Kurt Busch to Attempt The Indianapolis-Charlotte Double
posted by Phil Allaway
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Andretti Autosport announced this morning that Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet in the Sprint Cup Series, will attempt the Indianapolis 500 in a fifth entry for the IndyCar Series team. Once the Indianapolis 500 is completed, Busch will fly from Indianapolis to Charlotte, jump in his No. 41 Chevrolet and compete in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Busch considers the opportunity to do the double as an old-school throwback moment.
“This is really to challenge myself within motorsports,” Busch said in Andretti Autosport’s press release. “Perhaps I am a bit of an old-school racer; a throwback, I guess. I enjoyed the era of drivers racing different cars and testing themselves in other series. It is tough to do now for a variety of factors, but when the opportunity is there, I want to do it. While NASCAR is my home, I have been fortunate to compete in Pro Stock on the NHRA circuit a number of years ago and test a V8 Supercar. This opportunity was a talk with Michael [Andretti] over dinner one night, a “What if,” and now it’s becoming a reality for me to drive in the Indy 500 with Andretti Autosport. It’s literally a dream come true. To go to the famous Brickyard with the iconic Andretti name, it doesn’t get much cooler or better than that.”
Busch will be doing the Indianapolis-Charlotte double as a Memorial Day mission to men and women serving in the U.S. Military via the Armed Forces Foundation. Fans can contribute to the cause by texting AFF to 50555 to donate $10.
Busch, who has never raced an IndyCar, passed Rookie Orientation at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year during a test session. At the time, Busch was more or less testing the Dallara DW12 for fun.
Busch will be the fourth driver to attempt the Indianapolis-Charlotte double. John Andretti was the first driver to attempt it in 1994. After finishing four laps down in tenth in Indianapolis, Andretti crashed and had engine problems in the 600. Robby Gordon has attempted the double five times, most recently in 2004. However, Gordon failed to make it to Charlotte on time and did not start the 600 in 2000 (P.J. Jones started Gordon’s No. 13 Ford in that instance). Finally, Tony Stewart has attempted the double twice (most recently in 2001) and is the only driver to ever complete all 1100 miles. Neither of the three drivers has won either leg of the double. The best finishes are Stewart and Gordon’s sixth-place finishes at the Indianapolis 500 (although Gordon’s came in 2000, the year he didn’t make it to Charlotte in time to start the Coca-Cola 600), and Stewart’s fourth-place finish in the 2001 Coca-Cola 600.
Danica Patrick, Justin Allgaier Talk About Phoenix Incident
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
A disappointing start to the year for Danica Patrick won’t include continued conflict. Patrick met with rookie Justin Allgaier Sunday, shortly after the Phoenix Cup race after a wreck ruined both drivers’ days. Patrick, who was critical of the No. 51 car on the radio, claiming Allgaier was “driving all over the track” appeared receptive to a conversation that quickly settled differences over what will be a long season.
“She was just upset because she got involved in the crash that we had,’’ said Allgaier to the Motor Racing Network. “She says she’s been through this and that she felt like I needed to settle down at that point. I explained my position on why everything happened. I think she understood where I was coming from. It doesn’t fix either one of our racecars. It doesn’t fix either one of our days. Unfortunately, we were both having pretty decent days.’’
Allgaier wound up 30th due to the incident while Patrick was 36th. The incident, which was caused by Allgaier’s spin also involved the No. 32 team and Travis Kvapil, which wound up 38th after sustaining heavy damage.
Camping World Close to Extending Title Sponsorship of NCWTS
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Marcus Lemonis, CEO of Camping World, Grand Marshal of Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway, and star of CNBC’s “The Profit,” made the announcement over the weekend that the retailer is very close to announcing a deal that would continue its title sponsorship of NASCAR’s Truck Series. The original agreement with NASCAR is scheduled to conclude after the 2015 season.
According to the sanctioning body, no formal contract has been signed, but “the agreement between the two parties has proven to be a beneficial one.”
“In about a month, we’ll be announcing a significant extension to that contract. It’s been great for us,” said Camping World’s Lemonis in a statement. “The NASCAR relationship has worked well for Camping World. When we started, we had 35 stores. Now, we’re up to 120 stores. As we travel the country and we meet new customers in stores, they always are very appreciative of our relationship with NASCAR. It’s been good.”
Gaining a long-term commitment from Camping World to sponsor the Truck Series would be a relief for NASCAR, which is set to lose Nationwide Insurance as title sponsor for the NASCAR Nationwide Series at the end of the 2014 season. The sponsorship of the Cup Series by Sprint runs through 2016.
The NCWTS is back in action on March 29th at 2:30 PM (ET) when the trucks visit Martinsville Speedway in the Kroger 250, which can be seen on Fox Sports 1. Ratings for the season opener were up 11 percent.
Harvick Takes Win At Phoenix In Second Race With New Team
posted by Justin Tucker
Monday March 3, 2014
Phoenix International Raceway has become Kevin Harvick’s home away from home. Sunday Afternoon was no exception as Harvick charged to the front early and would dominate for much of the day, leading 224 of the scheduled 312 laps to record his record fifth win on the one mile oval and his third win in the last four races at Phoenix.
Harvick, coming off of a disappointing Speedweeks which was capped by a last lap crash in the Daytona 500 in his debut with Stewart-Haas Racing, set the tone on Saturday by winning both practices while having the best 5 and 10-lap averages in the first practice of the day on Saturday. On Sunday, Harvick and his No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet was nothing short of flawless as he was able to hold Dale Earnhardt, Jr. by .489 seconds after a late race restart to claim his 24th career Sprint Cup Series victory.
“Man, this is awesome,” Harvick said after his dominant victory on Sunday. “Man, this just solidifies so many things and so many decisions. It’s been so much work with all the time and effort that these guys (the crew) have put in—but what a race car.”
Stewart Haas Racing co-owner Gene Haas shared in Harvick’s excitement after the race.
“It took long enough,” Haas joked. “This is phenomenal. I think there was a lot of skepticism last year about what myself and Tony (Stewart) what we were up to, was there a lot of madness to this. Quite frankly, it’s a great team, there’s a lot of synergy at the shop, people working together. I don’t know what we did, but I think we put together a great organization.”
Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt, Jr. continued his hot start to the 2014 season. Earnhardt Jr. would finish second on Sunday, marking his seventh consecutive top 10 finish since the end of the 2013 season. Earnhardt Jr. was pleased with the effort after a coast-to-coast whirlwind week after winning his second Daytona 500 and also gave great praise to the efforts of Harvick and the No. 4 team.
“I’ve got to congratulate Kevin. Those guys were two-tenths faster than everyone all weekend in practice. They were just phenomenal,” Earnhardt said. “To be able to run with them all day was a big confidence builder for us.”
Joining Harvick and Earnhardt in the top 5 of The Profit on CNBC 500K were Brad Keselowski with his second consecutive top 3 run of 2014 in third. Keselowski’s Team Penske teammate Joey Logano would finish fourth, and Jeff Gordon would come home fifth in his No. 24 Pepsi Max Chevrolet.
Jimmie Johnson finished in sixth, followed by Ryan Newman with a nice rebound after Daytona in seventh. Carl Edwards would carry the banner for Roush Fenway Racing by finishing eighth, Kyle Busch was ninth, and Jamie McMurray would finish tenth.
A look at the Profit on CNBC 500K by the numbers. There were 14 lead changes among eight different drivers, there were eight cautions for 39 laps which slowed the race pace to 109.229 MPH.
Next Sunday, the Sprint Cup Series heads to Sin City and the Las Vegas Motor
Starting Lineup: The Profit On CNBC 500K
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday March 1, 2014
Drivers in RED (i) are those ineligible to collect Sprint Cup points
Daytona 500 TV Ratings Down
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Wednesday February 26, 2014
What was the longest weather delay in Daytona 500 history turned out to bring NASCAR lower ratings and TV viewership Sunday night than expected. According to a report Monday from FOX Sports, the 56th running of the Daytona 500 airing at 8 PM (ET) posted a 5.6/10 national household rating/share which averaged 9.3 million viewers. That’s down 44 percent from last year’s 9.9, easily making it the least-watched Daytona 500 of all-time.
Due to the six-hour, twenty-two minute rain delay in Daytona, the race was up against the primetime coverage of the Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony from Sochi, Russia on NBC (15.25 million viewers). FOX also reported that 69% of the pre-rain delay viewers of the race, which began at 1 PM (ET) kept tuning in.
In comparison, the 2013 Daytona 500 on FOX was the most-watched race in five years, posting a 9.9/22 rating/share, commanding 16.7 million viewers. The Daytona 500 in 2012, the first to ever be run on a Monday and in the primetime slot did a 7.7/13 overnight rating/share which resulted in 13.67 million households viewing the race according to Nielsen TV ratings data.
Earnhardt, Jr. Claims Second Daytona 500 Victory
posted by Justin Tucker
Wednesday February 26, 2014
Ten years is a long time. For Dale Earnhardt, Jr., it felt like an eternity. NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver endured many near misses and close calls at the Daytona 500 since his only win in the Great American Race in 2004. Earnhardt had finished second in two of his last three Daytona 500s coming into Sunday’s race. He was also riding the tail of a 55-race winless streak, dating back to Michigan in 2012.
However nothing would stop Dale Jr. on Sunday, not even a 6 hour and 22 minute rain delay from capturing his second Daytona 500 win. Earnhardt Jr. led a race-high 54 laps on the evening and used some timely drafting help from teammates Jimmie Johnson and, on the final restart, Jeff Gordon to separate from the pack and secure the victory.
“Winning this race is the greatest feeling that you could feel in this sport besides accepting the trophy for the championship,” said a jubilant Earnhardt after pulling into Victory Lane. “We could fight off battle after battle. We got a little help at the end there from Jeff to get away on the restart. This is amazing. I can’t believe this is happening. I never take this for granted, man because it doesn’t happen twice, let alone once.”
Aside from the race itself the big story of the race was the 6 hour and 22 minute red flag, which threatened to move the race to Monday evening (had the race been postponed, FOX Sports’ Chris Myers had tweeted that the race would resume at 5:00pm EST). However, Mother Nature would cooperate and would allow the race to be run under different conditions from which they practiced this week. Once the race resumed, the intensity picked up from the changing track conditions. This allowed the pack to race side-by-side and at times 3-wide up to seven rows deep.
Joining Earnhardt Jr. in the top 5 for the 2014 Daytona 500 were: Denny Hamlin who closed out a spectacular Speedweeks in second, Brad Keselowski in third, Jeff Gordon in fourth, and Jimmie Johnson who overcome two wrecks leading up to the 500 in fifth.
Rounding out the top 10 in the Daytona 500 were Matt Kenseth in sixth, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. in seventh and Greg Biffle would bring his No. 16 Ford home in eighth. Austin Dillon would come home ninth in his first Cup Series race in the iconic No. 3 for Richard Childress Racing, while Casey Mears would round out the top 10.
A couple of major contenders for the Daytona 500 win would see their hopes dashed early on as Martin Truex, Jr. would blow up just 30 laps into the race, relegating him to a 43rd-place finish in his debut for Furniture Row Racing. Crew chief Todd Berrier was already in Nashville for a test session before the race was even over. Kyle Busch, meanwhile would have a pit road violation just before halfway and would spend much of the race battling back from that mistake. Busch would eventually finish 19th after leading 19 laps.
Danica Patrick would also be bit by bad luck as she was caught up in a multi-car wreck on lap 145. Patrick would lead her second consecutive Daytona 500, but wouldn’t have the finish to show for it finishing 40th. Tony Stewart would encounter a frustrating evening as well, with a fuel pickup problem derailing his quest for his first Daytona 500 win. Stewart would finish 35th.
A look at the Daytona 500 by the numbers. There were 42 lead changes among 18 drivers, while seven cautions for 39 laps would slow the race pace to 145.290 MPH.
Next week, the Sprint Cup Series heads to the “diamond in the desert,” Phoenix International Raceway for The Profit on CNBC 500K. The Green flag is scheduled for 3:15pm EST.
Nationwide Series Post-Race Quotes: Drive4COPD 300
posted by Thomas Bowles
Tuesday February 25, 2014
Frontstretch Interviews – Courtesy Mike Neff
ELLIOTT SADLER – FINISHED 4th
Thoughts on the race?
It’s definitely a lot different racing than what we’re used to.
Comfortable with it?
Yeah, it’s just different. You’re worried about what you’re doing, but you’re also worried about what everyone else is doing and they’re not doing more than you’re doing. Physically pushing a guy is way better than just riding so you just gotta time it right and push it to the edge.
Happy to start the year with a top 5?
Yeah. Hell, that was the worst we ran all day, I think. I have no idea how they put the 3 car in front of us on that last restart. I hadn’t seen the 3 car hardly all day. When they put us from fifth to sixth, on the outside line, it just really boxed us in. I would have really restarted behind my teammate and given him a good push to the front. Anyways, it is what it is; we’ll take it and move on.
Looked like you were up front all day.
The guys did a good job. We had a fast race car. Great pit stops, just really proud of these guys. The car’s in one piece and we can take it to Talladega now. Great job by my guys. A lot of effort came into coming down here to Daytona and giving ourselves a shot to win. We had that chance to be up front and make some things happen. Fifth is not what we want, but we’ll take it and move on.
Bumping vs Pushing?
It’s way harder. You don’t want to lay on the guy in front of you, so it’s tough racing. A lot different than what we’re used to, ‘cause you gotta go. You gotta drag the brake too ‘cause you don’t want to hit the guys and you don’t want to stay on him. It’s a lot harder mentally than what we’ve done in the past.
Car was strong all day. Pushing vs. Bumping, is that harder to do than just getting on somebody and pushing them?
Yeah, it is a little bit. When you bump ‘em, you jar ‘em, it kinda jacks ‘em a little bit. It’s a little more abrupt, obviously. I thought it was OK there at the end. It was certainly fun and hopefully entertaining. But a little bit of a struggle in the early part of the race and the midpart of the race to see a good race. And that’s unfortunate for the fans. You can’t do that the whole race, you can’t tear up your stuff, knock your grill in, overheat your motor, all that stuff so there’s no sense in doing all that until you get down to the last lap. The 7 and the 6, they did a good job. Man, the 7 really held the 22 and I tight on the bottom. I was rubbing his door and hitting the apron at the same time, no room whatsoever. So it was good; wish we were the ones who could have won but a lot better now than what we were last year.
Going home in one piece makes it a lot better, right?
Yeah. My back feels good. My foot feels good. Past years here, I’ve been going home with pain so I’m alright.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Truck Series Post-Race Quotes: Daytona (Exclusives)
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday February 22, 2014
When you’re on the outside like that, how frustrating is it?
It’s so hard. Timothy Peters has won here. Kyle Busch has won everywhere. Ron Hornaday has been running Trucks forever, probably before I was even born. I was surrounded by veterans there, and like I told them I don’t have a rookie stripe but I’m a rookie. This is only my fourth Truck race ever, my fourth superspeedway race, and man, I figured out when the 17 got up in front of me, I pushed him. And as soon as I pushed him, he took off. And I went with him. And I just kept doing it, and before I knew it, he was leading. And I saw Ron in my mirror, backed up to him, and if it wasn’t for him, I don’t know what would have happened. I gotta thank him big time for that. That was a true teammate move right there. I really appreciate that. He just bounced off me and we got to the front. I tried my hardest to sidedraft Kyle. I was probably touching his door.
Top 5 in the No. 30 truck. This deal come together at the last minute, but you had a heck of a truck. Tell us about your night.
Yeah, I’ve got to thank Turner Scott Motorsports. The guys worked so hard on this Rheem Comfort Products Chevrolet. Exciting! Just got hung up on the outside and had to wait for my teammate there to catch up. And then he got to the bottom, so… I got the old 32 and started pushing ol’ Ryan to the front. So, it’s not bad. We’ll take it. You just don’t want to step over that boundary. You don’t know how far to push and shove. We bumped about six times down the straightaway without latching onto them. Hopefully, that was OK and we came home with a top 5.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Budweiser Duels Post Race Quotes
posted by Matt Stallknecht
Friday February 21, 2014
BUDWEISER DUELS POST-RACE QUOTES
They’re saying the wheel bearing burned up in it. I don’t know what caused it, they’re taking it all apart to figure out what the heck happened. Something abnormal that’s for sure I don’t think I’ve ever had that happen at all. Hopefully, we made the race and hopefully we can fix the problem before Sunday.
WHAT WAS THAT LOUD BOOM ONCE YOU TURNED INTO THE GARAGE?
Loud pop was a tire… thankfully, it popped, hopefully it didn’t hurt anybody. All the heat created in the left front that popped was pretty weird.
REALLY GOOD RUN. WHAT DID YOU THINK OF IT?
Yeah, it was good. We have a car we can work with for the 500. Got a good starting spot, so we’re going to rest easy, fluff and buff our car for a couple of days and get ready for Sunday.
ANY DIFFERENCE ON WHETHER THE TOP OR BOTTOM LANE WORKED?
Yeah, I was just moving around, trying to stay with the flow. For me, this car works on all parts of the racetrack. So I’m pretty happy with it.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.
GOT SHUFFLED BACK, AFTER PIT STOPS AND THEN COULDN’T GET BACK UP TO THE FRONT. WHY?
Nah, we were just sitting there waiting until the last few laps to make a move. You didn’t want to pull down and get sent to the back. Seen a couple of guys get sent to the back really quick so we were just kind of waiting for the end. I felt like we had a good situation there with Ambrose behind us — we had a good run off Turn 2 and I went. It was the last lap, time to go do something, nobody went with us but hopefully Sunday is a different story.
We got a great car. We don’t have to work hard. We learned, we got a good race car. Got a car in one piece, ready to go so we’ll try and get through the next couple of practices, deliver it to the starting group this Sunday and we’ll be real happy.
YOU’RE IN THE DAYTONA 500!
Yeah, it’s pretty awesome. This Whitetail Chevrolet was so fast that I knew all I had to do was stick it behind smart, intelligent drafters and we could have a good finish. That’s what we did in the Duels and I’m excited. I’m excited to go do some stuff with the Nationwide car and have some more practice with this. But to know that we’re locked in the Daytona 500’s pretty cool.
YOU WERE OBVIOUSLY IN FRONT OF THAT MELEE AT THE END. WHEN YOU WERE UP FRONT THERE IN THE BEGINNING, WERE YOU HOPING TO JUST STAY IN LINE AND LET YOU FINISH TOP 5?
I was pretty content to ride and luckily I knew a lot of people around us were. It was nice to have a little calm and not really have to be racing hard the whole time. I knew that the pit stop was going to shake everything up and that’s exactly what happened. Fell back a little bit there but made the right moves at the end to get a good finish.
HOW STRONG ARE THESE RCR CARS?
They’re very strong! They definitely have the capabilities to be winning one of these races.
YOU’RE IN THE TOP 5 FOR YOUR HEAT IN THE DAYTONA 500. YOUR PRIMARY CAR IS SITTING RIGHT IN THE GARAGE, KIND OF WADDED UP. DID YOU THINK THIS ONE HAD IT IN IT?
Yeah, it’s a brand new car also. It’s just not quite as good as the primary but still a damned good car. I’m just proud of everybody at RCR for building such fast race cars. All of our cars have been fast, ECR motor’s been strong, even our affiliate teams have been qualifying really good and racing good. So… excited about 2014! It’s going to be a good year.
WELL MAN, YOU STARTED IN THE BACK BUT WORKED YOUR WAY TO THE FRONT WHEN IT COUNTED MOST. WERE YOU JUST BIDING YOUR TIME THROUGHOUT THE RACE?
Eh, you never know if you’re going to get back up there or not. We had to start at the back, we had to make a run early and see what we could do. We drove right to 10th, or something like that and then it got stagnant. We tried to make something happen, and went to the back again. Drove back up to the front. Again, just really proud of my guys. Matt Kruder did a hell of a job on that pit stop getting just enough gas in to gain some spots there.
RCR CARS SEEM PRETTY DARNED STRONG. DO YOU THINK THE RCR CARS HAVE SOMETHING FOR THEM ON SUNDAY — ESPECIALLY THE THREE JOE GIBBS RACING CARS THAT SEEM TO BE THE CLASS OF THE FIELD RIGHT NOW?
Oh yeah. The 20 car was extremely fast. The 11 didn’t qualify that good, but he’s a good drafter. I think he won. We definitely have something for him.
Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
The late David Poole was a fan of NASCAR’s Chase for the Cup, making him the only motorsports writer that I can think of who held a favorable opinion of NASCAR’s playoff and who didn’t work for NASCAR.com or ESPN. (There may be a few others. I just can’t think of any.) Like the NASCAR and ESPN guys, however, I found his arguments for it to be rather weak—unusually so, given the strength of most of his diatribes—and I had learned secondhand that on his radio show he was pressed and finally admitted that he needed something to write about at the end of the season.
Well, I think we can put that particular advantage of the Chase to bed, with Jimmie Johnson now in the do-or-die situation of having to best the start-and-parkers in the 2009 NASCAR season finale at Homestead. I’ve got nothing for that.
Most sports would still love to have NASCAR’s attendance and ratings, but the current trend is very much downward. 2009 saw one team crush and dominate the field, and in the worst case scenario for NASCAR, that team’s one underperforming driver happened to be the sport’s unabashed golden boy, whose fortunes, it sometimes seems, are in sync with those of the sport itself.
I had no Big Mac (as in McLaughlin) sized beef with the racing in 2009, at least no more so than with any previous season that featured a) the Chase, b) the current preponderance of 1.5/2-mile speedways, or c) both a and b. But that said, there were few standout moments this season. Worse, there were quite a few that stood out in a bad way. The Great American Race was shortened and the winner was declared over the loudspeaker instead of at the finish line. Both of the Talladega races had ugly and frightening finishes following 490 miles of freight trains. The most dynamic and polarizing driver failed to make the playoffs. The favorite son suffered the worst season of his career with every possible advantage a driver could ask for.
Most of all, fans of every driver not under the umbrella of Hendrick Motorsports at some point saw their hero and his team finally fall short, ultimately squashed by the mighty Hendrick behemoth. And even at that, Mark Martin and Jeff Gordon fans are watching their own heroes fall just shy yet again to the reigning and seemingly invincible King of Them All, Jimmie Johnson.
Add it all up and the sum is that both NASCAR and most of its fans have had a depressing season in 2009.
So it is with a rare positive eye towards this sport’s future that I am actually going to find some things that remaining fans can look forward to next season. It’s not my style, I know. And truth be told, this isn’t easy: the Chase will still keep NASCAR a step ahead of college football as the sport with truly the dumbest method of determining a champion, and we still have the cookie-cutter tracks and the Winged Snowplow.
But here’s what The Official Columnist of NASCAR declares some Things To Be Happy About in 2010:
1) Races will start when God meant them to.
I am convinced that God created high noon before the advent of the clock so that armies would know when to report for battle and racecar drivers would know when to start their engines. Granted, races will be starting at 1:00 and not noon, but it’s certainly better than this year’s inexplicable, all over the map starting times.
I don’t know how much this makes a difference to any of you, but as an East Coast columnist who is more or less required to watch races, it’s huge to me. It was profoundly annoying to arrange dinner and other household necessities around a race that started late in the afternoon and in some cases didn’t end until late in the evening. Having guests or visiting people for dinner was out on such days, unless I was willing to be rude to guests or hosts that weren’t interested in racing.
And in some cases, late start times ruined races. The 2009 Daytona 500 was the worst I’ve ever witnessed and it was entirely because of the starting time. Look, if the race is in Phoenix or Fontana, knock yourself out. But starting an East Coast race at 4:30 on a Sunday is ridiculous.
It was baffling that NASCAR needed a Fan Council to explain this. But whatever works. I can relax and eat dinner after races now without getting indigestion.
2) Johnson’s and Hendrick’s domination can’t last forever.
Well, it shouldn’t, in light of what generally happens. Yes, this team gets ahead of the curve with every change NASCAR implements. So in theory, so long as NASCAR stops meddling, some of the other teams will start catching up. The problem is that we can’t seem to count on NASCAR to leave the sport alone, ever. They may decide to remove the wing mid-season.
But Richard Childress Racing has shown improvement of late, with Jeff Burton finishing a strong second at Phoenix. Joe Gibbs is a step away from being right there, having won eight races this season. Kurt Busch was in the thick of the title hunt not very long ago, and who knows, with Brad Keselowski taking over the 12, Penske might be making a statement of their own in 2010. Juan Pablo Montoya had a better year than anyone expected and there’s no reason to believe he can’t do it again.
The one team I’m not so optimistic about resurging is Roush Fenway. They’ve had to give up a car and they’re still not allowed to test. They should be better next year, but I doubt they will be the Red Sox to the Hendrick Yankees anytime soon, not after NASCAR has crippled them trying to end what is now their entirely non-existent dominance. One can only hope Jack will overcome it and we’ll start seeing backflips again.
3) Kyle Busch and Dale Earnhardt Jr. will likely have better years.
These are the two most colorful drivers in NASCAR—whatever your opinions of them, they make for interesting racing talk. And neither of them have been much of a factor in 2009 story lines.
I believe Kyle Busch will have a better year in 2010 for several reasons. The first is that the biggest part of his failure to make the Chase this year was misfortune at restrictor plate races and in some other venues, and I don’t see that happening a second time. Second, not making the Chase has probably humbled him to the point where he learns how costly giving in to his rage can be, such as with his cylinder destruction at Chicagoland.
Lastly, he has a new and capable crew chief on the box. Dave Rogers knows a little bit about setting up a racecar, as we’ve seen with the Nationwide No. 20. Steve Addington may deserve credit for some of the success of the No. 18, but he wasn’t much help to Bobby Labonte or J.J. Yeley. I don’t know how Rogers will handle Busch’s combustible temperament, but sometimes just having a new guy around helps.
Regarding Junior, it’s a simple matter of he can’t do much worse. I don’t see him missing his pit box next season as many times as he did this year, which was one of the most costly problems he had. Junior’s also had some bad luck of his own, almost every time he has a raceable car it seems. He does have to get his head in the game, no question. But he’s a better driver than where he is in the standings.
4) The car will get better.
I know few people will agree with me on this. But it will. Look, when the CoT was introduced, I agreed with everyone that the handling of it was just ugly and sometimes it still is. And yes, it’s still too easy to pull away in clean air and for the moment has put too much emphasis on track position. It still needs plenty of work. This I will not argue.
But after a couple of years the cars don’t seem to slide around as much as they initially did, which means either the teams are getting better at adjusting it or Goodyear is finally producing a better tire, and I imagine that it’s both. If we saw a markedly improved event at Indianapolis in 2009 as opposed to 2008, I have to think it can happen at other venues too. We’ll see.
5) We still have Dover and Martinsville for the moment.
The cookie-cutters, as I and many others keep pointing out, are the places that produce the follow-the-leader, clean-air-dependent racing that is driving so many away from the sport.
The cookie-cutter racetrack trend sometimes seems sadly unstoppable, and conventional wisdom says that Martinsville especially is next on the chopping block to be replaced by a track whose main distinction is a nearby casino. But we once thought all of the baseball stadiums would someday have artificial turf too. I would hope that NASCAR takes steps to reverse this trend, but at the moment I don’t see it happening.
I love Martinsville, and to see it lose a race to Kansas or Vegas would be a travesty indeed. But at the same time, it’s more likely to happen if no one watches and no one attends. I completely understand if you don’t think NASCAR is worth your time or cash these days. I’ve shared the sentiment ever since the Chase robbed Jeff Gordon of at least one title. But if you watch or go to just two races next year, make them Martinsville and Dover events. They are still worth the traffic.
So there you go, all you NASCAR folks who complain about the press complaining: five solid reasons to remain a NASCAR fan next year. Should all of these turn out to be reality in 2010, we may have a more exciting season, and it may even offset the smell of an artificially contrived points battle. Well, ok, no disinfectant is strong enough to stamp out that stink. But for once I’m not here to complain today.
NASCAR will still have its current problems next season and the downward trend will probably continue, because the main issues still aren’t being addressed. I don’t believe NASCAR is going to wither away, but I also don’t believe that its current malaise has bottomed out yet. But at least something has been finally corrected for next year with start times. We can have a little hope.
Now if someone dares take my advice and builds a new type of racetrack, like this design here, and we made championship battles real, the sport may have a future to look forward to again.
And have a great Thanksgiving everyone.
©2000 - 2008 Kurt Smith and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
Rusty built the track of the future, and they need to take a date from California and give it to Iowa Speedway. Then they have to take the other date from Cali and put Rockingham back on the roster.
Somewhere, over the rainbow, skies are blue.
Of course on this side of the rainbow the rarely do.
Well, I gotta admit, and of course say, those are some pretty LAME reasons to think next year is “going to be better”!!
Nunbers 1,2 3 & 4 are really meaningless toward creating any kind of a season that would be exciting and fan friendly!
And any kind of reason for say, myself, to jump right out and buy tickets for any of the 36 events next year.
It’s a sad statement about the state of NA$CRAP when the best ideas for a good season are the one’s listed above!
And, not to neglect reason #5, your saying that leaving an exciting track or two on the schedule is really EXCITING? Sure, two very good tracks, but the implication of course is you don’t trust NA$CRAP not to take races from the tracks!
Kurt? Dude,put down the pipe man. Give me a break, none of this is going to make next season any better…. well maybe standrd start times. But untill they scrap the POS COT, Eliminate MsTerry Debris Cautions, get rid of the Cookie Cutter tracks and go back to racing at Rockingham, and North Wilksboro, and toss Brian Farce off the Wallace Tower at Bristol.
Hey The Turtle, RIGHT ON!
Sounds a lot like Phx which had the worst race I’ve ever witnessed last weekend. Maybe losing two tenths will make a difference…. I have to agree with previous comments that the track can’t make up for COT and moronic cautions to bunch up the field. I predict another crummy year.
I’m looking forward to setting a personal goal of not watching races until France is gone or some significant changes are made to the car, allowing the crew chiefs to tune on the car like before, and/or getting rid of the phoney cautions. I can check the recaps and decide if the racing has gotten any better.
In my heart of hearts, I believe that the non-Hendrick teams are going to work tirelessly this winter and 2010 is going to see better racing, more personalities, and better television coverage. I know this because I went to the mall last night and sat on Santa’s lap. I told him what a good Nascar fan I had been all year and he promised me a 2010 season fitting for the start of a new decade. I believe in miracles and Santa. How can I lose? Happy Thanksgiving everyone.
Next year RCR and Rousch will be back!
1. Start times. You get PAID to watch NASCAR… the rest of us aren’t so lucky. Stop complaining about start times. If they raced at 11:30 p.m. on a TUESDAY and I was paid to watch… I wouldn’t care.
#1 is the thing I am most looking forward to in 2010, by far! The late start times have been terrible and I have been looking forward to that ever since they announced it.
Yep, it’s going to be good to see RC back in Victory Lane.
Dear God, do I miss Poole on Sirius radio. I bet he would get a kick out of knowing that Jimmie and Martin both agree with him on ‘dega!
This sport NEEDS more short tracks NOW. It’s too bad that’s not gonna happen.
Ten Things to Look Forward To in 2010
10. ________ (Look, I just can say his name, okay? But you know who I mean, right?) rebounds and his collective following has a mass coronary and the world is better for it.
09. Carl Edwards wins five race and the Chase.
08. Edwards wins the spring Talledega race and boots Keselowski over the fence and he bounces all the way back to Michigan.
07. Kyle Busch fails to make the Chase and in a pique of anger (which is soooooo unlike him) says, “If only my brother were on my team…”
06. Nascar in a rare display of common sense not only reduces the schedule to thirty races but limits the field to forty cars for 2011 and beyond.
05. Montoya without any wins all season fights it out with Edwards for the Chase Cup.
04. Michael Waltrip loses his voice (and can no longer pimp every product known to man).
03. Rusty Wallace and Dr Jerry Punch quit broadcasting.
02. Marcos Ambrose has a multiple win season.
01. Mark Martin retires. Again (but for real this time). So does Jeff Gordon. Denny Hamlin quits JGR moves to Hendrick and the 24. Kurt Busch moves to JGR. Penske hires Stephen Wallace fills the # 2 car—a week later Penske says, “Oh, what have i done and runs over Rusty Wallace in the parking lot of a Charlotte area Denny’s and screams at him, “Why did I listen to you, signing Stephen is worse than what I did with Kurt Busch.” Keselowski sighs loudly an says to himself, “I knew I should’ve waited.” Kevin Harvick gets the # 5 ride. Kenny Wallace steps into the # 29 wins five races, KH wins none.
It’ll be a dream season. Can’t wait.
Well, that’s how I have my Fantasy League racing season going anyway.
Kurt said: “1) Races will start when God meant them to.”
God is Bill France Jr. ???
Bad Wolf, I dont think you’ll see Iowa or Rockingham back on the Cup schedule any time soon. For one, they arent owned by ISC, and two, they dont have enough seats. And leave Cali alone, we deserve a date out here.
LOL @ Dans Mom! So maybe it is nice to get PAID to watch races, but as with any job, its also nice to know when you work shifts starts!
I usually try to be nice, but the more you post, the more you show your ignorance!
Nice to see the return of the Happy Hour Short Track!
Kurt, read your article on the perfect track through the link just now.
Hey Ann, unfortunately, as hard as the other teams work to “catch up” with the Hendrick boys, be assured the Hendrick boys will be working as hard, or harder, and spending all that money to keep the pack at a distance
In essence, and succinct terms!
The other teams ain’t gonna catch up!
And there really is gold at the end of the rainbow!
Kurt said on 3/21/09: “Kevin, you are almost always accurate in your comments, but I really find it difficult to believe that a city would cite lack of money as a reason not to keep a football team in town. It sure as heck never stopped Philadelphia.”
Kurt, you dont know Los Angeles. They would rather keep giving welfare money to minorities than make necessary repairs to streets and stadiums.
Hey Kevin in SoCal, your “Kurt, you dont know Los Angeles. They would rather keep giving welfare money to minorities than make necessary repairs to streets and stadiums”.
Are you implying that stadiums & stadium repair is more important than social programs?
I am fighting hard, very hard, here in my county to keep county money from being used to build a new arena/stadium!
They want to add sales taxes, and take money from the county general fund to support the construction and operation of the arena complex!
STADIUMS & RACE TRACKS need to be privately funded!
I would rather see money go towards race tracks and stadiums than welfare fraud, yes.
Hey Kevin in SoCal, “welfare”, and “welfare fraud” are two different entities!
But in my estimation, ANY sporting venue supported by public $$$ is total FRAUD!
There is a book out, it’s called “The Field of Schemes”!
BILLIONS SWINDLED by BIG SPORTS BUSINESS, from citizens. These “sports stadium swindles” make Bernie Madoff look like an angel!
Just think how many times ISC (of course owned by Brain Farce), tried to get municipalities to build race tracks so he could add to his bank account!
And do the research, ISC gets HUGE tax breaks from various municipalities for many of it’s speedways! And then!!!!
DA! – DA!
Think how much money King Brain has in his bank account, AT OUR EXPENSE! Whether we go to the track or not!