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.
Matt McLaughlin · Sunday June 24, 2007
The Key Moment - Waiting to see if the No. 42 car crossed the line still under power, which was in doubt right up to the very last moment.
In a Nutshell - Anyone know what the Spanish for "possum" is? I ask because Juan Montoya and the No. 42 team played it, making others think they were short of fuel before going on to win the race anyway.
Dramatic Moment - There was some good racing between Robby Gordon and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. early and Jamie McMurray and Montoya late. But there were hours long stretches of drudgery in between.
What They'll Be Talking About Around the Water Cooler This Week
Wow, the TNT folks sure seemed a lot more impressed that Juan Pablo Montoya won than the victor himself. To an extent, there's a certain class to acting like you belong in Winner's Circle, and Montoya has won at every level of racing he's competed in…but my guess is the Havoline folks would have liked to have seen a bit more emotion; what we heard instead was the Hispanic equivalent of Ryan Newman. Oh, and c'mon TNT, no postrace scroll with the finishing order? Especially with a race that difficult to follow for fans at home with all the different fuel strategies and a big shakeup in the running order on the final lap?
Fuel economy races are boring and NASCAR road course races are boring. Throw them together and you have the perfect storm, a tempest of mind-numbing tedium that's tougher to sort out than cricket rules.
You think Official NASCAR fuel supplier Sunoco was thrilled to see cars with Texaco and Shell emblems finish 1-2 in the race? NASCAR might have to file a one hundred million dollar lawsuit for them, too.
When is NASCAR going to learn how to flag a road course race? Mild single car incidents don't warrant full course cautions, just local cautions like they have in Champ Car racing and F-1. Watching caution laps unfold at a road course has got to be the most boring part of this sport.
OK, so what are the fines and points penalties going to be for Johnson and Gordon and their teams this week after they got caught with illegal cars prior to Sonoma? Is it going to be $100,000 dollars, 100 owner and driver points, and a six week crew chief suspension again? Maybe. But NASCAR had warned that that the fines and penalties were going to keep escalating until they found a way to get the drivers' and teams' attention. And lately, it seems Chad Knaus is a habitual offender.
Related to the above, I suppose the only penalty that really is going to get folks' attention is suspending a driver and team. $100,000 is chump change to most drivers, many of whom own several street cars that cost more than that. With the Chase, the loss of 100 points is almost immaterial to a driver and team running near the top of the standings. Apparently, the penalty for the No. 8 team didn't deter the No. 24 and No. 48 bunches from trying to "mine the gray areas." Also, apparently Kurt Busch's latest penalty didn't keep Ted Musgrave from slamming another driver under caution at Milwaukee on Friday. Of course, there is only one clear-headed punishment for Musgrave's infraction: Ban all Toyota teams from all three series for the rest of the season.
Is Kyle Petty's penalty for dropping the "f bomb" on TV going to rival Gordon's and Johnson's? In other news, this now officially concludes our failed test of the “In-Car Commentator” experiment. Now, can we end the bigger experiment known as TNT? They’re clearly not ready for the big leagues. They have constant audio problems (over and above Larry Mac's failing voice) and let that delightful little tidbit air during a replay. NASCAR, fine the producer…not Kyle.
Were the Hendrick cars that won the other CoT races legal or doctored? Team officials claim each of the winning cars was taken back to NASCAR's R and D lab and gone over under a microscope, with no faults or even concerns noted by Robin Pemberton…but this latest bit of ugliness is going to besmirch those previous winning efforts.
Some folks can come up with even wilder conspiracy theories than me. There's some internet buzz claiming NASCAR only called the violations on the No. 24 team and No. 48 team to light and disqualified them from Friday's activities because A) Gordon is stinking up the points battle and B) NASCAR is sending a less than subtle message they don't like the new balance of power with Hendrick ready to add yet another marquee driver, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., to his team.
Is it just me, or does there seem to more support annually for the notion of dropping the road courses from the Cup schedule? Some people who recently began championing the idea had gone on record not long ago as wanting a road race in the Chase. But if you want to see how fans feel, look at the ratings. Watkins Glen and Sonoma are the two least watched races just about every season. In fact, under the old NASCAR TV contracts, a network had to agree to show one of the road course races in order to gain rights to one of the more popular events.
Wow, it looks like Joe Gibbs is seriously considering a move from Chevy to Toyota. (Either that, or he's using the rumor to get the Bow Tie Brigade to up the ante.) If he does actually switch to Camrys, would Tony Stewart and Denny Hamlin be wise to start pursuing rides elsewhere? A switch to Toyota likely won't do good things to a driver's results, income, popularity or souvenir sales.
C'mon. They know drivers are rushing to make the start of the race from Sonoma, and Busch series officials have cars parked on the helipad? Sounds like they were sampling some of that stuff that made Milwaukee famous, and I ain't talking about Harleys. Who ultimately made the call to have Hamlin replace Almirola in the car? It wasn't popular with the fans.
I've heard of races being determined by fuel strategy, but I've never seen a driver almost miss qualifying because his pilot gambled on a short load of fuel flying him to the event. Carl Edwards had to make an extra pit stop aboard his jet to get to Milwaukee and once he finally landed, he had to sprint to make it to his car just as it was pushed to the line.
The Hindenburg Award For Foul Fortune
Nobody appeared to have a car that could handle Robby Gordon's Ford (with the possible exception of the No. 20). Well, poor pit strategy in the No. 7 pits saw to it nobody had to.
Jamie McMurray wasn't as lucky as Montoya. He ran out of gas prior to the final lap. Kyle Petty also had a strong run spoiled by running out of gas on the last lap.
How bad must it feel for Aric Almirola to get credited with his first Busch series victory after earning the pole and dominating the early stages of the race only to have to get out of the car? Denny Hamlin drove the car to victory despite losing a lap making the driver change. Something tells me we haven't heard the end of this story; in a way, it's a perfect microcosm of what's wrong with the Busch series, with a Busch regular denied a win by a top tier Cup driver.
Boris Said's chances at a win went out the window when he stalled on pit and had to be pushed by his crew to restart his car. (If having the team push the car down pit road under caution while other cars are entering and exiting the pits isn't illegal, it ought to be. That was a near catastrophe.)
Matt Kenseth looked like he's accidentally entered a demolition derby on Sunday.
The "Seven Come Fore Eleven" Award For Fine Fortune
Somehow, Montoya pitted on Lap 68 and made the final 42 laps on a tank of fuel despite the new smaller fuel tank…and a thirsty Dodge engine under the hood, no less!
After missing practice and qualifying on Friday and starting out back on Sunday, a seventh place finish was a stellar result for Jeff Gordon. Too bad he'll lose most of those points this week. Add in the fact Gordon welcomed his first child into the world earlier this week with both baby and mom doing fine, Gordon was clearly more elated than Montoya.
Jeff Burton's team found a broken suspension piece after final practice yesterday, which could have ended his day on Sunday. Instead, he went on to finish third.
An off track excursion on the first lap could have ended Tony Stewart's day, but he soldiered back to a sixth place finish and didn't even blame one of the Busch brothers for his excursion into the dirt.
It was a pretty good day for Richard Childress Racing with their drivers finishing 2-3-4 due to solid fuel mileage.
What's the Points?
Jeff Gordon opened up his points lead over Denny Hamlin to 271. The Top 5 drivers, Gordon, Hamlin, Johnson, Kenseth, and Jeff Burton hold serve pending penalties later this week.
For the third consecutive week, Tony Stewart and Carl Edwards swapped sixth and seventh place, with Stewart now having the advantage.
Further back, Kyle Busch muscled Martin Truex, Jr. out of the Top 10. Truex is now eleventh and Busch tenth.
Notable drivers moving forward include Robby Gordon (up five spots to 24th), Ricky Rudd (up four spots to 29th), Greg Biffle (up three spots to seventeenth), and Ryan Newman (up two spots to thirteenth).
On the downward side of things, Bobby Labonte fell two spots to nineteenth, while Reed Sorenson dropped three spots to 23rd.
Overall Rating (On a scale of one to six beer cans with one being a stinker and a six pack an instant classic) – We'll give this one two glasses of screw top wine with a vinegary aftertaste. It's not real Cup racing, I don't care who says otherwise.
Next Up - NASCAR's summer doldrums hit low gear with a trip to New Hampshire International Speedway, a race best known as a good nap spoiled.
©2000 - 2008 Matt McLaughlin and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
Nice recap of the Sonoma joke, err, race!
1. right on about fuel mileage, I want to see a race on the track, not see who can operate a calculator better! Since NASCAR loves the yellow flag, why not throw a competition yellow every 38 laps or so on the Sonoma road course so EVERYONE can fuel up and then race for position?
2. ban Toyota in total? where do you come up with such trash? Why not ban Tony Stewart for his mouth?
3. TNT! ABSOLUTELY LOUSY!
4. Hamlin/Rockwell & Almirola? What a lousy miove on this teams part!
They kept saying it was because they, the sponsor, was headquartered in the area that they changed drivers halfway thru the race! What a joke, I know I will be avoiding ANYTHING with the Rockwell name on it!
Stupid is, stupid does! (or something like that)
5. JUAN PABLO MONTOYA! Just how many times during a broadcast do we have to hear that?? BARF!
6. Shouldn’t the Hendrick boys be banned from the rest of the season? After all if your willing to throw Toyota to the dogs, how about the real CHEATERS IN NASCAR?
7. Right on about the final race results on TNT! Had to go to the internet to get the finishing order!
8. Go Sunoco! Kinda got shutout huh? GREAT!
9. Road Racing is GREAT! (well, all except under the NASCAR banner!)Full course yellows? How sick! takes the cars 5 minutes to make a lap under the yellow!
Matt, good review except for the anti-road course stuff. I think NASCAR needs to continue the road courses and add dirt tracks as well. The drivers’ talent needs to be tested somewhere besides the cookie cutter tracks. I agree about the road course cautions. F1 cleared a wreck a while back during one lap of green. NASCAR just wants the commercial time. The only penalty that would have worked for Hendrick’s teams has already been missed. They should have been sent home, just like Mikey should have been sent home at Daytona. Finally, Larry Mac’s audio was a problem? I was hoping he would completely lose his voice.
Great observation about the cautions Matt. I was furious how NASCAR was throwing full course caution for a stupid debris instead of throwing a local yellow. Can’t they take cue from other racing series?
I agree with you totally on TNT and their coverage. It is a joke! I thought it ironic that one time they came back from a commercial and showed the race for about 30 seconds. During this time, they talked about the “wide open coverage” that they would be doing in a few weeks. As soon as they finished talking about that, they went to commercials again.
Taking fuel mileage racing away is basically taking the RACE out of it. The race was 110 laps, 1st to finish wins. Well guess what? The circumstances were the same for every car yesterday. If you don’t like that, watch drag racing where fuel is never a problem.
I thought you would have been entertained by watching the Car of Tomorrow wallow, skid, and swerve through the turns at Sonoma. Towards the end cars were locking up wheels and sending plumes of tire smoke up. McMurray almost got the lead of the race back when JPM went wide coming out of a turn near the end of the race. I think you coined the phrase “Like watching elephants trying to ballet dance” to describe stock cars on road courses.
To be fair, there was some “bumping and grinding” out there, and Jamie did slam the door (and crinkle some sheet metal) on one of JPM’s attempts to pass.
As my wife said: “The IRL race from Iowa was like a NASCAR race, and the NASCAR race was like a Formula 1 race today. Too wierd”
i have to agree with those that support the road races (my wife didn’t mind the race and found it more interesting, for what it’s worth). the fuel strategy at the end was probably the most entertaining part. love ‘em or hate ‘em, “el possumo” made it work where JMcM and many others couldn’t! either that was good fuel saving or they sure knew how to fool the field.
btw, i like how Musgrave said he couldn’t get the car to turn down pit road after his accident. don’t toss ALL Toyota, just KEEP Bodine!!! GO ONION!
“Kyle Pettyâ€™s penalty for dropping the â€œf bombâ€ on TV”
I’m reminded of the 1989 race at Sonoma when Dick Johnson (Australia) got into it with Richard Petty, and blurted out ‘you pr!ck’ on the in-car. I guess its just this track that brings it out!
That was edited out on the replay after commercial!
i support continuing with road racing in principle, though i’m coming to dread sonoma infineon a bit. but there’s a lot of places i’d sooner see dropped than the glen … nh comes to mind. after all, were the ‘shiners so dear to historians of the sport running on ovals? it’s a great test of driver ability and versatility.
but i agree the product is inconsistent. i wonder, since the teams have to construct special road course cars anyway, if nascar’s ever considered rules changes for the road courses that would make the cars seem a little less out-of-place behemoths through the twisties. lower weight requirements, bigger brakes, maybe even lower overall height …
Ok… so you don’t like Sears Point… er, uhh, Sonoma. Don’t tell me you like all the slot car tracks like Texas and Kansas, Matt.
Matt… I’ve read you for a long time but your gripes about the track don’t add up! The nastier the track, the more demanding of the driver. In essence, you sound like a NASCAR saleman in your arguments.
Give the cars 429 engines and put ‘em on skinny tires; watch the motor costs plummet (who needs a high tech motor when most of the power gets wasted?).
Was Sonoma a great NASCAR entertainment presentation package as a 500 miler at say, Atlanta? Nope.
Kyle Petty fined? For what? He was just blind sided and was talking to his crew, not to the TV audience. The TNT idiots then replayed that clip without editing it. Remember that was not live, it was a replay.
If they fine Kyle they should fine every driver who swears on the in-car audio. There is a big difference between looking straight into a camera and dropping an F-bomb and having someone creep into your private audio unannounced.
And what about that Tart singing the National Anthem? Hey chickie, they were applauding the song not you, just finish singing before you take your bow.