NASCAR Changes Qualifying Format
posted by Summer Bedgood
Tuesday March 11, 2014
Following safety concerns regarding NASCAR’s new qualifying format, the sanctioning body is introducing some changes in preparation for this weekend’s race at Bristol Motor Speedway. According to the Associated Press, NASCAR is banning teams from cool-down laps after their qualifying attempts, but will instead be allowed to hook up cool-down units to the engine through hood flaps.
Late Tuesday afternoon, a release from NASCAR fully detailed the changes. Teams will be allowed a single cool down unit to be connected through the right or left side hood flap, however the hood must remain closed. Additionally, two crew members will be allowed over the wall while cooling down.
“The qualifying is new to all of us and as we have said over the past several weeks, we are looking at it from all aspects,” said Robin Pemberton, vice president of competition and racing development. “Following discussions, both internally and with others in the garage area, we moved quickly to make a few revisions that will be effective starting with our two national series events at Bristol Motor Speedway this weekend. We believe this will only enhance and improve what has demonstrated to be an exciting form of qualifying for our fans, competitors and others involved with the sport. Moving forward we will continue to look at it and address anything else that we may need to as the season unfolds.”
The move comes after three weeks of NASCAR’s new knockout qualifying system, where multiple cars are allowed to make qualifying attempts at the same time instead of the traditional one-car-at-a-time procedure. Drivers and teams had complained that the new rules didn’t allow them to cool their engines down on pit road, and the cool-down laps caused a dangerous situation with slower cars staying on the track at the same time that other cars were running by them at much higher speeds.
The rule will begin this weekend in Bristol, a track that has a much narrower racing surface than Daytona, Phoenix, and Las Vegas.
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!
Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
Kurt Smith · Friday June 12, 2009
I unwittingly picked a bad time to discuss who the best drivers in the sport are today. Between Kyle’s guitar smashing, double-file restarts and the Mayfield situation, there is plenty to discuss in NASCAR these days that gets a writer’s columns clicked on by subject matter alone. Maybe this column could have been titled “Oooohh But I Just Hate That Kyle Busch” just to get people’s attention, but it’s just not right to fake people out like that. (I’m exaggerating, but as you know, some writers really do that.)
Regardless, The Official Columnist of NASCAR promised you, the born of high taste Frontstretch readers, a three part series ranking the best drivers in the sport today, as determined by a devoted commentator trying to be as objective as possible. If you missed drivers #15-#11, you can read it here, where I also give my criteria for what makes a great driver. And be sure to tune in next week to see who I believe the best is.
Meantime, let’s run through drivers numbered 10 through 6. (Hey, wasn’t that a Bad Company album?)
#10) Matt Kenseth
The Daytona 380 champion was the absolute model of consistency in his championship 2003 season. His routine was almost relentlessly habitual: qualify poorly, often poorly enough to burn a provisional (remember provisionals?), take care of the race car and get it tuned up, then with 50 laps to go hit the switch and cut through the field to finish sixth. He did it so well that the title was won before the last race, causing NASCAR to wring their hands and shake their fist at the sky at the travesty.
Kenseth is as smooth as any driver on the circuit and takes excellent care of his stuff. The only time I’ve ever seen Kenseth “beat himself” (man, that’s not a good phrase to use) was in the first Chase race at Dover, where he went into the pits too fast, spun, and climbed up a stack of tires. That that is the only incident that comes to mind says something.
The 17 isn’t often in contention for wins at Martinsville, but he is usually in the top 10 at the end. He has dominated Bristol on more than one occasion and consistently runs well at Dover. In his last four races at Darlington: third, seventh, sixth, tenth. He hasn’t been a world-beater on road courses though…his best finish since 2006 was an eighth at Sonoma, and most of his runs when turning right aren’t close to being that good. It is a weakness that fortunately only affects his results twice a year.
And when former teammate Mark Martin was once asked who in the sport is underrated, Matt Kenseth was the first name out of his mouth. That he is.
#9) Denny Hamlin
I agonized over ranking Hamlin ahead of Kenseth, especially after the reaction to my stating he would be in the top 10. But when I looked at numbers I couldn’t deny Denny. He may only have four wins, but how many drivers with four or more wins have zero at intermediate or plate tracks? (Hint: Michael Waltrip isn’t one of them.) And there’s more to his record than just wins.
Imagine this was horse racing. Here is a list of tracks where Hamlin has at least showed (finished third or better): Richmond, Pocono, Martinsville, Phoenix, Homestead, Vegas, Darlington, Loudon, Watkins Glen, Talladega, Indianapolis, Bristol, California, Atlanta. In other words, Hamlin can race anywhere. He’s won at Martinsville and finished second at Bristol. In four races at Darlington, he has three top 10s and has never finished below 13th.
Remember that Hamlin was Joe Gibbs’ second choice to pilot the No. 11 car, after Jason Leffler performed well enough to keep a Nationwide Series job. When Denny got into the car in 2005 it came to life, scoring three top 10s in his first seven races. In his first full season, he went undefeated at Pocono and finished third in the standings…and while he has since not done well in Chases, he has been there.
Anyone who has watched NASCAR in recent years knows that Denny has dominated quite a few races only to come up short, and sometimes very short. As my good buddy Danny Peters so eloquently detailed in his column this week, few drivers have been affected by Lady Luck like Hamlin. Question Hamlin’s place in this list if you want, but the numbers are there.
#8) Jeff Burton
Without having won a title, it’s easy to forget that Burton finished in the top 5 in points for four straight years for Roush Racing, and then inexplicably could not find a sponsor, driving a plain white car until finally moving over to RCR. Has anyone noticed that Jeff Burton every so often gets in the title hunt or grabs the points lead? There aren’t many drivers out there that don’t drive for Hendrick, Roush, or Gibbs that achieve that particular feat.
Burton has only four wins with RCR, but in the last three seasons he hasn’t had fewer than 18 top 10 finishes. In other words, he makes do with what he’s got as well as anyone. Few drivers beat themselves less often than Jeff Burton. You don’t often see him flub a pit stop or spin a car overdriving it, and it isn’t often you’ll see him give up a lead late in the race. He may not be in title-worthy equipment, but he’s kept RCR in the race every year, making every Chase since 2006. What that means is that Burton is a patient driver who takes care of his stuff and gets the best possible finish with his car.
Two of his four RCR wins came at Dover and Bristol. He hasn’t finished lower than 12th at Darlington in four races. Burton’s finishes at Sears Point are better than at Watkins Glen, but he can race at road courses just fine. Burton is as good on concrete as anyone, nailing top 5s left and right at Bristol, Dover, and even the partially concrete surface at Martinsville. RCR’s weakness has often been intermediate tracks, but Burton does well at those when the car is right too.
Burton currently is 10th in the points standings, with two top 5s and five top 10s in a season that has clearly not been Childress’s finest hour. Like RCR, he is just this far away from contending for a title. Again.
#7) Kurt Busch
Kurt ranks high on this list for a good reason: he is consistently and easily the top performer on whatever team he drives for. Jamie McMurray might be sparing Roush Fenway some headaches, but I’ll bet Jack wishes Jamie could put up the numbers Kurt did in the 97, which were better than any other driver on the team during his tenure there. Kurt won the first Chase-season title at Roush Racing. Since moving to Penske he has been the “franchise”, with five wins in three years to Ryan Newman’s one (whose win came in a plate race where he was pushed by Busch to victory) and everyone else’s big donut at Penske Racing.
Kurt Busch once owned Bristol like few drivers have, winning four consecutive races there while driving for Roush. He hasn’t lit the road courses on fire, but he has scored top 10 finishes at both tracks. Kurt is very, very good at Pocono and won at Martinsville in the 97. He may not have put up the numbers at Darlington that Denny has, but remember that Kurt was about a half inch away from winning the best race ever at Darlington.
Like Penske as a whole, Kurt struggled last year, but Penske seems revived in 2009 and no one is more evidence of that than Kurt Busch. Not many have noticed that he is ahead of his enigmatic brother in the standings, which may be a result of the elder Busch becoming a little better at avoiding costly mistakes than he was earlier in his career, like his threatening Jimmy Spencer. With a third at Phoenix and a fifth at Dover, Busch is showing his versatility again. And that could make him a threat to win it this year.
Not bad for a guy who won his first NASCAR ride in a Gong Show.
#6) Carl Edwards
From observation alone, Edwards wasn’t going to be this high in the rankings. It seemed as though he benefited from Roush Fenway’s intermediate track prowess more than anything. But while that did keep him out of the top 5, a closer look put Edwards much closer than I expected.
Concrete Carl has won at Bristol and Dover among many other places. He had seven consecutive races of second, seventh, or ninth place finishes from Richmond to Sears Point last season. He also went on a 10 race tear last year from Indianapolis to Kansas that included one 13th, one ninth, one sixth, and nothing else below a third. His 2008 season included a win at Bristol and a third at Martinsville.
It isn’t something that can easily be quantified, but I expect that the tiring job of handling the lovely new NASCARmobile might come easier to drivers in as great of physical shape as Edwards. He doesn’t seem as fatigued as other drivers and he won three of the last four races in 2008, so it would seem that Carl is in a better position to turn it on at the end when it counts. Take away the Talladega error in the 2008 Chase and Carl would probably be the reigning champ.
And of late Edwards has been the best performer at Roush Fenway Racing, finishing second last season (first without the Chase), and currently just ahead of Greg Biffle. He might have a couple of wins this year but for those dastardly discount lugnuts Jack had been buying.
And that concludes part two of this solely observation-based determination of who the best wheelmen in the sport are. Probably not too many surprises here, but nor are the top 5—and you can probably guess who they are at this point.
However, be my guest and tune in to Happy Hour next week anyway—I think you’ll be surprised by the order.
And no, Kyle gets no points for the guitar.
©2000 - 2008 Kurt Smith and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
I promise I won’t knock DH this week.
Based on your qualifications: “ Is the driver consistent? Does he do well at difficult tracks like Darlington or Martinsville? How good is he relative to his teammates in similar cars? How does he fare on road courses? Does he avoid DNFs? Does he win more on-track battles than he loses? Does he not, in the immortal words of D.W., beat himself?” – Add in longevity to carry yourself through an entire season and that sounds an awful lot like the old points system championship.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t Kenseth the only driver ranked 6-10 that has an old school points championship? IMO I’d switch the 17 and 31.
And BTW (Kenseth and “the champ” are the only two drivers to qualify for EVERY Chase)
Next week: (5-1)
Hmmm. You may have a point there DM. I myself thought Kenseth could have been ranked higher, but I had reasons for all the drivers ahead of him to be there. It isn’t a knock on Kenseth: he’s very very good and you’re correct, he is the only guy on this list—in fact the last—to win a title the old-fashioned way, by earning it.
Re your last top five, I haven’t worked out the order yet, but I believe you are correct. Interestingly, the way I’m picturing the order now, none of mine match yours position-wise. So no doubt we’ll have something to discuss. :-)
DansMom: I dont quite recognize your nicknames.
5. Farve = Mark Martin?
The last three are easy.
My top 5:
5. Matt Kenseth
4 champs and 82 wins have to count for something, even if he’s getting past his prime. Although Jimmie is VERY close to taking over the #1 spot.
Like what Dans Mom said earlier, IMO Kenseth should be ranked higher. Kurt Busch may get real hot at times, but he also had his icy cold moments (see 2006, 2008) plus he does not always take good care of his equipment during races, so he definitely loses to Matt on consistency. Denny Hamlin has a lot of talent, but he sometimes allows his demeanor to cause him to beat himself on bad days, while Matt is well known for squeezing top-10/top-15 finishes out of many poor-handling cars, definitely shades of Jeff Burton. I would at least let Kenseth leapfrog these two, and win a tiebreaker with Jeff Burton thanks to the championship.
Good points Jeremy. Like I said I kind of think I should have ranked him higher myself.
I ranked Hamlin ahead of him because Hamlin does better at road courses and Martinsville, both of which are pretty good measures of a driver. I don’t know that Hamlin beats himself all that much. His crew has cost him a few good finishes at times.
Regarding Kurt Busch, when he and Kenseth were on the same team, Kurt ran a little bit better. The numbers reflect that. Kurt had an excellent crew chief on the box at the time (whose name I’m sorry to say escapes me at the moment), but I don’t think anyone questions Kurt’s ability. He had slumps when Penske had slumps…Newman did not run well in those years either.
But that said, your points are all valid. Thanks for commenting.
Kurt, I think it was Jimmy Fennig who was Kurt Busch’s crew chief.