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 · Friday October 15, 2010
Talking to Brad Keselowski, you’d never know anything was wrong with the Nationwide Series.
Speaking to FOX Sports’ Lee Spencer, the current NNS points leader remarked the series “[is] still profitable. It has sponsors. We may not have everything we want, but we’re OK.”
“My perspective is they’re [development drivers] there because we’re there and because the Cup drivers bring the attention and credibility to the sport, to bring some sponsorship and to bring a desire for them to compete against us and prove themselves.”
It’s amazing how a driver like Keselowski, only a few years removed from toiling at the back of the field with the vastly underfunded Keith Coleman Racing operation, can seemingly have lost so much perspective since getting behind the wheel of a fully-funded ride with Cup backing. Then again, who in their right mind would go around saying things are broken when they’re fully sponsored and leading the championship standings by nearly 400 points over second place?
And it’s not like Keselowski is alone among Cup drivers trying to mount a defense of their continual pillaging of NASCAR’s development ranks. Any number of them will argue that they’re the reason the series draws a crowd, that the series draws sponsor dollars, that there’s plenty of drivers making it through the ranks.
Let’s make one thing very clear. The Nationwide Series is not healthy. It may well still be the number two form of American motorsports, but celebrating that a national touring stock car series is able to score better ratings and attendance than an open-wheel series that runs a largely international field who only drive Hondas and whose shining star is a driver known more for her looks and lip than her ability to turn left (or right) is really clutching at straws. Frankly, that’s not much of an accomplishment. And looking at any of the measures of health that Keselowski points to as indicators that the Nationwide ranks aren’t that broken, his rosy red picture of the series he’s made his playground (while his Cup team lags behind) is about as upside down as his car at Atlanta.
Let’s take a look at the sponsorship claim. Nationwide is still the title sponsor…and the deal they signed back in 2008 was 40% of what NASCAR was looking for. Penske Racing, which is fielding the first and fourth place cars in the series, have one car sponsored for all but six races by someone they poached from another Nationwide team, and the other is losing their sponsor at the end of this season. Roush Fenway Racing has still been unable to secure full-backing for two of their four NNS cars. Phoenix Racing cut back to a partial schedule because they couldn’t find a sponsor. Diamond-Waltrip Racing was forced to release Trevor Bayne for lack of a full sponsor for 2011. Richard Childress Racing’s shutting down their Nationwide program only four years after winning the series championship. Baker/Curb Racing has no sponsorship for either of their two cars. And that’s not even getting to the middle-tier operations in the back that can’t even dream of a full season sponsorship package.
NASCAR brought about the CoT car to the Nationwide Series despite dire economic conditions because it was sure to entice new ownership to come in. As of Charlotte, the last race for the new car in 2010, the number of new teams that have surfaced to field the new car? One. Don’t forget that the CoT is also parking another full-time team, the No. 26 of K-Automotive, for Charlotte. In short, the ownership influx is a push.
And as for the development drivers only being able to race because Cup drivers bring legitimacy and sponsorship to the series, forget about that joke of an argument. Brian Vickers and Martin Truex, Jr. would likely have a word or two to say about the Nationwide Series needing legitimacy through Cup drivers running roughshod over development drivers… as they both owe their careers in Cup to winning Nationwide Series championships before Roush Racing and Greg Biffle came up with the double duty for Cup drivers idea.
And those sponsors they bring? Well, they’re not being brought into the sport… they’re moving to the Cup drivers. This isn’t growth of wealth, it’s reallocation. Discount Tire was already in the sport before Brad Keselowski signed them. Carl Edwards’ Copart was associated with KHI and teams in the Truck ranks. Fastenal was previously with JR Motorsports and Bobby Hamilton Racing. And as for the entire idea of trickle-down, find me a Nationwide regular that’s got a sponsor thanks to one of them.
Now let’s look at perhaps the most important measure of the sport’s health…attendance. Consider the final five races remaining on the Nationwide Series circuit, based on annual attendance averages since 2007. For tracks that host two dates, the annual average projection has been calculated by using spring attendance:
Charlotte Motor Speedway: Annual average down 65.7%
Keep in mind these stats are based on NASCAR attendance estimates, which are generous to put it lightly; anyone that believes there were actually 52,000 people at Gateway earlier this summer probably also believes there was debris on the track back when Jimmie Johnson was handed the win at Atlanta in the fall of 2004. And even with NASCAR’s best case scenario playing out, attendance over the final five races is down an average of 27.94%. Not exactly representative of Keselowski’s stating “we’re OK.”
Based on the steady decline of attendance, the lack of sponsorship, and the flow of ownership leaving rather than entering the sport (CJM Racing, PPC Racing, Lewis Motorsports, Frank Cicci Racing are among the many to bite the dust), there’s only one conclusion that seems reasonable; something in the Nationwide Series needs changing.
And for a while this season, it seemed like change was finally going to come. With Keselowski, Edwards and Kyle Busch mowing down the field, the momentum was there for NASCAR to finally crack down on what has become an epidemic problem in the Nationwide ranks; that a select group of Cup drivers had turned a vital part of the stock car racing infrastructure into their personal playground, the future of that series be damned. Talks of finally putting a cap on Cup driver participation, on preventing them from running for the championship, were actually going somewhere substantial.
Then Carl Edwards came along and told everyone that he enjoyed Nationwide racing too much. And that title or no title, he and his sponsors were coming back full-time in 2011.
Suddenly NASCAR got cold feet. How could they possibly freeze out one of their cherished stars? How could a fully sponsored Carl Edwards be a bad thing?
Now, with only five weeks left in the season, NASCAR’s Nationwide Series town hall was nothing more than a marketing session. One that honestly couldn’t have gone well…because is there really any answer to this question?
Nationwide Independent Owner: What can I tell a sponsor to sell them on my car when I run on 10% of the budget of a Cup team with a lesser-known driver? When Carl Edwards and his friends are going to run in the top 5 35 times a year, hogging the purse money and the TV time, points or no points, where’s the incentive for a sponsor to get on my car?
The sheer number of teams, be it TriStar Motorsports or Jeremy Clements Racing, that have strung 2010 seasons together on the backs of sponsors that pick up nothing but partial tire bills, or others like K-Automotive that thanks to personnel constraints have all but given up on marketing out of necessity, speaks volumes as to how this question really has no answer.
And it goes a long way to demonstrating that as much as drivers like Keselowski and Edwards would like to have everyone believe that their continued full-time campaign in NASCAR’s minor league is a win-win for everyone, it’s not.
Because it’s not like all the extra seat time is producing results for them at the Cup level. Carl Edwards hasn’t won a Cup race, hell even been relevant in Cup racing, since 2008. And as for Keselowski, his resume in the No. 12 Cup car features 13 top-20 finishes. That’s only two more than David Stremme etched in the same car one year ago… a performance that cost him the ride.
There’s also the fact that combined, the last decade’s worth of Cup champions have started a total of four Nationwide races in 2010. If there’s one thing Cup champions have in common, it appears to be focusing on the big prize rather than Saturday’s low-hanging fruit.
Maybe Carl and Brad, the only two Cup regulars to announce intentions that they’re racing Nationwide full-time in 2011, just aren’t ready to handle the demands of Cup. Maybe Jimmie Johnson is just that much better. If that’s the case, here’s hoping these two get over themselves and commit to running AAA.
Because a Nationwide regular legitimately winning the series crown would bring more legitimacy to the sport than Brad and Co.‘s moonlight ever will.
©2000 - 2008 Bryan Davis Keith and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
ditto! I remember complaining when Mark Martin would drop down to AAA racin’ and just dominate! I was furious then,but he was just in selected shows!Now you have 3 or 4 seeking the championship and totally making a mockery of the series!Is it any wonder Nascars’ decline is rampant!A Nationwide Series that is 1/3 cup drivers!Every race its Kyle Busch,Brad K,Harvick or Edwards leading,its like a broken record!
All you guys do is whine.
Get rid of the cup guys and there won’t be live NW racing on TV in two years. Speed might show it the following Monday at 2 am.
Would that be better?
I don’t know who this Robin is (see above), but it’s not the Robin that has been posting here on a regular basis (me). I guess I will change my user name to Robin1.
Bryan, I agree and disagree with you. I don’t think the Cup guys should be able to go for the championship in the Nationwide Series, but I do think they should at least be able to run a limited schedule. If you have listened to some of the Nationwide regulars, they like having the Cup guys in the race because at least it gives them some idea of what they will be up against if they do get a Cup ride. I really don’t think that keeping the Cup Drivers out of the series is going to bring anymore sponsorship to the development drivers. Heck,Jeff Gordon is struggling to find a sponser for half of his races next year.
Funny how you dump all the blame for the Nationwide Series’ woes soley on Carl Edwards, but you make no mention of the domination by Kyle Busch and Joe Gibbs racing. Interesting!
Robin1…I agree that the Cup guys should be able to run a partial schedule with appropriate handicapping based on Cup Status (reduced practice, fewer sets of tires, etc.).
But we should remember no young Nationwide regular is going to complain about the Cup drivers dropping down because their ability and willingness to compete would be questioned…not to mention potential retaliation for raining on their parade.
I don’t have a problem with people like Brad K. and Joey L. running Nationwide in their early years in Sprint Cup. How would Brad K. be feeling about himself this year if he wasn’t running so well in NW? Logano is running well in Cup, but his NW wins have to be helping his confidence as his Cup team matures. Other drivers like Scott Speed ought to spend some time in NW to improve their skills and to boost their egos. I’d actually like to see more of the fledgling Cup drivers running in NW. Let the second tier of Cup battle it out in NW.
I do get sick of people touting the greatness of Kyle Busch and Carl Edwards who have eclipsed the 10 win mark in Cup as if their Nationwide wins are all due to skill and not top notch equipment. Maybe the problem with NW is there aren’t enough Cup drivers in the mix. Pony car Saturday, sedan Sunday!
I don’t really know what NASCAR should do. Brad’s arguments make sense to Brad and his ilk and the writer’s counter arguments are logically consistent, but I don’t think either argument resolves the issues. I started watching NW when Bowyer and Truex were tearing up the circuit in RCR and DEI equipment, so I don’t see the difference other than Gibbs and Rousch and Penske are throwing their first string drivers into the cars. At least Rousch and Penske have second string drivers in their second car. Maybe that’s the answer. One Cup driver per NW team. Second, third, and fourth cars have to be driven by non Cup or part time Cup drivers.
Yet another idiotic comment, Randy. If you had been watching na$car long enough, you would also know that Jr. and Jamie come from the Busch series, now known as Nationwide.
DansMom, could you please explain why the TV and attendance ratings have been DOWN for every race that Dani-can’t-finish-on-the-lead-lap has entered, except for Daytona in February?
Bryan, what you say is bang on the money. When a few Cup drivers ran a select schedule, and even then didn’t run up front and win every week the Busch Series THRIVED.
You Frontstretch.com writers are always the first to wave the “tradition” flag any time any change is proposed in Nascar but yet you continually advocate breaking the oldest tradition in racing — the tradition that anyone who can present a legal car at inspection can attempt to qualify for the field.
Racing series are not differentiated by the success-level of the drivers running them but by the type of equipment they run. Perhaps the Nationwide and Cup cars are too similar in their set-up and handling and should be further differentiated, perhaps not.
Your continual whining about the so-called “little guy” may sound good to those inclined toward socialist equality of outcomes, but there’s nothing on God’s green earth that will ever make being underfunded and over your head into a viable business strategy.
Getting in too deep instead of suiting your competitive endeavors to your level of funding is not a virtue.
Since you want to display that pseudo economics vs. socialism crap, let’s look at is on a real world level.
The moral of the story, M.B., is that sometimes chasing a penny, can cost you a dollar. Oversight and regulations can help avoid that pitfall, for people not intelligent enough (you and brian) to see that the cost is greater than the return.
Cutting the purses sure isn’t helping. I enjoy seeing the cup drivers in the races and find it interesting that none of the young drivers have a problem with them being there.
When the only guys racing in the Busch series were Busch regulars and an odd Cup driver or two, I watched the Busch races, kept up with the Busch drivers, and enjoyed the series. There were always full fields, and decent sponsorships weren’t that hard for teams to come by. No one can look at the state of the Nationwide series today and honestly believe that it’s in better health than it was those days. The moonlighting Cup drivers haven’t really made much, if any, of a positive impact on the series’ health. Quite the opposite.
Guys like Bobby Labonte, Ward & Jeff Burton, and Martin Truex made a name for themselves in the Busch series. In those days, the series didn’t suffer due to the lack of star power, it MADE the stars. There’s no non-Cup marquee drivers in the Nationwide series today because, with the Cup drivers hogging the spotlight, there’s no chance for the Nationwide drivers to break out and make a name for themselves.
Nice article, I agree 100%. I don’t have a problem with limited Cup participation in Nationwide, but they should not be able to run for the Title. Maybe have an exception for a driver like Brad K who is a Cup rookie. Cup guys have always run a select number of Nationwide races, but 5-6 years ago Roush fundamentally changed things. They turned Nationwide into extra practice time for their young stars (Biffle, Edwards). Gibbs has followed suit, but at least K. Busch isn’t running a full schedule. Cup owners have dominated the series for a while, but they no longer let their young talent season there for a while. Edwards is the driver who really changed things because Roush put him straight into the Cup car in 2005 and he excelled. The the other teams followed suit. I hope NASCAR does something.
I quit watching the “cup light” series last year. And Robin, I don’t wine. I just walked away. One hell of a difference here. And I’ve been watching this sport that I love for three decades.
Question… how many of you watch AAA baseball or god forbid the CFL on television? My guess is very few. Thats exactly what the nationwide series is… a spot for young drivers to gain experience in bigger cars. I dont hear baseball fans complaining about fairness when a major-leaguer gets sent back down to the minors for some practice and training.
Just be grateful that you get to watch minor-league racing on TV at all and shut the heck up.
NASCAR should stop recording Nationwide points for any driver that starts in more than 10 Cup races in the same year. The cup drivers could still race in Nationwide. The young rising stars could race for the championship.
Cup drivers or not, what is the point of the Busch/Nationwide series? Even if you take out the Cup guys, is it really worth watching? I’ve never thought so. Its still too much like watching Cup Light.
If they had very different cars and raced a different variety of tracks than Cup, MAYBE it would be worth watching. But if NASCAR is involved, then it will always suck.
Go watch ARCA or USAR.
NASCAR,ARCA,USAR,F1,World Rally.All have good racing.Shoot,Even Off Road is good.Just gotta be a fan and love it all!
Last I checked the NW series back in the 90’s was just fine with no Cup guys in the fields. Attendance wasn’t any worse than it is now and the series actually had an identity. I also don’t remember anyone whining (to use Robin’s word) because no Cup drivers were in it. People knew that this was a minor league series.
By the way Vancouver, no stars go down to the minor leagues in baseball unless they are injured. Probably should research that a little bit before you spew incorrect information.
This is BZ France’s creation allowing more and more Cup guys race. Its all about the money and he felt they would make more money if they were in the show. Judging by attendance, that is a big fail.
On a side note, I don’t have a problem with Kes and Logano (drivers who are a few years into the Cup series) going back to get some seat time. Its the driver like Kyle, Carl, Harvick, who have been in the Cup series for quite a while that don’t belong in that series at all.
This business of Cup drivers double-dipping DID NOT start with Greg Biffle. And Steve, it certainly DID exist in the 90’s. Mark Martin did it for years! But of course, Saint Mark never did anything harmful to the sport.
As for NNS being a proving ground for Cup drivers, that really isn’t true anymore. Mikey Waltrip kicked Trevor Bayne out of his ride and now Trevor appears to be planning a move directly to Cup. More and more, the truck races and NNS are for journeymen who can’t make it in Cup, plus the Cup regulars who want to race every day of the week. It’s all good as far as I’m concerned. How mcuh time do you think Austin Dillon, Ross Kenseth and Chase Elliott are going to waste in the minor leagues? The young talent is coming from elsewhere, but it will still get there.
Rather see Kyle and Brad and Kevin and Carl put on a show than see a wreckfest among the incompetents.
I used to really enjoy the old Busch series. It was great watching guys like Lajoie and Benson going for it. Mark Martin was a sometimes competitor but to the best of my knowledge he only ran a handful of events every year.Now of course its become Cup Light. Same guys every week with clearly superior equipment. I would let any cup driver who finished in the top 35 in Cup points the year before compete in no more than four or five events without getting any points. If the driver was out of the top 35 I would allow up to a dozen events. Then to make it REALLY interesting, I would institute a claiming rule equal to a calculated build cost for a Nationwide car plus 10%. That might stir things up a bit!
Alot of you say that Cup drivers should not be racing in the minor leagues. I might not have a problem if my Bristol Busch tickets did not COST ME MORE for the Minor league then the Cup. If i go watch a Minor league baseball or hockey game the ticket is less then 25% of the Major league price, not more expensive.
I believe a big part of the problem is the HUGE sanctioning fee’s and TV wanting the Cup drivers
If the cup drivers are really racing in Nationwide just because they love racing so much, they should be tickled to death to run for no money and no points. Just the opportunity to race and to help put butts in seats. I won’t hold my breath until that happens. I agree with everything you said except that Richard Childress Racing and Kevin Harvick started the double duty thing after Earnhardt’s death in 2001, not Roush Fenway and Greg Biffle.
My memory of the Mark Martin years was that he drove just about ALL the companion Busch races during most of his Cup career.
As for drivers running for free, my understanding is that Kyle Busch took no salary for his truck races last season – I know that’s not Nationwide, but Billy Ballew is not JGR in terms of deep pockets. Also, regarding Kyle’s own truck team, he has said potential sponsors frequently want him in the truck, not his protege. You all, including Mr. Keith think this “problem” is easy to fix. It is not. Do you really think Nationwide or trucks is going to attract ANY viewers or ANY sponsors with no-name drivers? Not a chance. Those days are long gone. People want major league entertainment for their major league money.
Also Mr. Keith’s statistics on Cup champions running in NNS are skewed by the fact JJ wins all the Cup championships and has never run much – or run well – in NNS.
I Watch NNS FOR Keselowski.
Isn’t it amazing how fast people forget the past? It must be remembered that the Nationwide series is supposed to be its own touring series, despite similar schedules, drivers and cars to the Cup series. The Busch series had its own identity: series regulars, new young talent, and veterans winding down their careers. Even drivers that struggled in Cup took a step down to Nationwide. Grandstands were packed at places like South Boston, Hickory & Myrtle Beach. Sponsors flew into the series and this series grew. Eventually, the series gained network coverage at select events.
Into the 2000’s, NASCAR ‘re-aligning’ dumped most stand-alone races that identified the series. Cup drivers entered, since the schedule was convenient for them. The schedule grew larger and costs rose. Nationwide teams with smaller budgets & inexperienced drivers could not keep up with Cup money and Cup experience. How is it fair to tell owners that built the series to take their bat and go home if they can’t compete with the teams invading their series? Sponsors wanted results – so they wanted Cup drivers. This epidemic grew and development drivers were continuously brushed to the side if they did not produce great results immediately – in the series that is meant for their development. Busch series owners continued to lose the fight as NASCAR did nothing. So many underfunded teams are racing on used tires, and some resorting to the start & park to stay operating. Drivers like Stephen Leicht, despite a win and many top 10 finishes, could not get a full time ride due to no $ and not being a Cup driver.
Looking at 2011, the purse money looks to be slashed again, stand-alone races slashed and Cup drivers ignored. Why would you want to invest your money in this environment?
It is obvious what NASCAR needs to do: change the schedule and block full time Cup drivers from racing in the series. If they are struggling in Cup, that is their mistake – either take the full step back to Nationwide or drive better in Cup, no double-dipping. Live TV coverage will not vanish due to no Cup drivers – anyone watch the Truck series the past 5 years? Also, to those that tell others to quit whining – everyone is entitled to an opinion. If you don’t like it, that is fine, but it is ignorant to tell someone to ‘shut the heck up’.
thanks Matt.well said
Mark Martin’s participation in Busch races ranged from 1 in 1982 to 27 in 1987. From 1992 to 1997 he ran about 13 races a year. After that he typically ran 5 or 6. Count me in Matt.
Well said Matt.
I agree they need to change the schedule of tracks that the Series visits.
Regarding Cup Regulars, how can you tell an NNS Owner like Junior, or Harvick that they can’t race in their own cars if they choose?
I would limit the number of races Cup regulars can drive to 3-4 times a year, and change the track schedule. Bring back places like Rockingham and North Wilkesboro.
Cup drivers racing in the Nationwide series reminds me of college guys who have thoughts of crashing the high school prom.
Who really is impressed when a Cup guy wins a race (with his extra funding, experience, etc)?
Might as well hand him the Prom King Crown to go along with the trophy (and the cash), as far as I am concerned.
Limit the Cup drivers to three races a year in NW. I’m tired of seeing the same 5 – 8 Cup names every week in the top ten in NW. Let the NW guys start bringing home the purse money they deserve for racing in that series and see how much better they fare financially.
The solution is simple, but NASCAR wouldn’t have the balls to implement it.
Either A) limit each full-time Cup driver to a maximum of 10-15 Nationwide races. They can still bring their sponsors, they can still fill in for rookie drivers, they can still show up to major races like Daytona and Montreal…
or B) they can run the full schedule, but they have to drive for a Nationwide-only team… Carl Edwards would have to drive for K-Automotive, instead of Roush, for example.
Either of these would solve both problems, and allow the series to return to its roots… Give it more standalone dates, more short tracks, and give the poor drivers and teams a chance to shine instead of being beaten down by The Man every weekend.
Kyle Busch’s records are a joke. Had he won all those races in the #32 car, or another NWS-only car, then it’d be impressive.
A Formula 1 driver showing up in a GP2 race with a car built by McLaren would be a joke, not an impressive performance.
I miss the days of Randy Lajoie, Mike McLaughlin and Tim Fedewa, and Dale Jr vs Matt Kenseth for the title. THAT was Busch Series racing.
DansMom- I don’t see how watching Danica finishing numerous laps down to the winner is going to fix the NNS.