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 September 21, 2010
ONE: Clint Bowyer and RCR Have Done This Before
Clint Bowyer lived a Cup driver’s dream that used to only be possible in the first week or two after Daytona — win a race and go from 12th to second in points over the course of one dominant Sunday afternoon. But that’s what happened at Loudon, where Bowyer had just enough fuel left in his tank to hold off Denny Hamlin and score a victory that saw him lead 177 laps en route to his second career win on the Magic Mile. Now, merely eight days after taking the green flag at Richmond, driving for his playoff life, Bowyer is a few positions on the race track away from taking the point lead. It’s a great underdog story, the kind NASCAR wants to trumpet for its floundering playoff system.
Here’s the problem: I’ve seen this movie before. And it doesn’t end with that underdog hoisting the Cup.
As most of you know, Bowyer’s been there, done that. Back in his first Chase appearance in 2007, the one-time Cinderella led 222 circuits and scored his first career win at NHMS. Yet, by Charlotte, the slipper had cracked; he was nearly 80 markers out of the lead, never again to challenge for the Cup while sliding far behind the pace of Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon in front. But that’s just the latest in a long list of historical footnotes that prove Bowyer’s ultimate futility in this department. Never mind that RCR has done this in the Chase before with drivers other than Bowyer; Kevin Harvick led 196 laps in winning the 2006 Chase opener, but faded late in that championship race which went to – you guessed it – Johnson. Never mind further that since Kurt Busch won the first Chase in 2004 on the heels of a dominant win at Loudon, no other Chase driver has accomplished the same feat.
You also can’t ignore the fact that Johnson, after a 39th-place finish in 2006, was 139 points out of the lead after New Hampshire, Chase race one. Nine races later, he was hoisting his first Cup. After his late-race spin this past Sunday, Johnson is within 100 points of the lead. Meaning, despite all the dominance of his win on Sunday, Bowyer didn’t knock out Johnson, and until he and the rest of the field does, this win means nothing.
TWO: Bobby Labonte the Latest to Jump on the S&P Bandwagon… After Refusing to Do So
Bobby Labonte retired from this Sunday’s Cup race after only 89 laps for electrical reasons (read: a dead battery). After pulling into the garage and asking his team about making repairs and returning to the track, a crewman’s voice radioed to his driver, “You’ve got to give me a really good reason to race, or else I’m gonna get into a pile of trouble.”
The next radio transmission was even more dire. “Yeah, unless we have a sponsor, we’ve got to be smart about this,” said another voice on the scanner. “With the engines lasting two or three weeks, we can’t afford to race just because we can.”
So with that, James Finch’s unsponsored program packed up and called it a day, the nail in the coffin of a now-unfulfilled promise by his driver. Remember when Labonte left his full-time ride in TRG Motorsports’ No. 71 for being unwilling to drive a start-and-park entry? That’s not meant to be a knock on the 2000 Cup champ, as the stable of rides in the Cup garage frankly isn’t offering a lot outside of start-and-parks. But he is the latest and biggest name example of a driver who refused to take part in the S&P practice, yet now is doing just that. Scott Riggs took a number of rides with PRISM Motorsports over the summer after leaving Tommy Baldwin Racing last year to avoid S&P. Terry Cook left Whitney Motorsports after Darlington earlier this year because that team was unable to live up to its promise of having Cook go the distance every week, yet he was running S&P in the No. 09 car by Pocono. And on the Nationwide Series front, a number of organizations from Specialty Racing to even RAB Racing have had to park their cars early, intentionally, despite a commitment to running the distance through much of the 2009 and early parts of the 2010 campaign.
Despite arguments made by so many that start and park has always been around and doesn’t pose the problem that many of us at Frontstretch have reported on for the better part of the last two years, it’s spread to the Cup Series, it’s spread to organizations that have won races, and it’s now spread to the point that a Cup champion is doing it to keep himself in a race car. James Finch’s organization has never been afraid to shoot from the hip with regard to their S&P practices on the Cup circuit (Finch noted after Bristol in 2004 that he’d keep running Cup races as long as they were profitable because he made more money per lap than race winner Kurt Busch did, with Joe Ruttman parking the No. 09 after only four laps). But to hear them flat tell a Cup champion that they can’t afford to let him go back out and make laps is about as sickening a radio communication as I’ve heard in recent memory.
THREE: Sam Hornish, Jr. Back to the Nationwide Series?
With primary sponsors in the Cup ranks running in short supply, Sam Hornish, Jr.‘s future in Cup racing is now in limbo. Yet strangely, a return to IndyCar doesn’t seem to be in the cards for Hornish… rather, a date with the Nationwide Series does? It seems like a very odd stepping stone pattern, going from the peak of open-wheel racing in the U.S. to the Cup Series, then back to the minors.
Frankly, from a racing development perspective, Hornish probably could use the time in the Nationwide Series. It’s where he should have started in the first place. With Penske Racing’s NNS program proving to be among the class of the field, a move to the sport’s “AAA” division would allow Hornish the chance to race for wins and a championship, something he hasn’t come close to doing since tackling stock car racing. But it’s an interesting move for Penske Racing and their NNS program, seeing as how they’re also searching for a primary sponsor for the No. 12 car that Justin Allgaier drives (Verizon is leaving at the end of this season.)
Take stock of the Penske stable. Brad Keselowski is all but certainly going to run a full Nationwide Series schedule in the No. 22 next year. After all, does anyone think he’s going to just let Carl Edwards hog all the fun? That leaves one Nationwide car for Penske Racing, and an unsponsored one at that which leaves two potential drivers vying for the seat: Hornish and current NNS development driver Justin Allgaier. Therein lies a sticky question for the Penske camp… which wins out? Loyalty to a driver that brought the Penske organization three IRL titles and an Indianapolis 500 trophy, or commitment to a bright young talent who has proven to fit like a glove in Penske’s business first operating culture? Which driver allows Penske to make a better sales pitch to a new sponsor?
For those out there complaining about a boring Silly Season… this one could get interesting.
FOUR: Enough of This Best Chase Ever Crap Already
The only thing more plentiful than shots of Dale Earnhardt, Jr. on Sunday’s telecast (and let’s be clear, he did earn those with an excellent run) were comments by the broadcast crew that 2010 was going to be the best Chase ever, that the field was so even, the tension so high. This is going to be the best Chase ever!
To all of those in the mainstream media, ENOUGH! I have irked enough professional writers out there for being and acting like a “race fan” this season, so I’m going to speak like one. I, like any other race fan out there, get it. The field is tight, the points are tight. No, really? Is that what happens when the standings for the top 12 basically get set to zero with 10 races to go? And, like other race fans out there, I know a good race when I see one.
I saw one on Sunday. Seeing Jimmie Johnson and Denny Hamlin mixing it up three-wide only 20 laps into the Loudon race was exciting. There was aggression in that race that was a thrill to watch, be it Johnson’s bold moves all day long or Tony Stewart risking everything to win rather than pit and try to salvage a top 15 with fuel strategy. I thoroughly enjoyed Sunday’s race, seeing drivers like Clint Bowyer run all over the ragged edge, and Kurt Busch cross over that same line. That’s the kind of competition I need to see to enjoy both being a professional covering this sport and a race fan.
What I don’t need is everyone, from the broadcasters to the owners, telling me this is going to be the best Chase ever, like I’m some five-year-old waiting for Christmas presents I can’t open yet. And race fans don’t need it, either. We’ve had years, and I mean years, of having this joke of a system shoved down our throats. We keep coming back not because the booth dubs it the best ever, but because there’s still nothing in sports that can top a good stock car race. We had a good race on Sunday. So to everyone in the booth and media trying to sell NASCAR as well as cover it, stop selling the damned Chase. Sell the race. Hell, just cover the race. If it’s good, race fans will take notice, and they will come back… best weekend ever or not.
FIVE: It Really Could Have Been NASCAR’s Best Chase Ever
NASCAR missed a golden opportunity. If they had merely expanded the Chase field to the top-20 drivers in points, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. would have made the Chase this time around. And based off the fourth-place performance that he turned in, he would be heading into Dover sixth in points, only 70 markers out of the lead.
Two races with Danica driving and Jr. in the top 10 in points? Dover could have been the best weekend ever!
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By the way, I have to say, my personal highlight wound up being before the race. I made my way off the shuttle bus and through the ticket/track store building, and was holding the door on the track side of it when I realized that there was a golf cart at the door, and in the golf cart was… Bobby Allison! So I got to say hi and talk briefly with him, and he was a true gent, not at all bothered talking to a fan. It was wonderful. :)
Well said Bryan. The announcers have to realize they are supposed to be covering the race not covering NASCAR’s ass. It starts to sound like Billy Mays after a while. Don’t keep telling me how close the chase is going to be, I’ll make my own mind up.
Do you really think that Ralph Jr deserves to be in the chase for a championship?? It is media people like you that shove this driver in our faces everyday which makes us dislike NASCAR more. He ha s proven that he is not a championship driver, he is a tshirt salesman. Stop building this driver up and shoving him in our faces!!!
We all know that Clint Bowyer has won the first chase race before and not won the cup, and that Knause has started the chase 139 points down and won the championship. However, I believe the level of competition is higher this year, and RCR is a stronger organization in 2010 than it has been. Plus, Bowyer has a little more experience this time around. In my book, Knause is still the favorite, but it’s going to be a little tougher going this year. It might even be the best chase ever.
Bobby Labonte is killing time and drawing a paycheck until he gets in the #47 next year. Sad, but that’s life in Brian France’s Nascar.
Bryan, You had me right up to point 5. Really, it would be the “BEST CHASE EVER” if only Jr. was in it? That is ridiculous. A season in which sub-par was a spectacular finish for this team, and somehow he belongs in the chase? That is the most idiotic statement I have ever read. Why don’t you just come right out and say what you clearly would like. Better yet let me say it for you, “NA$CAR, you should open up a 13th spot in The Chase reserved for who the fans vote as the most popular driver.” Wouldn’t that just thrill you, Bryan, you could watch Jr. NOT compete for the championship EVERY week instead of just the first 26!!! IDIOT!!!
DansMom You must be an idiot. NA$CAR doesn’t allow women in the Chase? WTF??? First of all, Danica doesn’t run full time in NA$CAR, so she could not qualify for the chase. Second, she doesn’t run in the Cup Series, so she couldn’t qualify for the Chase. Third, she would need to be able to average better than 25th place finish in order to qualify for the Chase. Other than that, the Chase is for the Top-12 DRIVERS, and not the top-12 MEN. It is just a fact that NO WOMAN competes in Cup, and not a written rule. So, other than being COMPLETELY wrong, well no…you are just completely wrong!!!
As an African-American I find it appalling that not a single driver in nascar’s playoff system is a minority. I think nascar should implement an affirmative action policy for the chase to allow a woman or minority driver to compete for the championship. I think they should add a 13th spot and the highest ranking minority driver should get it. This will allow smaller teams with minority drivers the chance to advance their program.
Mr, Keith, if you are going to write about something, I suggest you, at least, get your facts correct. Marc Reno has not been with the Phoenix Racing for weeks.
No matter what was said on the #09 radio, I do not believe it was the teams intention to start and park. The motor problem was legit. Time and again, this team has worked their rears off to get back out, after other issues have occured! The engines have to last 2 or 3 races. It makes sense they could not afford ($) to blow it up.
But seriously, I have often wondered why no minority owned sponsor has ever stepped up and got the ball rolling. As we have seen, Extenze could dictate that Conway (an obviously underqualified driver) be the driver of their car, the same could be done for a minority driver if the sponsor dictated it. So affirmative action isn’t needed. Just a sponsor that dictates that they want a minority driver.
The mistake has been corrected. FYI for readers: Nicholas Harrison, not Marc Reno is the No. 09 crew chief.
DansMom “Lady and Gentleman, Start Your Engines,” or; “Drivers, Start Your Engines” are the two commands usually given when a female driver starts in a NA$CAR series. You would know that if you had watched NA$CAR for more than 2 seasons. Your attempts at humor and irony fall flat at the feet of your ignorance. Danica doesn’t run NA$CAR full time because, she is under CONTRACT to run the IndyCar series until the completion of the 2012 series. Her attempts at a partial Nationwide series are because she used the “pay-me-more-or-I-will-go-drive-stock-cars” during her last two contract negotiations, and this past year, her owners seemed poised to let her go. Don’t confuse the facts with the hype.
Drop the chase and no need to worry about who is in or out.Just stright RACING for the Championship.
Got a question? Now that Verizon is leaving Nascar, I heard a rumor that Verizon was going back to Indy Car. Any chance that Hornish is their guy and Algair (sp) gets the Cup ride next year?
I wouldn’t count out Bowyer just yet. He may not win the Championship but he could still become a threat. Momentum is definately on their side right now and he has more experience than the first time around.
Junior in the Chase? He is, and has been for the past several years, a non-competitive field filler. His demonstrated inability to compete with the upper tier drivers makes him more a candidate for being let go by Hendrix rather than competing for a win…. much less a championship. It is what it is. Time to face the music Jr fans; there will be no championships and only a couple of lucky wins until he is finished.
There you have it Bowyer , your win meant nothing . At least thats the view of one blogger that no one in the true racing media ever heard of . And believe me , he’s the only person that thinks something so idiotic .
The bottom-line is if you want to compete in racing you should earn your way in with talent and Championships in feeder series (apologies to Dale Jr.) and not expect a free ride based on race or gender. So take your racist whining someplace else.
P.S.: Danica Patrick is a mediocre talent that has done as well as she has because she is in the best equipment with major sponsors based on her gender and physical attributes. She will never be a Championship caliber driver.
Mark: I told Bryan earlier that Clint Bowyer’s win was far from meaningless and they wouldn’t print my comment! Go RCR, knock JJ off his throne!
WOW WHAT HAPPENED IN THIS COMMENT SECTION
I HAVE NEVER SEEN SO MANY PEOPLE MAD OVER A DALE JR JOKE IN MY LIFE
Mark, that was truley funny. Made me laugh. I think most of the bloggers here don’t actually atend the races.
DANSMOM- Danica could never be in the CHASE because she can’t stay on the lead lap in NASCAR’S NATIONWIDE series. And I think that the CUP drivers are even faster. FACT: Danica has never finished on the lead lap in a NASCAR race.
Amazing the nonsense many of you take seriously! Anyone want to buy a nice bridge I have? The chase is boring and ultimately inconsequential to any serious racing fan. Save your kudos for the few real racers out there.
Shoeman… Hell, Danica has only won one Indy car race and she’s been in that series for years. her talent is obviously in marketing and not racing.
Joo$e, you are like most of the Black race wanting someone to give them something. Well you don’t keep up with racing much or you would know Humpy Wheeler had a promotion several years ago that gave an underfunded driver a chance get to race a top running car built by a top quality builder. The people voted Wendell Scott to drive the car at Charlotte that year and the car was too fast for Wendell and he wrecked it before a hundred miles. Also the truck series has had 2 black drivers that could not drive. So it goes to show you that with all the money and hard work that goes in to a car or truck you have you have someone who can drive.A few years ago Rick Hendrick built a car and gave it plus support to some black overpaid ball players to start a team. They could never get it off the ground. What ever happened to that effort no one knows. Black folks don’t belong in racing. They don’t want to be in racing. You see a few in the pit crews. NACSAR has tried many ways to get them in the stands but only a few care enough about round track racing to attend. The Mauriceo Grant law suit was a made up deal just to get money out of NA$CAR. They paid her off just to keep it out of court. Several years ago I saw a newspaper story that covered half a page.It told about a young kid that had some talent in driving. His dad was black his mom was white. He signed a letter of intent to Rick Hendrick. Haven’t heard any more about that one. All of these stories are fact. I may be off a little on the details because some of it has happened a long while back.
Hard to believe in this day and age , anyone could be as stupid as to say “black folks don’t belong in racing. They dont want to be in racing. “ Presumably you have never heard of Lewis Hamilton..you know, the black Formula 1 champion from 2008. How about James Stewart, the kid has won a number of professional motocross titles here in the US? Dont know who he is, google him. What an idiot.
Archie Bunker lives.
I do want to recount a story that I know to be true without anyone thinking me racist. (For the record I do think that black people belong in racing, and if you follow the NHRA you know they have been for decades and have won countless events and championships….and that Hamilton guy was doing OK in F1 alleged to be the top technical tier of motorsports, a few years.
Back in the late 70s, Willie T Ribbs was a hot driver. He was winning Trans Am races and competing for titles. Humpy Wheeler, the master promoter, felt that having a black driver in his Charlotte race would help sell tickets to black fans. Humpy wanted everyone to come and have a grand time…as long as their money was green.
Wheeler had a local owner (and I always get the name wrong since it is so close to Walt Cronkite of CBS) build a car for Ribbs. Ribbs agreed to test, drive and attempt to qualify the car. Only he didn’t think he really needed to test it he was so talented. And he got in a brush with the Charlotte law, driving the wrong way down a one way street (some claim he was intoxicated, others say he was just lost. I don’t know. I do know what a “One Way” sign means.)
So anyway Wheeler withdrew the offer. But he’d had that fellow build the car Ribbs would later say was hopelessly slow and uncompetitive.
Wheeler was in a bind. He needed someone to drive the car he was obligated to pay for. So he turned to a driver who’d been having some success and stirriing things up on the short tracks in the Carolinas back then. The guy was a rookie to Cup racing and nobody thought he’d ever amount to much because he was too aggressive and rough around the edges. He could barely mutter a sentence in English that could be undestood outside the Deep South.
That driver was Dale Earnhardt Sr., who would go on to win seven Cup titles and establish himself as the face of NASCAR for two decades before his tragic death.
In the old days drivers would start locally, and claw their way to a regional series. Along the way they would build up a fan base along with valuable racing experience. The cream of the crop would make it to Cup bringing along thousands of fans. Now we have 18 year olds complaining that they cant get into cup. We are also underwhelmed by Little Joeys results. Why am I increasingly attracted to the NFL?
the thing about Bobby is complete BULLSHIT. he did NOT SnP. who ever wrote this is a complete dumbass.
Thank you for the #09 crew chief correction.
Sam won TWO IRL championships for Panther Racing … and ONE for Penske Racing …
The problem with the # 77 team is NOT the driver … It’s the inexperienced & incompetent crew chief who doesn’t know “how” to apply Kurt’s setups to the car (as Kurt & Sam like the SAME setup) …
Get your facts straight BEFORE you publish your bovine excrement!!
I’d take Sam any day over Justin …