Swan Racing Announces Restructuring, No. 26 & No. 30 "Sold" Off
posted by Thomas Bowles
Wednesday April 23, 2014
After a week of uncertainty, Swan Racing’s two teams will show up at Richmond Friday night after a combination of mergers and acquisitions have kept the two teams up and running. The moves, announced in a press release Wednesday will keep rookie Cole Whitt behind the wheel of the No. 26 while J.J. Yeley moves into the No. 30, replacing Parker Kligerman effective immediately.
The solution for Whitt was rather simple: Swan co-owner Anthony Marlowe merged his portion of ownership into a deal with BK Racing. That team will now expand to three cars, with Whitt running full-time (for now) alongside fellow rookies Alex Bowman (No. 23) and Ryan Truex (No. 83). The move will also keep former Swan employees working full-time, rehired by BK as enough money was gathered up to keep the No. 26 up and running. Whitt, who has a best run of 18th this season (Fontana) will remain competing with his crew essentially intact.
“I respect Brandon Davis and everything he has done for the Swan Racing Company,” said Marlowe in the release. “Looking forward, my mission is to ensure Cole Whitt races in every NASCAR Sprint Cup event this season. My friend Ron Devine and the BK Ownership group really stepped up to enable me to keep the No. 26 on the track. Cole and Randy [Cox, crew chief] are off to an auspicious start in 2014 for a new Cup Team and we are gearing up for Richmond. In addition to the No. 26 team’s performance so far this year, the new ‘win and you’re in’ system and qualifying rules were motivating and positive factors in my continued investment in NASCAR.”
As for Swan’s No. 30, the equipment has been sold to Johnathan Cohen and his Xxxtreme Motorsports operation. That team, which has yet to make a race this season with J.J. Yeley will now run that No. 30 with their own Chevys before switching to the new Swan equipment (plus their old number, 44) beginning at Talladega. It’s an opportunity for them to gain speed and perhaps run a full race. Xxxtreme, with patchwork funding has yet to run more than 66 laps in any Cup event, start-and-parking in every race it’s made since making a go at NASCAR’s top level in mid-2012.
“We’ve had a lot of adversity in our organization,” Cohen tweeted after the purchase. “But today, made a big step in the right direction.”
Co-owner Brandon Davis, who had been MIA before Tuesday’s public announcement praised both Marlowe and Cohen in helping keep the equipment, former employees, and one of his two drivers afloat while Swan searches for funding to keep racing.
“Anthony and Jonathan are both young and ambitious NASCAR enthusiasts,” he said in a statement, later reiterating those points on SIRIUS XM Radio. “It is important to keep them in the sport for the long term. I am very relieved to know that the Nos. 26 and 30 teams will be in good hands and will continue to compete the remainder of the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season. Most importantly, most of the team members have the opportunity to continue their employment in the sport and to support their families. This was critically important to me.”
So what happens to Swan’s other rookie, Parker Kligerman? Davis has retained Kligerman’s contract, and while the team has officially suspended operations he’s actively searching for funding to get the No. 30 back on track. Should it happen, it’ll be a one-car program with Kligerman at the wheel despite an ugly start that left the first-year driver 38th in series points.
“We are encouraged by the response we have received from interested parties,” Davis said of Kligerman. “Parker continues to be one of the most talented young drivers in NASCAR. He brought this racing team one of its strongest results in his first race with us [18th at Texas], and we are certain of his success in the future.”
The driver, in his response left the door open to run for other programs. Swan, which has partnered with celebrities like the NFL’s Bill Romanowski and rapper 50 Cent may be able to parlay those connections into funding that gets Kligerman into another car in the meantime.
“Although it’s unfortunate we are having to scale back, I look forward to the future and the exciting things that I’m confident we will accomplish at Swan Racing or with another team,” said Kligerman. “I value the relationship that I’ve had with Brandon Davis and am very grateful for him giving me an opportunity to compete in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Whether I continue to race with Brandon and Swan Racing or end up with another team, I will always give it my all on and off track to be the best I can be.”
Connect with Tom!
Daniel Suarez to Make Nationwide Debut for Joe Gibbs Racing at Richmond
posted by Phil Allaway
Tuesday April 22, 2014
Joe Gibbs Racing announced on Tuesday morning that NASCAR Toyota Series and K&N Pro Series East driver Daniel Suarez will make his Nationwide Series debut in Friday night’s ToyotaCare 250 at Richmond International Raceway. Sponsorship will be provided by Silent Circle, a global service that allows for the sending of encrypted communications and Telcel, a Mexican telecommunications company.
Suarez is thrilled to have the opportunity to race for Joe Gibbs Racing at Richmond.
“I’m excited for the opportunity to make my NASCAR Nationwide Series debut,” Suarez said in a press release. “I want to thank Telcel and Silent Circle for believing in me and making this a reality. I can’t wait for Friday night in Richmond.”
JGR President J.D. Gibbs is very excited to have an up and coming talent such as Suarez in the fold.
“Daniel is certainly someone that has proven to have a lot of talent and we are thrilled this was able to come together and allow him to make his debut at Richmond,” Gibbs said. “I think it’s exciting when you look at the young talent our sport has right now and we certainly feel that Daniel is going to be part of the future for NASCAR.”
For Suarez, the 2014 season has been very successful so far. He started tke K&N Pro Series East season with two wins in three days in New Smyrna Beach, FL and Daytona Beach, FL (as part of the UNOH Battle at the Beach). Despite a crash at Bristol, Suarez still ranks second in points behind Ben Rhodes. In the Toyota Series, Suarez came from behind to win the season opening Toyota 120 at Phoenix International Raceway in front of all the Sprint Cup and Nationwide teams. Another win in Chiapas and a second-place finish at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez’s oval gives him a nine point lead over Antonio Perez.
This will be a very busy weekend for Suarez. With the Denny Hamlin Short Track Showdown moving to South Boston Speedway this year, the K&N Pro Series East Blue Ox 100 will be held immediately after the conclusion of the Nationwide Series ToyotaCare 250. In addition, the Toyota Series will have their fourth race of the season at the Autodromo de Monterrey in Suarez’s hometown on Sunday.
Gene Haas' Formula One License Application Accepted By FIA
posted by Phil Allaway
Friday April 11, 2014
This morning, the FIA announced that the license application submitted by Stewart-Haas Racing co-owner Gene Haas had officially been accepted. As a result, provided that everything comes together financially and technically, Haas’ new Formula One team will have a spot on the grid at the start of the 2015 season.
Upon receiving the news this morning, Haas released the following statement.
“Obviously, we’re extremely pleased to have been granted a Formula One license by the FIA,” Haas wrote. “It’s an exciting time for me, Haas Automation and anyone who wanted to see an American team return to Formula One.”
“Now, the really hard work begins. It’s a challenge we embrace as we work to put cars on the grid. I want to thank the FIA for this opportunity and the diligence everyone put forth to see our license application come to fruition.”
Haas’ team would be the 12th team on the Formula One grid for the 2015 season if all the current teams return. Much like the failed USF1 team that Peter Windsor was involved with, the team would partially be based in North Carolina with an additional European base.
Stewart-Haas Racing is setting up a press conference for Monday to further discuss the move. We’ll have more information here at Frontstretch as soon as it becomes available.
Speeds Approach 220 MPH At Michigan Test
posted by Phil Allaway
Thursday April 10, 2014
On Wednesday, Goodyear held the second and final day of their tire test at Michigan International Speedway. The overall goal of the test was so teams could come up with a solution that would encourage better racing on the two-mile, D-shaped oval, while at the same time allowing for a compound that would not blister.
Much of the headlines from the test seemed to stem from high speeds reported. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. tweeted a computer readout that stated he reached 215.2 mph. Clint Bowyer went a little bit faster at 217 mph, which Bowyer later described as “whites-in-your-eyes fast.” Greg Biffle told ESPN’s Shannon Spake on NASCAR Now that he reached 220 mph and a 204 mph average.
Despite the high speeds, the drivers who tested Tuesday and Wednesday believe that there will be better racing this year in the Irish Hills. Michigan winters are a bit harsher than in most locales on the Sprint Cup calendar. As a result, there is more weathering from year to year.
Earnhardt Jr. appeared to be quite happy with the track.
“I enjoy racing here,” the two-time Michigan winner said. “It’s a fun track. The asphalt is really aging well and it’s just going to keep getting better and better over the next couple of years.”
As is the norm for Goodyear tire tests, no official speeds were announced. However, Earnhardt Jr. stated in the Media Center that while he was going anywhere from 212-215 mph at the end of the frontstretch, he was only dropping down to 180 or so in the turns.
Greg Biffle and Ryan Newman echoed Earnhardt Jr.’s sentiment when asked about the track surface. They expect the track to support multiple grooves for racing when the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series return in June.
As for track management, they definitely appear to like the high speeds. Michigan International Speedway President Roger Curtis spent part of Wednesday retweeting top speed posts. However, Curtis understands that going fast is not the only thing that matters.
“The drivers are posting 200 mph. That’s awesome,” Curtis said. “The fans get very, very excited about that. But at the end of the day, on Sunday when the green flag drops, the numbers ‘two zero zero’ they’re not anywhere in the fans’ minds. It’s lead changes, it’s the competition…”
Since the track was repaved prior to the 2012 season, the number of lead changes at Michigan International Speedway has been relatively flat with the years before the repave. However, the number of cautions are up as well, which can skew the lead change numbers a little. Complaints have come more from a rock hard tire compound, made by Goodyear for safety reasons which has made passing more difficult and actual “wear” (which leads to speed dropoff) hard to come by.
Sherwin-Williams To Sponsor No. 51 Cup Car At Darlington
posted by Phil Allaway
Thursday April 10, 2014
On Wednesday, HScott Motorsports announced that Sherwin-Williams will serve as the primary sponsor of Justin Allgaier’s No. 51 Chevrolet this weekend at Darlington Raceway. The No. 51 will primarily be advertising the automotive finishes division, in addition to the AWX Performance Plus Waterborne Refinish System the company makes.
Allgaier is very happy to have Sherwin-Williams onboard.
“I’m thrilled to have Sherwin-Williams on the car at Darlington,” Allgaier said in the press release. “They are a big supporter of HScott Motorsports and NASCAR. I can’t wait drive the No. 51 with the Sherwin-Williams colors on it at one of my favorite tracks.”
Sherwin-Williams has a fairly extensive history in NASCAR. They currently serve as the “Official Automotive Paint of NASCAR.” Prior to that, the company served as a primary sponsor for a number of cars in what is now the Nationwide Series.
As for Allgaier, Saturday will more than likely be his first career Sprint Cup start at the historic oval. However, in five Nationwide Series starts, Allgaier already has two top-5 and three top-10 finishes. His average result is an excellent 9.8.
Bass Pro Shops Primary Sponsor For Austin Dillon In Two Cup Races
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Wednesday April 9, 2014
Announced Tuesday in a ceremony and car unveiling at their Concord, NC location, Bass Pro Shops and Richard Childress Racing made it official that the national outdoor sports retail giant will be the primary sponsor of Austin Dillon’s No. 3 Chevrolet SS for two races during the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup season at Talladega (May 4th) and Daytona (July 5th).
Bass Pro Shops has been associated with Dillon’s career dating back to 2010, when they sponsored his No. 3 Chevy Silverado in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, and also followed Dillon to the Nationwide Series as a sponsor for his No. 3 Chevy Camaro for RCR. The two won a pair of NASCAR championships together, and the retailer has also served as an associate sponsor for Dillon’s car in the NSCS this season.
During the announcement, Bass Pro Shops noted that the retailer has been involved in the sport of NASCAR since 1998, when they became an associate sponsor of RCR’s No. 3 Chevy Monte Carlo driven by legend Dale Earnhardt.
Now, the sponsor is back on the Cup level, paired with the No. 3 once again and hoping to elevate the program to Victory Lane. Already, Dillon has one pole to start the season at Daytona, where he posted a ninth-place finish, his best result to date during this rookie campaign. 21st at Texas last weekend, he’s currently 11th in the Sprint Cup championship standings.
For the Bojangles’ Southern 500 this weekend at Darlington, Dillon will have Dow Chemical on board as the primary sponsor for the No. 3 car.
Ruud To Sponsor Buescher, No. 99 RAB Racing Toyota
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Wednesday April 9, 2014
RAB Racing announced that Ruud, heating and cooling brand, will be on board the No. 99 Toyota Camry as primary sponsor this weekend at Darlington for the VFW Sport Clips Help-A-Hero 200 NASCAR Nationwide Series race. The brand joins Rheem as a primary sponsor of the car during the 2014 Nationwide Series campaign. Ruud will also sponsor the No. 99 of James Buescher in several other races this season, according to a team statement.
Buescher, the 2012 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Champion, is driving full-time for RAB Racing and making the transition from the Truck Series to the NNS this year. The No. 99 team was recently penalized by NASCAR at Bristol for a P3 penalty (illegal weight added to the car improperly, which was lost during the race), which led to crew chief Chris Rice being fined $10,000 and placed on probation until December 31st. Car chief John Guerra was also placed on probation by the sanctioning body for the incident.
Sitting ninth in points thus far in 2014, Buescher’s best finish this season has been 12th at Phoenix. The 24-year-old, Plano, Texas native has one career win and 14 top-10 finishes in the NNS since his first start in 2008.
Five Sprint Cup Teams Test At MIS For Goodyear
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Wednesday April 9, 2014
After a long winter in Michigan, five NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams visited Michigan International Speedway for a Goodyear Tire Test taking place both Tuesday and Wednesday this week. To prepare for the test, MIS reported having to use the track’s jet dryers to clear and melt snow and ice from the two-mile track.
Due to the snow melt, frost, and rain on Monday night, MIS had to delay the tire test for most of the day because of weepers around the track’s surface. The track crew worked throughout the afternoon to dry up the moisture so that testing could get safely underway. Finally, Greg Biffle took his No. 16 3M Ford Fusion to the asphalt at MIS around 4:00 PM ET as the first driver on track.
In addition to Biffle, Goodyear has scheduled drivers Clint Bowyer; Trevor Bayne; Ryan Newman; and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. to take part in the tire test, which is open to fans from 9 AM to 5 PM today.
Michigan International Speedway is in for a busy summer in the Irish Hills as the track plays host to the Quicken Loans 400 on June 15th, then the Pure Michigan 400 on August 17th.
Logano's Four Tires Triumph Over Jeff Gordon's Two At Texas
posted by Justin Tucker
Tuesday April 8, 2014
Joey Logano would overcome Mother Nature and a green-white-checkered restart with four-time Cup Series champion Jeff Gordon to win the rain-delayed Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. Logano, with his trip to Victory Lane Monday afternoon also became the seventh different Sprint Cup driver to win in 2014 in as many races.
Logano, who led a race-high 108 laps on the afternoon, appeared to be on his way to a dominating victory until two laps to go. That’s when Kurt Busch blew a left-rear tire on his No. 41 Chevrolet, spraying debris all over the track.
“When you got like 40-something laps after the last pit stop, you got a pretty sizable lead, really all you’re thinking is, ‘Where is the white flag? Where is the white flag?’” Logano said after the race. “Then, you go into turn one, you see the [No.] 41 up against the wall. You’re like, Please no caution, please no caution. Boom, it comes out. You got to be kidding me. You get so mad you can barely control yourself.”
This incident, the third for Busch on the day would set up a decisive yellow-flag pit stop before the final restart. Jeff Gordon and the No. 24 team then rolled the dice, jumping from sixth to first with only two tires while Logano and his Penske teammate Brad Keselowski would take four. Keselowski, who was second coming in would then get caught speeding while exiting pit road, eliminating him from contention. The Penske Racing driver, after leading 85 laps in his own right dropped to a disappointing 15th on the afternoon.
“That last caution was a shame,” Keselowski said, who lost a chance to become the series’ first two-time winner. “I was just trying to get a little too much on pit road, wanted to get us out front to be able to win the race and tried a little too hard.”
That left Logano dealing with Gordon and Brian Vickers directly in front on the restart. As the cars accelerated, he wasted no time dispatching Vickers for second and set his sights on the bumper of Gordon’s No. 24 Chevrolet. On the white-flag lap, Logano was able to take advantage of his four fresh tires to get underneath Gordon, clearing him by the exit of Turn 1.
“I mean, coming in sixth, you’re in that position that you can gamble,” said Gordon, who did earn a consolation prize — becoming the Sprint Cup points leader for the first time since the 2009 Coca-Cola 600 (see below). “You’re not going to win it with four tires, you’re not going to win it with none. I knew it was going to be hard to hold those guys off.”
After clearing Gordon, Logano was able to cruise to his fourth career Sprint Cup Series win, his second with Penske in a little over a season with the team. The driver’s confidence is high, stemming from crew chief Todd Gordon whom the 23-year-old was quick to praise after the race.
“He (Todd Gordon) made a last-minute decision to put fuel in it, gave me better balance for what I needed and the guys made the ‘money stop,’” Logano said of the ending. “I was the first guy out with four tires on.”
Behind Logano and Gordon in the top 5 were Kyle Busch in third, followed by Vickers fourth and rookie sensation Kyle Larson in fifth, the only rookie to run inside the top 20. Greg Biffle was sixth, Matt Kenseth seventh, while Clint Bowyer earned his second top-10 result in eighth. Paul Menard earned his fourth top 10 in five races, running ninth while pole sitter Tony Stewart rounded out the top 10.
Monday’s race started in bizarre fashion, under a rare, green-yellow flag condition for ten laps to ensure that the 1.5-mile quad-oval was dry and fit for racing. Jet dryers were still on the track during this period to help the process. Unfortunately, the air from the dryers managed to get inside the wheel wells and affect the hood and roof flaps of several cars. Keselowski’s Ford actually ended up with a damaged hood hinge, resulting in four pit stops during this period for repairs. Many additional cars came down pit road to fix the flaps as well. NASCAR allowed the cars affected to make their stops without penalty, provided that they not add fuel or change tires in the process.
Then, shortly after going green Dale Earnhardt, Jr.‘s day ended prematurely after just 14 laps when he misjudged his positioning and clipped the grass in Texas’ quad-oval. The miscue resulted in the car digging in, popping a wheelie and shooting the No. 88 Chevrolet straight into a SAFER-less wall, resulting in a fiery crash. Not only did that ruin Earnhardt’s day, but it also impacted the race of Hendrick teammate Jimmie Johnson. Johnson wound up with windshield damage and a bent left-front corner of his No. 48 Chevrolet. Losing multiple laps for repairs, Johnson ended up 25th on the day while Earnhardt Jr. was scored dead last (43rd).
“You can’t run through there they way they have these cars on the ground,” Earnhardt said of the incident. “Just a mistake on my part. I just didn’t know I was that close to the grass, and made a mistake.”
Kevin Harvick had another fast race car, one capable of going up and taking the lead away from teammate Stewart on Lap 25. However, Harvick’s run of bad luck continued after blowing an engine just a couple of laps later. Harvick ended up 42nd, sitting just 31 points inside the top 30 needed to make the Chase after his win at Phoenix.
A look at the Duck Commander 500 by the numbers. There were 18 lead changes among nine drivers, while seven cautions for 49 laps slowed the pace to 134.191 MPH.
Next weekend, the Sprint Cup Series heads to legendary Darlington Raceway for the Bojangles’ Southern 500. The Green flag is scheduled for 6:45 PM ET on Saturday night.
Keselowski - Busch Feud And Other Martinsville Sidebars To Follow
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Monday March 31, 2014
Keselowski, Busch Feud
Two former Penske Racing teammates didn’t play the part Sunday, Brad Keselowski and Kurt Busch starting a feud that almost kept the latter from Victory Lane. It all started during the competition caution, on Lap 43 when the two cars made contact on pit road. Keselowski claims Busch turned into him, breaking the front suspension on the Miller Lite Ford in an accident that also included Kasey Kahne.
“I started to check up and I just barely got in the back of him and Kurt (Busch) just accelerated and drove through us, absolutely drove through us,” Keselowski said inside the garage. “I tell you what, I’m about tired of his recklessness.”
So Keselowski went back on-track, found Busch’s No. 41 car and promptly slammed into its right side. Trying to flatten tires, it seemed the endeavor ultimately failed but still fired up Busch to the point he started ranting inside the car.
“Welp, guess we’re going to get in a fight afterwards,” Busch said. “I’m going to **** that dude’s ****ing face!”
After that, Busch got focused, starting a drive that would end with him in Victory Lane. Keselowski, meanwhile ran 38th and still remained frustrated after the race.
“Tell him come here. I’m right here,” he said when told Busch was OK with fighting. “He knows where I’m at. Leave Victory Lane and we’ll go.”
“He does awesome things for charity and he’s probably the most talented race car driver, but he’s also one of the dumbest, so put those three together.”
Busch’s response, initially was to downplay the incident. But when pressed in the media center, post-race he finally broke down a bit. Calling the contact by a damaged Keselowski a “punk-ass move,” Busch said he’d be enacting revenge at a time of his choosing.
At press time, Keselowski had calmed down a bit, claiming he wasn’t trying to wreck Busch on Twitter and that the rivalry would not continue into Texas. No penalties from NASCAR, by the way occurred during the race or are expected for either side.
Crafton Claims Rain-Delayed Kroger 250 Victory
Due to Saturday’s complete washout, the Camping World Truck Series held their second race of the season immediately after the Sprint Cup Series’ STP 500 wrapped up. With a 5:30 PM start time, some feared the race would be called early due to darkness. Ultimately, that was not a concern.
In a quick event, Matt Crafton took the lead from local favorite Timothy Peters on Lap 209. From there, Crafton held off the rest of the pack through two green-white-checkered restarts to claim his first career Martinsville grandfather clock.
In the scrum on the final restart, Darrell Wallace, Jr. rose up to second, while rookie Ben Kennedy was third. Johnny Sauter finished fourth while using the front end of his Toyota Tundra in a manner similar to a battering ram. Ryan Blaney rounded out the top-5 finishers.
For more on Sunday’s Camping World Truck Series race, please check out Kelly Crandall’s Tracking the Trucks race recap at Frontstretch.
Tires Fail To Adhere to Track
Goodyear tire engineers stated Sunday that it takes a track temperature of 80 degrees Fahrenheit in order for their tires to lay down a proper groove in the turns. On Sunday, the track temperature never reached that point during the race. As a result, tire wear was very high on Sunday. Rubber chunks would shear off, early during green-flag runs and gather just outside the racing groove.
Drivers would ask for new tires every 20 laps or so. If there was a caution, nearly the entire field would come in for fresh rubber. There were examples of
“The track conditions today were extremely challenging with the marbles,” said Kenseth, who recovered to run sixth while Stewart wasn’t so lucky (17th). “They just wouldn’t clean them up — I don’t know why. If you had warm tires and you got pushed up in there then you were going to lose 15 spots sometimes — it was that bad.”
If the story sounds familiar to readers, it should. Last Fall, track temperatures struggled to reach 80 degrees through much of the race. However, the tire issues that resulted were not quite as severe.
Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
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Voices From the Heartland · Jeff Meyer · Wednesday August 8, 2007
Ever since Brian France took over the reins of NASCAR, he has unabashedly stated that two of his primary goals for the future of the sport were as follows: be as popular as the NFL, and capture that elusive creature known as the "casual fan."
Those are undoubtedly mighty ambitious goals for a man who is so despised by the very fans of the sport over which he presides. Things have gotten so bad as of late that even the President of the United States, when he wants to feel good about himself, compares his “approval ratings” to those of France.
The first goal, known to everyone else on the planet except France as pure folly, sadly will never be realized until the France family actually purchases the league in its entirety, throws away the rulebook, officiates all its games as in the same manner as racing, and renames it the NASCAR Football League. Not all has been lost during this personal quest, however. For example, NASCAR would now command respect that is equal to, or more likely surpass, that given to the sport of professional wrestling.
The second goal of capturing the “casual fan,” I must admit, has always been, until recently, a mystery to me. Just what constitutes a "casual fan?" Is it someone who dresses slightly better than the longtime fan upon which the sport is founded but oddly, vehemently hated by France? Is it the fan at California Speedway that, while not actually watching the race from the stands, casually glances up at a monitor strategically placed as he/she dines on cuisine prepared by Wolfgang Puck? I just never knew. Until now!
As fate would have it, I actually met a "casual fan" just the other day. Well, to be totally honest, I didn't "just" meet him – I've known him for 27 years! I consider him to be one of my best friends. There have been times that we have shared a residence together and, if memory serves me correctly, I have even been his "best man" in at least one of his weddings, possibly more. So, imagine my surprise to learn that he is now a "casual" NASCAR fan! I was utterly and totally shocked – and I will tell you why.
A little background for you first: this is a man that owns all things Bobby Labonte and most things Tony Stewart. This is a man that, for years, tried to drag me to a race back in the early to mid nineties, a trip which never seemed to work out until after the new millennium. This was the man that, when it did finally work out for me to go, was jealous of ME because my first NASCAR race (and every year thereafter) was the "Holy Grail" of races: the Bristol night race.
This is the man that has the connections to get as many Bristol night race tickets (at cost) for us and our friends and even people we're not too fond of, as we need them. This is the man that is on the yearly renewal list for tickets to Michigan and Darlington. This is the man that, when I go to his house, I have to ask him to turn on the TV for me because I haven't a clue as to which of the seven remotes to use or the sequence you need to use them in order to get a picture on the screen. This is the man that has DVR, DVD, UHF, VHS, HDTV, big screen, small screen, TiVo – as well as the APR associated with financing such things. If the program has racing in its title on his system, trust me – it's being recorded. Doesn't matter if it's opossum racing – we can sort it out and erase later, and it is still recorded. Don't want to miss a thing!
I know what you are thinking. This guy sounds like a racing fanatic, and that may have very well been true in the past, but now he is a "casual fan." How do I know? Recently one Sunday, my phone rang. I answered it, and the conversation went something like this:
Me: "Not much. Why? What are you doing?"
Him: "Mowing the lawn and drinking."
Me: "Ahhh, I see. In other words, your dog is hiding again!?"
Him: "Yeah, go figure. Seems that every time I get on the mower she disappears. Why is that?"
Me: "Dunno. Self-preservation perhaps? Heyâ€¦"
(Bear with me. This is the edited version! Word count restraints prohibit the full text.)
Me: "Why ain't you watching the race?"
Him: "I'm mowing and drinking! â€˜Sides, it's gotten to the point that I don't care if I watch it or not. I'll hit the highlights later. See all I need to that way."
Him: "Hello? Hello? You still there? Where'd you go? Hellooooo?"
It was at that moment that I realized I had met a "casual fan." I also realized, all my NASCAR writing aside, I must be one myself – because try as I may, I had no argument to his logic.
So congratulations, Mr. France! You have your "casual fans." Enjoy â€˜em while you can.
Stay off the wall, (but email me if you are looking for tickets to this month’s Michigan raceâ€¦seriously)
©2000 - 2008 Jeff Meyer and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
You hit that one exactly right! I just realized that I, too, after years of being a slave to any and all TV race coverage, am well on the way to achieving “casual fan” status! All the hype and gimmicks (most of all the ‘crapshoot’) have sapped my interest to the point where I no longer care if I actually watch a race or not. But I’m not giving up my season tickets to Bristol yet. I’ll wait another year to see if the ‘chase’ manages to create another ‘follow the leader so I don’t interfere with the chase guys’ parade.
Thanks, Jeff, like SallyB, this has caused a self realization that I, too, have become a casual fan. Once I would get almost depressed because I had to be away on Sunday afternoon and forgot to set the VCR. At first, I began fast forwarding through the race to catch the highlights. Now I don’t even have the VCR plugged in and only switch over to the race for the last few laps. That way I am set up for the end in the unlikely event that it is exciting and I will usually get an idea of the latest installment of the weekly NASCAR soap opera, “As the Drivers Turn.” In many instances such as CA or MI or Chicago, I don’t even make the end of the race. It’s just too boring. It’s easier to just read the Frontstretch and Jayski to get the details. Eventually, I will become such a casual fan that I won’t even do that. I’ll just watch the Sunday night news. By the way, most of my old NASCAR fan buddies are now casual fans as well.
Well said by both Jeff and SallyB. NASCAR fan since before Petty (Richard) drove a Ford, I guess I became a casual fan when I gave up my Bristol tickets last year.
Congratulations Brian on a job well done! Before becoming a casual fan my life revolved around your sport. Never missed a TRUX, BUSCH or CUP race no matter which one of the 7 stations it was on. Taped ‘em all if I couldn’t watch live. Had a garage full of magazines and race papers.
Cancelled all the subscriptions. Now can’t watch TRUX (refuse to pay the outrageous cost to get SPEED-thanks again Brian), ain’t seen a Busch race since I don’t know when, and will only watch Cup if its convenient (and not on FX). Listen occasionally to Claire B. on my recently purchased XM on which I got to listen to race coverage one year on it-thanks again Brian.
So I guess now I’m a casual fan.
Thanks Brian F! You’ve accomplished something your father and grandfather couldn’t do . . . you made me realize that there IS more to life that your sport. Thanks again.
All my NASCAR writing aside I feel the same as Jeff—geez, and I’ve been trying to figure out what’s been going on with me all year and why I could care less if I see the races. And pretty amazing that everyone else feels the same way I do…
I must have become a casual fan too. About 40 laps into the Brickyard 400, I got up and went to the store wearing a racing shirt. The guy behind the counter asked me why I wasn’t watching the race. I just looked at him and shrugged, I’ll catch the end of it, I said… not much goes on in the middle.
I was glued to the t.v. in the late 80s and throughout the 90s not missing a lap of any race. Back when a 1:00 pm start to a race was actually the start of the race, not the countdown to the countdown of the pre-race show… then the race starting at 2:30.
Part of this comes from the instant gratification we can get from the internet. Instead of having to wait until the next morning and a write up in our local newspaper from the AP… we can read about it minutes after the race is over, even while the race is on. We know too much about the cars now… we know so much that we know how little the driver has to do with their performance as the car they are riding in. It takes all of the drama out of it. So in a sense with the networks trying to add drama, they are taking the drama out and making us fanatics more casual… and the casual fan they are trying to get are still watching baseball, and football.
Hats off to Jeff Meyer ladies and gentlemen!!
This may be the best article that I’ve read on Frontstretch. However, I am somewhat of a newcomer to this site. But, none-the-less this is hands down the best that I have read.
And here I thought the “casual fan” was something like going “snipe hunting”. Good job Jeff.
Great article, Jeff!
Yep, I’m now a casual fan, too. I check before the race to see how everybody qualified (and who made the race), and check again Sunday or Monday to see how they finished. That’s good enough. I might watch a race if I’m too tired to do anything else. Other than my interest in seeing how the newcomers – Juan Pablo Montoya and Toyota – fare this year, I’ve really lost interest. The racing has become completely boring, and the best Brian France can do is try to implement new gimmicks to create artificial drama.
It’s too bad I’ll miss the NASCAR show this weekend – I’ll be at the Knoxville Nationals, watching racing…
I agree 100% I am becoming a casual fan but I don’t want to give up just yet.Maybe I need to start a website “fans for better racing” or something. There has to be a way to unite the fans and make a statement to nascar. What would Nascar do if fans united, enough is enough, and refused to turn on the tv. If ratings dropped like a rock things would have to change. I don’t know how to start such a movement, but if the casual fans united, we could grab Nascar by the throat and demand changes.
I can echo all that is above. To be even more precise, I finally got tickets for the Bristol race last year. I sure won’t do that again! Went three times in the 90’s to the Glen, turned down a FREE ticket this year! If it’s possible to dislike someone more than I dislike Bush, it would be Brian France. I still spend a lot of time at the weekend short tracks, so very much better than anything NASCRAP.
The commercials that we are forced to watch 101 times are the same ones we watched 101 times every single weekend. The worst is watching a Nascar race and watch a Nascar commercial. We are already watching go advertise on another cahnnel.Everything is becoming so fustrating that we also are starting to be casual fans. My son and his wife slowly lost interest and no longer go to any races and now this year they don’t even watch any races. So much for the younger crowd Nascar was trying to reach. We are looking for a pontoon now to go out on Sundays instead of watching races and we are looking forward to football season. Both of us end up falling asleep on and off during races we do try to watch. We were trying to make all the tracks (except the road races)and we have alot done but we may lose total interest before we make all the tracks.We used to go to the same 2 every year and add 1 or 2 each year but now we dropped 1 of the 2 that we went to and are only adding 1 new track this year. Cost of flights, Hotels, rental cars, food ,and etc. on top of the high ticket prices to watch a boring races is becoming a waste of money. We go home feeling cheated.
I became a “casual” Nascar fan on Feb 18,2001
Don’t worry, fellow “casual” fans. Brain France will grow tired of his little toy and move to bigger and better things. He’s only got about 3 weeks left, though. Once football season starts it’s “So long, NASCAR. See ya in Daytona.”
I too have become a casal fan..It used to be impossible to pull me away from a Truck, Busch, or Cup..(yeah, I said it..), race. I’d watch all the laps..in the last few years though its dropped off. Even my wife who I would’ve described as a casual fan knew who was leading the points and even would watch races if nothing else was going..plus she didn’t need to be told what loose or tight was, or have some silly draft tracks thing. The only race I still wouldn’t miss now is Bristol, especially the night race. Sadly NASCAR has sucked the life out of this race..I didn’t think it was possible to make Bristol a follow-the-leader race where everyone beame so damn polite. Anyway, while I try to catch as much racing as I can it’s not like it used to be where I’d plan my day around it.
I couldn’t agree more.
After growing up at IMS in the 50’s and 60’s, I’ve spent the last almost forty years using as much of my spare time, money and hobby space as possible to feed the racing need.
Now, however … ? I’m slowly losing the desire for my AMS season tickets, my first Bristol was last year’s suddenly Chase-ified ho-hum night race, and I gave up on the Brickyard after eleven years of paying more and more for less and less.
Now I often find myself with better things to do than suffer through endless hours of tabloid coverage, screen-hogging and often useless video graphics, and cameras that manage to capture more off-track nonsense than on-track racing.
Thanks for opening my eyes and putting a name to my unfortunate condition. It may improve, but I’m just about done with pouring unappreciated money into BF’s pockets. Not when my local tracks put it to so much better use.
Ah, my dear Jeff. After 39 years of living, breathing, and devoting my life to NASCAR and stock car racing, even writing about it for 3 plus years in an effort to fight for a return to the sports values, I finally found myself in the roll you so eloquently described.
All I can say is it breaks my heart.
Zetch got it right. Whether we realized it or not, many of us lost a lot of interest that day in February ’01. Like him or hate him as long as The Man was on the track it was going to be interesting at the end – whether he was among the top five or six laps down he was probably going to play a role in the outcome. Additionally, I believe Dale’s influence with the Frances kept things more race-related. Since 2001 NA$CAR has become sanitized entertainment with the almighty dollar as the only goal and I no longer consider it a sport.
As someone mentioned a day without an audience would be good but it is not going to happen. On-site fans are not going to buy expensive tickets and then not show up. And while TV ratings are generally down there does seem to be enough controversy created from time to time to bring a fair group back for the next episode.
When all is said and done, we, the “older” fans, have outlived our usefulness – we don’t fit the demographics anymore – so nobody is listening to us as we suffer in the “new modern era” and wish for the days of old.
I was feeling ok about myself till I read that post! Now I’m gonna have to make an appointment with my therapist! Thanx alot! LOL
Well stated Jeff. I would hope someone at Nascar is indeed looking at their fanbase. Basically, I was the hardcore fan who drove 7 hours to see the Southern 500 on Labor day, and once Nascar changed that, my interest waned. Nascar throughout the 1980’s, always stated they did not want to become like a “stick and ball” sport, but incrementally, Nascar has. My belief is that it started about 5-7 years ago with “offical Nascar” logo interfering with the 15 and 90 teams attempt to get sponsorship.
So essentially, instead of watching qualifying, I wait for it to be posted on the internet.
Now, since I work Sunday evenings, and the decision for Nascar to start the Daytona 500 (after a 2 hour prerace, Why!!) at about 4 p.m., I’ve turned to the internet and MRN.
Also, for those who remember.. Terry Labonte was sponsored by Sunoco for a year or two, and I do not recall the Union 76 management getting up in arms over it.
As a word of encouragement, you may now be a “casual NASCAR fan” but you’ll always be a “hardcore racing fan.” Just find your local race track and get involved. The local tracks still have great stories. Some are just struggling a bit but most still put on a good if not great show. Not to mention, ask around a bit and youâ€™ll find a team that could use your help.
My feeling is the NASCAR will continue to decrease in popularity, but if youâ€™ve been around racing long enough, you knew it was coming. Thereâ€™s an ebb and flow to the popularity of racing organizations. It wasnâ€™t that long ago when Indy was on top. Whatâ€™s next? Who knows? Regardless, maybe itâ€™s time to get off the couch and head down to your local track on a Friday or Saturday night.
Recent articles from Jeff Meyer:
Voices From The Cheap Seats: The Tale Of Two Tires
BSNews! Bruton’s Plans Extend Beyond Bristol’s Track
Top Ten Reasons Fans Failed To Show Up At Bristol Sunday
BSNews! NASCAR CEO Given "Special" Award Amidst Lavish Fanfare
Fan Coun-ci-What? Just What Is It That NASCAR Wants To Study?
Want to know more about Jeff Meyer or view his complete article archives? Then hop on over to his archive and bio page.