NASCAR Changes Qualifying Format
posted by Summer Bedgood
Tuesday March 11, 2014
Following safety concerns regarding NASCAR’s new qualifying format, the sanctioning body is introducing some changes in preparation for this weekend’s race at Bristol Motor Speedway. According to the Associated Press, NASCAR is banning teams from cool-down laps after their qualifying attempts, but will instead be allowed to hook up cool-down units to the engine through hood flaps.
Late Tuesday afternoon, a release from NASCAR fully detailed the changes. Teams will be allowed a single cool down unit to be connected through the right or left side hood flap, however the hood must remain closed. Additionally, two crew members will be allowed over the wall while cooling down.
“The qualifying is new to all of us and as we have said over the past several weeks, we are looking at it from all aspects,” said Robin Pemberton, vice president of competition and racing development. “Following discussions, both internally and with others in the garage area, we moved quickly to make a few revisions that will be effective starting with our two national series events at Bristol Motor Speedway this weekend. We believe this will only enhance and improve what has demonstrated to be an exciting form of qualifying for our fans, competitors and others involved with the sport. Moving forward we will continue to look at it and address anything else that we may need to as the season unfolds.”
The move comes after three weeks of NASCAR’s new knockout qualifying system, where multiple cars are allowed to make qualifying attempts at the same time instead of the traditional one-car-at-a-time procedure. Drivers and teams had complained that the new rules didn’t allow them to cool their engines down on pit road, and the cool-down laps caused a dangerous situation with slower cars staying on the track at the same time that other cars were running by them at much higher speeds.
The rule will begin this weekend in Bristol, a track that has a much narrower racing surface than Daytona, Phoenix, and Las Vegas.
Kurt Busch to Attempt The Indianapolis-Charlotte Double
posted by Phil Allaway
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Andretti Autosport announced this morning that Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet in the Sprint Cup Series, will attempt the Indianapolis 500 in a fifth entry for the IndyCar Series team. Once the Indianapolis 500 is completed, Busch will fly from Indianapolis to Charlotte, jump in his No. 41 Chevrolet and compete in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Busch considers the opportunity to do the double as an old-school throwback moment.
“This is really to challenge myself within motorsports,” Busch said in Andretti Autosport’s press release. “Perhaps I am a bit of an old-school racer; a throwback, I guess. I enjoyed the era of drivers racing different cars and testing themselves in other series. It is tough to do now for a variety of factors, but when the opportunity is there, I want to do it. While NASCAR is my home, I have been fortunate to compete in Pro Stock on the NHRA circuit a number of years ago and test a V8 Supercar. This opportunity was a talk with Michael [Andretti] over dinner one night, a “What if,” and now it’s becoming a reality for me to drive in the Indy 500 with Andretti Autosport. It’s literally a dream come true. To go to the famous Brickyard with the iconic Andretti name, it doesn’t get much cooler or better than that.”
Busch will be doing the Indianapolis-Charlotte double as a Memorial Day mission to men and women serving in the U.S. Military via the Armed Forces Foundation. Fans can contribute to the cause by texting AFF to 50555 to donate $10.
Busch, who has never raced an IndyCar, passed Rookie Orientation at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year during a test session. At the time, Busch was more or less testing the Dallara DW12 for fun.
Busch will be the fourth driver to attempt the Indianapolis-Charlotte double. John Andretti was the first driver to attempt it in 1994. After finishing four laps down in tenth in Indianapolis, Andretti crashed and had engine problems in the 600. Robby Gordon has attempted the double five times, most recently in 2004. However, Gordon failed to make it to Charlotte on time and did not start the 600 in 2000 (P.J. Jones started Gordon’s No. 13 Ford in that instance). Finally, Tony Stewart has attempted the double twice (most recently in 2001) and is the only driver to ever complete all 1100 miles. Neither of the three drivers has won either leg of the double. The best finishes are Stewart and Gordon’s sixth-place finishes at the Indianapolis 500 (although Gordon’s came in 2000, the year he didn’t make it to Charlotte in time to start the Coca-Cola 600), and Stewart’s fourth-place finish in the 2001 Coca-Cola 600.
Danica Patrick, Justin Allgaier Talk About Phoenix Incident
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
A disappointing start to the year for Danica Patrick won’t include continued conflict. Patrick met with rookie Justin Allgaier Sunday, shortly after the Phoenix Cup race after a wreck ruined both drivers’ days. Patrick, who was critical of the No. 51 car on the radio, claiming Allgaier was “driving all over the track” appeared receptive to a conversation that quickly settled differences over what will be a long season.
“She was just upset because she got involved in the crash that we had,’’ said Allgaier to the Motor Racing Network. “She says she’s been through this and that she felt like I needed to settle down at that point. I explained my position on why everything happened. I think she understood where I was coming from. It doesn’t fix either one of our racecars. It doesn’t fix either one of our days. Unfortunately, we were both having pretty decent days.’’
Allgaier wound up 30th due to the incident while Patrick was 36th. The incident, which was caused by Allgaier’s spin also involved the No. 32 team and Travis Kvapil, which wound up 38th after sustaining heavy damage.
Camping World Close to Extending Title Sponsorship of NCWTS
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Marcus Lemonis, CEO of Camping World, Grand Marshal of Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway, and star of CNBC’s “The Profit,” made the announcement over the weekend that the retailer is very close to announcing a deal that would continue its title sponsorship of NASCAR’s Truck Series. The original agreement with NASCAR is scheduled to conclude after the 2015 season.
According to the sanctioning body, no formal contract has been signed, but “the agreement between the two parties has proven to be a beneficial one.”
“In about a month, we’ll be announcing a significant extension to that contract. It’s been great for us,” said Camping World’s Lemonis in a statement. “The NASCAR relationship has worked well for Camping World. When we started, we had 35 stores. Now, we’re up to 120 stores. As we travel the country and we meet new customers in stores, they always are very appreciative of our relationship with NASCAR. It’s been good.”
Gaining a long-term commitment from Camping World to sponsor the Truck Series would be a relief for NASCAR, which is set to lose Nationwide Insurance as title sponsor for the NASCAR Nationwide Series at the end of the 2014 season. The sponsorship of the Cup Series by Sprint runs through 2016.
The NCWTS is back in action on March 29th at 2:30 PM (ET) when the trucks visit Martinsville Speedway in the Kroger 250, which can be seen on Fox Sports 1. Ratings for the season opener were up 11 percent.
Harvick Takes Win At Phoenix In Second Race With New Team
posted by Justin Tucker
Monday March 3, 2014
Phoenix International Raceway has become Kevin Harvick’s home away from home. Sunday Afternoon was no exception as Harvick charged to the front early and would dominate for much of the day, leading 224 of the scheduled 312 laps to record his record fifth win on the one mile oval and his third win in the last four races at Phoenix.
Harvick, coming off of a disappointing Speedweeks which was capped by a last lap crash in the Daytona 500 in his debut with Stewart-Haas Racing, set the tone on Saturday by winning both practices while having the best 5 and 10-lap averages in the first practice of the day on Saturday. On Sunday, Harvick and his No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet was nothing short of flawless as he was able to hold Dale Earnhardt, Jr. by .489 seconds after a late race restart to claim his 24th career Sprint Cup Series victory.
“Man, this is awesome,” Harvick said after his dominant victory on Sunday. “Man, this just solidifies so many things and so many decisions. It’s been so much work with all the time and effort that these guys (the crew) have put in—but what a race car.”
Stewart Haas Racing co-owner Gene Haas shared in Harvick’s excitement after the race.
“It took long enough,” Haas joked. “This is phenomenal. I think there was a lot of skepticism last year about what myself and Tony (Stewart) what we were up to, was there a lot of madness to this. Quite frankly, it’s a great team, there’s a lot of synergy at the shop, people working together. I don’t know what we did, but I think we put together a great organization.”
Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt, Jr. continued his hot start to the 2014 season. Earnhardt Jr. would finish second on Sunday, marking his seventh consecutive top 10 finish since the end of the 2013 season. Earnhardt Jr. was pleased with the effort after a coast-to-coast whirlwind week after winning his second Daytona 500 and also gave great praise to the efforts of Harvick and the No. 4 team.
“I’ve got to congratulate Kevin. Those guys were two-tenths faster than everyone all weekend in practice. They were just phenomenal,” Earnhardt said. “To be able to run with them all day was a big confidence builder for us.”
Joining Harvick and Earnhardt in the top 5 of The Profit on CNBC 500K were Brad Keselowski with his second consecutive top 3 run of 2014 in third. Keselowski’s Team Penske teammate Joey Logano would finish fourth, and Jeff Gordon would come home fifth in his No. 24 Pepsi Max Chevrolet.
Jimmie Johnson finished in sixth, followed by Ryan Newman with a nice rebound after Daytona in seventh. Carl Edwards would carry the banner for Roush Fenway Racing by finishing eighth, Kyle Busch was ninth, and Jamie McMurray would finish tenth.
A look at the Profit on CNBC 500K by the numbers. There were 14 lead changes among eight different drivers, there were eight cautions for 39 laps which slowed the race pace to 109.229 MPH.
Next Sunday, the Sprint Cup Series heads to Sin City and the Las Vegas Motor
Starting Lineup: The Profit On CNBC 500K
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday March 1, 2014
Drivers in RED (i) are those ineligible to collect Sprint Cup points
Daytona 500 TV Ratings Down
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Wednesday February 26, 2014
What was the longest weather delay in Daytona 500 history turned out to bring NASCAR lower ratings and TV viewership Sunday night than expected. According to a report Monday from FOX Sports, the 56th running of the Daytona 500 airing at 8 PM (ET) posted a 5.6/10 national household rating/share which averaged 9.3 million viewers. That’s down 44 percent from last year’s 9.9, easily making it the least-watched Daytona 500 of all-time.
Due to the six-hour, twenty-two minute rain delay in Daytona, the race was up against the primetime coverage of the Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony from Sochi, Russia on NBC (15.25 million viewers). FOX also reported that 69% of the pre-rain delay viewers of the race, which began at 1 PM (ET) kept tuning in.
In comparison, the 2013 Daytona 500 on FOX was the most-watched race in five years, posting a 9.9/22 rating/share, commanding 16.7 million viewers. The Daytona 500 in 2012, the first to ever be run on a Monday and in the primetime slot did a 7.7/13 overnight rating/share which resulted in 13.67 million households viewing the race according to Nielsen TV ratings data.
Earnhardt, Jr. Claims Second Daytona 500 Victory
posted by Justin Tucker
Wednesday February 26, 2014
Ten years is a long time. For Dale Earnhardt, Jr., it felt like an eternity. NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver endured many near misses and close calls at the Daytona 500 since his only win in the Great American Race in 2004. Earnhardt had finished second in two of his last three Daytona 500s coming into Sunday’s race. He was also riding the tail of a 55-race winless streak, dating back to Michigan in 2012.
However nothing would stop Dale Jr. on Sunday, not even a 6 hour and 22 minute rain delay from capturing his second Daytona 500 win. Earnhardt Jr. led a race-high 54 laps on the evening and used some timely drafting help from teammates Jimmie Johnson and, on the final restart, Jeff Gordon to separate from the pack and secure the victory.
“Winning this race is the greatest feeling that you could feel in this sport besides accepting the trophy for the championship,” said a jubilant Earnhardt after pulling into Victory Lane. “We could fight off battle after battle. We got a little help at the end there from Jeff to get away on the restart. This is amazing. I can’t believe this is happening. I never take this for granted, man because it doesn’t happen twice, let alone once.”
Aside from the race itself the big story of the race was the 6 hour and 22 minute red flag, which threatened to move the race to Monday evening (had the race been postponed, FOX Sports’ Chris Myers had tweeted that the race would resume at 5:00pm EST). However, Mother Nature would cooperate and would allow the race to be run under different conditions from which they practiced this week. Once the race resumed, the intensity picked up from the changing track conditions. This allowed the pack to race side-by-side and at times 3-wide up to seven rows deep.
Joining Earnhardt Jr. in the top 5 for the 2014 Daytona 500 were: Denny Hamlin who closed out a spectacular Speedweeks in second, Brad Keselowski in third, Jeff Gordon in fourth, and Jimmie Johnson who overcome two wrecks leading up to the 500 in fifth.
Rounding out the top 10 in the Daytona 500 were Matt Kenseth in sixth, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. in seventh and Greg Biffle would bring his No. 16 Ford home in eighth. Austin Dillon would come home ninth in his first Cup Series race in the iconic No. 3 for Richard Childress Racing, while Casey Mears would round out the top 10.
A couple of major contenders for the Daytona 500 win would see their hopes dashed early on as Martin Truex, Jr. would blow up just 30 laps into the race, relegating him to a 43rd-place finish in his debut for Furniture Row Racing. Crew chief Todd Berrier was already in Nashville for a test session before the race was even over. Kyle Busch, meanwhile would have a pit road violation just before halfway and would spend much of the race battling back from that mistake. Busch would eventually finish 19th after leading 19 laps.
Danica Patrick would also be bit by bad luck as she was caught up in a multi-car wreck on lap 145. Patrick would lead her second consecutive Daytona 500, but wouldn’t have the finish to show for it finishing 40th. Tony Stewart would encounter a frustrating evening as well, with a fuel pickup problem derailing his quest for his first Daytona 500 win. Stewart would finish 35th.
A look at the Daytona 500 by the numbers. There were 42 lead changes among 18 drivers, while seven cautions for 39 laps would slow the race pace to 145.290 MPH.
Next week, the Sprint Cup Series heads to the “diamond in the desert,” Phoenix International Raceway for The Profit on CNBC 500K. The Green flag is scheduled for 3:15pm EST.
Nationwide Series Post-Race Quotes: Drive4COPD 300
posted by Thomas Bowles
Tuesday February 25, 2014
Frontstretch Interviews – Courtesy Mike Neff
ELLIOTT SADLER – FINISHED 4th
Thoughts on the race?
It’s definitely a lot different racing than what we’re used to.
Comfortable with it?
Yeah, it’s just different. You’re worried about what you’re doing, but you’re also worried about what everyone else is doing and they’re not doing more than you’re doing. Physically pushing a guy is way better than just riding so you just gotta time it right and push it to the edge.
Happy to start the year with a top 5?
Yeah. Hell, that was the worst we ran all day, I think. I have no idea how they put the 3 car in front of us on that last restart. I hadn’t seen the 3 car hardly all day. When they put us from fifth to sixth, on the outside line, it just really boxed us in. I would have really restarted behind my teammate and given him a good push to the front. Anyways, it is what it is; we’ll take it and move on.
Looked like you were up front all day.
The guys did a good job. We had a fast race car. Great pit stops, just really proud of these guys. The car’s in one piece and we can take it to Talladega now. Great job by my guys. A lot of effort came into coming down here to Daytona and giving ourselves a shot to win. We had that chance to be up front and make some things happen. Fifth is not what we want, but we’ll take it and move on.
Bumping vs Pushing?
It’s way harder. You don’t want to lay on the guy in front of you, so it’s tough racing. A lot different than what we’re used to, ‘cause you gotta go. You gotta drag the brake too ‘cause you don’t want to hit the guys and you don’t want to stay on him. It’s a lot harder mentally than what we’ve done in the past.
Car was strong all day. Pushing vs. Bumping, is that harder to do than just getting on somebody and pushing them?
Yeah, it is a little bit. When you bump ‘em, you jar ‘em, it kinda jacks ‘em a little bit. It’s a little more abrupt, obviously. I thought it was OK there at the end. It was certainly fun and hopefully entertaining. But a little bit of a struggle in the early part of the race and the midpart of the race to see a good race. And that’s unfortunate for the fans. You can’t do that the whole race, you can’t tear up your stuff, knock your grill in, overheat your motor, all that stuff so there’s no sense in doing all that until you get down to the last lap. The 7 and the 6, they did a good job. Man, the 7 really held the 22 and I tight on the bottom. I was rubbing his door and hitting the apron at the same time, no room whatsoever. So it was good; wish we were the ones who could have won but a lot better now than what we were last year.
Going home in one piece makes it a lot better, right?
Yeah. My back feels good. My foot feels good. Past years here, I’ve been going home with pain so I’m alright.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Truck Series Post-Race Quotes: Daytona (Exclusives)
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday February 22, 2014
When you’re on the outside like that, how frustrating is it?
It’s so hard. Timothy Peters has won here. Kyle Busch has won everywhere. Ron Hornaday has been running Trucks forever, probably before I was even born. I was surrounded by veterans there, and like I told them I don’t have a rookie stripe but I’m a rookie. This is only my fourth Truck race ever, my fourth superspeedway race, and man, I figured out when the 17 got up in front of me, I pushed him. And as soon as I pushed him, he took off. And I went with him. And I just kept doing it, and before I knew it, he was leading. And I saw Ron in my mirror, backed up to him, and if it wasn’t for him, I don’t know what would have happened. I gotta thank him big time for that. That was a true teammate move right there. I really appreciate that. He just bounced off me and we got to the front. I tried my hardest to sidedraft Kyle. I was probably touching his door.
Top 5 in the No. 30 truck. This deal come together at the last minute, but you had a heck of a truck. Tell us about your night.
Yeah, I’ve got to thank Turner Scott Motorsports. The guys worked so hard on this Rheem Comfort Products Chevrolet. Exciting! Just got hung up on the outside and had to wait for my teammate there to catch up. And then he got to the bottom, so… I got the old 32 and started pushing ol’ Ryan to the front. So, it’s not bad. We’ll take it. You just don’t want to step over that boundary. You don’t know how far to push and shove. We bumped about six times down the straightaway without latching onto them. Hopefully, that was OK and we came home with a top 5.
Connect with Mike!
Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
Bryan Davis Keith · Monday March 19, 2012
ONE: NASCAR’s Silence On Restarts Troubling
In one of those rare instances at Bristol where the FOX crew seemed fully on top of the race, instead of their on-air personalities or a select handful of drivers, a well-presented set of replays demonstrated that Matt Kenseth in fact beat leader Brad Keselowski to the restart line on at least one occasion while coming close to doing the same on another. The video made it crystal clear. Yet there was no penalty that ever came down from NASCAR, although it never affected the end result (Keselowski held off Kenseth and won the race).
What’s troubling is this fact: the video conclusively proved that the No. 17 car beat the leader to the line on a restart… and didn’t get penalized for it. The broadcasters did their best (and I do mean that) to explain it, and they couldn’t. Yet until a solid piece of work by Yahoo’s Nick Bromberg got NASCAR spokesperson Kerry Tharp on record stating that Kenseth was “off the hook” because Keselowski allegedly didn’t hit the gas in between the restart lines, race fans were left to scratch their heads. For me, what’s most troubling of all is that 24 hours of confusion, even more than the explanation itself. It’s especially hurtful for NASCAR after the sanctioning body got off to a strong start during Speedweeks by putting officials in front of the fans (Mike Helton was timely both in discussing the rain delay and the jet dryer episode on broadcasts).
This weekend, though, despite clear video evidence of an apparent rules violation, there was silence. One of two conclusions to be drawn here; either NASCAR was just being lazy and quiet, as Bristol isn’t their Floridian jewel facility or race (nor is it ISC property). Or, the sanctioning body took the hours that elapsed between the restart and post-race remarks to craft a rationalization for being asleep at the wheel, as they got caught red-handed for it. Neither of those scenarios are what could be called desirable.
TWO: Enough Band-Aids On A Broken Leg
Despite a reconfigured implementation of timing lines on Bristol Motor Speedway’s unique pit road (it’s the only track where pitting under green or yellow alters the actual pit road the driver must come down), speeding penalties still proved to be an issue on Sunday afternoon, with the most notable infraction costing Dale Earnhardt, Jr. a certain top-10 finish.
Sure, adding timing lines as NASCAR did prior to this weekend significantly cut down the distance between them (reportedly from 11 stall lengths to six). But the imprecision of the system remained. There was still the opportunity for drivers to pull the same tactic (albeit not as effectively) and do what Brad Keselowski did a season ago, gunning the motor between lines and slowing suddenly to avoid speeding. It also left plenty of room for imprecise calls (Earnhardt didn’t seem to be surprised he was busted for speeding, he was merely surprised that NASCAR didn’t bust him where he was going fastest).
This officiating inconsistency has been a standing issue ever since Juan Pablo Montoya’s troubles with pit road speeding cost him a likely win at the Brickyard. Yet the problem remains. Let’s be clear, this confusion can and would be fixed with a strictly enforced pit road speed limit (no cushions) and a publicly visible speedometer to track it. But that’ll never happen. Why would a sanctioning body that’s proven time and time again willing to manipulate their events give up such a means of doing so? Or maybe keeping archaic systems alive is NASCAR’s misunderstood way of trying to stay connected with the past it spent the last decade trying to purge. Frankly, both are believable.
THREE: Complaints About Fan Involvement At Drivers’ Meeting Short-Sighted
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Matt Kenseth were not complimentary in comments made to the Bristol Herald-Courier regarding fan access to the drivers’ meetings, a trend that’s emerging at a number of tracks (Las Vegas Motor Speedway provided extensive fan access during their race weekend, while Rockingham Speedway is promoting the same for their upcoming Truck race). Both Junior and Kenseth have a valid point that these meetings are hardly for the drivers anymore; Daytona’s amounted to nothing more than a 30-minute introduction of celebrities and Fortune 500 CEOs that showed up.
That being said, it’s not a product of fans having access to the meetings, that’s a product of NASCAR catering way too much to the big names they’re hosting. In their current configuration, one can’t blame Kenseth or any driver for stating that no driver is going to ask a meaningful question about the race or officiating in that environment, because that’s not what the meeting is about.
So it turns out their criticism has value; it’s just misplaced. Fan access is honestly just the ticket needed to return relevance to the drivers’ meeting. It’s just that if NASCAR’s trying to provide access and make things cool, the worst thing they could do is list a bunch of suits from the exclusive underwater woven basket of their sport. Call it a hunch, but fans would probably be more interested in hearing about the track, the officiating and the race, not listening to Mike Helton congratulate a CEO of a company they’ve never heard of. And that goes for drivers, too.
So to me, the key to fixing the meeting is simple: trim the fat, leave the substance. In this day of smartphones, Twitter and instant media, what better place to pose tough questions to the sanctioning body than in a pre-race meeting, on the field of competition, in front of race fans that had to show enough interest in the first place to get in? It gets harder to ignore or sweep issues under the rug when more people are watching and listening.
FOUR: The Dark Cloud over Brad Keselowski’s Victory
Brad Keselowski certainly gave a strong account of himself with his fifth career Cup win this weekend at Bristol. It didn’t take pit road tricks, strategy or a bump-and-run to bring the trophy home; Keselowski had a former Cup champion all over him for over 100 laps, and flat out beat him.
What, then, is the only problem for Penske Racing on a Sunday that saw the No. 2 look every bit the master of Bristol it has always been? Let’s just say Keselowski’s teammate in the No. 22 didn’t look like a master of anything. Despite starting on the front row and leading laps early, by race’s end Allmendinger was again an also ran, finishing 17th after spending the better part of the afternoon wrestling with a mishandling car.
Actually, there are two problems here. One: 17th was the best result of the season for Penske’s second car. Two: the entire afternoon went backwards. There was no late charge, no sign of improvement, there was fall back, fall back, and hover midpack.
Right now life is good for Keselowski and the No. 2, who are looking fully able to pick up where they left off after making the Chase a season ago. And for Allmendinger, there’s no better time than early in the season to struggle.
But for Keselowski and team, there’s got to be concern as to how much the No. 22 car seems to have regressed since losing driver Kurt Busch. Because the second the No. 2 sees the teams around them catch up, or has a bad weekend coming off the truck, they’ve got the No. 22, and only the No. 22, from which to collect notes. A car that can’t do better than 17th isn’t exactly what they’re going to be looking for when that situation inevitably pops up.
FIVE: It’s A Shame About Bristol’s Attendance
SMI’s Bruton Smith blamed the weather (early morning rains doused the Bristol Motor Speedway, but fortunately cleared out to allow the race to start on time) for the lack of fans in the stands. Others have speculated dating back to last year that in tough economic times, one of the most expensive race trips on the circuit has fallen victim to such a reputation. Plus, there’s still the 800 lb gorilla of fan discontent that Brian calls the “Chase.” Whatever the reason, the estimated crowd of 102,000 that was documented on the results sheet still seemed a bit generous, as the grandstands were sparsely filled everywhere around the .533-mile oval.
Sadly, for all those theories, most are pointing to the reconfigured Bristol track, with its multiple grooves and room to race, as being responsible for the loss of fan interest. It has changed the racing, it has reduced the carnage. And frankly, on Sunday it was all for the best. The closing 100 laps, mostly a hard-fought duel between Keselowski and Kenseth, were compelling to watch. An early “Big One” removed some of the big guns from contention and opened the front of the field up. Then, there was that teammate squabble between Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. In my view, despite the lack of cautions there was no shortage of action to enjoy Sunday, even if that didn’t translate into copious amounts of twisted metal.
Despite this reality, Bruton is now talking reconfiguration again, a move that would remove progressive banking and return Bristol to the one-groove wreckfest that it used to be. That’s not to be taken lightly; SMI isn’t going to stand by and watch its Coliseum play to half-crowds.
One can only hope that the reason for fan discontentment en masse at BMS isn’t a product of the multi-groove racing. That the alternative – a return to an ugly crashfest with hundreds of caution laps would bring fans back – is nothing to applaud. Is that why fans wanted to come here, for the wrecks? It’s a bit disheartening.
So in the midst of all this criticism, let’s not forget something else… the Chase castrated the Bristol night race long before the reconfiguration. Could drivers’ conservatism be at play here more than any other issue that’s been brought up?
Bottom line, I have no problem with fan criticism; they can and should speak with their wallets. I just hope they’re doing it at Bristol for the right reasons.
©2000 - 2008 Bryan Davis Keith and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
It’s the reconfigured track, Stupid.
Yes, the racing is “Better” than it used to be, but Bristol was the one bone thrown to the Old School crowd who wanted to see good old fashioned beating and banging Saturday Night style in the Big Leauges. Say what you will, and put as much lipstick on this pig as you want, but the fans have voted with their wallets and have stayed home.
Silence on restarts??
The racing at Bristol is much better than it used to be because it’s actually racing. The old Bristol bush-league style wasn’t racing, it was merely crashing your opponent out of the way. In that case, rubbing wasn’t racing.
Weren’t we lead to believe that on restarts, if the leader doesn’t start between the marks on the wall, that the flagman restarts the race? If so, then the supposed leader may not be the first to cross the start/finish line if he reacts too slowly.
NOW IS THE TIME FOR PIT ROAD SPEED LIMITERS.
They could’ve used them on the old carbureted engines with an MSD box, but now it’s even EASIER with a soft cut on the ECU instead.
WHY WON’T NASCAR IMPLEMENT IT?
Probably because pit road speeding penalties introduce fake drama into the race, ruining a driver’s great performance on the day, and shakes things up. Pit road limits are supposed to be for SAFETY, and nothing ELSE. Put limiters on the damn things!
Cautions; why not put the cars back on the track in the order they crossed the finish line on the last green flag lap. Give every car 15 seconds in their pit stall; more than that and they lose positions.
i was aghast when the tv revealed that there were maybe 70000 or so people in the stands. although the side by side action (i’ll not call it a battle as it was no such thing) was fun to watch, i still like the old bristol way better. this track’s reputation and hell, the entire nascar business was built on rough and tumble on the excitement of gladiator type races where the first looser is 2nd place and drivers who did not hesitate to move someone when their patience or finesse ran out. god, i miss that. that style of side by side racing is the kind of racing that we should be seeing on the cookie cutter super speedways not the short tracks (yes, rubbing and moving a slower car out of way is a valid racing style too.) Bristol had always been on my list of tracks to see a race at and now it’s fallen off of the list. why? because now i’m thinking that the modern day nascar neutered side by side bristol racing is about the same as the precision sport of pairs ice dancing complete with its beauty queens, crooked judges and limited contact and i wouldn’t be caught dead attending one of those.
Saturday-night style beatin’ & bangin’ is for guys that don’t have the skill to get to the front and stay there without taking out their competition. This is the big leagues and they’ve left that behind.
Leave the track alone, lower ticket and hotel prices and dump “The Chase” so that every race counts.
This is one of the best Frontstretch articles I’ve ever read. You hit each issue I had, and I agree with your point of view on each of them. Too bad we don’t have someone like you in the booth. Instead we are treated to two bozos named Waltrip who are each on his own ego trip.
Never stop bringing us the audacity of stupidity that Nascar is. There is too much “we’ll make the rules as the race goes on”.
And leave the track alone, Bruton. For those who like wrecking better than racing, go to see your local demolition derby each Friday night. The rest of us like to see cars going for getting the pass.
So what happens when they put it back to the way it used to be and nobody shows up.
Its not the track, its what they put on the track that is the problem. You can’t pass with this car at any of these tracks, so why should Bristol be any different. And the Chase has absolutley ruined the racing across the board with everyone playing nice every week. The tires are rock hard so there is no grip. All this induces borefests every week and all these issues are common for every track, Bristol included.
If you want beating and banging go to a demolition derby. Rubbing is not racing son. Its what you do when you can’t pass someone cleanly. Which usually means you don’t have enough talent or a good enough car. Take your Days of Thunder video and go to a demolition derby if you want a wreckfest.
Just a Quickie: At this point I would have to say the fix is in NASCAR style Because Kenseth was ahead at the start (X 2) & nascar did nothing (twice)…Maybe they don’t watch either?
For those racing ‘puritsts’ (or snobs, as the case may be), if you want multiple groove, wide open tracks, it seem to me that you can pick any other track on the circuit with the exception of Martinsville and the road courses, and get all the aero dependent, polite racing you can stand. Turning Bristol into yet another of those tracks hasn’t seemed to work. As far as being a ‘true’ race fan…this is what made Nascar so popular, not the Fontana’s of the world. It seems to me that harking back to the way things used to be is at least a nice nod to tradition and history. But then, we all know just how important those things seem to be to the boys in Daytona these days, don’t we?
One of the biggest issues with any of the racing today is the lack of tire wear. These hard tires that never lose speed leads to the monotonous racing that we see today.
“bud sudz” must have loved the Indy 500 a few years ago.
“the Chase castrated the Bristol night race long before the reconfiguration.”
Absolutely true. The Chase has been such a colossal disaster for NASCAR on so many levels that’s it’s amazing that it’s still in place. Not even a loss of millions of fans has convinced NASCAR that the Chase sucks and always will. Even more amazing is how it would be the cheapest and easiest of NASCAR’s problems to fix.