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
Tuesday March 4, 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 28, 2009
Even by Talladega’s “biggest, baddest” standards, that was quite the race weekend in Alabama, wasn’t it, dear readers? Matt Kenseth’s crash in the Nationwide race was violent and scary looking, but it pales into almost insignificance when compared to the carnage the airborne No. 99 Ford Fusion caused on the final lap — not to mention the double helping of the “Big One” that bookended the 188 laps of mayhem and general disaster.
I wasn’t able to watch the race in normal time, so when I finally got home and fired up the DV-R, it was already quite late in the evening. On any other given Sunday, I might just have fast forwarded through the middle portion, but this was a race (and really, for me, plate racing in general) I found so utterly compelling that the little button with the two interlocking right-facing triangles on my remote control remained unused. Consequently, by the time I got to the denouement of the race, it was well past the witching hour. I’ve always found the last 20 laps of a plate race simply mesmeric. Whether or not you think it’s “real racing” is immaterial; it’s go time for the cars that have avoided the “Big One” and no-holds barred racing for the checkered flag. To me, there are few more exciting finishes in sport, and I’ve written on several occasions of my love for this “style” of racing, particularly at Talladega.
But Sunday’s race left me with something of a bitter taste in my mouth. Watching Brad Keselowski and Carl Edwards tangle, coming off turn four on the final lap, it’s fair to say that is about as close to disaster as you can get. It’s a miracle, really, that no one was seriously hurt. For those fans injured — especially the two that were hospitalized — my best wishes for a speedy recovery. Yes, auto racing, in whatever format, is inherently dangerous; but you should not have to worry about your personal safety just because you bought seats closer to the track than those at a higher elevation.
As someone who has always been a massive fan of plate races, I have to say that by watching that sickening incident, my opinion has changed and I won’t be such a cheerleader in the future. I’m not mandating a change to the size of the plates — nor am I suggesting they remove the plates altogether (I’ll leave that to those better qualified) — but you do wonder how prescient Carl Edwards’ words (post-race) may be when he said: “NASCAR puts us in this box [restrictor-plate racing] and will race this way until they kill somebody… then they’ll change it. We’re very lucky nobody got [seriously] hurt.” Of course, you can argue that plate racing has done that already … but whatever your view, Carl’s point is a good one.
Until Sunday, I’ve always watched the races from Daytona and Talladega with great relish… but I won’t be quite so excited the next time around. One final word on this topic: back at the Daytona 500 in 2008, I was up close to the catchfence on the first part of the dog leg coming out of turn four. David Ragan got into trouble and slammed the wall –- no more than a scrape by plate race standards –- right in front of me. It was a genuinely scary moment, so I can only imagine the horror the fans must have felt in the split seconds that the No. 99 car was airborne and headed straight for the fence. Kudos, too, to the folks that designed the catchfences –- damn, those wires must be strong.
So, with Talladega now in the rear-view mirror until October, the inexorable march of the relentless schedule continues, with the next month shaping up to be a great one for NASCAR based on the circuits they visit. In May, we have races at both Richmond and Darlington, before the All-Star Race, the Coke 600 at NASCAR’s quote/unquote home track, and finally a trip to the Monster Mile in Dover, DE. It’s a tremendous stretch of tracks, packed with something for everyone over the coming month of racing action.
We start with three straight Saturday night shootouts. First up is Richmond, one of NASCAR’s most storied venues. With 105 Cup races to its credit, the three-quarter mile oval typically produces some of the best racing on the circuit (new car or otherwise) and as I wrote about a few weeks ago in my track survey, it’s one of the most popular tracks for fans to visit, with a string of sellouts dating back nearly two decades.
From Virginia, the series heads to South Carolina, where they visit the jewel of a race track that is Darlington. “The Lady in Black,” the “Track to Tough to Tame,” call it what you will … but it rarely disappoints, and I don’t expect it to go any differently this time around. A real “racer’s racetrack,” Darlington has been eating up rookies and veterans for years, and it’s likely a few more will feel the pain this time around. For this writer, Darlington is the best race on the schedule; and although I’m yet to make the pilgrimage to the egg-shaped track, I hope that’s something I rectify next year.
After Darlington, the circus heads back to Charlotte for some hometown comforts. The All-Star race is next on the list; and just in case you’ve missed any of the three million promos of the race SPEED has run, it’s now a ten-lap shootout to the finish. Fact is, it’s not really much of an All-Star race, per se, when compared to the other major sports — but without the rigmarole of racing for points, it can still make for some pretty compelling viewing. Last year, don’t forget Kasey Kahne won his way in via the fan vote and still managed to walk away with the oversized check.
We then stay in Charlotte for the Coke 600, the series’ longest race, held the weekend after the All-Star event. It’s a race that is as much about endurance for the fans as it is the driver — and the Coke 600 typically brings drama. Last year, Kasey Kahne won a second straight race when Tony Stewart blew a tire late, while the previous year Casey Mears won his first race on a fuel mileage gamble — his only victory to date. 600 miles is an awfully long way, a hundred miles longer than any other race on the 36-race slate, and even when you take into account some “boring” parts in the middle of the race when drivers just make laps, it’s still a fascinating test of man and machine… even by NASCAR standards.
We finish up the month at Dover, DE at the house of Miles the Monster. Not only does Dover have one of the top 2-3 trophies in the sport, it also provides compelling, edge-of-your-seat style racing. Bristol with room, some call it; but to me, the races at the Monster Mile are always “must see” NASCAR.
So, after an afternoon in Alabama that was anything but boring, we head into arguably the best month on the racing calendar. The season might have started with a rain-induced whimper, but it’s slowly picking up; and if the next month lives up to the advanced billing, we might (just might) all start focusing on the racing and not the problems.
Some brief thoughts to finish with:
- I enjoyed the pre-race segment with Jeff Gordon and DW waxing lyrical on the Pepsi Challenger paint scheme run by the No. 24. The way DW lovingly fondled the car was amusing… but the general love-fest between the two Hall of Fame drivers was still good to see.
- I don’t have quite the same level of acrimony toward Fox and their broadcasting of the races this year (stupid, furry rodent cartoons or otherwise) as some of the writers on this fine site, but how do you have Miss America (Indiana) singing the national anthem and then never show one proper shot of her? The side view when she began singing was the only camera angle we saw. You watch; at some point in the next few weeks when some grunge band is performing, we’ll see them in glorious close-up. Seriously, Fox, seriously.
- Jimmie Johnson had some unusually harsh words on racing at Talladega in his post-race interview, saying it sucked. For me, this is a little churlish from the back-to-back-to-back Champ. Remember his unbelievable avoidance of the “Big One” in the Chase last October? How he stayed out of that crash I don’t think even he knows. Then, in the first “Big One” Sunday, Johnson again miraculously avoided the incident. He wasn’t lucky the third time, though, as the final big wreck took him out of contention. So whilst it’s good to see Jimmie Robot showing some unfettered emotion, he’s had more than his fair share of luck there recently. He’d do well to remember that good fortune — especially in the Chase.
And finally, the next time we return to Talladega it will be race six of the Chase, and race 33 of the season. The switch in schedule for the Fall race, albeit only a couple of weeks from Race 4 to Race 6, might be even more devastating this time around than it was for Carl Edwards, The Biff, and Matt Kenseth in last year’s Chase. The Champion quite possibly may be decided by the vagaries of plate racing — and you can make of that what you will.
©2000 - 2008 Danny Peters and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
I do still love plate racing. It delivers what NA$CAR says they want, parity. I like the fact that teams like the 09, & 01 can make themselves factors. My perfect plate race would be a green flag race.Where I could watch drivers work the draft, moving fwd. falling back, as the choices played out. Watching who reacted well to the pressures of green flag stops, & who cracked. The only drawback would be the ability of the mega teams to dominate, due to working together, that is if they weren’t all prima Donna’s.
“ Yes, auto racing, in whatever format, is inherently dangerous but you should not have to worry about your personal safety just because you bought seats closer to the track than those at a higher elevation.”
You are (obviously) entitled to your opinion, but I respectfully disagree. There is an inherent risk in attending almost any sport event, and the closer you sit the greater the risk. Same is true in Hockey (broken Glass), baseball…you get a warning at Sea World about it when you sit in the first 5 rows for the Orcas! People in the front row get run over at basketball games with regularity.
The venues and the sanctioning body do their best in all of these to minimize the risk, and I think in the case of auto racing they’ve done a great job.
There was a total of 1 mistake made, in my opinion, and that was mounting PA Speakers on the safety catchfence. That is what caused the only serious injury, a fractured jaw when a fan in the grandstands was hit by the PA speaker.
I will be sending an e-mail to Texas Motor Speedway (my home track) asking them to remove any non-safety devices that are mounted inside the catchfence.
Other than that one thing, all the safety equipment appeared to work as intended.
Bob Pockrass has a pretty good article on scenedaily about this as well.
I don’t know how anyone can call this 200mph demolition derby a “race.”
Skill counts for very little at this track. Though it does count for something as Jeff Gordon wouldn’t have six wins here and Jr. have five wins here on luck alone.
The incident at the finish may be the last straw for me.
Granted, Chris is right that you can die at a baseball game or a hockey game if an errant ball/puck hits you just wrong, but most fans probably don’t think they’re putting their lives on the line by going to the race.
Also, those lower seat near the catchfence are the “cheap seats.” Maybe the reason people are sitting there because they couldn’t afford seats higher up.
And, just for the record, I’ve been to somewhere between 8 and 10 races at ‘Dega, which is more than any other track. But, I doubt I’ll buy tickets for there any time soon. (I won’t say never.)
And, for the first time in several years, I’ll voluntarily miss watching a race.
Maybe if attendance and TV ratings drop enough, they’ll get rid of this travesty.
I was mesmerized by the footage of the crash, and I still love the idea of plate racing and the requirement of cooperation. But I do think it’s a huge price to pay. For those who argue that “it’s what fans want” and “it’s what fans pay to see,” I say, “Grow up.”
It’s simply lazy (not to mention life-threatening) marketing if crashes of this magnitude are the main point of differentiation.
The only possible cure for these big tracks or any race track for that matter is to move the stands more than the current twenty feet from the track. Expensive? Compared to no telling how many deaths that would occur if a car goes into the stands…CHEAP!