NASCAR Changes Qualifying Format
posted by Summer Bedgood
Tuesday March 11, 2014
Following safety concerns regarding NASCAR’s new qualifying format, the sanctioning body is introducing some changes in preparation for this weekend’s race at Bristol Motor Speedway. According to the Associated Press, NASCAR is banning teams from cool-down laps after their qualifying attempts, but will instead be allowed to hook up cool-down units to the engine through hood flaps.
Late Tuesday afternoon, a release from NASCAR fully detailed the changes. Teams will be allowed a single cool down unit to be connected through the right or left side hood flap, however the hood must remain closed. Additionally, two crew members will be allowed over the wall while cooling down.
“The qualifying is new to all of us and as we have said over the past several weeks, we are looking at it from all aspects,” said Robin Pemberton, vice president of competition and racing development. “Following discussions, both internally and with others in the garage area, we moved quickly to make a few revisions that will be effective starting with our two national series events at Bristol Motor Speedway this weekend. We believe this will only enhance and improve what has demonstrated to be an exciting form of qualifying for our fans, competitors and others involved with the sport. Moving forward we will continue to look at it and address anything else that we may need to as the season unfolds.”
The move comes after three weeks of NASCAR’s new knockout qualifying system, where multiple cars are allowed to make qualifying attempts at the same time instead of the traditional one-car-at-a-time procedure. Drivers and teams had complained that the new rules didn’t allow them to cool their engines down on pit road, and the cool-down laps caused a dangerous situation with slower cars staying on the track at the same time that other cars were running by them at much higher speeds.
The rule will begin this weekend in Bristol, a track that has a much narrower racing surface than Daytona, Phoenix, and Las Vegas.
Kurt Busch to Attempt The Indianapolis-Charlotte Double
posted by Phil Allaway
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Andretti Autosport announced this morning that Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet in the Sprint Cup Series, will attempt the Indianapolis 500 in a fifth entry for the IndyCar Series team. Once the Indianapolis 500 is completed, Busch will fly from Indianapolis to Charlotte, jump in his No. 41 Chevrolet and compete in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Busch considers the opportunity to do the double as an old-school throwback moment.
“This is really to challenge myself within motorsports,” Busch said in Andretti Autosport’s press release. “Perhaps I am a bit of an old-school racer; a throwback, I guess. I enjoyed the era of drivers racing different cars and testing themselves in other series. It is tough to do now for a variety of factors, but when the opportunity is there, I want to do it. While NASCAR is my home, I have been fortunate to compete in Pro Stock on the NHRA circuit a number of years ago and test a V8 Supercar. This opportunity was a talk with Michael [Andretti] over dinner one night, a “What if,” and now it’s becoming a reality for me to drive in the Indy 500 with Andretti Autosport. It’s literally a dream come true. To go to the famous Brickyard with the iconic Andretti name, it doesn’t get much cooler or better than that.”
Busch will be doing the Indianapolis-Charlotte double as a Memorial Day mission to men and women serving in the U.S. Military via the Armed Forces Foundation. Fans can contribute to the cause by texting AFF to 50555 to donate $10.
Busch, who has never raced an IndyCar, passed Rookie Orientation at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year during a test session. At the time, Busch was more or less testing the Dallara DW12 for fun.
Busch will be the fourth driver to attempt the Indianapolis-Charlotte double. John Andretti was the first driver to attempt it in 1994. After finishing four laps down in tenth in Indianapolis, Andretti crashed and had engine problems in the 600. Robby Gordon has attempted the double five times, most recently in 2004. However, Gordon failed to make it to Charlotte on time and did not start the 600 in 2000 (P.J. Jones started Gordon’s No. 13 Ford in that instance). Finally, Tony Stewart has attempted the double twice (most recently in 2001) and is the only driver to ever complete all 1100 miles. Neither of the three drivers has won either leg of the double. The best finishes are Stewart and Gordon’s sixth-place finishes at the Indianapolis 500 (although Gordon’s came in 2000, the year he didn’t make it to Charlotte in time to start the Coca-Cola 600), and Stewart’s fourth-place finish in the 2001 Coca-Cola 600.
Danica Patrick, Justin Allgaier Talk About Phoenix Incident
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
A disappointing start to the year for Danica Patrick won’t include continued conflict. Patrick met with rookie Justin Allgaier Sunday, shortly after the Phoenix Cup race after a wreck ruined both drivers’ days. Patrick, who was critical of the No. 51 car on the radio, claiming Allgaier was “driving all over the track” appeared receptive to a conversation that quickly settled differences over what will be a long season.
“She was just upset because she got involved in the crash that we had,’’ said Allgaier to the Motor Racing Network. “She says she’s been through this and that she felt like I needed to settle down at that point. I explained my position on why everything happened. I think she understood where I was coming from. It doesn’t fix either one of our racecars. It doesn’t fix either one of our days. Unfortunately, we were both having pretty decent days.’’
Allgaier wound up 30th due to the incident while Patrick was 36th. The incident, which was caused by Allgaier’s spin also involved the No. 32 team and Travis Kvapil, which wound up 38th after sustaining heavy damage.
Camping World Close to Extending Title Sponsorship of NCWTS
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Marcus Lemonis, CEO of Camping World, Grand Marshal of Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway, and star of CNBC’s “The Profit,” made the announcement over the weekend that the retailer is very close to announcing a deal that would continue its title sponsorship of NASCAR’s Truck Series. The original agreement with NASCAR is scheduled to conclude after the 2015 season.
According to the sanctioning body, no formal contract has been signed, but “the agreement between the two parties has proven to be a beneficial one.”
“In about a month, we’ll be announcing a significant extension to that contract. It’s been great for us,” said Camping World’s Lemonis in a statement. “The NASCAR relationship has worked well for Camping World. When we started, we had 35 stores. Now, we’re up to 120 stores. As we travel the country and we meet new customers in stores, they always are very appreciative of our relationship with NASCAR. It’s been good.”
Gaining a long-term commitment from Camping World to sponsor the Truck Series would be a relief for NASCAR, which is set to lose Nationwide Insurance as title sponsor for the NASCAR Nationwide Series at the end of the 2014 season. The sponsorship of the Cup Series by Sprint runs through 2016.
The NCWTS is back in action on March 29th at 2:30 PM (ET) when the trucks visit Martinsville Speedway in the Kroger 250, which can be seen on Fox Sports 1. Ratings for the season opener were up 11 percent.
Harvick Takes Win At Phoenix In Second Race With New Team
posted by Justin Tucker
Monday March 3, 2014
Phoenix International Raceway has become Kevin Harvick’s home away from home. Sunday Afternoon was no exception as Harvick charged to the front early and would dominate for much of the day, leading 224 of the scheduled 312 laps to record his record fifth win on the one mile oval and his third win in the last four races at Phoenix.
Harvick, coming off of a disappointing Speedweeks which was capped by a last lap crash in the Daytona 500 in his debut with Stewart-Haas Racing, set the tone on Saturday by winning both practices while having the best 5 and 10-lap averages in the first practice of the day on Saturday. On Sunday, Harvick and his No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet was nothing short of flawless as he was able to hold Dale Earnhardt, Jr. by .489 seconds after a late race restart to claim his 24th career Sprint Cup Series victory.
“Man, this is awesome,” Harvick said after his dominant victory on Sunday. “Man, this just solidifies so many things and so many decisions. It’s been so much work with all the time and effort that these guys (the crew) have put in—but what a race car.”
Stewart Haas Racing co-owner Gene Haas shared in Harvick’s excitement after the race.
“It took long enough,” Haas joked. “This is phenomenal. I think there was a lot of skepticism last year about what myself and Tony (Stewart) what we were up to, was there a lot of madness to this. Quite frankly, it’s a great team, there’s a lot of synergy at the shop, people working together. I don’t know what we did, but I think we put together a great organization.”
Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt, Jr. continued his hot start to the 2014 season. Earnhardt Jr. would finish second on Sunday, marking his seventh consecutive top 10 finish since the end of the 2013 season. Earnhardt Jr. was pleased with the effort after a coast-to-coast whirlwind week after winning his second Daytona 500 and also gave great praise to the efforts of Harvick and the No. 4 team.
“I’ve got to congratulate Kevin. Those guys were two-tenths faster than everyone all weekend in practice. They were just phenomenal,” Earnhardt said. “To be able to run with them all day was a big confidence builder for us.”
Joining Harvick and Earnhardt in the top 5 of The Profit on CNBC 500K were Brad Keselowski with his second consecutive top 3 run of 2014 in third. Keselowski’s Team Penske teammate Joey Logano would finish fourth, and Jeff Gordon would come home fifth in his No. 24 Pepsi Max Chevrolet.
Jimmie Johnson finished in sixth, followed by Ryan Newman with a nice rebound after Daytona in seventh. Carl Edwards would carry the banner for Roush Fenway Racing by finishing eighth, Kyle Busch was ninth, and Jamie McMurray would finish tenth.
A look at the Profit on CNBC 500K by the numbers. There were 14 lead changes among eight different drivers, there were eight cautions for 39 laps which slowed the race pace to 109.229 MPH.
Next Sunday, the Sprint Cup Series heads to Sin City and the Las Vegas Motor
Starting Lineup: The Profit On CNBC 500K
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday March 1, 2014
Drivers in RED (i) are those ineligible to collect Sprint Cup points
Daytona 500 TV Ratings Down
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Wednesday February 26, 2014
What was the longest weather delay in Daytona 500 history turned out to bring NASCAR lower ratings and TV viewership Sunday night than expected. According to a report Monday from FOX Sports, the 56th running of the Daytona 500 airing at 8 PM (ET) posted a 5.6/10 national household rating/share which averaged 9.3 million viewers. That’s down 44 percent from last year’s 9.9, easily making it the least-watched Daytona 500 of all-time.
Due to the six-hour, twenty-two minute rain delay in Daytona, the race was up against the primetime coverage of the Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony from Sochi, Russia on NBC (15.25 million viewers). FOX also reported that 69% of the pre-rain delay viewers of the race, which began at 1 PM (ET) kept tuning in.
In comparison, the 2013 Daytona 500 on FOX was the most-watched race in five years, posting a 9.9/22 rating/share, commanding 16.7 million viewers. The Daytona 500 in 2012, the first to ever be run on a Monday and in the primetime slot did a 7.7/13 overnight rating/share which resulted in 13.67 million households viewing the race according to Nielsen TV ratings data.
Earnhardt, Jr. Claims Second Daytona 500 Victory
posted by Justin Tucker
Wednesday February 26, 2014
Ten years is a long time. For Dale Earnhardt, Jr., it felt like an eternity. NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver endured many near misses and close calls at the Daytona 500 since his only win in the Great American Race in 2004. Earnhardt had finished second in two of his last three Daytona 500s coming into Sunday’s race. He was also riding the tail of a 55-race winless streak, dating back to Michigan in 2012.
However nothing would stop Dale Jr. on Sunday, not even a 6 hour and 22 minute rain delay from capturing his second Daytona 500 win. Earnhardt Jr. led a race-high 54 laps on the evening and used some timely drafting help from teammates Jimmie Johnson and, on the final restart, Jeff Gordon to separate from the pack and secure the victory.
“Winning this race is the greatest feeling that you could feel in this sport besides accepting the trophy for the championship,” said a jubilant Earnhardt after pulling into Victory Lane. “We could fight off battle after battle. We got a little help at the end there from Jeff to get away on the restart. This is amazing. I can’t believe this is happening. I never take this for granted, man because it doesn’t happen twice, let alone once.”
Aside from the race itself the big story of the race was the 6 hour and 22 minute red flag, which threatened to move the race to Monday evening (had the race been postponed, FOX Sports’ Chris Myers had tweeted that the race would resume at 5:00pm EST). However, Mother Nature would cooperate and would allow the race to be run under different conditions from which they practiced this week. Once the race resumed, the intensity picked up from the changing track conditions. This allowed the pack to race side-by-side and at times 3-wide up to seven rows deep.
Joining Earnhardt Jr. in the top 5 for the 2014 Daytona 500 were: Denny Hamlin who closed out a spectacular Speedweeks in second, Brad Keselowski in third, Jeff Gordon in fourth, and Jimmie Johnson who overcome two wrecks leading up to the 500 in fifth.
Rounding out the top 10 in the Daytona 500 were Matt Kenseth in sixth, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. in seventh and Greg Biffle would bring his No. 16 Ford home in eighth. Austin Dillon would come home ninth in his first Cup Series race in the iconic No. 3 for Richard Childress Racing, while Casey Mears would round out the top 10.
A couple of major contenders for the Daytona 500 win would see their hopes dashed early on as Martin Truex, Jr. would blow up just 30 laps into the race, relegating him to a 43rd-place finish in his debut for Furniture Row Racing. Crew chief Todd Berrier was already in Nashville for a test session before the race was even over. Kyle Busch, meanwhile would have a pit road violation just before halfway and would spend much of the race battling back from that mistake. Busch would eventually finish 19th after leading 19 laps.
Danica Patrick would also be bit by bad luck as she was caught up in a multi-car wreck on lap 145. Patrick would lead her second consecutive Daytona 500, but wouldn’t have the finish to show for it finishing 40th. Tony Stewart would encounter a frustrating evening as well, with a fuel pickup problem derailing his quest for his first Daytona 500 win. Stewart would finish 35th.
A look at the Daytona 500 by the numbers. There were 42 lead changes among 18 drivers, while seven cautions for 39 laps would slow the race pace to 145.290 MPH.
Next week, the Sprint Cup Series heads to the “diamond in the desert,” Phoenix International Raceway for The Profit on CNBC 500K. The Green flag is scheduled for 3:15pm EST.
Nationwide Series Post-Race Quotes: Drive4COPD 300
posted by Thomas Bowles
Tuesday February 25, 2014
Frontstretch Interviews – Courtesy Mike Neff
ELLIOTT SADLER – FINISHED 4th
Thoughts on the race?
It’s definitely a lot different racing than what we’re used to.
Comfortable with it?
Yeah, it’s just different. You’re worried about what you’re doing, but you’re also worried about what everyone else is doing and they’re not doing more than you’re doing. Physically pushing a guy is way better than just riding so you just gotta time it right and push it to the edge.
Happy to start the year with a top 5?
Yeah. Hell, that was the worst we ran all day, I think. I have no idea how they put the 3 car in front of us on that last restart. I hadn’t seen the 3 car hardly all day. When they put us from fifth to sixth, on the outside line, it just really boxed us in. I would have really restarted behind my teammate and given him a good push to the front. Anyways, it is what it is; we’ll take it and move on.
Looked like you were up front all day.
The guys did a good job. We had a fast race car. Great pit stops, just really proud of these guys. The car’s in one piece and we can take it to Talladega now. Great job by my guys. A lot of effort came into coming down here to Daytona and giving ourselves a shot to win. We had that chance to be up front and make some things happen. Fifth is not what we want, but we’ll take it and move on.
Bumping vs Pushing?
It’s way harder. You don’t want to lay on the guy in front of you, so it’s tough racing. A lot different than what we’re used to, ‘cause you gotta go. You gotta drag the brake too ‘cause you don’t want to hit the guys and you don’t want to stay on him. It’s a lot harder mentally than what we’ve done in the past.
Car was strong all day. Pushing vs. Bumping, is that harder to do than just getting on somebody and pushing them?
Yeah, it is a little bit. When you bump ‘em, you jar ‘em, it kinda jacks ‘em a little bit. It’s a little more abrupt, obviously. I thought it was OK there at the end. It was certainly fun and hopefully entertaining. But a little bit of a struggle in the early part of the race and the midpart of the race to see a good race. And that’s unfortunate for the fans. You can’t do that the whole race, you can’t tear up your stuff, knock your grill in, overheat your motor, all that stuff so there’s no sense in doing all that until you get down to the last lap. The 7 and the 6, they did a good job. Man, the 7 really held the 22 and I tight on the bottom. I was rubbing his door and hitting the apron at the same time, no room whatsoever. So it was good; wish we were the ones who could have won but a lot better now than what we were last year.
Going home in one piece makes it a lot better, right?
Yeah. My back feels good. My foot feels good. Past years here, I’ve been going home with pain so I’m alright.
Connect with Mike!
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!
Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
Editor’s Note: Matt left us one more column before taking a leave of absence, a column that remains dear to all of our hearts for any fan who remembers one fateful weekend in July, 1993. On the fourteen-year anniversary of Davey Allison’s death, it’s only appropriate for this two-part series to appear: the following is Part One of a column that originally ran on the old SpeedWorld site many years ago.
If there was ever a child born to be a race car driver, it was Davey Allison. If there was ever a race car driver who never forgot his roots, and always had a few moments to sign an autograph, answer a question or smile for a photo with a fan, it was Davey Allison. And if there was ever a hero of the sport who left us too soon, it was Davey Allison.
Perhaps it was only natural Davey wanted to drive race cars since before he could say the word. His father, Bobby, was one of NASCAR’s greatest stars, and the titular head of the storied Alabama gang. His Uncle Donnie was also one of the all time greats of the sport. Allison’s earliest memories of childhood were riding with his dad in an old pick up truck, looking over his shoulder at a beat up old modified racer, and thinking that old car had to be the most beautiful thing in the world.
Bobby Allison did not hand his son a race car when Davey got to be of age to drive one. Instead Davey was allowed to use the shop, and given a job helping out so he could afford to build his car if he spent his money wisely. By that point Bobby could easily have afforded to have given his son a car, but there was a lesson Davey needed to learn. No one had handed Bobby anything when he was a young man. Building and wrenching on his own car gave Davey a feel for how a race car and its chassis operated, and how to set them up for a race, a skill that would remain valuable even when he had reached a point in his career someone else turned the wrenches for him. The ability to communicate with a crew chief and explain what the car is doing and what needs to be changed is a valuable asset to a driver. Having to sit out a few races because he didn’t have the money in his pocket to repair a car he wrecked was a valuable lesson to the younger Allison about not tearing up equipment. Having to save every nickel and dime and go without some of the things he might have liked to have was a lesson about the sacrifices a racing career is going to require. And there was another lesson taught early in Davey’s career as well. He became so consumed with his car and his racing, Davey’s grades in school, which had never been spectacular, began dropping. Bobby laid down the law. Davey had to keep up his grades or the race car stayed parked. Allison became a much better student. Meanwhile out on the race track, the young driver was earning Straight A’s.
Success was not long in coming, despite the low budget operation Davey managed with a few of his friends, and occasional advice from his father. But that success was not enough. Davey wanted to move up to the big leaguesâ€¦.Winston Cup.
Davey Allison finally got his chance to drive a Cup car at 24 years of age. Hoss Ellington made a Chevy that had been driven by David Pearson available for him at the July race in Talladega. NASCAR was a bit hesitant about letting a rookie, any rookie, make his first Cup start on the circuits fastest speedway, a track where Bill Elliott took the pole for that year’s event at over 200 miles per hour. But in those days, races did not always sell out, and the interest that would be generated by seeing Alabama’s own Bobby Allison’s boy make his first start was going to sell some tickets. All weekend Davey was mobbed by reporters because of his last name. During the race on Sunday, he showed he was more than the son of famous father. Davey Allison drove to a tenth place finish in his very first Winston Cup start. The press mobbed him again, but for different reasons. It was apparent immediately Davey Allison was the real deal. Based on that strong performance Allison earned two more rides with Ellington that season.
Allison’s first Winston Cup ride in the 1986 season was with Sadler Brothers. At Darlington, his career took a nose dive. The result was not a good one. Davey got involved in first lap crash and finished 39th. In a sport where you are only as good as your last finish, the pundits began once again wondering if Davey was just capitalizing on his last name, and the Talladega race had just been a fluke. But Junior Johnson may have had the best eye for talent in NASCAR’s history and he saw in Davey Allison a jewel in the rough. When Neil Bonnett was injured at Pocono that July, Junior asked Davey to step in and drive the highly regarded Budweiser 12 entry at Talladega the next week. If the fact Junior picking such an inexperienced driver didn’t raise some eyebrows, Davey’s strong seventh place finish certainly did. By that Fall, Davey had achieved his goal. He had signed on with Harry Ranier and JT Lundy for a full time ride in 1987.
There were a lot of questions going into the 1987 for that season. The team had lost its driver, Cale Yarborough, and its sponsor, Hardees. Crew chief Waddell Wilson had jumped ship as well. Ranier’s finances were not in great shape. But he was able to sign Texaco as a sponsor, Joey Knuckles as a crew chief, and a soft spoken man, Robert Yates as the team manager and engine builder. Such was to be the crew that would try to help a largely inexperienced driver make his big break in the Winston Cup ranks.
It didn’t take long for the team to show promise. Davey earned the outside pole for the Daytona 500. While his finish did not lead up to the promise of the start, it was clear that the hastily assembled team meant to be contenders. As could be expected, Allison showed promise but also made some rookie mistakes. A ninth place after winning the pole at the second event of the season at Rockingham was followed by a crash at Richmond. A strong fifth at Atlanta was followed by a savage crash at Darlington. Ironically enough, Davey wrecked and spun into the path of his father Bobby, eliminating the elder Allison as well. Davey’s car was engulfed in flames and he had to crawl out the wreckage quickly to avoid being badly burned. It was downhill from there with Allison missing the next three races. But something remarkable was about to happen.
Davey Allison qualified third at his old stomping grounds, Talladega, early that May, one place behind his father. The two Allison’s were fated to have two very different sorts of races. Bobby was involved in a terrible crash that sent his Buick airborne into and almost through the catch fencing that separated the grandstands from the track. Davey saw the whole wreck unfold in his rearview mirror. He had a long time to stew over what had happened during the ensuing two and a half hour red flag period to repair the track. Still when the racing resumed, Davey not only returned to the track, he headed for the front. Late in the going, he passed no less a driver than Dale Earnhardt to take the lead, and held on to win when NASCAR had to drop the checkered flag early because of falling darkness. In his 14th start Davey Allison had won his first Winston Cup race, the last unrestricted engine race held at Talladega. Of course racing is a sport of ups and downs. The next race at Charlotte he lost an engine. But the race after Charlotte, at Dover, Davey Allison won yet again after a spirited battle with his dad, who wound up blowing an engine. The season of ups and downs continued, though there were more ups than downs. While Davey didn’t win anymore races, he did finish a close second three times – to Dale Earnhardt at Michigan, Bill Elliott at Talladega, and to Ricky Rudd at Dover, not bad company. There was no more question that Allison was the real deal. He had won two races during his rookie season, a feat no Winston Cup driver had ever managed before or since. Naturally he earned Rookie of The Year Honors. A strong fifth place finish at the season ender at Atlanta seemed to indicate that the team was on track to compete with the big dogs in 1988.
While the driver and crew were ready, Ranier’s financial situation was getting worse. He and Lundy had split up and the money was tight. There was some question as to whether the team would need to be sold before season’s end.
If there was trouble brewing behind the scenes, the 1988 season started out spectacularly for the team. In what was one of the most emotional finishes in this sport’s history Bobby and Davey Allison finished 1-2 in that years Daytona 500, and celebrated together in victory lane. In light of all that has happened since, it seems beyond cruel that the memory loss Bobby Allison suffered in a terrible wreck deprives him of recalling that day, which he had called “the greatest day in my career.” Allison’s year would contain many stellar moments early that season, as well as some disappointment, but nothing could have prepared him for the nightmare at June’s Pocono race. On the very first lap Bobby Allison radioed his crew that he thought he had a tire going down, and told them to be ready to pit him. He never made it to pit lane. The tire blew and Bobby got sideways. The field was tightly packed and Jocko Maggiacomo had nowhere to go. He slammed Allison hard right in the drivers side numbers. Bobby was removed from the car with critical head and abdominal injuries as well as a shattered leg. He would never race again. Racers are a different breed than you and I. Davey was not informed of his father’s condition though he must have seen in that wreckage Bobby was badly hurt. The team just radioed Bobby was alive and being taken to the hospital. Davey went on to finish fifth that day before rushing off to the LeHigh Medical center to join his family. There he was told of the true extent of his father’s injuries. The prognosis was bad. The doctors were not sure Bobby would ever emerge from the coma, and if he did they cautioned he might have irreparable brain damage. Bobby Allison had always made the decisions for the family. With his mother unable to make the decision, the full weight of a terrible choice fell on Davey’s slim shoulders. The doctors were asking if the family wished to have the life support removed from Bobby to let him pass away in peace. Davey took a long walk on the hospital grounds and finally came to his decision. Throughout his career, and in fact throughout his life, Bobby Allison had been a fighter who defied and beat the odds. The life support machinery would stay connected, and the family would pray to the God they trusted so deeply in to spare Bobby’s life.
There is no other term to call Bobby’s recovery by but hellish. It was more pain and confusion than any soul should know, and not all of the damage responded to therapy. He had to learn to walk and talk all over again. But Bobby Allison is still with us. Once again he defeated seemingly insurmountable odds.
While it was nothing like his father was facing, Davey had to deal with a lot of frustration and uncertainty in the months that followed. Ranier’s financial situation was growing worse. Robert Yates was throwing in his own money to keep the operation afloat. Wins at Michigan and Richmond helped improve the racing aspect of the season, but Ranier finally had no choice but to try to sell the team that Fall. Harry gave Robert a chance to buy the team if he wished. Robert had to mortgage his home, sell his car, and much of what he owned to gather up the money. He was taking a terrible financial risk, but Yates decided to gamble his future because he believed so deeply that he had something special in Davey Allison, NASCAR’s next superstar. Davey kept encouraging Robert, promising together as a team they would make it work. Allison never forgot the risk that Yates took, and the trust his friend put in him. While he was approached more than once with offers of more money to switch teams, Davey always swore he would drive for Robert Yates for the rest of his career. The season ended well with a third at Phoenix and a second at Atlanta. Davey ended up eighth in points despite that midseason slump, having led 14 separate events that year.
The 1989 season would bring a new team to the table in Winston Cup racing. Robert Yates Racing was born.
Tomorrow: Part Two of Remembering Davey
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Miss You Davey