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 May 10, 2011
ONE: Was Attention Towards Regan Smith Hurt More by Harvick / Busch… or Trevor Bayne?
Turns out Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick spoiled the fun for more than just themselves Saturday night. With throngs of media waiting outside the NASCAR hauler for word on what was going on between Rowdy and Happy, Regan Smith’s dramatic upset win at Darlington stunningly took a back seat. Harvick himself told reporters outside NASCAR’s “oval office” that it was a shame they were covering his latest dustup instead of talking to Smith about his accomplishment.
It’s true; for a moment as big as winning the Southern 500 was for both Smith and Furniture Row Racing, it played more of a supporting role as NASCAR’s time in South Carolina came to a close. It’s not like it wasn’t a great story, unquestionably one of the sport’s bigger upsets at an unrestricted track in recent memory. You had Smith tearing up in Victory Lane because his mom had missed a rare race to help with tornado relief; you had a single-car team that two seasons ago was a part-time effort, qualifying in on time from week to week capture one of the sport’s most prestigious events; and you had a driver that, perhaps more than any other in recent memory, understanding from the moment he arrived in Victory Lane the true historical significance of the race he had won. Regan Smith, Southern 500 champion, was just as Carl Edwards coined it: a “big deal.”
Yet for those watching away from the track, this triumph seemed a pebble in the pond when compared to the cinderblock Trevor Bayne threw into Lake Lloyd back in February. Which begs the question… for all the attention Busch and Harvick got for their latest tantrums, was it perhaps the Daytona 500 earlier this season that was more responsible for the muted reaction following the No. 78 team’s win?
Granted, the Mother’s Day version of the Southern 500 is not the Daytona 500, but there isn’t a driver on the circuit that would think to play down how much Darlington still means. Sad thing is, the story of a relative unknown winning a big-time race in a single-car ride had already been told this year. Trevor Bayne was the youngest Daytona 500 champion in history, while Regan Smith has been a part of the sport for years (Talladega 2008, anyone?). Furniture Row Racing is six years old, slowly building up their program to win just once; the Wood Brothers are synonymous with the history of stock car racing itself. And while Smith came out of nowhere to bring this trophy home, Bayne was in the Daytona conversation for over four days, a storyline from the Gatorade Duels that was hyped to no end and shockingly came to fruition.
Had this upset happened one season ago, chances are Smith’s first Cup win would have been stronger competition for the latest episode of Dumb and Dumber. Instead, six months from now it may be the most underrated story of this 2011 season.
TWO: Speaking of Darlington, The Masses Didn’t Speak Up
Even if it was on Mother’s Day weekend, stuck there for the seventh straight year this 500-miler at Darlington was still a sight to behold. The race became a marathon in every sense of the word, a test of man and machine that ultimately took a drastic toll on both (see ECR engine troubles, frayed tempers and late-race wrecks galore). Anyone questioning if 500-mile races were still necessary in this day and age got a strong reminder this weekend why we have them.
Too bad not enough people were watching to decipher that answer. TV ratings for Darlington were down significantly, as competition from the NBA playoffs helped decimate the audience in the Nielsens. But, perhaps even more distressing for this track’s long-term future, a crowd that old school fans have continually pointed to was off this time around. While the frontstretch was packed, looks on television could be deceiving; on the other side of the speedway, backstretch stands had lower rows that were closed to the public visible from overhead shots. And as for the grandstand in turn 1, forget about it. The official tally of 61,000 was the lowest reported since the spring race of 2004… and more significantly, it was the worst showing for a Cup race since the Lady in Black was cut back to one Cup race date.
There’s little more to be said. The racing, short of Regan Smith being able to stay out on old tires and win, was vintage Darlington. The race still proved to be as grueling as any American motorsports has to offer, connected to a finish for the record books to boot. It’s a video we’ve seen played at Rockingham and North Wilkesboro before… and nobody likes a sequel when the original was junk to start.
Editor’s Note: For more on the North Wilkesboro closure, click here for Mike Neff’s report and the official release.
THREE: A True Test of Machine That ECR Failed Miserably
It’s perhaps ironic that those relying on ECR engines seem to have developed a chronic motor problem in the same marquee events that they performed so well at one year ago. 2010 saw Jamie McMurray win both the Daytona 500 and the Brickyard while finishing runner-up at Darlington for Earnhardt Ganassi. This year, however, their partners over at Richard Childress Racing have accomplished nothing on those big stages short of cooking their race cars. Kevin Harvick and Jeff Burton both bowed out of the 500 earlier this year with engine troubles, wilting after the ECR camp overestimated the ability of their horsepower package to stay cool in two-car drafting.
This weekend, that aggression came back with a vengeance… and the results were the same. Though Burton, Paul Menard and Clint Bowyer all had little to show in terms of grill damage, by race’s end all three were spewing water out of their overflows (Burton was the only one to officially retire with engine woes; Menard finished off the lead lap in 22nd while Bowyer was wrecked out on lap 364).
Darlington’s never been easy on engines, with the gritty sand that continually blasts the facility prone to clogging up radiators, intake, any opening a race car has to offer. But again, another strenuous test of motor strength, another subpar showing for the ECR camp. Couple that with Harvick’s mega-meltdown, and title hopes for Chevrolet’s number two squad aren’t looking so hot.
FOUR: Almirola’s Heart In the Right Place, But His Words…
After falling victim to a three-wide escapade featuring Denny Hamlin and Clint Bowyer Friday night, Aric Almirola vented in his post-crash interview that it was frustrating to be taken out by a pair of racers that were racing for fun while he was out running for a championship.
Talk about opening a Pandora’s Box. Yes, Almirola has plenty of reason to be frustrated with the situation; two Cup regulars with no concern for either points or race cars created an extremely compromising situation on track, and he paid for it. But what his words hinted at, the mere suggestion that racing for a championship somehow entitles a driver to enhanced treatment on the track is ludicrous. That’s absolutely untrue; the only wrong in this situation was Hamlin and Bowyer racing over their heads and taking out an innocent bystander doing it. The Nationwide Series always has been and always will be a place for part-timers to race among the regulars, be it part-time teams like ML Motorsports or driver development deals.
The only difference is, in this case the Cup driver side of it is used to big-time sponsor dollars, racing only amongst their peers and having 15 cars to turn to if one gets torn up. So to Almirola’s credit, it’s great for drivers like him to be speaking up when episodes like this one occur.
They’ve just got to choose their words carefully. The last impression Nationwide regulars need, especially these days is that of entitled points jockeys.
FIVE: The Word “Duh” Comes to Mind
It was reported by the Virginian Pilot earlier this weekend that NASCAR is planning to allow teams to utilize fuel injection in a handful of tests later this season, beginning preparation for a complete transition away from carburetors in 2012.
What a concept. Can you believe it? Testing a rules change before transitioning to one. You see, even if it is something relatively insignificant, like moving to a halfway modern engine, how allowing for testing can be even up for discussion is mind-boggling. Between the problems that have stemmed regarding tire wear as a result of the implementation of both CoT cars, tire wear troubles themselves, problems at Fontana the year the Cup Series moved to unleaded fuel, changes in NASCAR have proven to time and time again have glitches that no one caught until race day.
There’s a reason testing exists. Shame there isn’t more of it done.
©2000 - 2008 Bryan Davis Keith and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
You miss the point with Aric Almirola’s comment. It is not that regular Nationwide drivers should be treated specially. The fact is that the Cup guys racing in Nationwide have an entirely different motivation and therefore will drive differently. The Nationwide regulars want to win a race, sure, but they are interested in the points, so they, hopefully, will be driving more sensible, conservative races. The cup guys are only there to win a race — so they take chances they shouldn’t, and if they wreck the cars, so what. I think we’d be better without the Cup guys …
I’m with you flafan. The cup drivers have no skin in the game. Nothing to lose and everything to gain. No holds barred and Katie bar the door I’m coming through, get outta my way. And Denny drives like a bull in a china shop in NW. Pompous idiot.
Almirola had every right to speak up and Nascar should listen. He’s saying what alot of the fans are saying by not showing up for Nationwide races. Watching them race is usually more fun than the Cup race because you can feel the excitement in the air. Some of them have 1 or 2 race deals and their performance is directly related to their sponsorship renewing. These are men and women with families and crews and sponsors who deserve better than Cup regulars having fun on a Saturday afternoon at their expense. Cup interlopers are bullies who don’t care if they wreck their equipment and obviously don’t care how many cars they tear up or who can’t make the next race because they were assholes. Just as long as the Cup guys have fun, all is right with the world. Well, it’s not. If they want to do something to better the Nationwide series, then own a car and put a young hopeful behind the wheel and teach him how to be successful. You seem to know it all, pass along that knowledge and get the hell off the track and let them develop a career and make money for their sponsors.
You do realize that Regan Smith was running an ECR engine, right!? It’s hard to do much better than first place. And it’s not like Harvick and Bowyer were running that bad before the wreck at the end. If I’m not mistaken, Harvick had the fourth highest Driver Rating (around 110) and led 40-some laps. He and Bowyer were in the top ten for much of the race. Historically, this is one of their worst tracks anyway. I’m not sure how you can come to the conclusion that Harvick and Bowyer’s chances at making a run at the championship “aren’t looking so hot” based on how they ran at Darlington, a track that doesn’t remotely resemble any other track on the NASCAR circuit.
For anyone who votes “I don’t care about the win, period” regarding Regan Smith’s Darlington win, why are you even watching?!?@?#?$?
1. I also agree with the above interpretations of Amirola’s comment. To me, that comment is stating that it sucks for a guy that is racing out a living in the Busch series to be taken out by guys who are “racing for fun,” not that he deserves special treatment because he’s running for a championship. By characterizing himself as a driver that is “running for a championship” I believe that Amirola has placed himself in the same category as all of the regulars. I think that was his point.
Even though prices have been reduced, tickets are still expensive when you consider how much more gas costs. Plus you always have surrounding services hiking up their prices for the race weekend.
A case in point is the Nashville races. For the price I would have to pay for season tickets I can go to every race at the old Fairgrounds Speedway. So guess where we are going. And after the long battle to keep the old Fairgrounds going a lot of locals are doing the same. It had nothing to do with the NHL/NBA whatever.
i feel this win was like how Trevor won Daytona, equipment from a higher up team but still probably not the best people in the business, a team that was looking to be dust around 08/09, and coming back and winning at a prestigous place, but yet the team probably doesn’t get half the coverage of Trevor’s win at Daytona
oops moment…. forgot to add comment to #3.
Harvick’s chance of winning a championship are dim. While there are exceptions, most drivers get their first title by age 32. For some reason that seems to be a peak year for athletes. Harvick is 35 and statisticly beyond his peak. Add to that he only has 16 wins in 11 years doesn’t add up much prospects for a championship either. I really don’t mean this as a knock on Harvick. Just saying that the odds are stacked against him.
If it hadn’t been for Beavis and Butthead, Regan’s win would have been shown in a much better light. This guy is a true racer who has paid huge dues for this win. And while so many teams just Start and Park for a paycheck, Furniture Row Racing is doing it right. Kudos to that whole team.
Run the Southern 500 on the weekend where it has always been – you might see that 61,000 take off.
#1 – NASCAR encourages the fights then acts shocked when they break out. They encourage the media to cover it. Why do so many articles have the exact same content? NASCAR has shown that they don’t care much for the low budget teams – low budget teams do not fill up NASCARS pockets. #2 – the masses not speaking up has nothing to do with Darlington. The masses have spoken loudly in the last year by their very silence. The majority of fans who are not watching anymore are disgusted with the entire state of NASCAR. The fans don’t like the Chase, points racing, pandering to the sponsor, scripted and manipulated races, etc. They love Darlington – they don’t like what has happened to their beloved sport! Period. #3 – Saying that ECR engines will bring down title hopes sounds a bit overstated. #4 – I agree with the postings of the first 3 posters. Almirola stated the obvious. The Cup guys race w/o concern for wrecks. I did not get the impression he was looking for special treatment. #5 – duh seems about right.