Kurt Busch to Attempt The Indianapolis-Charlotte Double
posted by Phil Allaway
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Andretti Autosport announced this morning that Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet in the Sprint Cup Series, will attempt the Indianapolis 500 in a fifth entry for the IndyCar Series team. Once the Indianapolis 500 is completed, Busch will fly from Indianapolis to Charlotte, jump in his No. 41 Chevrolet and compete in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Busch considers the opportunity to do the double as an old-school throwback moment.
“This is really to challenge myself within motorsports,” Busch said in Andretti Autosport’s press release. “Perhaps I am a bit of an old-school racer; a throwback, I guess. I enjoyed the era of drivers racing different cars and testing themselves in other series. It is tough to do now for a variety of factors, but when the opportunity is there, I want to do it. While NASCAR is my home, I have been fortunate to compete in Pro Stock on the NHRA circuit a number of years ago and test a V8 Supercar. This opportunity was a talk with Michael [Andretti] over dinner one night, a “What if,” and now it’s becoming a reality for me to drive in the Indy 500 with Andretti Autosport. It’s literally a dream come true. To go to the famous Brickyard with the iconic Andretti name, it doesn’t get much cooler or better than that.”
Busch will be doing the Indianapolis-Charlotte double as a Memorial Day mission to men and women serving in the U.S. Military via the Armed Forces Foundation. Fans can contribute to the cause by texting AFF to 50555 to donate $10.
Busch, who has never raced an IndyCar, passed Rookie Orientation at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year during a test session. At the time, Busch was more or less testing the Dallara DW12 for fun.
Busch will be the fourth driver to attempt the Indianapolis-Charlotte double. John Andretti was the first driver to attempt it in 1994. After finishing four laps down in tenth in Indianapolis, Andretti crashed and had engine problems in the 600. Robby Gordon has attempted the double five times, most recently in 2004. However, Gordon failed to make it to Charlotte on time and did not start the 600 in 2000 (P.J. Jones started Gordon’s No. 13 Ford in that instance). Finally, Tony Stewart has attempted the double twice (most recently in 2001) and is the only driver to ever complete all 1100 miles. Neither of the three drivers has won either leg of the double. The best finishes are Stewart and Gordon’s sixth-place finishes at the Indianapolis 500 (although Gordon’s came in 2000, the year he didn’t make it to Charlotte in time to start the Coca-Cola 600), and Stewart’s fourth-place finish in the 2001 Coca-Cola 600.
Danica Patrick, Justin Allgaier Talk About Phoenix Incident
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
A disappointing start to the year for Danica Patrick won’t include continued conflict. Patrick met with rookie Justin Allgaier Sunday, shortly after the Phoenix Cup race after a wreck ruined both drivers’ days. Patrick, who was critical of the No. 51 car on the radio, claiming Allgaier was “driving all over the track” appeared receptive to a conversation that quickly settled differences over what will be a long season.
“She was just upset because she got involved in the crash that we had,’’ said Allgaier to the Motor Racing Network. “She says she’s been through this and that she felt like I needed to settle down at that point. I explained my position on why everything happened. I think she understood where I was coming from. It doesn’t fix either one of our racecars. It doesn’t fix either one of our days. Unfortunately, we were both having pretty decent days.’’
Allgaier wound up 30th due to the incident while Patrick was 36th. The incident, which was caused by Allgaier’s spin also involved the No. 32 team and Travis Kvapil, which wound up 38th after sustaining heavy damage.
Camping World Close to Extending Title Sponsorship of NCWTS
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Marcus Lemonis, CEO of Camping World, Grand Marshal of Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway, and star of CNBC’s “The Profit,” made the announcement over the weekend that the retailer is very close to announcing a deal that would continue its title sponsorship of NASCAR’s Truck Series. The original agreement with NASCAR is scheduled to conclude after the 2015 season.
According to the sanctioning body, no formal contract has been signed, but “the agreement between the two parties has proven to be a beneficial one.”
“In about a month, we’ll be announcing a significant extension to that contract. It’s been great for us,” said Camping World’s Lemonis in a statement. “The NASCAR relationship has worked well for Camping World. When we started, we had 35 stores. Now, we’re up to 120 stores. As we travel the country and we meet new customers in stores, they always are very appreciative of our relationship with NASCAR. It’s been good.”
Gaining a long-term commitment from Camping World to sponsor the Truck Series would be a relief for NASCAR, which is set to lose Nationwide Insurance as title sponsor for the NASCAR Nationwide Series at the end of the 2014 season. The sponsorship of the Cup Series by Sprint runs through 2016.
The NCWTS is back in action on March 29th at 2:30 PM (ET) when the trucks visit Martinsville Speedway in the Kroger 250, which can be seen on Fox Sports 1. Ratings for the season opener were up 11 percent.
Harvick Takes Win At Phoenix In Second Race With New Team
posted by Justin Tucker
Monday March 3, 2014
Phoenix International Raceway has become Kevin Harvick’s home away from home. Sunday Afternoon was no exception as Harvick charged to the front early and would dominate for much of the day, leading 224 of the scheduled 312 laps to record his record fifth win on the one mile oval and his third win in the last four races at Phoenix.
Harvick, coming off of a disappointing Speedweeks which was capped by a last lap crash in the Daytona 500 in his debut with Stewart-Haas Racing, set the tone on Saturday by winning both practices while having the best 5 and 10-lap averages in the first practice of the day on Saturday. On Sunday, Harvick and his No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet was nothing short of flawless as he was able to hold Dale Earnhardt, Jr. by .489 seconds after a late race restart to claim his 24th career Sprint Cup Series victory.
“Man, this is awesome,” Harvick said after his dominant victory on Sunday. “Man, this just solidifies so many things and so many decisions. It’s been so much work with all the time and effort that these guys (the crew) have put in—but what a race car.”
Stewart Haas Racing co-owner Gene Haas shared in Harvick’s excitement after the race.
“It took long enough,” Haas joked. “This is phenomenal. I think there was a lot of skepticism last year about what myself and Tony (Stewart) what we were up to, was there a lot of madness to this. Quite frankly, it’s a great team, there’s a lot of synergy at the shop, people working together. I don’t know what we did, but I think we put together a great organization.”
Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt, Jr. continued his hot start to the 2014 season. Earnhardt Jr. would finish second on Sunday, marking his seventh consecutive top 10 finish since the end of the 2013 season. Earnhardt Jr. was pleased with the effort after a coast-to-coast whirlwind week after winning his second Daytona 500 and also gave great praise to the efforts of Harvick and the No. 4 team.
“I’ve got to congratulate Kevin. Those guys were two-tenths faster than everyone all weekend in practice. They were just phenomenal,” Earnhardt said. “To be able to run with them all day was a big confidence builder for us.”
Joining Harvick and Earnhardt in the top 5 of The Profit on CNBC 500K were Brad Keselowski with his second consecutive top 3 run of 2014 in third. Keselowski’s Team Penske teammate Joey Logano would finish fourth, and Jeff Gordon would come home fifth in his No. 24 Pepsi Max Chevrolet.
Jimmie Johnson finished in sixth, followed by Ryan Newman with a nice rebound after Daytona in seventh. Carl Edwards would carry the banner for Roush Fenway Racing by finishing eighth, Kyle Busch was ninth, and Jamie McMurray would finish tenth.
A look at the Profit on CNBC 500K by the numbers. There were 14 lead changes among eight different drivers, there were eight cautions for 39 laps which slowed the race pace to 109.229 MPH.
Next Sunday, the Sprint Cup Series heads to Sin City and the Las Vegas Motor
Starting Lineup: The Profit On CNBC 500K
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday March 1, 2014
Drivers in RED (i) are those ineligible to collect Sprint Cup points
Daytona 500 TV Ratings Down
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Wednesday February 26, 2014
What was the longest weather delay in Daytona 500 history turned out to bring NASCAR lower ratings and TV viewership Sunday night than expected. According to a report Monday from FOX Sports, the 56th running of the Daytona 500 airing at 8 PM (ET) posted a 5.6/10 national household rating/share which averaged 9.3 million viewers. That’s down 44 percent from last year’s 9.9, easily making it the least-watched Daytona 500 of all-time.
Due to the six-hour, twenty-two minute rain delay in Daytona, the race was up against the primetime coverage of the Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony from Sochi, Russia on NBC (15.25 million viewers). FOX also reported that 69% of the pre-rain delay viewers of the race, which began at 1 PM (ET) kept tuning in.
In comparison, the 2013 Daytona 500 on FOX was the most-watched race in five years, posting a 9.9/22 rating/share, commanding 16.7 million viewers. The Daytona 500 in 2012, the first to ever be run on a Monday and in the primetime slot did a 7.7/13 overnight rating/share which resulted in 13.67 million households viewing the race according to Nielsen TV ratings data.
Earnhardt, Jr. Claims Second Daytona 500 Victory
posted by Justin Tucker
Wednesday February 26, 2014
Ten years is a long time. For Dale Earnhardt, Jr., it felt like an eternity. NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver endured many near misses and close calls at the Daytona 500 since his only win in the Great American Race in 2004. Earnhardt had finished second in two of his last three Daytona 500s coming into Sunday’s race. He was also riding the tail of a 55-race winless streak, dating back to Michigan in 2012.
However nothing would stop Dale Jr. on Sunday, not even a 6 hour and 22 minute rain delay from capturing his second Daytona 500 win. Earnhardt Jr. led a race-high 54 laps on the evening and used some timely drafting help from teammates Jimmie Johnson and, on the final restart, Jeff Gordon to separate from the pack and secure the victory.
“Winning this race is the greatest feeling that you could feel in this sport besides accepting the trophy for the championship,” said a jubilant Earnhardt after pulling into Victory Lane. “We could fight off battle after battle. We got a little help at the end there from Jeff to get away on the restart. This is amazing. I can’t believe this is happening. I never take this for granted, man because it doesn’t happen twice, let alone once.”
Aside from the race itself the big story of the race was the 6 hour and 22 minute red flag, which threatened to move the race to Monday evening (had the race been postponed, FOX Sports’ Chris Myers had tweeted that the race would resume at 5:00pm EST). However, Mother Nature would cooperate and would allow the race to be run under different conditions from which they practiced this week. Once the race resumed, the intensity picked up from the changing track conditions. This allowed the pack to race side-by-side and at times 3-wide up to seven rows deep.
Joining Earnhardt Jr. in the top 5 for the 2014 Daytona 500 were: Denny Hamlin who closed out a spectacular Speedweeks in second, Brad Keselowski in third, Jeff Gordon in fourth, and Jimmie Johnson who overcome two wrecks leading up to the 500 in fifth.
Rounding out the top 10 in the Daytona 500 were Matt Kenseth in sixth, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. in seventh and Greg Biffle would bring his No. 16 Ford home in eighth. Austin Dillon would come home ninth in his first Cup Series race in the iconic No. 3 for Richard Childress Racing, while Casey Mears would round out the top 10.
A couple of major contenders for the Daytona 500 win would see their hopes dashed early on as Martin Truex, Jr. would blow up just 30 laps into the race, relegating him to a 43rd-place finish in his debut for Furniture Row Racing. Crew chief Todd Berrier was already in Nashville for a test session before the race was even over. Kyle Busch, meanwhile would have a pit road violation just before halfway and would spend much of the race battling back from that mistake. Busch would eventually finish 19th after leading 19 laps.
Danica Patrick would also be bit by bad luck as she was caught up in a multi-car wreck on lap 145. Patrick would lead her second consecutive Daytona 500, but wouldn’t have the finish to show for it finishing 40th. Tony Stewart would encounter a frustrating evening as well, with a fuel pickup problem derailing his quest for his first Daytona 500 win. Stewart would finish 35th.
A look at the Daytona 500 by the numbers. There were 42 lead changes among 18 drivers, while seven cautions for 39 laps would slow the race pace to 145.290 MPH.
Next week, the Sprint Cup Series heads to the “diamond in the desert,” Phoenix International Raceway for The Profit on CNBC 500K. The Green flag is scheduled for 3:15pm EST.
Nationwide Series Post-Race Quotes: Drive4COPD 300
posted by Thomas Bowles
Tuesday February 25, 2014
Frontstretch Interviews – Courtesy Mike Neff
ELLIOTT SADLER – FINISHED 4th
Thoughts on the race?
It’s definitely a lot different racing than what we’re used to.
Comfortable with it?
Yeah, it’s just different. You’re worried about what you’re doing, but you’re also worried about what everyone else is doing and they’re not doing more than you’re doing. Physically pushing a guy is way better than just riding so you just gotta time it right and push it to the edge.
Happy to start the year with a top 5?
Yeah. Hell, that was the worst we ran all day, I think. I have no idea how they put the 3 car in front of us on that last restart. I hadn’t seen the 3 car hardly all day. When they put us from fifth to sixth, on the outside line, it just really boxed us in. I would have really restarted behind my teammate and given him a good push to the front. Anyways, it is what it is; we’ll take it and move on.
Looked like you were up front all day.
The guys did a good job. We had a fast race car. Great pit stops, just really proud of these guys. The car’s in one piece and we can take it to Talladega now. Great job by my guys. A lot of effort came into coming down here to Daytona and giving ourselves a shot to win. We had that chance to be up front and make some things happen. Fifth is not what we want, but we’ll take it and move on.
Bumping vs Pushing?
It’s way harder. You don’t want to lay on the guy in front of you, so it’s tough racing. A lot different than what we’re used to, ‘cause you gotta go. You gotta drag the brake too ‘cause you don’t want to hit the guys and you don’t want to stay on him. It’s a lot harder mentally than what we’ve done in the past.
Car was strong all day. Pushing vs. Bumping, is that harder to do than just getting on somebody and pushing them?
Yeah, it is a little bit. When you bump ‘em, you jar ‘em, it kinda jacks ‘em a little bit. It’s a little more abrupt, obviously. I thought it was OK there at the end. It was certainly fun and hopefully entertaining. But a little bit of a struggle in the early part of the race and the midpart of the race to see a good race. And that’s unfortunate for the fans. You can’t do that the whole race, you can’t tear up your stuff, knock your grill in, overheat your motor, all that stuff so there’s no sense in doing all that until you get down to the last lap. The 7 and the 6, they did a good job. Man, the 7 really held the 22 and I tight on the bottom. I was rubbing his door and hitting the apron at the same time, no room whatsoever. So it was good; wish we were the ones who could have won but a lot better now than what we were last year.
Going home in one piece makes it a lot better, right?
Yeah. My back feels good. My foot feels good. Past years here, I’ve been going home with pain so I’m alright.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Truck Series Post-Race Quotes: Daytona (Exclusives)
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday February 22, 2014
When you’re on the outside like that, how frustrating is it?
It’s so hard. Timothy Peters has won here. Kyle Busch has won everywhere. Ron Hornaday has been running Trucks forever, probably before I was even born. I was surrounded by veterans there, and like I told them I don’t have a rookie stripe but I’m a rookie. This is only my fourth Truck race ever, my fourth superspeedway race, and man, I figured out when the 17 got up in front of me, I pushed him. And as soon as I pushed him, he took off. And I went with him. And I just kept doing it, and before I knew it, he was leading. And I saw Ron in my mirror, backed up to him, and if it wasn’t for him, I don’t know what would have happened. I gotta thank him big time for that. That was a true teammate move right there. I really appreciate that. He just bounced off me and we got to the front. I tried my hardest to sidedraft Kyle. I was probably touching his door.
Top 5 in the No. 30 truck. This deal come together at the last minute, but you had a heck of a truck. Tell us about your night.
Yeah, I’ve got to thank Turner Scott Motorsports. The guys worked so hard on this Rheem Comfort Products Chevrolet. Exciting! Just got hung up on the outside and had to wait for my teammate there to catch up. And then he got to the bottom, so… I got the old 32 and started pushing ol’ Ryan to the front. So, it’s not bad. We’ll take it. You just don’t want to step over that boundary. You don’t know how far to push and shove. We bumped about six times down the straightaway without latching onto them. Hopefully, that was OK and we came home with a top 5.
Connect with Mike!
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.
If you wanna be a star of stage and screen,
Big money got a heavy hand,
The Dover race caused me to do something I hadn’t done for quite some time. I dropped everything I was doing and tuned out the conversations around me, captivated by what was taking place.
Probably much to NASCAR’s surprise, the Chase had nothing to do with the great racing. You could argue that the new car played a part—it is visibly much more difficult to pass with it—keeping Greg Biffle, Matt Kenseth, and Carl Edwards close to each other for many laps. I won’t speculate further on that. And the close quarters at a shorter track makes the argument against the cookie-cutter speedways’ prevalence in NASCAR, as if it needed to be made. But what was most responsible for such a quality show, one that is the exception rather than the rule?
It is the same things that have always made for the best races. Drivers who have spent years honing and practicing their craft, learning how to draft, how to set up for a pass, how to put that imaginary egg under the gas pedal. Engine builders pouring their hearts and weekends into creating just that tiny bit more speed. Crew members that spend indeterminate hours preparing for maybe five bursts of 15-second efforts where imperfection is not an option. The arduous, continuous pursuit of excellence. It’s a long way to the top if you wanna rock ‘n’ roll.
So are exhibitions like Dover worth tolerating all that NASCAR fans have been griping about in recent years?
Some people question why some of us continue to cover a sport that we seem to hate. It’s a fair question. I’ve asked it plenty myself. I don’t utterly hate NASCAR these days…it still has its moments as Dover showed…but I certainly don’t love the so-called “evolution” of the sport since 2003, if that makes any sense.
It is a great privilege to have one’s rants about NASCAR published, especially in a free speech forum like the Frontstretch. To be linked on Jayski is the pinnacle of motorsports journalism, even if Pete Pistone is too. Do not think that I don’t consider myself fortunate in that regard. As dedicated as I have been, and still am, to writing something people will enjoy reading, you’ll have to forgive me if my interest as simply a genuine fan—which was how I got here—needs some Viagra.
Being a fan of major sports is probably the most supreme exercise of conflict in America today. The thrill of the greatest moments in competition inspires us. The hand of greed that is always involved sickens us. In my hometown of Philadelphia, Eagles fans soar on cloud nine if their team defeats the Cowboys. The Eagles are well aware of this when they charge $20 just to park at Lincoln Financial Field—a $512 million venue. Never mind what people pay for beer or decent seats. Who cares? It’s the Eagles!
That true appreciation for athletic feats frequently gets stained by greed is nothing new, of course. You can read about owners of baseball teams back in the 19th century and be amazed at their chutzpah. That doesn’t make the ugly side of major sports any less palatable, especially as misguided management grows exponentially with the popularity of any sport, even to the point where a racing team that has exhibited true greatness in 26 races had their efforts wiped out by some bad luck in two. In the name of “creating excitement”. Big money got no soul.
Sports’ greatest moments make fans vulnerable…and create a big, big market for its participants to charge the top dollar, to obtain “fair market value”, rather than to provide the best product at the best price, like every other business in just about every other industry must do. The sports and entertainment industries are almost unique in being able to be successful this way. Only in footwear are entities actually encouraged to charge the highest price they can manage.
But it’s understandable that otherwise sane people tolerate the rampant suction of our wallets at a NASCAR race. There are few more effective adrenaline shots on this planet than the sound of the engines firing after the grand marshal gives the command. Seeing it on TV, while exciting in its own way, does not compare. The rumble that courses through the chest of everyone in the theater is at once deafening, beautiful, and awe-inspiring. Just the sheer volume instills enthralling anticipation of what will happen next.
The only greater thrill comes about five minutes later…as the crowd manages to roar louder than even the engines as a usually unknown official waves a green rag over the best racecar drivers in the world and cars rev up to ludicrous speed. As anyone who has attended a race knows, the thunder of 43 racecars roaring by is something that cannot be captured with tools as inadequate as a word processor.
When the asphalt gladiators begin to battle, nothing else matters: the traffic and parking hassles, the exhorbitant hotel prices, the grumblings about the changes that have been made to the sport. Once the race starts, there is no tangible price we can attach to the spectacle we are witnessing. My numerous grievances aside, even today I would still not argue that fans attending a NASCAR race get their money’s worth pretty often.
But that is no longer the case all of the time. The fans at Indianapolis this year most emphatically did not get a worthy product.
There have to be limits. Every entity involved with NASCAR, or any major sport for that matter—the networks, the hotels, the local communities—is well aware of the amount of money the sport brings in. What I have described above is something people will sacrifice quite a bit for. As James Earl Jones said in Field of Dreams: “They’ll hand over the money without even thinking.” How much is too much? Are people in Indiana willing to endure that again and still remain fans?
And how much is too much for a longtime, traditionalist fan? In five years, NASCAR looks absolutely nothing like it once did, and when people complain they are often (but not always) told to suck it up. Fans can understand the sport needing to grow and evolve, but they are perfectly entitled to suggest that the sport’s current direction is not one they like.
My apologies to anyone who expected a definitive answer from the article’s title. I can’t and won’t answer these questions for anyone, especially being in the fortunate situation of following the sport for a partial-living. But my interest as a fan has undeniably waned. It isn’t so much the new car or the loss of great tracks or even the Chase. The most irritating aspect of it all is that nagging feeling that NASCAR doesn’t seem to give a damn what its most devoted customers think. Of all of the “innovations” of the Brian France era, you’d think just one would be to find a way to give fans more green flag racing on TV, and for more than one race out of the season.
For those of you out there tired of my complaining who want me to stop the negativity about your sport, I understand. I really do. I have been on the other side, defending NASCAR from people who I realize now sound just like me. It once mildly annoyed me that my father, a dedicated baseball nut who in my mind has not been nearly as outraged as he should be about steroids, repeatedly informed me that NASCAR, a sport he once enjoyed more than I did, is “pro rasslin’”. I now tend to think that, in the sense that NASCAR is so often about the show and not the real competition, he has a point.
Some of us accept the reality that times change; others are rejecting what they believe to be an inferior product. I hope people realize that my disdain is not towards those who still continue to be devoted to what is left that is good and right about the sport. It’s directed at the bottom line mentality that not only gave us the playoff, but that lost five Carolina races and probably has Dover and Martinsville in its sights in the future.
With all due respect to all opinions, I’ll highlight what’s great about NASCAR when NASCAR does.
©2000 - 2008 Kurt Smith and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
Qoute: “The most irritating aspect of it all is that nagging feeling that NASCAR doesn’t seem to give a damn what its most devoted customers think.”
It’s not a nagging feeling…. I thinks it’s just pure fact. Eventually NA$CAR is going to run out of that all important factor that make them run…. the Fans. Once they go away, the money goes too. I truly and honestly believe that NA$CAR thinks they have got it right, man they could not be further from the truth. LISTEN to your fans… they are not happy, not getting what they “paid” for and certainly not going to stick around just to see if it gets any better.
I’ve been a die-hard fan for 30 years. I’ve been to more than a hundred races, used to turn off the world on a Sunday afternoon, begged, borrowed, and jumped through hoops to get to a race. That’s begining to wane. And that’s not my fault, I’ve tried to be a good fan…. really. I was at Dover last week, that was the way racing should be. NA$CAR listen up, learn, it’s not too late….. yet.
Your all a bunch of babies
Hey Bill, I don’t go to races anymore. Are the tickets cheaper? Don’t count on that happening. There are alot of empty seats these days, but tickets aren’t cheaper. Good column Kurt
Due to the fact that I can no longer afford to attend a race in person, tv will have to do. It’s fortunate that I have cable (some people don’t). That allows me to watch the sport. And looking at all the empty seats in the stands it would seem that NA$CAR would get the message. Even as a longtime fan, I’m finding my interest in the sport waning. And this is from a person that will watch almost anything race. No, NA$CAR doesn’t give a damn what we think. That should be obvious. And like you I hate coming off as negative, but it’s getting harder not to. Thanks for listening.
NA$CAR threw the “baby-out-with-the-bath-water”, so-to-speak, when they alienated the old time “core-fan”!
NA$CAR thought they could make more money with the “wine & cheese” crowd, and thus started to change their racing strategy accordingly!
What NA$CAR failed to realize, is that once they catered to this new & “fickle” group, they lost all their identity, and of course their “core-fan” along with it.
When the wine & cheese group got tired of cars going in circles, NA$CAR then began their descent into the current “dismal” times!
The wine & cheese crowd is gone, and the core fan is gone!
NA$CAR is now competing with all other sports and entertainment venues, like the movies, and TV even, for it’s fan base!
And folks! This fan base is not coming on board anytime soon!
The racing is not good enough to keep and hold any one’s attention! And the oldtime “core-fan” has been severely burned and has found other things to do!
IF! And WOW is that a BIG IF! NA$CAR started listening, maybe, just maybe, us old diehards would return, and return in earnest, but don’t hold your breath!
I am always reminded of a “MASH” episode, (and this relates to our beloved Brian France), Winchester is chastising Radar and says to Radar, ala Brian, “you know, the dictionary never had an definition for STUPID until you came along”!
If a tree falls, & no one is there. Does it make a noise?
There comes a time in a relationship where you take a step back and say, “Is this still the same girl I fell in love with”? That’s where a lot of NASCAR fans are right now. BF has made so many wholesale changes so quickly that all fans have, at some point, questioned if this is the same NASCAR they fell in love with. I can say without a doubt, NO it is not. I have loyalty to my driver and that is what is keeping me watching every lap of every race, qualifying, practice, etc. and going to at least one race a year. My driver will probably be retiring in the next 3 to 5 years. When that happens I will be re-evaluating my relationship with NASCAR. I’m not saying I will totally abandon it but there are a lot of degrees to fandom and I doubt I will be a diehard, 100% involved fan if things don’t start changing (back) for the better.
Here, Here, Bill. The driver I follow is 41. I’ve been following him for a long time (early nineties). It’s no longer exciting racing. It’s racing for that corporate dollar. When Burton retires, I don’t know if my heart will be in it. I left baseball behind a long time ago because the money involved seemed to be more important than the product on the field. Thanks for listening.
AC/DC and Rush…it doesn’t get any better than that.
Nascar some where along the way forgot their first rule ..be yourself..a lot of good points, almost like the financial mess, they wanted huge growth,
tThe best thing that Na$car has going is that most fans are way too young to know what real racing used to be.I do. If they ever find out, they will be gone, then sponcers will go, tv will go and maybe thats as it should be to bring racing back.
Some seem to jump on the bandwagon of whoever is winning. Then there are hard core fans who watch a team no matter if they are 53 wins and 110 loses or 110 wins and 53 loses. There there are fans who jump on the winner bandwagon then complain how not every race is entertaining, geez how entertaining was in in the 60’s when the King or the Silver Fox had the entire field lapped 2-3 times. Kyle is melting down just like he did at Hendrick, and the other teams have caught up so I doubt that he will win 50% of the remaining races.
RJ, I endured the Orioles 0-21 start of 1988, and I remained a devoted Orioles and baseball fan throughout all of the crap people gave me about it. I’ll thank you to be careful who you call a “bandwagon fan”.
Kurt, I know what you’re saying. Down here in Tampa Bay, we always see a spat of bandwagon fans as soon as the team sells from the cheap ba.. err original owners and they finally become competitive. The lone exception though seems to be the Rays this year. Hopefully we’ll get that bandwagon full next season. Unless they’re playing the Yankees, Red Sox or Cubs, you can just about hear crickets in the outfield. And it’s an indoor stadium, so there’s only like three of them.
I used to follow the O’s when I was stationed at Fort Meade back when Earl Weaver was running the show. Great place to watch daytime baseball then head over to HammerJacks at night.
Kurt it must have hit a nerve, I looked at my post and no where did I see your name mentioned, I even looked twice and your name is not mentioned. Look for yourself, again, your name is not mentioned. Get off the guilt trip, if the post was directed at you I would have put you name in the post just like I did for this one!!!!
There are times when I think I could give it up. I’m certainly frustrated with NASCAR as a sanctioning body and they way they run things. But the reason I can’t walk away is simple-I don’t care how NASCAR does, but I do care about the people on the teams from drivers to gasmen. I could never just walk away. I care too much about the people who just want to race, who pour their hearts and souls into making their car go faster and just this week, finding a little bit extra. THEY are why I can’t walk away.
Amy it is a lot like local racing, people that enjoy doing what they are doing, no matter if they finish first or finish last, it is the thrill of be part of it. I think Nascar tries, do they get it right all the time, no sometimes they miss the boat, hopefully they learn from that and get better. My opinion is the first 3 races of the chase have been some of the best racing all season, or at least the last 10-15 laps have been. Now if you are a bandwagon Kyle B fan I am sure they think that Nascar sabotaged his car all three times, rather than just be a victim of bad racing luck.