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.
The year of the Nationwide Series regular, the year that a Nationwide regular will win the championship for the first time since 2005, got started at Daytona on Saturday afternoon. It ended with Tony Stewart in Victory Lane for the fourth consecutive year, and Cup regulars taking half of the top-10 finishing positions. The more things change…
Contradictory to the expectations of most Nationwide Series regulars in the garage earlier this weekend, the two-car tandem drafting that has defined Cup racing at Daytona during Speedweeks again told the tale. JGR teammates Joey Logano and Kyle Busch were staples at the front, as were regulars Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Clint Bowyer and Michael Waltrip for much of the event. The only NNS regular able to maintain the two-car pair up front for the majority was Trevor Bayne, moonlighting this weekend in the Wood Brothers No. 21 Cup car.
The lack of seat time proved to be a detriment for Nationwide regulars, as both maintaining the pairs and pulling off the on-track swaps needed to cool motors down confounded a number of drivers. Jason Leffler and Reed Sorenson lost valuable time during the final charge to the checkers when the time for them to swap came, while Danica Patrick dropped like a rock after leading a lap under green because of failing to ride the brakes to allow her drafting partner to pass.
It was a disastrous start to the season for a number of full-time drivers expected to challenge for the 2011 championship. Elliott Sadler was taken out in an early wreck after Michael Annett was dumped by Todd Bodine in an early-race incident, while Aric Almirola battled carburetor issues for the second half of the event. Justin Allgaier also had a rough day, fighting vibrations in his car and making apparent contact with the wall. He struggled home 27th in his debut with Turner Motorsports.
Landon Cassill was the highest finishing Nationwide Series regular, with Reed Sorenson leaving as the point leader among drivers with full-time rides challenging for the title.
Landon Cassill certainly had an eventful season opener in Daytona. First, he was sent spinning on lap 15 after contact between Justin Allgaier and Sam Hornish, Jr. on the frontstretch triggered a multi-car incident that sent the No. 1 spinning across the infield grass. Cassill managed to recover with minimal front end damage, but ended up causing considerable carnage of his own on lap 104. Trying to hook up with Brad Keselowski, who he had done extensive drafting with in the middle of the race, Cassill came down on the nose of the No. 22 Dodge in the tri-oval, sending Brad spinning into traffic where he was T-Boned by Josh Wise. Nonetheless, when the pay window opened, it was the former Hendrick Motorsports development driver that latched on with Tony Stewart and stormed to the front. When all was said and done, Cassill scored a career-best Nationwide Series finish of third, was the highest finishing regular in the field, and took the overall point lead in a part-time ride.
Jason Leffler expressed frustration with Turner Motorsports teammate Reed Sorenson over the radio as Saturday’s race unfolded, with Leffler exasperatedly telling his spotter to get Sorenson to ride his brakes and allow the two to pair up and move forward. Come race’s end, the duo finally got things straight, had a productive final conversation on the radio before the race’s final restart and did just that. Though their charge to the lead came up short, forced to check up on the backstretch racing the pair of Cassill and Stewart on the final lap, the two ended up carrying the banner for Turner as big names Justin Allgaier and Kasey Kahne struggled. The two finished fifth and sixth, respectively, solid starts to what each hope will be a season of title contention.
What a difference a year makes for Roush Fenway Racing. In this event one year ago, with development drivers Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. and Colin Braun behind the wheel, RFR’s Nos. 6 and 16 teams left with an average finish of 35.0 and two wrecked race cars. This time around, both of Roush’s young guns shone brightly; Stenhouse rebounded from early crash damage on lap 24 to score an eighth-place finish, his third consecutive top 10 dating back to Phoenix last November. Trevor Bayne also had a tremendous opening to his season, putting his seat time in Daytona 500 practice and qualifying to work as he masterfully drafted with a number of Cup stars before settling for a 10th-place finish. It’s early, but the fab shop has Roush has to be breathing a sigh of relief after this one.
Michael Annett got a taste of how the other half lives in his debut with Rusty Wallace, Incorporated. On lap 24, an apparently texting Todd Bodine slammed into the back of Annett’s Toyota exiting turn 1, sending the No. 62 into a spin… and the path of Elliott Sadler. Annett completed only 26 laps and finished 39th, his worst finish in Nationwide competition since a 43rd-place result at Talladega last April.
As for Elliott Sadler’s title hunt with KHI? Read above. After Bodine dumped Annett, there was absolutely nowhere for Sadler or his Chevrolet to go. Makes one wonder if he wishes he’d declared for Truck Series points instead…
And while we’re still on that wreck, Mike Wallace has got to be kicking himself after making an uncharacteristic mistake at a restrictor plate track. Slowing to dodge the remnants of Michael Annett’s machine, Wallace got loose and spun himself around trying to go between that Toyota and Elliott Sadler’s Chevrolet. Instead, he hooked his own machine around, slammed into Sadler’s car and did extensive damage to his rear end. The 37th-place finish marked the fourth consecutive plate result outside the top 25 for one of the sport’s underrated drafters.
Of course, it’s the Onion. Every single person listed above that had a bad day had Todd Bodine to thank for it, with Bodine doing his best Donnie Neuenberger impression in bowling over Michael Annett on lap 24 and triggering a multi-car melee. One wreck wasn’t enough, though, as on lap 57 Bodine hooked the already-damaged machine of Sam Hornish, Jr., and sent the sharpest paint scheme of Speedweeks into the inside retaining wall prior to pit road. What goes around comes around, however, as the day got ugly for Bodine himself on lap 104: his front end was damaged in the chaos that ensued after contact between Cassill and Keselowski. When all was said and done, Bodine was 18th, but between Saturday’s carnage as well as the spin he put on Brad Keselowski in the Gatorade Duel on Thursday, there’s probably a number of drivers thankful he won’t be suiting up for the 500 on Sunday.
Underdog Performer of the Race: Jeremy Clements deserves a shout-out for a career-best plate finish of 16th while driving with the flu, but Saturday’s highest finishing underdog was a far more veteran driver in Mike Bliss. The longtime Nationwide driver turned in a 13th-place finish in his debut with Tri-Star Motorsports, the best result for the organization since Jason Keller finished 12th at Bristol last August. With limited local sponsorship on the car this weekend and Bliss faced with the prospect of start-and-parking up to 10 races this season should additional funding not materialize, runs like Saturday’s will prove imperative for both the driver and the No. 19 team.
Start-and-parkers occupied 3 of 43 spots in Saturday’s field, taking home $122,496 in prize money.
Cup regulars won Saturday’s race, scored 5 of the top 10 finishing positions, occupied 9 of 43 spots in the field, and took home $528,098 in prize money.
Year to Date:
12 of 43 starting positions occupied
Danica-Nation needs to get a freaking grip – Yes, a 14th-place finish was a career-best, and a top 15 at Daytona is a dream many will never achieve. But before everyone starts anointing this primadonna as the second coming and the savior of stock car racing, let’s take a look at some other highlights of Patrick’s day. Highlights for this one include hanging drafting partner Clint Bowyer out to dry after being pushed to the lead… because her spotter didn’t tell her to let him swap. Highlights including proving completely incapable of understanding how to ride the brake and facilitate a drafting partner, then having to ask the crew whether or not she was supposed to turn the engine off after parking under the red flag. There’s a difference between learning how to drive and not having a clue, and that line was crossed, dug up and spat on this afternoon in Daytona. It’s scary to think there are sportswriters in the media center that know more about these race cars than someone on the track that not only has a license to drive obscenely overpowered cars at high speeds around other human beings, but is getting paid millions to do so. 14th or 40th, anyone listening to the radio this Saturday was feeling loads of secondhand embarrassment… while anyone that says otherwise is kidding themselves and the rest of us.
Jimmy Means Racing needs a freaking car – Dale Earnhardt, Jr. deserves a big pat on the back for providing a car for Bobby Santos III to run after a devastating wreck of the team’s only car in Thursday practice. And Santos deserves one as well for scoring a top-20 finish in that same machine. But from what team officials told Frontstretch, without a new car, the No. 52 team is unsure if they can find another one in time for Phoenix, which would jeopardize their plans to run a full Nationwide Series schedule in 2011. One can only hope they find it.
Same ole Nationwide Series – For all the hubhub surrounding the new points system and the strong field of regulars pursuing the series title in 2011, it sure looked a lot like the five seasons past on Saturday. A Cup regular won the race. Cup regulars dominated… and on this day I mean dominated… the TV coverage. The race broadcast ended not only with a technical glitch that silenced Victory Lane with the race winner, it also provided not a single interview or comment from any of the top finishing Nationwide Series regulars. Oh, and the highest finishing of those regulars, Landon Cassill? He doesn’t even have a ride for next week. There’s the state of the Nationwide Series for you.
What was perhaps the most telling tale of how this series is nowhere near close to being fixed, though is how those that dominated the field on Saturday did so solely on the back of having tons of seat time the Nationwide regulars didn’t have. The Cup guys in this field (and Trevor Bayne) have had countless laps in Daytona 500 practice and the Gatorade Duels (and in the case of others, even the Bud Shootout) to learn the new asphalt and just how to make these difficult two-car pair drafts work to perfection. Meanwhile, everyone else had Saturday’s 300 miles to learn on the fly. Landon Cassill figured it out, but had to be lucky enough to survive two wrecks to cash in on it. Jason Leffler and Reed Sorenson figured it out, but by the time they did they were too far out of touch with the frontrunners to make a serious charge for the win. Like it or not, with both series running COT cars now, the old days of the Nationwide and Cup cars providing all but transferable seat time are back…and the results are going to show that not just in the draft of Daytona and Talladega, but every companion race on the circuit.
The more things change…
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Some photography for this article provided by The Hot Lap’s Phil Cavali
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Liked the Ill-Gotten Gains segment and may I suggest that Both you and Matt keep a running top 5 of Start and Parkers along with their “Ill-Gootten Gains”
great read,I keep hoping this will be the year the Series comes into its own. And yet,the more things change….
trying to be optimistic
I hope Bobby Santos can keep a ride. I watched him win a double feature at Stafford Springs (Conn.) a couple of years back… it was absolutely one of the most inspired displays of driving I’ve ever seen. The kid’s got some talent.
Another parting shot (although I know you try and keep the Cup guys out of the column as best you can): not throwing the caution for Logano’s wreck on the last lap gave me a really bad feeling that the tower was hoping for an exciting (perhaps Jr.?) finish. Some consistency with the yellow flag would be nice.
Of course, I can’t blame NASCAR for wanting an exciting finish… that was a painfully boring race. Or at least, it was on TV. Maybe I would have enjoyed it more if ESPN had shown the field once in a while.