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 March 19, 2013
ONE: This One Isn’t Over
I think it’s safe to say that erstwhile teammates Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano will not be sharing a gentle game of hoops anytime soon. The acrimony between the two began – in public, at least – after the Daytona 500 in a Twitter war about the final restart of the Great American Race. The situation revved up to full-on animosity at Thunder Valley this past weekend after an on-track incident and a post-race altercation of sorts.
Hamlin, who could do with a quiet week or two at the track, essentially ignored Logano’s initial attempts at confrontation post race. However, he was much more acerbic later on Twitter.
“Last time I checked he had my cell and direct message button to choose from if he’s got a problem. Otherwise hush little child.”
It’s a line almost as good as Logano’s own firesuit comment at Pocono in 2010#! after Kevin Harvick spun him out on the final lap. The real question is what comes next? I’m betting this one is far from over, at least for Joey Logano. I can’t believe Logano would be stupid enough to try something on the high-speed two-mile Fontana track but absolutely expect some “contact” between the two at Martinsville after the Easter break, and at a track where Hamlin traditionally excels. This one isn’t over—not by any stretch of the imagination.
TWO: Play it Again Sam
What a phenomenal start to the Nationwide Series season it’s been for Team Penske driver Sam Hornish Jr. After a second place run in the carnage of the Daytona race, Hornish nursed a car that was damaged early to an excellent seventh place effort at Phoenix. He then won the race at Las Vegas in the dominant car; just his second win in 70 Nationwide Series starts. This past weekend at Bristol, Hornish picked up a fourth place effort; enough for an early 22-point lead over second placed Justin Allgaier.
The three time IndyCar champion and 2006 Indy 500 winner has not had the easiest of transitions to NASCAR; losing his full-time Cup ride after three tough and statistically terrible years. In 106 races, Hornish managed a solitary two top-5’s, 8 top-10’s and a meager 53 laps lead. But, as is appropriate for a man from town called Defiance, Hornish has remained resolute. He ran one Cup and 13 Nationwide races in 2011 before establishing himself again in 2012 in a full time Nationwide ride finishing a solid fourth in the overall standings, 105 points behind winner Ricky Stenhouse Jr. This year he appears primed to go ever better and challenge all the way for a series title.
THREE: IndyCar Goes Green this Sunday
The green flag drops this Sunday afternoon on the 2013 IZOD IndyCar Series in sunny St Petersburg, Florida: the first of 19 races that stretch from this weekend through the first week of October.
For the first time in six years the series has an American champion in Ryan Hunter-Reay who won a thrilling first championship at Auto Club Speedway last September. Back on the expanded schedule for the first time since 1989 is Pocono Raceway. A move, which will no doubt please the long-time fans of open wheel racing. The Series will also trial three double header weekends in Detroit, Toronto and Houston, running full points races on both Saturday and Sunday afternoons. With the final double header at Houston coming before the last race of the season, you can’t help but feel these three weekends could be pivotal in what is likely to be a closely and keenly contested championship.
2012 saw the introduction of a new chassis and new engine manufacturers – a huge upheaval for the drivers and teams – but coming into the season there are no significant changes to the car or engine package, which should only promote even better racing. If you’ve not given the Series a chance before, you really should. You won’t be disappointed.
FOUR: My “Favorite” Track
This is my sixth full season as a weekly NASCAR columnist and for the most part I like to write about and accentuate the positives in the sport. There’s enough negative already. But if I’m honest, there’s no track I’ve bashed quite like I have Auto Club Speedway.
As always in any kind of sports journalism, the easy target is not the easy target for the wrong reason. For the most part the racing at the low banked, two-mile D-shape oval hasn’t been great. It is not, then, the ideal next location after a momentum building weekend at Bristol in terms of on-track action. (Despite all the empty seats in the stands: a truly sad sight to see.)
With the first off weekend the following week, NASCAR needs a good show on Sunday. The truth is, it’s not likely to happen. What you will hear, however, on good old shouty WE ARE FOX SPORTS is lots of chatter about four wide on restarts. That will be true, as Fontana is one of the widest surfaces in all of NASCAR racing. It’s cool…but it’s not as dramatic as it sounds. I’m not expecting much this Sunday, so I can only hope I’m pleasantly surprised.
FIVE: The Paul Menard Empire
After four races in 2012, following a solid top ten effort on the high banks of Thunder Valley, Paul Menard sat in ninth place in the standings, just 34 points behind then points front runner Greg Biffle. Menard finished 19th the following at Auto Club Speedway, slipping out of the top ten for the first and last time that season.
Four races into 2013 and it’s an eerily similar situation as the driver of the No. 27 Chevy once again finds himself in ninth place, 48 points behind leader Brad Keselowski, following a top ten run at Las Vegas and a ninth place at Bristol.
Will history repeat itself and Menard will return to mid pack obscurity? Or will the much-maligned driver finally show he belongs in the Chase with a strong regular season run?
Judging by the evidence so far, it seems unlikely. Menard has garnered half of the entire team’s four top tens. After a poor 2012 season, it’s not been the start anyone at RCR would have wanted. The good news is it’s still early.
But as the Yankees great Hall of Fame catcher Yogi Berra once said, “It gets late early out there.”
Connect with Danny!
©2000 - 2008 Danny Peters and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
Please join me in boycotting the Fontana race by not watching. Tell others not to watch either. Send a message to nascar through low ratings.
Fontana is not a nascar track. It’s for open wheel racing. It’s boring and too long. Don’t watch.
I stated this in a previous article, but I would like to state it again. Why are we still even racing at Fontana? NASCAR needs to realize Irwindale’s potential and award it a Cup race, to kick Fontana off of the NASCAR slate. Irwindale deserves a Cup race, along with a Nationwide race and a Truck Series race, because it is a slam bam short track that fans will LOVE for sure. It is a travesty that Irwindale is essentially bankrupt while Fontana is still up and running. It should be the other way around.
As much as I agree with Tom Dalfonzo’s thoughts on abandoning Fontana and racing at Irwindale, the reality is Irwindale dowsn’t have the infrastructure nor space required to host a Cup or Nationwide race. A Truck series race might be something Irwindale could host, but it would be really really tight.
I concur with the boycott Fontana idea (I’m boycotting all of the cookie cutter races). ISC needs to tear Fontana down and replace it with a 2/3rd mile high banked short track.
Irwindale would be wicked, but can the track support Cup teams? That’s the main reason more short tracks aren’t on the schedule, I think…
No, the reason that more short tracks aren’t on the schedule is because of greed. When the track building boom took place in the late 80’s and 90’s no one wanted to build short tracks because;
Short tracks can support Cup races if they are built to support Cup races. However building a short track limits future profit potential (greed!!!). Of course now that none of the tracks are selling out the ability to add more seats really is moot.
I hope you’re planning on not watching the other “boring” races on the circuit too, such as Kansas, Chicago, Michigan, and Kentucky, other wise your words are just empty air.
Kevin in SoCal,
I do indeed boycott those races and ANY track that I feel is boring. It’s not much, but it’s one thing that I CAN do to send my message.
Nascar listens when they lose money and fans in the stands…so this is what I do.
It’s MY belief that nascar needs to open it’s OWN bank book and spend the money to build quality tracks in places they want to be. Imagine another Bristol/Richmond type track in place of Fontana. They could do it.
NASCAR is ISC right? They do build tracks. They own about half of the existing tracks.
See my earlier comment involving the word GREED to understand why they wouldn’t build a short track.
I’ve gotta support Bill B’s comment about greed being the reason behind the lack of short tracks. Take a look at the recent history of speedway construction:
International Speedway Corporation (Nascar’s sister company)
Speedway Motorsports Inc. (Bruton Smith’s company)
Note that I left Iowa Speedway (.875 mile track, built in 2006) because that track was not built or bought by ISC or SMI, nor does it host a Cup series race (although it should).
That’s seven brand new speedways built between 1995 and 2001, all but one of which are the dreaded 1.5 mile dual-use tracks (Auto Club Speedway is a 2.0 mile speedway). The thought was these speedways could seat upwards of 80,000 people, plus thousands more in the infield, and could be used multiple times a year hosting races for both Nascar and Indy Car. Well, the reality is that Indy Car did race at most of these tracks at some point, but with the exception of Texas and Auto Club Speedway, Indy Car has moved away from these tracks. And when Indy Car does race at these tracks, the attendance is sparse, especially when the crowd is spread out in a seating area that seats upwards of 80,000 people, similar to a Nationwide series race attendance.
A number of these tracks have been modified since being built – Homestead Miami, Kansas & Las Vegas have had their original low banking increased to graduated 17 / 18 – 20 degrees of banking to better accommodate heavier stock cars. But even with the additional banking, the stock car races on these tracks tend to be spread out, mostly single file racing for long stretches at a time, with most of the passing occurring on pit road or on restarts. This is mainly due to the fact that there is so much real estate for the cars to get spread out on, due to the length of the track. 43 cars on a short track take up a lot more respective real estate than 43 cars on a 1.5 or 2.0 mile track do. As the cars get spread out, the chances for side-by-side action get slimmer and slimmer, especially with most of the teams getting engines from a handful of suppliers.
So basically, greed has killed the short track, with the potential for hundreds of thousands of butts in the seats (and in the infield) trumping the great racing that short tracks offer. It’s a shame to thing we’ve lost races at great old tracks like North Wilkesboro, Darlington, and Rockingham and have had them replaced by tepid racing at Chicagoland and Kentucky. And there is no ill will to the race fans who attend races at these tracks, you don’t get to choose what racetrack is in your backyard and is the most convenient to go to. But, as a Nascar fan, I do hold a lot of ill-will towards ISC & SMI for being saddled with an over-abundance of highly similar race tracks that produce mostly dull races. This was a case of not seeing the forest for the trees, in that in building all of these palaces to speed and capacity, the track owners forgot that first and foremost, a race track should provide for good racing. A small detail missed, and many many boring races later we are still paying the price.
And for this reason, I will be boycotting the races at the cookie cutter tracks as much as possible. If I’m home, I’ll put the race on, but it will be in the background, and I will be taking advantage of the day to get something done. I won’t be dedicating my Sunday morning / afternoon (or Saturday afternoon) to watching a parade. I always thought parades were boring, even parades that move at close to 190 miles per hour.
And I’m making a point of posting my boycott plans because someone somewhere in those Ivory Towers in Datyona Beach might notice a trend there and start thinking different about where they schedule races. But I know in the end, the TV deals provide a heck of a lot of money to Nascar, ISC & SMI, and that the money from ticket sales is a secondary source of income for these corporate entities, and because of that, we’re most likely stuck with a lot of uninspiring race tracks for the foreseeable future.
How many tracks have been demolished and rebuilt by NASCAR? I’ve only been watching for 10 years, but I know of Richmond back in the 80’s. What else? Does Bristol’s changing to concrete count?
Kevin – You are right on regarding the treatment Fontana gets in relation to all the other tracks that produce similar ‘boring’ racing. And Nascar made it worse by adding a second race date, over Labor Day Weekend. Definitely Nascar’s fault there.
And for as much as I don’t prefer the racing at Fontana compared to the shorter tracks, the track itself, and the different layouts possible for other types of racing, it really is a top notch facility. It just doesn’t produce very good stock car races for me. But there’s nothing like the feeling of those 43 cars coming screaming through the front stretch on lap 2 to get your senses going!
Bruton Smith helped kill the racing at North Wilkesboro and Rockingham so he could get his Texas Speedway going. The mecca of racing was always in NC, but thanks to Smith, it’s all but gone. Yeah, we got Charlotte, but it’s the cutter that all those other cookies came from!