Kurt Busch to Attempt The Indianapolis-Charlotte Double
posted by Phil Allaway
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Andretti Autosport announced this morning that Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet in the Sprint Cup Series, will attempt the Indianapolis 500 in a fifth entry for the IndyCar Series team. Once the Indianapolis 500 is completed, Busch will fly from Indianapolis to Charlotte, jump in his No. 41 Chevrolet and compete in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Busch considers the opportunity to do the double as an old-school throwback moment.
“This is really to challenge myself within motorsports,” Busch said in Andretti Autosport’s press release. “Perhaps I am a bit of an old-school racer; a throwback, I guess. I enjoyed the era of drivers racing different cars and testing themselves in other series. It is tough to do now for a variety of factors, but when the opportunity is there, I want to do it. While NASCAR is my home, I have been fortunate to compete in Pro Stock on the NHRA circuit a number of years ago and test a V8 Supercar. This opportunity was a talk with Michael [Andretti] over dinner one night, a “What if,” and now it’s becoming a reality for me to drive in the Indy 500 with Andretti Autosport. It’s literally a dream come true. To go to the famous Brickyard with the iconic Andretti name, it doesn’t get much cooler or better than that.”
Busch will be doing the Indianapolis-Charlotte double as a Memorial Day mission to men and women serving in the U.S. Military via the Armed Forces Foundation. Fans can contribute to the cause by texting AFF to 50555 to donate $10.
Busch, who has never raced an IndyCar, passed Rookie Orientation at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year during a test session. At the time, Busch was more or less testing the Dallara DW12 for fun.
Busch will be the fourth driver to attempt the Indianapolis-Charlotte double. John Andretti was the first driver to attempt it in 1994. After finishing four laps down in tenth in Indianapolis, Andretti crashed and had engine problems in the 600. Robby Gordon has attempted the double five times, most recently in 2004. However, Gordon failed to make it to Charlotte on time and did not start the 600 in 2000 (P.J. Jones started Gordon’s No. 13 Ford in that instance). Finally, Tony Stewart has attempted the double twice (most recently in 2001) and is the only driver to ever complete all 1100 miles. Neither of the three drivers has won either leg of the double. The best finishes are Stewart and Gordon’s sixth-place finishes at the Indianapolis 500 (although Gordon’s came in 2000, the year he didn’t make it to Charlotte in time to start the Coca-Cola 600), and Stewart’s fourth-place finish in the 2001 Coca-Cola 600.
Danica Patrick, Justin Allgaier Talk About Phoenix Incident
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
A disappointing start to the year for Danica Patrick won’t include continued conflict. Patrick met with rookie Justin Allgaier Sunday, shortly after the Phoenix Cup race after a wreck ruined both drivers’ days. Patrick, who was critical of the No. 51 car on the radio, claiming Allgaier was “driving all over the track” appeared receptive to a conversation that quickly settled differences over what will be a long season.
“She was just upset because she got involved in the crash that we had,’’ said Allgaier to the Motor Racing Network. “She says she’s been through this and that she felt like I needed to settle down at that point. I explained my position on why everything happened. I think she understood where I was coming from. It doesn’t fix either one of our racecars. It doesn’t fix either one of our days. Unfortunately, we were both having pretty decent days.’’
Allgaier wound up 30th due to the incident while Patrick was 36th. The incident, which was caused by Allgaier’s spin also involved the No. 32 team and Travis Kvapil, which wound up 38th after sustaining heavy damage.
Camping World Close to Extending Title Sponsorship of NCWTS
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Marcus Lemonis, CEO of Camping World, Grand Marshal of Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway, and star of CNBC’s “The Profit,” made the announcement over the weekend that the retailer is very close to announcing a deal that would continue its title sponsorship of NASCAR’s Truck Series. The original agreement with NASCAR is scheduled to conclude after the 2015 season.
According to the sanctioning body, no formal contract has been signed, but “the agreement between the two parties has proven to be a beneficial one.”
“In about a month, we’ll be announcing a significant extension to that contract. It’s been great for us,” said Camping World’s Lemonis in a statement. “The NASCAR relationship has worked well for Camping World. When we started, we had 35 stores. Now, we’re up to 120 stores. As we travel the country and we meet new customers in stores, they always are very appreciative of our relationship with NASCAR. It’s been good.”
Gaining a long-term commitment from Camping World to sponsor the Truck Series would be a relief for NASCAR, which is set to lose Nationwide Insurance as title sponsor for the NASCAR Nationwide Series at the end of the 2014 season. The sponsorship of the Cup Series by Sprint runs through 2016.
The NCWTS is back in action on March 29th at 2:30 PM (ET) when the trucks visit Martinsville Speedway in the Kroger 250, which can be seen on Fox Sports 1. Ratings for the season opener were up 11 percent.
Harvick Takes Win At Phoenix In Second Race With New Team
posted by Justin Tucker
Monday March 3, 2014
Phoenix International Raceway has become Kevin Harvick’s home away from home. Sunday Afternoon was no exception as Harvick charged to the front early and would dominate for much of the day, leading 224 of the scheduled 312 laps to record his record fifth win on the one mile oval and his third win in the last four races at Phoenix.
Harvick, coming off of a disappointing Speedweeks which was capped by a last lap crash in the Daytona 500 in his debut with Stewart-Haas Racing, set the tone on Saturday by winning both practices while having the best 5 and 10-lap averages in the first practice of the day on Saturday. On Sunday, Harvick and his No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet was nothing short of flawless as he was able to hold Dale Earnhardt, Jr. by .489 seconds after a late race restart to claim his 24th career Sprint Cup Series victory.
“Man, this is awesome,” Harvick said after his dominant victory on Sunday. “Man, this just solidifies so many things and so many decisions. It’s been so much work with all the time and effort that these guys (the crew) have put in—but what a race car.”
Stewart Haas Racing co-owner Gene Haas shared in Harvick’s excitement after the race.
“It took long enough,” Haas joked. “This is phenomenal. I think there was a lot of skepticism last year about what myself and Tony (Stewart) what we were up to, was there a lot of madness to this. Quite frankly, it’s a great team, there’s a lot of synergy at the shop, people working together. I don’t know what we did, but I think we put together a great organization.”
Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt, Jr. continued his hot start to the 2014 season. Earnhardt Jr. would finish second on Sunday, marking his seventh consecutive top 10 finish since the end of the 2013 season. Earnhardt Jr. was pleased with the effort after a coast-to-coast whirlwind week after winning his second Daytona 500 and also gave great praise to the efforts of Harvick and the No. 4 team.
“I’ve got to congratulate Kevin. Those guys were two-tenths faster than everyone all weekend in practice. They were just phenomenal,” Earnhardt said. “To be able to run with them all day was a big confidence builder for us.”
Joining Harvick and Earnhardt in the top 5 of The Profit on CNBC 500K were Brad Keselowski with his second consecutive top 3 run of 2014 in third. Keselowski’s Team Penske teammate Joey Logano would finish fourth, and Jeff Gordon would come home fifth in his No. 24 Pepsi Max Chevrolet.
Jimmie Johnson finished in sixth, followed by Ryan Newman with a nice rebound after Daytona in seventh. Carl Edwards would carry the banner for Roush Fenway Racing by finishing eighth, Kyle Busch was ninth, and Jamie McMurray would finish tenth.
A look at the Profit on CNBC 500K by the numbers. There were 14 lead changes among eight different drivers, there were eight cautions for 39 laps which slowed the race pace to 109.229 MPH.
Next Sunday, the Sprint Cup Series heads to Sin City and the Las Vegas Motor
Starting Lineup: The Profit On CNBC 500K
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday March 1, 2014
Drivers in RED (i) are those ineligible to collect Sprint Cup points
Daytona 500 TV Ratings Down
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Wednesday February 26, 2014
What was the longest weather delay in Daytona 500 history turned out to bring NASCAR lower ratings and TV viewership Sunday night than expected. According to a report Monday from FOX Sports, the 56th running of the Daytona 500 airing at 8 PM (ET) posted a 5.6/10 national household rating/share which averaged 9.3 million viewers. That’s down 44 percent from last year’s 9.9, easily making it the least-watched Daytona 500 of all-time.
Due to the six-hour, twenty-two minute rain delay in Daytona, the race was up against the primetime coverage of the Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony from Sochi, Russia on NBC (15.25 million viewers). FOX also reported that 69% of the pre-rain delay viewers of the race, which began at 1 PM (ET) kept tuning in.
In comparison, the 2013 Daytona 500 on FOX was the most-watched race in five years, posting a 9.9/22 rating/share, commanding 16.7 million viewers. The Daytona 500 in 2012, the first to ever be run on a Monday and in the primetime slot did a 7.7/13 overnight rating/share which resulted in 13.67 million households viewing the race according to Nielsen TV ratings data.
Earnhardt, Jr. Claims Second Daytona 500 Victory
posted by Justin Tucker
Wednesday February 26, 2014
Ten years is a long time. For Dale Earnhardt, Jr., it felt like an eternity. NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver endured many near misses and close calls at the Daytona 500 since his only win in the Great American Race in 2004. Earnhardt had finished second in two of his last three Daytona 500s coming into Sunday’s race. He was also riding the tail of a 55-race winless streak, dating back to Michigan in 2012.
However nothing would stop Dale Jr. on Sunday, not even a 6 hour and 22 minute rain delay from capturing his second Daytona 500 win. Earnhardt Jr. led a race-high 54 laps on the evening and used some timely drafting help from teammates Jimmie Johnson and, on the final restart, Jeff Gordon to separate from the pack and secure the victory.
“Winning this race is the greatest feeling that you could feel in this sport besides accepting the trophy for the championship,” said a jubilant Earnhardt after pulling into Victory Lane. “We could fight off battle after battle. We got a little help at the end there from Jeff to get away on the restart. This is amazing. I can’t believe this is happening. I never take this for granted, man because it doesn’t happen twice, let alone once.”
Aside from the race itself the big story of the race was the 6 hour and 22 minute red flag, which threatened to move the race to Monday evening (had the race been postponed, FOX Sports’ Chris Myers had tweeted that the race would resume at 5:00pm EST). However, Mother Nature would cooperate and would allow the race to be run under different conditions from which they practiced this week. Once the race resumed, the intensity picked up from the changing track conditions. This allowed the pack to race side-by-side and at times 3-wide up to seven rows deep.
Joining Earnhardt Jr. in the top 5 for the 2014 Daytona 500 were: Denny Hamlin who closed out a spectacular Speedweeks in second, Brad Keselowski in third, Jeff Gordon in fourth, and Jimmie Johnson who overcome two wrecks leading up to the 500 in fifth.
Rounding out the top 10 in the Daytona 500 were Matt Kenseth in sixth, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. in seventh and Greg Biffle would bring his No. 16 Ford home in eighth. Austin Dillon would come home ninth in his first Cup Series race in the iconic No. 3 for Richard Childress Racing, while Casey Mears would round out the top 10.
A couple of major contenders for the Daytona 500 win would see their hopes dashed early on as Martin Truex, Jr. would blow up just 30 laps into the race, relegating him to a 43rd-place finish in his debut for Furniture Row Racing. Crew chief Todd Berrier was already in Nashville for a test session before the race was even over. Kyle Busch, meanwhile would have a pit road violation just before halfway and would spend much of the race battling back from that mistake. Busch would eventually finish 19th after leading 19 laps.
Danica Patrick would also be bit by bad luck as she was caught up in a multi-car wreck on lap 145. Patrick would lead her second consecutive Daytona 500, but wouldn’t have the finish to show for it finishing 40th. Tony Stewart would encounter a frustrating evening as well, with a fuel pickup problem derailing his quest for his first Daytona 500 win. Stewart would finish 35th.
A look at the Daytona 500 by the numbers. There were 42 lead changes among 18 drivers, while seven cautions for 39 laps would slow the race pace to 145.290 MPH.
Next week, the Sprint Cup Series heads to the “diamond in the desert,” Phoenix International Raceway for The Profit on CNBC 500K. The Green flag is scheduled for 3:15pm EST.
Nationwide Series Post-Race Quotes: Drive4COPD 300
posted by Thomas Bowles
Tuesday February 25, 2014
Frontstretch Interviews – Courtesy Mike Neff
ELLIOTT SADLER – FINISHED 4th
Thoughts on the race?
It’s definitely a lot different racing than what we’re used to.
Comfortable with it?
Yeah, it’s just different. You’re worried about what you’re doing, but you’re also worried about what everyone else is doing and they’re not doing more than you’re doing. Physically pushing a guy is way better than just riding so you just gotta time it right and push it to the edge.
Happy to start the year with a top 5?
Yeah. Hell, that was the worst we ran all day, I think. I have no idea how they put the 3 car in front of us on that last restart. I hadn’t seen the 3 car hardly all day. When they put us from fifth to sixth, on the outside line, it just really boxed us in. I would have really restarted behind my teammate and given him a good push to the front. Anyways, it is what it is; we’ll take it and move on.
Looked like you were up front all day.
The guys did a good job. We had a fast race car. Great pit stops, just really proud of these guys. The car’s in one piece and we can take it to Talladega now. Great job by my guys. A lot of effort came into coming down here to Daytona and giving ourselves a shot to win. We had that chance to be up front and make some things happen. Fifth is not what we want, but we’ll take it and move on.
Bumping vs Pushing?
It’s way harder. You don’t want to lay on the guy in front of you, so it’s tough racing. A lot different than what we’re used to, ‘cause you gotta go. You gotta drag the brake too ‘cause you don’t want to hit the guys and you don’t want to stay on him. It’s a lot harder mentally than what we’ve done in the past.
Car was strong all day. Pushing vs. Bumping, is that harder to do than just getting on somebody and pushing them?
Yeah, it is a little bit. When you bump ‘em, you jar ‘em, it kinda jacks ‘em a little bit. It’s a little more abrupt, obviously. I thought it was OK there at the end. It was certainly fun and hopefully entertaining. But a little bit of a struggle in the early part of the race and the midpart of the race to see a good race. And that’s unfortunate for the fans. You can’t do that the whole race, you can’t tear up your stuff, knock your grill in, overheat your motor, all that stuff so there’s no sense in doing all that until you get down to the last lap. The 7 and the 6, they did a good job. Man, the 7 really held the 22 and I tight on the bottom. I was rubbing his door and hitting the apron at the same time, no room whatsoever. So it was good; wish we were the ones who could have won but a lot better now than what we were last year.
Going home in one piece makes it a lot better, right?
Yeah. My back feels good. My foot feels good. Past years here, I’ve been going home with pain so I’m alright.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Truck Series Post-Race Quotes: Daytona (Exclusives)
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday February 22, 2014
When you’re on the outside like that, how frustrating is it?
It’s so hard. Timothy Peters has won here. Kyle Busch has won everywhere. Ron Hornaday has been running Trucks forever, probably before I was even born. I was surrounded by veterans there, and like I told them I don’t have a rookie stripe but I’m a rookie. This is only my fourth Truck race ever, my fourth superspeedway race, and man, I figured out when the 17 got up in front of me, I pushed him. And as soon as I pushed him, he took off. And I went with him. And I just kept doing it, and before I knew it, he was leading. And I saw Ron in my mirror, backed up to him, and if it wasn’t for him, I don’t know what would have happened. I gotta thank him big time for that. That was a true teammate move right there. I really appreciate that. He just bounced off me and we got to the front. I tried my hardest to sidedraft Kyle. I was probably touching his door.
Top 5 in the No. 30 truck. This deal come together at the last minute, but you had a heck of a truck. Tell us about your night.
Yeah, I’ve got to thank Turner Scott Motorsports. The guys worked so hard on this Rheem Comfort Products Chevrolet. Exciting! Just got hung up on the outside and had to wait for my teammate there to catch up. And then he got to the bottom, so… I got the old 32 and started pushing ol’ Ryan to the front. So, it’s not bad. We’ll take it. You just don’t want to step over that boundary. You don’t know how far to push and shove. We bumped about six times down the straightaway without latching onto them. Hopefully, that was OK and we came home with a top 5.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Budweiser Duels Post Race Quotes
posted by Matt Stallknecht
Friday February 21, 2014
BUDWEISER DUELS POST-RACE QUOTES
They’re saying the wheel bearing burned up in it. I don’t know what caused it, they’re taking it all apart to figure out what the heck happened. Something abnormal that’s for sure I don’t think I’ve ever had that happen at all. Hopefully, we made the race and hopefully we can fix the problem before Sunday.
WHAT WAS THAT LOUD BOOM ONCE YOU TURNED INTO THE GARAGE?
Loud pop was a tire… thankfully, it popped, hopefully it didn’t hurt anybody. All the heat created in the left front that popped was pretty weird.
REALLY GOOD RUN. WHAT DID YOU THINK OF IT?
Yeah, it was good. We have a car we can work with for the 500. Got a good starting spot, so we’re going to rest easy, fluff and buff our car for a couple of days and get ready for Sunday.
ANY DIFFERENCE ON WHETHER THE TOP OR BOTTOM LANE WORKED?
Yeah, I was just moving around, trying to stay with the flow. For me, this car works on all parts of the racetrack. So I’m pretty happy with it.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.
GOT SHUFFLED BACK, AFTER PIT STOPS AND THEN COULDN’T GET BACK UP TO THE FRONT. WHY?
Nah, we were just sitting there waiting until the last few laps to make a move. You didn’t want to pull down and get sent to the back. Seen a couple of guys get sent to the back really quick so we were just kind of waiting for the end. I felt like we had a good situation there with Ambrose behind us — we had a good run off Turn 2 and I went. It was the last lap, time to go do something, nobody went with us but hopefully Sunday is a different story.
We got a great car. We don’t have to work hard. We learned, we got a good race car. Got a car in one piece, ready to go so we’ll try and get through the next couple of practices, deliver it to the starting group this Sunday and we’ll be real happy.
YOU’RE IN THE DAYTONA 500!
Yeah, it’s pretty awesome. This Whitetail Chevrolet was so fast that I knew all I had to do was stick it behind smart, intelligent drafters and we could have a good finish. That’s what we did in the Duels and I’m excited. I’m excited to go do some stuff with the Nationwide car and have some more practice with this. But to know that we’re locked in the Daytona 500’s pretty cool.
YOU WERE OBVIOUSLY IN FRONT OF THAT MELEE AT THE END. WHEN YOU WERE UP FRONT THERE IN THE BEGINNING, WERE YOU HOPING TO JUST STAY IN LINE AND LET YOU FINISH TOP 5?
I was pretty content to ride and luckily I knew a lot of people around us were. It was nice to have a little calm and not really have to be racing hard the whole time. I knew that the pit stop was going to shake everything up and that’s exactly what happened. Fell back a little bit there but made the right moves at the end to get a good finish.
HOW STRONG ARE THESE RCR CARS?
They’re very strong! They definitely have the capabilities to be winning one of these races.
YOU’RE IN THE TOP 5 FOR YOUR HEAT IN THE DAYTONA 500. YOUR PRIMARY CAR IS SITTING RIGHT IN THE GARAGE, KIND OF WADDED UP. DID YOU THINK THIS ONE HAD IT IN IT?
Yeah, it’s a brand new car also. It’s just not quite as good as the primary but still a damned good car. I’m just proud of everybody at RCR for building such fast race cars. All of our cars have been fast, ECR motor’s been strong, even our affiliate teams have been qualifying really good and racing good. So… excited about 2014! It’s going to be a good year.
WELL MAN, YOU STARTED IN THE BACK BUT WORKED YOUR WAY TO THE FRONT WHEN IT COUNTED MOST. WERE YOU JUST BIDING YOUR TIME THROUGHOUT THE RACE?
Eh, you never know if you’re going to get back up there or not. We had to start at the back, we had to make a run early and see what we could do. We drove right to 10th, or something like that and then it got stagnant. We tried to make something happen, and went to the back again. Drove back up to the front. Again, just really proud of my guys. Matt Kruder did a hell of a job on that pit stop getting just enough gas in to gain some spots there.
RCR CARS SEEM PRETTY DARNED STRONG. DO YOU THINK THE RCR CARS HAVE SOMETHING FOR THEM ON SUNDAY — ESPECIALLY THE THREE JOE GIBBS RACING CARS THAT SEEM TO BE THE CLASS OF THE FIELD RIGHT NOW?
Oh yeah. The 20 car was extremely fast. The 11 didn’t qualify that good, but he’s a good drafter. I think he won. We definitely have something for him.
Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
Bryan Davis Keith · Monday November 22, 2010
What goes around comes around. One reaps what they sow. An elephant (or Jimmy Spencer) never forgets. Racers have long memories. Whatever cliché one may want to apply, what was supposed to be a watershed moment for the Joe Gibbs Racing organization this Sunday in south Florida became comeuppance of the nastiest kind. Instead of leaving Cup champions, the JGR stable finds itself returning to North Carolina for a long offseason with no trophies of any kind, two wrecked race cars, and a roster of drivers in borderline shock.
Sunday didn’t see Joe Gibbs Racing get beat. They got owned. And they have no one to thank but themselves for watching the entire 2010 season explode in their faces at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Coming into the weekend, the stage was set for Denny Hamlin to do what he had been favored to do since this race one year ago; dethrone Jimmie Johnson as Sprint Cup Champion. With a convincing win at Martinsville that saw Hamlin score a coup on his home track, a track where Johnson typically dominated but on this weekend faded away at the finish, his team got the scent of blood in the water. Two weeks later at Texas, that scent became a feeding frenzy; the No. 11 team stormed to victory, and the points lead, while the No. 48 team floundered, fading in the race’s second half and benching their pit crew in favor of Jeff Gordon’s. Coming into Sunday’s season finale, they sat somewhere nobody had since 2005… ahead of Jimmie Johnson with the title on the line.
One day later, one look at the headlines this morning says it all. This title didn’t materialize as planned.
And it wasn’t just bad racing luck on Sunday that bit the No. 11 team. Sure, Denny Hamlin did get in over his head in making contact with Greg Biffle on lap 24. Sure, Jimmie Johnson’s car underwent Chad Knaus’ magic wand en route to coming on late and scoring a runner-up finish. But Sunday was bigger than that. It was instead an entire racing organization finally, for lack of a better expression, getting what they had coming. The facts are this; Joe Gibbs Racing dug its own grave in cultivating the circumstances that cost Hamlin a title shot, and derailed any semblance of momentum the Nos. 11, 18, and 20 teams had headed into the offseason.
In case readers were watching ESPN without the benefit of an MRN broadcast, let’s clarify something that the network foolishly omitted from their coverage. Joey Logano finished 39th as a result of crash damage incurred in a lap 140 wreck with Juan Pablo Montoya. While this incident was televised, what happened next wasn’t. Logano, under yellow, retaliated against Montoya, sending the No. 42 car to the garage as well. Montoya, irate over the episode, reportedly attempted to confront Logano in his garage stall but was stopped short by NASCAR officials. Joe Gibbs Racing further tweeted that No. 42 car owner Felix Sabates threatened to have the No. 11 car wrecked if Logano didn’t apologize to Montoya.
Nothing came of the warning; Montoya returned to the race late and never posed a threat to Hamlin’s Toyota. But the damage was done. Logano, in what has been a recurring theme in his second season in Cup, was bowled over once again, just as with Kevin Harvick at Bristol in the spring. And rather than confronting Montoya, rather than taking the previous episode to heart, Logano pulled about the sorriest retaliation tool he could out. He returned to the track with a wounded machine and waited for a caution to strike back.
This wasn’t like Clint Bowyer charging from pit road in the spring Nationwide Series race to tag Denny Hamlin in a heat-of-the-moment action. This was calculated… calculated cowardice. And all Logano accomplished was to anger one of the most temperamental drivers in NASCAR. Heading into year three, there’s little room for doubt that he’ll continue to get pushed around on the sport’s biggest stage. Not to mention that the wreck midway through Sunday’s race derailed any chance for the team to win a consolation “best of the rest” prize for a 13th-place points finish.
Then there’s Kyle Busch, who fell victim (the term is used very loosely) to the most blatant takeout move the Cup Series has seen in recent memory, when Kevin Harvick dumped him on the frontstretch with less than 25 laps to go.
Good luck finding anyone not clad in M&M’s or JGR gear to argue that Busch didn’t have this one coming for a long time. Kevin Harvick remarked post-race that he tagged Busch for “racing like a clown” throughout Sunday’s 400-miler, but who can also forget that since Dover, Richard Childress Racing may well have been at war with JGR? After all, it was none other than Busch’s teammate Hamlin that threw the legitimacy of a six-time title-winning organization under the bus in the Chase’s second race, playing up Clint Bowyer’s penalty like RCR has been cheating for months. And it was Busch himself, NASCAR’s trashiest talker, who brashly proclaimed in the days leading up to Homestead that he would do absolutely anything he could to help the No. 11 team win the Cup.
JGR fired the first salvos of this volley; Busch made no secret that he intended to be an obstacle for both Harvick and Jimmie Johnson, a role he played to the hilt all day in making himself a roving obstacle instead of a potentially race-winning car. So Harvick, as he unabashedly told Hamlin in post-race remarks, “parked his teammate.” Happy took NASCAR’s bad boy to the woodshed and set fire to his car for good measure. That moment wasn’t an example of a battle won; it was pure ownership.
And while a debate raged in the media center as to whether Harvick knew that wrecking Busch would also trap fellow title contender Hamlin one lap down, his intentions did not matter. In one fell swoop, with Harvick ending Busch’s season, he ended Hamlin’s as well; the resulting yellow flag caught the No. 11 off the lead lap after a cycle of green flag pit stops, and all but sealed the deal for Jimmie Johnson late in the race. RCR got the better of JGR courtesy of Harvick’s front bumper.
Kyle Busch being a clown or not, Hamlin bears an awful lot of responsibility for cultivating the ire that led Harvick to wreck his teammate. It was said even before the green flag dropped at Dover a few months back that declaring war on RCR the way Hamlin did may well prove to be a gaffe big enough to derail his team’s shot a title. And while it could be argued that the Cup was lost even before Harvick trapped him, the timing of that yellow forced the No. 11 team to take a wave-around, ending any chance they had coming in to make one more adjustment, to take one final swing at somehow catching the No. 48 car.
Further, Hamlin’s mouth wasn’t the only one responsible for awakening sleeping giants in their competitors. No. 11 crew chief Mike Ford was uncharacteristically bold in his post-race remarks following Hamlin’s win at Texas two weeks ago, asserting that he believed his driver and race team were flat out better than the four-time champs.
The No. 11 pit crew may have been faster over the last two races. But after Texas, after a race that saw Knaus both bench his crew and miss the mark on late-race adjustments that saw Johnson scarcely able to score a top-10 finish, the “evil genius” atop the No. 48 box was suddenly back on his “A” game. Johnson was a top-5 fixture all race long at Phoenix, and was coached well enough during the final green flag run to ensure saving enough fuel to finish. One week later, his performance at Homestead spoke for itself. Johnson never lost his cool despite three consecutive slow pit stops to start the event, nor did the crew chief react in a knee-jerk manner to bring the old No. 48 crew back over even after Jeff Gordon’s motor expired. But most importantly, when the race came down to it, the car had another gear in it when it was time to go. Instead of a dismal performance enacted at Martinsville or Texas, Johnson surged forward late in the going, running away from both Harvick and Hamlin en route to a fifth consecutive title.
It’s hardly a coincidence that Chad Knaus was seen holding a note card on pit road that said “our team won” for the TV cameras. And it’s hardly a coincidence that Knaus remarked during the championship presser afterwards that his entire team buckled down to get title number five. The team, the shop, the number that Knaus has built into a racing dynasty was flat called out two weeks ago. And, like awakening a sleeping giant, it rose up to smite its enemy.
If the visual aid of Johnson and Knaus’ above average emotion – they acted like they won title number one, not five – doesn’t convince anyone, Knaus confirmed to all the media that Ford’s remarks didn’t please him. And he left no doubt of his opinion when he stated, “I think our team is better than what they have at Gibbs.” Period.
Frankly, in terms of on-track performance, the No. 11 team had everything they needed to topple the No. 48. They won more races over the course of 2010. They took the trophy at Martinsville for the third consecutive time at a track that Johnson is accustomed to making a personal playground.
Where the No. 11 team messed up was in getting away from what worked for them in the regular season. They got away from simply winning races, and they did that by trying to play head games with a team that’s long ago mastered the art. Just as calling out RCR was a huge mistake, calling out Chad Knaus is and was equally foolish. Trying to play head games when Kevin Harvick was among the competition was foolish. And trying to play head games when the team’s driver has proven anything but level-headed in the face of adversity was especially foolish. It was very clear at Phoenix, when the team pitted a race-winning car to fuel up and finish a safe 12th instead of a convincing podium result, that playing defense wasn’t a role the No. 11 squad was fully ready or able to embrace.
And “Sliced Bread?” His upward momentum was sliced to pieces, reduced to antics that one would expect of a youngster rather than a racing prodigy. Kyle Busch got karmic retribution, while Hamlin and Co. tried to play head games with the best in the business. They lost.
So Chad Knaus was absolutely right; Hendrick Motorsports and their team is better than what’s been assembled at Gibbs. For while the No. 48 team won a championship on Sunday in south Florida, Joe Gibbs Racing, if it’s even possible, lost a lot more.
And they have no one to thank for that but themselves.
©2000 - 2008 Bryan Davis Keith and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
“In case readers were watching ESPN without the benefit of an MRN broadcast, let’s clarify something that the network foolishly omitted from their broadcast”.
I didn’t know this happened at all,but I was watching ESPN…
ever heard of Carl Edwards and his coming back in the race to take out Brad K at Atlanta! What Logano did was nothing new.These drivers of today,thats all they do is retaliate with 3500 lb cars.They should be men,and beat the sh** out of one another!At the very least,wail at one another like Jeff vs. Jeff at Texas!
I think the Gibbs group got what it had coming. Busch’s burning car was an apropos image for the end of the JGR season. My problem with the JGR drivers is their sense of entitlement coupled with a strange mix of competitive Christianism. I use the word Christianism because it seems to me the faith coming out of the JGR shop doesn’t quite fit with the teachings of Jesus. They use Jesus language but their actions speak louder than their words. I personally find the JGR group insufferable.
Race fans should have tuned into Junior’s radio. He actually gave a rather long play by play of the whole Logano/Montoya incident as it was happening.
As for Kyle…he nearly wrecked the 48 on pit road and was using the 29 as a pinball machine. Kyle was all talk…Harvick was all action. In my book the Harvick move was the best move of the race. Kyle has had that coming for a long time. He can dish it out but he can’t take it.
How pathetic, Harvick all but admits that HE WRECKED KYLE, and people still blame the 18 for the wreck. Busch almost did hit Johnson on pit road, almost. But that is something that happens at every race. He didnt wait in his pit stall for Johnson to drive by. He left when his crew was done. This Busch derangement is so stupid. GET OVER IT!
Wow, where should i start about the #48. First and formost, they are the bigger cheater in Nascar. Since 04, up to now, they have always finish in the top 10 in almost every race, while #24, #5 and now the #88 run like shit. Dale jr’s car was running something like 30th place and #24 like 15th or 20th. Jeff and Dale have not come close to winning anything this year. While the 48 is always up front, top 10. In a year, when the #2, #14, and even #99 ran a few good races, the #48 was up front racing for the win. Even the great lke Dale Sr, Darrell, Petty, and other had good seasons, this car hasn’t had a BAD season, not even once. In closing, rememver when Jimmie crash at Waklin Glen, came out the car with his hands up in the air, and since they wow, 5 straight give me a break, nobody that good, compared to Stewart, Jeff, and others no way.
Bryan, since you are such a JJ fan, why don’t you just revel in the fact that he won and not rub salt into the wounds of the drivers who didn’t.
I distinctly remember Kyle Busch, post-race at the August Nationwide race in Bristol, admiting that he purposely dumped Brad Keselowski. You gotta love Karma!
It’s interesting to watch “sliced bread” sour his reputation by trying to out-busch Kyle. Remember when Joe Gibbs hired classy drivers like Bobby Labonte and Dale Jarrett?
I’ll say it here… Denny Hamlin will never win a Cup title. He just can’t handle the pressure. I haven’t seen a guy so consistently choke when the title was on the line since Greg Norman in the 1980’s Masters tournaments.
I agree!! Harvick made the move of the race..“don’t dish it out if you can’t take it” You go Harvick!!
Harvick will be looking over his shoulder every time Kyle is behind him next year, wondering if it is pay back time. It will be very interesting.
Wow, Frontstretch has gone from Busch Bashing to the entire JGR team. Lets see, Joey came in 30 something, Kyle came in 30 something and Denny lost the championship. You would think that would be a bad enough end to anyone’s season, but NO, Frontstretch felt that the should go ahead and pile on. As for the comments about Joey intentionally going out after Montoya, aren’t you hypocrites the same folks that thought Reutimann going back on track to exact his revenge on Busch at Kansas was the greatest thing ever. It’s sad to think I continually read this garbage hoping to find insight or relevance.
Gibbs has fast cars but mentally defective drivers.
Harvick could have won the race, led the most laps and still not won the Chase. Johnson needed to finish further down in the field. Harvick did all he could in spite of the penalty and Busch dogging him throughout the race. Hamlin and company talked some big trash but choked huge. Johnson played it safe and it paid off. Not a fan of JJ either.
I couldn’t help but smile when Kyle tries a slide job and ends up spinning out of control. Kyle had it coming. For all his talent, he’s left too many IOU’s out there and Harvick collected…….
Thanks for the full story on the Logano/Montoya deal. Love my 48 Team and am always proud to be a fan and will say this one was sweeter yet because of Mike Ford’s comments. It’s usually best to wait for the glory until you’ve actually won the war rather than just one battle.
Rob, I couldn’t have said it any better. What a bunch of JGR haters.
The only clown in yesterday’s race is the hack behind the wheel of the 29. He’s been a clown since the 1st time he drove the 29 car. Will never be the champion because he is not championship material. Jimmmy and Denny have this guy beat in personality and carisma by leaps and bounds. Alway was, is , and will be hot headed punk as long as he stays in Nascar. Why Childress didn’t unload the crybaby last year when he had the chance is still questionable. Oh well KARMA will eventually come knocking in 2011. Luck he will have lots of free budweiser to drown in his sorrows.
Yea, Karma is a bitch. Can’t believe you all sticking up for Kyle; he’s had that coming for a LONG time. Doubt Harvick will be looking over his shoulder next year. Heard Jerry Punch today say he was listening to Harvick’s radio and Kyle was screwing with him the whole race and he obviously had had enough. And I agree with the “sense of entitlement” the JGR guys act like they have. For Joe Gibbs to be such a Christian man, he has a lot of jerks driving for him. Joey is still young but Denny has acted that way for a long time and shouldn’t have called out anyone until he took a good hard look at himself and his teammates.