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 August 11, 2008
The Key Moment: Dale Earnhardt, Jr. pitted under caution on lap 66, handing the lead to Kyle Busch — who would never come close to relinquishing it.
In a Nutshell: Kyle Busch once again spanks the field handily, offering fans a chance for a nice late summer nap.
Dramatic Moment: Unfortunately, the only high drama Sunday was as a result of Michael McDowell sending David Gilliland spinning out of turn 11, triggering one of the nastiest wrecks of the season.
What They’ll Be Talking About Around the Water Cooler This Week
Over the weekend, Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson tried playing some head games with points leader Kyle Busch, downplaying his chances at a title given his recent “slump.” My guess is they’ll be a bit more circumspect on that topic this week. It would seem like his JGR teammate, Tony Stewart, Busch tends to drive faster when he’s angry or annoyed. It’s easy to use the media to send a message to another driver in the garage area, but it’s a lot harder to make your statement out on the race track.
Gordon in particular ought to be more worried about his own chances in the Chase. At a track where he normally shines, Gordon struggled mightily on his way to a less than impressive 29th place finish.
How many more weeks is it until the Bristol Night Race? When the Beach Boys penned the term “Endless Summer,” it was actually supposed to denote a good thing — but that’s not the case in the Cup series this year. It just feels endless. At least we can always look forward to the Southern 500 at Darlington on Labor Day weekend… oh, yeah, right. Strike that.
You can’t help but wonder that if it weren’t for the Chase format, Tony Stewart might have run a little harder trying to pass Kyle Busch in the closing laps. On the bubble of making the Chase, Stewart was probably advised a conservative second place finish beat a risky move at taking a win. Right now, Kyle Busch can run as hard as he wants, but those drivers towards the bottom of the Top 12 have to run more conservatively. Wasn’t the Chase supposed to make racing more exciting — not less?
Michael McDowell’s Cup career highlight is his savage wreck at Texas. Maybe Michael Waltrip told him he wasn’t getting much TV time lately and the sponsors were upset, so he should go out and do something monumentally stupid during the Watkins Glen race to get back on the highlight reels?
What on earth was Tony Eury, Jr. thinking leaving his driver Earnhardt, Jr. out there so long? Almost inevitably, a caution flag pit stop sent the No. 88 to the rear of the field and ended Earnhardt’s chances at a decent finish. If Eury was in charge of military strategy planning the invasion of Grenada, we would have lost the war.
No one can dispute Kyle Busch is having a career year like few drivers will ever enjoy. But how much of it is the driver and how much of it is the car? Maybe it’s time NASCAR rounds up a bunch of Cup engines and takes them back to the R and D center for dyno testing like they did in the Nationwide series after the Joliet race.
While Joe Nemechek finished 38th, one of his crew guys deserves an award for enthusiastic effort in the face of extreme adversity for his efforts in trying to repair the hood of the No. 78 car. That’s really throwing yourself into your work, young man!
I guess Tony Stewart insisted changes be made to his shift lever after having one break at a road course previously. That bat of a shifter in the No. 20 car looked positively Neanderthal.
What’s wrong with the Cup series these days? For all the talk of Martinsville losing one or both race dates, nobody with the power to change things seems to ever discuss dropping Watkins Glen or Sonoma from the schedule.
Lest we forget, Monday, August 11th, will mark the sixteenth anniversary of the tragic passing of J.D. McDuffie at Watkins Glen. McDuffie’s death and serious injuries suffered by Tommy Kendall in the same corner caused the track to add that chicane at the end of the back straight. R.I.P., J.D.
While we’re recalling sad anniversaries, this Wednesday, August 13th, marks nineteen years since the tragic death of NASCAR’s forgotten legend, Tim Richmond. Richmond won the first Cup race staged at Watkins Glen in the modern era. For all the talk of the road course success of Tony Stewart and Jeff Gordon, in this writer’s humble opinion, Richmond remains the greatest NASCAR driver ever to turn a wheel on a road course. Many newer fans never saw Tim race, and some perhaps have never even heard his name. Trust me, Tim Richmond died in his prime — and were it not for his death, the record books would look substantially different. No less an authority than the late Dale Earnhardt once opined that if Tim Richmond had lived, he (Earnhardt) would never have been able to claim those seven titles.
In the interest of historical accuracy, Ron Fellows’ win in rainy Montreal last weekend was not the first time cars in one of NASCAR’s top divisions ran in the rain. On August 12th, 1956, Tim Flock wheeled a Bill Stroppe-prepared Mercury to victory at Road America in the rain. That race was part of the season’s Grand National schedule… the equivalent of today’s Cup series.
The Hindenburg Award For Foul Fortune
Bobby Labonte took a savage hit in the lap 83 wreck that sent him to the hospital through no fault of his own. David Gilliland suffered a number of hard knocks as well. The other eight drivers involved in that travesty ought to be allowed to invite Mr. McDowell to a blanket party behind the transporters next week.
You win as a team and you lose as a team, but the number of times Dale Earnhardt, Jr. has seen his chances at a win in a competitive car evaporate due to strategy or pit stops is troubling.
The “Seven Come Fore Eleven” Award For Fine Fortune
With his eighth win of the Cup season, a Cup Series road course sweep, and a second place result in the Nationwide race, Kyle Busch had a pretty good weekend.
If any driver left Watkins Glen happier than Busch, it might have been Marcos Ambrose. He won his first Nationwide Series race on Saturday, and then — despite starting 41st in Sunday’s Cup event — he drove to a stellar third place finish by the end of the untidy proceedings. Good on ya, mate.
You have to believe the Wood Brothers team was dancing in the streets after the race, having proven they can still field a competitive car in an era where their continued existence hangs in the balance.
Carl Edwards just missed Ryan Newman’s car — which was sitting stalled at the exit of a blind corner right in the racing line — en route to a ninth place finish.
Jimmie Johnson also just barely avoided the No. 12 car after Newman’s spin. Later, he cut down a tire and dropped to the rear of the field, but a timely caution put the No. 48 back up front, and Johnson was able to drive on to a seventh place finish.
Yeah, it might seem odd to say a driver who spun and couldn’t re-fire his car enjoyed any sort of good luck. But for any driver sitting at the exit of a blind corner — driver side out in a stalled car — watching the rest of the field barrel right at him and miss is one of those moments that puckers up one’s nether-regions like a steel rose bud. Anytime you leave on your own two feet rather than in a helicopter after that sort of mess, you have to feel lucky.
With the forecast as grim as it was on Sunday morning, NASCAR officials must have burnt live animal holocausts to whatever demon Gods they worship to be able to get the race in.
What’s the Points?
Not unexpectedly, Kyle Busch is still leading the points. His lead is up to 242 over Carl Edwards, who moved up a spot to take over second place honors. Jimmie Johnson also jumped up one spot to third, trailing Edwards by just two points.
On the heels of poor pit strategy, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. dropped two spots to fourth in the standings. As a result, Tony Eury, Jr. should probably wear dark sunglasses, a low slung ballcap, and bring bodyguards if he’s shopping at the Kannapolis Piggly Wiggly this week.
In the Battle of the Basement, Matt Kenseth rose a spot to re-enter the Chase in 12th. Clint Bowyer fell a spot to 13th, and now trails Kenseth by 22 points with four “regular” season races remaining.
Tony Stewart advanced two spots to seventh in the standings, and is 138 points ahead of the cut for the Chase. Denny Hamlin moved up a spot to ninth in the standings. Greg Biffle fell two spots to 10th, and objects in the rear-view mirror may be bigger than they appear after a lackluster 21st place finish. Kasey Kahne also dropped a spot to eighth.
Five drivers currently in Chase contention haven’t even won a race this year, leaving open the nightmarish scenario of NASCAR crowning a champion who didn’t win a single event — a possibility unheard of in any major sport. Maybe winning a points race should automatically qualify a driver for this Chase mess? If Ryan Newman did, in fact, win the sport’s “Super Bowl” back at Daytona in February, how can he not contend for a championship? This is the danger of mixing sport metaphors.
Meanwhile, Sam Hornish, Jr. is 33rd in the points, but is this season’s top ranked rookie in the standings to date. You know, I think this whole concept of importing open-wheel stars into stock car racing might need some rethinking.
Overall Rating (On a scale of one to six beer cans with one being a stinker and a six pack an instant classic) — We’ll give this one two cups of Mogan-David 20-20 Mad Dog served in dirty Styrofoam cups. Most fans don’t expect much when it comes to road course racing, and that’s what they got — not much.
Next Up: The Cup series returns to the Irish Hills. Michigan? Not this again.
©2000 - 2008 Matt McLaughlin and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
Wow, you almost got every one of your go-to mentions in one article. Let’s see, you covered, “Tim Richmond is great,” “road racing should be taken off the schedule,” “Darlington should be on Labor Day,” “Toyotas have an unfair advantage,” and “the race was boring.” The only ones you left out were, “California Speedway sucks,” “The COT sucks,” and “Robby Gordon sucks.”
Do you actually write anymore or just copy and paste your tired rants on the same subjects week after week? Don’t get me wrong, I used to enjoy your articles, but lately you seem to be stuck in a rut spewing out the same lines every week. We know you think Tim Richmond walked on water and you haven’t seen a decent race since 1984. We know you resist change of any kind and you hate Cup cars on road courses. Regardless of whatever stats you always seem to pull up about the popularity of road courses on the Cup schedule, they are obviously here to stay. They’ve been on the schedule since the beginning. Drivers like them and fans like them. Wish all you want, they aren’t going to race at Darlington 36 times a year.
You said you didnt know what Tony Jr, was thinking, well duh!, Dale Jr, was the one behind the wheel, he was the one to decide to put on the brakes, he was the one to turn the wheel toward pit road, he had complete control of what decision to make, if it was his(Dale Jr.)to stay out, then he was the one that shot himself in the foot! However, I still remain his fan and supporter!!
Always Tim Richmond, Matt. I love your columns, but give me a break! What about J.D. Mcduffie? He died at Watkins Glen. Remember?
You might of missed it but I did add a rememberance of JD in the column. Hard to believe it’s been 17 years.
As a relatively new fan of Nascar (used to watch in the ‘Golden Days’ but the last few years have seen me much more into it) I have to disagree about your opinion of road racing. Yesterdays race was fun to watch with plenty of excellent racing (as well as bone headed moves – McDowell). Maybe had there been more wrecks like the big one you would have enjoyed the race more.
I give it 4 beers – Killians to be exact. It would have been 5 but Smoke just couldn’t seem to catch the 18.
Matt, I was at WGI yesterday and saw a pretty decent race. There was good side by side racing from my turn one perch. Actually, this was pretty close to where I saw Tim Richmond’s win from…it’s a nice track Matt with its own merrits. You give a visual of someone pacing and wringing their hands in frustration and anger! Let it go Matt! The trees seem to be in your line of vision.
Road racing has indeed been part of NASCAR from the beginning . At one point Riverside was one of the most important races of the year . In fact the season opened and closed at Riverside.
I actually like the road courses thrown into the mix. It’s the cookie cutter tracks that put me to sleep. I read The Frontstretch to find out what when on during the races because I can’t stand watching them anymore. Seems like I missed a good one yesterday, even though the ending was predictable and boring. I hate the COTs, too, Matt. And so do most of the drivers, from what I read.
Rather than putting the blame on the crew or the car as Dale Jr always does too , lets look at the role of the driver in this seasons races . Is he simply not as talented as we have been led to believe ? I know one thing for certain . All of the hype over the years telling us what a smart team owner Rick Hendrick is was clearly wrong . Just look at the huge turnover in drivers and crew the Hendrick organization has had . But the true telling point was the dumping of Kyle Busch to hire Dale Jr. Who got the better part of that deal , Gibbs or Hendrick ? Hendrick is the smatest car owner in the sport ? Yeah right .
More road courses, not less, please. 3 would be ok, 4 would be better.
I think that qualifying rainouts should start the field in reverse order by owner points :)
Agreed, more road courses—they’re more interesting than the awful 1.5 mile cookie cutters. Keep the Glen and Sears Point… drop Kansas, Chicago, one Texas race, and Las Vegas (and Michigan, why not)… replace them with Road America, Laguna Seca, Montreal and Mid-Ohio.
I agree with Michael T. Matt, you’re a talented writer, but every week you sound more and more like a disgruntled old man who still thinks it’s 1985. You complain weekly about how boring the races are, yet back in “the good old days” races were often decided by several LAPS, not seconds. Oh man, that must have been exciting.
And seriously, it’s fine if you don’t like Toyota, but your xenophobic attitude towards anything that’s not American is pretty short-sighted.
I think it’s time to come up with a new name for the #88 crew and crew chief. I recommend the following:
A) The “Don’t” Crew
or in honor of Dale Sr.‘s crew in the salad days,
B) The Flying Asses.
Tony Jr. was pathetic yesterday with his “cup of dirt” comment. Admit it was your fault you played a flawed strategy and got beat and take the butt chewing from your driver and Rick Hendrick. I think it’s time for Tony Jr. to go.
Also, if I hear Jerry Punch say “Cousin Carl” one more time the 99 car pits or does something, I’m throwing up my hot wings and Bud Light. Between that and his love affair with Ambrose, dang it man. You’re a doctor and an emergency room doctor at that. You have to know how to think on your feet and outside the box. Bring back Bob Jenkins or Eli Gold.
Good one, Joe…I haven’t thought about Eli since soon after CMT stopped the broadcasts.
I have no problem with the road courses. Didn’t the whole NASCAR mystique begin with bootleggers in the hills of Georgia and the Carolinas? I don’t think that they were hauling ass and evading the cops on mile-and-a half ovals.
At this point, I don’t know what is more boring…reading Matt’s gloom and doom column every week, or our comments about how the column is so predictable.
Well looking at this I have to add (my comments in parentheses):
For the most part, I think you’re right on with your comments…keep up the great work!!!
I guess the bottom line is we keep on reading them and that keeps him churning them out. This is the definition of insanity. Reading the same thing over and over again and hoping for a different end product.
I personally think Matt has been kinda going through the motions since February 2001.
Here’s an idea for you Matt. There’s a book out there, not sure who the author is, but his contention is that the Hooters 500 in 1992 was the watershed race for NASCAR, and there are books out there that contend the Daytona 500 of 1979 was that event. Why not do a book that claims that the Daytona 500 of 2001 was the beginning of the end of the NASCAR you (and many others) knew. Doesn’t even have to be accurate as David Poole’s book about your boy Tim Richmond would attest. I think you’ve been a hamster on the wheel for quite a few years now content-wise.
Personally the NASCAR rocks event where Kyle Petty was dancing with Chaka Khan or whoever was the beginning of the end for me, but there’s not enough content for a book. Maybe a pamphlet.
Matt, I guess in a way we are all similar. We liked your old work better than your new stuff. Perhaps it wasn’t all that great, but we obviously remember it. Maybe a Japanese writer needs to step in.
Once again, a bonehead play by Tony Jr. causes a poor finish by the 88 car. staying out that long after the rest of the field has pitted is just asking for trouble! if not the caution for gravel, something else could have happened. Jr. should have pitted much sooner. the cars that got new tires were gaining on him, and he was a sitting duck. Thanks for blowing it, ya dope ya!
also, the “D’oh!” crew would fit as well with all of the miscues.
I’ll take a road course race over the parade laps at California, Loudon, etc. any day. There was not much going on at the front yesterday but some good action throughout the field.