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.
In a Nutshell: Kasey Kahne took the checkered flag 1.116 seconds ahead of Ron Hornaday, Jr. to win the Too Tough to Tame 200 Saturday evening at Darlington Raceway. In a race slowed by a record-tying ten cautions and a nearly eight-minute red flag, Kahne dominated much of the race leading 95 of 147 laps en route to his third victory in four Truck Series starts. Todd Bodine, Matt Crafton and James Buescher rounded out the top 5.
Who Should Have Won: Kasey Kahne. Kahne started on the outside pole behind the wheel of the Kyle Busch Motorsports’ No. 18 Toyota and was quick to challenge polesitter Cole Whitt for the lead. But it wasn’t until lap 42 when Kahne finally sniffed the top spot for the first time. Once out front, the driver of the No. 18 easily pulled away from the rest of the field, stretching out to a more than three-second lead by lap 53. Though Whitt, James Buescher and Elliott Sadler each took their turn out front in the latter stages of the race, it was Kahne who found the top spot again on lap 97. Despite facing three restarts, Kahne never relinquished the lead and held on for the second victory for KBM this season.
Questions You Should Be Asking After the Race:
1. How did “The Lady in Black” treat the first-time visitors?
The Too Tough to Tame 200 field featured 16 drivers who had never run at Darlington Raceway in any series. The majority of the list was comprised of this year’s Rookie of the Year contenders, but there were a couple drivers who just haven’t visited the 1.366-mile track. Though there were a few drivers who left Darlington relatively unscathed, most of the field—first-timers and veterans alike—met the forces of the “Lady in Black” throughout the night.
So without further ado, here’s a look at the first-timers that visited Darlington:
Jeffrey Earnhardt, No. 1 Fuel Doctor USA Chevrolet
After wrecking his primary truck, Jeffrey Earnhardt was forced to a backup and had to start the race at the back of the field. For the most part, he managed to stay out of trouble Saturday evening in a truck where he ran his first laps during the pre-race pace laps. Though he slid across the wall a few times, Earnhardt ran in the 20s most of the race until he brought out the record-tying tenth caution with eight laps remaining. But the damage to the No. 1 truck wasn’t too bad, and Earnhardt was able to finish the race 20th on the lead lap.
Jamie Dick, No. 07 VIVAAutoGroup.com Chevrolet
Jamie Dick had a relatively calm night at a track where not being noticed isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Though he kept his nose clean, the leaders manage to lap the No. 07 a few times leading to a couple of lucky dog awards thanks to the large number of cautions. Despite getting two laps back, Jamie still finished 24th, one lap down.
Miguel Paludo, No. 7 Stemco Duroline Toyota
Nelson Piquet, Jr., No. 8 Qualcomm / Nelson Piquet Chevrolet
Though he managed to start off alright, Nelson Piquet, Jr. didn’t completely avoid the iron fist of the “Lady in Black.” He was involved in one of the incidents that forced NASCAR to throw the sixth caution of the night on lap 73. After bouncing off of Parker Kligerman and cutting a tire in the process, Piquet ran into the outside wall. Later, he again bounced off the wall, this time catching the front end of Johanna Long’s machine on the way off the wall. He was left to settle for a 32nd-place finish after completing 93 laps.
Chase Mattioli, No. 10 CollegeComplete.com Ford
Chase Mattioli would probably like to forget Darlington as quickly as possible. His race started off with a lap 7 spin in which he managed to avoid damage and continue on the track without bringing out the yellow. He received the lucky dog twice under the third and fourth cautions to get back on the lead lap before bouncing off the wall in turn two and again continuing on without causing a caution, though there was definitely sheet metal that flew off of the No. 10 truck (the caution flew just a few laps later for debris). The time spent repairing the damage put Mattioli well off of the lead lap, and it only got worse as he once again slammed the wall, bringing out the seventh caution. The damage was finally terminal, and Mattioli was forced to settle for a 34th-place finishing after completing just 55 of the 147 scheduled laps.
Dusty Davis, No. 15 Vision Airlines / Emerald Coast Toyota
Davis carried his team as he tried to stay out of trouble all evening. After starting 21st, he kept himself out of trouble and managed to finish 15th.
Johanna Long, No. 20 Panhandle Grading and Paving Toyota
Johanna Long didn’t qualify well in her family-owned No. 20, but that didn’t stop her from trying to log laps and stay out of trouble in hopes of keeping her truck in one piece for the series’ visit to Nashville. And stay out of trouble was what she did until late race contact from Nelson Piquet, Jr. cut Long’s right front tire, causing her to run right into Ricky Carmichael’s spinning No. 4 Chevrolet. Despite the hard hit on the frontstretch that brought out the red flag, Long climbed from her wrecked machine on her own power and was left to settle for a disappointing 31st-place finish.
Joey Coulter, No. 22 RCR / Darrell Gwynn Foundation Chevrolet
Joey Coulter managed to keep himself out of the headlines for much of the early stages of the race until he was involved in one of two incidents that brought out the sixth caution on lap 73. It appeared Coulter was run into from behind by Jason White while slowing down for a wrecking Nelson Piquet, Jr. As a result, the No. 22 Chevrolet suffered significant damage and spent several laps in the garage getting repairs. With just 41 laps remaining, Coulter took his badly damaged—yet somewhat repaired—Chevrolet back out to log laps in hopes of gaining some spots and points. The move turned out to be successful thanks to the problems faced by Johanna Long, Ricky Carmichael and Tayler Malsam—Coulter gained three spots and finished 28th, 36 laps down.
Tayler Malsam, No. 25 One Eighty Toyota
Tayler Malsam started deep in the field and was forced to fight his way through traffic, but despite that, he managed to avoid most of the incidents on the track. Then, with just 44 laps remaining, Malsam’s No. 25 started smoking, a sure sign of engine trouble. The damage proved to be terminal, and Malsam was forced to settle for a 29th-place finish.
Parker Kligerman, No. 29 Penske Truck Leasing Dodge
Parker Kligerman tried to run his own race and just bring his No. 29 Dodge home in one piece. While his truck was far from undamaged, Kligerman did pull out a 14th-place finish. On the way to that respectable finish, Kligerman made contact with Nelson Piquet, Jr. cutting down a tire on the No. 8, but other than that, Kligerman raced a smart race that showed in his lead lap finish.
Brad Sweet, No. 32 Great Clips Chevrolet
Brad Sweet turned a lap worth a 21st-place starting spot but was forced to start from the back of the pack due to unapproved adjustments to his truck for repairs likely made after spinning on the second lap of his qualifying run. Already deep in the field, Sweet was forced to work his way through traffic. But that run through traffic didn’t last long when Sweet hit the wall in turns three and four on lap 13 to bring out the second caution. Though the team initially started working on repairs, the damage was too severe, and the driver of the No. 32 was left to sit out the rest of the race and settle for a 36th-place finish.
Craig Goess, No. 46 Greenville Toyota of N.C. Toyota
With the help of spotter David Green and veteran crew chief Trip Bruce, Goess was continually reminded to race the track rather than his competitors. And that strategy paid off for the No. 46 team. When the green flag flew over the field for the final time with three laps remaining, Goess managed to restart 12th, but something happened with his truck keeping him from restarting properly. As a result, he dropped back to his finishing position of 19th.
Justin Johnson, No. 51 Vision Airlines / Wounded Warrior Project Toyota
Johnson started off the race in 20th with hopes of learning about Darlington and bringing his truck home in one piece. But it wasn’t meant to be for the No. 51 team: Johnson brought out the fourth caution on lap 36th after a hard hit on the inside wall following a spin. As a result of the terminal damage, Johnson was the second driver to drop out of the event and finished 35th.
Cole Whitt, No. 60 Red Bull Chevrolet
Cole Whitt had a dream start at Darlington when he broke the track record for qualifying and started on the pole alongside Kasey Kahne. Once the green flag flew, Whitt took the lead and pulled ahead of Kahne by nearly a second by lap 12. It wasn’t until the field hit pit road for the first round of stops when Whitt lost eight spots on a four tire stop after a lugnut fell off of the left rear and underneath the truck. But that wasn’t the end of Whitt’s problems: in what was originally labeled as a dropped cylinder, the throttle stop broke on the No. 60, and that kept him from being able to accelerate properly. Once the problem was fixed on a later pit stop, Whitt managed to pull out an eighth-place finish and jump to second in points.
Justin Marks, No. 66 GoPro Chevrolet
Justin Marks just didn’t have the speed the leaders had in his Stacy Compton-owned Chevrolet, he managed to avoid all ten cautions and bring his machine home in 24th, two laps down.
Clay Rogers, No. 92 BTS Tire & Wheel Distributor / FleetHQ.com Chevrolet
Clay Rogers did his best to remain an unknown on the track throughout the Too Tough to Tame 200. As a result, he managed to stay on the lead lap and finish 11th with little damage to his truck. And that was good enough to keep him in the top 5 in the season standings.
2. How did Matt Crafton fare in his 250th career start?
Saturday evening’s race marked the 250th in Matt Crafton’s 11 year career in the Camping World Truck Series. Though he has just one win to his name, Crafton has racked up 132 top-10 finishes in 250 starts, including a top-5 finish in Saturday’s race from Darlington.
Despite the carnage on the track that brought out ten cautions and a red flag, Crafton managed to keep his nose clean most of the night. He was involved in some close side-by-side racing that saw him bounce off of his competitors a few times, the driver of the No. 88 Chevrolet managed to avoid disaster for much of the race.
But then disaster struck during a pit stop under the seventh caution. Crafton was flagged for missing lugnuts and forced to return to pit road to fix the problem. Despite that setback, Crafton managed to work his way through the field and took advantage of the shuffle on the final restart to score a fourth-place finish. And as a result, his points lead expanded to six points over Cole Whitt.
Considering what could have happened Saturday evening following the late race pit road penalty, Crafton and the No. 88 ThorSport team managed to pull out a very respectable top-5 finish at a track that’s notoriously tough on drivers. It’s runs like the one the team put together Saturday that will help them out as the search for their first championship moves further into the season.
3. Can Germain Racing win another championship while piecing together sponsorship?
Last season, Todd Bodine and the Germain Racing team weren’t even sure if they would make it to the third race of the season thanks to the lack of sponsor support committed to the team, but they pieced enough funding together week after week, allowing them to make every race and convincingly score their second Truck Series championship together.
But despite having dominated the championship battle last season, Bodine and the No. 30 team once again find themselves piecing together sponsorship week by week.
“No, we’re not even close to set,” Bodine said when asked if the team was covered financially for the entire schedule. “Tire Kingdom—I think they’re going to do four more. Valvoline’s going to do a couple and now we have one with Georgia Booth. We’ve still got a lot of races that we need to get sponsorship for, but we’re real excited about Georgia Booth because it’s such a great company.”
If anything, Germain Racing and Bodine proved in 2010 that they’re the combination that can piece together their funding as each race comes and still be competitive when the green flag flies. Sure their dream season was helped by a less than stellar season by Ron Hornaday, Jr. and the No. 33 team, but you can’t discount the hard work and determination out of the entire Germain Racing bunch.
Though they’re in a better place at this point in the season than they were in 2010, the No. 30 team is far from fully funded. But if any team can piece together a championship run while dealing with the uncertainty of whether they’ll even have the money to race the next stop on the schedule, Germain Racing is equipped to do just that.
Truck Rookie Report
No. of Rookies in the Race: 11
No. of Rookies to Finish in the Top 10: 1; Cole Whitt, finished eighth
Rookie Of The Race: Cole Whitt
“I don’t know what happened on that last restart. There was either air in the fuel lines or an ignition miss. I put the throttle down, and it seemed like nothing happened for five seconds, and then it came back to life. It was a disappointing finish, but overall I think we made a lot of headway as a team. I am confident we will continue to learn and grow as a team, and I’m excited to get to Martinsville in a few weeks.” Craig Goess, finished 19th
“Somebody spun out in front of us and with the sun just kind of going over the wall, it got really hard to see with the smoke. Just got run into from behind. I’m sure it was nobody’s fault. I hate it. We had a pretty good truck. I was really just starting to learn the place and have some fun and it’s just unfortunate we got tore up. But we’re looking forward to Martinsville.” Joey Coulter, finished 28th
“It just stinks cause we had a really good truck and finally got out lap back. The guys were working really hard from practice and we came a long way. It just stinks. Hopefully we can get that truck ready for Nashville because sponsorship is really low at Panhandle Motorsports, but hopefully we can get some after a good run—or almost good run—we had at Darlington.” Johanna Long, finished 31st
“I got inside the 1 (Jeffrey Earnhardt) truck and we were going through the middle of one and two running fine coming off of two; then he started crowding me a little bit. I got my lefts (tires) on the apron down there and just lost control of it. Unfortunately for the Wounded Warrior Toyota Tundra—we were doing pretty good up to that point.” Justin Johnson, finished 35th
Matt Crafton maintains the top spot in the standings after a solid fourth-place finish Saturday evening and currently holds a six point lead over rookie Cole Whitt who moved up one spot after scoring the second top-10 finish of his young career. Timothy Peters moves up two spots to third after a gamble by his crew chief to take four tires under the ninth caution. Clay Rogers, who entered Darlington just one point behind Crafton in second, dropped two spots to fourth, eight points behind the leader. Despite finishing ninth, Johnny Sauter dropped one spot to round out the top 5 and trails his teammate by nine.
Ron Hornaday, Jr.‘s runner-up finish allowed him to jump four spots in the standings to sixth, just 12 points out of first. He’s followed by a tie between Todd Bodine,who jumped five spots,and Austin Dillon who dropped one spot. Mas Papis, who dropped one spot, and rookie Jeffrey Earnhardt, who dropped three spots, round out the top 10.
“The crowd here was great tonight. It was a lot of fun to race in front of such a good crowd. I love Darlington—this is an awesome race track. I came here this weekend wanting to win—that was the plan. This is a tough series. This whole team on pit road did an awesome job. We had the track position all night and just holding off Todd (Bodine) and everybody else behind him, it was quite the battle there. It was a great run.” Race Winner Kasey Kahne
“We knew Kasey (Kahne) was going to be tough and we both spun the heck out of the tires. I got mine hooked up first and beat him into one but didn’t quite clear him enough to make it work. It was a great race. I am so happy for Darlington Raceway—look at the crowd we got. This tells you what the Truck Series is about. These fans are hardcore, they came out here on a Saturday night just to watch trucks race. Everybody at home—we appreciate you watching. Trucks are the greatest race and I’m loving it. We didn’t want third. Second would have been better, but we’re back.” Todd Bodine
“I’m alright. We were fast. Just trying hard. This year I finally feel comfortable. I don’t know if I got any help, but I’ll take the blame for it.” Ricky Carmichael, finished 30th
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You’ll get them next time Johanna.