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!
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.
The Yellow Stripe · Danny Peters · Tuesday April 1, 2008
Last year, ahead of the Spring race at Martinsville Dale Earnhardt, Jr. expressed frustration at the sheer dominance of Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon on the smallest track the Sprint Cup Circuit has to offer. On Sunday, the No. 88 finished behind the 24 and 48 once again; but while the frustrations remained, the expectations were far different. This time, all three were running for Hendrick Motorsports, something few would have predicted at the time of Junior’s annoyance twelve months earlier.
But none of them would have ventured a guess as to what else was in the forecast; that the second time around, it would be Junior, not his teammates, who truly had the upper hand, as the son of a legend works to manage the burden of great expectations set before him.
Whisper it cautiously at this oh-so-very early stage of the season, but it’s looking good for the Kannapolis, North Carolina native. The sixth place finish for Junior at the half-mile paper clip may have been a bronze medal performance within Hendrick, but it moved his record to a Cup Series best five Top 10s in the first half dozen races. He now sits fourth in the overall standings, 69 points back from leader Jeff Burton and 151 points ahead of the perilous Chase cutoff spot of thirteenth, a position Junior knows all too well. Right now, he’s looking more like a title contender this season than a man precariously positioned to sit on the bubble; in fact, it's probably fair to say only a weeper-induced disaster with the luckless Casey Mears has prevented Junior from leading the standings. In the meantime, Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson have languished behind towards the last half of the Top 10, their struggles undergoing public scrutiny behind the kudos of Junior’s early success.
Of course, all is not perfect in the No. 88 team’s world … but it’s getting there. OK, he still hasn't managed to lock down that all-important first victory; Sunday's sixth spot stretched his winless streak to 67 races. But despite the lack of a trip to Victory Lane, Junior can have few, if any, complaints regarding his form thus far. Whether he will win it all this year remains to be seen; however, both the solid start and the omens look positive to date.
But with this season's title still a long way from being decided, here's my simple question pertaining to Junior: when he quits top level racing, how will he be remembered? What will be the Dale Junior legacy? What and where will be his signature moment? Will the son of the man most credit with NASCAR's explosion in popularity meet expectations? Will he satisfy the ardent desires of Junior Nation? And will he be a slam dunk, automatic entry into the NASCAR Hall of Fame? Or will the critics and naysayers who've long argued he's a good, not great, driver be proven right? The answer to the question might be a decade and more in coming — and at just 33, there's plenty more to come from Junior — but as always, his achievements will be measured against those of his illustrious father.
From a pure statistical perspective, it seems a safe bet now to say that Junior will not approach his father's total of 76 wins. With 17 victories to his credit in 297 races, Earnhardt Jr. would have to win at a five race per season clip for the next decade plus; which, given the parity and relative strength of the competition, seems a gargantuan task. One place where Junior will end up beating his dad is in the Nationwide Series, though; he has 22 victories (and counting) while his father finished with 21. On the Cup side, there are currently 38 drivers (active and retired) who have won more races than Junior; but if he can double his current total, he will finish up in the all-time Top 20 most successful. That would certainly place him in elite company, for sure… but still a long way from his Dad's 76 Cup triumphs.
And as far as Championships go given the Chase format, the prevalence of younger drivers getting Cup rides and the sheer relentless competition make the biggest trophy the hardest one to come by. Still without a title at this point in his career, it again is not a stretch to say Junior won't come vaguely close to his father's total of seven.
So, when he unclips his window netting and eases through the window of his Cup car for the very last time, by what standards will his career be judged to have been a success? How much will be enough? One fact is utterly unarguable; with a last name of Earnhardt, his legacy is measured by one criterion alone - Sprint Cup Championships. Junior Nation, you suspect, will expect nothing less from their favorite son over the next few years to come; but the Chase format is a fickle beast, and the fact is you need a slice of luck as well as that all important consistency. Junior could make the Chase for the Championship ten straight times, and never quite get the racing luck needed to get over the hump. Would that make his career a failure? Mark Martin fans would suggest otherwise.
Something Junior certainly shares with the Batesville, Arkansas native is the adoration of the fans. And while you never know what will happen in the Cup Series, it's as close to a cast-iron certainty as you can get that Dale Jr. will retire as the Most Popular Driver in the history of the sport. If you're in any doubt, just look at the stands at any given race, and listen to the roar when the No. 88 takes the lead each and every time out. Not only that, but read the comments section of a negative article about Junior or glance through the message boards. There is much hype about the "fabled" Red Sox Nation, but from what I've seen, the Boston denizens have nothing on Junior Nation. Of course, popularity is a “nice-to-have,” not a must have quality; Junior knows this better than anyone. It is still all about winning.
The driving part of the man’s career, however, might just be half the story. Witness the growth of JR Motorsports from its infancy four years earlier, when it ran with just one employee through the street stock division. At this point, JR has two fully funded Nationwide teams, a 66,000 square foot facility, and — at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in March — Mark Martin piloted the No. 5 Chevy, secured JR Motorsports’ inaugural win. Ironically, Martin's win followed a late race run in with the No. 88 of fellow JRM driver Brad Keselowski. The youngster's time will come, and for a company that might just have a very bright future, it's apropos that such a respected veteran secured the maiden victory. Junior the driver is and will continue to be fun to watch, but Junior the owner may just be an even more compelling story. Teresa will not run DEI forever, so that's a storyline to look at for the future; when the time comes for her to leave the business behind, will Junior follow suit or fall back into his newfound sense of happiness?
When it's all said and done and Junior stops racing at the highest echelon, it will be fascinating to look back and compare his career against the best in the business. As for what will be considered “enough,” well, I'd say nothing less than at least one Championship and somewhere in the region of 30 wins would be considered successful for him. But first things first; Junior needs an inaugural HMS victory in the No. 88 car and to concentrate on cementing his place in the 2008 Chase. And if he makes the field, then anything can happen. It sure should be interesting to watch.
Author’s Note: Please feel free to leave a comment below as to what you think will make Junior's career a success overall. Be as specific as possible in your answer; let the debate begin!
Did you read Matt McLaughlin’s moving tribute on the 15-year anniversary of the death of a NASCAR legend? If the answer’s no, then you’re not getting the Frontstretch Newsletter. Don’t be an April Fool and turn down something that’s sent FREE to your email inbox; click “here:/notice/9557/ to sign up today!
©2000 - 2008 Danny Peters and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
Well, just another Jr. article! Too bad there is nothing really interesting to say about him!
But I guess from a writers standpoint, just put “JR.” in the headlines and someone will read it!
But totally not interesting!
Meanwhile, back at the race track!!!!
Good article!! Keep em coming any and all info about our beloved Jr. is welcome. Jr. Nation Thanks you for the read!!!!Regardless of others opinions…..
Important message for the Mooresville Police . Be on the lookout for a stalker at Dale JRs house . Danny , you have set new records here regarding hero worship . True, Dale is single , but don’t get your hopes up .
I was (still am)a Dale Earnhardt fan, try to be a Jr. fan but it’s getting harder. He blamed his inability to win on Teresa & DEI in general. Now he’s with the team that was supposed to produce him as a winner.Well he doesn’t look much different to me than when he was in the Red 8 car.Simple fact is he just isn’t that good. He’s living on his dad’s name. He’s not as good as him on or off the track& never will be. I feel for him,living in Dale Earnhardt’s shadow has to be hard.Ask Kyle Petty about living in the shadow of a true legend.I wish Jr. all the best but he’s probably as good as he’ll ever be now.Wonder if Rick Hendrick ever wonders man did I screw up by letting Kyle Busch get away?
“Another interesting fact you might want to keep in mind , is the record Dale JR. had at DEI in his first years , is actually slightly better than his record so far at Hendrick .”
Unless you are talking about his Busch Career, no it’s not.
1999- Coca-Cola 600- 16Th, Jiffy-Lube 300-43rd, Peppsi 400-24Th, Exide Batteries 400- 10Th, Napa 500-14Th- 1 DNF.
2000- Daytona 500-13Th, Dura-Lube 400- 19Th, Carsdirect.com 400-10Th, Cracker Barrel 500-29Th, Mall.com 400-40Th, Food City 500-38Th- 2 DNF’s.
2008 5 top tens, two top fives, and no dnf’s.
I’m far from am Jr fan but even I think you’re being a bit rough on him, Butch. None of the Hendrick drivers have won yet, but Dale did win the Shootout and his Duel at Daytona. Its only six races into the season! Should we call Tony Stewart a failure this season because he hasnt won but his teammates have?
Now, I cant understand Dale’s enormous popularity. His father seems to be more popular in death than in life. Bill Elliot was always voted the most popular driver in the 90’s, not Dale Sr. If Dale Jr’s name was Dale Smith Jr he would be just another driver about as popular as Jeff Burton, Ryan Newman, or Kevin Harvick with similar wins but no championship. And I think he whines too much and is spoiled over his number last year. Numbers belong to the owners, not the drivers. You didnt hear about Eliot Sadler wanting to take #38 with him when he moved to Evernham. No, he just accepted what number was available and took it. What about Hendrick? He has history with both the 5 and the 25 car numbers. But that wasnt enough for Jr, he had to have his own number. And more than half his wins have come at the same tracks, which doesnt show the versatility and skills that a good NASCAR driver has. No, Dale Jr has a car and his fans because of his father’s accomplishments, same as Kyle Petty, and those are pretty hollow in my eyes.
Oh, I “forgot” to answer your direct question: “what will make his career a success”??
ANSWER: When he retires!
How can you describe “success” using an average driver as the focal point?
Why isnt anybody talking about Denny? He tore it up this weekend. And that new Fedex commercial is pretty hilarious. DH is the new JR. Bring it!
Jeffrey, yes i was referring to his DEI Busch team . It looks to me as if leaving DEI was only a step sideways , not a step up .
Dale jr. is as good as they come driving a race car and 5 top 10’s in 6 races speaks for him.He’s not the best right now but I know everyone ahead of him in the points standings is looking over their shoulders!
Hey True Fan!! Yep, you are correct, the other drivers are “looking over their shoulders” allright!
They wonder what the smell is back there!
(sorry, I just could not resist)!! LOL!
All you Jr haters wonder why there is so much print on Dale Jr.You folks complain, complain, complain! And yet you guys are always here; reading every story you can about Jr. Are you folks conflicted?
Larry you are so right.
Douglas you must enjoy being a jerk. You can not say enough bad things about Jr. I looked back over a few days and the only time you comment is to bash Jr. and one day Jeff Burton. So sad to have gone so nuts with hatred and jealousy.
I don’t know who your driver is but he must be really good and doesn’t have as many fans and you can’t handle it or they are a loser.
As far a Jr. being a average driver. Look where he is this year. Of the FULL TIME drivers for 2008 he is tied 7th with Kurt Busch in total wins(who has had a championship) 1 win ahead of Matt Kenseth (who also has won a championship). So he is right up there with drivers who have won championships. That is out of how many full time drivers for 2008 or wannabe full time but can’t make the race?
Go read articles that don’t talk about Jr. As you are starting to sound like a 6th grader with all the jabs. LOL at you.
Honestly, what it all boils down to is that if you’re a Junior fan, he’s doing just fine now and you’re happy.
If you’re NOT a fan, then why you would continue to read and post about him says more about YOU than it does either Junior or his fans. Think about it.
Back OT…Nice article. Very balanced and well-thought out. Thanks!
We read and post bad things about Jr to point out that he’s not the great driver his fans make him out to be. He’s human just like the rest of us. Who cares what he’s doing this year, he has won only two races in the last three years. That’s called a slump. It took Jeff Burton five years to get out of his slump.
Good point Kevin in SoCal !
Jr bashers are obviously just angry that their driver isn’t getting any media time. Too bad!!! Jr. has overcome so very many obstacles that out of the limelight drivers never gave a thought to, for that alone he deserves credit for not poking a few faces and losing his cool.
Junior bashers might be envious but they darn sure ain’t stupid Kevin of SoCal is right on. Take it for what it’s worth fancy ; I mean Nancy.
Nancy, the other drivers arent getting any air time because even when Jr is running bad, the media and the TV focus all their attention on him!!! We’re tired of it and we want it to stop. There are 40+ other drivers on the track who deserve just as much air time whether they run in the top ten or they crash out, we want to know why.
Kevin, I’m not being rough on Jr. just think about the two wins you mentioned they were at Daytona, that & Talledega are his tracks he could win there in a car off the showroom floor.Also I’m not a “Jr. hater” I would love to see him start winning,but facts are facts Kyle Busch (who I’m not a fan of) is better than him.Like I said earlier he’s got a lot of class & handles living in his dad’s shadow very well, I think though he wants badly to be his own man.May someday he’ll get there, but it’ll take a championship to do it.
you ppl who come in to whine about jr this jr that…let the guy be his own man, he has talent, let him show it, if he does great if he dont then oh well, but ppl just using a jr related topic to bash on jr because hes not dale sr, hes not jimmie johnson hes not jeff gordon hes not richard petty, or even as hot as kyle bush is doing right now…, or how he gets too much air time…big deal i see plenty of coverage on other drivers each week, and i have to say from what i seen on fox, jr hasnt got much air time this year except for the shoot out and the duel, so using this fourm as a way to get on the nerves of jr fans is real lame!
Gordon and Jimmie get more race coverage than Jr by far and mostly because they lead races plain and simple. We will also see JG and JJ Tony when they are running bad. The media pays the most attention to the leaders and past popular champions. We will see the leader with anybody trying to make a pass circling around for 10 laps break for commercial and come back and show us the leader for another 10 laps then they will start to go thru the field make it to about 13 drivers and go to commercial again. There has been MANY times a driver has been in the back and moved up several positions thru a pack of cars but will we see how hard they were racing? NO. We won’t see that car unless they make it into the top 10. Jr, IS the most popular driver and the fans want to see him even if he is running bad . Be glad then you might get a peek at some of the other cars around him.
We also see alot of Kyle Busch why? Because he shakes things up with his crazy driving. He has a ton of talent and yes HMS should have kept him (but he is a handful)and dropped Casey. I like Casey alot but he doesn’t have the talent Busch does.
If the Jr bashers have a problem with so many articles about Jr. stay out of the web page and quit commenting. Look at articles that are about someone else. They get one or two comments usually thanking the writer. No back and forth comments/slams all day and even into the next day. You bashers are the ones who keep the coverage going. If you want an end to it stay out and don’t give the web page the hits as they write about a driver that gets the hits.
I don’t even open a web page that if it is about a driver I don’t have in my perfered group.
Danny peters ROCKS!!
Idon’t care how much publicity he gets, but he wouldn’t get near as much as he does if not for his last name, I’m probably more of a fan of his than anyone else on the track, but I’ve finally accepted that he’s not the best on the track, not even close. I don’t know him probably never will but I think he would trade all the press for a chance to be his own man out of his dad’s shadow & win races. Like I said before it has to be rough living in Dale Earnhardt’s shadow while fans are expecting you to be everything he was.
It is plain and simple, Jr has been named the most popular driver 5 years in a row? Who do you want the editorials to be about? Lets see… maybe Lake Speed, or possibly a breaking story on Morgan Shepherd, with a Kenny Wallace silly laugh thrown in for good measure. If you don’t like Jr articles, don’t read them. Quit trying to be a Democrat liberal and censor the press. I don’t read stories on Kyle Busch because I don’t like him. Douglas, you and Kevin can do the same with Jr.