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 · Monday September 13, 2010
“Have you ever hit rock bottom?” Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt) posed this question to Edward Norton’s character in Fight Club as he challenged Norton to break away from his empty boring life, strip to the bare bones, and end up creating Joker-like social experiments and acts of terrorism. And while there were no face-disintegrating fights, acid-burnt tattoos, or explosions in the No. 88 AMP Energy Chevy’s pits or garage stall after Saturday night’s Air Guard 400 at Richmond, Dale Earnhardt, Jr.’s 34th place, six laps down finish was a Fight Club act in its own right: rock bottom for a team that has been conspicuously disappointing since Junior joined the team in 2008.
“Virginia is for Lovers” is the longtime travel slogan of the state that Richmond International Raceway calls home – and Junior, paired with crew chief Lance McGrew were initially living that feeling as the No. 88 qualified ninth Friday for Saturday night’s race, a rare ray of sunshine in a long, fruitless summer stretch. But the duo knew that the race ahead would be a challenge, practicing only 38th and 27th-fastest in Friday’s two sessions. Out of Chase contention and with little to lose, McGrew and the AMP crew put an unconventional setup under Earnhardt, Jr. going forward.
Junior Nation — the legion of fans that once was an ocean of red, but now has dwindled to look more like a Doppler Radar scattered with spread smudges of green and red pop-up storms in the grandstands — propped up Dale Jr.’s starting spot with the flimsy hope that maybe the three-time Richmond winner would have something for the rest of the field come Saturday’s green flag. Junior starting ninth caused this buzz. Ninth! That’s how bad his last four seasons have been.
Last week at Atlanta, Junior ran as high as the top 15, actually turning heads at one time from my vantage point in the AMS media center. But fate and inevitability struck the No. 88 yet again, relegating the beleaguered team to an irrelevant 22nd-place finish. Hopes were dashed yet again. The Doppler Radar cleared from the stands at AMS and flicked off the TVs at home, only to tune in again to the same mediocre hope at Richmond.
When the green flag fell Saturday night, eventual top two finishers Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch began picking off spots faster than a five year-old picks at scabs and were contenders within the first 100 laps. Dale Earnhardt, Jr., optimistic before the race that his new setup would leave him in the lead pack, fell from ninth to 22nd in about nine laps, struggled outside the top 30 soon after that, and settled into his resting spot around 35th by the race’s midpoint.
“I knew when the race started and the way it drove the first few laps, I knew we were probably going to be like that the rest of the night even though we were going to try to fix it,” Earnhardt, Jr. told SceneDaily.com’s Bob Pockrass. “I knew the chances of us hitting on anything were real, real slim to zero.”
The team, however, did try to fix Junior’s extreme handling problems (particularly through Turn 4) by adding multiple spring rubbers in the right rear, adjusting the track bar, even changing a shock. Late in the race and with no chance of a lead-lap finish, McGrew even pitted the No. 88 under green to make another major chassis adjustment.
The mad science project spawned the equivalent of blowing up the front porch with a K-Mart chemistry set, a million dollars’ worth of expenses at Richmond swirled down the drain like old milk. The only lesson learned? The new rear spring package and front spindles on the No. 88 that night were as useful as overweight and overpriced Defensive Lineman Albert Haynesworth is to the Washington Redskins – Dale Jr.’s favorite NFL team.
There were two extremely telling signs of the No. 88’s demise (it could be Junior’s or McGrew’s or both) Saturday night. First, look at part of Junior’s quote: “I knew we were probably going to be like that the rest of the night even though we were going to try to fix it.” How much faith does he have left in McGrew and the AMP crew? After finishing fourth in the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona in early July, he has only two top-20 finishes and has fallen from 11th to 19th in points. Almost every race in that stretch (and many others since McGrew took the helm of the No. 88 crew midway through 2009) followed the same pattern for the car’s handling: bad off the truck, OK early in the race, sagging at the midpoint, then nine-year old rental car-bad by the checkered flag. Junior’s relationships with both cousin and former crew chief Tony Eury, Jr. and McGrew at HMS have been love-hate, but this festering lack of confidence and constant negative feedback loop means that Plan B-McGrew cannot fix Junior and will not last.
The second really bad sign for the No. 88 Saturday night was the lack of attention it drew. With ESPN locked-in to Chase mode, the talented reporters that traverse pit road never did more than mention once or twice that the No. 88 was running poorly. Never did we hear about the “experimental setup” until Pockrass slipped to the sullen, non-black and yellow Chase hat-wearing section of the garage and pit road to get that scoop. Junior’s season has become as irrelevant as Ben Affleck’s acting career – so much hype early, so much disappointment recently. And now the storyline is old.
It is one that germinated in 2008 when, despite the No. 88’s Chase berth and 16 top 10s, Earnhardt and Eury Jr. kept leading early and faltering late in races. Then the results sank to Titanic lows in 2009 (five top 10s in 36 races: three with Eury, Jr. in 12 races, a 12th with Brian Whitesell in one race, and two in 23 races with McGrew) and similar results this year (five top 10s in 26 races, with the only top 5s coming at Daytona). We’re all used to this pattern by now. In fact, had Junior finished 24th instead of an epically bad 34th, there would be no scoop on his struggles.
But the No. 88 did hit rock bottom Saturday. Dale Jr. finished behind the No. 13 Germain Racing Toyota of Casey Mears (21st, two laps down); the No. 36 TBR Chevy of Dave Blaney (30th, four laps down); the No. 83 Red Bull Racing Toyota of Mattias Ekstrom (31st, four laps down, Ekstrom’s first oval stock car start) and the No. 71 TRG Motorsports Chevy of Landon Cassill (33rd, five laps down). All of those, sans the No. 83, are start-and-park teams, but had sponsorship Saturday and managed to outrun a fully-funded Hendrick Motorsports car. Junior did not wreck in the race, cut a tire, or drop a cylinder: The No. 88 was simply out-performed. Rock. Hard. Cold. Bottom.
What comes next for Junior and McGrew these next 10 races? More experiments? That didn’t go so well on Saturday and surely does not impress his generous sponsors. A run at 13th in points or “Best of the Rest” status? That’s as likely as Virginia Tech winning the National Title in College Football this year. The cold and ugly truth is there may be nowhere to go moving forward. Just like he said a year ago, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. has to be at the end of his rope. Lance McGrew who, if you remember, won a Nationwide Series title with Brian Vickers in 1897 (actually 2003), has to be at his wit’s end, too. Junior fans, the decreasing number of No. 88 supporters that still sport his colors can only take so much more flack for wearing the hats and shirts of a 20th-place driver. If these last 10 races for Dale Earnhardt, Jr. are as middling as both Junior and garage-mate Mark Martin’s have been all season long, the Nos. 5/88 shop on the Hendrick Motorsports property will figuratively look like the buildings that Tyler Durden (which Edward Norton had by then realized was himself the whole movie) watched explode in the closing scene of Fight Club. The only difference is, while the movie may have ended at that point, the No. 88 will have to do it all over again in 2011… with the same hopes and apprehensions.
Listen to Doug weekly on The Allan Vigil Ford Lincoln Mercury Speedshop racing show with host Captain Herb Emory each Saturday, from 12-1 p.m. (or whenever the Georgia Bulldogs are not playing) and daily as a traffic reporter on AM-750 and NOW 95.5 FM News/Talk WSB in Atlanta and on wsbradio.com. Doug also hosts podcasts on ChaseElliott.com and BillElliott.com and is co-track announcer at Gresham Motorsports Park in Jefferson, GA.
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©2000 - 2008 Doug Turnbull and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
Jr. Nation is fast becoming Jr. County. I’m starting to think the Milkman is his real daddy and he has none of Dale Sr’s DNA.
I almost wish Jr could rise up and win a half dozen or so Cup shows!It might get this boring Cup season new life. I mean who gives a crap who wins the Chase??
Didn’t the jet dryer lap him at one point?
I feel bad for Mark Martin who had to give up most of the good members of his team to Dale,jr. therefore compromising his season (obviously not for the better) and then Dale can’t even get a win this season with everything that Hendrick handed him on a silver platter.
Jr. should sit out one race and let Morgan Shepard see what the car can do.
I think it’s time for Lance to go but not because he did anything wrong. He should go for the same reason the coach gets fired from a bad basketball team: you can’t fire the players.
I listened to Jrs radio all race from the back grandstand and he did not give any negative feedback. He gave outstanding detailed feedback of exactly what the car was doing. It is not his fault if Lance cannot figure out what to do with it. being a race car driver I cannot figure out how you can continually make a car not turn any better. Every change Lance made to the car made it worse. Seriously…what gives? Don’t tell me Jr doesn’t have any talent look at his resume… 18 wins, Daytona 500, All-Star race, 2-Nationwide championships. You don’t get a resume like that by not having any talent. He runs competitively in the nationwide series against the SAME drivers when he drives his own equipment and actually has the backing of employees that want to see him succeed.
Yes, Dale Jr has talent. But he’s fallen into the realm of once-great drivers like Rusty Wallace, Dale Jarret, Darrel Waltrip, Bobby Labonte, and Jeff Burton. They used to win big all the time, but then they slowed down and just took up space. Its not the crew chief’s fault.
This was Ekstrom’s 2nd stock car start, not first. It WAS his first OVAL start.
Junior can win with the right crew chief, he showed that by winning in NW this year with Tony Jr. (though granted, that was at Daytona, a wild-card plate race).
I think the corporate Hendricks team is just the wrong place for him. He needs a team that’s good at paying attention to individuals. I would put EGR on that list (look what they’ve done for Jamie McMurray). Time for him to go to EGR and get the 8 back on the track again.
He may be a great driver in the past, but unless Pops decides to have a change of heart, Junebug will not be a contender anytime soon. There is a better shot of reconciliation between himself and Teresa than of Junior being a Cup Champ.
The fact that Ekstrom outran him when he had never seen an oval in race conditions is as damming a fact of how bad they were as anything else was. McGrew should be removed but who wants that job?
That vote of confidence by Hendrick is all you need to know about interest in being Junior’s CC.
The wins that Dale Jr. has were in most cases due to a much better car than his competitors . Particularly at the super speedways . DEI built the best cars and engines for super speedway racing . And for a short while Dale Jr. had the best ever super speedway driver as a coach .
Went to the Richmond race early and sat and people watched for the better part of 3 hours before the race. Don’t know where you were, but at least 60% of the people who walked past me had 88 hats, shirts, coolers, etc. So in my opinion, you’re way off base if you think Jr Nation is leaving the 88. To back up my opinion, when it started to sprinkle for a few minutes, there were so many people leaving( almost entirely 88 fans, going down the escalators out of the Commonwealth Towers) that they caused a traffic jam getting out of the parking lot and onto the highway, Me, I went back to the bus and watched college football on the computer, but then I am a JR fan, not a NASCAR fan. In fact, I am so interested in the chase, that I went home and bought my husband Direct TV’s Sunday Ticket for his birthday to watch for the rest of the season, instead of the Chase.
jr, should wake up an get out of there, jg/jj is the stars thrre not jr or mark,rick is just farting around ,an knows the money is coming in as long as jr stays there,then jg/jj can go faster they run good all the time,but crying for more speed now, go figure the 5/88 team is in a shop alone,like two black sheep , when feb comes again i will start watching again, better luck next year ,i hope
The question that should be asked is will Dale finish ahead of Last years 25th place points finish. He is falling like a rock in the water. And I see the Nation making every excuse in the world except the driver. I had hot pass and I never heard Junior say anything. Heard the Crew Chief, and the spotter, but not Junior, I think he was content not having to worry about missing his football game Sunday Night, that is what was more important to him after the race, whether the ‘skins would be the Cowboys.
Regardless of who he runs for or who the crew chief is, Jr. fades as the race progresses. He either has a stamina or concentration problem. He needs to get in better shape and work on his concentration and forget about his other interests when he is racing. They have changed everything but the driver and the results are the same.
I wonder if he & Lance have even tried the 24 & 48 setups. Ego has to be out the window by now. Re-learn to drive their setups, before he retires.
It’s just amazing to me that they never hit the set-up on the 88 car. Never. Even the law of averages would dictate around a 50% chance. So, what is going on that they NEVER hit the right set-up? That makes no sense at all.
Thats easy , Dale has no idea whats wrong with the car other than it doesn’t feel right . What is any crew chief supposed to do with that info ? To be a success , a team has to have clear and precise input from the driver . Some drivers are very good at that . Others not so good . Some are terrible at it . Dale is in the latter category .
The media has ceated a monster. They seemed to think he has much more talent than he possess. How many innocent crew chiefs will it take before people understand where the problem lies?
Doug, At Atlanta last week Jr. was 10th with 30 laps to go, that is top ten, which I guess is where you got you top 15…? When Wendy interviewed Jr. before the race, he said that he hoped that he had speed. He did not. Mark has been saying that he hasn’t had speed either. “5 yr.old picks at scabs.” & you want us to believe that you are a professional writer…? @haynesey, If Lance made the car turn better for Jr., he would be fired. I believe that what Rick wants is 8 titles for JJ, to beat the records of Earnhardt and Petty. As long as Jr. is at HMS he will not be competitive. Have you ever heard of the 25/88 car running competitively for a championship? I think that Rick was lying to all of us when he said in the press conf. where it was announced that Jr. was going to HMS, that he would get Jr. wins & championships. If Rick wanted Jr. winning, he would be winning. He does not. I believe that it was his intention all along was to use him for R&D so that he could not run competitively against JJ. Rick knows that he is better than JJ and he wants the records for the Hendrick name, & especially not Earnhardt. Oh yeah, & at the same time he wants the money Jr. brings in to finance getting JJ 7 or 8 championships. I believe that it is intention to erase the Earnhardt name from Nascar; i.e. Dei, & bury Jr.‘s career. In the past few weeks there has been a plethora of articles ripping Jr. to shreds, makes me wonder if Rick isn’t offering a sizeable reward to whomever can come up with the most disparaging story, & he has takers that I never thought would stoop to that level; Tom Bowles, Jenna Fryer, Terry Blount, Mark Kreigel, etc.. No one writes nasty pieces on JJ & JG, they don’t dare, Rick would not allow it. He is doing nothing about these vile pieces on Jr. Why not…? Ray Evernham has said on NN that he worries about Rick’s health due to worry about the 88 team, just let Jr. go and he doesn’t have to worry anymore. :) We certainly don’t want anything ontoward happening to poor little Rick. Think of how awful Jr. would feel. The only Christian thing to do here is for Jr. to go race for another team.
This is what Junior gets for refusing to be like his father. His dad drove with tenacity, aggressiveness, and a burning desire to win. He also would get the most out of even the crappiest equipment.
Mike Tyson, Jennifer Capriati, John Daly, Barry O, Tiger Woods, Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Well after reading thru what everybody has said, Why cant people see that the equiptment that Jr and Mark have is hand-me downs-from Jimmy and Jeff? Come on people its not hard to see. I truely believe if Jr had something to work with you would be seeing results everybody has been looking for. I wouldn’t blame Jr if he walked in Ricks office and said he had had enough.