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
Tuesday March 4, 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 · Thursday August 14, 2008
Editor’s Note : Wednesday, August 13th marked the 19-year anniversary of a tragic death of one of NASCAR’s greatest drivers – and most controversial figures. Matt McLaughlin takes a look at Richmond’s long and storied career in a special two-part story for Frontstretch this week.
It’s been over a decade now since Tim Richmond last competed in a Winston Cup race. There’s little mention of him in NASCAR’s official literature, and if you’re a new race fan, sadly, you may never even have heard his name. But for those of us privileged enough to have watched Tim Richmond drive a race car, during that all too ephemeral time that marked the peak of his career, there is no forgetting the magic. The tragic circumstances of a young man’s passing, and the way NASCAR officialdom dealt with it, is the subject for another article. Instead, my purpose here is not to mourn Tim’s passing, but to celebrate his life and talent. For if there ever was a “natural” at driving a race car, it was Tim Richmond. Lap after lap, fans watched in wonder as he hit the same mark time after time – but when it came time to get around another driver, it was like the laws of physics themselves stepped aside a few moments, content to be suspended and watch in wide-eyed wonder at what Tim could do in a race car, driving the line everyone else thought was impossible. And it was impossible, for everyone else.
Tim Richmond started driving race cars at a relatively advanced age by the standards of today. He was 21 years old when a friend who owned a sprint car invited him to take some laps in the car at the Lakeville Speedway in Ohio. Tim was so ill-prepared for his debut at the wheel of a race car, he showed up wearing cowboy boots and had to borrow a driver’s uniform and a helmet just to be able to run a few laps on what was supposed to be a lark. Instead, Tim hopped in the car, and within a very short period of time was turning lap times better then the car’s regular driver who had been racing for years. Again, if there ever was a natural born race car driver, it was Tim Richmond. More importantly that day, Tim discovered his niche in life, the one thing that he enjoyed doing as much as his late night partying with friends. That evening, Tim decided he was going to be a race car driver, and with that goal set, he pursued it with the same tenacity and determination he did everything else he set his mind to do.
In 1977, Tim Richmond started driving a Supermodfied car he co-owned with his father at Sandusky Speedway, which bills itself as “the fastest half-mile oval in Ohio.” Success was almost immediate, and that year Tim won not only “Rookie of the Year” honors, but the track championship in his class as well. Like most kids growing up in the Midwest at that point of time, Richmond’s goal was not stock car racing but Indy Car racing, and towards that end, he competed in the Mini Indy car series in Phoenix, Arizona – again winning the title the first time out. From the Mini IndyCar league, Tim moved to the USAC Sprint Car Series, and in 1979 he won the coveted “Rookie Of the Year” honors there as well. Many a driver spends years driving in the Sprint Car Series waiting for a chance to drive in Indy Car, but Tim’s goal lay beyond the sprints, and he made his own chance happen rather then waiting. Al Richmond was certainly wealthy enough to buy his son a Indy car, and there is a lingering misimpression among some people that was the case, but in fact, Tim aggressively courted sponsors on his own, and got backing from a business in his hometown of Ashland, Ohio – Robert Schultz and Associates. With financing in place, Tim, with help from Roger Penske, was able to set up a deal to buy a car, and planned to make his Indy Car debut at Michigan. The debut did not go well – the car developed mechanical problems, but Tim’s driving abilities raised some eyebrows. Mark Stainbrook, crew chief for a team owned by Pat Santello, asked if Richmond would be interested in driving for that team. When Tim expressed interest, an agreement was reached that if he could qualify the car at the next race, he would be given the ride. Fortunately, the test took place at the Willow Spring road course in California. Already an accomplished oval course racer, Tim had attended a Jim Russell driving school at that same track and set the lowest lap time by any student ever. Needless to say, he got the ride with Santello’s team. Once again the ugly rumor that his dad had bought him the seat dogged Richmond, as a disgruntled friend of the team’s former driver printed a story in the Indianapolis Star to that effect. Though the story was later retracted, it left a taint.
During the 1980 season, a difficult year as CART took over control of the Indy Car series from USAC, Richmond made five starts in Indy cars. But a difficult pattern was set; it was one where Richmond would qualify and run well, only to be sidelined by mechanical problems with his outdated equipment.
1980 was Tim Richmond’s biggest year in the Indy Car circuit, and his proudest moments were during those weeks in May leading up to the Indianapolis 500. Though a rookie, Tim set the fastest time in practice, and was considered a favorite for a front row starting spot. Unfortunately, a crash on Pole Day eliminated that possibility. Still, Richmond was able to make the field in a backup car and compete in the Indy 500. Throughout the event, Tim showed skill and speed that belied his inexperience, and he actually led the race before running out of gas in the waning laps. Race winner Johnny Rutherford was kind enough to let Tim hitch a ride to Victory Lane riding on the sidepod of the winning car. Legend has it, as Tim hopped off Rutherford quietly told him one day Tim would be visiting that hallowed ground on his own. For his remarkable achievements that month, Richmond was awarded “Rookie of the Race” honors.
Among the quarter million spectators on hand that day for the Indy 500 was Dr. Joseph Mattioli, founder and president of Pocono International Speedway. He had been impressed by Tim’s style and asked if he might be interested in driving a NASCAR stock car race there that July. (Recall Pocono also hosted Indy Car races at one time). Tim was the sort who would drive anything with wheels, and quickly agreed. Dr. Mattioli was able to line up a Chevy owned by D.K. Ulrich for Tim to drive. While he qualified a disappointing 23rd, Richmond was able to finish 12th in his very first Winston Cup race. Despite the venture starting out as a lark, Tim fell in love with racing stock cars. He would later describe the difference between Indy Cars and stock cars as being that you “drove” an Indy Car, but “raced” a stock car…and Tim Richmond had a racer’s heart. He would compete in four more Winston Cup races that year: Dover, Martinsville, Charlotte and Atlanta. Mechanical problems relegated him to disappointing finishes at Dover and Atlanta, but Tim managed to finish 12th at both Charlotte and Martinsville (in his very first Winston Cup short track run).
Richmond was never forced to decide between NASCAR and CART. A series of wrecks and financial problems with the team he was with ended his open wheel driving days, and in 1981, Tim Richmond began driving the Winston Cup circuit full time. Tim’s arrival made quite a splash in the normally staid world of NASCAR. While most drivers of the era had “Opie Taylor” style haircuts, Tim wore his hair shoulder length and admitted to using a hair stylist rather than a barber. His Ohio accent also sounded a bit different then the good ol’ boys. And Tim arrived upon a Harley Davidson, not in a car, in an era long before Milwaukee’s Finest was near standard issue for every Cup driver. Richmond had a sort of confidence some mistook for arrogance, and more then a few guys in the garage area weren’t very impressed with him. Of course, more then a few women were.
That year was the first year of the “downsized cars,” and even a lot of the top teams were struggling to figure those cars out. It was as true then, as it is today, Winston Cup racing is the most competitive series on earth, and Tim struggled a bit driving the D.K. Ulrich Buick Regal the early part of that season, including a disappointing 30th at the Daytona 500. His first Winston Cup Top 10 came at Bristol on March 29th 1981, when Tim finished tenth. The best finish Richmond had with D.K. Ulrich, and in fact, that season was a sixth at Talladega in May. After a disappointing result at Riverside in June on a road course where Tim had been expected to run well (he crashed out on the 12th lap) Richmond and Ulrich parted ways. Tim signed on with Kennie Childers to drive his Oldsmobile after the separation. The best finishes Richmond earned while with Childers were a 9th at Pocono and an eighth at Bristol. Once again, things went downhill, and in September Tim moved over to Bob Rogers’ team, debuting with them at Dover and finishing 9th, his last Top 10 of the season. In 29 starts in 1981, Tim had six top ten finishes and wound up 16th in the points.
Tim Richmond found himself without a Winston Cup ride for the 1982 season. He did not make his first start that year until Rockingham in March, driving the Fast Company Limited Ford to a dismal 31st place finish after losing an engine. But his fortunes were about to change.. both for the better and the worse. Tim was finally able to land a well-funded ride after Rockingham, which was the good news – but the bad news he would be driving for mercurial millionaire and con artist JD Stacy. Stacy’s financial house of cards was the object of considerable conjecture, but he did indeed pour a lot of money into his team when the mood and means suited him. Joe Ruttman had a falling out with Stacy, and Tim was given the seat as primary driver for one of two teams Stacy owned. (He also sponsored five others). Their very first race together, Tim managed to finish a career best fifth at the Rebel 500 at Darlington. After a couple of races for the team to gel together, Richmond and the Stacy team began putting together a solid string of Top 10 finishes. At Pocono that year, Tim Richmond showed the sort of driver he really was and engaged in a dog fight for top honors with Bobby Allison. Richmond might have won that race, as Bobby Allison had run out of fuel trying to stretch his gas mileage under a caution flag thrown for rain, fearing if he pitted, the race would end under caution. Dave Marcis was kind enough to push Allison back to the pits, and in fact, Allison did go on to win by 3.1 seconds over Tim. (As a side note, Marcis also carried sponsorship from JD Stacy and lost the sponsorship for helping Bobby out). But even that second place finish had put the other drivers on notice that Tim Richmond was a contender and would win a race soon. Very soon, as it turned out.
The next event was the Budweiser 400 at Riverside, a road course. Terry Labonte had the dominant car that day after several other early favorites fell out with mechanical problems. Tim remained running with the front pack, and on lap 89 of the 95-lap event he used his considerable road racing skills to outbrake Labonte and take the lead. From there, it was smooth sailing to Richmond’s first Winston Cup win. The second half of that season had its share of highs and lows with Tim getting involved in several crashes not always of his making, mechanical problems, and continuing uncertainty about the status of Stacy’s finances. Richmond did manage a strong second place finish at Richmond in the Fall, again tailing Allison to the checkers, and a fourth at Atlanta in the penultimate race of that season. The 1982 season ended at Riverside, the track where Tim had earned his first win. By that point, he had already decided to split with Stacy after the race, citing the team’s uncertain financial future. Richmond had landed a ride with Raymond Beadle’s new Blue Max team, which was buying out the equipment of M.C. Anderson, who had announced he was quitting racing all together, because his driver, Cale Yarborough, wanted to remain running a partial schedule rather then contend for the Winston Cup. Tim did leave the Stacy team in style, scoring the second win of his career in a race he flat out dominated. In 26 starts that year, Tim had the two wins at Riverside, five more Top 5s, and 12 Top 10s overall. Those statistics were remarkably similar to a driver who had befriended Tim and taken him under his wing, introducing him around – Dale Earnhardt. Dale had only one win, but like Tim, he had 7 Top 5s and 12 Top 10s – but because he ran the entire schedule, Dale finished 12th in the points while Tim had to settle for 26th.
Tim Richmond and Blue Max racing team, running the Old Milwaukee Beer colors, got off to an uneven start in 1983. The team endured more then its fair share of mechanical difficulties and poor finishes, but when the car was running at the end of the race, Richmond was usually in the Top 10. Their first strong run of the year came at Martinsville, where Tim was in contention to win until a pit miscue by crew chief Tim Brewer had the soft compound left side tires put on the right side of the car. NASCAR officials noted the violation and accessed Richmond a five lap penalty. A fourth place at Pocono in June and a third at the next race in Michigan seemed to indicate the team was turning the corner. Tim’s breakthrough oval course win came at his favorite track, Pocono, in July. A combination of incredible driving and brilliant pit strategy allowed Tim to take the lead when then leader Dave Marcis had to pit for a splash and go with seven laps remaining. Richmond then held off a last ditch charge by Darrell Waltrip by two seconds to take the win. The victory was a confidence booster for the rookie team and began a long string of Top 10 and even Top 5 finishes whenever the car made it to the end of the race. At Rockingham in October, fans got a good look at the magic that was Tim Richmond’s style, as he engaged in an epic side-by-side duel with Terry Labonte in the waning laps of the race. Lap after lap, the two ran together with Tim trying moves on both the high and low side of the track, including several times when he gathered the car up as it got out of shape up in the marbles, where all others feared to tread. Terry Labonte won that race by .7 of a second, but it was one of the best races of that, or any other season. Back at Riverside, a track that Tim had mastered, he led the race several times before he and Darrell Waltrip made hard contact, and both cars wound up spinning off the track. Tim recovered well enough to bring the car home 5th. For the season Richmond had the one win, ten Top 5s, and 15 Top 10s, which earned him a tenth place finish in the points and a new contract to drive for Blue Max again in 1984.
1984 did not start out well for Tim and the Blue Max team. Once again, he finished well when the car was still running, but the team had a string of engine-related failures that relegated Richmond to disappointing finishes. A hard crash with Rusty Wallace only increased Tim’s frustrations. North Wilkesboro in the Spring didn’t look like it was going to be Tim’s day, either. In fact, the event looked like a benefit put on for Ricky Rudd for much of the race. Tim patiently paced himself, knowing the team needed a good finish to boost morale, until in the closing laps of the event Rudd started showing signs he was struggling. Once that opportunity presented himself, Tim threw caution to the wind, and in an awesome display of driving, ran down and passed Ricky. A great pit stop helped Tim maintain the lead, and he went on to beat Harry Gant by a tick under four seconds. It was Richmond’s first short track win. After that, the mechanical gremlins began rearing their heads again and the season of frustration continued. Even in that disappointing season there were some strong runs. At Dover, Richmond ran in the lead pack all day and finished second to the King of Stock car racing, Richard Petty. It seemed appropriate, as many people felt Tim had the talent to one day inherit the King’s throne. Richmond was also in serious contention for win in the June race at Riverside, battling once again with Terry Labonte in the closing laps until the two cars made contact. Labonte was able to continue, but Tim was forced to the pits for repairs and wound up sixth in the final rundown. A second at the Southern 500, on a day where he had little chance of catching winner Harry Gant, was the only other highlight of the disappointing year as the series reached Riverside for the season finale. Though Richmond never led that race, he was in contention for most of the way and wound up second that day to Geoff Bodine. For the year, Tim Richmond wound up with the single win, five other Top 5s, and a total of 11 Top 10s, good enough to earn him 12th in the points standings. For a lot of drivers that might have been good enough, but Tim was thoroughly dispirited after what he felt was a lackluster season. Better times were coming – but they were still aways down the road.
Editor’s Note : Look for Part II of the Tim Richmond story, coming your way tomorrow on The Frontstretch.
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The only thing that remembering Tim Richmond should be used for is to tell folks to just say “no” to dope. He should be used as a prime examble on how to screw up a life. It’s like saying Barry Bonds is a great baseball player but oh yeah he cheated.
Ron… Tim Richmond was a very rare and talented driver. To say as you did, “The only thing that remembering Tim Richmond should be used for is to tell folks to just say â€œnoâ€ to dope.”, really ignores that he was one of the very best ever.
I have said, and still do… I don’t care what the drivers do off the track. When I pay my money and the green flag waves… all my focus is the competition. I think it’s absurd to bring the personal side of any driver’s life into a discussion about racing.
The more it’s about racing, the better it is for racing. But when it comes to being a popularity contest, a “beauty contests” of sorts… it sounds like NASCAR (remember… NASCAR isn’t racing; it’s entertainment with racing as a component of the overall package they sell). I agree with Sir Charles Barkley <sic> when he suggested he’s not a role model; our parents are.
I have my own personal values, ethics, and standards… I refuse to force them upon you… or anyone else. Let’s keep this about racing… not “all the rest”.
The only thing remembering Tim Richmond should be used for is to remind us how magnificient he was driving a racecar…
Thanks for the article repeat Matt. I was on the lookout for it yesterday so I could link it to a blog entry of my own. Searched on Stalkers and even the ForbiddenZone without success. Good to see it here today. Hard to believe its been 2 decades since this talent last raced. What a tragedy.
I’ve always enjoyed McLaughlin’s work. Thanks for another great read. Looking forward to part II!
I agree lets keep this about racing but I do have an opinion about the role model thing in general. I think this “I’m not a role model” is a total cop-out. If you are father, brother, friend or plan on being any of those someday you are a role model. Act accordingly.
So, maybe some sports stars et al, shouldn’t be role models….they can sure be used as “bad examples”.
Your right most fans now days probably have never heard of Tim. I enjoyed watching him race in his prime, unfortunately he is not often mentioned in today’s racing coverage. It is a good article about a great driver who like many of us have made a few regrettable decisions, the sad fact is this one cost him his life and us (the race fans) the chance to grow up watching a legend. I never realized he ran at Indy. Great article!!
It’s sad some people want to focus on what they think they know about someones off-track activity, Tim was one of the best natural drivers I’ve ever seen & that goes back to the 50’s. Give the man the credit he deserves, as one of the best racecar drivers ever!!!
Thanks for a great article, it brings back a lot of memories of some great racing days. He was some race car driver! Looking foward to part 2.
What can I say? Tim was one of the all time greats I’ve ever had the privilege to see.
BTW Ron, haven’t any of your heros turned out to have “feet of clay” & been human?
Hey ArkyBass… I’m with you. Sir Charles went on to say parents and family are the molders of characters. I was going to expand upon the idea as you have… but, it’s about the racing, so I bailed on the soapbox presentation.
I cringe when I hear some idiot wanting censorship with the lame excuse, “I don’t want my kids seeing/hearing that!”
Richmond drove the UNO Playing Cards car at the Speedway. He and Rutherford (in Hall’s yellow subamarine) the week before Pole Day in practice became the duelists for top
I have to “apologize” to everyone for at times being very blunt. I used to keep my opinions to myself, but after seeing what this world has become lately, I think I’ll be blunt and let the chips fall…
Matt McLaughlin does by far the BEST Nascar articles anywhere. He totally and completely describes Tim and his numerous accomplishments with class and is exciting to read. Tim Richmond was one hell of a racer and an ever better person. He was kind and compassionate……something that John and Ron posting on here seem not to be. If you can post those types of responses, you have absolutely no clue who Tim Richmond was or anything he was about.
I was a kid when I knew him best and he adored kids and while around me – at all times – he was the absolute best and beyond a doubt, a great role model. He slept with the wrong female – if that makes him a bad role model (as I’m sure NO one in here has ever done, hopefully just not one with HIV) than I guess you should consider him a bad one. Me, I know better. A lot better.
And yes, I’ve heard many of the crew guys on the current Nascar teams say that what some of the drivers are doing these days would make Tim Richmond blush…so much for ‘role models’. I (like Bobb posted above) used to keep my opinions to myself as well and knowing Tim and his entire family, am tired of listening to those slam a dead man who isn’t here to defend himself. It’s time those of us that truly knew him speak up about the truth instead of the bunk that Nascar and Bill France Junior fed to the fans about Tim for so long.
Thanks Matt!! Keep up the awesome work.