Kurt Busch to Attempt The Indianapolis-Charlotte Double
posted by Phil Allaway
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Andretti Autosport announced this morning that Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet in the Sprint Cup Series, will attempt the Indianapolis 500 in a fifth entry for the IndyCar Series team. Once the Indianapolis 500 is completed, Busch will fly from Indianapolis to Charlotte, jump in his No. 41 Chevrolet and compete in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Busch considers the opportunity to do the double as an old-school throwback moment.
“This is really to challenge myself within motorsports,” Busch said in Andretti Autosport’s press release. “Perhaps I am a bit of an old-school racer; a throwback, I guess. I enjoyed the era of drivers racing different cars and testing themselves in other series. It is tough to do now for a variety of factors, but when the opportunity is there, I want to do it. While NASCAR is my home, I have been fortunate to compete in Pro Stock on the NHRA circuit a number of years ago and test a V8 Supercar. This opportunity was a talk with Michael [Andretti] over dinner one night, a “What if,” and now it’s becoming a reality for me to drive in the Indy 500 with Andretti Autosport. It’s literally a dream come true. To go to the famous Brickyard with the iconic Andretti name, it doesn’t get much cooler or better than that.”
Busch will be doing the Indianapolis-Charlotte double as a Memorial Day mission to men and women serving in the U.S. Military via the Armed Forces Foundation. Fans can contribute to the cause by texting AFF to 50555 to donate $10.
Busch, who has never raced an IndyCar, passed Rookie Orientation at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year during a test session. At the time, Busch was more or less testing the Dallara DW12 for fun.
Busch will be the fourth driver to attempt the Indianapolis-Charlotte double. John Andretti was the first driver to attempt it in 1994. After finishing four laps down in tenth in Indianapolis, Andretti crashed and had engine problems in the 600. Robby Gordon has attempted the double five times, most recently in 2004. However, Gordon failed to make it to Charlotte on time and did not start the 600 in 2000 (P.J. Jones started Gordon’s No. 13 Ford in that instance). Finally, Tony Stewart has attempted the double twice (most recently in 2001) and is the only driver to ever complete all 1100 miles. Neither of the three drivers has won either leg of the double. The best finishes are Stewart and Gordon’s sixth-place finishes at the Indianapolis 500 (although Gordon’s came in 2000, the year he didn’t make it to Charlotte in time to start the Coca-Cola 600), and Stewart’s fourth-place finish in the 2001 Coca-Cola 600.
Danica Patrick, Justin Allgaier Talk About Phoenix Incident
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
A disappointing start to the year for Danica Patrick won’t include continued conflict. Patrick met with rookie Justin Allgaier Sunday, shortly after the Phoenix Cup race after a wreck ruined both drivers’ days. Patrick, who was critical of the No. 51 car on the radio, claiming Allgaier was “driving all over the track” appeared receptive to a conversation that quickly settled differences over what will be a long season.
“She was just upset because she got involved in the crash that we had,’’ said Allgaier to the Motor Racing Network. “She says she’s been through this and that she felt like I needed to settle down at that point. I explained my position on why everything happened. I think she understood where I was coming from. It doesn’t fix either one of our racecars. It doesn’t fix either one of our days. Unfortunately, we were both having pretty decent days.’’
Allgaier wound up 30th due to the incident while Patrick was 36th. The incident, which was caused by Allgaier’s spin also involved the No. 32 team and Travis Kvapil, which wound up 38th after sustaining heavy damage.
Camping World Close to Extending Title Sponsorship of NCWTS
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Marcus Lemonis, CEO of Camping World, Grand Marshal of Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway, and star of CNBC’s “The Profit,” made the announcement over the weekend that the retailer is very close to announcing a deal that would continue its title sponsorship of NASCAR’s Truck Series. The original agreement with NASCAR is scheduled to conclude after the 2015 season.
According to the sanctioning body, no formal contract has been signed, but “the agreement between the two parties has proven to be a beneficial one.”
“In about a month, we’ll be announcing a significant extension to that contract. It’s been great for us,” said Camping World’s Lemonis in a statement. “The NASCAR relationship has worked well for Camping World. When we started, we had 35 stores. Now, we’re up to 120 stores. As we travel the country and we meet new customers in stores, they always are very appreciative of our relationship with NASCAR. It’s been good.”
Gaining a long-term commitment from Camping World to sponsor the Truck Series would be a relief for NASCAR, which is set to lose Nationwide Insurance as title sponsor for the NASCAR Nationwide Series at the end of the 2014 season. The sponsorship of the Cup Series by Sprint runs through 2016.
The NCWTS is back in action on March 29th at 2:30 PM (ET) when the trucks visit Martinsville Speedway in the Kroger 250, which can be seen on Fox Sports 1. Ratings for the season opener were up 11 percent.
Harvick Takes Win At Phoenix In Second Race With New Team
posted by Justin Tucker
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Phoenix International Raceway has become Kevin Harvick’s home away from home. Sunday Afternoon was no exception as Harvick charged to the front early and would dominate for much of the day, leading 224 of the scheduled 312 laps to record his record fifth win on the one mile oval and his third win in the last four races at Phoenix.
Harvick, coming off of a disappointing Speedweeks which was capped by a last lap crash in the Daytona 500 in his debut with Stewart-Haas Racing, set the tone on Saturday by winning both practices while having the best 5 and 10-lap averages in the first practice of the day on Saturday. On Sunday, Harvick and his No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet was nothing short of flawless as he was able to hold Dale Earnhardt, Jr. by .489 seconds after a late race restart to claim his 24th career Sprint Cup Series victory.
“Man, this is awesome,” Harvick said after his dominant victory on Sunday. “Man, this just solidifies so many things and so many decisions. It’s been so much work with all the time and effort that these guys (the crew) have put in—but what a race car.”
Stewart Haas Racing co-owner Gene Haas shared in Harvick’s excitement after the race.
“It took long enough,” Haas joked. “This is phenomenal. I think there was a lot of skepticism last year about what myself and Tony (Stewart) what we were up to, was there a lot of madness to this. Quite frankly, it’s a great team, there’s a lot of synergy at the shop, people working together. I don’t know what we did, but I think we put together a great organization.”
Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt, Jr. continued his hot start to the 2014 season. Earnhardt Jr. would finish second on Sunday, marking his seventh consecutive top 10 finish since the end of the 2013 season. Earnhardt Jr. was pleased with the effort after a coast-to-coast whirlwind week after winning his second Daytona 500 and also gave great praise to the efforts of Harvick and the No. 4 team.
“I’ve got to congratulate Kevin. Those guys were two-tenths faster than everyone all weekend in practice. They were just phenomenal,” Earnhardt said. “To be able to run with them all day was a big confidence builder for us.”
Joining Harvick and Earnhardt in the top 5 of The Profit on CNBC 500K were Brad Keselowski with his second consecutive top 3 run of 2014 in third. Keselowski’s Team Penske teammate Joey Logano would finish fourth, and Jeff Gordon would come home fifth in his No. 24 Pepsi Max Chevrolet.
Jimmie Johnson finished in sixth, followed by Ryan Newman with a nice rebound after Daytona in seventh. Carl Edwards would carry the banner for Roush Fenway Racing by finishing eighth, Kyle Busch was ninth, and Jamie McMurray would finish tenth.
A look at the Profit on CNBC 500K by the numbers. There were 14 lead changes among eight different drivers, there were eight cautions for 39 laps which slowed the race pace to 109.229 MPH.
Next Sunday, the Sprint Cup Series heads to Sin City and the Las Vegas Motor
Starting Lineup: The Profit On CNBC 500K
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday March 1, 2014
Drivers in RED (i) are those ineligible to collect Sprint Cup points
Daytona 500 TV Ratings Down
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Wednesday February 26, 2014
What was the longest weather delay in Daytona 500 history turned out to bring NASCAR lower ratings and TV viewership Sunday night than expected. According to a report Monday from FOX Sports, the 56th running of the Daytona 500 airing at 8 PM (ET) posted a 5.6/10 national household rating/share which averaged 9.3 million viewers. That’s down 44 percent from last year’s 9.9, easily making it the least-watched Daytona 500 of all-time.
Due to the six-hour, twenty-two minute rain delay in Daytona, the race was up against the primetime coverage of the Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony from Sochi, Russia on NBC (15.25 million viewers). FOX also reported that 69% of the pre-rain delay viewers of the race, which began at 1 PM (ET) kept tuning in.
In comparison, the 2013 Daytona 500 on FOX was the most-watched race in five years, posting a 9.9/22 rating/share, commanding 16.7 million viewers. The Daytona 500 in 2012, the first to ever be run on a Monday and in the primetime slot did a 7.7/13 overnight rating/share which resulted in 13.67 million households viewing the race according to Nielsen TV ratings data.
Earnhardt, Jr. Claims Second Daytona 500 Victory
posted by Justin Tucker
Wednesday February 26, 2014
Ten years is a long time. For Dale Earnhardt, Jr., it felt like an eternity. NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver endured many near misses and close calls at the Daytona 500 since his only win in the Great American Race in 2004. Earnhardt had finished second in two of his last three Daytona 500s coming into Sunday’s race. He was also riding the tail of a 55-race winless streak, dating back to Michigan in 2012.
However nothing would stop Dale Jr. on Sunday, not even a 6 hour and 22 minute rain delay from capturing his second Daytona 500 win. Earnhardt Jr. led a race-high 54 laps on the evening and used some timely drafting help from teammates Jimmie Johnson and, on the final restart, Jeff Gordon to separate from the pack and secure the victory.
“Winning this race is the greatest feeling that you could feel in this sport besides accepting the trophy for the championship,” said a jubilant Earnhardt after pulling into Victory Lane. “We could fight off battle after battle. We got a little help at the end there from Jeff to get away on the restart. This is amazing. I can’t believe this is happening. I never take this for granted, man because it doesn’t happen twice, let alone once.”
Aside from the race itself the big story of the race was the 6 hour and 22 minute red flag, which threatened to move the race to Monday evening (had the race been postponed, FOX Sports’ Chris Myers had tweeted that the race would resume at 5:00pm EST). However, Mother Nature would cooperate and would allow the race to be run under different conditions from which they practiced this week. Once the race resumed, the intensity picked up from the changing track conditions. This allowed the pack to race side-by-side and at times 3-wide up to seven rows deep.
Joining Earnhardt Jr. in the top 5 for the 2014 Daytona 500 were: Denny Hamlin who closed out a spectacular Speedweeks in second, Brad Keselowski in third, Jeff Gordon in fourth, and Jimmie Johnson who overcome two wrecks leading up to the 500 in fifth.
Rounding out the top 10 in the Daytona 500 were Matt Kenseth in sixth, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. in seventh and Greg Biffle would bring his No. 16 Ford home in eighth. Austin Dillon would come home ninth in his first Cup Series race in the iconic No. 3 for Richard Childress Racing, while Casey Mears would round out the top 10.
A couple of major contenders for the Daytona 500 win would see their hopes dashed early on as Martin Truex, Jr. would blow up just 30 laps into the race, relegating him to a 43rd-place finish in his debut for Furniture Row Racing. Crew chief Todd Berrier was already in Nashville for a test session before the race was even over. Kyle Busch, meanwhile would have a pit road violation just before halfway and would spend much of the race battling back from that mistake. Busch would eventually finish 19th after leading 19 laps.
Danica Patrick would also be bit by bad luck as she was caught up in a multi-car wreck on lap 145. Patrick would lead her second consecutive Daytona 500, but wouldn’t have the finish to show for it finishing 40th. Tony Stewart would encounter a frustrating evening as well, with a fuel pickup problem derailing his quest for his first Daytona 500 win. Stewart would finish 35th.
A look at the Daytona 500 by the numbers. There were 42 lead changes among 18 drivers, while seven cautions for 39 laps would slow the race pace to 145.290 MPH.
Next week, the Sprint Cup Series heads to the “diamond in the desert,” Phoenix International Raceway for The Profit on CNBC 500K. The Green flag is scheduled for 3:15pm EST.
Nationwide Series Post-Race Quotes: Drive4COPD 300
posted by Thomas Bowles
Tuesday February 25, 2014
Frontstretch Interviews – Courtesy Mike Neff
ELLIOTT SADLER – FINISHED 4th
Thoughts on the race?
It’s definitely a lot different racing than what we’re used to.
Comfortable with it?
Yeah, it’s just different. You’re worried about what you’re doing, but you’re also worried about what everyone else is doing and they’re not doing more than you’re doing. Physically pushing a guy is way better than just riding so you just gotta time it right and push it to the edge.
Happy to start the year with a top 5?
Yeah. Hell, that was the worst we ran all day, I think. I have no idea how they put the 3 car in front of us on that last restart. I hadn’t seen the 3 car hardly all day. When they put us from fifth to sixth, on the outside line, it just really boxed us in. I would have really restarted behind my teammate and given him a good push to the front. Anyways, it is what it is; we’ll take it and move on.
Looked like you were up front all day.
The guys did a good job. We had a fast race car. Great pit stops, just really proud of these guys. The car’s in one piece and we can take it to Talladega now. Great job by my guys. A lot of effort came into coming down here to Daytona and giving ourselves a shot to win. We had that chance to be up front and make some things happen. Fifth is not what we want, but we’ll take it and move on.
Bumping vs Pushing?
It’s way harder. You don’t want to lay on the guy in front of you, so it’s tough racing. A lot different than what we’re used to, ‘cause you gotta go. You gotta drag the brake too ‘cause you don’t want to hit the guys and you don’t want to stay on him. It’s a lot harder mentally than what we’ve done in the past.
Car was strong all day. Pushing vs. Bumping, is that harder to do than just getting on somebody and pushing them?
Yeah, it is a little bit. When you bump ‘em, you jar ‘em, it kinda jacks ‘em a little bit. It’s a little more abrupt, obviously. I thought it was OK there at the end. It was certainly fun and hopefully entertaining. But a little bit of a struggle in the early part of the race and the midpart of the race to see a good race. And that’s unfortunate for the fans. You can’t do that the whole race, you can’t tear up your stuff, knock your grill in, overheat your motor, all that stuff so there’s no sense in doing all that until you get down to the last lap. The 7 and the 6, they did a good job. Man, the 7 really held the 22 and I tight on the bottom. I was rubbing his door and hitting the apron at the same time, no room whatsoever. So it was good; wish we were the ones who could have won but a lot better now than what we were last year.
Going home in one piece makes it a lot better, right?
Yeah. My back feels good. My foot feels good. Past years here, I’ve been going home with pain so I’m alright.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Truck Series Post-Race Quotes: Daytona (Exclusives)
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday February 22, 2014
When you’re on the outside like that, how frustrating is it?
It’s so hard. Timothy Peters has won here. Kyle Busch has won everywhere. Ron Hornaday has been running Trucks forever, probably before I was even born. I was surrounded by veterans there, and like I told them I don’t have a rookie stripe but I’m a rookie. This is only my fourth Truck race ever, my fourth superspeedway race, and man, I figured out when the 17 got up in front of me, I pushed him. And as soon as I pushed him, he took off. And I went with him. And I just kept doing it, and before I knew it, he was leading. And I saw Ron in my mirror, backed up to him, and if it wasn’t for him, I don’t know what would have happened. I gotta thank him big time for that. That was a true teammate move right there. I really appreciate that. He just bounced off me and we got to the front. I tried my hardest to sidedraft Kyle. I was probably touching his door.
Top 5 in the No. 30 truck. This deal come together at the last minute, but you had a heck of a truck. Tell us about your night.
Yeah, I’ve got to thank Turner Scott Motorsports. The guys worked so hard on this Rheem Comfort Products Chevrolet. Exciting! Just got hung up on the outside and had to wait for my teammate there to catch up. And then he got to the bottom, so… I got the old 32 and started pushing ol’ Ryan to the front. So, it’s not bad. We’ll take it. You just don’t want to step over that boundary. You don’t know how far to push and shove. We bumped about six times down the straightaway without latching onto them. Hopefully, that was OK and we came home with a top 5.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Budweiser Duels Post Race Quotes
posted by Matt Stallknecht
Friday February 21, 2014
BUDWEISER DUELS POST-RACE QUOTES
They’re saying the wheel bearing burned up in it. I don’t know what caused it, they’re taking it all apart to figure out what the heck happened. Something abnormal that’s for sure I don’t think I’ve ever had that happen at all. Hopefully, we made the race and hopefully we can fix the problem before Sunday.
WHAT WAS THAT LOUD BOOM ONCE YOU TURNED INTO THE GARAGE?
Loud pop was a tire… thankfully, it popped, hopefully it didn’t hurt anybody. All the heat created in the left front that popped was pretty weird.
REALLY GOOD RUN. WHAT DID YOU THINK OF IT?
Yeah, it was good. We have a car we can work with for the 500. Got a good starting spot, so we’re going to rest easy, fluff and buff our car for a couple of days and get ready for Sunday.
ANY DIFFERENCE ON WHETHER THE TOP OR BOTTOM LANE WORKED?
Yeah, I was just moving around, trying to stay with the flow. For me, this car works on all parts of the racetrack. So I’m pretty happy with it.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.
GOT SHUFFLED BACK, AFTER PIT STOPS AND THEN COULDN’T GET BACK UP TO THE FRONT. WHY?
Nah, we were just sitting there waiting until the last few laps to make a move. You didn’t want to pull down and get sent to the back. Seen a couple of guys get sent to the back really quick so we were just kind of waiting for the end. I felt like we had a good situation there with Ambrose behind us — we had a good run off Turn 2 and I went. It was the last lap, time to go do something, nobody went with us but hopefully Sunday is a different story.
We got a great car. We don’t have to work hard. We learned, we got a good race car. Got a car in one piece, ready to go so we’ll try and get through the next couple of practices, deliver it to the starting group this Sunday and we’ll be real happy.
YOU’RE IN THE DAYTONA 500!
Yeah, it’s pretty awesome. This Whitetail Chevrolet was so fast that I knew all I had to do was stick it behind smart, intelligent drafters and we could have a good finish. That’s what we did in the Duels and I’m excited. I’m excited to go do some stuff with the Nationwide car and have some more practice with this. But to know that we’re locked in the Daytona 500’s pretty cool.
YOU WERE OBVIOUSLY IN FRONT OF THAT MELEE AT THE END. WHEN YOU WERE UP FRONT THERE IN THE BEGINNING, WERE YOU HOPING TO JUST STAY IN LINE AND LET YOU FINISH TOP 5?
I was pretty content to ride and luckily I knew a lot of people around us were. It was nice to have a little calm and not really have to be racing hard the whole time. I knew that the pit stop was going to shake everything up and that’s exactly what happened. Fell back a little bit there but made the right moves at the end to get a good finish.
HOW STRONG ARE THESE RCR CARS?
They’re very strong! They definitely have the capabilities to be winning one of these races.
YOU’RE IN THE TOP 5 FOR YOUR HEAT IN THE DAYTONA 500. YOUR PRIMARY CAR IS SITTING RIGHT IN THE GARAGE, KIND OF WADDED UP. DID YOU THINK THIS ONE HAD IT IN IT?
Yeah, it’s a brand new car also. It’s just not quite as good as the primary but still a damned good car. I’m just proud of everybody at RCR for building such fast race cars. All of our cars have been fast, ECR motor’s been strong, even our affiliate teams have been qualifying really good and racing good. So… excited about 2014! It’s going to be a good year.
WELL MAN, YOU STARTED IN THE BACK BUT WORKED YOUR WAY TO THE FRONT WHEN IT COUNTED MOST. WERE YOU JUST BIDING YOUR TIME THROUGHOUT THE RACE?
Eh, you never know if you’re going to get back up there or not. We had to start at the back, we had to make a run early and see what we could do. We drove right to 10th, or something like that and then it got stagnant. We tried to make something happen, and went to the back again. Drove back up to the front. Again, just really proud of my guys. Matt Kruder did a hell of a job on that pit stop getting just enough gas in to gain some spots there.
RCR CARS SEEM PRETTY DARNED STRONG. DO YOU THINK THE RCR CARS HAVE SOMETHING FOR THEM ON SUNDAY — ESPECIALLY THE THREE JOE GIBBS RACING CARS THAT SEEM TO BE THE CLASS OF THE FIELD RIGHT NOW?
Oh yeah. The 20 car was extremely fast. The 11 didn’t qualify that good, but he’s a good drafter. I think he won. We definitely have something for him.
Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
In a Nutshell: Kyle Busch easily took the checkered flag 1.484 seconds ahead of Matt Crafton in the Lucas Oil 200 at Dover International Speedway Friday afternoon. Busch held on to the top spot through two different restarts en route to his third victory at the Monster Mile. Ryan Blaney, Chase Elliott and Brendan Gaughan rounded out the top 5.
Who Should Have Won: Kyle Busch. After starting fifth, Busch dropped outside the top 5 and remained there for much of the race. But feedback from the driver of the No. 51 Toyota gave crew chief Ryan Fugle all the information he needed to correct the truck. With a variety of different adjustments, Busch took the lead for the first time on lap 142 and relinquished it for just nine laps the rest of the way en route to his second consecutive victory.
Darrell Wallace, Jr. Dominates Early
Rookie Darrell Wallace, Jr. came into Dover International Speedway looking to shake off a DNF after a strong run at Charlotte last weekend. And that’s just what he did. After running inside the top 10 in both practice sessions, the driver of the No. 54 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota became the youngest driver to sit on the Truck Series pole at the age of 19 years, seven months and 24 days. He broke the record previously held by Cole Whitt, who sat on the pole at Darlington in 2011 at the age of 19 years, eight months and 18 days.
“That’s really cool. Chase (Elliott) had me scared there for a second,” Wallace said of his qualifying lap. “His second lap was pretty quick, but our lap was a little bit better. That kept us on top and to carry that record means a lot.”
When the green flag dropped over the field, Wallace, Jr. made it clear that he meant business this week. He led for the first 119 laps, holding on through three different restarts, before relinquishing the top spot during a round of scheduled green flag pit stops. By the end of the cycle, Wallace, Jr. found himself more than four seconds behind boss and team owner Kyle Busch. A very loose truck then caused the rookie to drop back through the field in the closing laps of the race, leading to a tenth-place finish that could have been so much better. Still, a third top 10 this early on is a sign of a promising future.
“That’s what we needed, not what we wanted, but that’s what we needed,” Wallace said. “If we can land those [top 10s], that will get us back up there in the points. The spring rubber fell out there at the end — that’s why we couldn’t really gain anything. I’m still proud of our Camping World / Good Sam Toyota Tundra team. We’re close, we’re that much closer.”
The rookie has nothing to hang his head about after his performance. Having led just 42 laps in his previous five career starts, Wallace, Jr. nearly tripled that number and, while he didn’t win, his restarts were impressive as he capitalized on the outside line at Dover. And while it wasn’t quite the finish his strong truck had set him up for, it’s yet another step in the young driver’s career that seems destined for Victory Lane sooner rather than later.
Chase Elliott Busted Twice on Pit Road
In just his third Camping World Truck Series race, Chase Elliott started an impressive second and remained in the top 5 for much of the early stages. But under the second caution, the 17-year-old got caught speeding off pit road. Left to drop to the tail end of the field, Elliott found himself in a tough spot, given how important track position is. So under the third caution, crew chief Lance McGrew called his driver down pit road once again for four tires, fuel and an adjustment. Just seven laps after restarting 15th, Elliott was once again inside the top 10, taking advantage of the fresh rubber.
But the troubles didn’t end for Elliott. Despite being on a different pit sequence than the rest of the field, a 90-lap green flag run forced the driver of the No. 94 Chevrolet to pit under green. And once again, he got caught speeding, this time paying with a drive through penalty. Elliott was forced to methodically work his way forward once again before ultimately settling in for a solid fourth-place result, the best in his career to date.
“Don’t speed on pit road. I learned it the hard way, that’s for sure,” Elliott said after the race. “Man, they gave me an awesome truck. We were really, really fast all day long. I messed up coming out of the pits on the first stop, and I did it again when we took the green flag stop. You just can’t afford to do that and I learned it the hard way. I’m as tired of Kyle Busch winning as everybody else is and I want to be the first one to stop that. We’re capable of doing that; we just have to make things go our way and go mistake free.”
Elliott has finished inside the top 10 in all three of his Truck Series starts, but perhaps what’s more impressive was the 17-year-old’s ability to accept responsibility for his actions. When asked about his pit road speeding penalties, Elliott was blunt and completely honest.
“It was me, 100%,” he said. “I screwed up and I’m here to take the blame for it. I messed up. We’d have been battling for the win if I hadn’t messed up.”
Regardless of whether it’s racing or something else in life, it’s hard to swallow a mistake that costs you, but Elliott did it and still kept a smile on his face. It looks like all the tools are there for long-term success, right? However, because of his age, the young driver will not race in the next two races, both of which are mile-and-a-half events; his next start is Iowa.
Crafton Shines, Defending Champ Buescher Falters in Respective Milestone Starts
Matt Crafton and James Buescher came into Dover International Speedway celebrating separate milestones. Crafton, who broke Terry Cook’s consecutive start record at Rockingham in April, made his 300th career start while Buescher celebrated his 100th.
Crafton struggled in practice and, just like they did at Kansas where he went to Victory Lane, the No. 88 team made wholesale changes to the truck following the final session. Those adjustments allowed Crafton to start seventh, and throughout the race, he worked on picking his way through the field. Late in the going, he managed to beat Kyle Busch off of pit road under caution and led nine laps before the driver of the No. 51 Toyota took over the top spot. Despite two restarts after losing the lead, Crafton didn’t have enough to pass Busch and settled for a runner-up finish.
“It was a great day for the whole ThorSport organization. Our Toyota Tundra was decent on the short run. We showed our strength on the long runs, but Kyle (Busch) just had the speed on the short run,” Crafton said of his milestone start. “All in all, not a terrible day for one of the guys that’s not too bad here. On the long run, I was able to run him (Kyle Busch) back down. I can’t thank these guys enough. They did it in Kansas and they did it here — they changed everything on our Tundra from practice to the race.”
Crafton’s runner-up finish allowed him to further extend his points lead over rookie Jeb Burton. He now holds a 30-point advantage and is quickly making a case for a championship season. While there are still plenty of races left, including the wild cards of Eldora and Talladega that could impact the No. 88 team in their quest for the first ThorSport Racing championship, Crafton continues to expand his lead and allow himself cushion for a couple of tough events down the line.
Meanwhile, Buescher’s 100th career start wasn’t nearly as successful. Though he ran inside the top 10 in the first practice, major changes to the No. 31 Chevrolet saw him run outside the top 20 in the second session. And qualifying didn’t get any better for Buescher, who smacked the wall on his second lap. The damage was too much for the team to repair sufficiently, so they pulled out a backup truck and were forced to start at the rear of the field.
“We had a rough weekend for sure at Dover, but I’m proud of everyone for never giving up,” Buescher said en route to a mediocre 15th. “I thought I had a decent truck during my first qualifying lap, and I tried to get a little bit more but the truck got loose on me and I eventually found the wall. There will be days like today, but my team never gives up and we will rebound for this and come back even stronger next time out.”
Buescher’s result dropped him outside the top 5 in points. While his chance to defend the championship is far from over, the No. 31 team will have to turn up the heat going forward. However, the good news for Buescher is that the next two races are at mile-and-a-half facilities that he excelled at so much last year.
- On Friday evening, Chad Hackenbracht confirmed via his Twitter feed that he will make his Camping World Truck Series debut next weekend at Texas Motor Speedway. The 21-year-old, who won at Pocono Raceway in the ARCA Racing Series last season, will pilot the No. 51 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota in place of team owner Kyle Busch. Additionally, SPEEDTV’s Ray Dunlap reported that Hackenbracht will make several starts this season for the organization.
- The Lucas Oil 200 was slowed twice for debris on the track, and surprise — SPEED was actually able to show that debris. I don’t understand why FOX can’t seem to do the same in the Sprint Cup Series.
Truck Rookie Report
No. of Rookies in the Race: 9 (add Danny Efland, Chase Elliott, Kyle Martel and debuting driver C.J. Faison)
No. of Rookies to Finish in the Top 10: 4; Ryan Blaney, finished third; Chase Elliott, finished fourth; Jeb Burton, finished ninth; Darrell Wallace, Jr., finished tenth.
Rookie of the Race: Ryan Blaney
“I am so proud of my Cooper Standard team. We all stuck to our game plan and executed thoroughly here today at Dover. I wish we could have been in Victory Lane, but I’ll take a top-3 finish any day at a track as tough as this place. This is exactly the type of caliber team we have and I couldn’t be happier with my guys. We will build on this success and carry it over to Texas next week.” Ryan Blaney, finished third
Biggest Winner: Though he’s outside the top 10 in the standings right now, Timothy Peters took advantage of his concrete experience to take a chunk out of his deficit to points leader Matt Crafton. But the afternoon wasn’t without its challenges for the driver of the No. 17 Toyota. After starting 14th, Peters moved down the track on Max Gresham, spinning both drivers and bringing out the first caution on the second lap. However, the damage to the No. 17 wasn’t all that extensive and Peters spent much of the race working his way forward. A late-race caution saw Peters drop outside the top 3 before settling in for a sixth-place result, his third top 10 on the year. That allowed Peters to move up four spots in the standings to 12th. However, the driver of the No. 17 Toyota still sits 74 points out of first and will need a string of strong finishes to even have a shot at the championship he came so close to last season.
Biggest Loser: It’s pretty easy to guess that Ty Dillon is ready to get out of Dover and head off to Texas. Though he qualified sixth, the driver of the No. 3 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet was forced to drop to the back of the field after missing the drivers’ meeting. But the problems didn’t end there for the sophomore. Just 23 laps in, he was on pit road for an unscheduled stop with no power. Dillon was left to settle for the first DNF of his career and a disappointing 31st-place result.
“The motor blew up. Our ECR power has been great all year. I’ve never had a failure, and this is definitely a first,” Dillon said during the second caution. “Just not a good day for us here at Dover.”
As a result of the disappointing finish, Dillon dropped four spots in the points standings and now sits seventh, 57 markers behind leader Matt Crafton. The good news, though, is that it’s still very early in the season. While it is difficult to climb out of a hole given the competition level in the series, the driver of the No. 3 Chevrolet has plenty of time to rebound from this DNF and move forward in his quest to follow his Rookie of the Year performance last season with a championship, just like older brother Austin did in 2010 and 2011.
Points Update: Matt Crafton expanded his lead to 30 over rookie Jeb Burton, who remains in second. Brendan Gaughan moved up one spot to third with his fourth consecutive top-5 finish; he sits 35 markers behind the leader. Johnny Sauter and Ryan Blaney both moved up two positions and round out the top 5. Following his tough afternoon, defending champion James Buescher dropped to sixth, now 45 points behind Crafton. Ty Dillon dropped four spots after his first career DNF, while rookie Darrell Wallace, Jr. jumped two positions to eighth. Miguel Paludo and Dakoda Armstrong find themselves tied for ninth place and round out the top 10.
“Today was a whole different animal. It was unbelievable how loose it was following those guys. I had to get outside of their wake and kind of move around, and that’s where I started making up some ground. It was more later in the run than it was early in the run. These things are just so fast going around here, early in the run with a lot of tire grip and a lot of aero grip, but as the rubber goes down, it certainly gets slick and everybody has their hands full. These guys made some nice adjustments for me to keep us on top of the race track and up front.” Kyle Busch
“This was another great job by Shane (Wilson, crew chief) and the entire team. Our South Point Hotel & Casino Chevrolet was fast all day but just a little too loose. My pit crew did a great job today along with my spotter. I’ve got to thank all of them for helping us bring home this top-5 finish.” Brendan Gaughan, finished fifth
“It was typical Dover, you work your butt off here every lap—there’s no sitting back and waiting. Our Darrell Gwynn Tundra was great. We fought all day in practice and then we didn’t qualify well at all. We knew we had to get track position early and we just went after everything we had the first couple green flag runs. The guys did an awesome job on pit road and really kept us in good track position and got us some spots. It was a really good day as far as the whole team working together—we have to catch up with the boss man (Kyle Busch).” Joey Coulter, finished eighth
“At the beginning (of the race) we were too loose, and then right there at the end we were okay. In the middle of the race, we were too tight. We found some stuff messed up on the right front (after the race). Some stuff came loose but that’s racing. It was a good day for us. Really, we finished seventh because the (No.) 94 and (No.) 51 aren’t running for points. It was a good points day for us. We’ll go get them at Texas.”Jeb Burton, finished ninth
Up Next: The Camping World Truck Series heads south for their first of two visits to Texas Motor Speedway on Friday, June 7th. Last season, Johnny Sauter took the win over ThorSport teammate Matt Crafton. The WinStar World Casino 400K will be televised on live SPEED beginning at 8:30 PM ET; it can also be heard on your local MRN affiliate or SiriusXM Channel 90.
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