Kurt Busch to Attempt The Indianapolis-Charlotte Double
posted by Phil Allaway
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Andretti Autosport announced this morning that Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet in the Sprint Cup Series, will attempt the Indianapolis 500 in a fifth entry for the IndyCar Series team. Once the Indianapolis 500 is completed, Busch will fly from Indianapolis to Charlotte, jump in his No. 41 Chevrolet and compete in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Busch considers the opportunity to do the double as an old-school throwback moment.
“This is really to challenge myself within motorsports,” Busch said in Andretti Autosport’s press release. “Perhaps I am a bit of an old-school racer; a throwback, I guess. I enjoyed the era of drivers racing different cars and testing themselves in other series. It is tough to do now for a variety of factors, but when the opportunity is there, I want to do it. While NASCAR is my home, I have been fortunate to compete in Pro Stock on the NHRA circuit a number of years ago and test a V8 Supercar. This opportunity was a talk with Michael [Andretti] over dinner one night, a “What if,” and now it’s becoming a reality for me to drive in the Indy 500 with Andretti Autosport. It’s literally a dream come true. To go to the famous Brickyard with the iconic Andretti name, it doesn’t get much cooler or better than that.”
Busch will be doing the Indianapolis-Charlotte double as a Memorial Day mission to men and women serving in the U.S. Military via the Armed Forces Foundation. Fans can contribute to the cause by texting AFF to 50555 to donate $10.
Busch, who has never raced an IndyCar, passed Rookie Orientation at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year during a test session. At the time, Busch was more or less testing the Dallara DW12 for fun.
Busch will be the fourth driver to attempt the Indianapolis-Charlotte double. John Andretti was the first driver to attempt it in 1994. After finishing four laps down in tenth in Indianapolis, Andretti crashed and had engine problems in the 600. Robby Gordon has attempted the double five times, most recently in 2004. However, Gordon failed to make it to Charlotte on time and did not start the 600 in 2000 (P.J. Jones started Gordon’s No. 13 Ford in that instance). Finally, Tony Stewart has attempted the double twice (most recently in 2001) and is the only driver to ever complete all 1100 miles. Neither of the three drivers has won either leg of the double. The best finishes are Stewart and Gordon’s sixth-place finishes at the Indianapolis 500 (although Gordon’s came in 2000, the year he didn’t make it to Charlotte in time to start the Coca-Cola 600), and Stewart’s fourth-place finish in the 2001 Coca-Cola 600.
Danica Patrick, Justin Allgaier Talk About Phoenix Incident
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
A disappointing start to the year for Danica Patrick won’t include continued conflict. Patrick met with rookie Justin Allgaier Sunday, shortly after the Phoenix Cup race after a wreck ruined both drivers’ days. Patrick, who was critical of the No. 51 car on the radio, claiming Allgaier was “driving all over the track” appeared receptive to a conversation that quickly settled differences over what will be a long season.
“She was just upset because she got involved in the crash that we had,’’ said Allgaier to the Motor Racing Network. “She says she’s been through this and that she felt like I needed to settle down at that point. I explained my position on why everything happened. I think she understood where I was coming from. It doesn’t fix either one of our racecars. It doesn’t fix either one of our days. Unfortunately, we were both having pretty decent days.’’
Allgaier wound up 30th due to the incident while Patrick was 36th. The incident, which was caused by Allgaier’s spin also involved the No. 32 team and Travis Kvapil, which wound up 38th after sustaining heavy damage.
Camping World Close to Extending Title Sponsorship of NCWTS
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Marcus Lemonis, CEO of Camping World, Grand Marshal of Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway, and star of CNBC’s “The Profit,” made the announcement over the weekend that the retailer is very close to announcing a deal that would continue its title sponsorship of NASCAR’s Truck Series. The original agreement with NASCAR is scheduled to conclude after the 2015 season.
According to the sanctioning body, no formal contract has been signed, but “the agreement between the two parties has proven to be a beneficial one.”
“In about a month, we’ll be announcing a significant extension to that contract. It’s been great for us,” said Camping World’s Lemonis in a statement. “The NASCAR relationship has worked well for Camping World. When we started, we had 35 stores. Now, we’re up to 120 stores. As we travel the country and we meet new customers in stores, they always are very appreciative of our relationship with NASCAR. It’s been good.”
Gaining a long-term commitment from Camping World to sponsor the Truck Series would be a relief for NASCAR, which is set to lose Nationwide Insurance as title sponsor for the NASCAR Nationwide Series at the end of the 2014 season. The sponsorship of the Cup Series by Sprint runs through 2016.
The NCWTS is back in action on March 29th at 2:30 PM (ET) when the trucks visit Martinsville Speedway in the Kroger 250, which can be seen on Fox Sports 1. Ratings for the season opener were up 11 percent.
Harvick Takes Win At Phoenix In Second Race With New Team
posted by Justin Tucker
Monday March 3, 2014
Phoenix International Raceway has become Kevin Harvick’s home away from home. Sunday Afternoon was no exception as Harvick charged to the front early and would dominate for much of the day, leading 224 of the scheduled 312 laps to record his record fifth win on the one mile oval and his third win in the last four races at Phoenix.
Harvick, coming off of a disappointing Speedweeks which was capped by a last lap crash in the Daytona 500 in his debut with Stewart-Haas Racing, set the tone on Saturday by winning both practices while having the best 5 and 10-lap averages in the first practice of the day on Saturday. On Sunday, Harvick and his No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet was nothing short of flawless as he was able to hold Dale Earnhardt, Jr. by .489 seconds after a late race restart to claim his 24th career Sprint Cup Series victory.
“Man, this is awesome,” Harvick said after his dominant victory on Sunday. “Man, this just solidifies so many things and so many decisions. It’s been so much work with all the time and effort that these guys (the crew) have put in—but what a race car.”
Stewart Haas Racing co-owner Gene Haas shared in Harvick’s excitement after the race.
“It took long enough,” Haas joked. “This is phenomenal. I think there was a lot of skepticism last year about what myself and Tony (Stewart) what we were up to, was there a lot of madness to this. Quite frankly, it’s a great team, there’s a lot of synergy at the shop, people working together. I don’t know what we did, but I think we put together a great organization.”
Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt, Jr. continued his hot start to the 2014 season. Earnhardt Jr. would finish second on Sunday, marking his seventh consecutive top 10 finish since the end of the 2013 season. Earnhardt Jr. was pleased with the effort after a coast-to-coast whirlwind week after winning his second Daytona 500 and also gave great praise to the efforts of Harvick and the No. 4 team.
“I’ve got to congratulate Kevin. Those guys were two-tenths faster than everyone all weekend in practice. They were just phenomenal,” Earnhardt said. “To be able to run with them all day was a big confidence builder for us.”
Joining Harvick and Earnhardt in the top 5 of The Profit on CNBC 500K were Brad Keselowski with his second consecutive top 3 run of 2014 in third. Keselowski’s Team Penske teammate Joey Logano would finish fourth, and Jeff Gordon would come home fifth in his No. 24 Pepsi Max Chevrolet.
Jimmie Johnson finished in sixth, followed by Ryan Newman with a nice rebound after Daytona in seventh. Carl Edwards would carry the banner for Roush Fenway Racing by finishing eighth, Kyle Busch was ninth, and Jamie McMurray would finish tenth.
A look at the Profit on CNBC 500K by the numbers. There were 14 lead changes among eight different drivers, there were eight cautions for 39 laps which slowed the race pace to 109.229 MPH.
Next Sunday, the Sprint Cup Series heads to Sin City and the Las Vegas Motor
Starting Lineup: The Profit On CNBC 500K
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday March 1, 2014
Drivers in RED (i) are those ineligible to collect Sprint Cup points
Daytona 500 TV Ratings Down
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Wednesday February 26, 2014
What was the longest weather delay in Daytona 500 history turned out to bring NASCAR lower ratings and TV viewership Sunday night than expected. According to a report Monday from FOX Sports, the 56th running of the Daytona 500 airing at 8 PM (ET) posted a 5.6/10 national household rating/share which averaged 9.3 million viewers. That’s down 44 percent from last year’s 9.9, easily making it the least-watched Daytona 500 of all-time.
Due to the six-hour, twenty-two minute rain delay in Daytona, the race was up against the primetime coverage of the Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony from Sochi, Russia on NBC (15.25 million viewers). FOX also reported that 69% of the pre-rain delay viewers of the race, which began at 1 PM (ET) kept tuning in.
In comparison, the 2013 Daytona 500 on FOX was the most-watched race in five years, posting a 9.9/22 rating/share, commanding 16.7 million viewers. The Daytona 500 in 2012, the first to ever be run on a Monday and in the primetime slot did a 7.7/13 overnight rating/share which resulted in 13.67 million households viewing the race according to Nielsen TV ratings data.
Earnhardt, Jr. Claims Second Daytona 500 Victory
posted by Justin Tucker
Wednesday February 26, 2014
Ten years is a long time. For Dale Earnhardt, Jr., it felt like an eternity. NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver endured many near misses and close calls at the Daytona 500 since his only win in the Great American Race in 2004. Earnhardt had finished second in two of his last three Daytona 500s coming into Sunday’s race. He was also riding the tail of a 55-race winless streak, dating back to Michigan in 2012.
However nothing would stop Dale Jr. on Sunday, not even a 6 hour and 22 minute rain delay from capturing his second Daytona 500 win. Earnhardt Jr. led a race-high 54 laps on the evening and used some timely drafting help from teammates Jimmie Johnson and, on the final restart, Jeff Gordon to separate from the pack and secure the victory.
“Winning this race is the greatest feeling that you could feel in this sport besides accepting the trophy for the championship,” said a jubilant Earnhardt after pulling into Victory Lane. “We could fight off battle after battle. We got a little help at the end there from Jeff to get away on the restart. This is amazing. I can’t believe this is happening. I never take this for granted, man because it doesn’t happen twice, let alone once.”
Aside from the race itself the big story of the race was the 6 hour and 22 minute red flag, which threatened to move the race to Monday evening (had the race been postponed, FOX Sports’ Chris Myers had tweeted that the race would resume at 5:00pm EST). However, Mother Nature would cooperate and would allow the race to be run under different conditions from which they practiced this week. Once the race resumed, the intensity picked up from the changing track conditions. This allowed the pack to race side-by-side and at times 3-wide up to seven rows deep.
Joining Earnhardt Jr. in the top 5 for the 2014 Daytona 500 were: Denny Hamlin who closed out a spectacular Speedweeks in second, Brad Keselowski in third, Jeff Gordon in fourth, and Jimmie Johnson who overcome two wrecks leading up to the 500 in fifth.
Rounding out the top 10 in the Daytona 500 were Matt Kenseth in sixth, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. in seventh and Greg Biffle would bring his No. 16 Ford home in eighth. Austin Dillon would come home ninth in his first Cup Series race in the iconic No. 3 for Richard Childress Racing, while Casey Mears would round out the top 10.
A couple of major contenders for the Daytona 500 win would see their hopes dashed early on as Martin Truex, Jr. would blow up just 30 laps into the race, relegating him to a 43rd-place finish in his debut for Furniture Row Racing. Crew chief Todd Berrier was already in Nashville for a test session before the race was even over. Kyle Busch, meanwhile would have a pit road violation just before halfway and would spend much of the race battling back from that mistake. Busch would eventually finish 19th after leading 19 laps.
Danica Patrick would also be bit by bad luck as she was caught up in a multi-car wreck on lap 145. Patrick would lead her second consecutive Daytona 500, but wouldn’t have the finish to show for it finishing 40th. Tony Stewart would encounter a frustrating evening as well, with a fuel pickup problem derailing his quest for his first Daytona 500 win. Stewart would finish 35th.
A look at the Daytona 500 by the numbers. There were 42 lead changes among 18 drivers, while seven cautions for 39 laps would slow the race pace to 145.290 MPH.
Next week, the Sprint Cup Series heads to the “diamond in the desert,” Phoenix International Raceway for The Profit on CNBC 500K. The Green flag is scheduled for 3:15pm EST.
Nationwide Series Post-Race Quotes: Drive4COPD 300
posted by Thomas Bowles
Tuesday February 25, 2014
Frontstretch Interviews – Courtesy Mike Neff
ELLIOTT SADLER – FINISHED 4th
Thoughts on the race?
It’s definitely a lot different racing than what we’re used to.
Comfortable with it?
Yeah, it’s just different. You’re worried about what you’re doing, but you’re also worried about what everyone else is doing and they’re not doing more than you’re doing. Physically pushing a guy is way better than just riding so you just gotta time it right and push it to the edge.
Happy to start the year with a top 5?
Yeah. Hell, that was the worst we ran all day, I think. I have no idea how they put the 3 car in front of us on that last restart. I hadn’t seen the 3 car hardly all day. When they put us from fifth to sixth, on the outside line, it just really boxed us in. I would have really restarted behind my teammate and given him a good push to the front. Anyways, it is what it is; we’ll take it and move on.
Looked like you were up front all day.
The guys did a good job. We had a fast race car. Great pit stops, just really proud of these guys. The car’s in one piece and we can take it to Talladega now. Great job by my guys. A lot of effort came into coming down here to Daytona and giving ourselves a shot to win. We had that chance to be up front and make some things happen. Fifth is not what we want, but we’ll take it and move on.
Bumping vs Pushing?
It’s way harder. You don’t want to lay on the guy in front of you, so it’s tough racing. A lot different than what we’re used to, ‘cause you gotta go. You gotta drag the brake too ‘cause you don’t want to hit the guys and you don’t want to stay on him. It’s a lot harder mentally than what we’ve done in the past.
Car was strong all day. Pushing vs. Bumping, is that harder to do than just getting on somebody and pushing them?
Yeah, it is a little bit. When you bump ‘em, you jar ‘em, it kinda jacks ‘em a little bit. It’s a little more abrupt, obviously. I thought it was OK there at the end. It was certainly fun and hopefully entertaining. But a little bit of a struggle in the early part of the race and the midpart of the race to see a good race. And that’s unfortunate for the fans. You can’t do that the whole race, you can’t tear up your stuff, knock your grill in, overheat your motor, all that stuff so there’s no sense in doing all that until you get down to the last lap. The 7 and the 6, they did a good job. Man, the 7 really held the 22 and I tight on the bottom. I was rubbing his door and hitting the apron at the same time, no room whatsoever. So it was good; wish we were the ones who could have won but a lot better now than what we were last year.
Going home in one piece makes it a lot better, right?
Yeah. My back feels good. My foot feels good. Past years here, I’ve been going home with pain so I’m alright.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Truck Series Post-Race Quotes: Daytona (Exclusives)
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday February 22, 2014
When you’re on the outside like that, how frustrating is it?
It’s so hard. Timothy Peters has won here. Kyle Busch has won everywhere. Ron Hornaday has been running Trucks forever, probably before I was even born. I was surrounded by veterans there, and like I told them I don’t have a rookie stripe but I’m a rookie. This is only my fourth Truck race ever, my fourth superspeedway race, and man, I figured out when the 17 got up in front of me, I pushed him. And as soon as I pushed him, he took off. And I went with him. And I just kept doing it, and before I knew it, he was leading. And I saw Ron in my mirror, backed up to him, and if it wasn’t for him, I don’t know what would have happened. I gotta thank him big time for that. That was a true teammate move right there. I really appreciate that. He just bounced off me and we got to the front. I tried my hardest to sidedraft Kyle. I was probably touching his door.
Top 5 in the No. 30 truck. This deal come together at the last minute, but you had a heck of a truck. Tell us about your night.
Yeah, I’ve got to thank Turner Scott Motorsports. The guys worked so hard on this Rheem Comfort Products Chevrolet. Exciting! Just got hung up on the outside and had to wait for my teammate there to catch up. And then he got to the bottom, so… I got the old 32 and started pushing ol’ Ryan to the front. So, it’s not bad. We’ll take it. You just don’t want to step over that boundary. You don’t know how far to push and shove. We bumped about six times down the straightaway without latching onto them. Hopefully, that was OK and we came home with a top 5.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Budweiser Duels Post Race Quotes
posted by Matt Stallknecht
Friday February 21, 2014
BUDWEISER DUELS POST-RACE QUOTES
They’re saying the wheel bearing burned up in it. I don’t know what caused it, they’re taking it all apart to figure out what the heck happened. Something abnormal that’s for sure I don’t think I’ve ever had that happen at all. Hopefully, we made the race and hopefully we can fix the problem before Sunday.
WHAT WAS THAT LOUD BOOM ONCE YOU TURNED INTO THE GARAGE?
Loud pop was a tire… thankfully, it popped, hopefully it didn’t hurt anybody. All the heat created in the left front that popped was pretty weird.
REALLY GOOD RUN. WHAT DID YOU THINK OF IT?
Yeah, it was good. We have a car we can work with for the 500. Got a good starting spot, so we’re going to rest easy, fluff and buff our car for a couple of days and get ready for Sunday.
ANY DIFFERENCE ON WHETHER THE TOP OR BOTTOM LANE WORKED?
Yeah, I was just moving around, trying to stay with the flow. For me, this car works on all parts of the racetrack. So I’m pretty happy with it.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.
GOT SHUFFLED BACK, AFTER PIT STOPS AND THEN COULDN’T GET BACK UP TO THE FRONT. WHY?
Nah, we were just sitting there waiting until the last few laps to make a move. You didn’t want to pull down and get sent to the back. Seen a couple of guys get sent to the back really quick so we were just kind of waiting for the end. I felt like we had a good situation there with Ambrose behind us — we had a good run off Turn 2 and I went. It was the last lap, time to go do something, nobody went with us but hopefully Sunday is a different story.
We got a great car. We don’t have to work hard. We learned, we got a good race car. Got a car in one piece, ready to go so we’ll try and get through the next couple of practices, deliver it to the starting group this Sunday and we’ll be real happy.
YOU’RE IN THE DAYTONA 500!
Yeah, it’s pretty awesome. This Whitetail Chevrolet was so fast that I knew all I had to do was stick it behind smart, intelligent drafters and we could have a good finish. That’s what we did in the Duels and I’m excited. I’m excited to go do some stuff with the Nationwide car and have some more practice with this. But to know that we’re locked in the Daytona 500’s pretty cool.
YOU WERE OBVIOUSLY IN FRONT OF THAT MELEE AT THE END. WHEN YOU WERE UP FRONT THERE IN THE BEGINNING, WERE YOU HOPING TO JUST STAY IN LINE AND LET YOU FINISH TOP 5?
I was pretty content to ride and luckily I knew a lot of people around us were. It was nice to have a little calm and not really have to be racing hard the whole time. I knew that the pit stop was going to shake everything up and that’s exactly what happened. Fell back a little bit there but made the right moves at the end to get a good finish.
HOW STRONG ARE THESE RCR CARS?
They’re very strong! They definitely have the capabilities to be winning one of these races.
YOU’RE IN THE TOP 5 FOR YOUR HEAT IN THE DAYTONA 500. YOUR PRIMARY CAR IS SITTING RIGHT IN THE GARAGE, KIND OF WADDED UP. DID YOU THINK THIS ONE HAD IT IN IT?
Yeah, it’s a brand new car also. It’s just not quite as good as the primary but still a damned good car. I’m just proud of everybody at RCR for building such fast race cars. All of our cars have been fast, ECR motor’s been strong, even our affiliate teams have been qualifying really good and racing good. So… excited about 2014! It’s going to be a good year.
WELL MAN, YOU STARTED IN THE BACK BUT WORKED YOUR WAY TO THE FRONT WHEN IT COUNTED MOST. WERE YOU JUST BIDING YOUR TIME THROUGHOUT THE RACE?
Eh, you never know if you’re going to get back up there or not. We had to start at the back, we had to make a run early and see what we could do. We drove right to 10th, or something like that and then it got stagnant. We tried to make something happen, and went to the back again. Drove back up to the front. Again, just really proud of my guys. Matt Kruder did a hell of a job on that pit stop getting just enough gas in to gain some spots there.
RCR CARS SEEM PRETTY DARNED STRONG. DO YOU THINK THE RCR CARS HAVE SOMETHING FOR THEM ON SUNDAY — ESPECIALLY THE THREE JOE GIBBS RACING CARS THAT SEEM TO BE THE CLASS OF THE FIELD RIGHT NOW?
Oh yeah. The 20 car was extremely fast. The 11 didn’t qualify that good, but he’s a good drafter. I think he won. We definitely have something for him.
Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
Matt McLaughlin · Thursday April 24, 2008
A few random notes after a rare weekend off for the Cup Series…
I really think NASCAR needs to take a long, hard look at their schedule. I hope everyone who took this weekend off enjoyed it, because the next time the Cup schedule does something like that is July 20th. After that, the series continues without a break right on until the end of the season — the weekend before Thanksgiving.
With that in mind, why — with three weekends off in a season that drags on from February to November — do two of those off weeks occur in the first two months of the season? I agree with the need for a sport born in the buckle of the Bible Belt to take the Easter weekend off — and yes, I realize that Easter is a floating holiday that occurred very early this year — but for the life of me, I don’t understand why NASCAR sees the need to idle the Cup series just so the Bus…(oops!) Nationwide Series road course race in Mexico gets a bit more attention. Carl Edwards, Kyle Busch, David Reutimann, David Ragan, and Clint Bowyer were the only Cup Series regulars that chose to race in Mexico; the big name drivers like Earnhardt, Gordon, Johnson, Kenseth, and Kahne didn’t make the trip to help the track sell tickets just because they were off.
As I see it, NASCAR should continue to have the Easter weekend as its Spring Break, and should continue to take one summer weekend off. But that third weekend off needs to be moved to late Fall to give the teams in the Chase a chance to regroup at the halfway point of the championship run, and to give fans at home a weekend to relax with their families and friends. Ideally, I’d like to see the number of races on the schedule pared back to 30 points events, with the season ending by Halloween and more off weekends sprinkled through the rest of the season.
Danica Patrick’s win in the IRL’s Japanese race has been picked up as a major news story in a lot of mainstream media outlets that don’t typically cover auto racing. Let’s face it; she’s a good looking woman, and that doesn’t hurt any. But once again, it brings up questions as to the lack of diversity in NASCAR’s top three touring series. Yeah, OK; Cup racing is very diverse. You’ve got younger white guys, older white guys, and Juan Pablo Montoya. A few women have tried to make inroads into the Truck Series, but with limited success. (With that track record, you have to imagine that NASCAR would dearly love to get Ms. Patrick to run a Cup road course event or two if they could).
Meanwhile, over in the Formula One Series, a young black driver named Lewis Hamilton is piling on the wins, and even contended for a title last year. But the most diverse set of competitors can be found in the NHRA Drag Racing Series, where blacks, women, and Hispanics have won both races and championships. The NHRA has an advantage in that regard in that drag racing is a sport you can get involved in with the family car. And as little as the NHRA wants you to dwell on it, even in areas where there are no longer any drag strips, there is a close cousin to drag racing being waged in the streets.
I have no doubt that NASCAR officials are sincere in wanting to attract a more diverse crop of drivers. My feelings on the matter are the same as they’ve always been; the door is open to anyone, but there’s no free ride whatever your race, gender, or religion.
In contrasting the open wheel series and stock car racing, I do see another telling difference. Like NASCAR, there are various feeder series, most often called “Formula” something that lead up to the big leagues. But unlike NASCAR’s feeder series, the Nationwide series in particular, drivers who have reached the top level of their respective forms of racing don’t enter the feeder series races on Saturdays. My guess is if NASCAR implemented a rule that forbade drivers in the Top 25 in the Cup standings from running Nationwide races, within a few years you’d see a more diverse group of drivers in the AAA league. Could the Nationwide Series survive without the big name Cup drivers? If it can’t, that calls into serious question the health of the Nationwide division.
Speaking of which, here’s some good news for the fans who want to see some “stock” put back into stock car racing. Rumors are rampant that the next generation Nationwide cars will be a lot closer to “stock” than anything we’ve seen on the track in awhile. Ford, Chevy, and Chrysler aren’t willing to tell you yet that they’re planning on entering Mustangs, Camaros, and Challengers, but they are.
FOX has been doing pretty well with their ratings in the Cup series this season. If the numbers aren’t up dramatically, at least they are no longer falling. Then, there was a little glitch in the trend when ratings for the Phoenix race were flat. Hmmm. That was the race that didn’t end until close to midnight Eastern Time. Anyone else sensing a correlation here? Sunday races need to be over by 4 PM ET and night races need to end by 10 PM ET, weather permitting.
I saw a poll on another major NASCAR website this week wherein 89% of those responding said they wanted to see NASCAR implement a structured drug testing program for the drivers. It doesn’t happen often, but in this instance, I’m not on the side of the Vox Populi.
There are two main reasons. First off, I’ve been following the sport long enough to remember how NASCAR implemented their current drug testing program — which was just to humiliate and eliminate Tim Richmond. Yeah, eventually they had to admit the drugs that turned up in his test were over-the-counter cold remedies, but the damage was done and to this day, there are still people who think Tim tested positive for coke or pot. For the record, he did not. Secondly, I don’t think there’s many NASCAR officials left in the regime of Brian who can manage a good fart without soiling their shorts. They don’t need something else to screw up.
Stock car racing has a very different fan base than most stick and ball sports. Yeah, we’re the guys Senator Obama is talking about when he discusses those bitter individuals clinging to their guns and religion. While the stick and ball sports punishment for drug infractions is suspension, any driver caught doing drugs is going to be drummed out of the sport. The fans won’t put up with it. The sponsors aren’t going to tolerate it. Team owners aren’t going to give them a second chance. In that way, at least, this sport is self-policing.
I can understand the other side of the argument. If everyday working people have to pass a drug test to be able to work at a convenience store, then a driver who’s being paid millions and competing in close quarters at high speeds with other drivers who could be injured if someone’s racing impaired should also have to be tested. But in a close community like the NASCAR garage area, very little gets missed, even if fans don’t always hear about it.
It’s rare that the dollars behind the sport are discussed publicly, so I found a recent article in the Sports Business Journal extremely interesting. Three years ago, the Office Depot signed on to sponsor Carl Edwards and the No. 99 team for an annual amount somewhere between 14 and 15 million dollars a year. The company has done a decent job leveraging their marketing campaign with their investment, and Edwards has done them proud, winning some races while making the Chase in ’07.
But that contract is set to expire at the end of 2008. Negotiations are underway between the Office Depot and Roush Racing to extend the deal; but this time around, Roush is asking for somewhere between 22 and 24 million dollars annually. Part of that increase represents the increased worth of dealing with Edwards, who has gone from an likable upstart to a legitimate contender; but a lot of it also reflects how much higher the costs of running a competitive team have risen over the last three years. It would appear that NASCAR’s initiatives to control the costs of racing — the new car, limiting testing and the rest — have failed to date. In the current troubled economy, there’s going to be a limited pool of corporations willing or able to ante up 24 million a year.
Drivers To Watch At Talladega
Matt took a week off from this part of the feature this week, en route to a little vacation time; however, click here for Frontstretch writer Mike Lovecchio’s handy stats on how the Top 15 drivers in the points have performed at Talladega.
Want the latest scoop on Tony Stewart possibly leaving Joe Gibbs Racing? Check out Tom Bowles’ addendum to what he’s heard by clicking here for the latest edition of the Frontstretch Newsletter. And remember, when you sign up, it’s FREE … with the latest news and information going straight to your email inbox.
©2000 - 2008 Matt McLaughlin and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
Matt – “Rumors are rampant that the next generation Nationwide cars will be a lot closer to “stock” than anything we’ve seen on the track in awhile. Ford, Chevy, and Chrysler aren’t willing to tell you yet that they’re planning on entering Mustangs, Camaros, and Challengers, but they are.”
Nope, ain’t gonna happen, you’re far behind the times my friend.
The new CoT Nationwide car will start to be used in mid-2009 according to the lastest news. All four companys had there 2009 versions in the wind tunnel last week.
“NASCAR is trying to work with the manufacturers to get the aero numbers equal enough among all models while allowing them to keep some manufacturer identity. The car will retain the rear spoiler of the current car instead of the rear wing of the Sprint Cup new car, as well as other differences.”
And the word is no Pony car, Chevy ha pulled the Camaro out of the mix, that and with Toyota not bringing it’s Celica model from the EU to the states make the pony car DOA.
Toyota has announced its model for the 2009 Nationwide Series and decided to stick with the Camry.
Question, do you ever research something before you spit it out in digital form?
Wow Marc! Who died and made you the expert? You always seem to know SO much more than anyone else. Fortunately, you are in a minority. Good article Matt!
There is no question in my mind that the Fox ratings are deceptive – Gas has now hit 3.55 per gallon where I am, and I am choosing to stay at home this weekend instead of going over to ‘dega on Sunday. So guess what – I will be watching on TV. Guys and gals, check out the stands over there on Sunday if Fox will show them and see how many empty seats you have. If these gas prices are not brought under control, through regulation of some sort, then you are going to see Fox ratings go through the roof while attendence dwindles. It is getting way out of hand and Nascar is one of many operations that are going to feel the pinch. I do also agree that start times are also critical to ratings – imagine what ratings Fox and others would get if they went back to 12:30 or 1:00 pm race times like we had “back in the day”!
Regarding your first section on weekends off, there isnt any room to put a break in during the Chase. To do so would mean Labor Day weekend would be the last race before the Chase starts. Whether that weekend’s race is California, Richmond, or Darlington, an off weekend during the Chase would affect that race.
Also in the NHRA there are a couple drivers who run Top Fuel Dragster as well as Alcohol Dragster during the weekend – Morgan Lucas is one and I cant remember the other. But it is far less common in other sports than in NASCAR, of course.
Matt, I still disagree with the assertion that if drugs are going on people will know about it. When a big name driver gets popped, then I will say you’re right, but until then it’s the Shane Hmiel’s who probably had a longer rope than most because of his dad, Fike, who was only popped because he decided to try a theme park gakked out of his mind. Michael Waltrip and a certain guy who is the head of NASCAR had accidents where they were amazingly found away from the scene and in a change of clothes hours later and yet, no charges or punishment. Hell, we’re the ones getting punished by having to see Mikey on TV 10 hours a day. It was novel back in 2001, not anymore. And I was as big a Tim Richmond fan as anyone, but he was not above reproach, lest we forget the deposition where his name and cocaine supplying were intertwined.
Bottom line, when a Carl Edwards flunks a roid test, or someone of that stature, then I will concede that NASCAR is effective at policing itself. Until then, they once again show that they will play by their rules when convenient and it benefits them.
Oh and Marc, still waiting for that reply to the question I sent to your website. At least Matt interacts. I know you’re the end all be all, but at least interact with your loyal acolytes.
Joe – “Oh and Marc, still waiting for that reply to the question I sent to your website. At least Matt interacts. I know you’re the end all be all, but at least interact with your loyal acolytes.”
If it wasn’t received then one of two things happened, it got caught in a spam filter when it was originally sent on the 16th or lost in the digital netherworld as sometimes happens.
I’ll send it again inclusive of the original headers as proof it was sent.
Ed – “Wow Marc! Who died and made you the expert? You always seem to know SO much more than anyone else. Fortunately, you are in a minority. Good article Matt!”
Well thanks for bestowing the title of “expert” on me Ed, however, it’s undeserved.
What is deserved is knowing at minimum the latest news concerning the Nationwide Series, and considering Matt has spent considerable time bashing NASCAR over the state of that series one would think he would be up-to-date also.
Unfortunately, that’s not the case and given his recent past he won’t care enough about what he puts to print the obvious and easily discovered blatant error won’t be corrected either.
Hopefully I’m incorrect.
And BTW, I’m in agreement with you as far as the rest of the post goes, its’ a good article with the exception of the NNS CoT falsity.
But I have to ask Ed, if you read a piece in the NY Times or Washington Post that contained such a glaring error would you also call it a “good article” along with some ill advised snide remark or would you contact the paper pointing out the discrepancy?
Once agains facts and Matt don’t go hand in hand – the Nationwide Series segment and drug testing comments are riddled with misinformation as usual.
I guess it all depends upon whether you naively believe every piece of “information” that NASCAR feeds you. They have been known to lie…a lot. I’ll believe it all when I see it.
Ed – “I guess it all depends upon whether you naively believe every piece of “information” that NASCAR feeds you. They have been known to lie…a lot. I’ll believe it all when I see it.”
So Ed, which part do you dispute?
You “painted” that with a very broad brush, just which part do you feel NASCAR is lying about.
No Pony Cars in the NNS Series, is that it?
If so maybe you can explain why Ford is placing all of its Mustang “advertising eggs” in the Mustang Challenge road racing series basket.
Granted, they could do both, but Ford isn’t aiming sales of the Mustang at going in circles but but are promoting going road racing and drag racing with it.
Also for the record the Camaros were pulled from NNS consideration way back in Feb.
I really didn’t mean anything, Marc. Just wanted to see how much farther you would continue to argue as an apparent NASCAR mouthpiece. End of story, end of posts.
Ed – “I really didn’t mean anything, Marc. Just wanted to see how much farther you would continue to argue as an apparent NASCAR mouthpiece.”
Really, well then I guess I’m a shill for GM and Ford also because that’s where a lot of the info comes from. Funny thing though, somehow the checks are getting lost in the mail.
But you are correct in saying you didn’t mean anything. Accept a knee-jerk invalid defense of Matt.
It all begs the question, if as you say NASCAR is lying about any potential Pony Car project in the NNS series and with so many sources claiming that project is dead why haven’t there been any responses from Ford or GM to correct the so-called “lies” of NASCAR.
Certainly they would want to make the correction because it would undercut any advertising they had planned by the entrance of their Mustangs, Camaros and Challengers in NNS.
No worries mate, I’ll continue my normal respiration rate waiting for a reasonable response.
I’m sorry, but aren’t you the same fellow who called me out a few weeks ago saying that there was no way Tony Stewart was looking to get out of his contract with JGR to return to Chevy? Yeah that was just one of my anti-Toyota diatribes.
Matt – “I’m sorry, but aren’t you the same fellow who called me out a few weeks ago saying that there was no way Tony Stewart was looking to get out of his contract with JGR to return to Chevy? Yeah that was just one of my anti-Toyota diatribes.”
I don’t remember. Why don’t you show it to me… if you’re so sure it should be very easy to find and jerk my short hairs over it.
One would think after allegedly finding something to tweak me about you would have spent the time to do that already.
Why do I smell a heaping pile of…
Wouldn’t you be better served and your readers as well to correct the blatant and obvious errors in this post?
Not that you’ve ever cared about being anything close to accurate in many of your posts.