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.
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After another long offseason, NASCAR is set to return to our lives with the 31st Annual Bud Shootout in less than two weeks! That means it’s time to get the blood racing and your mind fixated on another year of our sport. This week, we’ll get you thinking on six big questions facing NASCAR this year; 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 … a sense of humor. After all, we’ll all need to laugh if these predictions blow up in our face come November …
Today’s Season Preview Topic: Some observers have already anointed 18-year-old Joey Logano as the next great driver on the NASCAR circuit. But last season, he struggled mightily in a handful of Cup starts for Hall of Fame Racing. Is this kid capable of taking the No. 20 Home Depot Toyota back to the front … or is he the second coming of Casey Atwood?
Tom Bowles, Editor-In-Chief (Mondays / Bowles-Eye View)
I have to admit, when it comes to Joey Logano I’m just a little bit biased. You see, it’s not often my home state gets some love for anything other than casinos and ESPN, so underneath that whole objectivity thing there’s a whole fan club in my heart hoping the next best thing in NASCAR grew up just 25 minutes away from where I dreamed of racing as a kid.
But along with hope comes a whole lot of hellish worrying about too much, too soon for this teenage prodigy. Logano’s time with Hall of Fame Racing last season sticks out like a sore thumb; by all accounts, he whined during his tenure with the No. 96 car, refusing to make the best of second-rate equipment people of his talent level used to drive for a decade before they’d get their shot at the big time. It was a classic case of failing for the first time and having no idea quite how to handle it; of course, that’s a tragic mistake made all too often by kids pumped up to be larger than life before they even have a chance to make a life of their own. But no amount of psychological analysis erases the pitiful zero Top 30 finishes Logano accomplished in just three 2008 starts at the Cup level.
So, what does all this mean for his future? The key to Logano is — get this — how well he’s managed by both Greg Zipadelli and J.D. Gibbs. They’ll be the role models, and they’ll be the ones dealing with all the rookie mistakes … like that whole Toyota Showdown disqualification over the weekend. If they allow their driver to run buckwild, they may end up with too many wrecks, too much ego, and too little success to win Rookie of the Year. But if they’re willing to give Logano some serious reality checks at just the right time, well … rookie records were made to be broken, weren’t they? My heart says that’s what will happen, but my head … my head thinks Logano may just flat out break. We’ll have to see who wins.
Toni Montgomery, Senior Editor (Fridays / Rick Crawford Driver Diary)
If Logano had been given sufficient time to learn and grow in NASCAR’s lower series, maybe he’ll be successful. Even if he’s still given the patience and time to learn and grow in the Cup Series (like two years, at least), there’s a chance. But if people expect Logano to win tomorrow and put that kind of pressure on him — that’s a Casey Atwood formula which just won’t work.
Amy Henderson, Assistant Editor (Fridays / Holding A Pretty Wheel)
The truth probably lies somewhere in the middle. Very, very few drivers in any racing series possess the talent that Tony Stewart does; but Logano is no slouch in a race car, and he’s got years ahead of him to develop into a championship-caliber driver. Given enough time and patience, Logano will easily win races at this level. But if anyone is foolish enough to expect that of him this year, they will likely be disappointed. Hopefully, Logano can learn driving from teammate Kyle Busch without adopting Busch’s attitude. If so, he can certainly make the Chase — and if he does, anything can happen. It’s just wrong to expect that going into the season. And as long as he doesn’t get screwed over by ownership the way Atwood was, he will develop into a fine driver for years to come.
Cami Starr, Fantasy Racing Editor (Thursdays / Picks ‘N’ Pans)
The ingredients are there for him to be the new Atwood; lots of pressure, limited experience, and high expectations. It’s unfortunate that Logano was thrust into such a high-profile ride so early; and while he was good in the Nationwide Series, he really fell off in his limited Cup starts. I think the answer lies in Greg Zipadelli: does he have it in him to harness this young talent and make it grow?
Matt Taliaferro, Assistant Editor: (Thursdays / Fanning The Flames)
Click here to email Matt your questions for Fanning The Flames this season!
Sure, he’s capable; but like any rookie, Logano must use his first year as a foundation for future success. No, he’s no Casey Atwood (Joe Gibbs isn’t one to pull the trigger on a driver like Ray Evernham was) and he’ll find his way. But Greg Zipadelli has a huge task ahead of him this season, and like Cami said above, the way he shepherds the young driver will go a long way in ensuring Logano’s rise through the ranks in the Cup Series.
Bryan Davis Keith, Assistant Editor: (Sundays / Nationwide Breakdown)
Logano is not destined to be the next Casey Atwood, if simply for the fact that Joe Gibbs Racing has proven willing to stick with their young talents. Just look at J.J. Yeley’s extended Nationwide Series campaigns, or the welcoming of Brad Coleman back into the fold after his disastrous 2008 campaign with Baker-Curb Motorsports. But, JGR has also tended towards rushing youngsters to Cup — and this is no exception. Logano, unlike Denny Hamlin, did not prove to be a quick-study in Cup cars, and no matter how good the No. 20 ride is, don’t expect to see it in the Chase this year… or Victory Lane, for that matter.
Mike Lovecchio, Assistant Editor: (Mondays / Ten Points To Ponder)
Joey Logano is good, but let’s face it — he was a PR creation. Will he ever contend for a championship? Maybe. But he’ll never live up to the expectations created for him before he even made his first start.
Matt McLaughlin, Senior Writer: (Mondays / Thinkin’ Out Loud)
My short answer is “none of the above.” Unfortunately, Logano has been hyped to a level that Billy Mays would run blushing from the set of his latest infomercial and hide in a closet. (Order your Joey Lagona 2009 Cup Championship poster now, and receive absolutely free a “Whatever you’re smoking, I’d like a few tokes” T-Shirt and a 55 gallon drum of Oxy-Clean.) Most longtime fans aren’t buying into the hype, but unfortunately, at least one person seems convinced the hype is true… Joey Logano. That’s fine; this sport has a way of humbling brash young men. Just ask Jeff Gordon, who totaled enough Cup cars in his first season it’s a wonder Rick Hendrick wasn’t reduced to selling apples on street corners to raise funds.
But Logano has talent, so eventually, he may be all right. Recall that when Tony Stewart entered the Cup circuit, he really hadn’t done much in the Busch Series other than pissing Dale Earnhardt, Jr. off enough to punch him right in the yap inside the NASCAR trailer.
Jeff Meyer, Senior Writer: (Thursdays / Voices From The Heartland)
“…he struggled mightily in a handful of Cup starts for Hall of Fame Racing.” Well, no freaking kidding! Who wouldn’t struggle racing in HoF cars!? Their “alliance” with Joe Gibbs Racing was simply a means for HoF to stay afloat for the season AND to have a driver in the car — nothing more. You couldn’t have Tony’s replacement in the same equipment as Tony now, could you? For starters, Tony’s ego wouldn’t have allowed it… not to mention there was no Gibbs car available.
As for “the second coming of Casey Atwood…” who thinks this stuff up!? Let’s see what the kid can do in top notch equipment before we start calling him names. Fair enough, Einstein?
Tommy Thompson, Senior Writer: (Wednesdays / Thompson In Turn 5)
Hall of Fame Racing is no Joe Gibbs Racing, and Joey Logano is no Casey Atwood. The kid is a thoroughbred – raised to race – and he’ll be highly successful at racing’s top level. After all, no one evaluates talent better than Joe Gibbs – on the field or on the track. I admit there will be a learning curve now that the youngster has reached the pinnacle of “big time racing.” But give Joey Logano a year, and the new question will be whether he’ll win the 2010 Sprint Cup Championship or not.
Beth Lunkenheimer, Frontstretch Truck Series Expert: (Fridays / Tearing Apart The Trucks)
Joey Logano definitely has talent, but to have already said he will be the next great driver on the NASCAR circuit is a little much. Even with a win in the Nationwide Series in 2008, he still has a long road ahead of him. Remember, quite a few people crowned Kyle Busch the champion before the Chase even started. Anything can happen each week on the track, and what the new driver of the No. 20 Home Depot Toyota will be able to accomplish is still very much up in the air.
Vito Pugliese, Senior Writer: (Wednesdays / Voice Of Vito)
Joey Logano will most certainly get the job done in the No. 20. If you want a benchmark for him, let’s take David Ragan as an example. He had limited experience in the Truck Series, no Nationwide Series experience, and got installed in one of the most coveted rides in motorsports — the No. 6 Roush Fenway Ford that was the flagship of Roush Racing since its inception in 1988.
Logano has some big shoes (and a wide seat) to fill in what was Tony Stewart’s No. 20 Home Depot Toyota. That being said, nobody would ever confuse the performance and capability of a car that has become a modern legend in racing with that of a car that was little more than a field-filler the last couple of years. Logano may not win in his third start as he did in the Nationwide Series, but a win during 2009 in his Sprint Cup Series rookie year is not out of the question.
Tony Lumbis, Frontstretch NASCAR Rookie Expert: (Mondays / Rookie Report)
The second coming of Casey Atwood is probably a little harsh, but I don’t expect the sequel to Jeff Gordon, either. The kid absolutely has potential — but, he was robbed of much-needed experience once Tony Stewart abruptly departed. The No. 20 team will still remain one of the best in on the circuit, but know that the car alone can only do so much. In fact, that very scenario may even make Greg Zipadelli’s job that much more challenging, as he will spend much of his time on Sunday afternoon preaching patience to a driver who will be behind the wheel of the best equipment he has ever raced. I think a victory might be a stretch, but a dozen or so solid top 10s is not out of the question for Logano.
Danny Peters, Senior Writer: (Tuesdays / Yellow Stripe)
The kid is for real. Having Joe and J.D. Gibbs to shepherd his progress will be invaluable, but the veteran savvy of Greg Zipadelli might just be the most important factor of all in Logano’s development. I don’t think he’s going to race his way into the Chase as a rookie… but I don’t think he’ll disappoint, either.
Kurt Smith, Senior Writer: (Fridays / Happy Hour)
Not to worry about Logano… he will do just fine, and should easily win the Rookie of The Year honors before he has to even shave. He didn’t do well in the No. 96… but who did? And regarding his starts in the No. 02, Logano didn’t have many, and they were the first time he’s had to drive the winged snowplow — which has been an adjustment for everyone, except for lunatic racers who don’t care how often they get sideways. Once he has a few races to adjust… look out.
I expect Logano may have been instructed in his 2008 runs to get the feel of the car, don’t wreck trying to pass people, keep the car in one piece, and get as many laps in as possible. His runs in 2008 remind me of another phenom’s few runs before his rookie season: Kyle Busch. And Casey Atwood drove for a team that would not take up for him the way Gibbs will.
S.D. Grady, Newsletter Contributor & Fan Columnist: (Tuesdays / Fan View)
Joey got pushed to the top way too fast. While he dominated the Camping World East Series two years ago, last year he struggled to understand how to make his machine better after moving up to play with the Big Boys. He needs a year or two in the Trucks to learn how to troubleshoot his ride.
Phil Allaway, Website Contributor: (Tuesdays / Talking NASCAR TV)
Part of the reason that Logano struggled in his Sprint Cup races last year was that he wasn’t in top-rate equipment. The No. 96 car was fairly weak, and the No. 02 he drove was about equal to the No. 84 CARQUEST Chevrolet that Kyle Busch drove part-time before he replaced Terry Labonte in the No. 5 four years ago. Busch struggled to run competitively in that car, even DNQ’ing for three races before bouncing back as a rookie.
However, Logano is definitely being rushed to the Sprint Cup Series because of Tony Stewart’s departure. He really needs a full season in the Nationwide Series. So far, he has shown about equal competence in that division as Atwood did in the Castrol No. 27 … which is good, but not great. I think he can go to the front, but Greg Zipadelli, Denny Hamlin, and Kyle Busch have to lend a helping hand.
Doug Turnbull, Website Contributor: (Tuesdays / Who’s Hot & Who’s Not)
Joey Logano is certainly capable. The Cup races he drove last year — except for the one or two with Gibbs — were in inferior equipment. Logano has dominated almost every division he has been a part of, and had quick success in the Nationwide Series. He did show vulnerability through some Nationwide events and in all his Cup starts. But Gibbs would not have placed Logano in the No. 20 if he had not already proven that he could handle a Cup car, like he had in previous tests. Logano may struggle initially, but once he gains experience and forms chemistry with crew chief Greg Zipadelli, he will be a force to be reckoned with. Remember, both Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart tore up a lot of equipment in their early years.
John Potts, Website Contributor: (Fridays / Driven To The Past)
After watching the Irwindale race, I think he’s the second coming of Casey Atwood. The kid is also the epitome of today’s articulate, press-conscious driver that NASCAR wants. He even came across as a professional in his interview after wrecking the leader at Irwindale.
Mike Ravesi: (Mondays / Top 35)
I believe Joe Gibbs Racing cut Logano’s HoF Racing schedule back because he struggled so badly, and they didn’t want to scare off potential sponsors. Yes, he won in the Busch (oops, Nationwide Series) in 2008… but it looks like a monkey could have put that car in Victory Lane. Logano may not be the second coming of Atwood, but he’s certainly no Messiah, either.
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We’ll just have to “wait and see”. The hype is there, let’s see some action. All of the ingredients for success have been carefully measured. Time to test the recipe.
and Mike says “I believe Joe Gibbs Racing cut Logano’s HoF Racing schedule back because he struggled so badly, and they didn’t want to scare off potential sponsors”
so which is it? Sounds like there is a story there to get to the bottom of. Anybody got the balls?
I find it interesting that Brad K. will be running 17 races in Cup this year using Hendrick equipment even though 10 races are with Fitch racing. He is my pick for Rookie of the Year. And I watched the end of the Toyota race and Logano got ROBBED
Well, NASCAR’s decision to penalize Logano was another of the plethora of NASCAR’s inconsistent “judgment” calls.
IMHO: While I’m not sure he deserved to be penalized, Logano’s attempt to win was one that NASCAR was following their rules for penalizing someone. However, I’ve seen drivers do much worse and get no penalties whatsoever.
OVERALL: I’m one for the middle ground on Joey. I think that he can do it, but he hasn’t proven anything on the cup level yet.
We’ll have to wait and see. I just hope Gibbs and company give him enough time to mature both as a driver and as a person.
Thorougbred? Are you kidding me? He’s got a lot to learn, & little insight to learn it. He, & his Daddy, believe he’s the greatest thing to come along in awhile.
Joey Logano will be then next Kasey Kane!….I mean soon to be out of work and out of a Sponsor :)
Amy Henderson must be smoking something funny if she actually thinks that Logano has a chance of making the chase this year. And, from what I have seen of him so far, he already has Kyle Busch’s attitude !! I just don’t think that Joe Gibbs and Home Depot will give him the 2-3 years he will need to become a consistant winner in Cup.
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