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.
Cami Starr · Monday February 6, 2006
First off, I’d like to say thanks to all the great people here at Frontstretch.com who allowed me to come play with them this season. I can’t wait for another season of racing to start! Now that the Super Bowl has come and gone, NASCAR becomes my sports fix.
Each week, I’ll be going over Who’s Hot and Who’s Not in the Nextel Cup Series, and doing my best not to play favorites! To kick things off, I decided to rank drivers based upon their 2005 performance, plus what I think their expectations and chances are for the 2006 season. As you’ll read, some of these guys have a lot of catching up to do, and the season hasn’t even started yet!
Greg Biffle: Biffle’s six wins last year were tops in the series, and he put pressure on Tony Stewart for the title right up until the very end. He was the most improved driver in 2005, and has his sights set on the big prize in 2006. I don’t see any reason why he can’t become the first driver to win the championship in each of NASCAR’s top three divisions.
Tony Stewart: Smoke rolled over the competition in 2005, winning on a variety of tracks while becoming a consistent front runner, finishing in the top-10 in 25 of 36 races. To me, that’s the definition of a real champion. But winning back to back titles is no easy feat. Hopefully, he’s stuck to his off-season diet plans, because he will have everyone gunning for him in 2006.
Carl Edwards: Five Top 10s and two wins in the final six races of the season make Edwards a hotshot coming into 2006. Watch for several more back flips in victory lane by the time this November rolls around.
Denny Hamlin: Hamlin made seven starts in the 2005 season, managing to score three top-10 finishes and one pole. Perhaps the most impressive stat is that he finished each one of those races with a team that struggled to qualify at times with former driver Jason Leffler. I expect that consistency to pay off big time for Hamlin in his rookie season in 2006. With the resources he has to draw from at JGR, Hamlin should easily be in the thick of the Rookie-of-the-Year race this season.
Mark Martin: Martin made the Chase for the second straight year, but once again came up just short. He ran well late in the season, posting four top-5 finishes in the final six races, but an untimely wreck at Talladega dashed his title hopes. This season, I wonder if Martin can keep up the pace all year long while running Busch, Truck, and IROC as well as Cup. Remember, he wasn’t even planning on being in the Cup series this year until a late push by Jack Roush caused him to delay his retirement. I don’t doubt Mark’s talent and drive, but I think it will be interesting to watch how he performs throughout a long Cup season he wasn’t planning on running.
Jeff Gordon: It’s hard to say that a driver with four wins last season is just "lukewarm," but Gordon was downright frigid at one point last year. However, the team rebounded well under new crew chief Steve Letarte, and finished the year strong with a win and four Top 10s to round out the season. Gordon is going to win his share of races, but the real test will be how his team handles adversity when it creeps up this season. Most importantly, can LeTarte finally find a way for Gordon to run well when he’s in traffic?
Jimmie Johnson: For two straight years, Johnson was the NASCAR bridesmaid, coming in second in the final point standings. Last year looked to be following the same pattern, before a blown tire in the final race of the season dropped Johnson to fifth. No doubt, this team on paper is capable of winning a title. But can they get all their ducks in a row and get the job done? What about those rumors about Chad Knaus leaving the team? Obviously they turned out not to be true, but is there some discontentment within the 48 team? Johnson and Co. have a lot of pressure on them to live up to their past performances, while working to finally seal the deal at the end of the season.
Ryan Newman: If points were awarded for poles, Newman would be a serious title contender each year. Since that’s not the case, though, Newman has put in mediocre results the past few years. Obviously he knows how to win"¦just check out his Busch Series numbers from last year. This team of engineers needs to figure out how to translate speed in qualifying into performance on Sunday. The elimination of the impound rules should help them, and I see Newman getting more than one win this year. The addition of a new teammate, who has the potential of being an even bigger distraction than the Newman/Wallace feud, as well as the continuing struggles of the Charger are two more hurdles Newman will have to overcome this year if he wants to be seen as a series Championship threat.
Martin Truex, Jr.: Truex was the hottest thing going in the Busch Series the past two years, but that might not mean too much as he moves up to race with the big boys full-time in 2006. Obviously, he’s a talented driver, but he’s moving up in an organization that has been struggling at the Cup level over the past two years. All of Truex’s Busch titles don’t mean anything if D.E.I. can’t get their act together. Plus, Truex hasn’t been very impressive in his limited Cup starts. In seven attempts in 2005, he finished the race just twice. That thought might be giving the D.E.I. fab shop nightmares as the season nears.
Elliott Sadler: In 2004, Sadler surprised many by making it into the Chase, but many saw promise in the young Virginian, and thought he would make it back in 2005. But Sadler’s numbers dipped; he went winless, and missed the Chase. It would be easy to blame Sadler’s fall if he was the victim of accidents that weren’t of his own doing, or simply had bad luck. You can’t really use that excuse in Sadler’s case, though, as he DNF’d just twice last year. Simply put, he was running at the end of most of the races"¦ just not running well. With the new Fusion, hopes are high once at Robert Yates Racing, but I’ll have to see some better on-track results before I start bumping Sadler up the list.
Jamie McMurray: After winning in just his second Cup career start, many pegged McMurray as the next hottest thing in NASCAR. In 2004, he barely missed the Chase, but last year never seemed to get things going. One possible reason (excuse) could be the fact that the team knew that McMurray wanted out in the middle of the year. McMurray got the trade he wanted, and now it’s time for him to show if he is the capable of being a contender, or simply if he was much ado about nothing.
Bobby Labonte: Labonte has been on a downward spiral since the middle of 2004. At the time, he was in the thick of the battle for the Chase, then all of a sudden, crew chief Michael McSwain was let go. The results started to drop, and Labonte missed the Chase as a result. In 2005, other than an exciting second place finish at Charlotte, there wasn’t much for Labonte fans to cheer about. This year, he’s moved to Petty Enterprises, and hopes to be part of the rebuilding process of one of the sport’s most successful organizations. PE has stacked up on talent, and I expect improved results. But given how Labonte and PE have run in the last few years, that’s not expecting a whole lot.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr.: How sick to his stomach was Brian France when the Series’ Most Popular Driver failed to make the Chase for the Championship? Probably as sick as Dale, Jr. fans were last year, watching their driver struggle and look like a faint memory of the driver who had taken Nextel Cup by storm. You can blame it on the engines, the crew changes, the driver, or whatever you want, but there was certainly enough to go around. Obviously, Jr. should be a threat at Daytona to kick off the season, but what about California and beyond? How much worse can this year be over last? Millions of fans are afraid to find out. I think Dale, Jr. and his revamped crew will bounce back this year, but making the Chase isn’t a lock by any means.
Kasey Kahne: Kahne finally got the win last year that so many expected him to earn in his rookie season at Richmond. Unfortunately, that was the only bright spot for Kahne in 2005. With only eight top-10 finishes, he found himself deep in a classic sophomore slump. Was the new Charger to blame? Maybe. Did everyone overhype Kahne in 2004? Maybe. Whatever the cause, I look for Kahne and Co. to improve over last year’s disappointing results. A spot in the Chase could be a stretch, but I don’t see him finishing back in 23rd place again this year.
Kevin Harvick: 2006 will be a telling year for Kevin Harvick. After replacing the late Dale Earnhardt in 2001, Harvick had a tremendous season, finishing 9th in the standings despite not running in one race. The next year, he faltered before bouncing back to a fifth place finish in 2003. The past two years, Harvick’s been a non factor, finishing 14th in the points each season with just one win in those two years. Is Harvick to blame"¦or is it RCR and their reorganization changes that are the culprit? One thing is for sure: Harvick’s contract is up at the end of 2006, and he’s been rumored to be headed to Toyota in 2007. Will Harvick battle hard to show that he is a talented driver capable of leading a new team, or will he just continue running in mediocrity?
Kurt Busch: How much colder can you get when you miss the last two races of the season? I’m not going to get into the whole police incident in Arizona. Certainly though, Kurt Busch has more work to do off the track than he does on the track in 2006. He’s a talented driver, as you would consider most past champions, so I don’t doubt he can run well. But there is a lot of pressure on Busch this year. He’s taking over one of the most popular rides in the series, and right now isn’t on many fans’ lists as a popular driver. How he will handle the pressure from the media, fans, and I’m sure his fellow drivers will be telling, and could affect his performance on the track if he can’t keep his emotions in check.
Next week: The Starr Report takes on the Budweiser Shootout!
©2000 - 2008 Cami Starr and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
You are just one of many who think of Dale Jr as a has-been or never-was; however, give the guy a chance. He has fought odds all his life and keeps on ticking. Like Mark Martin said, “Jr is made of stainless steel”. If you look at the last part of 2005, after the Jrs were reunited, Jr had some good cars and drove the heck out of some mediocre cars. I think you and many other members of the media are gonna have to eat some crow this year. And when that happens, please don’t have the gall to say, “I knew it all the time, I just knew he was going to make a comeback”. Thousands of us will be willing to serve you the crow…..COLD.
I realize you all need to have something to write about as the season gears up. But results in a Nascar race are as much about luck as they are team talent. Let’s just sit back, enjoy the season, ignore the rumors and do the Monday morning crew chief thing after Homestead.
OMG I THINK JIMMIE JOHNSON SHOULD WIN!!!!
did she say that some people have some catching up to do? Hellooooo !!!!! So I would put JR in that catagory.
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