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.
Frontstretch Special Report · Bryan Davis Keith · Thursday November 19, 2009
Q: Who’s the richest man in a NASCAR garage?
That old adage has been around NASCAR’s garages since the 1970s, and has held true every time that start and park teams take to the track. For as long as anyone following racing can remember, there have been teams that have taken to the track with no intent of competing, but instead to collect a check. However, 2009 has seen the practice escalate from relative obscurity in the back of the field to a growing staple at all levels of NASCAR racing.
There are plenty out there that simply don’t care about it, or that dismiss the recent rash of start and park as a product of a down economy. NASCAR’s own Robin Pemberton goes even further, having stated back in March that he saw such teams as seizing an opportunity, programs not up to speed that realize “this is the way to get started.”
But here we are, eight months later, and it’s clear Pemberton’s words are nothing more than smoke and mirrors. Start and park as it is being seen today is not a product of a down economy. It’s not a means for the underdogs to carve their names out and get started. And it’s not something NASCAR is in any way concerning itself about … just a side business inside a sport that’s increasingly about dollars and cents more than anything else.
So, as the 2009 season concludes, we’re instead faced with an unpleasant reality: start and park is not only thriving, but here for the long haul. And as the number of S&P teams expand, not contract, they’re driving teams that are already here and trying to race right out of the sport. That leaves NASCAR entirely at fault for letting its top three touring series have up to a third of their fields parking early at any given race track.
- – -
For some of the start-and-park teams out there, such as MSRP Motorsports in the Nationwide Series or PRISM Motorsports in the Cup ranks, the intent of their efforts is simply to cash a check and get out. For most others, such as JD Motorsports, Jay Robinson Racing, and more recently Specialty Racing, it’s a means of survival. But staying afloat doesn’t offer you a free ticket to the promised land; in fact, not a single start and park team since the practice emerged in the early 2000s has landed a sponsorship to allow them to race successfully full-time over the long-term.
I’m sure if one looked hard enough, they could nitpick the viability of start and park to get a team on track all day long, as a handful of cars experienced limited, short-term success with part-time deals. But what is indisputable is that no matter the motivation, S&P is a business… and business is good. While the average number of S&P entries in the Truck Series has remained steady throughout the season (though that series has had up to 33% of its field park early in some instances), the number of such cars has doubled in the Cup Series, as well as increased 91% in the Nationwide Series through 2009. It’s further indisputable that the practice makes money. Sources in the Nationwide garage tell Frontstretch that as a result of his MSRP Motorsports operation, owners Phil Parsons and Randy Humphrey are banking over $7,000 per race in cold, hard cash, with their “race efforts” and driver bills fully paid for.
And it’s further indisputable that even if/when the economy does turn around and sponsors once again start looking to NASCAR, that’s no guarantee that the S&P teams are going to disappear, like they largely did back in 2005. For one, some of these race teams wouldn’t be able to race even if a sponsor did come calling. Speaking to an anonymous Nationwide Series driver, Frontstretch was informed that MSRP Motorsports’ cars are so built in to a qualifying setup, so built into running 10-20 laps before calling it quits, that even if a sponsor was to approach them at the track and offer to foot the bill for a race, it’d be mechanically impossible for their cars to last a full NNS event.
What’s more, sponsors have found a way to get the bang for their buck, even if the car they put their name on doesn’t last but a few laps. A recent MSNBC feature on Tommy Baldwin Racing chronicled how sponsor Wave Energy Drink, despite never having seen their car on track at the end of a Cup race, have benefited from their sponsorship as much as a smaller team running a full race.
“We’ve watched our emails skyrocket,” says Wave owner David Tomecello. “It’s a lot more [exposure for us].”
And Tomecello is right. Even with Tommy Baldwin Racing being a crapshoot week in and week out as to whether or not they’ll qualify for a race, Wave Energy Drink still gets to flash plenty of pictures of their bright blue No. 36 car. They still get driver appearances to work with. They get everything that a smaller sponsor could hope, while the most expensive, and important part, gets marginalized… the car driving on the track.
But Wave is not the only company to have figured this out. Following the Fall race at Charlotte, Frontstretch contacted Anderson’s Maple Syrup, a smaller company that has on several occasions in 2009 sponsored the No. 49 car of Jay Robinson Racing in the Nationwide Series, fully aware that the car would be starting and parking. Here’s what they had to say:
“We decided that the cost of sponsoring a start and park was not much more than getting hot passes off of Ebay.”
And the company certainly reaped the rewards of getting even the 30 laps or so of exposure they did. In addition to receiving daily requests for hero cards of their No. 49 entry, the company as of October was close to signing a deal with a major grocery chain that would result “completely because of the sponsorship with Jay Robinson Racing.”
Now, this article is not to put down companies for successfully using NASCAR to market their products, nor is it to criticize teams for accepting sponsor dollars despite still being unable to truly compete on the track. What it does illustrate, however, is that even when and if the economy does turn around, where’s the motivation for teams and sponsors to get back into racing? If a company can spend enough to get to the track without the exorbitant costs of actually competing, why will they stop?
It’s not just sponsors that are making serious cash for start and park efforts, either. As previously mentioned, MSRP Motorsports’ owners are hauling in thousands of dollars every weekend that’s going straight to the bank (and in their case, out of racing for good… MSRP is not building for the future). NEMCO Motorsports, which Joe Nemechek and Scott Speed have run the distance for in only a handful of 2009 races, has been estimated to turn as much as $1.8 million in profit thus far in 2009 (though those numbers are disputed). And in the Nationwide Series, start and park clearly is making a profit, as owners including Johnny Davis, the Keselowski family and Jay Robinson have not only managed to keep their distance-running entries on track with minimal sponsorship, they’ve kept running S&P entries as well.
The drivers themselves outrunning these entries aren’t doing so shabby, either. Kenny Hendrick ran a start and park campaign for a number of teams in 2008, and started 2009 as a result with a full-time Nationwide Series ride despite having not completed a race since 2004. As written on this site back in August, Kelly Bires landed tremendous exposure running a number of start and parks for Phil Parsons, efforts that led to him being named Brad Keselowski’s replacement at JR Motorsports for 2010. For other drivers, the money hasn’t been so bad, either. Sources in the Nationwide garage informed Frontstretch that for his efforts in the No. 49 car, Mark Green is pulling down $3,000 a race. Not too shabby for a guy who’d spent the past few seasons driving part-time for a small team.
Green’s not the only driver making solid money in next to no track time. Terry Cook managed to accentuate his Truck Series salary tremendously in 2009, banking $2,500 for every race he’s run with MSRP Motorsports. By comparison, sources claim fellow MSRP driver Johnny Chapman is only making $1,000 per race for his efforts with the team, but seriously… would Chapman have a chance at making money driving race cars any other place, any other way?
So drivers are bringing in decent-sized checks, owners are making money, and sponsors are happy. The only problem is, that’s not putting cars on the track, just filling the field… on the stat sheet only.
But anyone that knows NASCAR knows all too well they don’t give a damn what’s going on at the back of the pack. Instead, they’re actively encouraging start and park to continue. As Frontstretch reported back in March, NASCAR was actively recruiting Truck Series drivers to come out to Fontana to run S&P efforts to ensure a full field. Further, the sanctioning body is paying no mind to the fleet of race cars pulling back into their respective garages early in the running of races week in and week out. Frontstretch had writers in the Nationwide garage at Charlotte this past Fall observing the “inspection process” of cars that, on the score sheet anyway, had suffered debilitating mechanical failures.
The term “inspection process” is used as loosely as possible…because NASCAR’s officials weren’t inspecting. They were doing nothing more than watching an assembly line at work. Each of the start and park cars pulled right up to the NASCAR hauler, forming a straight line. Crews were in no frantic hurry to figure out what was wrong with their cars… because they weren’t going back out there. In fact, some of the teams already had crew members stationed at or near the NASCAR hauler anticipating their car to pull in (MSRP Motorsports had several crew members standing right alongside me as I waited for the inevitable.) Everyone knew what was happening … and nobody cared to do much about it.
That’s surprising, considering Robin Pemberton’s assertion back in March that “we [NASCAR] owe it to the garage area [to make sure everybody is on the up and up.”
To steal a line from Joe Wilson: “You lie!”
What’s more, NASCAR’s convoluted qualifying rules have also encouraged even more teams… teams not even at the back of the field… to start and park. Look at the cases of JTG/Daugherty Racing, K Automotive, NEMCO Motorsports, and Specialty Racing in the Nationwide Series. All lacking sponsorship, but having to attempt every race to stay locked in the top 30, those teams woke up and realized that given the points spread, they can start and park the rest of the season, save on overhead, and still be locked in for Daytona 2010. That’s great business sense for these teams with no sponsor dollars… but is that good for the sport?
Yet with a myriad of other problems to take care of, NASCAR has — both out of indifference and to a degree, necessity — turned a blind eye to the start and park epidemic that has gripped all of the national touring series. But in this case, ignorance is far from bliss — and it certainly won’t allow the problem to take care of itself. Fact is, start and park and what it has evolved into is something that NASCAR should very much care about… because it’s not doing the sport’s future any favors.
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So why should NASCAR care that a bunch of cars in the back of the field are making a mockery of competition, not bothering to compete in the sport to stay there, or that some of its most influential broadcasters are padding their pockets by exploiting the sport they’re supposed to cover?
For one, regardless of what indifferent race fans, Cup drivers, etc. say, start and park teams have had a huge impact on the fields in all three national touring series in 2009. This season, across Trucks, Nationwide, and Cup, S&P entries have taken 91 spots in starting lineups from cars that showed up to attempt a full race. Assuming those teams took home last place money in each of those 91 starts, that a total $3,349,320 in winnings that actual race teams were deprived of. And that’s not taking into account the value of the exposure that 200, 300, 500 miles of racing would have garnered the teams sent home in favor of those who chose not to take part in the sport.
And though it has been discussed on this site before, it can’t be restated enough that S&P teams do not qualify on an equal playing field. How in the world is any team not named Joe Gibbs Racing or equipped with millions in sponsor dollars supposed to compete with cars that have 25 additional horsepower in their motors (while running tapered spacers) and that are built solely to last 20 miles, not 200?
As Morgan Shepherd told Frontstretch back in September, “people stay agitated long enough and they’ll leave” when having to compete with S&P teams to make races. Shepherd’s right… that time has come. Sources have confirmed with Frontstretch that a number of longtime Nationwide owners are doing just that, throwing their hands up in the air, ready to cut back or even cease running Nationwide Series entries. Why?
They’ve acquired Cup CoT cars. And they’re prepared to move to the Cup Series, to compete as an S&P for part of that much more lucrative pie. The teams of K Automotive and Jay Robinson Racing have figured that if they’re going to have to compete as David vs. Goliath (while the refs stroke Goliath’s back), they may as well do it where the real money is.
And who can blame them? As it stands right now, there is absolutely no financial incentive for race teams out there to go the distance, run up tire and engine bills, and risk damage to their cars. Dexter Bean ran the distance at Pocono in June, only to make $725 more in purse money than Joe Nemechek, who start and parked. That’s not even enough money to buy one half set of Goodyears. Nemechek’s been on the other side of that equation himself, running the distance to score only $1,553 in winnings more than start and parker Dave Blaney at Richmond in September.
The harsh economic reality that running better doesn’t pay has done plenty to proliferate start and park, as many teams out there that have tried to race just can’t afford to do it and keep up with the start and parkers. Specialty Racing’s No. 61 car and Wayne Day’s No. 05 are just a few examples of cars that have been relegated to start and parking…largely in part because everyone else is doing it, not because they actually want to.
So in short, this is what NASCAR is up against. Start and park teams are taking spots from teams trying to race… and the money that goes with it. They’re parking earlier and more often, because there’s no financial incentive at all to actually run a race distance. Owners are ready to pack up their race cars to S&P for more money elsewhere. And sponsors are finding ways to make money off the sport and their involvement in it… without the sport and its all-important competition benefiting.
That financial windfall alone tells us things won’t improve simply because the economy gets better. Where’s the incentive for a sponsor to push for their team to race farther and spend more money when they’re still getting driver appearances and promotional materials with race cars? And how are better-funded cars going to drive these teams away when start and parkers — ranging from MSRP Motorsports’ entries to Jay Robinson’s No. 49 car — have proven consistently able to challenge for top 10 qualifying efforts? If these teams can outrun even Cup machinery, why stop a profitable venture simply because the economy gets better around you?
So tell me again why race fans, or NASCAR, should consider start and park, as NASCAR.com’s Dave Rodman put it, “a non-competitive non-issue?”
Sorry, Dave, but start and park is doing far more than putting a black eye on the sport. It’s harming its longevity, establishing itself with a permanence that shows no signs of slowing until NASCAR puts it foot down. And for race fans out there that actually do give a damn about the teams that don’t have $20 million sponsors, that’s cause for concern.
And for NASCAR, all I’ll say is this. You’ve been warned.
©2000 - 2008 Bryan Davis Keith and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
Though I agree emotionally with the idea that start and parks look bad for the sport, from the inside.
From the outside, the inconsequential fan, they don’t even know they pull off the track! And having 43 cars plowing towards that first green flag sure looks great.
Not to mention, if NASCAR were to put a kabash on this practice, what do they do with the empty pit stalls? Paint over them and make it look like they have a full field at 35 or 36 cars?
It’s an odd position to be in, that’s for sure.
As an insider looking in, I agree with you Bryan, but the casual fan, eh, gimme speed, gimme in-car cams. What S&P’s?
Is it even worth NASCAR’s time to deal with it and not get a black eye over it?
The S&P’s are only doing as much as Nascar allows them to do. By siphoning off potential team sponsors to be “the official whatever of Nascar”, the France cabal dilutes the product.
I think it would be better if the designated “official sponsors” put their money on the track instead of the France’s bank account. At least that might be enough to help some of the S&P’s run complete races more often.
The coverage given by the networks to cars that are not the chosen ones is the same as the S & P cars. If you are not going to get any exposure for racing, S & P is the way to go.
I still say, “So what?”
Its not like the S&P teams are qualifying in the top 10. Any car that isn’t good enough to outrun them in qualifying would have been nothing but a moving chicane anyway.
When the economy improves sponsors who want TV time on race day will move in and fund competitive teams. Until them its better to have the moving chicanes off the track out of the way than on it.
Terry Cook has qualified the No. 91 S&P car 7th at Texas, and 5th at ORP (he was running 3rd in that race before parking). Dave Blaney qualified the same car 10th at Atlanta. And Mark Green qualified the No. 49 car 7th at Richmond.
“START & PARK” is not a major issue! Never has been, never will be!
With all the CRAP NA$CRAP throws at us the fans, and at the teams themselves, to consider a S & P team, or teams a problem, is WEAK!
AND! If one did not write columns about the S & P situation, no one would ever notice! NEVER on TV or otherwise, is ANY attention given to anything but THE TOP TEN OR 12 DRIVERS/CARS!
Week in, week out, from 15th on back, your a forgotten entity! (unless your the 88 car)!
NA$CRAP, and we the fans, have bigger fish to fry, rather than get all wooly’ed up about a team that might run only 30 laps!
Lets deal with the REAL ISSUES!
Such as that complete idiot BRAIN FARCE! And how he lines his pockets at the individual teams expense!
If teams don’t have the money to compete for an entire race, the fault lies at INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY BLVD.!
And looking at the size of this years fields, and reading about a Robby Gordon who has no major sponsor for next year, NA$CRAP may be “inviting” more S & P teams just to fill a starting grid!
AND! Why would ANYONE believe what a Robin Pemberton would be saying?
He is nothing more than another Brain Farce stooge, afraid to speak his own mind!
A typical NA$CRAP “executive”!
Have you EVER seen a bigger bunch of “YES” men in your life?
There should be a rule; If you don’t make it to the halfway point of a race, your “winnings” get prorated based on the laps you ran. Take out the easy profit motive and you get rid of the S&Pers.
It’s always been around, but it’s gotten out of hand the last couple of years. I’m seeing in the truck series and the Nationwide series. It’s getting to be a joke. And I agree with Bruce. I the powers in Daytona would give up some of the “official sponsors of nas$crap” and give them to the poor teams it would help. I see this problem getting worse. I think soon you’ll see a third of the field starting and parking. Real exciting huh.
The S&P guys are often qualifying in the top 10, top 15. In the NW series, the impound rules really exacerbate this because cars wanting to run the “distance” don’t throw qualifying setups on the car. What’s fast in qualifying usually is junk in actual racing, but what’s good in actual racing is slow in qualifying. The “guaranteed” spots make this even worse- some S&P guys are in the top-30 in the NW series so they don’t even have to have a car that makes minimum speed. So those guys who were “too slow” really were faster than a half dozen other cars that make the race.
1) the aforementioned pro-rate the prize money based on laps completed.
2) confiscate the parts that the teams declare “failed”. If the part really is broken, they can keep the prize money. If it isn’t broken, they lose the part and the money. It’s not without precedence- NASCAR impounded Carl Long’s engine when it failed during All Star Week practice(that’s how they discovered it was “oversize” even though it was likely just worn out).
I mean, what’s the harm in impounding a broken part- it’s BROKEN. Oh, and if the teams declare “out” for “handling” you impound the car, because it shouldn’t have been able to qualify if it can’t handle enough to maintain minimum speed.
3) Require any team that enters have a full pit crew and require them to pay up-front for the full number of allowed tires.
I had moderate hopes for TBR when they started out, at first they were trying to run the full races, but I lost all respect for them when the S&P started. Never had any respect for Prism (MSRP-Cup). Just a blatant profit-source for a has-been commentator.
The truth of the matter is that the start & park teams help assure that Nascar has a full field for each and every race. Without them, Nascar would have to explain why only the ultra-rich super-teams show up at the tracks and why guys who are truly “just starting out and kinda on a budget” can’t afford to be in the show.
So what you are trying to say is that NASCAR should only be for the rich and fortune 500? What about the little guy? Is that not what the sport was built on. Everyone has to start somewhere and if it means that the team has to S&P until both the sponsor and the team can afford to run with the big guys then so be it! Everyone has to start somewhere and the S&P teams should have the same chance as everyone else.
Bill B & Doug – I agree with your ideas whole heartedly. Now if only Nascar would listen…
“Its not like the S&P teams are qualifying in the top 10. Any car that isn’t good enough to outrun them in qualifying would have been nothing but a moving chicane anyway.” – M.B. Voelker
I have heard this same comment from a variety of people and quite simply it is not based on reality. On three separate occasions this year, the winner of a Nationwide race has been outqualified by at least one S&P car (races 20, 27, and 28). On two other occasions, an S&P car started right next to the winner (races 19 and 32). Based on your logic, the eventual race winners didn’t deserve to be in any of these races and were merely moving chicanes.
Perhaps you missed this part, but Bryan Keith did an excellent job of explaining this in his article above. Teams that exclusively start and park set up their cars to run only a few laps. Their cars are built very differently in order to get maximum speed out of them for just a short period of time. You can’t realistically expect low-budget teams trying to race legitimately to be able to compete with that if the race winners in the five examples noted above couldn’t even do it!
It has probably been most hurtful to Morgan Shepherd. He is trying to run the full Nationwide schedule this season but has missed 13 races, and most if not all of those DNQs can be blamed on S&P cars. Is Morgan a moving chicane when he makes a race? Not hardly! He has 9 top-23 finishes in 21 starts this season including a season-best 13th. (And that wasn’t even at Daytona or Talladega as one may expect—but at Las Vegas!) In those 21 races, he has completed 86.4% of the laps and has been running at the finish in 15 of them. But because he actually comes to the track to race and not just to qualify, he can’t set up his car to only run the first 10 or 20 laps, so he is at an immediate disadvantage.
I was going to post the idea that Bill B posted above—if you don’t make it to halfway, prorate the winnings based on how many laps you ran. Or even better, don’t pay anything for teams that don’t at least make it to halfway. Maybe give teams an option to appeal if they fell out for a legitimate reason so if a driver wrecks or has a true mechanical problem, that team can still get their share of the purse money.
Starting and parking is a very real and serious problem and it will continue to hurt nascar if it is not addressed.
Why does NASCAR make the teams buy the Goodyear tires, but Sunoco gives them the gasoline for free?
If you guys think that start and park teams race a few laps, collect their check, and then laugh all the way to the bank need to get their heads examined. With no sponsorship money, where do you supposed their money is coming from to get to the track, purchase 4 tires minimum, lodging for whoever makes the trip and pay for a pit crew on a race weekend? Could it be last weeks winnings?
These guys are doing whatever they can to keep themselves in the garage area, especially drivers looking for rides.
Just in case you were wondering, the better you finish the more money you make, however blowing a motor or even worse demolishing your car in a crash trying to run the entire race would cost more than the difference in prize money.
Nascar is doing enough to push the little guy out of the sport (Carl Long anyone?) we don’t need something else.
I have never known any racecar driver to willingly not run a whole race if they actually have the means to do it. That’s the difference. The don’t have the means financially to do it. If the author thought about that, he wouldn’t paint a picture of these guys laughing all the way to the bank, which is ridiculous.
While I agree that the majority of S&P teams aren’t “laughing all the way to the bank” there are a few that are. MSRP/Prism is a gleaming example of this. MSRP has finished how many races in its existence? 1 this year, at Watkins Glen?
Other teams are using S&P to fund their full-time car. The #37 in Cup is an example. Jay Robinson and Johnny Davis do that in NW. How is that helping the “little guy” when you have multi-car, start & park organizations sucking up the spots with what are basically full-bodied sprint cars?
They’re running more laps in PRACTICE than they run in the race. Heck, some guys run more laps in qualifying (2) than they run in the race (1).
Fine- here’s another solution. If a team intends to Start and Park, they have to declare so (and not having enough crew members or buying tires is the same as declaring). You then compete for any spots left over after all the cars that claim to run the whole race get in- and generally there are fewer than 43 “whole race” cars anyway. If you DON’T declare to be a S&P but then retire for a BS reason early, you lose the prize money. If you actually broke for real, you present said broken irreparable part to NASCAR for impoundment to keep your prize money.
instead of dissin the s&ps make nas head in butt car stop making rules favor the big teams .they need to not let any cars on the track until they are all inspected.
if nas head in butt car dont wake up they will lose it all. the little guy and the fans are what lined thier pockets..
Here we are, going to, or suggesting to penalize a S & P car/team, because, among other things, they “outqualify” another car, that may, or may not, run the entire race itself!
NA$CRAP is broken, from it’s “protected” cars with automatic starting berths, to allowing the high dollar teams and drivers, specifically the CUP drivers, to compete at the lower levels!
THE CUP DRIVERS CHERRY PICK!
Forcing the smaller teams either out, or robbing the smaller teams of sponsors and cash to run the entire race!
Lets get smart and place the blame for the S & P cars, and the reasons they do that, where it, the blame, really belongs!!
Plain and simple!
Why throw out all the ideas for penalties against the little guy?
All I want to see, starting with Homestead and continuing with 2010, is the 31 teams outside the Chase, Start and Park.
get rid of the top 35 rule and see how many S&P’s you’d have… a TON