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.
Before going away on vacation, I was going through Jayski one lovely morning to read commentary from Citizen Journalists that I like.
Two articles in particular got my attention this morning. The first was a diatribe from Steve Kaminski of Michigan Live, suggesting to NASCAR that regardless of how it is achieved, a win should guarantee a driver’s entry into the Chase playoff. The other was a fearful piece from Jeff Owens at Fox Sports, pointing out that Jeff Gordon or Tony Stewart could very well win a championship without ever visiting victory lane.
While not a supporter of the Chase, Kaminski feels that it is an injustice to exclude Jamie McMurray from the playoffs following his Daytona and Indianapolis wins. He also believes that to make the Chase more exciting, then more drivers should have a shot. Kaminski rightly appreciates how difficult winning a race is, and because of it, a winner should have a crack at being a champion.
No one is happier for Jamie for his wins than I am, but those are only two wins, one of which was in a race that, since the restrictor plate was mandated, hasn’t always been won by legendary drivers. Even given the gravity of the two events where McMurray was victorious, prestigious races don’t count in the standings for more than other events. Nor should they. Imagine that can of worms being opened.
As far as the difficulty of winning a race, sure it’s difficult. But racking up enough points to be a champion, or even making the Chase, is far more difficult than just winning one race, and to give Juan Pablo Montoya an opportunity to win the title because he drives Watkins Glen better than everyone else wouldn’t be any fairer.
And really, someone who dislikes the Chase, as Kaminski apparently does, should know that just handing more drivers a chance at a championship is part of the reason most people dislike the Chase in the first place. I don’t know if Kaminski would support a 15-driver Chase, but I doubt it.
Jeff Owens believes that a winless champion would be a “black mark” on the sport. That the controversy would be “practically endless”. That NASCAR would have “some big fires to put out”. Grab your canned food and head to the basement.
To his credit though, Owens includes a few quotes from drivers, who almost universally wouldn’t give two bowel movements about whether they visited victory lane all season or not if they were hoisting the Sprint Cup.
And that really is the crux of the matter. NASCAR implemented the Chase in hopes of adding excitement to the championship battle. Despite that the sanctioning body expressed a desire to make winning more important, the Chase does nothing of the sort, and in fact places a premium on not risking a wreck for a win.
It is one thing to make individual races more important, and another to emphasize a championship battle. The two weren’t mutually exclusive, but the Chase made it so, hurting the importance of individual races. If a driver had a choice between winning a race or making the Chase, most of them would probably prefer making the Chase.
There is nothing wrong with rewarding consistency, except apparently to marketing types that believe in hype over excellence. A 36-race season with the driver with the most points being crowned champion nearly ensures that the best driver will indeed become the champion, and it will also separate flashes in the pan from real contenders. Juan Pablo Montoya did not race like a champion for the first 26 races last year (he also didn’t win any races), but for a couple of Chase events it was hardly inconceivable that he could become a Sprint Cup champ.
It did not matter that Matt Kenseth only won one race in 2003. What mattered was that over ten months of racing, week in and week out, Kenseth collectively outperformed everyone else. A driver who finishes in the top five every week for ten weeks is performing better than a driver with two wins and six DNFs. That’s why Ryan Newman was sixth in the standings—yes, sixth—despite having eight wins in 2003. He wasn’t as consistent. Which means he wasn’t as good.
I’m speaking anecdotally, but no NASCAR fan I know had a problem with how Kenseth won the last Winston Cup in 2003. I doubt anyone would have seriously objected even if he had a total of zero wins, or at least had been outraged enough to justify a playoff system that a lot of people still don’t like.
By definition, demanding wins from a champion would require a points system that makes it impossible for a driver to win a title without winning a race. But Kenseth did win a race in 2003, and if winning one race should be enough to make the playoffs, it would not only be possible but even more likely in the Chase era for a champion to be crowned with only one win again.
A driver that wins a race is great. A driver that scores more points than anyone else for 36 races, or even ten races today, is a champion. To win a championship, to even make the playoffs, a driver ought to prove himself as the best overall at bump and run, S-curves, tunnel turns and drafting. Kenseth did that in 2003. The Chase doesn’t demand near that level of consistency, nor does getting to it, but winning it is still harder than winning a single race, whether it’s done with victories or not.
McMurray will always have a Daytona win and a Brickyard win. That doesn’t put him in the same league with Jeff Gordon this year. It also doesn’t mean drivers and teams are going to work any less hard at a Daytona 500 win.
It’s like the old joke—what do you call someone who graduates at the bottom of his class in medical school? Doctor. A winless champion is still a champion.
©2000 - 2008 Kurt Smith and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
Kurt, this is definitely one of those “Don’t hate the player, hate the game” sort of topics.
The drivers and teams all start the year knowing what the rules are, and just like every other job in the universe, the boss defines what a “good job” is. In Cup, right now, Winning is not a requirement. Not-screwing-up enough to be 12th in points after 26 races is better than winning, no matter what happens in the last 10 races.
My preference would be: add some more points to first (not those you-get-em-later points)…like, 30 more points. In addition, everyone from, say, 21st on back, gets the same points. This way, winning puts you ahead, but a really bad day doesn’t needlessly punish you.
Bottom line: All merit systems should reward desirable behavior, and punish undesirable behavior. Right now, this point system rewards what I consider to be undesirable behavior (stroking), and punishes desirable behavior (racing). But, the drivers have to play by the rules they’ve got. Wow it took me alot of words to more or less agree with you. :)
Agree with Chris. The current point system actually rewards drivers for not taking risks. If you were a driver, would you A) run full out for an extra 5 – 10 points at the risk of crashing or B) give up 5 – 10 points and just cruise along.
Blame NASCAR, the owners, sponsors, etc. But point racing for the Chase has become more important than winning.
Even worse making the Chase seems to have more prestige for a driver’s career than winning most races (Daytona and a very few others excluded). Everyone will know and remember who was in the 2010 Chase for many years; probably very few will remember who won a race in May – August.
Here is a question that people should think about; Driver A wins 18 races and DNFs the other 18. Driver B comes in second for all 36 races. Who should be champion?
How you answer this question will determine how the chase and point system should be structured.
It is a POINTS championship not a win championship. How many times has the driver who won the most races won the championship? It would be great if a driver with no wins got the championship. Give the driver who wins the most races a trophy, similar to the Rocket Richard trophy. Oops, that would cost more money. Not a chance.
Here is another fallacy that NASCAR fans espouse… The fact that a driver will “settle” for 2nd. In many cases settle means “the driver wasn’t willing to pull a Carl Edwards at Kansas and try so hard that there is a 99% probability they will wreck”. Is that what people want – win or wreck? Any driver will tell you that some races you don’t have a car capable of winning. So if you have a tenth place car do fans expect you to push it to finish first or wreck out trying?
Here’s more reasons for the decline in TV viewers:
I’m a supporter of winning being rewarded much more than it presently is. A few of the examples those who favor consistency are using are a bit deceitful in my opinion.
Comparing McMurray and Gordon isn’t exactly fair. Gordon has been
Matt Kenseth, Clint Bowyer, Tony Stewart (this year), and ESPECIALLY Carl Edwards strike me as drivers who are exploiting the flaw in the points system by collecting eighth place finish after eighth place
In that ridiculously dramatic and completely unreasonable example (18
1996 is the best example of why this points system is horrible. Terry Labonte and Jeff Gordon had the same number of top fives and top tens but Terry won the title with eight fewer wins simply because he was collecting 11th-20th place finishes in his bad races while Gordon was in the 30s… I think that’s a little insane. If the two drivers are close in top fives and top tens, and one has WAY more wins, the latter should be the champion (1985 and 1996 are the two titles that in my mind clearly went to the wrong guy). Years like 2003 I’m not as sure. Newman had way more wins than Kenseth but was way less consistent (Kenseth wasn’t even THAT consistent by historical standards). I don’t think either were really deserving, and Kenseth kind of just won by default.
While I certainly wouldn’t endorse something like MATT’s dream points system (1-500, 2-200, 3-100, etc…), which is way too extreme, a compromise points system like this would work better and give you a better chase:
Using this points system, McMurray is in and Bowyer is out, as I think it should be. I don’t argue Gordon belongs in the chase. But Bowyer? What has he done all season?
Leading laps should be rewarded more than they are also, and you shouldn’t just get points for leading on a pit stop exchange. Drivers like Mark Martin in 1996 or Dale Earnhardt in 1997 or Jeff Gordon this year who went winless but contended to win a bunch of races deserve a high points spot. It’s instances more like Harvick in ’08 that annoy me more; he had zero wins, seven top fives, and less than 200 laps led and finished top five in the points? That’s just wrong. If a guy like Gordon wins the title this year, I won’t have a problem with it because he runs well every week and actually competes. If a stroker like Edwards won the title without winning a race or even leading a lap outside of pit-stop exchanges, I’d cry foul.
Correction. I meant to write:
“No, his season hasn’t been better than Gordon’s, but I’d take his season over any of the OTHER winless chasers”
Bill B: While I don’t think that we need 43 Ricky Bobbys out there (If you ain’t first, you’re last), there are plenty of teams that base their 26-race strategy on going-conservative. Obviously no driver shows up at the track with a desire to finish not-first. Hell, racing go-karts at 11 years old I never remember being happy finishing second.
But, everything is risk vs. reward. I don’t want them to win-or-wreck-trying. I want the penalty for a really bad day (25th or worse) to not be so punitive that it is better to take no risks at all to improve your finish. As you said, shades of gray.
Statistically, both are similarly consistent. Gordon has the edge only in top 5s and led laps.
I can’t pull up stats for ‘contending at the end’ but Bowyer has been a legitimate contender and/or been leading near the end in at least 4 races that I can recall. A couple lucky breaks and Bowyer would be right up there with Gordon in points and have more wins … Gordon gets the press when he contends, but Bowyer gets virtually ignored in large part due to DW’s animosity.
In summary: Bowyer deserves to be in the chase because he earned it – just as Gordon earned his 2nd place standing.