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.
Anyone who reads this site knows that I’ve always defended restrictor plate racing as being just that, racing. Real racing. I’ve defended it as a discipline, just as road racing is a discipline, and insisted that the Chase needs Talladega just as much as it needs a road course in it.
And even after Sunday’s joke of an event, one that saw my favorite driver involved in the most harrowing crash I’ve seen in a long time, I still hold those opinions. Prior to the carnage that marred the race’s final few laps, there was the three-and-four-wide racing that Talladega has become known for, there was the bump-drafting, there were 50 wrecks that somehow didn’t happen…and the world’s best stock car drivers made it happen. When disaster struck in the form of Ryan Newman’s Chevrolet doing a front flip at 180 mph and landing on Kevin Harvick’s nose, it wasn’t the product of some eye-of-the-storm pack that left no room for anyone…it happened in a near straight line. The circumstances that wrecked Newman could easily have happened on a restart at Fontana, Michigan, or any other track out there where the cars have to spend a lap getting up to speed.
Sunday was not an indictment of restrictor plate racing, though that’s what everyone and their mother will be writing tonight…because Sunday was nothing new. Seriously, everyone that tuned it knows that plate racing in packs does lead to big crashes. It does shuffle the field in a blender. It does allow drivers like David Stremme and Jamie McMurray to look like drivers deserving Cup rides.
What Sunday was, however, was a truly vivid example of just how bad things have gotten in NASCAR today. Sunday, at a track that stands as an everlasting memento of the, as Matt McLaughlin coined it, “megalomaniac” that is the France family, every single person from the fans in the front row to the drivers on the track to Frontstretch writers like myself watching at home had their collective faces rubbed in the mess they’ve sown. Stock car racing hit a low on Sunday afternoon, and everyone, from the drivers to the fans to NASCAR, ought to be ashamed of themselves for having let things get this bad.
Shame on NASCAR for their insistence to over-regulate to absurdity the racing at Talladega. For their asinine yellow-line rule, created in the name of “safety” when all it’s done is allow for subjective enforcement to send Dale Earnhardt Jr. to Victory Lane in April of 2003, to rob Regan Smith of a race everyone but the record book knows he won last fall and to force Brad Keselowski to send Carl Edwards flying sky-high this spring just to do his job on the track.
Shame on NASCAR for their underhanded decision to announce a mere 60 minutes before the green flag that drivers would be penalized if they in their infinite wisdom decided that contact in the corners constituted an overly-aggressive “bump draft.” Imagine the fallout if the NFL announced 60 minutes before the Super Bowl that teams could not blitz the quarterback, or would be penalized if a hit was deemed too hard by the booth crew upstairs. A Denny Hamlin tweet said it best post-race: “We signed up to drive our cars. Not to be told how to.”
Shame on NASCAR for having their puppet, ISC, touting how Talladega was committed to safety while their rulebook has made racing at the track anything but safer for the drivers themselves. I can’t count how many times NASCAR, ISC, and ESPN (another lapdog) spent the weekend raving about how they raised the frontstretch catchfence from 14 to 22 feet to improve safety.
Who the hell cares?! The near disaster in the spring didn’t occur because the fence was too short! Take a look at the pictures from the spring…the problem wasn’t the height, it was that Edwards’ car did damage to the supports themselves when it hit. Making it higher made for great PR, but in the grand scheme of things it did about jack diddly to make this race track safer, be it for fans, drivers, whoever.
Meanwhile, while NASCAR and ISC spent time and money putting up more chainlink and hiring medicine men to do war whoops on the start-finish line, they ignored what their very own drivers, and their best and brightest drivers at that, were saying. It’s ironic that Ryan Newman happened to be the driver who had the flip of the day on Sunday, because rewind back to the spring race, and guess what he said needed to be done?
That NASCAR needed to spend time and money, then, to figure out a way to keep cars from going airborne.
Yet, instead of working on the wing or finding a way to configure the restrictor plates to allow the cars more room to spread out, NASCAR decided to completely dismiss the comments of a particularly talented engineer and the smartest driver in the garage, instead opting to, surprise, shrink the plate further, and make the packs the cars raced in tighter. That’s the way to improve things there, take even more control out of the drivers hands and make the packs tighter.
For crying out loud, does NASCAR not watch their own replays?
Look at the two big flips of the last two races, those of Edwards in the spring and Newman on Sunday. The roof flaps did their jobs both times. So why are these cars getting airborne? It’s simple really, when cars get out of shape in these packs they get hit by cars passing by. That impact negates what the roof flaps are doing, and sends the cars airborne. Carl Edwards went airborne because he got drilled by Ryan Newman’s car. Newman on Sunday got airborne not because of his contact with Marcos Ambrose, but because after spinning Kevin Harvick had nowhere to go but smack into Newman’s car.
Take the packs away, or at least loosen them up, and those roof flaps might actually do what they’re supposed to do. Either way, NASCAR’s unilaterally made decision to tighten the packs up and threaten its drivers as a way to improve safety backfired royally on Sunday…and demonstrated, as Newman said so eloquently in his post-race remarks, that they don’t seem to care much for the drivers anymore these days.
Shame on NASCAR indeed.
And while I applaud drivers such as Newman, Hamlin, Jeff Gordon and Mark Martin for speaking up bluntly following Sunday’s travesty, shame on the drivers too for allowing the France family and NASCAR to get away with this crap. Seriously, why the hell did no one put their foot down in the drivers’ meeting and say ‘Look, this bump drafting rule stuff is ridiculous, I’m not racing to the tune of the script up in the tower?’
Ryan Newman was correct in noting that things seem to have changed since the strike of Talladega 1969, where NASCAR was forced to make changes such after seeing its stars deck it’s leadership to the floor literally, pack up and leave the world’s most expensive race track and reduce Talladega’s inaugural race to a used car lot running at high speeds. NASCAR certainly does seem to be taking its drivers and teams for granted now in much the same way Bill France Sr. did when he told LeeRoy Yarbrough to go home if he was scared.
Things have also changed, however, in that no one was there to deal Mike Helton a blow to the head when he delivered the message Sunday morning that NASCAR was going to decide what was and wasn’t acceptable driving in the corners. It’s one thing for drivers to deliver snippy soundbites postrace that don’t go according to script, or to run single file for hundreds of miles (though drivers did that in plate races even before Sunday)…but it’s another to stand up and do something about it.
Because the power to change things in NASCAR is largely in the drivers’ hands. Race fans turn out in droves and spend tons of money because of their loyalty to manufacturers and drivers…not loyalty to NASCAR’s governing body. If the drivers want change, they can and will get change…but that requires growing a backbone, speaking up and acting out when things get ridiculous.
Talladega’s current configuration with the plates, the new cars, etc. is ridiculous enough. Having the rules changed an hour before the race should have easily been a tipping point.
Shame on the drivers out there for not having the backbone that Yarbrough, Petty and all the others that struck so they didn’t have to did. Shame on them for being good little lapdogs.
And yes, shame on me and every other race fan that’s complained, written, voiced displeasure about the direction of the sport, cracked a snide joke about Brian France but in reality hasn’t done a damned thing to force the sanctioning body to start listening to what the competitors and fans that are its lifeblood are saying. Because love or hate Talladega, well over 100,000 of us still showed up and packed the front grandstand and infield. Millions of us still tuned in Sunday to watch the race, knowing full well we probably weren’t going to like what we saw.
And we all poured millions of dollars more into the coffers of the idiots that have managed to take a truly great sport and reduce it to what was seen today.
Several seasons ago, after being involved in a wreck at Talladega, Mark Martin remarked that “only the fans can do something” about the racing product being put on. And he’s right, it is up to we the fans. We’re the ones that make the sport conducive to sponsors becoming the “official underwater basket weaver of NASCAR.” We’re the ones that make the sport profitable enough for the France family to hire lawyers to cover up DUI and cocaine problems that the family seems to always find itself in. And we’re the ones that ultimately need to speak with our wallets and our remotes.
We need to tune into and sell out the short tracks, the Darlingtons, the venues that we all speak up for but then never seem to show up at. We need to stop responding positively to ads celebrating and mystifying the big wrecks of the sport, no matter how spine-chilling they may be. We need to step up and support our drivers when they do say that something with the sport is broke, and that may mean actually cutting our spending and our viewership when they head to Talladega, Fontana, or some other crappy racing configuration.
Fact is, we need to wake up and realize that this is “your, my, our NASCAR,” and our NASCAR ain’t so pretty right now.
Shame on us for letting it get this far.
Shame on the drivers and teams for not having the balls of those before them to just say no, and instead do exactly what Big Brother Brian and his cronies insisted on Sunday.
And shame on NASCAR, for reducing stock car racing to what we saw on Sunday.
Shame on all of us who call racing our passion, our home.
©2000 - 2008 Bryan Davis Keith and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
Well-written Bryan. Sadly, the drivers and fans can complain all they want about the perils and boring nature of restrictor plate racing, but until they stop showing up to Daytona and Talladega, nothing will change until someone gets killed. Like what Jimmie Johnson says, take a bulldozer and level the banking of these tracks so we won’t need the plates to slow the cars down.
One thing though, Newman’s car went airbone solely because when he got turned backward at high speeds, a rush of air flowed under the car and lifted it up. Harvick did nothing to launch him. The only way to keep this particular case from happening is to slow the cars down even more to a speed where the flaps can actually work.
Everybody misses the point. Flattening the track and taking away the plates is not going to slow the cars down. Look at Atlanta and Texas. Fast, fast, fast. You have to change the aero of the car.
I like racing at Talladega. It looks like fun.
Dan’s Mom… you’re obviously not Ryan’s Mom.
Lowering the banking is definitely not the solution, if for no other reason than the racing would become boring and sad like all the other cookie cutters, and Fontana.
They either need to run a couple of large aerodynamic devices (huge wing, wicker board) to drag the cars down, or they need to mandate an engine package SPECIFICALLY for Daytona and Talladega, that uses, say, 300 cubic inches with a much smaller bore, or a choked-off set of heads, or a milder camshaft—anything that will reduce horsepower without it all going through four equal-sized tiny little holes. The argument that that would “cost too much” is absurd, because all the teams already have a “restrictor plate engine program.”
“NASCAR certainly does seem to be taking its drivers and teams for granted”
Actually I thought the drivers were staging a form of revolt when they spent a third of the race driving single file in a parade like formation.
Overall, a very nice column and summation of PLATE RACING, among other items of interest.
However, your (quote)
Three (3) rows wide, ten
Have you blown a gasket?
You tuck in behind someone, anyone that your stuck with, 5+ cars in front of you, 5+ cars behind you, can’t move left because of the “yellow line”, can’t move right, either because your in the middle, or the outside line, so all you do is tool aroud in the very big pack!
And your finishing position is 110% LUCK!
And you call that “racing”?
I don’t, never will!
Ahh for the good old days when 6 or 8 drivers would form the “CONGA LINE”, and weave their way un-impeded down the straightaway at Dega!
A pack of 40 cars, side by side, nose to tail simply is HANG ON! It is NOT RACING!
And just how mnay times at Dega does the “winner” get out if his car and ask?
I WON? yeh, that’s racing when the winner is even suprised!
I think all of us are thinking the same thing, Bryan. That was not only one of my favorites in that wheels-up mess, it was a friend of mine.
ISC is not going to redesign the track, and I don’t think NASCAR is going to admit that the CoT is a stupid idea. The safety advantages of that car can easily be adapted to a more raceable concept.
My suggestion? Take Robert Yates’ advice and lower the displacement limit. 305? I don’t know, I’m not that smart mechanically. Sure, it’s going to cost the teams, but it seems like anything NASCAR does has that effect. Ask any car owner whose car has ended up being parted out after Sunday.
I would like to add to most of the above comments (I do on occasion comment to columns)…but I get discouraged. Mr. Keith..being in the media..and closer then most of us to the “inner realm” of NASCAR…can you tell us out here..does NASCAR listen to the fans at all? (We pretty much can see they don’t listen to the drivers!) I know..they “give us” little tweaks they deem will make us “just thrilled to pieces”…i.e. wave around, lucky dog, earlier starting times, double file restarts..things that in all reality don’t mean a hill of beans..but they don’t seem to put an ear out and HEAR what the fans really want…BETTER racing..more consistancy in their rulings, races calls and tolerances… a shorter season….and end or at least a change to this silly CHASE (why don’t we just have a 43 car 10 race that’s all there is to the season Championship). I know we hear Helton preach the “right words”…well words he thinks we want to hear..but seriously…it’s a big business..NASCAR…they are in it to make money…I get that…and like most corporations..they put out a product..people buy the product..the corporation gets giddy and goes crazy and usually cheapens up and messes up their product..we quit buying..and they go under…It looks to me this is the way it’s heading…SO…do they listen? or is this just a big sandbagging effort by NASCAR to get the last drop out of us fans and cut and run?
And don’t forget NASACAR’s stated desire to limit costs. How about eliminating the need for owners to develop separate plate racing engines. Eliminate the plates and change the racetracks as needed for safety.
We need to get back to a day where finishes like Craven/Busch are used in TV spots and NOT Sadler going airborne in the 38.
Bryan. I’ve taken care of my part of the bargain. I’ve quit watching and attending races on tv. Unless things change I won’t be back. Good article.
Just this two cents worth…
The roof flaps work everytime. Since they started using them yrs ago on the OLD car, they have probably kept more cars down on the track than gravity itself, however….and this is what I saw….
As soon as Newman spun backwards, the flaps deployed but yet the the rear of the car went (perfectly) straight up and over! The reason? Brian’s Wing! Oh sure, it provides great downforce when on the rear of the car and the car is going forward, but lead that wing into the wind the opposite direction at 190 mph and what do you think its going to do???? At least with the old ‘spoiler’, you didn’t have air rushing UNDER it creating a low pressure (thus lift) above it! Next time your driving your car, stick your hand out the window at speed and tilt the leading edge of your hand down toward the front tires…..your hand is forced down and back. Now tilt the leading edge up toward the sky…where does your hand go now? Yep…up and away! The Roof flaps are simply overpowered by the lift that Brian’s wing provides at the back of the car! It is called a “Wing” after all…..
Thus ends our rocket science class for today!
NASCAR can’t hear the fans of NASCAR over the sound of snorting over a mirror at the France household. They can sell off or quit NASCAR and be happy with their billions of $$$. I did yardwork for the 1st 3/4’s of the race knowing that i’d be wasting my time with the 1st 3/4’s parade racing. Go back to spoilers, hack them down to 1/2 the size of the old cars, remove the restrictor plates, maybe drop CID to 305’s and let them race. A tiny spoiler will make ‘em have to lift in the corners and i’d bet you’d see the “slingshot” come back.
Dale Jr has repeatedly spoken up about things wrong about Nascar. The media prints it ad nauseum but doesn’t take a stance on it. One driver can’t make a difference, and most of the drivers don’t have the guts to take a stand on anything.
Want to know how to kill a sport? Hire NASCAR to run it!
Good article, keep up the good work.
To get away from the boring parts of the race all they need to do is award points for leading forcing the drivers to want to lead all the time. No point in hanging back to get a good finish when a guy that leads all day can crash out and gain more points cause he was leading.
Hey Lunar Tunes, your “two cents worth”, regarding the rear wing, is really a MILLION $$$$
Lift is lift! As proven yet again in the POS!
And Ginger! Please remember NA$CRAP’S threat to ALL drivers about being negative? (MIS last year, spring race).
So most drivers will obey, never knowing who and when NA$CRAP will penalize them for speaking out!
Jr. may get away with it once or twice, but say a Robby Gordon would be banned by NA$CRAP!
But maybe we will hear more now that Dega has run and we all have seen the results!
But, betcha that NA$CRAP wimp Mark Martin will not speak out! Even though it totally slammed the door on ANY potential of a chumpionship for him!
Finally people are starting to agree with me.
Plate racing is NOT racing. Period.
AND! While I am on my “soapbox”, let me bring to your collective attentions the following:
I watched a fair bit of the truck race Saturday, just to keep abreast (like that term for some reason) of things!
Among other things, they had the audacity to state during the race, “NA$CRAP only counts actual lead changes at the start/finish line”!!
Throughout this year, and last year, NA$CRAP has made statements, and published statements like “why that was a heck of a race, we saw 785 lead changes during the race”!
Since when has ANY of their events been 785 laps long, with a NEW LEADER ON EACH LAP?
Now you know another reason I call myself “THE TURNIP”!
Because that’s how NA$CRAP treats us!
Well-said, Bryan. I am posting a link to this on my Web site.
Limiting horsepower won’t solve Talladega.
The whole reason for all the wrecks is the cars run in packs, and they run in packs because they run faster that way. Yet, at any other track except Daytona and Talladega, running in packs is detrimental to speed, because the car in front usually runs away. But not in plate racing, because everyone is wide-open-throttle all the way around the track. There’s no braking, and no lifting. You’re going as fast as the available horsepower allows, but forming a drafting “train” will always be faster than running solo.
Reduce the horsepower, and you just get slower trains, in the same huge packs. Unless the speeds are cut down to below 150MPH, you’ll still have flips, and with packs you’ll never get away from the multi-car big ones.
The alternative I’ve heard is reduce the banking and make the drivers have to brake and slow down for the turns, but that just creates a 2.66 mile Fontana clone.
So here’s my solution, which no one would follow:
Change the gear rule to set the rear gears so that redline=190MPH. Then make rev limiters illegal, and remove the plates.
That means that the drivers would HAVE to lift, because the engine would have more available HP than it could handle. The driver would have to be mindful of the tach. Since the track is so steeply banked, there’s little “skill” needed as even the worst handling car can turn a 200MPH lap, but having a driver know how far to push the RPMs without ventilating the engine block is a whole other skill.
Cars have been flipping at T-Dega for 20 years, why all the whining now? I didn’t hear all this when Rusty flipped in the early 90s or when Sadler flipped in 2 consecutive races in the 38 car. Could be that we are living in a fantasy of complete safety. We have become so soft that we cannot tolerate any thought of injury. That place of safety doesn’t exist so go home, put your helmets, knee pads, elbow pads and goggles on your kids so they can go out and play and stop crying if life and sports are a little dangerous. Go watch tennis or something.
I have accepted that racing is a dangerous sport since I first started watching it. What I won’t accept is the designing of tracks, equipment, and rules that increase the chances of serious injury or death unnecessarily.
Nascar? I am telling you people, we need something else. Why in the world B. Smith does not start another raceing league I don’t know. He is the only one with the guts and money to fight NASCAR. Don’t you just love it when they send that big ol yes boy of theirs Robin Pemberton out to talk for them. He is JOKE. He is so programed
i was there at the race boring boring boring me myself I pay good money to watch a good race i’m tired of hearing about all the changes needed nothing is needed except for nascar to stay out of the drivers business, period i have seen some of the best races at that track and some of the worst wrecks the cars are built to protect these drivers do away with the wing go to the spoiler u and everyone else needs to leave this track alone the drivers need to shut up and race they make plenty of money and they no from day 1 what they have signed up for nascar needs to stay out of the racin on all tracks especially DEGA
Fans hate the wrecks caused by bump-drafting in the turns that take out their favorite driver. But when NASCAR tells the drivers not to bump in the corners, fans and drivers get upset that NASCAR is putting too tight a leash on the racing. So which do you want, people? No rules and more crashes, or more rules and less crashes?
And the drivers have been racing in a single line at Talledega for the last 2 or 3 years now. Its just something they started doing to keep from wrecking each other, I suppose.
Maybe we should look at the European touring car concept. The racing in much more entertaining and the car actually looks and is mechanically similar to the street version.
It is definitely true that cars have been tumbling at alarming rates at Daytona and Talladega ever since they opened. Unfortunately, apart from tearing the banking down big time (like to 12 degrees), there is no good solution at all. No matter how the cars slow down, they would need to be going over 210 mph in order to have to lift in the corners, and even if the slowdown method is not a restrictor plate, the cars would still be in huge packs.
And taking off the plates? Won’t work either. Cars hitting 240 mph on the straightaways would become missiles whenever an accident happens, and there is still no guarantee the packs would be broken.
Talladega is a dinosaur. the track was designed to race actual stock cars on. Real race cars are too fast on a track like this. It is time to stop racing at Daytona and Talladega. these racetracks are remnants of a much simpler past.