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 April 2, 2010
Recently in a Mirror Driving column there was debate about why Jimmie Johnson doesn’t seem to be getting recognition as one of the all-time greats in the sport. Several answers were offered, from the format in which his championships were earned, to his first class equipment, to his apparent lack of sufficient road rage. And one more strike against giving Johnson the recognition he deserves is the manic mechanic on the pit box.
I’ve called Chad Knaus the best crew chief in NASCAR history in these pages, and this assertion is not borne out of any desire to deny Jimmie Johnson his due. Johnson is truly one of the all-time greats behind the wheel as well, and when the dust clears it will be difficult to question the numbers, no matter how great Knaus’s contribution. But somehow I doubt that he’d have been holding up a fourth straight Cup with a merely average crew chief calling the shots. Knaus is so brutally efficient at winning that the No. 48 team has already stolen a couple of wins this year just on reputation.
For all the glory the driver commands in this sport, each driver’s individual success is probably related more to the team than anything else. Every pit stop is huge and every lugnut matters, but the only person whose name is well-known is the crew chief. Throughout his career, there hasn’t been an openly public urging for Dale Earnhardt Jr. to change spotters.
That said, Matt Kenseth is proving this year that the driver does matter a little more than so-called experts might think.
Kenseth came within a few inches of taking the win at Martinsville this last Monday, one week after a fifth place finish at Bristol. Currently Kenseth is third in the standings even with the eventual 18th at the paper clip. This makes him the second highest of Roush Fenway drivers, with Greg Biffle consistently top tenning his way to second in points. Once again Matt Kenseth is under the radar, and once again he is a legitimate title threat.
The No. 17 team had a pretty good act going for a while with Robbie Reiser calling the shots. Kenseth bested Dale Earnhardt Jr. for Rookie of the Year honors in 2000, and three years later he was hoisting the Winston Cup following a season of miserably awful qualifying efforts and remarkable consistency bringing the car through the field. It would have been hard to argue that Reiser was one of the best head wrenches out there, considering how frequently the No. 17 car could start 37th and finish eighth week after week.
The next four seasons were the first four in the we-need-more-cowbell Chase era, and Kenseth qualified for each playoff—doing so with an impressive comeback from 24th place in 2005 when only ten drivers made the Chase—and finished eighth, seventh, a close second and fourth in those years.
Then Robbie Reiser departed as crew chief at the end of 2007, leaving fans of the No. 17 team to wonder whether the lost chemistry between the two would mean the end of Kenseth’s Reign of Consistent Contention.
Kenseth didn’t win any races in 2008 with Chip Bolin as the crew chief, but he did make the playoffs again. His 11th place finish in the standings was largely a result of Chase DNFs at Loudon and Talladega and a crash at Kansas. In the other Chase races, the No. 17 scored three top 5s and five top 10s. Kenseth finished the season with nine top 5s and 20 top 10s…hardly a subpar effort.
Despite this, Bolin was replaced with Drew Blickensderfer in 2009, and Kenseth must have wanted to make a good impression early, winning the first two races. Kenseth missed the Chase by just a few points for the first time, but this was hardly a crew chief issue; the testing ban put a serious crimp in Roush Fenway’s intermediate prowess and the entire team struggled all year. Only Carl Edwards and Greg Biffle made the Chase, and neither of them made any noise in the last ten.
With Robbie Reiser, Kenseth averaged almost ten top 5s and 17.5 top 10s a season. In 2008 with Chip Bolin he scored nine top 5s and 20 top 10s, and in 2009 with Drew Blickensderfer he scored seven top 5s and 12 top 10s in Roush Fenway’s worst season in years. Such consistency is extraordinary given the instability of crew chief musical chairs on the team, with Todd Parrott, who has taken over for Blix on the box, being Kenseth’s fourth crew chief in four seasons.
Six races into the season in a No. 17 car that has changed crew chiefs, sponsors, and co-owners, there sits the only constant, driver Matt Kenseth, with three top 5s and five top 10s in six races…and a near win knocked down to an 18th being the sixth race. Had Kenseth taken the winning points at Martinsville, he would be the points leader.
You get the feeling a bottle of shampoo could be placed on the pit box and Matt would interpret its silence correctly enough to get a top 10 finish out of the car.
Maybe there’s enough team solidarity in the No. 17 garage to overcome a huge change in personnel like a new head wrench. Or maybe Kenseth’s crew chiefs were all very capable and established mechanics. After all, Parrott did win a championship with Dale Jarrett.
I’m not trying to be critical in the slightest of any of them. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that Jack Roush is all that astute a judge of crew chief talent, though, given the story of his not hiring Jeff Gordon when his stepfather suggested that Ray Evernham be part of the deal.
At the very least, we do know that the driver of the No. 17 car doesn’t need a “getting to know you” period. I’m not implicating anyone in particular, but that can’t be said about every driver out there.
Jimmie Johnson may not get his just due as a wheelman, but Matt Kenseth shares an almost similar lack of appreciation.
©2000 - 2008 Kurt Smith and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
This IS the dumbest article I’ve ever read!
I had the pleasure of watching Kenseth win the Title at the Rock, he is a smart driver and always tries to put his car were it needs to be in order to finish the race in the top 10 or for the win. I disapprove of the media trying to compare Edwards to Daivd Pearson, Matt Kenseth is David Pearson!!!! Hands Down, he drives like Pearson takes care of his equipment like Pearson and if they hadn’t changed the Cup format the year after Kenseth won the title, I think we would see Matt with at least 3 titles.
People forget that the whole reason for the stupid Chase format was because NASCAR couldn’t stand the fact the Kenesth was so freaking consisatnt that he had the Cup Series Won and spanked everybody by 200+ points with more than 6 races left to the season……
Lets face facts…..
Ah hem… your Jimmie Johnson stats are off bud. Your love for him and chad K’s man love affair has oozed into your article, sad. Going into Monday’s race Johnson had won 5 of the last 7.. and now 5of8. Now Hamlin on the other hand has won 3 of the last 5.. and in reality should be swayed even more in his favor at 4of5 after Johnson clearly punted the #11 with less than 10 to go last Spring. So lets face it buddy.. the #48 should be 4 of the last 8.. and they weren’t trying anything “goofy”, figured you’d be smarter than buying into that hogwash. They were busy trying things to “catch up” with the #11 car. Facts are facts, and yours eyes saw the same thing my eyes saw. Take off the blinders.
Robert, read the article again. I said no such thing that the crew chief doesn’t matter, and I think I made the point that all of the 17’s crew chiefs are perfectly capable. If you think I was saying crew chiefs don’t matter, then you missed the point entirely.
Derek, you’re right. Jimmie won 5 of the last 7 races, not five of the last six as I said. Guess that completely obliterates my point that the 48 team dominates at Martinsville. My bad.
I think Todd Parrott is one of the all time greats. When Jarrett dissed him, it took a while to learn that Jarrett was done. I am glad to see him get another chance with a good team.
Kurt , you did say that a shampoo bottle could be on the pit box and Matt would still do well. That is a total offense to every racecar builder and mechanic who has labored, literally night and day, building racecars searching for the magical winning formula… and then through hard work, blood, sweat and tears… and years of education and experience, finally found it. If the crew chief doesn’t make a difference then why did Jeff Gordon win 47 times and 3 championships with Ray Evernham in less than 7 full seasons, but only 35(?)times and 1 championship in more than 10 seasons? Did he forget how to drive?
Robert, the point of the article was to point out that through all of the crew chief changes Matt Kenseth has been very, very good. It’s meant to be praise of a great and underrated driver. It’s not the slightest bit of a dig on any other members of the racing profession. Believe me, I know how hard all of these guys work.
In the first couple of paragraphs of the article I state fairly clearly that Chad Knaus deserves a lot of credit for Johnson’s success. Later I point out what a mistake it was for Roush to be hardheaded about hiring Ray Evernham.
If you’re reading this article and believing it to be a dis of crew chiefs, it isn’t, Bob. The headline is meant to be somewhat sarcastic. The shampoo comment was a joke.
Kurt;unlike Robert E. I enjoyed your article!But one thing about it,was the crewchiefs Matt has had,he has been pretty familiar with.Drew was his crewchief in nationwide before going to Carl’s team and Chip has been with the #17 team pretty much all along as engineer.But you still make a lot of good points! I just pray that Matt will be there all the way this year.He and Todd could be the best team to challange the #48 this year!!!
I’m a “Super-Fan” of great crew-chiefs (including TP and RR) and get “testy” because the average fan doesn’t appreciate how truly brilliant these guys are and most of the time they don’t receive the recognition they deserve! Too many times average drivers get the glory for the performance of “great cars,” but then often times run-out of talent (or emotional strength)… crash, and then play the “blame-game!” Most of the “great drivers” like Matt, grew up “slaving over their cars” and don’t purposely wreck their fellow competitors. When one invests “thousands and thousands of hours” of their life building and working on racecars, they gain an awesome respect for the “truly great craftsmen” that participate in our sport!
Enjoyed the article, but I believe you came to exactly the wrong conclusion. I believe Kenseth’s success this year proves how important a good crew chief, like Todd Parrott, is – and I believe there has been little turnover on Kenseth’s team since Reiser moved up except for the crew chief and maybe engineer. Alternatively, I guess I should assume that Drew. B. is dumber than a bottle of shampoo.
Kenseth is having his best results since Reiser because Parrott IS one of the great crew chiefs. I would probably rank him third of the last 20 years behind only Evernham and Knaus. Todd Parrott put ELLIOTT SADLER in the chase. I’ll have that speak for itself.
I think the driver / crew chief chemistry is extremely important for good results. For instance, at both Bristol and Martinsville Matt started out fairly close to the front but dropped back and they used 2 tire stops to get back up close to the front while he related to Todd what the car was doing and they had a chance to figure out what changes to make to keep it up front. I do not believe he had that with Chip or Drew. When the driver does not have that level of communication and trust he has to be thinking about making the car better himself AND concentrating on his driving which takes away from overall consistency week in and week out.
I do agree with the comparison of David Pearson and Matt Kenseth about being invisable all day and then suddenly there at the end and getting the car ready for the last 100 laps/miles is key for that. But some of that invisability has to do with the bobble heads and their manlove for certain drivers/teams.
Oh and the other drivers that need that ‘getting to know you period’ or what ever you called it seem to maybe not understand the inner workings of the car and have problems communicating what it is really doing out there to the crew chief and it takes the crew chief longer to understand how to read between the lines and come up with what he needs to do to make the car to the drivers liking.