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.
Frontstretch Staff · Tuesday September 27, 2011
With eight races left, major NASCAR storylines are heating up as we head towards the stretch run of stock car racing’s nine-month season. Take a look at some of the sport’s big controversies and how we, the Frontstretch Staff think they’ll turn out in a wide-ranging edition of Fact or Fiction.
FACT: Tony Stewart Is A Contender For The Championship
I’ve read all of the articles casting doubt over Tony Stewart and No. 14 team and whether they can keep up the roll on which they’ve started the Chase. I mean, who can blame the media for being so down on a team that barely made the playoffs and failed to visit Victory Lane before Chicagoland Speedway last Monday? After all, Stewart had just 11 top-10 finishes in the first 26 races this season before following up with back-to-back wins to open the Chase.
But let’s consider a comment Stewart made in his post-race interview Sunday afternoon.
“Well, we got rid of some dead weight earlier this week. So, it made it a lot easier. It’s been a big weight lifted off our shoulders. Just sometimes you have to make adjustments in your life and we did that and it has definitely helped this weekend for sure.”
Since there haven’t been any announcements of team changes or dismissals, we all know what that “dead weight” most likely was, and obviously Stewart is alright with it since he’s the one that mentioned it in his post-race interview. Perhaps that “dead weight” was a big distraction for much of the season and he’s since shaken that monkey off of his back and can place all of his focus on the race team for the remaining eight races this season — Dover, Kansas, Charlotte, Talladega, Martinsville, Texas, Phoenix and Homestead.
Stewart boasts a combined 12 wins at the remaining eight tracks on the schedule and has posted double-digit top-10 finishes at each track except Kansas and Homestead, where he’s only made 11 and 12 starts, respectively. Simply put, top-10 finishes are just as important as race wins when it comes to putting together a championship run. Remember, Jimmie Johnson had just one victory during the Chase last season and in 2006, but he also only had one finish outside the top 10 in 2010 as well — 25th at New Hampshire.
Sure, the owner / driver of the No. 14 Chevrolet only holds a mere seven-point lead over Kevin Harvick, but with the new points system awarding roughly one-third of the points of the old system, you could compare it to a 21-point lead in previous seasons.
I am in no way guaranteeing that Tony Stewart will win the championship. The only way to do that is to have NASCAR fix the final eight races, and that’s just not right. But Stewart’s burst out of the gate in the first two races of the Chase isn’t a fluke and shows that the two-time champion, who missed his usual summer peak, is seeing significant improvement in team performance at a time when it matters most. Beth Lunkenheimer
FICTION: The KHI Ride Swap Between Ron Hornaday, Jr. and Cale Gale For Kentucky Speedway Isn’t Important
On Monday, Kevin Harvick, Inc. announced a ride switch for Kentucky Superspeedway between Ron Hornaday, Jr. and Cale Gale. Instead of piloting his usual No. 33 Chevrolet, Hornaday will instead wheel the No. 2 Hollywood Casino Chevrolet while Gale will run the No. 33 Rheem Heating, Cooling and Water Heating Chevrolet Saturday evening.
While it is a departure from the norm, it’s a very important decision for KHI. In their final season in the Truck Series, the No. 2 team currently leads Kyle Busch Motorsports’ No. 18 by 33 points in the owner standings and hopes to close out their ten-year run in the series with an owners’ championship, since the likelihood of a Driver’s Championship is slim-to-none. Also, team owner Kevin Harvick will be in Dover, Delaware and unable to pilot the No. 2 like he has on so many occasions. Hornaday is simply the better driver to put in his place to protect that points lead over the No. 18.
Aside from the obvious behind-the-wheel experience advantage, Hornaday is a four-time series champion that has seven starts at the 1.5-mile oval in Sparta, KY. In those seven starts, there are two visits to Victory Lane and a whopping five finishes inside the top 15. Sure, the last two starts at Kentucky Speedway haven’t been the best for the Truck Series veteran — 29th in 2010 and 27th earlier this season — but Hornaday’s performance has been on the upswing lately.
On the flip side, Cale Gale has just a single top-10 finish in the Truck Series and has just two Nationwide Series starts at Kentucky Superspeedway — a 13th in 2007 and an 18th in 2008 — so it only makes sense that the driver with more experience at the track and a better overall performance record would get the nod when making the decision of who will hold on to the owner points lead.
Of course, there are no guarantees come race day on whether either truck will make it all the way through to the checkered flag, but the driver does make a difference. And Ron Hornaday, Jr. is the driver to lean on when it comes to something as important as a championship. Beth Lunkenheimer
FACT: NASCAR Must Address The Start-And-Parks This Offseason
They’ve been around for years, to the disgust of some and the outright ignorance of others. In fact, there’s even a solid cross-section of the Sprint Cup garage that welcome the start-and-parkers, cars who begin each race with no intention of going the distance. With the options for employment few and far between these days, it’s a way to keep a job in stock car racing, right?
Up until now, NASCAR hasn’t done much to stop the practice of pulling in after only a couple laps on the track. Instead, the sanctioning body seems to be helping to establish a growing business model in order to bank some easy cash. A team, you see, that runs less than 100 miles, then parks doesn’t have to spend money on tires, rent a pit crew or even worry about paying full price for a motor. And during flareups, officials have nagged full-time start-and-park cars to go the distance about once a year. Each week, they select one of them for a full, teardown inspection at the R&D Center, costing that program tens of thousands of dollars as their pull-apart, then rebuilding process also causes each team to bring out a backup car.
But think a moment: With seven full-time start-and-park programs minimum, you’re looking at dealing with that expense maybe five times a season. It’s still not enough to erase the profit margins. Otherwise, the teams wouldn’t be out there each week.
However, their existence also does nothing to continue to grow the legendary level of competition NASCAR likes to tout on a regular basis.
Unfortunately, there’s still no quick fix to handle this problem; NASCAR refuses to reduce the number of cars on the grid from 43 to a far more manageable 36. But based on what we saw this Sunday, it’s an issue the sanctioning body can no longer continue to ignore. A total of eight cars parked it early at Loudon, a season high equivalent to 18.6 percent of the field taking well over $550,000 in purse money. Taking a look ahead, those numbers are only expected to increase in 2012; none of the S&P cars have sponsorship, while the closure of Red Bull Racing combined with the loss of perhaps one, maybe two other full-time teams means you’re looking at a dozen cars lining up to simply park it each week. Can NASCAR stomach a full one-quarter of the starting field each week making a few short parade laps, then heading to the garage? You figure some sort of rule has to come down to eliminate this practice… right? Tom Bowles
FACT: Kurt Busch’s Car Should Have Gotten A Second Look
There was an interesting omission noticed Sunday night from a usually mundane list of cars selected for post-race inspection. You had Tony Stewart, the Loudon race winner, followed by second-place Brad Keselowski and Carl Edwards. Sounds normal enough, right?
Wrong. Here’s a hint as to who might be missing: his car almost didn’t make the starting grid after being held for what seemed like days in pre-race inspection. Yes, Kurt Busch found himself escaping from scrutiny after a 22nd-place finish left him one lap down and out of contention. That ugly ending, hurting him deeply when it came to the Chase was probably the reason NASCAR left well enough alone. But considering the team was kept hanging for so long, officials concerned about not just timeliness but possible violations why not add some follow through? If President Mike Helton thinks things have gotten serious enough he needs to talk to owner Roger Penske in pre-race… wouldn’t you think a second check to ensure everything’s legal after the checkered should come naturally?
In this case, it didn’t. But I’m sure Clint Bowyer, one year removed from a Chase-killing 150-point penalty was sitting back today, catching up on this situation and shaking his head. Tom Bowles
FICTION: Modifieds Are A Strictly Northern Racing Division
The Whelen All-American series awards its national championship to a driver who competes at a track which hosts a weekly feature series that is eligible for points, whether it is dirt or asphalt, modified or late model. While there is no official demarcation, it is generally regarded that the dirt is in the Midwest, the asphalt is on the coasts and in the South, and Late Models race in the South and West while the Modifieds race in the Northeast. While that might be the popular belief, the fact remains that not only is there a viable tour in the South for Modifieds, they were originally raced in the South.
There is no question that three of the four most famous race tracks to host weekly Modified races are located in Connecticut. Thompson International Speedway, Stafford Motor Speedway and Waterford Speedbowl have all been hosting NASCAR weekly racing series events since the 1950s. These tracks were the stomping ground of Richie Evans and Jerry Cook, the two most famous and successful Modified drivers in the history of the sport. The long and storied traditions of these tracks and the ardent followings of the Modifieds roaring around their tight confines could easily convince a casual fan that the only real Modified racing takes place in that area of the country.
It may very well be the hotbed of Modified racing, and the home of the Whelen Modified Tour, but it is not the only area, nor is it the original location, of Modified racing. NASCAR also has a Southern Modified Tour and during their schedule they race at the true home of Modified competition. Bowman-Gray Stadium is the longest running weekly NASCAR race track in the country, having hosted its first Modified event on May 18th, 1949.
How steeped in tradition is it? Bill France started the racing at Bowman-Gray, Bill France Jr. met his wife Betty at the track, and Ben Kennedy, the great-grandson of Big Bill France competed there in a K&N East race this Summer. The television series Madhouse was about the racing at the famous track, which routinely brings in 10-15,000 fans every week for their weekly racing program. The competition in the Southern Modified ranks is every bit as competitive as that in the Northern ranks, as evidenced by Burt Myers winning the North/South shootout on two occasions.
Modifieds are certainly the most popular racing vehicles in the Northeast and the best who have ever driven them came from the tight bullrings of New England. While those facts are unquestionable, the racing in the Modified division in the South is just as competitive and just as intense, showing the true roots of the sport were firmly entrenched in Carolina clay well before they ever set down in New England. – Mike Neff
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Start and parks could be handled better by adjusting the calculated purse by the percentage of laps completed.
The amount of money then freed up could be spread amongst all the teams.
A quick example of the basics would have Tony Stewart’s winnings jump from $254083 to $290678.
Andy Lally would have earned $86966 ($80300)
Dave Blaney (not really a S&P) would have made $21538 ($70600) and biggest loser would have been Travis Kvapil who would only have pocketed $2326 ($69767)
The above principle is not perfect, but could be improved by having a guaranteed as well as flexible portion. All contingency awards as example should really not participate in the proportionate increase. On the other hand a team that qualified should probably get back its entry fee and the cost of 1 set of tires.
I would say the purse is the best way to approach it also. Nascar purses are much “flatter” than they used to be. A simpler approach might be to just have a severe dropoff at 39th and below. None of this precludes the promoter or sanctioning body from paying “tow” money to a guy who truly had bad luck and finished 43rd.
Stop the fuel milage races
I understand the reasoning behind the Gale/Hornaday swap. It’s a smart business & points move.
But it stinks as a fan. It’s like Jeff Gordon switching numbers for a week. All that #24 gear is useless. Does anyone care if KHI wins the truck owners title? Does anyone even care about any of the owners titles? Only the business end does.
As for the S&P’s. Some of these teams have been around for three seasons now. Even a few one-off sponsorships have not materialized into bigger deals for these teams. The sport is in stagnation. It’s a sign for the sport that something has to change. We’ve never seen this many parks in Cup before. Rather than punish the S&P teams, the business model has to change.
Before slamming the start and parks, ask yourself why they are there? They are there because Nascar wants them there! Are the rumors true about a minimum field because of a clause in the TV contract? if not there has to be a reason they are allowed.
I like the proportional purse by laps completed idea.
I’d say NASCAR hasn’t clamped down on the S&P’s because they want a full field.
Dump “ THE CHASE “!
NASCAR won’t do anything about the S&Ps.
But they could:
1) Require all teams to have full, qualified pit crews in order to pass pre-race inspection.
2) Require all teams to purchase(lease) the required number of sets of tires, and not allow ANY sharing of tires.
3) Any car that scores a DNF for parts failure gets that part confiscated for inspection. If it’s really broken, the part gets returned in 3 weeks. If it’s NOT broken, it’s confiscated for the rest of the season. (DNF’ing for “Handling” or not meeting minimum speed means the car gets confiscated, and “Driver Fatigue” means a 2 week vacation plus needing a full medical recertification to drive again)
4) Pro-rate the prize money based on laps completed. Yeah, that’ll hurt a team that really blows and engine or wrecks early, but that should be a rare occurance.
Or, Last Place pays $1. At least that would make it interesting to see each team try NOT to be last.
I may be the only voice of dissent on the start-and-park situation, but I don’t believe these teams should be penalized. I certainly don’t believe in prorating money based on laps completed, that would be grossly unfair to a legit team who had a problem or a crash, especially at tracks like Talladega where a dozen or more cars wind up not able to finish due to no fault of their own. I also fail to see exactly who the start-and-park teams are actually hurting. I understand about the spirit of the sport and all that, but they are openly ridiculed and fans know they aren’t legit.
But the real problem I have with penalizing them is that there are two kinds of teams doing this. The ones doing it as their business model are wrong and yes, unsportsmanlike. But there are others doing it because it’s the only way they can race, and they face ridicule and hatred to show up and turn a few laps in hopes that they will find a sponsor and be able to run full races. Those teams should hardly be penalized for trying desperately to make it in the sport, and unfortunately, NASCAR can’t distinguish between the two. For example, Joe Nemechek does go the distance when he can scrape up a sponsor, and I’m positive he would run every race if he had backing each week. The No. 13 parks on occasion because they only have backing for about 25 races. They show up and run as long as they can those other weeks rather than staying home in hopes of learning something that will help them when they do find funding for a full race.
If NASCAR wants to eliminate start-and-park teams, they need to find a way to funnel sponsorship to those sorely underfunded teams (too many “Official Whatevers of NASCAR, not enough sponsors) and/or reduce the cost of sponsorship to encourage new sponsors to come on board and partial sponsors to cover a whole season. Sponsorship is the key to ending the situation. Punishing teams who are giving everything they have to race and try to find a sponsor is not.
No point in my re-inventing the wheel. The economics of Nascar are completely screwed up and in drastic need of attention. FS-Amy has it right 100% when she says “If NASCAR wants to eliminate start-and-park teams, they need to find a way to funnel sponsorship to those sorely underfunded teams (too many “Official Whatevers of NASCAR, not enough sponsors) and/or reduce the cost of sponsorship to encourage new sponsors to come on board and partial sponsors to cover a whole season. Sponsorship is the key to ending the situation. Punishing teams who are giving everything they have to race and try to find a sponsor is not.”
I do not have a problem with teams such as Joe Nemechek or Tommy Baldwin who truly want to race, I have a major problem with scumbags like Phil Parsons who enters 2 cars, has good equipment and good drivers. this is his business model with no intention of anything otherwise. Heres a former driver, a so called unbiased media personality just bottom feeding. I have no respect for him and wish Nascar would close the loophole that allows him to do this. Many years ago more than once I made it home after a problem during a race on tow money but never ever did i lay down on the fans for a profit.
I have one number to type when it comes to S&Ps….
36, I mean look at what they have done in three years, two start and park years and finally a sponsor. Now you have another full time team. Just give it time and the same will happen to the 46.
Now cars like the 55 and 60 which are run to gain extra money for teams that are racing the whole race with no sponsorship (13 for the 60/50, and 34,38 for the 55) those should be left alone too. It’s NASCAR’s fault that they have to do this. They allow teams like Childress/Roush/Hendrick to charge WAY TOO much for sponsorship causing multiple sponsors for one car, which then causes a lack of sponsors for the underfunded teams.
I REST MY RANT.
A solution: s&p twice, bench that owner & car for a month. Anyone who doesn’t intend to race shouldn’t be on the track taking up space.
Not enough cars to make a 43-car field? Who cares? We want to see a race to the finish, not a race to the garage.
Maybe Tony’s big weight was winning an Outlaw race.
And doesn’t metowe sound like a dating service?
To me the start and parkers get mentioned just as much after they go to the garage as other drivers who drive the whole race.