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 18, 2010
ONE: The future of the Nationwide Series to be tested by Cup drivers and by less than 15 teams
Despite rumors that the anticipated Nationwide Series COT test at Daytona would be delayed to allow for more teams to get their cars prepared, NASCAR is pushing forward this Tuesday and Wednesday with a two-day test. It’s kind of hard to argue with that logic. After all, the teams that haven’t built a car yet are those hoping that the superteams can create enough in time for the carless ones to buy them…and that they can actually afford that expenditure come July.
At total of 23 drivers from 11 organizations are scheduled to take part in the test. The problem with these numbers? Look closer. First of all, having only 11 organizations show up to test when the Nationwide Series needs to fill a 43-car field every weekend isn’t solid math. Of the 23 drivers slated to test, only 16 are actually Nationwide Series regulars, and four of those are either tentative or only present for one day of the test. And of the 11 organizations represented, only three are non-Cup entities (ML Motorsports, Tri-Star Motorsports, and Braun Racing).
Does anything more really need to be said? This is the future of the Nationwide Series, the exclusive car that the Series will run in 2011, and there’s 16 series regulars present. Cup teams represent 33% of the driver field and 73% of the teams present at the test.
The state of the Nationwide Series, by the numbers.
TWO: Look for Vickers to be out for months… and Casey Mears is not the answer
In a best case scenario for Brian Vickers, assuming that his blood clots will require Coumadin treatment, it will be three to six months before the Red Bull Racing veteran will be 100% safe and ready to take the wheel of the No. 83 again. Coumadin blood thinner will not make Vickers sick, but in a sport where 200 mph collisions are commonplace, the risk of the driver sustaining an injury that could cause bruising and bleeding is high… and with thinned blood, that risk is too much to bear.
It’s been widely observed that Vickers being young, there is absolutely no reason to rush a return; he’s got plenty of years left in his career. And as for his job security, well, let’s just say Red Bull Racing is where they are today because of Vickers more than anyone else.
Where will they be when Vickers is able to return to the seat remains to be seen. It will be a regression, however, if Casey Mears ends up being the long-term reliever that gets the No. 83 seat. Don’t get me wrong; Mears’ 22nd-place finish was about all that could be expected this past weekend at Dover, given his lack of experience with the Red Bull team and the fact that the Red Bull organization has never really excelled on the Monster Mile. The problem is, a 22nd-place finish is about all Mears can be counted on for consistently, given his lengthy and underwhelming career record.
What’s more, with the Chase now out of the question for Red Bull, the focus for the rest of 2010 should shift to preparation for 2011… and the continued development of Scott Speed. Though Mears does have a number of years as a full-time Cup driver, the only time in his career that he was called upon to be the senior driver was his final year with Chip Ganassi Racing. Considering where his teammates from that campaign, David Stremme and Reed Sorenson, are today, it’s hard to make a case for Mears being the guy Scott Speed should lean on. As for him being the guy to help Team Red Bull snap out of their current slump, forget about it. This is the same Casey Mears who led the No. 42 team into a regression after the departure of Jamie McMurray, failed to ever make the Chase with Hendrick Motorsports, and led the same No. 07 team at RCR that made the Chase with Clint Bowyer the season prior to a 21st-place points finish.
Red Bull could go with Mike Skinner, a pivotal player in getting the team’s second car up to speed after A.J. Allmendinger missed the first three races of 2008 with the team. They could go with Scott Wimmer, who many thought should have gotten the No. 07 ride that ended up going to Mears at RCR after he led their No. 29 Nationwide Series team to an owner’s championship. Or they could go with an unproven commodity… because Mears is proven to bring nothing but mediocrity to the table.
THREE: What happened to Dover?!
I thought the crowd was bad at Atlanta Motor Speedway in the spring one year ago, where around 60,000 fans left gaping holes in the grandstands even at the start-finish line. Dover may have had a few more fans this past Sunday when the green flag dropped, but in terms of appearance, this crowd was disturbing. Already having covered wide swaths of grandstands with sponsorship curtains… and even closing the turn 3 grandstand, there were still massive glares coming off the empty aluminum bleachers. NASCAR estimated 88,000 fans were present…take 20,000 off that number.
This was just the latest visual manifestation of a trend of downward attendance that still continues to plague all levels of NASCAR in 2010, and that shows no signs of stopping. But unlike the cookie-cutter ovals that have drawn much ire for their ticker-tape parades masquerading as sporting events, Dover has typically had no problem putting on competitive races.
Unfortunately, just like the crowd was way off for a Dover race weekend, the competition on Sunday was as well. I can’t comment on the telecast that the Daly Planet absolutely lambasted throughout the event, seeing as I was at the track, but one thing I was shocked by watching Sunday’s race was that I felt bad for the TV crews… because all the way through the 43-car field, there really wasn’t a whole lot of side-by-side racing to be found. Drivers struggling with a tire that put down excessive amounts of rubber on top of the already pain-in-the-neck Car of Tomorrow just didn’t seem to be able to do a lot of passing.
And as I watched this unfold, it was suddenly so clear as to why even Dover’s grandstands look like Fontana’s. Just like Darlington the week before, the current tire/car combination is off the mark, and the product on the track suffered. Maybe things would have been better if Jimmie Johnson hadn’t sped and would have battled Kyle Busch for a win under green. But good enough to bring 20, 30, 40,000 people more to the track next time? Probably not.
Yes, the economy sucks. But people haven’t stopped spending, they’ve cut back. For racing to get back into the wallets of so many departed fans, the racing product needs to change. And until NASCAR opens up the means for teams to improve their cars, the product isn’t going to improve. This isn’t rocket science, even if making the CoT race enjoyable apparently is.
FOUR: Kasey Kahne to Earnhardt Ganassi Racing?
Kasey Kahne will race in 2012 for Hendrick Motorsports, meaning that he will be driving a Chevrolet in 2011. Problem is, if you ask Tony Stewart, it’s not necessarily going to be for Stewart-Haas Racing, the seemingly perfect halfway home for Rick Hendrick’s latest prize signing. And according to SHR competition director Bobby Hutchens, Kahne would have to find sponsorship in the next two weeks if they were going to be able to form a third team for him and do it right.
That leaves Kahne with two other realistic Chevrolet camps to look at for a one-year ride; Richard Childress Racing and Earnhardt Ganassi Racing. And now that Kevin Harvick appears close to re-signing with the No. 29 team, there really isn’t an open seat at the RCR stable.
But EGR may be another story. With Tony Stewart needing additional sponsor dollars following the departure of Old Spice after 2010, BASS Pro Shops has a dream scenario lined up for them at SHR. Two outdoorsmen in need of sponsor dollars that, unlike current driver Jamie McMurray, aren’t really a stretch to be seen selling boats, fishing rods, and hunting gear. BASS Pro Shops already signed on as an associate sponsor for Tony Stewart and Ryan Newman this year, and it would be a surprise if they didn’t defect for SHR after 2010, McMurray’s Daytona 500 trophy notwithstanding.
That leaves the No. 1 car sponsor hunting, and between Kahne and McMurray… advantage Kahne. Plus, with the No. 1 team already in existence, Kahne wouldn’t necessarily have to sign a sponsor by late spring / early summer to be able to race for EGR in 2011. Couple that with the fact that an EGR ride likely isn’t going to come with the price tag of a Hendrick-backed seat, and there’s a credible case to be made that Kasey Kahne may be calling the Garage Mahal his home… for one year, at least.
FIVE: Who’s in first?
In speaking with Richard Petty about the NASCAR Hall of Fame this weekend, Petty named, in addition to David Pearson, a number of mechanics and engine builders that he would vote for as members to the second class. Petty raises a great point, that instead of harping solely on drivers to enter the Hall, that those that made the cars go fast are just as deserving of a seat, and just as important to capturing NASCAR’s past.
Which begs the ultimate question for 20 years down the road… who gets in first? Jimmie Johnson or Chad Knaus?
©2000 - 2008 Bryan Davis Keith and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
About attendance, while I agree the racing isn’t what it used to be, I think you have to chalk most of it up to the economy.
Being unable to find a job for over 2 years now. A 99er, not of fan of Edwards, it would have applied when Burton drove the 99, :) but a person that has received the entire 99 weeks of Unemployment and haven’t had any sort of income whatsoever for the past several months. I’ve paid a lot more attention to spending trends than your typical person that still has a job.
My mother mentioned last week that when her and my father went out to dinner Friday night, that the place was packed and everyone had their young kids with them. My mom’s first thoughts were that economy must be doing better if they could afford to take the whole family out to a decent steak house. But I pointed out that the parents, who, in the past, would go see a movie or such after dinner, aka date night. Now can no longer afford to do that. So it is cheaper to take the kids to dinner than it is hire a babysitter. After I said this, she was sure I was correct. Am I? Probably, but I haven’t bothered to do a survey. :)
I also went to Great Clips today for a haircut. (Nope, not a Kahne fan, Leffler is cool though.) I was talking with the stylist about the economy and she mentioned if I had noticed the sign in sheet. My name was 5th and I got there around 4:00. Granted, she said Mondays is one of their slowest days, but at $15 a cut, they had only brought in $75 in 6 or 7 hours. Which just happens to be what the stylist cutting my hair would have charged me a year ago before she had to close her own salon and take a job at pretty much the lowest paying place there is to cut hair.
My point being, people have really cut their spending as much as possible. Especially since the economy isn’t showing any signs of a drastic improvement in the near future. Two years minimum is what they keep saying the news. So everyone is really tightening their wallets because there is no end in sight yet.
I wouldn’t doubt that the drop in TV ratings is down because of people cutting out things like cable or satellite. Also, quite a few people that used to work a normal 40 hour M-F week now are working part-time jobs that requires them to work weekends.
When times are tough, sports like auto racing aren’t the best “feel good” sport. Your team doesn’t win or lose each game, as is true with most sports. So it isn’t really a sport to fall back on to keep your spirits up. And considering that the teams aren’t aligned with cities around the country, its not even a sport that gets a city pumped up when a team is having a good year.
I’m not so sure that NASCAR grasps all of this. I think they just see less money coming in and panic. Double-file restarts… 3 G-W-C… And even offering $20 million for someone to win the double Indy 500 and the 600 next year.
I hope they wise up and realize that in this depression, profits are going to decline and stop trying to do stupid things that help ratings in the short run, but are basically bad for the sport in the long run.
@ PBFred: I think that you are partially right, but not completely. NASCAR fans have historically been touted as some of the most loyal sports fans on Earth.
Once again I find myself agreeing (mostly) with noel. Except for the pizza. Being of Italian ancestry and a life long Connecticut resident, no way could I eat what Dominoes calls pizza.
Now, being an eternal optimist there are clearly a number of things that Nascar could do to hold onto its dwindling audience. Whether they have the will or common sense to do so remains to be seen. I do think that sponsorship dollars are going to dry up to some degree. In a sense, many of the teams will get hung up by their own petard. If “normal sponsorship” for a given team amounts to say 20 Million, and it gets cut to $10 million will the world end? Hardly. Teams ten years ago were run succesfully on a quarter of that. Of course they only had one airplane and no 300,000 square foot shops. (A football field is a bit more than an acre at about 56,000 feet!) Maybe a reality check and some serious discussion about what the sport needs is in order…without the posturing.
NOEL: You’re Domino’s analogy made absolutely NO sense.
I mean, if you really wanted to support NASCAR and had a craving for pizza, why not go for a “Slice of Pizzi”???
If Nascar wants to put more butts in the seats, they need to put a better product on the track. Plain and simple. All these changes they keep making are better for the sport, but they are still avoiding the painfully obvious. The racing is terrible.
The slice of Pizzi comment was great!!!
Lets give it up to Noel for only purchasing products that sponsor NASCAR. Now I know what it takes to be a real fan I bet that’s a huge stretch for her… ya know… Only shopping at Home Depot or Lowes for her home improvement needs. Only drinking Bud or Coors or Miller when she needs a frosty cold one. Only drinking Jim or Jack or Crown when she needs something a little more stiff. Only buying Fords or Toyotas or Chevys when she needs a new car.
Nascar fans dont buy certain products because they sponsor the sport. They buy their products because they are the largest corporations that have the budget to advertise everywhere… including nascar. WWJDD
Randy: Once again your complete lack of NASCAR history bites you in the ass! NASCAR fans DO buy the products that sponsor the teams cars. The fact that an FNG like yourself doesn’t see the correlation only underscores my point. Thank you for allowing your ignorance to prove my point. The “newbies” will never give the devotion or loyalty necessary to keep NASCAR afloat. Now go back to mommy, and quit whining in my direction!
Who is this “she“ to which you keep refering? I am a man. So not only do we find out that you don’t understand basic grammar, spelling, and history, but you also fail gender identification. I guess that you just took the lead in the “MOST STUPID AMERICAN EVER“ contest. You must make both of your fathers very proud!
Noel, I don’t disagree with you at all. I just think the economy is playing a bigger factor than is truly realized.
Unemployment is at about 10%. But what most people don’t pay attention to is that under-employment, people that are now working lowing paying jobs or less hours, is at about 20%. Also, don’t forget that people like me, who have run out of benefits, which now adds 1/2 million people per month, no longer are counted in either of these two stats. So you really have almost 1/3 of the Country’s workforce either unemployed or making less money.
I also agree that NASCAR fans are pretty die-hard fans. But ever since the COT came along, racing has gone downhill. And as I said before, NASCAR does seem to be leaning towards turning it into the WWE, I mistakenly said WWF a few days ago, :) in what looks like an attempt to keep ratings up. So I really think it is a domino effect. If the economy was still strong, NASCAR wouldn’t have made all the knee-jerk reactions to help ratings. I think they really need to wise up and keep things from spiraling out of control.
I wouldn’t doubt that Jeff Gordon is playing a decent factor in ratings too. A large percentage of long time NASCAR fans really hated Gordon for years. It really had nothing to do with Gordon himself, but the amazing amount of fans that he brought to the sport. They were basically “fair weather” fans that loved the fact that they could see Gordon win 1/4 to 1/3 the races each year. He basically is to NASCAR what Tiger Woods is to Golf. Take away Tiger, and Golf’s ratings plummet. I think a good percentage of Gordon fans are the same way and with his lack of dominance the past few years, I believe is causing his fans to stop watching NASCAR altogether.
One other thing too. With drivers and sponsors jumping all over the place these days, I think is playing a role too, in advertising profits at least. I know I no longer want to buy anything of my favorite drivers stuff that has a sponsor’s name on it, because within a year or two that sponsor will most likely change. I still think of Exide when I think I my favorite driver, Jeff Burton. And now his current sponsor, CAT, is only signed through the end of the year. Who doesn’t still occasionally see Kahne in the Budweiser car and not think Dale Jr? The sponsors not having driver allegiances has to be a major factor in how far their advertising dollars are worth.
Is it CHRISTMAS? Cause that’s the first noel I’ve ever met that’s a man.
I found this item yesterday; “One Lap Wonders: Double Bow and Red Bull Gives You Clots
Hahahahahahaha… gender identification issues? Sorry for being the only person on the planet that has never met a MALE named Noel.
Now I get where all of her/his issues stem from. Ah, I feel better now. Time to order some more DIGGER gear online.
Jeez Randy…are you really that stupid or are you faking it?
Digger = my homeboy.
@ PBFred: I take your point. It is well made. The only part I disagree with you about is that NASCAR can stop the knee-jerk reactions before things get out of control. I think they spiraled out of control over the last 4-5 years. I do still think that the hardcore fans tuning out spells a long term problem for NASCAR. The fair weather fans will have no problem tuning out when their driver wrecks, misses the chase, or something more interesting comes along. That mentality is more harmful to NASCAR than the economy in the long run. Eventually America will recover from our economic woes, NASCAR may never again enjoy the popularity and corporate relationships that they once did.
@ Don: I guess i forgot to hit the submit icon on my comment to you yesterday. I am interested in learning some of your ideas on reducing costs in NASCAR without turning it into a complete spec series.
Asked and answered Randy, thanks.
OK Noel, how do I e-mail you directly?
Don: I don’t know how to give you my e-mail without also giving the spammers it as well.
hell, I dont give a damn….