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.
Bryan Davis Keith · Tuesday May 4, 2010
ONE: There will be a Sprint Cup race at Kentucky Speedway in 2011
Let’s all stop kidding ourselves, this one was never in doubt. Bruton Smith did not buy the Kentucky Speedway without knowing and knowing full well that the anti-trust lawsuit brought upon NASCAR by the facility’s former ownership was going to get settled. He didn’t spend millions of dollars on cosmetic and infrastructure improvements to put on a better Nationwide Series race; that’s a safe wager.
The details on how this one got settled are likely never to be known in full, but use your imaginations. The former owners of the Kentucky Speedway have spent a year waiting for a trial date to go against an entity in NASCAR that has proven an absolute behemoth in the courtroom. Through all of that time, their suit completely failed to grab attention amongst stock car racing fans, never riling them up enough to rally behind an independent body and make an issue out of ISC and SMI’s near monopoly of the Sprint Cup schedule. Bruton wants a Cup race… now. Money probably traded hands, some wrists were probably slapped, and in the end Bruton got his way. That tends to happen.
What details will now start to emerge, as the 2011 Cup schedule now is facing double realignment with both Kentucky coming on board as well as a second date for Kansas, is who the tracks are that will likely lose dates. With ISC and SMI each looking for a new date for themselves, expect to see one ISC and one SMI venue lose a date. Between Atlanta (SMI), Fontana (ISC), Loudon (SMI), and Martinsville (ISC), two of those four venues will have only one Cup date in 2011 now that this suit has been resolved. That’s a safe wager.
TWO: Denny Hamlin was Saturday night’s big winner
While it was no surprise to see the Kentucky Speedway anti-trust suit go by the wayside, Denny Hamlin, bum knee and all, has been a tremendous surprise, proving the majority of NASCAR writers (myself included) very wrong. His performance since knee surgery, including a gutsy full run at Phoenix and a dramatic win at Texas Motor Speedway, has kept the No. 11 team in the Chase hunt.
And while Hamlin’s 11th-place finish at Richmond this past Saturday night will certainly not go down as one of his prouder moments on the Virginia short tracks he has come to dominate, it was just the latest example of how the No. 11 team really may be the frontrunner to finish second to Jimmie Johnson this season. Frontstretch spoke with Hamlin’s crew before Saturday’s race and after the No. 11 team was mired on the speed charts all day Friday; the crew was scratching their heads, providing no real explanations for why what was typically the car to beat at RIR was so mediocre.
Some of that confusion translated into the race, as the No. 11 car certainly wasn’t its usual self; Hamlin was a stranger to the top 5 all night. But he did manage to mount a steady charge from his 30th place starting position, ending up 11th by the checkered as one of the few cars in the field to actually pass a good number of vehicles. Making something out of nothing was exactly what the No. 11 team did, minus the frustration that in the past has dogged Hamlin (see Dover last September). Failing to capitalize on tracks like Richmond are a clear indicator that this bunch is still not ready to challenge Jimmie for the throne… but finishing 11th on Saturday with a struggling race car also served notice that they’re moving in the right direction towards that goal.
THREE: Terry Cook Out at Whitney Motorsports Because He Fears the Team’s Direction?!
As Denny Hamlin and the No. 11 team are serving notice that come 2011, they may well be ready to contend, Terry Cook served notice of his own on Facebook this week that he’s left the No. 46 team at Whitney Motorsports after qualifying for just three races in 10 attempts. His best run was 34th at Phoenix, the only race the team was able to make the full distance. On Saturday night, the No. 46 completed only 92 laps after Cook experienced mechanical failures in the rear end.
“Something broke inside the locker, and there are parts disintegrated all inside the rear end,” said Cook in his Raybestos Rookie of the Year statement. “It destroyed the oil pump, the rear end cooler pump. We don’t have another cooler pump, so just to put another gear in there and go back out at this stage, we’re so many laps down and all you’re doing is breaking more parts.”
Being underfunded, quality of equipment, etc., was not mentioned as Cook’s reason for leaving. Rather, he said he was concerned about the direction the team was headed. And that’s an eyebrow raiser for several reasons.
Cook told Frontstretch as early as January that he would be serving not just as the team’s driver, but also as a team manager. The team manager leaves an organization entirely because he’s concerned about direction? Doesn’t the team manager, well, direct the team?
More likely though, it seems like Cook underestimated just how much of a challenge doing the underfunded Cup team deal would be. After falling victim to sponsorship woes and losing a competitive Truck ride, he took to start-and-parking for Phil Parsons’ MSRP Motorsports operation in the Nationwide Series in 2009 and proved to still be a solid qualifier, scoring a top-5 starting position in the team’s No. 91 car at ORP last August. Those top-5 qualifying efforts, even qualifying efforts just to make the field, proved to be very hard to come by for the No. 46 team, however, and – as Jason Keller says – missing a race is a real gut check.
It’s hard to imagine that such a successful qualifier missing seven of 10 races to start 2010, and having two of the three he did make cut short by mechanical constraints isn’t impacted heavily by such results. Running in the back of the pack without a prayer at victory is about the hardest thing for any competitor to be asked to do, and there’s no doubt that trying to be a Cup rookie, a team manager, and that kind of driver is asking a whole hell of a lot. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Cook back with the former MSRP operation (now D’Hondt/Humphrey Motorsports) in the near future, though, even if we never see him in a Cup car again; after what he just went through, start-and-parking will seem like a joke in comparison.
FOUR: Is Zaxby’s transitioning from father/son to sponsor?
Between Clint Bowyer saying he expects to run seven more races in the No. 21 Zaxby’s Chevrolet for RCR’s Nationwide Series team, and now the reports that Casey Mears will run races at Nashville and Kentucky in the car, another driver it seems we may never see again is John Wes Townley. When asked at Richmond this past weekend what role he was playing with Townley during his relief driving duties, Clint Bowyer openly admitted he’s had next to no contact with the team’s former driver since taking the No. 21 seat. That hardly sounds like a constructive driver development situation.
On the one hand, it’s not surprising to see RCR keeping Townley away from the team’s cars. Even Casey Mears will be an improvement over a driver that’s well-earned the nickname “John Wreck.” What is surprising, though, is how suddenly Zaxby’s has apparently signed off now on drivers not named Townley driving their car. That’s a drastic change, given that the owner of Zaxby’s (and father of John Wes) has long been the force keeping his son in race cars and his career moving forward fully sponsored, sources tell Frontstretch.
But the reality is two-fold here. One, this is a talent, performance-driven sport that money can only take one so far in, at least if they want to be successful on the track. And John Wes Townley has yet to ever show the talent needed to make it in the world’s most competitive motorsport. Two, Zaxby’s is currently affiliated with a team that has fantastic Nationwide Series equipment, a roster of top driver talent, and a history of winning. From a business perspective, there’s much to be gained by fielding the Zaxby’s No. 21 both for the company and RCR. It seems that maybe, just maybe, the businessman behind those dollars is waking up and realizing that even if it’s not his son, there’s something to be said for being involved in racing.
On this front, the next question becomes… when does Extenze wake up and realize it can do better than Kevin Conway? After all, Conway fell out of the top 35 in owner points after this weekend – the second time that’s happened in his short tenure with FRM.
FIVE: Baker/Curb a victim in losing RedMan sponsorship… and will KHI lose Longhorn?
Thanks to the all-knowing powers at the FDA (Federal Drug Advocacy, err, Food and Drug Administration), soon all tobacco companies will be “prohibited tobacco brand name sponsorship of any athletic, musical, or other social or cultural event, or any team or entry in those events.” In short, for Baker/Curb Racing, who landed a late offseason deal with Red Man Moist Snuff that has largely assisted the team’s No. 27 operation to return to the front of the Nationwide Series field, they’re losing a potential business partner for good after Kentucky.
Obviously, such a decision by the FDA is damaging to NASCAR, a sport that has no shortage of business history with tobacco, nor any shortage of fans that either support or work in said industry. Under this new law, a laundry list of companies that have supported NASCAR race teams since the departure of R.J. Reynolds from the Cup Series in 2003, including Victory Brand, Tucson and Bailey’s can’t appear on cars again. And the way the law is worded, it seems very likely that KHI’s No. 33 Truck entry and their deal with Longhorn may well fall under the axe as well.
Just like NASCAR, this is another case of bigwigs telling everyone what’s best for them. It’s funny to hear a government that’s, in essence, subsidizing race teams by buying half of the manufacturers involved in the sport now telling private companies when they give them money that they can’t take part in an effective, lucrative marketing tool. Decisions like these are bad for NASCAR, they’re bad for business, they’re bad for everyone. Maybe this is why fans are less and less enthusiastic about NASCAR… it provides less relief because real life is all but mirroring it.
©2000 - 2008 Bryan Davis Keith and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
Maybe the teams should start courting health insurance companies for sponsorship. Lord knows that they’ll have more than enough money, what with the government driving all that new business their way…
Can someone get an update about Jerry Nadeau?? I asked NASCAR.com, a few times with no results. why does the media forget about drivers that no longer drive? he was injured in a crash, he didn’t quit or retire. i know he wasn’t an excellent driver, but he was good and took a hell of a hit. can someone give us an update??? thx
I apologize for this being off-topic, and it was a very good column, but I wanted to help Joe above me.
Joe, you can get someone more current information about Jerry at the following websites.
Again, my sincerest apologies to author Bryan Keith as I mean no disrespect, just wanted to help someone.
I would like for someone to sit down with Denny Hamlin and ask:
How has your injury effected your approach to driving? When you are back to 100% is there anything you can take away from this experience that will change your approach to racing or your NASCAR career?
NASCAR limits who can be a sponsor. Why shouldn’t the federal government? NASCAR determines that some companies don’t fit their fan and family friendly perception (Playboy racing?). I read that Enzyte had to jump through all sorts of hoops to make its marketing acceptable to NASCAR brass, and other companies on the fringe tell similar stories.
NASCAR won’t allow naked women on the cars for the sake of the kids, and the FDA will not allow tobacco products on the sides of the cars for the sake of the kids. What’s the difference?
When NASCAR loosens its non competitive agreements with companies like Sprint (the Verizon car without Verizon on the side) and allows Vivid Entertainment to place their latest starlet on the side of Busch’s car, I’ll get upset that the FDA will not allow tobacco sponsorship.
Iffen yew kaint advurtize snuff in NA$CAR whuts the wurld kumming tu?????
If Martinsville loses a date and Fontana keeps its two, I will no longer watch any nascar racing. I am completely serious about that and I doubt I’m alone. I love the sport and the people in it, but I cannot support a sport that could make that kind of a decision. Hopefully they are smarter than that, and despite what we see sometimes, I honestly think they are. Anyway, based on a report from a while back, the three tracks that were being evaluated to possibly lose a date to Kansas are Michigan, Fontana, and Phoenix.
I do know Loudon will not lose a race to Kentucky. That place is one of the few tracks that sells out consistently. Its also next to a huge market and its not a cookie cutter track like all the others. The racing used to be good before they changed the cars, but that’s not the tracks fault. Fontana better be getting one of the axe’s.
This Townley issue is double sworded. On one hand it is nice to see a team owner finally telling a sponsor what to do, but on the other hand, it looks like another sponsor going with a Cup regular again which takes another seat away from NW regulars. Jon Wes is far from a great driver but isn’t the lower levels where you are supposed to learn.
I fully support giving up a Fontana date in order to keep two dates at Martinsville. NASCAR would be shooting themselves in the foot with a hollow point bullet if they took a date away from Martinsville. Especially after the fan backlash after Darlington lost Labor Day. I hope they’re not that stupid.
Second, I fully support any and all measures to remove tobacco products from our economy. Smoking is a disgusting habit that creates litter, starts accidental fires, and contributes highly to our high insurance prices and hospital costs. There’s nothing worse than a smoker who leaves their butts on the ground or throws them out their car’s window.
Steve I would not bet on Nh not losing a race even though it sells out it is the least attended race SMI has except for maybe Sonoma.
I have been to every race at Loudon for the last 10 + years. For about the last 4-5 races, they have had to give away massive amounts of free tickets to fill in the stands. Last September even that didn’t work, as there was a ton of empty seats.
Guys, it’s not about sell outs or percentage of seats sold. its about the number of seats sold.
Simple math tells us that 70% of 160,000 makes way more money than 100% of 60,000
I’m afraid I have to take issue with you Mr. Hood. (Tongue firmly planted in cheek) Everyone knows smoking is no good for you and we really dont need to encourage it among young people. Now, naked women however, thats another story! they painted them on B-17s and B-24s in WW2 so lets go for it!!!
@DansMoan, having tried, through my tears of laughter, to come up with a way to read that last post without snickering, I give up. Brilliant, simply brilliant. There’s your sign.