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 June 19, 2008
The bozos that make up NASCAR’s front office have many faults, but the most glaring of them is thinking their fan base is made up of easily swayed morons. Led by the chief clown Brian France and his less than hilarious sidekick Señor Helton, the organization clings desperately to a party line that, somehow or another, thinks they can market a turd as a candy bar while braindead fans will be two-fisting them in no time, singing their praises along the way.
Well, the obvious source of my irritation (this week) is a closed door meeting NASCAR officials had with drivers and team owners last Friday, shortly before practice was scheduled to begin at Michigan. Obviously, I wasn’t invited, so I can’t tell you what exactly was said at that meeting. Maybe NASCAR officials previewed their officially endorsed book of racial and sexist jokes that FOX will be marketing for them next season, with a forward by Darrell Waltrip and Jeff Hammond. Having spent time in a garage area where even Catholicism is seen as an aberration worthy of demeaning jokes, I wouldn’t doubt it. But, from what I hear, NASCAR officials had a different agenda.
The general consensus is that Friday’s meeting dealt with NASCAR’s irritation with drivers’ negative comments towards the Car of Tomorrow (AKA the Ugly Mutt cars), the quality of racing this year, and the reluctance of NASCAR officials to address those criticisms. During the meeting, the drivers were reminded that their lofty standard of living depends on the future success of NASCAR, that they have things pretty good based on the standards of the general population these days, and that fans aren’t as lucky in this troubled economy and many of them are staying away in droves due to the price of gas, trepidation over their continued employment, concerns about their rising mortgage payments, and a general malaise that has become a dark shadow over the American consumer and his or her willingness to spend money during a time where our economy seems to be on a express train to Hell. It doesn’t matter if you look at the prices on the stock market or prices in the grocery market, at the unemployment rate or the unenjoyment rate at many of this year’s so called races — right now, committing the considerable financial resources to attend a NASCAR event is a tough sell even for many longtime fans.
A lot of these issues are beyond NASCAR’s control. Mike Helton can’t control the price of gas. Brian France can’t end the mortgage crises. John Darby can’t wish away the devastation in the Midwest, which will undoubtedly raise prices at the grocery store after the recent floods have destroyed crops. And not even Big Bill the Original could convince the current administration that an increasingly unpopular war in Iraq is sending too much of hard working people’s tax dollars overseas in a time where we need to be investing on Main Street — not in Baghdad.
Yet, faced with the above, NASCAR seems to think that if drivers would be a little more upbeat in their comments on the new race car, the quality of racing, or the Chase, everything would be better. I think not. I think the diehard fans that support this sport may let their favorite drivers sway their decisions on which spray paint, energy drink, home improvement products, or candy to buy. Those drivers’ affiliations might even sway more crucial decisions, such as what beer to stock in the fridge. (Though it’s notable that Bud isn’t on the ropes after the departure of Dale Earnhardt, Jr. himself). NASCAR officials regularly publish inflated figures as to stock car racing fans’ fanatical loyalty towards its sponsors; but looking from the outside in, I have seen that loyalty diminish over the last decade. I don’t see more race fans at the corner Sunoco because it is the official race fuel of NASCAR; I see folks searching for the lowest priced gas they can find. I don’t see more fans selecting Goodyear tires for ma’s ride; I see them looking at the sales ads and searching for the best bargain. Increasingly, I am seeing fans arrive at races in Hondas and Hyundais, having selected the cheapest new car they can find that will reward them with longterm reliability and good gas mileage. A new car is the second highest investment most of us will commit to, next to the roof over our head, and it’s too important an investment to make based on what Junior, Carl, Kyle or Kasey races. Speaking on a personal level as a race fan with a neat job, I can tell you that I started drinking Coors Light because I like the taste of the stuff — not because my hero Bill Elliott ran under that banner. And as much as I pulled for Bill back in my pre-writing days, the fact my ’89 T-Bird blew a head gasket with less than 50,000 miles on the clock — and Ford basically told me to go pound sand — has soured me on the idea of ever buying a new Ford as primary transportation again, despite my lust for classic muscle car era Mustangs.
Which brings us back to the topic at hand. (You knew I’d arrive here eventually, didn’t you, gentle readers?) I don’t think that even a fan’s favorite driver, whatever driver that might be, telling fans that the new car is great and the racing lately is fabulous (or even thanking them for showing up) is going to convince the average fan that the new car and the quality of racing lately is up to muster. For whatever faults I have as a writer on the topic (and they are myriad, according to some of my critics), the one thing I still pride myself on is never underestimating the intelligence of race fans — for to do so is to leave yourself open to caustic comments by those true fans themselves. Yes, there is a widespread perception that the average race fan is a high school dropout, trailer park dwelling, beer swilling redneck who is waiting for Dale Earnhardt, Jr. to tell him which brand of TV dinner to shoplift this week at the local Piggly Wiggly to feed their families. If such fans exist, God bless ‘em all for their loyalty; but in my experience, the vast majority of race fans are hard working guys and gals who are pretty discerning when it comes to the product that fuels their passion and dominates their weekends and free time — stock car racing. They can tell a good race from a bad one without being told by their favorite driver if it was an exciting event, and they resent having invested their hard earned, and increasingly rare, discretionary income to attend a boring race. I pity the fools who have to sell race tickets to the September race at Dover as a result.
It’s interesting at that the start of this season our friend Brian France introduced a new period of glasnost to the sport, saying he wanted the drivers to speak their minds more freely and show their personalities. Now, four months later, he’s telling them candor is OK, as long their comments toe the company line. Yeah, my guess is if you’re strapped in a stock car driving close to 200 MPH in close company, every race is quite exciting. The problem is, the drivers are getting paid to be there. The fans are paying to be there. Judging by the empty seats at Dover, Pocono, and Michigan over the last few weeks, less and less fans are willing to make the financial commitment to do so, and that heralds a growing crisis in the sport.
Truth be told, I never went to business school. The closest I ever got was idling at the curb in a Grabber Blue 70 Boss 302 waiting for a girl I was seeing to get out of class. But I’ve been told the classic business model is this; the first generation invents, the second generation improves, and the third generation destroys a once noble enterprise. If that’s the case, NASCAR may be well on their way to becoming a classic case in textbooks at Wharton. The challenges our sport faces today are very real and approaching crisis level. Trying to wish them away by making sure the drivers don’t dare mention the negatives is like trying to cure cancer by avoiding a visit to the doctor’s for diagnosis.
We all grew up hearing the story of those three little monkeys; “hear no evil,” “speak no evil,” and “see no evil.” But the amount of monkey business in this sport recently is out of hand, and if Brian France could hear the evil things fans write to me about his new car, he’d probably be working real hard on getting that NFL franchise in L.A. off the ground.
©2000 - 2008 Matt McLaughlin and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
Dang your good! No! I mean your GREAT! What a fantastic summation of the “STATE OF THE SPORT”!!
Monday, I sent a letter to Mr. Roger Curtis, President of MIS!
In kind of a summary fashion, what I stated was: first, the attendance at MIS was about half of what it was in the past years! half of 180,000 or so being some 90,000 that actually showed.
From Friday thru Sunday, in my little world of friends and family, I would be responsible for taking some 15 or 20 people to the track to watch ARCA on Friday, Cup qualifying, then practice and whatever races on Saturday, and then some smaller group to the Sunday event!
NOT THIS YEAR!
I drove ALONE over to the ARCA race Friday evening, which was rained out. I timed it so I WOULD NOT ENTER THE TRACK while the cup cars were “qualifying”! And of course thank the Lord this was rained out also. I simply cannot stand the sight of the CoT and everything it stands for.
Normally on a Friday at MIS I would load up the van, and even a second car, and take a bunch of “newbies” to the track just to introduce them to the sport and the speed! NOT THIS YEAR!
I also stated to Roger Curtis that yes, the economy has an impact on attendance at the races this year! BUT!
If, and specifically in my case, I thought that by driving to the track, and buying the high priced gasoline to get there, that if I WAS TO EXPECT GREAT SIDE BY SIDE RACING! I would spend that money in a heartbeat!
but why would the average fan, me! Spend my valuable dollars to watch a NON-RACE! As put on by the STUPID LOOKING AND DRIVING CoT?
So, in my little world as an example, MIS and it’s vendors lost out on some $800+ this past weekend!
Why? May you ask!
1. The very sick CoT!
2. The very arrogance of NA$CAR!
3. The overall “DUMBING” of the sport by Dear Old Brian France & Company!
4. NA$CAR treats it’s average fan like we are DUMMIES!
NA$CAR!! We are not dummies, and we will not buy the poor product you are now placing on the track! If you want to run a “CoT DEVELOPMENTAL SERIES”, then please do so in another series! Don’t charge me $100+/ticket to watch you develop a new car!
After Matt and Douglas, there’s little that I can add. King Brian the Lesser is stupid enough to believe that he can go to the drivers and tell them those things with us, the fans, listening and think that we really didn’t hear him. Obviously, he thinks we are as dumb as he is.
Matt and Doug: Well said! Even a semi-NASCAR fan can SEE that the racing in the COT is NOT what it used to be – the excitement either live in person or via TV is completely gone.Brian F. had best ‘clean up his act’ – in more ways than one – if that’s even possible. Let’s have REAL racing again!
I still think the races have been better this year than they were with the old car. Better… not Equal, or Close.
That being said, the new car does (and I think will) get better. Especially when Goodyear figures out how to engineer a decent tire to go with it. I understand these things take time…
I think that the “shut up and drive” meeting was absolutely heavy handed. There had to be a better way to handle (umm…almost everything) than the way they typically do.
But, the drivers have been whining like spoiled baseball players for the entire season about whatever happens to come to mind. It’s too Hot? please.
Telling your engineers back in the shop “I need some better cooling in the cabin”. Fine. Whining to the media (Vickers) that NASCAR needs to come save me from the eeevil Pennsylvania summer (or, late spring…) just makes him sound stupid/lazy/whiny (take your pick).
There’s a lot of space between “Nascar, my job driving a car a couple days a week is too hard!” whining and “everything is perfect with dasies and puppies and flowers”.
Drivers being honest about their car’s performance, relative to their peers…fine. Even if it’s negative. Fine. Ryan Newman: “we were really out to lunch, and our car was junk.”. No problem. “Nascar needs to fix my car cause we can’t go as fast as the 99” = whining.
Now, what Helton and the other talking heads actually said may have been stupid/heavy handed…but they weren’t entirely wrong in their assessment, either.
I agree with Chris. I dont think you can ever design a vehicle that will react predictably when surrounded by other cars all going 150+ MPH. Not even the low-profile areo-shape of the Indy cars is immune to the effects of wind resistance at that speed. NASCAR designed this car with safety in mind first, and then they put a lock on it to try to keep the teams with money from outspending everyone else in R&D. You can call me a kool-aid drinker, but I see nothing wrong with the way the new car looks, even if the wing by itself is hideous. And why does the front splitter work so well in the truck series but not in the cup series?
Hey Chris!! Information re: Heat in the car!
NA$CAR, in it’s wisdom, or in this case lack-there-of, made significant changes to the exhaust systems as used in the (very sick) CoT! If you remember, real early on, the insulation that NA$CAR MANDATED, simply caught fire, and created severe fumes during the race! All insulation systems, and all routing of the exhaust is DICTATED BY NA$CAR! The teams cannot change ANYTHING to help eliminate the heat inside the cockpit!
Now, just remember, NA$CAR has an unlimited budget to test and develop new cars, but they dumped this un-proven and virtually un-tested car on the track and said: “drivers, here is your new car”!
Now NA$CAR, instead of fixing the car, or allowing changes to the car, are just saying to the drivers “SHUT UP”!
Nice reaction to the problems the inept group called NA$CAR created!
EXCELLENT article …100 % agree with everything ya said …but of course you know ….yer gonna get labeled as a WHINER now because you are informing us ignorant race fans of the problems with king brians mentality ! Better call ahead to make sure yer press pass is still valid for SONOMA!!
“if Brian France could hear the evil things fans write to me about his new car”
First he would have to pull his head out of his ass. It’s very hard to hear that way. But then I doubt he surfs NASCAR websites where fans divulge their true feelings on all topics to see how we all feel. He would have to care enough to do that.
na$car convinced all of us that we loved “the chase” and now we all will love the cot. Media (with exceptions) is always the first to nod their collective heads in agreement! Who cares about the fans or drivers???
Very good article. This article shows that Matt is a very good writer and not just someone who spews anti-Toyota rants. It surprised me.
The comments that you made: All insulation systems, and all routing of the exhaust is DICTATED BY NA$CAR! The teams cannot change ANYTHING to help eliminate the heat inside the cockpit!
…are actually incorrect. I know the Party Line from the haters is that Nascar won’t let the teams do anything to the cars, but that’s not entirely true.
Kasey Kahne quote from Pocono:
…so, obviously, they can make changes to help the driver remain cool.
oh…and the whole insulation fire/fumes from last year was partially a result of the teams using a thinner-than-recommended gauge steel for the exhaust. But, Nascar adjusted the designs to compensate by raising the bottom of the foam in the door to get further from the exhaust pipe.
There are always going to be issues with a new piece of technology…the bigger the piece, the more issues to work through. I think that Nascar and the teams have done a pretty remarkable job with the new car, even if I do think they’ve tanked in some other areas.
Bravo Matt. I was trying to describe the insulation to someone the other day and the best way I could is that it is basically styrofoam in the doors and if you don’t have ice or something in a cooler it becomes a heater when subject to high temps outside. Common sense right? I think the CoT has potential, but NASCAR has to give the teams more latitude to massage the motors and the shock and spring packages. Hell, go back to bias plys, and recreate the door to door racing of the mid 80’s, DO SOMETHING, or we may regard this era of drivers with an asterisk. Is Tony Stewart as good as AJ Foyt? Gordon as Petty or Pearson? We’ll never know. Hell, Gordon has not won much with this CoT if he has won at all. Does this mean he is irrelevant?
MMMMM, I dare, no make that double dare! ANY TEAM to “enhance” air flow thru the interior of the car!
There would be no way to do so whereas NA$CAR in all it’s (missing) intelligence would approve an in car air system based on the probability it would give a car an “AERO ADVANTAGE”!
Witness the “missing & loose” oil tank covers!
NA$CAR was concerned that these “missing/loose” covers were “allowing” extra airflow in the cockpit!
Oh, sure, NA$CAR says do what you can! But in reality, that ain’t much!
I stand by my statement that the design and configuration of the exhaust system is DICTATED by NA$CAR! As is the “allowed” insulation!
The exhaust system on the CoT runs differently than the old car and is not insulated properly, per NA$CAR! Thus dumping lots of hot air (gee how appropriate talking about NA$CAR & hot air in the very same sentence)directly into a “closed” cockpit!
Gee, did I just take a firm stand on this issue?
Anyway, appreciate the thoughts, kinda fun writing about this stuff!
BUT!! Once again this ugly point rises once again to the surface: WHY WOULD I, OR ANY OTHER FAN OF THE SPORT, PAY $100+/TICKET TO WATCH A CAR BEING DEVELOPED?
At the rate NA$CAR is going, the CoT might, just might, be truly raceable in say, five (5) years!
Meanwhile, we buy tickets to see a developmental series!
And thus support Brian’s arrogance!
Nascar supposedly told the drivers that, if they have issues with the car, they should talk to Nascar instead of the media. Yet, when confronted by the drivers with their concerns, Nascar has said time and time again, ‘We aren’t going to make any changes’. Nascar spent what, seven years ‘designing’ this car? They bring it to the track, don’t allow teams to do much testing, then lock them into a box that allows little or no adapting.
Then they insult the fan’s intelligence on top of it! Lovely.
“WHY WOULD I, OR ANY OTHER FAN OF THE SPORT, PAY $100+/TICKET TO WATCH A CAR BEING DEVELOPED?”
…show me a racing series where the car isn’t still being developed? In most series, Nascar probably being the least offensive in that regard, the development of the technology is the primary purpose. F1. IndyCar. Daytona Prototypes. Lemans Series. V8 Supercars.
Actually, the only series that typically don’t have cars in a constant state of development are feeder/training series. Star Mazda. F1’s feeder. Legends cars. Late Models, Modifieds. There’s alot they can change from race to race, but the “sandbox” is very stable.
So…I’d say that any racing series worth paying $100/ticket for is almost certainly going to have the car “being developed”
As far as the airflow through the car, sure…they have to have rules about the entry and exit points of the air, otherwise teams would be all over the place engineering undercarriage aerodynamics like F1…and you’d have 3400 pound cars getting sideways and taking off like an airplane like Dario Franchitti’s Indycar did last year at Milwaukee. When the downforce turns into lift, it’s all bad. But, it’s not where the air comes in and out of the cabin that matters…it’s what you do with it. I guarantee you that the 83 team and the 11 team (the heat whiners) chose, to some extent, to ignore the driver’s comfort level in order to direct the (allowed) airflow in a way that they felt would generate the best performance. Also, they’re allowed a couple electric fans (of some sort, I don’t know the details) that not all of the teams put in the cars.
The 9 team did not do that, and I’m sure many of the other teams used the airflow they’re allowed to keep the driver more comfortable.
The Regulations on where the exhaust is piped is structured, but it is not fixed. The teams are allowed a certain amount of leeway in how it is constructed and placed.
I don’t think it’s reasonable to hold Nascar responsible for teams that do not take advantage of the tools they are allowed to use.
There’s plenty to pick on the Nascar executives for. The meeting on friday, and how ham-fisted that was. Their handling of the Nationwide series (which, if their objective is to destroy it, is going quite well)
Take your pick, but (in my opinion) railing about the CoT a bizzare choice.
A lot of you guys who feel that racing was better with the old car seem to forget that the car of yesterday only came along after Ford was allowed to turn a Taurus into a coupe. Anyone remember when? 1997. For all of you guys “old school racing” has been going on for 10 years. Give me a break. Prior to that the teams had to utilize stock body parts, hoods rear decks, etc. When Nascar let the taurus be raced is when the evelotion to the car that feel was so great began. I got news for you- this style of car was why the dreaded aero-push came into being not to mention a decided edge to whoever had the most money for wind tunnel time. Still there were some fantastic races along with some real snoozers. I had the pleasure of attending a Daytona 500 where there were 2-yes 2changes for the lead. The race was started by Dale Jarrett on pole and ended with D J in the lead. How exciting! And this with the great COY!
How about instead of carping about Nascar taking away the CoY we carp about them taking away the track where aero is not so crucial.
In my opinion one of the reasons that Nascar is not as much fun is the lack of variety of the new tracks. It feels like we’re watching half of the races on the same track. Gone are Wilkeboro and Rockingham, other tracks have lost dates to the cookie cutter tri-ovals. some of these tracks, Fontana and Chicago jump to mind, Have never been conducive to good racing. I prefer a track where the aerodynamics are not so important.
The COT is not perfect but will get better. I do believe in the long run the thing will keep some drivers from being hurt and will race better than it does now. That being said it would be great if Nascar would give the guys a little more leeway in some areas.
Hey Chris, in our continuing saga of the CoT!
Need I remind you that the IRL DEVELOPED A TOTALLY NEW CAR, and right out of the box it was a fine handling race car with infinite adjustment ability!
The IRL did it’s homework, spent the money, and provided their drivers a safer car but one that also “races” well!
NA$CAR has MUCH more money to spend then the IRL did!
So my question once again is: WHY DO WE HAVE THE ILL HANDLING, AND POORLY DESIGNED CoT on the track, each and every track?
Is it because NA$CAR did not spend the money to fully develop this car? Was Brian just too cheap!
Or does Brian simply not care?
And in closing, thank you very much Sally B! Right on!
What is is it NA$CAR?? Tell us in private? (when you take no actions) Or tell it publicly, (where now you tell us to shut up?)!
Whichever way you, NA$CAR want to spin it! IT IS WRONG!
I actually agree with the majority of what you’re saying. (at least, the most recent post!)
The IRL car (at least, the Dallara chassis) is a pretty good little race car. I’d say that Dallara did a better job engineering it, but they also had a much easier job.
A 1300 pound car, with what, 20+ inch wide tires…it’s just not hard to make that handle well. I am not an engineer, so when I say not hard I mean relative to a stock car, not relative to say, “cooking pop tarts”.
Pretty much all of the perceived CoT issues (Ill handling) might be resolved by the teams getting a handle on what adjustments to make when. Right now, they’re guessing. It will take them the majority of this year, at least, just to get a “book” of actual data large enough to determine if the car is, in fact, ill handling…or if they just were doing it wrong.
If you want to lower the difficulty of the car’s setup (and at some point, this may be what they want to do) just make the tires 2 inches wider (and remove the bump stops, and remove the spring rate limitations and gear rules) :)
it’s notable that Bud isn’t on the ropes after the departure of Dale Earnhardt, Jr. himself
Well, if you forget about that whole inBev thing… :)
There’s only one way to describe the COT and the attitude the NASCAR Brass has towards the fans. You can’t polish a turd.
Unless some major changes are made to the chassis, suspension, and steering points, we’re going to continue to have the same races we’ve had since the introduction of the COT. ZZZZZZZZ Oh, sorry, I fell asleep just typing about the COT. It’s that boring.