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.
Kurt Smith · Friday February 5, 2010
Picture yourself watching NASCAR in the 2011 season. In April, the first event at Kansas comes on television. Your first thought is how great the racing at Martinsville was before one of its races was moved to a new venue, a track where the most memorable event to date has been a race that ended under caution in darkness, with a questionable winner.
Then in October, the first Cup race at Kentucky appears on your television set. The announcers from ABC—sorry, ESPN—breathe fire about how great the track is and how exciting the racing is there and how great it is that NASCAR gave Kentucky Speedway a Cup date. Then the race starts and you wonder what’s different about Kentucky that distinguishes it from Las Vegas. And why the Chase now features six intermediate tracks, and whether the 2011 champion will even need to get near another car on the track to win the title.
I’m under the impression that Bruton Smith, who owns the speedway in Kentucky, would have to give up a date from one of his tracks on the schedule rather than receive a date taken from an independently owned track like Dover. In that case, Atlanta would be the most likely candidate to lose a race date. But I do know that Mr. Smith would happily buy out a track to move one or both of its dates, and I don’t think Dover Motorsports would be opposed to such a sale. And with Martinsville being owned by ISC and the France family, moving a date from the Paper Clip to Kansas is very possible.
Anyone who thinks we in the motorsports press are causing NASCAR to decline in popularity needs to ask himself how much influence we really have. After all, if the motorsports journalists were calling any of the shots, Labor Day would still be at Darlington. There wouldn’t likely be restrictor plates. The current car would be indefinitely sent back to the engineering room for more work. Auto Club Speedway would host, at most, one race a season. Were it up to me, the word “Chase” would be completely and unceremoniously removed from any document that resembled a NASCAR schedule.
For all of the power we in the press wield over you, the not gullible enough fans, one wonders if NASCAR is going to listen to folks who would strongly urge NASCAR not to move a date from Martinsville or Dover to yet another 1.5-mile speedway like Kansas or Kentucky, or if the powers that be will concern themselves with bottom line numbers only instead. If past schedule alterations are any indication, we can reliably count on the latter. When quality racing and storied history is up against more potential revenue, revenue wins every time.
Many fans are vocal that there are too many tracks like Kansas and Kentucky on the schedule as it is, and there aren’t enough like Dover and Martinsville. Replacing Martinsville Speedway with Kansas Speedway would be like replacing PNC Park in Pittsburgh with the old Three Rivers Stadium. There would still be events, and people would still go, but the sheer endearment of the venue itself would be utterly gone. You could be taken into Kansas Speedway and if there were no signs around you could easily convince yourself you were in Chicagoland—or Kentucky, for that matter. But there is no “sister” track of the Paper Clip.
At least Kentucky Speedway is in the south. But no one watching on TV is going to care about that. Fans of NASCAR are seeing races today at Texas and Fontana and still thinking about how we could be watching races at North Wilkesboro or Darlington. And in 2011, most likely we’ll be watching another leader pull away at Kansas and thinking, I’ll turn it back on when he comes up on lapped traffic…which would happen in about 15 laps at Dover.
McTrack after McTrack is added to the NASCAR schedule, and unique track after unique track gets kicked off of it. And more and more as a result, engineering, aero package, and track position overtake driver skill in importance. It’s already to the point where the best drivers anywhere else cannot compete with Hendrick engineers, especially in a Chase with five intermediate track events. Who wins the championships these days? Is it the driver who learns how to roll through the corners or gently nudge a competitor out of the way, or is it the driver with the engineer who knows how to squeak every aero millimeter out of the box given to them in the specs for the car? What team was it again that was sternly warned for being very close to spec rule violations last season? Ah yes…I remember now. It was the team that placed the top three drivers in the standings.
Hey, great as those three drivers are, more power to Hendrick Motorsports for figuring that out. But Hendrick’s dominance might not be so prevalent if we had at least one event each year at North Wilkesboro, Nashville, Rockingham, and Gateway replacing Fontana, Texas, Michigan and Charlotte. That might even help Dale Earnhardt, Jr.’s cause a little bit. He’s a better driver than his recent results show. (At least NASCAR isn’t saturating the schedule with tracks where Junior is strong…but my guess is that it’s only because they haven’t thought of that.)
NASCAR continues to make decisions that kill the excitement of racing, and then scratch their heads at the frequent lament that the races are boring. From drivers to officials to commentators, insiders throughout the sport insist that the racing is really exciting after all and what the heck is wrong with you? Well, racing is always exciting at Dover and Martinsville. That sounds simple enough.
NASCAR even secretly agrees. Bet that if one or both of these tracks loses a Cup date, they will still be marketed by NASCAR as “close quarters, fender banging racing the way it was meant to be!” Has NASCAR stopped hyping the Lady in Black now that they’ve deemed Texas a better venue?
NASCAR’s ratings and attendance have been dropping for the past four years, and Darby and Co. keep asking what’s wrong. It is patently obvious to the commentators, those that some have taken to blaming lately, what is wrong. Look at any of the articles critical of NASCAR these days and see how many times you find comments like “When are they gonna lose a race at Dover already?” or “Why on earth are we still racing at Martinsville?” I can vouch for every NASCAR fan I know, and tell you that just about all of them would rather see the restrictor plate, the Chase, or Digger gone permanently before races at Martinsville or Dover.
It’s the other elephant in the room, next to the one that says “a playoff doesn’t work in racing” in huge letters on its rear end. You’d think they’d have learned from all of those columnists griping about Labor Day being in California and chasing away fans with their negativity. But I guess it gives old cranks like me something to write about.
Very often, once a two-date track loses a date, it isn’t long before they lose the other one. Witness Rockingham. I don’t see Darlington sticking around for ten more years. And if Bruton and Brian will delete Martinsville and Dover, who’s to say it won’t happen to Bristol down the road? Bristol had a lot more trouble selling out its events in 2009 than it had in years past. Thunder Valley used to be the Lambeau Field of NASCAR, but no longer…and will it continue to fill up if the economy remains stagnant and more and more short track fans look for another series to get their beatin’ and bangin’ fix? We know no track is sacred, with great racing rarely, if ever, a factor.
Bruton Smith already owns Bristol Motor Speedway and can move its dates if he so desires. If it sounds inconceivable that Bristol could lose its night race to Las Vegas less than ten years from now, imagine what fans’ reaction in 1994 would have been to the idea of the Labor Day race being moved from South Carolina to Southern California. Even since, I think some fans still can’t believe that actually happened.
The worst part is that neither Dover nor Martinsville has attendance problems that overshadow those at Fontana or Atlanta, even with NASCAR propping up Atlanta and Fontana as much as possible with prime race dates. Yes, they have been drawing fewer fans, just like every track has been drawing fewer fans. But these venues aren’t designed to maximize revenue. They were designed to offer great racing for people who don’t demand creature comforts instead. I’m not saying it’s wrong to add casinos or malls, but none of that matters on television, the biggest revenue stream.
And if the racing on TV becomes an occasional short track or road course sprinkled in with 25 intermediate track races that offer nothing in the way of distinction in the racing, NASCAR had better hope that Dale Earnhardt, Jr.’s engineers get the aero package figured out. And that he never retires.
©2000 - 2008 Kurt Smith and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
Kurt said: At least NASCAR isn’t saturating the schedule with tracks where Junior is strong…but my guess is that it’s only because they haven’t thought of that.)
No, its because they’re still trying to figure out which tracks Dale Jr is strong at. ;) LOL
Texas boring? Since when? I’ve always thought places like Atlanta, Texas, and Charlotte were the few 1.5 milers that were not boring. Its the banking, stupid.
I miss the days when the un-official season started at Rockingham after the restrictor plates destroyed the racing at Daytona.
I think Brain France will be studied in college courses for decades to come, as an example of how not to run a major corporation.
I wonder if anyone in Daytona watched the racing from Irwindale last Sat. It looked to me like there were more people there to see very few Cup guys, then at Fontana to see the Busch and Truck races combined.
Let’s build giant monster mega 3 mile tracks. THEN the mile and a halfers will seem like short tracks!?!?!?!?!
Problem with Bristol isn’t the economy, it’s the reworked surface and banking. It just doesn’t live up to Bristol standards when it comes to race day. “Racin’ the way it oughta be!” means rubbing, beatin’ and bangin’ while using the chrome horn to root people up out of the groove! If Bristol had left well enough alone and not messed with the track layout when they resurfaced, there would still be a waiting list for tickets, economy be damned.
Na$car would be foolish to let a race from Dover go somewhere else. Everyone who never looked at a map thinks Dover is small state nowhere But in fact by Na$car’s demographics it is it’s biggest market. It is less than 1.5 hours from Phila, Balt , Washington 3 hours from it’s most coveted market NYC it’s 2.5 hours from Richmond and 2.5 from Norfolk and there is no lack of people in between these cities. It has over 130,000 seats and even with the down turn of the sport still brought in over 100,000 paid customers unlike some other tracks that give tickets away. Martinsville should never lose a date unless nobody shows up it is part of the foundation of the sport. Dover in 1969 and Martinsville in the 40’s put their money and faith in a sport when there might be no return on their investment unlike Kentucky or Kansas and if a casino is the critera for a race Dover has that coverd it has had a Casino and hotel on its property for over 10 years. If they do something stupid like that it is 2 less races that I will watch because I don’t watch the races now at the 2 poor excuses for asphalt.
It’s been said before but I’ll say it again. Perhaps a large part of the perception that the races are boring is the fact that so many races are ran on tracks 1.5 miles or longer. Shorter tracks are way more interesting to watch than larger tracks just because there is always something going on somewhere. It seems to me NASCAR should be striving for diversity of tracks. (Like how I worked diversity into this comment.) That’s really the only kind of diversity that matters when you are sitting in your living room watching a race.
Amazing. All the new rule changes are starting to peak ,my interest and get me a little excited again and now I read this. I quit watching races the last 1/3 of last season for a reason. The lack of racing. Now they want to jetison Martinsville or Dover (or both) Does nas$car have a death wish? I hope this kind of tripe goes away or I will again. Kentucky and Kansas are what’s wrong with nas$car racing.
Keith says “Martinsville should never lose a date unless nobody shows up it is part of the foundation of the sport.” Sorry Keith.. can you say Hickory? or Rockingham? or North Wilksboro? With NASCAR it’s all about “what have you done for me lately?” Forget history. And loyalty? That’s just a word they use to convince sponsors to spend millions for advertising. I’m guessing Mr. Smith will buy another track or two so he can close them or give their dates away.
In ten years NASCAR may just be a memory. I still rtead about it but very seldom watch it. I am satisfied going to dirt tracks and a local 3/8 mile paved track to worry about follow the leader stuff.
I love the little paperclip at Martinsville — before they put the ugly IROC car on the track, it was my favorite place to watch a race BECAUSE you had to finesse it to win it. The ugly car has made it less fun to watch racing there, but still better than any of the McTracks (I like that description). I also go to both races at Dover. If NASCAR decides to knock these tracks off the schedule (especially adding another cookie cutter track to the stupid chase), then they will save me lots of money on race tickets, but lose me as a fan. But since BZF and the rest of the brainless trust running NASCAR can’t seem to find their posterior anatomy with both hands, I’m sure they will think that doing exact that will be a great idea.
lose pocono, that track sucks!
Thanks for reading and commenting all. As far as the McTracks description, conscience forbids me from taking credit for that…that’s a McLaughlin euphemism.
Hell, just build casinos at all the tracks. There’s got to be enough tribes to go around.
Good news, Dover is not owned by SMI, so its safe. And Martinsville is owned by ISC, so it’s safe. Bruton Smith has already said Atlanta is where the Kentucky race will come from. So you don’t have to worry about Dover & Martinsville. You have to worry about a 1.5-mile track losing its race. The horror.
Good comments, all. Another part of this discussion in moving many races to Saturday night. Na$car says they support “home-grown” racing, then directly offer a product to compete with it. I can DVR or tape a Na$car race, most can’t do that if it’s a local track.