Kurt Busch to Attempt The Indianapolis-Charlotte Double
posted by Phil Allaway
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Andretti Autosport announced this morning that Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet in the Sprint Cup Series, will attempt the Indianapolis 500 in a fifth entry for the IndyCar Series team. Once the Indianapolis 500 is completed, Busch will fly from Indianapolis to Charlotte, jump in his No. 41 Chevrolet and compete in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Busch considers the opportunity to do the double as an old-school throwback moment.
“This is really to challenge myself within motorsports,” Busch said in Andretti Autosport’s press release. “Perhaps I am a bit of an old-school racer; a throwback, I guess. I enjoyed the era of drivers racing different cars and testing themselves in other series. It is tough to do now for a variety of factors, but when the opportunity is there, I want to do it. While NASCAR is my home, I have been fortunate to compete in Pro Stock on the NHRA circuit a number of years ago and test a V8 Supercar. This opportunity was a talk with Michael [Andretti] over dinner one night, a “What if,” and now it’s becoming a reality for me to drive in the Indy 500 with Andretti Autosport. It’s literally a dream come true. To go to the famous Brickyard with the iconic Andretti name, it doesn’t get much cooler or better than that.”
Busch will be doing the Indianapolis-Charlotte double as a Memorial Day mission to men and women serving in the U.S. Military via the Armed Forces Foundation. Fans can contribute to the cause by texting AFF to 50555 to donate $10.
Busch, who has never raced an IndyCar, passed Rookie Orientation at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year during a test session. At the time, Busch was more or less testing the Dallara DW12 for fun.
Busch will be the fourth driver to attempt the Indianapolis-Charlotte double. John Andretti was the first driver to attempt it in 1994. After finishing four laps down in tenth in Indianapolis, Andretti crashed and had engine problems in the 600. Robby Gordon has attempted the double five times, most recently in 2004. However, Gordon failed to make it to Charlotte on time and did not start the 600 in 2000 (P.J. Jones started Gordon’s No. 13 Ford in that instance). Finally, Tony Stewart has attempted the double twice (most recently in 2001) and is the only driver to ever complete all 1100 miles. Neither of the three drivers has won either leg of the double. The best finishes are Stewart and Gordon’s sixth-place finishes at the Indianapolis 500 (although Gordon’s came in 2000, the year he didn’t make it to Charlotte in time to start the Coca-Cola 600), and Stewart’s fourth-place finish in the 2001 Coca-Cola 600.
Danica Patrick, Justin Allgaier Talk About Phoenix Incident
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
A disappointing start to the year for Danica Patrick won’t include continued conflict. Patrick met with rookie Justin Allgaier Sunday, shortly after the Phoenix Cup race after a wreck ruined both drivers’ days. Patrick, who was critical of the No. 51 car on the radio, claiming Allgaier was “driving all over the track” appeared receptive to a conversation that quickly settled differences over what will be a long season.
“She was just upset because she got involved in the crash that we had,’’ said Allgaier to the Motor Racing Network. “She says she’s been through this and that she felt like I needed to settle down at that point. I explained my position on why everything happened. I think she understood where I was coming from. It doesn’t fix either one of our racecars. It doesn’t fix either one of our days. Unfortunately, we were both having pretty decent days.’’
Allgaier wound up 30th due to the incident while Patrick was 36th. The incident, which was caused by Allgaier’s spin also involved the No. 32 team and Travis Kvapil, which wound up 38th after sustaining heavy damage.
Camping World Close to Extending Title Sponsorship of NCWTS
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Marcus Lemonis, CEO of Camping World, Grand Marshal of Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway, and star of CNBC’s “The Profit,” made the announcement over the weekend that the retailer is very close to announcing a deal that would continue its title sponsorship of NASCAR’s Truck Series. The original agreement with NASCAR is scheduled to conclude after the 2015 season.
According to the sanctioning body, no formal contract has been signed, but “the agreement between the two parties has proven to be a beneficial one.”
“In about a month, we’ll be announcing a significant extension to that contract. It’s been great for us,” said Camping World’s Lemonis in a statement. “The NASCAR relationship has worked well for Camping World. When we started, we had 35 stores. Now, we’re up to 120 stores. As we travel the country and we meet new customers in stores, they always are very appreciative of our relationship with NASCAR. It’s been good.”
Gaining a long-term commitment from Camping World to sponsor the Truck Series would be a relief for NASCAR, which is set to lose Nationwide Insurance as title sponsor for the NASCAR Nationwide Series at the end of the 2014 season. The sponsorship of the Cup Series by Sprint runs through 2016.
The NCWTS is back in action on March 29th at 2:30 PM (ET) when the trucks visit Martinsville Speedway in the Kroger 250, which can be seen on Fox Sports 1. Ratings for the season opener were up 11 percent.
Harvick Takes Win At Phoenix In Second Race With New Team
posted by Justin Tucker
Monday March 3, 2014
Phoenix International Raceway has become Kevin Harvick’s home away from home. Sunday Afternoon was no exception as Harvick charged to the front early and would dominate for much of the day, leading 224 of the scheduled 312 laps to record his record fifth win on the one mile oval and his third win in the last four races at Phoenix.
Harvick, coming off of a disappointing Speedweeks which was capped by a last lap crash in the Daytona 500 in his debut with Stewart-Haas Racing, set the tone on Saturday by winning both practices while having the best 5 and 10-lap averages in the first practice of the day on Saturday. On Sunday, Harvick and his No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet was nothing short of flawless as he was able to hold Dale Earnhardt, Jr. by .489 seconds after a late race restart to claim his 24th career Sprint Cup Series victory.
“Man, this is awesome,” Harvick said after his dominant victory on Sunday. “Man, this just solidifies so many things and so many decisions. It’s been so much work with all the time and effort that these guys (the crew) have put in—but what a race car.”
Stewart Haas Racing co-owner Gene Haas shared in Harvick’s excitement after the race.
“It took long enough,” Haas joked. “This is phenomenal. I think there was a lot of skepticism last year about what myself and Tony (Stewart) what we were up to, was there a lot of madness to this. Quite frankly, it’s a great team, there’s a lot of synergy at the shop, people working together. I don’t know what we did, but I think we put together a great organization.”
Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt, Jr. continued his hot start to the 2014 season. Earnhardt Jr. would finish second on Sunday, marking his seventh consecutive top 10 finish since the end of the 2013 season. Earnhardt Jr. was pleased with the effort after a coast-to-coast whirlwind week after winning his second Daytona 500 and also gave great praise to the efforts of Harvick and the No. 4 team.
“I’ve got to congratulate Kevin. Those guys were two-tenths faster than everyone all weekend in practice. They were just phenomenal,” Earnhardt said. “To be able to run with them all day was a big confidence builder for us.”
Joining Harvick and Earnhardt in the top 5 of The Profit on CNBC 500K were Brad Keselowski with his second consecutive top 3 run of 2014 in third. Keselowski’s Team Penske teammate Joey Logano would finish fourth, and Jeff Gordon would come home fifth in his No. 24 Pepsi Max Chevrolet.
Jimmie Johnson finished in sixth, followed by Ryan Newman with a nice rebound after Daytona in seventh. Carl Edwards would carry the banner for Roush Fenway Racing by finishing eighth, Kyle Busch was ninth, and Jamie McMurray would finish tenth.
A look at the Profit on CNBC 500K by the numbers. There were 14 lead changes among eight different drivers, there were eight cautions for 39 laps which slowed the race pace to 109.229 MPH.
Next Sunday, the Sprint Cup Series heads to Sin City and the Las Vegas Motor
Starting Lineup: The Profit On CNBC 500K
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday March 1, 2014
Drivers in RED (i) are those ineligible to collect Sprint Cup points
Daytona 500 TV Ratings Down
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Wednesday February 26, 2014
What was the longest weather delay in Daytona 500 history turned out to bring NASCAR lower ratings and TV viewership Sunday night than expected. According to a report Monday from FOX Sports, the 56th running of the Daytona 500 airing at 8 PM (ET) posted a 5.6/10 national household rating/share which averaged 9.3 million viewers. That’s down 44 percent from last year’s 9.9, easily making it the least-watched Daytona 500 of all-time.
Due to the six-hour, twenty-two minute rain delay in Daytona, the race was up against the primetime coverage of the Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony from Sochi, Russia on NBC (15.25 million viewers). FOX also reported that 69% of the pre-rain delay viewers of the race, which began at 1 PM (ET) kept tuning in.
In comparison, the 2013 Daytona 500 on FOX was the most-watched race in five years, posting a 9.9/22 rating/share, commanding 16.7 million viewers. The Daytona 500 in 2012, the first to ever be run on a Monday and in the primetime slot did a 7.7/13 overnight rating/share which resulted in 13.67 million households viewing the race according to Nielsen TV ratings data.
Earnhardt, Jr. Claims Second Daytona 500 Victory
posted by Justin Tucker
Wednesday February 26, 2014
Ten years is a long time. For Dale Earnhardt, Jr., it felt like an eternity. NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver endured many near misses and close calls at the Daytona 500 since his only win in the Great American Race in 2004. Earnhardt had finished second in two of his last three Daytona 500s coming into Sunday’s race. He was also riding the tail of a 55-race winless streak, dating back to Michigan in 2012.
However nothing would stop Dale Jr. on Sunday, not even a 6 hour and 22 minute rain delay from capturing his second Daytona 500 win. Earnhardt Jr. led a race-high 54 laps on the evening and used some timely drafting help from teammates Jimmie Johnson and, on the final restart, Jeff Gordon to separate from the pack and secure the victory.
“Winning this race is the greatest feeling that you could feel in this sport besides accepting the trophy for the championship,” said a jubilant Earnhardt after pulling into Victory Lane. “We could fight off battle after battle. We got a little help at the end there from Jeff to get away on the restart. This is amazing. I can’t believe this is happening. I never take this for granted, man because it doesn’t happen twice, let alone once.”
Aside from the race itself the big story of the race was the 6 hour and 22 minute red flag, which threatened to move the race to Monday evening (had the race been postponed, FOX Sports’ Chris Myers had tweeted that the race would resume at 5:00pm EST). However, Mother Nature would cooperate and would allow the race to be run under different conditions from which they practiced this week. Once the race resumed, the intensity picked up from the changing track conditions. This allowed the pack to race side-by-side and at times 3-wide up to seven rows deep.
Joining Earnhardt Jr. in the top 5 for the 2014 Daytona 500 were: Denny Hamlin who closed out a spectacular Speedweeks in second, Brad Keselowski in third, Jeff Gordon in fourth, and Jimmie Johnson who overcome two wrecks leading up to the 500 in fifth.
Rounding out the top 10 in the Daytona 500 were Matt Kenseth in sixth, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. in seventh and Greg Biffle would bring his No. 16 Ford home in eighth. Austin Dillon would come home ninth in his first Cup Series race in the iconic No. 3 for Richard Childress Racing, while Casey Mears would round out the top 10.
A couple of major contenders for the Daytona 500 win would see their hopes dashed early on as Martin Truex, Jr. would blow up just 30 laps into the race, relegating him to a 43rd-place finish in his debut for Furniture Row Racing. Crew chief Todd Berrier was already in Nashville for a test session before the race was even over. Kyle Busch, meanwhile would have a pit road violation just before halfway and would spend much of the race battling back from that mistake. Busch would eventually finish 19th after leading 19 laps.
Danica Patrick would also be bit by bad luck as she was caught up in a multi-car wreck on lap 145. Patrick would lead her second consecutive Daytona 500, but wouldn’t have the finish to show for it finishing 40th. Tony Stewart would encounter a frustrating evening as well, with a fuel pickup problem derailing his quest for his first Daytona 500 win. Stewart would finish 35th.
A look at the Daytona 500 by the numbers. There were 42 lead changes among 18 drivers, while seven cautions for 39 laps would slow the race pace to 145.290 MPH.
Next week, the Sprint Cup Series heads to the “diamond in the desert,” Phoenix International Raceway for The Profit on CNBC 500K. The Green flag is scheduled for 3:15pm EST.
Nationwide Series Post-Race Quotes: Drive4COPD 300
posted by Thomas Bowles
Tuesday February 25, 2014
Frontstretch Interviews – Courtesy Mike Neff
ELLIOTT SADLER – FINISHED 4th
Thoughts on the race?
It’s definitely a lot different racing than what we’re used to.
Comfortable with it?
Yeah, it’s just different. You’re worried about what you’re doing, but you’re also worried about what everyone else is doing and they’re not doing more than you’re doing. Physically pushing a guy is way better than just riding so you just gotta time it right and push it to the edge.
Happy to start the year with a top 5?
Yeah. Hell, that was the worst we ran all day, I think. I have no idea how they put the 3 car in front of us on that last restart. I hadn’t seen the 3 car hardly all day. When they put us from fifth to sixth, on the outside line, it just really boxed us in. I would have really restarted behind my teammate and given him a good push to the front. Anyways, it is what it is; we’ll take it and move on.
Looked like you were up front all day.
The guys did a good job. We had a fast race car. Great pit stops, just really proud of these guys. The car’s in one piece and we can take it to Talladega now. Great job by my guys. A lot of effort came into coming down here to Daytona and giving ourselves a shot to win. We had that chance to be up front and make some things happen. Fifth is not what we want, but we’ll take it and move on.
Bumping vs Pushing?
It’s way harder. You don’t want to lay on the guy in front of you, so it’s tough racing. A lot different than what we’re used to, ‘cause you gotta go. You gotta drag the brake too ‘cause you don’t want to hit the guys and you don’t want to stay on him. It’s a lot harder mentally than what we’ve done in the past.
Car was strong all day. Pushing vs. Bumping, is that harder to do than just getting on somebody and pushing them?
Yeah, it is a little bit. When you bump ‘em, you jar ‘em, it kinda jacks ‘em a little bit. It’s a little more abrupt, obviously. I thought it was OK there at the end. It was certainly fun and hopefully entertaining. But a little bit of a struggle in the early part of the race and the midpart of the race to see a good race. And that’s unfortunate for the fans. You can’t do that the whole race, you can’t tear up your stuff, knock your grill in, overheat your motor, all that stuff so there’s no sense in doing all that until you get down to the last lap. The 7 and the 6, they did a good job. Man, the 7 really held the 22 and I tight on the bottom. I was rubbing his door and hitting the apron at the same time, no room whatsoever. So it was good; wish we were the ones who could have won but a lot better now than what we were last year.
Going home in one piece makes it a lot better, right?
Yeah. My back feels good. My foot feels good. Past years here, I’ve been going home with pain so I’m alright.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Truck Series Post-Race Quotes: Daytona (Exclusives)
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday February 22, 2014
When you’re on the outside like that, how frustrating is it?
It’s so hard. Timothy Peters has won here. Kyle Busch has won everywhere. Ron Hornaday has been running Trucks forever, probably before I was even born. I was surrounded by veterans there, and like I told them I don’t have a rookie stripe but I’m a rookie. This is only my fourth Truck race ever, my fourth superspeedway race, and man, I figured out when the 17 got up in front of me, I pushed him. And as soon as I pushed him, he took off. And I went with him. And I just kept doing it, and before I knew it, he was leading. And I saw Ron in my mirror, backed up to him, and if it wasn’t for him, I don’t know what would have happened. I gotta thank him big time for that. That was a true teammate move right there. I really appreciate that. He just bounced off me and we got to the front. I tried my hardest to sidedraft Kyle. I was probably touching his door.
Top 5 in the No. 30 truck. This deal come together at the last minute, but you had a heck of a truck. Tell us about your night.
Yeah, I’ve got to thank Turner Scott Motorsports. The guys worked so hard on this Rheem Comfort Products Chevrolet. Exciting! Just got hung up on the outside and had to wait for my teammate there to catch up. And then he got to the bottom, so… I got the old 32 and started pushing ol’ Ryan to the front. So, it’s not bad. We’ll take it. You just don’t want to step over that boundary. You don’t know how far to push and shove. We bumped about six times down the straightaway without latching onto them. Hopefully, that was OK and we came home with a top 5.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Budweiser Duels Post Race Quotes
posted by Matt Stallknecht
Friday February 21, 2014
BUDWEISER DUELS POST-RACE QUOTES
They’re saying the wheel bearing burned up in it. I don’t know what caused it, they’re taking it all apart to figure out what the heck happened. Something abnormal that’s for sure I don’t think I’ve ever had that happen at all. Hopefully, we made the race and hopefully we can fix the problem before Sunday.
WHAT WAS THAT LOUD BOOM ONCE YOU TURNED INTO THE GARAGE?
Loud pop was a tire… thankfully, it popped, hopefully it didn’t hurt anybody. All the heat created in the left front that popped was pretty weird.
REALLY GOOD RUN. WHAT DID YOU THINK OF IT?
Yeah, it was good. We have a car we can work with for the 500. Got a good starting spot, so we’re going to rest easy, fluff and buff our car for a couple of days and get ready for Sunday.
ANY DIFFERENCE ON WHETHER THE TOP OR BOTTOM LANE WORKED?
Yeah, I was just moving around, trying to stay with the flow. For me, this car works on all parts of the racetrack. So I’m pretty happy with it.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.
GOT SHUFFLED BACK, AFTER PIT STOPS AND THEN COULDN’T GET BACK UP TO THE FRONT. WHY?
Nah, we were just sitting there waiting until the last few laps to make a move. You didn’t want to pull down and get sent to the back. Seen a couple of guys get sent to the back really quick so we were just kind of waiting for the end. I felt like we had a good situation there with Ambrose behind us — we had a good run off Turn 2 and I went. It was the last lap, time to go do something, nobody went with us but hopefully Sunday is a different story.
We got a great car. We don’t have to work hard. We learned, we got a good race car. Got a car in one piece, ready to go so we’ll try and get through the next couple of practices, deliver it to the starting group this Sunday and we’ll be real happy.
YOU’RE IN THE DAYTONA 500!
Yeah, it’s pretty awesome. This Whitetail Chevrolet was so fast that I knew all I had to do was stick it behind smart, intelligent drafters and we could have a good finish. That’s what we did in the Duels and I’m excited. I’m excited to go do some stuff with the Nationwide car and have some more practice with this. But to know that we’re locked in the Daytona 500’s pretty cool.
YOU WERE OBVIOUSLY IN FRONT OF THAT MELEE AT THE END. WHEN YOU WERE UP FRONT THERE IN THE BEGINNING, WERE YOU HOPING TO JUST STAY IN LINE AND LET YOU FINISH TOP 5?
I was pretty content to ride and luckily I knew a lot of people around us were. It was nice to have a little calm and not really have to be racing hard the whole time. I knew that the pit stop was going to shake everything up and that’s exactly what happened. Fell back a little bit there but made the right moves at the end to get a good finish.
HOW STRONG ARE THESE RCR CARS?
They’re very strong! They definitely have the capabilities to be winning one of these races.
YOU’RE IN THE TOP 5 FOR YOUR HEAT IN THE DAYTONA 500. YOUR PRIMARY CAR IS SITTING RIGHT IN THE GARAGE, KIND OF WADDED UP. DID YOU THINK THIS ONE HAD IT IN IT?
Yeah, it’s a brand new car also. It’s just not quite as good as the primary but still a damned good car. I’m just proud of everybody at RCR for building such fast race cars. All of our cars have been fast, ECR motor’s been strong, even our affiliate teams have been qualifying really good and racing good. So… excited about 2014! It’s going to be a good year.
WELL MAN, YOU STARTED IN THE BACK BUT WORKED YOUR WAY TO THE FRONT WHEN IT COUNTED MOST. WERE YOU JUST BIDING YOUR TIME THROUGHOUT THE RACE?
Eh, you never know if you’re going to get back up there or not. We had to start at the back, we had to make a run early and see what we could do. We drove right to 10th, or something like that and then it got stagnant. We tried to make something happen, and went to the back again. Drove back up to the front. Again, just really proud of my guys. Matt Kruder did a hell of a job on that pit stop getting just enough gas in to gain some spots there.
RCR CARS SEEM PRETTY DARNED STRONG. DO YOU THINK THE RCR CARS HAVE SOMETHING FOR THEM ON SUNDAY — ESPECIALLY THE THREE JOE GIBBS RACING CARS THAT SEEM TO BE THE CLASS OF THE FIELD RIGHT NOW?
Oh yeah. The 20 car was extremely fast. The 11 didn’t qualify that good, but he’s a good drafter. I think he won. We definitely have something for him.
Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
Matt McLaughlin · Monday October 29, 2007
The Key Moment - Dale Earnhardt, Jr. lost a left rear wheel off the No. 8 car moments after a Green/White/Checkered restart, sealing the win for race leader Jimmie Johnson. Honestly, he did – Johnson had gotten such a good jump that it was doubtful Carl Edwards would have caught him.
In a Nutshell - Tepid processional racing for the first three quarters, with things heating up a bit towards the end. Welcome to the new brand of Cup racing.
Dramatic Moment - When Denny Hamlin ran out of gas on a restart while leading the race, most of the drivers behind him had a sphincter-tightening moment.
The last seven laps of the race were a mess, and it completely scrambled the finishing order of the race.
A Green/White/Checkered flag finish at Atlanta – a track well noted for last lap passes – had the makings of a classic until Dale Jr. suffered his bizarre problem.
What They'll Be Talking About Around the Water Cooler This Week
Hey, for once an engine in the No. 8 car lasted 500 miles … but then a wheel fell off the Bud car. Go figure.
What can be done to make the first three quarters of the races more exciting? An excellent first step would be to drop the current points system … or eliminate the championship altogether and let the drivers’ income depend on finishing every race well.
With the way both major stock car races went this weekend, OSHA might start demanding NASCAR flagmen wear braces to prevent them from developing Carpal Tunnel Syndrome in their elbows.
You had to love the shocked expression on King Richard Petty's face as the field thundered past the flagstand and his baseball cap was blown right off his head. Had he been wearing his traditional cowboy hat, the headgear would probably be orbiting the moon right about now.
Love him or hate him, you have to give Jeff Gordon style points for his self-deprecating sense of humor. Gordon gave the command to start engines this weekend in celebration of his first Cup start at Atlanta, which came nearly fifteen years ago. When asked about the moment, Gordon told the press it would either be the first time every fan in the grandstands cheered for him – or the first time that the command to fire the engines was ever booed (there was a little of both). And while we’re on the subject of pre-race ceremonies, the irony of having an actor best known for his portrayal of one of the Dukes of Hazzard singing the National Anthem was apparently lost on NASCAR. Schneider does have a decent voice, though.
News broke this week that Carl Edwards will be backed by Aflac for a select number of races next season. But considering Cousin Carl’s post-race antics last week, maybe he should be backed by Prozac instead.
Is anybody else ready just to hand Jeff Gordon the big check and call the rest of this season off?
What in Heaven's name was going on at Memphis during Saturday's Busch event? 25 cautions slowed the action, making the racing almost unwatchable. The longest green flag segment was all of twenty laps long â€¦ and that's at a short track. Let’s put it this way; I've seen better organized and less violent biker barroom brawls. It would seem the root of the problem is with the Buschwhackers dominating the series; when they decide to take a weekend off, there aren't enough qualified young drivers with enough experience to fill the field. Of course, some of these new faces didn't do their resumes any favors driving like lethal weapons. That being said, isn't it interesting that the George / Hulman family that owns the Brickyard seems to want Mary Hulman's grandson to have a NASCAR career, rather than try to have him make it in the IRL?
Race coverage of the final three races of the Cup season is slated to begin at three o'clock ET. That means here on the right coast, the cars might actually take the green around 4:15, and the races will probably end somewhere around eight – if we’re lucky. Hmm … my guess is that strategy isn't going to help already sagging ratings any, especially if you’re ending races hours after sundown. For all their fumbling, though, ESPN / ABC can still pull off a moving segment, like the tribute to Alan Kulwicki during the pre-race show.
Brad Daugherty says he doesn't want people to like him. Well, that explains that.
The Hindenburg Award For Foul Fortune
Three drivers dominated the race; Martin Truex, Jr., Kurt Busch, and Kyle Busch. But to their dismay, none of them dominated the final results sheet. Problems in the pits ruined Kurt's day; brother Kyle also had a slow pit stop that cost him the lead, then spun the No. 5 out when Denny Hamlin's Chevy ran out of gas on the restart. As for Truex, he had the worst luck of the threesome; while the field fought to find a way around the limping No. 11 car, he drove right into the back of it, destroying the No. 1 DEI Chevy and failing to reel in the team’s bad luck.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. seemed to have an outside shot at the race win until his left rear wheel exited the No. 8 car as it gathered speed. He took one nasty hit when Jamie McMurray was unable to avoid him in turn two.
Last year, Tony Stewart dominated this race. This year, an ill-handling car, mechanical gremlins, and a frustrated driver conspired to leave the two-time Cup champ with a 30th place finish.
Juan Pablo Montoya finished fifth at Atlanta in the Spring, but problems with his Buenos-Anos Sunday ruined his Fall.
Dale Jarrett started the race third, but finished nineteenth. No, no, no, DJ. You're supposed to fall backwards next weekend!
Dave Blaney lost an engine early. That's a blow for Bill Davis’ No. 22 team, as it allows the Wood Brothers to close within 83 points of that coveted 35th place owner points position that guarantees a starting spot in the first five races of 2008.
Mark Martin took a savage hit after being unable to avoid the spinning car of David Gilliland.
_Editor’s Note: Looking to see who else was spouting off about their poor performances? Check out the actual quotes from drivers who had some rough days at Atlanta by reading Beth Lunkenheimer’s Running Their Mouth. Her column can be found here
The "Seven Come Fore Eleven" Award For Fine Fortune
Jimmie Johnson looked poised to have a decent finish, but a win didn't appear to be in the cards. However, a heads up two tire call on pit road and a heads up move at the wheel to pass the No. 11 car on the outside proved the difference in getting him the lead and, ultimately, the win.
That same two tire call on the final pit stop allowed Reed Sorenson to leave Atlanta with his best career finish: third.
Matt Kenseth had to start the race at the rear of the field after his team changed an engine on Saturday, but he drove his way up to a fourth place finish, and might even have had a chance at the win if he had enough gas.
Clint Bowyer suffered body damage and drove at the back of the field for much of the race. However, pit strategy and luck late in the going allowed him to move his way back up to sixth.
Mechanical attrition, mental lapses, and crashes eliminated many of the frontrunners in the final laps of the race, allowing some unusual names and numbers to be posted well up on the scoring pylon. Brian Vickers finished tenth, Michael Waltrip wound up eleventh, Kyle Petty was thirteenth, and Elliott Sadler was fourteenth.
Finally, it's been a terrible week for the victims of the California wildfires, many of whom lost everything but the clothes on their backs. Jimmie Johnson's $350,000 check for his win will be donated to the Red Cross to help those folks out; having grown up in the southwest California town of El Cajon, the fires hit close to home for him. But he’s not the only NASCAR personality lending a hand. Because of the generosity of Rick Hendrick, Bruton Smith, Lowe’s, and the France family – all of whom will match the amount Johnson donates – almost two million dollars will be sent to help those in need. Even that huge amount of money is just a drop in the bucket, though; if your financial circumstances allow, I urge you to donate to the Red Cross as well. For more information on how to do so, click here.
What's the Points?
Jeff Gordon maintains the points lead while Jimmie Johnson remains second, now only nine points behind Gordon. Clint Bowyer remains third in the standings, but at 111 points behind Gordon with three races left to run, he is a horse of the darkest possible shade.
Behind the top three, Tony Stewart fell a spot to fifth, while his JGR teammate Denny Hamlin fell two spots to tenth. And DEI’s new main squeeze, Martin Truex, Jr., fell a spot to 12th; more importantly, he becomes the first driver mathematically eliminated from title contention (as long as Gordon and Johnson start the final three races, of course).
On the way up, Carl Edwards moved one spot to fourth, while Kyle Busch also advanced a spot to fifth. Jeff Burton and Kurt Busch also moved up one position; they are now eighth and ninth, respectively.
Behind the Chasers, Dale Earnhardt maintains his 13th "Best of the Rest" spot in the standings, but he's now just 79 points ahead of Casey Mears, who moved up two spots to 14th. Greg Biffle holds onto 15th, while Ryan Newman's blown engine drops him two spots to 16th. Kasey Kahne advanced three spots to 17th.
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 cans of lukewarm generic stuff. It's getting discouraging devoting four hours of precious time each week to see perhaps twenty-five minutes of action.
Next Up - And then there were three â€¦ the circuit saddles up for a ride to Texas Motor Speedway.
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Didn’t watch. Clicked on at about 130 and thought “more than 200 left? Ho Hum.” Exciting recaps on Dave Despain though. It’s a shame when Indy and Pat’s blowout games are more exciting. Guess ‘cause there was more competition. Anybody got a countdown clock to the 24 hours of Daytona.
Running a season without a champion would be like running a race without a winner.
Didn’t bother to watch. If you think this season is bad, wait until next year when the TV folks focus on all the new foreigners in the mix. It’s so ironic that many made fun of Bill Elliot and Sterling Marlin because of their accents. Go to your local track and see real racers, who actually know what the inside of an engine looks like.
Just when you think a NASCAR race couldn’t possibly get any more screwed up , along comes Sunoco to introduce water as the latest fuel additive . First they introduce a new fuel blend in sports car racing that almost results in Dale Jr. being burned alive , and now sloppy fuel distribution policies create a race end junk yard . Supposedly proffesional companies should be able to do a better job than this . Some good race cars had finish positions , money , and points taken away from them because of poor quality race fuel .
Shouda’ used some of Waltrip’s intake manifold additive in the cars this week; wouldn’t have had a water/fuel issue then. Will Wonderboy and Unibrow ever have any bad luck? These guys would’ve won the lottery at least 5 times this year w/ their luck. Maybe Dale Jr. will get some of that Hendrick luck next year, because he could use it. NA$CAR looks real smart putting the Texas race in the same time slot as the NE-IND game; DUMB MOVE.
Why don’t you little sissy boys get off Carl Edwards back before he flattens one of you!! He is one of the few reasoms to watch all of this political correctness crap that has become nascrap. Now write some more crap about how good toyota is for the sport so I can puke!
“What can be done to make the first three quarters of the races more exciting?”
How about bonus points for the leader at 1/4 and 1/2 way…