Kurt Busch to Attempt The Indianapolis-Charlotte Double
posted by Phil Allaway
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Andretti Autosport announced this morning that Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet in the Sprint Cup Series, will attempt the Indianapolis 500 in a fifth entry for the IndyCar Series team. Once the Indianapolis 500 is completed, Busch will fly from Indianapolis to Charlotte, jump in his No. 41 Chevrolet and compete in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Busch considers the opportunity to do the double as an old-school throwback moment.
“This is really to challenge myself within motorsports,” Busch said in Andretti Autosport’s press release. “Perhaps I am a bit of an old-school racer; a throwback, I guess. I enjoyed the era of drivers racing different cars and testing themselves in other series. It is tough to do now for a variety of factors, but when the opportunity is there, I want to do it. While NASCAR is my home, I have been fortunate to compete in Pro Stock on the NHRA circuit a number of years ago and test a V8 Supercar. This opportunity was a talk with Michael [Andretti] over dinner one night, a “What if,” and now it’s becoming a reality for me to drive in the Indy 500 with Andretti Autosport. It’s literally a dream come true. To go to the famous Brickyard with the iconic Andretti name, it doesn’t get much cooler or better than that.”
Busch will be doing the Indianapolis-Charlotte double as a Memorial Day mission to men and women serving in the U.S. Military via the Armed Forces Foundation. Fans can contribute to the cause by texting AFF to 50555 to donate $10.
Busch, who has never raced an IndyCar, passed Rookie Orientation at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year during a test session. At the time, Busch was more or less testing the Dallara DW12 for fun.
Busch will be the fourth driver to attempt the Indianapolis-Charlotte double. John Andretti was the first driver to attempt it in 1994. After finishing four laps down in tenth in Indianapolis, Andretti crashed and had engine problems in the 600. Robby Gordon has attempted the double five times, most recently in 2004. However, Gordon failed to make it to Charlotte on time and did not start the 600 in 2000 (P.J. Jones started Gordon’s No. 13 Ford in that instance). Finally, Tony Stewart has attempted the double twice (most recently in 2001) and is the only driver to ever complete all 1100 miles. Neither of the three drivers has won either leg of the double. The best finishes are Stewart and Gordon’s sixth-place finishes at the Indianapolis 500 (although Gordon’s came in 2000, the year he didn’t make it to Charlotte in time to start the Coca-Cola 600), and Stewart’s fourth-place finish in the 2001 Coca-Cola 600.
Danica Patrick, Justin Allgaier Talk About Phoenix Incident
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
A disappointing start to the year for Danica Patrick won’t include continued conflict. Patrick met with rookie Justin Allgaier Sunday, shortly after the Phoenix Cup race after a wreck ruined both drivers’ days. Patrick, who was critical of the No. 51 car on the radio, claiming Allgaier was “driving all over the track” appeared receptive to a conversation that quickly settled differences over what will be a long season.
“She was just upset because she got involved in the crash that we had,’’ said Allgaier to the Motor Racing Network. “She says she’s been through this and that she felt like I needed to settle down at that point. I explained my position on why everything happened. I think she understood where I was coming from. It doesn’t fix either one of our racecars. It doesn’t fix either one of our days. Unfortunately, we were both having pretty decent days.’’
Allgaier wound up 30th due to the incident while Patrick was 36th. The incident, which was caused by Allgaier’s spin also involved the No. 32 team and Travis Kvapil, which wound up 38th after sustaining heavy damage.
Camping World Close to Extending Title Sponsorship of NCWTS
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Marcus Lemonis, CEO of Camping World, Grand Marshal of Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway, and star of CNBC’s “The Profit,” made the announcement over the weekend that the retailer is very close to announcing a deal that would continue its title sponsorship of NASCAR’s Truck Series. The original agreement with NASCAR is scheduled to conclude after the 2015 season.
According to the sanctioning body, no formal contract has been signed, but “the agreement between the two parties has proven to be a beneficial one.”
“In about a month, we’ll be announcing a significant extension to that contract. It’s been great for us,” said Camping World’s Lemonis in a statement. “The NASCAR relationship has worked well for Camping World. When we started, we had 35 stores. Now, we’re up to 120 stores. As we travel the country and we meet new customers in stores, they always are very appreciative of our relationship with NASCAR. It’s been good.”
Gaining a long-term commitment from Camping World to sponsor the Truck Series would be a relief for NASCAR, which is set to lose Nationwide Insurance as title sponsor for the NASCAR Nationwide Series at the end of the 2014 season. The sponsorship of the Cup Series by Sprint runs through 2016.
The NCWTS is back in action on March 29th at 2:30 PM (ET) when the trucks visit Martinsville Speedway in the Kroger 250, which can be seen on Fox Sports 1. Ratings for the season opener were up 11 percent.
Harvick Takes Win At Phoenix In Second Race With New Team
posted by Justin Tucker
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Phoenix International Raceway has become Kevin Harvick’s home away from home. Sunday Afternoon was no exception as Harvick charged to the front early and would dominate for much of the day, leading 224 of the scheduled 312 laps to record his record fifth win on the one mile oval and his third win in the last four races at Phoenix.
Harvick, coming off of a disappointing Speedweeks which was capped by a last lap crash in the Daytona 500 in his debut with Stewart-Haas Racing, set the tone on Saturday by winning both practices while having the best 5 and 10-lap averages in the first practice of the day on Saturday. On Sunday, Harvick and his No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet was nothing short of flawless as he was able to hold Dale Earnhardt, Jr. by .489 seconds after a late race restart to claim his 24th career Sprint Cup Series victory.
“Man, this is awesome,” Harvick said after his dominant victory on Sunday. “Man, this just solidifies so many things and so many decisions. It’s been so much work with all the time and effort that these guys (the crew) have put in—but what a race car.”
Stewart Haas Racing co-owner Gene Haas shared in Harvick’s excitement after the race.
“It took long enough,” Haas joked. “This is phenomenal. I think there was a lot of skepticism last year about what myself and Tony (Stewart) what we were up to, was there a lot of madness to this. Quite frankly, it’s a great team, there’s a lot of synergy at the shop, people working together. I don’t know what we did, but I think we put together a great organization.”
Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt, Jr. continued his hot start to the 2014 season. Earnhardt Jr. would finish second on Sunday, marking his seventh consecutive top 10 finish since the end of the 2013 season. Earnhardt Jr. was pleased with the effort after a coast-to-coast whirlwind week after winning his second Daytona 500 and also gave great praise to the efforts of Harvick and the No. 4 team.
“I’ve got to congratulate Kevin. Those guys were two-tenths faster than everyone all weekend in practice. They were just phenomenal,” Earnhardt said. “To be able to run with them all day was a big confidence builder for us.”
Joining Harvick and Earnhardt in the top 5 of The Profit on CNBC 500K were Brad Keselowski with his second consecutive top 3 run of 2014 in third. Keselowski’s Team Penske teammate Joey Logano would finish fourth, and Jeff Gordon would come home fifth in his No. 24 Pepsi Max Chevrolet.
Jimmie Johnson finished in sixth, followed by Ryan Newman with a nice rebound after Daytona in seventh. Carl Edwards would carry the banner for Roush Fenway Racing by finishing eighth, Kyle Busch was ninth, and Jamie McMurray would finish tenth.
A look at the Profit on CNBC 500K by the numbers. There were 14 lead changes among eight different drivers, there were eight cautions for 39 laps which slowed the race pace to 109.229 MPH.
Next Sunday, the Sprint Cup Series heads to Sin City and the Las Vegas Motor
Starting Lineup: The Profit On CNBC 500K
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday March 1, 2014
Drivers in RED (i) are those ineligible to collect Sprint Cup points
Daytona 500 TV Ratings Down
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Wednesday February 26, 2014
What was the longest weather delay in Daytona 500 history turned out to bring NASCAR lower ratings and TV viewership Sunday night than expected. According to a report Monday from FOX Sports, the 56th running of the Daytona 500 airing at 8 PM (ET) posted a 5.6/10 national household rating/share which averaged 9.3 million viewers. That’s down 44 percent from last year’s 9.9, easily making it the least-watched Daytona 500 of all-time.
Due to the six-hour, twenty-two minute rain delay in Daytona, the race was up against the primetime coverage of the Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony from Sochi, Russia on NBC (15.25 million viewers). FOX also reported that 69% of the pre-rain delay viewers of the race, which began at 1 PM (ET) kept tuning in.
In comparison, the 2013 Daytona 500 on FOX was the most-watched race in five years, posting a 9.9/22 rating/share, commanding 16.7 million viewers. The Daytona 500 in 2012, the first to ever be run on a Monday and in the primetime slot did a 7.7/13 overnight rating/share which resulted in 13.67 million households viewing the race according to Nielsen TV ratings data.
Earnhardt, Jr. Claims Second Daytona 500 Victory
posted by Justin Tucker
Wednesday February 26, 2014
Ten years is a long time. For Dale Earnhardt, Jr., it felt like an eternity. NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver endured many near misses and close calls at the Daytona 500 since his only win in the Great American Race in 2004. Earnhardt had finished second in two of his last three Daytona 500s coming into Sunday’s race. He was also riding the tail of a 55-race winless streak, dating back to Michigan in 2012.
However nothing would stop Dale Jr. on Sunday, not even a 6 hour and 22 minute rain delay from capturing his second Daytona 500 win. Earnhardt Jr. led a race-high 54 laps on the evening and used some timely drafting help from teammates Jimmie Johnson and, on the final restart, Jeff Gordon to separate from the pack and secure the victory.
“Winning this race is the greatest feeling that you could feel in this sport besides accepting the trophy for the championship,” said a jubilant Earnhardt after pulling into Victory Lane. “We could fight off battle after battle. We got a little help at the end there from Jeff to get away on the restart. This is amazing. I can’t believe this is happening. I never take this for granted, man because it doesn’t happen twice, let alone once.”
Aside from the race itself the big story of the race was the 6 hour and 22 minute red flag, which threatened to move the race to Monday evening (had the race been postponed, FOX Sports’ Chris Myers had tweeted that the race would resume at 5:00pm EST). However, Mother Nature would cooperate and would allow the race to be run under different conditions from which they practiced this week. Once the race resumed, the intensity picked up from the changing track conditions. This allowed the pack to race side-by-side and at times 3-wide up to seven rows deep.
Joining Earnhardt Jr. in the top 5 for the 2014 Daytona 500 were: Denny Hamlin who closed out a spectacular Speedweeks in second, Brad Keselowski in third, Jeff Gordon in fourth, and Jimmie Johnson who overcome two wrecks leading up to the 500 in fifth.
Rounding out the top 10 in the Daytona 500 were Matt Kenseth in sixth, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. in seventh and Greg Biffle would bring his No. 16 Ford home in eighth. Austin Dillon would come home ninth in his first Cup Series race in the iconic No. 3 for Richard Childress Racing, while Casey Mears would round out the top 10.
A couple of major contenders for the Daytona 500 win would see their hopes dashed early on as Martin Truex, Jr. would blow up just 30 laps into the race, relegating him to a 43rd-place finish in his debut for Furniture Row Racing. Crew chief Todd Berrier was already in Nashville for a test session before the race was even over. Kyle Busch, meanwhile would have a pit road violation just before halfway and would spend much of the race battling back from that mistake. Busch would eventually finish 19th after leading 19 laps.
Danica Patrick would also be bit by bad luck as she was caught up in a multi-car wreck on lap 145. Patrick would lead her second consecutive Daytona 500, but wouldn’t have the finish to show for it finishing 40th. Tony Stewart would encounter a frustrating evening as well, with a fuel pickup problem derailing his quest for his first Daytona 500 win. Stewart would finish 35th.
A look at the Daytona 500 by the numbers. There were 42 lead changes among 18 drivers, while seven cautions for 39 laps would slow the race pace to 145.290 MPH.
Next week, the Sprint Cup Series heads to the “diamond in the desert,” Phoenix International Raceway for The Profit on CNBC 500K. The Green flag is scheduled for 3:15pm EST.
Nationwide Series Post-Race Quotes: Drive4COPD 300
posted by Thomas Bowles
Tuesday February 25, 2014
Frontstretch Interviews – Courtesy Mike Neff
ELLIOTT SADLER – FINISHED 4th
Thoughts on the race?
It’s definitely a lot different racing than what we’re used to.
Comfortable with it?
Yeah, it’s just different. You’re worried about what you’re doing, but you’re also worried about what everyone else is doing and they’re not doing more than you’re doing. Physically pushing a guy is way better than just riding so you just gotta time it right and push it to the edge.
Happy to start the year with a top 5?
Yeah. Hell, that was the worst we ran all day, I think. I have no idea how they put the 3 car in front of us on that last restart. I hadn’t seen the 3 car hardly all day. When they put us from fifth to sixth, on the outside line, it just really boxed us in. I would have really restarted behind my teammate and given him a good push to the front. Anyways, it is what it is; we’ll take it and move on.
Looked like you were up front all day.
The guys did a good job. We had a fast race car. Great pit stops, just really proud of these guys. The car’s in one piece and we can take it to Talladega now. Great job by my guys. A lot of effort came into coming down here to Daytona and giving ourselves a shot to win. We had that chance to be up front and make some things happen. Fifth is not what we want, but we’ll take it and move on.
Bumping vs Pushing?
It’s way harder. You don’t want to lay on the guy in front of you, so it’s tough racing. A lot different than what we’re used to, ‘cause you gotta go. You gotta drag the brake too ‘cause you don’t want to hit the guys and you don’t want to stay on him. It’s a lot harder mentally than what we’ve done in the past.
Car was strong all day. Pushing vs. Bumping, is that harder to do than just getting on somebody and pushing them?
Yeah, it is a little bit. When you bump ‘em, you jar ‘em, it kinda jacks ‘em a little bit. It’s a little more abrupt, obviously. I thought it was OK there at the end. It was certainly fun and hopefully entertaining. But a little bit of a struggle in the early part of the race and the midpart of the race to see a good race. And that’s unfortunate for the fans. You can’t do that the whole race, you can’t tear up your stuff, knock your grill in, overheat your motor, all that stuff so there’s no sense in doing all that until you get down to the last lap. The 7 and the 6, they did a good job. Man, the 7 really held the 22 and I tight on the bottom. I was rubbing his door and hitting the apron at the same time, no room whatsoever. So it was good; wish we were the ones who could have won but a lot better now than what we were last year.
Going home in one piece makes it a lot better, right?
Yeah. My back feels good. My foot feels good. Past years here, I’ve been going home with pain so I’m alright.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Truck Series Post-Race Quotes: Daytona (Exclusives)
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday February 22, 2014
When you’re on the outside like that, how frustrating is it?
It’s so hard. Timothy Peters has won here. Kyle Busch has won everywhere. Ron Hornaday has been running Trucks forever, probably before I was even born. I was surrounded by veterans there, and like I told them I don’t have a rookie stripe but I’m a rookie. This is only my fourth Truck race ever, my fourth superspeedway race, and man, I figured out when the 17 got up in front of me, I pushed him. And as soon as I pushed him, he took off. And I went with him. And I just kept doing it, and before I knew it, he was leading. And I saw Ron in my mirror, backed up to him, and if it wasn’t for him, I don’t know what would have happened. I gotta thank him big time for that. That was a true teammate move right there. I really appreciate that. He just bounced off me and we got to the front. I tried my hardest to sidedraft Kyle. I was probably touching his door.
Top 5 in the No. 30 truck. This deal come together at the last minute, but you had a heck of a truck. Tell us about your night.
Yeah, I’ve got to thank Turner Scott Motorsports. The guys worked so hard on this Rheem Comfort Products Chevrolet. Exciting! Just got hung up on the outside and had to wait for my teammate there to catch up. And then he got to the bottom, so… I got the old 32 and started pushing ol’ Ryan to the front. So, it’s not bad. We’ll take it. You just don’t want to step over that boundary. You don’t know how far to push and shove. We bumped about six times down the straightaway without latching onto them. Hopefully, that was OK and we came home with a top 5.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Budweiser Duels Post Race Quotes
posted by Matt Stallknecht
Friday February 21, 2014
BUDWEISER DUELS POST-RACE QUOTES
They’re saying the wheel bearing burned up in it. I don’t know what caused it, they’re taking it all apart to figure out what the heck happened. Something abnormal that’s for sure I don’t think I’ve ever had that happen at all. Hopefully, we made the race and hopefully we can fix the problem before Sunday.
WHAT WAS THAT LOUD BOOM ONCE YOU TURNED INTO THE GARAGE?
Loud pop was a tire… thankfully, it popped, hopefully it didn’t hurt anybody. All the heat created in the left front that popped was pretty weird.
REALLY GOOD RUN. WHAT DID YOU THINK OF IT?
Yeah, it was good. We have a car we can work with for the 500. Got a good starting spot, so we’re going to rest easy, fluff and buff our car for a couple of days and get ready for Sunday.
ANY DIFFERENCE ON WHETHER THE TOP OR BOTTOM LANE WORKED?
Yeah, I was just moving around, trying to stay with the flow. For me, this car works on all parts of the racetrack. So I’m pretty happy with it.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.
GOT SHUFFLED BACK, AFTER PIT STOPS AND THEN COULDN’T GET BACK UP TO THE FRONT. WHY?
Nah, we were just sitting there waiting until the last few laps to make a move. You didn’t want to pull down and get sent to the back. Seen a couple of guys get sent to the back really quick so we were just kind of waiting for the end. I felt like we had a good situation there with Ambrose behind us — we had a good run off Turn 2 and I went. It was the last lap, time to go do something, nobody went with us but hopefully Sunday is a different story.
We got a great car. We don’t have to work hard. We learned, we got a good race car. Got a car in one piece, ready to go so we’ll try and get through the next couple of practices, deliver it to the starting group this Sunday and we’ll be real happy.
YOU’RE IN THE DAYTONA 500!
Yeah, it’s pretty awesome. This Whitetail Chevrolet was so fast that I knew all I had to do was stick it behind smart, intelligent drafters and we could have a good finish. That’s what we did in the Duels and I’m excited. I’m excited to go do some stuff with the Nationwide car and have some more practice with this. But to know that we’re locked in the Daytona 500’s pretty cool.
YOU WERE OBVIOUSLY IN FRONT OF THAT MELEE AT THE END. WHEN YOU WERE UP FRONT THERE IN THE BEGINNING, WERE YOU HOPING TO JUST STAY IN LINE AND LET YOU FINISH TOP 5?
I was pretty content to ride and luckily I knew a lot of people around us were. It was nice to have a little calm and not really have to be racing hard the whole time. I knew that the pit stop was going to shake everything up and that’s exactly what happened. Fell back a little bit there but made the right moves at the end to get a good finish.
HOW STRONG ARE THESE RCR CARS?
They’re very strong! They definitely have the capabilities to be winning one of these races.
YOU’RE IN THE TOP 5 FOR YOUR HEAT IN THE DAYTONA 500. YOUR PRIMARY CAR IS SITTING RIGHT IN THE GARAGE, KIND OF WADDED UP. DID YOU THINK THIS ONE HAD IT IN IT?
Yeah, it’s a brand new car also. It’s just not quite as good as the primary but still a damned good car. I’m just proud of everybody at RCR for building such fast race cars. All of our cars have been fast, ECR motor’s been strong, even our affiliate teams have been qualifying really good and racing good. So… excited about 2014! It’s going to be a good year.
WELL MAN, YOU STARTED IN THE BACK BUT WORKED YOUR WAY TO THE FRONT WHEN IT COUNTED MOST. WERE YOU JUST BIDING YOUR TIME THROUGHOUT THE RACE?
Eh, you never know if you’re going to get back up there or not. We had to start at the back, we had to make a run early and see what we could do. We drove right to 10th, or something like that and then it got stagnant. We tried to make something happen, and went to the back again. Drove back up to the front. Again, just really proud of my guys. Matt Kruder did a hell of a job on that pit stop getting just enough gas in to gain some spots there.
RCR CARS SEEM PRETTY DARNED STRONG. DO YOU THINK THE RCR CARS HAVE SOMETHING FOR THEM ON SUNDAY — ESPECIALLY THE THREE JOE GIBBS RACING CARS THAT SEEM TO BE THE CLASS OF THE FIELD RIGHT NOW?
Oh yeah. The 20 car was extremely fast. The 11 didn’t qualify that good, but he’s a good drafter. I think he won. We definitely have something for him.
Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
Bryan Davis Keith · Tuesday February 22, 2011
ONE: Take a Breath, It’s the Morning After
It was impossible not to be excited after Trevor Bayne scored one of the biggest upsets in NASCAR history, charging towards the first Daytona 500 victory for the Wood Brothers since 1976 in only his second Cup start. A rip-roaring opening act to the 2011 season, the questions were soon flying: would Bayne move to Cup full-time after declaring for the Nationwide title? Would a $1.5 million payday move the Wood Brothers back to full-time racing?
Let’s all take a collective breath. Yes, Bayne effectively served notice that NASCAR has a new superstar in the making on Sunday. But talk of Cup championships, full-time campaigns and the like are all premature… as is any real discussion that Sunday marked a new era in NASCAR.
Sure, the weekend saw the mighty Hendrick juggernaut stumble, Joe Gibbs Racing become a non-factor, and underdogs like Bayne and Brian Keselowski work Daytona Beach miracles behind the wheel of their part-time rides. But the 500 is its own animal in more ways than the pageantry. It’s a plate race, making the playing field the most equal it will be at any point over the course of the season. It’s the only race on the circuit that provides the opportunity for teams to race their way into the show; without that, both Bayne and Keselowski would have hardly been as successful as they were. Bayne would have never earned the respect of Jeff Gordon prior to the 500, while Keselowski was the slowest car in Daytona on a single-car run and would have been a near-automatic DNQ.
The fact of the matter is, no matter how good that finish was the real regular season starts this weekend at Phoenix. When the Cup Series arrives out West, the car count will go down considerably from the already shaky 48 who attempted the 500. At press time, that entry list was reduced to 45 and that number includes Brian Keselowski, who may not even be able to show up. This Sunday, rest assured Trevor Bayne will not win, nor will any single-car team for that matter. In their place, the Hendricks, Roushes and Gibbs of the world – none of whom led more than nine laps during the 500 – will be back at the front, leading early and often en route to sweeping the majority of top-10 positions in the race.
Now don’t get me wrong; a return to “normalcy” this weekend should in no way diminish the significance of what happened during a special Daytona Speedweeks 2011.
But one miracle does not a season make; this sport didn’t change overnight.
TWO: The Weekend of Waltrip of Detriment to All
Michael Waltrip pulled into Speedweeks with three rides and a new NAPA commercial starring himself more than Martin Truex, Jr., the man that actually wheels the car they sponsor. Need I say more? Fresh off the heels of an autobiographical publication posing as a tribute to Dale Earnhardt, self-anointing himself the face of the racing world’s 10th anniversary remembrance of the late, great Intimidator, Waltrip started Speedweeks in a storybook manner with a last-lap pass to win Friday night’s Truck race. The move was a memorable one, stirring up emotions on the actual 10th anniversary date of Earnhardt’s death.
What a perfect ending … only several things didn’t add up. For one, Waltrip’s spoiler collapsed during the final run to the checkered flag, a mechanical development that numerous Sprint Cup drivers confirmed would have been an aerodynamic advantage to Waltrip as he slingshot around Elliott Sadler. NASCAR has remained mum of yet on if an inspection of the spoiler found anything illegal, but as Frontstretch reported that Friday night there were irregularities between the removal of Waltrip’s spoiler from his truck in post-race inspection when compared to the rest of the top-5 finishers. He all but refused comment on the matter, simply saying “It’s been a long day” when asked about other drivers questioning the legality of his equipment on Twitter.
What Waltrip did go out of his way to do, though, was stress how much his win was about his fallen friend on this, the 10th anniversary of that death combined with the first of his two Daytona 500 wins. He even tried to make the case to be thrilled to be racing with Sadler, of all people, as the Virginian was born the same day as Earnhardt.
Only problem is, Sadler doesn’t have the same birthday as Dale. That didn’t stop at least one local paper in Florida from printing Waltrip’s fortuitous comments as fact, but the impact was clear: keeping Dale relevant to his efforts on-track was going to be the overriding theme on Friday night no matter what. With those intentions, to say that listening to this post-race sob story cheapened the significance of the evening was an understatement… and in a questionable ride, to boot.
Sunday was no better, as Waltrip took the wheel of his No. 15 entry and drove like he was trying to add to the Daytona oval’s body count. Triggering two wrecks in the first 29 laps of competition, he was responsible for damaging or destroying 18 of the 43 cars that took the green flag this Sunday before knocking his own out in the second wreck. To make matters worse, Waltrip spun his own car, driven by David Reutimann, out in front of the field and then blamed his driver for darting around too quickly in the draft.
“I was barely against him and then he said at the very last minute, ‘I’m going to the middle.’,” Waltrip explained. “He makes that quick move and it just spins him out. I’ve been doing this all week and I haven’t spun anyone out. I don’t know what I could have done different.”
The only positive was that development brought the weekend Mikey so desperately wanted as his own to an early ending. It was a Speedweeks filled with the usual self-promotion combined with an obsession to keep himself the center of attention … and at what cost?
THREE: The Daytona International Speedway Needs a New Pit Walk
ISC deserves a lot of credit for a number of the elements they developed in creating the FanZone within Daytona’s massive infield. The window bays for fans to see drivers and crews at work, the elevated platform atop the Cup garage, and the well-kept picnic area just outside of pit road are all developments other larger race tracks with space in their infields should take a good, hard look at.
That said, this track is 2.5 miles long. There is an untold amount of space in the infield. Yet Daytona’s pit walk behind the team stalls is just as narrow as any other race track… and that’s unacceptable for the host of the sport’s largest race. Holding the Daytona 500 means that the teams, more than ever are inundated with not just media but sponsor representatives, considering the race marks the start of new marketing campaigns. Jeff Gordon’s stall was a perfect example, as the AARP Drive for Hunger campaign had so many people near the pit box that there was no room to walk, much less for crewmen to move equipment up and down the pit road.
With all the space that is there at Daytona, the renovation the facility needs more than any other is to widen the pit walk. Considering the healthy crowds from this weekend, at least on paper the money’s rolling in once again: there is absolutely nothing stopping the track from making the area behind pit wall a few yards wider. In fact, they could even take it a step further and put bleachers behind the stalls for all the guests and sponsor reps to utilize while watching from the pits. But something, anything would be better than what was endured on Sunday. It was impossible as a media member to even try to do coverage from the pits… so imagine what the crews themselves must have felt like.
Easy fix here, ISC. Easier than a pothole.
FOUR: This Plate Package Needs Some Work
I already touched on this in a previous column during Speedweeks, but regardless of excitement level, speeds, etc., this two-car tandem racing has got to go. Making it literally impossible to act like an individual race car driver until the final turn of the final lap is inherently not racing, but that’s the reality of having to drive in pairs.
Driver Robert Richardson, Jr. who for his lack of Cup experience has become a fixture on the circuit when it comes to plate races, was pointed in his comments regarding the tandem experience, noting “It is definitely not Daytona racing.”
“There are definitely some things they need to change,” he continued. “To get it back to pack racing like it used to be.”
I’ll say. It’s not like the tandems proved to be any safer or easier to control for the drivers; teammates dumped each other at least four times over the course of Speedweeks, while Sunday’s 500 set an all-time record for cautions at 16. The pack racing is no less dangerous, no less destructive, but at least allows for a single driver to make his own moves, drive his own race, and do so from green to checkers. Kudos to Richardson for speaking out on this issue.
FIVE: I Clapped at the End of the Daytona 500. And…?
For all the issues regarding crashes and restrictor plate packages at Daytona over the past week, the most heated debate on Twitter in the media center following Sunday’s race was about a spontaneous display that broke out as Bayne took the checkers. Overcome by the excitement and sheer history of watching a 20-year-old rookie win the sport’s biggest race by inches, the majority of assembled media broke out in applause as the No. 21 crossed the stripe, acknowledging a tremendous effort by a rising young talent… and a historic moment seldom seen in sport. Bayne earned himself another round of applause following his post-race presser, a lively interview that was the ultimate in contrast; Bayne glowed while the Wood Brothers and crew chief Donnie Wingo, a trio of wily veterans sat in quiet awe of what they had just accomplished.
Quick to the tweet were well-known scribes David Caraviello, Nate Ryan, and Jay Busbee among others who all denounced the celebratory display from the media corps as amateurish and too fan-like. In doing so, they all but encouraged writers like myself who engaged in the applause to buy a grandstand ticket and leave the sportswriting to the real journalists.
Well let me make one thing very, very clear to Caraviello, Ryan, Busbee, and anyone else with a holier-than-thou attitude about the conduct of NASCAR’s media corps this Sunday; I’m calling all of you out in return. Did none of you real journalists shed tears the day Dale Earnhardt died? Would you real journalists chide Ned Jarrett for the way he called his son to victory back in 1993?
I was among the many who applauded upon witnessing live one of the greatest upsets the sport has ever seen, as well as the accompanying appreciation of the accomplishment. It was not because of a biased allegiance to Trevor Bayne, or a relief that Carl Edwards was denied a plate victory. It was because I, like so many around me, knew exactly what the historical impact was of what I had just witnessed. Bayne’s victory was a positive outcome the sport has been in dire need of for a long, long time now. It was a rookie with strong upward potential who won the sport’s biggest race, was genuine in his appreciation for it, and in doing so brought the stalwart Wood Brothers back to the top of a sport they have given so much to. And hell, it was a thrilling finish to the Daytona 500. Isn’t that justification enough?
For once, the end outcome was something truly positive. It was a feel-good story, a historic triumph while blending new and old in a way I may not see in the next 20, 30, 40 Daytona 500s I cover. It was a joyous reminder of just how sweet the ecstasy of this sport at its best can be, for the competitors, for the fans, and for those of us fortunate enough to cover it.
To have writers, some of whom will openly admit that this job is a profession more than a passion for them, call out those of us that happen to be both race fans and working professionals offering both ethical and relevant coverage of stock car racing is nothing short of infuriating. I, for one, am not going to sit here and apologize for being a race fan that took great pride and joy in watching this Daytona 500 play out the way it did.
Because for all the professionalism and standards of conduct that can be thrown out there, in my opinion quality journalism can be fueled by passion. It takes that passion for what you’re doing to tell the inside story of the people you cover. It takes passion to appreciate and understand something in NASCAR that, for many goes beyond sport. And it’s going to take passion, be it positive or negative, to build stock car racing back up to where those of us that view it as more than a paycheck want it to be.
So, if given the choice between being a David Caraviello-approved professional journalist and an unabashed race fan, call me a race fan. And I’m proud of it.
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I am so sick of Michael Waltrip I could scream.
Any form of racing that leaves half the field unable to see where they’re going doesn’t sound right to me. I hope the next time they race at Daytona Michael Waltrip will choose to show the class the Jr. did and stay in the background, hard as that is for him to do. And, any media person who didn’t feel like they could cheer at the end of that race, if only for seeing the Wood Brothers regain the respectability the have earned, probably shoud go and cover football.
Mom always said that if you can’t say something nice about someone, then don’t say anything all. With that said, I have absolutely nothing to say about Michael Waltrip.
I don’t know if anyone claimed Jamie was a championship contender last year or not, but like Trevor Bayne’s win Sunday, it was the whole story behind the win as much as the win itself that made it so special.
The only thing you left out was how the other Waltrip in the booth also ruined the race. His constant and incorrect blathering about who caused wrecks, how guys are racing and driving (DW’s not raced on a good portion of these tracks and even the ones he has have been repaved or reconfigured since he’d been behind the wheel.), etc., wore thin in about the first 10 minutes. DW, just shut up!
wait??… those guys call themselves journalists? Um hello.
Brian….you are so spot-on concerning Mikey. I am so glad this week-end is over and Trevor Bayne has so overshadowed Mikey, that it isn’t even funny. Maybe POS’s autobiographical-novel will drop off the face-of-the-Earth, now that he did such a great job of wrecking half the field, as you pointed-out. I just want to puke, everytime I have to watch that CRAPA ad, with him shakin’ his a$$, like the fool he is.
Wow, I actually agree with Randy. I can’t believe it.
I’m happy for Trevor Bayne and especially the Wood Brothers, but all it shows is that ANYONE can win a plate race. Trevor may be a superstar driver, but I’ll believe it when he wins at Martinsville.
Now that the excitement has died down, Bayne still has a lot to prove. If he wins this year on a non-plate track then we can really start talking. I have feeling that Roush and Ford see their future franchise to compete with Chevy and Hendrick and will get him whatever he needs. I agree on Waltrip. His two 500 wins were more a product of DEI plate dominance than Mikey’s skill. Though that big wreck was just as much ‘Beak’s fault. He made an abrupt move to the middle and Waltrip hit him at an angle. Unfortunately, I don’t know what NASCAR can do to break up the 2 car drafts. This is a product of a super smooth surface and bumpers that line up perfect. It’s funny the car was designed that way because with the old car there was concern with bump drafting and cars getting lifted off the ground causing huge wrecks. I don’t think this will change significantly until the new body designs in 2013.
Woohoo! Good job Randy… ya got a convert!
I personally am going to miss Jacob #2.
“2 fingers in the air”
If coverage by a “journalist” means watered-down, non-exciting, blab-festing, then I’m all for the NASCAR fan covering the happenings. As far as I’m concerned there is no such thing as a “Journalist” anyway. Look at the national media, they can’t even be objective about what’s happening in the news, so why try to get that out of sports coverage?
So let me get this straight… Everyone “loved” the daytona 500 this year so instead of embracing an awesome race and the beginning of a great season, we just HAVE to find something to complain about. Our solution… the commentators.
Wow, some people just really dont know how to enjoy the sport they claim to love.
Oh how I miss….
“Trouble, turn four. Waltrip!”
After Daytona, I wonder how long it will take the media to get back to their 24/7 worship of…..Jimmy-Jeffie and Juuuuunior, once again?
It has been nice to get a break, last week, from Waltrip trying to dominate the media and the Hendrick domination and see just how great it was for an unknown, underdog driver to win, for a change, restrictor-plate and all!
We all know, it could take year/years for Trevor to get another Cup-win; but, let’s hope Trevor can help to pick NASCAR up from the fall it has taken, these past few seasons. From what I have seen, on various TV interviews, Trevor has handled himself quite well and very mature for his experience and age, btw!
NASCAR and the fans need a fresh, new, face, like Trevor Bayne, just as much as we need Jimmy, Jeffie and Juuuuuuuuunior!
Randy Goldman you really don’t get it, do you. Dale Sr. was a much more accomplished owner than Michael Waltrip. I can’t believe you’re making me defend an Icon of the sport, when what I want to do is congratulate an Iconic team. Great job by the Wood Brothers and Trevor Bayne. Yes now we move on and see how it goes the rest of the year. I hope Trevor does well in both series and shuts up some of the “experts” like Randy Goldman. Most people are happy about this win. Randy why don’t you back to watching whatever it was you were watching before last year O.K. ?
David Caraviello is not a journalist by any stretch of the imagination. He’s been noting but an extremely biased hack who does nothing but write articles praising Kyle Busch on a weekly basis.
Michael Waltrip racing has accomplised more then Dale Earnhardt Inc.?
Dude, put the crackpipe down and get some help.
I am totally fed up with BOTH Waltrips!! Put them out to pasture!!
For Michael Waltrip Racing’s most memorable accomplishment, please google “NASCAR Rocked By Cheating Scandal”. It’s all there.
I make it a point not to read any of Caraviello’s stuff. It’s soooo boring and pointless.
That being said, I LOVE the new style of Daytona racing. There is so much effort required by single drivers, for Trevor to win it is not just luck, or jumping out of the train at the right time…this was the first drivers’ race I’ve seen in NASCAR in a long time…
Great article….How can anyone be as cheap and self centered as a stinking Waltrip!
Wonder how well Waltrip’s team will be doing 10 years after he’s gone.
Hey Randy Dale Jr. Has won 18 Cup races and 17 of those were with DEI. Does Waltrip have 17 Cup wins as an owner? No he has two. Both by “Beak” and one was rain shortened. I don’t consider “championing” toyota to be a plus. So please give up this insane argument. Dale Jr. won a Daytona 500 for DEI and Waltrip won 2 for DEI. MWR has not won a 500 as a team. DEI wins end of story!! Thank you Good bye! And all this coming from me, a Ford fan!!
Funny, how the autobiographic-novel, of POS’s came out, just in time for him and JAWS to shill that for that last several weeks. Watch that fall into oblivion, after he took-out half-the-field last Sunday.
BTW, if it hadn’t been for Coughy’s $$$$ (I mean YEN!) Motormouth Motorsports would have closed their doors, back at the end of that great, 2007 season. Mikey had run Motormouth Motorsports right into the ground, financially. The big….“FOR-SALE” signs were almost out, at “Racertainment”, for sure!
Me too, JoeW!
O.K. Randy so now you are going to give us that lame argument that DEI was somehow better off without Dale Sr.? Well I think the fact that they no longer exist proves otherwise. I feel quite sure Jr. is still at DEI if Sr. is still alive and Park was a darned good driver before he was injured in that Busch series wreck at Darlington. You just don’t know the facts and by the way Robby Gordon did NOT drive for DEI. He drove for RCR. Like I said I’m a Ford guy and having to defend Chevy this much makes me cringe but dude you are just plain wrong!! Hey ddsbstrd I think we have something to look forward to this year until Nascar changes the rules on us again!!
Man you are correct re Waltrip. He is sooo over the top it’s pathetic. He knows it and is proud of it. He can cry at the drop of a hat better than Tammy Faye BaKKer. I totally agree on Waltrip. Couldn’t make it really in Cup and now is borrowing the limelight from a real champ-Sr.
But you missed one! You have to include Tod Bodine in the same boat—minus the self promotion. I swear he crashed in every race he ran in every thing he ran. Not all were his fault granted. But if you look at 500 replays you will see that dunce bump drafting in the corners! Geeezuzchrist didn’t the boy do his homework? Cup racing has advanced (?) to the point where it is now PUSH drafting Todd. You don’t whack a driver when he is sideways in the corner. You ease up and push draft for 2 1/2 miles then you do it again and again never leaving the bumper, unless of course something happens. But if you look real close this Tod cat is BUMP drafting in the corners…That’s what happens when you don’t run full time. You don’t know the current trends. He never made it in Cup because he just isn’t good enough. I remember whem I was hanging around this sport in the garage area when he drove in Winston Cup—they say he had the crew changing every srpring in the book every race…not because the crew was bad but because he didn’t know what the hell he was doing.
I was so sick of both Waltrips by the end of the weekend, I could have screamed.
for any of the NASCAR writers to point fingers is ludicrous, the articles they write are usually not worth reading and most days I don’t. If they want to look at bias, they need to take a good look at the guys calling the races from the booth every weekend. DW, Rusty, Mikey, Brad, Larry Mac, Phil Parsons, all have financial or ownership interests in the sport. they are so biased that they are like the old twisted sister racecars. I hate the cheerleading and shilling that goes on in the booth for all the races. I would like to see a professional broadcast done without all that garbage.
Was I excited for Trevor and the Wood Brothers? You bet. I am a diehard Chevy fan and I was cheering for that kid in the Ford because it was fun! Heck, considering that my fave went out when Waltrip wrecked a big part of the field, I figured I wasn’t going to enjoy the rest of the race – thanks to a surprising win, I did.
I just hope that they don’t push this kid in over his head. NASCAR can chew people up and spit them out — remember David Gilliland and others.
I enjoyed the moment – and I’m glad that you did, too.
Robbie Gordon 1996 — Finished 57th in series points, starting only three races. … Drove at Charlotte for DEI. … Drove in two races for Felix Sabates, at Rockingham and Phoenix.
O.K. Pcarp I get it. Just ignore him. As has been pointed out Robbie Gordon drove all of one race for DEI, so I had forgotten that. Not really sure what this dude’s point is. He is Just proving DEI hired better drivers than MWR. Even though I think Robbie is basicly a “tool” he has more wins than MWR drivers do. Oh well whatever!!
Comparing DEI to MWR is like comparing Randy Goldman to someone who actually has 2 brain cells to rub together for a single thought. And Randy loses that contest.
Thank you Brian.
Randy Goldman…the Mikey Waltrip of race fans……..?
I thought for sure that most people would say that trevor bayne only won the race because a lot of the others were behind the wall because of wrecks, but i was ready for them, that kid kept the ford up front all day, and ran with the big boys. hopefully the pr.people of nascar dont ruin the personality and enthusiasum this kid has.
I have to be honest, I think the Waltrip’s feel NASCAR just is not NASCAR without them. I also think that FOX foster’s this to the max.
Joe & Randy, Ty Norris first built DEI & then he built MWR after DEI was silly enough to let him go.
Toyota just gave a team to Waltrip, Earnhardt built his with his own dough, I think. The Waltrips are tiresome, to hear that stupid boogity, boogity stuff at the start of a race is painful and embarrassing to think new viewers that are watching for the 1st time hear something so dumb at the start of the race….Been tired of see Mikey on speed ch. and on Inside Nascar for years, don’t really understand how he gets so much camera time…Also, it seems Carl Edwards is under contract with espn with the amount of times he ends up on camera with Bestwick, Rusty and Brad, though he at least isn’t a self promoter like Mikey. Glad somebody did write something about Mikey taking out half the field, it stinks. Not a fan of the way they had to race Sunday, but had a good finish so they probably think it’s great racing.
Did they check the gas in Waltrip’s truck after the race?
going back to DEI…you all seem to forget that Dale wanted Harvick, too…and explicitly told Childress that if he didn’t hire him on RCR he would sign him to DEI.
Way to go Bryan, another Waltrip bash! And two in one week, you should be so proud. Bet you you’re getting a kick out of this, uh?I bet Dale Sr was smiling down on the #15 truck on Friday and I’m pretty sure he’s proud of his friend. Congrats Mikey!
PS: Don’t forget to delete this post too. LOL!!
Randy Goldman is the male version of MaryBeth, both are delusional.
As far as the Waltrip bashing goes, all I have to say is Dale Earnhart Sr. didn’t have the same opinion the author of this article has of Michael Waltrip.
It’s pretty stupid to think that a spoiler would be designed to “break” on the last lap of the race. What they had some kind of way to rig it so it breaks one the last lap of the race? Because if it would have broke earlier in the race NASCAR would have black flagged the 15 truck.
This part of the article is in very poor taste.
I guess these four journalists were not in the press room at Michigan in 2008 when Dale Earnahrdt, Jr. walked in. I let out a “Ehhhhyyyy!!!!” and clapped a couple of times, kind of joking around, then EVERYBODY let loose with a round of applause. To which Jr. chuckled and said, “Heh, awllright Gotdamnint, knock it off…” and sat down to do the winner’s post race press conference.
Pretty much everybody in the room went up to him shook his hand or hugged him after the press conference. These people all know each other and are around each other 3 days a week for 36 weeks+ a year.
It’s called being human. You aren’t covering the State Department or part of the White House Press Crops. You can tell a story, be objective, and be human all at the same time. It’s a stockcar race, you’re not unmasking Deep Throat.
Shake yourself, Ryan.
Can’t say I’m a Mikey fan, but at least when he makes a show he tries to race, quite unlike “Back Row Joe” and his ilk (it’s a word—look it up.
They show up, make a lap or two, hit the showers, and collect their unearned money, all the while leaving some guys who really wanted to race on the outside looking in.
if i had a vote on the matter, dw’s 45 year old great-grandchildren would accept his induction to the hall of fame.
Waltrip is nothing but a corporate schill. Always has been, always will be. His (over) promotion of his new book during Speedweeks at Daytona was absolutely despicable.
In terms of this Randy Goldman character, let me lay some pre-2001 DEI stats for you:
Let’s not forget that Steve Park was injured in 1998 and didn’t run the entire season.
As Clint Bowyer once said in a red flag caution (that Michael Waltrip caused), I qoute “Michael Waltrip is the worse driver in Nascar” end quote. And he is! He is a very nice guy but, he can not drive a race car for very long without either screwing up himself with a wreck or screwing up someone else,look at his history . speak for itself, he can’t drive a race car. He needs to mentor his drivers and run his company.
Michael Waltrip. Darrell Waltrip. I’m trying not to be ugly about them. There is just nothing at all good to say….except that “ol’ DW” didn’t get into the HoF which was hilarious and so satisfying. Those two should be penalized for actions detrimental to stock car racing.
I don’t want to hear anything else about Mikey, he is grossly overrated and doesn’t deserve the attention. Wont be long until he comes out of the closet…then everyone will have something else irrelevant to talk about
No cheering in the press box. Ever. Anything less makes you fanboy, not a sports writer.
Weak justification for your cheerleading, calling it “passion.” Peter Gammons and Tim Kurkjian have a long and deep passion for baseball, but they know how to act like professionals and aren’t afraid to be critical when it’s called for.
You can keep on cheering and acting like a fanboy if you like, but you’re going to lose credibility in the process.