NASCAR Changes Qualifying Format
posted by Summer Bedgood
Tuesday March 11, 2014
Following safety concerns regarding NASCAR’s new qualifying format, the sanctioning body is introducing some changes in preparation for this weekend’s race at Bristol Motor Speedway. According to the Associated Press, NASCAR is banning teams from cool-down laps after their qualifying attempts, but will instead be allowed to hook up cool-down units to the engine through hood flaps.
Late Tuesday afternoon, a release from NASCAR fully detailed the changes. Teams will be allowed a single cool down unit to be connected through the right or left side hood flap, however the hood must remain closed. Additionally, two crew members will be allowed over the wall while cooling down.
“The qualifying is new to all of us and as we have said over the past several weeks, we are looking at it from all aspects,” said Robin Pemberton, vice president of competition and racing development. “Following discussions, both internally and with others in the garage area, we moved quickly to make a few revisions that will be effective starting with our two national series events at Bristol Motor Speedway this weekend. We believe this will only enhance and improve what has demonstrated to be an exciting form of qualifying for our fans, competitors and others involved with the sport. Moving forward we will continue to look at it and address anything else that we may need to as the season unfolds.”
The move comes after three weeks of NASCAR’s new knockout qualifying system, where multiple cars are allowed to make qualifying attempts at the same time instead of the traditional one-car-at-a-time procedure. Drivers and teams had complained that the new rules didn’t allow them to cool their engines down on pit road, and the cool-down laps caused a dangerous situation with slower cars staying on the track at the same time that other cars were running by them at much higher speeds.
The rule will begin this weekend in Bristol, a track that has a much narrower racing surface than Daytona, Phoenix, and Las Vegas.
Kurt Busch to Attempt The Indianapolis-Charlotte Double
posted by Phil Allaway
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Andretti Autosport announced this morning that Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet in the Sprint Cup Series, will attempt the Indianapolis 500 in a fifth entry for the IndyCar Series team. Once the Indianapolis 500 is completed, Busch will fly from Indianapolis to Charlotte, jump in his No. 41 Chevrolet and compete in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Busch considers the opportunity to do the double as an old-school throwback moment.
“This is really to challenge myself within motorsports,” Busch said in Andretti Autosport’s press release. “Perhaps I am a bit of an old-school racer; a throwback, I guess. I enjoyed the era of drivers racing different cars and testing themselves in other series. It is tough to do now for a variety of factors, but when the opportunity is there, I want to do it. While NASCAR is my home, I have been fortunate to compete in Pro Stock on the NHRA circuit a number of years ago and test a V8 Supercar. This opportunity was a talk with Michael [Andretti] over dinner one night, a “What if,” and now it’s becoming a reality for me to drive in the Indy 500 with Andretti Autosport. It’s literally a dream come true. To go to the famous Brickyard with the iconic Andretti name, it doesn’t get much cooler or better than that.”
Busch will be doing the Indianapolis-Charlotte double as a Memorial Day mission to men and women serving in the U.S. Military via the Armed Forces Foundation. Fans can contribute to the cause by texting AFF to 50555 to donate $10.
Busch, who has never raced an IndyCar, passed Rookie Orientation at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year during a test session. At the time, Busch was more or less testing the Dallara DW12 for fun.
Busch will be the fourth driver to attempt the Indianapolis-Charlotte double. John Andretti was the first driver to attempt it in 1994. After finishing four laps down in tenth in Indianapolis, Andretti crashed and had engine problems in the 600. Robby Gordon has attempted the double five times, most recently in 2004. However, Gordon failed to make it to Charlotte on time and did not start the 600 in 2000 (P.J. Jones started Gordon’s No. 13 Ford in that instance). Finally, Tony Stewart has attempted the double twice (most recently in 2001) and is the only driver to ever complete all 1100 miles. Neither of the three drivers has won either leg of the double. The best finishes are Stewart and Gordon’s sixth-place finishes at the Indianapolis 500 (although Gordon’s came in 2000, the year he didn’t make it to Charlotte in time to start the Coca-Cola 600), and Stewart’s fourth-place finish in the 2001 Coca-Cola 600.
Danica Patrick, Justin Allgaier Talk About Phoenix Incident
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
A disappointing start to the year for Danica Patrick won’t include continued conflict. Patrick met with rookie Justin Allgaier Sunday, shortly after the Phoenix Cup race after a wreck ruined both drivers’ days. Patrick, who was critical of the No. 51 car on the radio, claiming Allgaier was “driving all over the track” appeared receptive to a conversation that quickly settled differences over what will be a long season.
“She was just upset because she got involved in the crash that we had,’’ said Allgaier to the Motor Racing Network. “She says she’s been through this and that she felt like I needed to settle down at that point. I explained my position on why everything happened. I think she understood where I was coming from. It doesn’t fix either one of our racecars. It doesn’t fix either one of our days. Unfortunately, we were both having pretty decent days.’’
Allgaier wound up 30th due to the incident while Patrick was 36th. The incident, which was caused by Allgaier’s spin also involved the No. 32 team and Travis Kvapil, which wound up 38th after sustaining heavy damage.
Camping World Close to Extending Title Sponsorship of NCWTS
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Marcus Lemonis, CEO of Camping World, Grand Marshal of Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway, and star of CNBC’s “The Profit,” made the announcement over the weekend that the retailer is very close to announcing a deal that would continue its title sponsorship of NASCAR’s Truck Series. The original agreement with NASCAR is scheduled to conclude after the 2015 season.
According to the sanctioning body, no formal contract has been signed, but “the agreement between the two parties has proven to be a beneficial one.”
“In about a month, we’ll be announcing a significant extension to that contract. It’s been great for us,” said Camping World’s Lemonis in a statement. “The NASCAR relationship has worked well for Camping World. When we started, we had 35 stores. Now, we’re up to 120 stores. As we travel the country and we meet new customers in stores, they always are very appreciative of our relationship with NASCAR. It’s been good.”
Gaining a long-term commitment from Camping World to sponsor the Truck Series would be a relief for NASCAR, which is set to lose Nationwide Insurance as title sponsor for the NASCAR Nationwide Series at the end of the 2014 season. The sponsorship of the Cup Series by Sprint runs through 2016.
The NCWTS is back in action on March 29th at 2:30 PM (ET) when the trucks visit Martinsville Speedway in the Kroger 250, which can be seen on Fox Sports 1. Ratings for the season opener were up 11 percent.
Harvick Takes Win At Phoenix In Second Race With New Team
posted by Justin Tucker
Monday March 3, 2014
Phoenix International Raceway has become Kevin Harvick’s home away from home. Sunday Afternoon was no exception as Harvick charged to the front early and would dominate for much of the day, leading 224 of the scheduled 312 laps to record his record fifth win on the one mile oval and his third win in the last four races at Phoenix.
Harvick, coming off of a disappointing Speedweeks which was capped by a last lap crash in the Daytona 500 in his debut with Stewart-Haas Racing, set the tone on Saturday by winning both practices while having the best 5 and 10-lap averages in the first practice of the day on Saturday. On Sunday, Harvick and his No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet was nothing short of flawless as he was able to hold Dale Earnhardt, Jr. by .489 seconds after a late race restart to claim his 24th career Sprint Cup Series victory.
“Man, this is awesome,” Harvick said after his dominant victory on Sunday. “Man, this just solidifies so many things and so many decisions. It’s been so much work with all the time and effort that these guys (the crew) have put in—but what a race car.”
Stewart Haas Racing co-owner Gene Haas shared in Harvick’s excitement after the race.
“It took long enough,” Haas joked. “This is phenomenal. I think there was a lot of skepticism last year about what myself and Tony (Stewart) what we were up to, was there a lot of madness to this. Quite frankly, it’s a great team, there’s a lot of synergy at the shop, people working together. I don’t know what we did, but I think we put together a great organization.”
Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt, Jr. continued his hot start to the 2014 season. Earnhardt Jr. would finish second on Sunday, marking his seventh consecutive top 10 finish since the end of the 2013 season. Earnhardt Jr. was pleased with the effort after a coast-to-coast whirlwind week after winning his second Daytona 500 and also gave great praise to the efforts of Harvick and the No. 4 team.
“I’ve got to congratulate Kevin. Those guys were two-tenths faster than everyone all weekend in practice. They were just phenomenal,” Earnhardt said. “To be able to run with them all day was a big confidence builder for us.”
Joining Harvick and Earnhardt in the top 5 of The Profit on CNBC 500K were Brad Keselowski with his second consecutive top 3 run of 2014 in third. Keselowski’s Team Penske teammate Joey Logano would finish fourth, and Jeff Gordon would come home fifth in his No. 24 Pepsi Max Chevrolet.
Jimmie Johnson finished in sixth, followed by Ryan Newman with a nice rebound after Daytona in seventh. Carl Edwards would carry the banner for Roush Fenway Racing by finishing eighth, Kyle Busch was ninth, and Jamie McMurray would finish tenth.
A look at the Profit on CNBC 500K by the numbers. There were 14 lead changes among eight different drivers, there were eight cautions for 39 laps which slowed the race pace to 109.229 MPH.
Next Sunday, the Sprint Cup Series heads to Sin City and the Las Vegas Motor
Starting Lineup: The Profit On CNBC 500K
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday March 1, 2014
Drivers in RED (i) are those ineligible to collect Sprint Cup points
Daytona 500 TV Ratings Down
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Wednesday February 26, 2014
What was the longest weather delay in Daytona 500 history turned out to bring NASCAR lower ratings and TV viewership Sunday night than expected. According to a report Monday from FOX Sports, the 56th running of the Daytona 500 airing at 8 PM (ET) posted a 5.6/10 national household rating/share which averaged 9.3 million viewers. That’s down 44 percent from last year’s 9.9, easily making it the least-watched Daytona 500 of all-time.
Due to the six-hour, twenty-two minute rain delay in Daytona, the race was up against the primetime coverage of the Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony from Sochi, Russia on NBC (15.25 million viewers). FOX also reported that 69% of the pre-rain delay viewers of the race, which began at 1 PM (ET) kept tuning in.
In comparison, the 2013 Daytona 500 on FOX was the most-watched race in five years, posting a 9.9/22 rating/share, commanding 16.7 million viewers. The Daytona 500 in 2012, the first to ever be run on a Monday and in the primetime slot did a 7.7/13 overnight rating/share which resulted in 13.67 million households viewing the race according to Nielsen TV ratings data.
Earnhardt, Jr. Claims Second Daytona 500 Victory
posted by Justin Tucker
Wednesday February 26, 2014
Ten years is a long time. For Dale Earnhardt, Jr., it felt like an eternity. NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver endured many near misses and close calls at the Daytona 500 since his only win in the Great American Race in 2004. Earnhardt had finished second in two of his last three Daytona 500s coming into Sunday’s race. He was also riding the tail of a 55-race winless streak, dating back to Michigan in 2012.
However nothing would stop Dale Jr. on Sunday, not even a 6 hour and 22 minute rain delay from capturing his second Daytona 500 win. Earnhardt Jr. led a race-high 54 laps on the evening and used some timely drafting help from teammates Jimmie Johnson and, on the final restart, Jeff Gordon to separate from the pack and secure the victory.
“Winning this race is the greatest feeling that you could feel in this sport besides accepting the trophy for the championship,” said a jubilant Earnhardt after pulling into Victory Lane. “We could fight off battle after battle. We got a little help at the end there from Jeff to get away on the restart. This is amazing. I can’t believe this is happening. I never take this for granted, man because it doesn’t happen twice, let alone once.”
Aside from the race itself the big story of the race was the 6 hour and 22 minute red flag, which threatened to move the race to Monday evening (had the race been postponed, FOX Sports’ Chris Myers had tweeted that the race would resume at 5:00pm EST). However, Mother Nature would cooperate and would allow the race to be run under different conditions from which they practiced this week. Once the race resumed, the intensity picked up from the changing track conditions. This allowed the pack to race side-by-side and at times 3-wide up to seven rows deep.
Joining Earnhardt Jr. in the top 5 for the 2014 Daytona 500 were: Denny Hamlin who closed out a spectacular Speedweeks in second, Brad Keselowski in third, Jeff Gordon in fourth, and Jimmie Johnson who overcome two wrecks leading up to the 500 in fifth.
Rounding out the top 10 in the Daytona 500 were Matt Kenseth in sixth, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. in seventh and Greg Biffle would bring his No. 16 Ford home in eighth. Austin Dillon would come home ninth in his first Cup Series race in the iconic No. 3 for Richard Childress Racing, while Casey Mears would round out the top 10.
A couple of major contenders for the Daytona 500 win would see their hopes dashed early on as Martin Truex, Jr. would blow up just 30 laps into the race, relegating him to a 43rd-place finish in his debut for Furniture Row Racing. Crew chief Todd Berrier was already in Nashville for a test session before the race was even over. Kyle Busch, meanwhile would have a pit road violation just before halfway and would spend much of the race battling back from that mistake. Busch would eventually finish 19th after leading 19 laps.
Danica Patrick would also be bit by bad luck as she was caught up in a multi-car wreck on lap 145. Patrick would lead her second consecutive Daytona 500, but wouldn’t have the finish to show for it finishing 40th. Tony Stewart would encounter a frustrating evening as well, with a fuel pickup problem derailing his quest for his first Daytona 500 win. Stewart would finish 35th.
A look at the Daytona 500 by the numbers. There were 42 lead changes among 18 drivers, while seven cautions for 39 laps would slow the race pace to 145.290 MPH.
Next week, the Sprint Cup Series heads to the “diamond in the desert,” Phoenix International Raceway for The Profit on CNBC 500K. The Green flag is scheduled for 3:15pm EST.
Nationwide Series Post-Race Quotes: Drive4COPD 300
posted by Thomas Bowles
Tuesday February 25, 2014
Frontstretch Interviews – Courtesy Mike Neff
ELLIOTT SADLER – FINISHED 4th
Thoughts on the race?
It’s definitely a lot different racing than what we’re used to.
Comfortable with it?
Yeah, it’s just different. You’re worried about what you’re doing, but you’re also worried about what everyone else is doing and they’re not doing more than you’re doing. Physically pushing a guy is way better than just riding so you just gotta time it right and push it to the edge.
Happy to start the year with a top 5?
Yeah. Hell, that was the worst we ran all day, I think. I have no idea how they put the 3 car in front of us on that last restart. I hadn’t seen the 3 car hardly all day. When they put us from fifth to sixth, on the outside line, it just really boxed us in. I would have really restarted behind my teammate and given him a good push to the front. Anyways, it is what it is; we’ll take it and move on.
Looked like you were up front all day.
The guys did a good job. We had a fast race car. Great pit stops, just really proud of these guys. The car’s in one piece and we can take it to Talladega now. Great job by my guys. A lot of effort came into coming down here to Daytona and giving ourselves a shot to win. We had that chance to be up front and make some things happen. Fifth is not what we want, but we’ll take it and move on.
Bumping vs Pushing?
It’s way harder. You don’t want to lay on the guy in front of you, so it’s tough racing. A lot different than what we’re used to, ‘cause you gotta go. You gotta drag the brake too ‘cause you don’t want to hit the guys and you don’t want to stay on him. It’s a lot harder mentally than what we’ve done in the past.
Car was strong all day. Pushing vs. Bumping, is that harder to do than just getting on somebody and pushing them?
Yeah, it is a little bit. When you bump ‘em, you jar ‘em, it kinda jacks ‘em a little bit. It’s a little more abrupt, obviously. I thought it was OK there at the end. It was certainly fun and hopefully entertaining. But a little bit of a struggle in the early part of the race and the midpart of the race to see a good race. And that’s unfortunate for the fans. You can’t do that the whole race, you can’t tear up your stuff, knock your grill in, overheat your motor, all that stuff so there’s no sense in doing all that until you get down to the last lap. The 7 and the 6, they did a good job. Man, the 7 really held the 22 and I tight on the bottom. I was rubbing his door and hitting the apron at the same time, no room whatsoever. So it was good; wish we were the ones who could have won but a lot better now than what we were last year.
Going home in one piece makes it a lot better, right?
Yeah. My back feels good. My foot feels good. Past years here, I’ve been going home with pain so I’m alright.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Truck Series Post-Race Quotes: Daytona (Exclusives)
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday February 22, 2014
When you’re on the outside like that, how frustrating is it?
It’s so hard. Timothy Peters has won here. Kyle Busch has won everywhere. Ron Hornaday has been running Trucks forever, probably before I was even born. I was surrounded by veterans there, and like I told them I don’t have a rookie stripe but I’m a rookie. This is only my fourth Truck race ever, my fourth superspeedway race, and man, I figured out when the 17 got up in front of me, I pushed him. And as soon as I pushed him, he took off. And I went with him. And I just kept doing it, and before I knew it, he was leading. And I saw Ron in my mirror, backed up to him, and if it wasn’t for him, I don’t know what would have happened. I gotta thank him big time for that. That was a true teammate move right there. I really appreciate that. He just bounced off me and we got to the front. I tried my hardest to sidedraft Kyle. I was probably touching his door.
Top 5 in the No. 30 truck. This deal come together at the last minute, but you had a heck of a truck. Tell us about your night.
Yeah, I’ve got to thank Turner Scott Motorsports. The guys worked so hard on this Rheem Comfort Products Chevrolet. Exciting! Just got hung up on the outside and had to wait for my teammate there to catch up. And then he got to the bottom, so… I got the old 32 and started pushing ol’ Ryan to the front. So, it’s not bad. We’ll take it. You just don’t want to step over that boundary. You don’t know how far to push and shove. We bumped about six times down the straightaway without latching onto them. Hopefully, that was OK and we came home with a top 5.
Connect with Mike!
Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
Bryan Davis Keith · Monday May 16, 2011
Editor’s Note: Matt is off this week, attending his niece’s graduation ceremonies. He’ll be back for the All-Star Race; for this edition, our Bryan Keith fills in.
The Key Moment – Matt Kenseth took two tires and Mark Martin stayed out while leaders Jimmie Johnson, Carl Edwards and Clint Bowyer all took four during pit stops under caution on lap 364 after Juan Pablo Montoya backed into the turn 4 wall. Hey, being on probation and unable to hit other drivers, he needed to hit something.
In a Nutshell – Mr. Five-Time and Concrete Carl traded the lead back and forth for much of the afternoon and were clearly the class of the field, but a late-race caution, everlasting tires and the importance of clean air won this race for those that opted to take two or no tires during the final cycle of pit stops.
Dramatic Moment – Nothing that could compare to the fireworks and near firefight that broke out at Darlington last weekend… though seeing apprentice Matt Kenseth past grandmaster Mark Martin for the eventual win had to be refreshing for those two fan bases.
What They’ll Be Talking About Around the Water Cooler This Week
The comparisons of Joey Logano to Casey Atwood are only going to continue to grow in frequency if weekends like this one continue to play out. It didn’t take but 20 laps before the No. 20 Toyota was spinning without assistance after Logano lost the back end exiting turn 2. Though the resulting damage to his machine was negligible, Logano was a non-factor the rest of the afternoon and was seldom seen again, sans for finding the wall, again of his own volition, during a later green flag run. His 27th place finish was his second consecutive outside the top 25, and more so was a dramatic step backward on a track that has been kind to him his whole career; Logano finished third and 10th in Cup on the track last season, won two poles in Nationwide competition, and officially became the K&N East Series champion with a runner-up finish on the Monster Mile back in 2007. Teammate Denny Hamlin’s struggles made it clear early that Joe Gibbs Racing had regressed a bit with their Cup program this year, and one can’t help but wonder if that’s catching up to the youngster. Brought up through the NASCAR ranks driving for a Cup team in the East Series and running Nationwide Series entries that, as Clint Bowyer coined it, “monkeys could win in,” Logano’s driven nothing but the best his entire career. Now, with Zippy and the No. 20 team years removed from Tony Stewart and clearly needing to find something, having a 20-year-old behind the wheel is proving to be anything but “sliced bread.”
Robby Gordon Motorsports appeared to finally die a slow death this weekend in Delaware, with its namesake nowhere to be found. Completing only 77 laps before bowing out with “brakes” issues, Scott Wimmer completed his second start-and-park of the weekend, leaving RGM’s No. 7 car only six points from losing a locked in spot in the top 35 (Andy Lally finished 33rd driving the No. 71 and picked up five owner points on the team). Though it may be a case of selective start-and-park as RGM employed last season simply to survive 36 races, all signs point to the No. 7, and the single-car team that could for so many years, being on their last leg. Earlier this season Gordon was reported as saying that the money he garnered from his Speed Energy Drink deal would only last through May, and its been no secret that his interest in off-road racing is starting to take precedence over running 30th in Cup every weekend. Besides, who can fault an owner for throwing his hands up to a sanctioning body that puts him on indefinite probation for a financial argument with Kevin Conway, while Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch wreck cars and throw punches and get only four races worth of the same punishment?
At Martinsville, drivers couldn’t stop moaning and groaning about Goodyear’s tires chunking instead of rubbering the paperclip in, despite the fact that a) there was no rash of tire failures that Sunday and b) the race still went 500 laps like any other one at the famed short-track. This weekend, it was the other way around, with drivers moaning and groaning all afternoon that the tires were rubbering in the race track too much, even after rain throughout the day Saturday and no epidemic of tire failures over 400 laps. Look, voicing concerns at Bristol when cords were showing after only 15 laps is one thing, but whining over the radio because (the horror) there’s rubber buildup on the race track? For crying out loud, they used to run 500 mile races on this oval! I’ve been a harsh critic of Goodyear and NASCAR for allowing Goodyear to be an exclusive tire provider ever since I started covering this sport, but this whining (and that’s exactly what it is, whining) about the tires not providing a perfect racing surface has got to stop. Rubber making the bottom groove slippery and difficult? Either get up on the wheel or find another groove. This is the highest level of stock car racing, it’s supposed to be hard. Otherwise, chances are most of us writing about it would tell this gig to shove off and go buy our own race cars.
The official crowd estimate for Sunday’s FedEx 400 was reported at 82,000 on NASCAR’s results page (for those keeping score, that’s 61.6% capacity at a track that features a grandstand capacity of 133,000). That’s woeful enough on its own, but it still wasn’t truly reflective of just how sparse the crowd was once the frontstretch bleachers ended. To put it in perspective, even if the reported estimates for all three national touring races this weekend were combined (82,000, 28,000 and 28,000), it still wouldn’t be enough to fill the 140,000 seats the track boasted not five years ago, before selling thousands of seats to corporate sponsors for banner space. The discussion about how to stop the bleeding continues…though between the attendance struggles of Bristol, Nashville and now Dover…maybe it’s a concrete thing?
With Matt Kenseth storming to victory in the closing laps, Darrell Waltrip could not shut up. Not about Kenseth posting his first win at Dover since 2006, or the pit strategy that got him and Mark Martin up front for good, but about his ties to the No. 17, how many races he won in the No. 17, how he only paid attention to Kenseth when he came on the scene because he was driving the No. 17, etc. Last week it was Waltrip falsifying details about winning the race immediately after his eldest daughter’s birth to make a connection to Carl Edwards’ near victory (that must run in the family, seeing as how Michael Waltrip ignored Elliott Sadler’s actual birth date to connect his win and draft partner in the Truck race at Daytona to Dale Earnhardt). This week, it’s about his ties to the winning number. Darrell, get this through your head: the only connection you still maintain to what’s going on out there on the track is that you’re being massively overpaid to fly the sport into the ground. Listening to his endless self-promotion week after weeks leaves this writer begging for impact to happen already.
Want to talk compare and contrast? Just look at the two attitudes, results and directions unfolding in the Richard Petty Motorsports camp. AJ Allmendinger has a fast practice lap turn into a top tier starting position for his No. 43 team, spends the first half of the afternoon running up front with Johnson, Edwards, all the big names, and gets absolutely nothing out of it but a blown motor and a 37th place finish. It’s amazing the emotional driver managed to keep himself as composed as he did in his post-race interview, though the frustration was still readily apparent; Dinger wants to win badly. And truthfully, the way’s he driving, he appears to have the talent to do so. Whether he has the team or car is another question. But while AJ may well be hoping for greener pastures, Marcos Ambrose is making the pundits that questioned his lateral move to RPM think twice. Though Ambrose is still a ways out of Chase contention at 20th in points, his third place finish was just the latest example of the Australian road ace proving himself competitive on an oval in 2011. His move to the No. 9 team is paying off, and its hard to imagine him looking anywhere else for the near future.
After seeing firsthand how bad behavior on the race track can make pit road a very dangerous place, race fans and competitors were reminded of that fact in an entirely different way on Saturday. A last lap crash on the frontstretch during the Nationwide Series race saw Clint Bowyer’s car come within a few feet of going airborne over the interior wall and onto pit road. Debris from that wreck caused injury; one of Bowyer’s crew men was hit in the leg with a spring and sent to the hospital as a result. Speaking to a first-time crew man on pit road prior to that same race this weekend, he couldn’t stop talking about how nervous he was, how he was about to throw up merely thinking about going over that fence as a tire carrier. There’s a reason it’s been said “if you’re not scared you’re crazy.” While seeing a race like Sunday’s decided on pit road may suck to watch, that’s no knock on the incredible and hazardous work NASCAR crews do week after week. It truly is a dangerous job, as has been seen for two weeks solid now.
The Hindenburg Award for Foul Fortune
How can anyone not feel for Allmendinger after seeing what was going to be a top 10 at worst go up in smoke after only 166 laps? Chance at a career-best finish and a first career win? Gone. Top 12 in points? Gone. And all because Ford’s greatest weapon for the 2011 season blew up. Every Ford team in the garage, from the powerhouses at Roush to the workhorses at Front Row Motorsports, have all cited the FR9 engine as the number one reason the blue oval has returned to prominence in Cup racing. And Dinger, a driver that for years has been frustrated by the limitations of his equipment, couldn’t even count on that this Sunday.
Kasey Kahne’s got to be feeling the same pains, as issues under the hood robbed him of a top 10 finish less than 70 laps from the finish.
Regan Smith started 11th one week removed from his dramatic win in the “Southern” 500, and for the second consecutive weekend ran as a legitimate top 15 car for much of the race. But 65 laps short of the finish, the underdog darlings of last weekend were back to their usual role…in the garage dealing with a mechanical issue (broken track bar) that derailed a promising run they weren’t supposed to have. Scarcely a week after a dramatic triumph on one of the world’s toughest race tracks, Furniture Row Racing was back to qualifying well, running well early, and faltering late, be it their fault or not. Success is fleeting.
The “Seven Come Fore Eleven” Award for Fine Fortune
Jimmy Fennig rolled the dice with a two tire call even as the afternoon’s stoutest entries took four, and Matt Kenseth reaped the rewards, blowing past Mark Martin (who had not pitted and was on four old tires) to score his second win of the season, valuable insurance should he need to take a “wildcard” berth into the Chase (wild card playoff berths, by God NASCAR really is ready to take the NFL’s place should the lockout continue).
As for Martin, being able to finish runner-up and hold off a hard-charging Marcos Ambrose was pretty fine fortune in it’s own regard… “the Kid” hadn’t scored a top 5 finish since Texas…last November.
Brad Keselowski fully admitted his top 5 finish last weekend was not with a top 5 car. This weekend, he ran in the top 10 for a good long while, and finished 13th in a legitimate top 15 entry. Keselowski’s two best finishes of 2011 have now come in the last two weeks. Also of note, he’s outrun his “violent torpedo of truth” teammate Kurt Busch in both of those events as well.
What’s the Points?
Positions one through five held serve after Sunday’s race, with Carl Edwards extending his lead over second place Jimmie Johnson after the duo combined to lead 324 laps while finishing seventh and ninth, respectively. Race winner Matt Kenseth moved from tenth to sixth in points. Ryan Newman fell a spot to seventh, Clint Bowyer climbed to eighth, Kurt Busch fell to ninth and Tony Stewart dropped three spots to round out the top 10.
Mark Martin currently finds himself in wildcard slot number one, moving up three positions to 11th in points with his runner-up result. Jeff Gordon holds the other slot, 14th in points but with a win back in February at Phoenix.
AJ Allmendinger proved the biggest loser, plummeting five spots from 11th to 16th with his DNF.
Overall Rating (On a scale of one to six beer cans with one being a stinker and a six pack an instant classic) – We’ll give this one three and a half cans of your standard grocery store brew chilled in the fridge. It was just another Sunday in Dover; though Carl Edwards and Jimmie Johnson did prove two of the few drivers this season able to mix stuff up at the front, the ending of Kenseth driving away from a driver on older tires while the best cars in the field sat mired in traffic was certainly not an epic follow-up to Darlington.
Next Up – The Cup circus throws points to the wind this Saturday night for the annual All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Anyone taking bets that that race gets decided by clean air on the nose at race’s end?
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I’ve noticed a pattern that a car like the 43 will come out of nowhere one weekend after having been struggling in mediocrity in prior weeks, only to have the engine explode mid race. This has happened with the Red Bull cars in the past and happened a lot to RCR the year before last. I wonder if Allmendinger’s surprising speed this weekend was a result of over aggression on the part of his engine tuner, or if AJ just ran the thing into the ground. I suggest this because none of the other Fords seemed to have engine issues including his teammate. Having his engine explode when he’s running well seems to be a pattern for AJ.
Actually it was a pretty dull race yesterday, at least the parts I didn’t nap through. Quite a contrast from the Nationwide race on Saturday.
I certainly hope we’re done for while with stories about “Boys have at it”. Fox’s entire pre-race show was nothing more than yet another rehash of the Busch/Harvick incident from last week, with tired old clips thrown in of every on-track and off-track confrontation of the last 10 years. Enough already! This isn’t the WWE.
I saw a pretty boring race on tv myself. However, I had a buddy who went to the race (it was his first race as well) and he loved it. He said it was the best race he’s ever seen. I love it when new fans go to their first race, because even if it’s a dull, boring race on tv, to hear their stories of walking around on track (he had bought some kind of package where you go on track pre race and meet with Mark Martin) and how excited they were and how thrilling everything was… it reminds you of why we’re race fans in the first place. BTW… It feels cheap, but I’m so glad JJ didn’t win.
If nothing else, we actually got to see a couple competitive lead changes (as opposed to those that happen under green flag pit stops). I agree, though. These guys are whiney little girls sometimes. To them I say, “Sack up and drive or find a real driver to do it for ya.” Oh yeah, most of the real drivers have already retired.
And great wisdom you passed on to “ol DW”. Every race makes him look even more like a shameless hack than before. I never thought that would be possible. Let’s not forget, in addition to all his wins in the 17 car, he also left another mark on the sport – The Darrel Waltrip Honorary Champions Provisional. Without him and his inability to make a race the last 10 years of his career, we’d only have 42 cars in the field.
I don’t know what race ya’ll we’re watching. I think this is the best Dover race I’d seen in a while: a good battle between Carl and Jimmie, good races for position, a strategic gamble, and no drivers acting like morons to ruin it.
At what point is NASCAR going to insert a “blackout policy” for its races?
The attendance is embarrassingly low and everyone is hurting – tracks, hotels, restaurants, etc.
To me its quite simple. This country is still gripped by recession. Most of the middle class, who have in the past been Nascar’s most ardent fans, are hit hard by the state of our economy. Not to mention many of the baby boomers hooked on Nascar as kids or young adults are now nearing retirement ages and have neither the want or the monies to attend races, they once considered a great way to spend a weekend. I only know that the MIS races we attended for almost a decade will not see us this year at either race. We attended both the June and August races for years, then finally dropped the August race due to rising ticket prices and races that were becoming irrelevant with the Chase. MIS, an ISC owned track gave us the great ticket reduction of $5 a seat about 2 years ago, This after raising our seats $11 per, 3 years previous. You do the math. Its too expensive for stalwart fans to go any longer. We just day tripped but that ended up being a $300 day with tickets, parking and extras. Imagine people who try to weekend it. It wasn’t worth it and I know too many others who feel the same way. I am no longer willing to pay for ISC’s improvements that are merely cosmetic and unneeded. If Nascar wants to really act like they are in tune with their fans, give substantial ticket reductions across the board. See if it helps. My $.02.
well, I had tickets but thought it looked too much like rain to put in the $ for gas and parking to drive 2 and a half hours to and from Dover to watch what has become a mediocre race at best. Last year’s spring race I was so bored I wanted to find a place to lay down and take a nap until the last 50 laps. There’s more exciting driving/passing going on when I’m on the NJ tpke than there is watching a NASCAR race these days.
We’ve cut back on going to a lot of tracks for both financial reasons and lack of interest.
I used to be so excited to go and see a race. I keep trying to remember what that feels like – I hate spending my $ and wasting my vacation for the tepid drivel that NASCAR has become. I’m not looking for wrecks and mayhem — I am wishing for good racing – the kind where they can race side by side and pass for heaven’s sakes.
Parity, in a word, stinks.
When are they going to take a lot of weight from the right side of these stagecoaches so these guys can drive them
Does anybody understand this crummy qualification format for rainouts? I can understand when it was by points, all the go-or-go homers ended out 36-43 place positions. Now supposedly they go by average speeds in practice. McDowell had a faster average than quite a few above him and started 36th. What if he had the fastest average? With this format, he would still be at 36th! They all practiced at same time, and when they qualify normally, they get the spot they are suppose to get. So why, because of rainout should it be any different. They still are qualifying by speed. And why the average speed used, when some laps are slower because of wrong setup at the time? Any comments?
doug….that really confused me and several people asked me about qualifying. i told them that the true understanding of it must be buried in the na$car rule book written in funky marker.
When Waltrip can quit talking about his history, he launches into his love affair with Bush. It seems rather stupid when an announcer has to call attention to a driver passing ONE car.
If Dover was 50% full I’d be surprised. Much like ginaV24 I know 8 others that decided not to go. So they may have sold more than 50% of the tickets, but there were less than that there. BTW… IT WAS GREAT! No crowds, no lines, no traffic.
The race was average but that’s OK, at least it was a somewhat honest race. Not a bunch of cautions with crapshoot restarts and wave arounds.
Hey Joe. I’ve heard others talk about blacking out the races. How big should that blackout area be? The east coast or national? Remember when they built Dover to hold 140,000 people those seats were being added to accomodate fans from most of the cities from NY to Virginia. Now that those people can’t afford to come anymore does that mean people that live in Dover should be penalized? Does Dover even have a big enough population to fill the stadium if everyone went? Then think about Bristol or Darlington, where does that get blacked out?
Go ahead Nascar, black the races out….nobody’s watching anymore anyway. Not old timers anyway, just corporate sheep with polos and free tix and swag.
I guess we watched the same race J-Dawg did!!.Fantastic racing by Carl and Jimmie.I don’t Quote understand some of you so called NASCAR fans .All you do is complain every week. Some of us really love this sport. If you aren’t one of those nothing says you have to watch.
Down on money? Can’t travel anymore? Craving excitement? Support your local short track. Way more bang for the buck.
Kasey Kahne “robbed” of a top-10 finish because of an issue w/ some 70 laps to go?
Are you saying the fix was in?
Nothing is certain w/ about 70 laps to go.
He was “robbed” of nothing!
Doug – no I don’t understand the “new” qualifying system for rainouts. At least when it was based on points standing it made sense.
this is another one of Brainless’s brainstorms to make it more “exciting”. Yeah right.
The funky rainout situation is so that they can explain JJ being on the pole every time qualifying gets rained out. Kasey Kahne may have had the fasted lap, but JJ had the best AVERAGE speed… Jr., naturally had the 2nd best. (Disclaimer: Hypothetical Situation… I’m just saying)
Good article, but I have an issue with you saying the 7 car started and parked after 77 laps. If someone was to start and park, why would they wait 77 laps to do so. Just because someone drops out early doesn’t mean they are a start and park.
I’m glad someone on FS is finally calling out DW. That was ridiculous how he went on and on about a number. Good call by Buzz too. All those champions provisionals came in the 17 car as well.
Nascar is going to price themselves out so that Rockingham and North Wilksboro will end up having large enough facilities (attendance wise) to host a Nascar race again. Maybe if they hit rock bottom, we can start over again. A clean slate might do the sport some good.
DW talking about himself is getting old along with most of his in race commentary. He ruins the enjoyment of watching a race with what he believes fans want him to talk about. He’s so clueless and he gets the facts wrong so often, yet sites like this allow him to stumble and bumble week after week. I think we as fans should get tough on this guy and make him change for the better.
Dang, I was so hoping to hang on to my theory about NASCAR doing everything they can so JJ would quarlify on the pole. Oh well, back to theories about how NASCAR has it out for Tony Stewart. No matter where he quarlifies, he runs bad lately :( I blame NASCAR.