NASCAR Changes Qualifying Format
posted by Summer Bedgood
Tuesday March 11, 2014
Following safety concerns regarding NASCAR’s new qualifying format, the sanctioning body is introducing some changes in preparation for this weekend’s race at Bristol Motor Speedway. According to the Associated Press, NASCAR is banning teams from cool-down laps after their qualifying attempts, but will instead be allowed to hook up cool-down units to the engine through hood flaps.
Late Tuesday afternoon, a release from NASCAR fully detailed the changes. Teams will be allowed a single cool down unit to be connected through the right or left side hood flap, however the hood must remain closed. Additionally, two crew members will be allowed over the wall while cooling down.
“The qualifying is new to all of us and as we have said over the past several weeks, we are looking at it from all aspects,” said Robin Pemberton, vice president of competition and racing development. “Following discussions, both internally and with others in the garage area, we moved quickly to make a few revisions that will be effective starting with our two national series events at Bristol Motor Speedway this weekend. We believe this will only enhance and improve what has demonstrated to be an exciting form of qualifying for our fans, competitors and others involved with the sport. Moving forward we will continue to look at it and address anything else that we may need to as the season unfolds.”
The move comes after three weeks of NASCAR’s new knockout qualifying system, where multiple cars are allowed to make qualifying attempts at the same time instead of the traditional one-car-at-a-time procedure. Drivers and teams had complained that the new rules didn’t allow them to cool their engines down on pit road, and the cool-down laps caused a dangerous situation with slower cars staying on the track at the same time that other cars were running by them at much higher speeds.
The rule will begin this weekend in Bristol, a track that has a much narrower racing surface than Daytona, Phoenix, and Las Vegas.
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!
Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
Doug Turnbull · Tuesday June 23, 2009
The Cup Series’ trip to wine country in Sonoma, Ca. sure seemed to be worth the extra gas bill. The inevitable fuel strategy gambles and unpredictable mishaps that Infineon Raceway commonly produces shuffled up the running order many times during Sunday’s race. The racing action through the pack was tight and fender-banging, especially in the closing laps, helping to cure the spacious, snooze-worthy action of the past couple of weeks in Michigan and Pocono. Despite the race boiling down to fuel strategy, the best driver and car combination won the event. Kasey Kahne survived several restarts and held off an almost equal car and superior driver in Tony Stewart. Not every team was as lucky, as some Chase hopefuls took hits in the points and others that have struggled all year continued that trend. Here are this week’s HOT, WARM, and COLD drivers.
HOT: Kasey Kahne – For obvious reasons, Kasey Kahne is on the HOT list this week. After starting off the season warm and then hitting a cool streak, the No. 9 team is running better as the weeks progress and the new Dodge engine seems to be helping matters. Sunday, Kahne, who had never even scored a top 20 at the track, drove the Budweiser Dodge like a pro, fending off Tony Stewart’s charges on four different restarts. Kahne’s first win since Pocono in June 2008 also helped him to within just three points of the top 12 in the standings.
HOT: Jeff Gordon – You wouldn’t know that Jeff Gordon has scored the second most points amongst all Cup drivers this season based on how much exposure he and the No. 24 team have been getting. That is because Gordon has been coasting through most races quietly, racking up top 10s and holding his ground in the points. The No. 24 was never a factor at the front of the field in Infineon and even seemed to be doomed when Gordon pitted accidentally late in the event. But crew chief Steve Letarte rallied the crew and driver and Gordon nursed the DuPont Chevy to a ninth place finish. Rallying back from bad finishes has been a recurring theme for the No. 24 team this season and was an achievement of several in Sonoma.
HOT: Jimmie Johnson – Placing Johnson inside the HOT class instead of Tony Stewart was a hard choice. The deciding factor is that Stewart has run up front lately with ease; Johnson has had to overcome adversity to achieve similar results. (Of course, the fact that Stewart has been in this category almost every week for the last month and a half also has something to do with it). Sunday, Stewart worked his way up to the front and used his God given talent to stay there, while Johnson had to overcome a speeding penalty during green flag pit stops to get back to the top. Johnson admittedly is not a good road racer and showed that to be true in his accidental spinning of Kurt Busch late in the race. Nevertheless, Johnson and the Chad Knaus led crew hit their marks, leaving California with a fourth place finish in their caps and a hold on third in the points.
WARM: A.J. Allmendinger – Just a few laps into the event, A.J. Allmendinger appeared to be quickly out of contention. A spin, a flat tire, and a pit road penalty all came together to leave the No. 44 off of the lead lap. The first two-thirds of the event had few cautions, so Allmendinger’s chances to catch up with the field and salvage a good finish looked bleak. This changed, though, as pit strategy began to play out and cautions began to fly left and right. Allmendinger never gave up and eventually guided the Best Buy Dodge to a seventh place result. This was the No. 44’s first top 10 and second top 20 since Martinsville. With the Richard Petty Motorsports teams struggling for funds, placing three cars in the top 10 Sunday was a good shot in the arm for the whole company.
WARM: Elliott Sadler – Finishing just behind his teammate, Sadler rolls out of wine country with a 10th place effort, and overcame similar circumstances as Allmendinger to do it. Sadler’s year has been much more disappointing than Allmendinger’s, as Sunday’s finish was his first top 10 since his fifth place run in the Daytona 500. Sadler, though, has strung together consecutive good finishes (he was 12th in Michigan last week) and is trying to salvage what has been a lackluster season for the veteran.
WARM: Jamie McMurray – McMurray has a lot to drive for right now. The seemingly forgotten driver in the five team Roush stable, McMurray received a vote of confidence from team general manager Geoff Smith this weekend, as he said that Roush Fenway still wants to keep McMurray, and that his remaining with the team is dependent on sponsorship. Of course, McMurray’s No. 26 team (with or without the soon-to-be free agent) is almost certainly the one that Roush will send to Yates Racing as part of its forced downsizing. Nonetheless, McMurray is driving for a job and there looks to be very few openings amongst other teams. McMurray’s finish at Infineon (14th) was unspectacular, but it was his fourth-consecutive top 15 result. He is the only driver in the top 24 in points over the last five races who has not scored a top 10 in that stretch. Consistency, though, sure beats crashing.
COLD: Martin Truex, Jr. – Earnhardt Ganassi Racing’s decision to lease the No. 1 team’s backup car to TRG Motorsports’ No. 71 team did not buy them any karma Sunday in Infineon. Martin Truex, Jr. was never a factor in the event, eventually placing the No. 1 in 25th, and he even got accidentally spun out by Gilliland in the No. 71. Truex has had an extremely inconsistent year and has not notched a top 10 since Darlington. He sits far from Chase contention and his chances of re-signing with the team he began his Nationwide and Sprint Cup career with are slim to none as well.
COLD: Boris Said – We should probably leave poor Boris alone. His first NASCAR points race of the 2009 season did not go according to his plans. Said was driving the No. 08 for EM Motorsports, a small team that Said’s own operation has partnered with this year. After qualifying in the top 10, Said kept the car near the front until he got caught speeding on pit road. Once frustratingly trapped back in the pack, Said over-drove his black Ford and caused several spinouts. Combine this effort with the fact that his own Cup program, with new majority ownership from minority partner Rick Clark, has not made an attempt since its announced inception at Daytona, Boris Said is ICE COLD right now.
COLD: Dave Blaney – Saying Dave Blaney is a COLD driver is like saying that a good player is bad, just because he plays on a bad team. Blaney has a job right now because PRISM Motorsports needs some kind of driver to qualify its car decently for races, drive it for a few laps, and then park it for back of the pack money. Blaney himself has finished only one race, Charlotte, and that one was rain-shortened! The No. 66 team did finish well at Daytona with Terry Labonte, but has made a mockery of racing ever since. Unfortunately, the economy has left this as the only job that Blaney is going to get in the Cup Series this year.
Here are some HOT and NOT observations of the week in racing:
HOT: Cooperation – If you didn’t notice it this weekend, there were several feel-good stories that came out of Infineon. Despite teams barely struggling to get by, several managed to offer helping hands to each other.
After seeing the No. 71 crash in practice, EGR leased Martin Truex, Jr.’s backup car to TRG Motorsports and driver David Gilliland for Sunday’s race. The Wood Brothers crew made the trip to Infineon with the No. 08 team and Boris Said to pit the road course ringer. His chances of winning were lost on pit road by him, though, because he got caught speeding. Joe Nemechek also gave up the seat of his ride to rookie Scott Speed after he failed to qualify. Speed finished 37th, but did pit off-sequence to lead a lap late in the event.
These stories are great to hear and sure make the well-known bickering and lack of sharing that goes on between ESPN and FOX look silly. Hopefully they can learn a lesson from all of this.
NOT: Roush team chemistry – Yet another instance of a Roush teammate accidentally wrecking another took place Sunday, as David Ragan’s surprising top 10 run was ruined when Carl Edwards got into him and spun both him and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. Boris Said also got spun in the melee. All three drivers fell back to the mid-30s in the running order and never saw the top 20 after that. Of course, this has notoriously happened several times in the last couple of years…
Greg Biffle and Edwards got together on the track a few weeks ago in Darlington; Ragan got into Kenseth and sent him flipping in the Talladega Nationwide Series race in April; Ragan also got into Kenseth in the 2008 Daytona 500, wrecking both cars; Edwards over-bump drafted Biffle at Talladega in October 2008 and caused a big crash that eliminated both drivers; Ragan got loose under Kenseth and spun both out during the final race before the Chase at Richmond last year, ruining Ragan’s chances of qualifying for the Chase and nearly jeopardizing Kenseth’s. Most infamously, of course, was Matt Kenseth and Carl Edwards getting together several times during the fall Martinsville race in 2007 which prompted Edwards to track down Kenseth and give him a piece of his mind.
We can safely assume that these incidents were accidental, but it is ironic that they keep happening between teammates. After the Kenseth-Edwards drama in 2007, the lack of chemistry for Roush Fenway was revealed—Kenseth said that the drivers rarely hang out away from the track and that he and Edwards barely spoke. Following up with Kenseth in October 2008, he told me in an interview that things had gotten much better. But still…is everything okay at Roush Fenway? Do the senior drivers in the operation get along well with David Ragan? Have Kenseth and Edwards (and maybe now Edwards and Biffle) patched up their differences? (It is important to note that Biffle completely sided with Kenseth after their skirmish two years ago).
We will never find the real answer to these questions…until something boils over again. Let us hope for the sake of that team that it does not happen during the Chase.
HOT: Robby Gordon’s paint scheme at Infineon – Robby Gordon knew that he was going to contend at Infineon and decided that he was going to try and get maximum exposure for his two biggest sponsors. On Sunday, half of Gordon’s car and his entire hood were adorned with Jim Beam’s red, black, and white colors, while the driver’s side of the car and the rear were black, lime green and white for Menard’s. His start and park teammate, P.J. Jones, had a reverse scheme on the No. 04 Toyota. These schemes were bad looking and were good ways to get extra attention for sponsors that have stuck with Robby Gordon Motorsports through the thick and thin.
NOT: The effect of sponsorship on potential 2010 teams – With talk of Stewart-Haas Racing possibly expanding to three teams, JR Motorsports possibly moving to Cup, and Joe Gibbs Racing adding a fourth team, the big question in all of this is where sponsorship is going to come from.
JR Motorsports had to cut its second team back to part-time and show promising young driver Landon Cassill the door because sponsorship money could not be found. Now, with talk that he may move his operation to Cup, it is likely that the Navy, his primary sponsor on the No. 88 Nationwide Series Chevy, will not cover enough of the bill to make it happen (much like the Army and National Guard Cup Series sponsorships). That could leave that team looking for more funding.
Stewart-Haas Racing already has sponsorship gaps on Ryan Newman’s No. 39 U.S. Army Chevy, so adding a third team to the revamped operation may have to come only after the voids on Newman’s team get filled. Brad Keselowski is a likely fit for this team if it happens, but his allegiance to JR Motorsports may trump that if Dale, Jr. makes the ownership plunge.
Joe Gibbs Racing has adequate funding for its three teams and a new sponsor in Farm Bureau Insurance that is stepping up and sponsoring some Cup races this year. Finding a driver capable of attracting a sponsor affluent enough to fund a full Cup schedule may be tough. Gibbs does not have a development driver in the works ready enough to do it and the only other free agents available that could attract a big money sponsor have other commitments seemingly imminent (Keselowski to either SHR or JR Motorsports and Martin Truex, Jr. to Michael Waltrip Racing).
New teams are not the only ones struggling to find sponsorship. Both Shell and Jack Daniel’s are in the last years of their commitments with Richard Childress Racing—an organization whose teams are having major performance struggles this year. Kellogg’s has not yet re-signed with the No. 5 and Hendrick Motorsports, though that team has had great success with Mark Martin this year, and Roush Fenway Racing is looking to lock up more sponsorship for its teams next season. These sponsorship gaps do not include ones that exist at the small teams that started this season or the ones at Earnhardt Ganassi Racing and Richard Petty Motorsports. Combine all of this with the diminishing funding of manufacturers and 2010 could be a bleak year to start a new operation.
New Hampshire is the next stop for the Cup Series. Kurt Busch won the rain-shortened event a year ago and needs a good run Sunday to gain some momentum for the summer months. Turn here next week to see which teams gain and lose momentum at the revamped New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
Listen to Doug on The Allan Vigil Ford Lincoln Mercury 120 racing show with host Captain Herb Emory on Saturdays, from 2-4 p.m., on News/Talk 750 WSB in Atlanta and online at wsbradio.com
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Elliott Sadler had a much bigger recovery to finish 10th than AJ did to finish 7th Sunday. AJ got back on the lead lap 30 laps earlier than Elliott Sadler did and Elliott only had 20 green flag laps to drive from 34th place to 10th by the end!!! AJ did not have to repair damage to his car when he went one lap down…he only had a pass through the second time! the 19 team had to do repairs on their second pit stop in 2 laps and were nearly 2 laps down by that time! AJ got the Lucky Dog, Elliott got his lap back without it!!!! Not to mention that the fact that in those 10 race since Martinsville. Elliott Sadler’s has a top 10 and 3 top 15s! He also went from being 9 spots and 70 points behind AJ in the driver standings to 6 spots and 103 points ahead of him!!! So Who is having the More Lackluster Ssason?
I agree with James Edwards. For all the hype surrounding AJ’s performance in his new ride this season, he actually has been struggling ever since Texas. Sure, some of it was due to mechanical problems, but during most of this season he actually was no better than Sadler and Sorenson.
As for the lack of Roush team chemistry, this is mainly due to the age gap between Matt/Biff and Carl/Ragan and the resulting difference in driving styles. And unfortunately, Carl’s tendency for overaggressiveness and Ragan’s relative inexperience have often cost Matt and Biff good finishes. That’s why I think Danica coming to Roush is a dumb idea. She’ll just end up rubbing Matt and Biff the wrong way with her inexperience and aggression.
And finally, Doug, you’re dead on right in putting Boris Said in the cold column. That guy, despite all the hype about his road racing experience, showed Sunday that the only thing he’s experienced in was wrecking his competitors. I used to like him, but any respect I had for him went out of the window after he spun Kenseth out while attempting to divebomb Logano. Why Nascar didn’t penalize him for rough driving is beyond me.
I’m confused over two of your picks for the Hot category . You put the mileqtoast twins in second and third , and agonize over leaving out Tony Stewart who has bee FAR hotter than either of them . Gordon was no factor whatsoever during Sundays race , and Johnson only managed to stumble into a decent finish in the waining laps after demonstrating his usual petulant behavior when his day isn’t going well .
First of all, Jr got back up to 26th place after Carl’s assault on Reagan, Jr, Boris.
Second, when is the last time you covered a Nationwide race? Navy is not the #88 car. The sponsors are GoDaddy and Hellman.