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.
Beth Lunkenheimer · Sunday May 20, 2012
In a Nutshell: Justin Lofton took the checkered flag 0.261 seconds ahead of Brad Keselowski in Friday night’s North Carolina Education Lottery 200 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Lofton took the lead for the final time with just ten laps remaining and held on through one more restart to score his first career Camping World Truck Series victory. Todd Bodine, Jason Leffler and Ron Hornaday, Jr. rounded out the top-5 finishers.
Who Should Have Won: Justin Lofton. The driver of the No. 6 CollegeComplete.com Chevrolet ran top 5 in both practice sessions before qualifying second. When it came to the actual race, it appeared each restart would be like kryptonite for the third-year driver as he struggled with power on the initial start, dropping outside the top 10 within the first 20 laps. However, Lofton’s team made the necessary adjustments to turn his truck competitive in a short race. He managed to take the lead from Timothy Peters just before the fifth caution flew, in front twice for 44 laps en route to Victory Lane.
Questions You Should Be Asking After the Race:
1. Why was Brad Keselowski upset with Ron Hornaday, Jr.?
As the cameras panned to Hornaday and Keselowski deep into a heated discussion on pit road following the checkered flag, I watched in confusion. What could have gotten Keselowski so upset to hurl profanities at the four-time champion? After all, he led some laps, finished third and probably picked up some information that will prove beneficial to Parker Kligerman’s No. 29 Brad Keselowski Racing team.
But then I found out — Keselowski took issue with a bump from Hornaday on the second-to-last restart.
“I came over the radio and asked him ‘Hey, man, I’ll play it cool and just be nice and smooth here and we’ll both have great days,’” Keselowski in his post-race press conference. “Instead, he decided to be a jackass and just ran me over. It cost him what would have been an easy second place and obviously cost me the win.”
However, Hornaday had a completely different view of the contact.
“Go look at the back of my truck — I got run into,” Hornaday said. “It was such a slow start and everybody jammed up and I ran into the back of him. I didn’t mean to do it. I guess I’ve got to apologize to him.”
I can understand Keselowski’s frustration in having not scored the victory he so badly wants in the Truck Series. After all, his father, Bob, scored a victory in 1997 at Richmond International Raceway and a victory by Brad would make the pair the first father / son duo the win in this division. But with that being said, the contact in question was just a racing incident. We’ve seen it time and again all across NASCAR’s top three series — the guy up front doesn’t get moving, the field stacks up behind him and contact ensues. From my vantage point, what happened between Hornaday and Keselowski was exactly that. Additionally, Keselowski has to remember that Hornaday is racing for a championship and has to fight for every position he can get each week.
Whether Hornaday should have to apologize to Keselowski is questionable as it was just simply a racing incident. Yes, it would be a nice gesture for the 53-year-old, as it is for most drivers involved in similar incidents; however, I have a feeling it would make little difference for a Cup driver who seems to have already made up his mind.
“I told him I take care of him all of the time and I respect him, and he shows me no respect,” Keselowski said shortly after their heated argument ended. “Well, I’m not going to show him any respect from now on.”
2. Is anyone standing out as a championship favorite five races into the season?
The Camping World Truck Series season may only be five races old, but with only 22 races on the schedule, we’re almost 25 percent into the season. Though Johnny Sauter was pegged as a preseason favorite for the title, he’s suffered from Jeff Gordon-like luck, scoring a single finish on the lead lap (fourth at Rockingham). Friday night was no different — the No. 13 Toyota suffered a fuel pickup issue that ultimately turned out to be a broken cable leading from the fuel pump. As a result, he sits 18th in points, 85 markers behind leader Justin Lofton and in a hole that may be too deep to dig himself out of.
On the other end of the standings, the top 4 find themselves separated by just 18 points. Lofton, Timothy Peters and rookie Ty Dillon have each finished inside the top 10 in all five events this season and have the early momentum working for them. However, another preseason favorite, James Buescher, sits in fourth after a disappointing 22nd-place finish.
Of those top 4, it’s easy to point at Peters and Buescher, as both have run strongly in the past. But the real question comes from Lofton, who struggled a bit in his first two seasons before landing at Eddie Sharp Racing where he’s found success early on. The ultimate unknown inside the top 5 is Ty Dillon. Following two top-10 finishes in three starts last year, many wondered if Dillon could snag the Rookie of the Year title along with the series title in the same season, and with five consecutive top-10 finishes, including a runner-up at Martinsville, Dillon could definitely be on that path despite having little knowledge of the tracks on the schedule.
But don’t count out Ron Hornaday, Jr., who sits just a single point outside the top 5. After starting the season with a 14th-place finish at Daytona, he couldn’t quite crack the top 10 until Kansas a few weeks ago, where he finished sixth. But the Joe Denette Motorsports driver may have started something as he battled inside the top 5 late Friday night before ultimately finishing fifth. While Hornaday is with a new team that’s got significantly fewer resources at their disposal, he does have the benefit of experience and being a four-time champion. And everyone knows if the 53-year-old gets on a tear, he can easily click off multiple victories.
Don’t get me wrong—a lot of things can change between now and November, but there are plenty of teams that have positioned themselves well in the early stages this season. And regardless of who comes out on top, there’s likely to be another first-time champion celebrating at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Truck Rookie Report
No. of Rookies in the Race: 14 (add Clay Greenfield, Brennan Newberry and Jake Crum)
Jason Leffler came into Charlotte looking to put two DNFs behind him just five races into the year, and that’s just what he did. After starting fifth, he dropped back in the running order but made some racy moves on the track and ultimately scored his first top 5 of the season when he finished fourth.
Pole-sitter Ty Dillon led the first 25 laps through two different restarts before losing the top spot on pit road. Back in dirty air, Dillon struggled with the handling of his No. 3 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet and dropped through the field. However, he managed to work his way toward the front once again, scoring a tenth-place finish, his fifth top 10 of the season.
Brennan Newberry brought out the first caution just three laps into competition Friday night. After contact with Jennifer Jo Cobb, Newberry’s No. 14 Chevrolet spun, however he managed to avoid hitting the wall and was able to continue. But the troubles didn’t end there for Newberry, who spun three more times before the checkered flag flew, avoiding damage each time. He went on to finish 27th, nine laps down. The strange thing about Newberry’s final spin came when he ran way off the pace around the track inside the white line without the caution flag flying. While I understand he was off of the racing surface itself, a vehicle driving that slowly is a huge hazard to not only themselves but also the entire field. After all, Paulie Harraka spent some time earlier in the race sliding around the same area Newberry occupied as he limped his truck back around to pit road, so I don’t understand why NASCAR chose not to throw the caution.
Ross Chastain has struggled in the first four races this season, scoring just one top-10 finish—a seventh at Martinsville, and Friday night was no different. Just 12 laps in Chastain’s engine expired, bringing out the second caution of the night, resulting in his third DNF in five starts, a 35th-place finish.
Daytona winner John King ran just 24 laps before a cut tire sent him into the wall, causing terminal damage to the No. 7 Consol Energy Toyota. The 24-year-old was credited with a 33rd-place finish and his second DNF in the last three races. As a result, he dropped five positions in the standings to 13th, 65 points behind leader Justin Lofton.
“I kind of got down on myself a couple weeks ago at Kansas and made a rookie mistake. I’m shaking right now. I’ve wanted this real bad, and I’m blessed with the opportunity. I’m excited for my family and myself. I’m trying to improve myself so I can get an opportunity, so I can race with these guys each week.” Sunoco Rookie of the Race Jeb Burton, finished eighth
“I can’t tell you how proud I am of my crew chief, Marcus Richmond and all the guys. They worked really hard to make this truck fast and it showed by earning the pole award. We had a really fast Bass Pro Shops truck but we couldn’t bring home the finish to show for it.” Ty Dillon, finished 10th
“The restarts and traffic tonight were really tough. It was nearly impossible to pass on the inside; if there was a truck above you, they just took all of the downforce away and you couldn’t move ahead. Dan Stillman (crew chief) made great calls in the pits all night to gain us some positions and he made the right call to come in for fresh tires on that second to last caution. We could’ve easily had a top-10 finish in our EverFi Tundra tonight if it just would’ve stayed green until the end.” Dakoda Armstrong, finished 13th
“We started off fairly strong but we had a tire go down midway through the race tonight which put us in the wall and a few laps behind. We were on a lap of our own the rest of the race and trying to play catch-up, but we were never able to gain much ground. It’s just so unfortunate; we had a really fast BugBand Chevrolet. I hate it for all the guys and I hate it for Dan Ritter and his entire team at BugBand because we didn’t give them the show they deserved.” Max Gresham, finished 24th
Worth Noting / Points Shuffle:
It was refreshing Friday night to not only have a full field, but only two start-and-park teams in the 36-truck lineup. Dennis Setzer ran just 19 laps before retiring due to overheating issues and scored a 34th-place finish behind the wheel of the No. 38 RSS Racing Chevrolet. Similarly, Chad McCumbee’s No. 60 Turn One Racing Chevrolet dropped out with the same issue after completing just 61 laps; he finished 31st.
Joey Coulter and the No. 22 team turned around what could have been a rough weekend and pulled out a solid seventh-place finish. Under the third caution, the
Race winner Justin Lofton jumped two spots and landed atop the standings, leading Timothy Peters by just one point. Ty Dillon gained a spot and leads James Buescher—who dropped two positions thanks to a 22nd-place finish following contact with a wrecking Paulie Harraka—by just two points. Parker Kligerman moved up one spot and rounds out the top 5, just 30 points behind the leader.
Ron Hornaday, Jr. sits just one point outside the top 5 after his first top-5 finish of the season, and Jason White moved up two spots to seventh following his third top 10 in five races. Nelson Piquet, Jr. dropped three spots following two separate incidents where he bounced off of the wall; the second proved terminal and relegated the driver of the No. 30 Alpinestars Chevrolet to a 29th-place finish. Todd Bodine and Joey Coulter each moved up two spots and round out the top 10.
“This is amazing. I really don’t even know what to do. This day’s been a long time coming. This entire week, it was one of those weeks where I was just real calm, real excited about the race. It’s just amazing to be able to do it for these guys. I’ve seen all the hard work that Dan (Bormann, Crew Chief) puts in, day in and day out. Dan believed in me, taking a chance, quitting a job, coming over to take over as crew chief. He has done an amazing job.” Race winner Justin Lofton
“We had a great Cooper Standard RAM. I’m really proud of everybody at BKR. This was the truck to beat tonight and they worked their butts off to make it happen. It all came down to the restarts and who was willing to work together, and the last restarts, nobody worked with me. They did everything they could to wreck me. I was real frustrated about that but that’s racing and we’ll move on.” Brad Keselowski, finished second
“We didn’t have the best truck; we started off really loose. Our Tundra was too loose and Rick (Gay, crew chief) made a bunch of adjustments, got it better and we went one more step and made it a little too tight. So, to come out of here with a third. We’ve had some good runs this year and we struggled. We’re getting our act together. This Toyota Care Tundra—it was okay.” Todd Bodine
“The Dollar General Toyota was really god tonight—strategy didn’t work for us. I thought we had a chance to win tonight—we just went from second to 15th when that caution came out after we made a green-flag pit stop. I’m glad to be here and flag to be driving this No. 18 Toyota. It was really nice to drive—they are fun to drive when they are good like this. It won’t be long before this Dollar General Tundra is in victory lane.” Jason Leffler, finished fourth
“Jeff (Hensley, Crew Chief) and the guys did a great job today. We didn’t have the best truck when we got here, but they worked hard to get this Great Play Chevrolet in contention for a top-5 finish. It’s pretty cool for Joe Denette and everyone at Joe Denette Motorsports to get their first top-5 finish of the season here tonight. We have been working hard the last five races and have been getting better each week. Thank you to Great Play for stepping up to support us here tonight; we couldn’t do this without support from great partners.” Ron Hornaday, Jr., finished fifth
Up Next: The Camping World Truck Series heads to Dover International Speedway in two weeks for the Lucas Oil 200 on Friday, June 1st. The race will be broadcast live on SPEED beginning at 4:30 PM EDT; it can also be heard on your local MRN affiliate.
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Look what happens when there’s no Cup invaders! A great race with a great win.
(Yes I know BK was in the field, but he’s never won a truck race, and he was driving his own underfunded truck.)