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.
Earlier this week, The Associated Press reported that NASCAR had fined two of its “star drivers” for comments detrimental to the sport of stock car racing – so to speak. The fines, one of which was as much as $50,000, were not officially announced by NASCAR, but the sanctioning body later confirmed the reports. No driver was named while officials are being very hush, hush about the entire controversy.
These unannounced fines come at a time in which NASCAR has pushed the “Have at it, boys” philosophy and even promoted scary incidents which have resulted from that mentality. However, when a driver is critical of the sport while talking with the media, he is apparently now hit with a fine in secret and sent a clear message by the sport’s top brass in Daytona Beach.
Prior to the start of the 2010 season, NASCAR met with the drivers and teams to discuss their expectations for the upcoming season. This is where the “Have at it, boys” philosophy was born, but also where officials warned drivers if they spoke ill of the sport itself, they would be hit with a fine.
Six months later, turns out that step’s already been taken … we just didn’t know about it. Late Wednesday afternoon, ESPN’s David Newton reported that multiple sources close to the situation indicated the two drivers fined for their comments were Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin and Stewart-Haas Racing’s Ryan Newman.
Talking with members of the media last weekend in Indianapolis, Denny Hamlin was discussing his recent meeting with NASCAR and the changes that were discussed. When asked if he had any suggestions of his own, Hamlin responded with a smile on his face, saying, “I’ve got to be real careful what I say.” This was prior to news breaking of the fines; but when Hamlin was asked why he needed to be careful, he simply answered another question.
Many believe Hamlin could be one of the two drivers fined for their comments, with his post-race criticism following a win at Michigan coming to mind. In that race, Hamlin’s lead disappeared during the final laps due to a debris caution. Hamlin was able to score the win in spite of it, but later called into question NASCAR’s decision to throw the yellow.
“Well, I mean, it’s tough because I was literally thinking inside the car, I’m all for some of these cautions. You know, if I don’t win the race because maybe I get a bad restart or something, then probably I’m angry because I feel like NASCAR changed the outcome of the race,” Hamlin said. “But, you know, we did everything. It was still on me to do my job to win the race. I feel like I got a good restart, got clear of those guys. You know, I understand this is show business.”
“No, I didn’t see any debris, if that’s what you’re asking,” he added later. “I mean, we typically get (debris cautions) every single week. I’m not going to say it’s accepted, but what can you do?”
Hamlin’s comments after the Michigan race brought to light the issue many fans and some in the media often complain about – “phantom” debris cautions. By saying he did not see the debris, that late-race cautions were “accepted,” and that he understands NASCAR is “show business,” he called the sport’s credibility into question.
As far as what Newman said to rile up officials, it’s anyone’s guess. However, over the years, he has been one of the most outspoken critics of restrictor plate races, especially when it comes to cars getting airborne. In 2009, Newman’s car was hit by Carl Edwards flying through the air. Later that year, he flipped multiple times, showing public disgust towards NASCAR for not keeping cars on the ground. Finally, following April’s race in Talladega – where he wrecked a third straight time – Newman let loose concerning how much he despised the plates.
“I was thinking about when I was out there, these shouldn’t be points races,” he said in frustration. “If they want to have these races for the fans, just let us come here and do this, but don’t let it affect our championship because it’s not racing. If this is NASCAR racing, we should be here for the Talladega Event Marketing or something like that. Something different besides racing.”
There is no telling if this comment was the one that got Newman in hot water with NASCAR; however, the tone of the comments seem to go along with what the sport is trying to keep a lid on.
This is not the first time drivers have called NASCAR into question. In 2007, Hamlin’s former and Newman’s current teammate and owner Tony Stewart compared the sport to professional wrestling, alleging it threw cautions simply for the purpose of entertainment. Stewart accused the sanctioning body of “playing God” and determining the outcome of races instead of letting the drivers settle it for themselves. Making the comments on his then-radio slot on SIRIUS NASCAR Radio, Stewart went on to say:
“I guess NASCAR thinks, ‘Hey, wrestling worked, and it was for the most part staged, so I guess it’s going to work in racing, too.’ I can’t understand how long the fans are going to let NASCAR treat them like they’re stupid before the fans finally turn on [the sport].”
That incident raised many eyebrows, but NASCAR did not penalize Stewart for his comments. However, in the three years since Stewart’s rant, things have changed.
In a blog entitled, Working Together For The Good Of The Sport, on NASCAR.com, Ramsey Poston, NASCAR’s Managing Director of Communications, explained why the sanctioning body felt it necessary to penalize their drivers for speaking out against the sport.
“No business owner would permit employees, vendors, or partners to damage their business – nor can we,” he wrote. “It is the sanctioning body’s obligation on behalf of the entire industry to protect the brand, just like every other major sport.”
Already competing with the stick-‘n’-ball crowd, NASCAR is fighting poor attendance, falling ratings, and waning popularity amongst some of its most basic fans. With talks of more changes to the Chase and major schedule realignment most likely in the works for next year, this controversial decision simply gives them yet another reason to change the channel and turn away.
Tuesday evening, I spoke with some race fans in Gastonia, N.C. and discussed this particular issue. One gentleman believed no driver should be fined for speaking his mind, and that the issue had made NASCAR look bad. He had his suspicions as to which drivers were the guilty parties, but regardless felt the sport should be open and honest about the situation now and in the future. Another fan explained the incident was simply another reason she stopped going to the races and watching on television.
Twenty years ago, NASCAR was full of superstars that were also dominant personalities inside the garage. Guys like Dale Earnhardt, Richard Petty, Darrell Waltrip, Rusty Wallace and others were commanding figures that were able to voice concern… and NASCAR would listen. But since the passing of Dale Earnhardt in 2001, there has been a lack of a single figurehead that commands the same respect from the drivers — or NASCAR.
Instead, the sport has been more concerned about television ratings, expanding their market, and increasing their bottom line. While it is important for the powers that be to keep its business moving forward, it is also essential for them to remember they are a sport built on the likes and needs of the fan base. Right now, it seems as if they’re clamoring to have someone step up and not be afraid to speak their mind.
So by worrying so much about what their drivers are saying, NASCAR is only hurting the sport by keeping all of this quiet. People like transparency these days. Our current President was elected thanks in part to promising to be transparent once in office. Just recently, some 90,000 documents were leaked about the war in Afghanistan.
Typically, when things are hidden away from those that want to know, those doing the hiding are the ones that suffer the most.
©2000 - 2008 Jay Pennell and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
Nascar constantly reminds us that drivers are independent contractors, and not employed by Nascar whenever the topic is pensions or heath insurance. Now, the say they are fining ‘employees’ for denigrating the company. You can’t have it both ways. If, say, I use a Sprint phone, does that mean they can fine me for expressing dissatisfaction with their service? It’s also ironic that the fines came because Nascar was accused of interfering with the natural outcome of races when Brian France is talking about tinkering with a totally contrived situation (the ‘chase’) to make it even more contrived to put on a better ‘show’.
Personally, the best think that nascrap could do is remove all the “gags“and let the guys talk!! We all know nascrap is trying to control not only the raceing but what we hear and see. Credibility is not anything in this sport any more. Brian Farce is brain dead, coked up, and ALL his henchmen are butt kissers! The sooner the sport dies the sooner a real racing series will spring up!!
Nascar needs to take a look back at where the sport started losing it’s tv audience and fans buying tickets. “CHASE” format comes to mind. As for hiding fine, come on, this does hurt Nascars credibility. And they are playing “god” so to speak as the fans and drivers mention everyweek. How can you be a sport when you play a role in the outcomes like Nascar does. This does not help their cause
In my opinion, what the media needs to take away from this more than anything else is that they must be the voice when dissent is necessary. The drivers can’t do it. The crews can’t do it. The fans can speak via the internet (but their real power their wallets and their TV remotes). Absolutely no has a powerful enough forum to make an impact by telling the truth than the media. This should be a wake-up call to those folks who claim that Frontstretch writers are too critical of the sport they cover. Nascar has it’s paid PR people to spout the corporate line, and they’ve placed a gag order on those inside the sport. More than ever we need a media that is committed to reporting the truth.
As an outsider (and a fan) looking in, my impression is that the first two generations of the France family, while being in charge, worked WITH the other participants in NASCAR to make a better SPORT. This generation seems to think it’s above it all, that it controls it all and that it’s making a better ENTERTAINMENT. Get real! If you want to produce entertainment, get a job in Hollywood! Go back to the sports roots, quit trying to “tweak” the thing to death! I think the France’s need to remember what is told to salepeople every day, it takes a lot more to gain a new customer than keep an old customer. Take care of the fans you have (had)! Stick with the sport that was popular!
Here’s another article saying the same things.
Just saw Jamie Mac on Mike and Mike, Looks like he will probably be fined he said winning Daytona and the Brickyard were better then making chase but not winning.
You know, without Ryan Newman actually speaking his mind, they wouldn’t have changed the wing back to a spoiler. Like everyone else says, NASCAR is turning more into the federal government, they don’t listen to the public and do whatever the heck they want, without regard to consequences.
NASCAR died shortly after Dale Sr. did. Creating the COT and The Chase were the final nails in their coffin.
After Dale death there was NO NONE that had both the respect of his fellow drivers and nascar as Dale did. He listened to the fans(not just his, but all fans) to see what the liked\wanted and what they disliked and Bill Jr respected Dale enough to know this info was good, and acted on it. Now you have the Stooges in Daytona that know it all, Just ask them.
While the economy is bad, ten years ago with this same economy there would not have been THIS NUMBER OF EMPTY SEATS at the track.
Yes, I agree NASCAR is very similar to the Obama administration. Do your own agenda, no matter if the majority is against it.
Why didnt Nascar just shut down shop then? Dale’s dead… nothin to see here… time to go home.
Jeez! Thats like saying Basketball wasnt the same after Jordan retired (either time).
Man the “life was better when Sr was around” crap gets old really really fast.
Y’all got it right,The death of Dale E. began the death of NASCAR.France is just moving it along.
Who is paying Nascar’s salary?? we are, the fans. If we don’t buy tickets to see them race, the they would have to close shop. I think they should let the drivers say what hey want to ,they are not childern that should be punished, and sent to their room. Nascar should shut up, are maybe we should go on strike, against them. See what happens then.
I suppose NASCAR will wan to fine sports writers and fans next. Well they can shove it where the sun doesn’t shine. Brian France is a jerk.