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.
Editor’s Note: This is Part Two of a two-part series by Matt McLaughlin on fixing NASCAR’s future. If you missed Part One, click here to catch up.
Speaking of TV – And who isn't these days, usually noting that they find the current NASCAR broadcasts absolutely terrible to the point of being almost unwatchable. Of course, everyone needs to be appreciative to a point, because only a generation ago a damn few races were on TV at all – and those that were were shown in part often weeks after the fact. But like so many things, it's not that much harder to do things well than it is to do them poorly.
A lot of folks, myself included, thought or just hoped that things would improve when ESPN got back into NASCAR broadcasting. That didn't turn out to be the case. After a tough year, it would behoove ESPN management and "talent" to use the offseason to review tapes not of this year's broadcasts but tapes from the glory days of the mid-to-late 1980s. Those broadcasts were free of gimmicks and talking heads with little to say, long on information and actual coverage of the racing itself. Today's race broadcasts were exactly that, coming across too much like People magazine – a curse on this generation – and too little like ABC’s old Wide World of Sports.
Naturally, the primary bugaboo that drives fans nuts is “too many commercials.” You’ve got to pity the poor producers and directors of these race broadcasts, trying to cover about the only sport with no natural “timeouts” or scheduled breaks. They’re damned if they do and damned if they don’t with ads; while fans are screaming there are too many commercials, network execs are screaming they need to sell more at higher prices to make race coverage profitable. The number one improvement that could be made to current race broadcasts is to adopt the “side by side” type coverage ABC/ESPN uses during IRL races. That way at least fans can keep track of what's going on on-track, while enduring the barrage of commercial messages.
Secondly, I know there are new fans to the sport who might not be the dyed-in-the-wool gearheads that most old-time fans were – and I appreciate they may not know a camshaft from a driveshaft. But if I have to endure one more animated explanation of valve train failure, I might launch a frosty through the HDTV. Networks can use their websites to provide technical data for the uninformed; it's time to stop talking down to the audience.
Along those same lines, it's well past time for some members of the broadcast teams to stop serving as NASCAR apologists and to realize that they're there to report the “big show;” and contrary to what they think, they are not the big show. A lot more honesty and a bit more humility would improve race broadcasts overnight. Stop worrying about biting the hand that feeds; it's the networks that are feeding NASCAR huge bushels of cash. Believe me, for all their occasional bluster NASCAR officials aren't going to upset that gravy train.
It's the Racing, Stupid! – The core of what ails the last couple of years of stock car racing is what NASCAR officials like to call “the product” – the racing itself. The fact NASCAR officials call racing
If the current “product” is seen as entertainment, then it is acceptable to manipulate the rules to make the "product" more entertaining. By that analogy, I'm thinking of all those dubious debris caution flags that have peppered the endings of otherwise monotonous racing the last few years. I'm thinking about the absurdity that is the "Chase," used to determine our champion and prolong crowning the victor. In my mind (what is left of it) Jimmie Johnson is the "Entertaining Product" champion of 2007, while Jeff Gordon – who amassed the most legitimate points of any driver this season – is the "Sport" champion.
But let’s leave aside the debate about the Chase for a moment and get back to the brass tacks. Over the last few years, “the Product” itself has sucked on the track. 2007 has entered the record books as one of the most tepid in series history; for every finish like the first Martinsville race or the second Texas race, there were too many quickly forgettable "Instant Debacles" waged in the name of stock car racing.
The problems leading to the current state of affairs are myriad. Some fault must be laid on the current mix of tracks on the schedule. The loss of two dates at Rockingham and one at Darlington removes three dates from a pair of highly competitive and unique tracks. The continued scheduling of two dates at places prone to put on snoozefests like New Hampshire, Michigan, California, and the inclusion of Joliet now almost guarantees a high ratio of clinkers to classics when it comes to good racing. Let's face it: when Michigan, California, Joliet and Kansas City were designed, they were planned as “dual use” facilities that would cater to both stock car and open wheel. Well, with open wheel racing having become an asterisk on the sport's scene – rivaling curling and fencing in the American conscience – it's simply time to tear up those tracks and build a facility more suited to racing the “taxi cabs.” Yeah, it's expensive and the shareholders will bitch, but it's another case of the long term good versus short-term profits.
California is a track that particularly galls me. Other than a few Truck events, I can not recall a single race worth watching at the joint. It's time to dig it up and replace it with a three-quarter mile track patterned after Richmond – or better yet, replace it with a three-quarter mile dirt track patterned after Richmond. Now that would be something to see. As for Joliet, how about a one-mile circular track with graduated banking reaching to forty degrees at the top of the corners? Kansas City? A one-mile track configured as a figure eight, with the frontstretch bridging over the backstretch. That ought to drive the chassis guys crazy; but it's time to start thinking outside the box.
Some blame must also go to the hideous new cars, which have not solved the problems they were designed to eliminate. Everyone says these new cars are tough; I don't know about that, but I agree they are tough to look at. And drivers, by and large, are still afraid to beat and bang with the things, fearful of upsetting their aerodynamic perfection. I hate aerodynamics; frankly, I feel a rule forcing any crew member found within three miles of a wind tunnel to wear a pink party dress for the rest of the season would be good for the sport.
But wind tunnels should have been a thing of the past, as the CoT was supposed to eliminate the “aero loose” condition that is ruining racing. The problem is simple: when a faster car attempts to pass a car ahead of it, the loss of air off the nose makes the car "loose". (Simple explanation; the car wants to go straight even as the driver turns the steering wheel). That makes the driver unable to pass, creating a disappointing single-file stalemate. It's a problem that has been deviling stock car racing for a decade now – and it's time to eliminate it.
Much of the problem is there isn't enough “stock” left in stock cars. These are aerodynamically tweaked rockets, with suspension geometry unlike anything that has been run on the street since the days of the horseless carriage. With the exception of the necessary safety equipment, stock cars should be simply that – “stock,” complete with outside rearview mirrors, stock front valances, stock suspensions, and production-based fuel injected engines. Ideally, they would be virtually indistinguishable sheet metal wise from the Mustang you can drive off a dealer's lot, or the new Challenger and Camaro you'll be able to purchase soon. In my opinion, a fender removed from a Mustang rental car in the track lot should bolt perfectly to a Cup car, and the windshield and side windows should drop in place as well. As for the engines, horsepower should be capped at whatever level the competition department can beg past the warranty department in mass produced cars sold by the thousands at prices under $35,000. That would get the old time Ford, Chevy, and Mopar stalwarts back in the stands; strip off the exhaust systems, paint some numbers on the side, and race those summabitches while Al Gore has a coronary over the carbon footprint of the sport.
One important deviation from “stock” would be the rubber bolted to these cars. Radial tires have been a decided detriment to stock car racing; Goodyear introduced radial tires to the sport not only because they were faster, but in an attempt to drive upstart tire company Hoosier from the sport. However, the bias ply tires – last used in the late 1980s – were more predictable and forgiving. Drivers could race harder on bias ply tires, and speeds were both reasonable and safer. Oh, Goodyear might get upset, but let's look at things logically: how many of you go out and buy tires that need to be replaced every fifty miles and can't be operated in the rain for your wife's mini-van? The idea that racing improves the breed when it comes to street tires is as outdated as tailfins and whitewalls.
Finally, it's time to revamp the points system and payout structure of our sport. Each race is currently not 1/36th of the season. Each race is a unique event in and of itself, and it should be viewed only as such. Every effort should be made to see that that week's unique event is of the highest possible caliber, and there should be a massive points difference between the first and second place finishers tally. But that's not enough. Two cars racing for the lead is all well and good (and a bit of a rarity lately) but there needs to be good racing throughout the front half of the pack. Points payouts between each position should be made significant enough that we see the old style dogfighting (not literally, Mr. Vick) over each spot we once enjoyed.
And we cannot stop there. The current payout structure rewards teams with the big checks at the end of the year. That system was designed back when NASCAR was struggling to find enough teams to run the full schedule after the car manufacturers withdrew from the sport in the early 1970s. Now, there's too many teams that want to run the full schedule week in and week out. Make the purses to win races or finish in the Top 10 much larger, while at the same time making the year end payout for the top teams much smaller. $100,000 and the pride involved ought to be plenty of incentive to win a title – and if a driver wants to fly in a private jet and keep an eighty foot motor yacht at the marina, he can damn well get out there and run for all he's worth each and every week to earn the big check, to the considerable delight of the fans who bought tickets not for the season but for that one particular event. It’s those old time fans who used to fill up the grandstands, remember? Crew chiefs often remind today's drivers to keep "the Big Picture" in mind when trying to get them to give up positions or a chance at a win for a safe and sure points day. Well, the "Big Picture" here is that the sport is all the poorer for conservative racing, and it’s beginning to show up in NASCAR's bottom line.
You want the old-time fans back? Limit the cost of the sport on both sides of the catchfence. Make a set of easily understandable rules and stick to them. Give the drivers and teams incentive to finish as best they can each week in cars similar to what fans might have parked out in the lot. Then, clear out the bottom ten rows of the grandstands, stand back, and let them summabitches race.
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Matt, I’m over it. Lost the interest that was once a passion. They remind me of politicians, entertainment value is ZERO. No Daytona, no Pocono, first time in 20 years. Sad. Dave Monroe, Durham, CT
Sadly, Matt, NASCAR will not listen to you as an excellent commentator and long time fan, nor me as a long time fan. Our opinions don’t count. It’s the “product” and bottom line that interests the France family. It will take a prolonged loss of fans and dollars to get their attention. Unfortunately, King Brian has his head buried so far in the sand of Daytona Beach and his brain so muddled by whatever he was under the influence of that night last year, that he can’t see the forest for the trees.
Matt leave my Kansas Speedway alone, if nothing else install lights and another date. Lose the road races, or use the driver you hired at the start of the season. Lose the top 35 rule and past champ, run the fastest 43, and quit comming out of retirement to run in subpar equpment. Bored in Topeka Ks
All Nascar race broadcasts in 2007 were terrible . ESPN and FOX think we want the same old group of analysts . We don’t . Joy , Waltrip , Hammond , Punch ,Larry Mac , and all of the periphreal so-called talent need to go away , never to return .
I have been thinking of the same thing for over ten years. The teams go to the local dealership, pick up a true stock car, put in a roll cage use stock engine, tires, and then let them race. No engine modifications, no special fuel allowed, no allowed body work, limit tires to be replaced only if they go flat. ( RULE: teams can use only the same rubber that comes standard with the car.) This would really be racing stock cars. I can almost “see” the racing, it would be excellent, just think how close the racing would be. AND only the fastest forty three cars period. No provisionalâ€™s at all. 100 points for the winner, one point per position for the rest. ( 2cd place would get 42 points last place 1 point.) That would eliminate “points” racing. What do we need NA$CAR for? Let’s start a real stock car racing series. I would attend racing of this sort. I no longer goto NA$CAR events, cost way too much. ( I do go to my local race tracks, St. Clair speedway in Belleville, Illinois, and I-55 in Pevely, Missouri.) Great article, great thoughts. Too bad it will not happen.
The top 35 rule is a joke! and don’t even get me started on the rough driving rule. All of the drivers now are afraid of the hand of “God” France to pick them up and punish them for exacally what they were taught to do…beat and bang to get the win. I think racing should be about that week’s race not the points system. The interviews that burn me up are the ones that state “ I finished 5th, that puts me good in the points race!” You lost dumba$@! Did you even try or was the points race more important?
Matt, I agree with you as I often do. But, the bottom line here is that NASCAR was started by people that had a “PASSION” for racing. Those people have passed on, what we have left running the show are people that have a PASSION for MONEY, not racing. I fear NASCAR is doomed to be a foot note in sports history.It would seem the late Dale Sr. probably had more to do with keeping the racing “REAL” in NASCAR than any of us ever thought. We all know he had Bill’s ear anytime he wanted it.These are sad days for race fans….
Matt, could not agree more! I have always said that if CART / IRL could run on the track that NA$CAR should not! Not enough banking.
Has anyone complaining about the influence of aerodynamics bothered to read a physics book? You can’t ram a car through the air at 200 mph (300 ft per second) and NOT have aerodynamics play a huge part in vehicle dynamics. At those speeds the air flow over the car in front will have an enormous effect on the air flow over following cars. It’s like gravity, that’s how the world is wired together.
I totally agree that Nascar used to be run by those who LOVED racing. That gene seems to have skipped this generation. When the only time you can see Brian France on the track side of the catch fence is when there are enough pseudo ‘celebrities’ to give him a good photo op, you know we’re in trouble. To me, the quality of the broadcasts simply reflects the attitude of the man in charge, who has spent the majority of his time in the front office trying to erase any trace of what used to make NASCAR unique and different. We’re doomed.
First matt said…
THEN Matt Said…
Pot, kettle, black my friend. Pot. Kettle. Black.
Oh wait. You described push. Should have listened to Ned Jarrett one of the 10 times a race he used to explain the difference on ESPN’s great mid 80’s coverage.
right on, as always matt!
it’s been a struggle for me to stay with na$car since 2/18/01, you know that. as was said by some else, that day killed the sport for most. love or hate him, dale sr. was nascar. the rivalry he had with other drivers, on the track, was priceless. now everyone has to play nice and be buddy buddy. i still keep waiting for jr to completely jump ship and become a hendrick clone.
flat out, it’s gotten too expensive for me. economy stinks, gas is expensive, tickets are high, food at track stinks, and the post-race traffic…..need a case of maalox for that. in a few days i’ll have the rolex on tv as i’m starting to get the racing itch, and the 500 will be on, but probably by april i’ll be disenchanted with it. i haven’t purchased tickets to ams or talladega yet, and honestly, won’t. my couch is comfy enough, no rude people in stands walking all over. i have been a fan since the 70’s. it’s way too vanilla for me, very few drivers have passion. how many of them would race just to race (with exception of ken schrader, tony stewart or possibly kasey kahne). accessability to drivers is getting more and more limited, and the new ones…forget it. they don’t even know what a true, die hard fan is. if you’re not the young, blond chickie flavor of the month, they have no use for you. it’s us middle aged fans that enable them to race without having to hold down a “day job”.
sorry, i ramble.
I’ve always liked Buddy Baker’s simple explanation of “tight”.
When the car is tight you see the wall yiu’re going to hit through the windhield. When it’s loose you see the wall you’re going to hit in the rearview mirror.
Joliet is only 2 hrs away from us and we have been attending there since it opened. This will most likely be our last year. The races are boring and we are forced to buy season tickets that you can’t renew our spots or spend big $‘s per person to move up to the better seats. We end up throwing away the tickets for the Sept races we couldn’t even give them away. That is just like flushing money down the toliet. Plus now to attend the Friday nite race we have to take a vacation day to get there. Same reason we dropped the Milwaukee races. We used to attend both MI races then we dropped down to 1 and now we don’t go there either. We are trying to make every track on the circuit but we may lose all interest before we make it. We used to be able to fly, rent a car, hotel and tickets for right around $ 1000.00. Now flights alone are over half that and the hotels make the rest of it.
Nascar is losing the younger generation not getting it. My husbands grandson no longer watches. He gave it 1 yr after Dale died but never really got back into it. My daughter-in law worked for Newell and was a big Kurt Busch fan and my son started off with Mark Martin & Dale Jarrett then he decided he like Kurt also. Then Kurt went to Dodge so they gave up going and watching races.
Several people we know went nuts when Toyota came in and their drivers went to the dark side. Now add Gibbs drivers to that list.
Drivers hopping around from team to team – car make to car make is NOT good for the sport either. About the time you decide who you’ll pull for they change everything. I have tons of Red # 8 stuff that is unusable now. Don’t get me wrong he needed to leave DEI but ouch my pockets hurt. At least he is still in a Chevy.
Folks the good old days just werenâ€™t always that good. If I recall correctly; Ned Jarrett won a race in 1965 by the scant margin of 22 laps.
I do agree with getting back to racing cars that appear “stock”, after all they are called “Stock Cars”.
As far as the points system goes. Throw it out and start over. Here’s the thing, the somewhat tweaked current system was put in place to keep teams from “Cherry Picking” races. Well my fine friends, that just isnâ€™t about to happen in todayâ€™s NASCAR. Todayâ€™s cars donâ€™t run so much on Sunoco as they run on sponsor dollars. DuPont, Lowes, Mountain Dew, and Miller all pour enormous sums of cash into their respective teams and they want them at every track.
Bring back the lap leader bonus, not the current bonus for leading a lap or the most laps, but points for every lap led. Oh and while were revamping the points, pay out some points for winning the pole. That should put some excitement back in qualifying.
While were talking about qualifying, every team has two cars at the track, let them make a qualifying run with both of them. Then race the fastest 43 teams. Period. If Junior, Gordon, or Stewart go home, tough.
Oh and for the sake of safety. When pitting under caution, the cars line up in the same order they entered the pits.
By the way, once a year play the audio bite of Neil Bonnett explaining push and loose. He explained it best . Iâ€™ll let someone else post the quoteâ€¦ just to see if anyone read this far.
NASCAR today is just CART with fenders. The racing worth seeing is at the local tracks. Winston/Nextel/Sprint has given up all entertainment value. There is no place for a Dave Marcis or J.D McDuffie to make an inroad. Dale Earnhardt would not get a ride today because of his rough edges. His son is idolized but has minimal achievements to claim. I get to spend Sundays with my family now.
I hated to old points system. The only thing I don’t like about the chase is that it’s covered by ESPN. A company that’s filled with arrogant baseball-lovin’ know-it-alls.
The COT doesn’t bother me….yet. It better get…better though.
There needs to be fixed start times on all races.
California needs to change or die. I watched half of the very first race there and have not watched another.
The Top 35 needs to die or change to a lower number or it just may bleed this sport to death. I don’t even bother with watching or listening to qualifying anymore. What’s the point?
Steve , the cars don’t run too much on Sunoco either , it’s full of water .
As a fan of the sport it hurts me to say this,if you want to send Na$car a message it is to boycott a race enmass.Think of the fall out if everyone who claims to be a fan doen’t go to the“Atlanta 500”(just to name a race),the old adage of what if the had a race and no one came….my fellow race fans till that day happens King Brian will not listen.
Neil Bonnett’s explanation of pushing vs. loose. When you’re pushing, you see the wreck.
Great job Matt. Once again,you’ve covered just about all the bases.
As to boycotting a race to get the attention of the Frances as was mentioned in an earlier post, it would take more than just one race.You would need to boycott all the ISC tracks, boycott all the sponsors, don’t buy any souvenirs from the official vendors, skip the concession stands, and listen to the radio rather than watch the races on TV. Then and only then, would you get the attention of the Frances because the ledgers would be bleeding red ink and Lord knows how much this younger generation of France loves money.
Of course, this may end up happening anyways as a result of the ever skyrocketing ticket prices and cost of everything that goes with a race weekend plus the loss of the short attention span crowd and the fad fans that were so dearly coveted down in Daytona. This could very well drive race fans back to their local tracks which are becoming an endangered species as more and more of them fold up because they can’t compete with NASCAR contrary to what Jim Hunter says about the local tracks not promoting themselves. If they had NASCAR’s promotion budget, they could bring in NASCAR races. They wouldn’t need to promote their local talent. But as they don’t have that kind of money, they’ve got to compete again the Goliath that is NASCAR.
So instead of watching the races at Fontana, get out to your local track. If road course racing is boring to you, go to your local track instead of watching NASCAR. There are always options of some sort.
I skip watching several races a year to attend some of the driver reunions and public appearances of the legendary drivers of old.I always have a great time and hear some great stories. This is an option that’s available to some folks here on the East Coast and there are some West Coast reunions also. So you might want to look at these as alternatives.
Right On Matt! Remember the NFAISC? We do not forget how they used a National Tragedy to profit!! I have not been to the Daytona 500 since. I’ll be at the Rolex 24 and that is it! And I will have a HUGE Cooler :)
Dude, You’re stuck in the 1980’s, it’s 2008, GET OVER IT!!! “or better yet, replace it with a three-quarter mile dirt track patterned after Richmond.” That is about the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard, a dirt track for the Cup Series, what are you smoking?
“The Top 35 needs to die or change to a lower number or it just may bleed this sport to death.” —— LOL, Waltrip fans, GET OVER IT, HE SUCKS, ALWAYS HAS ALWAYS WILL, IF NOT FOR HIS BIG MOUTH AND HIS BROTHER, HE’D BEEN GONE FROM NASCAR MANY YEARS AGO!!! The Top 35 is a very good rule, it rewards the teams that have been in the sport and makes it hard for “big money”(MW/Toyota) people to come in and push them out! If you don’t like the rule, you don’t understand it’s purpose and should shut-up already!!!
Matt, I cannot agree with you more. Remember the Goody’s Dash Series, yes they were small organization, but I loved their racing on dirt as well as asphalt and they same goes with ARCA. I remember my uncle talking how the NASCAR guys use to race at Silver Springs Speedway and some other dirt tracks here in PA back in the 50’s or 60’s. It might have been earlier than this even. I think they need to get back to their roots a bit and do some dirt races as well redesign some of these tracks like California, Kansas, and Chicago. I can see having one or two of these type tracks, but give me a break. Let’s do another Bristol and Richmond. That would be great as well as some dirt racing somewhere. All it seems now is that these commentators are trying to “sell” you on watching the sport and to like it, rather than it catching your attention and getting you hooked that way. I love racing, but it is getting to the point where it is losing focus of keeping the fan involved and France and his guys doing what they feel needs to be done. WE are what make the sport and we are the ones who can make it or break it. I see a breaking point coming. I know what they are trying to do with the COT’s, but come on man! I want to be able to come close when I go out to buy my car the Ford or Chevy nameplate and for it to almost look similiar to what those guys are racing. Like they saying was back in the day “Race on Sunday, buy on Monday” or something close to that. How are the manufactures going to market their product with a car they can’t produce for the street. Personally, this doesn’t make my decision on buying a Ford, Chevy, or Dodge anymore. They all have little “issues” with them anyways so it all goes down to getting the best deal for my money. NASCAR needs to take a step back and look at it from a different angle. I love the fact they said this year fans threw stuff on the track because Gordon past Earnhardt’s win record. It was Jeff Gordon, the Earnhardt fan’s main enemy at one point. They threw bottles because he won, not to what they thought. It was wrong of course, but let’s get into prospective point of view. It’s pretty bad when the truck races are more fun to watch than the main show itself. The Nationwide Series would get higher rankings too if they took the Sprint drivers out of it more and left the cars alone as well.
I think there are a lot of good opinions posted here on this subject and agree with a lot of them but the date and time we live in will not allow for them.Nascar has done well for itself and a lot of people are making a great living from it-crews,teams,owners and drivers so I think the cars are not the problem-hey they are still made in America-even Gibbs doesn’t build those yota’s in Japan.From looking at the article and the post’s I agree with a major problem being the tracks which don’t allow for good competitive racing,also I don’t think these guys are to good to run on the dirt and you see them want to do it for fun so I say add a dirt track or two and add more short tracks the beatin and bangin and close racing is what fans really like to see,if people don’t like to see the wrecks why are they pointing and jumping to their feet when it happens?I still love Nascar inspite of it’s faults and it still gives us watercooler talk as it has all these years.Make the competition better and the rest will take care of itself!!!!!!!
Best color man of all time—without a doubt__
The chase killed it for me. Who has the most points in 36 races, not 10 is the winner. Jeff may be OK with it, but we are not. JG going for 7 to tie Earnhart, that would have been worth watching this year.
Been a fan since ’79 but left around 2003. Getting back into it now after getting sirius as a gift in Feb 07.
If Nascar wants to whoo me….get rid of the Top 35. I don’t even bother with qualifying anymore. Don’t watch, don’t listen. Why even bother? It will slowly kill this sport if not changed or removed.
Oh, and if there is ANY way to take the chase away from ESPN please do it. I watched the first two chase races in ’07, then just listen to the radio. ESPN is terrible.