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.
Long ago as a young lad, I worked for a department store you may have heard of called Caldor. I wasn’t the best employee…I goofed off and hit on girls a lot…but for the most part, I showed up for work every day on time and did my job as expected.
I wasn’t a thief, ever. But I was fired for an employee discount violation that I didn’t even know was a violation, in a transaction that cost the multi-million dollar corporation $2. A friend of mine there, making a similar wage, was also fired on a technicality a week after I was. Caldor looked at the numbers and decided to lose people making over a certain amount of money. They lost all of my family and friends permanently as customers as a result, and I’m sure I wasn’t the only one. They saved $4.90 an hour and lost thousands of dollars in sales.
I worked in the radio & TV department, and every week a brand of VCR would go on sale. If it was Sony or RCA or another decent name brand, they’d ship us two. If it was Goldstar, they’d give us 12. Either way, we’d sell out of them the first day, with no one ordering us any more to honor “rainchecks”. And I’d spend the rest of the week listening to customers tell me they weren’t ever coming back.
The assistant manager would shrug it off. “They always say that,” she told me, “and in a week they’re back.” The voice of concern.
Caldor is no more.
It very often seems as though NASCAR shrugs off similar complaints. Nearly every week I read multiple comments from people saying they’re done watching. And judging from the ratings this season, it sounds like people mean it. NASCAR can point out having more viewers than women’s basketball or golf, but the reality is that the ratings have been dropping every season for several years now, and there is still little being done to improve the fan experience. The broadcasts are still constant corporate bombardments with sprinkles of racing thrown in. Drivers and crews strongly dislike the car and fans know it. The second half of the season features too much points racing. People on the East Coast need No-Doz to watch races that start well into the evening.
And as the sport hemorrhages fans, NASCAR shrugs and says, “They’ll be back”.
Certainly, Dale Earnhardt, Jr.’s performance is a part of the reason for the ratings slide. It’s no fun for the largest fan base in NASCAR to watch their hero run 14th every week. That Brian France himself has acknowledged this says that they are very much aware of Junior’s importance to the sport.
But the response has not been to analyze why he is so popular but to make ridiculous rule changes to keep Junior and other popular drivers in the running for a championship until the end of the season. They went after bigger teams that didn’t build his cars. They contrived a playoff. When Junior didn’t make the playoff in two out of four years, it was expanded. And at Daytona and Phoenix this season, NASCAR can’t seem to make up its mind whether Junior should be punished for aggressive driving.
It is the overtures to fans of popular drivers that bring out the chants of “WWE”, not Tony Stewart complaining about debris cautions. NASCAR seems reluctant to anger not only Junior Nation, but even the anti-Junior Nation now. Cuban baseball leagues have braver officials.
Instead of trying to figure out a way to make a rule against passing any car with two eights on it, how about looking at Junior’s popularity and ultimately seeing where NASCAR’s base was and is? There are fans everywhere, but they are still largely concentrated in the Southeast of this country—which is the main reason why one of the few drivers left who speaks with a twang is the sport’s biggest star.
So why do races get pulled out of the Carolinas? Why are ticket prices for any worthwhile seats out of blue collar range? Why are the fans in the Southeast, the clear majority, being made to stay up until past midnight, sometimes on Sunday, to see the outcome of a race?
Why even consider losing a race at Martinsville for Kansas? On spreadsheets it may make sense. Moving Labor Day to California made sense on the spreadsheets at the time. It also makes economic sense for a corporation to have profoundly exasperating automated menus or foreigners whose third language is English to handle their customer service. The spreadsheet doesn’t show the value of lost customers irate at the lack of respect they’re shown by companies they patronize.
NASCAR’s efforts to help Junior win while simultaneously disregarding the core location of the fan base are both resulting in a crumbling foundation. Fans understand trying to grow the sport. What infuriates them is the disregard for the most devoted among them in the efforts to appeal to those who never have and never will support it. It’s as if no one in charge has ever heard of New Coke.
NASCAR needs to see what is happening before it’s too late. It isn’t hard to do. Look at what people on blogs and websites complain about the most and address it. They don’t have to please bitchy columnists like me—but they should take heed if everyone in the comment section agrees with what I or others are saying. Do internal polling if necessary—and listen this time. Had NASCAR heeded their own website’s polls about the Chase, instead of insisting on it regardless of fan opinion, they would have quickly ditched the idea. The polls for the Chase ran 75-25 against it before and after the 2004 season. A 50-point margin is beyond “overwhelming majority”. A 50-point margin means “Don’t do it”!
Fans continued to strongly oppose the Big Points Giveaway in polls until NASCAR stopped polling and just had their people tell us it’s great and fans love it. Never mind the ratings. They’ll be back.
NASCAR can blame the economy for the plummeting attendance. What they can’t blame on the economy is plummeting ratings. I doubt that everyone has decided to get their NASCAR fix on their computer rather than just turning on their TV set. It’s just as almost free to watch a race on TV as it has always been. There are almost one in five fewer people watching races this year than in 2008, and 2008 saw a similar decline from 2007. That is literally millions of fans not watching. If NASCAR isn’t waking up to the reality, they should really start paying attention.
For now NASCAR gets away with it. They are still the only game in town. They aren’t going to be forever, and if someone with better ideas of what a racing series should be finds the funding, it could reduce a great institution to irrelevance. Do you think Tony Stewart couldn’t be lured to a stock car racing series with more drivable cars and a tire supplier that’s up to the job? He left Gibbs for Haas—he could certainly leave NASCAR for something lesser in stature. It used to be unthinkable that a NASCAR star like Kyle Busch would even consider leaving for Formula One. What does it say that a true racer like Kyle must be at least somewhat disgruntled with his current very high-paying gig?
So many institutions in America become hugely popular and then forget everything that got them there. Caldor is just one of hundreds of examples. It isn’t disputed anymore that NASCAR is headed in the wrong direction—down. One need only look at articles and comments and blogs to see the equation. A strange looking and driving strictly spec racecar + poor broadcasts + rules to help popular drivers + rules to encourage points racing + ridiculous start times = plummeting ratings.
Hopefully, NASCAR isn’t shrugging the numbers off and expecting fans to come back. It’s becoming clearer that people aren’t. This season’s ratings from Daytona forward are no longer something to be dismissed. And if NASCAR keeps going the way they’re going, the ratings will keep on following suit.
NASCAR can stop the bleeding. The question is whether they will.
©2000 - 2008 Kurt Smith and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
Is it a prerequisite to whine and gripe to write on FS.com?
Even of it isn’t… can the diatribe of moaning be something original?
Absolutely well stated!
But I think NA$CRAP simply cannot read! (or count for that matter, all the empty seats), what’s that comedians famous line ? “and here’s your sign”!
Remember the words of Bill France Jr to his son Brian (bring me another Coke) France.
Don’t mess with the fans… Brian did.
Don’t mess with the racing… Brian did.
Don’t mess with the cars… Brian did.
Well I guess Brian knew better than his Daddy or is Grand Father because what took 50 years for them to build he has managed to destroy in 4 short years.
My wife and I use to attend at least 8 races a year. Now thanks to Price gouging, lousy racing, horrible cars, and the asinine “Chase”, we haven’t gone to a single race in 3 years.
They even managed to ruin the best Race of the year, Bristol.
Holy cow, what a train wreck NA$CAR has become.
So in the true Brian ( the tree jumped out in front of me) France tradition: lets blame Junior, Lets Blame the Economy, Lets Blame the People at California for shopping durring the race.
Take a Good look in the mirror NA$CAR, the rose is of the bloom and the sport is dying, and you have nobody to blame but yourselfs.
PS. Oh and Fox get rid of the stupid freaking Digger crap, and just show the damn race….
Excellent take on things…definitely a different perspective on “the meaning of Jr.” Demonstrates the prototypical failure of NASCAR to see the forest through the trees.
NA$CAR racing has gone from a must see to a “I’ll watch if there is nothing better to do and the weather is bad”. You don’t see the race on TV, you see infomercials with an occasional shot of the front runners. To win, you mostly just need to get out of the pits first on the last pit stop
Hey,,, wait a minute. I thought the Chase was devised because Matt Kenseth had it wrapped up with 3 races left and only had one win. Now you say it was to keep Jr in the Championship. As Spicoli asked in Fast Times At Ridgemont High… “make up your mind dude. Is he going to (*&^ or is he going to kill us.”
Agreed Bobb, I’m about tired of hearing the negativity, I dont like the 88 but I’m rooting for him to win so the whining will stop.
Can I get an AMEN!
Before last year I would attend at least 2 races a year, for 25 years. Last year NONE…this year probably none. Yes the economy is crimping my “play money”, but at the track, I can’t turn on for the first 50 laps, go do something else, and turn back on for last 20 laps.
Living an hour away from ‘dega, I briefly considered going to the race, since the track was overwhelming my email with special offers. But nope, I choose to hold onto my $40 that would have been the cost of the seat and food coupon.
Talladega will be different, but only cause of plates. No one driver will get a 5 second lead on the field. ‘dega will be the antiacid race and also headache race.
I hope Brain Fart is happy with what he’s done.
Just a few years ago, I would estimate that where I live about 1 in 10 cars had NASCAR bumper / window stickers (especially after Sr passed). Now… I might see 1 or 2 a day.
Blame the car, TV, whatever. The sport is sliding down the slope – although maybe that won’t be such a bad thing if it means that the get back to their original core reason of existance: Racing (not commericials, sponsor plugs, etc.)
Casey B and Bobb, sorry you feel that way about this great website, but if you look at my columns for this season, other than suggesting ideas for more imaginative racetracks, I haven’t been negative all year. It wasn’t my intention to complain in this article, it was to point out that NASCAR should be looking at why the ratings have been consistently falling and see what they can do to turn it around.
Bill B, I’m not arguing your point, but you’ve given me an idea for a future article.
Very well said… the problem with NASCAR in it’s current form is none other than BRAINLESS">BRIANFRANCE and his greedy mudsucking scam artist ways. He truly doesnt care about the FANS, the SPORT or its HISTORY! HE is only concerned about giving the impression he he cares. The only thing he cares about is $$$$$$$$ NOTHING ELSE.Especially the fans who spend that $$.Every single move he has made was designed to create more $$$ in his pocket.I say get rid of the Brainless King and let someone run the sport that cares!
Kurt, Thanks for stating the obvious errors of Nascar’s ways! Big Bill is most likely rolling in his grave! Aside from the economy, the COT has done more to keep the fans away than any other factor! As bad as I hate “rule changes” in mid-stream, Nascar needs to allow these teams some freedom to make some much-needed chassis changes! As it stands, “clean air” and 1st out of the pits, is the difference between winning and being an also ran!
I don’t understand why Jr. haters feel that fans who complain are just upset because he hasn’t won a race. I couldn’t care less if Jr. wins a race. I’m upset that the racing itself sucks, the television coverage is a joke, and they’ve taken the competition out of the sport completely. If you’re so freaking happy with Na$car, then don’t read the negative columns. Everything is apple pie and lollipops in your world. All you need to read is www.nascar.com. They’ll tell you what you want to hear.
I picked up my renewal tix last week for the 2010 Daytona 500. The ticket office was empty. The staff indicated that business was slower than usual, however, they naturally have to tow the co line that ‘all is great’ (lol). When I receive a call at home about renewing my tix (never received one before) it was a no brainer that tix sales were s l o w. On the plus side, DIS is discounting renewals – 12.5% on 2 day tower packages and 38.5% on the tower truck race seats. One hell of a deal for the truck race – usually the best race of Speedweeks – only $40. for a tower seat. So we have something positive – DIS has reduced prices for renewals. Now for the racing. In my view, the ‘cars’ raced in the NA$CAR Cup series is the big problem. To draw the fans back, both in person & on TV, the cars need to resemble their namesakes on the street. The main complaint we have now (with the spec cars) is that the cars at the front have difficulty passing and the leader just disappears – re Jr last week in a car that was crap until he got out front. If memory serves me correct, when the cars has the same basic outlines as their street namesake, the lack of passing was not an issue.
And Kurt, as for being negative, I think you, as most of us who take the time to comment are not ‘complaining’ just to be negative. We want to draw attention to the problems we see and hope NA$CAR does something while we still have a sport. And many of us do offer possible solutions. Alas, it does not seem that anyone in ‘head office’ is listening to us, the fans.
Whether you are usually negative or not, the topic of “kick NASCAR” has been exahusted, from A to Z. Some of the complaints are valid, others are hypothetical, others, are plain mythologicol.
Nonetheless… kicking and beating and griping will not change a bit of it.
Lastly, you (all those that complain) are NOT beating NASCAR, you’re beating a dead horse, week after week.
There is a big difference between being right (about anything), and being good, or working for the better good.
I attended college, when I was young and naïve. The Business 101 class was a required course for all students regardless of your major. I was an engineering major so I had almost no interest in the class. But the professor was first-rate, and in spite of myself I learned a lot in her class. She presented to us on the first day of class a list of why businesses fail. The first 6 were poor management, overexpansion, not keeping the customer base happy, location, location and location. So let’s apply this to NASCAR, poor management results in overexpansion thus pissing off the customer base in the location, location and locations that allowed NASCAR to grow. If I got this wrong please do not blame my Business Professor. She only had an engineering student to work with
What I don’t understand is…..why nascrap/brainless brian/and the rest of them….can’t do anything about the obovious ‘start and parks’….There are some drivers WHO want to race, not go to the gargae and be out of the race, just to get a paycheck…and nascrap just turns their heads, does nothing about it…
Bill B: With all due respect, I think NASCAR is on a much longer timeframe than most fans imagine.
I’ll argue this point forever, that NASCAR is in phase to prepare for their next big growth… doing some necessary ground work, to evolve further.
When Dale Earhhardt died… it meant more than the loss of a great driver; it meant there was something fundamentally wrong with the sport.
Bobb, your point is noted about the anti-NASCAR issues being beaten to death as you put it. If you look at Jayski every day, you will see that a lot of topics are beaten to death: Junior’s performance, start-and-parks, Digger, whatever. I realize I’m very critical of NASCAR, but this article applies to current news: that as of the Phoenix race, the ratings have been down for every single race this year, not just a few.
Regarding safety, I’m glad you brought that up, because down the road I’m going to shoot down this whole notion that the new car is safer. Now “the new car is safer”, there’s a statement that’s been beaten to death. Waiting for the appropriate time.
FS_Kurt: Write the column now about the new cars and safety rather than being a cheap opportunist, k?
Good golly Bobb, I’m not hoping for a driver to die just to make a point. Not even I’m that bad. Yeesh back at ya.
Trust me, it will be appropriate.
Kurt said: “The polls for the Chase ran 75-25 against it before and after the 2004 season. A 50-point margin is beyond “overwhelming majority”. A 50-point margin means “Don’t do it”!”
NASCAR fans are notoriously against change. It doesnt matter what it is, if it changes something, they’re against it. So using that as an example is moot, in my opinion.
To Bill B @ 8:37am: Kenseth had the title won after Rockingham with one race left in the season. Gordon would have wrapped up the title in 2007 after Texas with two races left in the season. Both yawners in my opinion. At least with the Chase, there is a better chance of it going down to the last race. Unfortunately, only the first year, 2004, produced such an animal, with every year after being almost a runaway by one driver (Tony Stewart or Jimmie Johnson). I believe NASCAR almost has it right with the Chase, it just needs a tweak or two to keep the drivers closer together in points to eliminate runaways.
…and neither does the chase.
First off NA$CAR changed the rules mid stream since the early days of NA$CAR. Has NA$CAR “looked the other way” for Junior? Sure they have. Just like they did for years with Jeff Gordon.
My wife and I used to drive from So.Cal. just to go to races at Martinsville, Darlington and Rockingham. Yet we refused to drive 30 miles to Fontana. That place still sucks.
Heck we don’t even watch the races anymore.
2 things have hurt the racing. Brian France and FOX.
No Bill France is not turning over in his grave because NA$CAR/France/ISC are still making money.
Bill France is not the messiah some think he was.
It is really simple to fix Nascar – Here’s how:
The Race cars must have BUMPERS! Air must flow underneath the car. No valences and splitters to the ground. Airflow under the car = no aero push. No aero push = better racing and passing at will.
Lower horsepower as well.
Have all broadcasts go by CBS formula of how they showed races. Wide shots of multiple cars racing together. No cutesy gimmicks and self promotion. Fox, ESPN are not the “show”.
Racing is the “show”.
Have Ken Squier and Ned Jarrett announce the races.
Fire or otherwise eliminate Brian France and let David Pearson run Nascar.
Re-open North Wilkesboro, Rockingham and build short tracks in southern cities.
Hell, let me run it, I’ll have things fixed in no time.
Just call me Big Bill….I’ll even carry a .38….
Seems pretty simple to me…
Show the racing. At reasonable times.
My personal wish list would include….but not limited to….
More saturday night racing.
And frankly, as far as I’m concerned, the season could end when the NFL starts.
bobb, Your last name is France or Helton correct?
The season ended for me before the it started. If NASCAR is betting the farm on Jr. and it certainly appears that way, otherwise he would have been penalized last week, they are in trouble. If the fan “base” is primarily Jr., and that appears to be the case as well, then if Jr. fails the series fails. The latter is definitely the case. No sport can rely on one individual player and succeed. What a holy mess this series has become! I’ve moved on to sports car racing where the racing is king and there are so many star drivers that you can’t settle on just one.
All I am seeing is how France’s decisions has impacted Cup racing. It irks me when that is referenced to NASCAR. France’s decisions has impacted NASCAR to it’s core divisions. The local short tracks find themselves competing against Cup/GN/Trucks almost half the season now with night races. Most of these tracks are located in localities with ordanances that basically eliminates a possiblity to run on Sunday. You throw the current economy in there and you have tracks trying to tread water with concrete boots. Has anyone stopped and looked at the fact that more and more new comers to Cup racing have very little local NASCAR short track experience? Some may run Late Models for a year through developmental teams but you are seeing less drivers who started in the support divisions and worked their way up. Short tracks having what is considered a full field twice a year is a huge accomplishment. Doing it four times a year prior to the recession was lucky. After getting out of the Navy in 85 I became a racing fanatic. It was short track racing every weekend except for the two to three Cup races I attended. Even then we would check out a track close to us if it was running. NASCAR was at it’s strongest then. Your local tracks had large fields of cars and large attendances. Walking around the track fans would be decked out in their newest attire to show who their Cup driver was. Today 1 in 20 may have on something racing related when attending a local Saturday night event. That in itself should raise an alarm about the state of the sport. In my opinion Brian France made a poor decision in the overall title sponsor. Instead of taking a deal that pumps a lot of money into the upper tier he should have gone with some one willing to spread funds through the whole system like Winston did. There had to be someone out there with the same idealoligy as Winston. Also, I miss the days of watching a race on a Sunday that offered me daylight to cook on the grill afterwards.