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.
After a Truck Series race Friday night that went down as one of the most destructive, unpredictable endings the sport has ever seen, the Nationwide Series came in and one-upped John King’s unlikely win. Over the course of the race’s final 17 laps, three wrecks collecting 23 cars devastated the field. And when an ill-timed block pinched Tony Stewart into the fence, setting off a melee coming to the checkered flag, James Buescher came from 11th place entering turn 4 only to emerge unscathed down the frontstretch, taking his first career NASCAR victory less than 18 hours after his Turner Motorsports Truck team saw a dominant evening go sour late. Brad Keselowski, Elliott Sadler, Cole Whitt and Austin Dillon rounded out the top 5.
In a departure from the other races of Speedweeks so far, tandem drafting was the story of the day Saturday afternoon, with the leaders running two-by-two at the front while a larger pack ran at the back. This package did absolutely nothing to reduce the wrecks that have plagued racing at Daytona for the past week, though, with only 17 cars finishing this event on the lead lap (and at least six of those were crash-damaged coming to the checkers).
Elliott Sadler will leave Daytona as the points leader, since James Buescher has declared for the Truck Series championship race in 2012. By the way, polesitter Danica Patrick finished 38th after spinning out early drafting with teammate Whitt.
For James Buescher, Friday and Saturday could not have been more different days. Driving the No. 31 Truck that he came so close to winning a title with a year ago, he, along with teammates Nelson Piquet, Jr. and Miguel Paludo were the class of the field, leading well over half the race before falling victim to a myriad of crashes that ended the event. Saturday was a far different story. The No. 30 car was, at best a mid-pack entry throughout 300 miles, spending much of the day simply struggling to land a top 15. But this time, when the wrecks came, Buescher got to play the role of John King and take his first career NASCAR win at the world’s center of racing. It’s no secret that Buescher has benefited from his status as the son-in-law of team owner Steve Turner. However, between showing real muscle in his truck and this win, Buescher has demonstrated considerable development as a driver over the course of this Speedweeks.
Richard Childress Racing’s return to the Nationwide Series they used to dominate showed that old habits die hard. Right out of the box, Elliott Sadler and Austin Dillon both scored top-5 finishes to start their 2012 campaigns, with Sadler proving to be one of the strongest cars in the field all afternoon long. With Sadler having come as close as he did to winning the Nationwide crown a season ago and Dillon coming off a Truck Series title of his own, it’s not too early or unreasonable to say that this year’s title chase may well go through RCR’s shop.
Tayler Malsam’s return to NASCAR racing after losing his Truck ride with Randy Moss Motorsports early last year went about as well as he could hope for. Carrying the flag for the four-car Tri-Star Motorsports operation, Malsam was the only one of the organization’s three full-time race teams to bring his car home in one piece, scoring a career-best sixth-place result for his troubles.
Here are some other notable, underdog results worthy of some shout-outs. Benny Gordon equaled his career-best finish of 12th after narrowly making the field; Danny Efland scored his career best in 13th despite having only one and a half set of tires in his pits for the 300-mile race; and Josh Wise finished 14th with no sponsorship after his three teammate cars at Key Motorsports all failed to qualify for this event on Friday.
Jason Bowles’ first full-time campaign in the Nationwide Series got off to a short and sour start, with the No. 81 car parked after only 28 laps with a blown engine. Motor problems also ended up plaguing a number of Nationwide Series regulars past and present. Joey Gase’s day ended 12 laps short of the finish when the No. 39 Ford saw its power plant expire, and though J.J. Yeley is a full-time Cup driver for 2012, it is worth noting that what will currently be the last Nationwide Series race for longtime owner Jay Robinson ended in a puff of smoke after only 43 circuits.
Mike Bliss absolutely shocked the field in the early going when teamed up with Joe Nemechek, shooting out of nowhere to lead six laps with his unsponsored No. 44 Chevrolet and having the horses to keep up with the fastest lead tandems in the field. The powerhouse duo ended up being kryptonite for Bliss when it counted, though; on lap 60, Bliss had to check up approaching turn 4 on the backstretch, leaving Nemechek to plow into the back of Bliss’ Chevrolet. The damage was too much for the No. 44 team to repair, leaving them a disappointing 39th.
Jeremy Clements had some horses under the hood as well this Saturday, as both he and Wise were able to crack the top 10 in the draft before mechanical issues forced an extended pit stop for the No. 51 team. Clements was able to avoid crash damage, but ended the day five laps off the pace in 25th.
Defending NNS champion Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. finished 19th after being collected in the final crash with victory in sight. Not bad in the grand scheme of things, but the Roush Fenway organization has to consider that a disappointing effort, especially with how strong the Fords have run during Speedweeks.
Sam Hornish, Jr. looked less like the Phoenix race winner of last fall and more like the greenhorn open-wheeler he was early in his Cup career when he triggered a massive crash on lap 113, coming down on David Ragan’s nose after scraping the wall in turn 4. The damage wasn’t terrible, as his No. 12 team finished 20th but that’s still not an inspiring start for Penske Racing’s lone title contender.
JR Motorsports may have had Cole Whitt finish fourth, but it came with a price. All three of the team’s cars suffered some form of crash damage over the course of 300 miles. And Whitt will have to deal with the wrath of the team’s new flagship driver in Danica Patrick, who was absolutely irate with the Californian after being bumped entering turn 4 and sent into a spin that destroyed the front end of her car. Danica finished a distant 38th after winning the pole… and based on her tirade on the radio after the incident, there may well be more tension in the shop this week than they’d like to admit.
23 wrecked cars in the final 17 laps of competition. At a minimum, that’s over $2.5 million in damage for Nationwide Series teams to account for. And that’s not even counting crashes earlier in the race. Speaking to Jeremy Clements Friday, the owner/driver noted that an acute shortage of equipment in the Nationwide Series “is always in your mind when you race. We have five cars now (the team ran the entire schedule in 2011 with only three) but we can’t afford to just go out there and wreck them.”
That storyline holds true for a ton of teams in the garage that were not as lucky to avoid crash damage this weekend. And there is no “magic button” solution to the issue. The wreck coming to the checkers was the result of a Cup regular in Joey Logano throwing a banzai block indicative of a driver that doesn’t have repairs to worry about. The crash on lap 113 was triggered by driver error on Sam Hornish, Jr.’s part, getting out of line on the high side in turn 4 and then swiping across David Ragan’s nose. The “Big One” before that was an accordion effect, with Benny Gordon being the catalyst that slammed both Kenny Wallace and Justin Allgaier into the fence after Trevor Bayne nearly lost it up front.
The Cup guys weren’t all to blame. Nor was inexperience. And it certainly wasn’t plate racing’s fault, either. Let’s not forget that the ARCA Series managed to run their season opener without a single “Big One.”
Underdog Performer of the Race: Timmy Hill. This time a year ago, eventual NNS Rookie of the Year Timmy Hill was watching this race, too young at the time to tackle the high banks of Daytona. Now, with a sponsor on board, Hill returned to the superspeedway, avoided the carnage, stayed on the lead lap with or without the crashes… and ended the day with a career-best seventh-place finish. There’s no doubting that Hill improved by leaps and bounds after being thrown into the deep end with Rick Ware Racing last year, and with the addition of teammate Blake Koch (who finished a solid 17th) RWR is poised to make noise they typically haven’t at this level of racing.
Start-and-parkers occupied 2 of the 43 starting positions in Saturday’s race, taking home $81,531 in purse money.
Cup regulars scored 4 of the top-10 finishing positions in Saturday’s race, occupied 11 of the 43 spots in the field, and took home $542,982 in purse money.
The Final Word
• James Buescher’s win marks the first time a non-Cup driver has won the season opener at Daytona since Randy LaJoie took the checkers in 2001, driving Ed Evans’ No. 7 Kleenex Pontiac.
©2000 - 2008 Bryan Davis Keith and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
Watching the Kenny Wallace special on trying to make the 500, he mentioned that the cost of a Nascar license had gone up from $3k to $8k. Seems like Nascar is going to make their money no matter what the situation is for the teams and drivers.
Bryan you nailed it with the logano comment “bonsai block since he doesn’t have to worry about repairs”. This kind of crap has gone on for years now. These cup drivers with their mega million dollar cup teams using the busch series as their own personal playground, driving like reckless stooges. Why won’t any of the busch regular owners have the balls to speak out about this? By the way whatever happened to all the talk about less cup drivers in the minors this year? Sure doesn’t appear that way. Cup drivers please do us all a favor, you’ve made it to the big time, stay there dammit!
Yea we keep hearing about the superior car control these cup veterans possess. Then why is it, that they caused the biggest wrecks of the day? Or is it that they could care less about wrecking their car since they have 20 others in the shop to replace while the small budget teams only have maybe 2 or 3, but who cares about them, right? Remember everyone watches the NNS series to see the cup drivers, isn’t that what we’re told?
SB, Jeff, and Fred have good remarks to this article. It is a race to see which one destroyes itself. Nascar or Obamas destroying The USof A. After Obama destruction racing will not excist only someone racing to get a piece of stale bread. We need to enjoy racing while it is still here ever how flawed it may be.
Logano Blocked? Clearly you need to go back and watch the footage again because that did not happen. Kurt Busch moved up to block and forced logano higher up the track where stewart was, thus causing the cars to wreck…I am not a fan of any of those drivers either, but I just can’t believe you all actually agree on logano causing that wreck when he was pushed up the hill. If Busch stayed on the bottom, then there wouldn’t have been a wreck at that moment, but being the last lap their would be bound to have a wreck somewhere during that lap.
And yes Hornish did move up the track a little but so did a lot of other drivers throughout the day then came back down to protect position. That was just a case of plate racing and I can’t pin it on hornish too much as you could easily say ragan should know to not go 4 wide at daytona especially on the frontstrech. Only place you can possibly do that is the backstretch because of its length but we know disaster is lurking once you get to turn 3. And Ragan had little choice though because if he backed up he would of gotten run over and spun out and big one would have happened either way.
It’s exciting racing and great way to kick off the season as it get’s so much interest from so many people, but glad it is only a few times a year.
Hell we all know we need something to keep us interested after those boring races of the season like pocono, california, michigan, kansas, chicago, texas, and any other track that has been built in the last 20 years where cars barely have to break.
1) Danica is not the ‘flagship driver’ at JR Motorsports, I certainly think that Whitt will do better.
2) There is no more ‘Key Motorsports’ it is now called The Motorsports Group.
Awesome article. You nailed it on point two under “The Final Word.” Hoping to see some reason to get sucked into Danicamania-not seeing it yet. Interesting about the increased entry fees. NASCAR sems to want to make it harder and harder for the (small) teams to compete, while sucking up every dollar they can for themselves. NASCAR management, especially the France family, suck.
Keep writing the great articles.
One point missed. Danica finished 38th and was 48-laps down. Johanna Long, in a car that’s no where near as well funded as Danica’s, finished 21st, and was only 1-lap down.
From the beginning of the year, I hoped that Johanna finished ahead of the Supermodel.
Nice job Bryan. So far 2012 is off to a better start than 2011 in the Nationwide series.
Right out of the gate, Brian is taking shots at Danica. Picking up where you left off there Brian?
And to the person saying Joanna Long was a better driver than Danica, then I guess Jimmie Johnson is a terrible driver since he only lasted 2 laps on Monday. Comments like that show just how little you know about racing. Please educate yourself before you make a ridiculous comment like that.