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 · Monday June 14, 2010
With Denny Hamlin’s second straight victory – and fifth overall in the last ten races – there are plenty of people who are getting ready to crown the No. 11 wheelman as 2010 Champion, a full 12 races before we even get started on the big old Chase shebang. Clearly, Hamlin is on a tear, but it’s ludicrously premature to be crowning him just yet.
And speaking of hasty, rash, and ill-considered predictions, it beggars belief that even the fans of Jimmie Johnson are already falling all over themselves to write off the four-time Champion. Folks, he’s had a bad month or so. He’s still the presumptive champ. It speaks volumes for the knee-jerk, non-thinking reaction of the world we live in today that after a poor spell Double J’s already considered yesterday’s news. Come now, people. Come now. That said, it’s fair to say that Johnson winning what would be an unprecedented fifth straight Championship is not what the sport needs — in terms of raising the waning popularity, bringing fans back to the grandstands, and encouraging those who’ve switched off as of late to turn back on their televisions.
So who would be the best Champion for the sport of NASCAR in 2010? I’m not talking here, I should add, about who will be atop the points standings post-Miami; rather, I’m speaking about who would be the best ambassador for the sport at a time when NASCAR needs all the good news it can get. I will, however, inject a modicum of sensibility here by only considering the top 21 drivers in the current points standings as realistic contenders. Anyone beneath Kasey Kahne would require an almost biblical-style miracle to find themselves in serious contention this season.
There is, of course, an obvious answer to the question I’m posing, and to be fair this entire article could just be two words: Dale Junior. The 12-year HMS veteran of some 378 races is the undisputed Most Popular Driver and a (long-awaited) Championship for the sport’s most famous son would be lauded the length and breadth of the country. Not to mention the fact that Junior has great crossover potential – meaning his is a name that even non-NASCAR fans know.
If not Junior, then, who would make a great story and raise the profile of the sport as the 2010 champ? Up next is the venerable veteran, the raisin man himself, Mr. Mark Martin. For him to finally cross the threshold would be one of the greatest stories in the sport’s rich and illustrious history. In fact, I’d posit we wouldn’t have had a champion with quite such a tale since Alan Kulwicki all the way back in 1992. Yes, Martin is running in the best equipment, but for him to finally get it done after so many years of coming close would be fantastic. One note of caution: We’d have to hear for weeks and months from the know-nothing talking heads about how “weird” it is a fifty-something year old can win in NASCAR. Those in the know would, of course, disagree completely (and rightfully so.)
Outside of Junior and Mark Martin, who else would make a great champion for NASCAR? Well, a fifth title at the ninth time of asking for the original four-time, Jeff Gordon, would certainly be a compelling story. Like Junior, Gordon is a crossover star, at ease appearing on Regis & Kelly as he is turning laps at Michigan or Pocono. Carl Edwards is another name that springs to mind in this category, as is Kasey Kahne – although on current form, it looks as if both will have to wait another year, at least. A third championship for Tony Stewart – in his second year as an owner/driver – would be another great story for NASCAR and the media-savvy, irascible, and humorous Smoke would have that same type of national appeal, no question.
Then there’s that Colombian fella: Juan Pablo Montoya. Now, it’s probably fair to say there would be a contingent among the fan base that wouldn’t want to see a foreigner win a Cup title, but in my humble opinion a Championship for Montoya would be an extremely positive story for NASCAR. His appeal to the Hispanic audience would only help bring the sport to a new base of fans (and given the way fans are turning off in droves of late, this could only be good.) Plus, it’s not like he’s come over from Formula One and dominated – far from it, in fact – so that would at least silence some of the snobs from the world’s premier open-wheel series.
Next, there’s the trio of Richard Childress racers. A championship for the man who replaced the late, great Dale Earnhardt – Kevin Harvick – would be a wonderful story. As indeed would a title after 18 years of trying for Senator-elect Jeff Burton. Likewise for Clint Bowyer, who has come close in the past (he finished third in 2007 and fifth in 2008). And speaking of good old boys, a title for Ryan Newman would be a popular pick. Let’s not forget the Biff, either, who with a Sprint Cup title would become the first driver ever to win a title at all three of NASCAR’s premier racing series. No doubt The Biff, with his laconic humor and laid-back demeanor, would be a fine spokesman for the sport.
Aside from the drivers I’ve already discussed, is there anyone who would be a worse choice for champ than Jimmie Johnson? I’d argue there would be two. I’ll start with the 2004 champ Kurt Busch. Clearly, the Penske Racer is on fine form this year, plus he was the highest finishing non-HMS driver in 2009, but I’d argue that a title for Kurt would be at best ignored and overlooked — at worst extremely unpopular. Another driver I’d put in this category is the last champion under the original points method in 2003 – Matt Kenseth. Now, I know there are plenty of fans of the No. 17. But this man, let’s not forget, is a driver whose championship prompted the powers that be to go to the ill-conceived Chase format in the first place. What would happen if he won again? I shudder to think. Plus, have you ever seen the guy smile? Thought not.
All of which leaves us with the three Gibbs Racers: Denny Hamlin, Joey Logano, and Kyle Busch. It’s probably still a little early for Joey, who will be a champion one year soon, I’d wager, but for the other two drivers a 2010 title is very much a real possibility. I’ll start with Kyle. Forget about the argument about a new/old KB, what is undeniable this year is that Busch is stringing together solid finishes — even top 5s — in races in which he would have imploded last year. He’s a real and genuine threat for the title. But would he be a good champ? Talent-wise, sure, but he’d be a divisive figure. Then again, as Oscar Wilde once said, “too much attention is better than none at all,” and there’s no doubt a Kyle Busch Championship would bring attention.
All of which leaves me with Denny Hamlin. The trendy pre-season pick to dethrone the Jimmie-bot started slowly, had serious knee surgery, and since then has gone on an absolute tear. What’s key for Hamlin is that he’s winning on different kinds of tracks; no longer a flat track bully, that bodes well for the entire No. 11 team. So would Denny be a good champion, and would it be a good story? Yes, definitely. Not as much as Junior, Mark Martin, etc. but he’d be a good pick nonetheless. That’s a crucial factor as the sport has stumbled, of late, in terms of popularity, at-track attendance, and the all-important TV ratings.
Of course much of this is conjecture, and to be scrupulously fair, shaded by my own personal opinions. So if you think I’ve got it wrong, don’t hesitate to tell me why. Who do you think would be the best 2010 Champion for NASCAR, and whom do you think would be a worse choice than Jimmie? Let me know.
And finally, just in case you haven’t noticed, my dear NASCAR brethren, the world’s largest sporting event — the 2010 FIFA World Cup — is currently under way. As a proud Englishman, last Saturday’s draw with the USA was not the result I was hoping for (especially as I work in soccer here in the States), not by any stretch of the imagination. So, to all my Team USA-supporting soccer fanatic friends, congrats on your draw (or “win against the Brits” – not the English, as was the case according to Sunday’s New York Post). You deserved your point – keeper calamity or otherwise. Next time, pre-game, I’ll keep my mouth firmly shut. Promise. Still, could have been worse: at least we didn’t lose.
Enjoy the games, folks. The World Cup is all kinds of special.
©2000 - 2008 Danny Peters and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
“So who would be the best Champion for the sport of NASCAR in 2010? I’m not talking here, I should add, about who will be atop the points standings post-Miami; rather, I’m speaking about who would be the best ambassador for the sport at a time when NASCAR needs all the good news it can get.”
Well, if it’s not going to be the guy who actually wins the points championship, I’ll go with U2 frontman Bono.
Seriously, the championship isn’t about character or pedigree, it’s about winning races and being consistent on the racetrack. For all the other qualities, that’s why we have the Most Popular Driver award.
The answer is obviously Danica. She would bring all of the right publicity to the sport and a little bit of much-needed credibility. The sex-appeal doesnt hurt either.
Yes, Danica as 2010 Cup champion. Considering that she hasn’t been in a Cup race yet, if she won the 2010 title I think there actually might be a little bit of a credibility problem there.
In one word: JR.
Hahahahahahahaha… Jr. Thats funny! Thanks for brightening my day at work. I needed that.
I’ll make your day even brighter VolcanoNacho, Jr would indeed be the best champion for 2010. Like it or not, there it is. Nascar would explode with viewers and track attendees.
If you combine someone who has a decent chance of winning it this year with someone who would be a great ambassador for the sport, I think I’d have to pick Jeff Burton, closely followed by Mark Martin. Greg Biffle might be my third choice, and the fact that he would become the first to win all 3 top nascar titles would certainly be a good story!
P.S. I really enjoyed this article. So many articles (on this website and others) seem to be about the same kind of stuff a lot of the time, but this one was different and creative.
Really good article. I just think the wave arounds, debris cautions, 3 G-W-C’s and Chase format turn it into a crap shoot. It makes it interesting but the best team will not always prevail. If you accept the format, I think it does not really matter who wins, they are most likely to deserve it at least in the eyes of the racing gods. I think most fans do not truly realize how difficult it is to even repeat with all these changes. I will still be rooting for JJ.
Yeah most articles tend to be about actual race cars, actual races, and actual championships. But since there’s a desire for more “creative” columns I’d like to suggest columns about which driver would win “Dancing with The Stars”, whether Nascar drivers prefer Lady Gaga or Lady Antibellum, and holiday decorating tips by the Frontstretch staff.
Kurt Busch is my choice!!!
Well if we are nominating people that have have no chance of winning a championship this year or any year in the future… sure… I’ll back Dale Jr. I’ll also back Dansmom and Jared from the subway commericals.
Heck, Danica Patrick has a better shot at winning a championship in the future.
@Carl D – It never fails to amaze me how folks who don’t like my columns feel the need to come back and comment for a second time – just to reinforce what they didn’t like. I refer you to the Oscar Wilde line in the article… As for holiday decorating tips, I always find colorful bunting works well and I’m definitely a Lady Gaga fan….
I’d rather be Dale Jr.‘s crew chief as he wins this imaginary title. Shoot, even Junior’s crew chief gets more TV time than half the field!
It’s not that I don’t like your columns… generally I do. This one felt like filler. But I see your point about multiple posts; it’s valid, and I’ll be the first to man up when I’m wrong. Point taken.
One thing I always found appealing about NASCAR was that it prided itself on being a family sport. The drivers were regular folks like us. I feel like that isn’t as apparent as it was when I got hooked in the late ’90’s.
To get back to that, I think we need a “regular guy” driver, someone who is (generally) low-key, whose kids are with him at the racetrack, because most of the fans out there probably can’t identify with 25 year old guys who think they’re hot stuff and wouldn’t want to live next door to them, go to a barbeque with them, etc.
Jeff Burton and Juan Montoya are my suggestions. If I’m going to be camping out on a race weekend, I want the people in the camper next to mine to be more like the Burtons and less like the Busches.
Side note: I can see Denny Hamlin as being a good “underdog” sort of story… get knee surgery, come back with something to prove… but I can also see it as more ammo for the “drivers aren’t athletes” crowd. If Hamlin wins it, I can imagine people saying, “look, a guy with a bum knee can win in this sport!”
Your comments about Kenseth and Kurt Busch are disgusting.
This article has no merit.
Hey Ferris (where have I heard that line before…) If you don’t like what’s written why don’t you offer up an actual point of view rather than being a hater… If you really think the #2 and/or the #17 would be good choices, explain why rather than being abusive…..