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.
Amy Henderson and Tom Bowles · Wednesday February 20, 2013
Welcome back to Side By Side. There are always two sides to every story, and we’re going to bring them both, right here, every week. Two of our staff writers will face off on an important racing question… feel free to tell us what you think in the weekly poll and also in the comments section below!
This Week’s Question: Should Terry Labonte, or other drivers, be penalized for start-and-parking in a non-points race?
Who’s right? You decide!
Tom Bowles, Editor-In-Chief: Texas Terry Took The Fan Base For A Ride… And Should Pay The Price
What’s the best way to make $15,700 a minute? The answer, I found out Saturday night is simple: qualify for a sport’s All-Star event, make the equivalent of a token appearance and then quit, fleecing the very people who came to see you compete.
That description fits Terry Labonte’s latest line of work, parking the No. 32 FAS Lane Ford with “vibration” issues after just two laps before collecting a check and zipping over to the bank long before Saturday night’s Sprint Unlimited had completed. One of the sport’s all-time greats should be embarrassed, a two-time series champion who’s been reduced to moonlighting for a little extra cash. But in this case, his actions went too far, a new level of start-and-parking that made even supporters of the practice cringe. Clearly, NASCAR needs to take action, taking back the purse money to protect its integrity before this issue gets any worse.
I’m not saying retired athletes should be shut out of the moneymaking process altogether. There are definitely ways to do it, from paid autograph sessions, to public speaking engagements for a fee and even television broadcasting. But notice none of those choices included participating in a professional athletic event. In stick ‘n’ ball sports, it’s a moot point because physical ability deteriorates to the point where pitching a ball, making a tackle or slamming someone into the boards in hockey has become borderline impossible. Old-timer’s games, even for Hall of Famers is often their solitary option.
But in stock car racing, that’s not always the case, especially at a track like Daytona where “wide open” is the name of the game. A driver like Labonte can abuse this type of All-Star event, specifically designed to showcase the sport’s best and, in theory, most popular wheelmen. Fans paid top dollar for tickets Saturday night to see anyone from the sport’s five-time champion, Jimmie Johnson, to old legends like Mark Martin duke it out based on recent or all-time accomplishments. Unlike a 43-car field, there’s just 19 quality entries so anyone pulling in early diminishes the product more deeply than, say, a start-and-park within a normal race.
Some of those fans, seeing Labonte on the entry list may have come specifically to see their former flame one last time. The fact that he was running for an underfunded team was irrelevant; the draft, combined with restrictor plates can make anyone Superman at Daytona these days under the right circumstances. For all we know, with the six-car wreck triggered by Tony Stewart’s miscue Labonte could have finished inside the top 10 or even better. Instead, the only racing he and FAS Lane were interested in was how quickly that check could get in the bank.
The excuses run the gambit here, from trying to preserve the teams’ primary car, during a time when parts for NASCAR’s Gen-6 are borderline out of stock, to simply needing the money for survival. But even if you’re on a different side of S&P, where you feel like it’s not only necessary but also essential to keep teams afloat, this one should leave a bit of a different taste. Their financial situation, or number of cars are irrelevant in that the goal of any event like this one is to compete. If you can’t do that… there’s a choice not to enter. There were no owner points to be gained here, no sponsors to “woo” by entering the event. Labonte actually has a primary backer, for all four of his races with the team in C&J Energy Services. And if they’re still collecting cash for survival, well, why should this underdog have an edge over others, like NEMCO Motorsports who sit in a similar spot? The key to keeping your team alive shouldn’t be “hire a former Cup champion as cheaply as possible, just so your car gets eligible for the race and then he can pull in early for a cool 30K.” Even under the best intentions, driving for a FAS Lane organization that typically doesn’t cut their races short it stinks of gaming the system.
And that’s not what Saturday night was all about. The sole reason the Sprint Unlimited exists, as evidenced by “the people” choosing everything from the race distance to the color of Miss Sprint Cup’s firesuit, is for the fans’ enjoyment. Ask any of them, then, whether seeing a car run slowly, then pull into the pits after two laps intentionally to collect some cash was worth their hard-earned money to sit in the stands – or even their time in front of the television.
The answer, in almost all cases is going to be a flat-out “no.” And what they’ll realize, in the process is that an aging driver bribed them, right under their nose and didn’t even leave them with an autograph to show for it. So while the practice is bound to be limited – there’s only so many aging former champions who can pull this stunt – NASCAR needs to say a resounding “yes” to penalties so these competitions aren’t tainted any further.
Amy Henderson, Managing Editor: You Can’t Penalize a Team For Not Having Unlimited Resources
After everything we saw in the Sprint Unlimited on Saturday night, you’re worried about one team who pulled to the garage early to avoid a wrecked racecar? Sorry, but I just don’t think that was even an issue; between Tony Stewart’s harebrained move in the first segment that took out six cars and the lack of racing for the rest of the night, the fact that Terry Labonte pulled in early was barely a blip on the radar.
I could be wrong here, but I believe that Labonte was one of a handful of drivers who was racing in the Unlimited with his Daytona 500 backup car. And unlike Carl Edwards and Kurt Busch, it’s unlikely that FAS Lane Racing can just call the shop back in Charlotte and order up another racecar if that one got destroyed (which it very well could have). FAS Lane simply doesn’t have the resources of Roush Fenway or Richard Childress Racing at its fingertips; what the big teams (and their fans) take for granted, the small ones simply can’t afford.
Should new owners just not bother to enter the sport anymore? Because realistically, that’s what this issue boils down to — many of the upstarts resort to starting and parking because that’s the only way they can get on the track at all, and on the track is where they need to be to have any hope of attracting sponsorship so they can race full-time in the future. I hate to break it to you, but that’s reality in today’s NASCAR. Do people criticize a mom and pop grocery store for keeping shorter hours than Walmart just to stay open? No, we cheer their effort in the face of big money adversity and go out of our way to support them. They’re the American Dream, right?
Yes, there are a couple of owners who use start-and-park as a business model, with no apparent plans to change that. Shame on them, because they are making a mockery of the sport. But it’s unlikely that Phil Parsons’ team is capable of putting a car on the pole, so it’s unlikely that they’ll be doing it in the Unlimited anytime soon. We’re not talking about that; we’re talking about a team dedicated to improvement.
FAS Lane wasn’t a start-and-park team on Sundays in 2012; they went the distance whenever possible, and I’m sure they were looking ahead to the Daytona 500, which is a much more important race in the scheme of things, and trying not to destroy their equipment before they get there. They qualified for the Unlimited under the current rules, and their entry was totally legit — both Labonte and Ken Schrader, who was also eligible, drive for the team in the regular season, so it’s not like they fielded a car for one of them as a one-off. Last-place money in the Unlimited might help pay the tire bill for the 500, and this team will try to go the distance on Sunday, when it matters.
It’s all about the big picture here. In the big picture, the fact that Terry Labonte went to the garage early was hardly the biggest problem with the Sprint Unlimited. In the big picture, the long-term success of a small team might mean doing some things that they don’t like (believe me, no driver worth his seat belt is happy about pulling in early) because the big teams and sponsors have driven the price of competition impossibly high. (People complain about the Hendricks, Roushes, and Childresses, but if these independent teams people are so quick to malign weren’t there, they’re all that would be left!) Unfortunately, these days the small teams struggle just to get a tiny crumb of the pie. And in the big picture, FAS Lane doesn’t have cars to spare when drivers who have no such worries are having too much fun to use common sense.
No, NASCAR shouldn’t have stopped FAS Lane from starting the Sprint Unlimited. They’re an underfunded, upstart team, but they qualified under the rules. Whatever happened to the American Dream, anyway?
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Nascar should have a rule that if you don’t run for at least 25 laps (or whatever number of laps they decide) then you don’t get ANY money, period. This way it will force the S&P teams to at least try and put a competitive car on the track.
I agree with Amy’s position!!!
I also find myself in agreement with Amy. Too, I can’t wait until tomorrow’s duels to see if the Bimbo chickens out and parks her car after two laps out of fear of wrecking, thus sending her to the back on Sunday. Then, watch as the media jumps all over the move calling it was the right thing to do. Any media member who does, and I’ll bet Pockrass will be the first, should be called out if they ever mention the start-and-park situation again!
Time to tighten the eligibility rules again for this. Require past Clash/Shootout/Unlimited winners to run a larger number of races the previous season. To be eligible this year you just had to have made 1 start in 2012. And to think, both the current champion and the runner up were ineligible for that race.
I dont think Terry Labonte and team should be punished for starting and parking in that race. But I do feel like if you’re not planning on running the full exhibition race, then dont even bother showing up. And that goes for the All-Star race, too.
Start and Park in races is bad enough. In exhibitions it’s beyond pathetic. I haven’t had any respect for TL as a racer for years, being nothing than a Provisional-For-Sale. My solution, of course, has been to pro-rate the prize money based on number of laps completed. Less than 75%, you get the percentage of the money you would have gotten equal to the percentage of laps completed. For FAS, that would have been getting $1260 for completing 3 laps instead of $31,499. If you can’t run the distance, DON’T SHOW UP. If you can’t risk the car, don’t enter the friggin’ race! He ran 19 laps of practice, why bother? Run one lap of practice and 20 laps in the race if you only want to run 21 laps total. Sheesh. Hell, he could have hung back a half lap and ended up 13th after that wreck.
At least the Unlimited event went back to eligibility rules that made sense- pole winners and past unlimited/shootout/clash winners. But the rule should be amended to only allow past winners from the past 6 years.
I See Amy in her typical fashoin is busy banging Tony for racing..Yeah it an error but that all..Did’nt cost any one a point either & if Hamlin dosn’t overreact theres no pile up…Seems if its not her hero brian (I’ll crash my own teamates) vickers they must be evil..As for terry labonte..Thats disgusting in an event like this..It would seem amy dosn’t believe in the fan getting their moneys worth again (working for brian f?) If it’s advertised at 43 cars as a paying fan I’m entitled to see 43 cars race..It’s time to do payouts based on % of race run in these lower positions or race 30 cars & lower the ticket price..Ya want to learn & get a foot in the door we’ll seeya in ARCA-Camping world but stop stealing from the fans..Terry should be ashamed in an event like this & I would hope his provisional days are over…Jus an opinion
I don’t blame Labonte at all for what he and the team did.
Not every team is super rich like the 48 with plenty of cars and parts to spare.
Teams had the POS COT forced on them and now nascar is pushing a completely new car on them.
Nascar should pay half the bill for that.
start and park in an all star race is chicken sh*&! I would expect better from a Labonte, he should be ashamed.
This isn’t an all-new car. Gen-6 is nothing more than a rebodied COT with a few suspension tweaks and an added rollcage bar. Newman’s Daytona 500 car was used 2 times in 2011 Plate races- it’s not even a new chassis. Jeff Burton is running a car that was built for the 2010 season. And these are top tier teams! Jimmie Johnson’s backup is likewise an older COT with a new body. So the smaller teams have cars. Yes, everyone was short certain parts an pieces, but that’s no excuse for entering a car in the Unlimited and parking after 2 or 3 laps.
I do believe I saw smoke from Terry’s car not lng after the race started. He lost the draft pretty quick. Maybe his vibration was a result of the smoke? Anybody have the start on tape?
Not to worry. There haven’t been any serious new teams in a few years. So if the “start and parks” leave who will take their place? Only 45 cars are even entered for the Daytona 500. Think they will have full fields at the end of the year. Maybe Nascar will take more money out of the bottom of the purse and give it to the mega teams. That ought to encourage more entries.
I don’t think Labonte should have been in the race to start with. I would prefer that it was limited to last year’s pole winners only.
That said, I can excuse Terry for saving his Daytona 500 backup. It’s an important race. I wouldn’t extend that grace to his World 600 car.
Has anyone calculated how long some of these S&P teams have been “getting ready for the big time”? Seems to me that some of these teams have been filling the back row for twenty years. They’ll never be contenders. In my world, at the end of every season NASCAR would count how many races you ran in and the total laps of those combined races. If you did not complete 50% of the total laps you get kicked down to a lower series.
I have no problem with anyone doing anything within the rules. Start and parking is here to stay until teams are franchised out owners and revenue is more widely shared by NASCAR. Since we know this will not happen, we are stuck with what we got. Congrats to the 32 team on the payday. If you watched the race specifically to see TB, you are a fool.
Yes, there WAS smoke coming from Labonte’s car. When I saw it live I don’t think anyone said anything about it and I was surprised by that. There wasn’t even a replay of it.
Trailing smoke would explain a lot, although I was under the impression that the team had only ONE car down in Daytona, which is how it’s been the past two years for this team at this race. Remember last year when they start and parked in the Gatorade Duel? Same thing. What this means is they could absolutely not have taken a chance in running the Sprint Unlimited. They took advantage of some much needed money that was out there for them. Why is this a crime?
If you want to assign blame though, blame NASCAR for allowing it to be possible. Don’t blame FAS Lane Racing for trying to boost funds and especially don’t blame Terry Labonte, who is just doing what he loves to do and lending a hand to a team in need.
If people really paid attention though, they would notice that he doesn’t even use his past champion provisional that much anymore, and he chooses to do just the plate races so that he can be competitive in an underfunded car. Three top 20s in four races last year, and racing competitive in all of them. Go watch a replay of the Dega race last fall on the last lap when they were all four-wide five rows deep until Stewart flipped. In there you’ll see Terry Labonte four-wide, mixing it up with everyone else. To act like all he does anymore is just “ride” around collecting money is just plain false.
A future hall-of-famer.
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