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.
Beth Lunkenheimer · Wednesday May 15, 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: With Sprint Cup regulars winning seven of nine races in the Nationwide Series so far in 2013, does NASCAR need to place further limits on Cup drivers in the Nationwide Series, or is it fine the way it is?
Jeff Wolfe, Contributing Writer Writer: Let them race!
It’s long been an issue among NASCAR fans that Sprint Cup drivers can drop down to the Nationwide Series and dominate. We’ve seen it in years past and we’re seeing it again this year with Sprint Cup regulars winning seven of the nine races.
And maybe it’s an issue this year because Kyle Busch has won five of those races. You know, it’s popular not to like the Busch brothers, it seems. If you have a real reason to not like them, that’s OK. But if you don’t like him just because a lot of others don’t like them, then you should check your thinking. And it is sort of ironic that this used to be called the Busch Series.
But here’s the deal with top drivers when they run in the Nationwide Series and why it’s important that they continue to do so: they set a standard for many of the younger drivers to attain. The question that Nationwide crews and drivers are hopefully asking is “what can we do to be better?” Or maybe, “how can we reach the standard they have set?” Hopefully, they aren’t lamenting the fact that a Sprint Cupper came down and beat them.
One of the best scenarios that can happen during a Nationwide race is when a younger driver is behind a Sprint Cup driver for several laps. It gives the younger driver a chance to learn. They can all talk to each other about situations, watch video of what other drivers do, or even play the NASCAR video games of certain tracks. But there is no substitute for being on the track with the best guys and learning how to act and react to different situations.
One of the marked differences between experienced Sprint Cup drivers and younger Nationwide drivers is their reaction times in accidents. The Sprint Cup drivers, usually simply because of experience, have a better knack to avoid a single car spinning in the middle of a turn. In the Nationwide races, the less-experienced drivers seem to react a little sooner, or sometimes panic a bit and then spin themselves, causing another accident.
This is not to offend the Nationwide drivers or crews, it’s just simply part of the learning curve. The Nationwide Series is an essential part of the NASCAR stepladder. It’s where drivers and crews can experience the high and lows during a race and how to react to them without as much sponsor money or prestige on the line.
When Sam Hornish, Jr. was a bit rushed into the Sprint Cup Series after finding all the success that there was in IndyCar, he was, without question, overmatched in NASCAR’s top level. However, after a couple of seasons in the Nationwide Series, Hornish was more than ready to take over for the vacated ride of Kurt Busch last year and was seriously considered for the full-time ride this year. And I think he should be the full-time guy in the No. 22 Sprint Cup car, but that’s another story for another day.
Hornish has one of the two wins by Nationwide regulars this year. And it had to be a sweet win, because Hornish held off Kyle Busch on two late restarts to win at Las Vegas. So, Hornish has the satisfaction of knowing he beat one of the best.
And that’s a feeling that can’t be beat.
Ellen Richardson, Newsletter Contributor: Limit them!
Promoted as NASCAR’s “minor league”, the NASCAR Nationwide Series is supposed to be the proving ground for drivers with a goal to someday race in the big leagues of the Sprint Cup Series.
Once known as the Sportsman Division, Late Model Sportsman Series, Busch Grand National Series, Busch Series and now Nationwide Series, this division has continued to give up-and-coming drivers a chance to reach for the stars by competing in some of the best equipment available.
As this series has continued to grow and change names, sponsors and even equipment, the one thing that has stayed fairly consistent is that many top-level, now-Sprint Cup Series drivers have used their days off to drive in the Nationwide Series. Whether it be to win a trophy, gain more seat time or to familiarize themselves with a track, these experienced drivers have had the ultimate advantage that very few other drivers have.
Over the last few years, many Sprint Cup regulars are winning more often than those series regular drivers who are hoping for Nationwide wins as well as a chance to be noticed by a top-level Sprint Cup Series team. As previously mentioned, current Sprint Cup Series drivers have won seven of the nine races in the Nationwide Series so far in 2013. Do the math here folks, it is time for a change!
In the last few years I have had the wonderful opportunity to work with several young drivers who have one dream: to someday race in the Sprint Cup Series. While not all of these drivers are lucky enough to now be competing in the Nationwide Series, they all have the same goal in mind.
As Sprint Cup Series drivers continue to race in a lower level series that often competes at the same tracks, the dreams of these hard working hopefuls continue to diminish as the Cup drivers fill the seats.
While there are benefits to having some of today’s popular Sprint Cup Series drivers competing in this series, including grabbing the attention of the fan base for these popular drivers (a.k.a. Junior Nation), how will these up-and-coming drivers ever have a chance to form their own fan base or even prove that they are winners if they are competing against those with more money and the best equipment?
Just a reminder here: the Nationwide Series champions from 2006-2010 were all full-time Sprint Cup Series regulars. If this wasn’t a concern that is currently on the minds of the powers that be in NASCAR why would the rule, implemented during the start of the 2011 season, state that these drivers could only compete for a championship in one of the three national series?
I’m not saying NASCAR should completely ban these talented drivers from this series once and for all, but let’s make this more interesting. If it is more seat time that these Sprint Cup Series drivers crave or more fans in the stands that NASCAR wants, let’s try something different – hold a challenge race!
I guess this is why I am such an avid fan of the Denny Hamlin Short Track Showdown, the Late Model race at Richmond International Speedway. During this race, no matter who the competitor is, everyone climbs in the same type of equipment to compete in what I feel is a true race.
About two years ago I had the privilege of assisting a local late model driver with his effort to compete in this star-studded race, during which this Sprint Cup Series hopeful had an opportunity to pass Cup Series regular Denny Hamlin for the lead in the second practice of the day.
While Hamlin brought home the win that night, I will never forget the excitement on this young driver’s face when he climbed from his late model following his major accomplishment. Let’s have more races like this on a very limited basis and make them a huge deal!
This way these up-and-coming drivers who have a dream to pass those that they have dreamed to either be or race against they can share in the magic that this driver felt, but the Nationwide regulars wouldn’t be losing out on wind and even rides in their own series. Bring back the heart of this series and the true fans of competition will follow!
Connect with Ellen!
Connect with Jeff!
©2000 - 2008 Beth Lunkenheimer and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
Although a few Cup drivers have been running Nationwide (Busch) races for many years…the reason Mark Martin held so many records in that series…it was the regular series drivers that tended to win the championships. The series had their own veteran drivers (Jeff Green, Randy La Joie) who could give the much needed advice to the youngsters. The series used to have it’s won stars, not dependent on a ‘big name’ from Cup to draw fans. But back then, few Cup regulars ran more than a handful of races. It seems to me from seeing the number of fans in the stands for these races that the Cup ‘stars’ aren’t exactly packing the stands. Maybe it’s time to rethink the whole deal and let the series have it’s own identity and it’s own stars and veterans again.
Would this question be asked if Dale Jr. or Johnson were running the NW series and winning as much as Kyle?
Or is it the dislike of Kyle that have so many upset?
Keepin’ it real….
I don’t have a problem with cup drivers racing the occasional race in the Nationwide series, and I agree that it can be beneficial to the NW drivers. What I have a problem with is big-money teams putting a big-money cup driver in a car and having them stink up the race, week after week. If anyone thinks that the cup stars help sell tickets, I ask them to look at the attendance at last Friday night’s race at Darlington, or at practically any of the Nationwide races this year. Whole stands are empty. What’s more, the fans who DID attend last Friday night’s race certainly won’t be telling their friends what a great race they saw. How long can the NW series survive like this?
The one exception this year was watching Kyle Larson almost beat Kyle Busch at Vegas. I was pulling hard for Lawson, not because I dislike Kyle Busch, but because the series needs the Nationwide drivers to beat some of these cup drivers and develop an identity of it’s own.
Well, at least the Cup drivers can no longer compete for the Nationwide championship. And I agree with Sammy, if it was Dale, Jr. or JJ running in the NW series every week, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.
The casual fan would assume Kyle Busch has a huge points lead since he’s dominated the season so far. A look at the standings shows Regan smith with a huge lead and only two drivers in the top 10 with a win. Wait, what?! Allgeir, Kligerman and Bowman – who are they? Basically unknowns because they don’t drive for cup affiliated teams. Major, major identity crisis…
Lets not forget that at one time (may still) most tracks FORCED you to buy both Cup and Busch Tickets and fans wanted to see Stars if they were being forced to buy these tickets.
I would much rather the Cup guys race every race as to JUST CHERRY PICK the big money races. I believe NNW teams need to know how many positions are available.
There are many things nascar could do to fix this problem. 1. Limit number of Cup drivers in NNW race, 2. Allow NNW drivers to pick pit stalls before Cup drivers 3. Take 1 set of tires from Cup drivers. 4. Have more NNW/Truck races and less Cup/NNW races.
Don’t forget that alot of times it is the sponser wanting the Cup driver, and as I believe Brad K said these Cup drivers allow the pit guys on their teams to shine and move up into the Cup series.
Should NASCAR limit Cup drivers in NW?
YES!!!!! Limit them to 8 starts a season. And no more than 4 cup drivers can be in any race.
I never pull for any cup driver when they race NW. Doesn’t matter who it is. Jr, Johnson, Busch, Kahne, etc.. I never want to see them win in NW.
well, let’s try that again. I think that limiting the number of races a Cup driver can run in the Nationwide series and I like Bill B’s suggestion that there should be a limited number of them, too.
Honestly, I seldom watch Nationwide any more. It was supposed to be a series for the up and comers, now it’s just a playground for the well-funded Cup teams/drivers to drive. Stupid IMO and therefore I seldom watch.
You’ll also note that ESPN has decided it doesn’t WANT to cover the entire Nationwide series. Any guess why? they aren’t getting the return on their $ because fans and sponsors aren’t putting their money into it.
Yes, limit them to four starts a year. That’s plenty for them to get the extra practice at the tracks they want to practice at. And I also like Bill B’s suggestion of no more than 4 Cup drivers per race.
I live Atlanta and I attend both Atlanta Braves games and Gwinnett Braves (their AAA farm team just up the road) games. When I go to a Gwinnett Braves game I don’t want to see the Atlanta Braves players … nor do I want to see the Cup drivers in a Nationwide race or Truck race for the same reason. I want to see Nationwide drivers in Nationwide races … Truck series drivers in Truck races … and Cup drivers in Cup races! I believe a fair idea would be to say drivers in the Top 35 in points in their series (NASCAR likes that “35” thing!”) can not drop down to lower series (an exception can be made for drivers who, for whatever reason, are “out of ride,” but still in the Top 35 in their series). And, as far as “going to school” by having Cup drivers in a Nationwide race (as another posterd alluded), for every Cup driver in a Natiowide race there is a Nationwide driver who DNQ’d. I would have no rule prohibiting drivers from “competing up,” though!
I’m fine with Cup drivers mixing it up with the Nationwide guys every once in a while. What I don’t like is that they constantly get the best cars. Look at JGR at Darlington—their four cars were the class of the field, and all four were current or recent Cup drivers. Not one spot for a rookie.
What I propose to fix this is a ban on “Buschwhackers” earning purse money of any kind. Anyone earning their points in Cup shouldn’t be able to earn money in Nationwide. The purse money that would otherwise go to these Cup guys (in 2012, drivers earning points in Cup made over $6,770,000 in the NNS) instead goes to Nationwide drivers and teams. And here’s the clincher—no organization fielding Cup regulars gets any of this bonus money for any of its other cars. This means smaller teams get the funding they need to (hopefully) be competitive, and it strongly discourages the big teams from running Cup stars.
Zetona, I like your ideas. If they didn’t get the $, the cup drivers would be out of Nationwide in a heartbeat
As a poster mentioned above, I have also noticed ESPN’s change to show the Cup guys more heavily. Obviously things are not going well for ESPN in that area. Their feature on Montoya at Darlington, who hasn’t raced in NW in a long time, just proves it.
This season could have been one of the best in NW in a long time. The driver roster of the regulars was top notch. The Cup regulars have ruined it and I will not watch when they race. Looks to me like I’m not the only one.
I wonder how much confidence these NW regulars have knowing Busch, Kes, Harvick are racing that weekend. They must get tired of the disadvantage they face every week. Of course on camera they will say the right things, but I’m sure they can’t be happy about it.
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