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.
Danny Peters · Tuesday November 9, 2010
In the past decade or so, the preponderance of mile-and-a-half, “cookie-cutter” circuits added to the NASCAR docket has been the subject of much controversy and hand-wringing angst amongst the rank and file that fill the stands week-in, week-out. The argument goes that these races are little more than 500-mile processions, more dependent on aerodynamic factors than the actual innate ability of the wheelman to navigate the track. From time to time, that’s certainly been the case, although let’s be fair; I don’t care what sport you like, not every game, match, race, etc. is going to be epic. Sport doesn’t work that way and frankly, nor should it. But give credit where credit is due because Sunday’s AAA Texas 500 was an absolute barnstormer of a race – an instant classic – some of the best competition we’ve had all year, without question. So let’s start this Tuesday’s edition of “Five Points to Ponder” with the big winner of the weekend: Chesterfield, Virginia’s very own Denny Hamlin and what his victory has meant in the 2010 championship Chase.
ONE: “It’s on…”
After four straight years of finding new and unique ways to decimate his Chase chances, Denny Hamlin sits in the catbird’s seat with just two races remaining. From the minute this playoff started, the No. 11 team, lead by the unflappable, calm guiding hand of veteran crew chief Mike Ford, has approached each race with a plan (and an expected finish). It’s a tactic that’s served Hamlin extremely well, thus far, although the real challenge is still to come. With two races to go, Hamlin has everything in place to win a maiden championship, but needs to withstand a likely charge by the No. 48 in Phoenix (where Johnson has four career victories) and the pressure of being the possible point leader heading into Homestead to get the job done.
At this point, though, why can’t Hamlin pull it off? Perhaps, more importantly, you sense that this season is the one where Hamlin has finally matched his burgeoning talent with the mental fortitude necessary to pull it all together when it counts. Fact is, even if he doesn’t win the championship and Double J picks up an unprecedented fifth crown (or Harvick pulls off his own first title), Hamlin has proved this year he has the patience and the cojones needed — unlike his irascible stablemate, Kyle Busch, which is where we’ll go next.
TWO: “Kyle, please, stop. We work too hard…”
So said crew chief Dave Rogers over the radio to his ranting driver on his anniversary of assuming head wrench duties for the No. 18 car. Now, there is a line of thought that suggests if Kyle was going to melt down, he did it at the right time — the race was lost, and the championship, too. But the truth is until Busch learns to control his emotions, he’ll never sit at the top table in his hometown of Las Vegas at the end-of-season banquet. No one can deny Busch’s indisputable mastery of a racecar, but flipping off the NASCAR official when you’re legitimately caught for speeding smacks of both immaturity and desperation. To some extent, it’s understandable – fans want the drivers to show emotion – but as with life, there is a time and a place for these sort of reactions and that was not, repeat not, the way to do it despite the fact that it was deeply amusing. Simply put: talent, however outrageous, will only take you so far. For an example, Busch needs only to look at his JGR stablemate to see how things can turn around, Hamlin’s immaturity eliminated with the reward of a possible title in 2010.
Busch has got two more races to start righting his own ship. Will he? Doubt it. Should be fun to watch either way.
THREE: Two unlikely pugilists…
While we’re on the topic of amusing things to watch, how unexpectedly cool was the fight between Senator Jeff Burton and the original four-time, Jeff Gordon? To see two veterans go at it like kids in the schoolyard, following Burton’s asinine move shoving the No. 24 into the wall in what was a clear fit of pique was as shocking as it was scintillating television. You have to hand it to Gordon for expressing his emotion (and wasn’t this the definition of “Have At It, Boys.”) Boy, what I wouldn’t give for a recording of the conversation in the ambulance on the way to the infield care center. The bigger picture, of course, is that these were two drivers who know their chances of running for a championship (yes, a fifth in Gordon’s case) had long since evaporated in 2010. The only real shame was that the zealous NASCAR officials got involved, too quick. I’d have loved to see some more action. Maybe there’s an offseason cage “rematch” in their future? Good times, folks…
FOUR: Dr. Evil makes a huge mistake…
Love him or hate him, the one thing no true NASCAR fan can deny about Chad Knaus is that he is an absolute master of strategy and forward planning – a crew chief savant, if you will. So, to see him switch up the No. 24 and No. 48 pit crew midway through the race was just mind-boggling. I don’t care what Knaus says afterwards about the two teams working symbiotically, that move was one of the strangest I’ve ever seen in my time in NASCAR. Yes, Harvick and Bowyer swapped pit crews in the Chase, but that was during the week. I’m not sure there is even a precedent for this swap (although I’m sure some nice reader will tell me why in the comments below, if it is indeed the case.) Now we learn that this move marks a permanent switch for the final two races of the season. Mystifying! Of course, if Jimmie wins out, as we know full well he can, he’ll win his fifth straight and everyone will be heralding Chad as a total genius. While that still may very well happen, you can’t help but feel a little bad for the now discarded No. 48 team crew. Bet the Monday morning meeting was a right bundle of laughs, huh? And speaking of laughs…
FIVE: Good job, Elliott Sadler…
As I’ve admitted in the past, Sadler’s form (or lack thereof, to be more accurate) has been low-hanging fruit for me as a columnist. I’ve poked fun and picked mercilessly on the veteran of some 427 races. I’m happy, then, to report on a weekend that was, despite a 23rd-place finish, a real promising one for the new father. First up was the news that Sadler will pilot the No. 2 CitiFinancial Chevy for KHI for the next two years in the Nationwide Series. As the man himself tweeted following the announcement: “Can’t thank you fans enough for your support. Means a lot!! Great day for Elliott Sadler fans.” Second, the pole position for the Cup race – his first since 2006 and just the eighth of his career – was icing on an already blossoming cake. “I’m looking for my first championship as a driver,” said Sadler. “We’re definitely going to win some races.” Here’s hoping…
And finally, one last point:
As a Brit living in Manhattan this past decade, whenever folks find out I cover NASCAR they look at me with a mix of sympathy, curiosity, and bemusement. This weekend I sat down to watch the race with someone who’s never seen it before and had wondered what all the hype was about. Suffice it to say, my brilliant friend is already a convert after just one 500-mile event. And that, gentle readers, is a very fine thing: a very fine thing indeed.
©2000 - 2008 Danny Peters and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
Danny, I can’t remember a single other instance of a crew chief benching the pit crew in any series in the last 30 years.
Time will tell, but I think Chad was smart to bench the crew. Sometimes even the best teams just don’t have it that day, and if you have the opportunity to, you sit them down for a while. It’s not telling them they suck, it’s just, hey, you don’t have it today.
If the new pit crew gains the #48 team spots in the pits over the final two races and if the #48 team wins the championship, Knaus will be be called the most brilliant crew chief in Nascar history.
The change of pit crews just points out that jeff gordon is #2 in hendrick. Gordon had better start fighting for his #1 spot in hendrick instead of wasteing his time battleing jeff burton.
Since i don’t agree with this crew swap, I will just pray that the Gordon crewmen, have balls and have really slow stops the next two weeks…..after all they are “brothers” with the crew they are replacing. And NO respect left for Jeff Gordon allowing this to happen…The felon Rick has done something to the whole of racing if they are allowed to get away with this!!! I don’t watch much anymore anyway, so I can now go to just reading Frontstretch for info……..
Bingo. The crew switch was a much bigger insult to Gordon than to Jimmie’s crew. “Hey, Jeff, JJ and Chad need your team… hope you don’t mind, since you don’t get a vote anyway.”
I still cannot believe that Nascar let them switch pit crews during the middle of a race!!!
Didn’t Ricky Rudd “fire” his pit crew during a race (he was the team owner) and tell his crew chief to find new people?
Hopefully karma will suitably penalize JJ & Chad for failing to “dance with the ones what brung ya” for the final two races. How is it suddenly they suck after being great all year? I think Dr Evil finally pushed it too far with those guys and they kicked back. I also will be interested to see how JG’s crew react the first time Chad gets on their case for a mistake – because they WILL make a mistake…
AJ Foyt fired his crew on TV at Daytona. They forgot to put the pin in that held the steering wheel on. Needless to say the interview was done at the infield care center.
Just for the record Jeff is a company man. If he has a tatoo anywhere I’d bet it says HMS. And you know what, he should be a company man. If someone gave me the opportunity and equipment to become as rich as Gordon is, I’d be a company man too. Now, who out there will tell me that if someone gave you 20 million dollars you wouldn’t let them tattoo their initials on your ass (as long as that was the only thing they were doing back there LOL).
1. Denny Hamlin can only win this championship if Johnson and Harvick screw up. Hamlin still lacks the mental toughness and self confidence. Just look how surprised he is when he does well.
2. Kyle is unmanageable and should be cut loose by Gibbs and his sponsors. He has no respect for anyone, not even himself. Let’s see how the Kyle loving media machine spins this one after a whole season of “he’s matured so much” bull hockey. As such a disagreeable human being, people only cheer Kyle because he wins races. When his streak chills, as his brother’s has, the sound of boos will be replaced by the sound of apathy. I heard it Sunday when they announced Kurt, formerly villian number 1. Now there’s just some polite applause and people forget to boo. Ouch. They cheered louder for Elliott Sadler who hasn’t won in, how long? But they cheer Elliott because he’s not a horse’s behind. I guess Kyle would rather just win than be liked, but when he’s got crap equipment because nobody with deep pockets wants the headaches that come with sponsoring such a trainwreck he’ll wish for uncharred bridges.
3. The number one comment I heard in the stands at TMS after the fight was “Dang, I didn’t know Gordon had it in him!” He won over a few haters with that one. Crowd loved it.
4. Chad Knauss has won 4 championships. I figure he knows what he’s doing more than I do. And weren’t some of Gordon’s crew guys formerly with Johnson anyhow? I don’t think this is as big a deal as some are making it. IMHO.
5. Did you have a British flag flying on your truck in the parking lot at TMS? Cuz if that was you, we parked across from you and had a brief chat before the race. It was a terrific day!
Susan, a momentary bout of immaturity is considerably different than a constant, never-ending display of immaturity. Just think back to the infantile destruction of the guitar for starters.
question is how does Joe Gibbs continue to watch this? He got involved when Tony was out of control, I don’t get it. sure flies in the face of his upright moral image.
Gibb’s moral image is just that an “image”. When it comes to business, dollars and cents, he is the same as everyone else. He wasn’t going to sit Tony down and he will not sit Kyle down unless the sponsor demands it. I’m not saying I blame him but then I don’t go around promoting myself as any more ethical or moral than the next guy.
Danny….so glad your friend is now a fan of the greatest sport on earth! Brilliant!!