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 line between aggressiveness and recklessness is a fine one – a razor’s edge that separates acting bravely from lashing out boorishly. Staying on one side of the line versus the other is a matter of judgment, a decision made in little more than a heartbeat that can change the tenor of a race, a championship, history, or even life itself. It’s far easier to be boorish than to be brave, even when the consequences could result in injury or worse. Making the call between an act of bravery and an act of boorishness is a matter of personal responsibility. Recognizing that personal responsibility is just that – personal – is an important part of the decision-making process, and that means rising above the emotion of the moment to do what’s best as an example of your responsibility.
For race car drivers, it is their responsibility to go fast. They are supposed to drive their vehicle with precision and skill, and to go faster than their competition on any given day, in any given event, on any given surface. Forget the relationship to fans and sponsors. Forget the belief that winning championships is more about being consistent than about scoring victories. Ignore the media, ignore your peers, and ignore the “haters” who’d rather see your car on a hoist than you hoisting a trophy. It’s all about the race – running hard and outdriving your competition while saving your equipment for a push to the best finishing position possible. Next week, you do it all over again, against the same competitors, under the same rules, and for the same result – the points and the money. The next week, you do the same thing, and that goes for the week after that, and the week after that. Along the way, you experience a variety of competitive encounters; your peers bump you, lean against you in the corners, and run into you down the straights. Each week is a different version of the same activity. Each week puts the driver into similar situations, yet with often vastly different outcomes. The difference between finishing first or finishing last can be separated by one simple miscue; so can the difference between life and death, especially at speeds exceeding 140 (or 150, or 170, or 200) miles per hour. That’s the nature of automobile racing, and that’s why so few people do it, and even fewer people do it well.
Kyle Busch is one of those people. Say what you want about his merits, his faults, or his questionable actions…no one wins in NASCAR without some modicum of talent. How that talent is handled, however, is another matter altogether. While so many of us in NASCAR Nation are quick to assign blame when things go wrong, few of us are as quick to drop our driver/team/manufacturer/sponsor loyalties and rise above our individual personal interests. Kyle Busch wrecks Ron Hornaday, Jr. under yellow during Friday night’s Camping World Truck Series race at Texas, and NASCAR Nation immediately splits into two camps: Kyle supporters versus Kyle haters. Media outlets flowed with outpourings of opinion, accusation, vitriol, and speculation. NASCAR responded with a Texas-sized suspension for Busch, a $50,000 fine, and double-secret probation for the remainder of the 2011 season. A variety of reasons were bandied about, including pent-up anger, unfair treatment by NASCAR, fan base expectations, and even the “if you’ve got a good guy, you need a bad guy” angle. Sure, all of these issues can be/might be/could be at the crux of Friday’s “stuff him into the wall” ordeal, but does any of it really matter?
Let’s face facts…NASCAR isn’t about curing cancer, ending poverty, or saving the environment (hardly!); stock car racing is a sport. Sports are vital to the mental stability of a society – we need a way to vent our frustrations and bond through a common activity or behavior. After a rough week on the job, cheering for and/or screaming about a football team (or a NASCAR team) is a simple form of therapy; the release makes us feel better while enabling us to feel connected to a larger and more meaningful enterprise. I may be a grunt who’s hated by my boss at work, but that makes my devout loyalty and support of a particular team (one with which I feel a kinship) even more important. Sports serve a purpose, and rarely does that purpose exceed the basic significance of more relevant human issues. NASCAR might be a lot of fun to watch, discuss, and debate, but – in the end – it’s simply a sport. It only takes on social or cultural significance if say it does. Friday’s wreckfest between Kyle Busch and Ron Hornaday, Jr. garnered national attention because the masses saw more to the story than simply competitive anger brought to life at Texas. Might this have been more than simply “one of them racin’ deals?”
We’ve seen this kind of behavior since the first cars took the first green flag for the first automobile race over 100 years ago. If I take great pride in my vehicle and my skill, and that equipment and skill is tested (both often, and with little mercy) by my fellow competitors (who all feel the same way as I do, by the way), are we not setting the stage for hard feelings, outbursts of aggression, and contact between competing racers? Yes, we are…. but how we act on such aggression is what puts us on one side of the afore-mentioned “fine line” or the other. We make choices based on the situation, the attitude rattling around in our head at that point-in-time, and the precise moment when environment and mood demand some kind of resolution. That resolution is a chosen consequence, and that’s where the fecal matter hits the rotating propellers.
What happened to Kyle Busch happened to Robby Gordon at Pocono in 2007. What happened to Kyle Busch happened to Kevin Harvick at Martinsville in 2002. What happened to Kyle Busch happened to Carl Edwards after he flipped Brad Keselowski at Atlanta in 2010. Jimmy Spencer has experienced such actions by NASCAR, as well, in response to his dealings with another Busch back in 2003. It’s guaranteed that, given time, other drivers, depending on their behavior in a particular situation, will be required to sit out a race because they decided to exhibit “the most severe reaction under these circumstances,” to borrow the words of Mike Helton. When “Boys, have at it” gives way to “Why, I oughta’…,” are we not approaching a line of reasoning that needs to be redrawn? All of this beating, banging, feuding, and fighting might be good for increased television ratings and public recognition of the sport, but doesn’t this increase in “redneckery” (a term coined by Rusty Wallace) spell more harm than good for NASCAR?
Such was the case when “Days of Thunder” roared across movie screens back in 1990. The film turned NASCAR into a cinematic generalization of what actually went on in the sport of stock car racing, so much so that drivers like Alan Kulwicki and Dale Earnhardt went out of their way to steer clear of hoopla generated by the movie. Stereotypes overwhelmed reality as the film’s take on NASCAR pegged the “hick” meter at “Yee haw!” – race cars were destroyed with relish as drivers wrecked each other on purpose out of competition-fueled anger. While theater audiences thrilled to the exploits of Cole Trickle (Tom Cruise), NASCAR Nation bristled at more of the same old thing that forced them to explain their interest in the sport. Focusing on “good ol’ boys” led to the production of a “bad ol’ movie”, so are we headed down that generalized dusty road yet again in the aftermath of Kyle Busch’s recent behavior?
Kyle Busch’s actions have certainly attracted additional media attention. From his public declaration that the Car of Tomorrow “sucked” (even though he’d just won its debut race at Bristol back in 2007), to last May’s 128-mph “test drive” of a new Lexus down a county road near Troutman, to last weekend’s intentional wrecking of Ron Hornaday, Jr. (who was driving a CWTS entry owned by perennial-Busch rival Kevin “Happy” Harvick), it’s often difficult to ignore the presence of Kurt’s kid brother. Right or wrong, love him or hate him, agree or disagree – what Kyle does on Sunday afternoon (or Saturday night, or Friday night) often lands him squarely on the first page of the sports section. Sometimes it’s for a win, sometimes it’s for a speeding ticket, sometimes it for an act of anger. Regardless of what gets Kyle Busch the attention, it’s Kyle Busch who gets noticed above-and-beyond anyone else.
Poor Ron Hornaday, Jr. While Busch extends apologies for his behavior, for his outpouring of frustration in the wake of being “on the outside lane”, getting taken “up to the fence”, and “losing [his] cool”, Hornaday (and car owner Harvick) come off looking as though they’re gunning for revenge, and not just on the track. “So let’s have at it,” Hornaday said after the accident, “I can go beat his ass. He lives too close to me…we’ll see what NASCAR does. If they don’t handle it right, I’ll be at his [Busch’s] house Monday morning.”
“Kyle Busch is going to get his ass whipped shortly I hope…” Harvick said over his radio, “… I’m going to come find him and he’s going to have to hold my watch (in homage to Richard Childress’s own 2011 feud with Busch) because I’m going to whip his ass.”
So how does this embracing of anger “in the moment” look any better than what Kyle Busch did during his own “moment” when aggression gave way to reason? Isn’t everyone guilty of poor behavior in this situation, given these actions and the comments made thereafter? In the now-famous words of Rodney King, the man beaten by Los Angeles police officers in 1991: “Can we all get along?” If we’re talking about NASCAR Nation circa 2011, I’d say the answer is “No; now leave me alone before I whip your ass.”
If this is the prevalent mood in-and-around NASCAR as we approach the end of the 2011 season, how are we to navigate a better, more productive course – one that puts boorish, “snap” decisions far behind the bravery (and humility) that we typically associate with athletes who embody the excellence inherent within their chosen sport? Do we fight, or do we flee? Whatever we choose to do, we must remember that our actions speak volumes, and the words we use in reference to those actions are rarely (if ever, in this digital age) completely forgotten. The responsibility for our actions resides within us as individuals, no matter how our actions make us look to the outside world. Do I let my decisions at a heated and stressful time “speak” for me, or do I force my decisions to take me down a better path? In other words: do I stuff this guy who’s leaning on me into the wall, or do I let him by now and get past him later after allowing my cooler rationale to prevail? Easier said than done, but might this not be better, overall, for the sport?
Letting conflicts go isn’t simple, as many of us know from firsthand experience. The idea is to recognize what’s making you irrational, and then shift your thinking into more rational territory. According to the Transcendentalist writer/philosopher Henry David Thoreau, in his 1848 essay/lecture “The Relation of the Individual to the State” (which was first published in 1849 as “Resistance to Civil Government” and later – in 1866, four years after Thoreau’s death – given the more-recognized title “Civil Disobedience”):It is not a man’s duty, as a matter of course, to devote himself to the eradication of any, even the most enormous wrong; he may still properly have other concerns to engage him; but it is his duty, at least, to wash his hands of it, and, if he gives it no thought longer, not to give it practically his support.
This attitude was behind the civil rights movement of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and has been at the center of “non-violent” protests for over a century. In this era of distrust over everything from government to the financial sector to the NCWTS race at Texas last Friday night, is it not best if cooler heads prevail? Situations will make us angry, and our actions (and/or words) will reflect our anger, but should we not THINK clearly first before ACTING violently? A roll cage, a window net, and a HANS device may allow you to feel safe, and an inappropriate pass may allow you to feel justified in lashing back at them that’s wronged you, but such an action does not avenge as much as was initially hoped.
In the words of Kyle Busch: “Yeah, it was my fault after the fact. But who is going to fix my truck after I wrecked it in Turn 2 the first time?” I know who; it’ll be the same guys who worked long hours to prepare your truck for the Texas race, Kyle. It’ll be the same guys who’ll work even longer hours to assess and/or repair the damage, prepare yet another truck for you, and make it possible for you to race at Homestead in two weeks. That’s who’ll be on the REAL receiving end of your emotional/physical outburst behind the wheel last Friday. Our actions have consequences…. and for more people than we think.
And speaking of our actions and their consequences…. I’d be remiss to not at least mention (and that’s ALL I’m going to do) the misguided thinking that led “former NASCAR driver” Jeremy Mayfield to his current legal woes. Let’s see: the five-time Sprint Cup winner was indicted for possession of methamphetamine, 69 guns, and $100,000 in stolen property. On top of all that, Mayfield is said to owe over $82,000 in back taxes. At least nobody’s chance for a championship was ruined – just someone’s reputation.
©2000 - 2008 Mark Howell and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
Very well said, Mark.
Ditto Old Farmer.
But I’ll add this. There have been other drivers with less than stellar reputations in the past, but none that carried a rep of an immature, petulant punk.
We’ve heard for two years running that Kyle has matured. I beg to differ.
Really? If it weren’t for SAFER barriers we might be talking about how Kyle Busch killed Ron Hornaday. He hooked him. Nose-first. 160 mph at Texas into a wall. He may not have THOUGHT “I’m gonna end this guy’s career” but the move was still the move. Call it manslaughter instead of 2nd degree murder?
All he did was vent his anger, and he did it verbally. Whether it would’ve actually came to anything is pure speculation. As opposed to the hard fact that Busch destroyed his truck.
Kyle Bush like Lindsay Lohan has been handed the opprotunity of a lifetime. After many chances to redeem themselves and live up to their potential they could or would not do so. It’s time to consign them to the misfires in history. In other words, fire their monkey butts.