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.
The Loudon race was one of the best NASCAR events we’ve seen in a long time. It had everything except a fight in turn 3, as drivers battled, shoved, and gambled from start to finish. On the last lap, the veteran champion who looked to be cruising to a win ran out of gas, a likable underdog driver took the checkered flag, and NASCAR at least waited until Wednesday to suck the joy out of it. The four-time, almost automatic champion’s hopes for a fifth took a hit with a disappointing 25th-place finish. Heck, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. even had a good day.
Unfortunately for NASCAR, not very many people saw it.
The Loudon race’s ratings were almost a full point lower than the same event last season, dropping from a 3.2 to a 2.3 – a loss of 28 percent. That’s close to being the kind of disparity that happens when a race is rained out and takes place on Monday instead; in fact, the overnight 2.1 rating actually matched two rain-delayed NASCAR races from this season on FOX (Martinsville and Texas). In the interest of not piling on, I’m not going to say how many lost viewers that is. But it’s a lot.
John Daly at the Daly Planet often speaks of the television coverage as the culprit, a common reason given for the sport’s decline. He compared it to the NFL, which doesn’t cut to commercials in the middle of the action.
Daly has a point, but excessive advertising on televised NASCAR events is not new. Fans have been complaining about endless green flag commercial breaks for as long as I can remember. They have good reason to; sometimes it’s brutal. But most fans understand that sometimes it’s inevitable in auto racing; after all, there isn’t an opportunity for television time outs as in other sports. The current situation certainly hasn’t helped NASCAR’s cause, and their resistance to moving to a side-by-side format — which always gets rave reviews when TNT does it once a year — is baffling. Frankly, it’s hard to imagine that they haven’t been hearing about that from the Fan Council. But it isn’t the only reason ratings are precipitously falling…
What has happened is that NASCAR continues to push a playoff system that few fans like and that has not attracted any new ones. Do you know anyone who used to think the sport was just hillbillies going in circles until the Chase came along? To say it doesn’t work wouldn’t even be accurate anymore. The Chase and its implications endlessly loom over NASCAR, reminding the sport’s fans that parity and ratings matter more than merit. Fans of a driver having a great season know now that it means nothing, while fans of a driver having a mediocre season don’t get any joy from a points reset like they would for a midseason comeback.
Read comments from the multitudes of disenchanted, displaced ex-NASCAR fans and the list of complaints is long, but the Big Points Giveaway is very often included. People know it’s contrived. People know it’s an attempt to force excitement. They remain unfooled. Fans said as much in 2003, before it even started, and they were ignored.
I’ve said it many times in these pages, but shunning your core base in the effort to excite the ADD crowd is poor business, and with the possible exception of the egress of the Labor Day race, NASCAR never made a bigger statement that its core fans didn’t matter than with the introduction of this current postseason format.
The ADD crowd has moved on— and who would expect it not to? Don’t ADD people, by definition, not stay interested for very long? And the core is still annoyed.
When NASCAR expanded the Chase to 12 drivers, it was a patently obvious measure to ensure that the most popular ones — many of whom had missed the 10-driver Chase in its first few years — would be included in a playoff where others are forgotten unless they win. If you recall, the initial Chase allowed for anyone within 400 points of the leader after 26 races to be eligible for the postseason. To come up with that number, NASCAR had to have recognized that there needed to be a realistic deficit that just couldn’t be overcome in ten races. After Junior and Jeff Gordon missed Chases and they took a ratings hit, officials no longer cared about what was realistic. Sure, a driver can make up 11 spots in ten races. Let’s move on.
Subconsciously or not, NASCAR probably thought that an expanded Chase format would keep Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and other fan favorites in the playoffs long enough to at least keep interest high for a few more races. What they probably didn’t consider was what if the fan favorites still didn’t make the Chase… as has been the case with the sport’s Ratings Superhero in three of the last four years. Did anyone believe that would happen when he signed on with Hendrick Motorsports? If you can make the Chase with just four top 5s these days, as Clint Bowyer did this year, you can’t be running too well if you don’t make it.
It’s very possible that the Chase, especially this year, could produce a Homestead race with as many as six drivers still eligible to win a title. That is, after all, what the Big Points Giveaway was designed to do. Great for Denny Hamlin fans, but disproportionately lousy for Kevin Harvick fans, who have watched their driver consistently race smart and hard to be the best driver out there for six months, only to have his lead wiped out not by other drivers stepping up but by a sanctioning body looking for ratings equalizing the top 12. Are Kevin Harvick fans going to appreciate the “excitement” created this year?
Even if there are six drivers with a chance to win a title at Homestead, do you think fans might prefer that there were three who had all earned it? That maybe the races leading up to it might provide a little more excitement setting the stage? We’ll never know. The Chase killed that possibility.
We may get exciting races towards the finish, but some drivers are going to have to points race. Is Matt Kenseth going to be taking risks now? How about Jimmie Johnson or Tony Stewart? If any of those drivers fall victim to another DNF, they will be in a big enough hole that they won’t be able to afford another bad finish. It’s all part of the box they’re painted in, as by definition a 10-race sprint puts limits on the risks drivers can take. As more of them use up their “mulligan” (I know that expression isn’t correct – a better one would be “margin of error”, but it’s the standard so I’m going with it) it’s likely that they’ll be keeping their distance from other drivers. Johnson and Stewart took risks last Sunday, and it made for exciting racing, but in the end they got burned. And I’m sure either of them would rather win a boring title.
Carl Edwards told the media that NASCAR would be wise to simply keep the Chase as it is, rather than muck with it some more changes as they have been openly discussing. He’s right in the sense that an adjustment to the Chase would be tantamount to an admission that it hadn’t worked as intended. But keeping the Chase as it is doesn’t seem to bode well, either. In the format’s seventh season, at a point where it should be at least semi-sanctified, and with commentators everywhere touting its renewed promise this time around, the opening event went up against the NFL’s regular season and got creamed.
NASCAR’s playoff has put the sport in a serious bind. To get rid of it now would also be to admit its unpopularity, and there’s more than just Brian France’s ego at stake. If the sport went back to a 36-race season, the first time a driver won the title before the last race, some would be yearning for a Chase format again.
But maybe NASCAR should just let ‘em yearn, because phony points resets aren’t the answer. That doesn’t need to be made more obvious now.
©2000 - 2008 Kurt Smith and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
I’ve hated the Chase format since day one, basically for one major reason… the Chase drivers still have to compete against non-Chase drivers. How can you possibly call that a playoff system, or even fair?
Then again, nothing in NASCAR seems to be fair. A 150 point fine against Bowyer during a 10 race season (as the Chase technically is) is far more devastating than the same penalty over a 26 race season.
Also, the “we warned you” defense by NASCAR is also absurd. They told RCR that they were legal, just very close to the limit… and this was when? A day, maybe two, if that, before the cars had to be on the truck for Loudon?
If you look at Bowyer’s season, if you were to shorten the races by 10%, he probably would have been ranked #1 in the points. The guy runs in the top 10 for almost the entirety of every race, only to have some bad luck strike him with a handful of laps to go.
I think he is one of the biggest up and comers in the sport. Who also happens to have one of the most likable personalities in the sport too. And they are in desperate need of a new star to root for.
Jr and Gordon still remain the fan favorites, and NASCAR needs for this to change… especially since they aren’t winning races. JJ has a good sized fan base, but Gordon is his part owner (and almost a cookie cutter replica of him), so anything good that JJ does, also pushes Gordon that much higher too. (I think most people forget that Gordon has 8 Championship rings.)
It just seems to me that NASCAR needs a non-biased sanctioning body to make decisions (just like the MLB did) before it truly turns into the WWE.
And I will go on the record as saying that if Bowyer ends up losing the Championship because of this penalty, I will never watch another NASCAR event again. Granted, with this year’s top 12, I think about 8 of the guys will be really tough to beat. So this statement isn’t going too far out on a limb, but I still mean it. Plus, it really won’t take much for me to stop watching NASCAR to begin with.
This year the chickens are definatly coming home to roost, and Brain France will soon be eating crow.
Keep beating the drum Kurt. You are saying what we all are thinking. Show me someone that likes the chase and I will show you a 48 fan.
Forty-Hater, do you also mean the same for Jimmie Johnson’s 2006 (Daytona 500 cheating scandal, as well as the Dover height controversy) and 2007 (Sonoma cheating scandal) championships? And I’m sure, given the reputation of “Cheating Chad”, Johnson’s 2008 and 2009 championships should have asterixes beside them too!
As a fan who turned on my first race seven years ago, I’ve only known the Chase. I don’t remember what it was like “back in the day” but I do recognize that something is amiss. If NASCAR is going to run 36 races, it seems that NASCAR needs to create an incentive for every driver to race to win every race. I am paying $400 for tickets to Talladega at the end of October, and I want the race to be exciting from start to finish. I don’t want to watch Denny Hamlin or Jimmy Johnson or whoever holding back to protect their “points lead.”
I am for creating a points system that only gives driver points for the top 10 finishers. Everyone else goes home with owner points, but no driver points. Owner points continue to be used in the ways they are currently used, but drivers points would be much more rare and harder to earn. This would allow the cream to rise to the top, but could also give rise to late season rallies and allow for several disasters and poor races during the year.
Although I don’t think NASCAR should emulate F1, the F1 points system makes a whole lot more sense to me and as a relatively new fan, I think he chase is silly and distracts from the self contained nature of each race.
PBFred makes a good point. The penalty distribution during the Chase is devastating, and it’s one more thing that doesn’t change when the points get reset.
He’s also right that non-playoff teams shouldn’t be there. The whole point of playoffs is that it’s the best against the best.
Kurt: The Chase has started off like this more often than not. (With the exception of the 150 point penalty) It is almost always a beating/banging affair that leaves two driver’s chances for a championship dashed upon the rocks. Granted, the WINNER has not been one of them, so that is new, at any rate. I do not expect that this will carry over throughout the entire chase. Expect one or two more drivers to have bad days at dover, and the field to be realistically whittled down to 8. Then the mile-and-a-halfs will drop another 3 just due to good finishes while the annual contenders have great finishes. Talladega will eliminate another 3-4 from realistic, not mathematical contention. When the train eventually wrecks it’s way into homestead, 1 team will be the clear favorite, and 1 or 2 other teams will have an outside chance for success. I am willing to eat your hat, shirt, and shoes if that isn’t the EXACT way this year’s Chase works itself out!!!
I just LOVE how Brian went after the ADD crowd. Um, Brian – you DO realize that your sport has the longest season of all the major US sports?
I can actually see the following thinking in Daytona a few years back:
How do we keep the ADD interested in a 9 month long sport??? BF: I know – we will create a mini-season of 10 races!!
But the last 10 races directly compete with the NFL? BF: And? Ain’t we #2 and growing faster than that sport? Fine – we will reset the points to make the last 10 races more exciting!!
Doesn’t that make the first 26 races less important BF: NO! We will use the first 26 to seed my new Chase. Drivers will drive like mad to win at all costs for the 10 extra points that it gives them.
But what about the older fans? BF: $&*#@ ‘em. We can easily replace those old hick losers.
Shouldn’t we change the point distribution system to give more incentive to winning instead of points racing BF: Enough, already. I got a golf game at 2:00.
I agree with the column. The Chase has failed. NASCAR has tried to turn the Championship into something it can’t be. Auto Racing doesn’t lend itself to a “stick & ball” playoff format. Last year the Chase almost totally tanked because if the 48 doesn’t wreck at Texas he clinches at Phoenix. A big reason for the Chase and the proposed “elimination” format is for ISC to protect Homestead and the Ford sponsorship there. At least I think.
I say can the Chase and redo the way driver’s points are rewarded, so its harder to run away with a points lead. Example, a cut off of points at like 25th or 30th place and more points for top-5s and wins. Also, they should try to revive some verson of the old Winston Million. Offer more points and a cash bonus for winning the big races.
This is easy. After 26 races the top 12 drivers in points plus Dale Jr., no matter where he ranks make the chase. Dale Jr. gets 1000 bonus points and a 5 lap lead on all other drivers in every race. If even then he somehow is about to lose the championship the chase is immediately called off and the cup is awarded to Junebug.
That will get the folks to tune in.
There are no playoffs in real auto racing. There can’t be, it’s just idiotic and doesn’t make sense. There are race winners though. Who cares if the champion is crowned three races before the series ends? The championship is not where the exciting part of racing happens… it’s in the races and who wins them. That’s what people will watch.
Your Poll above should have:
It’s part of racing and teams put a heck of a lot of time and preparation getting the cars tuned for qauly…been saying it for years, they need to give points for the fastest car in qualifying and lose the Chase format
I wish you hadn’t made that suggestion.While it is true that everybody is thinking that, you are about to be offered the only spot on the NEW and IMPROVED fan council. Brian France will gladly institute this chase format, and NA$CAR will be officially dead.
Of course, DansMom, will become a Jr. fan, and tell everybody that she has supported him since day one, and; that Brian France, once again, has made a FLAWLESSLY BRILLIANT business decision.
It will all be your fault!!! lmao
I agree the chase has to go. But there are other factors that are bringing Nascar down. Price of tickets, lost sponsorships, COT just to name a few. The season is way too long and when it overlaps football that is a problem. Television coverage is terrible too. All they talk about is the top drivers every week. If your driver isn’t one of their favorites forget hearing any mention of them. I went from a longtime super fan to a a casual fan the last few years. From attending at least one race a year to not going at all.
I went over to the Daly Planet where they are talking about this too (along with the broadcasters of course) and there was posted there a kind of likeable chase fix idea sent in by a poster:
“…As for the chase, fix it. I do not watch Football regularly. I do not watch Baseball or Basketball regularly. I could care less about the regular season in any of them or where teams stand.
I do, though, watch during the playoffs. The losers have gone home and one of the teams that remain will win. I do have my favorites of course and I am disappointed if they are not in the playoff mix, but I still watch.
The same could work in NASCAR. Here is my idea. I have written of it before and I have talked about it too to whomever will listen.
1. Regular Season ends at 14th race out. Regular Season Champion is crowned and the top 12 are locked in. All points except earned chase bonus points cease to exist for the succeeding 3 races. Three spots in the Chase remain to be filled by…
2. Wild Cards. One Wild Card Chaser is chosen in each of the next 3 races. One each race. The one chosen in any race is the top non-chase finisher in that race.
3. The Chase proper begins as now with the 10th race out. All non-chasers go home. Everyone is reset to ZERO + any bonus points earned. In each race of the chase low man leaves the island which leaves…
4. A championship race with six entries. Winner take all.
That builds excitement and it is the way performance competition TV shows work. It is custom made for the casual fan and creates drama.
Of course a bad week can sink a driver — so what? So, the start and parkers cannot come and get paid for qualifying — so what? It is the survival of the fittest the best and the luckiest.”
Since I will not hold my breath waiting for BF to admit he blew it withe the chase idea I hope one of his bowing and scraping minions will finally tell him the chase has no clothes and if it is to be kept it must be repaired. But I will not hold my breath for that to happen either.
I think babydufus hit the nail on the head. The Championship is the big picture, but its a bi product of being good all year. We tune in ever week (or used to) to watch good racing and see who wins. We dont care that after the 1st race Racer X is not in the top 12. Racing from a fans point of few is about RACING, not building up a points lead. Yes we all want our favorite driver to win the championship, but we want to see him/her leading the most laps and winning races, not just riding around collecting points and a check every week!
Sorry to disagree, but it isn’t the Chase that is the root of NASCARS problems. It is the almost ideallic worship of losers and non-performers like JR that upsets the Bubbas. The 48’s run of 4 straight would be hailed in any other venue. He is simply the best to come along since DW dethroned the establishment. (They didn’t like him either!) His winning a 5th this year will overshadow the performance of all other drivers in Nascar history. Kyle Bush, love him or hate him, is NASCARS biggest draw. All those who like to complain about his driving should trudge on down to namby-pamby land and get a pair! He brings real excitement to a very boring sport. Simply put, NASCAR is NOT real racing, it is show business. The announcers are nausiating, the hours of pre-race hype are boring and unnecessary and we get color commentary instead of racing. Mix this in with 2 minutes of commercials for every minute of racing and you see the result. I have been an avid racing fan for more than 50 years but I just can’t watch anymore. For the first time in years we will not attend the Phoenix race…. and we won’t miss it.
Call me a conspiracy theorist; fine. But we cannot have someone like Clint Bowyer showing America just how STOOOPID this whole chase crap is! Think about it: this driver barely makes it into the “playoff”, then goes from (almost) last to (almost) first in ONE FREAKING RACE! Anyone can see just how ludicrous this makes that whole “chase” crap look, so we need to make an example of this upstart, don’t we? But I truly believe it goes much deeper than that. Consider this (fasten your seatbelts!): When Brain Farce originally made his deal with Toyota to bring them into NA$CAR, a promise was made to Toyota of a championship trophy within X number of years. Now, knowing full well that the old-school, hard-core stock-car racing fans are no big fans of the “rice-burners”, the Brain Farce had to come up with a strategy to make this Japanese championship somewhat more palatable. Enter four consecutive championships for (insert driver’s name here), in order to make the masses so sick and tired of the same old same old, that they’ll all jump for joy at the thought of someone, ANYONE else as champion. So MARK MY WORDS: A TOYOTA WILL WIN THE 2010 CUP! It will probably be Hamlin, so Shrub can “knock him off his throne” next year. But for 2010, let’s keep ole fourtime in the running, to keep all those fans hoping for something new. So guys like Harvick and Gordon (who have both showed the consistency that would have put them at the top before this CHASECRAP) had better watch their P’s and Q’s, or else his highness will find a way to eliminate them also. As such, there is simply no room for guys like Bowyer, who just don’t understand the Big Picture in Brian’s BigTop.
I agree with babydufus as well. Excellent post.
A poster on another article on here suggested the following format for the Chase (if we have to have one
Group 1: 20 drivers make the Chase
2 races each day. First Group 2 races for 200 miles and points are awarded for how they finish with a couple million dollars for the points winner.
Next, Group 1 races for 300 miles. Most points in those races is the champion.
This would break up the 4 hour borefest each week and give the Group 2 drivers some exposure also.
I like it. An even simpler solution would be to give alot more points for winner and ending the Chase altogether.
Neither option will probably ever come to pass but I can still dream, can’t i?
Bill B said: “Show me someone that likes the chase and I will show you a 48 fan.”
Not me. While I prefer the Chase to the previous format (not saying I like the Chase), but the only thing I like about Jimmie Johnson is that he’s from California and drives a Chevy.
Kurt said: “Are Kevin Harvick fans going to appreciate the “excitement” created this year?”
Why would NASCAR cater to Kevin Harvick fans, or any one else’s fans for that matter? Its not NASCAR’s fault Harvick led the points all year but only had 3 wins to Hamlin’s 6 and Johnson’s 5. That’s the way the points are structured and everyone knew it when we started this circus back in February.
And I still firmly believe if Dale Jr had won four championships in a row, we wouldnt be having all this Chase hate. Its sad, but its the truth.
For you folks that have watched the 24 hours of Daytona and seen the two different classes start the race seprate from each other. Maybe that’s how NASCAR should do it. Have the chasers line up behind one pace car, and the non-chasers behind the second pace car and have the non-chasers take the green 30 seconds later. Might as well if that’s how NASCAR is treating it.
Wait, I think I have the solution –
After 26 races the top 12 make the chase and then the fans get to vote in one more driver that they want to see have a shot at the title. We will call it the Dale Jr. most popular driver vote. This will ensure that those just watching to see Juneyjunebug will continue to tune in for the last 10 races.
Maybe, after someone else wins the cup we can have another vote to see if it should be awarded to someone else. Guess who?
Big points giveaway is so right. Like many other fans, I’ve hated the chase since day one and continue to loathe it again this year.
A winner of the 10 race portion of the season is NOT the champion. I don’t care how many trophies Johnson holds over his head at the last race of the season until he has led the points during the entire season and is still in front at the end, its worth nothing to me.
If he’s the best, prove it over 36 races, not coast into the chase and then get the points reset and race from there.
It’s ironic, I wasn’t a “casual” fan until NASCAR made all their stupid changes. I watch less NASCAR than I ever have.
So is the winner of the World Series not a “true champion” if they only won 80 games during the regular season, while their opponent won 100 games? Is the winner of the Super Bowl undeserving because their record was 10-6 instead of 15-1?
You miss the point Kevin in SoCal. We Nascar fans used to pride ourselves because our sport was not like the stick and ball shows. We used to laugh derisivly at the follies of the other sports and were glad our sport was pure and real.
Now that Nascar has turned it into another version of the stick and ball show we old fans are leaving and not looking back. The problem is all the stick and ball newbies who jumped on the bandwagon in the last 10 years or so that think the chase is just grand and the real reason for the hate is that Jr. has not been Champion.
Get rid of the Clown Car and bring back STOCK, and re-institute the Latford system while beating the networks over the head with a sledgehammer until they actually show racing again and not just the top drivers who line their pockets.
Here’s a stat I found…
Number of times selected drivers were focused on:
Can someone please enlighten me about the complaint that the season is just too long? I’ve been following NASCAR since 1961. Back then, there was a 45 to 50 race schedule. One year, I think 1965, there were 55 races run. The new season actually started in Late November, two weeks after the previous season ended. Then, for years, the first 500 mile race was run in mid-January in Riverside, California, a full month before the Daytona 500. And if you ever check out a website called “racing-reference”, there was even a race run between Christmas and New Years one year. There was never a problem with the length of the schedule then. Why are you so bent out of shape about it now? I personally do not like football (or baseball for that matter) so I still watch the races. So please enlighten me as to why it’s a problem now?
Also, about the “shocking” drop in TV rating last weekend. First, on the States side of the border, wasn’t last year’s Loudon race on the general (translated: the network EVERYBODY has) ABC network? This year, wasn’t it on ESPN? How many homes actually have ESPN? Is it all the same nember that have the general ABC network? In Canada, we have a sports channel called TSN that calls itself “Canda’s NASCAR Broadcast Partner”. Only about 75% of Canadian homes have TSN. However, last week’s race was shown on TSN2, which is only in about 20% of Canadian homes. That is a lot less homes able to watch the race. Sounds to me like the networks are the ones going out of their way to sabotage the broadcasts with the intent to deliberately drive people to watch football! Just a thought!
@ KevinInSoCal: Aside from not using a stick or a ball, the main difference between racing and the other major sports, is that only in racing do all teams compete against each other on the same “field” at the same time.
For that reason the play-offs and post season is redundant and unnecessary. For virtually all of NA$CAR’s history the championship contenders have not been whoever is most popular, or even whoever has won the most races. It has been about whoever had the team that ran most consistently at the front of the pack, earning themselves the best average finishing position over the entire season.
Brian France, in his infinite wisdom, didn’t like the idea that this frequently meant that the final 2 or 3 races were not “MUST SEE TV“. So he gave us the stick and ball season ending. So now that Homestead is must see TV, NOTHING ELSE IS. That’s why the chase is broken.
Seriously, the important races are, The Daytona 500 (for it’s history), The Fall Richmond 400 (to see who qualifies for the Chase), and The Homestead 400 (to see who wins the championship). Any other race that people choose to watch, is simply because they like that track, or they have nothing more pressing to accomplish.
In essence, Brian France, through the chase has taken a scenario in which only 3 races per year didn’t matter, and turned it into one where only 3 races per year do matter.
@ Ken: I wouldn’t say that the networks are sabotaging racing in favor of Football. The networks that carry racing don’t carry football and it would ruin their own market-share and profits. They might, however; sabotage NA$CAR in order to devalue it and be able to renegotiate the outrageous sums of money to which the France family feels entitled.
@Kevin in SoCal,
You just proved why a playoff format doesn’t fit in NASCAR. You want to use baseball and football as an example, come back when all the teams continue to play against those that didn’t make it. See, the ridiculousness (is that a word?) of thinking about all the teams still playing in the NFL or MLB is exactly how ridiculous trying to have a playoff looks in NASCAR.
Back in the 60’s we didn’t get as much sports on tv which may be why no one complained the season was too long. I can’t wait when February rolls around and have Daytona to look forward to, and during the summer, nothing wrong with Nascar and baseball, but by the time fall rolls around and it’s time for football and we’re into the 26th race of the year, I’m tired of wasting my Sunday’s on another race that lasts for hours. You may say I’m not a true Nascar fan, but I am. I go to races once a year when I can afford it, I diligently watch every race every week. The season is just too long and the fact that who ever is leading all year gets knocked down a peg or two because of a reset after 26 races is just ridiculous. Tony last year, Kevin this year. I agree with Jacob too. You can’t compare stick and ball sports with Nascar when it comes to playoffs. There is no comparison. Completely different sports. Leave ‘em wanting more instead of driving them away in droves. TV coverage sucks too but I did like Racing Buddy for the TNT coverage.
Maybe part of the problem is that back in the 1960’s NASCAR was one of the many sports that you didn’t watch on TV. There were clips and snippets of the major events, but it was the 80’s before every race of the season was shown.
I won’t say that you aren’t a true fan. I won’t even insinuate it. But you have multiple sports that you like to follow and other priorities. That is fine.
For some of us, we don’t care even a little bit about the MLB, NFL, or NBA. Racing is the only sport that we care about. For us the off-season is too long. Or at least it used to be. Before the current NA$CAR administration spit in our faces and drove us away in hordes.
If you don’t want to follow NA$CAR beyond a certain point, then don’t. But why would you try to influence the length of the season just because it is inconvenient for you?
You can just as easily sign in to your computer and see who won the race and/or championship without ever seeing a race that you don’t wish to.
Many good points here but no one mentioned that NASCAR has become a “machine shop contest” rather than automobile racing. The idea that the winner of a race can be changed three days after its completion is ridiculous. Aside from the safety aspects of the new cars, the voluminous rules measuring the geometry of a sheetmetal or fiberglass shell attached to a steel frame to thousandths of an inch is silly. It makes driving secondary to shop work. As someone once said, “You can’t legislate people into the Kingdom of Heaven.”