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.
Kyle Busch led seven times for 153 laps to win the Ford 300, his record 13th Nationwide Series victory of the 2010 season and one that clinched the owners’ title for Joe Gibbs Racing. Busch knocked off Kevin Harvick by a few car lengths at the start-finish line. Brad Keselowski finished third, scoring his seventh consecutive top 5 finish and record 26th of the season.
Can anyone out there not tell that this writer is sick and tired of writing about the same handful of Cup regulars making the minor leagues their own private playgrounds?
While Cup regulars stole the show up front, leading all but 13 of the laps run Saturday afternoon, this event did come one yellow flag away from seeing the potential for a Nationwide regular victory. Throughout the afternoon, one of the strongest cars the field saw on longer runs was none other than Ricky Stenhouse Jr., who alongside Keselowski opted to save a set of sticker tires during pit cycles in the middle portions of the race. The opportunity to bolt on the fresh rubber came on lap 174 after a wreck by Chase Mattioloi, and saw the No. 6 car charge from outside the top 20 all the way into the top 5. Unfortunately for Stenhouse, what was a wreck-filled race ended with 25 straight laps of green flag racing, leaving his Ford with too much ground to make up on the race leaders. Nonetheless, the result cemented the 2010 Rookie of the Year title for the former ARCA and USAC competitor.
Justin Allgaier finished 11th in his final race with Penske Racing, securing fourth in points and the title of highest finishing Nationwide Series regular. The top 30 in owner points for the 2011 season opener at Daytona is also set, with the No. 70 number fielded by ML Motorsports and Jay Robinson Racing earning the final locked in spot in the field over the No. 81 team of MacDonald Motorsports, which failed to qualify earlier on Saturday.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr.‘s fourth place finish was far more significant than equaling his best career effort on a downforce track, it clinched him the title of Rookie of the Year after what has been a tumultuous 2010 season to put it lightly. After losing the 2008 ARCA championship at Toledo Speedway in a violent tangle with Scott Speed, Stenhouse ran a very limited schedule in 2009 before returning to full-time competition this year. To say 2010 started with a lot of rust is an understatement; the Mississippi native had five DNFs for crashes in the first 12 races before failing to qualify for the season’s second race at Nashville. From there, however, the driver turned his season around, playing an integral role in returning the team to the top 30 in owner points, contending for the win in the NNS’ COT debut at Daytona and scoring six top 10 finishes in the second half of the season. To take the rookie of the year crown despite the rough start, despite having no certain home for 2011 and despite having Roush Fenway Racing sign more development talent in Brian Ickler and Trevor Bayne halfway through his rookie season is a tremendous accomplishment for Stenhouse, who’s comeback to win the ROTY award was the largest in terms of points margin in series history.
Speaking of Trevor Bayne, it took seven races, but finally the former MWR development prospect finally returned to top 5 form in his new home in the Roush Fenway camp. And it wasn’t easy; Bayne was a top 10 fixture before slapping the wall on lap 135 with an apparent cut tire. Undeterred, the youngster took his unsponsored Ford back to the front and scored his first top 5 finish since Richmond back in September, outrunning both of his Cup teammates in the RFR stable. Despite the midseason change in teams, Bayne finished seventh in points in his first full-time season on the Nationwide Series circuit.
Jason Leffler may have endured a disappointing 2010 season, but he won the battle and the war in the seven races that he faced off against the No. 38 ride that used to be exclusively his. Leffler surged during the final green flag run of this event to finish 10th, his third top 10 finish in the last four races en route to finishing ninth in points (Leffler has finished in the top 10 in Nationwide points every year since 2007). Also noteworthy was that Homestead marked the final time in 2010 that Leffler vacated the Great Clips seat in favor of Kasey Kahne…and the fifth consecutive race that he finished higher than his Cup counterpart driving the No. 10 car. Kahne finished his eight-race stint in the No. 38 car with two top 10 results and a 24.0 finishing average. Leffer in those eight races? Seven top 10 results and a 9.8 finishing average. Score one for the regulars.
And a shout-out to Brendan Gaughan for a top 10 result finish in his final race with RWI.
Aric Almirola led a charge for JR Motorsports that saw both of the team’s entries qualify in the top 5 (Almirola started fourth, Danica Patrick fifth), but the day went sour in a hurry. Lap 30 saw Almirola make contact with Justin Allgaier exiting turn 2 after the No. 12 Dodge got loose in the corner, creating an accordion of sorts that saw the No. 88, in addition to Carl Edwards and Kasey Kahne, spin down the backstretch. Kahne ended up t-boning Almirola’s machine, causing severe damage to the car’s front end. The team made repairs and kept the No. 88 on the lead lap, but not for long. Lap 41 saw Almirola’s damaged machine get loose on the high side of turn 2, collecting Eric McClure and sending both machines into the outside wall. Finishing 27 laps down in the 32nd position was Almirola’s worst finish in his tenure with JR Motorsports, and the worst for the No. 88 team since Kelly Bires lost an engine five laps into the March race at Las Vegas.
Michael Annett made waves with the announcement that he and his Pilot Travel Centers sponsorship will be moving to Rusty Wallace Incorporated for 2011, but his finale with Germain Racing did anything but. The day started promisingly for the No. 15 team, with Annett moving from the 35th starting position to 13th by lap 30 before developing a handling condition and falling back to 23rd in the next 20 laps. The day went from bad to worse on lap 60, when Annett lost control of his Toyota exiting turn 4. Though he made no contact with the wall, Annett struggled home to a 24th place result by race’s end.
While Roush Fenway Racing placed four cars in the top 10 and saw both development prospects Bayne and Stenhouse enjoy top 5 runs, there was one Roushketeer missing from the party in Colin Braun. Braun, who like Stenhouse endured a roller-coaster start to the 2010 season that saw him lose his full-time ride after wrecking his teammate at Texas, methodically worked his way forward from the 26th starting position and cracked the top 15 by lap 50, moving as high as 11th. Unfortunately, that solid run fell 38 laps short of the finish, with a turn 3 spin on lap 162 that left the No. 16 to limp home to a 29th place result, the team’s first finish outside of the top 25 since Watkins Glen in August. Braun’s future in the RFR camp is also in play for next season, though the former Truck driver was seen around NASCAR’s Camping World Truck Series hauler on several occasions throughout race weekend as rumors continued to swirl as to whether Ford’s flagship team would be returning to the Truck ranks next season.
Chase Mattioli’s Nationwide Series debut was to be a feel-good story, a combination of one of NASCAR’s most hospitable families with a stalwart NNS operation. The feel-good side of the story ended there. Mattioli endured a hard wreck in qualifying that sent him to the back of the field for the start of the race. And while the ARCA regular ran a clean race that impeded none of his fellow competitors for most of the event, Mattioli endured another hard wreck on lap 174 that utterly destroyed the No. 27 car and left the developing driver with a 33rd place finish, leaving Baker/Curb’s flagship car with four finishes outside the top 30 in their final six races to close out the 2010 campaign. Those results are not what the this operation needed to secure sponsorship in time for Daytona next year.
K-Automotive’s two team cars made the field for Saturday’s finale, as well as the No. 56 of Mac Hill Motorsports, but none of the three cars had enjoyable afternoons. Kevin Lepage and Dennis Setzer start-and-parked their respective rides within the first six laps of the race, without the funds needed to buy tires. As for Brian Keselowski, his No. 92 car attempted to run the distance and even took the green flag on lap 65 as the leader thanks to pit strategy. But finishing a race, even when the opportunity presented itself, wasn’t in the cards. Keselowski cut a tire on lap 149 and flattened the right side of his Dodge, leaving his final race of the year over with well short of the checkered flag. Both teams confirmed to Frontstretch Saturday that 2011 is nothing but a question mark; Mac Hill’s No. 56 team will not be back for next year, while Keselowski is unsure whether an appearance at the season opener at Daytona in February will be possible for his operation. This ever-repeating saga is another example of a story this writer is sick of having to pen.
Underdog Performer of the Year: Tri-Star Motorsports The team’s Nos. 34 and 35 cars did not enjoy their best days at Homestead, finishing 23rd and 27th with Tony Raines and Jason Keller behind the wheel. But what the two squads have accomplished in 2010 is indeed noteworthy. For Raines, 2010 marked a 17th place points finish that while a drop from 2010 was still laudable given the number of Cup-backed entries that emerged at the front of the field this year. And for Keller, there’s little that needs to be said for a driver that has taken an unsponsored ride and a team that formed less than a month before Daytona and led the No. 35 not only to a top 5 finish at Talladega, but into the top 30 in owner points. Whatever the future holds for the organization, the longtime Nationwide veteran deserves a tip of the hat. Everybody at Tri-Star has earned one this year.
The Final Word
©2000 - 2008 Bryan Davis Keith and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
Thank you Mr. Keith for being one of the few NASCAR journalists left with common sense. Very few people see the gigantic elephant in the room: Cup drivers.
There has always chatter about the demise of the series. But I seriously believe 2011 may be the end unless massive changes are done in the offseason. The event isn’t profitable and the drivers that are supposed to call this series home can’t compete.
If the CUP drivers come- the fans will follow
Fans have been LEAVING since the Cup stars have been dominating the (former) Busch and (now) Nationwide series.
The Really Ugly
Jeff Green Past Champion as a start and parker.
this was the series I loved and cherished back in the 80’s and 90’s.When Cup owners and Drivers started making this their playground and testing session in the late 90’s to today,the series is relegated to a complete utter joke! Thats sad!
When you see one entity from the Cup Series (of course) say,“well,i’m going for the driver title.“Another say,“then we’ll go for the owners’ championship”!Then you know what a farce this series has turned into!
I have lost ALL faith in NASCAR as a reputable… I’m failing to find the right word… reputable ANYTHING. After hearing Mr France’s incomprehensibly out of touch comments about the Nationwide and cup series, the growth, nay survival of the busch/nationwide series is very much in doubt as is cup…. but hey… as long as he’s raking in money…. he doesn’t care.. no, not one bit.
Oh, and Bryan, you’ve picked up your game… better watch out Matt.
P.S. was it only me or did B France look like a little worse for the wear when he handed JJ the trophy.. was it backwards?