Kurt Busch to Attempt The Indianapolis-Charlotte Double
posted by Phil Allaway
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Andretti Autosport announced this morning that Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet in the Sprint Cup Series, will attempt the Indianapolis 500 in a fifth entry for the IndyCar Series team. Once the Indianapolis 500 is completed, Busch will fly from Indianapolis to Charlotte, jump in his No. 41 Chevrolet and compete in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Busch considers the opportunity to do the double as an old-school throwback moment.
“This is really to challenge myself within motorsports,” Busch said in Andretti Autosport’s press release. “Perhaps I am a bit of an old-school racer; a throwback, I guess. I enjoyed the era of drivers racing different cars and testing themselves in other series. It is tough to do now for a variety of factors, but when the opportunity is there, I want to do it. While NASCAR is my home, I have been fortunate to compete in Pro Stock on the NHRA circuit a number of years ago and test a V8 Supercar. This opportunity was a talk with Michael [Andretti] over dinner one night, a “What if,” and now it’s becoming a reality for me to drive in the Indy 500 with Andretti Autosport. It’s literally a dream come true. To go to the famous Brickyard with the iconic Andretti name, it doesn’t get much cooler or better than that.”
Busch will be doing the Indianapolis-Charlotte double as a Memorial Day mission to men and women serving in the U.S. Military via the Armed Forces Foundation. Fans can contribute to the cause by texting AFF to 50555 to donate $10.
Busch, who has never raced an IndyCar, passed Rookie Orientation at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year during a test session. At the time, Busch was more or less testing the Dallara DW12 for fun.
Busch will be the fourth driver to attempt the Indianapolis-Charlotte double. John Andretti was the first driver to attempt it in 1994. After finishing four laps down in tenth in Indianapolis, Andretti crashed and had engine problems in the 600. Robby Gordon has attempted the double five times, most recently in 2004. However, Gordon failed to make it to Charlotte on time and did not start the 600 in 2000 (P.J. Jones started Gordon’s No. 13 Ford in that instance). Finally, Tony Stewart has attempted the double twice (most recently in 2001) and is the only driver to ever complete all 1100 miles. Neither of the three drivers has won either leg of the double. The best finishes are Stewart and Gordon’s sixth-place finishes at the Indianapolis 500 (although Gordon’s came in 2000, the year he didn’t make it to Charlotte in time to start the Coca-Cola 600), and Stewart’s fourth-place finish in the 2001 Coca-Cola 600.
Danica Patrick, Justin Allgaier Talk About Phoenix Incident
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
A disappointing start to the year for Danica Patrick won’t include continued conflict. Patrick met with rookie Justin Allgaier Sunday, shortly after the Phoenix Cup race after a wreck ruined both drivers’ days. Patrick, who was critical of the No. 51 car on the radio, claiming Allgaier was “driving all over the track” appeared receptive to a conversation that quickly settled differences over what will be a long season.
“She was just upset because she got involved in the crash that we had,’’ said Allgaier to the Motor Racing Network. “She says she’s been through this and that she felt like I needed to settle down at that point. I explained my position on why everything happened. I think she understood where I was coming from. It doesn’t fix either one of our racecars. It doesn’t fix either one of our days. Unfortunately, we were both having pretty decent days.’’
Allgaier wound up 30th due to the incident while Patrick was 36th. The incident, which was caused by Allgaier’s spin also involved the No. 32 team and Travis Kvapil, which wound up 38th after sustaining heavy damage.
Camping World Close to Extending Title Sponsorship of NCWTS
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Marcus Lemonis, CEO of Camping World, Grand Marshal of Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway, and star of CNBC’s “The Profit,” made the announcement over the weekend that the retailer is very close to announcing a deal that would continue its title sponsorship of NASCAR’s Truck Series. The original agreement with NASCAR is scheduled to conclude after the 2015 season.
According to the sanctioning body, no formal contract has been signed, but “the agreement between the two parties has proven to be a beneficial one.”
“In about a month, we’ll be announcing a significant extension to that contract. It’s been great for us,” said Camping World’s Lemonis in a statement. “The NASCAR relationship has worked well for Camping World. When we started, we had 35 stores. Now, we’re up to 120 stores. As we travel the country and we meet new customers in stores, they always are very appreciative of our relationship with NASCAR. It’s been good.”
Gaining a long-term commitment from Camping World to sponsor the Truck Series would be a relief for NASCAR, which is set to lose Nationwide Insurance as title sponsor for the NASCAR Nationwide Series at the end of the 2014 season. The sponsorship of the Cup Series by Sprint runs through 2016.
The NCWTS is back in action on March 29th at 2:30 PM (ET) when the trucks visit Martinsville Speedway in the Kroger 250, which can be seen on Fox Sports 1. Ratings for the season opener were up 11 percent.
Harvick Takes Win At Phoenix In Second Race With New Team
posted by Justin Tucker
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Phoenix International Raceway has become Kevin Harvick’s home away from home. Sunday Afternoon was no exception as Harvick charged to the front early and would dominate for much of the day, leading 224 of the scheduled 312 laps to record his record fifth win on the one mile oval and his third win in the last four races at Phoenix.
Harvick, coming off of a disappointing Speedweeks which was capped by a last lap crash in the Daytona 500 in his debut with Stewart-Haas Racing, set the tone on Saturday by winning both practices while having the best 5 and 10-lap averages in the first practice of the day on Saturday. On Sunday, Harvick and his No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet was nothing short of flawless as he was able to hold Dale Earnhardt, Jr. by .489 seconds after a late race restart to claim his 24th career Sprint Cup Series victory.
“Man, this is awesome,” Harvick said after his dominant victory on Sunday. “Man, this just solidifies so many things and so many decisions. It’s been so much work with all the time and effort that these guys (the crew) have put in—but what a race car.”
Stewart Haas Racing co-owner Gene Haas shared in Harvick’s excitement after the race.
“It took long enough,” Haas joked. “This is phenomenal. I think there was a lot of skepticism last year about what myself and Tony (Stewart) what we were up to, was there a lot of madness to this. Quite frankly, it’s a great team, there’s a lot of synergy at the shop, people working together. I don’t know what we did, but I think we put together a great organization.”
Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt, Jr. continued his hot start to the 2014 season. Earnhardt Jr. would finish second on Sunday, marking his seventh consecutive top 10 finish since the end of the 2013 season. Earnhardt Jr. was pleased with the effort after a coast-to-coast whirlwind week after winning his second Daytona 500 and also gave great praise to the efforts of Harvick and the No. 4 team.
“I’ve got to congratulate Kevin. Those guys were two-tenths faster than everyone all weekend in practice. They were just phenomenal,” Earnhardt said. “To be able to run with them all day was a big confidence builder for us.”
Joining Harvick and Earnhardt in the top 5 of The Profit on CNBC 500K were Brad Keselowski with his second consecutive top 3 run of 2014 in third. Keselowski’s Team Penske teammate Joey Logano would finish fourth, and Jeff Gordon would come home fifth in his No. 24 Pepsi Max Chevrolet.
Jimmie Johnson finished in sixth, followed by Ryan Newman with a nice rebound after Daytona in seventh. Carl Edwards would carry the banner for Roush Fenway Racing by finishing eighth, Kyle Busch was ninth, and Jamie McMurray would finish tenth.
A look at the Profit on CNBC 500K by the numbers. There were 14 lead changes among eight different drivers, there were eight cautions for 39 laps which slowed the race pace to 109.229 MPH.
Next Sunday, the Sprint Cup Series heads to Sin City and the Las Vegas Motor
Starting Lineup: The Profit On CNBC 500K
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday March 1, 2014
Drivers in RED (i) are those ineligible to collect Sprint Cup points
Daytona 500 TV Ratings Down
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Wednesday February 26, 2014
What was the longest weather delay in Daytona 500 history turned out to bring NASCAR lower ratings and TV viewership Sunday night than expected. According to a report Monday from FOX Sports, the 56th running of the Daytona 500 airing at 8 PM (ET) posted a 5.6/10 national household rating/share which averaged 9.3 million viewers. That’s down 44 percent from last year’s 9.9, easily making it the least-watched Daytona 500 of all-time.
Due to the six-hour, twenty-two minute rain delay in Daytona, the race was up against the primetime coverage of the Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony from Sochi, Russia on NBC (15.25 million viewers). FOX also reported that 69% of the pre-rain delay viewers of the race, which began at 1 PM (ET) kept tuning in.
In comparison, the 2013 Daytona 500 on FOX was the most-watched race in five years, posting a 9.9/22 rating/share, commanding 16.7 million viewers. The Daytona 500 in 2012, the first to ever be run on a Monday and in the primetime slot did a 7.7/13 overnight rating/share which resulted in 13.67 million households viewing the race according to Nielsen TV ratings data.
Earnhardt, Jr. Claims Second Daytona 500 Victory
posted by Justin Tucker
Wednesday February 26, 2014
Ten years is a long time. For Dale Earnhardt, Jr., it felt like an eternity. NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver endured many near misses and close calls at the Daytona 500 since his only win in the Great American Race in 2004. Earnhardt had finished second in two of his last three Daytona 500s coming into Sunday’s race. He was also riding the tail of a 55-race winless streak, dating back to Michigan in 2012.
However nothing would stop Dale Jr. on Sunday, not even a 6 hour and 22 minute rain delay from capturing his second Daytona 500 win. Earnhardt Jr. led a race-high 54 laps on the evening and used some timely drafting help from teammates Jimmie Johnson and, on the final restart, Jeff Gordon to separate from the pack and secure the victory.
“Winning this race is the greatest feeling that you could feel in this sport besides accepting the trophy for the championship,” said a jubilant Earnhardt after pulling into Victory Lane. “We could fight off battle after battle. We got a little help at the end there from Jeff to get away on the restart. This is amazing. I can’t believe this is happening. I never take this for granted, man because it doesn’t happen twice, let alone once.”
Aside from the race itself the big story of the race was the 6 hour and 22 minute red flag, which threatened to move the race to Monday evening (had the race been postponed, FOX Sports’ Chris Myers had tweeted that the race would resume at 5:00pm EST). However, Mother Nature would cooperate and would allow the race to be run under different conditions from which they practiced this week. Once the race resumed, the intensity picked up from the changing track conditions. This allowed the pack to race side-by-side and at times 3-wide up to seven rows deep.
Joining Earnhardt Jr. in the top 5 for the 2014 Daytona 500 were: Denny Hamlin who closed out a spectacular Speedweeks in second, Brad Keselowski in third, Jeff Gordon in fourth, and Jimmie Johnson who overcome two wrecks leading up to the 500 in fifth.
Rounding out the top 10 in the Daytona 500 were Matt Kenseth in sixth, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. in seventh and Greg Biffle would bring his No. 16 Ford home in eighth. Austin Dillon would come home ninth in his first Cup Series race in the iconic No. 3 for Richard Childress Racing, while Casey Mears would round out the top 10.
A couple of major contenders for the Daytona 500 win would see their hopes dashed early on as Martin Truex, Jr. would blow up just 30 laps into the race, relegating him to a 43rd-place finish in his debut for Furniture Row Racing. Crew chief Todd Berrier was already in Nashville for a test session before the race was even over. Kyle Busch, meanwhile would have a pit road violation just before halfway and would spend much of the race battling back from that mistake. Busch would eventually finish 19th after leading 19 laps.
Danica Patrick would also be bit by bad luck as she was caught up in a multi-car wreck on lap 145. Patrick would lead her second consecutive Daytona 500, but wouldn’t have the finish to show for it finishing 40th. Tony Stewart would encounter a frustrating evening as well, with a fuel pickup problem derailing his quest for his first Daytona 500 win. Stewart would finish 35th.
A look at the Daytona 500 by the numbers. There were 42 lead changes among 18 drivers, while seven cautions for 39 laps would slow the race pace to 145.290 MPH.
Next week, the Sprint Cup Series heads to the “diamond in the desert,” Phoenix International Raceway for The Profit on CNBC 500K. The Green flag is scheduled for 3:15pm EST.
Nationwide Series Post-Race Quotes: Drive4COPD 300
posted by Thomas Bowles
Tuesday February 25, 2014
Frontstretch Interviews – Courtesy Mike Neff
ELLIOTT SADLER – FINISHED 4th
Thoughts on the race?
It’s definitely a lot different racing than what we’re used to.
Comfortable with it?
Yeah, it’s just different. You’re worried about what you’re doing, but you’re also worried about what everyone else is doing and they’re not doing more than you’re doing. Physically pushing a guy is way better than just riding so you just gotta time it right and push it to the edge.
Happy to start the year with a top 5?
Yeah. Hell, that was the worst we ran all day, I think. I have no idea how they put the 3 car in front of us on that last restart. I hadn’t seen the 3 car hardly all day. When they put us from fifth to sixth, on the outside line, it just really boxed us in. I would have really restarted behind my teammate and given him a good push to the front. Anyways, it is what it is; we’ll take it and move on.
Looked like you were up front all day.
The guys did a good job. We had a fast race car. Great pit stops, just really proud of these guys. The car’s in one piece and we can take it to Talladega now. Great job by my guys. A lot of effort came into coming down here to Daytona and giving ourselves a shot to win. We had that chance to be up front and make some things happen. Fifth is not what we want, but we’ll take it and move on.
Bumping vs Pushing?
It’s way harder. You don’t want to lay on the guy in front of you, so it’s tough racing. A lot different than what we’re used to, ‘cause you gotta go. You gotta drag the brake too ‘cause you don’t want to hit the guys and you don’t want to stay on him. It’s a lot harder mentally than what we’ve done in the past.
Car was strong all day. Pushing vs. Bumping, is that harder to do than just getting on somebody and pushing them?
Yeah, it is a little bit. When you bump ‘em, you jar ‘em, it kinda jacks ‘em a little bit. It’s a little more abrupt, obviously. I thought it was OK there at the end. It was certainly fun and hopefully entertaining. But a little bit of a struggle in the early part of the race and the midpart of the race to see a good race. And that’s unfortunate for the fans. You can’t do that the whole race, you can’t tear up your stuff, knock your grill in, overheat your motor, all that stuff so there’s no sense in doing all that until you get down to the last lap. The 7 and the 6, they did a good job. Man, the 7 really held the 22 and I tight on the bottom. I was rubbing his door and hitting the apron at the same time, no room whatsoever. So it was good; wish we were the ones who could have won but a lot better now than what we were last year.
Going home in one piece makes it a lot better, right?
Yeah. My back feels good. My foot feels good. Past years here, I’ve been going home with pain so I’m alright.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Truck Series Post-Race Quotes: Daytona (Exclusives)
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday February 22, 2014
When you’re on the outside like that, how frustrating is it?
It’s so hard. Timothy Peters has won here. Kyle Busch has won everywhere. Ron Hornaday has been running Trucks forever, probably before I was even born. I was surrounded by veterans there, and like I told them I don’t have a rookie stripe but I’m a rookie. This is only my fourth Truck race ever, my fourth superspeedway race, and man, I figured out when the 17 got up in front of me, I pushed him. And as soon as I pushed him, he took off. And I went with him. And I just kept doing it, and before I knew it, he was leading. And I saw Ron in my mirror, backed up to him, and if it wasn’t for him, I don’t know what would have happened. I gotta thank him big time for that. That was a true teammate move right there. I really appreciate that. He just bounced off me and we got to the front. I tried my hardest to sidedraft Kyle. I was probably touching his door.
Top 5 in the No. 30 truck. This deal come together at the last minute, but you had a heck of a truck. Tell us about your night.
Yeah, I’ve got to thank Turner Scott Motorsports. The guys worked so hard on this Rheem Comfort Products Chevrolet. Exciting! Just got hung up on the outside and had to wait for my teammate there to catch up. And then he got to the bottom, so… I got the old 32 and started pushing ol’ Ryan to the front. So, it’s not bad. We’ll take it. You just don’t want to step over that boundary. You don’t know how far to push and shove. We bumped about six times down the straightaway without latching onto them. Hopefully, that was OK and we came home with a top 5.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Budweiser Duels Post Race Quotes
posted by Matt Stallknecht
Friday February 21, 2014
BUDWEISER DUELS POST-RACE QUOTES
They’re saying the wheel bearing burned up in it. I don’t know what caused it, they’re taking it all apart to figure out what the heck happened. Something abnormal that’s for sure I don’t think I’ve ever had that happen at all. Hopefully, we made the race and hopefully we can fix the problem before Sunday.
WHAT WAS THAT LOUD BOOM ONCE YOU TURNED INTO THE GARAGE?
Loud pop was a tire… thankfully, it popped, hopefully it didn’t hurt anybody. All the heat created in the left front that popped was pretty weird.
REALLY GOOD RUN. WHAT DID YOU THINK OF IT?
Yeah, it was good. We have a car we can work with for the 500. Got a good starting spot, so we’re going to rest easy, fluff and buff our car for a couple of days and get ready for Sunday.
ANY DIFFERENCE ON WHETHER THE TOP OR BOTTOM LANE WORKED?
Yeah, I was just moving around, trying to stay with the flow. For me, this car works on all parts of the racetrack. So I’m pretty happy with it.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.
GOT SHUFFLED BACK, AFTER PIT STOPS AND THEN COULDN’T GET BACK UP TO THE FRONT. WHY?
Nah, we were just sitting there waiting until the last few laps to make a move. You didn’t want to pull down and get sent to the back. Seen a couple of guys get sent to the back really quick so we were just kind of waiting for the end. I felt like we had a good situation there with Ambrose behind us — we had a good run off Turn 2 and I went. It was the last lap, time to go do something, nobody went with us but hopefully Sunday is a different story.
We got a great car. We don’t have to work hard. We learned, we got a good race car. Got a car in one piece, ready to go so we’ll try and get through the next couple of practices, deliver it to the starting group this Sunday and we’ll be real happy.
YOU’RE IN THE DAYTONA 500!
Yeah, it’s pretty awesome. This Whitetail Chevrolet was so fast that I knew all I had to do was stick it behind smart, intelligent drafters and we could have a good finish. That’s what we did in the Duels and I’m excited. I’m excited to go do some stuff with the Nationwide car and have some more practice with this. But to know that we’re locked in the Daytona 500’s pretty cool.
YOU WERE OBVIOUSLY IN FRONT OF THAT MELEE AT THE END. WHEN YOU WERE UP FRONT THERE IN THE BEGINNING, WERE YOU HOPING TO JUST STAY IN LINE AND LET YOU FINISH TOP 5?
I was pretty content to ride and luckily I knew a lot of people around us were. It was nice to have a little calm and not really have to be racing hard the whole time. I knew that the pit stop was going to shake everything up and that’s exactly what happened. Fell back a little bit there but made the right moves at the end to get a good finish.
HOW STRONG ARE THESE RCR CARS?
They’re very strong! They definitely have the capabilities to be winning one of these races.
YOU’RE IN THE TOP 5 FOR YOUR HEAT IN THE DAYTONA 500. YOUR PRIMARY CAR IS SITTING RIGHT IN THE GARAGE, KIND OF WADDED UP. DID YOU THINK THIS ONE HAD IT IN IT?
Yeah, it’s a brand new car also. It’s just not quite as good as the primary but still a damned good car. I’m just proud of everybody at RCR for building such fast race cars. All of our cars have been fast, ECR motor’s been strong, even our affiliate teams have been qualifying really good and racing good. So… excited about 2014! It’s going to be a good year.
WELL MAN, YOU STARTED IN THE BACK BUT WORKED YOUR WAY TO THE FRONT WHEN IT COUNTED MOST. WERE YOU JUST BIDING YOUR TIME THROUGHOUT THE RACE?
Eh, you never know if you’re going to get back up there or not. We had to start at the back, we had to make a run early and see what we could do. We drove right to 10th, or something like that and then it got stagnant. We tried to make something happen, and went to the back again. Drove back up to the front. Again, just really proud of my guys. Matt Kruder did a hell of a job on that pit stop getting just enough gas in to gain some spots there.
RCR CARS SEEM PRETTY DARNED STRONG. DO YOU THINK THE RCR CARS HAVE SOMETHING FOR THEM ON SUNDAY — ESPECIALLY THE THREE JOE GIBBS RACING CARS THAT SEEM TO BE THE CLASS OF THE FIELD RIGHT NOW?
Oh yeah. The 20 car was extremely fast. The 11 didn’t qualify that good, but he’s a good drafter. I think he won. We definitely have something for him.
Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
Matt McLaughlin · Thursday May 22, 2008
Though he’s a bit more polished than the rough around the edges kid he once was, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. is still struggling to get this politically correct thing down. Occasionally, he’ll still drop an unanticipated bombshell that will send NASCAR officials scrambling to their shelters — and this week in Charlotte, Earnhardt delivered another one of those off the cuff set of remarks that ought to cause a lot of concern.
No, Earnhardt wasn’t responding to the usual questions about when he might win a Cup race again, or how it feels to have gone over two years without a victory. Junior has his PC response to those questions down cold — for let’s face it, he’s had a lot of practice answering them. Instead, Earnhardt was responding to questions about his own JR Motorsports team and its future in the Nationwide Series. And after having denied since the team’s inception that he was interested in one day having his team run in Sprint Cup, Earnhardt performed a dramatic about face.
In comments to a group of reporters, the driver acknowledged that his Nationwide team may begin competing in the Cup Series as early as next year; that is, if he doesn’t shut the whole operation down altogether. In his remarks, Junior noted that running a team in NASCAR’s AAA series is almost as expensive as competing in Cup; and with the oncoming change to the new Car of Tomorrow cars in the Nationwide Series, competing at that level is going to grow dramatically more expensive. As he faces the daunting task of switching over his fleet of race cars, Junior lamented the fact it’s tougher than ever to find a sponsor for his Nationwide cars, nothing that perhaps he’d have better luck finding backing in the more popular and visible Cup series instead.
In a nutshell, what Junior implied is that the Nationwide Series just doesn’t draw the crowds or TV ratings the way it once did. The purse money for the AAA races hasn’t risen to keep level with the expense of competing, and NASCAR now proposes to make running their Little League series that much more expensive — making it impossible even for a team like JR Motorsports to survive.
Considering the team owner making these comments is perhaps the most visible and popular driver in the Cup series despite that long winless drought, it’s time to stand up and pay attention. If Earnhardt is having a tough time finding a sponsor willing to back an effort he puts his name to, you can only imagine how tough finding backing is for the full-time Nationwide teams. And because of his affiliation with the Hendrick organization, Earnhardt has test results and parts for free that other team owners pay the big bucks for. If he can’t make a go of running a Nationwide series team even with that cost-saving measure in place … who can? I mean, other than already wealthy Cup team owners looking to do a little R and D for Sunday’s races on Saturday…
Obviously, if he were interested in continuing to compete in the Saturday series, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. is a wealthy young man who could finance the team out of his own deep pockets without ending up on welfare. But Earnhardt is a lot different than most drivers in our sport today. He once worked as a mechanic at his Dad’s Chevy dealer, for a time even doing oil changes. He once shared a double-wide mobile home with his older brother Kerry, and commuted back and forth to work at the wheel of a ratty old S10 pickup truck. There’s an old saying; once poor, never rich — and that sums up his attitude towards money. Earnhardt might enjoy being a team owner, but he’s not going to lose money doing it.
So, if we accept for a moment that running the Nationwide Series is too expensive, what can NASCAR do to address the issue? Certainly, forking over a bigger part of the TV revenues to teams that compete in the series full-time would help. It’s going to be tough to convince track owners and promoters facing dwindling ticket sales on Saturdays and Sundays to pony up bigger purses, but tracks whose geographic conditions dictate huge and rising transportation and travel bills for the team owners are going to have compensate the competitors accordingly — or face short fields.
But the long-term solution is going to have be more radical. As the Nationwide Series looks to a future of new equipment, it’s time to change the whole ballgame to lower the costs of competing at that level. The single biggest change that needs to be made in the series is to make the cars so radically different from the Cup side that there is absolutely no informational advantage to have a Cup team owner run in the series. And if those owners still choose to compete at the Nationwide level, changes need to happen to ensure their deep pockets don’t let them dominate the sport.
My first suggestion would be to adopt crate engines for the Nationwide Series. Ford, Chevy, and Dodge all sell V-8 crate engines through their performance divisions; using these would be radically less expensive than today’s engines. With those specs in mind, I’d like to see the cars run with engines in the 400 horsepower range. Manufacturers would submit their proposed powerplants to NASCAR for approval, and dyno testing would ensure that all of them were relatively equal and available to everyone at the same price. The carmakers would sell the engines to NASCAR, and NASCAR would, in turn, sell them to the teams at random to make sure Chevy or Ford’s favorite sons didn’t get specially prepared mounts. The engine’s valve covers, timing covers, and oil pans would feature seals to ensure nobody dug into them looking for more power, and a broken seal in post-race inspection would be made grounds for immediate disqualification. All engines would run standard issue Holley 600 cfm four barrels distributed to the teams at random prior to the races, and those carbs would feature tattletale seals as well.
Secondly, I’d standardize the bodies for the cars to eliminate aerodynamic chicanery and expense. The bodies for each manufacturer would still be unique to that brand, unlike the Cup cars of today. Ideally, I’d like to see the bodies resemble the current Challenger and Mustang and upcoming Camaro almost exactly. NASCAR-funded wind tunnel research would ensure no single manufacturer’s body had radically better airflow numbers to assign final spoiler dimensions to equalize the playing field. Ideally, the new approved bodies prepared by outside vendors would be much more aerodynamically blunt, allowing the return of drafting and slingshot passes to the series.
In my mind, there has to be some area for creativity in building stock cars. Since we’ve standardized the engines and bodies, I’d allow the teams to build their own chassis; whoever works hardest at creating those chassis would succeed. But to limit the costs of such a program, each team would only be allowed to have three completed cars. Upon finishing a car to compete in the Nationwide Series, team owners would submit the cars to NASCAR for approval. Once the car’s body and chassis was certified as complying with the rules, a NASCAR inspector would assign that chassis its own unique serial number affixed to the roll cage with rivets. No team would be allowed to have any more than three of these plaques per driver or car number. In the event a car was so extensively damaged in a racing incident it could not be repaired, NASCAR would inspect the wreckage to ensure it was well and truly used up, then allow the team that owned that car to prepare another entry, which would then be assigned the wrecked car’s identification plate. Altering or duplicating those plates, or any attempt to do so, would earn a team owner a one year suspension.
Recognizing the unique cars required for the plate races and road course events — and the expense of preparing those limited use cars — NASCAR would remove road course and plate track races from the Nationwide schedule to contain costs. There are plenty of race tracks in this country eager for a NASCAR date, even a standalone Nationwide event, and those track promoters would likely market those races far more heavily than those promoting companion events. Long-term, the Nationwide series needs to stand on its own as a viable racing series — not as a warmup event to the big show. I’d like to see an emphasis placed on adding more short track events, and even possibly a couple of dirt track races, if the expenses justified the cost.
As a final step to distance the Nationwide Series from the Cup circus, I’ll continue to beat my tired old drum asking that bias ply tires be used, if not on Sunday, at least on Saturday. Bias ply tires might not have the grip of radials, but they are more predictable as they reach their limits. They allow for more side-by-side racing and four wheel drifts through the corners in the hands of a skilled driver. If Goodyear doesn’t want to or can’t build such a bias ply tire, that’s fine — there are other tire manufacturers out there who’d like to get in the game. In fact, such a move would add another corporate entity with an interest in the sport to help promote it.
My chosen slogan for the revised Nationwide series would be, “Racing the way it used to be, racing the way it ought to be.” In carrying on the traditions of stock car racing that fans miss these days, I’d schedule the Nationwide Series finale as a standalone event at a historical track like Darlington, or — dare I say it — Rockingham. The Cup Series would then take that weekend off to allow the Nationwide Series to take center stage, as a championship would hopefully be decided on the final race weekend.
I’m still working on my unique points system for the AAA series, but it would be very unlike the Cup system. There would be a huge points incentive to win and much greater gaps between the points awarded for Top 10 finishing spots to make for harder racing, and hopefully, a more volatile points chase. On the flip side, no points would be awarded for finishes outside the Top 25, to keep the rolling wrecks out there from getting in the way of trying to gain a few more points off the track. And each team would be allowed to drop their four worst finishes of the season when the final points are tallied; that would allow for drivers to sometimes throw caution to the wind or team owners to choose to skip races run at distant tracks with low purses, again in an attempt to lower costs.
If JR Motorsports can no longer afford to run at the Nationwide level, that ought to be sending alarms right up to the corner suite offices in Daytona Beach. It’s time to start with a clean sheet of paper to reidentify Saturday’s series as a unique brand of racing unto itself, and a stepping stone for drivers looking to break into the Cup series — not a playground for current Cup stars looking to shoot fish in a barrel.
Drivers to Watch This Weekend
Kyle Busch — Right now, if he doesn’t blow up or wreck, you have to figure this kid is going to have a dog in the fight at the end of the night.
Jimmie Johnson — Johnson’s record at Charlotte is stellar. Yeah, he ran like a three-legged goat in the All-Star race, but this is a team that’s shown a remarkable ability to turn the proverbial sow’s ear into a silk purse.
The Roush Boys — Let’s face it, on the mid-sized tracks this year, they’ve gotten on their rocks and rolled. Carl Edwards is a likely suspect, but Kenseth, Biffle and perhaps even McMurray could be players at the end of 600 miles.
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Spending a lot of time at Fantasyland huh Matt? While I agree with almost everything NASCAR wants the NS to resemble Cup. They love Cup drivers competing. Ratings, ratings, ratings.
Sounds like a great plan to make the Nationwide series entirely irrelevant to driver development by ensuring that drivers would get no experience whatsoever with key elements of top-level stock car racing.
Without the development drivers in it the top teams would have no reason to run Nationwide cars.
Without the top teams and their development drivers you’d get the racing equivalent of a dead-end cul-de-sac — a nice place to live, perhaps, but irrelevant to the process of getting from point A to point B on the highway.
With all the stars and upcoming stars running elsewhere what, exactly, about this dead-end series would there be to attract fan and media attention?
Good points Matt. I agree on Earnhardt. He is speaking the truth. Wonder if he will ever say that again, or if NASCAR got to him very quickly? The Grand National Series used to run many standalone races at Lanier, Hickory, South Boston, Mytle Beach, etc. Get them back out to those tracks and let the fans see the stars of tomorrow, if there are any in the series. NASCAR could reach many more fans that way with live races. I’d like to go back to seeing full time Grand National Drivers like Tommy Huston was. There are proably alot of drivers that could and would continue to compete if they could do it at a cheaper level. They are good drivers but they can’t compete with the young, good looking, smooth talking young guns. This cars in this series used to be different enough that there was little to be learned for the next day’s race. Go back to it.
Matt for King of NASCAR (Nationwide series)
What M.B. said would be true except a lot of young drivers are bypassing the nationwide series until they get a cup ride then using it for practice, so it almost deadend now. I would like to see the series changes as Matt has said and entice the “old timers” to run in the series. Make it a driver competitive series with some truely big names that still want to race. In addition, i would change the yellow flag pit stops, have timed pit stops,you go over the time you get a penalty, otherwise you go out the way you came in. competition should focus on the track not the pits and not more practice for the cup teams.
If the Nationwide Series were to use sealed crate engines, sealed identical carbs and bodies with identical aerodynamic charactistics, we simply have a modern day IROC car. IROC failed once and the Cup cars are almost IROC as it is. I didn’t watch IROC then and I won’t watch it now.
You know, it almost looks as if NASCAR doesn’t want to bother with the “Nationwide” series anymore, it’s almost as if they want it to go away. They don’t promote the series, no more money(of course why would Sir Brian Doofus do that, it would take money away from him). It just looks like they’re trying to put the series to a slow death.
you won’t watch IROC because it doesn’t exist anymore. I think a good suggestion for the Nationwide series, which I still chuckle about because of the irony of an insurance company sponsoring a sport where wrecks and injuries are frequent, and dammit Ed stole my thunder.
Let’s try this for some stream of consciousness, in my opinion the only way to make the series relevant again would be to close up the truck series and limit the number of Cup regulars who can run in the Busch series to 5 at companion events. Also, regionalize the Busch series to offset transportation costs. Nationwide West, Nationwide East. There are enough tracks on either coast to have 2 viable series and perhaps an October through November 5 race clash- Top 15 of both series in a 5 race chase concept with 2 East Coast Races (Charlotte, Bristol, or Myrtle Beach) 2 West Coast races (Vegas, Phoenix, Mesa Marin) and a central US race (IRP?; Michigan, Gateway) to decide the champion.
Banquet in Vegas and give exclusive rights to SPEED. Actually in a perfect world, exclusive rights would go to TNN and Eli Gold, Glen Jarrett and the gang would call the action but that’s all I’ve got.
Mesa Marin closed in 2005 due to the land being more valuable for houses than a racetrack. Sadly, that has happened way too often here in SoCal. Over the last 20 years, at least 5 dragstrips have closed, including the one at Riverside where NASCAR used to run the road course. Then they complain about the street racing. Idiots. But this is off-topic, sorry.
Did not know that about Mesa Marin. Thanks for the info. I remember playing Mesa Marin on the computer NASCAR game and it was a tough one. Sub Bakersfield in then.
I want to believe the Nationwide Series is the developmental series and the trucks are the senior tour but with Cup regulars, I don’t see it.
I’d like to think fans watch the lower series to see good racing but I’d be living in a fool’s paradise.
The idea of crate motors specific to a manufacturer is a good one, until the discovery is made that some of them are gutless. Plus some of these tracks will kill a crate motor without a dry sump system installed. I think the idea of Camaros, Mustangs, & Challengers is great and would definitely bring some identity back. Only thing there is that would bring more popularity to the series and Brian the wonder-doofus does not want that to happen. I would love to see Rockingham or North Wilkesboro on the schedule but as we all know Brian the doofus won’t let that happen. Great ideas though Matt
Your suggestions are valid, even if I disagree with some. However, the NASCAR Bubbas are nothing if not reactive. They do not know the meaning of the term proactive. So they will do nothing except what they have been doing the last five years while the series winds down to nothing. Then, their brains will engage, their eyes will light up, and they will realize something is amiss. Unfortunately, it will be too little, too late. I don’t watch the Nationwide Series anymore since I’m tired of the top ten looking the same as the Cup top ten. And to think I used to look forward as much to the Busch racing as I did cup racing. Ah well, it is what it is.
obviously I’m losing my mind, as I find myself reading Matt’s article and thinking he’s making sense. I agree with the plan to technologically correc the NWS. Crate Motors/etc did not make IROC…umm…IROC. The fact that the cars were all the same make, and that they were not allowed to field individual sponsors was the problem.
I would love for NWS to go to Crate motors, and tiny sandbox (like Cup now) for everything else. That way the development drivers would be in competitive equipment.
With the price dropped, it would open up national sponsorship opportunities to companies that are shut out now due to the cost.