Kurt Busch to Attempt The Indianapolis-Charlotte Double
posted by Phil Allaway
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Andretti Autosport announced this morning that Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet in the Sprint Cup Series, will attempt the Indianapolis 500 in a fifth entry for the IndyCar Series team. Once the Indianapolis 500 is completed, Busch will fly from Indianapolis to Charlotte, jump in his No. 41 Chevrolet and compete in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Busch considers the opportunity to do the double as an old-school throwback moment.
“This is really to challenge myself within motorsports,” Busch said in Andretti Autosport’s press release. “Perhaps I am a bit of an old-school racer; a throwback, I guess. I enjoyed the era of drivers racing different cars and testing themselves in other series. It is tough to do now for a variety of factors, but when the opportunity is there, I want to do it. While NASCAR is my home, I have been fortunate to compete in Pro Stock on the NHRA circuit a number of years ago and test a V8 Supercar. This opportunity was a talk with Michael [Andretti] over dinner one night, a “What if,” and now it’s becoming a reality for me to drive in the Indy 500 with Andretti Autosport. It’s literally a dream come true. To go to the famous Brickyard with the iconic Andretti name, it doesn’t get much cooler or better than that.”
Busch will be doing the Indianapolis-Charlotte double as a Memorial Day mission to men and women serving in the U.S. Military via the Armed Forces Foundation. Fans can contribute to the cause by texting AFF to 50555 to donate $10.
Busch, who has never raced an IndyCar, passed Rookie Orientation at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year during a test session. At the time, Busch was more or less testing the Dallara DW12 for fun.
Busch will be the fourth driver to attempt the Indianapolis-Charlotte double. John Andretti was the first driver to attempt it in 1994. After finishing four laps down in tenth in Indianapolis, Andretti crashed and had engine problems in the 600. Robby Gordon has attempted the double five times, most recently in 2004. However, Gordon failed to make it to Charlotte on time and did not start the 600 in 2000 (P.J. Jones started Gordon’s No. 13 Ford in that instance). Finally, Tony Stewart has attempted the double twice (most recently in 2001) and is the only driver to ever complete all 1100 miles. Neither of the three drivers has won either leg of the double. The best finishes are Stewart and Gordon’s sixth-place finishes at the Indianapolis 500 (although Gordon’s came in 2000, the year he didn’t make it to Charlotte in time to start the Coca-Cola 600), and Stewart’s fourth-place finish in the 2001 Coca-Cola 600.
Danica Patrick, Justin Allgaier Talk About Phoenix Incident
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
A disappointing start to the year for Danica Patrick won’t include continued conflict. Patrick met with rookie Justin Allgaier Sunday, shortly after the Phoenix Cup race after a wreck ruined both drivers’ days. Patrick, who was critical of the No. 51 car on the radio, claiming Allgaier was “driving all over the track” appeared receptive to a conversation that quickly settled differences over what will be a long season.
“She was just upset because she got involved in the crash that we had,’’ said Allgaier to the Motor Racing Network. “She says she’s been through this and that she felt like I needed to settle down at that point. I explained my position on why everything happened. I think she understood where I was coming from. It doesn’t fix either one of our racecars. It doesn’t fix either one of our days. Unfortunately, we were both having pretty decent days.’’
Allgaier wound up 30th due to the incident while Patrick was 36th. The incident, which was caused by Allgaier’s spin also involved the No. 32 team and Travis Kvapil, which wound up 38th after sustaining heavy damage.
Camping World Close to Extending Title Sponsorship of NCWTS
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Marcus Lemonis, CEO of Camping World, Grand Marshal of Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway, and star of CNBC’s “The Profit,” made the announcement over the weekend that the retailer is very close to announcing a deal that would continue its title sponsorship of NASCAR’s Truck Series. The original agreement with NASCAR is scheduled to conclude after the 2015 season.
According to the sanctioning body, no formal contract has been signed, but “the agreement between the two parties has proven to be a beneficial one.”
“In about a month, we’ll be announcing a significant extension to that contract. It’s been great for us,” said Camping World’s Lemonis in a statement. “The NASCAR relationship has worked well for Camping World. When we started, we had 35 stores. Now, we’re up to 120 stores. As we travel the country and we meet new customers in stores, they always are very appreciative of our relationship with NASCAR. It’s been good.”
Gaining a long-term commitment from Camping World to sponsor the Truck Series would be a relief for NASCAR, which is set to lose Nationwide Insurance as title sponsor for the NASCAR Nationwide Series at the end of the 2014 season. The sponsorship of the Cup Series by Sprint runs through 2016.
The NCWTS is back in action on March 29th at 2:30 PM (ET) when the trucks visit Martinsville Speedway in the Kroger 250, which can be seen on Fox Sports 1. Ratings for the season opener were up 11 percent.
Harvick Takes Win At Phoenix In Second Race With New Team
posted by Justin Tucker
Monday March 3, 2014
Phoenix International Raceway has become Kevin Harvick’s home away from home. Sunday Afternoon was no exception as Harvick charged to the front early and would dominate for much of the day, leading 224 of the scheduled 312 laps to record his record fifth win on the one mile oval and his third win in the last four races at Phoenix.
Harvick, coming off of a disappointing Speedweeks which was capped by a last lap crash in the Daytona 500 in his debut with Stewart-Haas Racing, set the tone on Saturday by winning both practices while having the best 5 and 10-lap averages in the first practice of the day on Saturday. On Sunday, Harvick and his No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet was nothing short of flawless as he was able to hold Dale Earnhardt, Jr. by .489 seconds after a late race restart to claim his 24th career Sprint Cup Series victory.
“Man, this is awesome,” Harvick said after his dominant victory on Sunday. “Man, this just solidifies so many things and so many decisions. It’s been so much work with all the time and effort that these guys (the crew) have put in—but what a race car.”
Stewart Haas Racing co-owner Gene Haas shared in Harvick’s excitement after the race.
“It took long enough,” Haas joked. “This is phenomenal. I think there was a lot of skepticism last year about what myself and Tony (Stewart) what we were up to, was there a lot of madness to this. Quite frankly, it’s a great team, there’s a lot of synergy at the shop, people working together. I don’t know what we did, but I think we put together a great organization.”
Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt, Jr. continued his hot start to the 2014 season. Earnhardt Jr. would finish second on Sunday, marking his seventh consecutive top 10 finish since the end of the 2013 season. Earnhardt Jr. was pleased with the effort after a coast-to-coast whirlwind week after winning his second Daytona 500 and also gave great praise to the efforts of Harvick and the No. 4 team.
“I’ve got to congratulate Kevin. Those guys were two-tenths faster than everyone all weekend in practice. They were just phenomenal,” Earnhardt said. “To be able to run with them all day was a big confidence builder for us.”
Joining Harvick and Earnhardt in the top 5 of The Profit on CNBC 500K were Brad Keselowski with his second consecutive top 3 run of 2014 in third. Keselowski’s Team Penske teammate Joey Logano would finish fourth, and Jeff Gordon would come home fifth in his No. 24 Pepsi Max Chevrolet.
Jimmie Johnson finished in sixth, followed by Ryan Newman with a nice rebound after Daytona in seventh. Carl Edwards would carry the banner for Roush Fenway Racing by finishing eighth, Kyle Busch was ninth, and Jamie McMurray would finish tenth.
A look at the Profit on CNBC 500K by the numbers. There were 14 lead changes among eight different drivers, there were eight cautions for 39 laps which slowed the race pace to 109.229 MPH.
Next Sunday, the Sprint Cup Series heads to Sin City and the Las Vegas Motor
Starting Lineup: The Profit On CNBC 500K
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday March 1, 2014
Drivers in RED (i) are those ineligible to collect Sprint Cup points
Daytona 500 TV Ratings Down
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Wednesday February 26, 2014
What was the longest weather delay in Daytona 500 history turned out to bring NASCAR lower ratings and TV viewership Sunday night than expected. According to a report Monday from FOX Sports, the 56th running of the Daytona 500 airing at 8 PM (ET) posted a 5.6/10 national household rating/share which averaged 9.3 million viewers. That’s down 44 percent from last year’s 9.9, easily making it the least-watched Daytona 500 of all-time.
Due to the six-hour, twenty-two minute rain delay in Daytona, the race was up against the primetime coverage of the Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony from Sochi, Russia on NBC (15.25 million viewers). FOX also reported that 69% of the pre-rain delay viewers of the race, which began at 1 PM (ET) kept tuning in.
In comparison, the 2013 Daytona 500 on FOX was the most-watched race in five years, posting a 9.9/22 rating/share, commanding 16.7 million viewers. The Daytona 500 in 2012, the first to ever be run on a Monday and in the primetime slot did a 7.7/13 overnight rating/share which resulted in 13.67 million households viewing the race according to Nielsen TV ratings data.
Earnhardt, Jr. Claims Second Daytona 500 Victory
posted by Justin Tucker
Wednesday February 26, 2014
Ten years is a long time. For Dale Earnhardt, Jr., it felt like an eternity. NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver endured many near misses and close calls at the Daytona 500 since his only win in the Great American Race in 2004. Earnhardt had finished second in two of his last three Daytona 500s coming into Sunday’s race. He was also riding the tail of a 55-race winless streak, dating back to Michigan in 2012.
However nothing would stop Dale Jr. on Sunday, not even a 6 hour and 22 minute rain delay from capturing his second Daytona 500 win. Earnhardt Jr. led a race-high 54 laps on the evening and used some timely drafting help from teammates Jimmie Johnson and, on the final restart, Jeff Gordon to separate from the pack and secure the victory.
“Winning this race is the greatest feeling that you could feel in this sport besides accepting the trophy for the championship,” said a jubilant Earnhardt after pulling into Victory Lane. “We could fight off battle after battle. We got a little help at the end there from Jeff to get away on the restart. This is amazing. I can’t believe this is happening. I never take this for granted, man because it doesn’t happen twice, let alone once.”
Aside from the race itself the big story of the race was the 6 hour and 22 minute red flag, which threatened to move the race to Monday evening (had the race been postponed, FOX Sports’ Chris Myers had tweeted that the race would resume at 5:00pm EST). However, Mother Nature would cooperate and would allow the race to be run under different conditions from which they practiced this week. Once the race resumed, the intensity picked up from the changing track conditions. This allowed the pack to race side-by-side and at times 3-wide up to seven rows deep.
Joining Earnhardt Jr. in the top 5 for the 2014 Daytona 500 were: Denny Hamlin who closed out a spectacular Speedweeks in second, Brad Keselowski in third, Jeff Gordon in fourth, and Jimmie Johnson who overcome two wrecks leading up to the 500 in fifth.
Rounding out the top 10 in the Daytona 500 were Matt Kenseth in sixth, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. in seventh and Greg Biffle would bring his No. 16 Ford home in eighth. Austin Dillon would come home ninth in his first Cup Series race in the iconic No. 3 for Richard Childress Racing, while Casey Mears would round out the top 10.
A couple of major contenders for the Daytona 500 win would see their hopes dashed early on as Martin Truex, Jr. would blow up just 30 laps into the race, relegating him to a 43rd-place finish in his debut for Furniture Row Racing. Crew chief Todd Berrier was already in Nashville for a test session before the race was even over. Kyle Busch, meanwhile would have a pit road violation just before halfway and would spend much of the race battling back from that mistake. Busch would eventually finish 19th after leading 19 laps.
Danica Patrick would also be bit by bad luck as she was caught up in a multi-car wreck on lap 145. Patrick would lead her second consecutive Daytona 500, but wouldn’t have the finish to show for it finishing 40th. Tony Stewart would encounter a frustrating evening as well, with a fuel pickup problem derailing his quest for his first Daytona 500 win. Stewart would finish 35th.
A look at the Daytona 500 by the numbers. There were 42 lead changes among 18 drivers, while seven cautions for 39 laps would slow the race pace to 145.290 MPH.
Next week, the Sprint Cup Series heads to the “diamond in the desert,” Phoenix International Raceway for The Profit on CNBC 500K. The Green flag is scheduled for 3:15pm EST.
Nationwide Series Post-Race Quotes: Drive4COPD 300
posted by Thomas Bowles
Tuesday February 25, 2014
Frontstretch Interviews – Courtesy Mike Neff
ELLIOTT SADLER – FINISHED 4th
Thoughts on the race?
It’s definitely a lot different racing than what we’re used to.
Comfortable with it?
Yeah, it’s just different. You’re worried about what you’re doing, but you’re also worried about what everyone else is doing and they’re not doing more than you’re doing. Physically pushing a guy is way better than just riding so you just gotta time it right and push it to the edge.
Happy to start the year with a top 5?
Yeah. Hell, that was the worst we ran all day, I think. I have no idea how they put the 3 car in front of us on that last restart. I hadn’t seen the 3 car hardly all day. When they put us from fifth to sixth, on the outside line, it just really boxed us in. I would have really restarted behind my teammate and given him a good push to the front. Anyways, it is what it is; we’ll take it and move on.
Looked like you were up front all day.
The guys did a good job. We had a fast race car. Great pit stops, just really proud of these guys. The car’s in one piece and we can take it to Talladega now. Great job by my guys. A lot of effort came into coming down here to Daytona and giving ourselves a shot to win. We had that chance to be up front and make some things happen. Fifth is not what we want, but we’ll take it and move on.
Bumping vs Pushing?
It’s way harder. You don’t want to lay on the guy in front of you, so it’s tough racing. A lot different than what we’re used to, ‘cause you gotta go. You gotta drag the brake too ‘cause you don’t want to hit the guys and you don’t want to stay on him. It’s a lot harder mentally than what we’ve done in the past.
Car was strong all day. Pushing vs. Bumping, is that harder to do than just getting on somebody and pushing them?
Yeah, it is a little bit. When you bump ‘em, you jar ‘em, it kinda jacks ‘em a little bit. It’s a little more abrupt, obviously. I thought it was OK there at the end. It was certainly fun and hopefully entertaining. But a little bit of a struggle in the early part of the race and the midpart of the race to see a good race. And that’s unfortunate for the fans. You can’t do that the whole race, you can’t tear up your stuff, knock your grill in, overheat your motor, all that stuff so there’s no sense in doing all that until you get down to the last lap. The 7 and the 6, they did a good job. Man, the 7 really held the 22 and I tight on the bottom. I was rubbing his door and hitting the apron at the same time, no room whatsoever. So it was good; wish we were the ones who could have won but a lot better now than what we were last year.
Going home in one piece makes it a lot better, right?
Yeah. My back feels good. My foot feels good. Past years here, I’ve been going home with pain so I’m alright.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Truck Series Post-Race Quotes: Daytona (Exclusives)
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday February 22, 2014
When you’re on the outside like that, how frustrating is it?
It’s so hard. Timothy Peters has won here. Kyle Busch has won everywhere. Ron Hornaday has been running Trucks forever, probably before I was even born. I was surrounded by veterans there, and like I told them I don’t have a rookie stripe but I’m a rookie. This is only my fourth Truck race ever, my fourth superspeedway race, and man, I figured out when the 17 got up in front of me, I pushed him. And as soon as I pushed him, he took off. And I went with him. And I just kept doing it, and before I knew it, he was leading. And I saw Ron in my mirror, backed up to him, and if it wasn’t for him, I don’t know what would have happened. I gotta thank him big time for that. That was a true teammate move right there. I really appreciate that. He just bounced off me and we got to the front. I tried my hardest to sidedraft Kyle. I was probably touching his door.
Top 5 in the No. 30 truck. This deal come together at the last minute, but you had a heck of a truck. Tell us about your night.
Yeah, I’ve got to thank Turner Scott Motorsports. The guys worked so hard on this Rheem Comfort Products Chevrolet. Exciting! Just got hung up on the outside and had to wait for my teammate there to catch up. And then he got to the bottom, so… I got the old 32 and started pushing ol’ Ryan to the front. So, it’s not bad. We’ll take it. You just don’t want to step over that boundary. You don’t know how far to push and shove. We bumped about six times down the straightaway without latching onto them. Hopefully, that was OK and we came home with a top 5.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Budweiser Duels Post Race Quotes
posted by Matt Stallknecht
Friday February 21, 2014
BUDWEISER DUELS POST-RACE QUOTES
They’re saying the wheel bearing burned up in it. I don’t know what caused it, they’re taking it all apart to figure out what the heck happened. Something abnormal that’s for sure I don’t think I’ve ever had that happen at all. Hopefully, we made the race and hopefully we can fix the problem before Sunday.
WHAT WAS THAT LOUD BOOM ONCE YOU TURNED INTO THE GARAGE?
Loud pop was a tire… thankfully, it popped, hopefully it didn’t hurt anybody. All the heat created in the left front that popped was pretty weird.
REALLY GOOD RUN. WHAT DID YOU THINK OF IT?
Yeah, it was good. We have a car we can work with for the 500. Got a good starting spot, so we’re going to rest easy, fluff and buff our car for a couple of days and get ready for Sunday.
ANY DIFFERENCE ON WHETHER THE TOP OR BOTTOM LANE WORKED?
Yeah, I was just moving around, trying to stay with the flow. For me, this car works on all parts of the racetrack. So I’m pretty happy with it.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.
GOT SHUFFLED BACK, AFTER PIT STOPS AND THEN COULDN’T GET BACK UP TO THE FRONT. WHY?
Nah, we were just sitting there waiting until the last few laps to make a move. You didn’t want to pull down and get sent to the back. Seen a couple of guys get sent to the back really quick so we were just kind of waiting for the end. I felt like we had a good situation there with Ambrose behind us — we had a good run off Turn 2 and I went. It was the last lap, time to go do something, nobody went with us but hopefully Sunday is a different story.
We got a great car. We don’t have to work hard. We learned, we got a good race car. Got a car in one piece, ready to go so we’ll try and get through the next couple of practices, deliver it to the starting group this Sunday and we’ll be real happy.
YOU’RE IN THE DAYTONA 500!
Yeah, it’s pretty awesome. This Whitetail Chevrolet was so fast that I knew all I had to do was stick it behind smart, intelligent drafters and we could have a good finish. That’s what we did in the Duels and I’m excited. I’m excited to go do some stuff with the Nationwide car and have some more practice with this. But to know that we’re locked in the Daytona 500’s pretty cool.
YOU WERE OBVIOUSLY IN FRONT OF THAT MELEE AT THE END. WHEN YOU WERE UP FRONT THERE IN THE BEGINNING, WERE YOU HOPING TO JUST STAY IN LINE AND LET YOU FINISH TOP 5?
I was pretty content to ride and luckily I knew a lot of people around us were. It was nice to have a little calm and not really have to be racing hard the whole time. I knew that the pit stop was going to shake everything up and that’s exactly what happened. Fell back a little bit there but made the right moves at the end to get a good finish.
HOW STRONG ARE THESE RCR CARS?
They’re very strong! They definitely have the capabilities to be winning one of these races.
YOU’RE IN THE TOP 5 FOR YOUR HEAT IN THE DAYTONA 500. YOUR PRIMARY CAR IS SITTING RIGHT IN THE GARAGE, KIND OF WADDED UP. DID YOU THINK THIS ONE HAD IT IN IT?
Yeah, it’s a brand new car also. It’s just not quite as good as the primary but still a damned good car. I’m just proud of everybody at RCR for building such fast race cars. All of our cars have been fast, ECR motor’s been strong, even our affiliate teams have been qualifying really good and racing good. So… excited about 2014! It’s going to be a good year.
WELL MAN, YOU STARTED IN THE BACK BUT WORKED YOUR WAY TO THE FRONT WHEN IT COUNTED MOST. WERE YOU JUST BIDING YOUR TIME THROUGHOUT THE RACE?
Eh, you never know if you’re going to get back up there or not. We had to start at the back, we had to make a run early and see what we could do. We drove right to 10th, or something like that and then it got stagnant. We tried to make something happen, and went to the back again. Drove back up to the front. Again, just really proud of my guys. Matt Kruder did a hell of a job on that pit stop getting just enough gas in to gain some spots there.
RCR CARS SEEM PRETTY DARNED STRONG. DO YOU THINK THE RCR CARS HAVE SOMETHING FOR THEM ON SUNDAY — ESPECIALLY THE THREE JOE GIBBS RACING CARS THAT SEEM TO BE THE CLASS OF THE FIELD RIGHT NOW?
Oh yeah. The 20 car was extremely fast. The 11 didn’t qualify that good, but he’s a good drafter. I think he won. We definitely have something for him.
Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
Doug Turnbull · Tuesday June 16, 2009
“Give me fuel, give me fire, give me that which I desire,” may very well have been the lyrics Jimmie Johnson was banging his head to as his dominant No. 48 Chevy sputtered to the finish of Sunday’s LifeLock 400. The three-time champ absolutely dominated at Michigan, only surrendering the lead after the final pit sequence to Greg Biffle. Ironically enough, though, both Johnson and Biffle were a little too conservative on how much fuel they conserved at the end of the race, using too much gas racing each other in the closing laps and each falling short of fuel at the finish. Biffle managed to coast to 5th place, while Johnson ran out of fuel just past the pit road entrance. That meant he had to nurse his No. 48 for almost a full lap under power, relegating him to a 22nd place result.
Despite the long, boring green flag runs Sunday, seeing some teams that needed good finishes actually had them injecting a bit of excitement into what was otherwise a yawner of a race. Here are some of those programs that are HOT, WARM, and COLD as the Cup Series motors away from Motor City.
HOT: Mark Martin – The race may have been handed to him at Michigan, but the fact still stands that Mark Martin has three more wins this season than he did in the previous three and sits 8th in points. However, keep in mind those victories do not make him a “lock” for the playoffs by any means just yet; despite gaining five spots in the standings and re-entering the Chase bracket, the veteran sits only 61 points ahead of 13th place David Reutimann. Martin’s success on the No. 5 Chevy is one of the better stories of 2009, but here is one question people are forgetting to ask about next season: who is going to sponsor the entry if the team fails to re-up with Kellogg’s? This season’s success should make finding funding for the entry not extremely hard… you would think.
HOT: Carl Edwards – All of a sudden, Carl Edwards and the No. 99 team are heating up with the weather. A fourth place at Michigan gives the team four straight top 10s, as Roush Fenway Racing managed to place four of its five teams in the top 15 at its home track. Next week’s stop at Infineon Raceway may not be too damaging for Edwards, as he has two Top 10s in four starts there. With the race to the Chase as tight as it is, though, Edwards’ 17.8 average finish out west may mean he loses some of the lead he holds over 13th place in points.
HOT: Greg Biffle – Biffle was poised to win at Michigan after breaking Jimmie Johnson’s dominant block of laps led and beating him off pit road late in the event. However, Johnson managed to chase him down before both ran out of fuel. Biffle’s 5th place finish was still impressive, though, and he and the No. 16 team sit 7th in points. After a tumultuous start to 2009, Biffle has finished in the top 20 in every race after Martinsville, with six of those nine finishes inside the top 10. Barring any bad luck, the No. 16 team seems poised to run strong enough to stay in the Chase. By the way, Biffle has the most points in the last five races run at Infineon.
WARM: Juan Pablo Montoya – Big Mo may be on the third-year driver’s side as the Cup Series heads to the road course at Infineon next week. Montoya ran in the top 5 for much of the race at Michigan, settling for sixth at the end of the race for his first top 20 finish at the speedway. Without question, 2009 has been his best season so date in stock cars, as the No. 42 has maintained an acceptable level of consistency and remains in the Chase hunt. Montoya has six top 20 finishes in the last seven races, and four of those have been top 10s. Plus, the Colombian’s lone Cup win came at Infineon two years ago and, being 14th in points, Montoya may be able to capitalize on 13th place David Reutimann’s lack of road racing skills and leapfrog over him in the point standings.
WARM: David Ragan – Oh, what the heck…let’s throw Ragan in the warm pile. Sure, the driver of the No. 6 has not finished in the top 10 since Daytona, but the addition of Chris Andrews to his crew to help improve communication between the young driver and the Roush engineers showed immediate improvements at Michigan. Ragan, who finished 3rd in the race a year ago, ran in the top 15 for much of the day and ended up 15th at the race’s end. Ragan also moved up three spots in the points standings to 28th, a solid improvement after falling outside the top 30 at times this season. The string of decent runs may end at one, though, because Ragan and the No. 6 UPS team have not proven their talent on road courses.
WARM: Bill Elliott – Trimming their schedule to part-time was an excellent move by the Wood Brothers, as their small team can now focus its efforts on running well in a few races (ala Furniture Row Racing) instead of spreading themselves thin and struggling through the whole schedule. Elliott qualified for the LifeLock 400 in 15th position, stayed inside the top 20 the entire race and finished 16th, ahead of 3/4 of Richard Childress Racing, 3/4 of Richard Petty Motorsports, all of Michael Waltrip Racing, and 2/3 of Penske Racing. What an effort for a team and driver that struggled to finish top 30 or even make races last season!
COLD: Paul Menard – His first season at Yates Racing has been dismal, as the No. 98 Menards Ford has struggled almost every race weekend. His three laps down, 34th place finish at Michigan was the lowest among drivers that did not have some sort of mechanical problem or that started and parked. Menard also sits 34th in points, the lowest standing out of drivers that have run every race. Having daddy’s money backing the ride is the only saving grace for a driver who has done very little since becoming a full-time Cup driver in 2007.
COLD: Max Papis – Expectations could not have been astronomical for Germain Racing when they decided to start a part-time Cup team and put a rookie driver behind the wheel. Nevertheless, Max Papis’s season to date has been disappointing. Scheduled to run half the races, Papis has attempted eight, made six, and only finished in the top 30 once (18th at Talladega). Papis’ arguable premature involvement in the Cup Series was evidenced in the Talladega driver’s meeting, where Papis was seen getting advice from several different drivers and heard on the radio during the race complaining constantly about the rough bumpdrafting. Germain Racing obviously had a decision to make last year, after Nationwide disallowed GEICO’s involvement in the Nationwide Series, and chose Papis as the driver of the No. 13 to keep the sponsor involved. Hopefully, Papis can turn things around and get the team running well; but right now, their progress seems to be falling backwards. Papis is not the only open wheel convert struggling in his transition to the Cup Series, however…
COLD: Scott Speed – After setting the racing world on fire in the ARCA and Truck Series, Team Red Bull thought Scott Speed would be able to make quick work of the Cup Series and not take very long to adapt to that type of racing. Well so far, they have been wrong. Speed has failed to qualify for two races and still sits 35th in driver’s points. The No. 82 is also the first car outside the top 35 in owner’s points, meaning that some of Speed’s practice time each weekend is eaten into by the importance to nail a good setup to qualify for the race. Three straight finishes outside the top 30 and only one top 10 all season have left a team that felt rejuvenated last year scratching their heads. The road course race at Infineon Sunday should give Speed a leg up on some of his competitors, but Team Red Bull’s No. 82 Toyota is not quite ready for the top 10 yet.
Here are some other HOT and NOT issues of the week in racing:
HOT: Dodge’s new CEO – A diamond found in the rough of bad news that has swirled the past few months regarding the American automakers is Dodge’s decision to appoint a new CEO. Mike Accavitti, former Dodge director of racing, has been promoted to the company’s top spot. This bodes as good news for the manufacturer and its teams, because signs have been pointing to a Chrysler exit from the sport. Accavitti has been a big supporter of NASCAR racing and hopefully can find a way to allot the money needed to continue to support its motorsports endeavors.
NOT: The Danica hoopla – Waves of reports have been lapping at the shore the past few weeks about Indy Racing League star Danica Patrick’s future. The open wheel mega star has not denied that NASCAR is on her radar and she is set to become a free agent after this year. Reports surfaced this weekend that NASCAR may be doing what it can to lure Patrick to the Cup Series — but this is a huge mistake.
Patrick makes Dale Earnhardt, Jr. appear underrated. While Junior at least has a trophy case full of wins to show for his superstardom, Patrick has a lone victory and several years of disappointment to show for hers. While seeing a woman succeed in motorsports is great, the last thing that NASCAR needs (or probably that true racing fans want) is another media spectacle to enter the garage and distract attention away from real racing situations.
NASCAR has tried time and again to gain fans by implementing new rules, a new points format, and by entering and catering to bright, highly populated markets in the U.S. Hasn’t time shown that these pills have not been the cure for the decline in ratings… or worth their costs? If Danica Patrick wants in on NASCAR, she needs to earn her way in without the crutch of the money-hungry governing body.
HOT: A Nationwide Series of its own – With the exception of Joe Gibbs Racing Cup regulars Kyle Busch and Joey Logano absolutely dominating (and Logano winning) the event, Saturday’s Nationwide Series race in Kentucky was exciting because of the large presence of actual Nationwide drivers. Getting a chance to see the likes of Stephen Leicht, Trevor Bayne, Kelly Bires, Brad Keselowski, Jason Leffler, Justin Allgaier, and Erik Darnell battle for positions high in the running order was quite refreshing. This reminded me of the reason I was intrigued by Nationwide Series races several years ago. Getting a chance to learn the plight of other drivers, whose top prize is that specific race and not the next day’s event, is what the NASCAR Nationwide Series should be about.
The reason, of course, that much fewer Cup drivers ran the race is because the Cup Series was in Michigan and the Nationwide Series race ran in Kentucky. Geographical separations like Saturday’s should be the norm and not the exception, so the Nationwide Series can remain viable and colorful.
NOT: Marc Davis and Steve Wallace’s looming Cup races – Marc Davis and his father announced last week that they are planning on attempting the Sprint Cup Series race at New Hampshire in a couple of weeks and may attempt others. Around the same time, Rusty Wallace re-ignited the possibility of his team running some Cup races, as he said that he may have son and driver Steven Wallace close to a deal where, pending sponsorship, he could run up to 10 Cup races next season. Give me a break!
Marc Davis is barely old enough to race in NASCAR and has limited experience in any of NASCAR’s top three series (as was evidenced in the Nationwide Series race in Nashville, where he made a driving mistake and took Wallace driver Brendan Gaughan out of contention). Yet Davis is planning to attempt the Cup race with his own team. Considering how hard making a Cup race is already, does Davis really want to expend this kind of effort toward likely failure, despite sponsorship? Apparently, he does. This endeavor is similar to young Michelle Wie’s pathetic attempts at playing on the PGA Tour. After the novelty wore off, people just thought that the gimmicks were annoying. If Davis does make the event, he will become only the second black driver since Willy T. Ribbs in 1986 to run a Cup race. Despite that significance, Davis needs to save his energy and learn to master the Nationwide and Truck Series races first.
Steve Wallace is not ready to run Cup, either. In his third full season in the Nationwide Series, Wallace has yet to score a victory or really gain a long run of consistency. He may be among the wave of drivers that eventually will supplant today’s Cup regulars, but he is nowhere near ready to run Cup and has not shown the individual talent needed to adapt to the tough-driving COTs. Like Davis, Wallace needs to stick to and master his current digs before seriously considering a big leap to the big time.
The twists and turns of the road course of Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Ca. now await the Cup Series. Turn here to see which teams leave wine country walking the straight and narrow and which ones’ title hopes get inebriated with bad luck.
Listen to Doug every Saturday from 2-4 p.m. on The Allan Vigil Ford Lincoln Mercury 120 Racing Show with Captain Herb Emory on News/Talk 750 WSB in Atlanta and online at wsbradio.com.
©2000 - 2008 Doug Turnbull and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
Doug , you might want to review the tape of the Nashville race and see if you can find evidence of a Marc Davis “ driving mistake “ . I saw a driver with a car problem turning into the garage area and another driver trying to cut under him to get into a pit stall . Davis was entering the garage area at the only entrance to the garage area . I’m not even sure the car was still running . So was he supposed to park on pit road and wait for the pit stop by Gaughn to be completed ? Or was he doing exactly what he should have been doing and Brendan just ran into him ? I see it as an accident , plain and simple .
We go from “FUNNY”, to the absolutely “HILARIOUS”!
Your “the last thing that NASCAR needs (or probably that true racing fans want) is another media spectacle to enter the garage and distract attention away from real racing situations.”
“Distract from REAL racing situations’?
Since when does NA$CRAP present “REAL” racing situations?
And how many times do we need to hear about JR.?, he hasn’t been involved in any REAL RACING SITUATIONS for years now!
NA$CRAP is ONLY about the media! And the money!
NA$CRAP is NOT about providing “REAL RACE SITUATIONS”!
Not since King Brian took over anyway!
So funny! So very sad!
It’s about the money folks, just the money!
Wouldn’t Davis be the third African-American driver to make a Cup start? I thought Bill Lester ran a few in a Bill Davis car in 2003 or 2004.
Am I remebering wrong?
(Not meant to be smart, I’m just curious.)
You’re right, I didn’t see the Davis deal in the Nationwide Series, but I saw how Brendan Gaughan reacted and figured that maybe, just maybe, it was Davis’ fault – accident or not.
There is no way you can say that Danica has more talent than Dale Jr. Any Indy driver that has moved to NASCAR has struggled big time at first, except for the amazing Tony Stewart. Patrick can’t even outrun them, much less adjust to and then run fast in NASCAR. Junior has just under 20 wins and has won his sport’s niggest race. Patrick has one.
I welcome her to NASCAR if she can make it. I don’t want NASCAR bending over backwards to help her come and be an undue spectacle, when there are so many struggling, talented races who actually need a helping hand.
Next time, leave your email, Marsh. Thanks for reading!
watch what you say about Davis or you will be labeled… he wrecked the 62 and then they turnedit around so the RW team looked bad…
Glenn – How do you wreck someone when you’re in front of them?
Danica? No thanks.
Leilani Munter? Oh yes.
And put the sprint girls in bikinis in victory lane.
Then I…MIGHT…watch Michigan.
Hey Doug, I was wondering if Mark Davis qualified a Cup race, would that make him the third African-American. The second African-American was Bill Lester.