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 August 20, 2010
As we all know, or at least most of us do, change is not well received by NASCAR fans. This is especially true when it comes to where the circuit holds its events.
But nothing stands still forever. Foolish though it may have been to move the Labor Day race out of Darlington, the market couldn’t support two races anymore. It may not make sense to saturate the schedule with tracks that are virtually identical, but it isn’t practical to saturate the schedule with tracks in markets where folks can’t or won’t show up either. You could say this as a reason both for NASCAR to move out of the South or back there; either choice is going to make someone unhappy.
Now that the 2011 Sprint Cup schedule has been released, it’s worthy of some analysis from the fans and critics. And while there have been some improvements worthy of mention, some pitfalls have also been created by it.
Most of you know the nuts of it. Kentucky has been awarded a Cup race; Kansas has been awarded a second race; Fontana and Atlanta have both lost events. The Chase will start at Chicagoland this year. Other than that, there isn’t a lot of movement.
Some of this is an improvement. Auto Club Speedway is almost a whipping boy for displaced NASCAR fans, even though the racing there isn’t noticeably worse than it is at Michigan or any other intermediate. As I said, it was foolish to move the Labor Day race there. Through no fault of their own, Fontana suffered for that—the Labor Day race became the poster child for NASCAR moving from classic venues to tamer ones. Perhaps as a result, Fontana didn’t draw big crowds, but whatever the reason, there was no justification for two events a season there.
The loss of an Atlanta race is different but no less justifiable. It’s difficult to explain the borderline pathetic attendance at the track that has produced some of the greatest races in the sport’s history. It can be argued that Atlanta is just a lousy sports market—Braves’ playoff games don’t even sell out—but this is a city with all four major sports represented, so it can’t be all that bad. Again, there may not be a solid explanation, but the place wasn’t selling tickets.
Starting the Chase at Chicagoland isn’t a bad idea either. Chicagoland is a track without much history, it’s a speedway where few drivers are taken out by simple bad luck, and it’s not an event most drivers would attach mythical importance to winning. The Chase was supposed to add some excitement (that’s worked out really well, eh?) so it’s best started at a place that doesn’t arouse much interest on its own.
In theory, this could be an improvement over the 2010 schedule. But the sport punted on some problems that needed to be addressed, and created some problems they may have to face in the future. There are a lot of logistics involved in changing a schedule, so this is understandable, but sooner or later things will have to be fixed.
First, the early season grind is still very much there. Following the buildup and the exhausting preparation for the Daytona 500, just one week later the entire circus goes across the continent to Phoenix, which isn’t a heck of a lot closer than Fontana was to Charlotte. Then one week later everyone goes out to Las Vegas again. I’m not personally griping about this, but it’s rough on a lot of people. NASCAR did put a much-needed week off after Las Vegas, so that is an improvement, but following Daytona with Phoenix and Las Vegas is still a lot of traveling in a short time.
There are also no off-weeks during the Chase—in fact, there are no off-weeks from Indianapolis on July 31 until the season ends on November 20. This is crazy. That’s almost four months straight of teams and crews being away from their families and not having a moment to chill, and it’s in the second half of the season when it is needed most. Before the Chase starts would be a great time to have an off-week.
Why won’t NASCAR move the Labor Day race back to Darlington? They’re obviously aware of the distress that moving that race caused plenty of fans; if they weren’t, the Labor Day race wouldn’t have been moved to a Southern venue and the May race at the Lady in Black wouldn’t now be called the Southern 500. There’s no reason not to bring the tradition back. We’ve already established that Atlanta doesn’t draw—that’s why they lost an event. This was an opportunity to right a wrong and NASCAR missed it.
Finally, the new schedule creates a bigger problem for the future, that being that NASCAR should try to get away from cookie-cutters, and moving races from Fontana and Atlanta to Kansas and Kentucky is only going to make that more difficult down the road. The speedways are a bigger problem for NASCAR than the concrete doughnuts were for baseball—however unappealing those big stadiums were, they didn’t affect the product on the field much. Speedway racetracks change the game of auto racing to one of fewer passes, fewer on track battles, and aero dependency. Most fans will see the majority of races on TV, and no one watching on TV cares if there’s a casino at the track.
This problem has grown to the point where people are noticing it. In 1990 there were six events on the schedule at 1.5-2 mile racetracks. In 2000 there were 10. In 2010 there are 14. The intermediate speedways that produce the least passing and fewest lead changes and clean-air dependency have gone from being about a fifth of the Cup schedule to almost half of it. This is a good part of the reason the perception of the sport has changed—they just don’t beat and bang like they used to. Of course, there aren’t as many post-race fisticuffs. And NASCAR has made this tougher to fix, especially with Bruton Smith wanting another Vegas date.
Just because we can’t go back to North Wilkesboro doesn’t mean we can’t go to someplace like it.
Overall there are some improvements in next season’s schedule, even if they aren’t all that “impactful,” to borrow a term from the Brian France Lexicon. But sooner or later, NASCAR should address its venue problem, and it’s not happening in 2011.
©2000 - 2008 Kurt Smith and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
“2011 Schedule Creates More Problems Than It Solves”
And this surprises who?
What’s even worse is that they never admit the changes don’t work.
“Brian France … answered in the negative, saying that there are something like 10 fewer Nationwide races in a season. 10?”
I noticed that too and wondered how long it would take somebody to comment on it in an article. I hope he just had the truck series on his mind when he said that, but still…this is the man running our sport? That scares me a little…or maybe a lot.
I’ve also noticed and commented on the increase in the 1.5 and 2-mile tracks in recent years. In my opinion, that’s the single biggest reason why NASCAR racing isn’t as good as it used to be. The smaller the track, the more often drivers will be racing with other drivers. That logic is so simple it seems that even NASCAR should be able to understand it.
It’s feasible, too. I’d love to see them back at North Wilkesboro, but even if that’s not possible, there are a number of other tracks they can choose from: Iowa, IRP (ORP), Rockingham, Memphis if it reopens, Irwindale if it could accomodate the Cup Series…and while I don’t know much about them, ARCA goes to several more short tracks. Add in about 6 of those, get rid of 8-10 cookie-cutter tracks, and we’d be looking at a much improved schedule!
People are fine with changes as long as it doesn’t ruin the sport. Nascar hasn’t made many changes that actually helped the sport in the last few years and that’s what makes people angry.
Where are these “impactful” changes Mr France? I’m guessing when he said impactful he meant to his wallet. Why else would we put a crappy race to start the Chase.
Could you try any harder to make excuses for Fontana? Sure, they might have been the whipping boy for fans angered at Darlington losing the Labor Day race, but that doesn’t change the fact that they built a boring cookie-cutter track in a place that has minimal interest in stock car racing. I’m from SC, and let tell you that Darlington on a night in April is much more tolerable than the brutal Labor Day heat, but that’s still no endorsement for Fontana getting a plum date on the schedule. Had the Labor Day race been moved to a place where there was genuine fan interest and bumper-to-bumper racing, the fans might have been a little more forgiving.
Here’s what the schedule SHOULD look like:
IMO the only impact that these changes to the 2011 schedule makes is the resounding thud it made with fans. BZF is such a poor public speaker it is horrible to listen to him so I usually only read the transcripts. Plus I think all his brain cells have been pickled since most days he makes NO sense.
I’ll have my own “off week” in September since the weather will be nice and the race at Chicagoland will most likely be the usual snoozer until the last 20 laps, so why waste a nice (probably) sunday afternoon inside watching it on TV?
I am still one of those folks who boycotts even watching the cali-boring races after NASCAR made its stupid move of the Darlington date. Why not put it back at Darlington on Labor Day and make it a night race? I’d be willing to bet that race would sell out!
I’ve been going to the races in Atlanta for almost 30 yrs…the reasons that attendance has been lacking are weather, traffic and track reconfiguration. The races were in March and October. March and October in Atlanta is when it rains, and its usually kinda cold too…Labor Day is HOT. They should have put the Labor Day race back in Darlington (the hotels in Myrtle Beach would appreciate that) and given Atl a May date, when the weather is nice.
Could someone please tell me what Brian is saying?
I agree with Carl D. about the May race being a better time to race at Darlingtin. If my memory serves me, the years prior to canceling of the Labor day race, there were several hurricanes that came by or near the track. So attendance was down those years and some of the were rain shortened. Remember when we were Calling Jeff Burton the Rain Man cause he won the rain shorten races.
If Brian France is the answer, it must have been a stupid question.
And remember Darlington lost its Chase race because of a lawsuit. The Rebel 500 in May is on its Confederate Memorial Day event, but maybe NASCAR does need to look at not having what they call in golf Tournament Players Club style courses. Players who win majors don’t usually win at TPC’s.
Darlington would be well-served with a May date and the season-ender in November. Florence-Myrtle Beach has no FBS college football teams, and its closest FCS team is 60 miles away.
The season-ending race at Darlington can also stretch the Myrtle Beach resort’s season a few more weeks and toughen the Chase in addition to promoting a Myrtle Beach Racefest with Myrtle Beach Speedway with its season-ending event, with Darlington having qualifying and practice for all three classes Friday, and the K&N Pro Series Friday night at Myrtle Beach Speedway. The Nationwide race can be run at noon Saturday. After that the track closes and fans can head 90 minutes to the Myrtle Beach Speedway’s feature races that evening. Finish with the Truck race at 1 PM and the Cup race at 5 PM.
Jimmie Johnson proved it in the 2004 Southern 500 when Darlington had a Chase event. That made the race twice as important. NASCAR should seriously look at Darlington with two Sweeps races.
Here’s a schedule that will expand Cup racing without expending drivers…
There will be a bigger crowd in Soldier Field to watch Da Bears than the number of people in the seats at Chicagoland next September 18.
Get back to the short tracks and put the “stock” back in Nascar. Worry more about the racing on the track and the fans in front of the TV instead of how many over priced burgers and beer you can sell to the live captive fans in the stands. Lower the price of the broadcast rights so the networks can show a pure unadulterated race without trying to cram more and more product placement and paid sponsor plugs into the telecast to pay the inflated price paid for the rights.
This all started with the stupid money Fox paid back in 2000 for the broadcast rights, and they have forever changed the hopes and expectations of Brain France and Nascar in regards to what their “Product” is actually worth. Fox bought the rights at the hight of the “Nascar Bubble”, and like so many home owners that bought too much house with no money down and a huge note, they are stuck with a product worth about half of what they paid but still make the fans pay for their mistake.
The other big factor is Brain France and his “Chase”, the pretend “Stock” car with no actual production parts, and nascars quest to seperate the most money from the fans as humanly possible while making them cry for more.
Chicago starting the chase is not a good idea they only had 65,000 for the July night race that is pitiul. I guess the new way to award plum dates is a big TV market that the TV’s are tuned to something else and a casino. A great racing track and surface does not matter anymore.
Bob – agree 100% with you. I’ve lived in GA 12 years. Went to races at AMS for 10 yrs. The icing on the cake was when I, who lives in West GA took 92 down to track and back roads, got to the track on a Saturday am at 7:30 and the idiots at the track made me get out into the mess on 19/41 just so they could control things. They’ve made it near impossible to use back roads into the track. I use back roads to avoid 19/41. One year it took me 6 hrs to get home, 3 of that just to get off the track property. At the March race I’ve sat in almost 12 hr rain delays, bitter cold, snow and then we do have those rare heat days. Qualifying is usually a wash out. October was rainy and November could be chilly. Besides these, what has hurt AMS’s attendance is the chase. I use to love the last race of the season staying around for the championship celebration.
Burton use to “black out” the March race unless it was sold out. Only way you could see March race in the Georiga area was to go to race. So I guess the tv partnerships have helped kill that race too.
They overbuilt AMS and when the tornado hit and they tore down Weaver Grand stands for the motorhome parking/camping and $$$$ fees, then the winner circle section in turn 1 and the suites did them in. Their corporate suites haven’t sold out in 4 yrs, and recently they don’t even bother selling the suite space in the Elliott Grandstand. Ford and Chevy have closed their plants in Atlanta and the economy still stinks. Unemployment is still over 10% in Atlanta/Georgia. People just don’t have the money. Haven’t heard Ed Clark touting that the Labor Day race is a sellout this year.
I’ll hold onto my money, watch race from home.
Here is a 2011 schedule suggestion:
1. Let Atlanta keep its March spring race (run it under the lights).
2. Give Kentucky the Mother’s Day weekend race (run that under the lights, too.)
3. Darlington and the Southern 500 will be moved to Labor Day Weekend, where they rightfully belong.
4. Iowa, Milwaukee, Gateway, Nashville, and Rockingham will host Cup series races.
5. The finale for all three touring series should be at Bristol. Save the best for last.
That is some improvement right there. That will create no problems at all.