Kurt Busch to Attempt The Indianapolis-Charlotte Double
posted by Phil Allaway
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Andretti Autosport announced this morning that Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet in the Sprint Cup Series, will attempt the Indianapolis 500 in a fifth entry for the IndyCar Series team. Once the Indianapolis 500 is completed, Busch will fly from Indianapolis to Charlotte, jump in his No. 41 Chevrolet and compete in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Busch considers the opportunity to do the double as an old-school throwback moment.
“This is really to challenge myself within motorsports,” Busch said in Andretti Autosport’s press release. “Perhaps I am a bit of an old-school racer; a throwback, I guess. I enjoyed the era of drivers racing different cars and testing themselves in other series. It is tough to do now for a variety of factors, but when the opportunity is there, I want to do it. While NASCAR is my home, I have been fortunate to compete in Pro Stock on the NHRA circuit a number of years ago and test a V8 Supercar. This opportunity was a talk with Michael [Andretti] over dinner one night, a “What if,” and now it’s becoming a reality for me to drive in the Indy 500 with Andretti Autosport. It’s literally a dream come true. To go to the famous Brickyard with the iconic Andretti name, it doesn’t get much cooler or better than that.”
Busch will be doing the Indianapolis-Charlotte double as a Memorial Day mission to men and women serving in the U.S. Military via the Armed Forces Foundation. Fans can contribute to the cause by texting AFF to 50555 to donate $10.
Busch, who has never raced an IndyCar, passed Rookie Orientation at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year during a test session. At the time, Busch was more or less testing the Dallara DW12 for fun.
Busch will be the fourth driver to attempt the Indianapolis-Charlotte double. John Andretti was the first driver to attempt it in 1994. After finishing four laps down in tenth in Indianapolis, Andretti crashed and had engine problems in the 600. Robby Gordon has attempted the double five times, most recently in 2004. However, Gordon failed to make it to Charlotte on time and did not start the 600 in 2000 (P.J. Jones started Gordon’s No. 13 Ford in that instance). Finally, Tony Stewart has attempted the double twice (most recently in 2001) and is the only driver to ever complete all 1100 miles. Neither of the three drivers has won either leg of the double. The best finishes are Stewart and Gordon’s sixth-place finishes at the Indianapolis 500 (although Gordon’s came in 2000, the year he didn’t make it to Charlotte in time to start the Coca-Cola 600), and Stewart’s fourth-place finish in the 2001 Coca-Cola 600.
Danica Patrick, Justin Allgaier Talk About Phoenix Incident
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
A disappointing start to the year for Danica Patrick won’t include continued conflict. Patrick met with rookie Justin Allgaier Sunday, shortly after the Phoenix Cup race after a wreck ruined both drivers’ days. Patrick, who was critical of the No. 51 car on the radio, claiming Allgaier was “driving all over the track” appeared receptive to a conversation that quickly settled differences over what will be a long season.
“She was just upset because she got involved in the crash that we had,’’ said Allgaier to the Motor Racing Network. “She says she’s been through this and that she felt like I needed to settle down at that point. I explained my position on why everything happened. I think she understood where I was coming from. It doesn’t fix either one of our racecars. It doesn’t fix either one of our days. Unfortunately, we were both having pretty decent days.’’
Allgaier wound up 30th due to the incident while Patrick was 36th. The incident, which was caused by Allgaier’s spin also involved the No. 32 team and Travis Kvapil, which wound up 38th after sustaining heavy damage.
Camping World Close to Extending Title Sponsorship of NCWTS
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Marcus Lemonis, CEO of Camping World, Grand Marshal of Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway, and star of CNBC’s “The Profit,” made the announcement over the weekend that the retailer is very close to announcing a deal that would continue its title sponsorship of NASCAR’s Truck Series. The original agreement with NASCAR is scheduled to conclude after the 2015 season.
According to the sanctioning body, no formal contract has been signed, but “the agreement between the two parties has proven to be a beneficial one.”
“In about a month, we’ll be announcing a significant extension to that contract. It’s been great for us,” said Camping World’s Lemonis in a statement. “The NASCAR relationship has worked well for Camping World. When we started, we had 35 stores. Now, we’re up to 120 stores. As we travel the country and we meet new customers in stores, they always are very appreciative of our relationship with NASCAR. It’s been good.”
Gaining a long-term commitment from Camping World to sponsor the Truck Series would be a relief for NASCAR, which is set to lose Nationwide Insurance as title sponsor for the NASCAR Nationwide Series at the end of the 2014 season. The sponsorship of the Cup Series by Sprint runs through 2016.
The NCWTS is back in action on March 29th at 2:30 PM (ET) when the trucks visit Martinsville Speedway in the Kroger 250, which can be seen on Fox Sports 1. Ratings for the season opener were up 11 percent.
Harvick Takes Win At Phoenix In Second Race With New Team
posted by Justin Tucker
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Phoenix International Raceway has become Kevin Harvick’s home away from home. Sunday Afternoon was no exception as Harvick charged to the front early and would dominate for much of the day, leading 224 of the scheduled 312 laps to record his record fifth win on the one mile oval and his third win in the last four races at Phoenix.
Harvick, coming off of a disappointing Speedweeks which was capped by a last lap crash in the Daytona 500 in his debut with Stewart-Haas Racing, set the tone on Saturday by winning both practices while having the best 5 and 10-lap averages in the first practice of the day on Saturday. On Sunday, Harvick and his No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet was nothing short of flawless as he was able to hold Dale Earnhardt, Jr. by .489 seconds after a late race restart to claim his 24th career Sprint Cup Series victory.
“Man, this is awesome,” Harvick said after his dominant victory on Sunday. “Man, this just solidifies so many things and so many decisions. It’s been so much work with all the time and effort that these guys (the crew) have put in—but what a race car.”
Stewart Haas Racing co-owner Gene Haas shared in Harvick’s excitement after the race.
“It took long enough,” Haas joked. “This is phenomenal. I think there was a lot of skepticism last year about what myself and Tony (Stewart) what we were up to, was there a lot of madness to this. Quite frankly, it’s a great team, there’s a lot of synergy at the shop, people working together. I don’t know what we did, but I think we put together a great organization.”
Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt, Jr. continued his hot start to the 2014 season. Earnhardt Jr. would finish second on Sunday, marking his seventh consecutive top 10 finish since the end of the 2013 season. Earnhardt Jr. was pleased with the effort after a coast-to-coast whirlwind week after winning his second Daytona 500 and also gave great praise to the efforts of Harvick and the No. 4 team.
“I’ve got to congratulate Kevin. Those guys were two-tenths faster than everyone all weekend in practice. They were just phenomenal,” Earnhardt said. “To be able to run with them all day was a big confidence builder for us.”
Joining Harvick and Earnhardt in the top 5 of The Profit on CNBC 500K were Brad Keselowski with his second consecutive top 3 run of 2014 in third. Keselowski’s Team Penske teammate Joey Logano would finish fourth, and Jeff Gordon would come home fifth in his No. 24 Pepsi Max Chevrolet.
Jimmie Johnson finished in sixth, followed by Ryan Newman with a nice rebound after Daytona in seventh. Carl Edwards would carry the banner for Roush Fenway Racing by finishing eighth, Kyle Busch was ninth, and Jamie McMurray would finish tenth.
A look at the Profit on CNBC 500K by the numbers. There were 14 lead changes among eight different drivers, there were eight cautions for 39 laps which slowed the race pace to 109.229 MPH.
Next Sunday, the Sprint Cup Series heads to Sin City and the Las Vegas Motor
Starting Lineup: The Profit On CNBC 500K
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday March 1, 2014
Drivers in RED (i) are those ineligible to collect Sprint Cup points
Daytona 500 TV Ratings Down
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Wednesday February 26, 2014
What was the longest weather delay in Daytona 500 history turned out to bring NASCAR lower ratings and TV viewership Sunday night than expected. According to a report Monday from FOX Sports, the 56th running of the Daytona 500 airing at 8 PM (ET) posted a 5.6/10 national household rating/share which averaged 9.3 million viewers. That’s down 44 percent from last year’s 9.9, easily making it the least-watched Daytona 500 of all-time.
Due to the six-hour, twenty-two minute rain delay in Daytona, the race was up against the primetime coverage of the Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony from Sochi, Russia on NBC (15.25 million viewers). FOX also reported that 69% of the pre-rain delay viewers of the race, which began at 1 PM (ET) kept tuning in.
In comparison, the 2013 Daytona 500 on FOX was the most-watched race in five years, posting a 9.9/22 rating/share, commanding 16.7 million viewers. The Daytona 500 in 2012, the first to ever be run on a Monday and in the primetime slot did a 7.7/13 overnight rating/share which resulted in 13.67 million households viewing the race according to Nielsen TV ratings data.
Earnhardt, Jr. Claims Second Daytona 500 Victory
posted by Justin Tucker
Wednesday February 26, 2014
Ten years is a long time. For Dale Earnhardt, Jr., it felt like an eternity. NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver endured many near misses and close calls at the Daytona 500 since his only win in the Great American Race in 2004. Earnhardt had finished second in two of his last three Daytona 500s coming into Sunday’s race. He was also riding the tail of a 55-race winless streak, dating back to Michigan in 2012.
However nothing would stop Dale Jr. on Sunday, not even a 6 hour and 22 minute rain delay from capturing his second Daytona 500 win. Earnhardt Jr. led a race-high 54 laps on the evening and used some timely drafting help from teammates Jimmie Johnson and, on the final restart, Jeff Gordon to separate from the pack and secure the victory.
“Winning this race is the greatest feeling that you could feel in this sport besides accepting the trophy for the championship,” said a jubilant Earnhardt after pulling into Victory Lane. “We could fight off battle after battle. We got a little help at the end there from Jeff to get away on the restart. This is amazing. I can’t believe this is happening. I never take this for granted, man because it doesn’t happen twice, let alone once.”
Aside from the race itself the big story of the race was the 6 hour and 22 minute red flag, which threatened to move the race to Monday evening (had the race been postponed, FOX Sports’ Chris Myers had tweeted that the race would resume at 5:00pm EST). However, Mother Nature would cooperate and would allow the race to be run under different conditions from which they practiced this week. Once the race resumed, the intensity picked up from the changing track conditions. This allowed the pack to race side-by-side and at times 3-wide up to seven rows deep.
Joining Earnhardt Jr. in the top 5 for the 2014 Daytona 500 were: Denny Hamlin who closed out a spectacular Speedweeks in second, Brad Keselowski in third, Jeff Gordon in fourth, and Jimmie Johnson who overcome two wrecks leading up to the 500 in fifth.
Rounding out the top 10 in the Daytona 500 were Matt Kenseth in sixth, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. in seventh and Greg Biffle would bring his No. 16 Ford home in eighth. Austin Dillon would come home ninth in his first Cup Series race in the iconic No. 3 for Richard Childress Racing, while Casey Mears would round out the top 10.
A couple of major contenders for the Daytona 500 win would see their hopes dashed early on as Martin Truex, Jr. would blow up just 30 laps into the race, relegating him to a 43rd-place finish in his debut for Furniture Row Racing. Crew chief Todd Berrier was already in Nashville for a test session before the race was even over. Kyle Busch, meanwhile would have a pit road violation just before halfway and would spend much of the race battling back from that mistake. Busch would eventually finish 19th after leading 19 laps.
Danica Patrick would also be bit by bad luck as she was caught up in a multi-car wreck on lap 145. Patrick would lead her second consecutive Daytona 500, but wouldn’t have the finish to show for it finishing 40th. Tony Stewart would encounter a frustrating evening as well, with a fuel pickup problem derailing his quest for his first Daytona 500 win. Stewart would finish 35th.
A look at the Daytona 500 by the numbers. There were 42 lead changes among 18 drivers, while seven cautions for 39 laps would slow the race pace to 145.290 MPH.
Next week, the Sprint Cup Series heads to the “diamond in the desert,” Phoenix International Raceway for The Profit on CNBC 500K. The Green flag is scheduled for 3:15pm EST.
Nationwide Series Post-Race Quotes: Drive4COPD 300
posted by Thomas Bowles
Tuesday February 25, 2014
Frontstretch Interviews – Courtesy Mike Neff
ELLIOTT SADLER – FINISHED 4th
Thoughts on the race?
It’s definitely a lot different racing than what we’re used to.
Comfortable with it?
Yeah, it’s just different. You’re worried about what you’re doing, but you’re also worried about what everyone else is doing and they’re not doing more than you’re doing. Physically pushing a guy is way better than just riding so you just gotta time it right and push it to the edge.
Happy to start the year with a top 5?
Yeah. Hell, that was the worst we ran all day, I think. I have no idea how they put the 3 car in front of us on that last restart. I hadn’t seen the 3 car hardly all day. When they put us from fifth to sixth, on the outside line, it just really boxed us in. I would have really restarted behind my teammate and given him a good push to the front. Anyways, it is what it is; we’ll take it and move on.
Looked like you were up front all day.
The guys did a good job. We had a fast race car. Great pit stops, just really proud of these guys. The car’s in one piece and we can take it to Talladega now. Great job by my guys. A lot of effort came into coming down here to Daytona and giving ourselves a shot to win. We had that chance to be up front and make some things happen. Fifth is not what we want, but we’ll take it and move on.
Bumping vs Pushing?
It’s way harder. You don’t want to lay on the guy in front of you, so it’s tough racing. A lot different than what we’re used to, ‘cause you gotta go. You gotta drag the brake too ‘cause you don’t want to hit the guys and you don’t want to stay on him. It’s a lot harder mentally than what we’ve done in the past.
Car was strong all day. Pushing vs. Bumping, is that harder to do than just getting on somebody and pushing them?
Yeah, it is a little bit. When you bump ‘em, you jar ‘em, it kinda jacks ‘em a little bit. It’s a little more abrupt, obviously. I thought it was OK there at the end. It was certainly fun and hopefully entertaining. But a little bit of a struggle in the early part of the race and the midpart of the race to see a good race. And that’s unfortunate for the fans. You can’t do that the whole race, you can’t tear up your stuff, knock your grill in, overheat your motor, all that stuff so there’s no sense in doing all that until you get down to the last lap. The 7 and the 6, they did a good job. Man, the 7 really held the 22 and I tight on the bottom. I was rubbing his door and hitting the apron at the same time, no room whatsoever. So it was good; wish we were the ones who could have won but a lot better now than what we were last year.
Going home in one piece makes it a lot better, right?
Yeah. My back feels good. My foot feels good. Past years here, I’ve been going home with pain so I’m alright.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Truck Series Post-Race Quotes: Daytona (Exclusives)
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday February 22, 2014
When you’re on the outside like that, how frustrating is it?
It’s so hard. Timothy Peters has won here. Kyle Busch has won everywhere. Ron Hornaday has been running Trucks forever, probably before I was even born. I was surrounded by veterans there, and like I told them I don’t have a rookie stripe but I’m a rookie. This is only my fourth Truck race ever, my fourth superspeedway race, and man, I figured out when the 17 got up in front of me, I pushed him. And as soon as I pushed him, he took off. And I went with him. And I just kept doing it, and before I knew it, he was leading. And I saw Ron in my mirror, backed up to him, and if it wasn’t for him, I don’t know what would have happened. I gotta thank him big time for that. That was a true teammate move right there. I really appreciate that. He just bounced off me and we got to the front. I tried my hardest to sidedraft Kyle. I was probably touching his door.
Top 5 in the No. 30 truck. This deal come together at the last minute, but you had a heck of a truck. Tell us about your night.
Yeah, I’ve got to thank Turner Scott Motorsports. The guys worked so hard on this Rheem Comfort Products Chevrolet. Exciting! Just got hung up on the outside and had to wait for my teammate there to catch up. And then he got to the bottom, so… I got the old 32 and started pushing ol’ Ryan to the front. So, it’s not bad. We’ll take it. You just don’t want to step over that boundary. You don’t know how far to push and shove. We bumped about six times down the straightaway without latching onto them. Hopefully, that was OK and we came home with a top 5.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Budweiser Duels Post Race Quotes
posted by Matt Stallknecht
Friday February 21, 2014
BUDWEISER DUELS POST-RACE QUOTES
They’re saying the wheel bearing burned up in it. I don’t know what caused it, they’re taking it all apart to figure out what the heck happened. Something abnormal that’s for sure I don’t think I’ve ever had that happen at all. Hopefully, we made the race and hopefully we can fix the problem before Sunday.
WHAT WAS THAT LOUD BOOM ONCE YOU TURNED INTO THE GARAGE?
Loud pop was a tire… thankfully, it popped, hopefully it didn’t hurt anybody. All the heat created in the left front that popped was pretty weird.
REALLY GOOD RUN. WHAT DID YOU THINK OF IT?
Yeah, it was good. We have a car we can work with for the 500. Got a good starting spot, so we’re going to rest easy, fluff and buff our car for a couple of days and get ready for Sunday.
ANY DIFFERENCE ON WHETHER THE TOP OR BOTTOM LANE WORKED?
Yeah, I was just moving around, trying to stay with the flow. For me, this car works on all parts of the racetrack. So I’m pretty happy with it.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.
GOT SHUFFLED BACK, AFTER PIT STOPS AND THEN COULDN’T GET BACK UP TO THE FRONT. WHY?
Nah, we were just sitting there waiting until the last few laps to make a move. You didn’t want to pull down and get sent to the back. Seen a couple of guys get sent to the back really quick so we were just kind of waiting for the end. I felt like we had a good situation there with Ambrose behind us — we had a good run off Turn 2 and I went. It was the last lap, time to go do something, nobody went with us but hopefully Sunday is a different story.
We got a great car. We don’t have to work hard. We learned, we got a good race car. Got a car in one piece, ready to go so we’ll try and get through the next couple of practices, deliver it to the starting group this Sunday and we’ll be real happy.
YOU’RE IN THE DAYTONA 500!
Yeah, it’s pretty awesome. This Whitetail Chevrolet was so fast that I knew all I had to do was stick it behind smart, intelligent drafters and we could have a good finish. That’s what we did in the Duels and I’m excited. I’m excited to go do some stuff with the Nationwide car and have some more practice with this. But to know that we’re locked in the Daytona 500’s pretty cool.
YOU WERE OBVIOUSLY IN FRONT OF THAT MELEE AT THE END. WHEN YOU WERE UP FRONT THERE IN THE BEGINNING, WERE YOU HOPING TO JUST STAY IN LINE AND LET YOU FINISH TOP 5?
I was pretty content to ride and luckily I knew a lot of people around us were. It was nice to have a little calm and not really have to be racing hard the whole time. I knew that the pit stop was going to shake everything up and that’s exactly what happened. Fell back a little bit there but made the right moves at the end to get a good finish.
HOW STRONG ARE THESE RCR CARS?
They’re very strong! They definitely have the capabilities to be winning one of these races.
YOU’RE IN THE TOP 5 FOR YOUR HEAT IN THE DAYTONA 500. YOUR PRIMARY CAR IS SITTING RIGHT IN THE GARAGE, KIND OF WADDED UP. DID YOU THINK THIS ONE HAD IT IN IT?
Yeah, it’s a brand new car also. It’s just not quite as good as the primary but still a damned good car. I’m just proud of everybody at RCR for building such fast race cars. All of our cars have been fast, ECR motor’s been strong, even our affiliate teams have been qualifying really good and racing good. So… excited about 2014! It’s going to be a good year.
WELL MAN, YOU STARTED IN THE BACK BUT WORKED YOUR WAY TO THE FRONT WHEN IT COUNTED MOST. WERE YOU JUST BIDING YOUR TIME THROUGHOUT THE RACE?
Eh, you never know if you’re going to get back up there or not. We had to start at the back, we had to make a run early and see what we could do. We drove right to 10th, or something like that and then it got stagnant. We tried to make something happen, and went to the back again. Drove back up to the front. Again, just really proud of my guys. Matt Kruder did a hell of a job on that pit stop getting just enough gas in to gain some spots there.
RCR CARS SEEM PRETTY DARNED STRONG. DO YOU THINK THE RCR CARS HAVE SOMETHING FOR THEM ON SUNDAY — ESPECIALLY THE THREE JOE GIBBS RACING CARS THAT SEEM TO BE THE CLASS OF THE FIELD RIGHT NOW?
Oh yeah. The 20 car was extremely fast. The 11 didn’t qualify that good, but he’s a good drafter. I think he won. We definitely have something for him.
Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
Frontstretch Staff · Thursday January 31, 2008
Gentlemen, Start Your Engines! Hard to believe that command to start the 2008 Sprint Cup season is just 9 Days away … and counting.
But as fans anxiously anticipate the end of another offseason, it’s time to get the blood racing and your mind fixated on another year of NASCAR. For the third straight year at Frontstretch, your favorite writers are previewing the upcoming year ahead, providing a look into the good, the bad, and the ugly expected to face the sport in the next nine months. Over the next few days, we’ll get you thinking on six different questions we’ve been wondering about ourselves; and as we try and find the answers, the staff you know and love will come at you with our usual blend of facts, opinion, and most of all … good humor. After all, what good are predictions if we’re not understanding enough to realize we could wind up completely wrong?
So, without further ado, here’s Part Four of our preview… and if you missed the first three parts, click the links below to catch up.
Today’s Season Preview Topic: As always, 2008 will be a year when several driver contracts are on the verge of expiring. So, which driver starts the season on the “hottest seat,” and why?
Tom Bowles, Editor-In-Chief: (Mondays / Bowles-Eye View)
I’m going to go a little unconventional on this one … it’s Michael Waltrip. I know, I know, he owns his team, but just hear me out and you’ll understand why. Waltrip desperately still wants to drive; he thinks he’s got a few more years left in him, and with the right equipment and the right circumstances he can still win races.
Here’s the problem; with so many quality teams outside the Top 35 in owner points, Waltrip will spend the first five races struggling to just qualify (he doesn’t have an exemption) – and that’s clearly not his strong suit. And should he get off to the same slow start … let me put it this way, I think NAPA is at the end of their rope. It won’t take much for them to either pull sponsorship altogether; or, tell Michael he needs to step out and put a young driver in the seat in order to keep the money coming his way.
Honorable mention here is Petty Enterprises; after moving the team to Mooresville and turning down a merger with GEM, the pressure is on for them to bring their “A” game to the table; otherwise, driver Bobby Labonte will be someone else’s ace come 2009. I’d say Sorenson’s in this category, too, but there really is no pressure for him; in my mind, he’s already been replaced by Dan Wheldon, as the way Chip Ganassi has been flooding the series with open wheelers I don’t think he stands a chance.
Kim DeHaven, Senior Editor: (Tuesdays/Numbers Game)
Greg Biffle has the “hottest seat” on the circuit; not because he is in danger of losing his ride, but because there won’t be a shortage of drivers petitioning to take over the seat of the No. 16 Roush Fenway Ford when he voluntarily moves on to another team for 2009.
Cami Starr, Fantasy Racing Editor: (Thursdays / Picks ‘N’ Pans)
Of the three top drivers who have contracts up at the end of this year – Greg Biffle, Bobby Labonte and Ryan Newman – I think the onus is on the team more than the drivers to perform. Each of these three would be hot on the free agent market, and their current teams are going to have to help ensure they have a successful season to want to stay around and sign on the dotted line.
One driver on the hot seat that has his contract up in 2009 is Jamie McMurray. With Roush Fenway needing to trim down on the number of teams they have, McMurray needs to step up his game in order to make sure he isn't the expendable driver when it comes time to whittle down the number of teams.
Toni Montgomery, Senior Editor: (Fridays / Rick Crawford Driver Diary Coordinator)
The first driver to my mind as one who needs to step it up a notch is Reed Sorenson. Yes, he's still very young, but sponsor Target has shown impatience in the past – in fact, they dropped Casey Mears in favor of Sorenson, and that followed dumping Jimmy Spencer for Mears after just one season. The funny thing is, Mears performed as well as, if not better than, Sorenson; so you have to wonder how long they're willing to wait for the finishes to improve.
Amy Henderson, Assistant Editor: (Fridays / Holding A Pretty Wheel)
Ditto what Toni said – Sorenson is the man on the hot seat. That’s especially considering not just Target, but the way Ganassi has removed his stock car veterans for open wheel talent in recent years.
Matt Taliaferro, Assistant Editor: (Thursdays / Fanning The Flames)
Click here to email Matt your questions for Fanning The Flames this season – our weekly Fan Q & A column!
Although Jamie McMurray's contract does not expire until 2009, I think he has to be on a boiling-hot seat. Yes, the Daytona win last July was impressive – but it was also long overdue. Following a messy departure from Chip Ganassi Racing at the end of 2005, McMurray has recorded all of six Top 5s in two full seasons with Roush Racing. And this is what all the hubbub was about?
Matt McLaughlin, Senior Writer: (Mondays / Thinkin’ Out Loud)
It pains me to say so, but my guess is that the first drivers out of a ride this year will be David Gilliland and Travis Kvapil. That won’t be because of any success or failure of their own, but because I don’t see Yates Racing – the one-time powerhouse that once enjoyed such success with Davey Allison, Dale Jarrett and Ernie Irvan – lasting out this season. Weeks before the Daytona 500, there are no firm sponsorship plans for either team, and they have resorted to starting a website in hopes of finding some sort of sponsorship (sponsoryates.com). That’s usually a pretty clear indicator that a team is about to go under.
As for drivers who need to step it up to the next notch or find a new ride for 2009, my nominee is Casey Mears. In the Rick Hendrick Fab Four, he’s clearly Ringo.
Jeff Meyer, Senior Writer: (Thursdays / Voices From The Heartland)
I'm going with Ryan Newman on this one. While Ryan is a good driver, I don't think he has lived up to his full potential – especially the last couple of years. On one hand, Ryan may desire a position with a stronger team than Penske; and on the other hand, Penske is dumb enough to let him go.
Mike Neff, Senior Writer: (Thursdays / Picks ‘N’ Pans)
Even though his contract does not expire until 2009, Jamie McMurray has to be on a very hot seat. Hyped beyond belief as such a budding superstar, he’s done almost nothing to live up to any of the hype. If he doesn’t come out of the box and get himself firmly near the Top 12 in the first quarter of the season, he could be looking for a job by the end of the year.
Tommy Thompson, Senior Writer: (Wednesdays / Thompson In Turn 5)
Popular writer Tommy Thompson couldn’t look into the crystal ball this year – he was too busy having a ball of his own getting married! Congratulations on your marriage, Tommy, from all the Frontstretch Staff … to the fans, Tommy sends his regards and looks forward to returning to the fold next week!
Beth Lunkenheimer, Frontstretch Truck Series Expert: (Fridays / Tearing Apart The Trucks)
Of the contracts that are set to expire at the end of the 2008 season, Ryan Newman just might be in the hottest seat. Newman has had his ups and downs, but he has failed to make the Chase the last two seasons; with nine DNF’s and an average finish of 18.6, the driver of the No. 12 Dodge has plenty to prove coming into the 2008 season.
Vito Pugliese, Senior Writer: (Tuesdays / Voice Of Vito)
J.J. Yeley. He didn't really do much besides wad up a ton of No. 18 Interstate Batteries Chevrolets in his short stint with Joe Gibbs Racing. While he’s a nice enough guy with the credentials and demeanor to be a star in the sport, Yeley now starts 2008 off with Hall of Fame Racing. It’s a small team that is reminiscent of MB2 / Ginn Racing; and considering they didn't give Tony Raines much time to develop – despite doing pretty good considering what he was given to work with – what will they do if Yeley wrecks a bunch of equipment out of the box?
Mike Lovecchio, Senior Writer: (Tuesdays / Who’s Hot And Who’s Not)
The driver on the hottest seat is a driver whose contract doesn't expire until 2009 – and that's A.J. Allmendinger. Allmendinger struggled in his rookie campaign, and was outperformed by Red Bull Racing teammate Brian Vickers throughout the season. With Toyota turning its program around, I wouldn't be surprised to see a veteran Toyota driver from either the Nationwide Series or the Truck Series in the No. 84 by the end of the year.
Besides Allmendinger, he one driver in a contract year that should be looking over his shoulder is Greg Biffle. With NASCAR limiting each team's car count, and a number of young Roush Racing developmental drivers waiting for an opportunity, Biffle may finish out the year this year, but will not be in a Roush car in 2009.
Tony Lumbis, Frontstretch NASCAR Rookie Expert: (Mondays / Rookie Report)
Although his contract doesn't expire until 2009, Jamie McMurray has got to feel the heat on his rear end this year. While he did capture his first win with Roush Fenway in 2007, the rest of the season yielded lackluster results, resulting in a dismal 17th final points position, the worst of the non-rookie drivers in that stable. If this team does not make the Chase this year, it could make Jack Roush's decision a lot easier as to which team he should cut to meet NASCAR's four team restriction.
Nikki Krone, Senior Writer: (Fridays / David Starr Driver Diary Coordinator)
I got blasted a couple of years ago when I suggested that even though he had made the Chase for two straight years, Mayfield needed to pick it up or Evernham was going to get rid of him. Turns out I right. However, I don’t think I will make such a “bold” prediction this time. While his contract may not be set to expire soon, I think Brian Vickers is at least one of the drivers who needs to step it up. Vickers is a veteran in the series now, has won a Busch championship, and has won a Cup race. In turn, Toyota now has a year behind them, and will probably start expecting more out of their teams - especially if JGR turns out to be real successful. I think Vickers has tons of talent and will probably challenge a lot this year because of the changes; but, I think he may need to challenge in a big way to keep his ride. I would say Allmendinger, too, could be on the hot seat, but Red Bull pulled him over from CART with a lot of confidence, and I don’t think they are ready to give up on him. As far as those whose contracts are on the verge of expiring, I think this season is a huge one for Ryan Newman. If things don’t turn around quick, I think Newman may be the one telling Penske to take a hike.
S.D. Grady, Newsletter Contributor & Fan Columnist: (Tuesdays / Fan View)
While A.J. Allmendinger would appear to be sitting on the edge, I believe that Red Bull Racing will extend a kind hand, hoping that the influx of Gibbs knowledge will flow into their Toyota program.
Jamie McMurrayâ€¦ now he has something to worry about. Even though he brought his car to Victory Lane last year, his overall performance during the past two years has not measured up to the Roush standard. When looking for success this year, the Cat in the Hat will be turning to Jamie to step it up … or step on out.
Editor’s Note : Not subscribed to the Frontstretch newsletter yet? Don’t miss your chance; it comes back full-time on Monday, February 4th. Click here to view the archives – including S.D.‘s column from Tuesday – and make the move to sign up so you’re all set to go for 2008!
Want a chance to win a FREE Frontstretch T-Shirt! How about a shot at a FREE membership to our Ultimate Fantasy Player Program? Well, Frontstretch has a new 2008 survey out just for YOU! We’re attempting to see what you like about us the most, and what areas you’d like to see improved. Click here to take the survey and do your part to help make one of your favorite websites a better place to be!
It’s that time of year again; are you ready to flip the ignition on another fantasy season? Well, Frontstretch holds the keys to start your dream team, with a long list of new games to go along with the return of our popular Game Of Tomorrow. Check out what we have to offer by clicking here – and don’t forget to come back next week and sign up for our season-long championship. That’ll give you a chance to become the Ultimate Frontstretch Fantasy Player – and win the season-ending trophy and multitude of prizes that go with it!
©2000 - 2008 Frontstretch Staff and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
Of the drivers with contracts expiring soon, McMurray and Newman seem to have to most to prove. McMurray needs to run Top 5/Top 10 on a more regular basis. Newman needs to prove he can finish as well as he qualifies. Both will certainly have offers if they leave their current teams, but need to step it up if they expect the offers to be for top-tier seats.
Of the drivers in danger of losing their rides mid-season, you’d have to look at the teams in danger of falling out of the top 35, and/or shakey on sponsorship. The two Yates teams (Gilliland/Kvapil) and the two Haas-CNC teams (Riggs/Mayfield) fit that description on both counts.
Of course, the teams starting the season outside of the top 35 are also under pressure, but the revolving door of drivers is expected at that level. One seat I’ll be watching is the 00 after David Reutimann switches to the 44. I don’t think the developmental driver plan with pan out with the pressure to qualify, I expect to see a veteran in that seat later in the season.
This is easy: Junior. He has been given the chance to join the best organization in Cup. He has unlimited resources at his disposal. If he can’t make the Chase and contend for a championship, this is gonna look like a monumental waste on Hendrick’s part. Also, McMurray and Newman have to step it up as well. Newman is perplexing; everyone knows he can wheel the car, he’s a tough guy to pass, and very tenacious. I think losing Matt Borland hurt him more than some let on…JMO
Robby Gordon. The partnership with GEM wont save him and if the results don’t improve sponsorship will be even tougher to come by. Jim Beam and Monster aren’t going to pay just to make the race. If the team doesn’t improve and compete for wins a few times, sponsorhip will falter. Robby won’t be able to keep the doors open with his looks and he’ll be looking for a new seat.
Why isn’t the GEM deal going to help?
For the first time ever Robby can actually go up to 3 other drivers and crew chiefs and ask them what the heck they are running for springs/shocks/ etc. to improve his car.
If he could pull off 26th with absolutely no help, he should be able to crack the top 20 with it.
He is a given to contend and possibly win both road coarses, and with some GEM help should run a lot more consistant and qualify better at the ovals.
Want to comment on this article? Visit our Message Board!