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
Monday March 3, 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.
Beyond The Cockpit Feature · Bryan Davis Keith · Wednesday September 8, 2010
It’s been a month of transition for Front Row Motorsports, major, unexpected decisions shaping the philosophy and the future of the team going forward. For while some details are still missing as to what transpired at Michigan last month, the results remain the same: Kevin Conway and his ExtenZe sponsorship are no longer associated with the operation.
“The word they [ExtenZe] used with us was hiatus, they were putting the sponsorship on hold,” FRM General Manager Jerry Freeze said of one of the more notable in-season shifts the sport has seen this year. “Basically, it got to a point where they weren’t going to sponsor us anymore, and the driver was tied to the sponsorship. So we just said at Michigan that we were going to make a change.”
It wasn’t an easy choice by any means for one of the sport’s cash-strapped operations. Now, not only is there a long-term commitment to make as to who’s going to be a replacement driver (Tony Raines and Dave Blaney have each wheeled the team’s third car since MIS), the organization is now faced with the financial pinch of having the organization’s one primary sponsor depart.
“We’ve actually had to cut back on resources at the shop to try and make it work,” said Freeze. “The guys didn’t have as many tires as they felt they needed before – now they have even less. But this is the hand we’ve been dealt.”
“We feel like we can continue doing this for the rest of the year. Do we have the resources to go out there and win races? I don’t think so. But for us, it’s all about finding that sweet spot in the 20s. In the low 20s would be a really good day for us, an exceptional day in the teens. I definitely think the drivers are capable of that. But we’ve had to ratchet back a bit on what we have to race just so we can survive.”
Survival is the key for this team right now, as without a primary sponsor, what was a tight-budgeted two-car operation is now a tighter-budgeted three-car stable. And while they believe they can sustain their current model for the rest of the 2010 season, 2011 is a whole other story.
When asked about the future of the team’s third car, the No. 38 squad that currently sits outside the top 35 in owner points, Freeze didn’t mince words.
“It’s a big question mark right now. Unless we have some phenomenal success in finding sponsorship, I don’t see any way we can carry three cars next year.”
“I think the likely scenario is that FRM will run two cars next year. We really like David [Gilliland] and Travis [Kvapil], we’re planning on those guys coming back and we’re talking with them about it, so that’s the direction I think we’ll be going in. Then again, maybe we start next year running that third car if it’s in the top 35. If it’s not, it may just go away.”
That said, the team is also very much aware of just how valuable team number three is. They know just how close they are to locking a third entry into the Sprint Cup field, and what that means from both a competitive and fiscal standpoint.
“Now we get that car back in the top 35, we have a lot of options for next year,” Freeze explains. “That’s why we’re working so hard … I would bet the house that if we had a third car in the top 35 at the end of this year that we could find a driver with a sponsor to run the Daytona 500. That’s a great-paying race, and could be a great value to FRM.”
That’s why it was all hands on deck for the team this past weekend at Atlanta. When it was time for qualifying practice, everyone on the team’s engineering staff was working on Blaney’s No. 38 car, making sure their new driver would have the horses he needed to race on Sunday (their efforts paid off: he qualified fourth of the 12 go-or-go-homers and comfortably made the field). With so much on the line financially that’s why, despite the organization’s commitment to making all three teams stand on their own now that three solid veterans are behind the wheel, they’ll continue to give that No. 38 team extra special attention the rest of this year.
“We’ve kind of moved our teams all around that No. 38 car this summer, and we’ll continue to take our best, strongest qualifier every week and put them in that car,” Freeze said of their future plans. “So Tony [Raines] is going to drive all the short tracks and Dave [Blaney] is going to run the superspeedways. We feel like that gives us the best shot to get that team back into the top 35.”
Not only does that duo offer the team a chance to recover from a disastrous penalty for tire bleeder valves at Pocono earlier in the summer – one that knocked them out of a “locked in” spot in the first place – they’re also a valuable asset in allowing the team to move forward with its biggest competitive initiative: getting all three teams on a uniform chassis setup.
“We’ve got some old Richard Petty Motorsports cars, some old DEI cars, a Ganassi car, we’ve got the gambit in the shop,” Freeze explained as he detailed the team’s inventory. “We’ve been trying really hard to get settled on a particular chassis that all three crew chiefs have belief in … so when everyone communicates, they’re comparing apples to apples instead of apples to oranges.”
It’s an effort that the team has been making progress on. Kvapil’s No. 34 car hit on a combination several weeks ago that they felt comfortable with, and the No. 38 Ford under Gilliland’s leadership has followed their example. It’s just the latest example of chemistry between the two drivers that in 2008 put Yates Racing back on the map with both a pole-winning run at Talladega and a near-win at Sonoma, a strong working partnership that has only continued to blossom as teammates under the Front Row banner.
“The coolest thing about David and Travis is they have a great relationship,” Freeze said. “They completely trust each other, and they were kind of the most vocal ones saying, ‘Let’s all get on the common chassis.’ We want to work together, but when this team’s going this direction and that team’s going that direction, that’s not a way for us to work together. So they were vocal about that and helped steer us in that direction the last few months.”
And now, they’re going to get a bonus: having a veteran to bounce that continued input off of.
“David and Travis, they’re real similar personalities,” Freeze explained. “They’re experienced guys, they’re really into their race cars, they really understand the chassis side of the cars, they know what they’re talking about with their crew chiefs, but they’re not headstrong to the point that they say you’ve got to have this or that. So, [like at Bristol], they’ll take Tony’s input and really value it. Whereas before, with a rookie driver, he’ll make a comment and even if it’s in the right direction, they’re not going to take it as gospel.”
“[To an outsider], it seems like we’ve run all three cars this year to keep the rookie driver running. That’s really taken away any consistency not just with that car but with the other two teams. By plugging Tony and Dave in there, we wanted to go with some solid veteran guys for the rest of the year so all three teams can stand on their own two feet from this point going forward.”
That’s not to say that Front Row is about to become every man for itself, though. Earlier this season, it took a supreme level of cooperation to get the No. 38 off the ground, a team that took shape less than a month before the Daytona 500. And until an untimely penalty at Pocono, Front Row had done the unthinkable, going from a journeyman operation whose second car was a start-and-park entry to a three-car staple on the Sprint Cup circuit in just six months.
That same cooperation allowed the teams to continue and employ a “one team operating three cars” model at Atlanta, getting their new driver into the field, as well as allowing Gilliland to score a top-20 finish for the team’s No. 37 car. It’s what they’re counting on to get through the rest of 2010.
And even if three cars aren’t in the team’s future, there’s no doubt that cooperation is still in everyone’s best interest. For Blaney, there’s a chance to race instead of start-and-park for the first time in years. For Kvapil and Gilliland, there’s a new source of information to keep their team and chassis moving forward. And for Front Row, there’s the chance that maybe, just maybe, a third spot in the top 35 will materialize in time for Daytona next year.
Not too shabby a situation for a team that just lost their biggest sponsor.
Connect with Bryan!
Photography for this article provided by The Hot Lap’s Phil Cavali.
©2000 - 2008 Bryan Davis Keith and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
I don’t really understand how or why FRM has all these cars from all these non-Ford teams. Are these essentially not true Fords that they run every week? Just random cars they throw together and place Ford decals on?
Chris, it’s a Car of Terror. It’s not a Dodge, Chev, Ford or Toyyyyyota. You take a Chev engine and put it in a “Dodge” and you have a “Chev.” Ain’t progress wonderful?
A car can be reskinned from one manufacturer to another fairly easily, it does add some expense but is not a deal breaker. In the case of FRM, they were running both Dodge and Chevy sheet metal up to last year, so they just converted their carryover inventory to Fords in the offseason.
Watching the 38 car try to climb into the top-35 is more interesting to me than the Chase, it’s a matter of survival for teams at this level and is made even more interesting by the fact that the team they really need to catch is the #7 now driven by Kevin Conway. With 11 races left, that battle could go either way.
It should be no problem for the 38 to overtake the 7 so long as Conway’s in it. :) Now, where the 26 fits into the Top 35 picture relative to the 38 is another story…
There seems to have been a major improvement in the focus and performance of the team since KC and his sponser left. It should have marked a major down turn in there fortunes but that does not seem the case. With Travis and the two daves there suddenly seems to be a bright future ahead. And im certain they will get the 38 locked in by season end. Good luck to all at FRM.
With the impending loss of two RPM teams and possibly the removal of the 77 car from Penske in place of Kurt Busch’s 22 car, FRM and the 26 team should be in the 500 next year.
FRM’s forced changes will probably be better for the end of this year and next because of driver and enginnering quality. Conway is and always will be a waste of time.
Problem with NASCAR is they let these “sales” for points happen where people who do not have any involvement in the team are “owners.”
Typical NASCAR moves like that are why the series has problems getting teams and sponsorships. When two guys with six championships (Stewart & Gordon) cannot find sponsorship, how can the small team find any?
Well, the small teams don’t charge $12Million+ a year for sponsorship, which is why some large teams are having issues finding sponsors. If Hendrick could get by on what FRM or RPM survive on, they’d have sponsors falling all over them. But the price is too high for most sponsors to justify today, and the sponsors want exposure (which the little teams don’t give, since NASCAR TV is focused on the Chase guys + Earnhardt). Some of the small teams, all it takes for a sponsor to get on the quarterpanels is pay for tires. Still going to end up with a finish outside the top 25, though.
As for the buying points thing, all 3 of the FRM cars were points buys- 2 this year, and one last year. They lost one locked-in spot due to the tire-valve issue, but if they had let Conway “sink or swim” rather than propping up his constant last-car-running finishes that car would have been out of the T35 far faster. If they’d had a real driver who could maintain a reasonable lap speed, they wouldn’t have been close to falling out and would have weathered the penalty.