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 November 17, 2009
The whimsical 1986 movie “Short Circuit,” starring those giants of the big screen, Ally Sheedy and Steve Guttenberg, is a story about the mad cap adventures of an artificially intelligent robot named “Number Five.” The premise of the tale sees the U.S. Military designed and owned robot brought to “life” by a freak power surge. It’s a heartwarming, if somewhat flippant tale, and those fans of the movie will certainly remember the robot at one point screaming to Ally Sheedy’s character that “Number Five is Alive!”
Relating this back to NASCAR and yeah, I bet you were wondering if I was actually going to get there, in the case of one Jeffrey Michael Gordon from Vallejo, CA, number five is not very much alive. Instead, if you’ll forgive the crass reference, Gordon’s “Drive for Five” has very much “short-circuited” all over again. Barring an alien abduction of the entire No. 48 team, the minute Jimmie J starts his engine at Homestead-Miami, Gordon’s quest for a fifth Championship will be officially over for 2009 — the eighth straight year the sport’s biggest trophy has been giftwrapped for someone else instead.
Now, at 38 years old, time is quickly running out for a man who’s well into the second half of his driving career. Suddenly, the question becomes whether can Gordon crest the hump and finally put a Sprint Cup trophy on his already burgeoning mantelpiece to go along with those four he won during the Winston era.
The answer, folks, appears to be “probably not.”
Before we get to the reasons why, let’s take a quick glance at Gordon’s incredible and impeccable credentials. For starters, he’s a four-time Cup Champion. Only the two first ballot Hall of Famers, King Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt, Sr. have won more titles with seven apiece. He sits sixth on the all-time wins list with 82 — one behind Cale Yarborough and two behind Darrell Waltrip and Bobby Allison — so by the time he hangs up his driving gloves, he should be in third place behind only David Pearson (105 wins) and Richard Petty (200 wins). He’s won, just for the record, a staggering 14.1% of the races he’s entered (580) and of active drivers only (surprise, surprise) Jimmie J ranks above him at a 16.2% clip.
Gordon also sits fourth on the all-time poles list — one behind Cale, again – and has an average finish of 12.3. He’s led 20,738 laps, won three Daytona 500’s (1997, 1999, 2005) four Brickyard 400’s (1994, 1998, 2001, 2004), including the inaugural event, and three All-Star challenges (1995, 1997, 2001). Add to this list a record nine road course victories, a restrictor-plate best 12 victories, six wins at the revered Darlington, and you’ve got one heck of a career resume to flaunt. Oh, and did I mention he’s married to the smoking hot Ingrid? OK, that’s not strictly relevant… but I felt it was worth pointing out.
In short, then, Jeff Gordon has done just about everything in NASCAR. If he never drove another lap in anger on the Sprint Cup circuit, he would go down as arguably one of the top 5 best drivers in the history of the sport. But the trouble is, you can’t help but feel Gordon won’t be truly satisfied until he gets his hands on a Sprint Cup title to go along with all the other accolades and achievements that have been the hallmark of his career.
So let’s start with his most obvious impediment: Jimmie Johnson.
With the best will in the world, there still must be days when Gordon rues the recommendation he gave Mr. Hendrick to employ Johnson some eight years ago. If it wasn’t for Johnson, he would already have had his fifth title back in 2007. After a regular season of metronomic brilliance, Gordon averaged a 5.1 finish in the Chase and had a lowest finish of 11th through ten races. But his teammate and the man he shares office space with was even better, winning four of the last five races, averaging a 5.0 finish, and running away with the title by some 77 points. In 2004, the inaugural year of the Chase, Gordon was even closer, missing out by an agonizing 16 markers over Kurt Busch when one poor finish at Atlanta really wrecked his chances. At some point, after so many near-misses, in a sport where confidence in your ability cannot be overestimated, you can start believing it’s not meant to be. Just ask Mark Martin (bless him). It’s not just Jimmie, however, as despite all the many and varied criticisms there are of NASCAR today, one thing is undeniable: The competition is better and harder than ever before in the sport’s history. That plays a role, no question, for a man who’s been there, done that for nearly 20 years in the sport.
Another factor is his life circumstances, if you’ll pardon the banal way of putting that. Let me be clear here, I’m not suggesting for a minute that the birth of his daughter Ella has made him a worse driver. I don’t have children (yet) so I can’t speak from experience here, but all my friends who do tell me the moment they had their first child their lives changed irrevocably. It’s not a reason, but it’s a factor. After all, who doesn’t make their kids a number one priority? So again, I’m not saying Gordon’s not as dedicated as he was when he had the most ridiculous piece of upper-lip facial hair in the history of mustaches, but his priorities have shifted some, and that can play into things — especially in a sport that is defined by the tenths and hundredths of a second. Keep in mind that of the 12 drivers that made the Chase this season, just three have kids.
One thing that may also play into Gordon’s quest is the hard crashes he’s sustained. All drivers who have raced as long as he has have their wrecks to remember, but this man seems to have suffered more than most. There was the 2004 crash when he plowed nose first into Andy Hillenburg’s spun out car at Darlington, after which he said “I haven’t taken a hit like that, possibly ever, and certainly not a head-on shot.” Then there was the hugely hard lick at Pocono in August 2006, and the equally fierce crash at Lowe’s Motor Speedway in 2007 when he all but took out the flagstand. In 2008, there was the wreck at Las Vegas when he hit the inside wall with great ferocity, a move which prompted the powers-that-be to install SAFER barriers to go along with those already installed on the outer walls. And last but not least, one final wreck to mention would be the unusual and violent hit he sustained at Watkins Glen in an incident with Sam Hornish, Jr. earlier this year. As I said, all drivers take hits, but you can’t help but wonder how the combined effects on all these tough crashes affect Gordon’s back, his overall health, and his long-term prognosis as a Cup driver.
The Chase format probably hasn’t helped this legend, either. While it’s fair to say he runs better than most pretty much anywhere, if you look at his statistics in terms of average finish, only six Chase tracks make his top 20 list. Given the nature of the beast that is this format and given the strength of his teammate Johnson at said Chase venues it’s not, simply put, good news.
Last week, I wrote about Jimmie needing the validation of a fourth Championship. I don’t feel it’s quite the same for Jeff. If it happens, fantastic; but if it doesn’t, then he’ll retire as one of the greatest to ever strap on a pair of racing shoes. And despite what racing-reference.info lists as career earnings of $106,758,284, he’s still hard at it each and every week — a fact not lost among his fans and No. 24 haters alike.
So the question remains, can Gordon finally win a fifth title, or will his “Drive For Five” be forever stalled at four? I wouldn’t rule him out, per se. But if I was a betting man (which I’m not, really) my money would not be on Gordon collecting the trophy he’s coveted for so long. He signed up at HMS on a “long-term, lifetime” contract, so there’s no ticking clock as far as a ride goes, but you can’t help but feel he won’t be making the 36-race slog in his fifth decade like the ageless Mark Martin.
Still, fifth championship or not, Gordon’s legacy is rock solid secure. And for a kid who only ever wanted to race, that should be solace enough when he parks his famous No. 24 Chevy for the last time.
©2000 - 2008 Danny Peters and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
Uhhh, everyone’s drive for a championship has stalled since the 48 team has hit their stride.
You mean Jeff survived very hard crashes, and was NOT driving the POS?
According to NA$CRAP, that is not possible!
That’s why we have the POS being shoved down our throats! Maybe everyone needs to look at the big picture, once and for all!
The “OLD” car was not that bad now was it?
And you could actually race it!
Jeff Gordon would be going for his 7th title on Sunday if we didnt have this chase crap
Right on “menards”!
The chase started a completely new era, old vs. new cannot even be compared anymore!
24-4-5, that’s my screen name and will be until the day Jeff either gets his 5th championship or until he retires. I don’t consider him just one of the greats, I consider him the greatest driver of this era and I see no reason that he can’t get one, two or even three more championships. Had it not been for this fricken’ CHASE points system he’d be a contender to reach Petty and Sr. Give JJ his day(s) but those can’t last every year, and when JJ starts to sway, Gordon will be there, doing what he does best …. racing!!!!
What’s most annoying to me is 2007, when Jeff had THE best 36 race season in the history of the sport (6 wins, 21 Top 5’s, 30 Top 10’s…THAT’S 30 OUT OF 36 RACES!!!!), yet didn’t win the championship! Totally ridiculous and in itself could be the sole reason nascrap is in such decline! The sport is dying a quick death!…and I don’t care at all!…the quicker, the better!!!
If he sticks with his present crew chief he has no chance at all. It seems that since he was the one that picked steve l he doesn’t want to admit that it’s not working, so i can’t see anything changing. No change, no title.
The only redeeming factor of the Chase is that it did put an end to Gordons drive for 7. He was the tip of the spear bringing in the new yuppie fan base that cared more for image and being seen as opposed to the way it used to be. I used to watch the Rainbow Brigade at the track during qualifying and as soon as their boy Gordon took the flag and was locked in the field they would all get up and leave. To them Gordon was the show, and they were not going to stick around and watch those other hillbillys.
I really miss the old days (1992-1994) when on Monday mornings we would talk about “Crash Gordon” and how he could not handle a racecar. Then on what we considered a fluke he won at Charlotte in ’94, and later that year I was in the Tower Terrace at Indy and saw the Whiz Kid win the Inagural Brickyard 400. ( I don’t think he would have won if Dale Earnhardt had not hit the wall on lap one trying to beat Rick Mast to the line to lead the first lap)
I was also at Indy in 1998,(could have been 2001, can’t remember for sure which year this happened) when Jeff forgot to flip a switch in his car and could not do a burnout with his 750hp racecar after winning. I was right there and saw with my own eyes the tell tale tire marks on the track from his failed burnout attempt and can say with certainty that he had a little something extra in his ride at that time. I’m just sayin.
I’d like to see Jeff get # 5.Keep expecting it to happen.
bad wolf, you’re obviously an idiot! Go away fool!..no one cares about your jealous hater post!
Good article DP. I so, so wish that Dale Earnhardt Jr. would have a season like Gordon in 2007, dominating but losing to the Chase. The Chase would then be gone forever in the blink of an eye.
Let’s face it the only reason everyone else is looking lame is because of the dominance of the 48.
Jeff Gordon, of who I am not a fan, would, and should, have six championships.
The chase is a complete farce.
I wish Jeff had gotten it before the 48 got going strong. I like Jeff alot and always have. I think anymore though, if the car’s not perfect, he doesn’t wanna drive it. Too picky. I guess as Jeff Gordon you can be picky but really….I mean. Get up on that wheel and make it happen Jeff.
BTW, I hope the 48 wins 15 in a row! Go Jimmie!!!!!
Hey 24-4-5, please define the following: “him the greatest driver of this era”.
“THIS ERA” to be exact.
I am neither a JG lover or hater, or even in between, but certainly applaud the talent level he has! Has been good for the sport for sure.
Hey Turnip, my interpretation of ‘this era’ is pretty much anything this side of say the early 90’s, when NASCAR was starting to become more than just a quick segment of highlights on ESPN. This ‘era’ in my opinion only, consists of JG, Smoke, Waltrip, Sr. and Jr., Rudd, Labonte, Marlin, Martin, JJ, and so many others, both recently retired or recently,within the past few years, hired (i.e. Shrub and Logano). I honestly can say that I wasn’t into NASCAR much while living in Florida, in the 80’s, but when I moved back to Michigan in the early 90’s I started following the sport more and became a fan. I’ll stay a fan, even the way the France family is taking NASCAR down the drain, but I’ll stick with it, because I know it’ll get better .. it’ll take some time and a lot of people in the heirarchy getting fired, but it will happen!!
Jeff would have had 6 championships running the good old fashioned way of whoever can be the best over 36 races not ten. to have to have points given to you to catch up with the leader so you win a championship is not right.
Been a Gordon fan ever since he started dusting the #3 and making Sr fans turn red from anger. I think Jeff’s championship days are over. I honestly think he struggles with the COT and it is sad when he says he is happy with just a top 5 finish.I’ve heard that more than once from him. His great days are behind him. Maybe I just expect too much from him now because of his past.
Hey 24-4-5, thanks for your interpretation of “this era”!
Have to mull it over where JG would stand in my mind of all drivers of this “era”!
Oh, Michigan here also by the way.
I will say however I certainly don’t agree NA$CRAP is going to change anytime soon. It is a family business, the family happens to be the CEO, and presently calls ALL the shots! Guys like Helton, Darby, etc., say nothing, do nothing without King Brain Farces blessing and in fact DIRECTION!
So firing, or whatever, the lower rung of management, will do nothing to change the culture of the entire NA$CRAP organization.
Pass the bottle please!
Jeff would have 5 Championships and Jimmie would have 2 if you look at the year he beat Jimmie by the old points Jimmie had a huge lead in late August and he ran expermental engines and had 2 blow up which allowed Jeff to catch up without the Chase Jimmie would not have done that. The other thought it is a good thing he did not talk Rick into hiring Tony Stewart he would really be getting pounded.
Hey 24-4-5 you better hope Mark files for Social Security because he will win 1 before Jeff wins number 5 and forget Jimmie he will have 10 before Jeff gets number 5.
If Jr. had those stats in 07, the chase would have been gone retroactive to 06 and Jr. would have his championship.
And Bobby has one more win than DW. He finally got credit for his win in a MUSTANG on August 6,1971 at Bowman Gray Stadium. It is causing DW no end of aggravation.
Keith, sorry dude, can’t agree with you. OK, maybe MM will get his first before JG gets his official 5th, but I have faith in my driver. Look where he’s at in the standings. You don’t get that far by not being able to race a car. He’ll have his time, again, and I’ll be the first to say “I told ya so” :-) Have a great week everyone and let’s hope the last race of the season leaves us wanting more next year .. cuz honestly, this year wasn’t all that great.
he still has a few good years left!! if he ever quits driving that will be the end of nascar for me unless he starts his own team, which i would love to see!! but i still want him drive until at least 50!! And he needs to think about a new crew chief.