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: Kyle Busch took the checkered flag 3.816 seconds ahead of Austin Dillon to win the F.W. Webb 175 Saturday afternoon at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Busch led all but ten laps on the way to scoring his 30th career Camping World Truck Series victory. Kevin Harvick, Ron Hornaday, Jr. and Johnny Sauter rounded out the top-5 finishers, while Matt Crafton wound up sixth and was the last truck on the lead lap.
Who Should Have Won: Hands down, Kyle Busch had the truck to beat Saturday afternoon. After leading the final practice and starting on the pole, Busch wasted no time pulling out front. Jumping out to as much as a six-second lead at times, Busch led the first 130 laps until a round of green-flag pit stops. And it only took ten laps after that for the field to cycle through, letting the driver of the No. 18 reclaim the top spot – a position he never relinquished until the checkered flag flew.
Questions You Should Be Asking After the Race:
1. Did NASCAR make the right caution calls Saturday?
The F.W. Webb 175 was slowed by just two cautions Saturday afternoon, both for debris. And the only real on-track incident came when David Starr spun on lap 75, resulting in no caution being thrown. But did NASCAR make the right decision in all three cases?
We’ll start with the first caution that flew on lap 61 for debris. At that point, James Buescher, who held the points lead coming into Saturday’s race, was just a few truck lengths from going a lap down to leader Kyle Busch. And suddenly, there was debris on the track that SPEED’s cameras just couldn’t seem to find. Coincidence? Hard to tell, but unless we can see the debris, I’m willing to call fake caution on NASCAR.
Consider this scenario for a minute: Buescher came into New Hampshire with a seven-point lead over Austin Dillon despite having missed the second race of the season at Phoenix. I’ve talked about it before, saying that it would be a pretty large accomplishment for the No. 31 team to win the championship with one race less than the rest of the field he’s fighting. So it certainly makes me wonder whether the first caution was authentic or if it was something to give Buescher and his team a chance to fix their handling problems and remain on the lead lap. Seems pretty fishy if you ask me.
And that leads us to the second caution that flew just four laps after the first one. This time, SPEED showed a rather large chunk of debris on the track that could have posed a problem to tires as well as the safety of the drivers on the track. Simply put, that was a caution that needed to fly.
Then, shortly after the restart from the second caution, David Starr spun on lap 75 and managed to right his truck long before the leaders got back around the track. As a result, NASCAR chose not to throw the caution, and it’s a call I agree with. Since Starr was well on his way again before the front of the field made it back around the track, there was no reason for the caution to fly, and frankly it’s refreshing to see the yellow being held back to give drivers a chance to recover from single-truck spins like this one.
So, if you consider all three incidents, you could say NASCAR, for the most part, made the right calls Saturday afternoon, but the glaring problem still lies in that first caution. Had Buescher gone a lap down so early in the race — especially with the blistering pace being set by the leader on track — it’s likely that instead of netting a seventh-place finish, Buescher would have easily been outside the top 10 and the point standings would be considerably different than they are at this point.
But with all of that being said, only NASCAR knows for sure what debris they saw on the track, and if it was a bogus call, you and I both know they’re never going to come out and say it.
2. Who will end up at Eddie Sharp Racing in 2012?
On Friday, Eddie Sharp Racing, which currently fields the No. 6 CollegeComplete.com truck for Justin Lofton, announced they had acquired two of the three Truck Series teams currently fielded by Kevin Harvick, Inc. The team will now field three full-time entries starting in 2012, including the No. 8 and No. 33 trucks. ESR will continue to operate out of their 40,000 square-foot facility in Denver, NC.
“The timing couldn’t have been any more perfect. We are ready to take this opportunity head on to utilize what Kevin and DeLana (Harvick, KHI Team Owners) have built,” ESR Team Owner Eddie Sharp said. “It was a marriage made in heaven, because we were ready to move forward at ESR, and this opportunity worked out perfectly. With KHI, you have a turnkey, successful program at the ready.”
“I’m excited about the future of ESR, really excited. We’ll have driver and sponsor lineup announcements coming within the next few weeks. To see everything progress with Kevin and DeLana’s help, and the support from Chevrolet, it’s a dream come true.”
In just ten races with ESR, Justin Lofton, driver of the No. 6 CollegeComplete.com Chevrolet, has a single top-10 finish, a seventh at Bristol. He currently sits 15th in the points standings, and ESR has already said they’re working toward next season with Lofton. So the question that remains is who will fill those other two spots.
On Sunday, Jayski reported that they’re hearing Cale Gale will fill one of those open spots. Gale has a handful of Truck Series starts for KHI with his lone top-10 finish — ninth — coming at Bristol in 2007. Granted, it’s just a rumor, but it wouldn’t surprise me since Gale is at least a little familiar with KHI’s equipment already.
And if Gale is one of the two drivers to fill the new rides, that still leaves one more spot open, and frankly I hope it ends up being Ron Hornaday, Jr. remaining in the No. 33 Chevrolet. Since ESR is planning to continue on with the manufacturer, a four-time series champion would be just the ticket to help get their program off the ground when they take on two more full-time teams.
What happens will only come in time, but it sure would be nice to know that Hornaday has a ride before the season ends.
Truck Rookie Report
No. of Rookies in the Race: 12 (add Todd Peck, Jeff Agnew, Wes Burton, Blake Feese, and debuting drivers German Quiroga, Bobby Santos and A.J. Russell)
No. of Rookies to Finish in the Top 10: 1; Miguel Paludo, finished tenth
Rookie Of The Race: Miguel Paludo
NASCAR Mexico driver German Quiroga made his first career Truck Series start Saturday behind the wheel of the No. 51 Telcel Toyota for Kyle Busch Motorsports. After qualifying 17th, Quiroga managed to stay inside the top 20 for much of the afternoon. Aside from being lapped in the early stages of the race, Quiroga did what any debuting driver wants to do — he finished the race and gained some valuable track time while he was at it. When the checkered flag flew, the two-time Corona Series champion brought home a respectable 16th-place finish, three laps down.
A.J. Russell and Sacred Power Motorsports made history this weekend, becoming the first Native American-owned team with a Native American driver. After qualifying 31st, a full 3.5 seconds behind the pole time, the driver of the No. 73 Dodge already had a big hole to dig out of, and it didn’t get any better when the green flag flew. Running a fastest lap that was more than ten miles an hour slower than the race leader, Russell quickly went several laps down and was left to settle for a 26th-place finish, 28 laps off the pace.
Once the F.W. Webb 175 hit the 100-lap mark, it looked like Joey Coulter and the No. 22 team had really picked up the pace, passing several competitors on a track that so many struggled to make moves on. But that march to front was short-lived when Coulter pitted from the lead he had grabbed thanks to green-flag pit stops with 39 laps remaining. He was pegged not once, but twice, for speeding entering pit road, taking himself out of contention for a solid top-5 finish. But despite the dual penalties, Coulter still brought home an 11th-place result, just one lap down.
After starting sixth and hanging around inside the top 15 for much of the day, Nelson Piquet, Jr. looked like he was setting up for another solid top-10 finish when disaster struck the No. 8 Chevrolet. With just 48 laps remaining, Piquet, Jr. was forced to pit after a problem with his battery popped up. Though his team was able to switch out the defective part, Piquet was left to settle for a 24th-place finish, ten laps off the pace.
“It was a tough race with long green flag runs. We made the right adjustments and Rick (Gay, Crew Chief) made an awesome call with two tires at the end and that paid off. I don’t know why, but four tires took like ten laps for the pressure to build up and the truck to be good. With two tires, the truck was awesome right away. Good day for us, top 10 and on the lead lap _. I want to gain as many points as I can for the end of the season. Days like this are good to finish in the top 10.” _Miguel Paludo, finished tenth
“Overall, I am very happy with the end result and I believe that Telcel will be happy with my performance as well. The guys at Kyle Busch Motorsports were a pleasure to work with and provided me with a Telcel Tundra that was definitely a top-10 truck. I got caught up in traffic and went a lap down in the early stages of the race. When the race stayed green for a long period, I was never able to get back on the lead lap. I enjoyed my first experience racing in the Truck Series and hope to be back soon.” German Quiroga, finished 16th
Worth Noting / Points Shuffle:
Start-and-park teams ran rampant through the F.W. Webb 175. In the 35-truck field, nine drivers — Jeff Agnew, J.J. Yeley, Josh Wise, Butch Miller, Todd Peck, Chris Jones, Mike Harmon, Bobby Santos, and Jennifer Jo Cobb — were out of the race before even hitting the halfway point. Cobb didn’t complete a single lap before retiring with “engine” problems, and most of the other start-and-park teams didn’t complete 20 laps with excuses ranging from clutch, to brakes, to transmission and even overheating. In fact, Agnew was the driver to make it the farthest — he retired after 80 laps, claiming “ignition” problems.
Clearly, the Barrett-Jackson auction from Las Vegas, NV was more important to the SPEED team covering the F.W. Webb 175 than covering the race itself. After enduring multiple references to the auction throughout the broadcast, SPEED cut away from the post-race coverage nearly half an hour before their window ended, after a short talk with the top-3 finishers and showing the finishing order. In fact, they didn’t even bother showing the points standings before rushing off to Las Vegas. For more analysis of SPEED’s broadcast, be sure to “tune into” Phil Allaway’s Talking NASCAR TV tomorrow on Frontstretch.com.
Josh Wise made his first series start since 2007 Saturday afternoon. Unfortunately, it was with a start-and-park team, Shane Sieg’s No. 93 S&W Services Chevrolet. He only completed 14 laps before retiring to a 29th-place finish with brake problems.
Five different track records — pole speed, race speed, fewest cautions, fewest caution laps and fewest finishers on the lead lap — were broken at New Hampshire Motor Speedway Saturday:
Thanks to a runner-up finish, Austin Dillon now sits atop the series standings by two points over James Buescher. Johnny Sauter remains third, only seven points out of the lead. Timothy Peters and Ron Hornaday, Jr. round out the top 5.
Matt Crafton remains sixth, 51 points behind the leader, with rookie Joey Coulter just seven points behind him in seventh. Cole Whitt moved up one spot to eighth after a 15th-place finish Saturday afternoon. Parker Kligerman and Todd Bodine round out the top 10 in a tie, 68 points behind the leader.
“The truck was awesome today. I can’t say enough about all these guys and everybody at Kyle Busch Motorsports. They worked their butts off. We haven’t had the best of runs at the mile-and-a-half tracks and the faster places, but feel really good about where we were today and how our short track stuff is. This is cool to come out here and run like this again. Can’t say enough about the fans too — thank you guys. Appreciate the support and it was a fun race today at New Hampshire. Put on a great performance like that and it goes back to these guys.” Race Winner Kyle Busch
“We were in there every lap. We even got to lead a lap which was good for our points deal. I wish we could have come out a little closer to him (Kyle Busch) to come off of pit road [on our final green flag stop]. I lost a little time getting onto pit road, and that hurt us. But we came out leading the points with six [races] to go. We’ll focus on that, and we’re happy with this finish. [The] championship has been on our mind all year. I feel like we’ve had a great truck to beat each and every week. We’re finally stringing some finishes together.” Runner-up Austin Dillon
“It was like a parade. It was a terrible race with everybody following each other around. I got stuck behind the (No.) 88 (Matt Crafton) there and lost half a track. It was just really hard to pass. Track position was king.” Kevin Harvick, finished third
Johanna Long’s grandfather, Johnnie F. Long, passed away Thursday surrounded by his family. Having owned and operated Panhandle Grading and Paving since 1979, Long was grateful for his long-term employees and the relationships he built with them. Visitation is scheduled for Monday afternoon, immediately followed by the funeral service at East Brent Baptist Church in Pensacola, FL. My thoughts and prayers go out to the entire Long family in this trying time.
©2000 - 2008 Beth Lunkenheimer and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
Cobb blew her engine in practice and did not have enough money for a new one
Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family Johanna.