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 · Monday June 27, 2011
The Key Moment – Kurt Busch started Sunday’s race in the 11th position. By lap 13, the elder Busch dove under Denny Hamlin in turn 7 and took the lead. Short of pit stops cycling through, the lead was not a position Busch relinquished for long.
Some of these boys should have just stayed home and donated their car to a car donation business.
In a Nutshell – The No. 22 team woke up and realized that Kurt Busch still hasn’t won a points-paying plate race in a decade of Cup competition; so, they figured they’d grab a win before heading to Daytona. And no one saw fit to really challenge them for it.
Dramatic Moment – While the race up front was a stinker, boys have at it was front and center in wine country. Between Brian Vickers parking Tony Stewart’s Chevrolet atop a tire barrier, Brad Keselowski ending Juan Pablo Montoya’s reign of terror, and tension between Denny Hamlin and A.J. Allmendinger after contact in turn 11, there were more frayed tempers after this race than there were at Bristol this spring.
What They’ll Be Talking About Around the Water Cooler This Week
Two different series. Two different road courses. Nearly 2,000 miles apart. Yet both Saturday’s Nationwide Series race and Sunday’s Cup show played host to a special doubleheader of “F-1 veterans gone wild.” Jacques Villenueve’s banzai move during a green-white-checker attempt at Road America cost two drivers top-10 finishes, spinning Brian Scott and ruining his fuel strategy while sending Max Papis’ Chevrolet hard into the turn 1 barrier. Not one to be outdone, Juan Pablo Montoya went on an absolute rampage during the final 30 laps of Sunday’s Cup race at Infineon; Montoya gave no quarter to any driver in the field, most notably forcing himself under Kasey Kahne in turn 1 and ruining his day but also forcing other drivers off the racing surface during his charge to the front. When even the TV commentators run out of excuses for a competitors’ actions on track, it’s a clear indication that they’re in the wrong, and there’s no doubt Montoya was acting every bit the jerk that threatened NASCAR with legal action because Ryan Newman got the better of him in a Darlington scuffle. So after a long list of transgressions, even the most ardent Keselowski critics were likely high-fiving each other after seeing the Blue Deuce take care of the No. 42 once and for all. Montoya can quip all he wants about stock car racers not knowing how to race on road courses, but he and his open-wheel friends would do well to take note about how stock car racers handle getting knocked around… they hit back. After all, they’ve got fenders too.
Speaking of Keselowski’s last stand, between his top 10 result and Kurt Busch’s long overdue first victory in 2011, Penske Racing is red hot heading into a summer stretch that sees the Chase field still remarkably fluid. Whatever the dynamics between two teammates rumored to have hard working pains, whatever the friction caused by Busch’s very public tirades against his team in the past few months, the Penske camp is firing on all eight cylinders right now. But can this recent burst of performance last through the next ten races? The inconsistency of the No. 2 team is the reason they’re still battling to get into a top-20 position in points and eligibility for a wild-card berth, and as for the No. 22? Well, we’re not even halfway into 2011, and it’s already been a story of three seasons for Kurt Busch’s bunch. A blistering start to the year with a successful Speedweeks and a near-win at Phoenix; the malaise of the spring; and now, a June that’s been the shot-in-the-arm the team needed. So in the here and now, Penske Racing is a force to be reckoned with… but which Penske camp shows up this summer will tell the tale of whether they’re true title contenders.
One thing to note in light of a certain No. 88’s mechanical troubles Sunday: the last time Dale Earnhardt, Jr. was in Chase contention was back in 2008, and it was about this point in the season that the wheels came off. One week after scoring his last Cup win at Michigan, Junior finished outside the top 10 at Sonoma that year, the start of a streak that saw the No. 88 car score only two top-10 finishes in 11 races leading up to the Chase. This weekend, heavy contact in the dustup caused by the first Brian Vickers / Tony Stewart tussle of the afternoon on lap 38 resulted in front end damage being done to Junior’s machine; by lap 52, a hole in the radiator that resulted from the contact sent the No. 88 to the garage, the motor cooked for good. The 41st-place finish was Earnhardt’s worst since Homestead in 2008, dropping him from third to seventh in points. Two consecutive results outside the top 20 now have Earnhardt on a downward slide for the first time in 2011… so he needs to be careful. If Daytona’s kind, no harm no foul – but find trouble in the upcoming plate race, and suddenly Earnhardt is vulnerable. With the first signs of adversity, time to see how much of a difference Letarte has really made, right?
Joey Logano won the pole for Sunday’s Cup race, won the West Series race on Saturday, and scored a sixth-place finish Sunday that was only his third top-10 of 2011 and his career best on a road course. Three consecutive top-20 finishes may not look like much, but over the last month’s worth of races Logano has moved from 27th to 22nd in points and is now, assuming the No. 20 team can snag a win somewhere, primed to make a case for a wild-card Chase berth. Results such as Sunday’s were expected to be common place for a driver dubbed “Sliced Bread,” but have been anything but during a disappointing stint in the Cup Series. The question becomes though, after such a solid weekend, whether or not Logano and crew chief Greg Zipadelli are starting to feel the pressure and turn a corner. Home Depot is a big-time sponsor and Joe Gibbs Racing has race-winning cars. Logano’s had plenty of time to show improvement, and after an ugly start to 2011 now-or-never is a very realistic proposition for the team to find itself in. Logano deserves a pat on the back for such a strong showing on a road course, but it’s just that, a road course, a specialty race. Sunday’s finish means nothing unless the No. 20 crew can translate this type of performance onto oval circuits.
For the first time since 2005, Carl Edwards did not contest a Nationwide Series event, opting to stay in Sonoma for Saturday Cup practice instead of flying all the way to Road America to contest a race that offered no lessons relevant to Sunday’s Cup race or points. And lo and behold, look what happened. Edwards improved a total of 12 positions on the time charts over the course of Saturday’s two sessions, had a markedly improved race car when the green flag dropped on Sunday afternoon, and when all was said and done, scored a third-place result that was a career best at Sonoma and equaled his best on a road course. Maybe it’s just coincidence, but as soon as Edwards and Keselowski drop the whole double-duty mess, they both post career best finishes at Sonoma. It’s a more meaningful situation for Edwards, given his current stature as the driver most likely to topple Johnson in 2011. Suddenly, it seems as if winning a Cup title might finally be the priority.
The Hindenburg Award for Foul Fortune
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. See above.
Denny Hamlin led 12 laps on the day and was the class of the Joe Gibbs Racing stable, but was forced behind the pit wall on lap 62 with a broken track bar that required replacement. He finished 37th.
Boris Said was put behind the wheel of the No. 51 Phoenix Racing entry on Sunday, but did little to improve the performance of the team. Said finished a distant 28th this Sunday after late-race contact, his worst finish at Sonoma since 2008.
Ryan Newman was battling hard with Paul Menard in the closing laps for a spot in the top 15, but contact between the two knocked the No. 39 off the track. Newman limped home to 25th, dropping him to 10th in points, only three markers ahead of Denny Hamlin for the final spot in the top 10.
Kasey Kahne was also running in the top 10 late, but became the poster child victim of Juan Pablo Montoya. He finished 20th.
The “Seven Come Fore Eleven” Award for Fine Fortune
Jeff Gordon was uncharacteristically out of sorts early in the running of this Sonoma race, a non-factor for much of Sunday afternoon that the driver attributed to his team missing the setup. By race’s end, however, Gordon and crew’s adjustments rectified the miss, scoring a runner-up finish that allowed the No. 24 team to capitalize on the struggles of both Ryan Newman and Denny Hamlin. Of note, the finish was Gordon’s first top-2 result on a road course since winning Sonoma back in 2006.
Clint Bowyer’s fourth-place finish equaled his career-best result on a road course; more notably, Bowyer was one of the very few drivers capable of catching Kurt Busch for even a short period of time this Sunday, taking the lead for one circuit on lap 51.
Martin Truex, Jr. looked to be due for another episode of Sonoma 2010 on lap 42 when Denny Hamlin sent his No. 56 Toyota spinning in turn 11. Unlike a year ago, though, when Truex’s day was ruined after contact with Jeff Gordon, Truex stormed back to the front this year, racing hard back through the field and posting a top-10 finish as a result.
Marcos Ambrose wasn’t a threat to win this weekend, but the No. 9 team will surely take a top-5 finish on this driver’s specialty track.
David Gilliland earned some well-deserved kudos from the TV booth for a 12th-place finish that he earned on this Sunday. Despite having tires nearly 20 laps older than most of the cars he was racing, Gilliland gave drivers such as Montoya and Kyle Busch everything they could handle when the race was on the line. As dominating as Kurt Busch was, Gilliland very well may have had the performance of the afternoon.
What’s the Points?
Carl Edwards extended his points lead over Kevin Harvick to 25 markers this Sunday, with Jimmie Johnson moving up two spots to third on the heels of his seventh-place finish. Kurt Busch’s win moved him back to fourth in points, followed by brother Kyle and Matt Kenseth.
The big loser of the day was Dale Earnhardt, Jr., who dropped from third to seventh with his busted radiator. Clint Bowyer sits in eighth, Jeff Gordon ninth before Ryan Newman and Denny Hamlin, who also lost two positions in the standings apiece. They’re 10th and 11th.
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 four and half cans of American brew on ice. The race up front was a stinker, but there was some good side-by-side action in the pack, and plenty of fireworks to go around. Someone oughta remind the Cup guys that the 4th of July is next weekend.
Next Up – Daytona, and the asinine two-car shuffle. Even if it is Firecracker 400 race weekend, knowing the type of racing that’s going to be seen on Saturday night puts a damper on what used to be one of the more exciting weekends of the summer.
©2000 - 2008 Bryan Davis Keith and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
“Reign of Terror” is the best description I have seen of the actions of Montoya. Certainly could not call his rampage racing. This guy has gotta get control of himself.
Wow, Bryan, no mention of Tony Stewart being placed on top of a tire wall for spinning Brian Vickers? I’m guessing that’s just an oversight, but what the hell?
I am now a Brian Vickers fan. Good for him for not putting up with Stewart’s whining about people not letting him win.
Whoops, look like you did mention it…my fault. Sorry Bryan. Still, I did think it was worth more than one sentence…
That race yesterday was entertaining to watch but the road course races have become free-for-alls. Not sure what or if anything should be done about that but… I’m just sayin’.
I have to give Kesolowski two thumbs up for nailing Montoya. Juan was driving like he was the only one that mattered. Like he was destined to win. Well he got what he deserved.
I’m no Vickers fan but he paid back Stewart what he was due. He was not blocking. He had a car in front and two cars to the side. There was no where else he could go.
Bobby Labonte has run so bad this season that he doesn’t even warrent a Hindenburg mention for being put into the wall by McDowell for no real reason.
Keselowski and Vickers are my two favorite drivers this week. I wonder if Brad will being hearing from Montoya’s lawyer this week.
Personally, I like the road races better than the races at some of the newer cookie-cutter tracks. I’d trade two Chicagolands for another Sonoma in a heartbeat.
Tony Stewart went to great lengths to explain what he would not put up with on the track. It took Brian Vickers only a couple of seconds to show us the what HE won’t put up with.
Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick were off probation and running in close quarters at Sonoma, yet they played nice. Do we have Childress to thank for that?
I am not that fond of Infineon as a track, but I enjoyed the race. I’d give it 5 cans.
I actually despise Bwad K., but following the “Blind Squirrel Law” I give him a thumbs up, and I give a thumbs up to Carl D. for wondering about JPM’s attorney. Bringing the lawyers in just plain leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
But my best moment(s) of the race were those (on track and off) involving Smoke and Vickers. They were just plain good old fashioned fun, and, folks, when I come down to it that is why I watch racing. Fun.
Carl D., I saw a report that Kyle went up to Kevin after the race and thanked/congratulated him for racing him hard but clean. Either this is Kyle’s own version of the mind games going on between the two, or it is the “new Kyle” If the latter, I want the old Kyle back – immediately. Trying to be civil with Kevin is a waste of time because Kevin is simply pure evil. Jeffrey Dahmer and Charlie Manson have nothing on Kevin Harvick.
And Childress? What does he have to do with this? He is on the hook for THREE YEARS for civil assault and battery against Kyle. That is the statute of limitations in NC for that offense in civil court. In effect, Richard is on probation with Kyle, not the other way around. Kyle has chosen not to file criminal charges, but he has three years to decide if he wants to own RCR and fire Harvwrecks personally.
And when are crew chiefs going to learn that track position is ALWAYS more important than tires late in the race? At least a dozen drivers finished behind the likes of Bowyer and Logano because they made unnecessary late pit stops. The danger this time was not the inablity to pass, but getting in the way of JPM’s reign of terror.
As bad as JPM was, though, I did enjoy him saying that certain people (Brad K) don’t now how to drive on a road course. Very true, Juan, but still, did you have to take it out on everybody else?
And thanks much to Matt M. for skipping this week’s event. Please continue this public service. You probably got Bill Elliott’s career win total wrong because Bill won some race that you didn’t figure was worth your precious time and effort to watch. Solution: Don’t watch any of them.
What is it with these former F-1 guys on a NASCAR road course? They’re like an over sheltered child. Give them some freedom (aka fenders) and they go nuts. I loved watching JPM get dumped. I was wondering if Jacques Villenuve ended up winning that race Saturday if there would be a brawl in victory lane. NASCAR please put a road course in the Chase if we must keep the awful thing.
Just wondering if Cale Yarborough considered pressing charges against the Allison Brothers for the whuppin’ they put on him at the ’79 Daytona 500.
I’m with Carl D… Give me another road course in place of any of the second dates at the cookie cutter tracks. Michigan, Charlotte, Kansas, Texas… I’m talking about you guys. And I’d throw Pocono’s second race in there as well.
Carl D., a civil suit is different than pressing charges. Lower burden of proof. And money damages are the prize at the end of the day. Why not take some of Childress’ ill-gotten gaines from his assoication with Dale Sr.? It won’t happen, but it is a nice thought that Kyle could take Fat Richard to the cleaners and teach him some humility. And yes, it is Richard who needs the lesson, not Kyle.
But… A lawsuit is limited to damages. It didn’t look like Kyle suffered any damage to his face, nor does it look like his career has suffered. As for damages to his reputation, if a stinkbug landed on a pile of manure, would it smell any worse?
Thought that both Kez and BV had the right of it. JPM whining afterward that “no one gives me any room” was classic. Seriously dude, people would give you room if you didn’t drive like a one man wrecking ball. This whole thing about bringing a lawyer with him to the Nascar hauler – he’s probably got one on speed dial and needs it.
Liked Stewart’s “I dumped him because he was blocking” excuse. Somehow it didn’t look like that to me on the replay — the track was pretty much blocked by the 18 being off track and pinballing back into it. Stewart decided not the slow down and just ran over BV, so he had it coming.
That said, I really don’t like this new way of driving road courses – didn’t like the Nationwide race or Cup in particular. The good road racers used to be able to finesse it around the course, but since they are all driving the brick on wheels, it’s all become brute force & ignorance instead.
That’s why the statute of limitations is three years. So if there is any fallout, like Kyle losing a sponsor or getting fired by JGR, he can take it to RCR and make a case that the damages were caused by Dick-head personally and his organization collectively (including evil Kevin). That’s the beauty of damages – they don’t have to be physical; they just have to be measureable in dollars. And the deeper the pockets the better. Most civil cases never make it all the way to trial, but lots of money is spent in legal fees before a settlement is reached. Bugging the hell out of Richard would be worth the price of admission.
You think Jeremy Mayfield is gonna win his case? The nuisance value alone makes it worthwhile. And if I recall correctly, Tim Richmond’s family DID get a settlement from NASCRAP, which does not justify how they treated Tim, just gives some “payback” as you boys like to call it.
I call it revenge – a dish best served cold.
And I hate these arrogant RCR creeps so much, I would work on it for the sheer joy of it.
How come nobody mentioned Logano and Robby Gordon? Was Logano’s father in the car or inspiring him on the radio?
Logano’s dad probably threatened to beat up Zippy if he didn’t give Joey better cars LOL. After all, I’m sure daddy thinks Sliced Bread is perfect and everybody else is to blame.
Logano was clearly wrong. NASCAR drivers need to learn the difference between two very different concepts: blocking and a defensive line. Robby was taking the normal passing lane into that corner, but he never blocked Logano. He always took that lane. In order to be a block, he would have to wait until Logano pulled out and then move into the lane, which he didn’t do. Choosing a lane and staying in it is not a block, even if you’ve taken a line that is not normal for corner entrance. Anyone who has ever watched or driven in an actual road race would know this.
Cheers to Brian Vickers for putting Tony Stewart’s ass-end on top of a pile of tires. That was as beautiful as when he took out JJ and Jr. in a deft winning manauver at Talledega. The kid sure knows how to take out the right people.
The way I see it, if you’re “blocking”, you’re moving from lane to lane on the track in order to keep the driver behing you from passing you. That’s fair, but it could end up getting you punted, which is also fair. And if you do get punted, it’s fair for you to pay that driver back on the track. As far as the Vickers-Stewart incident, neither did anything “illegal”, but both paid the price for pissing each other off.
That’s just racin’.
My understanding is that blocking is illegal in Indy car racing. I always wondered how they defined it, because obviously, you shouldn’t have to just let the car behind go by just because he is faster. A driver ought to be able to fight to hold his position. Does anybody know how blocking is defined and enforced in Indy? I know Helio has been penalized for blocking several times. Do you get black-flagged or warned first? If NASCAR considers blocking legal, then it should not be legal to punt somebody out of the way for it. Other sports have rules about legal and illegal hits – why shouldn’t NASCAR?
I suppose it is that macho image that NASCAR tries so hard to achieve – as if. As if anybody believes race car drivers are tougher than football players or NBA players or soccer players. Stupid redneck image that means nothing.
More of that stone-age Yarborough-Allison mentality. Last I checked, they weren’t racing anymore.
No, Yarborough and Allison are not driving anymore. We all get old. We don’t all make the Hall of Fame, though.
The race started at about 12:20 on the west coast. Why can’t the east coast races start at that time? It seems there is a definite increase in church attendance when the NFL season ends.
Didn’t Joey get Robby because Robby roughed him up earlier?
Bill – I don’t know the exact rule, but I think the gist of it is that you can’t made a sudden change to your driving line with the sole intent of blocking the path of the pursuer.
If the pursuer is put into the position of having to either slam on his brakes, or plow into you, that’s probably a block.
Happens in NASCAR and they don’t seem to mind it, especially late in the plate races pre-tandem era.
Tony said that he dumped Vickers because he was blocking him, so he dumped him. Jr. is the one who paid for Tony’s dumping Vickers, down to 7th in points. Tony got what he had coming later…but that did not help Jr. Tony was being a jerk, & according to his interview, Tony intends to continue being a jerk for the rest of his career.
Bill S if you would have really watched the race you wouldve seen that Bowyer and Logano took tires on the last caution
another good article Matt
Marybeth, do you have anything else to talk about besides Jr. When he has a bad race, you make excuses for him or its always someone elses fault. Your driver started back in the pack and that’s what happens when you don’t qualify well.
Montoya: If he had any patience he could have had a nice top 5 finish and moved up the standings with everyone else having problems. Instead he punted everyone, got a taste of his own medicine and ended up 20 something.
Logano: I disagree with your assessment of Logano. You obviously have some dislike for him. Isn’t there a 3 year rule for young drivers to develop? I have heard that many times. He has not reach a full 3 years yet so I think you are being a little harsh and think a top 5 on a road course is a pretty good feat. Whens the last time Jr had a top 5 on a road course? Also, didn’t the media create this name for him. I don’t remember anyone else calling him “sliced bread” other than the media. So how is that his fault?
Tim, if you could read, you would see that Matt did not write this article. He snubs tracks he does not like. Bryan Davis Keith III wrote this masterpiece.
And since you were wrong about the obvious, I will have to verify your statement about Bowyer and Logano. They restarted well ahead of drivers who had been in front of them before the last caution.