NASCAR, IMSA and AMA Pro announce Fanschoice.TV
posted by Mike Neff
Wednesday March 12, 2014
Free live streaming of events will allow fans to view previously unavailable live events online
AMA Pro, NASCAR and IMSA announced the launch of Fanschoice.tv today. The free service will stream motorcycle races, sports car races and regional touring and local short track events. The first event will be the AMA Pro flat track 200 from the 1/4 mile dirt track at Daytona International Speedway.
Fans will have access to multiple camera angles, live timing and scoring and a feed from the track’s PA system. In addition to the touring events from IMSA, AMA and NASCAR, three NASCAR Home Tracks have already signed on to be part of the release. Langley Speedway in Hampton, VA., Lake County Speedway in Painesville, OH., and Evergreen Speedway in Monroe, WA. will have all of their races available for viewing on the new service.
NASCAR’s K&N Pro Series, Whelen Modified Tour and Whelen Southern Modified Tour will all be shown on Fanschoice.tv. The awards banquets for both the Whelen All-American Series and the Touring Series will also be streamed.
IMSA coverage will include streaming of its developmental and single-make series, as well as selected practice and qualifying sessions for the two IMSA national sports car series, TUDOR United SportsCar Championship and Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge that are part of the recently-announced five-year agreement with Fox Sports.
NASCAR Changes Qualifying Format
posted by Summer Bedgood
Tuesday March 11, 2014
Following safety concerns regarding NASCAR’s new qualifying format, the sanctioning body is introducing some changes in preparation for this weekend’s race at Bristol Motor Speedway. According to the Associated Press, NASCAR is banning teams from cool-down laps after their qualifying attempts, but will instead be allowed to hook up cool-down units to the engine through hood flaps.
Late Tuesday afternoon, a release from NASCAR fully detailed the changes. Teams will be allowed a single cool down unit to be connected through the right or left side hood flap, however the hood must remain closed. Additionally, two crew members will be allowed over the wall while cooling down.
“The qualifying is new to all of us and as we have said over the past several weeks, we are looking at it from all aspects,” said Robin Pemberton, vice president of competition and racing development. “Following discussions, both internally and with others in the garage area, we moved quickly to make a few revisions that will be effective starting with our two national series events at Bristol Motor Speedway this weekend. We believe this will only enhance and improve what has demonstrated to be an exciting form of qualifying for our fans, competitors and others involved with the sport. Moving forward we will continue to look at it and address anything else that we may need to as the season unfolds.”
The move comes after three weeks of NASCAR’s new knockout qualifying system, where multiple cars are allowed to make qualifying attempts at the same time instead of the traditional one-car-at-a-time procedure. Drivers and teams had complained that the new rules didn’t allow them to cool their engines down on pit road, and the cool-down laps caused a dangerous situation with slower cars staying on the track at the same time that other cars were running by them at much higher speeds.
The rule will begin this weekend in Bristol, a track that has a much narrower racing surface than Daytona, Phoenix, and Las Vegas.
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
Monday March 3, 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!
Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
Well…. here we are…. at the All-Star (but not yet mid-season) point of the NASCAR schedule. As the national touring divisions swing into Charlotte for a much-deserved homecoming, the collective attention of NASCAR Nation looks forward to the slams-and-bangs of this weekend’s Sprint Showdown and the Sprint All-Star Race. This no-holds-barred slugfest for big bucks is often touted as just that: a no-holds-barred slugfest for big bucks.
While this is all well and good, there’s just one inherent problem to address: the All-Star race has little relevance in the grand scheme of things regarding drivers and teams that truly meet the criteria of being “all-stars”. The issue I have with “all-star” exhibition events is that they’re usually more about the event than the all-stars deemed worthy to compete.
All-Star events – no matter what the sport – all share a common organizational structure: the fans select who they want to see, and the sport makes it happen. The popularity of an athlete tends to trump their actual on-field performance, but this is of little consequence to the event promoter and/or the league/sanctioning body in question; it’s all about putting on a good show for the fans, even if that means bending a whole bunch of philosophical principles.
Such principle-bending is nothing new. We’ve seen this kind of behavior in motorsports for over a century as savvy promoters guaranteed big ticket sales by guaranteeing good shows for their paying customers. Regular readers of my columns will know that I often attribute most of what we see in racing circa 2012 to the actions of motorsports pioneers like Barney Oldfield (the legendary driver) and Will Pickens (Oldfield’s legendary press agent). Despite a lackluster record as a true championship contender (Oldfield’s best Indianapolis 500 runs were fifth-place finishes in 1914 and 1916), Barney was able to draw huge crowds based on his larger-than-life persona and his oh-so-quotable comments to an eagerly-awaiting press corps poised with pencils in hand.
A good story outdoes a good race every time. This is what the reporters of today have sought with each not-enough-passing/not-enough-cautions event on the Sprint Cup calendar. Sometimes a journalist has to dig deep in order to find a nugget of media gold. What makes an all-star event so attractive to its intended/assumed audience is that such stories don’t have to be found…. they can be made.
Hand-crafted narratives date back to the afore-mentioned era of Barney Oldfield and friends, who helped fill grandstands across America by posing and posturing and pontificating about their feuds with other drivers. A not-so-nice example of such a feud was Oldfield’s on-going rivalry with Ralph De Palma, who was born in Italy, emigrated to America, and whose racing success tended to give America’s “Speed King” fits.
De Palma had legitimate reason to consider Oldfield a rival; in 1914, De Palma lost a highly competitive ride with the Mercer Automobile Company to Oldfield. Even though Oldfield’s Mercer was more powerful than the Mercedes that De Palma wound up driving, De Palma used his “Gray Ghost” to capture that year’s United States driving title. During the course of his career, Ralph De Palma won about 2000 races, four consecutive AAA dirt track championships (1908 through 1911), and the 1915 Indy 500 – a record that Oldfield could never touch, no matter how many times he tried (although Oldfield did defeat De Palma in the 1914 Vanderbilt Cup race in California, which likely cost De Palma his Mercer deal).
To put the De Palma/Oldfield narrative in a more contemporary context, recall the rivalry between Jimmie Johnson and Carl Edwards in 2010, or the back-and-forth between Tony Stewart and Carl Edwards last season. Those athletes near the top of their sport often capitalize on their nearly-continuous contact with the media. This is part of why they’re seen as being so popular – because they’re a consistent presence before the eyes of their audience.
Where Barney Oldfield shined was in front of reporters who were looking for a good story. Whenever his rivalry with Ralph De Palma was getting the best of him, Oldfield would take advantage of the media to vent his anger. On more than one occasion did Oldfield refer to De Palma as a “spaghetti-bender” during chats with reporters, knowing full-well that the comment would make it into print for all (especially De Palma) to see.
De Palma, to his credit, would respond to Oldfield’s ethnocentric slurs by taking the high road. This usually resulted in De Palma thrashing Oldfield in their next race, a loss that would only make Barney more livid with his comments the next time out. While the drivers challenged each other at every event, the press made sure to weave stories depicting Oldfield (the son of a Civil War veteran and boy of the Midwest) locked in mortal combat with De Palma (the Italian immigrant who turned a lackluster bicycle-racing career into a mastery of “American” technology). This narrative not only established the folklore of these two legendary drivers, but it helped pack the fairgrounds whenever the races came to town.
So what’s the mythic narrative of choice circa 2012? For last year’s Sprint All-Star weekend, the idea was to dress the drivers involved like gunfighters and have them snarl for the cameras. This imagery seemed clichéd even back in the late 1970’s when Winston used a similar campaign to promote the championship rivalry between Richard Petty and Darrell Waltrip. There’s nothing like a six-shooter and a scowl to sell tickets to a stock car race. The strategy at work here was (and still is) to market NASCAR racing through popular mediums in order to make the sport appear to be something more than it already was. This was true during the earliest days of the business, when familiar names meant more than new-fangled machines.
Even though Barney Oldfield garnered more press attention than Ralph De Palma through his penchant for bluster and braggadocio, both men clearly profited from the coverage. One can only guess what the careers of Oldfield and De Palma would have been like had there been this medium we call “social media” a century ago. De Palma’s Facebook page would be peppered with “likes”, while Oldfield would be tweeting non-stop as the next race date drew closer. Race fans would have played a significant role in the sport back then, as they do in today’s wireless climate of laptops and “smartphones”.
And so here we are: just mere days away from the all-star events of this weekend at Charlotte. The Sprint Showdown will feature 22 entries and two chances at making the big race; the third spot will go – as it always does – to the No. 88 car and the ever-present, vote-toting lobby of Junior Nation. Not that there’s anything wrong with such a build-up to the Sprint All-Star Race, but herein lies the issue so often seen when a sport decides to honor its best – the decision regarding who’s an “all-star” rests with the fans, their access to technology, and their willingness to embrace the democratic process. So many all-star games are based on the power of the popular vote – a decision that’s often driven more by the athlete’s persona or image than by their actual playing ability or success.
Take the current, almost four-year victory slump of the afore-mentioned no. 88 Chevrolet. The sheer power of Dale Junior’s popularity far outweighs his recent on-track accomplishments. It is commonly believed that success and popularity go hand-in-hand (everyone loves a winner), but that’s not always the case. I’ll go out on the proverbial limb here and predict right now that Dale Jr. will win the “fans’ choice” portion of the Sprint Showdown. The no. 88 team will make the big show because they’re the no. 88 team, regardless of the fact that they’ve gone 0-for-140+ races.
Granted, the Sprint All-Star Race follows rather specific criteria for establishing the starting field. According to details published on Jayski’s Silly Season site “The eligibility standards for the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race remain the same: Race winners from either the 2011 or 2012 season through May 12 or any past champions of the all-star event or NASCAR Sprint Cup Series over the previous 10 years are eligible for the race.”
Okay, that sounds reasonable, but what relevance do “past champions” from a decade ago have on an event deemed an all-star race in 2012? Is this not an extension of the whole “popularity contest” mindset we see in voting for your favorite driver so they make the lineup?
Why should a Terry Labonte or a Bill Elliott be eligible when drivers running on a regular basis right now – drivers like Martin Truex, Jr., A.J. Allmendinger, and Joey Logano – have to either 1) race their way into the big show or 2) pray that their fan base can push them in through their exploitation of the popular vote? Not that there’s a problem with the Sprint Fan Vote component of the all-star process, but does it not equate excellence with acceptance?
Perhaps a bigger issue rests with the format of all-star events themselves. As far as exhibitions go – showcases for popular and (hopefully) competitive athletes – the emphasis is more on the show than the sport. Consider the long and storied history of NASCAR’s all-star weekends. Fan voting is just one innovation that’s been added over the years (even though “all-star” type races in NASCAR date back to the old “Race of Champions” events held at Daytona back in the early 1960’s); recent adjustments to the all-star format have been added and/or dropped according to TV ratings and fan interest (am I losing my mind, or was there not a “wheel of fortune” used to determine the inversion of a starting grid one year?). Hence the power of popular opinion: give the fans what they want – customer satisfaction guaranteed.
Here’s the official word regarding this weekend’s all-star race, courtesy of my pal Jayski:
The NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race set for Saturday, May 19 at Charlotte Motor Speedway (SPEED, 7 pm/et), will consist of four 20-lap segments, concluding with a 10-lap sprint and a $1 million payout to the race winner. This year’s format will place a higher premium for drivers who win one of the four segments, however, as the winners of the first four segments will move to the front of the field and line up 1-4 prior to the field coming to pit road for the final mandatory pit stop. When the drivers come down pit road, crew chiefs will have to decide on their best pit strategy, as multiple scenarios will unfold. The team that makes the best call, combined with the optimum performance on pit road, is likely to be in the driver’s seat for the final 10 laps of competition. Wherever the drivers are positioned as they come off pit road after that pit stop is where they will line up to start the final 10-lap segment.
I’m not sure what the racing on Saturday will be like, but I know a good story when I see one. And if I don’t see one, I’ll create one…
©2000 - 2008 Mark Howell and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
Perception is everything. Oldfield never won an Indy 500 and is hailed a hero. JJ wins 5 championships and a good many fans want to place an asterisk next to them. Except for true science that has empirical evidence to back it up, most everthing else is based on perceived levels of bull. Or I could be wrong about that or maybe not, I can’t decide.
Terry Labonte and Bill Elliot aren’t eligible. The only champions from the last 10 years are Tony Stewart, Jimmy Johnson, Kurt Busch, and Matt Kenseth. All of whom won at least one race last year and hence are eligible anyway.
In fact, of the 20 drivers already guaranteed a spot in the All Star Race, only one didn’t win a race last year- Mark Martin. Who is still a fan favorite. He gets in because he won the event in 2005.
Elliott hasn’t been eligible since 2004 (since he won a race in 2003) and Terry Labonte hasn’t been eligible since 2009 (from winning the All Star Race in 1999).
This is far better criteria than the Bud Shootout has been the last several years, where you had almost endless entry criteria from what had been, prior to 2009, a race between pole winners from the prior season.
i’m not really stoked on the all star race.
just give me some unmanufactured good hard racing… PLEASE