things, and ideas that define the current state of our sport. In the latest edition, the new points system is official, but Amy says there are some aspects that could wind up having the opposite effect from what NASCAR intends.
1. The champion could still be winless.
NASCAR continues to tout the emphasis on winning that the new points format brings about. But the boys at Joe Gibbs Racing did a little math after NASCAR gave them the rules package for the Chase, and came to a surprising conclusion: under the new format, the 2013 Sprint Cup champion would have been… Dale Earnhardt, Jr. You read that right. Because there were not 16 different winners in the first 26 races (and there have not been 16 winners through 26 races in more than ten years), Earnhardt would have made the cut based on points, and from there, the title. So while NASCAR can say the new system forces teams to race for wins, that isn’t strictly necessary, despite what the sanctioning body would have race fans believe.
Also, NASCAR is correct that many fans wanted a greater emphasis on winning… but what got lost in translation is they wanted that as part of a full-season championship format, not a convoluted system that throws consistency out the window completely at critical junctures. It would have been possible to make winning the title without a victory more difficult without being this extreme. In any case, NASCAR is advertising the title as a winners-only competition, although that’s simply not the truth.
2. The Ford Wreckfest 400
During the announcement of the new format, Brian France was asked about drivers wrecking each other for the title. Would he tolerate it? In my opinion, he basically green-lighted title contenders taking each other out. “We’re real clear about this. Whether this format or any format, if it’s late in the race and you’ve got a faster car, we expect some contact. We expect, obviously there are limits, but that’s always part of NASCAR to have some version of contact late in the race,” he said. “Will this bring more of that? I’m sure it will to some level, but that’s NASCAR.”
So, where’s the line? Is it OK for a contender to put his competition into the wall in the early laps at Homestead? Is it OK for a contender’s teammate to put his competitors into the wall? Where will NASCAR draw the line? It appears there are more questions than answers. I asked NASCAR’s VP of Competition and Racing Development, Robin Pemberton, where the line in the sand would be drawn, and his answer was ambiguous at best.
“I think we expect there to be contact throughout the entire season,” Pemberton said Thursday. “Any one race more than another; it happens that way. We know that there is an opportunity that we’ll have to make a hard call, but we also know that there are good competitors out there. We expect them to behave proper and leave the championship out there on the line for the guys that deserve that. You can never rule everything out.”
But is NASCAR willing to step up if a teammate of a title contender takes out a rival during the finale? A points or monetary fine for the aggressor would be insufficient: the season would be over and the fines would be meaningless. Would NASCAR go further and strip the title from a driver whose teammate alters the outcome of the final race, as they did by removing Martin Truex, Jr. from the 2013 Chase after it was revealed his teammates purposely lost track position to help him gain points?
I doubt it. Right now, NASCAR remains reluctant to take a race win away from a team who breaks the rules. The poor publicity from the Richmond debacle, NASCAR’s judgment calls taking center stage still stings. So would they really have the chutzpah to take away a championship title if the validity of that title is in doubt?
I think the answer to that question is no. Until that changes, there’s no reason for teams not to wreck anyone, anytime if it gives them an edge on the title.
3. A mid-packer gets lucky
Under the new rules, David Ragan would have made the Chase last year. Ragan did win at Talladega in the Spring of 2013… but he finished 28th in points for the season. Win or no, was Ragan a championship-caliber driver? Of course not, but he’d have been in the hunt. And while it’s likely that teams like the No. 34 would be quickly eliminated from contention, it’s possible that such a team could get lucky. With a steady midpack average in the first three races, they could move on if a few others ran into bad luck, finished at the bottom and couldn’t regain enough to outpoint them. Then, say the team in question busts off a win at Talladega (and Ragan came close last fall), guaranteeing a pass into the next round. Again, with some good luck, combined with mechanical failures or wrecks for a few others, that team could actually make the final cut… and from there, it’s anyone’s guess what goes down at Homestead.
While it was great for the sport to have a small, underfunded team break through with a race win last year, it wouldn’t be so great if that driver somehow won the title over drivers who consistently outperformed him for most of the year. It’s not a likely scenario, but it’s not impossible. And while the system is supposed to be easier for fans to understand, a 28th-place driver being crowned champion would be confusing for even the most astute fan.
4. Jimmie Johnson still wins
It’s a stretch to say that NASCAR created a new points format simply to make it harder for one specific driver to win (though quite flattering to the driver in question). But did they create a system that makes it much harder for a single driver to win multiple titles in close succession? The answer is yes. And let’s face it; right now, another Johnson title isn’t something many fans want to see.
So why might the No. 48 team still have the edge? Top-flight teams like Johnson’s get there because they are able to adapt to whatever is thrown at them, and this format is no different. It’s still possible for a driver to win multiple titles (just much harder) and for a certain one in particular to reach the milestone set by Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt.
But NASCAR does save a little face if a driver does reach seven titles under this format: most fans will say it doesn’t mean as much because it’s a one-race title. Many are already saying Johnson’s six championships are somehow less worthy than Petty’s or Earnhardt’s because of the Chase format; this adjustment magnifies that by ten. Yes, they’re all playing by the same rules, but it’s hard to say a driver who won the title, ultimately, on the strength of one race in which he beats the other contenders is the same as one who won on the strength of a great season in which he beat the others week in and week out. Race fans don’t look at the sport the way football or college basketball fans look at their games. Hand it to NASCAR; they did find a way to give fans who don’t like a dominant driver an excuse for why his titles don’t count the same as previous ones.
5. The driver with the most wins can miss the final cut.
Not only would a winless Dale Earnhardt, Jr. have taken the 2013 championship under the new rules, but the winningest driver on the circuit would have missed the final cut. Matt Kenseth’s 23rd-place finish, last November at Phoenix would have eliminated Kenseth from title contention due to the points reset after the ninth race. And while that race did ultimately cost Kenseth a shot at his second championship last year, it’s hard to reconcile him not being eligible at all going into the season finale after posting five wins in the first 26 races and two more in the Chase.
Are race fans going to buy a title format that purports to force teams to win but in reality could see a winless champion and the driver with the most wins shut out of contention? That’s going to be a hard sell.
Connect with Amy!
©2000 - 2008 Amy Henderson and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
Perfect column. Personally, I think this is to get Chevy out of the title and finally get NA$CARs pet Toyota a title. Kyle Busch, Toyotas most marketable driver, has proven he is fast, but not consistent. He cant put together 10 races to finish the year, but he has the ability to win one every 3 or 4 races. Pretty obvious Toyotas most consistent, Kenseth, couldnt beat JJ.
Ten laps into the final race there’s a big wreck and three of the “contenders” are involved and can’t finish the “race.” They finish 35, 38 and 40. Twenty laps later the last one running blows his engine and finishes 34th. Not exactly like a last second field goal to win the Super Bowl or an extra-inning game 7 in the World Series. How many of those have there been?
As much as I have enjoy seeing Jeff Gordon race, I hope he retires after 2014, then I will stop going to races, watching or reading about the sport.
I’m tired of not only the dumb ideas of Brian France, but the entire thing.
Having a demolition derby every race and a crapshoot for the championship just isn’t my idea of a real sport.
Will France, Helton & Pemberton be satisfied when another driver is killed on the track in the mayhem that they have created?
After hearing the new chase format I canceled my plans to go to Darlington and Martinsville this year. Just going to the 3 races I paid for tickets to already then I will think very hard about renewing them.
I’m Done. Brian france you have totally wrecked this sport.Thanks for nothing. Is there no one in your circle of sycophants who will tell you just how dumb you and your ideas are? This sport has fallen so far in 15 years.
There’s one more. If there is bad weather and rain comes past halfway, is the last race going to run the full distance even if it means completing it the following day? Don’t recall any game 7’s not be played in their entirety.
I truly believe BZF is too stupid to get a job cleaning toilets, but here he is the CEO of a major American sport, just because he was BORN into that position. This “new” chase is utterly ridiculous. NASCAR is not the NFL, quit trying to create a playoff.
1)Drop the chase all together
I’ve been a fan since the 70’s, but have spent more time lately reading F1 news. Thanks Brian for killing our (the core fans) sport.
My lord, what an F’n joke!
I’m DONE! I can’t take it anymore. Seriously. Nascar has sunk to the bottom. And because of that, I’m out.
i’m still pretty dumbfounded by this and I really am trying to be open minded. I first thought that the original idea of changing the chase was one of nascar’s trial ballons that rarely end up seeing the rule book. Then i wondered if they were trying to out-gimmick F1’s double points for the last few races rule. It looks good on paper and i hope it works to improve the racing but I just don’t see it working in practice. It would appear to me that winning the championship will still come down to who’s team “best plays the rules” and not who is the season’s best stockcar racing driver. This constant rejiggering of the championship system in my mind, does nothing but cement how inept the current management is at governing the “sport.” Sure, they seem to show current success in making money but how long is that going to last with a diluted product? Nascar seems to be putting all their emphasis on trying to force excitement into the championship. In my mind, the championship really isn’t that exciting at all. I think it’s the racing and races themselves that should be providing the excitement. That’s what people should be talking about. But there again they have fallen down with both the car and many of the facilities that they “compete” on. The car is subject to a strict rule book that attempts to keep the competition close but discourages broad innovation, the very thing needed to solve the trend of mundane races. They continue to run long format events at tracks that potentially seat many patrons but just do not yield great or even a good “racing product.” So what’s the solution? If you are willing to drastically change the sport and move into a new “era,” then drastically change the sport, don’t tweak it to death. The one thing that is clear to me is that Nascar has not found the way to retain the existing fan base while still attracting the new. It looks more like an attempt milk as much money through marketing tactics out of a business that is in it’s twilight. They just don’t seem to be ready to fix the real problems and are content to keep putting patches on a fairly leaky boat.
Now that I have had time to see the whole plan and digest it, these are my thoughts. 1. I like making winning the primary way into the Chase. Those with a bunch of points who can’t get a win are going to have to fight to get one or sweat bullets through Richmond. I’m ok with eliminations. They happen naturally anyway but I get it will be easier to understand and create big drama at the elimination races.
However, I hate the idea of one race winner take all at Homestead with no accrued benefit of any kind to the points leader or those that won races in the Chase. As pointed out, someone with 0 or 1 win can still win the Title. Hitting the reset button again and again doesn’t allow any separation for race winners. Is this likely, no, but it is possible. How about a rule that says you can’t be in the final 4 unless you have a win by Phoenix? Or, allow bonus points for wins in the final 4? The likely disaster scenario is a driver has a dominant season, gets to Homestead, gets taken out in a freak circumstance and a driver with an obviously inferior record wins it all.
I don’t like this change, but for some reason I’m really curious to see how it plays out.
Good posts everybody. I am just dumbfounded how this is now a reality. I really just don’t know what to say. This is beyond bad. People keep yesing this idiots ideas and this is what happens. Being born into a family of accomplishment clearly doesn’t mean you have the same brains, this guy is really worrisome in his thinking. All I can say is WOW!
It’s interesting. Three articles on the new format went up today. One was just an announcement, it has zero comments. Mike Neff looks at the positive side, clearly stated in the article title, it has 3 comments. And this article, with a subject clearly stating it is a bad idea, has more than 10. And a lot of these comments are the angry “I am done” kind (with a few disparaging comments about Brian France tossed in).
It would seem to me, if people were reading both the pro and con articles to form an opinion, there would be more balance in how many comments each of the two have. This leads me to conclude that people are going to the article that simply re-affirms what they think. Which I guess is okay, and given what I have seen at this site, I wouldn’t have expected otherwise, but I think it underscores that there is nothing short of rolling us back to 2003 and getting rid of the Chase that would make a lot of people here happy, and they aren’t interested in giving any changes a chance. And that’s really too bad, because when you come across that intransigent, people stop trying to make you happy.
NASCAR is making changes based on the fact that they see ratings not growing and problems with attendance. Having the last races stick with the 2003 version of things where often it was clear two or three races before the end who the champ was is not exciting. Exciting sells in America these days. When they scripted Pixar’s “Cars”, did they set it up so that Lightning had to be good all year, maybe not even win, and be the champ? Of course not. There’s no drama there. Drama draws eyeballs to the stick and ball sports, and those sports are the ones that Americans prefer. And not just us: Formula One is doubling the points for the final race starting this season to add excitement. Would you have preferred that?
Whether these changes will do what NASCAR wants remains to be seen, but the only way we will know for sure is to give this format a chance and see how it goes. I wish more people would try that.
Unfortunately, it’s going to work perfectly at doing what BZF is trying to do, which is suck money out of the pockets of people who have been watching races for ten years or less. These people are going to think it is as exciting as hell and are going to flock to the last ten races to see who will be “eliminated” in the “sweet sixteen,” the “elite eight” and the “final four.” Unable to outdo the NFL, he is taking on NCAA basketball. He will be calling it “Fall Madness” of something on that order with better alliteration.
Just as I suspected. DW was interviewed on RaceHub last night and tripped all over himself singing nascars praises. Meanwhile, Dale Earnhardt and other deceased Nascar greats are rolling in their graves at the stupidity.
Mike in NH, some of these sites delete posts if they don’t fall in line with their agenda. Its happened to me before, so I only post on sites that allow me to express my opinion.
Listening to Brian France state that the fans want this is a joke. Where did he get his fan info? All I have seen is people clamoring for getting rid of the Chase altogether. Saying the fans wanted this is a slap in the face and a lie.
No disrespect to David Ragan, but I hope someone from a small team like his wins the title freakishly so Nascar can see what an idiotic setup this is.
Auto racing competing like its a stick and ball sport is about the dumbest thing I have ever seen/heard. That seems to be what the likes of DW/Larry Mac use to justify this ridiculousness. I’m not buying it.
You can bet the caution will fly with 20 to go now even more than before. If that’s what people want out of their racing, then I will find something else to do like watch more golf or baseball.
Spingate will be childs play compared to what about to come this fall. Be careful what you wish for.
All this because Chad Knaus and Jimmie Johnson have been stinking up the show the past 7 years or so. Well guess what! They’re going to continue to stink up the show until they have 8 Championships in their pocket. So might as well get use to it.Fret not though because that won’t take too much longer.
Will only increase the value of a win until you have one. Once any top level team wins a race; the rest of the pre-chase season becomes a test session. Then, the multi-car teams can concentrate on getting the other cars in. If NASCAR wants to value wins, all they had to do was increase the number of points one gets for a win.
Want to change falling ratings? Bulldoze most of the 1.5’s, build short tracks in their place, put Iowa and Rockingham on the schedule, and quit manipulating races with bogus debris cautions. Its not complicated. FWIW Brian France looks like the chubby Kim leader from Korea.
Yep, as one poster indicated and it happens many many times in corporate world, The grandfather builds a company, the Dad takes over and makes it wildly successful, and the grandkid takes over and heads it into bankruptcy and a huge going out of business sale.
The true race fans that brought NASCAR to success do want wins to matter but in the context of having the races themselves be more important than the overall season championship. Once again BrainFart screws over the fans that built the sport and disrespects their opinion and creates a monstrousity of epic proportions. I hope that the 16th place driver gets in without a win, and makes it into the final segment and wins the whole damn thing the first year. Makes one wonder what shenanigans NASCAR will pull out their phantom rulebook to screw over that team in the 34th, 35th race. To top it off in this case I hope JR. has his best year ever and no matter what historical points system is used he would have won the championship except for 2014 due to BrianFarts intelligent design. Talk about screwing the pooch. WOW.
P.S. Still hate the Chase format but liked the points setup change from 2011. Just reward winning more over the course of the season and have a 36 races champ.
Mike in NH- Ive been on a lot of sites and read and understand the new format. I have had 4 posts with no foul or abusive language removed. I have no problem with change. I wasnt crazy about the chase, but I havent missed watching a race since its inception. However, the new format is so fundamentally flawed, it seems as if it was thought up and finalized in a couple of hours. To think a title hinges on one race, with so many variables, is heartbreaking for a 30 year fan of the sport. In the 90s you had to be great in every race. Since 04, they shortened it, you had to be good in 10 straight races. Now you only have to be good in 1 race? Its kinda like saying a guy who works at Mcdonalds has a resume worthy of a job at Google. Its stupid Mike! Stewart making the final four and blowing a tire on lap 110 is the equivalent of taking Lebrons shoes at halftime of game 7 and making him play the 2nd half in socks. Bottom line is after this year this format will be old news and the new fans they hoped to attract will simply tune out. I like the NBA and NFL, but I only watch a fraction of the games, because my true love is racing. New fans will be no different. And to be kept in the dark and surprised with no input whatsoever feels like a slap in the face. Thats why the diehards are so mad. Just so you know.
OK, the last chase driver, ol’#16, has no reason to race at all, except for sponsors. Some motivation there. He’s gonna be in 16th, no matter what he does, for the next 7 races. Taking out the leader would give the sponsor some air time and not affect his position in the final standings. Ummm, did they think that one out?
I agree with most of the post today. If anyone really want to find out why this sport of Nascar has fallen, just go back to when The all look-a-like cars that had to pass inspection with one fits all tool.(around 2000-03) They all looked the same with only decals making different manufacturer. Then came “The Car of tomorrow” Results=diaster. Then the Chase, then the tinkering with the chase. instead of increase in fans, it became a decrease. Big Bill France is turning over in his grave over all the dumb ideas his grandson has done to this sport and “My Opinion” will continue to distroy Nascar. Note, under this new system a driver with no wins can still win the championship. Brian France will not like that. The only thing Nascar has done in the last 14 years on a positive side is getting the the cars starting to look like the manufactured that someone can go to the showroom to purchase. Nascar did not get to where it was up to the mid-nineties by copying the the stick and ball sports. Keep tinkering, Mr France, till there won’t be nothing left.
Chad already designing and working on the one and done Homestead “Winning Car” that will only be raced in the finale. J.J. and Chad to use all 2014 test dates at Homestead under the lights. Trophy # 7 is only 9 months away.
These yearly changes to the championship rules, which always seems to add new gimmicks, makes the big title less legitimate every year. It’s ironic that the more emphasis France puts on winning the championship, the phonier it seems and the less it means to win it. He talks of making the rules simpler, yet somehow they keep getting more complex. It feels like the increasingly desperate acts of a man frantically trying to salvage a sinking ship. But the more he patches it, the faster it sinks.
All of you whiners need to just go and stay away. The time for you to run from the sport forever is when NASCAR created the Chase in the first place. They took a crap playoff idea and made it a good one and are using it now. How is that a bad thing? I do think they should give a trophy to the regular season champion for sure, that is a major accomplishment and is more like what Earnhardt and Gordon had to do for their trophies. But other than that this works and will be fun to watch! See ya, won’t miss you guts.
I am in the same boat as Gina. The only reason I am still watching races is because I have loyalty issues. It was Jeff Gordon that got me hooked on NASCAR and I watch strictly out of loyalty to him. I can count the races I’ve missed since I started watching races (1996) on one hand.
And, to Daniel Curtis…
Another great article, Amy. While I think I like the new format better than the previous one, I’d still prefer no chase at all.
I’m not going to lie to myself and claim I’ll never watch another Nascar race; being a Nascar fan is part of who I am. Even though I DVR the races so I don’t have to endure the endless commercials, I don’t miss too many races (just a few cookie cutter ones). I’ll give the new format a chance to win me over even though I doubt that’s possible. And if the new format sucks, I’ll be here every Monday to vent my frustrations.
One final thought… from the comments it seems some fans think the new format was designed to help Hendrick teams while others think it was designed to keep Johnson from winning another championship. Personally, I don’t think Hendrick or Johnson has anything to do with it. I just think Brian France is a narcissist who likes to think he’s a visionary and he’s to stupid realize that he’s not.
Perhaps the NFL should take a look at NASCAR’s playbook following one of the worst Super Bowls in history. If the NFL would throw something like a debris caution at the two minute warning, reset the points to zero, it would be an exciting finish every time. Come on France, do America a favor and retire.
After watching the Stupor Bowl it seems to me that NASCAR “races” have the same entertainment value. Maybe NASCAR can make their commercials the only reason to watch.
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