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.
Technically speaking, we’ll be at the quarter pole mark following the conclusion of the rollercoaster ride at Talladega this Sunday; but, with a brief pause in the relentless slog that is the Sprint Cup schedule, it’s a good time to put out eight thoughts and questions with eight races of the 2008 season in the books.
1. We had a 50th Daytona 500 to be proud of…
It is often the case in sport that the “big” occasion doesn’t live up to the pre-event propaganda, but the 50th running of the Great American Race was not one of those instances. Now, it’s fair to say this finish wasn’t an instant classic; but it was far from a damp squib. Yes, the finish, while undeniably exciting, was not as dramatic or spectacular as 2007, nor did it contain cars crossing the finish line upside down and on fire. But as the lap counter ticked down in the 2008 edition, the tension ratcheted up notch-by-notch in the last 25 circuits. With three laps to go, Tony Stewart looked set to break his Daytona 500 0-fer; but in the end, it was Ryan Newman, courtesy of the an answered prayer in the form of a push from teammate and erstwhile “Smoke” nemesis Kurt Busch, who took the honors in the most prestigious of all NASCAR races.
2. The cookie cutter tracks might be snooze fests all season long…
Judging by the fiasco that was Fontana, the relative lack of excitement at Atlanta (a track that traditionally produces good racing) and a Texas race that was so dull it could have cured insomnia, it looks like we could be in for some dreary afternoons when the circuit hits the mile and a half to two mile tracks. The decision to schedule an extra testing date at Lowe’s Motor Speedway in early May will hopefully prove to be a prescient one, providing some answers for the many teams still scratching their heads. And if not, with a ton of cookie cutter tracks still to run, we could be in for afternoons when the only way to keep yourself awake is to prop your eyelids up with matchsticks or tape them open Ricky Rudd-style.
3. Toyota is for real…
At the start of the season in my Wishes for 2008 column, I wrote that I hoped Toyota would do well – or at the very least, better than last year. I opined that while they would win races, making the Chase the Championship was a step too far. Well, after eight races, that prediction is looking shaky to say the least. The Joe Gibbs Racing triumvirate of Busch, Hamlin and Stewart are all very genuine threats to be sitting at the head table at the Waldorf Astoria come December. But it’s not just JGR that was having issues, either. Brian Vickers has more than surpassed expectations, recording Top 20 finishes (with a high of ninth) in every race so far. Michael Waltrip Racing has all three drivers locked in the Top 35 while Mike Skinner is making short shrift of the early season deficit in that department created by A.J. Allmendinger. Only Dave Blaney has struggled in this arena, but he is five points off the precious 35th slot.
So, is Toyota for real? You bet they are.
4. Will Dale Junior ever win another race?
Of the 18 articles I’ve written for Frontstretch so far, no column provoked more debate like my piece on Junior. In the end, it turned into a war between the posters in the comments section – completely off topic to what I was expecting – so just for kicks, that why I’ve entitled this point in the way I have. And in answer to my own question — before I get unwarranted hate mail — I’ll say yes, Junior will win again. But will he win as many as the six races some were predicting preseason? I’m not sure. But win he will this year. More importantly, though, he’s putting together a solid first season with HMS, and at this stage, he is their most consistent driver (with Johnson fast catching up). Ultimately, though, it should be the big picture that Junior’s fans are most concerned about because he has the equipment, the speed and the desire to win it all this year. As for the first race trophy, Talladega’s as good a place as any for Little E to break the winless streak.
5. The inside walls needs safer barriers (like yesterday)…
While there can be no doubt NASCAR has made tremendous strides in the field of safety – changes that have without a doubt saved lives and prevented serious injury – there is still one gaping hole in the plan, specifically the inside walls. The ferocity of Jeff Gordon’s crash at Vegas and his barbed post-race comments just highlight the need to address this issue once again. There are significant costs involved in the process; but working with NASCAR, surely a way can be found. Driver safety is paramount, and installing SAFER barriers on the inside walls needs to happen sooner rather than later before something terrible happens.
6. The Rookie Class of 2008 looks distinctly average…
Or, if you prefer, the rookie class is horrible. Sam Hornish, Jr. is the highest placed of them all right now, sitting in a lofty 33rd; but were it not for the points swap with Busch the elder and a commendable 15th place effort at Daytona, he’d be way outside the Top 35. Regan Smith picked up a 14th place at Martinsville but other than that the efforts of those who bear the name of this column (The Yellow Stripe) on their rear bumper have been mediocre to say the least. It’s still early, but you get the impression that the Raybestos Rookie of the Year will be more a process of attrition with one driver ending up the winner, than a case of one of the current crop of candidates making a sustained charge for the prize.
7. Marquee names have massive sponsor woes…
In any economic downturn, one of the first areas where a business looks to trim costs is in their advertising and sponsorship budgets. The dollar figures required to decal a Cup car for a full season are astronomical as it is, and they look downright stratospheric when your driver is running 30th every week and barely rates a mention. Even teams with big name drivers have to creatively piece together the sponsorship puzzle with multiple primary sponsors. The nature of the economy will always be boom or bust… and so it goes with NASCAR. The fact is, by comparison, the sport punches well above its weight with longterm commitments from more Fortune 500 companies than any other sport. But with Petty Enterprises losing General Mills and Yates forced to try ridiculous but brilliant marketing ploys (for me, the 11 million paint scheme was genius) the sponsor problems seem more magnified than ever before.
8. Dale Jarrett will be missed on the track, but is a welcome permanent addition to the ESPN crew…
The calm and dignified exit from Sprint Cup points racing of Dale Jarrett told you everything you needed to know about the NASCAR Hall of Famer. A fitting tribute at Bristol, as a 37th place finish sealed the deal for DJ in the Cup Series full-time. After the race, he slipped out of the UPS Camry and seamlessly into the Nationwide broadcast team. His wisdom and insight provides something different in the booth; and it can only be hoped he has a great car on the night of the All-Star race when he runs his final (final) race. A win at Lowe’s Motor Speedway would be a fitting end to a storied career for Jarrett.
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Will you ever stop inventing reasons to write about Dale Jr. ? Really going out on a limb there by predicting that he will in fact win again .
They have to write about Jr and say positive things or his overzealous fans will bombard them with hate mail worse than we Jr haters can come up with.
Could always write about the HUGE mistake Hendrick made trading Kyle for Jr.
Like it or not fellas, Junior is one of the biggest stories of 2008. Be that because of his surname, his popularity and/or the fact that we was the biggest free agent in 20 years who just happened to land with the sport’s best organization. The fact that he has led the HMS charge thus far and actually not won despite being oh-so-close adds even more fuel to the fire.
Mr. Peters doesn’t include Junior for hits, he does so because Junior is one of the big stories in the sport. Need proof? Three people have posted here and all three want to talk about Junior.
Kyle is on a roll, that is true. But we have seen this before, he will fade as have all the other fast burners. Hendrick, made the right move, he’s too smart not to.
I posted because I want to STOP talking about Jr so much. There are 40-45 other drivers that could be talked about, some have even won races and Cup championships, unlike the most-exalted Jr.
3rd in points a mistake? LOL. Boy does Don have it bad. Lets be real – Hendrick should have dumped Casey Mears and kept Kyle. As much as I like Casey he doesn’t set the world on fire and he is another driver that carries a well known name. Kyle is a VERY good driver (a bit to wreck less) but he is also a handful like his brother Kurt. Look for him to have many championships. It will take a owner that can help mature him (if thats possible)to get him there and Gibbs has a track record of being able to deal with difficult drivers.
Hey everybody if your driver isn’t in 1st or 2nd that means their owner made a mistake at hiring them. At least thats what Don says.
Thank you Matt – I have been saying for a long time that a article that mentions Jr will get more hits than any other articles. Just read FS articles and you will see that other article barely get comments. One about Jr will go on for days. Mostly bashers who can’t handle the fact that their driver is a better driver and not the most popular. They can’t grasp that the best isn’t always the most popular.
Dale Jr. is one of the biggest stories in the sport because writers and TV analysts constantly tell us he is . Kevin in SoCal is correct . You columnists have the entire rest of the field to write about , including car owners , crew , crew chiefs, as well as drivers . What about
Sorry Mark, but I wholly and respectfully disagree with everything you said.
“When will Dave Blaney Win?” is not one of the biggest stories of the young season because Blaney has NEVER won a points race and drives inferior equipment. In short, he’s not a championship contender. Junior is after making a very highly-publicized jump to an elite team.
As for the best organziation, if you don’t think HMS is still No. 1 after winning half of the races last year … well, everyone is entitled to their opinion.
Lastly, we as Frontstretch contributors are neither encouraged nor instructed as to what we should write about. And we’re certainly not swayed by the management staff to “be sure and include Junior, Stewart, Gordon, etc.” because they get hits.
I’m interested as to what everyone else’s “Eight Thoughts After Eight Races” are. Is the performance (and circumstances surrounding) the most popular driver since Bill Elliott really not worth mentioning? (This coming from a fan since the early ’80s that has never been a card-carrying member of Junior Nation.)
Danny Peters frontstretch’s rookie of the year!! Great article.
Matt, if you really believe that Blaney and other drivers don’t deserve your limited attention because they drive “ inferior “ equipment ( by far the dumbest statement a auto racing writer could make ), then i would say you deserve to lose , and hopefully have, lost most of your readers . Just please show honesty and integrity with all of us and don’t continue to pretend to be interested in NASCAR . You are only interested in a small group of drivers who are in the thick of the points race after only a handfull of races . And as anyone who knows anything at all about the sport can tell you , Jr. will only be a championship contender when the the season gets a little closer to the last race . The points right now mean nothing . Race fans check out your site to get inside info and differing views on the sport , not just your personal favorite drivers , or the driver of the week . We get more than enough of that on FOX each week . Why not save us all some time and just tell us which drivers we should pay attention to , and which ones we have been wasting our time on because they drive
And as for Bill Elliott winning favorite driver , the true story of how that was accomplished has been out for a number of years . I’m not sure you want to lump Dale Jr. in with Elliott concerning the Fans Favorite Driver voting .
Jr is popular because he looks so good in wrangler jeans. he cant race better than my mom
Mark, here’s the God’s honest truth: If I only answered questions concerning drivers such as Blaney, Nemechek, et al, in ‘Fanning the Flames’ each week, you’d realize real quick that the column would no longer be in existence. The media gives the fans what the fans want — and specifically what they ask for in a column like Fanning.
And I meant no offense to Blaney throughout this thread — he just happens to be ‘the name used’ — but when Blaney does something newsworthy, believe me, we’ll be more than happy to devote a column to him. I’d welcome the divergence as much as you.
Sure Jr is third in the points now, but I think he’s only finished in the top 5 in points once. He’s also missed the chase twice in four tries, while the other “great” drivers have made the chase at least 3 out of 4 tries. He’s a legend only in his fans minds.
Junior has three top 5 points finishes to go along with 17 career wins. That ain’t bad. I guess I’m here and you guys are there. That’s cool. We can agree to disagree on this one!