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 · Tuesday March 27, 2012
ONE: Green Flags Are Good
The Nationwide Series race featured long green flag runs all afternoon. The Cup race was run caution-free until it ultimately ended for rain. And the Auto Club Speedway got a distinction it perhaps never has held…hosting two races worth watching in the same weekend.
Sure, abrasive asphalt and tires that actually wore out were largely responsible for producing a compelling on-track product. But more than that, long green flag runs allowed for drivers to explore lines on the track and to wheel cars that came and went throughout the event. Just look at how Kyle Busch and Tony Stewart traded the lead over the course of Sunday’s 129-lap sprint. Both had their strengths throughout the run, had to adjust on the fly rather than wait for a debris yellow to offer a reset and a free shot at making their cars better, and both put on a race—an actual race! Even if it was just 258 miles in length.
NASCAR would do well to take note here. Even without the phantom debris yellows that still popped up through Saturday’s 300-miler, there was plenty of long green runs, and the action, especially up front, was thick for all of it. With rain bearing down on the Auto Club Speedway, NASCAR and their officials didn’t have the option to throw commercial break caution flags. In the midst of all that green flag racing on a track that’s earned a reputation for being a snoozer, the pace and intensity level seen rivaled anything that’s been seen on intermediate ovals in recent years (the Stewart/Edwards showdown at Homestead notwithstanding).
Lay off the yellows, let the race play out and give the drivers tires that actually require driving talent. This isn’t rocket science. For crying out loud, it made Fontana worth watching.
TWO: Incentives, Not Shorter Races, are the Answer
There will undoubtedly be a chorus out there of those that will cite this Sunday’s race, and the 400-mile reduced race distance, as reasons for Fontana’s improved on-track product in recent years. Here’s the issue with that attribution; the intensity of the on-track action didn’t drop the second lap 101 flashed up on the scoreboard for halfway. The same frenzied pace that characterized the entire Cup field’s charge to halfway as rain threatened continued not just from lap 1-101, but from 101-129 as well.
The length of races is not what’s led to countless Cup events over the past few years amounting to snoozefests and lazy Sunday drives before a wild finish. The problem is there’s no incentive, no reason to push hard. Leading 128 laps this past Sunday, hard charging every step of the way, would have earned a driver only one point in the standings. The first start-and-parker to load up his car on the hauler Sunday afternoon earned only 12.4% less cash than David Reutimann did for going the distance and finishing 27th. The only difference this time was an incentive to be leading or up front at halfway, and the whole field stirred to life like piranhas in bloody water.
The point? There’s millions of dollars at stake every week in the purse, offering up nearly six figure sums for everyone finishing from 10th or so on back. Why not reallocate that money for bonuses that encourage making passes, leading laps? Maybe paying off crew chiefs to tell their drivers over the radio that rain is coming every Sunday?
Reducing race distances is not acceptable on a number of fronts. Tracks sure as hell aren’t going to reduce ticket prices alongside a reduction in mileage. There’s a very large difference between cars and motors lasting 300 miles or 500 miles. And in terms of concentration and physical exertion, well, there’s a reason races last 500 miles. Cup races are the top tier of racing stock cars, and they’re meant to be a true test of man and machine. No matter how entertaining sprint races can be, removing that element from Cup racing is effectively neutering the sport and removing it farther from what is meant to be.
It’s like repaving Bristol. Before doing something radical, work with what’s already there (i.e. tires, purses). The results will come.
THREE: One Race Date Does Wonders for Attendance (2008-2010, never broke 80,000)
Two things worth noting about the attendance at Fontana this weekend. One, there were not 90,000 people in the grandstands. That grandstand has a maximum capacity of 92,500, was not full, and had a number of seats covered by sponsor tarps in turn 1. Now that being said, the grandstands certainly looked better than they did a few years back. And based on the NASCAR-provided estimates of attendance, ACS has averaged 89,000 over the past two years since losing their second race date. In the three years before that, not one race at the Fontana track eclipsed 80,000.
This is good news for ISC, ACS and the fans in southern California that ultimately are being counted on to keep NASCAR’s most maligned track in business. The worn asphalt has finally made the track’s racing surface something that stock cars can put a show on. And with the grandstands actually showing crowds now, the annual Auto Club race weekend is primed to capitalize on being both a good show…and the only show race fans will have to turn to. Absence does make the heart grow fonder…just look at how the “Southern” 500 has done well even while racing on a traditional off weekend, or how Atlanta’s attendance has improved since Labor Day became their only race.
At the risk of sounding repetitive, it really was a sound weekend for NASCAR in SoCal.
FOUR: Next Few Weeks Key for Smaller Teams
2011 is gone, and the 2012 owner point standings are in. Starting at Martinsville, BK Racing has only one car locked in the top 35, RCR’s fourth car is leading a tenuous existence only five markers to the good of being guaranteed a spot in the field, and David Reutimann and TBR narrowly avoided the disaster of having Danica’s No. 10 being forced to…gasp…actually time its way into the field.
Take a look just outside the cutoff, and there is a lot of uncertainty. BK Racing has not found any sort of major corporate backing and will have to time their No. 83 into the show this weekend; David Stremme’s team has proven unable to recover from an engine failure at Daytona and a wreck at Bristol; JJ Yeley’s No. 49 team is way on the outside looking in…and the No. 98 team that made such a big deal to announce their intent to race in 2012 has already start-and-parked twice this year.
After missing the past three races, Robby Gordon has already announced that his team will be cutting back their Cup schedule. And now that the first five races are in the books and the line has been drawn, history shows that movement in and out of the top 35 will be reduced drastically. Which, in turn, will tone down the incentive to race for teams operating on a shoestring; after all, without that locked in position to race for, it becomes harder to justify the expense that comes with contesting the distance.
Seeing longtime Nationwide Series owner Jay Robinson making it work, David Stremme and Michael McDowell getting to race some, all have been welcome sights this season. Here’s hoping they keep up.
FIVE: Where is Timmy Hill?
Sadly, though Hill has been a visible presence in the garage area so far this season, the one place little has been seen of the 2011 Nationwide Series Rookie of the Year has been on the race track. Moved to Cup racing after only one full season on the NNS tour, Hill has gone only one for four in qualifying for Cup races so far this season (Mike Wallace drove his No. 37 ride at Daytona), with a DNF in that race after blowing a tire at Las Vegas.
Obviously, qualifying 25% of the time is a big-time problem racing at any level. But for Hill, a driver that at only 19 is still early on in terms of driver development, the most important of all facets in that process is seat time. By running for a team with limited resources and missing races, Hill is not getting a plethora of practice time, and he’s going weeks at a time without competing on the track. Not only is this an asinine way to try and keep a sponsor happy, its doing a disservice to a driver in Hill that both advanced Rick Ware Racing on track a year ago and further made tremendous progress on his own accord wheeling a stock car.
Sam Hornish Jr. is perhaps the best example of how listening to a sponsor’s wishes above all else in moving a development driver to Cup is a recipe for disaster. In the end, it took years and the fierce loyalty of a well endowed owner to finally get Hornish a Nationwide ride, and get him the seat time he needs to become a force at this level. One can only hope that Hill is so lucky…or even better, that the folks backing Hill wake up and realize their mistake before the entire 2012 campaign goes up in smoke.
©2000 - 2008 Bryan Davis Keith and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
Fontana worth watching? I’m speechless. I guess it takes all kinds.
But hey, maybe I’m missing something here: I’ll just go grab my lawn chair and a couple of beers and sit by the interstate. Maybe I’ll enjoy it…who knows?
>Pete, My money is on the red Chevy with the loud pipes.
I am all for tracks having one race date. But Fontana, Kansas, Michigan, & Chicagoland all deserve ZERO race dates. You eliminate those tracks altogether, as well as cut a date from all the 2-date tracks in NASCAR, and think of all the doors you have just opened up. Iowa, Nashville, Pikes Peak, Irwindale, Milwaukee, Rockingham, Evergreen, & Gateway would enter the NASCAR Cup slate. You could award Lime Rock Park, Road America, & Heartland Park Cup dates as well. I also have designed 8 exciting new race tracks that could get Cup races also. The sky’s the limit.
Sorry Tom, I do not agree that Michigan should be dropped. That track, as much as you hate it, must remain on the schedule, and must keep both dates. If for no other reason, it’s mainly because of the number of “foreigners” who attend races at that particular track. And by foreigners, I mean people from Ontario. This is the only track I can get to every year, and I do go both times! Especially in the last four or five years, when you walk through any of the parking lots, the cars with Ontario plates outnumber those from Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and all the other states combined! This track is close enough to me that I can go to the race, and drive straight home after and be home before midnight. Crossing the border isn’t a problem either! And I swear, when they played the Canadian anthem, the whole place seemed to be singing! It’s too bad that whoever is broadcasting the race doesn’t show the playing of the Canadian anthem! There is always a long pause after playing it, finally followed by the announcement that the opening ceremonies will continue, as soon as the television broadcast partners go on-air!
If it were possible, I’d suggest that the track be moved east to about half-way between Windsor and London, Ontario, then we could even avoid the border crossing! Unfortunately, there is way too much NIMBYism here, so we’ll never see a superspeedway up here. So, for that very reason, as selfish as it is, is the one reason that Michigan has to stay, and both times too!
Its good to read about someone who enjoyed the race at Fontana on Sunday. At least someone had their eyes open instead of just dismissing the track as worthless every year with prejudice.
Bryan said: “ how Atlanta’s attendance has improved since Memorial Day became their only race.”
Oh, by the way, Atlanta’s race is on Labor Day weekend, not Memorial Day. Thats Charlotte.
Nice catch Kevin, thanks for reading.
While it wasn’t door-slapping, fender banging of the “old” Bristol, nor the packs of Talladega, this was probably the purest race I’ve seen in years. The only thing that marred the RACE was they didn’t go 200 laps caution-free.
I just once want to see a caution-free race. Or a race with one lead lap car. Those happened in the old days. Someone got it right and trounced the field.
What was totally WRONG with this race wasn’t the on-track product- it was the broadcast. PATHETIC. Hell, even the guys in the booth were reporting action on track, but the guys controlling the cameras just latched onto the leader for lap after lap. Stewart’s march through the field? Shown tape-delayed as in-race recaps.
If there is one thing that you have to understand about me, Rufus, it is that I make decisions and select race tracks based on which ones that I KNOW would generate exciting races every time the series visits. It is not a personal attack against you. Also, I am not the only one who hates Michigan.