Kurt Busch to Attempt The Indianapolis-Charlotte Double
posted by Phil Allaway
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Andretti Autosport announced this morning that Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet in the Sprint Cup Series, will attempt the Indianapolis 500 in a fifth entry for the IndyCar Series team. Once the Indianapolis 500 is completed, Busch will fly from Indianapolis to Charlotte, jump in his No. 41 Chevrolet and compete in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Busch considers the opportunity to do the double as an old-school throwback moment.
“This is really to challenge myself within motorsports,” Busch said in Andretti Autosport’s press release. “Perhaps I am a bit of an old-school racer; a throwback, I guess. I enjoyed the era of drivers racing different cars and testing themselves in other series. It is tough to do now for a variety of factors, but when the opportunity is there, I want to do it. While NASCAR is my home, I have been fortunate to compete in Pro Stock on the NHRA circuit a number of years ago and test a V8 Supercar. This opportunity was a talk with Michael [Andretti] over dinner one night, a “What if,” and now it’s becoming a reality for me to drive in the Indy 500 with Andretti Autosport. It’s literally a dream come true. To go to the famous Brickyard with the iconic Andretti name, it doesn’t get much cooler or better than that.”
Busch will be doing the Indianapolis-Charlotte double as a Memorial Day mission to men and women serving in the U.S. Military via the Armed Forces Foundation. Fans can contribute to the cause by texting AFF to 50555 to donate $10.
Busch, who has never raced an IndyCar, passed Rookie Orientation at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year during a test session. At the time, Busch was more or less testing the Dallara DW12 for fun.
Busch will be the fourth driver to attempt the Indianapolis-Charlotte double. John Andretti was the first driver to attempt it in 1994. After finishing four laps down in tenth in Indianapolis, Andretti crashed and had engine problems in the 600. Robby Gordon has attempted the double five times, most recently in 2004. However, Gordon failed to make it to Charlotte on time and did not start the 600 in 2000 (P.J. Jones started Gordon’s No. 13 Ford in that instance). Finally, Tony Stewart has attempted the double twice (most recently in 2001) and is the only driver to ever complete all 1100 miles. Neither of the three drivers has won either leg of the double. The best finishes are Stewart and Gordon’s sixth-place finishes at the Indianapolis 500 (although Gordon’s came in 2000, the year he didn’t make it to Charlotte in time to start the Coca-Cola 600), and Stewart’s fourth-place finish in the 2001 Coca-Cola 600.
Danica Patrick, Justin Allgaier Talk About Phoenix Incident
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
A disappointing start to the year for Danica Patrick won’t include continued conflict. Patrick met with rookie Justin Allgaier Sunday, shortly after the Phoenix Cup race after a wreck ruined both drivers’ days. Patrick, who was critical of the No. 51 car on the radio, claiming Allgaier was “driving all over the track” appeared receptive to a conversation that quickly settled differences over what will be a long season.
“She was just upset because she got involved in the crash that we had,’’ said Allgaier to the Motor Racing Network. “She says she’s been through this and that she felt like I needed to settle down at that point. I explained my position on why everything happened. I think she understood where I was coming from. It doesn’t fix either one of our racecars. It doesn’t fix either one of our days. Unfortunately, we were both having pretty decent days.’’
Allgaier wound up 30th due to the incident while Patrick was 36th. The incident, which was caused by Allgaier’s spin also involved the No. 32 team and Travis Kvapil, which wound up 38th after sustaining heavy damage.
Camping World Close to Extending Title Sponsorship of NCWTS
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Marcus Lemonis, CEO of Camping World, Grand Marshal of Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway, and star of CNBC’s “The Profit,” made the announcement over the weekend that the retailer is very close to announcing a deal that would continue its title sponsorship of NASCAR’s Truck Series. The original agreement with NASCAR is scheduled to conclude after the 2015 season.
According to the sanctioning body, no formal contract has been signed, but “the agreement between the two parties has proven to be a beneficial one.”
“In about a month, we’ll be announcing a significant extension to that contract. It’s been great for us,” said Camping World’s Lemonis in a statement. “The NASCAR relationship has worked well for Camping World. When we started, we had 35 stores. Now, we’re up to 120 stores. As we travel the country and we meet new customers in stores, they always are very appreciative of our relationship with NASCAR. It’s been good.”
Gaining a long-term commitment from Camping World to sponsor the Truck Series would be a relief for NASCAR, which is set to lose Nationwide Insurance as title sponsor for the NASCAR Nationwide Series at the end of the 2014 season. The sponsorship of the Cup Series by Sprint runs through 2016.
The NCWTS is back in action on March 29th at 2:30 PM (ET) when the trucks visit Martinsville Speedway in the Kroger 250, which can be seen on Fox Sports 1. Ratings for the season opener were up 11 percent.
Harvick Takes Win At Phoenix In Second Race With New Team
posted by Justin Tucker
Monday March 3, 2014
Phoenix International Raceway has become Kevin Harvick’s home away from home. Sunday Afternoon was no exception as Harvick charged to the front early and would dominate for much of the day, leading 224 of the scheduled 312 laps to record his record fifth win on the one mile oval and his third win in the last four races at Phoenix.
Harvick, coming off of a disappointing Speedweeks which was capped by a last lap crash in the Daytona 500 in his debut with Stewart-Haas Racing, set the tone on Saturday by winning both practices while having the best 5 and 10-lap averages in the first practice of the day on Saturday. On Sunday, Harvick and his No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet was nothing short of flawless as he was able to hold Dale Earnhardt, Jr. by .489 seconds after a late race restart to claim his 24th career Sprint Cup Series victory.
“Man, this is awesome,” Harvick said after his dominant victory on Sunday. “Man, this just solidifies so many things and so many decisions. It’s been so much work with all the time and effort that these guys (the crew) have put in—but what a race car.”
Stewart Haas Racing co-owner Gene Haas shared in Harvick’s excitement after the race.
“It took long enough,” Haas joked. “This is phenomenal. I think there was a lot of skepticism last year about what myself and Tony (Stewart) what we were up to, was there a lot of madness to this. Quite frankly, it’s a great team, there’s a lot of synergy at the shop, people working together. I don’t know what we did, but I think we put together a great organization.”
Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt, Jr. continued his hot start to the 2014 season. Earnhardt Jr. would finish second on Sunday, marking his seventh consecutive top 10 finish since the end of the 2013 season. Earnhardt Jr. was pleased with the effort after a coast-to-coast whirlwind week after winning his second Daytona 500 and also gave great praise to the efforts of Harvick and the No. 4 team.
“I’ve got to congratulate Kevin. Those guys were two-tenths faster than everyone all weekend in practice. They were just phenomenal,” Earnhardt said. “To be able to run with them all day was a big confidence builder for us.”
Joining Harvick and Earnhardt in the top 5 of The Profit on CNBC 500K were Brad Keselowski with his second consecutive top 3 run of 2014 in third. Keselowski’s Team Penske teammate Joey Logano would finish fourth, and Jeff Gordon would come home fifth in his No. 24 Pepsi Max Chevrolet.
Jimmie Johnson finished in sixth, followed by Ryan Newman with a nice rebound after Daytona in seventh. Carl Edwards would carry the banner for Roush Fenway Racing by finishing eighth, Kyle Busch was ninth, and Jamie McMurray would finish tenth.
A look at the Profit on CNBC 500K by the numbers. There were 14 lead changes among eight different drivers, there were eight cautions for 39 laps which slowed the race pace to 109.229 MPH.
Next Sunday, the Sprint Cup Series heads to Sin City and the Las Vegas Motor
Starting Lineup: The Profit On CNBC 500K
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday March 1, 2014
Drivers in RED (i) are those ineligible to collect Sprint Cup points
Daytona 500 TV Ratings Down
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Wednesday February 26, 2014
What was the longest weather delay in Daytona 500 history turned out to bring NASCAR lower ratings and TV viewership Sunday night than expected. According to a report Monday from FOX Sports, the 56th running of the Daytona 500 airing at 8 PM (ET) posted a 5.6/10 national household rating/share which averaged 9.3 million viewers. That’s down 44 percent from last year’s 9.9, easily making it the least-watched Daytona 500 of all-time.
Due to the six-hour, twenty-two minute rain delay in Daytona, the race was up against the primetime coverage of the Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony from Sochi, Russia on NBC (15.25 million viewers). FOX also reported that 69% of the pre-rain delay viewers of the race, which began at 1 PM (ET) kept tuning in.
In comparison, the 2013 Daytona 500 on FOX was the most-watched race in five years, posting a 9.9/22 rating/share, commanding 16.7 million viewers. The Daytona 500 in 2012, the first to ever be run on a Monday and in the primetime slot did a 7.7/13 overnight rating/share which resulted in 13.67 million households viewing the race according to Nielsen TV ratings data.
Earnhardt, Jr. Claims Second Daytona 500 Victory
posted by Justin Tucker
Wednesday February 26, 2014
Ten years is a long time. For Dale Earnhardt, Jr., it felt like an eternity. NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver endured many near misses and close calls at the Daytona 500 since his only win in the Great American Race in 2004. Earnhardt had finished second in two of his last three Daytona 500s coming into Sunday’s race. He was also riding the tail of a 55-race winless streak, dating back to Michigan in 2012.
However nothing would stop Dale Jr. on Sunday, not even a 6 hour and 22 minute rain delay from capturing his second Daytona 500 win. Earnhardt Jr. led a race-high 54 laps on the evening and used some timely drafting help from teammates Jimmie Johnson and, on the final restart, Jeff Gordon to separate from the pack and secure the victory.
“Winning this race is the greatest feeling that you could feel in this sport besides accepting the trophy for the championship,” said a jubilant Earnhardt after pulling into Victory Lane. “We could fight off battle after battle. We got a little help at the end there from Jeff to get away on the restart. This is amazing. I can’t believe this is happening. I never take this for granted, man because it doesn’t happen twice, let alone once.”
Aside from the race itself the big story of the race was the 6 hour and 22 minute red flag, which threatened to move the race to Monday evening (had the race been postponed, FOX Sports’ Chris Myers had tweeted that the race would resume at 5:00pm EST). However, Mother Nature would cooperate and would allow the race to be run under different conditions from which they practiced this week. Once the race resumed, the intensity picked up from the changing track conditions. This allowed the pack to race side-by-side and at times 3-wide up to seven rows deep.
Joining Earnhardt Jr. in the top 5 for the 2014 Daytona 500 were: Denny Hamlin who closed out a spectacular Speedweeks in second, Brad Keselowski in third, Jeff Gordon in fourth, and Jimmie Johnson who overcome two wrecks leading up to the 500 in fifth.
Rounding out the top 10 in the Daytona 500 were Matt Kenseth in sixth, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. in seventh and Greg Biffle would bring his No. 16 Ford home in eighth. Austin Dillon would come home ninth in his first Cup Series race in the iconic No. 3 for Richard Childress Racing, while Casey Mears would round out the top 10.
A couple of major contenders for the Daytona 500 win would see their hopes dashed early on as Martin Truex, Jr. would blow up just 30 laps into the race, relegating him to a 43rd-place finish in his debut for Furniture Row Racing. Crew chief Todd Berrier was already in Nashville for a test session before the race was even over. Kyle Busch, meanwhile would have a pit road violation just before halfway and would spend much of the race battling back from that mistake. Busch would eventually finish 19th after leading 19 laps.
Danica Patrick would also be bit by bad luck as she was caught up in a multi-car wreck on lap 145. Patrick would lead her second consecutive Daytona 500, but wouldn’t have the finish to show for it finishing 40th. Tony Stewart would encounter a frustrating evening as well, with a fuel pickup problem derailing his quest for his first Daytona 500 win. Stewart would finish 35th.
A look at the Daytona 500 by the numbers. There were 42 lead changes among 18 drivers, while seven cautions for 39 laps would slow the race pace to 145.290 MPH.
Next week, the Sprint Cup Series heads to the “diamond in the desert,” Phoenix International Raceway for The Profit on CNBC 500K. The Green flag is scheduled for 3:15pm EST.
Nationwide Series Post-Race Quotes: Drive4COPD 300
posted by Thomas Bowles
Tuesday February 25, 2014
Frontstretch Interviews – Courtesy Mike Neff
ELLIOTT SADLER – FINISHED 4th
Thoughts on the race?
It’s definitely a lot different racing than what we’re used to.
Comfortable with it?
Yeah, it’s just different. You’re worried about what you’re doing, but you’re also worried about what everyone else is doing and they’re not doing more than you’re doing. Physically pushing a guy is way better than just riding so you just gotta time it right and push it to the edge.
Happy to start the year with a top 5?
Yeah. Hell, that was the worst we ran all day, I think. I have no idea how they put the 3 car in front of us on that last restart. I hadn’t seen the 3 car hardly all day. When they put us from fifth to sixth, on the outside line, it just really boxed us in. I would have really restarted behind my teammate and given him a good push to the front. Anyways, it is what it is; we’ll take it and move on.
Looked like you were up front all day.
The guys did a good job. We had a fast race car. Great pit stops, just really proud of these guys. The car’s in one piece and we can take it to Talladega now. Great job by my guys. A lot of effort came into coming down here to Daytona and giving ourselves a shot to win. We had that chance to be up front and make some things happen. Fifth is not what we want, but we’ll take it and move on.
Bumping vs Pushing?
It’s way harder. You don’t want to lay on the guy in front of you, so it’s tough racing. A lot different than what we’re used to, ‘cause you gotta go. You gotta drag the brake too ‘cause you don’t want to hit the guys and you don’t want to stay on him. It’s a lot harder mentally than what we’ve done in the past.
Car was strong all day. Pushing vs. Bumping, is that harder to do than just getting on somebody and pushing them?
Yeah, it is a little bit. When you bump ‘em, you jar ‘em, it kinda jacks ‘em a little bit. It’s a little more abrupt, obviously. I thought it was OK there at the end. It was certainly fun and hopefully entertaining. But a little bit of a struggle in the early part of the race and the midpart of the race to see a good race. And that’s unfortunate for the fans. You can’t do that the whole race, you can’t tear up your stuff, knock your grill in, overheat your motor, all that stuff so there’s no sense in doing all that until you get down to the last lap. The 7 and the 6, they did a good job. Man, the 7 really held the 22 and I tight on the bottom. I was rubbing his door and hitting the apron at the same time, no room whatsoever. So it was good; wish we were the ones who could have won but a lot better now than what we were last year.
Going home in one piece makes it a lot better, right?
Yeah. My back feels good. My foot feels good. Past years here, I’ve been going home with pain so I’m alright.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Truck Series Post-Race Quotes: Daytona (Exclusives)
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday February 22, 2014
When you’re on the outside like that, how frustrating is it?
It’s so hard. Timothy Peters has won here. Kyle Busch has won everywhere. Ron Hornaday has been running Trucks forever, probably before I was even born. I was surrounded by veterans there, and like I told them I don’t have a rookie stripe but I’m a rookie. This is only my fourth Truck race ever, my fourth superspeedway race, and man, I figured out when the 17 got up in front of me, I pushed him. And as soon as I pushed him, he took off. And I went with him. And I just kept doing it, and before I knew it, he was leading. And I saw Ron in my mirror, backed up to him, and if it wasn’t for him, I don’t know what would have happened. I gotta thank him big time for that. That was a true teammate move right there. I really appreciate that. He just bounced off me and we got to the front. I tried my hardest to sidedraft Kyle. I was probably touching his door.
Top 5 in the No. 30 truck. This deal come together at the last minute, but you had a heck of a truck. Tell us about your night.
Yeah, I’ve got to thank Turner Scott Motorsports. The guys worked so hard on this Rheem Comfort Products Chevrolet. Exciting! Just got hung up on the outside and had to wait for my teammate there to catch up. And then he got to the bottom, so… I got the old 32 and started pushing ol’ Ryan to the front. So, it’s not bad. We’ll take it. You just don’t want to step over that boundary. You don’t know how far to push and shove. We bumped about six times down the straightaway without latching onto them. Hopefully, that was OK and we came home with a top 5.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Budweiser Duels Post Race Quotes
posted by Matt Stallknecht
Friday February 21, 2014
BUDWEISER DUELS POST-RACE QUOTES
They’re saying the wheel bearing burned up in it. I don’t know what caused it, they’re taking it all apart to figure out what the heck happened. Something abnormal that’s for sure I don’t think I’ve ever had that happen at all. Hopefully, we made the race and hopefully we can fix the problem before Sunday.
WHAT WAS THAT LOUD BOOM ONCE YOU TURNED INTO THE GARAGE?
Loud pop was a tire… thankfully, it popped, hopefully it didn’t hurt anybody. All the heat created in the left front that popped was pretty weird.
REALLY GOOD RUN. WHAT DID YOU THINK OF IT?
Yeah, it was good. We have a car we can work with for the 500. Got a good starting spot, so we’re going to rest easy, fluff and buff our car for a couple of days and get ready for Sunday.
ANY DIFFERENCE ON WHETHER THE TOP OR BOTTOM LANE WORKED?
Yeah, I was just moving around, trying to stay with the flow. For me, this car works on all parts of the racetrack. So I’m pretty happy with it.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.
GOT SHUFFLED BACK, AFTER PIT STOPS AND THEN COULDN’T GET BACK UP TO THE FRONT. WHY?
Nah, we were just sitting there waiting until the last few laps to make a move. You didn’t want to pull down and get sent to the back. Seen a couple of guys get sent to the back really quick so we were just kind of waiting for the end. I felt like we had a good situation there with Ambrose behind us — we had a good run off Turn 2 and I went. It was the last lap, time to go do something, nobody went with us but hopefully Sunday is a different story.
We got a great car. We don’t have to work hard. We learned, we got a good race car. Got a car in one piece, ready to go so we’ll try and get through the next couple of practices, deliver it to the starting group this Sunday and we’ll be real happy.
YOU’RE IN THE DAYTONA 500!
Yeah, it’s pretty awesome. This Whitetail Chevrolet was so fast that I knew all I had to do was stick it behind smart, intelligent drafters and we could have a good finish. That’s what we did in the Duels and I’m excited. I’m excited to go do some stuff with the Nationwide car and have some more practice with this. But to know that we’re locked in the Daytona 500’s pretty cool.
YOU WERE OBVIOUSLY IN FRONT OF THAT MELEE AT THE END. WHEN YOU WERE UP FRONT THERE IN THE BEGINNING, WERE YOU HOPING TO JUST STAY IN LINE AND LET YOU FINISH TOP 5?
I was pretty content to ride and luckily I knew a lot of people around us were. It was nice to have a little calm and not really have to be racing hard the whole time. I knew that the pit stop was going to shake everything up and that’s exactly what happened. Fell back a little bit there but made the right moves at the end to get a good finish.
HOW STRONG ARE THESE RCR CARS?
They’re very strong! They definitely have the capabilities to be winning one of these races.
YOU’RE IN THE TOP 5 FOR YOUR HEAT IN THE DAYTONA 500. YOUR PRIMARY CAR IS SITTING RIGHT IN THE GARAGE, KIND OF WADDED UP. DID YOU THINK THIS ONE HAD IT IN IT?
Yeah, it’s a brand new car also. It’s just not quite as good as the primary but still a damned good car. I’m just proud of everybody at RCR for building such fast race cars. All of our cars have been fast, ECR motor’s been strong, even our affiliate teams have been qualifying really good and racing good. So… excited about 2014! It’s going to be a good year.
WELL MAN, YOU STARTED IN THE BACK BUT WORKED YOUR WAY TO THE FRONT WHEN IT COUNTED MOST. WERE YOU JUST BIDING YOUR TIME THROUGHOUT THE RACE?
Eh, you never know if you’re going to get back up there or not. We had to start at the back, we had to make a run early and see what we could do. We drove right to 10th, or something like that and then it got stagnant. We tried to make something happen, and went to the back again. Drove back up to the front. Again, just really proud of my guys. Matt Kruder did a hell of a job on that pit stop getting just enough gas in to gain some spots there.
RCR CARS SEEM PRETTY DARNED STRONG. DO YOU THINK THE RCR CARS HAVE SOMETHING FOR THEM ON SUNDAY — ESPECIALLY THE THREE JOE GIBBS RACING CARS THAT SEEM TO BE THE CLASS OF THE FIELD RIGHT NOW?
Oh yeah. The 20 car was extremely fast. The 11 didn’t qualify that good, but he’s a good drafter. I think he won. We definitely have something for him.
Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
Bryan Davis Keith · Monday October 6, 2008
Say what you will about restrictor plate racing. When NASCAR’s best strap the plates on their cars and proceed to race 500 miles in 20-plus car packs at nearly 200 miles per hour, there is hardly a sporting spectacle in the world that can hold a candle to it. The annual races at Talladega always provide tons of lead changes, constant passing, and a true opportunity for any of the 43 starters to score a Sprint Cup victory. There are few, if any, races on the Cup circuit more captivating for fans than those held at the famous Alabama oval.
Sunday’s race was vintage Talladega — and it was gripping. NASCAR’s new car design has done well to provide excellent restrictor plate racing, as drivers have found it harder to simply ride around all day. Sure, some still make an effort to stay at the back of the pack as long as possible, but I for one have noticed, as did the drivers at Talladega in April, that it was more important with this new car to stay more aggressive on the throttle and more involved in the lead draft, even if it’s towards the back or through the middle of the pack.
The statistics speak for themselves as to how competitive this race was. A Sprint Cup record 28 of the 43 drivers in the event led at least one lap Sunday. 64 lead changes were recorded, and that measure included just the lead changes that registered at the start/finish line. On the final lap, no less than half a dozen drivers had a legitimate chance to score the win. Sunday’s race had fans at the track on their feet, and those watching on TV on the edge of their couches. It was everything in terms of excitement and intensity that has made the Sprint Cup series what it is today.
Unfortunately, despite all this, Sunday’s race is likely going to leave a very sour taste in the mouths of many race fans, hardcore and casual alike. Just as everything great about NASCAR was seen on-track in the Amp Energy 500, everything wrong with it — everything that has plagued the sport in recent years — was front and center. And, worst of all, it literally stole the show.
For the second time in as many years, the driver who crossed the finish line first failed to win a Sprint Cup race. Rookie Regan Smith, who ran nose to tail with Tony Stewart for the final laps of the race, put a brilliant crossover move on the No. 20 coming through the tri-oval on the final lap. Stewart threw a block across the nose of Smith’s No. 01 machine, forcing him below the yellow line. Smith, racing for the win, took the high road and made no contact with Stewart, instead racing cleanly below the No. 20 before crossing the finish line a nose ahead of Stewart’s Toyota. Not so fast, said big bad NASCAR, who ruled Smith’s move to be illegal, relegated him to an 18th place run, and sent Stewart to Talladega’s Victory Lane for the first time in his Cup career.
It has long been understood that the rule when it comes to plate racing and the out-of-bounds yellow line is that a driver forced below the line can continue to race there, assuming they come back above the line as soon as possible. Smith’s case for being forced below the yellow line is textbook. Stewart’s block was so close to the nose of Smith’s Chevrolet that he had only two options: go below the line, or spin Stewart and collect the tattered remains of the field in a third “Big One.” Smith chose to race clean; and for the record, as soon as he had room to get back on the racing groove under Stewart’s car, he did.
Yet, despite video evidence making it very clear that Smith was forced below the line, NASCAR ruled against him, and stripped the rookie of his first career Cup win in favor of fan favorite Tony Stewart. Smith, when interviewed after the race, said NASCAR told him that he could have backed off the throttle rather than gone below the yellow line. Really? The final tenth of a mile racing for the win, and NASCAR is telling its drivers to back off the gas?
Regan Smith was flat robbed by NASCAR on Sunday. Despite showing the maturity of a veteran and resisting the temptation to stick his nose deservedly under Tony Stewart’s block and cause another wreck to take the trophy, Smith raced clean, saved the field behind him, and was penalized for it. NASCAR’s ruling in this matter was inconsistent with previous rulings (see Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s 2003 win at the track and Kyle Busch in a late-race move in the Spring race as examples.) For lack of a better word, this was nothing short of a travesty.
The victim of this, as fellow writer Matt McLaughlin termed it, “Grand Theft Auto Race,” Regan Smith said it best. “It might not say it in the rule or in the history books but the [No.] 01 car won today.”
While Regan Smith was justifiably incensed for having his first career win snatched from him, there was at least one driver in the field who couldn’t care less whether he won or lost. Who, you ask? None other than the reigning Cup champion and current points leader, Jimmie Johnson.
After struggling with a rev-limiter early in the running and narrowly missing the second “Big One,” a wreck that collected numerous Chase contenders (including second place driver Carl Edwards), Johnson all but explicitly told crew chief Chad Knaus over the radio that he wouldn’t be running for the win this Sunday. “I’ve used up all of my luck today,” said Johnson, who rebuffed numerous attempts by Knaus to calm his driver down and get him focused on scoring another victory. Johnson’s Hendrick Chevrolet was certainly capable, but he instead chose to ride in the back for the duration and settled for a ninth place finish.
If this isn’t proof positive the Chase culture that has permeated the Cup series has taken the focus off of the checkered flag, I don’t know what is. Johnson, a former winner at Talladega, had a car capable of scoring the win and was in the middle of a depleted field that had only 18 cars running on the lead lap at its conclusion. How can anybody that calls themselves a racer be in that situation and completely refuse to race for victory? Maybe it’s just me, but I was sick to my stomach (and for the first time in a while sympathetic to Chad Knaus) hearing Johnson’s radio communications in the waning laps of Sunday’s race.
Was this all that was wrong with NASCAR’s latest race? Hardly. Talladega became the latest center for an epidemic of Goodyear tire failures. ESPN analyst Andy Petree astutely noted that tires (not tire strategy) have been deciding far too many races, and Sunday was no exception. Even before the race started, Dale Earnhardt Jr. found himself in a backup car after tire failure destroyed his primary in practice Friday. Brian Vickers saw a stellar run eliminated by a blown tire, as did over half a dozen fellow wheelmen that got caught in his misfortune. Worst of all, Denny Hamlin was helped off the track on a stretcher and sent to a local hospital following a savage crash in Turn 2 after losing one of his Goodyears.
Goodyear’s defense of its latest shortcoming as the exclusive tire provider for the Cup series was that they used the exact same tire combination in the Spring race, and since it worked then, they knew it would work in October.
Sound complacent? It certainly is. Never mind the fact that trying to compare track conditions separated by two seasons and six months of asphalt weathering simply doesn’t work — the COT is still less than two years old! It is still evolving rapidly, and if the race teams still haven’t figured the thing out, then you damn well better believe that Goodyear hasn’t. Yet Goodyear, without competition or any seeming pressure from the sanctioning body to change its ways, sent another inferior product to a Cup race; and as a result, another race was marred by the tires it was run on.
On paper, the Amp Energy 500 will go down as another ultra-competitive, exciting race at Talladega. Yet, despite all the lead changes, all the passes, all the drama, Sunday was just another NASCAR race.
And like many of the events that have been run by the sanctioning body this season, that’s not a good thing.
©2000 - 2008 Bryan Davis Keith and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
For all of the bad press Goodyear has been getting every other Sunday of late, they may as well get out of NASCAR. Let someone else get a terrible reputation trying to build tires for this piece of crap.
Quote: “ultra-competitive, exciting race at Talladega”!
Boy have you been duped!
Tel me just how many times an “individual” driver took the lead of the race, rather than simply being the recipient of being at the head of a conga line of some 15 cars? And only by luck, not by design!
With the very sick restrictor plate racing we are seeing, all your doing is hanging on tight, not daring to change lanes because then you would “lose the draft” of the other 10 or 15 cars!
This is not RACING! And this does not constitute real “lead-changes”!
I thought the race was GREAT! I don’t know what race Douglas was watching but I saw 2 sometimes 3 lines racing for the lead and this IS by design! I just don’t agree with the winner. If it was Jr. in Smith’s place he would have been awarded the victory. I do believe it could be just a 20 lap race and THAT would be fun to watch!
I feel your assessment of the race is the best of all the Jayski-linked commentaries I’ve read today. Great insights.
No Junior would not have been given the race either just stop yourself, at Dega or Daytona the yellow line rule is enforced and has been for years. Look it was a rookie mistake, those things happen had he not been a rookie most likely Tony would have been mowing grass with his Toyota. It might be a silly rule but it’s still a rule and the DEI crew chief or spotter should have clued him in well before it got to that point. I saw the pre race meeting with the guy telling them go below the yellow line or do any over aggressive driving and they would step in it was quite clear. The kid drove a great race yes, robbed no. If you want to look to something look into why Cousin Carl was bump drafting in the corners which was just a stupid thing to do by his own admission and took half the field out generally messed the day up of quite a few drivers. Now would that be called overly aggressive driving under the pre race instructions?
Stewart forces Smith below yellow line: Stewart violated rule and should be penalized.
Even though he was forced down, Smith was still not allowed to advance his position below the yellow line: He should be penalized as well.
Paul Menard wins.
Or just say screw-it and let these guys race! Whoever crosses the finish line first, wins.
There’s too much whinning and crying and pointing fingers… I think Smith should’ve spun the 20 and taken the win… where have the tough-guy, win-at-all-cost drivers gone? Now we have guys like JJ who are contempt to ride around too scared to go for the win because they might crash? Come-on!!!!
what part of “can’t go below the yellow and improve your position” do some of you not understand
What part of you can advance if you are forced below the yellow line do you not understand!
What about the fact that when Johnny Benson did the same thing in a truck race, NASCAR said it is anythihg goes on the final lap. Now they are trying to backtrack and say it is this from now on.
Why is NASCAR the only form of racing that allows drivers to block? Blocking has been an issue with plate racing for a long time. NASCAR used to tell drivers not to block. That seems to have gone out the window. NASCAR SUCKS!
To those who are still trying to say Regan Smith wasn’t forced below the yellow line, I have one word. “Dellusional” Stewart knows who won this race. But he’ll take the trophy and the “official” win.
There are plenty of replays which clearly show Tony coming down on Regan after Regan had a fender under him. He was forced below the yellow line. I agree, If this had been Tony or Jr. or several other drivers passing down there they would have been declared the winner. Don’t even use the word credibility around Nascar. Every one involved is a puppet whether tv announcers, drivers, crew members or whoever they have to walk the line with nascar or you will be out of a job. Very strange you can win a race with an illegal car and still keep the win but going for a win below a line you cannot. If nascar doesn’t want cars down there put a fence there are a curb then they want have to worry about making a judgement call even if it is differant than the one you made at Daytona last year.
One last thing. Hunter’s explaination of the pass below the yellow line and the rules therein was a really a laugher. But that’s what nascar does best. “Attempt” to cover their behind’s with moronic explainations. Way to go, nascar. And then they wonder why a lot of people don’t take the sport seriously. Gimme a break!!!
The biggest thing to remember is that Nascar made a completely different call last year at Daytona with Benson passing below the yellow line and advancing his position with no penalty. All of Nascar’s credibility is lost on that one call from last year.