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 March 24, 2009
The label of future Sprint Cup champion is liberally dispensed — but rarely achieved. In the 60 years of NASCAR competition, only 28 drivers have attained the hallowed crown — and it’s a pretty exclusive club. Twelve drivers have won a solitary championship, while another eight have won two titles. Five men – Jimmie Johnson, Cale Yarborough, Darrell Waltrip, David Pearson, and Lee Petty – have won three; Jeff Gordon owns four, while both The King and The Intimidator won a record seven apiece. So, it’s fair to say the odds of becoming a Sprint Cup Champion are extremely slim (think, paper thin) and with the Chase format and the increasing number of competitive teams, it’s arguable that it’s harder than ever to win the lot.
With that level of complexity in mind, I’m going to pick a number of current drivers and analyze their chances of winning a Sprint Cup Championship at some point in the near (or far) future. Those that know me well won’t be surprised to learn my method of analysis is hardly scientific, but roughly divided into drivers who have been referred to both fleetingly and often as future Sprint Cup champions. I’m going to divvy up the drivers into four major categories: Yes, Maybe, No, and Too Early To Tell.
In about ten years’ time, it will sure be interesting to revisit this column and see how accurate or way off the mark I was; so, let’s not waste another ten seconds and get right to it:
Kyle Busch: There’s no doubt in my mind that one day Kyle Busch will toast a Sprint Cup title in Victory Lane at Homestead. Whether this will win the crowd over is anyone’s guess; but in the era of bland, corporate drones, who better to root for than a driver who’s straight off the pages of Talladega Nights? So many column inches (physical and electronic) have been written criticizing Busch Junior for his many and varied transgressions — some imagined and some obvious — but for my money, there’s no one on the current Sprint Cup circuit I’d rather watch close out a victory these days.
Carl Edwards: The Back Flip king is going to win the big prize, likely in the next three years. His consistency on the Sprint Cup circuit staple, the Cookie Cutter, combined with his increasing prowess on other types of tracks — not to mention crew chief Bob Osborne and equipment from owner Jack Roush — all add up to a title in the toothy one’s future. Having met Edwards and talked to him about subjects I’d never have expected, I have to say I have something of a vested interest in that I’d like to see Carl win one. But personal feelings aside, the objective assessment says yes anyways.
Kevin Harvick: If Harvick puts it all together, then maybe, just maybe, he could pull off an eighth title for legendary car owner Richard Childress. As a column on ESPN pointed out earlier in the season, drivers with more than ten years’ experience rarely win a first championship so late in their careers. But like every good rule, there are exceptions, and Harvick might just fall into that category. Having had perhaps the toughest start in the history of any Sprint Cup driver (replacing Dale Earnhardt after his death in the 2001 Daytona 500), you’d figure that his career trajectory should end with Champion on his resume. Already a Nationwide Series titleholder, Harvick is a racer through and through and would be a worthy Champion.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr.: The toughest driver to judge in this category simply because of his fan base. I know for a fact I’ll get slaughtered for not putting him in the yes column; but as with Cousin Carl Edwards, I’d like to see Junior win a Cup crown and join the Petty, Jarrett father-son champion club – preferably before the Busches manage it first. Simply put, NASCAR needs its favorite driver to win the big kahuna sooner rather than later. But the ironic thing is that even if Junior does win a crown, his fans and critics will just start talking about the fact that his father won seven. The guy’s got the talent, no doubt, but can he and Tony Eury, Jr. pull it all together when it matters most? For now, I’d say that’s a maybe.
Clint Bowyer: Nothing seems to phase this cat, and season finishes of 5th and 3rd prove that the likable Emporia, Kansas native knows how to wheel a race car. As I mentioned earlier this year, Bowyer is the driver I underrate the most, and by placing him in this category I suppose I’m open to that criticism again… a little. With a Nationwide Series title already in the locker, Bowyer can focus his attention on the big prize, with a seamless transition to new car and crew that’s been highly impressive. If Bowyer continues to build, his name will be bandied around with the top echelon drivers for years to come. Clint the Champ? Definitely possible, but the chips would have to fall exactly right… time is on his side, though.
Greg Biffle: Great driver, great guy, great guest on This Week in NASCAR… the Biff is another you can’t help but root for. My money says the driver of the No. 16 Ford Fusion will never lift the big trophy at Homestead, but he’ll be a borderline Hall of Famer when he hangs up the helmet. No matter what, he’ll leave — barring anything unforeseen — with a ton of fans and the respect of his fellow competitors.
Jeff Burton: The 17-year veteran has had a storied, successful NASCAR career with all the requisite ups and downs you’d expect. He may not win a Sprint Cup crown, but he’ll leave the sport with the respect of the garage, and his next job is likely to be (gasp) even more important than NASCAR. Props, too, go to Burton for a fine cameo on General Hospital last week. It was the first (and likely only time) I’ll watch the long-running ABC soap – well, that is until the next driver makes an appearance.
Ryan Newman: It’s been three years since Ryan Newman made the Chase, and while the move to Stewart-Haas Racing might yet be a wise one, it seems like a stretch that Newman will win a Championship. He probably had his best chance in 2003, when he won eight of his 13 Sprint Cup races while aligned with Roger Penske. The trouble was, a certain Matt Kenseth had things wrapped up that year. He’ll go down as a fine racer, and will likely pad his win total… but Ryan Newman, Sprint Cup champ? Unlikely, very unlikely.
Juan Pablo Montoya: After a good start to his Sprint Cup career, things seem to have stalled for the irascible Colombian. In terms of pure driving ability, he could win a title; but unless he gets a ride with more horses under the hood, I can’t see him adding one to his glittering resume.
Mark Martin: Mark Martin, Sprint Cup Champ. Never gonna happen, right? Well, the evidence would certainly suggest that despite the many accolades the most famous son of Batesville, Arkansas has picked up through the course of his long career. But — and maybe it’s just because I prefer looking on the bright side of life — there’s still a chance Martin could get it done despite a tough start to the 2009 season. And if it does happen, Mark Martin – Sprint Cup Champion would be (without a doubt) the Greatest Story in NASCAR. Ever.
TOO EARLY TO TELL
Joey Logano: An unblemished charge through the lower levels of racing along with plaudits and kudos by the likes of Mark Martin would suggest that Logano will get better; but as his struggles multiply week by week, the evidence is starting to look a little damning. It’s still possible he could flame out in Casey Atwood style, but I reckon Logano’ll get it figured out and if he does – look out. One note of caution: if he can’t do in the No. 20 car (with that crew chief, pit crew and owner) then he’s not likely to do it anywhere else. But the kid is still two and a half years from a legal drink, let’s not forget. He’s still got time, which Coach and J.D. will give him plenty of without much of a problem. I say he improves and becomes a Champ over time; but right now, it’s still far too early to tell.
David Ragan: Another driver who falls snugly in this category is the driver of the Roush Fenway Racing No. 6. He’s had a horrible start to 2009, outside of his solitary top 10 (6th — Daytona). But time is on the side of the man from Unadilla (what a great name for a place, by the way), and his sponsor UPS is not looking at this deal as a short-term partnership, I’m sure. With a breakthrough 14 top 10 finishes in 2008, the transformation from the nickname given to him by Tony Stewart of “dart without feathers” is almost complete. Is Ragan a future Cup Champion? Quite possibly; but for now, the jury’s out as they say.
Brian Vickers: When Brian Vickers left Hendrick Motorsports, there were plenty in the garage (and the journalist pack) who were willing to write his premature racing obituary. But after missing a third of the races (13) in 2007 with his brand spanking new Red Bull team, Vickers regrouped and came out strong in 2008. He missed the Chase, but not by much, and you can bet he’s got the top 12 in his sights this year. Still only 25, Vickers has one (contentious) win in 177 Sprint Cup races — but the signs are that he is most definitely moving on up.
Brad Keselowski: This one’s a pick for the future, without a doubt, as Keselowski boasts a grand total of two Sprint Cup races under his belt. But respectable finishes of 19th at Texas and 23rd at Homestead, not to mention the likelihood of stepping into the No. 5 car full-time either in 2010 or 2011, give every reason to stay upbeat for the prospects of the Rochester Hills, Michigan native.
So, there’s my list. I’m sure I’ve caused some conniptions so, as I say, tell me why I’m wrong (or right) below. Over to you folks…
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I am in agreement with you for the most part. I would add Denny Hamlin to the maybe column. I would add AJ Allmendinger to the too early to tell column. And, I think it’s a little too early to write off JPM.
You have to get JJ to stop winning the Championships before someone else can get one. I bet on him for a fourth.
The Sprint Cup champion is determined by who in the ten races can consistently finish extremely well.
…And if it does happen, Mark Martin – Sprint Cup Champion would be (without a doubt) the Greatest Story in NASCAR. Ever.
I’m sorry but that story was written when Alan Kulwicki won it. PERIOD!
The Busches can’t join the father/Son champ scene until one of them actually becomes a Father. They’re brothers, and could join the Labontes as brother Champs.
Nascar NEEDS Jr. to win…
However, I now don’t think it will happen. Because the team won’t get the big “shake-up” that needs to happen.
And frankly, I wouldn’t want to be Jr’s crew chief.
any list without Smoke isnt worth reading!
Paul – Kulwicki was a grand story and I have respect for the guy. But suggesting that Alan’s story would in any way rival the potential story of Mark Martin winning a Championship is downright silly. Mark Martin has achieved LEGEND status based on his driving results AND character. Even Richard Petty would say he’s a king among kings!
nash elf – where would you like Harvick’s doppelganger to put Smoke on a list of people who could win a championship in his career? He’s already pulled the trick twice!
Well thought out column with good reasoning Danny. My only comment would be to not rule out Jeff Burton just yet. Still think he’s the best of the RCR guys, although Clint and Kevin are both very good.
Also I kinda agree with Paul on Kulwicki. That was just a great, great finish to a season, best race ever.
But otherwise a thoughtful observation. Why no Denny though?
First, neither Busch can make the father-son list until one of them actually has a son and championships are won, including some 20+ years down the road. Kurt & Kyle are BROTHERS. What a prediction!
Second, re. the Clint Bowyer comment, it’s FAZE, not PHASE, which has a completely different meaning. Get thee to a dictionary. You’re getting paid to write this stuff, so take the time to get it right. Remember, when it comes to meanings, spellchecker doesn’t have a clue.
If you were in my writing class, you wouldn’t get a very good grade for this effort. You need to work harder.
I think Danny was going for the family angle of winning championships rather than father-son specific that he said, but he phrased it wrong.
Generally speaking, i enjoy reading your articles, but in this case i have to disagree with the even the assertion that Jr. will not win a championship. Jr, along with perhaps Tony Stewart, are the denizens of the old nascar – they are what the sport is, not the young gun hot shot – might want to think about running F1 racers that are riding around the circuit now. The market – the establishment – and the fans will eventually put Jr. in a car that wins the title. Likewise Jr. owes it to Nascar and its fans to put his money where his mouth is – drop the wrangler commercials and skirt chasing and climb into his car and refuse to climb out until it is to drink budweiser out of the cup trophy.