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.
Matt McLaughlin · Sunday September 9, 2007
The Key Moment: Jimmie Johnson left the pits in the lead during the final caution period and was never headed.
In a Nutshell: Another race where a few drivers dominated portions of the event – but there was, in fact, some great racing behind them. I just hope Frontstretch’s own Jeff Meyer and Mr. David Poole can agree to disagree on this one.
Dramatic Moment: The three-way battle between Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., and Tony Stewart was outstandingâ€¦it's just too bad they were scrapping for second.
As far as the much ballyhooed, all singing, all dancing, must-see-TV Chase, Kurt Busch got hit hard during the Ryan Newman / Matt Kenseth incident. Kevin Harvick had to take to the grass to avoid the mess, and his car began overheating badly. That incident had the potential to eliminate them both and put Junior into the Chase. During the ensuing red flag, the crowd went wild – but both drivers recovered with solid finishes.
Author’s Note: Of course, Junior still would have blown an engine and missed the Chase anyway, at which point the DEI engine department would had to have been put into the Federal Witness Protection Program.
What They'll Be Talking About Around the Water Cooler This Week
So, Joe Gibbs Racing is now officially joining the Toyota ranks in 2008? That would seem to make it very important for next year's Gibbs drivers – Tony Stewart, Kyle Busch, and Denny Hamlin – to win the Chase this year, because starting next year it seems extremely unlikely they'll be winning races, much less championships. And will the last person out the door at Michael Waltrip Racing please shut off the lights? I'd say it's a pretty safe bet they are no longer Toyota's flagship operation.
When Clint Bowyer got into the side of leader Denny Hamlin on lap 200, the No. 11 car got out of shape…but it seemed the yellow caution lights were already on when Gordon passed Hamlin to take over the lead. Why wasn't the field frozen at the moment of caution? I don't think that Hamlin was "below minimum speed." He may have looked like a monkey trying to hump a football behind the wheel (to paraphrase Smokey Yunick), but he kept his boot in it with a nifty bit of driving expertise.
People have told me that given a few more races to get used to them, I'd no longer even notice the Car of Tomorrow design. Nope, sorry – it's still "Starving Mongrel-Pork Chop" ugly.
The lawyers, AT&T, Nextel, NASCAR et al finally struck a compromise on the logos of the No. 31 car. AT&T can run their logos for the rest of this year and all of next season, but must leave the sport at the end of 2008. So, who won? The lawyers who pocketed all those fees, naturally. The other big winners were the networks that carry Cup racing. In addition to providing sponsorship for the No. 31 team, AT&T spends big bucks buying ad minutes during race broadcasts. The company was threatening to pull those ad buys if they weren't allowed to appear on the No. 31…any more questions as to why this matter was settled? Right now, the networks are optimistic they can turn Cup racing from a venture that loses them a large fortune to one that loses them a smaller fortune.
It's kind of sad so many newer fans have no idea how successful Robert Yates and his teams were in their prime, especially during those magic years Davey Allison drove the No. 28 Texaco car. Yates kept the home fires for Ford burning for many years, culminating in a championship with Dale Jarrett at the end of the 1999 season. Good luck on your retirement, Mr. Yates; you’ll be missed.
There have been three major fires after wrecks in NASCAR's top series in two weeks; I thought the cable-operated fuel pumps were supposed to eliminate that. To make matters worse, it sure looked like the door foam ignited in the No. 42 car Saturday night.
You know, if those folks out in California had decided to clone Richmond rather than Michigan, they might be able to sell the place out. One more time…bring back the Southern 500! More folks attended the Darlington race weekend on Mother's Day than showed up at California over the Labor Day weekend. Oh, and as far as complaints about the heat in Darlingtonâ€¦
Nielsen ratings for last week's California race were 3.7, down from a 5.0 last year, so apparently the viewers at home haven't embraced this alleged race, either.
The driver who now heads the points has had his crew chief suspended twice in the last two seasons for cheating. Yeah, that has to improve the credibility of our sport in the eyes of the stick-and-ball sport types. Of course, when the penalties for bad-mouthing the sanctioning body are as bad as those for deliberate rules infractions, maybe the sport doesn't have enough legitimacy to be damaged. It's like questioning Paris Hilton's virtue.
Richmond is a great track, but if any team of track workers is slower to clean up the track after a wreck, they must be working at a quarter-mile dirt track in Afghanistan.
I think I'm beginning to sense the root of some of the problems the No. 8 team is having. Junior spends too much time complaining about the car and not enough time explaining what changes he needs to make it better. By the time they get him calmed down enough to figure out how to fix things, the race is half over.
The newest drinking game for NASCAR parties – Everyone has to chug a beer when the phrase "That was a great explanation, Tim" is used. Plan on having cabs on hand to get guests home safely.
Maybe I'm looking at the past through rose tinted glasses, but I don't recall ESPN in the good ol’ days ever missing a restart.
Dario Franchitti is coming to NASCAR? I hope he leaves Ashley Judd with the IRL. Just wait until the Bubs down in Bama get a load of a guy with an Italian name and a Scottish accent. (For the record, he can drive the wheels off a car, but he's shown an unfortunate tendency to flip them over at high speed this season. So I'd guess in his eyes, the big, boxy, monster that is the Car of Horror looks pretty sweet compared to a petite open wheel doodlebug).
I know track's ad departments need to show the marquis drivers who will put butts in the seats. But the latest Martinsville ad is out of hand. It features four drivers: Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Tony Stewart and Jimmie Johnson, all of whom drive Chevys. When Fords are shown in the ad, they are inevitably wrecking. But no Toyotas are highlighted, so I guess the Martinsville PR folks do know what they're doing, after all.
The Hindenburg Award For Foul Fortune
Carl Edwards took the lead of the race nearing the halfway point, but he knew his engine was terminally ill; it erupted in smoke fifteen laps later. But you have to like this guy’s attitude. "Damn, that was funâ€¦" Blowing an engine was fun? You've really got to try root canal, Carl. You'll have a hoot.
Maybe Dale Earnhardt, Jr. needs to go talk to Edwards. He didn't seem to think blowing an engine was any fun. Of course, he's had a lot of chances to get to accept it this season. Even Junior’s biggest detractors won't be able to say he didn't go down with both guns blazing trying to make the Chase.
Denny Hamlin had a strong car and a shot at the win until his hand brushed the kill switch while he reached for a bottle of water during a pit stop. He lost twenty positions and could only fight his way back to sixth. Hamlin has won one race this season, but he’s “almost won” another half dozen more.
Jamie McMurray had a Top 10 run going when he got swept up in the big wreck of the night.
The "Seven Come Fore Eleven" Award For Fine Fortune
Jimmie Johnson's team cost him the lead on one pit stop, but made it up to the driver at crunch time.
Jeff Gordon felt he had damaged the clutch on his car leaving pit road after the first stop, but still went on to finish fourth.
Kevin Harvick had to dodge several wrecks directly in his path, and when his car was overheating on pit road, it looked terminal. Still, he held on to finish the race in seventh place, clinching his chances at a title.
Juan Pablo Montoya emerged from a fiery wreck both unscathed and seemingly amused.
David Ragan finished third. I wasn't sure he was ever going to finish a race the way he ran earlier this season.
Normally, finishing 23rd and 24th isn't considered great fortune, but for Team Red Bull to get both cars in the race, have them both finish the race, and finish in the Top 25 is notable…and for the second straight week, no less. They'll probably be mixing their Red Bull with Dom Perignon tomorrow.
Maybe it's best for NASCAR that Kevin Harvick did make the Chase. If not, we'd all be talking about all the points he lost when the right side door foam caught fire in his car earlier this season and forced him to bail out.
What's the Points?
Wow, if NASCAR had just left the Chase format at 10 drivers, there'd have been some excitement. Kurt Busch and Martin Truex, Jr. would have ended the regular season tied in points, and both would have made the Chase (that’s the rules). Behind them, Kevin Harvick would have missed the Chase by five points. Gee, looks like NASCAR's expanding the field to twelve drivers trying to make sure Junior, Stewart and Gordon all made it backfired big time.
Under the old points system, Jeff Gordon would be first in points, 410 markers ahead of fourth place Jimmie Johnson. That's under the points system the way God and Dale Earnhardt ordained it. But with the advent of the Chase, Gordon moves down to second, twenty points behind Johnson. Twelfth place Kevin Harvick is given a mere 664 point Mulligan, and is now thirty points behind Gordon. Hey, I'm not going to be out lighting off fireworks to celebrate Jeff Gordon's fifth title, but the man clearly earned it this year, no matter who wins it.
But on to reality. Heading to New Hampshire, Johnson now leads the points, Gordon is second, and Tony Stewart is third. Carl Edwards and Kurt Busch share fourth, while six drivers are tied for fifth and Clint Bowyer is twelfth. What an abomination that is. I really hate this Chase Deal.
Overall Rating (On a scale of one to six beer cans with one being a stinker and a six pack an instant classic) I give this one three bottles of cold Corona served by a comely lass. If you just ignored the fact that the No. 48 car was on cruise control for the win ahead of them, the battling inside the Top 10 behind him was outstanding for the final forty laps.
Next Up: The Chase hype kicks off in earnest at New Hampshire, a track unlikely to provide any semblance of real racing, but one that could be the perfect recipe for a pleasant Fall afternoon's nap. Repeat after me… “This is not your father's NASCAR.”
_Now that the Chase is here, get geared by playing Frontstretch.com’s newest fantasy game – the Chase Challenge 2007. Put your NASCAR skills to the test by picking which of the twelve playoff drivers will perform the best at the ten tracks remaining on the schedule. Do it for the glory, do it for the bragging rights … or do it for the cash! But whatever you do… don’t miss out! Sign up today by clicking here
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I didn’t bother with the race Sat. night, because I didn’t want to be continually updated on Jr.‘s position in the “chase.” In reference to Franchiti, I wonder how long NASCAR will last after Montoya, Franchiti, Villaneuve, Carpentier, and who know’s else gets there. Funny, people made fun of Bill’s and Sterling’s accents. If the Yankee press couldn’t understand them, what will they do with these guys? At least they can spell Elliott and Marlin.
Sauter and Ragan each had a career finish Saturday. But did ESPN recognize them? Nope. Instead, they go find Cousin Carl still in his firesuit even tho he finished 42nd & had already been interviewed. Regressive TV coverage, more IRL’ers on their way, COT hell, and possible Petty/Gillette merger. Yep, my days of being interested are indeed waning.
An awful lot of the horrible tv production values and unwatchable race coverage can be laid at the feet of the directors. They decide what camera shots we see ( and all the shots we don’t get to see ) , which drivers get interviewed and when, etc. If you are tired of constantly seeing only a handfull of the cars in the race, you can thank the producers and directors of these terrible broadcasts.
The Chase Points system is an absolute crock. Not a “24” fan, and not against awarding for wins, but the fact that Carl Edwards put his car into the lead before blowing up was irrelevent. The 5 points for leading the race did not matter because all Chase participants get the same points regardless of wins. Also, 10 points per win is really no award as well. Johnson won six races and is only 60 points ahead of Bowyer.
If you are going to have a Chase, take it back to 10 drivers, separate each regular season position by 25 points and award 25 points for each win.
May need some tweaking, but Gordon would have a 25 pt lead on Johnson, 50 pt lead on Stewart, 125 on Hamlin, and 175 on Kenseth and Edwards
No reason Bowyer should be your champ, regardless of what he does the last 10 races unless he can make up 300 points on the field
Actually Matt, without the Chase, this would be JG’s 6th Cup. He won the “old points rules” the year Busch won the Chase.
You are right. The chase is a joke. Used to be prestigious to get into the top ten and the whole field got a shot at a top ten. If they keep this stupid chase, Maybe run 34 races and then those who have a legitimate shot at a championship duke it out for the last two and may the best car win. At least that way the guy at the of the pre chase who is 300 & points back pulls off a championship not really earned.
I hope Poole and Meyer still don’t see eye to eye. My computer has enough memory for both of their opinions.
Great observation on the potential foam door panel burn. I wonder if any reporters can follow up on this?
This wasn’t a great race, but not a bad one either. The ESPN Producer/Director doesn’t seem like he has seen a race before. Hopefully he(or she) will improve. My wish would be for ESPN to watch Speed channels coverage of the ARCA race at Chicagoland. This harkened back to the days of how ESPN use to cover the race. Great job by Phil Parsons. And Rick Allen reminds me alot of Bob Jenkins in his knowledge and professionalism and yet still shows exitement. Great Job!
Have to say that watching the race and hearing about Earnhardt Jr. every other sentence got pretty old, pretty quick. I understand that there was a longshot that he would’ve made the chase if Harvick and Newman ran into trouble and Jr. won the race..heck, I think we_all understood that after the prerace show and the first 1/4 of the lap. The final straw though was at the red flag when Harvick went through the grass…after that listening to the booth guys was tough. Harvick wasn’t in any danger of having the engine blow as the car sat there…not running nor was Newman in any danger of a DNF due to the sheetmetal damage to the rear of his car. If anyone in the booth should know it would’ve been Rusty but man, even after the pit reporters gave their reports with the crew chiefs they guys in the booth were still the voice of doom. The racing was good though..maybe next time I’ll just turn the sound down.
Unfortunately, we’re in for 10 weeks of “If Jr. had made the chase, he’d be in ____ position now.”
Not a Jeff Gordon fan, but….. Jeff should be busy working on his sixth title this year.
Request to Jeff Gordon…. Jeff, if you and your wife ever have a son.. Don’t name him Jr. and don’t hire him to driver your race car.
ESPN/ABC coverage, well, you know. Not good.
OK, for the record, don’t blame the producer. ESPN’s producer is Neil Goldberg. This is the same Neil Goldberg who produced all the classic ESPN broadcasts of the 80s and 90s before the network got kicked to the curb. I do not believe for a moment that he has lost his talent. He and I have communicated back and forth (not recently) sometimes when we were happy with the other’s work, and sometimes when we were unhappy but he has always been cordial and professional when we’ve chatted via email. And for fellow Tim Richmond fans it was Neil who produced the short piece on Tim during their final Watkins Glen broadcast of the “old era”, a tribute to a man he knew as a friend, and a move that probably made NASCAR brass unhappy.
I have no idea what constraints Neil is operating under these days. TV broadcasts are no longer pure. When a sponsor buys ad minutes they also apparently get some air time for thier driver which explains why Dale Jarrett is constantly being shown despite the fact he’s running like a man with his scrotum tethered to a fire hydrant. And I can see ESPN brass sitting down at the Monday morning meetings saying “according to our demographics we need to show more Dale Gordon and Jeff Earnhardt…”
Don’t question Neil Goldberg. He is the besti in the biz…bar none…and if you turn off the audio and watch the pictures he’s still the best. He’s just playing by a whole new set of rules…and that sucks.
Neil Goldberg has been around for years and has done some great shows. But no one could think that his current productions are worthy of praise. The constaints he is under by sponsors ( yes sponsors pay extra to have their drivers and cars on camera , hence we only see a handfull of cars on each broadcast )do not account for the horrible choices in on air talent and constant lap dog obediance to the NASCAR corporate line, no matter how ridiculous it might be.
The battle between JR, Gordon & Stewart was some great racing, best all year , at least that we have seen.
Neil Goldberg is operating under the same “lemming” mentality as the other networks. They did it so we have to. Not one network has lived up to ESPN’s early coverage of NASCAR that helped push the sport forward.
“I think Iâ€™m beginning to sense the root of some of the problems the No. 8 team is having. Junior spends too much time complaining about the car and not enough time explaining what changes he needs to make it better. By the time they get him calmed down enough to figure out how to fix things, the race is half over”