NASCAR Changes Qualifying Format
posted by Summer Bedgood
Tuesday March 11, 2014
Following safety concerns regarding NASCAR’s new qualifying format, the sanctioning body is introducing some changes in preparation for this weekend’s race at Bristol Motor Speedway. According to the Associated Press, NASCAR is banning teams from cool-down laps after their qualifying attempts, but will instead be allowed to hook up cool-down units to the engine through hood flaps.
Late Tuesday afternoon, a release from NASCAR fully detailed the changes. Teams will be allowed a single cool down unit to be connected through the right or left side hood flap, however the hood must remain closed. Additionally, two crew members will be allowed over the wall while cooling down.
“The qualifying is new to all of us and as we have said over the past several weeks, we are looking at it from all aspects,” said Robin Pemberton, vice president of competition and racing development. “Following discussions, both internally and with others in the garage area, we moved quickly to make a few revisions that will be effective starting with our two national series events at Bristol Motor Speedway this weekend. We believe this will only enhance and improve what has demonstrated to be an exciting form of qualifying for our fans, competitors and others involved with the sport. Moving forward we will continue to look at it and address anything else that we may need to as the season unfolds.”
The move comes after three weeks of NASCAR’s new knockout qualifying system, where multiple cars are allowed to make qualifying attempts at the same time instead of the traditional one-car-at-a-time procedure. Drivers and teams had complained that the new rules didn’t allow them to cool their engines down on pit road, and the cool-down laps caused a dangerous situation with slower cars staying on the track at the same time that other cars were running by them at much higher speeds.
The rule will begin this weekend in Bristol, a track that has a much narrower racing surface than Daytona, Phoenix, and Las Vegas.
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
Monday March 3, 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!
Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
Beth Lunkenheimer · Thursday September 19, 2013
Welcome back to Harry Scott, Jr.‘s “Owner Diary.” This week, Scott fills us in on Kyle Larson’s upcoming move to the Sprint Cup Series, James Buescher’s potential for back-to-back championships, his purchase of Phoenix Racing and so much more.
Plenty of things have happened since we had our last update. Kyle Larson has been driving for us in the Nationwide Series, and next year he’s headed to the Sprint Cup Series with Earnhardt Ganassi Racing. I’m very excited about it. I think there’s a lot of questions about whether Kyle is ready, and there was question as to whether Justin Allgaier was ready. After seeing what Justin was able to do last weekend, I think Kyle will be just fine. I think he’s ready — he’s mature enough. At the beginning of the year, the goal was just to finish all the laps, get him some experience at those tracks and maybe have top-15 finishes. We’ve worked well beyond that. It’s been a very short period of time, but it feels like it’s been longer than it has. Now, he’s getting to go to some of these places a second time, and he’s progressed extremely well.
Let me just give you a quick story about how cool the kid is. Last week at Chicagoland, he had his left rear tire blow out. He was running third and came in; they made adjustments and he had a tire rub. Eventually, it cut his left rear tire. When that happens, all the shrapnel just goes all over the cockpit. It’s like having a grenade go off in the cockpit because it tears the fender and crush panel off; then, he’s exposed to the flapping rubber.
Kyle went through that; he was running third and he pulled into his pit. They started trying to repair the car in the pit. The stall ahead of his was Nelson Piquet’s, who was sponsored by Hooters, and they had Hooters girls sitting up on the box. Larson is sitting there in the pit box looking at the Hooters girl while they were working on his car, and NASCAR told them they had to go behind the wall to finish working on it. In the midst of all of that — running third, getting beat up by the tire, sitting on pit road — he still had his sense of humor. He said, “I’m fine working on it right here. The view is a lot better here than it is in the garage. Those Hooters girls look pretty good.”
It was comical; at that point, I was down on the No. 31 box [Justin Allgaier] and I just started dying laughing. Everybody was just looking at me like I was crazy because they had no idea what I was laughing about.
He’s a racer for sure. In fact, I have another story for you about him. When we went to Atlanta, I rode my Harley up there. I didn’t want to ride all the way home to Hilton Head Saturday night. The race was over, I had been back to the coach, taken a shower and gotten ready to go to bed because I was worn out. I got a text from Kyle asking if I was still at the track. I asked him what he needed, and he said he needed a place to stay. There were no rooms available and he didn’t want to sleep in his car. We made the sofa up for him. We got up together at 6 in the morning, and I said, “If you get up at six in the morning to fly to California for a race, you are a racer, especially as much as you like to sleep.” That’s because his nickname is “nap time.” If there’s 15 minutes between something he’s gotta do, he’s up in the lounge and he’s out. Sometimes I’m afraid we’re going to lose him on a red flag, so that’s why we keep talking to him on red flags.
But the bottom line is he’s a good kid and he’s ready.
Moving forward, James Buescher grabbed the win in Iowa a couple weeks ago, and he’s been gaining on Matt Crafton in the standings for the last few races as well. If you look at James and his team over the last three years, you’ll see why I think he’s got a good shot at catching Crafton for the championship. Two years ago, before he won the title, they didn’t even qualify for Phoenix and made a run to almost win it; as it is, he wasn’t that far out at the end of the year. Last year, if you look at their performance, they also came on strong in the later part of the year. They seem to be doing that same thing again this year, although Matt Crafton’s performance has been unbelievable.
Crafton is going to be tough to catch, but I have full confidence that James can do it.
Speaking of the Truck Series, Miguel Paludo’s black flag at Chicagoland on Friday is a tough question. It’s a judgment call on NASCAR’s part. NASCAR does not have the benefit of being in Miguel’s seat on that restart to see what happened in front of him and why he had to come out of his lane. From what I understand, they penalized him for coming out of his lane and not for passing the 3 (Ty Dillon). Miguel did go to the hauler to talk to Chad (Little, CWTS Director) and Chad explained it to him. I’m not sure that Miguel completely agrees, and while I think he’s disappointed — as we all are — it’s one of those situations where it’s a judgment call. NASCAR does the best they can do with the facts they have at the time.
There’s no official instant replay and it’s hard to tell all of the circumstances that surrounded it. I think NASCAR made the best decision they could make with the information that they had. The good news is that it was early enough in the race, and I think NASCAR addressed a tweak to the restart rule that I’m really in favor of. You still have to maintain your line, so it doesn’t necessarily solve Miguel’s situation, but it definitely helps out on the front row at the very least. I’m hoping the rule will help smooth out the restarts a little bit.
We’re still working on our plans for next season. We have not made a definite decision on James — he still has the option of doing Trucks or Nationwide. If a Cup opportunity came along for him, I’m sure he would consider that, too. His options are still wide open, and we are right in the middle of negotiating our deals and getting those deals signed. It’s interesting because the spots seem to fill up starting with the K&N Series, then Trucks, then Nationwide, so it seems to go from the lower series up to the top series. Nationwide seems to be the last thing we fill.
We do know that Larson will be back in our Nationwide car next year. He won’t be running for the championship, but we do know he’ll be running as many races as he can in a ride shared with someone else for weekends the two series’ schedules conflict. I don’t know who that other person is going to be. It might be another developmental driver that Ganassi wants to check out, or it could be one of our drivers. Developing talent is our niche. Dylan Kwasniewski is leading the K&N points right now, so hopefully we’ll be able to move him up either to Trucks or directly to Nationwide next year.
Chase Elliott has been rumored as a driver for our stable next year, and I think they’re going around doing their due diligence. This year, we provided the Trucks for Chase and Hendrick staffed the crew, set up the trucks, and ran them. Those Trucks he’s been running are Turner Scott trucks, and it’s a really good collaboration between us and Hendrick, and a way for us to give back to Hendrick for as much as they do for us. I would hope that if Chase ends up in a Truck that he ends up with us; if he ends up in anything, I hope he ends up with us. He’s a great driver and we think a lot of Bill, too.
This weekend, Jeb Burton is making his Nationwide Series debut at Kentucky Motor Speedway, and he’s very excited. Originally, when we did his driver contract, we gave him the option to do some Nationwide races. We wanted to see how he did in the Trucks and they wanted to see how he did in the Trucks before we threw Nationwide at him. He’s ready for it, and we’re really excited about seeing what he can do this weekend at Kentucky. He should be good in the Nationwide car — he tested well and he’s going to be a force in the Nationwide Series one day. He’s got that natural talent in his DNA.
Right now, I’m sitting at Phoenix Racing. We’re fortunate enough to be in a position that we have secured substantial sponsorship for next year and we know we’ll be running full-time. We know we’re going to be able to raise the bar and continue to be increasingly more competitive. There’s enough sponsorship where we’ll be able to make the investments in infrastructure and people and those kinds of things to be more successful, with an eye towards a longer-term goal of being a championship contender. We will more than likely have a single driver in the seat next year, but we may occasionally run a second Cup car in select races, which will obviously be with a different driver.
James (Finch) has expressed an interest in running some races and partnering on some races as well. He doesn’t want to totally get out; he just wanted to spend some more time with his eight-year-old, and frankly, I think he was just burnt out from attending a race every weekend for the last however many years. This year, we’re probably going to run Larson in the No. 51 some to give him Cup experience, and we’ve got Michael McDowell in it this weekend; we’re excited about that. We’ll have Ryan Truex in the car at Dover. I think Dover will be a good one for him. He should have a really good shot to show what he’s made of.
There was concern on whether my time with TSM would get diluted with the purchase of Phoenix Racing, but it doesn’t change my role or my focus with the team at all. I think the guys around the shop will still tell you that they’re learning that anything that makes me more involved in racing helps us all. The more I learn and the more I’m exposed to, the more I can be of a help to the guys that work for us when it comes to giving them what they need and understanding what they need.
Justin Allgaier made his Cup debut at Chicagoland last weekend, and he’ll be back for Charlotte and for Talladega with BRANDT Agricultural as his sponsor. Everybody at the shop — myself included — were very impressed with his first race. He showed he deserved to be there. Both times he spun, he had help and he did a great job keeping it off the wall and keeping his mind in the game to continue on. I think with Justin and the equipment we had, if he hadn’t had those spins, we were probably a 22nd to 24th-place car, which isn’t bad at all for your first Cup start.
I’ll tell you a quick story about the challenge that we had getting him ready. Friday before the first practice, I had a media member ask if Justin was inside. When I said I was pretty sure he was, they asked if he could come out and speak with them for a minute. I went into the hauler to find Justin holed up with the Hendrick engine tuner; I was going to tell Justin that there was a media member looking for him.
When I heard what they were talking about, I figured it was a good idea not to bother them right at that moment. I went back outside and explained to the media member that as soon as the engine tuner finished teaching Justin how to start the car, I would send him out. That’s what they were going over. They were going over how the fuel-injected engines start, how you have to reset them and everything else.
We’re talking about a driver that had never sat in a Cup car and didn’t even know how to start it.
Justin finished 27th and I think he did really well. He proved he deserved to be there. There were a couple runs where he was too tight and he just had to hang on until we could get him adjusted and fixed up. I was really impressed. I think he had a great time — you could hear it in his voice. I think BRANDT was impressed. They had over 600 people at the racetrack, and they were celebrating their 60th anniversary as a company. It’s a family-owned company — Rick Brandt, the CEO is second generation, but both his father and his aunt who founded the company were there, so that was pretty neat.
I think we’ve covered just about everything we’ve needed to for this week. I’m excited about Jeb’s debut this weekend. I won’t be able to be there for it since I’ll be in Loudon. The K&N kids will race there on Saturday, so I’ll be there for them and the Cup race on Sunday.
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©2000 - 2008 Beth Lunkenheimer and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
Justin did a pretty good job in his first Cup start. Sure, he got tangled up in a couple of incidents but in both cases, he was trying to find the limit with a new type of car.