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 · Thursday September 22, 2011
ONE: Pit Call of the Day to Johnston, Truex?
When all was said and done on Monday, there wasn’t much to celebrate statistically for the No. 56 team, coming home a mediocre 18th despite leading 14 laps (more than he’s led the previous nine races combined). And those laps came late in the going, with Martin Truex Jr. going full bore as leaders Tony Stewart, Jimmie Johnson and others were stroking the throttle, trying to conserve fuel to the finish. Truex and the No. 56 team knew full well they weren’t making it to the checkers without stopping; they had played an earlier strategy card, banking on a caution to come with 20-30 to go that would force the hands of the pack to come in for tires if not gas.
Given how 2011 has played out, with copious numbers of fuel mileage finishes and a visible decline in cautions, playing that strategy card was the No. 56 squad trying to defy the odds. And it didn’t work out; the caution never came, Truex’s charge to the front of field past both the Chase field and the class of Monday’s field fell well short of a serious challenge for the win, and his team remained without a top 10 finish on a 1.5 mile oval since Las Vegas nearly six months ago. And it was the exact right call for crew chief Chad Johnston to make.
Yes, it didn’t work out, and it may well have cost the team its ninth top 10 finish of the season; around lap 150 the NAPA team had reached that point in the running order. But Johnston, for all the flack he’s been catching for the call, did exactly what both a non-Chaser team and a flagship for a struggling organization should be doing…he made a play for the win. He got his team off-sequence, he got them up front, and when it became clear it wasn’t going to work, he had his driver in position to at least score some TV time and some confidence. Anyone that’s had the type of year Truex has had is going to take something away from blowing by the No. 48, from blowing by Tony Stewart on his A game, even if its just for a fleeting few laps.
Instead of going for the top 10, Johnston played to win. He lost, and his team lost. But there’s definitely something to be said for going down swinging. After all, what else is a team outside Brian’s favorite circle supposed to do during their two-month lack of appreciation tour?
TWO: Go Figure…Chicago Lacked a Spark
The new face of the Chase was the 1.5-mile cookie cutter in Chicagoland, and the 400-miler played out just as anyone from the pundit to the casual fan would have expected; clean air made top 10 cars dominant race cars up front, pit stops and track position were essential, and fuel mileage dictated the way the finish unfolded. Oh, and debris cautions aplenty.
There was some good racing through the field; most notably, Jimmie Johnson’s methodical performance until the gas tank ran dry had plenty of entertaining exchanges to enjoy on the track. But wasn’t there was constant close quarters racing. What wasn’t there was a spark, a la the Kurt Busch/Scott Riggs tussle of 2005, to set things in motion, to set the stage for the upcoming stretch of races. Instead, well, short of Tony Stewart finally breaking through in 2011, Monday’s race was about as predictable as they come. Carl Edwards, Jimmie Johnson and Kevin Harvick were fixtures in the top 10. Ryan Newman was a top 10 car, but it took pit strategy to get the No. 39 to the front of the field. Kurt Busch was a rocket ship in the first half, then enjoyed a fade in the closing run of the event that saw the No. 22 team fall victim to their driver’s latest tirade.
Had it not been for the fuel mileage shuffle in the final lap, this race would have just about as played out as the standings chart. And given that five of the 10 Chase races are on these intermediate circuits, that’s bound to happen sooner or later (face it NASCAR, even with the reset, the top teams are the top for a reason). But given the purpose of the Chase, to spur interest in the sport and avoid a Matt Kenseth-esque charge of consistency to a championship, Chicago was about the worst possible starting point. There were no scuffles. There was no traded paint. There was, for better or worse, the type of racing that is seen on intermediate ovals.
The rainout just put an exclamation point on what everyone with half a clue saw coming; Chicago was another race; it was the start of absolutely nothing worth exciting over.
THREE: The Math at Roush Fenway Racing Isn’t Pretty Right Now
Matt Kenseth is sans a primary sponsor for 2012. David Ragan’s No. 6 car is short at least 20 races, and more like 28, on paint jobs for next year. Trevor Bayne and Ricky Stenhouse Jr.‘s Nationwide Series entries have been running on patchquilt sponsorship for all of 2011. Carl Edwards has close to full season covered on his Cup car…because his No. 99 Cup team poached his Nationwide Series backer…and (at least partly) as a result, Edwards will be running only part-time in the Nationwide ranks for the first time since 2004.
That’s a lot of sponsorship for any organization to sell, especially for Roush, which is widely known to be among the most expensive organizations to sponsor at all levels of stock car racing. And that leaves the team in an interesting predicament, because the team’s succession plan is now likely to be interrupted. Edwards, Kenseth and Biffle are all nowhere near retiring, and given their time and contributions to the RFR organization, they’re not going anywhere. If there’s a Cup driver on the roster that’s on their way out, it’s David Ragan, even if he did have a better season after a win at Daytona in the summer.
One of two scenarios plays out here. Let’s say Ragan keeps his seat. That leaves Roush with no place to move development drivers; namely, Daytona 500 champion Trevor Bayne and the likely Nationwide Series champion in Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Those are two awfully big names to have running in the Nationwide ranks again without primary backing…and in the current case of 2012 without a fully sponsored No. 60 team to bounce stuff off of.
So let’s say one of those two gets promoted to the No. 6 at the expense of Ragan. Yes, that leaves some Cup races for the second driver in the Wood Brothers’ No. 21 car (who are rumored to be considering both Bayne and Stenhouse for their seat in 2012), but that also means one will still have to stay put in Roush’s Nationwide program for 2012…a program that again, will be without backing and short at least one full-time teammate.
The talent is definitely in this stable, and Ford Racing has already enjoyed one of their best seasons in recent memory, with a legitimate shot at both the Nationwide and Cup titles and a season sweep of the Daytona races under their belt. That being said, there’s some real issues about what the roster is going to look like next season.
FOUR: Speaking of Lack of Health, Look at the Nationwide Series
Take a good hard look at the top 10 in points in that series and what’s on tap for their 2012 seasons:
Ricky Stenhouse Jr.- no sponsorship for 2012, unknown what Roush Fenway Racing’s NNS program will look like.
Elliot Sadler – the No. 2 team is being merged into another organization following this season.
Reed Sorenson – primary backer Dollar General is not resigned for 2012 despite a winning season and sitting third in points.
Aric Almirola – signed and sponsored for 2012
Justin Allgaier – sponsorship uncertain for 2012; could Allgaier be getting the Great Clips deal?
Jason Leffler – unsponsored for 2012; free to search for a new ride
Kenny Wallace – likely to return to the No. 09 with American Ethanol/Toyota backing
Steve Wallace – losing primary sponsorship after Homestead
Brian Scott – returning for 2012 with family sponsorship
Michael Annett – expected to return for 2012 with family sponsorship
Out of those top 10 drivers, less than half have dollars and firm places to race next year…and half of those are being sponsored by the family business. It was already shocking enough to see 2010 ARCA Racing Series champion Patrick Sheltra all but fall off the map in 2011 despite having won a national touring series title…but now that same type of scenario is hitting the Nationwide Series, the same entity that NASCAR continually takes pride in dubbing “the second biggest form of motorsports in America?”
The financial questions at Roush pale in comparison to what’s being seen industry-wide at this level of racing. Ten start-and-parks are regularly appearing already at this point of the season…and now even running in the top 10 isn’t landing dollars.
Do the math on this one, it’s not pretty. And there’s not much of it to do.
FIVE: JGR May Have a Seat Next Year…For a Price
With all of that uncertainty at the very top of the Nationwide Series pecking order for 2011, even the team that has made the series its playground since 2008 is likely looking at openings next year. With Joey Logano’s return to the team still up in the air, the No. 20 car would need a new primary driver for the first time in years, and possibly even new sponsor dollars if GameStop didn’t come back. And as for Kyle Busch and the vaunted No. 18…well, all signs are pointing to Busch running plenty of NNS races in 2012…driving for his own race team. There’s nothing official to back this theory…yet. But it’s no secret that Kyle Busch has found Truck Series ownership to be a losing venture fiscally…and that Dollar General, the same sponsor that’s painted Busch’s trucks for much of 2011, has yet to re-up with Turner Motorsports and the No. 32 team despite being a legitimate title contender and a race winner with Reed Sorenson behind the wheel.
Long and short, there’s a viable case to be made that both the Nos. 18 and 20 will be available next season. Problem is, affording them. Sources have told Frontstretch that factoring in the level of preparation and equipment that JGR is employing at the Nationwide level, a single race behind the wheel of one of those vaunted Toyotas is going to run a driver in the neighborhood of $150,000 an event. In short, that’s a $5+ million dollar level of sponsorship for a season.
That type of dollars and cents kind of puts JGR’s dominance into perspective doesn’t it? The equivalent of 6-8 purses of race winnings per race for a budget?
On the plus side anyway, if some development driver comes out of nowhere with that kind of cash, it’d be nice to see someone else stomping the field in the No. 18. Wouldn’t it?
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There’s 2 ways this Nationwide series issue will play out: either teams stop spending crazy money on it or it goes away. Not really much other way it can go. If the few rich teams keep throwing big dollars at it, NASCAR will have small fields or lots of field fillers .
It’s no surprise the NNS-only drivers get no TV time and many are hunting for rides:
The Top 5 have a total of 4 wins between them. Cup guys running partial schedules ? 24 wins. So who do you think sponsors want in the cars? People who win, and win with regularity.
The Truck series right now is dying, and the NNS series has no identity. Maybe it’s time to kill off the NNS series, expand the Truck series to 35 races (and 43 trucks), and the Cup series to 50 races (with the extra 14 races being doubleheader races Sat-Sun at the same trace, one being 1/2 or 2/3s the length of the Sunday race.
The nation wide just needs nw drivers. not cup drivers. this is nothing but a bunch of bs. [just like brain and mike are full of. this sport right now is one big mess. Thanks to the [old poops] that have just KILLED OUR SPORT.
Hey, I heard that the race at NH this week-end has renamed the fuel mileage 300. And the nothingwide series is close to becoming an invisible corpse.
I agree with killing off the NNS. I think that the Nationwide Series COT belongs in the Cup Series anyway. It should just be Cup and Truck. There should be a rule banning Cup guys from racing in the Truck Series. Lastly, about the Nationwide Series COT, you order Chevy to race the Camaro or they are out of NASCAR.