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 and Tom Bowles · Tuesday February 10, 2009
Editor’s Note : The following is a special edition of Frontstretch’s Side By Side. Occasionally throughout the season, two of your favorite Frontstretch writers will duke it out in a debate concerning one of NASCAR’s biggest stories. Don’t let us be the only ones to speak our minds, though…be sure to read both sides and let us know what you think about the situation in the comment section below!
Today’s Question : With the Daytona 500 the equivalent to NASCAR’s “Super Bowl,” should they automatically save a spot for a former champion who can’t qualify into the field any other way? Or should the rule be relaxed and another, faster driver installed in their place?
Drivers Earn Automatic Exemption
Terry Labonte. Bill Elliott. Tony Stewart. Those are three names burned into the heart of NASCAR fans — and rightfully so. With five titles and over 75 victories between them, they’ve accomplished more than they ever would have believed in this sport.
And that’s why one of them deserves a special exemption for races if needed.
Yeah, being the “champion” can sometimes rob a spot from someone else in the field more deserving on speed. This year, that’s the case more than ever, as “Texas Terry” will likely take the 43rd and final spot with a team that’s woefully off the pace. That can be frustrating to several others who have the speed to outperform him on the track; but Labonte’s past record likely beats any of the men he pushes to the sidelines.
Yes, I also understand how badly the ridiculous qualifying rules for Daytona are set up — that with a championship provisional, only seven spots are available for a new team trying to sneak into the race. But it’s not the champ’s fault the top 35 rule exists — and a champion’s provisional rule has been in effect long before that was a thought in anyone’s head. Among those who have taken advantage of it in the past to make this race are Darrell Waltrip and Rusty Wallace.
And NASCAR isn’t the only sport where they reserve some spots in the field for past champions. Think of the Masters in golf. It’d be one thing if five or six of these spots were going away … but it’s only one. And the hard truth is, which driver would drivers want to see — a guy Labonte knocks out like Joe Nemechek, or Texas Terry himself?
I’ll let you answer that question. The top 35 rule has potential to handicap competition … but the champion’s provisional is just one spot out of 43.
The Past Champion’s Provisional Needs To Go
The Past Champion’s Provisional is far from a fixture in the long history of NASCAR. It is nothing more than a convoluted rule created in a knee-jerk reaction by the sanctioning body after the King himself, seven-time champion Richard Petty, failed to qualify for a race at Richmond in 1989. Yet, thanks to the rule’s constant exploitation over the last decade, it has become one of the most significant provisions in the mythological NASCAR rulebook.
And come Daytona 500 time that significance becomes all the more amplified. Need proof? It is the reason that the besieged Wood Brothers Racing team has for the last three seasons hinged their operation’s future on a semi-retired driver who has none. And it is the reason that Tony Stewart’s new Stewart-Haas Racing operation was absent from the owner point swap meets that dominated the Cup Series’ off-season rumor mill.
Granted, if Bill Elliott had to fall back on the Champion’s Provisional to lock the Wood Brothers into the Daytona 500 or Tony Stewart needed it to secure his new team a spot in the field, there are likely not that many fans that would cry foul. But don’t let these feel-good stories cloud you. The Past Champion’s Provisional has become far too powerful a force for teams trying to crack the most storied field NASCAR to offer. And with the Top 35 rule making qualifying all the harder for the smaller teams, it’s time for it to go. To make my point, I’m going to use an example from this year’s entry list, the No. 66 Prism Motorsports Toyota with Terry Labonte behind the wheel.
First and foremost, the Past Champion’s Provisional accounts in no way for a team’s attempt record, standing or performance level. Prism Motorsports and the No. 66 are in simply because they signed Terry Labonte to drive. Never mind that they have never attempted a race prior to this season. Never mind that there are teams currently outside the 500 field, such as Richard Petty Motorsports’ No. 44 team and Furniture Row Racing’s No. 78, that ran the full 2008 schedule and yet find themselves in the same boat as Norm Benning and Kirk Shelmerdine. And never mind that they are an off-shoot of the MSRP Motorsports operation whose start-and-park efforts made nothing short of a mockery of the Nationwide Series last season. Having Terry Labonte in the 500 field in this fashion is an exploitation of the Provisional rule, not the purpose of it.
Mind you, Prism Motorsports is not the first team to exploit the Past Champion’s rule in this fashion. In the Nationwide Series ranks, Steve Grissom used the Provisional 15 times in 2005 to keep Jay Robinson Racing’s No. 49 Advil car on the track. Last year, Grissom took the 43rd spot in the Nationwide Series’ opening race with the Provisional and proceeded to run only three laps before parking his car while four full-time Nationwide teams were sent home.
Further, now that the Top 35 rule is in place to protect NASCAR’s future franchises, err, Cup mega-teams, from the embarrassment of being sent home by a feisty underdog, the Past Champion’s Provisional is just another barrier for new and underdog racers to get a shot at the big-time. Thanks to Prism Motorsports having Terry Labonte’s Provisional, 39 of the 43 starters for the Daytona 500 have been determined with the Duel races yet to be run. Thursday’s races are going to rival the Indianapolis 500’s Bump Day in terms of insignificance.
This problem is compounded by the fact that a lot of the teams trying to crack the Cup ranks couldn’t sign a Terry Labonte or any past champion if they wanted to. Do you think a Cup champion would have raised an eyebrow if Mike Garvey or Kirk Shelmerdine had come calling with a shoe-string budget and a dream to contest the full Cup schedule? Prism Motorsports didn’t get Terry Labonte behind the wheel because of brilliant marketing, they did because they have influential Phil Parsons as a part-owner. The same holds true for how the Wood Brothers have gotten Bill Elliott out of retirement for years now, or how Michael Waltrip got Terry Labonte and his No. 55 NAPA machine into road course races and the Brickyard 400 during his struggles in 2007.
The way that the Past Champion’s Provisional is being manipulated these days amounts to little more than protectionism of the haves by the haves. And that’s not acceptable for the Daytona 500. In addition to being one of the most renown races run anywhere in the world, it is also an essential stepping stone for any team trying to contest the Cup series. It offers needed owner points, a substantial purse and a marketable platform to entice sponsorship. And because Prism Motorsports has the influence, and thus ability, to get Terry Labonte behind the wheel of their Toyota for this one race, they’re going to have a leg up. Whether they earn it in the Duels or not, they’ll be ahead of up to 13 other teams who won’t race this Sunday and will be starting again from square one come Fontana (where I’ll bet the Prism car will revert back to the start-and-park approach of its MSRP Motorsports brethren.)
With three-quarters of the field fixed any given Sunday, allowing yet another car a means to qualify without performing on the track is unacceptable. Let’s not kid ourselves, the Past Champion’s Provisional is no longer a valued means to give the fans another chance to see a storied driver. It’s a tool, an exploitation, a blemish on the title of NASCAR champion.
Let’s send it with where Prism Motorsports will likely be for the much of the 2009 season…parking.
©2000 - 2008 Bryan Davis Keith and Tom Bowles and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
The “Past Champions Provisional” is the ONLY thing NA$CRAP gets right in their “qualifying”!
I would rather have a “PAST CHAMPION” be allowed to run, as opposed to “guaranteeing”
At least a “past champion” has earned the right to come back, no matter for who or whom!
Keep the provisional, dump the top 35!
This whole“Championship Provisional” smacks of nothing more than socialism! Whatever happened to earning your way in any sport. I cant believe NASCAR is still handing out free passes just because you won a championship. I dont believe anyone should get a free pass because your a former winner, DUH!! Repeat “FORMER WINNER”. Isnt it bad enough our govt. wants to turn this country into a socialist order. Entitlements, entitlements,and more entitlements….blah blah. I’m entitled to race although I finished last in qualifying because Im entitled. Get over it people, no one should be given a free ride.
Your Championship was one because you did your job, and earned it!
Stop the handouts, if your good enough to win a championship step up to the plate and qualify your way into the field.Just another reason this sport is going downhill.
At least they have limited the ability of teams to use it more than 5 times in a season. Now perhaps they need to further specify that only teams that attempted to qualify for all 36 races in the previous year can use it in the following season (or at least the first 5 races).
MMM, hey MI.Mike, your
So, how do you feel that a full 35 cars are “guaranteed” a starting spot in the 2009 Daytona 500, USING 2008 POINTS?
And Bill B. your “I have to admit though, it kind of undermines the credibility of the sport in the larger sporting community.”
Guess my thought is that a “past champion” has proven his abilities over years of time, and out of 43 starting positions, using a single one to honor the past is not too much to ask.
The biggest problem as I see it, is you have 35 “phonies” guaranteed a spot, then you come along and guarantee the 36th spot to a previous champion, now you have one big mess with 36 of 43 spots in any given “race”, as NA$CRAP calls it, simply given away, who cares how fast their cars are?
And now, back to MI.Mike, your “Stop the handouts, if your good enough to win a championship step up to the plate and qualify your way into the field.”
I agree with 110%, BUT it should be for ALL cars, not just 7 cars per weekend! (43 minus 36 guaranteed spots) = 7, open spots need to be filled on speed!
But as mentioned, we are not dealing with a “real sport” anymore when it comes to NA$CRAP!
Boy, NA$CRAP can sure get our shorts riding high!
I really can’t figure out how you could call, at least, the guys in the top 20 phonies though no matter what the qualifying rules.
Any driver who gets to use the champion’s provisional has earned it fair and square according to the rules. If you want to eliminate it, have the elimination be in effect for future champions. I do not put any stock into the opinions of obvious NASCAR haters who refer to NASCAR as “NASCRAP”.
The Champion’s Provisional is fine as long as its used by an established team competing for the full season. Such as Waltrip did as mentioned, or Hall of Fame did with Labonte to get their team started in 2006. But to use the provisional for a known start-and-park team is ridiculous.
socialism? what are you saying guaranteeing the 35 cars a spot is not socialism! give me a break, “ITS SOCIALISM” and all the guys that have been around racing know it is. Think about it this way, a team car that try to make five races, but did not should it be allowed, to start its the same stupid idea, just turned around
Hey Bill B., First, honestly I don’t really remember much about how they qualified in the 90’s compared to today’s method. It seems to me there has “always” been 35 guaranteed starting spots, from way back when.
OK, I concede that not all of the top 35 are “phonies”, but on any given weekend some of them really are!
I may let up if they guaranteed “only” 20 spots to the top point getter’s, but only maybe. I still think that over the course of 36 “races”, not making the field once or so should not be a problem (only as influenced by the phony chase points system that robs points from you)!
And again I love the fact past champions have an opportunity to race. It is NA$CRAP history we are talking about!
If a past champion wants to park his car, so be it! (did I really say that?)!
BUT! What are we REALLY arguing about??
Qualifying procedures in general, 35/36 guaranteed
The current system is a joke! And please do me a favor each and every one of you!
Take a look at how they “qualify” for the 2009 version of the 500!
Takes ten (10) pages of rule books to sort that one out! (and ancient points standings, i.e., the 2008 standings apply to 2009, how sick is that one?)
How about they make it simple to start each and every race of 2009!
The fastest qualifiers race, the slowest go home!
And to Randall Butler! Take a look at all the empty seats this year, and you will see that I am not alone in calling this sick racing organization “NA$CRAP”!
That’s exactly what it is! (oh, not sure it matters, or counts, but I have been following “stock car racing” since the 50’s! And it is a shell of what it used to be. And mostly since King Brian took the reins!)
Drop the top 35 and the past champion rule. Make the first race of the season a clean slate and let the top 43 in, THEN, I would lock in the top ten for each of the following races. You would see people driving their butts of trying for a top 10 to guarantee a spot for the next week. I am a Dald JR fan and if he missed a race it would not be the end of the world, but the systme would be a whole lot fairer.
Its dangerous business getting your politics and your racing all mixed up. MI Mike, let the knot out of your drawers before you suffer a heart attack. Its only racing, and if Brian France were a Communist, it wouldn’t change things a whole lot. As far as the term NASCRAP is concerned, Douglas is just stating what I and a lot of others feel, that King Brian abandoned his fan base to chase Los Angeles, Chicago and New York new fan bases. Its no longer a race, it is a show, and just as well tag team with Vince McMahon.
We’re all just tired and want to see real racing again.
It doesn’t matter what you call them, NA$CAR, NA$CRAP, whatever. The point should be they have removed themselves so far from where they started that they are all about $$$ first and everything else second. Geez, it hasn’t been that long ago the manufacturers brought their best stuff each week to compete before NA$CAR over-regulated the the sport into a 21st century IROC series. Dump the Top 35 rule, expand the CP to 3 or 4 every week so Tony, Kurt, Matt and Jimmie make it every race and get rid of the template car and over-regulation of every single part on the car.