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.
Bryan Davis Keith · Monday September 27, 2010
There Are More Than Two Viable Chase Contenders
Coming into Richmond, both Denny Hamlin and Jimmie Johnson were dead even with five wins apiece. The storyline was already written; Hamlin scored the victory on his home turf, taking the points lead and the point position as the latest challenger to stand up to the vaunted the No. 48 team. The stage was set… Johnson vs. Hamlin, the title chase that had been talked about since the preseason, was on.
After the aberration that is always the first Chase race at Loudon (only once has the winner of that event become the eventual champion), Dover made clear that Johnson vs. Hamlin is going to be the story of this ten-race playoff from here on out. On the one hand, you had Johnson as the class of the field, even on an off day for his pit crew (the No. 48 ranked sixth in total time on pit road, behind all three JGR entries, Kurt Busch’s No. 2 team, and teammate Jeff Gordon). His win slammed the door on the hopes of many competitors and race fans alike that after struggling at Loudon, the four-time defending champs were suddenly vulnerable.
On the other hand, Hamlin was returning to the same track that ended his title hopes one season ago, a combination of an ill-handling race car and a mental breakdown following a Nationwide Series race that he and his team never recovered from. This Sunday, at a track on which the team was averaging a finish outside the top 25, Hamlin stayed under the radar and out of trouble to run ninth. Instead of being within 80 points of the lead following Dover, which he said was the team’s goal, Hamlin now leads Johnson by 35 markers heading to Kansas.
Sure, there’s five other drivers within 80 points of the lead, and among them Kurt Busch and Carl Edwards were top-5 finishers Sunday. But between Kyle Busch fading late, Kurt having no teammates to lean on going forward, Carl still unable to find the lead and RCR as an organization laying an egg the day after the entire team had an inferno lit under them, yes, the rest of the 12-man field is ready to be written off. Hamlin vs. Johnson will be the story of this Chase.
But, speaking of team issues, be it a lack of teammates or a letdown in performance…
Hendrick Motorsports Is Fielding, Oh, Eight Cars
Consult any team sheet out there, and Hendrick Motorsports consists of the Nos. 5, 24, 48, 88. Four cars. But that’s ignoring the fact that Stewart-Haas Racing’s Nos. 14 and 39 are all but de facto HMS entries. And that’s ignoring the latest additions to the Hendrick farm system, at least for Dover and likely much of the Chase: the No. 09 of Phoenix Racing and the No. 71 of TRG Motorsports.
A walk down pit road prior to Sunday’s race indicated that the ever-expanding HMS tree had two more branches. TRG’s No. 71 entry, being driven by former Hendrick development driver Landon Cassill, had sticker tires in their pits despite being a start-and-park, and a number of crew members decked out in Stewart-Haas Racing gear that were observed both servicing the car and dismantling the TRG pit box after the team parked for alleged electrical issues after 126 laps (funny how Cassill’s crew chief mentioned to his driver prior to the green to let his team know if they had any misses in the motor).
More notable, though, was the Hendrick presence in the No. 09 pit box throughout Sunday’s 400-miler. Not only did this unsponsored team have a full allotment of sticker tires in their pits, there was also a direct presence of HMS personnel there throughout. The team had what appeared to be a pit coach present in their stall the entire race, with at least one other visit from other Hendrick personnel throughout the afternoon.
The Phoenix Racing example paints a clear picture of a win-win situation for all parties involved. For Phoenix owner James Finch, his team gets the best in the business offering input on his cars, and likely footing the tire bill (Finch has shown no hesitation to start-and-park when he doesn’t have the money). For driver Bobby Labonte, it means no more start-and-park. And for Hendrick Motorsports, it’s just another way to test more and skirt the rules on ownership limitation.
Is it really too hard to believe that a Hendrick pit coach being dispersed to a part-time race team isn’t just doing them a favor, but scouting and cultivating pit talent in case of injury or a need to sub on the No. 24 or 48 crew? Is it really too hard to believe that for HMS, spending the money to throw a few sets of tires to a former development driver and a former champion in Labonte is worthwhile if they can have two test squads running under race conditions every weekend?
One thing’s for sure; it’s a lot harder to believe that Hendrick Motorsports is just doing TRG and Phoenix Racing a favor.
Lance McGrew Will Not Be Dale Earnhardt, Jr.‘s Crew Chief By November
Despite their best efforts to test and utilize every resource imaginable, Hendrick’s No. 88 team still continued to flounder at Dover. Any semblance of the momentum that Dale Jr. and his crew had following a fourth-place run at Loudon went out the window, with Jr. spending much of the first half of the race complaining about the tires and how the way they wore was not appropriate for Dover’s racing surface, as well as another ill-handling race car. This lasted until lap 189, when Jr. told crew chief Lance McGrew over the radio, “I don’t want to be talked to today.”
From that point on, the team radio was nearly silent for the next 200 laps, with McGrew obliging the driver’s wishes and taking feedback when it came. It didn’t do much good, with the No. 88 finishing three laps down in 23rd, the only Hendrick (well, HMS) car not to finish in the top 15 or on the lead lap. The story of 2010, played out again, in a drama that’s lasted for well over a year.
Well, push has got to come to shove now. The driver says he doesn’t want to be talked to, and the crew chief obliges? When they’re struggling to score a top 25? It doesn’t matter if this is Hendrick Motorsports or PRISM Motorsports, that’s an unacceptable state of affairs. And that it came on the heels of the team’s best race since the Daytona 500 only underscores the depth of the problem facing the No. 88 team. No matter how much Jr. might not want it, this driver needs an authoritarian on the box that’s going to kick him in the ass.
Call it a hunch, but I feel a change is going to come very, very soon. And the McGrew era of Earnhardt’s career will go out with a whimper, much like the fight McGrew put up with his frustrated driver on Sunday.
Dover International Speedway Will Host Two Cup Races in 2012
NASCAR’s estimate for Sunday’s crowd at Dover was 88,000. Yeah, right. Between having sections of the grandstands closed and thousands of seats covered by tarps advertising Hershey’s Milk and Heluva Good!, there were maybe 88,000 empty seats. I’m assuming NASCAR mixed up the attendance estimate with the empty seats count; it wouldn’t be the first time they’ve screwed something up.
That said, there probably isn’t another venue on the Sprint Cup circuit that has seen such a dramatic drop in attendance that’s so visible in the grandstands. Not even five years ago, Dover was reporting crowds of over 140,000 fans, and there was no exaggeration involved. Today, ESPN’s cameras couldn’t even try to conceal just how many empty seats there were.
For fans of the racing at Dover, that news is about as bad as it comes, for multiple reasons. For one, it gives the France family’s ISC ammo in seeking a replacement second race for Lesa France Kennedy’s pet Auto Club Speedway (kidding, kidding).
What Dover’s second consecutive poor showing in attendance on Sunday does is raise very valid questions as to whether the race track can stand on its own as a viable business. Sources employed with the track informed Frontstretch over the weekend that the casino portion of the Dover Downs complex will not in any way shape or form be used to bankroll the racetrack. If the track can’t stand on its own, it will be shut down. And as the shutdown of Memphis Motorsports Park after last season’s Nationwide Series event demonstrated, Dover Motorsports, Inc. will not hesitate to pull the plug on a facility, whether it has a NASCAR date secured or not.
In fact, having secured dates really doesn’t seem to factor into DMI’s decisionmaking at all. It’s a simple question of dollars and sense. Just look at Gateway International Raceway. Despite having scored a second Nationwide Series race for the facility this season, DMI announced that the facility will no longer host a Nationwide Series event following the 2010 season, citing the fact that the cost of sanctioning such races would not make playing host to NASCAR’s AAA level a viable business decision.
You’d better believe that those same sanctioning costs for Cup races are higher. And if 2011 has Dover drawing at best 55,000 fans for a Cup race, betting that DMI will pull the plug on at least one Cup race for 2012 will be the safest bet a gambler could make. On a track that has a casino on the premises, no less.
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She’s not Lisa, Her name is Julie, er Lesa. Sorry Jessi.
There is something bad to the core with Junior’s team, and it just isn’t McGrew.
Could it be possible that Junior is unwittingly providing R & D for HMS?
How in the world can you explain the hideous finishes?
And no, Junior didn’t just wake up 3 or 4 years ago and forget how to drive a race car.
I would not bet any amount of money on whether Rick Hendrick is a honest man.
There is something to this – I think Junior has been had.
Think about it – even a blind squirrel finds an acorn every now and then – Junior can’t even hardly stay on the LEAD lap!
Great eye opener on Hendricks. Thanks.
Its the COT. Junior can’t drive the damn thing, Gordon can’t win in the damn thing, and it has generated some great races on a few tracks but snoozers on many more. I like that people are surviving wrecks, but I can’t hardly stand the racing anymore. The only places it seems to put on great shows are places where the car part of the car doesn’t seem to matter all that much.
Jr. should have gone with RCR. That’s family for all intents and purposes. Look at what he did with the 3 in the Nationwide race. Look what Austin Dillon is doing with trucks prepared by his Grandfather’s shop.
I predict Jr. will end up at RCR. Not next year, but maybe the one after that when Kahne arrives. I think the signs are there — notice, for example, how coy Mark Martin is about HIS future.
Maybe I’m wrong, but I do not think so. I’m not a Jr. fan really, but I, like many others like me, do have a soft spot for him and I would like to see him do well.
When it happens Richard Childress will spare no effort on Jr., and he will give him back Tony Jr.. That will be good. Jr. has proven he has a limited number of people he feels really comfortable with and who can blame him? It is among the hardest things in the world to be the son and namesake of a legend. JFK, Jr., Frank Sinatra Jr., etc. with the rare exception proving the rule (off the top of my head) George W. Bush.
And, no, I’m not a W. fan either.
Dale, Jr. – Rick Hendrick should kick his ass and then kick him to the curb.
When it comes to Jr., I have said what u say many, many times Bryan.
Dale Earnhardt was not the type of father that was overly concerned with Jr.‘s emotional integrity. Dale was the type of man that didn’t ask Jr. what he wanted, Dale TOLD Jr. what he was going to do.
Like in his rookie year when he was getting drunk all night before the races, Dale told him he would NOT be doing that and drive for DEI.
When Tony Sr. was his crew chief, he had a man that he had to obey as a child telling him what to do. Then, he ran up front and won races. When Tony Jr. took over wrenching the car, Jr. didn’t have somebody to say, “Do ________, or I’ll shove my foot up your ass,” and he fell off the top of the world. They would argue and Jr. wouldn’t listen. If you listen to Jr’s radio it’s like listening to a six year old throw a temper tantrum. “No, I don’t wanna!, No, I don’t wanna!, No, I don’t wanna!”
That’s the problem with Jr., EVERYBODY is so busy asking him what he WANTS to do, that NOBODY is telling him what he NEEDS to do.
2 responses: first, it is JR’s head that is the problem. I don’t know if it is too much time at whiskey river, or being distracted with other ventures, but his head is not in the game. He has proven he has skills, but he needs to focus. Follow his Dad’s example. Second, Dover Management is GARBAGE and deserves everything they get. They gave up on Memphis and Gateway promotions and started cutting corners well before either were closed. Dover blew it by focusing of cutting costs, cutting advertising and promotion then wondering why the fans didn’t show. If there is any justice the entire management staff at Dover will be pushing a broom by next year.
Jacob is, as usual, graphic. Good comment, but we know all that. I do too, but being kind and gentle I subsumed it all under the phrase, “…Childress will spare no effort on Jr….”
In other words, he will begin by making Jr. mind and among all owners he is, I believe, the only one who can.
A. Racer: I loathe to call you “Ancient” lol I am not politically correct. And while many people that have been around longer than the chase know what I said is true, many others want to point at it all being a conspiracy contrived to ruin the Earnhardt legacy.
While I agree that Childress would be a man that commanded respect from Jr., the phrase “spare no effort” can be twisted to serve the conspiracy by it’s theorists.
My language might be a little rough, but I pull no punches and it is clear that (my opinion) is that Jr.‘s problems are 99% Jr.
As an aside, Joe Gibbs could also handle Jr., although the Toyota connection rules that partnership out completely.
I would think that SMI and Bruton Smith would be the first to try and gobble Dover up. Shutting it down would give SMI a second Vegas date and a date back for Atlanta. I hope Dover doesn’t go because it’s a unique track on a circuit dominated by 1.5 mile cookie cutters. I still hope they bulldoze Pocono.
I’m always impressed when a member of the media is willing to admit he knows very little about his chosen profession . Thanks for coming clean on this already decades old information Bryan . There are MANY teams who lease cars and engines from Hendrick . And you’re the only person surprised that the 09 and 71 teams lease cars and engines . There are some who lease cars and / or engines from RCR . There are a bunch of teams who lease engines from Rousch , and of course almost every Toyota team gets it’s cars and engines from TRD . Since this has been going on for a number of years ( decades actually , Petty engines and cars , Wood Brothers engines , etc. ) , please explain how it’s suddenly news again . Well , at least news to you .
So five years ago the attendence was OK. Isn’t that about the time The Chase started?
First Junior will not ever race at RCR the other drivers don’t want him there and Dillion will be the next new driver coming to RCR to take Jeff Burton’s or Paul Menards place.
Second: So someone just woke up and realized that HMS is getting over on the race fans and that NASCAR has turned a blind eye to it’s Rich benefactor. I’ve been saying since day one of the SHR deal that Rick has a owner’s interest in that team. Never has Rick went to victory lane for a team he sold engines and chassis too and that included DW in the early 90’s. Now if Tony wins Rick is there and you are just now finding that odd. How odd indeed.
Rick Hendrick is a user. He signed Jr because of merchandise sales, and possibly because Dale was dating Ricky’s girlfriend. Rick replaced his son and Dale replaced his father.
There are other s&p teams out there. What’s stopping RCR, Gibbs, Roush, etc, from doing what you are alleging Hendrick is doing? Sounds like a smart move to me.
RE: attendance at Dover – I assume you are aware that Daytona does not even attempt to sell tickets along the entire backstretch for the July race. That entire section has been empty for the last 3 years. So, where’s your suggestion that Daytona should be closed?
Another plethora of BS from Jr. nation about this, that and the other.
Jr. has Tony Eury Sr. exactly where he wants him. Out of his hair.
Anyone who thought that Jr. would get the best equipment at HMS ahead of Jeff Gordon and Jimmy Johnson is using their brain very much. Jr. won races when he was handed the best equipment money could buy. When his “evil stepmother” started wanting more from him than he “wanted” to give, he and his sister villified her to make his departure look like her fault. It was Jr.‘s ddecision. Jr. is a loser. Believe it, and get over it.
As a fan that has been going to Dover for the past 4 years there are definately some things the track can do to get fans back to the track. Decrease ticket prices for one, as a season ticket holder I have not had 1 price drop for tickets in the past 4 years. By the time the specials come out many people have already decided not to come or bought tickets and are angry about the special so they do not come back the following year. I am only keeping both races because I have been afraid they would lose at least 1 race and I want to ensure I can still get tickets when it happens. Get the area hotels to drop rates, I might consider coming for the entire weekend but the cost to stay is unbelieveable, not to mention limited close options unless you have a RV. I can make it a day trip; many can not therefore they stay home. Sell Pit Passes, you need to know someone or win something to get a pit pass or get the astronomically prices Velocity club tickets to even get close to Pit Road so driver access is always limited and then at a distance. Better information of which drivers are going to be where,souvenir hauler toyota stage whatever. How can I plan my day when I don’t know where anyone is going to be.
“More notable, though, was the Hendrick presence in the No. 09 pit box throughout Sunday’s 400-miler.” On VL on Speed last night, Rick said that he had spent the day on the 88 pitbox. Since 6/07, Rick has very diligently been trying to teach me not to believe a word he says, & he has been successful. :)
Yeah, that’s brilliant! Jr. wants Tony Sr. out of his hair. The only crew chief that saw Jr. succeed. Your astute knowledge impresses me (I say sarcastically)
It is far more likely that Tony Sr. just thinks he is too damn old to be babysitting Jr. anymore.
As for your Theresa crap, what have you been smoking?!? The DEI cars struggled for several seasons, and not just Jr.‘s car. Theresa was/is not a racer that understands where best to put the money. It is only since Chip Ganassi partnered with her and took control of the day to day operations, that DEI has re-gained some speed. Consistency is still sorely lacking, but hopefully that will improve over time.
I am NOT a member of Jr. nation. But I have to say you sound like one of the disillusioned Jeff Gordon groupies that got mad when Jr. inherited his father’s fans after the tragedy in Daytona. It’s not your decision who people choose to cheer for, get over it.
@ Mark: Bullseye! The only fault I can find in your message is in calling the blogger a “member of the media”. If he is, then so are you, me and everyone else who has ever spouted an opinion (however flawed) and clicked on “submit”. Loved that line about unbridled innuendo.
When newbie fans like Marybeth the Alien from Planet AMP have watched racing long enough, and their heads are clear of Bud/ Amp residue, they’ll realize that even drivers like Dale JR. will ocasionally fall into a top 10 finish by using their God-given average at best talent.
“Sources employed with the track informed Frontstretch over the weekend that the casino portion of the Dover Downs complex will not in any way shape or form be used to bankroll the racetrack.”
It just hit the news that they merged….
Dover Motorsports, parent of Gateway International Raceway in Madison, Ill., said Monday that it has agreed to merge with Dover Downs Gaming & Entertainment Inc., eight years after the companies were separated in a spinoff.
you guys are stating nothing.
As someone who was with Bryan when the tip was received, the source was both legitimate and privy to inside information so you wonder if they were trying to lead the media astray by throwing out incorrect info.
If these two companies merge (and while there needs to be approval from both sides, you would think it’s a no brainer here) two things come to mind. 1) Just like Pocono, the facility realizes the limited reach of NASCAR and knows the track cannot stand on its own anymore – it needs revenue from additional events/industries owned within the company to survive until such time (at this race, who knows) NASCAR can turn a profit once again. 2) You wonder about the future of Nashville Superspeedway, the only non-Dover track left under their ownership structure after this year. The crowds down there were downright dismal, and you wonder if the newly-merged company will concentrate on its local properties only and try and dump that track to a local buyer – and/or scrap races scheduled there for 2011 or earlier.
Food for thought.
The #09 Team had a Hendrick engine and chassis at Dover. They have also announced a new sponsor.
@Jacob, Teresa should have held unto Ty Norris at any cost. He is the one who built DEI as he is now building MWR.