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.
Despite that my brain and mouth, while both very capable, move at totally different speeds and rarely in sync whenever I’m asked to speak publicly, the friendly fellows at ESPN Radio’s Carey and Coffey show still occasionally ask for my opinion on things NASCAR. Last week they invited me on to talk about the sport’s biggest star, and I thought I came up with a good take on Little E’s performance beforehand. Unfortunately, time constraints being what they are on the radio, I didn’t manage to work it into the discussion.
Matt and Jay both suggested as many in the press do that Junior simply isn’t that great a driver, and while they didn’t mean it like they were bashing him, it is undisputed that he has run well below expectations with the best team in the game.
There’s also a sizable chunk of media and of course, fans, that point out that the man has 18 wins in his career and challenged for titles in the past, so there has to be some talent there, even if seven of his wins came at restrictor plate tracks.
And in my strong willingness to avoid political correctness, I agree with everybody. The truth may be that they’re both right. Whether one assertion is more accurate than the other depends on the segment of Junior’s career one is evaluating.
Early on, wins were coming fairly frequently to the No. 8 team, and there wasn’t near the pressure to perform that there is today. He was a big fish in a small pond, driving for a two-car team as Hendrick and Roush were tearing up fields. Like with Jamie McMurray, it seemed as though he thrived better in an environment with lower expectations.
Towards the end of Junior’s partnership with Teresa, it did seem as though the team lacked the resources to keep up with the megateams. Back then, it was fair to question whether DEI was able to get the job done. Fans well remember his multiple DNFs to blown engines in his last season there, including at the fall race at Richmond that sealed his fate missing the Chase.
So it was a no-brainer for a superstar who could name his price to sign on with Hendrick Motorsports. What driver wouldn’t? You can bring up the family loyalty thing, but Junior felt he could win races and championships driving for the best team, and he thought he owed that to his fans. You can’t fault an Earnhardt for desire to win.
But now, two and a half years and one win later, after Junior had a problem with a team that was either unwilling or unable to support his efforts, the problem today appears to be more with the driver. More correctly, it’s looking more and more like a problem of psychological makeup; Junior simply doesn’t seem to be cut out for high expectations.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. comes from a broken family, and it doesn’t take an insider to see that his relationship with his stepmother isn’t exactly idyllic. Having divorced parents myself, I can appreciate the damage that such circumstances can do to one’s self-esteem. I was 12 when my parents split; Junior was just three. I can’t positively claim that this is the reason for Junior’s introverted and sometimes apparent self-doubting nature, but it probably doesn’t help. (I also can’t conclusively say whether it also causes focus problems, but I can say that I suffer from a near-ADD level lack of focus sometimes, as my wife will gladly tell you.)
Compare Junior’s personality to Jeff Gordon’s in pre- and post-race interviews. Gordon is always polished, always even-keeled, comfortable in front of the camera. By contrast, Junior often seems at a loss for a quote, despite being a rather well-spoken sort most of the time, and looks as though he’d rather be doing anything else besides talking to a microphone. One wonders how much of both drivers’ public demeanors had to do with their childhoods. Jeff Gordon grew up in a relatively stable environment, with a stepfather who encouraged him every step of the way. Gordon wasn’t the son of a legend who was expected to be as great. Junior’s upbringing probably wasn’t nearly as turbulence-free.
If a driver has a confidence problem in front of a camera, it stands to reason that he could have similar self-doubt behind the wheel of a racecar, with a spotlight brightly focused on him no matter where he finishes.
Last season many of the poor results of the No. 88 were lapses on Junior’s part; missing his pit box not once but several times, brushing the wall running high, spinning out without being touched. This season he seems so worried about his performance that at times when his car behaves erratically he becomes overly cautious, trying to avoid another DNF. At Atlanta this year, he thought he had a loose wheel. Then at Dover he believed he had a steering problem and the team lost seven laps figuring out that he didn’t, after which he began to turn laps close to the leaders. Both times Junior claimed the track can make a driver feel as though he has such problems. Maybe, but he’s won at both tracks…he should know that.
This doesn’t sound like a driver who is confident and focused.
If Junior needs a new crew chief, it’s not because Lance McGrew lacks any skill setting up a car or making mid-race adjustments. It would be because the driver’s somewhat fragile ego needs a thick-skinned guy on the pit box who knows how to motivate his driver and keep him zeroed in to the task at hand. With no disrespect meant to Lance McGrew, I don’t think he’s that guy. Junior might do well with a Steve Addington type of personality who can let his driver rant and then get him back in the game. Someone who tells his driver to forget what everyone else thinks and race his racecar like everyone knows he can.
But that isn’t a responsibility of a crew chief. And we can try playing sociologist to explain what’s gone wrong, but once the green flag drops there are no excuses. No one is given positions on the track because they had a tough childhood. No matter how difficult it is to run well below expectations with seemingly the whole universe watching, Junior’s job this Sunday night is to find the focus he needs and keep it for 600 miles.
If Earnhardt Jr. is able to devote 100% of his attention to running a mistake-free race every week, at least he won’t have as many really bad finishes stacked up along the occasional merely bad ones. A driver who can do that in Hendrick equipment should at least be able to make the Chase.
Easier said than done, though. To improve on the racetrack, more than anything else, Junior is going to have to learn how to deal with the pressure.
The question is whether he can.
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I don’t doubt that there are multiple issues effecting Jr., but a theory I came up with a while ago, and I’ve yet to hear anyone ever bring it up, is that the CoT really favors drivers who grew up racing dirt tracks.
If you look at the guys that have done good with the CoT, almost all of them grew up racing dirt. Even drivers like Bowyer, who only has 2 career wins, has risen to the top (not counting RCR’s terrible season last year).
On the other hand, look at the guys that are struggling, and they grew up racing asphalt only. Junior being a prime example.
The CoT appears that it needs to be set up super loose in order to go fast. Mark Martin was quoted as saying that he had no idea how loose Jeff Gordon’s setups were, until he joined Hendrick, because Gordon never looks like he is loose all the time… only Kyle Bush does that. :)
It’s just a theory, but for the most part, it seems fairly sound. I wish someone more “in-the-know” would dig deeper into this.
I have often wondered if the wreck in the Corvette at Sears Point did not scared the drive out of Jr. If you look at his numbers for the year of that wreck and before then look at the number for the years following, you will see a MAJOR change in wins and top 5’s & 10’s. Yes I know since the wreck he has changed teams and crew chiefs. Here are the numbers
Not a fan since he joined Hendrick’s, just get tired of people saying he has NO TALENT.
Tied at 18 wins
I think JR has just lost the interest in racing, It seems like it is the last place he wants to be. He has no drive inside him each week and is shows.
What’s wrong with Jr.?
Ok, first, He’s a good race car driver. Not a great race car driver.
Second, Focus. Teresa Earhnardt had it right and got crucified for it.
Couple of things:
I think the Earnhardt/McGrew combo will work eventually… they just haven’t had that “click” moment yet. If you listen to interviews of Robbie Loomis talking about taking over for Evernham on the #24, he said they ran up and down until about midway through the 2000 season when something just clicked and they took off. That is what McGrew/Jr need.. will it happen? Only time will tell.
has anyone ever noticed how hammond and mcreynolds can watch a car on the track and see whats its doing and pretty much say what it needs and low and behold thats the adjustments the crew made during the pit stop.So maybe mcgrew needs to turn on his tv if he needs feedback or maybe ask jr what 4 basketballs mean.
I also am no longer a Jr Fan since he (Idiotically IMHO)joined HMS.
Truth be told Jr. will NEVER be a consistant winner under the HMS banner. Sure he’ll be up and down and come close a few times but NEVER consistantly be good at HMS.
Why? He is jealous of and hated Dale Sr.for being the face of NASCAR for so long and will do ANYTHING to bring down the Earnhardt name! Including putting Jr in subpar equipt and saddling him with lesser crews while saying all along he’s trying to help and just cant figure out what is wrong.
Jr’s got the fan base, the name and brings in lots of $$ to Hendrick in souvenier sales and probably will for a very long time.
No..he wants HIS guys JG and JJ in the spotlight as he smiles that crap eating smile and pretends to help and support Jr to his face.
But …behind his back he rubs his hands, smiles and laughs as he ruins the Earnhardt legacy.Whata freakin slimebag!!
I’d be willing to bet that had Jr gone to Gibbs or Chldress he’d be winning… a lot!
The Devil is hard to see when he pretends to be your friend Jr.
“…Hendrick wants nothing more than for Jr. to fail.” That’s one of the silliest things I think I have ever heard. Can we say paranoid?
Moving on…I think this is one of the best articles about Jr I’ve ever read. I don’t think he lacks motivation; I think he lacks some confidence, and the level of pressure that he must feel constantly would be enough to cause anyone to make mistakes from time to time! Honestly, if he was just some random driver whose last name wasn’t Earnhardt and he didn’t have the high expectations that go along with that name, he would probably be doing better than he is.
Jr had his best percentage of wins on restrictor plate tracks.
Maybe Junior is putting too much pressure on himself when he gets in the car. Then when he gets in front of the camera he feels the need to explain himself and gets real uncomfortable, as he does look often. Nothing a hot streak can’t cure, but he’s gotta get some wins and top fives first.
Tony Stewarts’ parents also divorced when he was young . Didn’t seem to have a big effect on Tonys’ self confidence .
I’ve felt for awhile that Jr. should go away for some time. Take a year off from the sport. He should travel the world, go on a walkabout, lose himself and find himself. Maybe he could gain some perspective and realize that what he does, who he is and what everyone else expects from him doesn’t really mean a whole heck of a lot in the grand scheme of things.
Just a thought.
Oh, and by the way can you imagine what that would be like for the fans when he came back after being gone for a full season. It would be amazing.
Never ending excuses for JR. Blu … how much AMP did you chug this morning? Have a few BUD’S and settle. James… HMS never wins on plate track? Huh? Do some research and see who did all the winning in plate races from 2004 until the COT came in full time in 2008.
I agree with Blu. I had hoped that with all of the money that Jr. brings into HMS, that HMS would get Addington for him. But I read that HMS is broke & all of the HMS employees had to take a pay cut. Rick got his money from his car dealerships. When the economy dropped Rick said that his dealerships didn’t just slow down, they fell off a cliff. Kellogg’s left, DuPont is leaving, etc.. So now, Jr. is bringing in the money to pay the HMS employees. It must stick in Rick’s craw to have to depend on the name of Earnhardt to keep his racing going & making the payroll. Rick can’t let Jr. go. So it now falls on Jr.’s shoulders to keep HMS going. What I find odd is that at Richmond after Jr. was 3 laps down, after 2 missed wave arounds & air was let out of his left rear tire, cc does not know his right from his left, which is never to be done, they fixed his car toward the end of the race & he ran great 3 laps down, with the leaders. But then at Darlington, when he got back on the lead lap from 2 laps down, they can’t fix his car so he can run well…to save their souls…?!? He was going forward & then just started sinking, again. This same scenario has happened many times. Why does this pattern repeat itself over and over…? until Dover, I read somewhere that the cc said that he did not figure the wing to spoiler would make much of a difference. If they get the car fixed to where he can drive it, like the end of Richmond, it is too late to matter. If he is on the lead lap, they can’t get it running well…? 86 races down & 96 to go.
I work with kids diagnosed with ADD, and this is not something that you just “get” all of a sudden. Seeing that Jr didn’t seem to have attention problems when he won his 18 races, I just can’t see ADD being the excuse/answer. Like someone said, if there was a kid that had a tough childhood, it was Tony Stewart. His parents threw him out of the house when he was 18, he had to scrape for himself, and there have been numerous reports that Tony’s dad was abusive. But that sure hasn’t stopped Stewart from being a champion. There are millions of kids who are victims of divorce and they do just fine. I just think that Jr’s heart isn’t in it anymore. He just seems happy messing around with his friends, playing on is iRacing team and leaving a lot of responsibility for his life in the hands of his sister. In a vast majority of interviews that Jr does, it seems as if it has to be all FUN for Jr. He just seems to be all about the fun, and since losing is not fun, Jr just zones out. I sure wish they could talk Pops Eury to come back and chief Jr’s car for the rest of the season. After all, most of Jr’s wins did come with Tony Sr on the pit box.
Kevin, think whatever you want but thats my thought and my opinion. It sure does explain why the 88 is always the 1 HMS car thats always not up to par with the others. Not much else does IMHO.
BTW Overra88ted, I dont like nor would I EVER drink AMP.
Marybeth, THANK YOU for at least considering that there is something rotten with Ricky boy and HMS.
Im telling you Hendrick was extremely jealous of Dale Sr. before his unfortunate death and of team owner Richard Childress, getting the wins, a HUGE fanbase and all the attention as the face of NASCAR.
That man would love NOTHING more than to see an Earnhardt fail and him do well.It would finally elevate him to (in his mind anyways)his proper status.
The man is just evil!
Junior should run a different series for a year. Remove the legacy hanging over his head, and train on a different kind of car. Indycar runs a lot of ovals, which he knows. Rolex is part of NASCAR, who probably won’t let him go anywhere else. But they run road courses. Maybe he should run the Whelan series or Canadian Tire or NASCAR Corona
IMO, Jr. has never been quite the same since that fiery sportscar wreck.
@ Blu: I won’t disagree that Rick Hendrick is a shady character. He WAS convicted of extortion, and suddenly developed leukemia during his period of house arrest. But it is a little silly to claim that HMS was an also-ran compared to RCR up until Dale’s tragic death. RCR won their last championship in 1994. HMS won championships in ’95, ’96, ’97, & ’98. That’s 4 of 6 for the years between RCR’s last championship and the tragic begining to ’01, which they also won the championship for, as well.
I think that there is disparity between the HMS teams. The #24 & #48 have one shop, the #5 & #88 a different shop.
Look at it this way:
All of these circumstances at one time create racing’s version of a black hole and Jr. can’t escape the situation.
a few years ago it was suggested that jr participate in the sports psychological program that there is at hendrick. all the other hendrick drivers do, including gordon and johnson. jr’s response “i don’t need no psychologist”. he instantly shot it down.
look at jr pre-race, his body language is negative, he looks as if he doesn’t want to be there. he lives in a fish bowl, and that’s a part of the sport.
i’ve said all along he needs to get his head straight. his relationship with his father, sister, step-mother, peers. his personal life (girlfriend amy), his isolation. heck he lives on a compound that he builds, tears down, rebuilds. that sports car crash that almost killed him after his father’s death also plays a factor in his drive and desire to race.
he’s in his mid-thirties and at times, looks like he yearns for his twenties. i think he had too much fame too early in his career, and now he can’t deal with the pitfalls.