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 July 27, 2010
ONE: Almirola the Right Move for JR Motorsports
Aric Almirola’s third-place finish in his debut race with JR Motorsports this weekend could hardly be considered a surprise. A veteran of scores of starts across the Nationwide and Cup Series, as well as a title contender in the Truck ranks this season, he’s picking up wins and respect with his current full-time ride over at Billy Ballew Motorsports. Now straddling the line between young gun and experienced vet, it’s that exact reason he’s the driver JRM should be looking to sign to the No. 88 for 2011.
Certainly, there’s been no shortage of talent taking turns in JRM’s cars this season. Josh Wise has gone from backmarker driving the No. 61 to a top-10 contender. Steve Arpin scored a top 10 in his Daytona NNS debut. Coleman Pressley showed promise in his runs at Kentucky and Nashville. But what Almirola does bring to the table that none of them do is some level of experience, one that’s much greater than a raw, rookie development driver starting out completely green.
Case in point: the one driver that managed to sustain success in JRM’s flagship ride, Brad Keselowski. When he jumped behind the wheel of the No. 88 for the first time, he had nearly 20 starts in the Nationwide Series in addition to a full Truck Series campaign under his belt. Having those starts in subpar rides had Keselowski accustomed to taking care of equipment, knowing how to adjust on race cars, and how to deal with starting in the back. The results he posted in his Nationwide campaigns for JRM speak volumes as to how valuable those starts were.
Well Almirola has even more previous experience than his predecessor, and in better cars. He’s a proven race winner, a title contender and someone, like Keselowski, who’s taken a lick or two getting to this point. While Keselowski endured years of underfunded rides and start-and-park, Almirola took one of the biggest backhands in recent NASCAR history when JGR benched him while running in the top 5 – just so Denny Hamlin could go on to win a race at Milwaukee in 2007 for Rockwell Automation. Sponsor-driven or not, that move was nothing short of appalling.
There’s no shortage of fire or talent here, and as past history shows, an experienced young gun is what the No. 88 needs more than anything. Almirola seems to fit like a glove.
TWO: McMurray Winning The Big Races… But What Does it Mean For His Sponsor?
First, the Daytona 500, and now the Brickyard 400 this Sunday. Jamie McMurray’s making a habit of winning NASCAR’s big name events, or at least making a strong showing (he also finished second in the “Southern 500” and the Coca-Cola 600 this season). Yet a Chase berth is far from assured for one of the sport’s amazing comeback stories. McMurray followed his first win of 2010 with three consecutive finishes outside the top 15, and still sits over 150 points out of 12th place even after his second victory.
But does that really matter? Chip Ganassi looked awful happy about becoming the first car owner to win the Daytona 500, Indianapolis 500, and Brickyard 400 in the same season. Bass Pro Shops representatives in Victory Lane looked right at home in Gasoline Alley. And McMurray’s future with both Bass and the No. 1 has gone from being one of the biggest early question marks for 2011 to a seemingly done deal. Not too shabby for a driver who left Roush Fenway Racing branded nothing short of an underachiever…
The more interesting point than McMurray’s performance, to me, is the question that should be posed to Bass Pro Shops: Does winning these big-time races mean more for the company than a Chase berth would? David Pearson built his legacy not on winning Cup titles, but showing up when the money was good… and beating everyone else to it. But in today’s points over prize money culture that has seen the checkered flag take a back seat to consistency, is there room, and corporate sense for a team that, intentionally or not, is showing up when the trophy and purse gets bigger?
I certainly hope so. Frankly, I find it exciting to know that when a big race is coming up, there’s at least one team out there bringing a different frame of mind to it, a driver who brings a different confidence. Intentional or not, the No. 1 car is seemingly different when the big lights turn on, and that’s landing them the big fish in 2010.
It’s been fun to watch.
THREE: Is the Brickyard a Big Deal Anymore?
McMurray’s “big” win notwithstanding, is the Brickyard 400 as prestigious as the track and purse would imply? The answer was an emphatic “Yes!” during the race’s first running 16 years ago, when the track’s grandstands were packed and 86 cars showed up to try and make the field. But, fast forward to 2010, and the Brickyard was anything but a monumental event.
A crowd of 140,000 was reported Sunday, a number that looked at best slightly inflated. A field of only 47 cars attempted the show, then four of those who made it start-and-parked at one of the most hallowed racing venues anywhere in the world. Then, there’s the on-track action – or should I say lack thereof. It’s a race that, while not as snore-inducing as years past, still couldn’t hold a candle to what we see at Daytona.
Of all those indicators, it’s probably the crowd that’s most telling of how far this event has fallen down the food chain. Economy down or not, the Daytona 500 sold out, while the Indy 500 drew easily over 200,000 fans without having to inflate those numbers. That same day, the Coca-Cola 600 drew over 100,000 dedicated stock car enthusiasts. Labor Day at Atlanta drew over 100,000 last year, and likely will again – even though that tradition is only embarking on its second year. In comparison, Indy was less than half full, and that’s after the track lowered ticket prices. So for all the talk among drivers of how big a deal it was to race there, the fans didn’t seem to share their sentiment. (Though, to be fair, after dealing with the tire debacle of 2008 and years of racing that produced next to no passing, maybe they just opted to stay out of the heat.)
Back in the 1990s, NASCAR at Indy was a big deal. It was a novelty, a Berlin wall falling that saw the South’s burly son kick the door in on IndyCar’s holy ground, a signal that stock car racing was becoming the elite of American motorsports.
But now NASCAR, like the Brickyard 400, is in serious decline. And all the economic excuses, all the history that has nothing to do with our sport, and all the bells and whistles in the world can’t hide the fact that a poor race can’t be a big deal indefinitely.
FOUR: Carl and Kyle Having a Bromance
To steal a line from fellow writer Tom Bowles, Did You Notice? that Carl Edwards made a point to visit Victory Lane after probation scared NASCAR’s battering ram into allowing Kyle Busch to drive to victory at ORP Saturday night? The two have no shortage of “bad blood” in their history, including battering each other after the checkered flag at Bristol in the summer of 2008. That followed an incident in a Nationwide Series race at Richmond earlier that year, one where Edwards accused Busch of pile-driving him.
But on that night, Edwards and Busch shared both an embrace and a quiet word in Victory Lane, with Busch enjoying his defeat of rival Ron Hornaday and Edwards expressing gratitude for a clean finish – seemingly oblivious that last week’s messy conclusion was courtesy his front bumper. Guess those performance-enhancers screw with memory a tick…
It’s an ironic pairing of drivers that suddenly “respect” each other – ones that are espousing their own abilities to race clean – but it makes sense. Kyle Busch has been the target of much of NASCAR Nation’s scorn for seasons now. As for Edwards, the bulls-eye is a little bit of unmarked territory, as the negative fallout from his ugly tangle with Brad Keselowski at Gateway last week had the “aw shucks” Missourian launched into the “bad guy” zone more than at any time during his seven-year Sprint Cup career to date.
On the plus side, at least the two are finally recognizing just how similar they are, both off and on the race track. Draw your own conclusions about that one.
FIVE: NASCAR Fines Drivers… for Dissent
In a shocking report, the Associated Press reported on Monday that a number of NASCAR drivers have been secretly fined by NASCAR in 2010 for making disparaging comments about the sport. In one of those cases, a superstar driver was reportedly fined $50,000.
Information is still trickling in, but let me make a couple of points here. First of all, there’s no doubt that one of those drivers is Denny Hamlin, even if the AP refuses to name him . First of all, Hamlin’s comments about debris cautions and their history, including his infamous tweet from Talladega last fall that “we signed up to drive our cars, not be told how to” have been among the most publicized negative comments made by anyone, competitor or commentator, about NASCAR in 2010. Second of all, where there’s AP NASCAR reporting, there’s Jenna Fryer… and where there’s Jenna Fryer, there’s a Denny Hamlin quote or story.
So hey, NASCAR, here’s a thought; take that fine money, hire somebody competent, and maybe your competitors will have a harder time finding something to complain about. Lord knows they’ve got plenty to choose from right now.
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©2000 - 2008 Bryan Davis Keith and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
Someone aught to reimburse Denny the $50K he spent on telling the truth about the debris cautions. Probably aught to come right out of Brian’s salary.
What irks me is that the late debris cautions had become so obvious that all Denny was doing was stating the obvious. I have a real problem when someone gets fined for being honest.
First I’ve heard about these “secret fines” but I’m not surprised. Big Bill and Bill Jr. ran Nascar with an iron fist, but at least they were competent and for the most part fair. Brian France is neither and his sport is faltering. Given his failure as CEO, these fines seem like a desperate move to me, and one I suspect will backfire on him now that it’s gone public.
They sure don’t mind naming ‘low level’ drivers for what they do. What makes ‘top level’ drivers so special that it has to be a secret? You gotta love the multi-faces of Na$car…NOT!!!!
Brain Farce has gone too far now!! What is racing or any other sport without some controversy? He is a simple-minded excuse for a man! He started killing this sport and appears he will finish what he started!!…Brian..you have Napoleon syndrome!!
Kyle is a freaking hypocrite. He put almost the same move on Trevor Bayne to take the lead around lap 32 that Brad did on Edwards on the last lap at Gateway. Then he has the ‘nads to say some crap in victory lane about racing folks with respect.
I think BZF is too afraid of the truth
Brian France can’t handle the truth. And continues to ignore it.
I really wish someone would get the money together to complete a takeover of Nascar and run the organization right. The sport needs to be moved OUT of the France family and into the hands of someone who has the brains and the experience to oversee a sport without trying to manipulate every facet.
NASCAR needs to put a racer in charge instead of a business man.
Bryan, you mentioned in a previous article about wanting Daytona to be the final race of the year. How many races do you want there? It would be hard to remove the July race because of tradition. Then you would also have two Daytonas back to back, Feburary and November. I liked when Atlanta was the final race but I am from the old school. Whatever NASCAR does won’t please everyone and our opinion is of no value anyway. As for Brian France’s leadership of NASCAR he is like Obama, hell bent on destroying what he is in charge of. If I were Hamlin and the others I would tell all the media what really went on about the fines and expose NASCAR for what a** holes they really are.
Businessman? Did someone call Brian France a businessman? Brian France couldn’t run a lemonade stand on his own. Hes a not-terribly-bright rich kid who inherited this wonderful toy and is doing his best to utterly run it into the ground. Amazing.
NAZICAR trying to gag the drivers for telling the truth? I wonder what else is being hidden behind closed doors?
I went to Indy in 96’ and once I walked into the mens room and there were no doors on the stalls the aura of the place was imediately gone. Heck, the Saturday night track at home is better than that. Then you can’t see anything but they have nice big A/C’d suites over the pit boxes for the owners girl friends which block your view. And the racing sucks, other than that it is a fantastic race ranking up there with the race to the moon.
The whole fine issue smacks of desperation. The drivers are being fined for what most of us have already come to realize. Can you hear the sound of more fans heading for the exits????
Gee, Don. I guess you’re allowed to criticize & comment because you’re DON. Apparently I don’t have that right because I’m NOT Don.
One other thing—at least I can punctuate.
The chase is the major problem, wiyh the fans,and always has been. The decline started the year after the chase was put in Why won’t anyone admit this?? And why oh why win’t they scrap it?
Can you say lack of crediblity? NASCAR keeps right on thinking the fans are so stupid that so long as a DRIVER doesn’t say anything negative, all is wonderful in the world of stock car racing and fans will keep paying their $ to see it.
Brainless is running out of time to catch a clue here. His comments that he doesn’t think the bad TV broadcasts have any impact on the fans is so ridiculous. Talk about blind.
I keep saying that I’ll hang around until my favorite driver retires, but more and more, I only check in to see what’s going on, not waste a full day watching.
I wonder if France will hand pick the “fans” for his meeting on August 11th — so he only gets ones who think he’s doing a great job cuz he sure can’t handle the truth.
The Brickyard is a non-event — boring to watch on TV, along with PocOHno this coming weekend.
Kyle and Edwards are both hypocrites.
I really hope that one of the “secretly fined” drivers publically comes out and challenges NASCAR about the fine. In the past, their racing career would be over. Now… I really think it is at the point that if just a few key people stood up, BF would have stand down and shut up.
I guess I can dream, huh?
Bryan , you and Matt should get together each week and do a joint column . He covered the “ i don’t think Indy is important anymore “ nonsense yesterday . Almost word for word .
I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that drivers are being fined for disparaging NASCAR . But until i see actual names and confirmations , i’m going to have to assume that NASCAR is lying about fining drivers so they can scare them into keeping their mouths shut . Or , Jenna is simply reporting heresay and not naming names because she hasn’t been able to confirm the story or names yet . Either is possible , both have happened before .
1. Go Aric
2. Go Jamie
3. I’ve hated (or “dis-liked” for the super-sensitive) this race since the second time they ran there. Boring as all hell.
4. I think you’re under the misconception that these racers hate each other for years. I’d bet these modern day sanitized fancy boys are pretty much over their b*tch-slapping by the following race week. Lingering on-track fueds are created and maintained by the media to sell more poison.
5. Nothing surprises me any more, which translates to a “who cares” attitude.
First and foremost, this practice of fining drivers for speaking their mind is very disturbing and should be stopped immediately. I have yet to see anyone mention the fact that this is a blatant violation of the drivers’ First Amendment rights to freedom of speech under the Constitution. When did NASCAR and Brian France decide they were above the law? If I were one of the drivers fined, there would be two phone calls made – the first to an attorney practicing constitutional law and the second to my press agent telling them to release a statement about the fines.
Your constitutional rights have no standing with a PRIVATE organization like na$car
denny hamlin is a superstar?? since when? has he won a race since his alleged indiscretion or should i restate that as has nascar let him win one since??? didn’t he also say that kyle would never win a championship? doesn’t he have his facts wrong. i though kyle’s one is one more than he has… even though nascar the organization disgusts me, i still think that the racing is better than EVER!!! points racing that is. don’t you agree?
Are you never happy? 140,000 fans in the stands, even if it was really only 100,000, is a lot more than several other tracks this year. Including my local track you love to hate. So what gives? You cant expect a place that holds 200,000+ people to sell out every year.
Indy is for Indy cars, bottom line. it was a nice try but go back to Darlington, racing is better in person and on TV.
1) Almirola should drive both 88 Cars for a few weeks. Might show what really needs fixing or changing.
2) The sponsor should consider a long term deal with the driver not the team! on a side note: Do you wonder if Jack questions dropping the wrong driver?
3) Did you see how many empty seats there were, I think attendance at the track says it all.
4) 2 guys that really don’t like BK getting along, plus Kyle had to go against his team mate Hamlin cause he took the opposite position. Carl and Kyle will be swapping spit soon and taking vacations together.
5) Another nail in the coffin of NASCAR’s credibility. To think a driver deliberately wrecked the leader of a race this season and got a half the fine of a driver who questioned phantom cautions doesn’t surprise me in today’s NASCAR. I’m sure new fans will get turned off by it though. Brian needs to stop stuffing powder in his face and ask WWMDD or WWMGDD, What Would My Dad Do or What Would My Grand Dad Do!
Nascar has a credibility problem and with this new information on secretly fining drivers for giving their opinion, this will just be another nail in the coffin to bury Nascar. Do the powers-that-be in the sport think we’re stupid an not realize that they’re desperately trying to save a sport that’s beyond life support? Fining drivers for speaking the truth will only infuriate fans more, and further reduce attendance and tv viewers. What are these guys thinking? Oh, I forgot, among Helton, Pemberton, Darby and France, there’s not a whole brain between them, even if you sewed them all together. Brian France is a sorry excuse for a man who’s father and grandfather were truly visionaries. Brian is a pathetic creature who obviously feels he’s some sort of genius, but he’s got less brains than a gnat. Someone needs to get a group together and purchase Nascar before these idiots totally demolish it. Will the last one to leave Nascar headquarters, turn out the light?
Hey Not5For48 – Loved your points #3, #4 and #5 and I am in total agreement with you on those. Especially #4. Did anyone not notice Edwards giving the bumper to Shrub during the last N-Wide race?
P.S. Is it just me or does France mumble, stumble and spit out a ton of rambling verbiage? Can we get him to pee in a cup because that man is TOTALLY incoherent!! They need to find a “Straight” man to run this deal.
If Indy is hyped up as such a huge race, or is considered the 2nd most prestigious race of the year, there should be more that 140,000 people in the stands. Just goes to show that the race at Indy is more hype than substance and people are staying home because of it. I would rather watch them race at ORP.
By the way, if Jenna Fryer released that story, don’t be surprised if you don’t see her at the track anymore. She will probably have her credentials pulled for that because that’s how Nascar operates when you talk bad about them, which is why more drivers don’t speak out.