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.
Summer Bedgood and Mark Howell · Wednesday May 22, 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: Which race is more important today: the Daytona 500 or the Indianapolis 500?
Summer Bedgood, Assistant Editor: Indianapolis 500
Pageantry and prestige come to mind. A race that defines a career, defines a season … defines a legend. Even the most casual of fans tune in for this event and this one race is remembered and celebrated more than any other race that year ten times over.
And I’m not talking about the Daytona 500.
The Indianapolis 500 is not just a race that diehard IndyCar and motorsports fans tune in to. Everyone who follows racing at all knows what it is, who is in it, who has won it, and understands the history behind it. They may not know who is leading the points or who won the last race, but they know that whoever wins this race will have his (or her) name in the history books forever.
It’s similar to watching the Kentucky Derby or the Preakness. Many of those who watch really don’t care about horses or horse racing 99% of the time, but the high stakes of the event and all of the hype leading up to it compels even the most disinterred among us to tune in just for the sake of not missing out. For the Indy 500, they may never watch another race that year, but they’ll know everything that happened in that one.
That’s not to say the Daytona 500 doesn’t carry similar prestige or history. Of course it’s important and there are those who similarly tune in for that one race all year. That’s expected. But if you’re like most race fans, you have friends, family, and acquaintances who just really don’t care about racing in general. They don’t know what you’re saying when you tell them about the latest storyline or know who the “underdogs” are. But they do watch one race a year…the Indianapolis 500.
The Indy 500 is not just a bigger race in terms of who watches, though. I remember when I was younger and working on some homework, when a question caught my eye. Though I don’t remember the exact wording, I know it specifically mentioned Mario Andretti, the Indianapolis 500, and the speeds reached in the race. At the time, I remember thinking, “Why can’t it be about the Daytona 500?!”
It’s because more people are familiar with the prestige of the Indianapolis 500 than the Daytona 500. It’s why, when some sort of “speed” reference is needed, you’ll hear someone say, “This would put the Indy 500 drivers to shame” or “Who are you, Mario Andretti?”
There is also something to be said about how much importance the general public places on either race in terms of the whole season. I think the general perception of the Daytona 500 is that it is kicking off the year, and that’s why the race holds such significance. For the Indianapolis 500, though, many people are ignorant as to where the race is in terms of the season and, instead, seem to view it as an independent event all its own. For instance, you’ll hear a sports commentator say, “The Daytona 500 kicks off \NASCAR’s season this weekend,” but when referencing the Indy 500, it will be, “The prestigious Indy 500 begins at 12 PM Eastern time this Sunday, and everyone is watching …” In other words, the Daytona 500 is generally acknowledged as a part of NASCAR’s season. The Indy 500 could just as easily be a standalone event with no seasonal significance and no one would know the difference. It’s just that kind of event.
There’s no doubt that NASCAR is winning the popularity battle right now, and the Daytona 500 is a better race by far. In fact, the Brickyard produces some of the worst racing in either series. But when it comes to public knowledge, cultural impact, and the hype surrounding the event, the Indianapolis 500 kicks the Daytona 500’s tail every time around.
Mark Howell, Senior Writer: Daytona 500
There is a perfectly valid reason why the Daytona 500 is considered “The Great American Race”; it’s called that because the event symbolizes much of what we presently consider to be “American”.
For starters, we need to remember that Daytona Beach was regarded (during racing’s infancy) as “the birthplace of speed”. Daytona’s flat sandy shores hosted daredevil drivers like Barney Oldfield, Alexander Winton, Frank Lockhart, and Sir William Campbell as they—among many others—tempted danger to set land speed records in the era before such trials moved west to the dry lake beds of Bonneville.
Before the inaugural running of the Daytona 500 in 1959, NASCAR’s best raced in some of Detroit’s finest as they battled for trophies and glory (and fans, too) along the storied beach-road course that incorporated both sand and asphalt. Construction of Daytona International Speedway was simply the next chapter of this exciting tale.
Part of NASCAR’s recognized heritage is its deep roots within all that is essential to our national culture, and there’s hardly a more truly “American” event than the annual running of the Daytona 500 each February. Where else – apart from your local short track – can you see so many American drivers racing door-to-door and nose-to-tail at better than 200 miles per hour in “American made” cars?
You can see similar action at the Indianapolis 500 every Memorial Day weekend, but you’d be hard-pressed to see many American drivers circling the Brickyard in cars so closely based on makes and models familiar to American motorists as NASCAR features. The motors at Indy might be from Honda, Toyota, and Chevrolet, but the chassis and bodies flashing by are a far cry from anything you might see sitting in the parking lot of your neighborhood supermarket.
Not that a NASCAR stock car is all that closely related to your father’s grocery getter, but the new Gen-6 models are more similar to their highway namesakes than we’ve seen in recent history. It’s far too soon to tell if this new design will seriously resonate with fans (the TV and attendance numbers thus far in 2013 say otherwise), but at least NASCAR races are a more accurate depiction of American motorsports as we have come to know them. Much more so than what we see at the Indianapolis 500 each May.
The starting grid for the Daytona 500 today more closely reflects what the grid at Indianapolis looked like in years past. NASCAR’s “Great American Race” offers up drivers named Johnson, Gordon, Truex, Earnhardt, Kenseth, Edwards, Harvick, Bowyer, and even Keselowski – names that are related to and representative of our nation’s immigrant experience. Many of these drivers had ancestors who raced before them and who played vital roles in the evolution of American motorsports.
But look at the Indianapolis 500 circa 2013. Of the drivers in the lineup for this Sunday’s race, 67% were born outside the United States (that’s 22 of the 33 who qualified). History and tradition only go so far at Indy these days, especially given that the patriotic relevance of this tried-and-true spectacle attracts more and more competitors from around the globe. While there’s nothing wrong with an influx of foreign drivers, American fans are unable to readily identify with the international vibe of the Memorial Day event.
Much of that inability to identify with the Indy 500 began with the infamous split that occurred during the mid-1990s – the feud between CART and the IRL that led to the running of two 500-mile open-wheel races on Memorial Day in 1995. That debacle not only made Indy-style racing more confusing to most general observers, but it also allowed NASCAR to exploit its simultaneous period of growing national popularity.
Suddenly it was the Daytona 500 that looked to be reflective of all that audiences valued about America. As all-things-Indy alienated fans and television audiences, NASCAR happily capitalized on the instability. “The Great American Race” is today just that, even with foreign-born drivers like Juan Pablo Montoya and Marcos Ambrose providing an international touch.
In 2004, while campaigning for that year’s presidential election, George W. Bush wanted to connect with a large number of voters. He wanted to visit with people at a major event where he’d find recognition and lots of publicity, an event that was symbolic of what was deemed most important about the United States.
The President skipped going to the Super Bowl. He also skipped going to the Indianapolis 500. He did, however, visit the Daytona 500.
Connect with Summer!
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©2000 - 2008 Summer Bedgood and Mark Howell and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
For me it’s a toss-up and a matter of preference. As the article points out, there are pros and cons for each. It’s undeniable that the Daytona 500 is usually more exciting from a racing perspective, but with the restrictor plates on the cars, the excitement is contrived. The restrictor plate also makes the race a crapshoot; almost every driver in the field has a realistic shot at winning depending on their luck. At Indy, luck is less a factor and the winner almost always has one of the best cars in the field.
Of course, the most important difference is this… real racecar drivers drink beer, not milk.
Hey Summer have you actually watched an Indy car race the past few years? Comparing the competition between NASCAR and IndyCar at Indianapolis is a ridiculous assertion.
I have to put the Indy 500 over Daytona. Watching Indy, it has that timeless event feel, just like the Kentucky Derby. It also overshadows the rest of the IndyCar season. While Daytona is huge for NASCAR, NASCAR has done a better job of selling the rest of the schedule. The Daytona 500 doesn’t feel like the be all and end all of the season.
Indy 500 !!
My opinion is the Indianapolis 500 is still more important today. The prestige of Indy has certainly taken its hits over the years but it’s the history and cultural significance mentioned in the article that puts it on top. For me personally the racetracks themselves even play a part. I have visited both racetracks and there is a feeling of the history and importance at Indy that I just didn’t get at Daytona
As for the racing at IMS the race track does not necessarily lend itself to great racing. That said there is a big difference between the Indy 500 and the Brickyard 400. The Indy 500 will produce a good or great finish (last year) for every couple snoozers. Someone correct me if I’m wrong, but I can’t recall any remarkable finishes (outside who won) to the Brickyard 400.
Carl D. – You hit on what I think is the biggest reason NASCAR doesn’t want to find a solution for the restrictor plates. The plates all but guarantee the finish of their biggest race is close and for this reason they will never go away.
I would love to say Daytona, but ever since the introduction of the restrictor plate the race itself has been one big joke; the pageantry and the “big race” feel of it helps save it a little, but let’s be 100% realistic: drivers like Derrike Cope, Michael Waltrip, Ward Burton, and especially Trevor Bayne would have had far, far FAR less of a chance of winning Daytona if it wasn’t a plate race.
Look at the winners BEFORE they switched to plates: with the possible exception of Davey Hamilton (who was still driving a Petty car), pretty much every winner was a “big name.”
It’s kind of nice to have that sort of novelty, to know that it’s a crapshoot and anyone can win, but should that really be your series’ “biggest race?”
Contrast that with Monaco, or the old Nurburgring, typically won by the biggest and best (with rare exceptions like Fiscicella’s win)…. Bathurst for the V8 Supercars… LeMans for Sports Cars….and Indy for the Indycar series.
Not that Indy hasn’t had a few surprise winners, mind you. But still, you get the sense that all those races are important for a reason, that the difficulty is HUGE and the stakes are high, and the best of the best win those races.
You don’t get that feeling with Daytona anymore. Take the plates off and you will….
Hey Alex you are right. The Indy Cars have much closer racing and more side by side racing. And, the comparison’s not even close.
“the Brickyard produces some of the worst racing in either series.”
Did you watch any of the past ten Indianapolis 500??? Indianapolis was made for Indy cars. You’ll see that next Sunday.
“Gen-6 models are more similar to their highway namesakes than we’ve seen in recent history.”
Current Nascar cars are far from “stock”. If you want to see road cars driven by professionals, see ALMS, Grand-Am or SCCA World Challenge.
“NASCAR’s “Great American Race” offers up drivers named Johnson, Gordon, Truex, Earnhardt, Kenseth, Edwards, Harvick, Bowyer, and even Keselowski – names that are related to and representative of our nation’s immigrant experience.
American fans are unable to readily identify with the international vibe of the Memorial Day event.”
You are contradicting yourself. If the United States is an immigrants country, then an international race like the Indianapolis 500 is a better representative. Plus, plenty of former foreign IndyCar drivers now live in the United States, and many of them actually work in IndyCar.
Anyway, the discussion was about which is the greatest race. Each person has a different view on what is great. In my opinion, an international race is always greater than a national race.
About Bush’s visit to Daytona: the Super Bowl was held in Texas (72% for Bush in 2004). Indiana resulted in a 60-40 election. But Florida is a swing state (52-47), so that event was more relevant to win the election.
To Mark; The two 500 milers took place in 1996 and Toyota does not supply engines to IndyCar. Having two writers with little knowledge of open wheel racing does not do this debate justice.
All I can say is that for the past 50+ years this upcoming weekend is my favorite weekend. I get the F1 in Monaco- the Indy 500 and then the 600 in charlotte.
BTW CarlD – Go tell Foyt he isn’t a real race driver…My bet is he would have loved to drink even more milk on memorial day.
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