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.
Friends, Romans, and countrymen, lend me your ears.
It’s time to put an end to this restrictor plate madness at last, before some other driver pays the ultimate price.
It has been nearly two decades since NASCAR implemented the plate rules as a “temporary fix” at Talladega and Daytona. Tuesday would have been Dale Earnhardt’s 57th birthday were it not for the last lap tragedy at Daytona in 2001; let’s ensure that we learn something from that death, and those of many others.
But, a neophyte might object, NASCAR needs the restrictor plates. After all, they were implemented in the wake of a near miss, when Bobby Allison’s out of control Buick tore down a section of the catchfence separating the track from the grandstands in May of 1987. It was at that point NASCAR decided that speeds well over 200 MPH were just too dangerous, and that a stricken car might one day land in the grandstands with horrific results. But let me remind me you, in 1993 Neil Bonnett’s out of control car was also knocked airborne and tore down a section of the catchfence; though once again, perhaps, divine intervention was all that kept the No. 31 car out of the stands. Note in that incident, Bonnett’s RCR Chevy was fitted with the proper NASCAR-mandated restrictor plate under the hood. In that same July race, Jimmy Horton flew over a section of wall not protected by catch fencing, falling three stories into the parking lot outside the track. So, if the intent of the plate rules is to keep the cars from becoming airborne to protect the fans, then they have failed miserably at that job. Time is too short to recount all the tumbles drivers like Tony Stewart, Elliott Sadler, and Rusty Wallace have taken at the plate tracks despite wheeling cars equipped with them.
And if protecting the fans is the primary goal of the plates, they may have, in fact, made it )_more_ dangerous for them to attend a race. With cars reduced to the least common denominator, competitors typically run in three wide packs, ten or more deep, jockeying wildly for position and forming various drafting alliances. Given the speeds and proximity of the cars, the huge smoking wreck the TV types call “The Big One” is a routine part of plate racing that happens more often than not. When things really go wrong — and they do so often — cars start tumbling, shedding parts as other drivers inevitably run into same of that airborne flack. One such wreck in the 1990s sent Ernie Irvan’s hood into the grandstands; fortunately, it caused only minor injuries. NASCAR has made well intended efforts to tether tires, hoods, and decklids to the cars, but even an object as small as a coil spring entering the stands at over 100 MPH can potentially cause incalculable tragedy. So in summary, the plates don’t keep cars on the ground, and they cause more wrecks putting both drivers and fans at plenty of risk.
“But plate racing is exciting,” others contend. Look at all those leaders and passes for the lead last Sunday! Um, racing at Talladega in the days of yore was exciting as well, back when the cars resembled their stock counterparts but lacked the plates. In the 1984 May Talladega Cup race, there were 75 lead changes. In the July Talladega race that year, there were 68 lead changes, and a thundering pack of ten cars took the checkers in such close formation that, while almost everybody knew Dale Earnhardt had won, it took hours and the use of three start/finish line cameras to figure out where those other nine drivers finished. The plates, in fact, have ended what was one of the more exciting parts of the Talladega and Daytona races in days of yore. Back then, the last place a driver wanted to be running at the white flag was in the lead. The second place driver could use aerodynamics to make a slingshot pass and take the lead at will back when the cars punched bigger holes in the air. And it wasn’t unusual for the fourth place driver to pull out and blow by the three leaders, either. Keep in mind that in those days, a single car could pull out and make such a pass; he didn’t need a drafting partner pushing him from behind to make his move.
Yes, modern day plate racing is exciting, but it’s contrived excitement. It can be interesting to watch, of course, as driver’s strategies play out or fail as they did on Sunday. But like many folks I talk to, I watch today’s plate races with a gnawing in my stomach, waiting for the big wreck to happen and wondering how bad it’s going to be. Once the inevitable occurs, I wait, hoping to see each driver emerge from their car uninjured. Only then can I laugh at the madness of it all. During a typical plate race, I will chew down an entire roll of Tums; that’s not entertaining to me. I liken watching plate racing to watching a teen slasher horror film.
But, some tell me, you’re in the minority there. Most fans love the plate racing. Do they then? Here’s what I find interesting. Sunday’s Talladega race drew a 5.2 Nielsen rating. The Martinsville Cup race drew a 5.3 rating, while this Spring’s Texas Cup event drew a 5.4 rating. I guess if fans love plate racing, they really must love Texas and Martinsville racing. Or, maybe the sort of fans who really love plate racing don’t own TVs? Yes, Talladega can still draw a big crowd on Sundays, but Talladega drew a big crowd before they added plates, too. Talladega race weekends are as much an event as a competition, much like the Bristol night race. A lot of folks wouldn’t care if they were running lawn tractors during the race — just as long as the partying kept right on going.
In an era where NASCAR claims to be trying to reign in the costs of running a race, team plate racing also flies right in the face of that stated goal. Teams must spend millions annually on engines that will run in just four of 36 points races each year. And the costs of replacing a car wiped out in one of those big wrecks (and some team owners will lose more than one in each of the four plate races) is expensive, as well. Next time you’re watching the aftermath of a big wreck at Daytona or Talladega, imagine you are watching a couple million dollars in cash going up in smoke. Yes, team owners have cars demolished at other tracks, but the numbers are larger and the damage is typically more severe at Daytona and Talladega more than anywhere else.
One design goal of the Car of Tomorrow was that its decreased aerodynamics would allow them to race at Talladega and Daytona at reasonable speeds, so the plates wouldn’t be required. In that context (and others), the new car has failed miserably. I figured they’d still need plates at Daytona and Talladega even with the Ugly Pup cars, and I wasn’t disappointed. My fear is with advancements in safety like the HANS device, better seats, Roush flaps, SAFER barriers, and the door foam in the Ugly Mutt cars, fans, track owners, and even some drivers have grown nonchalant about the crashes. They think that no matter how bad the wreck, no one could die. Well, they still can; and when it comes to the safety of drivers and fans, I am still decidedly chalant.
It would seem unreasonable to complain about a problem without offering a solution or two. Two possible remedies to plate racing occur to me…
The first would be to reduce the size of the engines Cup cars run at the current plate tracks, down to somewhere around 4.6 liters. The old hot rodder’s axiom goes, “there ain’t no replacement for displacement.” The goal of the smaller engines would be to reduce horsepower down to the level of the plate engines, but without the plates so drivers would have better throttle response. In fact, in a perfect world, the new smaller engines might run on all the tracks, because it’s been shown time and time again in oval track racing that lower speeds actually make for better action with more side-by-side racing and passes for the lead.
But I’m uncomfortable with that solution, as once again it dumps the bill for fixing the problem into the team owner’s lap. Once again, they are forced to dump expensive inventory that is no longer legal, and to pay millions to develop the new smaller powerplants.
No, I feel this time International Speedway Corporation, which owns Daytona and Talladega, should foot the bill. It’s time for them to tear up those two tracks, reduce the banking, and configure the corners so that drivers don’t just hold it wide open the whole way around the track. With modern computer simulation, it would be possible to find the ideal degree of banking that allowed for the lower speeds and better racing to occur. Do it once… and do it right. If Bruton Smith owned Talladega or Daytona, the fixes would have been made years ago; and if he balked, NASCAR would have threatened to take race dates away from him. Yes, it’s going to be expensive for ISC. But Las Vegas was redone at great expense by SMI, and so was Texas — several times in a decade, in fact, until they got it right.
When discussing this topic this week in the comments section of another article, I wrote some folks thought I was flat out crazy to even suggest modifying the two plate tracks. They assured me, as some do weekly, I have no idea what I’m talking about. Maybe they do know more about racing than me, though this ain’t my first rodeo, Cowgirl. But I remember the words of the late Dale Earnhardt, certainly the greatest and most successful plate track racer of all time. Earnhardt scored a ton of wins at both Talladega and Daytona, and the last victory of his storied career was at Talladega. In the waning laps of that one, he drove from seventeenth to victory while making a stunning set of moves that left those of us who watched awed and amazed. Yet even after that win, Earnhardt didn’t mince words when it came to plate racing. “I don’t care what they say. This ain’t real racing,” he said after taking home another trophy.
I figure Earnhardt knew a thing or two about stock car racing; but he’s not around to comment about it anymore due to that last lap crash in the 2001 Daytona 500. So, it’s time to stop the madness now. Spend the bread and end these grisly circuses.
Drivers to Watch at Richmond
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. — Junior returns to the scene of the crime, the track where he last won a Cup points event two years ago this weekend. He’s due.
Jeff Gordon — If Earnhardt hasn’t won this year, at least he’s been finishing well most weeks. If Gordon is to have any legitimate chance of contending for a title, he needs to turn things around starting now.
Kyle Busch — The way this kid is winning right now on any sort of track, in any sort of vehicle NASCAR chooses to compete, he’s a factor any given weekend.
©2000 - 2008 Matt McLaughlin and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
You’re not crazy Matt, just misguided and prone to confusing fact with opinion.
For example in this piece you claim Bruton Smith would have reconfigured Daytona and Talladega if he owned them.
That’s opinion and does nothing to further your argument. Unless of course you can dredge up a quote or two and I’d by more than happy to read them.
However, as you may remember I agree, engine size should be reduced and at some point in the future it will be.
NASCAR has no alternative. NASCAR has, or had, a plan for an “engine of the future” but with the introduction of the new Cup car and the NNS car next year that program has lain dormant since June 2005.
As a result of monumental bickering between the car makers it hasn’t progressed as planned.
It was originally scheduled to debut at California in February last year and word then was it had been pushed back to 2009 or 2010. But, since than I’ve seen no word on the program.
Now, about that flying hood. As you know the two of us have already gone over that slightly.
But here’s the question, what makes you think a reduction in speeds via smaller engine or dumping the restrictor plate will prevent that from occurring again?
Considering parts fly off at any speed and regardless whether a car is in a multi-car accident or not I have serious doubts either solution would reduce the possibility.
What would reduce it is stronger tethers on hoods and rear deck lids. A much cheaper option.
And note I said stronger, Gordon’s hood flew off, despite the tether, and hit a female spectator at New Hampshire in 2003, and McMurray had the TV panel fly off in an accident the same day and land in the walkway fronting the grandstands.
Now, about The Big
You claim the bunched-up fields are part of it.
But can you quantify how many Big Ones since 1988 have been the result of plates as opposed to a bunched field because of the ever present yellow flags of recent years?
I know I can’t and doubt if you can.
Without that data set there is no way to determine what the predominate cause of them are.
And it’s not like they never happened prior to 1988.
What was alleged to be the very first one at Talledega in 1973 effectively ended the career of Wendel Scott and collected 19 other cars in the mess.
Right on Matt! I prefer the engine size reduction, but do it for all races!
And simply reducing the CID’s should not cost any team a fortune in gold, as do the plate engines as you mention!
They, NA$CAR, (of course they would have to be thinking to come up with a solution to plate racing) could not only reduce displacement, but also play around with reducing the car weights, a balance that would provide “controllable speed”, and real racing!
Like you, Matt, I get incensed every time the media or drivers say “the fans love restrictorplate racing.” Yes, we like to see high-speed racing, but not with the plates. I think putting a smaller engine in would be the solution. Can’t go with lowering the banking. High banking always makes for better racing and gives the drivers options and multiple grooves. But I’d like to see the cars out of one big glob and with more throttle response, so give them smaller engines. Hell! They already spend a ton of money on special engines for these tracks anyway, so why not come up with a whole new engine that will reduce speeds?
“Yes, modern day plate racing is exciting, but it’s contrived excitement.”
Plate racing is boring and dangerous. The man himself, Dale Earnhardt, said many times,“that ain’t racin’!”
You are exactly right, Matt! When NASCAR put the plates in, it was supposed to be temporary. However, NASCAR found a “product.” They can sell contrived, dangerous, excitement for those who come to see “the big one” and the gore that goes along with it. It isn’t racing when a driver has to have a buddy to pass and the guy behind has little chance of winning. As the FOX NASCAR mouthpieces said Sunday, the winner has to find someone willing to run second. My friends, that ain’t racing.
finally we had a car sponsored in plate race with a product i use in excess during a plate race…tums.
said it all along….plate racing is no good. i love racing, but what it’s become is a farce. i really thought after 2/18/01 that fans would of visited daytona and ‘dega under the cover of darkness with pick axes, dozers and whatnot and fixed those tracks themselves.
ever wonder why those drivers look so horrible after race at daytona or ‘dega….it’s the plates. sunday was a classic case….they rode around all day behaving behind the wheel. 30 to go, the switch goes off in some heads and bam….cautions. i can’t recall a plate race in the past few years that hasn’t ended under caution or a g/w/c which still caused cautions.
I agree with Matt and Douglas – reduce the engine size for all tracks. I also like Douglas’ idea about reducing the weight.
I also agree with the idea of track reconfiguration – the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is bigger than Daytona and almost as big as Talladega, but because of its more squared shape and relative flatness, it completely changes the style of racing. The same could be said for Pocono.
how about smaller “crate engines” or something like that? That will control the cost.Half of the chevys are hendriks anyway
Tear the walls and banking down, they were built for the Aero-bricks of the 60’s. Besides the “no-talents” who ‘never had to lift’ will actually have to brake and do some real driving. Its why I like Michigan so much….besides being a Ford Track 63% of the time.
Lighter weight will only increase the speeds. The new car is a brick like the cars of the 60’s and was designed to slow the cars down. Indy is 2.5 miles, same as Daytona, not bigger.
With all the safety improvements built-in to the COT, not to mention the all-important roof flaps, it could run unrestricted at Talladega without any safety issues.
rjh – “Tear the walls and banking down, they were built for the Aero-bricks of the 60’s. Besides the “no-talents” who ‘never had to lift’ will actually have to brake and do some real driving. Its why I like Michigan so much….besides being a Ford Track 63% of the time.”
Do you mean like real driving and braking as seen on every track on the circuit today with the exception of Daytona and Talladega?
What are you trying to say man, that they don’t drive and brake at the other 20 events on the schedule that aren’t Daytona and Talladega?
And BTW, your 63% figure is a bit of a stretch. Of the 76 Cup events at MIS since 1969 only 29 have been won with a Ford. That’s far below your figure.
Actually the record books (not coloring books) show it was 21 cars involved in the big ninth lap crash at Talladega. You might be thinking it was nineteen cars that could not be fixed well enough to return them to action later in the race. And for those unfamiliar with the race in question the wreck was the result of A) Ramo Scott blowing an engine B) A NASCAR being slow to call a caution C) The France family’s brilliant idea to start 60 (Yes SIXTY) cars in that event. DOH! That didn’t work too well.
Also as you are doubtless aware the energy of a wreck goes up exponentially not proportionally as speed increases. Thus at higher speeds like they run at Talladega the force of the crash is much greater than at New Hampshire, one track you cite. More force being dissapated means objects are going to be flung further and at greater velocities. The fact cars are running inches apart two and three wide greatly increases the chance of a wreck.
I suppose if it were important to me to outargue you, I could go to my notes and RacingReference, and compare the lap races at Talladega and Daytona restarted after a yellow and how many laps later the big one occurred so I could have stats to cite. My memory is clear enough to remember that most were not a result of a restart (the one that was I can recall clearly is Gordon and Harvick’s little brouhaha in the race Ward Burton won.) But frankly I don’t have the time. Life just isn’t a breakfast cereal. I know. I have one. Ciao, babe. We’ll do lunch I’ll be in the garage if anybody needs me.
It is easy to slow down the cars. Just run a harder tire and get rid of the aero stuff. The drivers will have to lift going into the turns.
I do not get why folks seem to think Dega and Daytona are the fastest tracks. The cars go faster at Charlotte and Atlanta.
Yeah plate racing is exciting. So is Russian Roulette. Sex without a condom. Bullfights.
“Exciting” does not make it good or right.
Matt – “Actually the record books (not coloring books) show it was 21 cars involved in the big ninth lap crash at Talladega. You might be thinking it was nineteen cars that could not be fixed well enough to return them to action later in the race.”
Thanks for the correction Matt, and no I wasn’t thinking that, my recollection was 20 total regardless of how many returned.
See how easy that was? No diverting attention by changing the subject or ignoring the error all together which is your normal Modus operandi.
You should try it sometime, coloring book or not.
“ Thus at higher speeds like they run at Talladega the force of the crash is much greater than at New Hampshire, one track you cite. More force being dissapated means objects are going to be flung further and at greater velocities. The fact cars are running inches apart two and three wide greatly increases the chance of a wreck.”
And your point is what? I haven’t in the slightest way disputed bunched fields and or higher speeds will contribute to parts flying off and landing in grandstand areas.
But the reality is an event such as that happening at very much lower speeds at New Hampshire, to say nothing of local bull rings, isn’t a reasonable argument for reduction of speeds or the total reconfiguration of both Daytona and Talladega.
“I suppose if it were important to me to outargue you, I could go to my notes and RacingReference, and compare the lap races at Talladega and Daytona restarted after a yellow and how many laps later the big one occurred so I could have stats to cite. “
You’ll have to rely on your notes because that type data isn’t available at RR, only the number of yellows not when they occurred.
“Life just isn’t a breakfast cereal. I know. I have one.” — Matt McLaughlin
Exciting? Yeah, it’s like waiting for a bomb to detonate.
It is not racing if everyone is required to add something to their car to reduce performance.
I’ve only been to Bristol, Daytona, Homestead, and Las Vegas to watch races over the last 5 years. I can tell you the Daytona event had the least amount of true racing than all the other venues. I wouldn’t pay to go see that again.