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.
As the onslaught of summer approaches in advance of Independence Day, and as the kids require much more time and energy (of which they have a lot. As for me? Not so much….), I thought it would be a good time to clean off what used to be my desk and make sense of NASCAR as we reach the halfway point of the season.
And what an odd trip it’s been thus far. From monsoons and jet dryer explosions to driver suspensions and the return of the Prodigal Son to victory lane, the 2012 Sprint Cup season has offered its share of thrills and chills –-or has it been more green than yellow, or more parading than passing?. It depends on your frame of mind, I guess.
My frame of mind lately has been keeping order. With my daughters coming to visit from North Carolina for a few weeks and with my wife suffering from back trouble the past week, I’ve been trying to maintain home and hearth while wearing my other hats of being a professor and a writer. Writing often allows me the most by way of guilty pleasure, and NASCAR always provides plenty of material for me to explore, but sometimes the sheer volume of goings-on in the sport forces me to stop and assess what’s what and who’s who. From the events of the past several weeks, I’d say we’re at just such a point.
So, what should I write about?
People often wonder how a writer actually writes. My family seems to assume that essays simply flow brilliantly and swiftly from my fingertips after I achieve mental harmony with the universe. My students, on the other hand, usually envision the act of writing as it’s depicted in movies: the thoughtful, yet tortured soul holed up in the garret of an old house, surrounded by dusty books, faded photographs, and tragic memories. All of us writers, according to this popular stereotype, spend our lives combining internal demons (like love-gone-cold) with external demands (like a craving for our vice of choice – mine’s coffee).
I blame Robin Williams. His portrayal of Garp in The World According to Garp (1982) painted writers with a highly introspective and eccentric brush, while his portrayal of John Keating in Dead Poets Society (1989) changed the expectations students have of their English instructors. After twenty-plus years of teaching, I’ve never once jumped atop my desk.
The truth is, the professional writers I know are more like Williams’ TV portrayal of Mork, as on the 1980s sit-com Mork and Mindy. Our internal demons usually take a slightly manic form of writer’s block, while our external demands typically are strict publishing deadlines (the achievement of which is fueled by major doses of the vices-of-choice mentioned above). Writing is more than translating thoughts into words and recording those words in the form of a computer document; as I’ve been told by editors all around the business, “Your writing has to say something. If you’re managing that, you’re making a difference.”
I offer this advice to my students each and every semester, especially when they’re learning about argument; the emphasis is to challenge conventional thinking and open readers up to new ideas and perspectives. This is how I see my brethren who cover NASCAR Nation; the idea is to explore the “old” ways of the sport and try to be an advocate for “new” approaches to how things are done, whether through commentary and criticism or through the “beat” reporting of hard, cold facts.
That said, I looked at my cluttered desk the other day and saw stacks of notes – paper “seeds” intended to grow into future columns and essays. As I pawed and sorted through the debris, I threw a caution flag for myself; no “phantom yellow” here – it was time to clean up the mess and get back to business. So here it goes….
Topic One: In response to my buddy Matt McLaughlin’s piece last week addressing Hollywood’s ignorance/apathy toward films dealing with NASCAR, I jotted down the words “1963 Daytona 500”. I agree: the 1992 Cup season finale at Atlanta had all the makings of classic cinematic storytelling (including Richard Petty dropping the F-bomb via in-car audio on national television). But if a director ever wants to craft a NASCAR-related, “Cinderella”-type feature film, he/she should consider a docudrama about the 1963 running of The Great American Race.
The plot is pretty well-established among NASCAR fans: Marvin Panch is injured when he wrecks his Maserati during a Speedweeks’ sports car event and is pulled from the burning car by a journeyman stock car driver from Iowa named DeWayne “Tiny” Lund. Panch, from his hospital bed, asks his car owners – the now-Hall of Famous Wood Brothers – to let Lund to drive his No. 21 Ford in the 500. Tiny drives the car with consummate skill and wisdom, conserving his fuel and tires to beat the handsome-and popular Fred Lorenzen, and two-time NASCAR champion Ned Jarrett, to the checkered flag by 24 seconds. Lund wins the race on one set of Firestone tires in a top-five sweep by Ford, averaging 151.556 MPH for the event.
If the folks at Disney can tell the inspirational stories of athletes like the ill-fated Marshall University football team and Triple Crown winner Secretariat, the tale of a true underdog who gets one shot at glory and nails it against overwhelming odds seems like a no-brainer. Consider the fact that Talladega Nights was launched into full production by a six-word pitch to studio executives (“Will Ferrell as a NASCAR driver”), and we understand why truly relevant stock car stories – and that includes Matt’s selection of the 1992 Hooters 500 – will never see the bright lights of the big screen.
Topic Two: I found a sales receipt with “casting choices?” scrawled across it. This has to do with a little game I play every now and then where I try to come up with reasonable choices to play particular figures from history or sports. That said, I’ve made the following selections for big budget motorsports and NASCAR films….
For historical motorsports scripts, I’d offer the role of Barney Oldfield – America’s “Speed King” – to Randy Quaid. To make racing scenes more realistic, the role of Yale-educated driver David Bruce Brown could go to Tom Cruise (provided some make-up was used to lower his older appearance a bit – he was ideal for this role circa 1990).
For a film about the late Dale Earnhardt, I’d talk with Barry Pepper about reprising his role from the 2004 made-for-TV movie 3: The Dale Earnhardt Story. When working with a more contemporary NASCAR screenplay, and needing to cast an actor to play Tony Stewart, I’d select John Krasinski from The Office. The role of Jeff Gordon could be played by Kevin Zegers, who appeared in Transamerica (2005) and The Jane Austen Book Club (2007). If scheduling or contractual issues arose with Zegers, I’d talk with Emile Hirsch of Speed Racer (2008) fame as a possible replacement. For a biopic about Kurt Busch, I’d cast Shia LaBeouf of the Transformers franchise to play the leading role (this actor supposedly shares a similar temperament with James Finch’s driver, too. It’s called “method acting!”).
Topic Three: Speaking of Kurt Busch, I came across a piece of notebook paper that read “KuBu at RFR again?” With all manner of silly season rumors drifting about, this idea may not have been too far-fetched. Perhaps a second go-round on “The Cat in The Hat’s” payroll was what was needed to get Busch to straighten up and fly right. Hard lessons were learned all-around back then, but maybe struggles can indeed lead to triumphs. This is a moot point, however, since Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. is going to the No. 17 Ford next year. Which leads me to….
Topic Four: A statement stub with “driver + $$ = job” written in the address line. While not approaching the realm of revelatory thinking, it does speak to current conditions within the sport. Open-wheel racing operated this way for decades, as wealthy wanna-bes brought blank checks to places like Indianapolis and bought rides that were usually out of their league.
NASCAR makes such wheeling and dealing seem less obvious, even though the same business has been going on in meeting rooms for years. A driver is only as good as the money backing him (or her), as a talent like Clint Bowyer can tell you. When General Mills dropped the No. 33 Chevrolet, Bowyer and team were done at Richard Childress Racing. My question here is….
Topic Five: Does lineage trump loyalty? Sure, the blood running through your veins means a lot if you’re royalty, but what about if you’re merely working for royalty? If the future of the No. 33 RCR Chevy was so delicately predicated on funding that the team folded once Cheerios rolled off the car, how is it that Austin Dillon (who is a talented up and comer in his own right) wound up this season in the No. 33 car with American Ethanol signage plastered across the fenders?
Sure, Dillon’s a very gifted young man, but is he not also the car owner’s grandson? Clint Bowyer was able to land on his feet at Michael Waltrip Racing because of his experience, skill, and personality, but he also scrambled to bring some of 5-hour Energy’s money to the dance with him. Bowyer’s bloodline meant little to MWR, even if his blood pressure rose during the green-white-checkered sprint to Victory Lane last Sunday.
Topic Six: A newspaper clipping about Nelson Piquet, Jr.’s Nationwide Series win at Road America last Saturday. The article was interesting for all the typical reasons (first win, second-generation driver, tough road course, competitive field), but it was the role played by social media that caught my attention. After learning that Piquet, Jr. had qualified for the pole in Wisconsin, Brazilian race fans used social media to force a soccer game off national television in exchange for live coverage of the NNS race.
Brazilians are serious about their love of automobile racing (as proof, I suggest you check out the 2010 award-winning documentary Senna. I showed the film in my global popular culture course last year, and students were openly crying by the end.), but they also seem acutely aware of the power wielded by effective use of social media. Now if only NASCAR Nation could harness such technology to achieve truly positive change within the sport. Imagine what American television coverage might truly become!
Topic Seven: A sales receipt from Culver’s, Home of the Butterburger. Note to Matt Kenseth – have your people contact this food franchise and another Wisconsin-based corporate powerhouse (maybe one that builds motorcycles). Having a “local boy” go to Joe Gibbs Racing with sacks of cash from companies like these – firms that resonate with NASCAR fans of all ages – might just seal a possible JGR deal. It’s always good to tie up those loose ends.
And that’s what I did; I tied up these loose ends when not checking on my injured spouse, running the vacuum, washing dishes, and having the occasional lightsaber duel with my son. A clean desk is a happy desk, even though we’re about to enter the second half of the 2012 season. Like everything else in NASCAR, things will not remain neat-and-tidy for very long.
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As usual, a well written and enjoyable read.
Very good article but, why does everyone assume Matt is going to JGR, I think Penske is a much more logical choice and a better fit
Mark, next week you can write about us, this day, loosing our constitutional right to self determination. What this means NASCAR should have never jumped in bed with the EPA. In the future the EPA can dictate to NASCAR what type of car and engine they can use and there is not a damn thing the fans can do about it. Ten years from now Stenhouse Jr. will be driving around the track in one of those dinky type of cars they have in Europe.