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.
Monday Morning Tear-Down · Bryan Davis Keith · Monday January 17, 2011
The 2011 Nationwide Series champion will shockingly be a Nationwide Series regular, thanks to a new provision implemented by the sanctioning body that drivers must declare a title to pursue at the start of the season. When the checkered flag waves at Homestead this November, a five-year stretch that has seen Cup stars Kevin Harvick, Carl Edwards, Clint Bowyer, Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski dedicate their respective talent to stealing the sport’s future’s lunch money – pushing their faces in the mud for good measure – will mercifully come to an end.
Sounds like just the news that Nationwide fans have been hoping to hear for literally years now. But, as David Caraviello wasted no time noting on NASCAR.com earlier this week, the more things change…the more they stay the same. And stay the same the Nationwide Series will in 2011, because NASCAR’s latest championship fix does absolutely nothing to substantively right the issues it was created to address. Though given the sanctioning body’s track record of both ineptitude and utter spinelessness in confronting the sport’s toughest issues, it’s hard when taking a closer look to be anything but surprised at what you find.
Rewind back to 2003, and NASCAR was dealing with a supposedly “broken” championship. Matt Kenseth clinched the 2003 Sprint Cup a race ahead of schedule at Rockingham, on the strength of only one race win coming eight months prior at Las Vegas but also a series high 25 top-10 finishes. The remarkable consistency demonstrated by the No. 17 team over the course of the season allowed Kenseth to stave off Ryan Newman’s remarkable sophomore campaign, one that saw seven DNFs cancel out eight wins and 11 poles that landed the Rocketman not the Cup, but the 2003 Driver of the Year award.
In the eyes of NASCAR’s brass, something was wrong. Having a champion that won only one race and relied on seventh-place finishes to score the crown wasn’t flashy, and wasn’t something that was going to produce a down-to-the-wire three-wide finish on the season’s final lap that would score TV ratings and press worthy of competing with the NFL. Something needed fixing.
And in typical NASCAR fashion, at least during the ever-comedic life of Brian, the sanctioning body amputated a right leg to fix a broken finger. Instead of altering the points system to put more emphasis on winning races and going for broke instead of stroking along to top-10 finishes, NASCAR threw the previous 31 years of the modern era out the window and scrapped the season points title in favor of the Chase, a “playoff” system that is perhaps the only serious rival to college football’s Bowl Championship Series in terms of bestowing a manufactured, meaningless crown atop whoever it happens to see fit when the dust settles.
Say what you will about the Chase, love it or hate it. The fact is, the Chase did absolutely nothing to put more emphasis on winning or to encourage more teams to go for the gusto when the Cup was on the line. Sure, the format created quite a scene with Jeremy Mayfield’s “win and in” charge through the field at Richmond in 2004, but once the format got going, wins meant nothing. Top-10 finishes did. Just as was the supposed “problem” when Kenseth was seventh-placing the Cup field into submission in 2003, Darrell Waltrip would remind every viewer year after year that the driver who could finish seventh and lead a lap during the final 10 races would ultimately walk away the champ.
Nothing changed. It’s possible to qualify for NASCAR’s postseason without winning a race – the antithesis of why the sport changed the rules in the first place. It’s also not necessary to win in the postseason to score the Cup (just ask Tony Stewart in 2005). And though it has yet to happen, it’s still not even a prerequisite that a driver win a race at any point in the season to be crowned Cup champion.
In fact, never in any of NASCAR’s top three national series has a driver managed to win a title without winning at least one race at some point over the course of a campaign. That will likely change when the 2011 Nationwide Series comes to a close, though, because honestly, how many Nationwide Series regulars are actually winning Nationwide races these days?
Yes, forcing a driver to choose one championship and one championship alone to pursue over the course of a season does mean that even if they choose to run all 35 races, Carl Edwards and Brad Keselowski cannot repeat as champion in the minor leagues. Even if Kyle Busch is to win all 25, 30 starts he makes in the Nationwide ranks, even if he does start to close in on the 200 national wins marker that ESPN and Co. slobber all over as if Richard Petty’s 200 Cup victory mark is about to be matched, he will not be crowned the Nationwide champ.
But, that said, even if they can’t take home the champion’s trophy, race fans can bet their bottom dollar that Brad, Carl and Kyle will be the face of the series in 2011. They will win the lion’s share of the races. They will dominate the TV coverage. And there will be copious amounts of graphics noting that if they were eligible, one of them would be wearing the crown come November. Along with the more infrequent Cup interlopers, the also-rans on the Jimmie Johnson circuit will win at least 90% of the races run, score 6-9 positions in the top 10 weekly, and carpetbag $100,000s of purse money out of the series. Sponsors will still flock to these drivers, as they’ll still be the ones in Victory Lane, still be ones with the best equipment and crews, still the ones that on most race weekends will have twice the track time as their development counterparts.
Meanwhile, the drivers and teams that actually call the Nationwide Series home will be left to flounder just as they have in recent seasons, running with half tire allotments while wondering how the hell they’re going to pay for the construction and development of a new race car. Think like a sponsor for a minute:
“Hmm, I can’t afford to be in Cup, so I’ll go Nationwide. Wow, I can either sponsor a star driver or an unproven prospect. I can sponsor a car that’s going to run in the top 10 every week or a car that runs in the top 10 on a great week. I can sponsor a team that already has built six new COTs and is raring to go for 2011, or a team that’s buying used COTs as they become available and trying to learn as they go.”
Spot on, Mr. Caraviello, “the more things change…”
Does anyone that doesn’t have a Brian France-sized drinking habit honestly think that it’s going to help the Nationwide Series to have the champion be a driver that based on the past five years and the Cup influx that time will win one race, if that, and finish an average of sixth among drivers in the series in top-5 and top-10 finishes? That’s the type of championship season that’s supposed to both return legitimacy to the AAA trophy and draw needed attention to the series’ regulars? If this is the plan for salvation, NASCAR would probably be better off handing out a bottle of scotch and a handgun to each series regular – along with a bullet for good measure.
All that’s been accomplished here is to create a Nationwide champion in name only, perhaps a title even more devoid of value than the Nationwide crowns of the last five years that saw proven stock car stars with five times the budget of their competitors and pit crews that were scarcely removed from Sunday afternoons pulverizing minor leaguers in much the way most college football powerhouses stomp FCS foes on opening weekend. While that brought plenty of sponsors to the front of the field, it left the back and even the middle of the Nationwide Series in purgatory at best, jeopardizing the long-term viability of a series that, since 1982, has proven to be an invaluable development scene for the stars of tomorrow.
None of those underlying problems that have left half the Nationwide Series field undersponsored, outmanned, outgunned, and even start-and-parking were remotely addressed by the latest “fix.” Again, NASCAR amputated a leg to fix a broken finger.
Unlike back in 2003, NASCAR actually got it right in that the current state of the Nationwide Series championship needed to be addressed. However, just like 2003, the remedy doesn’t correspond with the symptoms. As feel good as it may be to see Reed Sorenson or Justin Allgaier crowned champion in 2011, it’s not going to mean much of anything for the sport’s legitimacy if they turn in a one-win campaign with a smattering of top 5s and top 10s in less than half the races run while Kyle, Carl and Brad win 20+ races just among the three of them. If anything, that likely outcome for 2011 will leave the legitimacy and value of the Nationwide Series championship in more limbo than it is right now.
If there’s one thing the already ailing Nationwide Series needs, it’s more debate and doubt as to whether being the best in its ranks actually means anything.
Because that’s exactly what NASCAR’s last championship fix (the Chase) did; it introduced a sense of illegitimacy to the Cup Series’ championship. And over the seven years that debate has raged, NASCAR Sprint Cup racing has disintegrated from the nation’s fastest growing sport to a declining mess that has scarcely a rival in the history of professional sport.
That continuing disaster has moved the once healthy Cup Series into a hospital room. Imagine what a similar disaster will do to a Nationwide Series that’s already one step from life support.
©2000 - 2008 Bryan Davis Keith and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
I don’t think it will be that bad in the Nationwide Series. The solution here isn’t perfect, but I think the champion will have multiple wins. The Cup regulars won’t be out in force at the stand alone events again, especially when they conflict with the Cup schedule. More worrisome is all the reported changes to the Chase format. Classic case of making a bad situation worse.
Well put Bryan; this “fix” fixes nothing. In fact, there’s a very good chance that 2011 will be the year that produces a questionable champion in Cup and Nationwide.
To help the Nationwide regulars legitimately, they need to race at tracks where the driver matters more than the aero setup. We know that isn’t going to happen.
Your analogy of amputating a leg to fix a broken finger is dead on. NASCAR has been doing it for years.
“… the only real reason to watch NW is to see Kyle, Kes, and Carl beat the cwap out of each other. They will only get more aggressive without having to worry about the friggin points.”
An excellent point, Susan. And those guys, with nothing to lose, won’t hesitate to wreck a true Nationwide contender to score a win in the minor leagues.
for me it’s just a little better than it was, if they could limit the number of races a cup driver could enter like 10-15 and limit 3 drivers a race it would be perfect, and how many of you guys heard about trevor bayne before he came to NW, so there still might be major talent still waiting to be seen but since there are less drivers needed, he/she won’t be noticed .
I’m against nascar limiting Cup drivers to a certain number of Busch/Truck races. But would like to see more Cup stand alone and Busch/Truck weekends that make the Cup guys have to work to race in both series, not have close to 30 companion events that ENCOURAGE “Buschwacking” and thenblame the drivers for doing it.
How is nascar going to convince us the fans that the driver who scored the most points is not the champion? By not giving the Cup guys points?
This does not work in the chase and will not work in the Busch series either.
Every time I think BZF has reached the limits of ineptitude, he proves me wrong. I remember the days when the Busch series had it’s own stars, guys who drove that series only, enjoying the lesser pressure of competing on shorter tracks, making a good living from it. The occasional Cup driver (except Mark Martin) occasionally ran, usually as a testing ground for cars they owned themselves. That’s where DEI started, after all. Now, the series has no identity, and the Rookie of the Year title winner in Cup last year proves that then young drivers are sadly in need of a series where they can truly learn their trade. Nothing has changed.
Tracks need to have NW and SC races on the same weekend. Economy of efficiency. They should limit all SC drivers to
I agree with Susan (mostly). Points only for the first ten posotions. Ten points difference between them.
sorry susan,its fans like yourself who want cup drivers in the Nat series because you,“know who they are?”
thats the very thing that killed this series 5 or so years ago! Cup drivers who use the series as a toy,with all the money and resources to take all the money and the learning curve away from those trying to make it in the sport!
I applaude Nascar for at least taking them out of the driver championship.You can bet Harvick and Busch will still be going for the owners title.
It’s the old addage…..I want a job being a racecar driver?
This change was meant to be a deterrent to having Cup guys run every race. I don’t know if it will work or not but the easier “fix” would have been to just limit cup drivers to 12 races a year in NW.
I’m sick of the namby pamby sissified points racing. Throw the points system and Chase away. The champion should be the driver that wins the most races and participates in all of the races. Like Dale, Sr. said, “Second place is the first loser”.
I have mixed emotions on this years changes. While I don’t like the fact that cup drivers can still compete, I can understand that they already had sponsor commitments. So for that reason I will give this year a pass.
Your dead on with your analogy. Both the chase and the Nationwide fixes are at best inedept. If they really want to fix the problem don’t let sprint cup drivers to run in the Nationwide, simple. Then you buid a series around the Nationwide drivers and not around bushwakers. If there is no Joey in Nationwide don’t you think a sponcer like Gamestop might then sponcer a guy like Trevor or Justin? To say that you need the sprint cup guys because of the sponcers asks the question of what did they do before 2005? Not have any sponcers in the Nationwide? The real reason is Nascar makes more money with the sprint cup in the series, end of story. If you think Nascar will do anything that would benifit the longterm of the sport and sacrifice a few extra dollars your crazy.
It’s a half-fix.
Basically it’s going to be like touring car racing over in Europe, where there’s an overall champ, and then a “Privateer” champ… The best of the non-Works teams wins a championship too. Which is good, because it helps that driver catch the eye of the big league teams.
The downside is that for name recognition and sponsorship, it still isn’t going to help any of the Nationwide drivers. What we’ll see every race this year is the Kyle/Brad/Carl/occasionally Mark show up front, dominating and stealing the limelight, wins and money…. And every so often the broadcast will show us the current points leader, racing for 9th or 10th place, and give him a mention.
It’s a half-assed fix.
madhat, your post is perfectly stated. I couldn’t have said it better myself.
Nice column. True.
“And to those who criticized me for enjoying watching the top drivers “have at it,” I understand your point. But the fact is I won’t watch a race featuring Allgaier, Stenhouse, Steven Wallace and Brian Scott. Just like I don’t watch AAA baseball or NFL preseason games. And the sponsors and TV networks know that, and that is why they will sponsor a KBM truck if Kyle is driving it, but not Brian Ickler. Is it fair? Probably not. But it is reality.”
And that is the problem right there. Back in the day before BZF and the Bushwhackers I watched every Busch race to see the new talent, and after a time the names all became familiar and I got to know their tells and the way they raced. Back then it was a real proving ground to see who could transition from the lesser series and have a shot at the big time. Every one of the drivers in Busch were champs from their local tracks, and had made a name for themselves and proved they were ready for a shot in the minors.
Now it’s just a shadow of its former self and the networks play up the cup drivers to get the casual fan to tune in and watch the drivers they know to the detriment of the series. If it were up to me I would limit cup drivers to 5 Nationwide races a year with no points awarded, and change the rules so a driver could not make the jump to Cup until after 3 years in the Nationwide series. Having Cup drivers in Nationwide is like having NFL teams play college ball on Saturdays.