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!
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.
Mark Howell · Thursday May 31, 2012
A key term heard regularly in-and-around NASCAR these past few months is “polarization.”
That has been the word-of-choice when discussing changes in the sport circa 2012. Danica Patrick’s full-time move to stock cars from open-wheel racing was said to have “polarized” race fans – reactions that brought another term, “hater”, into NASCAR Nation’s collective vocabulary. Responses to the spring race at Bristol Motor Speedway also polarized fans; you either liked races at the “new” Bristol or you hated them (and there’s that aforementioned H-word again), so much so that Bruton Smith announced he was going to reconfigure the track (yet again) to better suit audience demands. NASCAR’s switch to electronic fuel injection in the Sprint Cup Series also “polarized” fans, in part because the change tended to divide drivers and crew chiefs down opposite sides of the EFI fence.
Polarization is a common part of everyday life. People rarely ride the fence when it comes to issues or conditions that are deemed essential or important. Such is the case with politics. Such can be the case with sports, as well. If you like baseball, you are probably either a National League or an American League fan (although interleague play has muddied those waters a bit). Even within your league of choice, you might be polarized according to region or locale (Which is the better team: the New York Yankees or the Boston Red Sox? If you live near Chicago, do you cheer for the Cubs or the White Sox?).
Simply put, extremes in personal opinion and belief never stop dividing our individual points-of-view. Are you pro-life or pro-choice? Are you Mac or PC? Do you drink Coke or Pepsi? Is it boxers or briefs? In our tiny rural community, when I was a kid, your family drove either Fords or Chevrolets. There was no such thing as middle ground, no attempt at reaching a moderate position on important topics.
This fact was especially true for those of us who followed NASCAR. Way back in the day, as they say, you were either – once again – a Ford fan or a Chevy fan. If you pushed the issue far enough, you could add Dodge or Plymouth to the mix since another polarizing subject was if you cheered for Pearson or Petty.
Over the years, other situations tended to divide NASCAR Nation down lines of severe opposition: the advent of restrictor plate racing, for example. Regardless of whether the issue was based on safety (the Car of Tomorrow), based on competition (the Chase for the Championship and the new points system), or based on shifts in market trends (the addition of Toyota, “street”-inspired styling added to the 2013 Cup models), the response from race fans always seemed to be based on their love/hate approach to the change. Were new rules and technical innovations making racing less exciting, less dangerous, and therefore less popular?
Consider some recent polarizing issues. Do races have too many caution laps, or not enough? Consequently, do we see too much green flag racing, or not enough? Do fans like two-by-two, tandem drafting on superspeedways, or do they crave the return of pack racing? Or are we seeing too much pack racing in what is a return to “old-school” superspeedway competition? Polarized attitudes and strongly-held opinions leave little room for discussion, and even less room for concession; these debates limit fans to an either/or mode of reasoning, especially when it comes to the state of NASCAR racing.
Think about fan responses to the brothers Busch. Such outpourings of love/hate were once the domain of Dale Earnhardt. Even Earnhardt’s ironclad grasp on such polarized thinking was challenged when Jeff Gordon entered the picture at the end of the 1992 Cup season. Once the young driver with movie star looks began to win races in 1994, attract fans, sell products, and make big money, even “The Intimidator” had to take notice. NASCAR Nation seemed split down the middle when it came to its feelings about the No. 24 DuPont racing team.
The polarization surrounding Jeff Gordon way back then has been replaced by fan attitudes today regarding Jimmie Johnson, crew chief Chad Knaus, the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevy, and that team’s five consecutive Sprint Cup titles. Do you admire what Johnson and Company have accomplished, or do you see their success as a warning that NASCAR is in need of dire correction?
I guess it all depends on your personal opinion.
Now, it’s important to recognize that not all attitudes are either/or propositions that require either/or statements of certainty. When at the grocery store and faced with questions like “cash or credit?” or “paper or plastic?” I’m not going to stomp my feet, gnash my teeth, and accuse the clerk of harboring some secret agenda. These kinds of choices are dictated by such variables as my financial situation at the time and my sense of environmental correctness (although “plastic” has become a more realistic option now that those kinds of bags can be recycled in many locations). Such “minor” attitudes pale in comparison to what NASCAR Nation sees as larger and more relevant concerns, such as whether or not Dale Junior is the true heir apparent to his sainted father, or whether or not Danica Patrick should have a Cup ride, or whether or not Kurt Busch is truly a menace to society, as some believe.
How this week’s article took root was through the appearance of an online comment posted in response to the recent announcement that NASCAR had agreed to sign a “Memorandum of Understanding for Cooperation in Environmental Stewardship” with the Environmental Protection Agency. The online comment possessed a real “here’s another example of Socialism/big government in action!” vibe, which was totally natural given the polarized responses that often accompany decisions made by both NASCAR and federal administrators. But is there some kernel of truth to the commenter’s generalization? Is NASCAR Nation facing yet another polarizing issue for which there’s little-to-no middle ground?
On the surface, the May 21st announcement seemed anything but unusual. Given NASCAR’s desire to spur on its own “green” revolution, signing an “official” pact with the EPA made reasonable sense. What better way to show the seriousness of your environmental consciousness than to put your name on the dotted line for all to see. Mother Earth desperately needs our help, and small changes can inspire big differences, so let’s draw up some papers, have a press conference, and show those doubters out there that NASCAR means business. Goodbye “smoke-and-choke”, hello “clean-and-green!”
The EPA press release said it all:
To raise awareness of green products and solutions that can benefit NASCAR partners and fans, the EPA and the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to work together. Through this agreement, [the] EPA will provide technical assistance and expertise to NASCAR to continue to increase their environmental performance and communicate environmental information in ways that reach the NASCAR family and racing fans across the country. (“NASCAR and EPA Partner on Green Initiatives”, 5/21/2012)
Signing the memorandum for NASCAR was Dr. Michael Lynch (the managing director of green innovation) and Steve Phelps (senior vice president and chief marketing officer). There to lay down ink for the EPA was Jim Jones, an assistant administrator in the EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention (and a guy with an ironically-unfortunate name, given his title…). If you’re working toward making stock car racing a cleaner business, my guess is this division is the one that’ll be watching your every move. Like other initiatives from NASCAR, however, much of the effort is aimed at the fans in the stands; if stock car racing can make the world a better place, NASCAR Nation will have to board the biofuel-powered bus.
First off, racing fans will have to change their consumer habits. According to the EPA/NASCAR memorandum of understanding, the “shared interest in promoting environmental stewardship” will mean having to foster “greater environmental awareness by NASCAR fans.” Much of this initiative means developing the means to “effectively communicate environmental information” to those who follow the sport. As such, executives with both the EPA and NASCAR “believe that a memorandum of understanding (MOU) is the appropriate instrument to provide the structure for meeting” the above “shared goals”. Did they mention that much of the agreement’s hoped-for success depends on getting NASCAR Nation to alter its spending behavior?
Here’s an example of what I mean, as stated in the EPA press release:
One of the areas of focus for the partnership is promoting safer products that have earned EPA’s Design for the Environment (DfE) label. NASCAR can make a difference by using DfE products at racing events and conveying to fans that choosing DfE products is an easy, cost-effective and important choice they can make to protect the health of their families and the planet.
If we look within the memorandum itself, the intent of this idea becomes clearer. “In Design for the Environment,” the document states, “an initial concept as currently envisioned is that with the approval of the producing company NASCAR may feature on a weekly, eg, [sic] DfE Product of the Week, or other periodic basis to be determined a DfE-labeled product.” (EPA/NASCAR MOU, p. 2)
In other words, if I’m reading the memorandum correctly, companies marketing “green” products can be selected by NASCAR (with the EPA’s blessing) to be “the official ‘green’ fill-in-the-blank DfE of NASCAR.”
While sounding positively well-and-good, how does this differ from the current practice of labeling products produced by NASCAR loyalists as being “the official” such-and-such of NASCAR? Will “The official DfE-approved all-natural hand soap of NASCAR” share shelf space at Walmart with “The official hot dog of NASCAR?” I’m guessing yes, but is acceptance of “green” living not also an acceptance of good living?
Overall, the agreement between NASCAR and the EPA revolves around making everyone involved – from teams to product suppliers to fans – more aware of their actions, their decisions, and their impact on the environment. The memorandum seems to make this awareness even more relevant by reinforcing the “NASCAR Green” movement that’s already in place.
When the MOU explores what it calls “event procurement” and the notion of developing “a program to identify and potentially source sustainability-oriented concession products such as napkins, cups, and packaging… for reducing the environmental impact of NASCAR events”, is this agreement not perhaps a means by which the EPA can assume credit for something the sport has already implemented? Collecting and recycling oil and solvents from the track is nothing new, nor is the collection and recycling of bottles and cans – is it appropriate for the EPA to encourage such “entirely voluntary programs” when NASCAR has been encouraging them over the past couple of seasons?
The underlying message of the MOU is pretty simple: the EPA is responsible for “identifying the environmental programs and messages that are best suited for promoting environmental stewardship”, while NASCAR is responsible for “identifying the best mechanisms” to address and encourage said stewardship. One central factor cited in the MOU is the need for NASCAR to promote “greater environmental awareness” amongst its fans.
This push seems to mark a potential tipping point where agreement and acceptance gives way to uncertainty and doubt; fans may want to do their part because they feel it’s right, but might pressure from the EPA – an organization that’s consulting with NASCAR and expecting “annual and other reports or assessments as needed or requested” – be too much? Is the EPA going to be the big government “stick” tied to NASCAR’s organically-grown “carrot”? Many in NASCAR Nation have commented online that they fear this will be the situation, especially if the status quo remains the status quo.
As stated recently in the EPA’s official press release: “The agreement to work together will leverage the work of both organizations’ to have a positive economic and environmental impact that extends far beyond the racetrack.” From the look of the MOU signed on May 21st, and from many of the responses voiced across the internet, I’d say some of that extended “impact” will come to rest on the wallets of NASCAR Nation.
This document may be good for the environment, but it’s also good for added polarization during an already divided season. At least if we can’t agree, we can agree to disagree. Love the EPA/NASCAR agreement? Hate the EPA/NASCAR agreement it? You make the call. It’s only your personal opinion, right?
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NASCAR drove straight into Big Government’s butt and parked.
In other words, BF in his infinite lack of wisdom in deciding to kiss up to the EPA will find NASCAR controlled by Washington.
Polarized beyond repair.
To me this seems trivial to the average NASCAR fan. We are griping about the chase, fake debris cautions, the lack of close racing, wave arounds, the top 35 rule, the COT, etc., (you know the core issues of the sport itself) and NASCAR goes off on a tangent and makes a big deal about “going green”. Polarizing, I think not.
When I first read the announcement my first thought was “BFD, who cares.”
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not anti-green and I do want to see policies implemented that help the environment but I didn’t see this announcement as anything but a PR move by NASCAR. You know, like the diversity announcement they made a decade ago which, so far, has basically resulted in having minorities sing the national anthem and give the command to start the engines.
So, attendance and ratings are down and fans are complaining about the races being parades with little passing and we want NASCAR to fix the on track product and instead they focus on going green. Good plan guys, that will put asses in the seats.
No big deal. Move on.
Of all the things NASCAR has, in my opinion, done to itself to damage itself during the reign of Brian the Clueless the MOU with the EPA is not among them.
I am a person whose world consists mostly of shades of gray. The lately ascendant far right makes me ill and the recently embattled far left does as well. Both are in thrall to the loudest voices on their respective sides all of whom, left or right, are primarily interested in personal acquisition broadly defined based upon their relative popularity with the milling mob making public life today much like, and I think too much like, the courts and gardens of the Palais-Royale once it became the Palais de l‘Égalité.
NASCAR in entering into the MOU was undertaking what I would call “Strategic Inoculation”.
On the ground, for the average fan, the changes whatever they are; the implementation of the “intitatives” whatever they may be will have little impact. However, when the day comes, as the day surely will, when someone somewhere decides her/his prospects for acquisition of power or plenty might be enhanced by making the sport a target on environmental grounds it will have the MOU to fall back on.
To cite but a single example of what I mean I offer this: One could quite easily construct plausible-sounding, if questionable (though the “questionable” character of arguments does not presently seem to matter much), assertions against the sport on the basis of its “carbon footprint”.
The EPA has, in my opinion, done more harm to this country than any good done will every surpass. They MUST be reined in. Nascrap will not survive the EPA onslaught!!
Look at any other sport (or most forms of entertainment in general) and NASCAR’s carbon footprint isn’t notably worse. Look at baseball, 30 teams playing 160 games flying cross country multiple times a week just to play a game for the purpose of entertainment. Then add in all the fans and staff driving to and from those games. Or consider a rock band on a 100 show tour around the world. Then tell me how NASCAR’s carbon footprint is any better or worse.