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.
The Key Moment - A shove from the No. 22 car of Dave Blaney gave Jeff Gordon enough momentum to pass his teammate on the last lap. Tony Stewart appeared to inadvertently seal the deal for Gordon, running into the back of him and forcing Jimmie Johnson to settle for 2nd.
In a Nutshell - Hours of mind-numbing tedium punctuated by a few moments of sheer terror.
Dramatic Moment - Bobby Labonte's Dodge inexplicably got loose and set off "The Big One."
Twelve drivers threw caution to the wind on that final lap to decide the race.
What They'll Be Talking About Around the Water Cooler This Week
I think in the future, I'll just watch the last fifteen laps of restrictor plate races. Drivers either form a single-file parade or drop to the back to avoid trouble until those final fifteen laps.
Does it seem that team orders and strategizing by drivers in the same make of car is getting a little out of hand in the Cup Series? Indeed, our sport looks a little more like Formula One each week.
The Car of Tomorrow still needs plates at the big tracks…even though the original goal of the designers of the car was to eliminate plates. As a result, Sunday's event featured the typical violence of a plate race, with everyone reduced to the least common denominator. When it comes to the CoT, I say, the Hell with these things…
What on earth happened to Bobby Labonte and the No. 43 car? It didn't appear a tire was down, but the Labonte’s car still suddenly snapped sideways.
The late Dale Earnhardt used to say that they should clear out the first ten rows, dump the plates, and go back to real racing. Well, we're halfway there. There were a lot of empty seats at Talladega, particularly in the lower section.
For all that talk about the advantage the Dodge and Toyota engines have with the current aero package, it was the usual suspects in a pair of Chevys up front again.
Think there's going to be some pink slips and "Help Wanted" signs at the RCR / DEI engine shop tomorrow?
With the Busch Series off this weekend, what did Cup drivers do to keep from getting bored on Saturday?
What with all the time zones and such, the Chinese Grand Prix took the green flag at 1:30 AM ET. The way FOX is heading, Cup races might be in that territory soon.
Isn't it ironic the Truck Series has a barnburner of a title chase going on without the artificial machinations of the Chase system? (Ron Hornaday leads Mike Skinner by fourteen points with five races to go). The Talladega Truck race featured the expected carnage, however; I really think it's time that NASCAR makes the trucks run snowplows on the front end at Talladega.
Dale Jarrett is set to announce he'll be racing part-time next year. Hmm…isn't that what he's been doing this year?
Nationwide Insurance signed on this week to be the title sponsor of what is currently the Busch Series next season. Parties close to the negotiations say the insurer got title sponsorship at what amounted to fire sale prices. In a related note, Mike Wallace's Busch series sponsor, GEICO Insurance, was told they had two years to pack their bags and get out of the new series, as it would seem NASCAR wants to avoid a repeat of the AT&T / Nextel fiasco. So, once again NASCAR benefits while a race team suffers. This might be grounds for yet another lawsuit. I can see it now…the GEICO gecko giving Brian France the finger while a lawyer tells the jury NASCAR's decision was so blatantly unfair even a caveman could see it. By the way, my BSC (Big Stupid Carâ€¦the low miles ’87 Lincoln Town Car) is insured by GEICO. They are cheap!
The Hindenburg Award For Foul Fortune
You have to feel bad for A.J. Allmendinger, Boris Said, and Scott Riggs. They posted the ninth, tenth, and eleventh fastest times in Saturday's bizarre qualifying session, but missed the race. Just another example of how this corporate welfare nonsense – locking the Top 35 into each race – has got to go. Go fast or go home, I say; and it's not like qualifying at Talladega wasn't already the most boring session of the season.
It might have been a matter of karma equaling out after Kansas, but every time there was a wreck Sunday, it seemed that Greg Biffle was in the midst of it.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. had a car that might have contended for a win at long last had the engine stayed together. Jeff Burton and Martin Truex, Jr. were also eliminated from the race (and from title contention) by "blowed up" bowtie engines. Kevin Harvick finished the race running on seven cylinders…in fact, Clint Bowyer was the only DEI/RCR driver to finish with an engine running at full song.
Kyle Busch just doesn't seem to have much luck at Talladega.
Juan Pablo Montoya seemed to have a Top 5 run in hand until the final two laps of the race. It seems the big dogs still don't want to draft with a rookie.
The "Seven Come Fore Eleven" Award For Fine Fortune
Jeff Gordon overcame a penalty for a pit road equipment violation to win the race. Of course, his strategy was to stay out back until late in the race, so it wasn't too big a blow.
Clint Bowyer not only managed to keep his engine in one piece, he did a nifty bit of driving to avoid Michael Waltrip's spinning car. His eleventh place finish leaves him in contention for the title.
The right rear corner of *Denny Hamlin*'s car looked like it had been used as a chew toy for a pack of pit bulls after a wreck. The team was forced to make extensive tape repairs during a lengthy pit stop, but Hamlin still went on to finish fourth.
Perhaps stung by criticism that he was a hazard making his first Cup start at Talladega, Jacques Villeneuve relinquished his sixth place starting spot to start the race at the rear of the field. He finished 21st, but he did finish – and in the process, earned some respect from the other drivers.
Kyle Petty was uninjured in a savage wreck, during which he hit the wall driver's side first.
What's the Points?
Jeff Gordon leaves Talladega back in the points lead, nine ahead of his teammate Jimmie Johnson. Clint Bowyer remains third and is still in contact with the leaders, albeit now 63 behind Gordon. Fourth place Stewart is 154 back; all others drivers involved in the Chase are more than a full race worth of points behind Gordon, and their chances at a title are dim.
Towards the back of those standings, there was some movement; Denny Hamlin moved up three spots to ninth, Carl Edwards advanced two spots to fifth, and Kurt Busch advanced two spots to seventh.
Kyle Busch, Martin Truex, Jr. and Jeff Burton surrendered two spots in the standings Sunday. They are now eighth, tenth, and twelfth, respectively, while Kevin Harvick fell a spot to sixth.
Four races into the Chase, we don't know who will win the title yet but we know who will not: Jeff Burton, Matt Kenseth and Martin Truex, Jr.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. maintains the "best of the rest" spot in thirteenth despite his blown engine. He is now 111 points ahead of Casey Mears, who takes over the fourteenth spot from Greg Biffle. Biffle is two points behind Mears, and Ryan Newman is two points behind Biffle in 16th.
Meanwhile, the No. 21 team will have to make next week's race on time or go home, as the No. 22 team is guaranteed a starting spot at Charlotte after Dave Blaney’s third place finish.
Overall Rating (On a scale of one to six beer cans, with one being a stinker and a six pack an instant classic) – We'll give this one three bottles of Maalox. All of the drivers left Talladega under their own power, and that counts for something. Those final few laps were exciting, but portions of the race were so sedate that Junior seemed half relieved to fall out of the event.
Next Up - The series returns to its spiritual home, Charlotte, for the Bobby Weir Invitational One More Saturday Night race for 2007. Unless, of course, Bruton Smith has gone and torn the place down by then to protest the city council denying him rights to build a drag strip. You never know with Smith.
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Thanks for the recap, Matt! My work schedule means I don’t get to watch Sunday races anymore, and your coverage is the best substitute I have found over the last few years.
As for the plate issue, if NASCAR is concerned about speeds at plate tracks, why not just change the engine templates to reduce overall horsepower or make it so teams can’t push the RPM envelope like they have been the last few years? And, in the interest of saving money for the lesser-funded teams, make it an across-the-board change.
A lower-power motor won’t make that much difference on short and intermediate (aero) tracks, and might even make those races more interesting. Plus, it might solve the “dangerous” speed problem at plate tracks…
Like Kevin Harvick attested to a year or so ago the Childress engines suck.Dale Earnhardt sr. would be appaled!
I don’t know if anybody else will think this, but I think this weekend’s race is another example of why the top 35 rule needs to be reevaluated, especially when combined with the impound rule. You’ve got the go-or-go-homers desperate enough to make the race that they’ll pass on their race setup and practice in race trim in order to concentrate on qualifying for the race. This left us with 8 cars sitting at the front of the pack that didn’t spend any time at all trying out this new car in race trim. I don’t know what all the differences between a qualifying setup and a race setup are, but this seems to me that it ended up creating a potentially dangerous situation. In hindsight, it seems that it worked out OK this time, but it could’ve been disastrous.
I think the solution for this is to put everybody on a level playing field by eliminating the top 35 rule and also to eliminate the impound format – stick to a standard practice for qualifying/practice/practice for racing/race type of format and keep it consistent. That’s just my uninformed opinion, but I think it would be safer.
The COT didn’t have anything to do with the boredom yesterday. It was just the same as it was in the aero-monstrosity — drivers riding in line, playing it safe, and trying to survive.
The difference was that instead of riding around in 2-3 lines they rode around in 1 line. They did just what they always do, it was just more obvious.
As for the truck series points, I’d hardly call a 2-man race a “barnburner”. If you’re not a fan of Skinner or Hornaday you stopped caring weeks ago.
I happen to be one of Grandpa’s fans so I do care, but its not like there were 4-5 drivers going to take the green at Homestead with a shot at the title.
I agree about dumping the impound the Top 35 lock-in. The qualifying situation this week was truly INSANE.
What is with the bs moving DJ to the back of the field when he qualified at the front? I heard the explanation but to moe a car that qualified that well to start 43rd?! Come on!!!
The smaller engine sould be here in 2010 @ Coop. Somewhere around the 300 cubic inch size with certain parts being interchangeable between the various makes of engines.
Plenty of empty seats all around the track. You could see a lot of them from the blimp shots.
The Top 35 is nothing more than a welfare program and needs to be dumped. It’s sad when we have to see the same cars go home each week even though they qualify in the Top 10-15. We’re not getting what we paid for in having the best and fastest 43 cars race each weekend.
Is that normal—all the empty seats for the fall race? I don’t remember seeing that before.
Matt, not only do I agree with just about everything you said, you are among the best at saying it. Someday I hope to be as good at this as you.
I don’t think it matters what kinda car they race at the restricker plate tracks the drivers will race like they did yesterday till near the end. The way I see it, the only way to get the drivers racing for the lead would be to give out points for EVERY lap led forcing the drivers to head for the front or loose points.
Well now we have Bristodega with the crash of tommorrow. This “wreckfest show” ( don’t dignify it by calling it a race), has got to be the most expensive demolition derby ever run every year.
Pauline, that happens every race, but usually the last go-or-go-home car qualifies somewhere in the back so its not as obvious. There are seven spots open for the non-35th cars. The 43rd starting spot is for a past champion, and if its not used for that, then it goes to the 8th fastest go-or-go-home car. Since the first seven starting spots were used by go-or-go-home cars, the 8th fastest time ends up in the 43rd starting spot.
I went to a real race on Saturday. The 10 hour Petit Lemans at Road Atlanta. When a driver had unnecessary contact, whether it was Roger Penske’s, Michael Andretti’s or Bobby Rahal’s, they went to the penalty box and served time, sometimes as much as 80 seconds. If they broke a rule, they were penalized right then and there, no questions or appeals. That’s because, although Don Panoz owns the series, IMSA sanctions it. They hand out the penalties, regardless of sponsor or owner. Furthermore there were 100,000 people there. We could walk through the garage area, talk to drivers, and dodge cars. We went out on the starting grid with such greats as Ron Fellows, Tony Kaanan, Allan McNish, Adrian Fernandez, and Johnny O’Connnell. Kind of makes NASCAR look really, really sick.
Six blown engines for Junior this year? Do the four Hendrick teams combined even have six blown engines? Why are folks still confused about why he’s abandoning the sinking ship his stepmother’s lackeys call a race team?
I understand the rule, I just think it’s ridiculous that some who qualified in front of 35 drivers has to start 43rd.