Kurt Busch to Attempt The Indianapolis-Charlotte Double
posted by Phil Allaway
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Andretti Autosport announced this morning that Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet in the Sprint Cup Series, will attempt the Indianapolis 500 in a fifth entry for the IndyCar Series team. Once the Indianapolis 500 is completed, Busch will fly from Indianapolis to Charlotte, jump in his No. 41 Chevrolet and compete in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Busch considers the opportunity to do the double as an old-school throwback moment.
“This is really to challenge myself within motorsports,” Busch said in Andretti Autosport’s press release. “Perhaps I am a bit of an old-school racer; a throwback, I guess. I enjoyed the era of drivers racing different cars and testing themselves in other series. It is tough to do now for a variety of factors, but when the opportunity is there, I want to do it. While NASCAR is my home, I have been fortunate to compete in Pro Stock on the NHRA circuit a number of years ago and test a V8 Supercar. This opportunity was a talk with Michael [Andretti] over dinner one night, a “What if,” and now it’s becoming a reality for me to drive in the Indy 500 with Andretti Autosport. It’s literally a dream come true. To go to the famous Brickyard with the iconic Andretti name, it doesn’t get much cooler or better than that.”
Busch will be doing the Indianapolis-Charlotte double as a Memorial Day mission to men and women serving in the U.S. Military via the Armed Forces Foundation. Fans can contribute to the cause by texting AFF to 50555 to donate $10.
Busch, who has never raced an IndyCar, passed Rookie Orientation at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year during a test session. At the time, Busch was more or less testing the Dallara DW12 for fun.
Busch will be the fourth driver to attempt the Indianapolis-Charlotte double. John Andretti was the first driver to attempt it in 1994. After finishing four laps down in tenth in Indianapolis, Andretti crashed and had engine problems in the 600. Robby Gordon has attempted the double five times, most recently in 2004. However, Gordon failed to make it to Charlotte on time and did not start the 600 in 2000 (P.J. Jones started Gordon’s No. 13 Ford in that instance). Finally, Tony Stewart has attempted the double twice (most recently in 2001) and is the only driver to ever complete all 1100 miles. Neither of the three drivers has won either leg of the double. The best finishes are Stewart and Gordon’s sixth-place finishes at the Indianapolis 500 (although Gordon’s came in 2000, the year he didn’t make it to Charlotte in time to start the Coca-Cola 600), and Stewart’s fourth-place finish in the 2001 Coca-Cola 600.
Danica Patrick, Justin Allgaier Talk About Phoenix Incident
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
A disappointing start to the year for Danica Patrick won’t include continued conflict. Patrick met with rookie Justin Allgaier Sunday, shortly after the Phoenix Cup race after a wreck ruined both drivers’ days. Patrick, who was critical of the No. 51 car on the radio, claiming Allgaier was “driving all over the track” appeared receptive to a conversation that quickly settled differences over what will be a long season.
“She was just upset because she got involved in the crash that we had,’’ said Allgaier to the Motor Racing Network. “She says she’s been through this and that she felt like I needed to settle down at that point. I explained my position on why everything happened. I think she understood where I was coming from. It doesn’t fix either one of our racecars. It doesn’t fix either one of our days. Unfortunately, we were both having pretty decent days.’’
Allgaier wound up 30th due to the incident while Patrick was 36th. The incident, which was caused by Allgaier’s spin also involved the No. 32 team and Travis Kvapil, which wound up 38th after sustaining heavy damage.
Camping World Close to Extending Title Sponsorship of NCWTS
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Marcus Lemonis, CEO of Camping World, Grand Marshal of Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway, and star of CNBC’s “The Profit,” made the announcement over the weekend that the retailer is very close to announcing a deal that would continue its title sponsorship of NASCAR’s Truck Series. The original agreement with NASCAR is scheduled to conclude after the 2015 season.
According to the sanctioning body, no formal contract has been signed, but “the agreement between the two parties has proven to be a beneficial one.”
“In about a month, we’ll be announcing a significant extension to that contract. It’s been great for us,” said Camping World’s Lemonis in a statement. “The NASCAR relationship has worked well for Camping World. When we started, we had 35 stores. Now, we’re up to 120 stores. As we travel the country and we meet new customers in stores, they always are very appreciative of our relationship with NASCAR. It’s been good.”
Gaining a long-term commitment from Camping World to sponsor the Truck Series would be a relief for NASCAR, which is set to lose Nationwide Insurance as title sponsor for the NASCAR Nationwide Series at the end of the 2014 season. The sponsorship of the Cup Series by Sprint runs through 2016.
The NCWTS is back in action on March 29th at 2:30 PM (ET) when the trucks visit Martinsville Speedway in the Kroger 250, which can be seen on Fox Sports 1. Ratings for the season opener were up 11 percent.
Harvick Takes Win At Phoenix In Second Race With New Team
posted by Justin Tucker
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Phoenix International Raceway has become Kevin Harvick’s home away from home. Sunday Afternoon was no exception as Harvick charged to the front early and would dominate for much of the day, leading 224 of the scheduled 312 laps to record his record fifth win on the one mile oval and his third win in the last four races at Phoenix.
Harvick, coming off of a disappointing Speedweeks which was capped by a last lap crash in the Daytona 500 in his debut with Stewart-Haas Racing, set the tone on Saturday by winning both practices while having the best 5 and 10-lap averages in the first practice of the day on Saturday. On Sunday, Harvick and his No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet was nothing short of flawless as he was able to hold Dale Earnhardt, Jr. by .489 seconds after a late race restart to claim his 24th career Sprint Cup Series victory.
“Man, this is awesome,” Harvick said after his dominant victory on Sunday. “Man, this just solidifies so many things and so many decisions. It’s been so much work with all the time and effort that these guys (the crew) have put in—but what a race car.”
Stewart Haas Racing co-owner Gene Haas shared in Harvick’s excitement after the race.
“It took long enough,” Haas joked. “This is phenomenal. I think there was a lot of skepticism last year about what myself and Tony (Stewart) what we were up to, was there a lot of madness to this. Quite frankly, it’s a great team, there’s a lot of synergy at the shop, people working together. I don’t know what we did, but I think we put together a great organization.”
Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt, Jr. continued his hot start to the 2014 season. Earnhardt Jr. would finish second on Sunday, marking his seventh consecutive top 10 finish since the end of the 2013 season. Earnhardt Jr. was pleased with the effort after a coast-to-coast whirlwind week after winning his second Daytona 500 and also gave great praise to the efforts of Harvick and the No. 4 team.
“I’ve got to congratulate Kevin. Those guys were two-tenths faster than everyone all weekend in practice. They were just phenomenal,” Earnhardt said. “To be able to run with them all day was a big confidence builder for us.”
Joining Harvick and Earnhardt in the top 5 of The Profit on CNBC 500K were Brad Keselowski with his second consecutive top 3 run of 2014 in third. Keselowski’s Team Penske teammate Joey Logano would finish fourth, and Jeff Gordon would come home fifth in his No. 24 Pepsi Max Chevrolet.
Jimmie Johnson finished in sixth, followed by Ryan Newman with a nice rebound after Daytona in seventh. Carl Edwards would carry the banner for Roush Fenway Racing by finishing eighth, Kyle Busch was ninth, and Jamie McMurray would finish tenth.
A look at the Profit on CNBC 500K by the numbers. There were 14 lead changes among eight different drivers, there were eight cautions for 39 laps which slowed the race pace to 109.229 MPH.
Next Sunday, the Sprint Cup Series heads to Sin City and the Las Vegas Motor
Starting Lineup: The Profit On CNBC 500K
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday March 1, 2014
Drivers in RED (i) are those ineligible to collect Sprint Cup points
Daytona 500 TV Ratings Down
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Wednesday February 26, 2014
What was the longest weather delay in Daytona 500 history turned out to bring NASCAR lower ratings and TV viewership Sunday night than expected. According to a report Monday from FOX Sports, the 56th running of the Daytona 500 airing at 8 PM (ET) posted a 5.6/10 national household rating/share which averaged 9.3 million viewers. That’s down 44 percent from last year’s 9.9, easily making it the least-watched Daytona 500 of all-time.
Due to the six-hour, twenty-two minute rain delay in Daytona, the race was up against the primetime coverage of the Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony from Sochi, Russia on NBC (15.25 million viewers). FOX also reported that 69% of the pre-rain delay viewers of the race, which began at 1 PM (ET) kept tuning in.
In comparison, the 2013 Daytona 500 on FOX was the most-watched race in five years, posting a 9.9/22 rating/share, commanding 16.7 million viewers. The Daytona 500 in 2012, the first to ever be run on a Monday and in the primetime slot did a 7.7/13 overnight rating/share which resulted in 13.67 million households viewing the race according to Nielsen TV ratings data.
Earnhardt, Jr. Claims Second Daytona 500 Victory
posted by Justin Tucker
Wednesday February 26, 2014
Ten years is a long time. For Dale Earnhardt, Jr., it felt like an eternity. NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver endured many near misses and close calls at the Daytona 500 since his only win in the Great American Race in 2004. Earnhardt had finished second in two of his last three Daytona 500s coming into Sunday’s race. He was also riding the tail of a 55-race winless streak, dating back to Michigan in 2012.
However nothing would stop Dale Jr. on Sunday, not even a 6 hour and 22 minute rain delay from capturing his second Daytona 500 win. Earnhardt Jr. led a race-high 54 laps on the evening and used some timely drafting help from teammates Jimmie Johnson and, on the final restart, Jeff Gordon to separate from the pack and secure the victory.
“Winning this race is the greatest feeling that you could feel in this sport besides accepting the trophy for the championship,” said a jubilant Earnhardt after pulling into Victory Lane. “We could fight off battle after battle. We got a little help at the end there from Jeff to get away on the restart. This is amazing. I can’t believe this is happening. I never take this for granted, man because it doesn’t happen twice, let alone once.”
Aside from the race itself the big story of the race was the 6 hour and 22 minute red flag, which threatened to move the race to Monday evening (had the race been postponed, FOX Sports’ Chris Myers had tweeted that the race would resume at 5:00pm EST). However, Mother Nature would cooperate and would allow the race to be run under different conditions from which they practiced this week. Once the race resumed, the intensity picked up from the changing track conditions. This allowed the pack to race side-by-side and at times 3-wide up to seven rows deep.
Joining Earnhardt Jr. in the top 5 for the 2014 Daytona 500 were: Denny Hamlin who closed out a spectacular Speedweeks in second, Brad Keselowski in third, Jeff Gordon in fourth, and Jimmie Johnson who overcome two wrecks leading up to the 500 in fifth.
Rounding out the top 10 in the Daytona 500 were Matt Kenseth in sixth, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. in seventh and Greg Biffle would bring his No. 16 Ford home in eighth. Austin Dillon would come home ninth in his first Cup Series race in the iconic No. 3 for Richard Childress Racing, while Casey Mears would round out the top 10.
A couple of major contenders for the Daytona 500 win would see their hopes dashed early on as Martin Truex, Jr. would blow up just 30 laps into the race, relegating him to a 43rd-place finish in his debut for Furniture Row Racing. Crew chief Todd Berrier was already in Nashville for a test session before the race was even over. Kyle Busch, meanwhile would have a pit road violation just before halfway and would spend much of the race battling back from that mistake. Busch would eventually finish 19th after leading 19 laps.
Danica Patrick would also be bit by bad luck as she was caught up in a multi-car wreck on lap 145. Patrick would lead her second consecutive Daytona 500, but wouldn’t have the finish to show for it finishing 40th. Tony Stewart would encounter a frustrating evening as well, with a fuel pickup problem derailing his quest for his first Daytona 500 win. Stewart would finish 35th.
A look at the Daytona 500 by the numbers. There were 42 lead changes among 18 drivers, while seven cautions for 39 laps would slow the race pace to 145.290 MPH.
Next week, the Sprint Cup Series heads to the “diamond in the desert,” Phoenix International Raceway for The Profit on CNBC 500K. The Green flag is scheduled for 3:15pm EST.
Nationwide Series Post-Race Quotes: Drive4COPD 300
posted by Thomas Bowles
Tuesday February 25, 2014
Frontstretch Interviews – Courtesy Mike Neff
ELLIOTT SADLER – FINISHED 4th
Thoughts on the race?
It’s definitely a lot different racing than what we’re used to.
Comfortable with it?
Yeah, it’s just different. You’re worried about what you’re doing, but you’re also worried about what everyone else is doing and they’re not doing more than you’re doing. Physically pushing a guy is way better than just riding so you just gotta time it right and push it to the edge.
Happy to start the year with a top 5?
Yeah. Hell, that was the worst we ran all day, I think. I have no idea how they put the 3 car in front of us on that last restart. I hadn’t seen the 3 car hardly all day. When they put us from fifth to sixth, on the outside line, it just really boxed us in. I would have really restarted behind my teammate and given him a good push to the front. Anyways, it is what it is; we’ll take it and move on.
Looked like you were up front all day.
The guys did a good job. We had a fast race car. Great pit stops, just really proud of these guys. The car’s in one piece and we can take it to Talladega now. Great job by my guys. A lot of effort came into coming down here to Daytona and giving ourselves a shot to win. We had that chance to be up front and make some things happen. Fifth is not what we want, but we’ll take it and move on.
Bumping vs Pushing?
It’s way harder. You don’t want to lay on the guy in front of you, so it’s tough racing. A lot different than what we’re used to, ‘cause you gotta go. You gotta drag the brake too ‘cause you don’t want to hit the guys and you don’t want to stay on him. It’s a lot harder mentally than what we’ve done in the past.
Car was strong all day. Pushing vs. Bumping, is that harder to do than just getting on somebody and pushing them?
Yeah, it is a little bit. When you bump ‘em, you jar ‘em, it kinda jacks ‘em a little bit. It’s a little more abrupt, obviously. I thought it was OK there at the end. It was certainly fun and hopefully entertaining. But a little bit of a struggle in the early part of the race and the midpart of the race to see a good race. And that’s unfortunate for the fans. You can’t do that the whole race, you can’t tear up your stuff, knock your grill in, overheat your motor, all that stuff so there’s no sense in doing all that until you get down to the last lap. The 7 and the 6, they did a good job. Man, the 7 really held the 22 and I tight on the bottom. I was rubbing his door and hitting the apron at the same time, no room whatsoever. So it was good; wish we were the ones who could have won but a lot better now than what we were last year.
Going home in one piece makes it a lot better, right?
Yeah. My back feels good. My foot feels good. Past years here, I’ve been going home with pain so I’m alright.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Truck Series Post-Race Quotes: Daytona (Exclusives)
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday February 22, 2014
When you’re on the outside like that, how frustrating is it?
It’s so hard. Timothy Peters has won here. Kyle Busch has won everywhere. Ron Hornaday has been running Trucks forever, probably before I was even born. I was surrounded by veterans there, and like I told them I don’t have a rookie stripe but I’m a rookie. This is only my fourth Truck race ever, my fourth superspeedway race, and man, I figured out when the 17 got up in front of me, I pushed him. And as soon as I pushed him, he took off. And I went with him. And I just kept doing it, and before I knew it, he was leading. And I saw Ron in my mirror, backed up to him, and if it wasn’t for him, I don’t know what would have happened. I gotta thank him big time for that. That was a true teammate move right there. I really appreciate that. He just bounced off me and we got to the front. I tried my hardest to sidedraft Kyle. I was probably touching his door.
Top 5 in the No. 30 truck. This deal come together at the last minute, but you had a heck of a truck. Tell us about your night.
Yeah, I’ve got to thank Turner Scott Motorsports. The guys worked so hard on this Rheem Comfort Products Chevrolet. Exciting! Just got hung up on the outside and had to wait for my teammate there to catch up. And then he got to the bottom, so… I got the old 32 and started pushing ol’ Ryan to the front. So, it’s not bad. We’ll take it. You just don’t want to step over that boundary. You don’t know how far to push and shove. We bumped about six times down the straightaway without latching onto them. Hopefully, that was OK and we came home with a top 5.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Budweiser Duels Post Race Quotes
posted by Matt Stallknecht
Friday February 21, 2014
BUDWEISER DUELS POST-RACE QUOTES
They’re saying the wheel bearing burned up in it. I don’t know what caused it, they’re taking it all apart to figure out what the heck happened. Something abnormal that’s for sure I don’t think I’ve ever had that happen at all. Hopefully, we made the race and hopefully we can fix the problem before Sunday.
WHAT WAS THAT LOUD BOOM ONCE YOU TURNED INTO THE GARAGE?
Loud pop was a tire… thankfully, it popped, hopefully it didn’t hurt anybody. All the heat created in the left front that popped was pretty weird.
REALLY GOOD RUN. WHAT DID YOU THINK OF IT?
Yeah, it was good. We have a car we can work with for the 500. Got a good starting spot, so we’re going to rest easy, fluff and buff our car for a couple of days and get ready for Sunday.
ANY DIFFERENCE ON WHETHER THE TOP OR BOTTOM LANE WORKED?
Yeah, I was just moving around, trying to stay with the flow. For me, this car works on all parts of the racetrack. So I’m pretty happy with it.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.
GOT SHUFFLED BACK, AFTER PIT STOPS AND THEN COULDN’T GET BACK UP TO THE FRONT. WHY?
Nah, we were just sitting there waiting until the last few laps to make a move. You didn’t want to pull down and get sent to the back. Seen a couple of guys get sent to the back really quick so we were just kind of waiting for the end. I felt like we had a good situation there with Ambrose behind us — we had a good run off Turn 2 and I went. It was the last lap, time to go do something, nobody went with us but hopefully Sunday is a different story.
We got a great car. We don’t have to work hard. We learned, we got a good race car. Got a car in one piece, ready to go so we’ll try and get through the next couple of practices, deliver it to the starting group this Sunday and we’ll be real happy.
YOU’RE IN THE DAYTONA 500!
Yeah, it’s pretty awesome. This Whitetail Chevrolet was so fast that I knew all I had to do was stick it behind smart, intelligent drafters and we could have a good finish. That’s what we did in the Duels and I’m excited. I’m excited to go do some stuff with the Nationwide car and have some more practice with this. But to know that we’re locked in the Daytona 500’s pretty cool.
YOU WERE OBVIOUSLY IN FRONT OF THAT MELEE AT THE END. WHEN YOU WERE UP FRONT THERE IN THE BEGINNING, WERE YOU HOPING TO JUST STAY IN LINE AND LET YOU FINISH TOP 5?
I was pretty content to ride and luckily I knew a lot of people around us were. It was nice to have a little calm and not really have to be racing hard the whole time. I knew that the pit stop was going to shake everything up and that’s exactly what happened. Fell back a little bit there but made the right moves at the end to get a good finish.
HOW STRONG ARE THESE RCR CARS?
They’re very strong! They definitely have the capabilities to be winning one of these races.
YOU’RE IN THE TOP 5 FOR YOUR HEAT IN THE DAYTONA 500. YOUR PRIMARY CAR IS SITTING RIGHT IN THE GARAGE, KIND OF WADDED UP. DID YOU THINK THIS ONE HAD IT IN IT?
Yeah, it’s a brand new car also. It’s just not quite as good as the primary but still a damned good car. I’m just proud of everybody at RCR for building such fast race cars. All of our cars have been fast, ECR motor’s been strong, even our affiliate teams have been qualifying really good and racing good. So… excited about 2014! It’s going to be a good year.
WELL MAN, YOU STARTED IN THE BACK BUT WORKED YOUR WAY TO THE FRONT WHEN IT COUNTED MOST. WERE YOU JUST BIDING YOUR TIME THROUGHOUT THE RACE?
Eh, you never know if you’re going to get back up there or not. We had to start at the back, we had to make a run early and see what we could do. We drove right to 10th, or something like that and then it got stagnant. We tried to make something happen, and went to the back again. Drove back up to the front. Again, just really proud of my guys. Matt Kruder did a hell of a job on that pit stop getting just enough gas in to gain some spots there.
RCR CARS SEEM PRETTY DARNED STRONG. DO YOU THINK THE RCR CARS HAVE SOMETHING FOR THEM ON SUNDAY — ESPECIALLY THE THREE JOE GIBBS RACING CARS THAT SEEM TO BE THE CLASS OF THE FIELD RIGHT NOW?
Oh yeah. The 20 car was extremely fast. The 11 didn’t qualify that good, but he’s a good drafter. I think he won. We definitely have something for him.
Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
Voices From the Cheapseats · Jeff Meyer · Friday July 20, 2012
As with most anything associated with NASCAR, I realize that this will be a futile endeavor but I will make an attempt none the less.
WARNING! What you are about to read may cause any number of maladies to any human being who possesses even the tiniest shred of common sense. The reader assumes any and all risks should they choose to proceed. (Commercials for law firms dealing with class action lawsuits for those who have been exposed to the spoken word and reasoning of Brian France are already in the works and will be airing soon during all future NASCAR race broadcasts.) You have been warned. The author of this article may not be held accountable for any frustration it may cause.
If you have come this far, I will assume that you are the adventurous type. In light of that, I will start with the least frustrating part…NASCAR piss tests.
Let me see if I am following this A.J. Allmendinger piss test timeline correctly; Urine samples “A” and “B” are collected on June 29th while “The Show” is in Kentucky. Sometime during the next week, sample “A” is tested and A.J. is suspended just before the Daytona race because sample “A” supposedly failed to study for said test.
Meanwhile, sample “B”, resting peacefully in a lab in Nashville, TN, hears that his brother, sample “A”, has failed and realizes that he must now take the test but does not know exactly when and starts to become a bit nervous. Presumably, if sample “B” has any brains at all, he started to study for the upcoming test a bit more arduously than his shamed brother.
Finally, it is announced that sample “B” will get his chance to shine on “…Tuesday, July 24 at 8:00am CDT and be conducted at the Aegis Analytical Laboratories in Nashville. Pursuant to the 2012 NASCAR Rulebook and in line with the procedures, we have elected to have a designated independent toxicologist present on AJ’s behalf. Along with everyone else, we are looking forward to hearing the results as quickly as possible.” So says Tara Ragan, Vice President, Walldinger Racing Inc. Sample “B” is extremely grateful for the extra study time!
Really? It takes NASCAR that long to set up a second test for a bottle of almost a month old pee? It never takes any employer that I know of that long! Heck, I recently took TWO pee tests in one day for the same company! (Passed both with flying colors, by the way, contrary to many people’s assumptions and bets.)
What is the shelf life of a bottle of pee anyway? I assume it has the ‘born on’ date written on it, but how long till it goes skunky?
Seems to me that a NEW piss test would have been in order immediately after the first one failed. I mean, even if the original pee is still good (as good as a bottle of pee can be at any age) what is another test of the same stuff gonna prove? If the second test passes, does that mean the testing process is bad? If it fails, and it should if the testing process is the same and above board, what is the point? One could (and one probably will) argue the test and the testing process is bogus because you’ve essentially proved that having a sample “B” is pointless if it is the same test used and the same pee as sample “A”.
Anyway, as you ponder all that, I will share with you the very first thing that popped into my mind when I heard A.J. was suspended.
My, my! Isn’t THAT a convenient way to open a seat for Matt Kenseth!? Think about it, if you’re Roger Penske, who’d you rather have in the seat of the No. 22, A.J. Allmendinger or Matt Kenseth? Not saying that that is what will actually happen but gee, the timing was impeccable!
And now for the really scary part. Excerpts of the recent interview on the state of our sport with Brian France!
BRIAN FRANCE: Good afternoon, everybody. We’re obviously at the midway or a little further than the midway point and making the turn into our version of the playoffs. I think if you see some of the things that are going on, we’re encouraged by that.
By that I mean some of the story lines and how it’s shaping up. You’ve got Dale Jr., obviously, in contention, won a race, competing hard, could be a factor in the Chase. That would be a good thing for him, for sure, and everybody else.
I think there are also some interesting things with Jeff Gordon and where he is on the outside looking in, and probably is going to have to win a wildcard slot, going to have to win a couple of races at least as he goes down the stretch.
So that’s kind of what we want shaping up to try to match the intensity and competitive zeal of last year’s Chase which was probably our best ever. Our goal is to build on that. We’ll talk, and I’ll be happy to take any questions.
I know talking earlier with some of you regarding how I feel about the racing and some of the hot topics of the day, and I’ll be happy to take any questions, but I want to say a couple of things that I had mentioned in May.
We had moved Steve O’Donnell to take a much more direct role with the R&D center, and we also did a second thing with that which is we split out from competition. They’re still closely aligned and they’ll come together wherever we’re solving rules packages or innovation or any other issue which has to do with the racing product. But to give the group at the R&D center more clarity and more autonomy, frankly, to get at some of the things that are going to be critically important for us to get right. One of those is the racing product.
Our stated goal is to have the most competitive and close competition as we possibly can. I look at that over long periods of time with snap shots as we go along. It would be fair to say at any one time, although it would be subjective to say it’s really, really good or it’s not as good as some would like it to be.
When the new car came out several years ago, it would have been a fair argument at the time to say we didn’t have the rules packages just right for that particular car. We worked on that, later achieved that. We can go to tandem racing, go to any number of things that change around on us.
So our goal is to use what I’ve said, which is a lot more science than art for us to keep up, solve issues, create rules packages on intermediate tracks and alike that produce closer, more competitive racing. That is the stated goal. We’re doing a number of things to achieve that.
Then the last part of that discussion is technology and innovation. There are a lot of things on that agenda. Things like drying the racetrack off in a much faster way than we currently do it today, which obviously would have a huge benefit to our race fans and the sport in general. It’s going to mean doing things with technology inside the car, balancing that issue that we always have — which is not to drive the cost unnecessarily up on the team owners, but be more relevant in the technology space.
We’re working on a glass dashboard that is in the early stages, which is not inconsistent because the car manufacturers and some already there are coming with their own version of glass cockpits in passenger cars. So we’ll be very careful how we get there, but we’ll be looking at such things as that and many other things.
So that was our goal with what we’ve done strategically with the R&D center, and we’re only a few months into that plan. But it’s going to accelerate our ability to achieve solutions to sometimes complicated problems.
With that, I’m happy to take any questions.
Jeff Meyer: For the love of Bob! All that and we haven’t even had any questions yet!? I think my left ear is bleeding!
Q. Could you go into more detail in terms of what the technological innovations may be? Is the object to get the cars harder to drive to make them closer, put more emphasis back in the driver’s hands, things like that?
BRIAN FRANCE: Simply put, it’s to make the competition closer, more competitive. That is the stated goal of ours. Now how we get there, how fast we can move on those kind of sometimes problems, sometimes they’re just a circumstance of how things have evolved. Tandem racing would be a good example of that where it just evolved on us in a way that we, obviously, moved quickly to solve because it wasn’t popular.
But whatever it is, it is to make sure when you’re watching NASCAR that it’s as we’ve stated. That it is the closest, most competitive form of auto racing in the world. That’s going to mean a lot of different things, but we’re going to use — here’s what’s important — we’re going to use more science than we’ve ever used in getting those rules packages where we want them.
Even when we get them where we want them, they’re going to change. That’s just the nature of this business, the nature of the teams and so on. I do want to make one mention. One of the things we did a few years ago was involving — most of you know this, is involve the teams, their personnel and others, to share information not only where the sport was headed on business issues, but technical issues about what can we do to make racing better, safer, and different things? Before that exercise occurred, years before, whenever we’d solicit teams for their advice or information, we used to get very self-serving data back or very self-serving suggestions back.
Today, my guys tell me and I see, that’s largely changed. What we get back now engineering simulation reports, whatever it might be for us to look at and maybe change the rules package for the future is much more focused on what’s best for creating this closer, competitive racing. That is a nice change to see. The teams really have mobilized to work a lot closer with us to get a better result for our fans.
Jeff Meyer: I’m not sure why but the first thing that came to my mind from all that was the 1982 Thomas Dolby hit, ‘She Blinded Me With Science!” (Look it up on youtube!)
Q. Are you hiring any outside consultants or taking any advice from outside the garage or from people that you currently have on staff in trying to work on this project?
BRIAN FRANCE: Yes. We frequently use the smartest people in any given industry. We can’t employ everybody that’s best in class, so the answer is as we do in all other parts of our business, absolutely.
Jeff Meyer: “We can’t employ everybody that’s best in class…” uh, no kidding! I’d like to introduce as ‘exhibit A’, the interviewee, Brian France…
Q. You said you all want to increase the competition and increase the action and all. Where is the fine line you walk between maybe getting artificial and creating that and improving things?
BRIAN FRANCE: It’s a very clear line to us. What we’re not going to do are gimmicky things. I’ve heard we ought to throw a caution every ten laps. That’s nonsense. We won’t do gimmicky things. But we’ll do things that incentivize performance, incentivize wins. That we are open to. The wildcard does that. It does it in an authentic way.
Double file restarts get us better racing action. Anything that gets something better on the track and doesn’t employ a gimmick, we’d be reasonably open to.
Jeff Meyer: “Incentivize”? Really? Yeah, I typed it into Google, and they did come up with a definition but seriously, I’m 47 years old and I have NEVER heard anyone say that even once, let alone twice, in one sentence! Auto spell checker on Microsoft Word apparently has heard anyone use it either…or at least strongly suggest they don’t!
Personally, I think Brian is going by the old adage, “If you can’t dazzle ‘em with brilliance, baffle ‘em with bullshit!” here.
Q. When you say glass dashboards in cockpits. What is the purpose of that? What does that do? How does that enhance things?
BRIAN FRANCE: Well, there would be phases of that. It’s one of — I only share that with you because it’s one of many, many things from an innovation standpoint that are on the drawing board, not all of them will happen. But, for example, that is the future if you talk to the car manufacturers, which they’re always insisting and we understand why.
They want us to be as in-step with them as possible. That your car dashboard in the future is going to be like an airplane cockpit. You’ll be able to do different things with that and set it up the way you want to set it up. So the first step is for us to have a look and feel that is consistent with what they see their cars looking at on the showroom down the road.
Second part of that is there are going to be any number of things once we get this digitally done where that information out of the cockpit can be part of the racing experience for our fans in the stands or anywhere else.
I think that’s our step towards technology, our step towards innovation and a step towards being aligned with the car manufacturers.
Jeff Meyer: Yeah, I wondered about that too. I’m certainly glad he cleared that up! Do we really need ‘glass dashboards’ in racing? What a crock! Whatever happened to “trying to keep the costs down for the teams”? Just because a certain technology is out there doesn’t mean you need to use it. We also got the technology to strap a frickin’ rocket to a race car and shoot it into outer space if we want to…doesn’t mean we should!
Q. We hear a lot about your five-year plan. What parts of that plan might you see results the soonest? What would you expect out of that?
BRIAN FRANCE: Well, many of you work with our IMC Group and see many, many changes we’ve made to better service the media, better get at some of the things that we think can be improved on our end. You see our efforts to take our digital rights and social media and alike that we’re working very hard, hiring a lot of people, putting a bunch of resources against, and we’ll have those rights. We’ll be managing them fully in 2013 when the light comes on, you’ll see a big change there.
I mentioned throughout this discussion about innovation, about what the R&D center, and how they’re accelerating things. I got an update today from Steve O’Donnell and Robin Pemberton and Group at a very fast pace. But they’ll all take time. There won’t be anything we can do. There is nothing we should do just for the sake of being in a hurry. We want to make sure all of these things that we’re doing are best for the race fan, that make the racing better, make the experience better, align better with our partners. All of the things that we say all the time
What you’re seeing from us is putting a lot of those plans into very formal motion. I think we’ll all be happy. I know it gives the industry, the drivers, teams, tracks, a lot of reassurance that these important things that we’re all trying to get right, that we’re leaning on them. We’re investing lots of money and resources in a time where that’s not always easy to do.
We have a very, very clear plan, of which they’re participating, contributing, and we’re all going in one direction. That is a pretty big change from where things were four or five years ago, as many of you may remember where there were a lot of confusing messages or whatever that you may have heard from different people in the industry.
I’m really proud of that. That is a whole collection of efforts in the entire group at NASCAR, and the entire industry that’s figured out that these are big things to get done right, and we can get further together.
Jeff Meyer: “ I got an update today from Steve O’Donnell and Robin Pemberton and Group at a very fast pace. But they’ll all take time. There won’t be anything we can do. There is nothing we should do just for the sake of being in a hurry.”
Q. What are your feelings in general on shorter races and considering the sort of short attention span world we’re living in, can you see the sport short term or long-term going to things like maybe a pair of 20-mile races on race day as opposed to a four or 500 mile marathon? Are you looking at all of those things down the road?
BRIAN FRANCE: We are. I think you have to acknowledge that’s real. Any information shows that people have more to do, more devices to play with and get information from, and as a result, their attention span is shorter. We’ve shortened events. It’s generally worked well. At Pocono it worked well, California worked well, Dover has worked well. Some of the events that we’ve done. We’ll look at that.
We’ll also look at one of the great features this sport has, you know, the technology is a real part of this sport – in the cars themselves, in the way information is flowing back and forth between the teams, the drivers, and ourselves. We’ll be able to enhance that experience for our race fans in ways that other sports may not be able to do.
That will be something — I said the glass cockpit, and we’ve said our digital rights. They’re all designed as people are watching, and maybe this convergence which has already happened a fair amount, where people — and I was talking to somebody today — they don’t watch the event without having their computer on to interact digitally in some way. All those things are on the table.
That’s why you have to have a plan to deal with those things. You have to have a plan to look down the road, and you have to have great people that can figure outcome indicated issues to make the sport better.
Jeff Meyer: Gee, what a novel idea…take some of the most boring races on the schedule and shorten them! Thank Bob they did it at California!
Here’s a five year plan for ya, Brian…sit back, look around and wonder where the hell everybody went!
Well there you have it. As you can see, the sport is in very good hands, as usual. If you have come this far, first I want to offer my condolences and second, I suggest you seek immediate medical attention…or better yet, a strong beverage, you deserve it!
Stay off the wall,
©2000 - 2008 Jeff Meyer and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
You about had a jump-the-shark moment with the A.J./Kenseth “leap”….
Once again, Brian France proves he’s an empty suit. Certainly a case of being born in the right place at the right time as he certainly couldn’t have earned the position he as now. What an idiot.
Brian France, the answer to the question “What’s wrong with NASCAR”.
Great Article! Humorous Title! Great interjections! Now if you could just delete the Brian France sections it would all be readable! Making Sense of Brian France (under “oxymoron” in the dictionary)…
I looked up moron in the dictionary and it had Brian France’s picture.
Seriously though, the problem with Aegis Labs and the guy running it is they do not recognize the possibilities of a false positive even though they’ve been successfully sued for a false positive and every court in the land recognizes false positives as a reality. IF NASCAR was a legitimate sanctioning body for a sport instead of a sports entertainment group, they’d find a real lab, like Lab Corp, to do their urinalysis. Carl edwards suggestion of having two labs to do the testing seems like a real solution however because it makes sense NASCAR won’t do it.
Yes, I too question why it would take so long to test the “B” sample and since it’s taking so long would that not affect the sample and the possibility that since it’s been so long the test could come back negative? Heck we’re talking almost a month-Jun. 29th to Jul. 24th. That seems like a very long time in my book to wait before testing the other sample. During that time, could the banned substance in the sample diminish enough to give a negative this time? Again, I believe Nascar has dropped the ball on this one, no way it should take that long to test the “B” sample. I use to get drug tested and I will bet you money if my “A” sample came back positive there is no way they would have waited nearly a month to test the “B” sample. Why wouldn’t you test the other sample as quickly as possible so if there was something wrong or a mistake was made AJ could be reinstated as soon as possible. Makes no sense to me like a lot of other things Nascar does. This is just stupid on Nascar’s Part. And, don’t give me the excuse of AJ having to find someone to observe the testing because surely someone could be found within nearly a month.
And they shortened Pocono recently, too.
I thought the reason for the delay in testing the B sample was due to Almendinger’s people needing to be there to witness the test. But yes, it does seem really strange to test a sample from the original sample and expect a different result. NASCAR should have asked AJ for another pee test immediately after pulling him from the race at Daytona and tested that.
As to making sense of Brian France? How, when, why? There is no sense connected to our feeble leader.
As to the delay in testing sample B. Probably because AJ needed to put his response in place and to find a time available for his toxicologist to attend and for permission from the lab for his/her attendance. Maybe also for the lab to make certain their testing abilities couldn’t be questioned by this outside tester.
Should AJ have had another test performed in the meantime? No question in my mind that it should have been done. But this is the France game and we play by his rules. That he or NASCAR no longer has any integrity means nothing. Neither does AJ’s reputation mean anything to NASCAR.
I THINK BRAIN FRANCE SHOULD TAKE A RANDOM URINE TEST.AND A MENTAL CHECK!!!!!!!
Yeah, that’s kinda my point…If you are a AJ Allmendinger,high profile NASCAR driver (and married to a super model to boot) and you have the kind of money he has, I could have my lawyer and my own toxicologist ready to witness another test within HOURS! IMO, nascar has never done anything right or above board when it comes to drug testing.
NASCAR is (and always has been) a dictatorship. At least Bill and Bill were intelligent. Brian is not too bright, and he cares little about racing. It doesn’t help when butt-kissing drivers like Jeff “Mayor” Burton go on and on about how much integrity there is with NASCAR’s drug-testing policies and how wonderful NASCAR is. I guess they know where their bread is buttered!
Yeah, I skipped Brian’s part, too…I tend to find Jeff’s points (or anyone’s points, for that matter) MUCH more interesting than Brian France’s narcolepsy-inducing comments.
OMG – what in the world was this? Query: why in the world is he heading up NASCAR? What a dolt…and when is his drug test scheduled? I hope very soon!!
I’m glad to see the R&D center is spending all their time on track drying and glass dashboards. How bout fixing the product on the track, Brian? Its awful. But you wouldn’t konw that because you don’t watch any of the races.
Jeff, I’m surprised you weren’t all over his gimmicks comment. Like the Chase and GWC finishes aren’t gimmicks?Brian is so out of touch with reality
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