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 July 15, 2007
The Key Moment: Matt Kenseth got a good run on Tony Stewart with 38 laps to go, but Stewart held off the challenge…it was clear sailing for the No. 20 after that.
In a Nutshell: McRacing at McTrack. Perhaps the worst damn race of the season.
Dramatic Moment: Honestly, I simply don't recall any. I guess the race was less boring in the first few laps after a restart. With passing at a premium, some drivers took insane chances.
What They'll Be Talking About Around the Water Cooler This Week:
Before we get started on the race, I need to take a personal moment to thank all of you who emailed me your condolences or offered your prayers for my family in the wake of my Mom's passing on July 7th. Yeah, it was a tough week, especially Wednesday when we laid her to rest, but I am blessed with four very fine women as my sisters. The five of us all got through itâ€¦together, and knowing so many people were thinking of us during such a difficult time helped. Now that we have grieved her death, we will celebrate Mom's life and live it as she would have wanted usâ€¦we'll keep on living, keep on loving, and keep on laughing. And in my case, I'll keep it floored in the fast lane. Anne McLaughlin didn't raise her only son to eat dust. As usual, in times of sadness I have found comfort in music, so I'll close with a quote from a classic country music song:
I said to that undertaker
Will the circle be unbroken
Naturally, I also have to take a moment to express condolences to the France family and their friends, as well as the families and friends of the victims on the ground following this week's tragic plane crash that claimed the life of Dr. Bruce Kennedy, along with four others. Kennedy was the husband of Lesa France Kennedy, CEO of the ISC, a sister corporation to NASCAR and the entity that owns racetracks like Daytona, Darlington, etc., as well as the website I used to write for. Special prayers go out to the surviving victims who were so badly burned; I've been through skin grafts and believe me, I wouldn't wish it on anyone. Of course, that was only my leg, not 90 percent of my body; I can’t imagine the pain these victims must be going through. In the midst of such tragedy, I find it deplorable that lawyers are already lining up to stake their share of potential lawsuit revenue. At times like these, people should stop pointing fingers and start holding hands.
Did that NASCAR official really tell Tony Stewart not to climb the fence? How far will these folks go to eliminate any spontaneity and fun from the sport?
After mouthing off at Daytona by claiming he was on the outside looking in as a lame duck at Hendrick Motorsports, Kyle Busch continued his tirades this week, swearing he will not work with his teammates any further this season. Asked if his comments and attitude might cause more fans to dislike him, the young driver who shoots fast from the mouth but slow from the cranium said, "My perception has been horrible since I came into this sport, so it doesn’t really even matter any more."
Even if he was mangling the English language to try to make his point, young Master Busch has neatly nailed the problem here. It is indeed his terrible perception of what is expected of a big league stock car racer that has made him so unpopular with fans. And it doesn't really matter anymore, because he's headed for the exits down the road. Busch is a talented driver, no doubt; but a hand grenade with a loose pin isn't going to last long in this sponsor-friendly atmosphere any longer.
NASCAR is a sport where the elevator from the outhouse to the penthouse is an express. Last week, Jamie McMurray scored an emotional win at Daytona. This week, he wrecked his car and finished 38th. Coincidentally, last week Tony Stewart finished 38th after a controversial wreck with his teammate Denny Hamlin. This week, he won.
Budweiser and Junior are splitting up? This might be the most public divorce since Prince Charles and Diana parted ways. (Of course, longterm fans may recall folks were equally shocked when Darrell Waltrip decided to leave Junior Johnson and Bud back in 1986 to drive for Rick Hendrick in a Tide-sponsored car.)
It wasn't a great day for race fans trying to convince the Sport Illustrated types our drivers are athletes. Stewart was clearly exhausted after scaling the fence – so exhausted, in fact, he forgot all about that Coca-Cola deal and drank an unlabeled bottle of water. Over on the other end of the garage, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. was asked if he planned to work out to get in better shape after struggling when his power steering went out. He replied that he was planning to go home, sit on the front porch, and drink beer. (Tellingly, he didn't say he planned to drink some Buds).
Well, TNT's midsummer sojourn into NASCAR race broadcasting ended on Sunday. In an attempt to focus on the positive, let's look at some of the good points. The nearly commercial-free broadcast of the Daytona race was an exciting new concept I hope will be expanded. For a rookie, Kyle Petty did a fine job as a race analyst; he’s not in love with the sound of his own voice, and he added some great insights. (Of course, the “in-car analyst” thing at Sonoma didn't go so well. The fact that profanity was allowed to slip through not live but in replay seemed emblematic of TNT's “not quite ready for prime time” coverage. Also, on a minor note, when it comes to the shirts Petty wears on air, Opie Taylor calledâ€¦he wants his wardrobe back). On the production side, TNT consistently did some well-put together pieces on the history of NASCAR and the legends of the sport, clearly their finest moments during their six-week stint.
Beyond that, there were still some kinks that need to be worked out. I will admit TNT's race coverage was hampered by some bad weather, something which can't be blamed on a network. But Bill Weber's self-aggrandizing style is only forgivable in that he's nowhere near as loathsome as DW, and some of the pit road talent left something to be desired. All in all, I will take into consideration the size of the network and their relative newness to the sport, so I give them a B minus. If I were in charge, I would ask Dr. Jerry Punch if he'd like to warm up for the ESPN segment of the season next year by being lead analyst, and I'd ask Kyle Petty to return. Then, I'd make sure all the races ran "flag to flag" like the Daytona coverage. Also, while diversity in the pit reporter lineup may be important, I'd try to find women reporters whose voices didn't sound like they were trying out for voice parts as an animated mouse in a Disney cartoon. Now, excuse me; I have to get back to preparing not to watch "Saving Grace".
Could the flatbed crew for Sunday’s race have taken any more time to load up the stricken No. 48 car? What did they have to do, consult the owner’s manual for instructions on how to operate the rig?
Some people have called for a second date for Chicagoland, noting the city of Chicago itself (about fifty miles away) is the third biggest market in the country. Of course, I figure these are the same folks who schedule root canals for healthy teeth just because they like to suffer.
The Hindenburg Award For Foul Fortune
Jimmie Johnson clearly had a fast car, and it showed; he dominated major portions of the race. Unfortunately, a cut tire put him hard into the wall and left the No. 48 car in 37th place.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. was running in third when he lost his power steering and began losing positions quickly. In fact, it wasn't a good weekend for the whole DEI squad with Martin Truex, Jr. and Paul Menard also suffering mechanical problems. Come on, guys; just because it says Bud on the car doesn't mean you have to drink Bud while working on the car.
Ward Burton simply had nowhere to go when Dave Blaney lost a tire and spun directly in front of him, another hard blow for the struggling team of Larry McClure.
The "Seven Come Fore Eleven" Award For Fine Fortune
It was a pretty fair weekend for Matt Kenseth, who finished second in Saturday's Busch race and second again in Sunday's Cup race.
Clint Bowyer overcame a pit road speeding penalty but still finished eighth.
Kurt Busch had to start shotgun on the field, but drove through the pack early and often to finish sixth.
Race winner Tony Stewart almost got caught up in the Blaney – Burton wreck…but slid by unscathed.
Stewart’s victory in Chicago was his first win since Texas last Fall. It was also his first Top 10 finish in three races. But the second half of the season has started, and this is when Stewart typically makes like Frampton and comes alive. If I were Joe Gibbs, I'd have the calendars in the No. 20 rig turned to July at Daytona come next February.
Matt Kenseth (2nd) now has three straight Top 10 finishes.
After hitting a rough spot in the road, Kevin Harvick (3rd) has rebounded with four Top 10 finishes in the last five races. Kurt Busch (6th) has also scored Top 10s in four of the last five races to bring himself back up to fourteenth in points.
Jeff Burton (7th) has Top 10 finishes in three of the last four races.
Jeff Gordon's eleventh place finish was his worst since he won at Pocono.
David Stremme had his best finish since Charlotte.
Jimmie Johnson suffered his third DNF of 2007. In all of 2006, Johnson had just one DNF.
The Top 10 finishers drove six Chevys, two Fords, and two Dodges.
The top finishing Toyota pilot was Jeremy Mayfield in 26th.
Juan Montoya in fifteenth was the top finishing rookie yet again.
What's the Points?
Jeff Gordon continues to lead the points, now 303 markers ahead of Denny Hamlin in second and 346 ahead of Matt Kenseth, who remains third.
Of the contenders, Jimmie Johnson took the biggest hit, dropping three spots to seventh in the standings. That allowed Jeff Burton, Carl Edwards and Tony Stewart to advance one spot each to fourth, fifth, and sixth, respectively.
A little further back, Kevin Harvick overtook Kyle Busch for eighth in points once Busch had a tantrum lite and ran into the No. 8 car late in the race. Clint Bowyer overhauled Martin Truex, Jr. for tenth, while Dale Earnhardt, Jr. remains in twelfth place with a thirty point cushion over Ryan Newman, who is thirteenth and first in line for that final Chase spot should someone falter. Kurt Busch in fourteenth is 77 out of the Chase, and fifteenth place Jamie McMurray needs to make up 111 points in the next seven races to get into the big dance. To do so, I'd suggest he win a few more races and hit a few less walls.
Overall Rating (On a scale of one to six beer cans with one being a stinker and a six pack an instant classic): Give it one lousy warm skunked can of Iron City. I've had more fun cases of the flu.
Next Up: The Cup circuit takes a rare weekend off. Enjoy it; it's the last one until the end of the season. Racing, or some semblance thereof, resumes in two weeks at Indy. Maybe this Mindy chick that Gene Simmons is always singing about will be there?
Editor’s Note : The title of the country music song Matt mentions in this week’s piece is “Will The Circle Be Unbroken?”
©2000 - 2008 Matt McLaughlin and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
I find the speculation that the DOT can salvage something resembling an actual race at this cookie cutter track rather naive. ISC built a bunchof tracks that require more aero downforce that the ‘old school’ tracks, and then designed a car that, complete with splitter and wing, that uses aero even more. What were they thinking?
Anyone else think its strange that Chicago wants a 2nd date, but for the first time, didn’t sell out?
Good to see you “toe-the-NASCAR-line”!
Jimmie Johnson “cut a tire”??
The stinking tire just blew up! As did the tire on Blaney’s car!
This happens at almost every race!
Make no mistake! GOODYEAR HAS NOT SUPPLIED A DECENT RACE TIRE IN YEARS!
The “inner-liner” simply coming out of the exploded tire!
Same thing in the Truck race, first lap! BLOWN TIRE!
There was a “race” yesterday? I cut away from billards on ESPN to catch the finish. By the way, Stewart was thinking of coke, he tore the label off the water before hoisting it for a drink. It was interesting how quickly the broadcasters were “informed” about the “cut” tire. What a sham! Good to have you back, and hang in there. Your mom will live on through her teachings of you and your sisters.
The first time I saw Kyle Busch myself was his second Busch race where, after being viciously booed at driver introductions for the crime of being Kurt’s brother, he expressed his joy over his second-place finish by doing donuts alongside his winning teammate, Brian Vickers, then running to Victory Lane to just about drag Brian out of the car for a congratulatory hug. I fell in love that with that energy and enthusiasm. It was really cute how happy and joyful he was.
Granted, it wouldn’t have stayed cute if he’d made a habit of doing donuts over a second-place finish, but nothing he did that day justified either the initial booing or the truly ridiculous level of vituperation he received on every Nascar message board.
And that barrage of hatred from fans has never let up for even a moment. Even when Kyle gave the winnings from his very first Cup victory to the hurricane victims all people could say was, “He shouldn’t have put Rick Hendrick on the spot that way.”
Kyle’s statement about his perception is the first thing in this whole business that has worried me.
Kyle has been bashed unmercifully since the moment he entered Nascar. No matter what he did, it was always wrong — just because he had the wrong last name and drove for the wrong team. Until that interview he’d never complained about it.
Its well known that if you keep telling a kid he’s a terrible person there will come a time when he’ll eventually give up trying to be a good person and go ahead and fulfill everyone’s worst expectations. Doing it to an adult takes longer, but it can be done to any but the very strongest characters.
If that wasn’t a bit of black humor or the expression of a momentary mood, I am concerned that Kyle is moving toward the point of giving up.
If his name had been Kyle Smith and he’d driven for DEI people would have perceived him in a completely different way — embracing him rather than looking for every excuse to express their hostility.
Everyone, including Kyle as recently as this spring, talks about how Hendrick is “a family.” Many have rejoiced that Dale Jr. will have the opportunity to join that family. Why is anyone astonished that Kyle Busch is upset, even perhaps bitter, about having been rejected by that Hendrick family?
I agree with a lot of what people have expressed here.
I was online in a chat with a woman that had the race on and she commented about the #48 tagging the wall… she had no clue the tire fell apart on Johnson! She bought the “cut” story and then asked, “why would they lie?” I fear Kyle Petty has a meeting in the NASCAR trailer in a couple weeks from now… he made comments about the tires being problematic, about the race being a bore… he obviously didn’t read the memo from NASCAR about everything being “perfect”.
As for all the comments about Kyle Busch; I didn’t see the post race interview (I usually turn the TV off as soon as a race is over), but, I think he’s one of the hottest, fastest drivers out there doing more than a lot of other drivers in equal or better equipment to race to the front. I think that like Tony Stewart’s “Prelude to a Dream” event, it’s a lot funner for everyone when the drivers go out there and race to beat everyone else and disregard all the rest of the crap the drivers have to go thru.
Please… everyone, read this and remember this: “NASCAR isn’t racing! NASCAR is a corporation selling entertainment revolving around a 50 year evolution of racing altered and packaged for broadcast!”
Want to see a good race at Chicagoland? Cut the spoilers off, remove the splitters, get rid of all all the aero-crap, put ‘em on skinny tires… and watch who can drive a car!
Matt… my best regards and I’ll offer my only words of advice and understanding… “time takes time”.
Bobb — that was brilliant!
Matt…..So sorry for your loss. Been there, done that, and it’s tough.
Good comments! Boring race but really glad there was a new winner this week! Hoping for a new winner each week until the chase starts! These bonus points may play a bigger picture than I thought when it was announced!
Just a note……Gordon finished 9th, not 11th. I think TNT messed up the finishing order.
There very few races that I do not watch in their entirety, maybe 3 or 4 a year. I missed more of this race than any other in the last year. Why? I was sleeping in the recliner!
And, Chicago should be way far down the list of dates to hand out. Behind Las Vegas, Kentucky, Nashville, Eldora, California’s 3rd date, Iowa, Pocono’s 3rd date, California’s 4th date, etc… (which means hopefully never!)
Stewart looked at the bottle of water and tore the label off of it before he turned it up, must not have been a Coke product!