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 October 27, 2009
The last time we raced at Martinsville, it was the sixth race of a then nascent 2009 season. Hope still sprung eternal back then: Four-time champion Jeff Gordon led the points by some 89 markers; Stewart-Haas Racing was still a fledgling operation of which not much was expected, and Mark Martin had just recorded back-to-back top 10s after two 40th place runs and another 31st place effort in the first five races, whereas Kevin Harvick — who has suffered through the sort of year not even his worst enemy would wish on him — was in 10th place in the standings.
But fast forward some seven months to last Sunday’s return to the track in the shadow of the Blue Ridge Mountains, and there’s really three words that sum up where we are right now: Jimmie flipping Johnson. As of today, Jimmie has a 118-point lead over evergreen HMS teammate Mark Martin, and he’s well on his way to an unprecedented fourth straight crown. At least, though, he didn’t make it four for six this past weekend, and that’s where I’ll start today:
HAMLIN SHOWS WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN
A hometown win restored some luster to Denny Hamlin’s season, but after a pair of horrendous finishes at Auto Club Speedway (driver error) and Charlotte (engine expiration), taking the checkers at the famed old paper clip was just the tonic a struggling No. 11 team needed. Of course, it’s a case of far too little, far too late as the team of the senior Joe Gibbs racer sits a huge 350 some points out of first place, and the only way Hamlin can make that up is if he kidnaps Chad Knaus for the next month. So with another chance at the title slipping by the wayside, the only thing left to do for the driver of the FedEx Camry is to go out and challenge for wins — and that’s exactly what he did at Martinsville, a track he knows oh so very well from his late model days. Hamlin was the in-race reporter for the afternoon, and he made a telling comment earlier in the broadcast about how once a driver figures out a feel for a track and turns some fast laps, that “feel” (or technically setup, if you prefer) is much easier to find next time. Clearly, Hamlin found that feel Sunday, leading the last 138 laps on his way to a Virginia double (he also won the Richmond race back in September.)
STEWART’S TITLE DREAMS ARE JUST THAT: DREAMS
After an unexpected and brilliant regular season, the Chase has not been particularly kind to Tony Stewart (his win at Kansas notwithstanding.) It’s not that Stewart has raced poorly, especially when you consider he has an average finish of 8.5 and a worst run of 14th in the six Chase races to date, but he still sits some 192 points of the Champion-elect Jimmie Johnson and barring a calamity for the No. 48 (which, let’s not forget, could still happen this weekend on the high banks at ‘Dega) the sport’s newest owner/driver looks like he’ll have to settle with a top 5 overall finish. Now, I’d imagine if you went back and asked Tony if that would be a successful season before the green flag at the Daytona 500, he’d have taken it in a nanosecond. But given how well and how consistently he ran over the first 26 races (and the fact that he still retains an 85-point lead in the “traditional” standings) you can’t help but wonder if at some point this winter, Smoke might just sit down and wonder what could have been in 2009. That being said, it’s onward and upward for the fledgling Stewart-Haas team as we look toward 2010.
CURSE LIFTING AT TALLADEGA
This past week, a local Alabama medicine man by the name of Robert Thrower conducted an ancient ceremony, using a bowl filled with tobacco, red cedar, everlasting (rabbit tobacco) and wild sage at the 2.66-mile long circuit, the intention of which was to restore balance to the land surrounding the famed superspeedway, which, as you probably know, has a well-earned reputation for being cursed. Given the litany of disasters and freak occurrences that have surrounded the track, and those who race on the unforgiving hard banks, it is to be hoped that the ceremony does indeed restore some much needed equilibrium as this Sunday’s race, more than perhaps any other race in the brief history of the Chase, could be a game changer for both the champion elect and its presumptive challengers. Curse or not, Talladega should be compelling viewing, and that’s fantastic given the paucity of quality in so many races this year.
DOES IT MATTER THAT CASEY MEARS HAD A FEW “RELATIVELY” GOOD WEEKS?
After a 7th place finish at Charlotte, the announcers made the point during Sunday’s race broadcast that there was much excitement swirling around the No. 07 team. Well, color me confused, but I don’t really get it. Just look in the dictionary for a definition of NASCAR mediocrity, and you’ll see a picture of Casey Mears. In 248 races he’s won once (and that was a fuel mileage gamble,) had 11 further top 5s and another 45 top 10 runs. And he’s led just 389 of the 68,927 laps he’s run at Sprint Cup level. For those of you of a mathematical persuasion, that’s 0.006% (and I’m rounding up). It’s not like he hasn’t had the equipment, either (just look how well Martin has run in the No. 5 car). Yes, it’s fair to say the whole RCR team has pushed water up a hill all season long, and Mears is already on his third new crew chief of the season, but the truth is he has never consistently proved he can be anything but an also-ran at the Sprint Cup level. His erstwhile sponsor Jack Daniels, who will exit the sport at the end of the season, seems to agree. I’m not saying that is all Mears’ fault… but at some point, his talent has gotta be a factor. One final point: If Casey didn’t have such a famous last name, would he be even remotely near top-level Cup equipment? I think not.
THE MAN MOST LIKELY TO KILL NASCAR
I always feel a twinge of guilt when I lay into the No. 48, but I’ve read too many articles recently from Johnson apologists telling me I should be enjoying and lauding the efforts of the back-to-back-to-back Champ and how his dominance is not boring. Well, I’m sorry… but it is. I’m generally very optimistic toward our beloved sport, but the soul-crushing dominance of double J is not, repeat not, going to attract new fans. In fact, it’s going to do the opposite. In a sport where winning is a rare commodity, Johnson has made it look scary easy, and that just isn’t good. I don’t doubt his brilliance or the evil genius of Chad Knaus, it just makes me want to turn off the television every time Johnson takes the lead — and I can bet you that’s what thousands did on Sunday before Hamlin wrested the lead away and drove off for his second victory at Martinsville. Given the parlous state of NASCAR this year, the last thing we need is Johnson snoozing his way to the title. If he wins, well, he does deserve it. But the sad thing is outside of the family, friends, and fans of the 48 no one else is going to be watching, and it’s only going to hurt the long-term prognosis for a sport that is already lurching from one crisis to the next.
©2000 - 2008 Danny Peters and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
Thank you for the article. While, I like you, think JJ probably deserves this Championship…I also, like you, am bored to tears with the racing. Is this JJ’s fault? If it were Junior (whom I’m not a big fan of) or Stewart or Gordon..or even Kyle winning for the 4th time..it would probably be more exciting…. Sorry..but there is just something ho hum about JJ..and…there’s that old saying…“be careful what you wish for you just might get it” and to me that is what has happened with Chad Knaus. He continued to “push the envelope” and was caught on the wrong side of NASCAR with fines and penalties..and for alot of fans that will always overshadow his accomplishments. I will watch Dega this weekend…it’s always an exciting race..but doubt I will do much more then channel surfing for the final races. Also..speaking of Stewart..there was always a question of will Hendrick still give Stewart Haas the same quality engines when the Chase started…a few weeks before the Chase it seemed the cars just didn’t have the power they once had..they don’t seem to get off the line as quick as they once were…. don’t know..just wondering did Hendrick “up” their Chase chances by giving Stewart Haas the “second tier” engines?????
LOL,It’s NOT Jimmie Johnson’s fault,He did not come up with the hare brained chase idea.NASCAR did that to themselves.That said,GO Jimmie!!
I bet (hope) that Nascar reevaluates it’s current Chase points format and changes it to:
1. points awarded to only to the Chase contenders finishing in the top ten of a Chase race, e.g.
01 = 10
If, say everybody’s favorite dominator Jimmy Johnson wins and Montoya finshes 5th, and Hamlin finishes 11th, then Johnson gets 10 points, Montoya gets 5, and hamlin gets zero. If the next week only Montoya finishes in the Chase points (say 2nd) then he gets points and nobody else does.
It would tighten the points, make drivers try to race and finish high and wouldn’t put anyone out of the Chase until deep into the ending races.
2. Allow a “Bounty” for non-Chasers for racers who win races, extra money and other incentives, say something like a guaranteed starting sport for the next season. Which leads me to:
3. Allow only race winners and the top ten (twelve) in the Chase be guaranteed spots for the next year races, and…
4. Revamp the points system so that only points go to the top twenty finishes in any one race (with the finishers from 20th on back getting the same points from 21st through 30th, then the next group gets the minimum points.
And in the Chase races you could always do an inverted start, putting all the Chasers at the back of the field with the leader starting dead last, etc.
Make it interesting, y’know?
It’s not Jimmie’s bland personality or Chad’s rep as a cheater that makes the 48 team’s dominance so unbearable for me, it’s the fact that big money is essentially determining the championship. When how well a driver does on the track is totally the result of how much money his car owner has to spend, it makes it difficult to care about a team’s accomplishments. And I’d feel the same way if any of the Roush drivers were going for a fourth straight championship.
Hey, JJ: How about this for a thought—do away with the stupid chase, and let standard points system determine the championship. It worked for years.
Great article! I believe there is more to it then just Jimmie’s bland, Ho-hum personality. It’s also the fact he had not had a single stretch of bad luck since he has been in the sport. All drivers have had months or a season long stretch of mediocrity, or bad luck. Jimmie has never had that. All he has experenced his entire career, is amazing luck and top of the heap running race cars. He has had bad races in a season, but they are far apart and very rare. He has never had to deal with an off season, or a run of bad luck, so he is Ho-hum and boring talking about his career and himself. Maybe he is that way, because he has never had to deal with bad luck. If he could just experince some of the same bad luck his teammatea Dale Jr, or Jeff always seem to have, I’m sure his personality would change.
I’m so sick of effin’ jimmmie johnson and so is everyone else!!!!!! Hopefully, he goes straight into the wall on the first lap this sunday!
I agree with carl d. The gap between the rich and the poor has gotten to the point where you know whose going to be in the top ten and whose going to be out to lunch. Money talks. It might as well be called the Hendricks cup. When I switch to the race (which is not very often nowdays) and see Johnson in front of a follow the leader parade, I switch back to what I was watching. Football. Also in football the other 20 teams are not on the field. Same with other sports. How many start and park teams will there be next year. nas$car will be lucky to have enough cars to fill the field. I’ve really tried to stay interested this year, but I, like a lot of other long time fans, have started to turn away. Also, I’m tired of beating a dead horse and also, like a lot of other long time fans, seeing nothing change. Just a few knee-jerk reactions. I’m just sad and tired for the sport.
One last thing. Don’t the empty seats at the races every week-end tell nas$crap anything? Something has to change and soon. And if that means starting another racing league, so be it. Like maybe a stock car racing series.
You know, I’m not a fan of the 48 bunch. You have to admit though that they have done a good job of exploiting the chase format. I don’t really think it’s that they are so much better than the other teams, just that they’ve put in a lot of time concentrating on the chase races. I’m not really sure what the cure should be. The guys on the 48 team have just put the effort in where it needs to be for the final 10 races. Sure it’s boring. I also find it annoying to see the 48 finish so good every week. It won’t last, and we can take comfort in that. The proof is right there at Hendrick. Remember how annoyed a lot of fans got in the 90’s when Jeff Gordon was winning so often? I guess it’s just Johnsons turn to annoy the fans.
Not only does Jimmie winning turn off people, but chevy winning 2/3rds of the races so often also turns off people.
I applaud Chad and JJ for finding the winning formula with the new system. Maybe another reason for the lack of interest in Johnson winning his ‘4th straight title’ is that many of the fans who have been watching Nascar for more than 5 years just don’t believe that winning 4 titles because of a 10 race playoff is as compelling as having to do so over an entire season. Definitely not the same, thus not really ‘beating’ Cale Yarborough’s record. Not even close.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, JJ’s Chumpionships are as legit as a steroid fueled home run record. Do the same without Knaus and maybe I’ll become a believer, but I doubt I have to worry about that.
Hendrick should put Jr. in the 48 and JJ in the 88 and see if Jr can drive for Knaus and crew. Yes, I know it will never happen but a champ 4 years in a row is bad for the sport.
i think midasmicah hit the nail on the head. ive also just tried to stay interested this year, but the racing has become too predictable, and the NFL is alot better now by leaps and bounds. i figured the talladega race might be an exception with it being restrictor plate and what not, but no, they managed to screw that up too, and the giants’ lopsided win over the eagles even made my eyes wider than the race did. that COT needs a list of problems a mile long fixed fast, because the safety is about all it has going for it. i guarantee all those empty seats arent just because of the economy, its because something is missing from the racing. its really sad when watching 40-17 final score NFL games proves to be better than a race, i never imagined id feel that way because it wasnt like this a few years ago; nascar was always better. but not anymore.