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!
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.
Beth Lunkenheimer · Monday November 1, 2010
In a Nutshell: Kyle Busch took the checkered flag 0.002 of a second ahead of Aric Almirola to win the Mountain Dew 250 Fueled by Fred’s Saturday afternoon at Talladega Superspeedway. Busch pushed Almirola during a green-white-checkered finish but pulled ahead just before the start / finish line to score the smallest margin of victory in the history of the series. Johnny Sauter, Matt Crafton, and Ricky Carmichael rounded out the top 5.
Who Should Have Won: Kyle Busch. In a plate race, it’s really anyone’s game until the checkered flag flies. Anyone from Ron Hornaday, Jr. to Todd Bodine to Aric Almirola to even Chris Fontaine had a chance Saturday afternoon. But it was Kyle Busch who was out front when it mattered most. He managed to push Matt Crafton to the front early in the race and stayed out of the “Big One” to score his sixth win this season.
Questions You Should Be Asking After the Race:
1. Should NASCAR have penalized Kyle Busch?
It wouldn’t be Talladega without a little controversy. Former teammates Kyle Busch and Aric Almirola spent much of the day Friday working together with intent to race together on Saturday after Almirola pushed his then-teammate to the win last fall. And the two did race together for a bit…until the final lap of the race.
With Johnny Sauter on his back bumper and Almirola on his front bumper, Busch was forced to defend his own position. A slight move to the inside by Sauter left Busch to peek inside Almirola, and as a result, the three finished side-by-side in what can only be described as a photo finish — with the left-side tires of the No. 18 Toyota below the yellow line.
Almost immediately, Almirola tried to plead his case to NASCAR, but their decision had been made after watching the replay “two or three times” according to Vice President of Competition Robin Pemberton.
“He wasn’t forced down there, he got down there because of the door-to-door contact,” Pemberton said. “We had three, four good camera anglers and there was absolutely no question whatsoever.”
A visibly disappointed Almirola made his case to the media from pit road.
“I was at (Kyle Busch’s) mercy. He could have went to my outside, he could have went to my inside,” Almirola said. “I tried to do everything I could to try to protect as long as I could. I think NASCAR maybe should look at that. It looked like he went below the yellow line right there before the start / finish line.”
“It was really close, but I hate to lose one like that. These guys work awfully hard on our speedway stuff. To lose one like that is bad. He’s below the yellow line.”
I know how much he wanted that win, but Almirola is wrong.
Yes, Busch’s tires were below the yellow line when the trio crossed the start / finish line; however, Busch already had a nose ahead of Almirola’s No. 51 Toyota when the two made contact and Busch wiggled across the yellow line.
I had my doubts when I originally watched it, but thanks to our DVR, I was able to rewind and get a good look at the finish in slow motion. It mirrored what happened between Jamie McMurray and Kevin Harvick in the Cup race in the spring— Harvick was awarded the win even though his left-side tires were below the yellow line when the duo actually crossed it.
Though Almirola was quite disappointed with NASCAR’s ruling, they ultimately made the right call.
2. Did the “hang back and wait” method work on Saturday?
Each driver that took the track Saturday afternoon had a plan to avoid the wrecks and make it to the finish. Johnny Sauter made his plan very clear when he dropped to the back of the pack before the green flag flew. His teammate Matt Crafton drove to the front with Kyle Busch early, but fell back to join Sauter in the safety of the rear of the field, while Aric Almirola dropped to the back after pairing up with Busch for a little bit in the early stages of the race.
But did the hang back and wait it out method really work out?
Teammates Sauter and Crafton — along with Almirola — ran nose to tail for several laps while posting speeds of 195 miles per hour at times. And as the laps wound down, all three drivers made their moves toward the front of the field. Though Sauter and Almirola had a better time working their way through the running order, Crafton did eventually join the two. Almirola finished second followed by Sauter and Crafton.
Clearly, the “hang back and wait” method worked for the trio. They managed to avoid damage in the big one with two laps remaining and scored solid top-5 finishes at a place where nothing is guaranteed. It wouldn’t surprise me to see more drivers taking advantage of that strategy when the Truck Series visits the 2.66-mile oval next season.
3. What happened to cause the “Big One?”
Any time there’s a race at Talladega, it’s usually a waiting game to see when the “Big One” occurs. This time, it came on lap 92. Grant Enfinger, who was making his Truck Series debut, gave Todd Bodine a vicious bump-draft, and chaos ensued. Bodine made contact with Ron Hornaday, Jr. who spun sideways and was then pushed by Mike Skinner before the No. 33 E-Z-Go 2Five Street Legal Vehicle Chevrolet went airborne and barrel-rolled before coming to a halt on its roof.
Bodine was the first person to Hornaday, Jr.‘s truck and signaled that everything was alright. Because of the belts that strap the drivers in, safety workers had to right the No. 33 Chevrolet before Hornaday, Jr. was able to emerge under his own power. Narain Karthikeyan and Ken Schrader also received damage.
Surprisingly, Hornaday, Jr. and Enfinger were the only drivers unable to continue and had to settle for 21st- and 22nd-place finishes, respectively. Bodine finished 18th, two laps down while Karthikeyan and Skinner finished on the lead lap in 13th and 15th, respectively.
It’s no surprise that bump-drafting was the culprit in causing the big one Saturday afternoon. Drivers were warned before the race began about the poor alignment between the front and back bumpers on their trucks. And although there was quite a bit of bump-drafting going on throughout the field all day, a rookie driver just isn’t prepared to make the moves properly.
Truck Rookie Report
2010 Rookie of the Year Candidates:
No. of Rookies in the Race: 8 (Add Narain Karthikeyan, Jeffrey Earnhardt and debuting drivers Craig Goess, Grant Enfinger, and Dominick Casola)
No. of Rookies to Finish in the Top 10: 2; Austin Dillon, finished eighth Craig Goess, finished 10th
Rookie Of The Race: Austin Dillon, finished eighth
Justin Lofton once again became the victim of another driver’s wreck. On lap 23, Jeffrey Earnhardt — who was making his fourth career start for Rick Ware Racing — was squeezed in the middle of Max Papis and Mike Garvey. Earnhardt’s No. 6 Chevrolet spun sideways and shot up the track, collecting Lofton’s No. 7 Toyota in the process. Both trucks were out on the spot, with Earnhardt finishing 32nd and Lofton finishing 33rd.
ARCA driver Craig Goess made his Truck Series debut behind the wheel of the No. 46 Toyota and ran quite well all afternoon. After starting 19th, he methodically worked his way through the field and spent most of the late stages of the race inside the top 10. Though he peeked inside the top 5 for awhile, Goess was left to settle for a respectable tenth-place finish.
Grant Enfinger would probably like to forget the late stages of his Truck Series debut. While he ran inside the top 20 all day long and even made it up into the top 10 a couple times, his bump-draft on Todd Bodine that caused the “Big One” will likely be what his debut is remembered for — he finished 22nd.
Dominick Casola also made his Truck Series debut behind the wheel of the No. 00 Koma Unwind Chillaxation Drink Chevrolet for Daisy Ramirez Motorsports. He started off the race with a corded tire and was forced to pit within the first five laps for a fresh set. Casola ran in the mid-20s for the early stages of the race before retiring after just 56 laps with suspension problems — he was credited with a 28th-place finish.
“It’s really unfortunate for everyone over on the visitPit.com Toyota Tundra. We had a really good truck. I was just sitting there playing around. I would jump up out of the pack and fall back – then move back up. Real proud of all the guys and all the hard work that they put into it. Real unfortunate that it had to end this way.” Justin Lofton, finished 33rd
Worth Noting / Points Shuffle:
Following his involvement in the “Big One” Saturday afternoon, Todd Bodine’s points lead shrank to just 216 over Aric Almirola. However, thanks to the hard work of his crew in making repairs to his truck that allowed Bodine to run two extra laps, he now needs a finish of 13th or better in the final three races to clinch the championship. Johnny Sauter remains in third, 314 points back while his teammate Matt Crafton jumped one spot to fourth. Just seven points behind Crafton, Austin Dillon rounds out the top 5.
Ron Hornaday, Jr. remains in sixth, just seven points ahead of Timothy Peters in seventh. Mike Skinner remains in eighth followed by former teammate David Starr in ninth. Jason White remains in tenth and has expanded his lead to 69 points over Ricky Carmichael in 11th.
Chris Fontaine tried to use pit strategy to outsmart the field Saturday afternoon, and it almost worked. After qualifying sixth — a career-best starting position — he ran inside the top 10 for much of the race. He took the lead after a two-tire stop but dropped back when Kyle Busch pushed Matt Crafton to the front. Later, Busch pushed Fontaine into the top spot where he managed to stay for 15 laps — he had previously led five in his career at Dover. Fontaine dropped a little on the restart on lap 89 when Busch received a push from Jason White, but it appeared he’d be able to finish inside the top 10 for the first time in his career. It wasn’t meant to be, though, since Fontaine ran out of fuel as the field took the green on lap 94 for the green-white-checkered finish. He was left to settle for a 19th-place result.
“As far as our race day goes — obviously, it was pretty exciting. In the beginning there, we just were kind of hanging out and biding our time kind of riding. Jason White at the end of the race was a really good friend for us, and he did a great job getting us out front and getting the lead. It was crazy, and it was a battle. I was just trying to keep the thing straight and luckily, I was able to do that.” Race Winner Kyle Busch
“I was at (Kyle Busch’s) mercy. He could have went to my outside, he could have went to my inside. I tried to do everything I could to try to protect as long as I could. I feel like I let my guys down, but I really don’t know what else I could have done. (Busch) had shown signs of going high so I attempted to block high, and as I was turning back low, he was back under me. Call it what you will — we finished second.” Aric Almirola
“This truck was just as good as we thought it would be. It blew the best numbers of any ThorSport Racing truck ever in the wind tunnel. We knew we had a great engine. Joe (Shear, Jr., crew chief) and the guys did an incredible job with this truck. The only real worry we had were the things out of our control. We did our best to stay out of harm’s way until the end, and we know if we did that we’d have a great shot to win it at at the end.” Johnny Sauter, finished third
“If you can’t win, you’ve got to bring the steering wheel back.” Ron Hornaday, Jr. after the “Big One”
The Camping World Truck Series heads to Texas Motor Speedway for the WinStar World Casino 350K Friday night. Last season, Kyle Busch led 54 laps en route to a nearly one second victory over Matt Crafton. Coverage begins at 8:30 pm EDT on SPEED; the race can also be heard on your local MRN affiliate or on Sirius Channel 128.
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Not a fan of Todd Bobine, but he showed class by getting to Hornaday’s truck to check on him as quickly as he did.
I also believe Kyle was in front BEFORE going below the yellow line, therefore he did not advance his position by going below the yellow line.
Kyle won the race by the closest margin of victory in the history of the series, 0.002 of a second. I believe his brother Kurt holds the record of losing a CUP race by the same 0.002 of a second. Must be a Bush thing. Congrats Kyle!!