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.
In Kansas this last weekend, the top five finishing cars drove for Roush Fenway Racing and Hendrick Motorsports. Those two teams also produced three more drivers in the Top 15, for a total of eight drivers from two teams. Of the remaining seven, five were from Richard Childress and Red Bull.
One week before at Dover, the top three drivers all drove for Roush. Three of the Top 10 drove for Childress. Three of the Top 15 drove for Hendrick.
Note one other thing: in both races, all of the Top 15 cars finished on the lead lap. By comparison, 20 years ago in the Dover fall race in 1988—remember, this is a one mile, relatively short track—only the Top 5 finishers were on the lead lap.
When some of us are critical of current day NASCAR and nostalgic for the way things once were, sometimes we are rebuked by folks who remind us that back in the 70s and 80s, winners often won by more than one lap. They have a point. Let me go on record saying that the prominence of multi-car operations in NASCAR today isn’t one of the things with which I have a beef.
The furor over the dominance of multi-car teams reached its peak in 2005, when half of the Chase field consisted of Jack Roush machines. Especially in a season where the immensely popular Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driving for a much smaller operation, failed to make the Chase, it seemed unfair to many fans that two powerhouses with twice the ability to practice, test, and learn seemed to dominate the circuit. And so, responding to these complaints, NASCAR announced they would be knocking down the multi-car operations, starting with Jack Roush.
Roush’s five teams had a huge advantage in 2005, but what is less recognized is NASCAR’s own role in handing them that edge. Before the start of the 2005 season, NASCAR, in their never ending effort to induce more side-by-side, competitive racing, mandated a lower spoiler height on the car. That same year, the impound rule was implemented, eliminating the two practices following qualifying at most tracks. Both moves were intended to help smaller teams have a chance, but the combination of the two backfired.
The lower spoiler height had the biggest impact on the 1.5 – 2 mile speedways where the aero setup is critical. Because teams did not have the extra practices to get the setup right—and two practices every week is a lot of opportunities—the advantage fell to the teams who were able to test more during the week and collect more information. As a result, Roush Racing dominated on the intermediate tracks, winning eight of 14 races. Greg Biffle had the year of his life, winning six races, four of them at the intermediates. He finished second that season, after never having finished higher than 17th. He has not finished better than 10th since, although he may this year.
Jack Roush rightly complained that the subsequent rule change to limit the number of cars on a team was directed at him. NASCAR insisted it was not, but that insistence was difficult to defend when Roush was initially the only team affected by the rule change. One couldn’t blame Roush for gaining an advantage from a new set of rules in 2005—an advantage, by the way, that was mostly gone just one year later. Roush placed just two drivers in the Chase in 2006…and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. made it driving for a team that had caught up on setups.
It is difficult to see smaller operations struggling and sometimes closing their doors, especially the teams that have a rich tradition. Few NASCAR fans, especially the core fans, aren’t rooting for Petty Enterprises to be winning races and challenging for titles again.
But that is not for NASCAR to legislate. NASCAR’s goals with the current car—safety, lowered costs, uniform design, improved racing—may have been noble in nature whether they have achieved those goals or not. To look at the results, it hasn’t helped the smaller teams very much. So what can NASCAR do?
A better question is why do they need to do anything. Because of the proliferation of multi-car teams, we have seen an increase in race winners every season, which, if I’m not mistaken, is something NASCAR can point to in their efforts to provide “parity” to the sport.
In 1975, long before Rick Hendrick’s experiment, eight drivers won races in a 30-race schedule. Two of them—Dave Marcis and Benny Parsons—won only one race. Darrell Waltrip won just two. Granted, that was a dominant season for Richard Petty, but in 1976, there were also only eight race winners, and in 1977, there were seven. In 1997, there were 11 different race winners, even with Jeff Gordon taking the checkered flag 10 times in 32 events. In 2003, the year whose championship outcome NASCAR decided was no longer acceptable, there were 17 winners. Nine teams won races in 2003…more than the total number of drivers that won in most seasons in the 1970s. In 2007, a year in which Jimmie Johnson won 10 races, Jeff Gordon won six, and Hendrick Motorsports won half of the events on the circuit, there were still 16 different race winners.
More drivers winning equals more drivers’ fans being happy and continuing to watch, and more drivers for new fans to root for. This has helped to grow the sport immensely. The biggest factor in making races more competitive with more potential winners, more than any custom-car legislation from NASCAR, has been the rise to prominence of multi-car teams. For that we have Rick Hendrick to thank, like him or not. He wasn’t the first to try it, but he was the first to make it work. That is how a sport evolves. It’s like the premium that became attached to relief pitching.
It’s a misguided idea for NASCAR to limit the number of cars an owner is allowed to run on the racetrack, however good their intentions. Suppose we get down to that level of three per team as NASCAR has promised. Who will replace the extra Hendrick and Roush cars? Will Morgan-McClure return? Or PPI? Doubtful. What is more likely is that the big guys will run the increasingly popular “satellite” operations, giving engines and chassis to a “different” team. And not only won’t the essential problem have been solved, but the quality of the racing will suffer. Satellite teams generally don’t keep up with the big boys.
The new car design may have helped bring the cars in the field closer together, and we can laud or dispute the merits of that. I still think the new car is an eyesore. But the best teams are still the best teams, and the only real way to make them all completely equal is to put restrictor plates in the cars at every race, IROC style. You can imagine what that will make NASCAR look like. And even then, the best aero package will win, not the best driver.
Multi-car teams may have put a hurting on Petty Enterprises, Wood Brothers, and Bill Davis, which is lamentable, but they have also put many more competitive cars on the track, which overall is worth the trade-off. The sport gains more fans and bigger purses for all. Without having a real solution yet, maybe the sport should leave it be for now.
©2000 - 2008 Kurt Smith and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
It is indeed amazing that as the “dream” team of NASCAR under the auspices of one Mr. Rick Hendricks, were sailing along towards stardom last year, no one seemed concerned with the “dream teams” multi-car status. But, alas, the dastardly Fords under Jack Roush were rejuvenated and all of a sudden the multi-car teams are the next Bubonic Plague. Perhaps, as is usually the case, perspective is entirely dependent upon which team and/or driver for whom you root….perhaps? And when…WHEN, in the history of NASCAR, was there ever a rule written to the detriment of JUST ONE owner….namely, the limit on cars being reduced from five to four cars….affecting ONLY the Roush-Fenway team….how slanted can the rule making become?
..is a very bad example for the point you are trying to make. There were only 6 cars on the lead lap at the Dover race last sping.
Perhaps, Bill, but the Dover race last spring was marked by very long caution-free periods, which is the exception especially at Dover. If you take the average race in 2008 compared to the average race in 1978, I’m willing to bet that there is a much greater average of cars finishing on the lead lap. You aren’t wrong, but I don’t think one race nullifies the general point.
Back in the 80’s more drivers showed up each week with a chance at winning that doesn’t apply now a days with the haves and have nots and there isn’t complete parity on the teams. HMS always has a car that is weaker then the others in the organization
While I agree with you that the increased competition provided by multi-car teams is a pretty good thing, I’m not quite ready to agree that if it “put(s) a hurting on Petty Enterprises, Wood Brothers, and Bill Davis… (it’s) worth the trade-off”. I don’t blame Nascar for Davis’, Petty’s, and Wood’s situation, but wouldn’t it be a great story to see some of those teams in victory lane?
Carl Kiekhaefer, not Hendrick, was the first owner to make multi-car teams work. Petty Enterprises occasionally ran multiple cars successfully, as did Junior Johnson. Occasionally, there were teams like Holman-Moody that ran multiple cars sometimes, and Holman-Moody claimed 1-2 in the Daytona 500 with Mario Andretti and Fred Lorenzen, so I wouldn’t say that Hendrick was the first owner to make it work. He was the first owner to maintain a multi-car team for an extended period of time though on the order of a decade or more.
Not an easy topic to solve. And it all boils down to money. Even in the “old days” the owners with money did measurably better than struggling owners.
Because NASCAR is a single entity every owner is looking how to get around that single entity. Wether to find grey areas or create huge loopholes.
Look at what the 4 car rule has brought. Roush racing looked for a way to diversify and infuse cash into it’s organization and they brought on the fenway group. The next move was to “allow” the organizations gerneral manger to perform a lateral move to a struggling Yates Racing. The ties between the two teams are obvious and gives RFR today a psuedo 7 car race team with technology and funding going between both organizations.
Another new “organization” is rearing it’s head with “Satelite Teams”
Hendrick and Stewart Haas, RCR and DEI and MWR and JTG/Daugherty.
It’s been brought up that franchising is an option. That would bring owners and NASCAR close together but also brings the top level of auto racing to an elite group with a glass ceiling so high that only the mega rich need apply. Now this could be a boon to the Nationwide serieswhich is struggling with it’s own identity.
Another option, like the NFL, a cap. Not a salary cap but a budgetary cap. NASCAR’s failures have all had one common theme to reduce the amount it costs to be comptetive in it’s series. Well just cap how much the teams can spend in an annual period.
So what the answer? I don’t know, but I do know that as long as NASCAR stands alone and weilds power like a dictator they’re will be people trying to get around it at every oppertunity.
One advantage of mulit teams is one of the cars can be doing testing “during” a race. Just talk to some of the drivers that have raced for multi teams before and they didn’t get the same equipment as others. I’ve heard of drivers asking for this or that and were told to “just drive the car”.
Multi-car teams have been one of the things, maybe one of the larger things at that, that has sucked the life out of this sport to me. Say what you will about ye’ old days where there would only be so many cars left on the lead lap but at least there was 43+ teams and not the corporations that come to the track’s now. Now with multi-car teams having satellite teams as well..how can this possibly be good for the sport? Make it simple..heck, NASCAR has already given us the top-35 rule, why not just have 43 drivers show up and hop in the IROC cars and go racing. Pretty much there now…
For instance, if a team wants two cars in its stable, both have to have the same sponsor and color schemes. This would surely spread the wealth of companies to more than just two super teams.
Before you say F1 is boring, which NASCAR is too except for a few races, this year of F1 has been the most competative I can ever remember.
The “golden years” of 1980 – 1998 NASCAR will never return, but it would be nice to see more than 3 teams dominate the telecasts.
Another interesting rule is only a certain amount of engine changes per year. Interesting.