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 September 1, 2009
They say absence makes the heart grow fonder, and in the case of the Sprint Cup that’s certainly how I felt this past Sunday, as for the fourth and final time this season, NASCAR’s top echelon took a well-deserved weekend off from the relentless slog that is the Cup schedule. With 24 races in the books — precisely two-thirds of the full season for those so mathematically inclined — and a 12-week, 12-race swing ahead of us, there will be precious little time for reflection in the next couple of months; for by the time we next pause for collective breath, the champion will have been decided and the top 35 set headed into 2010.
How it’s all going to play out, only the good Lord knows (although don’t discount that evil genius himself Chad Knaus having some kind of inside track here). But before we get down to the serious business, I wanted to take a minute to reflect on what we’ve seen so far in the 61st NASCAR season. The conventional wisdom would tell you that 2009 has been a terrible year – an “Annus Horribilis,” if you’ll forgive me for stealing a line from Queen Elizabeth II of England, who used the phrase to describe 1992 when both of her sons (Charles and Andrew) got divorced and her second home, Windsor Castle, caught fire in a freak accident. This “wisdom” is backed up by a simple read through some of the many comments left under the articles here on the Frontstretch, plus those voiced elsewhere in the NASCAR universe.
The prevailing sentiment, then, would be that 2009 has been little short of a disaster for NASCAR, with stultifying racing brought on by the 3,400 pound beast of a car that is the CoT; a complete dearth of passing; double digit drops in TV viewership, and swathes of empty seats at venues that once sold out time and time again. Much of this is hard to argue against, and I’m certainly not going to write flowery prose trying to gloss over these issues (I’m not that stupid, despite what some of you have suggested in my previous articles.) But my question of the week remains, and that is… has this season really been that bad? I would argue that despite the avalanche of frustration-filled criticism, 2009 has been far from a disaster.
Let’s start with the race winners because after all, for those not named “Juan Points-Racing Pablo Montoya,” it’s all about winning. Think about it: When you’ve not seen a race, is your first question ever anything other than, “Who won?” Well this season, we’ve seen three debutants in Victory Lane after none in the entire 2008 season: Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano, and David Reutimann step forward and take a bow. Now, you could argue that all three wins were somewhat tainted (Keselowski sending Cousin Carl into the catchfence at Talladega, Joey and the Reut winning courtesy of the weather) but to me, that’s irrelevant. Just look at the joy, unconfined, of Brad Keselowski in particular in Victory Lane in Alabama. Or, what the race victory meant to David Reutimann and the good folks at Michael Waltrip Racing. Would Martin Truex, Jr. have been so keen to slip into the seat of the NAPA Camry had Reutimann not taken the rain-affected win at Charlotte? And then finally, we have Joey Logano’s similarly-weather afflicted victory at Loudon. I’m pretty sure that by the time Sliced Bread starts racking up wins by the bunch, no one’s going to keep harping on about his first race checkers at the Cup level coming courtesy of precipitation.
But it’s not just the novice winners. We’ve also had Denny Hamlin winning a hugely emotional one at Pocono – where it seemed his will to win in the wake of tragedy was just that bit stronger than everyone else. Plus, we’ve had Jeff Gordon breaking a long 0-fer streak at Texas and Matt Kenseth going back-to-back in the first two races of the season. Then, there’s Tony Stewart’s first points-paying victory in the first Pocono race, not to mention Kasey Kahne’s unexpected (and brilliant) win at Sonoma. As I’ve said before, if the race ends with the King in Victory Lane drinking a huge glass of claret, something good is happening. And I’ve not even mentioned the man I affectionately call the Raisin, Mr. Mark Martin; for him, each of his four victories is a cause for celebration with reasons not restricted to age.
I guess my point here is that we’ve seen some great stories in Victory Lane; and like I said at the outset of this point, it’s all about winning still, right?
Another big criticism we’ve heard a lot this year is that the middle parts of a number of races could be used as a placebo for sleeping pills. Now, it’s hard to dispute this point, but I have a question to those who watched a lot more racing than I have…when, pray tell, were the middle parts of races ever super exciting? My argument would be that it’s never been the case, but working on the “things were better in the old days” train of thought, there are those who will no doubt suggest otherwise. The honest, unfettered truth is that there will always be an element of procession to the middle couple hundred miles, as teams and drivers not named Kyle Busch work out what they’ve got and how to improve on that. The simple fact, too, is that not every race can be a classic. I don’t care what season you want to quote me, but even in the “best” year from the halcyon days I can pretty much bet a good third of the schedule ended up with races that were, shall we say, less than interesting.
Critics will also point to the reduced crowds, especially at certain venues as a sign the sport’s on a slide. But the reality is NASCAR still draws monstrously huge crowds each week. Are the numbers down? Sure. But how many people have a ton of disposable income right now? If it comes down to a choice between going to a race and paying the bills or the mortgage – well, I know what will win out time and again. As for the TV numbers, these are touted like some kind of harbinger of impending doom. To me, I’d say this is not so much a product of disenfranchised fans giving up the sport. Let’s be fair: NASCAR picked up a lot of Johnny-come-lately types following the death of Dale Earnhardt, and it was natural that this balance would be redressed. Plus, just for the record, the ratings were up (year on year) at both Michigan and Bristol, and that says something, does it not?
Yes, crowds are down, TV numbers are down, but not by significant amounts. If this trend continues over the next few years, crowds continue to thin out and TV numbers continue to ebb away, then yeah, we’ve got problems. I would posit, however, that this is not about the lack of quality racing — rather a reality of the world we’re living in. How many fans, for example, have picked up extra work at the weekend and therefore cannot watch the races? And quite frankly, how many fans time shift and watch the race later. To the best of my knowledge, that isn’t reflected in the overall numbers. Agreed, the indicators are trending downward, but the numbers aren’t in free fall just yet.
Perhaps the biggest boon this season came from an event few thought would ever happen: The Town Hall meeting between NASCAR, the drivers, crew chiefs and owners. The first upshot of what, by all accounts, was a productive and fruitful session has been the double-file restarts. Ignoring the annoying “shoot-out style” moniker the TV execs have to use, there can be no doubt the double-file procedure has vastly livened up racing. If you watched the denouement of either the second Pocono race or the race at Chicagoland and you still didn’t think that was exciting, maybe it’s time you started watching a different sport. I hear croquet can be fabulous in the summer…anyways, double-file restarts are fantastic for the sport and they’ve made a massive difference this season – especially at the end of races.
More importantly, the meetings may very well be the catalyst for future changes. Yes, NASCAR says they won’t tweak the car, but don’t bet against a quiet announcement in the dead cold of winter on tweaks for 2010. That’s just the NASCAR way in regard to something controversial. Change was needed, and the meetings and the quick implementation of the double-file restarts were the sign, hopefully, of more positive news to come.
One quick point on the CoT, too, since I bashed it earlier. Ricky Craven, who in my opinion is an absolute must-read columnist, wrote a fascinating piece last week on the purity of the CoT. Craven argues that the CoT (warts and all aside) brings purity to the sport through the severity of the rules and templates. In short, you can’t get away with cheating, and the cars are much more equal than ever before. Craven also points to the fact that the best three drivers in the last ten years are atop the standings, supporting the notion that the real drivers rise to the top. At the very least, it’s a thought-provoking piece whichever side of the argument you fall. And it definitely made me view the season differently.
Finally, as my brilliant wife loves to remind me, “it’s all about the story” and in the case of NASCAR this year, we’ve had a plethora of tasty storylines. We’ve had “WWWJ” (What’s wrong with Junior), the resurgence of Mark Martin (he hasn’t won this many races in a decade); the unexpected excellence of Stewart-Haas Racing; sustained growth for MWR; a return to form (of sorts) from Kurt Busch and Kasey Kahne; the mystifying lack of success at RCR… and that’s barely scratching the surface. In short, there’s barely been a week when there hasn’t been water-cooler material (and no, I’m definitively not talking about Mayfield here). I’m talking about on-track action – both success and failure. Now before you take me to task, I’m not blind to the fact that NASCAR has problems. Sure it does, and many need fixing sooner rather than later.
That said, though, from my very humble point, this season really hasn’t been that bad at all. Yeah, we’ve had some stinkers but we’ve also had some classic races as well and enough intrigue and interest to keep fans hooked. Plus, we’ve still got the best part of the season to go and maybe, just maybe, the best story of all – a Mark Martin Sprint Cup crown.Contact Danny Peters
©2000 - 2008 Danny Peters and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
People just don’t care as much any more….
Humanity is in “survival mode”, and NASCAR is not an essential part of life or even a luxury. It is ….just there, and although it produces immediate gratification, it provides no long term mental enrichment or intellectual stimulation.
NASCAR is an anachronism promulgated by a socially retarded hierarchy and its concept is slowly disintegrating.
A very fast sport has been very slow and reluctant to keep up with the rest of the world and this failure will ultimately result in its demise.
In answer to your headline: “Has This Season Really Been All That Bad?”
A RESOUNDING YES!
It is CRAP, smells like CRAP! If your in the bathroom, and it STINKS! Pretty soon your senses accept the stink, then you walk out for fresh air, go back in, IT STINKS!
Over time people are getting “conditioned” to this crap not stinking, but believe me, it still does. Kinda like training Pavlov’s dog!
As far as Ricky Craven, who in the hell is Ricky Craven, a guy that could not drive a race car turned writer! And he is well known to be a NA$CRAP Schill!
He says that the POS has LEVELED the playing field for the drivers!
SAY WHAT RICKY! Look at the drivers standings you friggin idiot!
And isn’t it funny, that a couple weeks after Jr. blasts the way the POS handles, that all of a sudden, we get article after article about HOW GREAT THE POS IS?
But these articles are only WRITTEN by NA$CRAP wannabees! (mmmm, not sure one writer here falls into that category!)wonder how many phone calls from International Speedway Blvd it took to get all these article published about how wonderfull the POS is! And what promises were made to those writers?
THE POS IS BRINGIN NA$CRAP TO IT’S KNEE’S.
MMMMM, while your there Brian!!!!
Good article Danny. Not sure about the rest of you folks, but when there is an ‘off’ weekend, I find myself at a loss as to what to do with my Sunday afternoons. And after the season ends, I actually start a countdown at work till Daytona. Is this sport even close to being perfect? Absolutely not, but I choose to watch it every weekend. I choose to cheer on my driver and cuss at the likes of Shrub and JJ for being the excellent drivers they are, but don’t happen to be my driver. I choose to accept the changes that NASCAR has made, i.e. – CoT, the Chase, etc., and if I don’t like the changes, I choose to make my opinions known in a more sofisticated way than what Douglas does. There’s been a lot that I haven’t liked this season, as there has been ever since I started watching the NASCAR races over a decade ago. But to me, spending a Sunday afternoon in front of the big screen TV in my NASCAR room, or a Saturday night, outside by the bonfire, with the race projected on the side of my pole barn, or those occassional lucky weekends camping at the tracks themselves, with family and friends, all cheering for different drivers, all having a good time, THAT’S what NASCAR is to me. Douglas, I’m guessing that you don’t have many people stopping by your place to watch the races with you, which, again, to me, is all part of the excitement of NASCAR. And as you state in your article Danny, there has been numerous water-cooler moments (yes, as many this year as in the past) for me on Monday’s when I get back to work. So I give a big shout out to the drivers and fans and everyone else who are still standing by NASCAR.
Given the fact that most of us view 99% of the races on tv, it’s hard to answer the question “How bad is the racing?”. We know the coverage is lacking so that will overshadow our view of the overall racing.
The second is, that if you are one of those cars that happened to hit the setup when you unloaded, then once you get out front you can drive away from the field. Even the handful of other cars that hit the setup can’t pass you because they need clean air.
I’ve been to one race this year, Dover, and I will say that that race was boring as hell. So that factors television out of it but, in all fairness, I’ve been going to Dover for the last 15 years and it seems like 1 out of every 5 races can be that way at Dover no matter what cars or rules are in effect.
Clean air has been an issue since Nascar began transitioning from the short tracks to the fan friendly track of 1.5 miles or more. The dreaded “aero-push” of the previous car was one of the reasons that the COT was developed.
Unfortunately, because of the basic shape of a car, no matter what combo of wings, dams, spoilers, flippers, you employ, at speeds over about 190, that thing’s gonna want to fly.
So if you want to see racing as it was backin the 80’s-90’s raise hell about the tracks, not the car.
Michigan, Chicago, Fontana, Texas, Atlanta, any other cookie cutter I’ve forgotten, Talledega and Daytona are either obsolete or on the verge of becoming obsolete for Nascar type racing.
That being said I dowish that Nascar would give the teams some leeway on front suspension setup.
Sometimes the races are boring but there have always been snoozers. But I’ll bet that this year there have been at least as many cars on the lead lap as any other year.
Never has the talent level been where it is today-even with it’s drawbacks Nascar is still the best show going. And drivers from all othe series know it. We’ve had guys from all other major series trying to break in. That shoul be proof enough.
Hey 24-4-5, not any more do I have groups over, or go to anyone’s house to watch NA$CRAP! We used to have a get together at my Son’s house for the Daytona 500, WHEN WE DID NOT GO IN PERSON WHICH USED TO BE FREQUENTLY.(used to go to at least four (4) races a year, MINIMUM! No longer!)
The racing SUCKS! with the POS!
I have MIS in my backyard, simply don’t go, not worth even a ten spot to get in! And on Saturday night used to go fishin’ with some of the drivers, don’t even do that anymore!
I REFUSE to accept sub-par cars, sub-par rules enforcement!
And for L Taylor, other drivers of course want to get into NA$CRAP!
But it is not about the competition as such, it is about THE MONEY!
You would drive a Mack Truck in a race if you could get a contract for $5million! Of course you would!
Don’t, please don’t, confuse money with legitimate and real racing!
I have spoken! (once again)
Have a great day all!
As usual, the great Lord Douglas knows everything—knows all, sees all, is all—because he’s a used-to be.
Anyone who disagrees with the guy is dirt—just ask him. No, wait! He’ll tell us whether anyone asks or not.
Can’t he just shut up his all-knowing self for a week or a year or so?
The COT, in my opinion, is a big part of the problem with Nascar. All of the cars look the same. There is no brand recognition anymore for the sport. This car was also supposed to get rid of the aero issue, it seems not that aero is just as bad with this car, if not worse, than with the old. How many races have we seen this year where someone can catch the leader but passing just does not seem possible. To me this year and what I foresee in the future is all downhill. With the consistent rumor of Nascar and the engine of tomorrow. They might as well make this series the IROC! That is what it seems like they are trying to do, let’s go back to the days of different manufacturers looking at least somewhat like the car on the road. Yeah, sometimes one group will figure out something to give them an advantage, but when that happens it will make the others work to figure out how to catch up! I am sick of hearing about the small teams not having the money to spend so we need to level the playing field. If that is the case then bust up the big teams and really put rules into place to keep them from having more than four cars. Tony Stewart is an owner in name only, Hendrick is the true owner of that team since all of the equipment comes from Hendrick and Tony Stewart even talks about how he and Jeff Gordon share information. The tires, when did it become normal for teams to run 100 or more miles on a set of tires? I can remember when new tires were a huge advantage, anymore it does not seem to be an issue old tire or two tires seem to be just as good as new tires if you have track position. Nascar leadership has its head in the sand and overall the media seem to be willing to play along and act like everything is ok, we are just in a slump due to the economy. While that is somewhat true, attendance is down partly due to the economy, when the economy does bounce back I see Nascar continuing to slide. More and more people view this sport as the WWF of the racing series. A caution for debris and it takes 10 laps to get back racing, that is ridiculous but seems to be the norm. Why there is a rule that pit lane has to be open to allow cars to pit if there is a caution is beyond my understanding. If someone wants to pit they have the option, but if the track is clear it is time to go back to racing. You pit under caution at your risk, green flag racing is what we pay to see. Also, the Chase and this antiquated points system needs to go. F1 to me has the best points system of any racing series. If you can’t run in the top 3rd of the cars you do not deserve points! This would also get rid of cars coming back on the track just to get points. This idiocy also with the points system, no one cars who the point leader is at during the first 26 races. So why every week do the announcers act like it is a big deal to be the point leader? They are going to reset the points when the chase starts anyway, and whoever has the most wins to start the chase is really the point leader. Right now that is Mark Martin, and he could miss the chase! Use a point system that rewards winning a race but does not kill you if you have a bad day. Just my thoughts, but I am losing interest more and more each year.
Hey jaymatt. Opinions are like….well you get the picture. We are all entitled to our opinions whether you like it or not. We used to have get togethers where we would watch nas$car. Not nay more. The sad thing is I love racing. I’ll watch damn near anything that races. But what “Nero” France has done to this sport in the last few years is sad. I still watch, but it doesn’t bother me as much anymore if I miss a race or there’s something better on. In ending all I can say if the shoe fits…..well you know what I mean.
For some people, the glass is empty no matter what you fill it up with. (insert your joke here) For the rest, they try to find some little thing to be positive about instead of being constantly negative. Thank you Danny.
How odd Jaymatt after your rant at me the other week you seem to be taking exception at someone elses opinion now ? Pots kettles and dark colour spring to mind…..
Hey midasmicah, big thanks for your comment about varying opinions, and that’s exactly what they are, opinions, pure and simple
Now, for Kevin in SoCal, here is a positive for you: I was on the road Sunday, coming back from Northern, Mi! Decided late in the day to turn on Sirius NASCAR! (since it was MRN, and they do a good job, well, better than most anyway, I will refer to them as NASCAR RADIO! (even though their owned by NA$CRAP), anyway, suprise, late in the day the NWS was still on, last couple of laps! When the announcers started describing the battle between Ambrose & Edwards, I said to myself WOW! This is what racing is all about! Me basing this comment on the fact they were driving a REAL RACE CAR, that has a REAL SUSPENSION, you know, one that moves, the drivers could control the car, the brakes worked, the car exhibited real handling characteristics, such as weight transfer, side to side, front to back, all under the drivers control, and also giving the driver feedback so he could manuever his car! Also the NWS cars do not have that DREADED REAR WHEEL HOP under braking, because their very real suspensions are able to accept the braking dynamics from the car. The POS, has a case of EXTREME REAR WHEEL HOP under braking, because it has zero suspension.
So, listeneing to the broadcast, Edwards outbraking Ambrose, Edwards diving inside Ambrose, Edwards trying the outside, then the inside, placing his car EXACTLY where he wanted to place it, brought goose bumps to me, my adrenalin was flowing, and I was excited at visualizing this battle between these two drivers, a real racing battle!
Because they had REAL RACE CARS!
The POS has no suspension, the lack of suspension causes extreme rear wheel hop under braking, the POS you just point and hope it goes that way, the driver does not have that seat-of-the-pants feel so he can manuever the car like a race car should! Did I mention the extremely high center of gravity on the POS?
YES! I got excited, the way I used to get excited about the cup cars, the OLD cup cars!
I get that “feeling” inside my body when I see/hear REAL RACING!
I want that back in the cup series!
I don’t want to watch or hear about tanks racing!
Cars that are point & shoot, hoping, just hoping the darn thing goes where your pointing it, just isn’t racing!
Next episode I will get into the aerodynamics of the POS! Another sick thing NA$CRAP could change in an instant!
Sorry—I wasn’t aware that you all had the right to speak, to lecture the masses, to pontificate; but I’m not entitled to an opinion.
Again, my profound apologies for having the audacity to say anything.
hey jaymatt, just another “Lord Douglas” comment, thanks for promoting me by the way, these days it is tough! Really tough!
On one hand you have “Lord Douglas”, on the other, your have “KING BRIAN”. So the very interesting question would be????
Who has more credibility?
Who speaks the truth?
Who speaks with forked tongue?
Can’t say much for B. France—it seems he’s made his bed w/ his actions.
Can’t say anything about you, for I don’t know enough about you—only through your comments, not actions.
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