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 September 2, 2012
In a Nutshell: Ty Dillon took the checkered flag 3.227 seconds ahead of Kyle Busch to win the Jeff Foxworthy’s Grit Chips 200 Friday night at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Dillon passed Busch for the lead with just six laps remaining and never looked back en route to his first career victory. James Buescher, Parker Kligerman and Aric Almirola rounded out the top 5.
Who Should Have Won: Ty Dillon. After running fifth and 12th in the practice sessions, the driver of the No. 3 Bass Pro Shops / NRA Museum Chevrolet posted a 177.357 mph lap, edging Tim George, Jr. by 0.058 seconds for his second career pole. He led four different times for 40 of 130 laps, and despite dropping as far back as seventh, he closed a nearly three-second gap Kyle Busch had put on the field to set up the final pass of the night.
Questions You Should Be Asking After the Race:
1. How do Austin and Ty Dillon’s rookie seasons compare?
All season long, everyone has compared Ty Dillon to older brother Austin, who just moved to the Nationwide Series after spending two years behind the wheel of the No. 3 Chevrolet in the Truck Series. Now, with Ty’s first career win in the rear-view, it’s worth comparing both drivers’ rookie seasons as the young Dillon brother has moved within nine points of the championship lead with eight races left.
Prior to joining the Truck Series full time, both brothers made a couple of starts, however Ty actually came out on top. Back in 2009, Austin finished 12th and 15th at Iowa and New Hampshire, respectively and failed to qualify at Talladega in October. On the other hand, Ty qualified for all three races he attempted in 2011, and despite finishing 18th, he followed that up with third- and sixth-place results at Texas and Homestead, respectively.
Austin began his rookie season with a disappointing 26th-place finish at Daytona but quickly backed it up with a tenth-place result in Atlanta in the second race of the year. It wasn’t until Texas when he began a streak of three consecutive poles (Michigan and Iowa) before scoring his first career victory at the 0.875-mile oval in Newton, Iowa, a race where the driver of the No. 3 Chevrolet led a dominant 187 of 205 laps in the tenth race of the season. Compare that to Ty, and it took him 14 events before heading to victory lane on the same day where he scored his second career pole.
But the big difference comes when you look at the other finishes for both brothers 14 races into their rookie campaign. While Austin’s nine top-10 results in the first 14 events is impressive for a rookie, younger brother Ty has that overshadowed with 12 top 10s. In fact, there’s even more disparity when you look at the 12th- and 21st-place finishes that have seen the young Dillon brother outside the top 10. Compare that to four results outside the top 15 and one DNF for older brother Austin, and you see where Ty holds the edge at this point.
And if that’s not enough, 14 races into the 2010 season, Austin found himself fifth in points and nearly 300 markers behind eventual champion Todd Bodine, who truly dominated that year. Where does younger brother Ty sit now? Third … just nine points out of the lead.
Both Austin and Ty Dillon have already made their marks in NASCAR and will continue for years to come. While I’m not quite convinced the consistency is there for the No. 3 Richard Childress Racing team to mount a serious run at the championship this year, I wouldn’t count them out either. After all, Dillon would have likely finish inside the top 5 at Bristol had he not run out of fuel while running fourth. That 18-point difference would have given the rookie a nine marker lead over Timothy Peters following his victory Friday night.
Regardless of whether Dillon manages to become the first Truck Series Rookie of the Year to also win the championship or not, he’s certainly proving that there’s a bright future in NASCAR for the 20-year-old.
2. When will Kyle Larson be offered a full-time ride?
When Kyle Larson made his Truck Series debut at Kentucky Speedway in June, I spent quite a bit of time reading about his racing background. What I found was that it’s filled with a plethora of auto racing experience dating back to when he finished seventh in points in the 1999 / 2000 Red Bluff Winter Indoor Series Beginner Box Stock Division season. The 20-year-old ran the entire 2012 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East season, scoring one victory (Gresham Motorsports Park in June) and eight top 10s in the ten-race season. He finished second in the standings, just 19 points behind Brett Moffitt.
Rewind to Kentucky where Larson made his debut. After starting 25th, he worked his way through the field and snagged a solid top-10 finish in his first outing behind the wheel of the No. 4 Turner Motorsports-fielded Chevrolet. And that brings us to Friday night where the young driver started 17th and battled forward on a slick track to a sixth-place result.
With numbers like those, when will Larson be offered a full-time Truck Series ride?
Tony Stewart was asked in late June who he expected to be the next SPEED Performer of the Year, and without hesitation, the owner / driver responded with Larson.
“It’s a guy that I’ve got to run with a little bit, and he’s not in a major series as far as IndyCar or Formula One or NASCAR right now,” Stewart told Dave Despain. “Kyle Larson is a kid that definitely stands out right now. Watching him in the USAC Midgets, Sprint Car and Silver Crown and watching him in the winged-sprint cars with the World of Outlaws and out on the West Coast, the kid is absolutely phenomenal.
“He’s been running those K&N races and doing a really good job. He’s a kid that really has a lot of potential.”
Thought he’s got just two races under his belt, Larson has truly impressed with his tenth- and sixth-place finishes at Kentucky and Atlanta, respectively. While doubt will always exist with a driver in their first career start as to whether their success can continue, Larson dispelled that doubt with a solid run Friday night. Atlanta is one of those tracks that can be rather difficult on a rookie, and Larson managed a solid night and nearly snagged a top-5 finish.
At this point, it’s very clear the 20-year-old deserves a full-time ride in the series for the 2013 season, but the question remains of where he might fit in and whether any team could pull together the financial backing he’d need. Of course, the obvious choice would be Turner Motorsports, who has fielded their No. 4 Chevrolet for Larson twice this season, and it may not be all that far off. I mentioned several weeks ago in Pace Laps that it might be time for James Buescher to make the move to the Nationwide Series full time next year following three years in the Truck Series, so Larson could easily slide right in behind the wheel of the No. 30 Chevrolet in Buescher’s place. While it’s nowhere near a done deal or even something that’s been rumbling behind the scenes, Turner Motorsports is definitely on of the front-runners that comes to mind when looking for a probable home.
The bottom line is that Kyle Larson is a prime candidate for someone to snag up during the offseason and will likely stand out as a strong Rookie of the Year contender next year if he finds a full-time seat. Assuming he does find that ride, Larson will be a driver to watch throughout the 2013 season.
Truck Rookie Report
No. of Rookies in the Race: 13 (add Tim George, Jr., Ryan Blaney, Stephen Leicht, Blake Koch and Kyle Larson)
No. of Rookies to Finish in the Top 10: 2; Ty Dillon, finished 1st; Kyle Larson, finished sixth
Rookie of the Race: Ty Dillon
“Wow, this is great! The No. 3 Bass Pro Shops / NRA Museum team has given me great trucks all season long. We battled back after the heartbreak last weekend at Bristol (Motor Speedway) when we ran out of fuel, and we came back this weekend and got our first NASCAR victory. I’ve been waiting for this moment all of my life. I always dreamed about winning a NASCAR race and maybe on day becoming a champion, and today I accomplished one of those goals.” Ty Dillon
“Finished sixth tonight in the truck race. Had a blast and learned a bunch. Can’t wait for the next one!” Kyle Larson via Twitter on his second career start
“All day we were really loose with the Cooper Standard RAM. We never could really get it secure enough to run as hard as we needed. I started off the race really loose but by the end we got the truck decent. Right off the bat on new tires we could get our truck to run hard for about 15 laps and then it would get really loose. Overall, we just never could really get the truck secure to run hard like the other guys could. I couldn’t even move around and try different lines. Every time that I moved up a lane or two, I would almost wreck. I learned a lot on this big, fast mile-and-a-half. We’ll go to Iowa in a couple of weeks and see how we do.” Ryan Blaney, finished 11th
“The day started out pretty decent. We struggled a little bit, but we got our Zaxby’s Toyota decent for qualifying and the race. We just kind of hung out there, really. The track changed a lot, and I couldn’t get comfortable with the truck. The most important thing here is that we finished the race. We brought it back in one piece, and now we can go race at Iowa. I know a lot of other guys were complaining, as far as having the same issue we had with being really free. We’ll just go onto Iowa and see what we’ve got for them there.” Jon Wes Townley, finished 19th
“It’s really unfortunate for the Applebee’s / Potomac Family Dining Group Chevrolet team that we were in that on-track incident. I really believed that we were capable of a top-10 finish at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Congratulations to my teammate Ty Dillon on earning his career first NASCAR win.” Tim George, Jr., finished 28th
Worth Noting / Points Shuffle:
Friday night, Kyle Busch made his first appearance in the Truck Series since being parked at Texas Motor Speedway last November. Despite leading eight times for a race-high 75 laps and pulling out to a nearly five second lead during a late round of green flag pit stops, the owner / driver of the No. 18 Toyota couldn’t seal the deal after bouncing off of the wall three times inside ten laps to go. He was left to settle for a runner-up finish.
Phoenix Racing teamed up with Billy Ballew Motorsports to field the No. 51 Chevrolet for Kurt Busch. The older Busch brother started 15th and flirted with the top 5 before dropping back to a tenth-place finish. Friday night also marked the first time the Busch brothers raced against each other in the Truck Series, however the duo never really found each other on the track throughout the night.
Friday night marked Aric Almirola’s return to the Truck Series for the first time since the season-opener at Daytona last year where he failed to finish after completing 96 of 103 laps. Driving the No. 5 Ford for Wauters Motorsports, Almirola started 13th and spent much of the race inside the top 10 before settling in for a solid fifth-place finish. The team began the season with Paulie Harraka behind the wheel but sat out the last two races while evaluating their future; the rookie had scored a best finish of 17th twice at Dover and Kentucky but sat a dismal 20th in the championship standings after four DNFs in 11 starts.
Timothy Peters saw his championship lead shrink considerably Friday night to just six points over James Buescher. Race winner Ty Dillon remains third but has moved to within nine markers of the leader. Parker Kligerman and Justin Lofton, who swapped spots, round out the top 5 and sit 21 and 31 points behind, respectively.
Joey Could moved up one position to sixth while Matt Crafton dropped to seventh. Similarly, Nelson Piquet, Jr. jumped a spot while Ron Hornaday, Jr. dropped to ninth following his second DNF this year. Jason White rounds out the top 10, 112 points behind the leader.
“I really have to thank the Lord for tonight. We had a couple of situations go our way that definitely helped us get to victory lane. The pit crew was amazing. They never give up on me, and I never give up on them. We all believe in each other, and I wasn’t going to let this opportunity slip by us. We had a rocket ship tonight. This win is for all the guys that put in all the hours every week and work so hard to get us to this point.” Race Winner Ty Dillon
“They were just a better truck; they had a lot better handle on the bottom of the race track than we did, especially throughout the longer runs. Then when it’s time to race, a guy catches you and you’ve got to go up to the top, and you try to push and you get sideways and get into the fence. There’s no room to catch it up there. It was all I could do to try to push as hard as I could; I didn’t have anything to hold onto. We’ve run the same thing for three years and got beat by the same truck for three years. It gets a little old. It’s like Groundhog Day today.” Runner-up Kyle Busch
“We had a really fast Central Wire Chevrolet from the get go, and when we got into the lead early, I thought it was going to stay that way. We were a little loose in the beginning, tightened it up a bit too much, then corrected back to loose. With good tires we could really make the top and bottom of the track work for us, but Atlanta’s a place where once tires get worn, you’re ice skating out there. I probably felt like I was going to spin out eight or nine times in the last 20 laps, but that’s part of what makes this track fun and competitive. I know we wanted to win this race tonight, but we can’t win them all, and ultimately the fastest truck won. We had a really good points night; we’re close to getting the championship lead and hopefully when we get to Iowa I’ll be able to get the win and lead.” James Buescher, finished third
“We had a fast No. 7 Toyota Tundra on the long run. That first run we were so awesome. We drove through the field and I thought we had something for the No. 18 (Kyle Busch). I thought we had something for the No. 3 (Ty Dillon). We got the lead there for a long and I just let the No. 3 in and I was probably too nice. From there, we had that restart in second and got a great restart. I just got put three wide and swamped, and I got loose and lost nine positions, so we had to drive through the field again and we did it again. From there, we made an adjustment that probably wasn’t the right adjustment, and we were just kind of hanging on for the end. It took us out of being a first-place truck to a fourth-place truck.” Parker Kligerman
Up Next: The Camping World Truck Series takes a weekend off before heading to Iowa Speedway for the American Ethanol 200 presented by Hy-Vee on Saturday, September 15th. The race will be broadcast live on SPEED beginning at 8:00 PM ET; it can also be heard on your local MRN affiliate or SiriusXM Channel 90.
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K&N East Series Season is not over yet…
Solid race, and even though I’m not a big Dillon fan, I’m always happy to see anyone beat Kyle Busch in the Trucks.