Kurt Busch to Attempt The Indianapolis-Charlotte Double
posted by Phil Allaway
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Andretti Autosport announced this morning that Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet in the Sprint Cup Series, will attempt the Indianapolis 500 in a fifth entry for the IndyCar Series team. Once the Indianapolis 500 is completed, Busch will fly from Indianapolis to Charlotte, jump in his No. 41 Chevrolet and compete in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Busch considers the opportunity to do the double as an old-school throwback moment.
“This is really to challenge myself within motorsports,” Busch said in Andretti Autosport’s press release. “Perhaps I am a bit of an old-school racer; a throwback, I guess. I enjoyed the era of drivers racing different cars and testing themselves in other series. It is tough to do now for a variety of factors, but when the opportunity is there, I want to do it. While NASCAR is my home, I have been fortunate to compete in Pro Stock on the NHRA circuit a number of years ago and test a V8 Supercar. This opportunity was a talk with Michael [Andretti] over dinner one night, a “What if,” and now it’s becoming a reality for me to drive in the Indy 500 with Andretti Autosport. It’s literally a dream come true. To go to the famous Brickyard with the iconic Andretti name, it doesn’t get much cooler or better than that.”
Busch will be doing the Indianapolis-Charlotte double as a Memorial Day mission to men and women serving in the U.S. Military via the Armed Forces Foundation. Fans can contribute to the cause by texting AFF to 50555 to donate $10.
Busch, who has never raced an IndyCar, passed Rookie Orientation at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year during a test session. At the time, Busch was more or less testing the Dallara DW12 for fun.
Busch will be the fourth driver to attempt the Indianapolis-Charlotte double. John Andretti was the first driver to attempt it in 1994. After finishing four laps down in tenth in Indianapolis, Andretti crashed and had engine problems in the 600. Robby Gordon has attempted the double five times, most recently in 2004. However, Gordon failed to make it to Charlotte on time and did not start the 600 in 2000 (P.J. Jones started Gordon’s No. 13 Ford in that instance). Finally, Tony Stewart has attempted the double twice (most recently in 2001) and is the only driver to ever complete all 1100 miles. Neither of the three drivers has won either leg of the double. The best finishes are Stewart and Gordon’s sixth-place finishes at the Indianapolis 500 (although Gordon’s came in 2000, the year he didn’t make it to Charlotte in time to start the Coca-Cola 600), and Stewart’s fourth-place finish in the 2001 Coca-Cola 600.
Danica Patrick, Justin Allgaier Talk About Phoenix Incident
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
A disappointing start to the year for Danica Patrick won’t include continued conflict. Patrick met with rookie Justin Allgaier Sunday, shortly after the Phoenix Cup race after a wreck ruined both drivers’ days. Patrick, who was critical of the No. 51 car on the radio, claiming Allgaier was “driving all over the track” appeared receptive to a conversation that quickly settled differences over what will be a long season.
“She was just upset because she got involved in the crash that we had,’’ said Allgaier to the Motor Racing Network. “She says she’s been through this and that she felt like I needed to settle down at that point. I explained my position on why everything happened. I think she understood where I was coming from. It doesn’t fix either one of our racecars. It doesn’t fix either one of our days. Unfortunately, we were both having pretty decent days.’’
Allgaier wound up 30th due to the incident while Patrick was 36th. The incident, which was caused by Allgaier’s spin also involved the No. 32 team and Travis Kvapil, which wound up 38th after sustaining heavy damage.
Camping World Close to Extending Title Sponsorship of NCWTS
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Marcus Lemonis, CEO of Camping World, Grand Marshal of Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway, and star of CNBC’s “The Profit,” made the announcement over the weekend that the retailer is very close to announcing a deal that would continue its title sponsorship of NASCAR’s Truck Series. The original agreement with NASCAR is scheduled to conclude after the 2015 season.
According to the sanctioning body, no formal contract has been signed, but “the agreement between the two parties has proven to be a beneficial one.”
“In about a month, we’ll be announcing a significant extension to that contract. It’s been great for us,” said Camping World’s Lemonis in a statement. “The NASCAR relationship has worked well for Camping World. When we started, we had 35 stores. Now, we’re up to 120 stores. As we travel the country and we meet new customers in stores, they always are very appreciative of our relationship with NASCAR. It’s been good.”
Gaining a long-term commitment from Camping World to sponsor the Truck Series would be a relief for NASCAR, which is set to lose Nationwide Insurance as title sponsor for the NASCAR Nationwide Series at the end of the 2014 season. The sponsorship of the Cup Series by Sprint runs through 2016.
The NCWTS is back in action on March 29th at 2:30 PM (ET) when the trucks visit Martinsville Speedway in the Kroger 250, which can be seen on Fox Sports 1. Ratings for the season opener were up 11 percent.
Harvick Takes Win At Phoenix In Second Race With New Team
posted by Justin Tucker
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Phoenix International Raceway has become Kevin Harvick’s home away from home. Sunday Afternoon was no exception as Harvick charged to the front early and would dominate for much of the day, leading 224 of the scheduled 312 laps to record his record fifth win on the one mile oval and his third win in the last four races at Phoenix.
Harvick, coming off of a disappointing Speedweeks which was capped by a last lap crash in the Daytona 500 in his debut with Stewart-Haas Racing, set the tone on Saturday by winning both practices while having the best 5 and 10-lap averages in the first practice of the day on Saturday. On Sunday, Harvick and his No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet was nothing short of flawless as he was able to hold Dale Earnhardt, Jr. by .489 seconds after a late race restart to claim his 24th career Sprint Cup Series victory.
“Man, this is awesome,” Harvick said after his dominant victory on Sunday. “Man, this just solidifies so many things and so many decisions. It’s been so much work with all the time and effort that these guys (the crew) have put in—but what a race car.”
Stewart Haas Racing co-owner Gene Haas shared in Harvick’s excitement after the race.
“It took long enough,” Haas joked. “This is phenomenal. I think there was a lot of skepticism last year about what myself and Tony (Stewart) what we were up to, was there a lot of madness to this. Quite frankly, it’s a great team, there’s a lot of synergy at the shop, people working together. I don’t know what we did, but I think we put together a great organization.”
Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt, Jr. continued his hot start to the 2014 season. Earnhardt Jr. would finish second on Sunday, marking his seventh consecutive top 10 finish since the end of the 2013 season. Earnhardt Jr. was pleased with the effort after a coast-to-coast whirlwind week after winning his second Daytona 500 and also gave great praise to the efforts of Harvick and the No. 4 team.
“I’ve got to congratulate Kevin. Those guys were two-tenths faster than everyone all weekend in practice. They were just phenomenal,” Earnhardt said. “To be able to run with them all day was a big confidence builder for us.”
Joining Harvick and Earnhardt in the top 5 of The Profit on CNBC 500K were Brad Keselowski with his second consecutive top 3 run of 2014 in third. Keselowski’s Team Penske teammate Joey Logano would finish fourth, and Jeff Gordon would come home fifth in his No. 24 Pepsi Max Chevrolet.
Jimmie Johnson finished in sixth, followed by Ryan Newman with a nice rebound after Daytona in seventh. Carl Edwards would carry the banner for Roush Fenway Racing by finishing eighth, Kyle Busch was ninth, and Jamie McMurray would finish tenth.
A look at the Profit on CNBC 500K by the numbers. There were 14 lead changes among eight different drivers, there were eight cautions for 39 laps which slowed the race pace to 109.229 MPH.
Next Sunday, the Sprint Cup Series heads to Sin City and the Las Vegas Motor
Starting Lineup: The Profit On CNBC 500K
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday March 1, 2014
Drivers in RED (i) are those ineligible to collect Sprint Cup points
Daytona 500 TV Ratings Down
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Wednesday February 26, 2014
What was the longest weather delay in Daytona 500 history turned out to bring NASCAR lower ratings and TV viewership Sunday night than expected. According to a report Monday from FOX Sports, the 56th running of the Daytona 500 airing at 8 PM (ET) posted a 5.6/10 national household rating/share which averaged 9.3 million viewers. That’s down 44 percent from last year’s 9.9, easily making it the least-watched Daytona 500 of all-time.
Due to the six-hour, twenty-two minute rain delay in Daytona, the race was up against the primetime coverage of the Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony from Sochi, Russia on NBC (15.25 million viewers). FOX also reported that 69% of the pre-rain delay viewers of the race, which began at 1 PM (ET) kept tuning in.
In comparison, the 2013 Daytona 500 on FOX was the most-watched race in five years, posting a 9.9/22 rating/share, commanding 16.7 million viewers. The Daytona 500 in 2012, the first to ever be run on a Monday and in the primetime slot did a 7.7/13 overnight rating/share which resulted in 13.67 million households viewing the race according to Nielsen TV ratings data.
Earnhardt, Jr. Claims Second Daytona 500 Victory
posted by Justin Tucker
Wednesday February 26, 2014
Ten years is a long time. For Dale Earnhardt, Jr., it felt like an eternity. NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver endured many near misses and close calls at the Daytona 500 since his only win in the Great American Race in 2004. Earnhardt had finished second in two of his last three Daytona 500s coming into Sunday’s race. He was also riding the tail of a 55-race winless streak, dating back to Michigan in 2012.
However nothing would stop Dale Jr. on Sunday, not even a 6 hour and 22 minute rain delay from capturing his second Daytona 500 win. Earnhardt Jr. led a race-high 54 laps on the evening and used some timely drafting help from teammates Jimmie Johnson and, on the final restart, Jeff Gordon to separate from the pack and secure the victory.
“Winning this race is the greatest feeling that you could feel in this sport besides accepting the trophy for the championship,” said a jubilant Earnhardt after pulling into Victory Lane. “We could fight off battle after battle. We got a little help at the end there from Jeff to get away on the restart. This is amazing. I can’t believe this is happening. I never take this for granted, man because it doesn’t happen twice, let alone once.”
Aside from the race itself the big story of the race was the 6 hour and 22 minute red flag, which threatened to move the race to Monday evening (had the race been postponed, FOX Sports’ Chris Myers had tweeted that the race would resume at 5:00pm EST). However, Mother Nature would cooperate and would allow the race to be run under different conditions from which they practiced this week. Once the race resumed, the intensity picked up from the changing track conditions. This allowed the pack to race side-by-side and at times 3-wide up to seven rows deep.
Joining Earnhardt Jr. in the top 5 for the 2014 Daytona 500 were: Denny Hamlin who closed out a spectacular Speedweeks in second, Brad Keselowski in third, Jeff Gordon in fourth, and Jimmie Johnson who overcome two wrecks leading up to the 500 in fifth.
Rounding out the top 10 in the Daytona 500 were Matt Kenseth in sixth, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. in seventh and Greg Biffle would bring his No. 16 Ford home in eighth. Austin Dillon would come home ninth in his first Cup Series race in the iconic No. 3 for Richard Childress Racing, while Casey Mears would round out the top 10.
A couple of major contenders for the Daytona 500 win would see their hopes dashed early on as Martin Truex, Jr. would blow up just 30 laps into the race, relegating him to a 43rd-place finish in his debut for Furniture Row Racing. Crew chief Todd Berrier was already in Nashville for a test session before the race was even over. Kyle Busch, meanwhile would have a pit road violation just before halfway and would spend much of the race battling back from that mistake. Busch would eventually finish 19th after leading 19 laps.
Danica Patrick would also be bit by bad luck as she was caught up in a multi-car wreck on lap 145. Patrick would lead her second consecutive Daytona 500, but wouldn’t have the finish to show for it finishing 40th. Tony Stewart would encounter a frustrating evening as well, with a fuel pickup problem derailing his quest for his first Daytona 500 win. Stewart would finish 35th.
A look at the Daytona 500 by the numbers. There were 42 lead changes among 18 drivers, while seven cautions for 39 laps would slow the race pace to 145.290 MPH.
Next week, the Sprint Cup Series heads to the “diamond in the desert,” Phoenix International Raceway for The Profit on CNBC 500K. The Green flag is scheduled for 3:15pm EST.
Nationwide Series Post-Race Quotes: Drive4COPD 300
posted by Thomas Bowles
Tuesday February 25, 2014
Frontstretch Interviews – Courtesy Mike Neff
ELLIOTT SADLER – FINISHED 4th
Thoughts on the race?
It’s definitely a lot different racing than what we’re used to.
Comfortable with it?
Yeah, it’s just different. You’re worried about what you’re doing, but you’re also worried about what everyone else is doing and they’re not doing more than you’re doing. Physically pushing a guy is way better than just riding so you just gotta time it right and push it to the edge.
Happy to start the year with a top 5?
Yeah. Hell, that was the worst we ran all day, I think. I have no idea how they put the 3 car in front of us on that last restart. I hadn’t seen the 3 car hardly all day. When they put us from fifth to sixth, on the outside line, it just really boxed us in. I would have really restarted behind my teammate and given him a good push to the front. Anyways, it is what it is; we’ll take it and move on.
Looked like you were up front all day.
The guys did a good job. We had a fast race car. Great pit stops, just really proud of these guys. The car’s in one piece and we can take it to Talladega now. Great job by my guys. A lot of effort came into coming down here to Daytona and giving ourselves a shot to win. We had that chance to be up front and make some things happen. Fifth is not what we want, but we’ll take it and move on.
Bumping vs Pushing?
It’s way harder. You don’t want to lay on the guy in front of you, so it’s tough racing. A lot different than what we’re used to, ‘cause you gotta go. You gotta drag the brake too ‘cause you don’t want to hit the guys and you don’t want to stay on him. It’s a lot harder mentally than what we’ve done in the past.
Car was strong all day. Pushing vs. Bumping, is that harder to do than just getting on somebody and pushing them?
Yeah, it is a little bit. When you bump ‘em, you jar ‘em, it kinda jacks ‘em a little bit. It’s a little more abrupt, obviously. I thought it was OK there at the end. It was certainly fun and hopefully entertaining. But a little bit of a struggle in the early part of the race and the midpart of the race to see a good race. And that’s unfortunate for the fans. You can’t do that the whole race, you can’t tear up your stuff, knock your grill in, overheat your motor, all that stuff so there’s no sense in doing all that until you get down to the last lap. The 7 and the 6, they did a good job. Man, the 7 really held the 22 and I tight on the bottom. I was rubbing his door and hitting the apron at the same time, no room whatsoever. So it was good; wish we were the ones who could have won but a lot better now than what we were last year.
Going home in one piece makes it a lot better, right?
Yeah. My back feels good. My foot feels good. Past years here, I’ve been going home with pain so I’m alright.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Truck Series Post-Race Quotes: Daytona (Exclusives)
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday February 22, 2014
When you’re on the outside like that, how frustrating is it?
It’s so hard. Timothy Peters has won here. Kyle Busch has won everywhere. Ron Hornaday has been running Trucks forever, probably before I was even born. I was surrounded by veterans there, and like I told them I don’t have a rookie stripe but I’m a rookie. This is only my fourth Truck race ever, my fourth superspeedway race, and man, I figured out when the 17 got up in front of me, I pushed him. And as soon as I pushed him, he took off. And I went with him. And I just kept doing it, and before I knew it, he was leading. And I saw Ron in my mirror, backed up to him, and if it wasn’t for him, I don’t know what would have happened. I gotta thank him big time for that. That was a true teammate move right there. I really appreciate that. He just bounced off me and we got to the front. I tried my hardest to sidedraft Kyle. I was probably touching his door.
Top 5 in the No. 30 truck. This deal come together at the last minute, but you had a heck of a truck. Tell us about your night.
Yeah, I’ve got to thank Turner Scott Motorsports. The guys worked so hard on this Rheem Comfort Products Chevrolet. Exciting! Just got hung up on the outside and had to wait for my teammate there to catch up. And then he got to the bottom, so… I got the old 32 and started pushing ol’ Ryan to the front. So, it’s not bad. We’ll take it. You just don’t want to step over that boundary. You don’t know how far to push and shove. We bumped about six times down the straightaway without latching onto them. Hopefully, that was OK and we came home with a top 5.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Budweiser Duels Post Race Quotes
posted by Matt Stallknecht
Friday February 21, 2014
BUDWEISER DUELS POST-RACE QUOTES
They’re saying the wheel bearing burned up in it. I don’t know what caused it, they’re taking it all apart to figure out what the heck happened. Something abnormal that’s for sure I don’t think I’ve ever had that happen at all. Hopefully, we made the race and hopefully we can fix the problem before Sunday.
WHAT WAS THAT LOUD BOOM ONCE YOU TURNED INTO THE GARAGE?
Loud pop was a tire… thankfully, it popped, hopefully it didn’t hurt anybody. All the heat created in the left front that popped was pretty weird.
REALLY GOOD RUN. WHAT DID YOU THINK OF IT?
Yeah, it was good. We have a car we can work with for the 500. Got a good starting spot, so we’re going to rest easy, fluff and buff our car for a couple of days and get ready for Sunday.
ANY DIFFERENCE ON WHETHER THE TOP OR BOTTOM LANE WORKED?
Yeah, I was just moving around, trying to stay with the flow. For me, this car works on all parts of the racetrack. So I’m pretty happy with it.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.
GOT SHUFFLED BACK, AFTER PIT STOPS AND THEN COULDN’T GET BACK UP TO THE FRONT. WHY?
Nah, we were just sitting there waiting until the last few laps to make a move. You didn’t want to pull down and get sent to the back. Seen a couple of guys get sent to the back really quick so we were just kind of waiting for the end. I felt like we had a good situation there with Ambrose behind us — we had a good run off Turn 2 and I went. It was the last lap, time to go do something, nobody went with us but hopefully Sunday is a different story.
We got a great car. We don’t have to work hard. We learned, we got a good race car. Got a car in one piece, ready to go so we’ll try and get through the next couple of practices, deliver it to the starting group this Sunday and we’ll be real happy.
YOU’RE IN THE DAYTONA 500!
Yeah, it’s pretty awesome. This Whitetail Chevrolet was so fast that I knew all I had to do was stick it behind smart, intelligent drafters and we could have a good finish. That’s what we did in the Duels and I’m excited. I’m excited to go do some stuff with the Nationwide car and have some more practice with this. But to know that we’re locked in the Daytona 500’s pretty cool.
YOU WERE OBVIOUSLY IN FRONT OF THAT MELEE AT THE END. WHEN YOU WERE UP FRONT THERE IN THE BEGINNING, WERE YOU HOPING TO JUST STAY IN LINE AND LET YOU FINISH TOP 5?
I was pretty content to ride and luckily I knew a lot of people around us were. It was nice to have a little calm and not really have to be racing hard the whole time. I knew that the pit stop was going to shake everything up and that’s exactly what happened. Fell back a little bit there but made the right moves at the end to get a good finish.
HOW STRONG ARE THESE RCR CARS?
They’re very strong! They definitely have the capabilities to be winning one of these races.
YOU’RE IN THE TOP 5 FOR YOUR HEAT IN THE DAYTONA 500. YOUR PRIMARY CAR IS SITTING RIGHT IN THE GARAGE, KIND OF WADDED UP. DID YOU THINK THIS ONE HAD IT IN IT?
Yeah, it’s a brand new car also. It’s just not quite as good as the primary but still a damned good car. I’m just proud of everybody at RCR for building such fast race cars. All of our cars have been fast, ECR motor’s been strong, even our affiliate teams have been qualifying really good and racing good. So… excited about 2014! It’s going to be a good year.
WELL MAN, YOU STARTED IN THE BACK BUT WORKED YOUR WAY TO THE FRONT WHEN IT COUNTED MOST. WERE YOU JUST BIDING YOUR TIME THROUGHOUT THE RACE?
Eh, you never know if you’re going to get back up there or not. We had to start at the back, we had to make a run early and see what we could do. We drove right to 10th, or something like that and then it got stagnant. We tried to make something happen, and went to the back again. Drove back up to the front. Again, just really proud of my guys. Matt Kruder did a hell of a job on that pit stop getting just enough gas in to gain some spots there.
RCR CARS SEEM PRETTY DARNED STRONG. DO YOU THINK THE RCR CARS HAVE SOMETHING FOR THEM ON SUNDAY — ESPECIALLY THE THREE JOE GIBBS RACING CARS THAT SEEM TO BE THE CLASS OF THE FIELD RIGHT NOW?
Oh yeah. The 20 car was extremely fast. The 11 didn’t qualify that good, but he’s a good drafter. I think he won. We definitely have something for him.
Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
Bryan Davis Keith · Tuesday October 19, 2010
ONE: Top 35 Battle for More Than Just a Locked-In Spot
While ESPN is busy hyping the “closest Chase ever,” and there actually was plenty of activity at the front of the field in Charlotte Saturday night, the tightest battle NASCAR has to offer right now is waging farther back through the field. It’s the ongoing fight between Robby Gordon Motorsports and Front Row Motorsports for the final spot in the top 35… and the last locked-in position for the 43-car starting grid each week. With five races left in the season, that competition takes on all the more significance, for whoever winds up on top at Homestead gets a locked-in spot in the 2011 Daytona 500, making offseason sponsorship hunting that much easier.
Moreso for these two operations, that top 35 battle is one of literal life and death. For Front Row Motorsports, unless a sponsor materializes, their No. 38 car will disappear after Homestead if it’s not locked into the field. For Robby Gordon Motorsports, the last single car operation out there trying to stem the tide of the superteams, between the contractual obligations of the Extenze sponsorship they’re currently leaning on and the lack of sponsors they have otherwise, going to Daytona on the outside looking in is a rather bleak scenario for a team increasingly headed towards life support.
It’s a battle that, as of late, has shifted Front Row’s way. After a crushing 150-point penalty for bleeder valves at Pocono over the summer, David Gilliland has done a remarkable job leading the No. 38 team back to the brink of the top 35. At points Saturday night, Gilliland even had his team back inside it before falling two spots short of locking into the Martinsville field. Robby Gordon, who struggled to a 33rd-place result, was at a complete loss for how to fix his car, remarking after hearing of Gilliland’s run “we’re in trouble, boys” over the team radio. It does seem inevitable; the No. 38 will likely catch the No. 7 this weekend.
Fortunately for RGM, the team has a new target other than the surging FRM operation… TRG Motorsports’ No. 71, which now sits within 20 points of the cutoff. Andy Lally ran the distance Saturday night, but finished a woeful 19 laps down. With sponsor dollars limited and the team having relied on a revolving door of drivers, what was once a sure-fire locked in team with Bobby Labonte behind the wheel is now vulnerable.
TRG has proven able to survive the last two years not being locked in and without sponsorship, but Gordon’s team didn’t fare nearly as well when they were outside the top 35. RGM has a lot to race for the next five events… in their real battle, the one between them and TRG.
TWO: Kasey Kahne’s Meltdown Spells Serious Concern for the 2011 Campaign, Red Bull
Not since Kyle Busch stormed out of Texas Motor Speedway and left Dale Earnhardt, Jr. to finish an event in his No. 5 car has another driver left their team in a lurch, forced to find another wheelman to finish a bad day. But on Saturday, lightning struck again… and it wasn’t one of the usual suspects. Rather, it was Kasey Kahne, who after struggling with brake issues through Saturday’s race finally ended up in a wreck, did not return to his No. 9 car and left the driving to J.J. Yeley.
The team’s official word was that Kahne was physically ill and unable to continue. Other reports from the Charlotte media center Saturday night cited sources who saw Kahne storm from his damaged machine, leaving the garage with no intent of returning. According to a report by the AP’s Jenna Fryer, Kahne “threw up once on Saturday and didn’t feel the need to put forth the effort to get back in a car that didn’t meet his standards.”
“Didn’t feel the need to put forth the effort to get back in a car that didn’t meet his standards.” What a freaking joke. Say what you will about illnesses, Charlotte has been the sight of a number of gutty performances by drivers under the weather, be it Elliott Sadler running the distance despite being as sick as the Pedigree dog on his Ford in the 2005 Coca-Cola 600 or even Kevin Conway this past season, who gutted out 600 miles in a car that was well off the pace after throwing up in his helmet to bring his car across the finish line.
Where does Kahne get off? Saying he didn’t get back into his car because it didn’t meet his standards. And then to have the nerve to get upset about having a team member telling the driver, on his way out of the Richard Petty Motorsports camp, that he “needed to start doing [his] part.” Why the hell shouldn’t his crew be telling him to do his job if he’s got the nerve to storm out of the garage after his car gets torn up? Imagine what would happen to a crewman if they had the nerve to tell their driver after a wreck on-track that they weren’t going to fix it because the driver’s racing wasn’t up to their standards. This relationship isn’t a two-way street; racing is a team sport, and both sides owe it to each other to do their jobs in good times and bad.
Frankly, based on the conversations I heard in the Charlotte media center Saturday night, I feel confident asserting that the “sickness” story is just that, a story. The reports of Kahne throwing a tantrum after his wreck were well documented on the team radio, and surfaced long before the team’s comment that the driver was ill. Sounds like an awful convenient cover-up from here.
And what does this say for Kahne next year, who’s heading to a Red Bull Racing camp that’s had its own share of struggles in 2010? What happens if Kahne misses the Chase again and suddenly decides, knowing full well that Hendrick Motorsports is up for 2012, that the cars aren’t up to his standards and that there’s no longer any need for his best effort to be put forward?
If I’m working at Red Bull Racing, Saturday night has me gravely concerned about the attitude my one-year bullet is bringing with him.
THREE: It’s Not Just Kahne; Frustration Abounds at Richard Petty Motorsports
Unfortunately for Richard Petty Motorsports, it wasn’t just one driver that spent 500 miles on Saturday utterly frustrated… it was all four. The three other than Kahne all qualified in the top 10, but none of them were there for long. Paul Menard dropped like a rock, showing little strength after about the first 50 laps. Elliott Sadler uttered transmission after transmission over the team radio about how poorly his car handled in traffic. And A.J. Allmendinger couldn’t find enough ways to describe how weak his engine was even before it dropped a cylinder, referring to it as a “Nationwide motor” while constantly reminding his crew chief that he was being murdered down the straightaways.
With Sadler likely out of a ride after this season and Paul Menard on his way to Richard Childress Racing, it’s Allmendinger’s frustration that has to have the RPM camp most concerned. To have such issues with horsepower despite both stronger ties with the Roush Fenway camp – and Roush actually owing them a favor or two after helping Ford’s flagship operation overcome flawed simulation models earlier this summer – does not bode well for the ‘Dinger to have any chance of being more competitive in 2011. What’s more, the team’s new hired gun for next year, Marcos Ambrose, is no stranger to frustration himself, having been the victim of just about everything short of a plague of locusts through his 2010 season.
All of that driver tension, added to sponsorship uncertainties and the team’s ever tenuous financial situation hovering in the background, means one can’t help but see the RPM organization as a ticking time bomb near implosion.
FOUR: No Nationwide Tire Testing at Daytona; That’s Right…
Let’s see. New pavement. A new race car. And a series that will have a number of drivers competing in their first major NASCAR plate race. But NASCAR decides not to allow a tire test at the Daytona International Speedway following the track’s first repaving job in decades.
Who in their right mind made this asinine decision? Unlike the Cup garage, who’ve at least been dealing with their COT for years now and aren’t trying to learn a new car on top of a new surface and have an applicable notebook, the Nationwide Series field (what’s left of it, anyways) are going to have absolutely nothing to base their preparations for their premier race on. Not to mention that the series’ rookies are going to have to learn Daytona’s new car, track, everything, in the span of the season’s first practice. As one writer in the media center quipped, “it’s going to look like the ARCA race out there.”
Well, except for the Cup teams in the Nationwide Series, who thanks to having the benefit of having Cup teams participate in that series’ tire test at Daytona, will have a much better idea of what to expect when the season opens for the Nationwide Series. Suddenly, it all makes sense; depriving the Nationwide Series of a tire test hurts anyone not affiliated with a Cup team. Business as usual.
FIVE: Enough with the Damned Debris Cautions
After Saturday’s night race became the eighth Cup event of the year to have a debris caution halt competition with less than 25 laps to go, Charlotte saw both of its events this past weekend largely impacted by phantom yellow flags that were thrown for no reason other than to bunch up the field late in the race.
Sure, that makes for entertaining racing and crazy finishes. But it also goes even further to erode the legitimacy of a sport that adopted a playoff hoping to do just that; be legitimate in a hugely crowded fall sports market.
This year’s ARCA finale at Rockingham hinted at being a yawner for a title fight. Patrick Sheltra led convincingly and dominated the first 150 laps of the race, while Craig Goess and Tom Hessert III all found themselves mired outside the top 10 with ill-handling race cars. Then in the last 50 laps, all run under green, saw Sheltra drop like a rock with a tight condition while Goess came to life and staged one of the more impressive charges seen in motorsports this season. When the checkered flag flew, the two title contenders were running within a car length of each other, the title settled by a little over a dozen points.
“Racing is not entertainment. Racing is entertaining,” the old adage goes. NASCAR would do well to remember that. The drama will take care of itself. And when it doesn’t, face it. There’s a deserving winner or champion, and having those folks win is what makes stock car racing a sport.
Or it used to.
©2000 - 2008 Bryan Davis Keith and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
Poor Kasey…. He’s been touched by the hand of Rick Hendrick, you’d think everyone would realize it’s all about him.
Point 1: The loss of the Front Row and Robby Gordon racing teams is inevitable. Within five years, both will be a distant memory. Sad but true.
Points 2 & 3: I don’t like Kasey’s diva-like attitude. I think he is an over rated driver alongside the (other) woman in na$car Danica, and her owner, Jr. I really don’t think that he will be a consistently dominant force at Hendrick.
Point 4: I don’t see a problem with not testing at Daytona, probably 40 of the 43 starters will be Cup regulars and they have the experience to handle the lack of information.
Point 5: na$car’s not listening.
The best part of the 7 vs 38 battle is that it means Conway won’t be able to be in the 7 because Conway (by virtue of Extenze sponsorship) has bought his way into the series without having the talent to back it up.
I’m sure carl and dave have driven a car at 200 mph with no brakes just waiting for the crash to happen. Did this happen just once, no it happened three freaken times. Funny how tough all you couch potatoes are sitting on your couch. Who has had to suffer through all the bad years at rpm, who has had to work his a## off to help the team become respectable. He should have left the team ages ago. Anybody who has watched kasey drive a sprint car knows he has the talent to become a nascar champion. The problem at RPM isn’t kasey, lets see how they do next year without him.
Instead of driving for Hendricks in 2012 maybe Kasey should go back to the dirt tracks if he wants to win.
Couldn’t Kasey have taken out Johnson before he parked? (sarcasm intended) LOL
Kasey Kahne is overqualified for the kind of rides RPM is giving him, but that doesn’t excuse his diva antics. And since Stan is so concerned about safety issues I’m sure he’d agree how wreckless it was for Kasey to quit on his team like that and insult them with such a lame excuse. It’s like being rude to your waitress before you get your food. Who knows what she’ll do to it in the kitchen before she brings it to you. And with Talladega coming up you want the guys prepping that car to love you like crazy. But I could be wrong. Maybe an overinflated ego works just like an airbag!
KK has always been a prima dona. Back when Mayfield was driving for Evernham & running up front KK got mad & they took everything away from JM & gave them to KK – JMs cars – JMs CC – JMs pit crew. He hasn’t run for crap since JM left there.
Diva or not you all drive a car without brakes at 200 mph & let the same bunch repair it that built it & let’s see it you get back in it! Live in glass houses people?
Wasn’t it just a couple of weeks ago that Kahne was running so well that journalists commented. He has stood head and shoulders above his teammates since signing with Hendrick.
Remember, Kahne like the serf drivers are was shoved into the inferior Petty camp.
Bobby Labonte made a bone-headed move to Petty and paid for it with his career. Even so, he never once refused to drive the car and never turned his back on the team. Bobby showed class, maturity, and professionalism. Kahne just showed his ass.
The prediction of RGM and FRM being gone in five years could come true for sure.What has happened to Nascar saying they were going to help the little guy out.Sounds like the old smoke and mirrors talk.If nascar keeps going the way they are of only two or three teams being at the top,soon the IRL won’t have to work that hard to take over the top drawing motorsport in america.
So on the little poll on the left. 90 out of 100 people think Nascar deliberately threw debris cautions the last 2 races. And Nascar still thinks we are stupid.
ESPN would do good to include the Top 35 battle during their broadcasts. But of course the ADD crowd don’t have any interest in that so we can’t have that.
Um Bryan, you kind of contradicted #3 when you mentioned #4. You say Kahne was out of line, but then you say RPM is imploding. Failed brakes in 3 races this season? Really? And he doesn’t have a legitimate gripe? If the team I drove for were skimpy about their brakes, I wouldn’t want to get in their car either.
With this lack of testing at Daytona, Brain France’s plan to remove all NW drivers from the NW series and replace them with Cup drivers is almost complete.
Kahne has given 100% to RPM in ALL it’s incarnations and he and Kenny Francis have made miracles happen with garbage equipment. Why is Kasey a diva in one segment of your post, and then RPM is virtually disintegrating in the next section, but it’s all Kasey’s fault. Where the hell has he been any sort of “diva“in his career? ONE horrendous race/frustration level and he’s a diva? Knowing there was a solution to the problem and the 9 team wasn’t allowed to use it, that makes him a Diva? Not getting in a car with zero brakes makes him a Diva? Come on, people. RPM as an organization has no class, whatsoever.
Kasey has been a diva his entire career – which, by the way, consists of exactly as many Chase appearances as Jeremy Mayfield had – 2 in 7 years, and only 1 points finish better than 10th, despite being catered to, coddled, suing his way out of a Ford contract to get into this car, pouting his way into getting the better crew, and not getting as good results as Mayfield, and now walking off to this bizarre deal he chose.
If he really had brake failure how did he manage to slow down enough to pit the car? Maybe his brakes weren’t great, but Kyle Busch managed to drive his car with a stuck throttle by turning it off and on when he got to the corners, no reason Kasey couldn’t so the same.
It will be very interesting to see how he works at HMS, when he won’t be the focus of the organization, and they won’t be bending over backwards to the detriment of their 2 4 time Cup champions for him.
It’s sad to watch what Robby’s team has become, especially when you see little teams like FRM, Furniture Row and the 26 car when they make the race, the latter 2 also being 1 car operations, consistently finish better than Robby. If not for the 150 point penalty the 38 had earlier in the year, there’s no telling how many races he would have missed this year. I really expected more out of him.
I question the article’s position on Kahne getting back into the car.
Other “sources” have reported that because of the recent brake issues, Kahne’s crew chief requested they be allowed to use a different type of brake fluid, and RPM turned down the request.
He (Kahne) may be getting paid well, but if my crew chief requests a different brake fluid, is denied, and then I lose my brakes at 200 mph, I am not getting back into that car.
First I believe KK needed to get back in the car. I believe he had every right to refuse, but it is his job. But to say he is not doing his part is totally wrong. He is passionate about running well and trying to win hence his anger. If he was just riding out the rest of the season, his reaction would be more a yup yup yo that how things go attitude. He expected to run well. During practice Dale Jarret mentioned that Kasey runs well here because he uses little break- so I find it ironic that his breaks fail so early in the race.
When RPM announced they were switching to Ford, Kahne laid down on them. If you’ve ever heard him on the radio at a race, he sounds like Darrell Waltrip – he could win every race if it weren’t for the 42 idiots out there screwing him up. KK is pathetic.
I send KK packing.
Anyone who has shown the loyalty to “going nowhere” teams is not a Diva. If he would have walked from the teams that gave him inferior equipment years ago, then he’s a Diva. A winning Diva, but still. Instead, like a true racer, he has stuck out one bad team after another. There comes a time when enough is enough, and I think Kasey was long justified in his reaction.