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: Ron Hornaday, Jr. took the checkered flag 0.936 seconds ahead of rookie Parker Kligerman to win the WinStar World Casino 400K Friday night at Texas Motor Speedway. Though Hornaday actually crossed the start / finish line in second, he was the beneficiary of a black flag issued to then-leader Johnny Sauter and scored his first win this season. David Mayhew, Brian Ickler and Joey Coulter rounded out the top 5.
Who Should Have Won: Ron Hornaday, Jr. Johnny Sauter and Austin Dillon clearly had the fastest trucks in the field, but Dillon was involved in a wreck with a loose Matt Crafton that took him out of contention for the win though his crew did manage to keep him on the lead lap while making repairs to the No. 3 Chevrolet. And though Sauter was actually the first driver to take the checkered flag, the black flag also flew simultaneously and the win was handed to Ron Hornaday, Jr. who crossed the line in second just as it should have been.
Author’s Note: For more on the Johnny Sauter black flag, be sure to check out the questions below.
Questions You Should Be Asking After the Race:
1. How did Steve Arpin fare in his Truck Series debut?
ARCA standout Steve Arpin rolled into Texas Motor Speedway with high hopes for a strong run in his Truck Series debut after winning his one and only appearance at the mile-and-a-half track, the Rattlesnake 150. After qualifying fourth, the driver of the No. 32 Mike’s Hard Lemonade Chevrolet dropped a few spots thanks to handling problems.
But under the second caution, crew chief Doug George made the call for two tires, giving Arpin the lead on the restart. He held the lead for four laps under green flag conditions before veterans Ron Hornaday, Jr. and Johnny Sauter took first and second from him.
However, the night wasn’t over for Arpin, who would drop a few spots and work his way back up. It was shaping up to be a solid debut for the young driver until he got loose, slid up the track right in front of Austin Dillon, who committed to moving inside to avoid wrecking the No. 32. It was then that Arpin moved back down the track trying to save his truck, but contact with Dillon sent both drivers through the grass, bringing out the record-tying ninth caution with just 31 laps to go. It was then that Arpin went one lap down while his team made the necessary repairs to his truck; he was left to settle for a 23rd-place finish in his debut.
Despite losing it late in the race, Arpin was definitely impressive in his Truck Series debut. It’s not often you see a rookie driver leading guys like Ron Hornaday, Jr. along with the rest of the field. If there’s one thing that can be said, it’s that Arpin clearly has the talent to make it in NASCAR, and it’ll be a treat to watch him grow behind the wheel in his four other races scheduled this season.
2. Did NASCAR make the right call to black flag Johnny Sauter?
Johnny Sauter rolled into Texas Motor Speedway with quite a bit of confidence in his ability to head to victory lane for the second time this year after participating in Goodyear’s tire test earlier this season. However, it wasn’t meant to be for the driver of the No. 13 Chevrolet. Within the last 30 laps, Sauter radioed his crew chief complaining he felt a flat right rear tire and then later worried about his fuel pressure gauge reading zero.
But it wasn’t either of those that took the win away from Sauter. It was a simple lane change prior to the start / finish line on the final restart of the night. Starting outside Ron Hornaday, Jr., Sauter easily pulled ahead of the driver of the No. 33 Chevrolet and wasted no time moving into the bottom lane, still leaving a small lane of track open below him.
“As soon as the green dropped, I was yelling, ‘He’s in my lane, he’s in my lane!” Hornaday said. “I knew the rules. I would have been fine with it either way. At that time, we had a second-place truck. It was a call and NASCAR made it. I would have expected it if it was me.”
And NASCAR saw it the same way Hornaday did. When Sauter took the checkered flag, the black flag also flew indicating he had broken the restart rule and would not be awarded the win. A visibly upset Sauter, who was scored 22nd as the last driver on the lead lap, was very short with reporters as he walked away from the garage area Friday night.
“He got a lane to race down there,” Sauter said. “We both spun the tires. I was just trying to save the truck.”
And when asked whether he’d talk to NASCAR to get a clarification on the call, Sauter simply said, “It’s official, isn’t it?” and kept right on walking.
While I can understand why Sauter was so upset after leading nearly 60 laps and pulling out to as much as a four-second lead at times, I have to side with NASCAR on this one. As he does every week, Series director Wayne Auton made it very clear during the drivers meeting
“He said, ‘This is your last warning.’ I think he said it three times,” Hornaday said of Auton’s reminder. “‘You go into another guy’s lane, better give it back before you get to Turn 1.’ Sticky call, but you can’t change lanes until you pass the start / finish line. And I hate that rule.”
The same thing happened to David Ragan during the Daytona 500 earlier this year. On a restart, Ragan made the rookie mistake of moving to the bottom line when he should have stayed outside until he crossed the start / finish line, and that definitely cost him a chance at what would have been the biggest, and first, win of his career.
Like it or not, Sauter knew the rules going into this race just like the 35 other drivers out on the track. And whether the argument of trying to save the truck is true, NASCAR still has a responsibility to be consistent in their calls regardless of how the driver feels about it.
That said, it would be best for Johnny Sauter to take the next few weeks to forget about what happened at Texas and prepare to move on to Kentucky early next month. If he remains focused on the call and loses sight of the big picture, the black flag Friday night could easily spell the end of his championship hopes.
Truck Rookie Report
No. of Rookies in the Race: 11 (add David Mayhew and debuting drivers Steve Arpin and Stephen McCurley)
No. of Rookies to Finish in the Top 10: 4; Parker Kligerman, finished second; David Mayhew, finished third; Joey Coulter, finished fifth; Miguel Paludo, finished eighth
Rookie Of The Race: Parker Kligerman, finished second
“I wanna thank these guys right here. We don’t go to a wind tunnel, we don’t go to shaker rig testing. We do none of the stuff that these top 10 teams do, and it’s almost like David vs. Goliath with us. But Brad Keselowski and Roger Penske gave me an amazing opportunity with this truck, and it’s about making the most opportunities. To get this, knowing we’re one spot away from that elusive victory lane, it means the most to these guys. We can go off for the break with a lot of momentum, hopefully tweak our stuff and come back to Kentucky and go for that first spot.” Parker Kligerman, finished second
“We had a really good truck. I gotta thank Kevin and DeLana Harvick (team owners), Steve McGowan, MMI Services, all the guys at KHI. Without this opportunity, you’re never going to run like this with these guys. All the guys on pit road did an awesome job adjusting the truck all night long and we just slowly worked our way forward and had a shot at the end and just got a little free. When we got to those last couple restarts, that’s definitely not what we needed. After five, ten laps that thing really started coming to life. I think we would’ve had a shot getting up to those guys, but I learned a lot restarts behind (Johnny) Sauter and (Ron) Hornaday. You can’t ask for two better teachers than that.” David Mayhew, finished third
“I had a blast racing at Texas Motor Speedway! It’s unfortunate that we got involved in a wreck on the final lap, but nothing could take away how well our whole team did throughout the entire race. The team has worked really hard all year, but we haven’t had the results to show it. I finally got a finish that the team deserves, so I’m extremely happy with that. Panhandle Motorsports made huge gains this weekend; hopefully we can keep the momentum and progress going at our next race. I can’t thank my team and everyone who supports me enough.” Johanna Long, finished 11th
“Yeah I think she let go there. Dropped a valve for sure. I’ve got no power.” Cole Whitt, finished 28th, on the radio after he brought out the seventh caution while running fourth
As the season has gone on, Parker Kligerman has shown substantial improvement in his on-track performance, and Texas was no exception. Making several veteran moves to gain positions throughout the race, Kligerman started sixth and restarted third with just three laps remaining. Though he had nothing for Ron Hornaday, Jr. on that restart, Kligerman impressed just the same. It’s only a matter of time before he visits victory lane.
Though he isn’t entered officially in the Raybestos Rookie of the Year field this season, David Mayhew made just his fifth career series start Friday night behind the wheel of the No. 2 MMI Services Chevrolet for Kevin Harvick, Inc. After starting 16th, Mayhew struggled with a loose race truck, but pit strategy that allowed the No. 2 team to have a set of sticker tires available during a lap 112 stop. Following that stop, Mayhew restarted tenth but managed to pick off drivers one by one until he passed Parker Kligerman just as the tenth and final caution flag flew. The two raced side by side for the final three laps with Kligerman taking the edge and Mayhew scoring a career-best third place finish.
After qualifying 18th, Johanna Long worked her way through the field and kept her nose clean throughout most of the WinStar World Casino 400K. She restarted 20th with just 25 laps remaining but managed to work her way up through the field to 11th where she restarted after the tenth and final caution of the night. Long managed to hang on to that position and scored her career best finish before her truck was destroyed by a wrecked Travis Kvapil.
Cole Whitt looked to have another strong truck at Texas this weekend, but it wasn’t meant to be for the driver of the No. 60 Red Bull / Fuel Doctor Chevrolet. While running fourth, Whitt suffered an engine failure that left him to settle for a 28th-place finish.
After taking a few weeks off to complete his final exams, Chase Mattioli ran the Truck Series race in Texas on Friday night and headed straight off to Pocono for the ARCA 200 at his home track. After bringing out the second caution in the truck race on lap 22 for a spin through the frontstretch grass, Mattioli just rode around, finishing 24th, four laps down. And he didn’t fare a whole lot better at Pocono, finishing 18th in the fog-shortened race.
Worth Noting / Points Shuffle:
The WinStar World Casino 400K was a record-breaking race with 11 leaders and 19 lead changes. Meanwhile, the race was slowed by the yellow flag ten times, surpassing the prior record of nine cautions, a record no one wants to see broken.
Ryan Sieg scored his career-best finish Friday night as he rolled across the start / finish line in seventh. After leading eight laps thanks to pit strategy, Sieg worked his way back through the field to score the fourth career top-10 finish of his young career.
If you watched the whole race on SPEED, you were likely just as frustrated as I was to see about ten laps of Austin Dillon leading the field while the commentators described action all over the track. And it even resulted in not seeing what happened between Brian Ickler and Todd Bodine until later during a race recap. (Author’s Note: For more on SPEED’s television coverage, don’t miss Talking NASCAR TV by Phil Allaway on Tuesday.)
Welcome back, Brian Ickler. While team owner Kyle Busch headed off to Pocono for this weekend’s Cup Series event, Ickler found himself behind the wheel of the No. 18 Toyota. After being spun out by a loose Todd Bodine and bringing out the third caution, Ickler went a lap down but didn’t give up. Just two laps after the restart, Ickler rejoined the field thanks to a lucky dog awarded to him when Shane Sieg spun to bring out the fourth caution. Then, with just 31 laps remaining, the 25-year-old pitted for the set of four sticker tires the team saved throughout the race and restarted 12th. And those tires were enough to take home a solid fourth-place finish.
Despite being relegated to a 22nd-place finish, Johnny Sauter saw his points grow to 20 over rookie Cole Whitt who suffered an engine failure Friday night. Ron Hornaday, Jr.‘s win propelled him up three spots to third, just 33 points behind the leader. Austin Dillon and Matt Crafton each dropped one spot to round out the top 5.
Timothy Peters dropped back to sixth, just five points outside the top 5, and James Buescher remains in seventh. Parker Kligerman remains eighth while fellow rookie Joey Coulter jumped two spots to ninth. Brendan Gaughan rounds out the top 10, 81 points behind the leader.
Also of note, Todd Bodine, who jumped into the top 10 after last week’s solid third-place finish dropped four spots to 13th after being involved in two on track incidents. The first was with Brian Ickler where Bodine simply got loose inside Ickler sending the No. 18 spinning. But it was the fifth caution that actually caused terminal damage to the No. 30 NTB / Valvoline Toyota. After contact with David Starr, the two drifted up the track and hard into the outside wall; Bodine was forced to settle for a 31st-place finish.
“I saw him sliding down and once he figured it out, he went back up there. I kind of saved my stuff in case that happened there. It’s just an unbelievable day. I’ll take it. The way our year has been going, we’re gaining on them, but we’re still not right yet. These guys never lay back. Thanks to Kevin and DeLana (Harvick, team owners) for believing in me. We’re never going to say die. That’s our motto at KHI.” Race Winner Ron Hornaday, Jr.
“Unfortunately we got into an incident with Todd (Bodine) that put us a lap down early—but the guys on this team never gave up and we fought our way back to a top-5 finish. The Toyota Tundra was really loose at times but Eric (Phillips, Crew Chief) made great calls all night and we ended up with a strong run. I’m looking forward to getting back behind the wheel at Iowa next month.” Brian Ickler, finished fourth
“I guess he just got a run right there at the last second. I got a little bit free off that corner. He wasn’t there and then it was like he had me right there and I was trying to get out of the throttle. I was trying to turn back left but I had gotten free so I had to wash up the race track. Man when you get hooked in the right rear on the straightaway that’s a hard way to go down especially at Texas. I think we had something for them right there at the end, but it happens.” Matt Crafton, finished 29th
“Well my own stupidity I guess. I shouldn’t have been back there racing those guys. Went down in the corner and they all jacked up. I don’t know why, but David (Starr) jacked up in front of me. It was either run in the back of him or turn left and go around him, and I chose the worst of the two evils. And when I did it sucked me right to him. I really feel bad for the guys. It’s not good racing, it’s not what I wanted for sure. Our luck has been terrible this year.” Todd Bodine, finished 31st
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Who shout have won: Sauter. Made a mistake in spinning his tires on the restart and compounding it by sliding out of his lane. But he did have the best truck all night.
Worst performance by an overrated 3rd generation driver: Austin Dillon. I am thinking it might cost Gramps a few more bucks to fix that truck than it did to fix Joey Coulter’s last week. Couldn’t happen to a more deserving owner.
MY QUESTION IS….WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO MIKE SKINNER? IS HE OUT COMPLETELY, OR, IS HE JUST TAKING A HIATUS? THERE A LOT OF SKINNERITES OUT THERE WHO WOULD LIKE TO KNOW!!!P.S. SHOULD THE PRIOR POST BE SHOULD AND NOT SHOUT??
Yes. My bad typing.