Kurt Busch to Attempt The Indianapolis-Charlotte Double
posted by Phil Allaway
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Andretti Autosport announced this morning that Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet in the Sprint Cup Series, will attempt the Indianapolis 500 in a fifth entry for the IndyCar Series team. Once the Indianapolis 500 is completed, Busch will fly from Indianapolis to Charlotte, jump in his No. 41 Chevrolet and compete in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Busch considers the opportunity to do the double as an old-school throwback moment.
“This is really to challenge myself within motorsports,” Busch said in Andretti Autosport’s press release. “Perhaps I am a bit of an old-school racer; a throwback, I guess. I enjoyed the era of drivers racing different cars and testing themselves in other series. It is tough to do now for a variety of factors, but when the opportunity is there, I want to do it. While NASCAR is my home, I have been fortunate to compete in Pro Stock on the NHRA circuit a number of years ago and test a V8 Supercar. This opportunity was a talk with Michael [Andretti] over dinner one night, a “What if,” and now it’s becoming a reality for me to drive in the Indy 500 with Andretti Autosport. It’s literally a dream come true. To go to the famous Brickyard with the iconic Andretti name, it doesn’t get much cooler or better than that.”
Busch will be doing the Indianapolis-Charlotte double as a Memorial Day mission to men and women serving in the U.S. Military via the Armed Forces Foundation. Fans can contribute to the cause by texting AFF to 50555 to donate $10.
Busch, who has never raced an IndyCar, passed Rookie Orientation at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year during a test session. At the time, Busch was more or less testing the Dallara DW12 for fun.
Busch will be the fourth driver to attempt the Indianapolis-Charlotte double. John Andretti was the first driver to attempt it in 1994. After finishing four laps down in tenth in Indianapolis, Andretti crashed and had engine problems in the 600. Robby Gordon has attempted the double five times, most recently in 2004. However, Gordon failed to make it to Charlotte on time and did not start the 600 in 2000 (P.J. Jones started Gordon’s No. 13 Ford in that instance). Finally, Tony Stewart has attempted the double twice (most recently in 2001) and is the only driver to ever complete all 1100 miles. Neither of the three drivers has won either leg of the double. The best finishes are Stewart and Gordon’s sixth-place finishes at the Indianapolis 500 (although Gordon’s came in 2000, the year he didn’t make it to Charlotte in time to start the Coca-Cola 600), and Stewart’s fourth-place finish in the 2001 Coca-Cola 600.
Danica Patrick, Justin Allgaier Talk About Phoenix Incident
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
A disappointing start to the year for Danica Patrick won’t include continued conflict. Patrick met with rookie Justin Allgaier Sunday, shortly after the Phoenix Cup race after a wreck ruined both drivers’ days. Patrick, who was critical of the No. 51 car on the radio, claiming Allgaier was “driving all over the track” appeared receptive to a conversation that quickly settled differences over what will be a long season.
“She was just upset because she got involved in the crash that we had,’’ said Allgaier to the Motor Racing Network. “She says she’s been through this and that she felt like I needed to settle down at that point. I explained my position on why everything happened. I think she understood where I was coming from. It doesn’t fix either one of our racecars. It doesn’t fix either one of our days. Unfortunately, we were both having pretty decent days.’’
Allgaier wound up 30th due to the incident while Patrick was 36th. The incident, which was caused by Allgaier’s spin also involved the No. 32 team and Travis Kvapil, which wound up 38th after sustaining heavy damage.
Camping World Close to Extending Title Sponsorship of NCWTS
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Marcus Lemonis, CEO of Camping World, Grand Marshal of Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway, and star of CNBC’s “The Profit,” made the announcement over the weekend that the retailer is very close to announcing a deal that would continue its title sponsorship of NASCAR’s Truck Series. The original agreement with NASCAR is scheduled to conclude after the 2015 season.
According to the sanctioning body, no formal contract has been signed, but “the agreement between the two parties has proven to be a beneficial one.”
“In about a month, we’ll be announcing a significant extension to that contract. It’s been great for us,” said Camping World’s Lemonis in a statement. “The NASCAR relationship has worked well for Camping World. When we started, we had 35 stores. Now, we’re up to 120 stores. As we travel the country and we meet new customers in stores, they always are very appreciative of our relationship with NASCAR. It’s been good.”
Gaining a long-term commitment from Camping World to sponsor the Truck Series would be a relief for NASCAR, which is set to lose Nationwide Insurance as title sponsor for the NASCAR Nationwide Series at the end of the 2014 season. The sponsorship of the Cup Series by Sprint runs through 2016.
The NCWTS is back in action on March 29th at 2:30 PM (ET) when the trucks visit Martinsville Speedway in the Kroger 250, which can be seen on Fox Sports 1. Ratings for the season opener were up 11 percent.
Harvick Takes Win At Phoenix In Second Race With New Team
posted by Justin Tucker
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Phoenix International Raceway has become Kevin Harvick’s home away from home. Sunday Afternoon was no exception as Harvick charged to the front early and would dominate for much of the day, leading 224 of the scheduled 312 laps to record his record fifth win on the one mile oval and his third win in the last four races at Phoenix.
Harvick, coming off of a disappointing Speedweeks which was capped by a last lap crash in the Daytona 500 in his debut with Stewart-Haas Racing, set the tone on Saturday by winning both practices while having the best 5 and 10-lap averages in the first practice of the day on Saturday. On Sunday, Harvick and his No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet was nothing short of flawless as he was able to hold Dale Earnhardt, Jr. by .489 seconds after a late race restart to claim his 24th career Sprint Cup Series victory.
“Man, this is awesome,” Harvick said after his dominant victory on Sunday. “Man, this just solidifies so many things and so many decisions. It’s been so much work with all the time and effort that these guys (the crew) have put in—but what a race car.”
Stewart Haas Racing co-owner Gene Haas shared in Harvick’s excitement after the race.
“It took long enough,” Haas joked. “This is phenomenal. I think there was a lot of skepticism last year about what myself and Tony (Stewart) what we were up to, was there a lot of madness to this. Quite frankly, it’s a great team, there’s a lot of synergy at the shop, people working together. I don’t know what we did, but I think we put together a great organization.”
Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt, Jr. continued his hot start to the 2014 season. Earnhardt Jr. would finish second on Sunday, marking his seventh consecutive top 10 finish since the end of the 2013 season. Earnhardt Jr. was pleased with the effort after a coast-to-coast whirlwind week after winning his second Daytona 500 and also gave great praise to the efforts of Harvick and the No. 4 team.
“I’ve got to congratulate Kevin. Those guys were two-tenths faster than everyone all weekend in practice. They were just phenomenal,” Earnhardt said. “To be able to run with them all day was a big confidence builder for us.”
Joining Harvick and Earnhardt in the top 5 of The Profit on CNBC 500K were Brad Keselowski with his second consecutive top 3 run of 2014 in third. Keselowski’s Team Penske teammate Joey Logano would finish fourth, and Jeff Gordon would come home fifth in his No. 24 Pepsi Max Chevrolet.
Jimmie Johnson finished in sixth, followed by Ryan Newman with a nice rebound after Daytona in seventh. Carl Edwards would carry the banner for Roush Fenway Racing by finishing eighth, Kyle Busch was ninth, and Jamie McMurray would finish tenth.
A look at the Profit on CNBC 500K by the numbers. There were 14 lead changes among eight different drivers, there were eight cautions for 39 laps which slowed the race pace to 109.229 MPH.
Next Sunday, the Sprint Cup Series heads to Sin City and the Las Vegas Motor
Starting Lineup: The Profit On CNBC 500K
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday March 1, 2014
Drivers in RED (i) are those ineligible to collect Sprint Cup points
Daytona 500 TV Ratings Down
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Wednesday February 26, 2014
What was the longest weather delay in Daytona 500 history turned out to bring NASCAR lower ratings and TV viewership Sunday night than expected. According to a report Monday from FOX Sports, the 56th running of the Daytona 500 airing at 8 PM (ET) posted a 5.6/10 national household rating/share which averaged 9.3 million viewers. That’s down 44 percent from last year’s 9.9, easily making it the least-watched Daytona 500 of all-time.
Due to the six-hour, twenty-two minute rain delay in Daytona, the race was up against the primetime coverage of the Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony from Sochi, Russia on NBC (15.25 million viewers). FOX also reported that 69% of the pre-rain delay viewers of the race, which began at 1 PM (ET) kept tuning in.
In comparison, the 2013 Daytona 500 on FOX was the most-watched race in five years, posting a 9.9/22 rating/share, commanding 16.7 million viewers. The Daytona 500 in 2012, the first to ever be run on a Monday and in the primetime slot did a 7.7/13 overnight rating/share which resulted in 13.67 million households viewing the race according to Nielsen TV ratings data.
Earnhardt, Jr. Claims Second Daytona 500 Victory
posted by Justin Tucker
Wednesday February 26, 2014
Ten years is a long time. For Dale Earnhardt, Jr., it felt like an eternity. NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver endured many near misses and close calls at the Daytona 500 since his only win in the Great American Race in 2004. Earnhardt had finished second in two of his last three Daytona 500s coming into Sunday’s race. He was also riding the tail of a 55-race winless streak, dating back to Michigan in 2012.
However nothing would stop Dale Jr. on Sunday, not even a 6 hour and 22 minute rain delay from capturing his second Daytona 500 win. Earnhardt Jr. led a race-high 54 laps on the evening and used some timely drafting help from teammates Jimmie Johnson and, on the final restart, Jeff Gordon to separate from the pack and secure the victory.
“Winning this race is the greatest feeling that you could feel in this sport besides accepting the trophy for the championship,” said a jubilant Earnhardt after pulling into Victory Lane. “We could fight off battle after battle. We got a little help at the end there from Jeff to get away on the restart. This is amazing. I can’t believe this is happening. I never take this for granted, man because it doesn’t happen twice, let alone once.”
Aside from the race itself the big story of the race was the 6 hour and 22 minute red flag, which threatened to move the race to Monday evening (had the race been postponed, FOX Sports’ Chris Myers had tweeted that the race would resume at 5:00pm EST). However, Mother Nature would cooperate and would allow the race to be run under different conditions from which they practiced this week. Once the race resumed, the intensity picked up from the changing track conditions. This allowed the pack to race side-by-side and at times 3-wide up to seven rows deep.
Joining Earnhardt Jr. in the top 5 for the 2014 Daytona 500 were: Denny Hamlin who closed out a spectacular Speedweeks in second, Brad Keselowski in third, Jeff Gordon in fourth, and Jimmie Johnson who overcome two wrecks leading up to the 500 in fifth.
Rounding out the top 10 in the Daytona 500 were Matt Kenseth in sixth, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. in seventh and Greg Biffle would bring his No. 16 Ford home in eighth. Austin Dillon would come home ninth in his first Cup Series race in the iconic No. 3 for Richard Childress Racing, while Casey Mears would round out the top 10.
A couple of major contenders for the Daytona 500 win would see their hopes dashed early on as Martin Truex, Jr. would blow up just 30 laps into the race, relegating him to a 43rd-place finish in his debut for Furniture Row Racing. Crew chief Todd Berrier was already in Nashville for a test session before the race was even over. Kyle Busch, meanwhile would have a pit road violation just before halfway and would spend much of the race battling back from that mistake. Busch would eventually finish 19th after leading 19 laps.
Danica Patrick would also be bit by bad luck as she was caught up in a multi-car wreck on lap 145. Patrick would lead her second consecutive Daytona 500, but wouldn’t have the finish to show for it finishing 40th. Tony Stewart would encounter a frustrating evening as well, with a fuel pickup problem derailing his quest for his first Daytona 500 win. Stewart would finish 35th.
A look at the Daytona 500 by the numbers. There were 42 lead changes among 18 drivers, while seven cautions for 39 laps would slow the race pace to 145.290 MPH.
Next week, the Sprint Cup Series heads to the “diamond in the desert,” Phoenix International Raceway for The Profit on CNBC 500K. The Green flag is scheduled for 3:15pm EST.
Nationwide Series Post-Race Quotes: Drive4COPD 300
posted by Thomas Bowles
Tuesday February 25, 2014
Frontstretch Interviews – Courtesy Mike Neff
ELLIOTT SADLER – FINISHED 4th
Thoughts on the race?
It’s definitely a lot different racing than what we’re used to.
Comfortable with it?
Yeah, it’s just different. You’re worried about what you’re doing, but you’re also worried about what everyone else is doing and they’re not doing more than you’re doing. Physically pushing a guy is way better than just riding so you just gotta time it right and push it to the edge.
Happy to start the year with a top 5?
Yeah. Hell, that was the worst we ran all day, I think. I have no idea how they put the 3 car in front of us on that last restart. I hadn’t seen the 3 car hardly all day. When they put us from fifth to sixth, on the outside line, it just really boxed us in. I would have really restarted behind my teammate and given him a good push to the front. Anyways, it is what it is; we’ll take it and move on.
Looked like you were up front all day.
The guys did a good job. We had a fast race car. Great pit stops, just really proud of these guys. The car’s in one piece and we can take it to Talladega now. Great job by my guys. A lot of effort came into coming down here to Daytona and giving ourselves a shot to win. We had that chance to be up front and make some things happen. Fifth is not what we want, but we’ll take it and move on.
Bumping vs Pushing?
It’s way harder. You don’t want to lay on the guy in front of you, so it’s tough racing. A lot different than what we’re used to, ‘cause you gotta go. You gotta drag the brake too ‘cause you don’t want to hit the guys and you don’t want to stay on him. It’s a lot harder mentally than what we’ve done in the past.
Car was strong all day. Pushing vs. Bumping, is that harder to do than just getting on somebody and pushing them?
Yeah, it is a little bit. When you bump ‘em, you jar ‘em, it kinda jacks ‘em a little bit. It’s a little more abrupt, obviously. I thought it was OK there at the end. It was certainly fun and hopefully entertaining. But a little bit of a struggle in the early part of the race and the midpart of the race to see a good race. And that’s unfortunate for the fans. You can’t do that the whole race, you can’t tear up your stuff, knock your grill in, overheat your motor, all that stuff so there’s no sense in doing all that until you get down to the last lap. The 7 and the 6, they did a good job. Man, the 7 really held the 22 and I tight on the bottom. I was rubbing his door and hitting the apron at the same time, no room whatsoever. So it was good; wish we were the ones who could have won but a lot better now than what we were last year.
Going home in one piece makes it a lot better, right?
Yeah. My back feels good. My foot feels good. Past years here, I’ve been going home with pain so I’m alright.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Truck Series Post-Race Quotes: Daytona (Exclusives)
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday February 22, 2014
When you’re on the outside like that, how frustrating is it?
It’s so hard. Timothy Peters has won here. Kyle Busch has won everywhere. Ron Hornaday has been running Trucks forever, probably before I was even born. I was surrounded by veterans there, and like I told them I don’t have a rookie stripe but I’m a rookie. This is only my fourth Truck race ever, my fourth superspeedway race, and man, I figured out when the 17 got up in front of me, I pushed him. And as soon as I pushed him, he took off. And I went with him. And I just kept doing it, and before I knew it, he was leading. And I saw Ron in my mirror, backed up to him, and if it wasn’t for him, I don’t know what would have happened. I gotta thank him big time for that. That was a true teammate move right there. I really appreciate that. He just bounced off me and we got to the front. I tried my hardest to sidedraft Kyle. I was probably touching his door.
Top 5 in the No. 30 truck. This deal come together at the last minute, but you had a heck of a truck. Tell us about your night.
Yeah, I’ve got to thank Turner Scott Motorsports. The guys worked so hard on this Rheem Comfort Products Chevrolet. Exciting! Just got hung up on the outside and had to wait for my teammate there to catch up. And then he got to the bottom, so… I got the old 32 and started pushing ol’ Ryan to the front. So, it’s not bad. We’ll take it. You just don’t want to step over that boundary. You don’t know how far to push and shove. We bumped about six times down the straightaway without latching onto them. Hopefully, that was OK and we came home with a top 5.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Budweiser Duels Post Race Quotes
posted by Matt Stallknecht
Friday February 21, 2014
BUDWEISER DUELS POST-RACE QUOTES
They’re saying the wheel bearing burned up in it. I don’t know what caused it, they’re taking it all apart to figure out what the heck happened. Something abnormal that’s for sure I don’t think I’ve ever had that happen at all. Hopefully, we made the race and hopefully we can fix the problem before Sunday.
WHAT WAS THAT LOUD BOOM ONCE YOU TURNED INTO THE GARAGE?
Loud pop was a tire… thankfully, it popped, hopefully it didn’t hurt anybody. All the heat created in the left front that popped was pretty weird.
REALLY GOOD RUN. WHAT DID YOU THINK OF IT?
Yeah, it was good. We have a car we can work with for the 500. Got a good starting spot, so we’re going to rest easy, fluff and buff our car for a couple of days and get ready for Sunday.
ANY DIFFERENCE ON WHETHER THE TOP OR BOTTOM LANE WORKED?
Yeah, I was just moving around, trying to stay with the flow. For me, this car works on all parts of the racetrack. So I’m pretty happy with it.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.
GOT SHUFFLED BACK, AFTER PIT STOPS AND THEN COULDN’T GET BACK UP TO THE FRONT. WHY?
Nah, we were just sitting there waiting until the last few laps to make a move. You didn’t want to pull down and get sent to the back. Seen a couple of guys get sent to the back really quick so we were just kind of waiting for the end. I felt like we had a good situation there with Ambrose behind us — we had a good run off Turn 2 and I went. It was the last lap, time to go do something, nobody went with us but hopefully Sunday is a different story.
We got a great car. We don’t have to work hard. We learned, we got a good race car. Got a car in one piece, ready to go so we’ll try and get through the next couple of practices, deliver it to the starting group this Sunday and we’ll be real happy.
YOU’RE IN THE DAYTONA 500!
Yeah, it’s pretty awesome. This Whitetail Chevrolet was so fast that I knew all I had to do was stick it behind smart, intelligent drafters and we could have a good finish. That’s what we did in the Duels and I’m excited. I’m excited to go do some stuff with the Nationwide car and have some more practice with this. But to know that we’re locked in the Daytona 500’s pretty cool.
YOU WERE OBVIOUSLY IN FRONT OF THAT MELEE AT THE END. WHEN YOU WERE UP FRONT THERE IN THE BEGINNING, WERE YOU HOPING TO JUST STAY IN LINE AND LET YOU FINISH TOP 5?
I was pretty content to ride and luckily I knew a lot of people around us were. It was nice to have a little calm and not really have to be racing hard the whole time. I knew that the pit stop was going to shake everything up and that’s exactly what happened. Fell back a little bit there but made the right moves at the end to get a good finish.
HOW STRONG ARE THESE RCR CARS?
They’re very strong! They definitely have the capabilities to be winning one of these races.
YOU’RE IN THE TOP 5 FOR YOUR HEAT IN THE DAYTONA 500. YOUR PRIMARY CAR IS SITTING RIGHT IN THE GARAGE, KIND OF WADDED UP. DID YOU THINK THIS ONE HAD IT IN IT?
Yeah, it’s a brand new car also. It’s just not quite as good as the primary but still a damned good car. I’m just proud of everybody at RCR for building such fast race cars. All of our cars have been fast, ECR motor’s been strong, even our affiliate teams have been qualifying really good and racing good. So… excited about 2014! It’s going to be a good year.
WELL MAN, YOU STARTED IN THE BACK BUT WORKED YOUR WAY TO THE FRONT WHEN IT COUNTED MOST. WERE YOU JUST BIDING YOUR TIME THROUGHOUT THE RACE?
Eh, you never know if you’re going to get back up there or not. We had to start at the back, we had to make a run early and see what we could do. We drove right to 10th, or something like that and then it got stagnant. We tried to make something happen, and went to the back again. Drove back up to the front. Again, just really proud of my guys. Matt Kruder did a hell of a job on that pit stop getting just enough gas in to gain some spots there.
RCR CARS SEEM PRETTY DARNED STRONG. DO YOU THINK THE RCR CARS HAVE SOMETHING FOR THEM ON SUNDAY — ESPECIALLY THE THREE JOE GIBBS RACING CARS THAT SEEM TO BE THE CLASS OF THE FIELD RIGHT NOW?
Oh yeah. The 20 car was extremely fast. The 11 didn’t qualify that good, but he’s a good drafter. I think he won. We definitely have something for him.
Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
Matt McLaughlin · Thursday April 10, 2008
NASCAR is doing a full court press right now trying to convince fans and even us cynical media types that the racing with the new car is as good, if not better than, ever. I'll admit that some of the numbers I've seen thrown around about the number of passes for the lead in races that I found incredibly boring really surprised me. So I decided that next time a race bored me to the point I was doodling hot rods in my notebook (note to the under 30 crowd—a notebook can be a tablet of paper in which one writes with a pen, not just a laptop computer), I was going to analyze those statistics. I figured I'd only have to wait until the next cookie cutter 1.5 mile race and, in that regard at least, Sunday's race at Texas didn't disappoint me. If everything is bigger in Texas, Sunday's race was the biggest farce, masquerading as a race, since the first time the Cup boys raced at Texas and half the field crashed out in the first corner.
NASCAR statistics claim that there were 16 passes for the lead at Texas on Sunday. Sixteen? Was I daydreaming about black Pontiacs with birds on the hood and V-Twin motorcycles in springtime when all these alleged passes took place? Had in fact drifted off for a nap, as I felt I might during the entire second half of the race, as Carl Edwards put a hurting on the field? To check, I fired up the DVR, armed with NASCAR statistics as to when these 16 passes for the lead took place. I went back and reviewed the entire race—Here's what I found:
Lap 14 Kyle Busch powered around Dale Earnhardt, Jr. to take the lead. Yeah, that was a legitimate pass for the lead. At that point it looked like a foretelling of a potential battle between two strong cars to the end.
Lap 30 The field is under caution for Michael Waltrip's latest display of near criminal ineptitude at the wheel. Carl Edwards gets credit for taking the lead in the pits because his pit stall is beyond the start-finish line. No, I don't see that as a legitimate pass for the lead.
Lap 31 Dale Earnhardt exits the pits first to take the lead from Edwards. This is the second alleged pass for the lead in two laps. While a testament to good pit work by the 88 bunch, this isn't the stuff of legends. Again, I don't consider this a real pass for the lead.
Lap 48 Jimmie Johnson makes a power move around the outside of Dale Earnhardt, Jr. to take the lead. This looks like a legitimate pass, not Earnhardt pulling over to allow his teammate to collect some bonus points. The pass might have had half the folks in the stands sit back on down in disappointment but this was a real pass for the lead, the second of the race.
Lap 83 After a long green flag stretch, leader Jimmie Johnson ducks into the pits for a stop. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. reassumed the lead and there was much rejoicing in the stands. But Johnson surrendered the lead, Earnhardt didn't take it. This is just the beginning of a routine set of pit stops, not the sort of stuff that Sports Center replays over and over.
Lap 85 Dale Earnhardt, Jr. heads to the pit and the Earnhardt Nation in the stands sit back on down and mourn. Martin Truex, Jr. officially takes the lead. Herein is the problem in looking at the total number of lead changes in a race—Any time there is a long green flag run, particularly early in the race, the lead is going to change hands each time the driver at the front of the field makes a stop. It is a lead change, but it's not much fun to watch.
Lap 87 Truex, Jr. surrenders the lead to make his stop and Jimmie Johnson reassumes the lead. No one is greatly surprised or enthused. Presumably, Johnson is pleased by this turn of events, but three passes for the lead in five laps hasn't exactly sent fans' pulse rates soaring. Yes, occasionally drivers must pit and get more gas and fresh tires. If that surprises you, you haven't been paying attention.
Lap 111 The yellow flag flies again on lap 109. Well there's something you don't see everyday Vern, Jeff Gordon has backed his ill-handling race car into the wall to bring out the caution. We're a third of the way through this stupidity and something somewhat interesting has actually happened. Matt Kenseth wins the race off pit road to reassume the lead. Again, kudos to his pit crew, but race fans are somewhat underwhelmed by the "dramatic" pass for the lead. Half of them were in the bathroom when it happened anyway.
Lap 133 The race has gotten so bad that NASCAR throws a caution for debris. Maybe one of the members of Chip Ganassi's team was filling out a resme and it blew onto the track? Jimmie Johnson is credited with taking the lead because his pit stall is beyond that of Matt Kenseth's. Yawn. That's a Mulligan.
Lap 134 Kenseth once again wins the race off of pit road and reassumes the lead. It's almost as if he never surrendered it. In fact, in the eyes of most fans he never did. Kenseth is going to lead this one for awhile. I am adding flames to the hot rods I am drawing.
Lap 177 J.J. Yeley hits the wall hard. Fortunately, he's OK. Unfortunately, the race still stinks. Johnson once again gets credit for taking the lead based on the position of his pit stall. Yawn.
Lap 178 Well, here's a surprise—Matt Kenseth takes the lead again by winning the race off of pit road. Haven't I seen this Looney Tune before? The race is half over and we've had two real passes for the lead.
Lap 180 Wake up, Heather! Something interesting has just happened. As the race restarted, the lapped car of Juan Pablo "The Menace" Montoya loses it trying to make up his lap. Kenseth is forced to lift out of the gas and is passed by a gaggle of cars. Kyle Busch assumes the lead. This one is a judgment call. It's not like Kenseth got passed because someone in a stronger car blew by him, but it is one of those unexpected turn of events that makes racing interesting, so I will call this one legit. During a race that feels like it's been dragging on since the Reagan presidency, we now have our third legit pass for the lead. That's about it for Kenseth and the 17 car as far as threatening to win the race, but he did get some lovely parting giftsâ€¦â€¦Montoya continues to be a hazard as the race drones mindlessly on into its third hour.
Lap 215 Heather Locklear is still not here lounging beside me, but on the track something amazing has happened. Carl Edwards has run down and passed Kyle Busch. We've seen a legitimate pass for the lead for the fourth and final time in a four hour race. Call in the dogs and put out the fires. This one is done, though it will drag on another excruciating hour or so.
Lap 230 Hey, guess what? Edwards needs gas and new tires, so he pits. Johnson retakes the lead. Boy Howdy, that was excitingâ€¦not.
Lap 233 Who would have thunk? Johnson's car requires fuel to run too! The 48 ducks into the pits and Edwards retakes the lead. There's still 101 laps left to run before this farce draws to its merciful conclusion, but Edwards will lead every lap the rest of the way. Hooray for him! At times, Edwards will lead by almost eight seconds. After restarts, the lead will seem to be in peril and FOX's analysts will holler and shout that "bidness is about to pick up." Because Jeff Gordon is about 100 laps down, they will most often predict it is Kyle Busch who will make things interesting. But as Busch begins to flounder, Darrell Waltrip breaks out his book of sonnets — "Hendrick Motorsports-How Do I Love Thee?" —and predicts that Jimmie Johnson is running down the leader and at any moment there's going to be a real race. Lord, if only that was the case. Eventually, everyone agrees that Carl Edwards is pretty much stinking up the show and, in sheer desperation, they continuously find ways to show Jeff Hammond wearing his cowboy hat saying stupid things to prove there is indeed something more contemptible than this sorry ass excuse of a race.
Lap 339 The stupidity finally drags to its long overdue conclusion. Carl Edwards does a back flip while the fans napping at home drool out the corner of their mouths. Carl Edwards is quite pleased to have won. Jimmie Johnson is satisfied to have finished second. Kyle Busch rambles on so inarticulately it's impossible to fathom if he is happy that he finished third or if he even knows what state of the union he is currently located in. Exhaust fumes seem to affect the Busch boys more than most drivers. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. is interviewed simply because he is Dale Earnhardt, Jr. Fade to black and start counting the minutes to a new episode of Cold Case. It's just another Pleasant Valley Sunday. It's been a bad dayâ€¦please don't take our picturesâ€¦
So the official tally will show that there were 16 passes for the lead on Sunday, while the Matt-O-Meter has recorded only four such passes with any legitimacy. Let's compare that to the Richmond race in the spring of 1998. Between laps 98 and 121, Rusty Wallace and Dale Earnhardt swapped the lead eight times officially as they thundered around the track side by side lap after lap. You're going to have to trust me on this one because my half-frozen ass wrapped in a torn pair of Wranglers rarely touched the chilly concrete that constituted my seat that afternoon. I watched two legends of the sport run lap after lap side by side with fenders occasionally crunching and tire smoke billowing off the No. 2 and No. 3 cars. The end of the race might have been considered an anti-climax with Terry Labonte leading the final 78 laps, but Earnhardt and Wallace were right there keeping the Ice Man honest until the checkers flew. That was an era when you never knew who was going to win a race even if one fellow was leading handily with 10 laps left to go. And I left that frigid race track that chilly Sunday grinning ear to ear feeling I had got my money's worth for the ticket I'd worked so hard to score in an era where Cup tickets sold out months in advance of an event.
Please don't tell me the "good old days" weren't so good. I was there in the grandstands with a light wallet but a hoarse throat, not struggling to stay awake during a parade posing as a race. Some will say that we just need to give the "new cars" some time until the teams get them figured out and competitive racing returns. My guess is by the time that happens, the grandstands will be ghost-towns and cockroaches will be ruling the earth. Back in 1998, the year of the Five and Five rules, NASCAR finally had to admit their "new car" was a dog that just wouldn't hunt before they sent those mutts off to the gas chambers. Will they come to the same overdue realization concerning the Car of Tomorrow?
The quote is often attributed to Mark Twain, but I believe it was actually Benjamin Disreali who once said "There are three sorts of lies; lie, damned lies and statistics." His words were prophetic when it comes to NASCAR's statistical and data division. They can doctor the numbers all they want to try to make it seem races lately have been exciting, but fans who actually sit there through monotonous parades know better. It was, in fact, Twain who once called golf, "A good walk spoiled." Lately Cup racing has become a "good nap wasted."
©2000 - 2008 Matt McLaughlin and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
Yet another GREAT piece of writing, and oh so accurate!
You go boy!!!
But, say you compare it with the race that Kasey Kahne won from the pole in 05 at Texas and let us know?? Were there many more? Now, your argument might get somewhere.
Matt – Let me see if I have this straight. You witnessed a stirring race at Richmond in the spring of 1998.
Froze your butt off so I assume it also took place somewhere near the time when the record low for June at Richmond of 40 Â°F occurred.
Otherwise, it probably wasn’t that cold. Although different people react differently to what they may perceive as “cold.”
I’ll give you that much.
That aside you claim “Earnhardt and Wallace were right there keeping the Ice Man honest until the checkers flew.”
Curious, Wallace may have been, but Dale Jarrett finished second and Rusty third.
Earnhardt was no where to be found. Well, actually he was, buried in 21st place 2 laps behind.
You cite that race as evidence that ’98 was better than what you witnessed at Texas this year.
Not Too shocking revelation, I’d admit.
However then you go on to claim “in 1998, the year of the Five and Five rules, NASCAR finally had to admit their â€œnew carâ€ was a dog that just wouldnâ€™t hunt before they sent those mutts off to the gas chambers.”
That would seem to indicate NASCAR made a rules change during the ’98 season or before 1999, do you know what they were?
There were a few rules changes with rear spoilers and front air dams in an effort by NASCAR to make the Taurus, Monte Carlo, and Grand Prix more evenly competitive.
Nothing unusual in that, they tweaked areo devices on a regular basis according to which manufacturer screamed loudest.
However, what else did they change Matt? Anything?
I would be curious to see the numbers for previous Texas races based on your approach. Obviously, that information is going to be hard to get, but it would be interesting to see if anything has changed.
I think the biggest problem with the racing heavy cars on big tracks with high speeds is that the drivers are now just more or less holding on, trying to survive rather than really “driving” and being in control. The driver is simply responsible for maintaining momentum. Momentum is boring to watch.
With that said, I would suggest a rule change: Open up the transmission rules so they can run 6 speed gearboxes with whatever transmission and rear-end gear ratios they want, as long as they run the same tranny and tranny gears all season.
Let the drivers shift more, and bring more driver skill into the equation. When all they have to do is let off, brake a little, and get back on the throttle again, it’s going to make for boring racing. When you have to pick some gears, every corner becomes an opportunity for a different driver strategy. You don’t have to shift, but you might not get off the corner as well as the guy that chooses to shift. With well-timed shifts, a completely new line can be utilized.
A small track doesn’t provide as much momentum. Denny Hamlin was doing a good job at Martinsville by “diamonding” the corners – he gave himself passing opportunities by running a different line than everybody else. I thought that was fun to watch, and that’s what NASCAR needs to leverage on the bigger tracks.
Kill the momentum and reintroduce driver skill.
And the two “passes for the lead” around JR by Busch and Johnson were more JR “fading” and moving back than power passes.
The fans are voting on the quality of the racing by the many empty seats at “sold out” races. I think the TV ratings have been up only because most of us have endured bad weather and there is nothing better to do. Wait til it warms up and see what the ratings are.
I agree overall but I’m not sure it can all be blamed on the COT. Still, from what I’ve seen, I wish NASCAR would give the teams some latitude on what they can do to the cars. They just might be able to make them better. God knows NASCAR has little incentive to do so.
Hey all you kids, take a pill. Go to your local track to see real racing. Tune into NASCAR for showbiz. WoO is coming our way again this July. Eh?
And I thought I was the only one falling asleep..LOL…Right on the money,with this one Matt.
Ken in Va – “The fans are voting on the quality of the racing by the many empty seats at â€œsold outâ€ races.”
And the empty seats are all caused by the car?
That’s a little simplistic isn’t it?
Have you missed the dozens and dozens of stories attributed to track owners, sponsors of teams, NASCAR officials and economists detailing how high gas prices and higher prices of other commodities have led to the slow-down in ticket sales?
Missed all that have ya?
High gas prices must have kept the fans away from the TV’s last week also, as ratings were down 4% for the Texas snoozer.
Copperhead “High gas prices must have kept the fans away from the TVâ€™s last week also, as ratings were down 4% for the Texas snoozer.”
Your point being?
It’s also true every race with the exception of the delayed ‘til Monday Cali event had higher ratings than last year.
Of course the Texas Sunday was the first one after the MLB openers and 25 games were on the tube as competition.
That may have effected ratings, doncha think?
It’s also true on the same Sunday Speed’s NASCAR RaceDay program increased viewership by 12 percent.
And while on the subject, the one event that was supposed to knock Sprint Cupâ€™s TV ratings for a loop (‘cause all the “pundits” said so) and didnâ€™t was the NCAA tournament. CBS ratings for the final game dropped slightly and ratings for the 64-game tournament were down about 8 percent overall.
Meanwhile NASCAR’s went up.
Funny how that works.
Raceday was probably up 12% because of casual fans like myself ( I used to be a fanatical Nascar fan) who have given over 30 years to Nascar and can’t stand the “New and Improved” Nascar and have had enough of the dumbed down race broadcasts. Fans like myself now get our info from such shows, and also sites like Jayski instead of wasting a fine Sunday watching what passes as the Nascar Show nowadays.
I’m trying to ween myself completely off Nascar but after investing so much time into the sport it’s hard to go cold turkey, so now I just catch up on Mondays.
My opinion about the higher initial ratings is that we were promised a new and exciting season with the COT and the fact that Jr. moved to Hendrick. Jr. has not won a points race and the action is the same as last year, and we still have the 3 stooges in the Hollywood Hotel. I look for a return of the Jr. cautions after the 4% drop last week to get the ratings back up.
I’m glad some of you like the direction of Nascar but wonder why the constant cheerleading for the corporate line here. Back in the ’80s I was happy as heck with the show every week but could care less what other people thought about it, and it was not my job to cheerlead and convert new fans to our sport. If you like what we have now just enjoy it and don’t worry about what others think about it.
I’d say the reason that Speed’s Raceday ratings are up is because it’s a very good prerace show.
Also, since FOX took over control of SPEED, they have increased distribution of the network into 78 million more homes so that could account for a portion of the increase.
But I believe that the main reason that their ratings are up is due to The Frontstretch running Kenny Wallace driver diaries this season. :^)
You are always dead-on in your assessments, and your writing skills, like a fine wine, get better with age. Thanks.
Matt’s the best in the business (note to Frontstretch)he’s the best,he love’s the sport, writes about it that way, and to be brutally honest, he speakes for us, ignore us if you will, but we Love him, signed True Race Fans Everywhere, that shold cover us even if theres a few delusional F1 fans out there, even you guys are making me think, this is real racing?????????????????????????????????????