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.
The Key Moment: On lap 469, Carl Edwards used his bumper to nudge the 18 car aside and do something nobody else had done all night, pass Kyle Busch.
In a Nutshell: Kyle and Carl put on another clinic with Busch dominating, but the race is not always to the swift….
Dramatic Moment: Edwards “bump and run” on Busch was surgical but the two drivers saved the fireworks for the ironically named cool down lap. It wasn’t until then the massive Bristol crowd finally really got into the game.
What They’ll Be Talking About Around the Water Cooler This Week
Was Edwards brushing Busch aside fair? Hey, if they ban that sort of move they might as well stop the sport of stock car racing. Compared to the revered Dale Earnhardt’s pass of Terry Labonte late in the 1999 race, that was a church square dance. Were Busch’s post-race antics understandable? Hell, yeah! You lead 415 laps and get brushed aside late in the race and its natural to be angry. Edwards had no choice but to retaliate to let Busch know he wasn’t going to be pushed around especially with the duo heading into the Chase as the favorites. The altercation took place at slow speed and involved two drivers belted safely in their race cars, not on pit road with innocents at risk. If either driver is fined or penalized, I might just quit the sport. We need more of this, not less. In fact I wish the two drivers had continued knocking into each other until their cars wouldn’t move anymore and then gotten out and brawled to settle things. Even if the post-race antics were subdued by the standards of the ’79 Daytona 500, the best part is the “To Be Continued” comments expressed by both combatants post-race.
OK, let’s talk about that 600 pound gorilla sitting in the center of the living room telling dirty jokes to your granny. Even with the bump and run and post race antics, Saturday night was hardly the sort of race that has made the Bristol night race a late summer classic for many fans. There were less leaders than any Bristol race since 1978 and Kyle Busch led 415 laps seemingly at will. There was some racing back in the pack, but not the wholesale position changes and carnage that fans have come to expect. Reconfiguring the Bristol track has made for more side by side racing but these new cars just can’t pull off the passes. It’s made for less carnage and some fans miss that. As I see it, the new track promotes better racing but it’s less fun to watch and the new cars once again the expose their Achilles’ heel. It’s like watching tugboats trying to race in high seas.
A great insight into racing at Bristol and life in general from Friday night’s Nationwide race; “The error for margin is very, very small.” I love live TV.
Did someone install a magnet beneath the throttle pedal of the 18 car during the final pit stop?
Some people might be surprised but I actually disagree with just one portion of the penalties handed down to Joe Gibbs Racing this week in the messy aftermath of Dyno-gate. Absent any evidence they knew of the plans to alter the car post-race, I don’t understand why the drivers of those cars were fined points. Some folks have asked me how long an “indefinite” suspension lasts. I figure it lasts until the uproar dies down. The last indefinite suspensions handed down were in the wake of the altered fuel controversy at Daytona concerning the 55 car and we still don’t know what all happened there.
Jeff Burton was frustrated and angry after he was knocked out of the race and he had every right to be. That mess wasn’t of his making. But rather than throwing a tantrum, he instead used his post-race interview to pump his team back up and express confidence that they’d be able to overcome adversity. Compare that to Denny Hamlin’s post-race comments last week after Michigan. There’s a reason sometimes it’s better to have a seasoned driver rather than a kid a few years removed from local short tracks at the wheel during a championship drive.
Does it seem like Tony Stewart’s pit crew is phoning it in since he announced his plans to leave the 20 team? Stewart seems to be losing spots every time he pits.
The wreck wasn’t entirely or even mostly his fault though Michael Waltrip is one of those drivers who refuses to extend courtesy to the leaders even when he’s laps down in a hopelessly bad car that can’t get out of its own way. But it’s rare to hear a driver like Clint Bowyer be as blunt as to say, “Michael Waltrip is the worst race car driver in NASCAR. Period. I can’t believe NASA signed him on again.” Unfortunately it was actually NAPA that re-signed Waltrip. He won’t be leaving this planet anytime soon.
So OK, even NASCAR and the ISC have finally had to admit this whole Labor Day weekend deal at Fontana just wasn’t working out. (If I can put the journalistic professionalism that is my hallmark aside for a moment; NEENER, NEENER, NEENER, I TOLD YOU SO!) They’ve now moved the Labor Day weekend race back to Atlanta and the south for the 2009 season. Well they’re getting warmer. They only need to move the race one state north to get the Southern 500 back where it belongs.
In other schedule news, the second Talladega race will now be held late in the Chase. Having a plate race that late in the playoffs is like adding land mines on the field to spice up the Super Bowl.
You can read my articles but you can’t read my mind. Once again some folks are certain that I only got enraged about this whole magnet mess because the offending teams compete in Toyotas, that despite the fact I said pretty clearly in the article that I’d be just as angry if the team competed in another make of car. One interesting note I read said my idea that the teams be suspended from Nationwide competition for the rest of the season was unfair because it put men and women who had no part in the incident out of work. Think about this. If a team, any team, breaks the rules to gain an unfair advantage it means the hard working team members who compete within the rules don’t get race wins and competitive runs they are due. Long term that can lead to hard working people being released, drivers’ careers ended, sponsors leaving teams and teams shutting down, putting honest people out of work.
The Hindenburg Award For Foul Fortune
Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s temporary brain-freeze at the green flag cost him a drive-through penalty that knocked him a lap off the pace and he was never able to get that lap back.
Jimmie Johnson got a piece of the lap 26 wreck and had to go to the garage area for repairs, ending his chances at a decent finish early. About the only cars Johnson was able to pass for the rest of the night were the ones being hauled back to the garage area on flatbeds.
Jeff Buton got run over from behind as he tried to slow for the Mears-Waltrip wreck and was knocked out of the race.
It just seems every week lately Dave Blaney has a decent race going but gets run over out there on the track.
Kasey Kahne’s chances at making the Chase were all but eliminated by a wreck not of his own making.
The “Seven Come Fore Eleven” Award For Fine Fortune
Carl Edwards is dang lucky that the volatile Kyle Busch never got back to his rear bumper after he used his front bumper to take the lead. When Busch had to scrap with teammate Denny Hamlin over second, Edwards was able to drive off to a comfortable win.
While Busch was clearly frustrated by his second place finish, he was lucky to be able to finish the race after barely missing Dave Blaney’s spinning car as the fourth caution flag flew.
Jeff Gordon desperately needed a good run and he got one even while the 48 and 88 teams suffered through another long night. Heavy contact with the 11 and 20 cars didn’t damage Gordon’s car enough to sideline his efforts though it clearly ticked him off.
It appeared the heavy contact Clint Bowyer’s 07 car suffered in the Mears-Waltrip wreck might send him to the garage but even with the front end geometry of his Chevy all askew, he was able to drive on to a seventh place finish.
David Ragan had to start the race 43rd in a backup car after wrecking in qualifying but he was able to post a Top 10 finish.
Dario Franchitti’s impressive drive and eleventh place finish in Friday’s Nationwide race might have taken his NASCAR career off of life support at least for awhile. Oddly enough he was the top finishing Scotsman with an Italian last name in the race.
What’s the Points?
Kyle Busch remains the points leader. Carl Edwards trimmed Busch’s lead just a hair and is now 212 points behind Busch. More importantly at this juncture, if neither driver wins one of the next two races, when the points are reset after Richmond Edwards would start the Chase just twenty points behind Busch.
Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s lackluster 18th place finish allowed him to reclaim third spot in the standings from teammate Jimmie Johnson who now trails the 88 bunch by two whole points. And the crowd went wild.
Kasey Kahne took the hardest hit in the points, dropping three positions out of the top twelve and down to 14th in the standings, 56 points out of the Chase. Maybe he can use that accident forgiveness plan to recoup his lost points?
Clint Bowyer made applesauce out of bruised apples at Bristol to move up a spot to 12th in the standings but he’s just 12 points ahead of David Ragan who moved up a spot to 13th. Ryan Newman moved up two spots to 15th but he’s fully 181 points out of the Chase. His chances at making the Chase? You’d be better off wagering your life savings on two elderly Shriners in a two piece polka-dot horse Halloween costume carrying a blind albino midget as a jockey to win the Kentucky Derby.
Denny Hamlin moved up a spot in the standings to 11th. The rest of the drivers in the Chase held serve.
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 race four icy cold Coronas served by a buxom blonde with a Harley tattoo. We’ll give the post-race antics a six pack of Sly Fox microbrew Helles Golden Lager served out of doors so we can enjoy ‘em with a smoke.
Next Up: Well it’s Labor Day weekend. That means the Cup boys ought to be running a 500 miler at Darlington under the blazing South Carolina sun competing for the Southern 500 trophy, a victory that defines a drivers career. Instead I hear they’ll once again be holding a single file parade around some McTrack in Southern California and I want no parts of that so I’ll be out in the garage working on the ’72 454 Chevelle project that arrived this week. See you at Richmond. Fans are urged to buy a good fitting bicycle helmet before Richmond to limit injuries caused by ESPN beating them over the head about the Chase.
©2000 - 2008 Matt McLaughlin and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
“Compared to the revered Dale Earnhardt’s pass of Terry Labonte late in the 1998 race, that was a church square dance.”
Uhm, wasnt that 1999? NASCAR expert, indeed!
The 20 team certainly has lost its touch on pit road . They have always been one of the fastest and most consistant crews in the sport . But over the last few months they have cost themselves several postions on almost every pit stop they make . They also seem to be unable to make the meaningfull late race adjustments they were always so good at .
Leave it to NASCAR to have the chance to restore one of its traditional races, but just can’t bring itself to do so. What a crock! I’m a Georgian, but the Southern 500 should be in Darlington. I thought Denny Hamlin was right on! Mikey is one of the worst. I agree with you, Matt, the nudge by Edwards was mild next to some of the action we’ve seen at Bristol over the years, certainly the Labonte/Earnhardt clash comes to mind. I thought Busch kept himself under control well. A less mature Busch of a year or so ago would have wrecked himself and everybody else trying to get back to Edwards to wreck him.
I don’t think think the 20 team’s pit crew is doing that bad. I know on at least one stop where they lost 3 spots was because they had to fix some damage on the car. And for the most part all year they have been just fine. Bristol was just an off night for them. It happens to the best pit crews. Just look at Jeff Gordon’s pit crew last weekend.
Yea, Jr went ROOKIE on his fans. What kind of move was that, hell I don’t race for a living but even I know you don’t start “racing” until after you pass the start finish line at the beginning of the race. Come on June Bug, pull your head out!! you embarrassed your fans with that one.
CARL EDWARDS: BUILT FORD TOUGH (trademarked and not to be used without expressed written consent from Ford or FordMan)
Matt, you are dead on on the fact that the new track and the COT have ruined Bristol.
After attending the last two night races, the new racing is still “good”, but not worth fighting the crowds to go see in person.
2. No pit strategy—There was no two-tire vs. four-tire vs fuel only for track position. Everyone was on the same schedule all night
3. No changes in the positions in the pits—This is at all tracks, but unless a team makes a mistake, all of the top teams are even on their stops. Thus, there are minimal positions changing in the pits.
4. No racing in the top Five. Not only were there few lead changes, but the top 5 remained unchanged for large portions of the race. This race was similar to the 600 in that the running order off pit road, became the running order for the next 20 laps.
The bottom line is that Bristol is still more exciting than the rest of the tracks (except for maybe the restrictor tracks), however it’s just not worth a $100 ticket + other expenses.
Maybe the COT should be trashed and the Sprint Cup should adopt the Trucks. The accomplish much of what the COT is designed to do and still provide great racing.
MATT – As usual your article was right on the mark. The COT has ruined racing at Bristol and everywhere else. Also, I agree that Carl Edwards nudge of Kyle Busch was very tame by Bristol standards. Even so, Kyle whined like a little girl in his post race interview about being hit. Maybe Kyle should drive a pink car and wear a skirt.
Matt, since you have better things to do than watch the upcoming race and report on it, I’ll gladly step in and do it. However, since people on this site claim to not watch that bad race, maybe I’ll get lucky and nobody will read my bad analysis either!
I fully planned to go to the race this weekend, but my wife has cut the budget to plan for our move across town in October. :(
Actually that start by Jr looked like a stuck throttle – at least that’s what he should tell everyone.
And Kyle didnt whine like a little girl??? Souns like Clownman is one sided about all of this. I do agree with you Matt, that bump & run was very tame!
Matt, please don’t go anywhere! i don’t ever want to read anything from Kevin in SoCrap. you tick me off, but you also tell the truth!!!
I have been a NASCAR fan for 15 years, Have had season tickets to Bristol the last 10 years. I am done with the Chase, I am done with the COT, I am done with NASCAR and now I am done with Bristol. The “casual fan” can have my seats.
Fordman, there’s three sides to every story, your side, my side, and the truth.
Matt’s truth had the Earnhardt/Labonte incident in 1998 until I corrected him!
So it looks like Kevin in SoCal is a true casual fan who will not support HIS track. A true fan would tell the wife to cut HER budget, or eat Top Raman for a month straight to save enough money to go. I hear that’s what the fans in Darlington would do.
All this big talk and bluster from Kevin in SoCal about how California deserves and needs this race for the local fans, then when the rubber meets the road Kevin in SoCal can’t make the race because his wife says no. Way to support your local Nascar track Kevin in SoCal.
Maybe this isn’t the correct time, or place…but I’ve been holding my tongue for a while now, and I just have to ask…
Nice post Confederate. I think there are a lot of valid points you made there, and I was a fanatic too, trying desperately to become more than a casual fan and I think that is the rut that Matt is in. The guy in SoCal is just a crap stirrer, more interested in pointing out errors than anything. Look man, Matt doesn’t write for ESPN or NASCAR, so many of the other sites are opinion based. He missed a year, does it really matter? 1999 Bristol was basically Earnhardt getting 1995 Bristol right. Either way 1999 Bristol night race was the first and last time I wasted a half pitcher of Bud Light against a television set at a wing bar. Best part was the owner instead of justifiably throwing me out of the place, just patted me on the shoulder and said “That’s racin.” That alone was worth the $50 tip on the 80 dollar tab.
kevin, I think you need to look at the bigger picture. Some of Matt’s stuff to me is just going through the motions and just turning in an article. I agree and disagree with many of Matt’s postings, but when long time NASCAR writers start saying they seldom watch the races anymore, that brings up a huge red flag to me. If the sport doesn’t remember where it came from how does it know where it’s going?
SONNY – Did you not actually read my post or are you illiterate. I stated the Kyle Busch did whine like a little girl. And my view is one sided, because I think he is the biggest jerk that ever drove in Nascar. I hope some other driver punches his lights out, just like Jimmy Spencer did to Kyle’s older brother Kurt.
Please don’t respond to any other posts until you learn to read and write.
“Hey, if they ban that sort of move they might as well stop the sport of stock car racing. Compared to the revered Dale Earnhardt’s pass of Terry Labonte late in the 1999 race, that was a church square dance.”
First of all, proofreader, your post was made a day and a half later. Matt edited his column after I pointed out the typo.
Master Braytak, are you married? Have you ever tried to tell a non-NASCAR wife that you need $250-500 to go to a race when you’re planning on moving in a month? Its just not happening.
I’m not picking on Matt at all, I was picking on Fordman who was picking on me. I only pointed out Matt’s typo in my first post in the interest of accuracy. I enjoy Matt’s columns as much as you guys do, except when he (or anyone else) bashes California Speedway for having the Labor Day date. Its not the tracks fault, its NASCARs fault. You guys need to look at the bigger picture and realize NASCAR isnt a Southern sport anymore. Yes it completely stinks that NASCAR chose Darlington to give up a date to California, but you’re barking up the wrong tree to blame California for it.
Sorry Clownman, I guess I really didnt read you comment too carefully then. My mistake.
Hey guys, need to cut back on the personal attacks. Man can’t help what track springs up in his back yard.
Also, I did the edit to the article. Writers can’t edit once the article is submitted.
Finally Kevin, After 20 years of wedded bliss, I gotta tell you, you get to see a lot more races begging forgiveness instead of asking permission!
Unless my wife reads this, then some guy pretending to be me.
I can’t wait to see how many other wifes would not let their husbands go next weekend by the amount of empty seats.
Kevin in SoCal, been married over 20 years and the wife would never stop me from something as important as attending a race at MY track, especially after yapping about how great it is and how it deserves the race. It’s not like you didn’t have a year in advance to plan it out and save the cash.
My wife and I have an equal partnership in our marriage, unlike the master/slave relationship it looks like you have with your wife. We need the money to move, so unfortunately my saved racing money goes into the moving budget. You can just call me whipped. LOL My wife is not a NASCAR fan and never will be. I’m happy for you that your wives are more understanding. (even if you go to the races anyway without telling her)
And I never said California deserved two races nor that its the best track on the circuit. What I have been saying is that NASCAR chose California to get another date, based on NASCAR wanting to branch out to places outside the Southeast. Los Angeles is the second biggest media market in the United States, and NASCAR wants to capitalize on that. That’s the same reason why it wanted a track in New York. You’ll also notice how Phoenix now has two dates and Texas now has two dates, yet I dont hear anybody crying and complaining about how crappy those two places are. You guys are right, that the California experiment has failed, and its time for its second date to go to another track. My preference would be to give the fall date to Las Vegas and lets see if that track can support 2 races. My other idea would be to go to Iowa. We need another short-track on the schedule.
Also, my wife is putting off finishing her tattoo until after we move, so its not like I’m the only one giving up something.
The California experiment “Part Duex” has failed. Remember Ontario?
Remember Riverside? It was VERY successful and used to be the start of every season. It only failed because people starting moving into the cheap housing next to the track and then complaining about the noise. Ontario was just ahead of its time, too big a track and not as exciting as the road course at Riverside.