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.
Doug Turnbull · Tuesday May 19, 2009
Tony Stewart took Lowe’s Motor Speedway by storm Saturday night, as the driver of the No. 14 Office Depot/Old Spice Chevy smelled victory and found it in the 25th annual All-Star Race. Stewart’s first win as a driver/owner and first All-Star win came in a race that saw tepid-at-best racing in the first three segments turn into a barn-burning, fender-banging mix of talent and anarchy in the final 10-lap showdown. Stewart’s triumph, combined with the string of recent success at Stewart-Haas Racing, makes him the HOTTEST driver on the circuit. Richard Childress Racing’s poor showing at Lowe’s and, it seems, at almost every track of late, makes that whole team among the COLDEST in the sport. Since Saturday’s event was purely a smash mouth exhibition, the HOT, WARM, and COLD driver rankings will return after the marathon enduro that is the Coca-Cola 600. In the meantime, here are some of the HOT and NOT issues of the week in racing:
HOT: The last segment of the Sprint All-Star Race – This is not the first time that someone has said this, but how about those final 10 laps in the All-Star race? Matt Kenseth and Kyle Busch got bent out of shape during a real estate dispute on the track, prompting them to bend a little sheet metal with each other early in the segment.
Then, Ryan Newman’s comeback from a broken shock almost became the story of the All-Star race, when the No. 39 drove to the outside of Kyle Busch and Jeff Gordon and into the lead, causing the three-wide sandwich to lop off the Gordon slice of bread. Gordon, who had been in the top 5 much of the night, spun sideways in front of the field and eventually hit the outside wall, ending the night for the No. 24. Teammate Jimmie Johnson, the dominant driver for the first half of the event, also spun out of contention late in the race.
The contact with Gordon ended up damaging both the No. 18 and No. 39 enough to take those cars out of the mix as well, leaving Stewart to chase down leader Matt Kenseth, who had been lurking all evening. Kenseth left the door open on the bottom of the track one time for Stewart, allowing Smoke to streak into the lead and cap an impressive victory. What a great handful of laps!
NOT: NASCAR making the game up as we all go along – As if there were not enough changes to the All-Star format, some of the late race developments Saturday left many scratching their heads. When yellow flags fly at points-paying events, the field is frozen to the running order at the last scoring loop passed, before the caution comes out. During the All-Star Race, NASCAR threw out that rule and instead lined up the cars in the order they were when they last crossed the start-finish line, nullifying any lead changes that could have happened in and up to the last 30 seconds. Even the boys in the FOX/SPEED TV booth had no idea what was going on at the time and were even more shocked when, during the best racing of the night, NASCAR threw a “debris” caution with just a couple of laps to go.
Maybe NASCAR simply does not care what other people think of the sport or even of what people in the sport think of some of the ridiculous decisions handed down by the governing body. As some old school fans have told me, NASCAR’s constant rule-tweaking and gray area decision-making makes the sport seem more like wrestling, than auto racing. If the drivers, the ones that the whole show revolves around, do not even have a clue of what rules to expect in a single event, then something is definitely wrong.
NASCAR, of course, has a colorful track record involving rules changes – especially in the All-Star Race. Who can forget the mess made in 2001, when NASCAR allowed the green flag to fly while a rainstorm was falling on part of the track? NASCAR decided to correct its problem by allowing teams that wrecked cars to bring out their backups, preparing them during the red flag in preparation for the restart of the race. One of those teams, the No. 24 and driver Jeff Gordon, took the checkered flag first that year.
Other examples of “making it up as they go along” include the scoring fiasco that prompted an extended red flag after a big crash at Dover in June 2004, the gross un-enforcement of the Yellow Line Rule, aggressive driving at Talladega a few weeks ago, the broadness in the new drug testing policy, and the allowance of some teams to buy others’ old owner’s points – and there are many more.
NASCAR acts like it has nothing to lose by continuing to be inconsistent in its rulings, but judging by the dips in TV ratings, track attendance, track revenue, and sponsorship commitments to the sport, some entities must care. And NASCAR should, too…
HOT: The stove right now – After the past two Silly Seasons that saw landmark announcements involving two of the sport’s biggest names (Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Tony Stewart), 2009’s Hot Stove probably will not burn as intensely. Nonetheless, several decisions about marquee drivers and teams will be made. As talk heats up about the coming game of musical chairs, here are some scenarios to watch:
- Who knows how many crew chiefs are sweating the in the late Spring heat? At least one, Tony Eury, Jr., probably feels like he is sitting in a sauna after setting up yet another car with inferior handling for Dale Earnhardt, Jr. in the All-Star Race.
- Martin Truex, Jr. says that he will soon make a decision on his future in the Earnhardt Ganassi Racing No. 1 Chevy. Truex came close to leaving the team last season before signing an extension, and has seen little to no improvement in the team’s performance since then.
- Brad Keselowski is looking for a full-time Cup ride next season and will not find one in the auspices of Hendrick Motorsports … unless Stewart-Haas Racing expands teams. If not, he may be shopping elsewhere.
- Roush Fenway Racing has to dump a team, and all signs point to Jamie MucMurray’s No. 26 entry, though David Ragan and the UPS Ford have performed well below expectations this year. Roush is unlikely to dump a big name sponsor and a promising young driver, however, causing him to keep his original team in favor of the No. 26. Now, McMurray’s team likely will become part of the Yates Racing operation and remain highly affiliated with RFR.
- Elliott Sadler continues on with the No. 19 Richard Petty Motorsports team, despite bad results and constant rumors about his future with the organization. Forget about the offseason with that one — the relationship may not last the summer at this point.
A future destination for Sadler could be Richard Childress Racing if that organization feels that the 11-year veteran (yes, he has been in the Cup Series that long) is an improvement over struggling Casey Mears in the No. 07. Sadler was seeking the Jack Daniel’s ride last year before Gillett Evernham Motorsports (now RPM) executed a team option to keep him with the No. 19.
- Kasey Kahne says he will remain with RPM through at least the end of his contract in 2010 and would like to stay if the equipment improves. Though that is an honorable move, Kahne has been known to get out of a contract early before (remember his commitment to Ford Racing that got scrapped when he signed to go Cup racing with Ray Evernham at the end of the 2003 season?) And precedence for jumping ship early has certainly been set in recent years by Jamie McMurray, Kurt Busch, Tony Stewart, and others. If a fourth ride at Joe Gibbs Racing starts up, even Kahne may be on the prowl to leap from the sinking ship that is RPM.
NOT: Truthiness – (n.) “The quality of preferring concepts or facts one wishes to be true, rather than concepts or facts known to be true.” This is the definition of the word, (made popular by Stephen Colbert), according the Merriam-Webster online dictionary. And this term applies directly to the latest developments in the Jeremy Mayfield v. NASCAR drug saga.
Mayfield claims that too much Claritin D caused his drug test failure two weeks ago in Richmond, but NASCAR CEO Brian France said at Lowe’s Motor Speedway this weekend that Mayfield’s violation was serious.
As drivers, the media, and even fans are calling for less ambiguity in NASCAR’s policies and findings (see the earlier NOT segment to find more examples), France and other NASCAR officials say that they cannot release every detail in the matter for several reasons.
According to France, “Number one, we do say it’s serious. Number two, there is a privacy area because we’re talking about someone’s medical records and someone’s health records.”
“Our view of it is that there’s nothing to be gained by disclosing exactly what the substance that tested positive in Jeremy’s case or anyone else’s case, other than to say it was not of the variety, as I said earlier, in a wide spectrum of things that you could test positive for in theory, and be resolved without a suspension. Under our determination, something didn’t impair your ability to drive the car at any one time. And that is entirely possible. Even then we would not disclose because there is no benefit to the competitors, there’s no benefit to anyone to jeopardize someone’s privacy.”
“If we thought there was a benefit, we would probably rethink that. But there is no benefit in our eyes to revealing the substance.”
But if drivers and many others are saying there is a benefit to revealing the info… then maybe there is.
Both sides are swearing up and down that they are telling the truth. Who should everyone believe, then? Mayfield is refusing to go to rehab, and says that NASCAR did not tell him what substance turned up in his failed test and NASCAR disputes Mayfield’s claims and says that rehab is the only option for Mayfield, if he wants to ever re-enter the sport. Someone is not being truthful and is expecting the public to believe the half-truths – the truthiness – that they are spouting.
Maybe the tiebreaker that we all may need to make a correct judgment is to find out who has more to lose by having the real truth come out. Why would NASCAR lie about Mayfield taking allergy medicine? That makes no sense; they have nothing to gain, unless they are covering up their own mistake. Mayfield, on the other hand, can easily take advantage of NASCAR’s ambiguity and claim that he only took allergy medicine since NASCAR will not release the real results. Given the track record of both, truthiness is easy to expect.
But since we cannot really find the truth at this point, let us all be better and shut up about the whole thing. There is so much else going on in the sport, and this issue is distracting attention from the good.
Listen to Doug on Captain Herb Emory’s racing show The Allan Vigil Ford Lincoln Mercury 120 on News/Talk 750 WSB in Atlanta and online at wsbradio.com.
©2000 - 2008 Doug Turnbull and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
Bingo Doug , you hit it . Nascar is of course covering for their own mistake . The third rate “ doctors “ that Nascar hires are giving only cursory drug testing . The labs they use get paid by the number of tests , so accuracy takes a back seat to per test fees . This is a surprisingly similar story to the one of Tim Richmond . Nascar screwed up on Tim’s drug test ( they only found cold medicine – interesting isn’t it ) and to cover themselves they went on a witch hunt to find anything in his records that they could use against him .
I volunteer to take CLARITIN, and then submit to a drug test, ala Jeremy Mayfield.
Give me a drug test before, and then after CLARITIN!
Wanna bet other drivers have also failed the test but we never heard about it?
With Claritin being Cousin Carl’s sponsor, you got to be kiddin! They will find NO wrong with Claritin. Just let someone else take the fall. With Brian France at the helm, now can anything be reliable in NASCAR? Our beloved sport is no longer there.