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.
Kurt Smith · Friday April 4, 2008
On several occasions during the Martinsville race this past Sunday, the announcers in the Fox booth analyzed "short term gain" vs. "long term loss". The comparison was made whenever a driver skipped a pit or took two tires for track position, meaning that they may gain track position in the short run, but the older tires may mean a net loss in the long run.
The short-term gain vs. long-term loss is a debate that could, and should, be taking place regarding Cup drivers in the Nationwide Series, and nowhere was this more evident than at Martinsville last Sunday.
Going back through the incidents and other mishandlings in that race, the list of drivers involved in them included Sam Hornish, Patrick Carpentier, Aric Almirola, and Michael McDowell. It's not that these drivers spent the whole day committing racing heresy, but all of them at some point demonstrated a lack of experience.
Hornish (11 Nationwide starts, has never raced at Martinsville) spun out twice and punted J.J. Yeley. Almirola (two Craftsman truck starts at Martinsville; he performed the best of the rookie drivers there until his engine gave out) spun out Bobby Labonte early in the race. Carpentier (four Nationwide starts; none at a short track) spun out twice. And McDowell (one truck start at Martinsville) spent quite a few laps holding up cars in lead lap traffic that were racing for the win.
All of these could be traced to lack of experience at this type of track for these drivers. Dario Franchitti went around twice at Bristol two weeks before, too.
More and more drivers are cutting their teeth in Cup cars despite the fact that they aren't ready for Cup racing. With so many rookies coming from a league where they don't use fenders, it's no wonder that Martinsville is overwhelming for some of them.
Why is this happening? Because there is no minor league series in NASCAR to groom the up and coming talent anymore.
No less a respected driver than Jeff Burton complained about Michael McDowell last Sunday, saying that McDowell needs to learn some manners on the racetrack. But McDowell might have more of an opportunity to learn such manners if guys like Jeff Burton weren't racing in the Nationwide series every week. For the third year in a row, the Nationwide series is being dominated by full time Cup drivers.
NASCAR and the Nationwide Series have experienced a revenue gain from the glut of big name Cup drivers flooding the series. They've attracted sponsors, filled seats and expanded the prize money. But now we are starting to see the long-term loss from over-saturation of Cup drivers in a series where the future Cup drivers are supposed to be learning.
Top young drivers can't gain experience. Top developing talent like Todd Kluever and Burney Lamar are being thrown out of rides, because they can't run well enough and long enough to land a committed sponsorship in a series that features Carl Edwards, Denny Hamlin and Kevin Harvick.
Sometimes they don't even get to drive for the whole race; Aric Almirola last season was yanked out of his car and replaced by Denny Hamlin in the middle of a race that he was leading.
As a result, the Cup series is currently displaying its weakest rookie crop in recent memory—even worse than last year's, where a former open wheel champion was able to win the rookie of the year honors by finishing 20th in the standings amidst another weak field. This isn't a coincidence. The Nationwide Series simply isn’t fielding any regulars that consistently light up the field.
And it doesn't look any better in the near future. Denny Hamlin and Clint Bowyer may be the last of the star young guns for quite a while. Who will be the Sprint Cup rookies of 2009? Brad Keselowski? Kelly Bires? Or are they more likely to be Danica Patrick and Dan Wheldon? What would a potential sponsor prefer?
Juan Pablo Montoya, David Reutimann, David Ragan, Paul Menard, Regan Smith, Sam Hornish, Jr., Aric Almirola, Dario Franchitti, Patrick Carpentier. That is NASCAR's future, ladies and gentlemen. Nothing personal against them, but I see maybe two of these guys becoming stars one day.
NASCAR does not have a system in place to properly bring along aspiring talent. No other sport operates this way…and no other sport is dangerous enough that it absolutely should NOT operate this way. If any sport should have a minor league, it's auto racing. The danger of inexperience really ought to override marketability. If Dario Franchitti injures another driver severely with a mistake at Darlington, I'm not going to care that he's married to Ashley Judd.
Thanks partly to Jacques Villeneuve's graciously stepping out of the way last October, the Sprint Cup schedule escaped Talladega without injury. But the circuit hits Talladega again soon and there will be probably more than one driver in the big show that doesn't know how to handle a three-wide, 35 car pack at 190 MPH. It's tough enough on guys that have been in Cup for years.
I don't have an iron-clad solution. NASCAR has a spotty record at best when it comes to legislating to solve problems. If I had my way, NASCAR would not allow any of the Top 35 drivers in the Sprint Cup points standings to participate in the Nationwide Seriesâ€¦so that drivers and teams who are out of the Top 35 and need extra money can make some in the lesser series to help them get back in tune. But I also don't like limiting competition or a governing body stepping in to rule things. No racing series sets limits on competition.
What NASCAR can do though, for a start, is market the Nationwide-only regulars a lot more, so that they don't actually have to beat the professionals like Scott Wimmer had to do at Nashville to be noticed. They are starting to do this with Joey Logano, who hasn't even raced in any major series yet; why not try it with Brad Keselowski, or maybe even Stephen Leicht? Let their marketing department focus on these fine young drivers so that enough people know who they are, and they can subsequently land and keep a sponsor. Everyone watching Nationwide races knows who Matt Kenseth is.
NASCAR and the Nationwide sponsors have gotten very used to the additional revenue generated by the Cup drivers racing in that series. Like a driver that takes two tires for track position, they've achieved a significant short term gain. But like that driver later losing spots to drivers that took four tires, NASCAR is now starting to see the long-term loss, as the quality of racing at the Sprint Cup level begins to suffer.
The question is whether it will be worth the gamble.
Kurt's Shorts - In The Texas Heat
And that's Happy Hour for this weekâ€¦welcome to Fort Worth.
©2000 - 2008 Kurt Smith and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
From what I heard, UPS didnt want to switch numbers again. They wanted to stay as the 44. So they moved David over to that car since it was sponsored and the 00 only has limited sponsorship from Aaron’s. In this instance, I would have supported the swap of owner points, because David still drives for the same team, same crew, and uses the same cars, he just has a new paint scheme on his ride.
I definitely agree that NA$CAR should at least do something about Sprint Cup drivers int the Nationwide Series. My suggestion would at least be that anyone in the Top 35 in Sprint Cup points should not be allowed to run the entire Nationwide Schedule. Maybe limit them 15 starts in the Nationwide Series.
Also, if the Nationwide Series has problems filling a full 43 car field, drop that number down to somewhere between 36-40 for a full field.
Finally, maybe even limit the number of Sprint Cup drivers making a start in the Nationwide Series. This number can be based on # of cars entered.
So funny! Sure, the “intent” of the article is correct!
But to say “McDowell was holding up lead lap cars racing for the win”!!
How ridiculous! How so very ridiculous!
Are you saying that the 4 points (or whatever)lost or gained that McDowell actually was racing for, is less important than “the leaders racing for the win”?
43 cars on a short track, is a NA$CAR problem! If the “other” cars happen to get in the way, just too bad!
If the lead cars are so good! They should have no problem passing lapped traffic!
A Toyota is leading, a Chevrolet is closing, a fast (lap down) toyota is blocking…Makes sense to me (especially at contract time.
This is probably the least well thought out column i’ve seen in months .To start out , what exactly are your credentials that give you the insight as to who is ready for Cup racing ? A number of long time competitors in Cup are routinely outrun by the newcomers .
Great article, Kurt! I agree that the whackers should be kept out of the Nationwide series.
I do want to point out one thing about the McDowell issue. He was racing to be eligible for the Lucky Dog should another caution come out. If he moved over for Mr. Burton, he would have been freight-trained and most likely not be in a position for the Lucky Dog. Mr. Burton didn’t want to try and pass McDowell on the outside because he would then have been freight-trained. Personally, I think McDowell used some good racing sense in order to maintain his position.
If a driver’s car is not good enough to pass another, so be it. Guess Mr. Burton’s car was not as fast as he would have us believe…
Right now, the only series young drivers can gain experience in without having to really worry about the high dollar Cup teams invading and bumping them out of the way is the CTS. And even then, you have to worry about Kyle Busch coming in and taking everybody out, rookie and veteran alike.
Something needs to be done to give the up and coming drivers a place to “pay their dues” before they’re put in a Cup car. And as NASCAR doesn’t seem to be willing to do anything with the Busch Series, it looks like it’s going to be either the CTS for these youngsters or ARCA.
Margo, my “credentials” are owning a TV set, through which I witnessed the incidents I described at Martinsville.
As far as the “ladder” to a Cup ride, there doesn’t appear to be one…or it goes through the IndyCar and Formula One Series, where the racing is very different from NASCAR. As far as the other series you mentioned, why didn’t you add the Nationwide Series? That is, or used to be, where up and coming drivers could come closest to racing under Cup conditions.
The level of competition in the Truck series isn’t close to Cup, and the other series you named have a competition level well below the truck series.
Forgive me for not clarifying what I meant by drivers becoming “stars”. I meant “stars in what is by far the most popular racing series in North America”. But I didn’t see the need to add that.
Well said SrRaceFan!
Kurt Smith seems to be one of those that thinks if your not in the top twelve (12), your not a racer!
And with the CoT, which is important to bring up, there is no other place other than the CUP races to learn how to drive that beast! Don’t care how many ARCA races, Nationwide races, or CTS races you run, NOTHING prepares you for the likes of the CoT! A race car it ain’t!
Dougla$$ – How ridiculous! How so very ridiculous!
Pot, Kettle, black doogy, pot, kettle, black.
It’s bad enough that you don’t know squat about tire management, but now you show you know nothing about the scoring system, or short track racing at NASCAR tracks.
First, they’ve been running 43 drivers at short tracks for as long as they’ve been running 43 drivers.
Second, Who cares about McDowell’s three points? It’s the leaders that are racing for the win, not the backmarkers. Frankly, only the top 12 do matter when it’s all said and done.
Third, your negativity and ignorance shows through in every post. Go pollute a baseball site. And take the rest of the xenophobic McLauglinites with you.
BAM!!!! There goes another Goodyear!
“43 cars on a short track”?, Sure they have always done that! Sure don’t make it right!
“McDowell, & his THREE (3) points”?? Ask McDowell, or anyone else how important those (measly) three (3) points are! See what he says! Oh, and if they were not that important, than why does NA$CAR give points for anything below 12 positions??
“Scoring system”??? What in the world does that mean? To me if a guy is up for the (stupid) lucky dog, he has EVERY RIGHT to race anyone in sight for that position!
Me thinks your the one that does not pay attention!
I hardly know where to start . If your tv is your only insight into racing , you desperately need to broaden your horizons .
Newcomers to watching racing, it wasn’t that many years ago, back in the 90’s, that about 36 cars raced on short tracks, it wasn’t until a few years ago they fielded 43, it had something to do with TV and sponsors.
How about mandating that if a cup driver is going to drive in a Nationwide event then it must be in his own equipment with absolutely no paper trail to a cup owner. That ought to ween out the ones who are doing it for fun and the ones who are acting as hired guns. I would imagine that there will be a decline in the field for a period but then folks might see that they have a fighting chance in that division and start coming back or develop new teams. I miss the days when local drivers from nearby tracks could bring there own equipment to race against the division regulars. That’s was how you were able to gage the future talent.
Margo, I did some “research” like you insisted…
From Jeff Gordon’s book (one of the drivers you permitted me to ask), describing his first season in Cup racing:
“As the season went along I discovered that the biggest difference between Winston Cup and the other series was parity. The best Busch drivers were almost as good as the best Cup drivers, but the gap between the top Busch team and thirtieth best Busch team was substantial. In Winston Cup, the difference between the top team and the bottom team was minute. Every driver could drive. All the crew chiefs knew what they were doing. The crews trained professionals, and there was only a fractional difference in the cars…By the latter half of the year I realized I was going to lose a lot more than I was going to win at this level.”
There you are…a comment on the level of competition in Cup racing straight from someone whose opinion you told me to cite.
Lovin’ the research! Got more?
When you do reserch Kurt , try to be discerning in what you quote . Look up a typical starting lineup from 1992 and tell me that the 20th or 30th or 40th qualifier was as competitive as the top ten . I’ll save you the trouble . 1992 was no diferent than 2008 . The top ten cars could win , the rest were hanging on .And as we all know , the top Busch drivers in 1992 were as good as the Cup drivers because many of them WERE the Cup drivers . Sounds like Gordon needs to go back and edit his book with 16 years of hindsight , because i doubt that the team that was 35th in points in Gordons first year was much of a threat to Allison , Irvan ,and Kulwiki .More important , what in the world does a 16 year old quote from a rookie driver have to do with your claim that Cup racing is far more competitive than any other form of racing ? All we get from the Gordon quote is that he was struggling as a rookie . Yes , he did struggle . But Tony Stewart did not . Nor did Jimmie Johnson . How did those two manage to do so well right off the mark . Neither of them had a very long stay in Busch .
Margo…I don’t understand how you derived at this comment “And as we all know , the top Busch drivers in 1992 were as good as the Cup drivers because many of them WERE the Cup drivers”. If you do the research you will find only one Cup driver finished in the top twenty in the Busch points in 1992 and that was Harry Gant. It’s obivious you were assuming that the names you were seeing, (B. Labonte, J. Gordon, W. Burton, J. Burton, Nemechek and etc.) were Cup drivers when they were actually full time Busch drivers then. None of the top drivers in the Busch points were driving for Cup owners then either. I think pushing Cup owners out of the Nationwide Series would go a long ways in restoring it’s identity.
Hey guys, we like the comments and keep them coming, but if your only purpose is to attack another poster, or you’re not adding to the conversation, we’ll remove the comment. It’s OK to question the writer like you are doing, but what is NOT allowed is name calling and stalking another poster.
Thanks to all those thoughtful commenters,
SrRaceFan, I’ll admit I haven’t searched very hard, but my memory banks don’t contain any quotes from any drivers that think the toughest competition is in midgets.
You searched exactly enough, Kurt! Your facts outweigh all the words that are really just opinions. Way to go!