Kurt Busch to Attempt The Indianapolis-Charlotte Double
posted by Phil Allaway
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Andretti Autosport announced this morning that Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet in the Sprint Cup Series, will attempt the Indianapolis 500 in a fifth entry for the IndyCar Series team. Once the Indianapolis 500 is completed, Busch will fly from Indianapolis to Charlotte, jump in his No. 41 Chevrolet and compete in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Busch considers the opportunity to do the double as an old-school throwback moment.
“This is really to challenge myself within motorsports,” Busch said in Andretti Autosport’s press release. “Perhaps I am a bit of an old-school racer; a throwback, I guess. I enjoyed the era of drivers racing different cars and testing themselves in other series. It is tough to do now for a variety of factors, but when the opportunity is there, I want to do it. While NASCAR is my home, I have been fortunate to compete in Pro Stock on the NHRA circuit a number of years ago and test a V8 Supercar. This opportunity was a talk with Michael [Andretti] over dinner one night, a “What if,” and now it’s becoming a reality for me to drive in the Indy 500 with Andretti Autosport. It’s literally a dream come true. To go to the famous Brickyard with the iconic Andretti name, it doesn’t get much cooler or better than that.”
Busch will be doing the Indianapolis-Charlotte double as a Memorial Day mission to men and women serving in the U.S. Military via the Armed Forces Foundation. Fans can contribute to the cause by texting AFF to 50555 to donate $10.
Busch, who has never raced an IndyCar, passed Rookie Orientation at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year during a test session. At the time, Busch was more or less testing the Dallara DW12 for fun.
Busch will be the fourth driver to attempt the Indianapolis-Charlotte double. John Andretti was the first driver to attempt it in 1994. After finishing four laps down in tenth in Indianapolis, Andretti crashed and had engine problems in the 600. Robby Gordon has attempted the double five times, most recently in 2004. However, Gordon failed to make it to Charlotte on time and did not start the 600 in 2000 (P.J. Jones started Gordon’s No. 13 Ford in that instance). Finally, Tony Stewart has attempted the double twice (most recently in 2001) and is the only driver to ever complete all 1100 miles. Neither of the three drivers has won either leg of the double. The best finishes are Stewart and Gordon’s sixth-place finishes at the Indianapolis 500 (although Gordon’s came in 2000, the year he didn’t make it to Charlotte in time to start the Coca-Cola 600), and Stewart’s fourth-place finish in the 2001 Coca-Cola 600.
Danica Patrick, Justin Allgaier Talk About Phoenix Incident
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
A disappointing start to the year for Danica Patrick won’t include continued conflict. Patrick met with rookie Justin Allgaier Sunday, shortly after the Phoenix Cup race after a wreck ruined both drivers’ days. Patrick, who was critical of the No. 51 car on the radio, claiming Allgaier was “driving all over the track” appeared receptive to a conversation that quickly settled differences over what will be a long season.
“She was just upset because she got involved in the crash that we had,’’ said Allgaier to the Motor Racing Network. “She says she’s been through this and that she felt like I needed to settle down at that point. I explained my position on why everything happened. I think she understood where I was coming from. It doesn’t fix either one of our racecars. It doesn’t fix either one of our days. Unfortunately, we were both having pretty decent days.’’
Allgaier wound up 30th due to the incident while Patrick was 36th. The incident, which was caused by Allgaier’s spin also involved the No. 32 team and Travis Kvapil, which wound up 38th after sustaining heavy damage.
Camping World Close to Extending Title Sponsorship of NCWTS
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Marcus Lemonis, CEO of Camping World, Grand Marshal of Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway, and star of CNBC’s “The Profit,” made the announcement over the weekend that the retailer is very close to announcing a deal that would continue its title sponsorship of NASCAR’s Truck Series. The original agreement with NASCAR is scheduled to conclude after the 2015 season.
According to the sanctioning body, no formal contract has been signed, but “the agreement between the two parties has proven to be a beneficial one.”
“In about a month, we’ll be announcing a significant extension to that contract. It’s been great for us,” said Camping World’s Lemonis in a statement. “The NASCAR relationship has worked well for Camping World. When we started, we had 35 stores. Now, we’re up to 120 stores. As we travel the country and we meet new customers in stores, they always are very appreciative of our relationship with NASCAR. It’s been good.”
Gaining a long-term commitment from Camping World to sponsor the Truck Series would be a relief for NASCAR, which is set to lose Nationwide Insurance as title sponsor for the NASCAR Nationwide Series at the end of the 2014 season. The sponsorship of the Cup Series by Sprint runs through 2016.
The NCWTS is back in action on March 29th at 2:30 PM (ET) when the trucks visit Martinsville Speedway in the Kroger 250, which can be seen on Fox Sports 1. Ratings for the season opener were up 11 percent.
Harvick Takes Win At Phoenix In Second Race With New Team
posted by Justin Tucker
Monday March 3, 2014
Phoenix International Raceway has become Kevin Harvick’s home away from home. Sunday Afternoon was no exception as Harvick charged to the front early and would dominate for much of the day, leading 224 of the scheduled 312 laps to record his record fifth win on the one mile oval and his third win in the last four races at Phoenix.
Harvick, coming off of a disappointing Speedweeks which was capped by a last lap crash in the Daytona 500 in his debut with Stewart-Haas Racing, set the tone on Saturday by winning both practices while having the best 5 and 10-lap averages in the first practice of the day on Saturday. On Sunday, Harvick and his No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet was nothing short of flawless as he was able to hold Dale Earnhardt, Jr. by .489 seconds after a late race restart to claim his 24th career Sprint Cup Series victory.
“Man, this is awesome,” Harvick said after his dominant victory on Sunday. “Man, this just solidifies so many things and so many decisions. It’s been so much work with all the time and effort that these guys (the crew) have put in—but what a race car.”
Stewart Haas Racing co-owner Gene Haas shared in Harvick’s excitement after the race.
“It took long enough,” Haas joked. “This is phenomenal. I think there was a lot of skepticism last year about what myself and Tony (Stewart) what we were up to, was there a lot of madness to this. Quite frankly, it’s a great team, there’s a lot of synergy at the shop, people working together. I don’t know what we did, but I think we put together a great organization.”
Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt, Jr. continued his hot start to the 2014 season. Earnhardt Jr. would finish second on Sunday, marking his seventh consecutive top 10 finish since the end of the 2013 season. Earnhardt Jr. was pleased with the effort after a coast-to-coast whirlwind week after winning his second Daytona 500 and also gave great praise to the efforts of Harvick and the No. 4 team.
“I’ve got to congratulate Kevin. Those guys were two-tenths faster than everyone all weekend in practice. They were just phenomenal,” Earnhardt said. “To be able to run with them all day was a big confidence builder for us.”
Joining Harvick and Earnhardt in the top 5 of The Profit on CNBC 500K were Brad Keselowski with his second consecutive top 3 run of 2014 in third. Keselowski’s Team Penske teammate Joey Logano would finish fourth, and Jeff Gordon would come home fifth in his No. 24 Pepsi Max Chevrolet.
Jimmie Johnson finished in sixth, followed by Ryan Newman with a nice rebound after Daytona in seventh. Carl Edwards would carry the banner for Roush Fenway Racing by finishing eighth, Kyle Busch was ninth, and Jamie McMurray would finish tenth.
A look at the Profit on CNBC 500K by the numbers. There were 14 lead changes among eight different drivers, there were eight cautions for 39 laps which slowed the race pace to 109.229 MPH.
Next Sunday, the Sprint Cup Series heads to Sin City and the Las Vegas Motor
Starting Lineup: The Profit On CNBC 500K
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday March 1, 2014
Drivers in RED (i) are those ineligible to collect Sprint Cup points
Daytona 500 TV Ratings Down
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Wednesday February 26, 2014
What was the longest weather delay in Daytona 500 history turned out to bring NASCAR lower ratings and TV viewership Sunday night than expected. According to a report Monday from FOX Sports, the 56th running of the Daytona 500 airing at 8 PM (ET) posted a 5.6/10 national household rating/share which averaged 9.3 million viewers. That’s down 44 percent from last year’s 9.9, easily making it the least-watched Daytona 500 of all-time.
Due to the six-hour, twenty-two minute rain delay in Daytona, the race was up against the primetime coverage of the Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony from Sochi, Russia on NBC (15.25 million viewers). FOX also reported that 69% of the pre-rain delay viewers of the race, which began at 1 PM (ET) kept tuning in.
In comparison, the 2013 Daytona 500 on FOX was the most-watched race in five years, posting a 9.9/22 rating/share, commanding 16.7 million viewers. The Daytona 500 in 2012, the first to ever be run on a Monday and in the primetime slot did a 7.7/13 overnight rating/share which resulted in 13.67 million households viewing the race according to Nielsen TV ratings data.
Earnhardt, Jr. Claims Second Daytona 500 Victory
posted by Justin Tucker
Wednesday February 26, 2014
Ten years is a long time. For Dale Earnhardt, Jr., it felt like an eternity. NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver endured many near misses and close calls at the Daytona 500 since his only win in the Great American Race in 2004. Earnhardt had finished second in two of his last three Daytona 500s coming into Sunday’s race. He was also riding the tail of a 55-race winless streak, dating back to Michigan in 2012.
However nothing would stop Dale Jr. on Sunday, not even a 6 hour and 22 minute rain delay from capturing his second Daytona 500 win. Earnhardt Jr. led a race-high 54 laps on the evening and used some timely drafting help from teammates Jimmie Johnson and, on the final restart, Jeff Gordon to separate from the pack and secure the victory.
“Winning this race is the greatest feeling that you could feel in this sport besides accepting the trophy for the championship,” said a jubilant Earnhardt after pulling into Victory Lane. “We could fight off battle after battle. We got a little help at the end there from Jeff to get away on the restart. This is amazing. I can’t believe this is happening. I never take this for granted, man because it doesn’t happen twice, let alone once.”
Aside from the race itself the big story of the race was the 6 hour and 22 minute red flag, which threatened to move the race to Monday evening (had the race been postponed, FOX Sports’ Chris Myers had tweeted that the race would resume at 5:00pm EST). However, Mother Nature would cooperate and would allow the race to be run under different conditions from which they practiced this week. Once the race resumed, the intensity picked up from the changing track conditions. This allowed the pack to race side-by-side and at times 3-wide up to seven rows deep.
Joining Earnhardt Jr. in the top 5 for the 2014 Daytona 500 were: Denny Hamlin who closed out a spectacular Speedweeks in second, Brad Keselowski in third, Jeff Gordon in fourth, and Jimmie Johnson who overcome two wrecks leading up to the 500 in fifth.
Rounding out the top 10 in the Daytona 500 were Matt Kenseth in sixth, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. in seventh and Greg Biffle would bring his No. 16 Ford home in eighth. Austin Dillon would come home ninth in his first Cup Series race in the iconic No. 3 for Richard Childress Racing, while Casey Mears would round out the top 10.
A couple of major contenders for the Daytona 500 win would see their hopes dashed early on as Martin Truex, Jr. would blow up just 30 laps into the race, relegating him to a 43rd-place finish in his debut for Furniture Row Racing. Crew chief Todd Berrier was already in Nashville for a test session before the race was even over. Kyle Busch, meanwhile would have a pit road violation just before halfway and would spend much of the race battling back from that mistake. Busch would eventually finish 19th after leading 19 laps.
Danica Patrick would also be bit by bad luck as she was caught up in a multi-car wreck on lap 145. Patrick would lead her second consecutive Daytona 500, but wouldn’t have the finish to show for it finishing 40th. Tony Stewart would encounter a frustrating evening as well, with a fuel pickup problem derailing his quest for his first Daytona 500 win. Stewart would finish 35th.
A look at the Daytona 500 by the numbers. There were 42 lead changes among 18 drivers, while seven cautions for 39 laps would slow the race pace to 145.290 MPH.
Next week, the Sprint Cup Series heads to the “diamond in the desert,” Phoenix International Raceway for The Profit on CNBC 500K. The Green flag is scheduled for 3:15pm EST.
Nationwide Series Post-Race Quotes: Drive4COPD 300
posted by Thomas Bowles
Tuesday February 25, 2014
Frontstretch Interviews – Courtesy Mike Neff
ELLIOTT SADLER – FINISHED 4th
Thoughts on the race?
It’s definitely a lot different racing than what we’re used to.
Comfortable with it?
Yeah, it’s just different. You’re worried about what you’re doing, but you’re also worried about what everyone else is doing and they’re not doing more than you’re doing. Physically pushing a guy is way better than just riding so you just gotta time it right and push it to the edge.
Happy to start the year with a top 5?
Yeah. Hell, that was the worst we ran all day, I think. I have no idea how they put the 3 car in front of us on that last restart. I hadn’t seen the 3 car hardly all day. When they put us from fifth to sixth, on the outside line, it just really boxed us in. I would have really restarted behind my teammate and given him a good push to the front. Anyways, it is what it is; we’ll take it and move on.
Looked like you were up front all day.
The guys did a good job. We had a fast race car. Great pit stops, just really proud of these guys. The car’s in one piece and we can take it to Talladega now. Great job by my guys. A lot of effort came into coming down here to Daytona and giving ourselves a shot to win. We had that chance to be up front and make some things happen. Fifth is not what we want, but we’ll take it and move on.
Bumping vs Pushing?
It’s way harder. You don’t want to lay on the guy in front of you, so it’s tough racing. A lot different than what we’re used to, ‘cause you gotta go. You gotta drag the brake too ‘cause you don’t want to hit the guys and you don’t want to stay on him. It’s a lot harder mentally than what we’ve done in the past.
Car was strong all day. Pushing vs. Bumping, is that harder to do than just getting on somebody and pushing them?
Yeah, it is a little bit. When you bump ‘em, you jar ‘em, it kinda jacks ‘em a little bit. It’s a little more abrupt, obviously. I thought it was OK there at the end. It was certainly fun and hopefully entertaining. But a little bit of a struggle in the early part of the race and the midpart of the race to see a good race. And that’s unfortunate for the fans. You can’t do that the whole race, you can’t tear up your stuff, knock your grill in, overheat your motor, all that stuff so there’s no sense in doing all that until you get down to the last lap. The 7 and the 6, they did a good job. Man, the 7 really held the 22 and I tight on the bottom. I was rubbing his door and hitting the apron at the same time, no room whatsoever. So it was good; wish we were the ones who could have won but a lot better now than what we were last year.
Going home in one piece makes it a lot better, right?
Yeah. My back feels good. My foot feels good. Past years here, I’ve been going home with pain so I’m alright.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Truck Series Post-Race Quotes: Daytona (Exclusives)
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday February 22, 2014
When you’re on the outside like that, how frustrating is it?
It’s so hard. Timothy Peters has won here. Kyle Busch has won everywhere. Ron Hornaday has been running Trucks forever, probably before I was even born. I was surrounded by veterans there, and like I told them I don’t have a rookie stripe but I’m a rookie. This is only my fourth Truck race ever, my fourth superspeedway race, and man, I figured out when the 17 got up in front of me, I pushed him. And as soon as I pushed him, he took off. And I went with him. And I just kept doing it, and before I knew it, he was leading. And I saw Ron in my mirror, backed up to him, and if it wasn’t for him, I don’t know what would have happened. I gotta thank him big time for that. That was a true teammate move right there. I really appreciate that. He just bounced off me and we got to the front. I tried my hardest to sidedraft Kyle. I was probably touching his door.
Top 5 in the No. 30 truck. This deal come together at the last minute, but you had a heck of a truck. Tell us about your night.
Yeah, I’ve got to thank Turner Scott Motorsports. The guys worked so hard on this Rheem Comfort Products Chevrolet. Exciting! Just got hung up on the outside and had to wait for my teammate there to catch up. And then he got to the bottom, so… I got the old 32 and started pushing ol’ Ryan to the front. So, it’s not bad. We’ll take it. You just don’t want to step over that boundary. You don’t know how far to push and shove. We bumped about six times down the straightaway without latching onto them. Hopefully, that was OK and we came home with a top 5.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Budweiser Duels Post Race Quotes
posted by Matt Stallknecht
Friday February 21, 2014
BUDWEISER DUELS POST-RACE QUOTES
They’re saying the wheel bearing burned up in it. I don’t know what caused it, they’re taking it all apart to figure out what the heck happened. Something abnormal that’s for sure I don’t think I’ve ever had that happen at all. Hopefully, we made the race and hopefully we can fix the problem before Sunday.
WHAT WAS THAT LOUD BOOM ONCE YOU TURNED INTO THE GARAGE?
Loud pop was a tire… thankfully, it popped, hopefully it didn’t hurt anybody. All the heat created in the left front that popped was pretty weird.
REALLY GOOD RUN. WHAT DID YOU THINK OF IT?
Yeah, it was good. We have a car we can work with for the 500. Got a good starting spot, so we’re going to rest easy, fluff and buff our car for a couple of days and get ready for Sunday.
ANY DIFFERENCE ON WHETHER THE TOP OR BOTTOM LANE WORKED?
Yeah, I was just moving around, trying to stay with the flow. For me, this car works on all parts of the racetrack. So I’m pretty happy with it.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.
GOT SHUFFLED BACK, AFTER PIT STOPS AND THEN COULDN’T GET BACK UP TO THE FRONT. WHY?
Nah, we were just sitting there waiting until the last few laps to make a move. You didn’t want to pull down and get sent to the back. Seen a couple of guys get sent to the back really quick so we were just kind of waiting for the end. I felt like we had a good situation there with Ambrose behind us — we had a good run off Turn 2 and I went. It was the last lap, time to go do something, nobody went with us but hopefully Sunday is a different story.
We got a great car. We don’t have to work hard. We learned, we got a good race car. Got a car in one piece, ready to go so we’ll try and get through the next couple of practices, deliver it to the starting group this Sunday and we’ll be real happy.
YOU’RE IN THE DAYTONA 500!
Yeah, it’s pretty awesome. This Whitetail Chevrolet was so fast that I knew all I had to do was stick it behind smart, intelligent drafters and we could have a good finish. That’s what we did in the Duels and I’m excited. I’m excited to go do some stuff with the Nationwide car and have some more practice with this. But to know that we’re locked in the Daytona 500’s pretty cool.
YOU WERE OBVIOUSLY IN FRONT OF THAT MELEE AT THE END. WHEN YOU WERE UP FRONT THERE IN THE BEGINNING, WERE YOU HOPING TO JUST STAY IN LINE AND LET YOU FINISH TOP 5?
I was pretty content to ride and luckily I knew a lot of people around us were. It was nice to have a little calm and not really have to be racing hard the whole time. I knew that the pit stop was going to shake everything up and that’s exactly what happened. Fell back a little bit there but made the right moves at the end to get a good finish.
HOW STRONG ARE THESE RCR CARS?
They’re very strong! They definitely have the capabilities to be winning one of these races.
YOU’RE IN THE TOP 5 FOR YOUR HEAT IN THE DAYTONA 500. YOUR PRIMARY CAR IS SITTING RIGHT IN THE GARAGE, KIND OF WADDED UP. DID YOU THINK THIS ONE HAD IT IN IT?
Yeah, it’s a brand new car also. It’s just not quite as good as the primary but still a damned good car. I’m just proud of everybody at RCR for building such fast race cars. All of our cars have been fast, ECR motor’s been strong, even our affiliate teams have been qualifying really good and racing good. So… excited about 2014! It’s going to be a good year.
WELL MAN, YOU STARTED IN THE BACK BUT WORKED YOUR WAY TO THE FRONT WHEN IT COUNTED MOST. WERE YOU JUST BIDING YOUR TIME THROUGHOUT THE RACE?
Eh, you never know if you’re going to get back up there or not. We had to start at the back, we had to make a run early and see what we could do. We drove right to 10th, or something like that and then it got stagnant. We tried to make something happen, and went to the back again. Drove back up to the front. Again, just really proud of my guys. Matt Kruder did a hell of a job on that pit stop getting just enough gas in to gain some spots there.
RCR CARS SEEM PRETTY DARNED STRONG. DO YOU THINK THE RCR CARS HAVE SOMETHING FOR THEM ON SUNDAY — ESPECIALLY THE THREE JOE GIBBS RACING CARS THAT SEEM TO BE THE CLASS OF THE FIELD RIGHT NOW?
Oh yeah. The 20 car was extremely fast. The 11 didn’t qualify that good, but he’s a good drafter. I think he won. We definitely have something for him.
Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
Matt McLaughlin · Monday May 12, 2008
The Key Moment: On lap 285, Kyle Busch blew by Jeff Gordon and drove off into the night with the afterburners lit.
In a Nutshell: New asphalt, same old race track; Darlington is still the meanest mother on the circuit.
Dramatic Moment: When it became obvious nobody had anything for Busch, the leader had to manufacture his own excitement, frequently running his car into the wall or getting it sideways battling with traffic.
What They’ll Be Talking About Around the Water Cooler This Week
Well that’s odd. A dominating win didn’t seem to endear Busch to the fans. In fact prior to the race and after the race, Busch seemed to be enjoying taunting those fans who booed him. Give the kid this much, he still doesn’t like these new cars even though he’s winning races in them.
What’s all this bizarre talk about Kyle Busch being the reincarnation of Dale Earnhardt, the Intimidator? Earnhardt’s legendary popularity was a cult of personality. To have a cult of personality you have to have a personality, unlike Busch. It might be closer to the truth to call Kyle “The Irritator.” Perhaps he should tape Earnhardt’s old motto, “Never complain, never explain,” on the dash of the 18 car.
You think Harold Brassington ever envisioned cars hitting 200 MPH at Darlington when he first built the track? Oh, and as for the story of the track’s odd configuration being designed to save that minnow pond, as charming as it is, the myth simply isn’t true.
There was a lot of talk this week about Carl Edwards’ No. 99 cars having the bodies mounted askew on the frame to gain speed with the new car. Apparently the Joe Gibbs teams weren’t complaining about the 99 car, they were trying the same thing. Those three Camry’s looked decidedly odd coming down the straights, almost like early 70s Novas that had taken a severe hit to the rear and been repaired by the dumbest kids at the Vo-tech. We used to call it the “Wounded Dog” look.
The soda wars were ridiculous enough but add in all these new oddly colored energy drinks various drivers are promoting by gulping them down after a race and it makes me long for the good old days when the drivers downed a couple brews in Victory Lane.
OK, hit the panic button. Jeff Gordon sounds beyond frustrated and confused as to why he can no longer win races. If Jimmie Johnson doesn’t win at Charlotte next week like he normally does, the panic will ratchet up another notch. It can’t be the cars, Earnhardt Jr. is running up front nearly every week. Some astute fans seem to have figured out the problems with the 48 and 24 teams. I got two emails this week telling me it’s obvious Junior is getting all the good stuff. Yeah, all right.
Right now the concept of parity in stock car racing seems more like a parody. Toyotas have won eight of twelve Nationwide races this season, including the last six in a row by the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 20. Toyotas have won three of this season’s five truck races and they’ve now won four of eleven Cup races including two of the last three. I can accept Kyle Busch and his team dominating this race, that happens from time to time. But at the end of the race the second fastest car on the track was the badly wounded 20 car with Tony Stewart at the wheel and Darlington is far from Stewart’s best track. Something’s wrong with this picture.
Why on earth did NASCAR not throw the caution flag as Casey Mears crept around the track in his badly damaged car with cars moving twice as fast roaring by inches from his right side? It seems that NASCAR is a lot slower to throw cautions or make up debris cautions during the night races so the network can get the race over in time for the local news to air before the anchors are asleep in their chairs drooling out the corners of their mouths. I must say though the debris caution for the hot dog wrapper when Busch first started stinking up the show was a classic. I guess somebody might have suffered a paper cut if it was allowed to remain on the track and it could have gotten infected.
I think I’ve figured out what’s causing the lug nut problems with the JGR cars. They must have let Jeff Hammond glue them in place. Talk about a demonstration gone horribly awry. I bet they’re still trying to pry that lug nut off his thumb.
Maybe it’s time to add blinking red lights to the roofs of the Dodges just so fans can remember what they look like?
Maybe it’s also time that NASCAR stops being so complacent and addresses the challenges it faces. I’m noting that interest in this year’s Indy 500 is the highest it’s been in many years. A combination of reunification, the Danica factor, and other compelling storylines seems to have reminded race fans there is an event on the Sunday of the Memorial Day weekend prior to the Coca Cola 600.
I don’t often interject personal stuff in these recaps, you’re here to talk about the race not me, but because Sunday would have been my Mom’s birthday as well as Mother’s Day, I’ll offer a suggestion to those of you whose moms are still living as I cope with the first Mother’s Day without mine. You don’t need a special day to remember how special your Mom is. Call her frequently and tell her you love her.
The Hindenburg Award For Foul Fortune
Greg Biffle started the race from the pole and led 95 laps early but mechanical gremlins sent him to the garage 2/3rds of the way into the race.
Tony Stewart’s chances at winning lasted two laps. Elliott Sadler’s out of control race car put Stewart hard into the wall to draw the first caution.
Jimmie Johnson wrecked twice in practice and about wore out the right side of the 48 car en route to a thirteenth place finish.
Denny Hamlin won the last two Darlington Nationwide races but wrecked in qualifying for that event and missed the show this year.
Ryan Newman isn’t having a great season (other than winning the Daytona 500 of course) but getting wrecked trying to enter the pits under caution might have been a new lowlight of the year.
The “Seven Come Fore Eleven” Award For Fine Fortune
Kyle Busch had to survive numerous up close and personal encounters with the wall, several slow stops and a penalty for a missing lug nut all in one night….and he still dominated the race.
Denny Hamlin left Darlington with a seventh place finish despite getting spun out in traffic.
Travis Kvapil finished eighth and gets the nod for the best looking retro paint scheme as well.
After struggling most of the night, Jeff Burton left Darlington with a tenth place finish. Burton also survived a near miss in the pits with the 1 car and still has completed every lap of every race this season.
Whoever has the white paint concession in Darlington isn’t going to have to worry about gas prices.
What’s the Points?
The top three drivers in the points hold serve. Kyle Busch is now 79 points ahead of Jeff Burton and 134 points ahead of Earnhardt.
There was a shakeup towards the bottom of the Top 12. Jeff Gordon enters the Top 12 moving up three spots to tenth and David Ragan moved up two spots to 12th. Ryan Newman fell two spots to 13th and Kasey Kahne fell two spots to 14th. Fans of the 12 and 9 cars need not panic. Both drivers are just two points out of the top 12 right now.
Several drivers made forward progress in the points at Darlington. Carl Edwards moved up three spots to seventh while Denny Hamlin moved up two spots to fourth. Despite a lackluster run Jimmie Johnson moved up a spot to sixth.
Kevin Harvick’s hard crash dropped him four points in the standings to ninth. Greg Biffle’s last place finish dropped him two positions in the standings to 11th. Clint Bowyer fell a spot to fifth.
Matt Kenseth and Kurt Busch both advanced two spots. They are now 20th and 22nd in the standings. Both drivers and teams have engineered late season runs to make the Chase in previous years but they need to get up on the wheel. Kenseth is 153 points out of the top 12
Overall Rating (On a scale of one to six beer cans with one being a stinker and a six pack an instant classic) I’ll give it four cans, a relatively low rating for a Darlington race. The track is just a bit too fast right now. But keep the faith. In the sandy, abrasive environment of the area the new asphalt is going to wear quickly.
Next Up: The Cup circuit heads to Charlotte for a pointless weekend, the running of the race formerly known as the Winston. Who knows what they’re calling it this year.
©2000 - 2008 Matt McLaughlin and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
Open wheel is coming back Matt, and seeing the Andretti, Rayhal and Foyt names back on the track can’t hurt. As for Danica Earnhardt it’s all hype, as the only way she can lead is by working fuel mileage. The racing will bring the fans back, and I look forward to a great Indy this year. Makes me wish I still had tickets high in turn three like the old days when they would be doing 240mph or so down the backstrech.
In open wheel they don’t pretend to be something they are not, IE slaping stickers on the cars and calling them a Ford, Chevy, Dodge or Toyota when they are in fact a spec package mandated by Nascar. Even in the heady days of the Ford Chevy battles in Indy Car they never called them a Chevy or Ford, but said they were powered by a Ford or Chevy, and even the Buick V6 was ran. ( I saw Big Al almost win in a Buick one year, amazing he made it 500 miles with that granade.) Mercedes even got in on the act with some pretty far out interpratations by Penski. Rules stated that the engine had to be an overhead valve pushrod setup, and the Mercedes came out with 2” pushrods and if I remember no rocker arms.
If open wheel was smart they would throw whatever cash it takes to get Tony Stewart, Jeff Gordon, Robby Gordon and any other big names in Nascar to switch. The future is going to be Indy Car if they play their cards right, and they have one shot now with the reunification to get it right.
Good recap Matt. Most of us who read your columns passed Reading Comprehension 101. One point you didn’t address was the bizarre post race interview with Jr. His comments about the race being the “worst” he had seen and how “you couldn’t pass” were a bit strange. I think he maybe meant he couldn’t pass, but don’t tell Stewart and Busch in particular. They didn’t get the memo along with a good number of other folks.
Good point about the other cars tracking down the straight like a van that had been in a major accident, although I couldn’t find a car that DIDN’T motor down the straightaway sideways, and it was pretty funny to see.
Saw my first “live” race at Darlington. I agree with JR 100% and I am not a big JR fan. Very little side-by-side racing and not a whole lot of passing. The most interesting part of the race was watching them work on the 2,20.29 trying to keep them in the race. We sat opposite the 29 pit box and couldn’t see a car going down the frontstretch all night with all the single file racing. Hope Richmond in the fall will be better.Have to agree with the Darlington stripe thing: when the cars were exiting the track after the race, it was almost impossible to read the numbers on the right sides of the cars.
I might be one of the 5 people on the planet that actually likes Kyle Busch, but I think that he should be thankful they introduced the new car – that wing and the inherit toughness of that car were designed for his out-of-control driving style. Considering he won the first race with the new car and continues to win with it, it seems like he’s found a perfect match.
Can anybody explain to me why Denny Hamlin didn’t qualify for Friday’s race? I looked at the owner’s points for the Nationwide series, and the 18 car that he tried to qualify is 33rd in points, even after not qualifying. Am I missing something?
I am also a big fan of open wheel racing, and I’m really happy about everything that’s happened this year in the IRL. I hope people will give it a chance again. I regret that I won’t be able to go to this year’s Indy 500.
“Maybe it’s also time that NASCAR stops being so complacent and addresses the challenges it faces. I’m noting that interest in this year’s Indy 500 is the highest it’s been in many years. A combination of reunification, the Danica factor, and other compelling storylines seems to have reminded race fans there is an event on the Sunday of the Memorial Day weekend prior to the Coca Cola 600.”
Matt, NASCAR has it all figured out. Their plan is two words: Kyle Busch. Every time the IRL gains visibility in the press, Kyle will pile drive Junior into the retaining wall, but subtlely enough to ensure weeks of “Did he do it on purpose?” talk on TV. :^)
Don’t believe me? I’ve got a tape of last night’s WindTunnel I could lend you. Scott Dixon, this year’s Indy 500 pole position winner, got stuck at the tail end of the program, after 5 – 10 minutes of rehashing “Did Busch hit Earnhardt?” and “Boy, those fans REALLY HATE Kyle!”
BTW Matt, every 1968-74 Nova and it’s GM clone that I’ve seen have that characteristic “dog-trot” built in at the factory. Just sayin’
As usual, you sound like a guy who hasn’t watched a single episode of The View since Rosie O’Donnell left.
It was obvious that Matt’s comment about Kyle Busch creating his own drama was sarcasm. Matt’s good at that. As for the minnow pond comment, who really cares if it’s true or not? And in case you haven’t noticed, the Toyota’s ARE currently the dominate car in all 3 Nascar series. Matt didn’t say the lack of parity was contrived, just that it’s evident.
The comments section is a place to agree or disagree with Matt’s observations and opinions, and that’s cool. I don’t always agree with Matt and I say so. I don’t, however, nitpick everything he says just to be confrontational or show obvious personal dislike.
The Nationwide rules differ from the Sprint Cup rules in that fewer cars are guaranteed a starting spot. I’m not sure how many but I think it’s 25. I have been trying to find the correct number on the internet but I haven’t found it yet. So the 18 car was 33rd in points and thus, outside the guaranteed positions. (I’m not going to use the “Larry Mac” expression for these cars because I hate hearing him say it, so I’m not going to!)
“You don’t need a special day to remember how special your Mom is. Call her frequently and tell her you love her.”
Now let me take a minute to actually disagree with a couple of Matt’s observations…
I think increased interest in ICR is good for motorsports in general, and that’s good for Nascar. I really don’t see it as a competition issue. I’ll watch both races on Sunday. The warden won’t like it, but she has her soaps.
Kyle Busch DOES have a personality. It’s just a bad one. Still, his talent is undeniable, and I think he’s good for Nascar racing. However, he doesn’t, remind me of Earnhardt Sr.; He’s more like a young DW, who runs his mouth as much as his car, but backs it up on the track. That said, the Irritator is a great name for him.
One last comment. My mom is a big race fan herself. I invited her over Saturday and we grilled out and watched the race together. We had a great time. Running the Darlington race on the night before Mother’s day, while a break with storied tradition, has actually worked out great for me and Mom.
Thanks for the info – I had just assumed they had implemented that same rule for the Nationwide series.
The Nationwide series locks in the top 30 in owners points. I’m guessing the trucks are the same, but I am not sure.
When I saw those cars running down the front and back stretches, and the right side was not parallel to the wall, I just knew it would be mentioned here today. Funny! It looks like the engineers are gonna twist these cars the way they did the “cars of yesterday” to gain some kind of advantage. So much for keeping them symmetrical, which is what I thought Nascar was trying to achieve.
Back in my day, we called it “dog-trackin”.
After Saturday night, I’m not sure where I stand with Schrub. During driver introduction, and in the back of the pickup, when he took off his sunglasses and wiped a fake tear from his eye, I thought that was great. Just the kind of character this sport needs. What a smart azz. Hope we see more. Lol!
Nationwide’s “Top 30” is slightly different from the Cup Top 35. Unlike Cup, number of race “Attempts” is a factor. The #18 skipped Fontana, so they had one less attempt than the majority of the field (there are several other cars in the same situation) which is why you’ll see the #89 “Locked In” even though it’s 36th in points. Heck, some of the Start and Park teams are Locked In. Sad commentary on the condition of the lower series.
Trucks use the same system.
I’d just like to point out that Darlington was sold out Saturday night (unlike many other tracks this year) and Tony never mentioned Toyota after he won Friday night.
A real “snoozer” of a race, if one chooses to call it a “race”!
Oh yeh! New pavement, super hard tire (which also was prone to just blowing out), increased speeds!
SAME FU***** RESULT!
SINGLE FILE RACING!
DRIVERS HANGING ON FOR DEAR LIFE!
NO REAL DICING FOR POSITION!
Jr. summed it up best at the post race interview! “single lane racing and no passing”!!!
The sad thing is, now people are beginning to take the (sick) CoT for granted!
Just how sick is that?
I also enjoy watching Kyle – I love the fact that he had the guts to wave the fans jeering him on the pickup, and the 88 crew jeering at him (with a “Junior Nation Salute” to the 88 crew, no less), then go out and win anyway. He’s got the mouth, but the skills to back it up. And the more I see guys like you Matt complaining about it, the better I feel. Kinda like Kyle. About time someone lit a fire around NASCAR and get things riled up. It’s not that he doesn’t have a personality Matt, it’s that he has a personality that doesn’t care what his critics think of him. Yes, he still needs to learn to own up to his mistakes, but hey, who’s perfect out there?
And if you caught the preshow, you’d have seen that all of the teams are trying the “skewed” approach now, not just Cousin Carl and the Toyotas.
Let’s give a half can of Coors original to Travis Kvapil. His style more than a bit like Fastback Freddie’s coming through the field in that LaFayette sponsored Ford. All it took was a driver everybody dismissed driving a Roush chassis with a Yates Ford powerplant. I imagine that there was a smile or two in Elmhurst, Ill and Hueytown too saturday night.
Let me try something different here:
You know as I was watching the race and saw the brash kid in the 18 car, I thought he should have been driving the Mountain Dew car because for a while there, I saw DW in his prime with the swagger, cockiness and dang it if he didn’t bring the LAdy in Black to her knees figuratively speaking.
I laughed, when DW said he hoped Busch had something good to say when he got out of the car. How many times did DW say “good” things when he won? Remember the “loose wheel” rub in.