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.
Frontstretch Staff · Monday February 4, 2008
Gentlemen, Start Your Engines! Hard to believe that command to start the 2008 Sprint Cup season is just 5 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 previewed the upcoming 2008 season, providing a look into the good, the bad, and the ugly expected to face the sport throughout the next nine months. We hope you’ve enjoyed reading over the last week as we’ve enjoyed giving you food for thought heading into the coming year…
So, without further ado, here’s the sixth and last part of our preview. Miss any of the first five parts? No need to worry; click the links below to catch up.
Today’s Season Preview Topic: After a year of declining TV Ratings and empty seats in the stands, NASCAR is going to work hard this season to win back the fans. What’s the most important thing they need to do in order to stop the bleeding?
Tom Bowles, Editor-In-Chief: (Mondays / Bowles-Eye View)
The challenge is daunting, but the sport needs to stop the march towards the Formula One-style setup of only ultra-rich multi-car teams. NASCAR has had a history based around the fact that even the most hardscrabble independent team and driver can succeed. Just look at Alan Kulwicki’s owner/driver championship from 1992; but now, that attitude crumbles in the face of gigantic race teams turned mini-corporations in Hendrick, Roush, and Gibbs. It’s not that those car owners are bad people; to the contrary, someone like Hendrick is looked at as one of the most benevolent, genuine people ever to enter the racing business. But the way in which they utilize technology, engineers, and the exorbitant amount of money they’re throwing up on the board goes against much of what made this sport popular in the first place.
There needs to be a way in which single-car operations can not just survive, but thrive, an environment where the underdog can make it on the same playing field as the favorites (click here for more on the role of the underdog). And while you’re at it, allow drivers to speak their minds; the concept of rivalry is disappearing just as much with them as it is with teams.
In the end, that’s why names like Juan Pablo Montoya and Carl Long are some of the most important to NASCAR’s future. Montoya’s attitude of “he tells it like it is” keeps the landscape somewhat politically incorrect, and Long still tries to make a name for himself in a culture where the ultimate underdog is all but stuffed out. If NASCAR can go back to embracing both those ideals, and work on cutting down the four-car superteam phenomenon, it’s a start …
But far easier said than done.
Kim DeHaven, Senior Editor (Tuesdays / Numbers Game)
There is nothing NASCAR can do to bring back fans that have already lost interest; however, they can work to keep the ones they have. A good start would be to drop the ridiculous Top 35 rule and eliminate the antiquated process of awarding provisionals — simply let the fastest 43 race each week. The next step is to reduce ticket prices in order to make the race weekends affordable once again. By bringing our children, NASCAR is almost assured an audience in the future — at least until they are old enough to disagree with the politics of the sport. And they need to quit taking race dates away from our short tracks. Although this hasn’t happened in a few seasons now, it is sure to rear its ugly head again soon enough. Remember this, NASCAR; if you alienate and outprice too many fans, you can’t sell all those fancy Speedway seats.
Toni Montgomery, Senior Editor: (Fridays / Rick Crawford Driver Diary Coordinator)
Here's a random thought — the empty seats at the track might be less a product of what NASCAR is putting out and more a product of the economy being down. Tickets, fuel, hotels, meals all cost a small fortune, and they’re slowly rising while the amount of money people have to spend shrinks — so many of those empty seats might be a result of people who just can't afford to go anymore. That's not to say the product has no bearing… I just don't feel like that is the main part of it. As for the TV ratings, that's a different story. Broadcasts over the last several years have been bland, unexciting, and they feel watered down. I know some of it is a product of the racing — you can only polish it so much. But some of it is the broadcast, because people will tell you the same race that was boring on TV was exciting in person. Televised broadcasts are too corporate, too contrived, too made for TV — some of which is the broadcast, and some of which is NASCAR. Come to think of it, the TV may be what affects the attendance — and if I've lost interest on TV, I'm less likely to pay soaring sums of money to go in person. I challenge anyone to watch any race from 10 years ago and any race from today side-by-side and tell me they don't see the difference.
Amy Henderson, Assistant Editor: (Fridays / Holding A Pretty Wheel)
Even if we're stuck with the Chase, NASCAR needs to find some semblance of their roots — get rid of the Top 35 rule, then move Darlington back to its rightful status as a jewel of the circuit and a Labor Day Weekend fixture. If NASCAR wants to stop the bleeding, they need to start listening to what their fans really want… and that's not gimmicks and theatrics.
Matt Taliaferro, Assistant Editor: (Thursdays / Fanning The Flames)
Want to see yourself in print this Thursday?Click here to email Matt your questions for Fanning The Flames this season – our weekly Fan Q & A column!
There are a handful of changes that need to be made, but when I hear Tony Stewart say something to the effect of, "I'm keeping my mouth shut so I don't get in trouble," I cringe. Fans of any sport love (and hate) personality. Without it, the game is slighted. I hope drivers are allowed to once again show emotion without the fear of penalty.
Matt McLaughlin, Senior Writer: (Mondays / Thinkin’ Out Loud)
While not directly under NASCAR’s control, the most important thing it can do to stop the bleeding is to stop the bleating that dominates today’s race broadcasts on FOX, TNT, and ESPN/ABC. While some races still draw big crowds, even the largest events are seen on TV by many more fans than are actually in attendance at the track. For better or worse, fans’ perceptions of the sport are formed based on the race broadcasts. I’ll give you that the broadcasters can’t make the bad races much fun to watch but they have proven their ability to make even somewhat interesting races unbearable to the viewers. My prescription to fix the race broadcasts is simple: the networks need less people saying less, letting the cameras work to convey the action on track to the viewers without telling them what they are seeing. If you strip away the talking heads and most of the gadgetry and get back to the basics, you’ll have real racing for real fans, real quick.
Jeff Meyer, Senior Writer: (Thursdays / Voices From The Heartland)
"A year?" Hello! Try the last 3 yrs! NASCAR needs to stop being about blatantly making the France family more money and get back to being about the racing. Brian France is realizing his vision to capture the “casual fan,” but today's casual fan WAS yesterday's hardcore fan. High prices, endless France rhetoric, and total disregard for tradition has totally turned people off. Get Brian out of the chair and let Uncle Jim run the show and maybe, just maybe, the bleeding will be stopped. Even then, with the economy the way it is, I don't foresee many families spending their proposed government "rebate" checks on a trip to the NASCAR track this summer. The government would have to at least double the amount of the check for it to be of any use — especially at an ISC venue.
Mike Neff, Senior Writer: (Thursdays / Picks ‘N’ Pans)
The most important thing NASCAR can do to win back the fans is forget about trying to “grow” the sport through the philosophy of trying to make every nickel possible. NASCAR needs to help the promoters make some ticket prices more affordable for families. They need to make it easier for broadcasters to cut down on the amount of commercials, so that there is more action, too; going to the split screen like the IRL should be looked at as an option for the future. Also, they need to increase the payouts in the Craftsman and Nationwide series as incentive for some more people to start up some teams and compete in those divisions…both could be looking at short fields this 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 on Wednesday!
Beth Lunkenheimer, Frontstretch Truck Series Expert: (Fridays / Tearing Apart The Trucks)
It’s hard to pinpoint just one thing when it comes to fixing the things NASCAR has messed up. They’ve completely abandoned quite a few of the traditions that made the sport what it is today. From moving the Labor Day race from Darlington to the Chase system to the Car of Tomorrow and more, the fans that have defected have quite a few reasons to stay away. The biggest thing that comes to mind, though ,is the Car of Tomorrow. The drivers have said how hard the car is to handle and how easily it changes from loose to tight in an instant. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. was one of the first drivers to cry out against the CoT when NASCAR first implemented it. “I’ll be just trying to keep it off the fence. I think it’ll be hard not to hit the wall,” Earnhardt, Jr. said. “The way these things get tight, it’ll be hard and slow, real slow. Very, very frustrating. Really, really, really frustrating.”
Vito Pugliese, Senior Writer: (Tuesdays / Voice Of Vito)
The horse may already be out of the barn on this one, but the powers that be in Daytona will (hopefully) do what they need to before it's too late. NASCAR gained notoriety because it was underground and not exactly mainstream. One thing is that races need to start on time around noon EST, and NASCAR is taking steps this season to help remedy that. But what really needs to be addressed is the poor television coverage. Fox's coverage is probably the best, and that's not saying a whole lot. ESPN was a major disappointment for longtime fans who remember that the tiny cable network rose to prominence thanks to NASCAR â€¦ and vice versa. However, a poor product on the track will never be able to be marketed — no matter how much you try and shove it down everyone's throat.
Mike Lovecchio, Senior Writer: (Tuesdays / Who’s Hot And Who’s Not)
The fans that left aren't coming back. Fans can no longer associate their street cars with the cars on the track, and with more and with more driver changes happening, even some of the current diehard fans can't tell who's in what car. NASCAR has already put itself in a major hole that's going to take more than a year to get out of. It was a good start to make consistent start times this year. The bottom line is good racing will draw fans once again — it's that simple.
Tony Lumbis, Frontstretch NASCAR Rookie Expert: (Mondays / Rookie Report)
To my pleasant surprise, NASCAR is already on the right track. First off, making minimal changes for 2008 is a big step in the right direction. Hardcore fans are traditionalists and do not accept the "new season - new rules" environment that has existed over the past few years. Setting earlier start times for some races is a good move, too, as most fans are not crazy about having the checkered flag coinciding with dinner time.
The next steps in this process would include less commercials and eliminating fabricated "debris cautions" at the end of many races. During the ’90s when the sport took off, there were both sleepers and exciting finishes, but each event was allowed to play out on its own — not at the hands of NASCAR officials.
Nikki Krone, Senior Writer: (Fridays / David Starr Driver Diary Coordinator)
I think the biggest problem NASCAR has had — and I believe they kind of admitted it themselves — is the ever-changing rule book. It seems like every week, they are changing something “for the good of the sport,” but it just seems to mess things up. I think the bigger teams like Hendrick, Roush and Gibbs are pretty capable of adapting to the new rules quickly every week, but the smaller and more inexperienced teams NASCAR claims they are trying to help are probably hurt the most.
I think NASCAR needs to stop changing the rules so often; but at the same time, I think they need to sit down and get very specific on a few of the rules to make it clear for everyone. It seems that so many things have been such a judgment call the last few years, where one guy gets one penalty for something and another gets a different penalty for almost the same thing or even worse. If the fans don’t feel they can trust NASCAR, then they aren’t likely to want to spend their time and money supporting it.
S.D. Grady, Newsletter Contributor & Fan Columnist: (Tuesdays / Fan View)
Three things. Stop trying to dazzle us with multi-hour preshows full of nicely produced nothing; stop trying to appeal to the crisply pressed multitudes who have never changed their own oil; and stop trying to make this sport something it isn’t. It’s loud, occasionally rude, and unpredictable… show us the grease!
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What a great summation from all about what NA$CAR needs to do, or not do!
Currently NA$CAR is a very sick organization. And for the record, this will be the first 500 I will either not attend in person, or watch on TV! Heck, the starting field (at least most of it) has already been set and the cars have not turned one wheel in either official practice for, or ‘qualifying for” the 2008 500, how sick is that??
I will not be watching Daytona or any races, except, maybe, Bristol. It’s pretty much over for me. I continue to read some about it out of habit, mainly, but that is beginning to go away. I only look at Jayski and Frontstretch headlines and rarely read the articles.
This is typical of Big Business. The 3rd generation makes changes to the business model that has brought success in an attempt to make their mark. It usually fails. Trying to compete with Football is foolish. Make your own niche, fill a void, don’t go head to head. As for TV coverage they need to make the TV experience more like the on track experience. More racing throughout the line, more angles, more engine noise, less DW noise. They talk just to hear themselves talk. NA$CAR needs to dance with the ones that brung ‘em. Stop moving away from the stock in Stockcar. Their success in the future is in keeping up with their past.
Great article! There are a lot of good points being made here. To add to Nikki Krone’s point about the rules, I would suggest that NASCAR should put their rulebook on the web so we can all see it. I think it would do a lot to change the perception that NASCAR has an ever-changing rulebook that changes to benefit certain parties with the most money and/or influence. Having some integrity and eliminating the conspiracy theories is key to gaining respect and maintaining a healthy series.
And, as several people pointed out, ticket prices need to be affordable. Jimmie Johnson is listed as making over $7.6 million in 2007, yet the average family of four can’t afford to go to a race. I don’t even want to know what the profit margins for ISC and SMI are. It all seems just a bit out of balance.
Let the fastest 43 race each week. Eliminate the race to the chase. I, as a fan, stop watching, if my driver isn’t in the race. That makes 33 sets of fans who stop watching, stop buying track tickets and stop buying merchandise. $imple math, here.
To fix NA$CAR:
If they do half of these I might actually watch half the races this year. I’m with Ed; its starting to become a little much, and definitely isn’t like it was in the 80’s and early-mid 90’s.
1. Earlier and “on time” starts. I hate tuning in for a 2pm race and still waiting for it to start 45 minutes later.
I think the sport would be better served by having, instead of the top-35 a second-chance qualifier. First qualifying session locks in the 1st 30 positions, the last 13 are locked induring a second qualifying run.
the biggest problem has got to be the coverage. Having the TV on mute, and listening to MRN in simulcast with the TV will show you everything that is wrong with the TV audio. MRN focuses on the action, wherever in the field the action might be (battle for 19th..whatever)…while the TV just parks on one of the first 5 cars and they talk about that driver’s trip to the grocery store last thursday.
Let the fastest 43 cars start each week. Get rid of the COT cars, use the manufacturers cars and make them safe. Get rid of the chase and go back to the old points system.
As a long time NASCAR fan I can barely watch TV coverage anymore, especially on FOX. I can’t stand DW and Larry Mac explaining every little detail, just shut up and let us watch the race. Ah, for the good old days of Bob Jenkins, BP, and Ned. Those races were a joy to watch and listen to. And why to we have to suffer through the “Hollywood Hotel” with Chris Meyers and Jeff Hammond? We don’t need 5 commentators to explain a race, it’s insulting to a race fan.
There are many reasons fans have been turned off. There are specific things I don’t like, but they aren’t necessarily the same as those some other folks have mentioned.
But to me, the over-arching problem is the unbridled contempt that the France family has shown to the people who made them extremely wealthy. Big Bill and Bill Junior kept the rough edge from showing. The Brian just can’t contain himself.
Want to bring NA$CSR back? There needs to be one more change: a big “under new management” banner down in Daytona Beach.
Bottom line is Nascar’s Bosses are greedy and their “rules Controlled SHOWS” lack any credibility. Real FANS do not trust NASCAR and it’s Rules Controlled SHOWS because it bears little resemblance to the real racing from about 1969 back.Fans are smart and with the outrageous ticket prices and fuel costs there are many more entertaining and HONEST things to do. The Frances are BILLIONAIRES now, and will take Toyota’s big bucks for guaranteed wins and titles after years of favoring GM. GREED HAS NO HONESTY or CREDIBILITY$$$$ Nascar is and has been for decades and BIG FAKE,and the Public knows it-stay home!
Wow. I thought I was the only one who thought this way. Ticket Prices, Start times, and Race reclocations are ridiculous. Ditch the Car of Tomorrow, The Top 35 Rule, and The Lucky Dog Rule- Race back to the line under caution. Those who think its too dangerous don’t need to be racing. There is a whole lot more danger out there. These are all the reasons I stopped watching IRL!
Nascar needs to remove the top 35 rule – “it’s simple, let the fastest cars race, period!” The idea that these 35 teams need protection is wrong since many of the single car or underfunded teams are the one’s which need the protection or at least a level playing field. Nascar will continue to lose fans if teams such as Morgan McClure (MMM) and others are not able to race. Why not try something like a “luxury fee or tax” similar to what is done in baseball or other sports. If teams spend more then a certain amount then a penalty is paid which is divided amongst the less funded or single car teams.
Tell me this…who is really the one(s) being hurt when you turn off the TV on Sunday afternoons? It surely is not King Brian. He has his money. All of you who are picking up your toys and leaving the sport are not having the impact you intend because you are not impacting the person you intend. The drop in ratings is not causing a drop in revenue because all they are doing is running more advertising. This in turn is hurting the teams since so much more of the advertising budgets out there must go into commercials and not to the teams. Brian still gets his money. See what I mean here?
And besides…what terrible Lifetime “Television for Women” show are you watching instead?
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