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 September 25, 2012
ONE: The Joke That is the Debris Caution
It’s to the point that the TV cameras don’t even bother acting like they’re trying to find debris on the track. It’s no longer a surprise, but an expectation; a Sprint Cup race will be stopped on multiple occasions for debris on the track, whether or not anything is actually out there. Frankly, I’m amazed there hasn’t been more fan outrage and expressed frustration from the teams that their competitions are being interrupted whenever the sanctioning body gets the impression that the field is too strung out or ESPN needs a commercial break (yes, that’s me speculating, feel free to write in if you think of any other motivation.)
It’s the reality of any sport, it can’t all be non-stop action. Baseball will have dull innings, but umpires don’t throw batters a bone by calling balls to force a walk and put baserunners on. Football officials don’t call fouls on the team that’s up 42-0 to help get the Division II opponent back into the game in the third quarter. Soccer officials don’t award penalty kicks in the 60th minute when two teams have settled into a passing game, biding their time for the right opportunity. If any of these incidences were to occur in a stick-and-ball sport, it’d be a scandal of epic proportions. So, how is it acceptable that the biggest sanctioning body in stock car racing gets away with bunching up the field and wiping away leads at will?
If fans want to see scheduled cautions, then speak up and ask for heat races instead of endurance events. If teams are OK with having the “sport” they compete in manipulated by an invisible hand at will, well, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. The job market is bad after all, and more often than not these days it’s all about toeing the industry line that the sport is as good as it ever has been, without serious issues.
For those keeping score though, a playoff race was stopped, the field bunched up, and pit strategy dictated three freaking times by the officials. For all those folks out there that argue NASCAR racing isn’t a sport, the sanctioning body’s making the case for them.
TWO: Does Kyle Busch Need to Start Looking?
As my colleague Mike Neff noted, while Joe Gibbs Racing has endured a number of engine failures following changes to their power plant provider this season, the failures have disproportionately affected Kyle Busch and the No. 18 team, who saw another top 5 run go down in flames on Sunday with a bad cylinder (the team finished a distant 28th after a front row start.) Just as I wrote a few weeks back, after the No. 18 team missed the Chase, the driver himself needed to be looked at as a place where change needed to be directed (no, I didn’t say fire Kyle, all you Rowdy fans out there put the torches down.) However, there needs to be hard questions asked here. Is Kyle’s driving having an impact under the hood?
It’s no secret that Busch pushes his equipment about as hard as anyone racing motor vehicles today. Who can forget seeing Busch win the Southern 500 a few years back despite hitting the wall at least half a dozen times? But pushing cars to the absolute edge is a live by the sword, die by the sword practice…just ask Ricky Stenhouse Jr. following his weekend at Kentucky.
It’s not hard to fathom that Busch’s relentless style behind the wheel is impacting JGR’s Toyota power plants more than that of say, teammates Hamlin and Logano. And the question has to be asked as a result, if Toyota’s premier engine provider can’t build a motor capable of keeping up with Busch’s driving style, is there another manufacturer that can?
In an era of spec cars, what’s under the hood is one of the very few elements left where a manufacturer can really make a difference. Busch is talented enough to shop around…and maybe he should be if this latest Loudon race was any indication.
THREE: Is Roush Regretting Cup Races for Stenhouse?
Rewind back to 2009. Denny Hamlin ended up pulling double duty at Dover despite knowing full well the Monster Mile was one of the worst tracks on the circuit for his No. 11 team. One tussle with Brad Keselowski later, Hamlin’s head was completely out of the game. He limped to an 18th place finish in the Cup race 24 hours later, and was an afterthought in the 2009 Chase.
This weekend sees a different situation but same risks for Nationwide Series title contender Ricky Stenhouse Jr., who is slated to pull double duty for only the third time in his career. Stenhouse, unlike with his start in the Daytona 500 back in February, is not locked into the field for Sunday’s race, meaning he’ll have to spend the first part of the weekend working on qualifying and ensuring he actually makes the 43-car starting grid. No matter what a team owner or press release wants to say, that’s going to distract a driver, especially one needing to make a statement at the Cup level as he seeks sponsorship to make a full season in 2013 happen.
And all of this at a track that absolutely bit Stenhouse earlier this season; the No. 6 car didn’t last 50 miles before Stenhouse spun himself hard into the interior retaining wall in the Spring race, the second in a stretch of four consecutive ugly races that ultimately made the NNS title race as close as it is right now.
So the situation is as follows: Richard Childress Racing made a statement at Kentucky and now have the Nos. 2 and 3 teams riding a wave of momentum into Dover. Stenhouse, meanwhile, is coming off another self-induced disaster and headed to a track that he has limited notes on, seeing as how the car left Dover in the spring in pieces. Not exactly an optimal weekend for a development driver to be a go-or-go-homer on the Cup side.
There’s a very relevant question to be asked here. What possessed Roush Fenway Racing to put a NNS title contender in that position? Even without the Kentucky wreck, this points chase was rather tight.
Either this was a big-time oversight by Roush, or the Nationwide title really doesn’t mean that much anymore. The fans at Kentucky didn’t seem to think so anyway. All 50 of them.
FOUR: Top 35 Sandbagging…Two Months Early
On the Nationwide Series side, the No. 24 of SR2 Motorsports appeared to start-and-park, lasting only 52 circuits before a “vibration” sent them to the garage. On the Cup side, Tony Raines parked the No. 36 car on Sunday after completing 68 laps, the fifth time in the last 10 races that Tommy Baldwin Racing’s second car did so. And yet, both of these teams are sitting comfortably in the locked in part of the top 30 and top 35 in their respective series, with no real pressure coming. The closest Cup team to the No. 36 is a part-time effort from the Wood Brothers, while the No. 24 is actually ahead of Go Green Racing’s No. 39 for the 30th and final Nationwide slot (the No. 23 car, 17 markers back, is the next challenger.)
Oh, the beauty of it all. The top 30/35 rule was put in place to protect sponsors from the horrors of having to actually be fast enough to qualify for the races they want to advertise in. Instead, it’s protecting teams to the point that they can run the better part of a quarter-season without competing and yet show up to Daytona in 2013 with no fear at all of qualifying—whether or not some company out there was crazy enough to put the millions being asked for on their car.
This rule has absolutely got to go. It’s already bad enough that Chase races and Nationwide races alike are struggling to produce racing at the front of the field. There’s no reason to keep rules in place to incentivize teams at the back not to race either.
Besides, there are already plenty of start-and-parkers out there already. It’s not like they’re going to get lonely.
FIVE: Olsen’s Story a Reminder of Why the Field Needs to Stay Open
He finished 11 laps off the pace in 33rd, scarcely a blip on the Sylvania 300’s radar screen. But having said that, it was very cool to see Mike Olsen, a two time East Series (then North Series) champion make his Cup Series debut at Loudon. Loudon has long been one of the few tracks where the East Series regulars still make appearances (Matt Kobyluck, Joey McCarthy and Ted Christopher also come to mind), and there’s something to be said for that.
With everything gone wrong with NASCAR, one of its still existent features is that, even limited by those asinine top 30/35 rules, anybody can show up to race. It’s always fun to see the big stars come for their rare visits, but there’s something also to be said about seeing the local hero out there on the same track. Hats off to Frankie Stoddard for making that happen.
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©2000 - 2008 Bryan Davis Keith and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
Fans have been complaining about fake debris cautions for the past couple years. We have been studiously ignored. BZF has made it abundantly clear that he is lording it over an ‘entertainment’ rather than a sport. With all the stupid new rules and a phoney ‘playoff’, The TV networks don’t seem to mind, since they basically only cover the front third of the field. You can only bang your head against a wall for so long until you just give up. Unfortunately for many of us, we’ve not just given up on bad rules, we’ve just given up on Nascar altogether.
SB is correct! Many of us have just about given up completely on NASCAR
Coming Soon-Rick Flair as Flagman.
I have stopped watching. This was a sport I fell in love with in the late 60’s. Even as recently as 2004 it was must see for me. After that, I started DVRing races, then I started fast forwarding through them, then I recorded them but deleted them without watching. now I don’t bother. I just come to Jayski’s and read a few articles. rhe sport nowSUCKS!!! I will never watch another race on TV nor will I ever travel to another. Brian France you SUCK!!!
I am glad someone has taken a stand on these fake debris cautions. NASCAR should be ashamed of themselves for their transparent and blatant manipulation of the on-track competition.
I am very close to not watching anymore if this keeps up.
Well, the racing in Cup has been such a boring, steaming pile of cowdung this year. Trucks are the only series worth watching thanks to shorter races, more action and less points racing.
Rowdy has been driving BTTW and being hard on equipment his whole career. There’s no reason that I can think of why this should all of a sudden be an issue for him. No, this is about JGR cars, TRD engines, and whatever Dave Rogers is doing to them.
The worst party of the phony debris cautions is that they don’t come out when Junior is winning. So it’s official that NASCAR will help Junior win, and fans cannot trust the integrity of the outcome. So why shouldn’t NASCAR get compared to wrestling?
And when you think about it, the Chase is the ultimate debris caution.
Very well put Bryan, although I think there is more disgust about it than you realize. I don’t think it’s a small reason for empty seats.
Well said about Chase being the ultimate debris caution. And it’s so pointless too. I’m far more interested in the season long version of the Chase in the Nationwide and truck series, following two or three guys battling for the championship rather than this stupid reset of points where you force 12 guys to point race for most of the Chase and everyone else too scared to get in their way.
It’s not just debris cautions that I question. One car will spin out into the infield, get rolling right away, leave nothing on the track, and we get a caution for enough laps to let the lead cars and then the lapped cars make pit stops!
I only read Jayski now,and only the articles that aren’t Nascar press releases. More and more the feeling seems to be a sport that is in decline.
All the more reason to watch the Truck series for real racing, folks.
I seriously hope Roush comes to his senses and withdraws Stenhouse from the Cup race at Dover. Ricky needs to concentrate on repeating as the Nationwide Champion. I want to hear Brad Daugherty cry when Ricky beats Elliott!
Slow down, your equipment is not as good as you are and if by chance you get everything just right and the stars get in alignment. nascar will have to throw debris caution every 5-10 laps because the other drivers do not drive as hard as you do.
Most of your fellow drivers are driving the chase and just want points and have forgot the real name of the game is to try and WIN RACES.
Yes I know you have to finish to win, but to say don’t drive so hard because we are blowing engines, I believe Denny was the one who was blowing engines last year and they changed engine builders.
“don’t drive so hard because we are blowing engines”
That would have been a perfect statement without the “engines” LOL
As Larry the Cable Guy would say, “that’s funny, I don’t care who you are.”
Look at New Hampshires TV ratings. Is there any doubt that most people prefer athletes over drivers?
I grew up in the Charlotte area, live in Canada now, but stock car racing has always been in my blood. What we see today is not racing, it is where can I finish to get the most points. Heard from Elliot, heard from Stewart, heard it from most drivers. Debris, it is a joke. Go to your local short track, that is racing….there are no points they want to win. The points they do get are meaningless. I used to watch NSACAR every weekend, have not seen a race in months, actually Daytona 500 I watched and that was it. What BS this sport has become. The sponsors know also, they are all pulling out.
The only thing I can come up with in the Stenhouse issue is that maybe he wants to give him more practice time. That or its a sponsor commitment and nothing more.
Top 30/35: Since teams are being priced out of the sport, is it any wonder that you have start and parkers locked into fields? The costs are out of control. I don’t blame the teams, I blame Nascar for this.
Thank you for mentioning Mike Olsen. They actually talked about him a bit on the telecast too. I was shocked. Being from New England I have seen Mike race alot. Quality driver and glad to see him get a Cup start, even if it was for an underfunded team. Kudos to Stoddard for putting him in the car.