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 · Monday September 8, 2008
The Key Moment: Tony Stewart ran down Jimmie Johnson with 10 laps to go, but Johnson found enough speed in the upper groove to prevail over the No. 20 car in a battle of the home improvement centers.
In a Nutshell: Against all odds, on a nearly perfect day at a nearly perfect race track, the Cup series put on a nearly perfect race.
Dramatic Moment: There were nearly 400 laps worth of them, with two and even occasional three-wide racing for the lead to go along with side by side racing throughout the pack.
There’s no doubt that the most popular moment of the race for the fans on hand was watching Junior send Kyle Busch spinning. Junior clearly slammed on the brakes to stay off the No. 18 car but from the cheap(er) seats, it must have looked like a little payback for the Richmond Spring race.
What They’ll Be Talking About Around the Water Cooler This Week
OK, so Johnson made his point Sunday. It’s no longer a two man race for this year’s title. Carl Edwards and Kyle Busch are going to have to contend with Johnson as well.
Oh, I know someone will say it was contractual, but it’s hard to understand why ABC covered the IRL season finale, bumping the delayed NASCAR race over to the ESPN outlet. Yeah, there was a good title fight in the IRL, but ratings numbers suggest the Mother Ship should have gone with the bigger event. Still, combined with an exciting F1 race Sunday morning and a thriller at Chicago with the IRL, this was a stellar — if long — day to be a race fan.
I can’t wait to watch the message boards light up in response to ESPN choosing to cut away to commercial twice just as Dale Earnhardt, Jr. made passes for the lead. On a more positive note, the pictures all race long and coverage of the racing back in the pack were a sunny reminder of ESPN’s Glory Days back in the ’80s. But if he ever decides to lose this TV gig of his, Dr. Jerry Punch clearly has a future in the new cabinet as Minister of Disinformation. Saying stuff like a driver is running ninth when the graphics clearly show he is 19th is just sloppy.
Talk about unintended irony; after the race, the producer showed a clearly frustrated Tony Stewart tossing his steering wheel in anger after finishing second. Cut to that Samsung commercial with Stewart’s voice saying, “Let’s get out there and have some fun, guys.” Yeah, I’d say the marriage is over between Stewart and his soon to be ex-team. Stewart threw them under the bus, blaming them for losing the race in the pits, and was quickly told to lose his attitude and stop that crap. I’m not liking their chances in the Chase. Give some points to Stewart for a relatively calm interview after the race, though. It was as if he’d undergone an exorcism during a commercial break.
While we’re on the subject, I’m not digging the chemistry between Earnhardt, Jr. and his team right now, either.
Wasn’t it rather interesting to have Jimmie Johnson refer to Tony Stewart as a “teammate” for 2009? So much for capping the number of teams any owner can run.
Did NASCAR make the right call postponing the races until Sunday on Friday, even as there was a slight chance of a weather window opening Saturday evening — allowing the race to be run as scheduled? I’ll rip into NASCAR when I feel they’ve screwed the pooch, but I’ll give them this one. With a weather forecast grimmer than the latest unemployment numbers, they spared fans the likelihood of sitting for hours in the miserable rain and potentially dangerous wind conditions on Saturday waiting for an event that almost certainly wasn’t going to happen anyway based on the information they had at the time. In addition, Virginia State Troopers and other law enforcement personnel were going to be needed to protect lives and property in the coastal areas that took a harder hit than the Richmond metro area when Hanna came calling, and wouldn’t have been available to handle traffic and security details at the race. With the potential danger, NASCAR made the right call. I remember fighting my way through clogged traffic caused by power outages after a hurricane had shut down the traffic lights around the track (and gas stations shut down without power as my rental car ran on fumes) in order to attend a Richmond race a decade ago. As you might imagine, it wasn’t any fun. This was an example of how the safety and well being of fans paying big bucks to attend a race must always be put before the needs of NASCAR’s network partners.
The now infamous Rolling Stone interview of Tony Stewart is a dead issue in my mind. The fact Tony Stewart is a talented race car driver almost without equal has never been in doubt given his two championships in NASCAR and multiple other forms of racing. The fact he’s a lecherous, unkempt, out of shape, egotistical, self-centered legend-in-his-own-mind individual with Neanderthal views towards women is no surprise to anyone who’s had even a peek behind the curtain. It was in fact refreshing to see Stewart’s frank attempt at self-immolation in print before he actually does the same with his career next season. Stewart fans can take comfort in the fact he’s already earned enough money to keep himself in whores, booze, and fast cars for the rest of his lifetime, dragging his knuckles across the face of this fair earth.
NASCAR has decided that Toyota has an unfair advantage in both the Nationwide and Truck Series with their engines, and throttled the Toyota teams back about 15 horsepower in the interest of parity. So, how long will it be before they do the same in the Cup Series? I fully understand the mindset that Toyota teams have worked within the rules to gain an advantage, just as Junior Johnson and Smokey Yunick once did, and as such penalizing them for their hard work and millions spent on research and development seems unfair and counterintuitive. But us gray-hairs recall that NASCAR did the same thing to Ford back in the mid-1980’s, when Bill Elliott’s team was dominating the superspeedways. Indeed, NASCAR opened this Pandora’s box the second they raised the roof height on those Thunderbirds, while allowing GM to run models that were front wheel drive on the street as rear wheel drive race cars instead — ones that bore little resemblance to the crap that sat unsold on Chevy, Pontiac, Buick, and Oldsmobile lots in that era. The simple fact is there’s no “stock” left in stock car racing these days, and Toyota hasn’t built an OHV-powered model in over two decades. Parity or parody? You decide.
There are apparently folks in the garage area who want Jeff Gordon to take a defiant stand against NASCAR, using his high profile and fan allegiance to demand NASCAR modify the fatally flawed Car of Sorrow rules. Sorry, you might as well wait for Britney Spears to write a Nobel Prize-winning essay on macroeconomics. Undoubtedly one of the greatest drivers of his generation, my guess is Jeff Gordon has never suffered a spinal injury in any hard wreck because he lacks a backbone. Others say if Dale Earnhardt, Jr. would try to take his father’s place as a garage area soapbox firebrand that can’t be denied, NASCAR would do the right thing. Nope; even if all 43 drivers were to band together and condemn the new car in profane terms to every media outlet available to them 24 hours a day for a week, current NASCAR officialdom would tell them to “shut up and race.” The problems with the Car of Horror are clearly evident to even casual fans, but nobody at NASCAR has figured out the First Rule of Holes; when you find you’re caught in one, that first step is to stop digging.
It was announced this week that Dodge (or Cerrebrus Capital, if you prefer) will stop backing teams in the Whoever Is Going to Sponsor It Next Year Truck Series, basically throwing in the towel to the dominant Toyotas. Some of you may have seen a recent YouTube video of spectators watching as small chunks of a glacier began calving away when suddenly the whole thing began to collapse, swamping them on the rocks. Well, get thee to higher ground, because Dodge’s announcement this week is just the first few ice cubes hitting the water.
“Thanks, NASCAR, for broadcasting the National Anthem…” Well, yeah, um… about that. But seriously, the sport managed to conduct a stock car race without an hour plus pre-show. Who knew such a thing was not only possible, but better? It’s simple; say the prayer, sing the song, fire the engines, and drop the green… preferably exactly at 1 PM ET.
I really dislike the disrespect some of these younger drivers show the legends. Here’s a note to David Ragan: the fact you can become a millionaire running a Ford in the Cup series is by and large a product of the Wood Brothers and Bill Elliott. They were in the game back when Jack Roush was still in the NHRA.
Well, there is little controversy after Richmond, but big things are afoot over in Europe after the soggy conclusion of the Grand Prix of Belgium. Apparent winner Lewis Hamilton was stripped of his victory after being penalized 25 points for improper passing. It all started when Hamilton missed a chicane and passed race leader Kimi Raikkonen. As required, Hamilton allowed that guy with the last name I don’t want to try spelling again to repass him, but then immediately passed him back again — apparently too soon according to F1 rules. Hmm… I guess he was supposed to count to “five one thousand” before repassing that other guy whose name looks like an industrial accident at an alphabet soup canning plant? The Ferrari driver wrecked out anyway making the point moot, but this penalty has far-reaching title implications that are headed to court. The big teams in F1 spend the sort of bread that would make even Rick Hendrick’s head explode battling for those titles, and once again, it appears another one could potentially be decided in a courtroom rather than on a race track.
The Hindenburg Award For Foul Fortune
Joey Logano is supposed to be the greatest thing since the advent of pop-top beer cans in the Cup Series, but he never had a chance to show his stuff, with foul weather knocking off his chance to qualify for the field and make his much-anticipated debut.
Dodge is locked out of this year’s title Chase.
David Ragan worked his way into the Anointed 12 briefly, but bad pit stops and a spin that collected his teammate Matt Kenseth (another award recipient) knocked him out. I’d like to think it’s a little karmic payback for his disrespect of Bill Elliott and the Wood Brothers.
OK, he came away with a Top 10, but based on the way Jeff Gordon and the No. 24 team have been running lately, they’re a horse so dark in this Chase you’d need a flashlight at high noon to find them.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. started the race in a car clearly fast enough to lead laps and contend for a win, but once again his crew chief managed to adjust it out of contention late in the race. My guess is if all races were half their length, Earnhardt would have won five races by now, but it’s not looking good for the No. 88 bunch going into the Chase.
Robby Gordon fell out of the Top 35 in owner points and will now have to race his way into the event at NHIS next week — and he’s getting sued. Sucks to be him, I guess.
The “Seven Come Fore Eleven” Award For Fine Fortune
He clearly wasn’t happy with his “First Loser” finish, but Tony Stewart was lucky to finish the race at all after just missing the spinning car of Kyle Busch.
Yes, he got turned into the wall while battling for the lead, but it was interesting to watch Kyle Busch and his team react to their misfortune. I half expected to see Busch run wide open under caution to catch and run into the No. 88 car, but Kyle kept calm, cool, and collected instead. His team thrashed on the car to get it repaired, and Busch wound up driving his heart out to a 15th place finish. Every team is going to have a few setbacks during the Chase, but the ability to divert disaster on your worst days and rally back will likely decide who gets the big check at the banquet.
David Reutimann had a career-defining day, leading a lot of laps and posting a Top 10 finish in his No. 44 UPS Toyota.
What’s the Points?
Is everybody ready for the singing, dancing, and elephants swinging on the flying trapeze Chase Circus to start next week? Yeah, well, me neither, but it’s going to happen anyway. Not surprisingly, Kyle Busch is still the points leader, but his margin has been shaved down to 30 over second place Carl Edwards. Jimmie Johnson remains in third, just 10 points behind him. You think maybe Edwards is missing those 10 bonus points he was penalized after his win at Vegas right about now?
The biggest winner in the new points system was Clint Bower, who moved up seven spots to fifth, just 70 points out of the lead after flirting with missing the Chase altogether at points during the Richmond race. Denny Hamlin also gained a lot, moving up five spots to sixth because he too has won a race.
Five drivers — Tony Stewart, Greg Biffle, Jeff Gordon, Kevin Harvick and Matt Kenseth — occupy the bottom five spots in the Chase respectively because they have yet to win a single race this season. Why are they in playoff contention? Welcome to the fatal flaw in the Chase points system. Meanwhile Kasey Kahne, with two Cup victories, is looking in from the outside at 13th place. I’m sorry… I just don’t get it. Has there ever been an NFL team to reach postseason play without winning a single game?
Overall Rating (On a scale of one to six beer cans, with one being a stinker and a six pack an instant classic) – No question about it, this one earns six icy cold bottles of Corona served by a bartender who does stunt doubling for Heather Locklear. Truthfully, this is the first nice Sunday since the Spring that I haven’t wished I’d gone out and ridden the Harley rather than watch a race.
Next Up: The majesty and the nationwide excitement of the Chase head off to New Hampshire for what will undoubtedly be… just another boring race with the Car of Horror. It’s sort of like having the teams entering the wild card portion of the NFL decide who wins with a spirited round of Tiddlywinks rather than an actual football game. Where have you gone, Dale Earnhardt; a nation turns its lonely eyes towards you…
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Tony was angry with his crew for another of many , many poor pit stops . They lose an average of two positions almost every time they pit . Had they gotten Tony out ahead of Johnson , as they certainly were capable of doing , the race would have had a different winner . For ten years the 20 team has been one of the best in the business . Why are they letting Tony and themselves down now ? We saw how hard Tony was trying for the win , his team might want to stop the sloppy pit work and give him some help .
Well , at least Jerry Punch is delighted with the whole Chase concept , thats all he talks about .
Those that are blssting Tony for his comments to his crew on the in-car radio must not have heard ZIPPY last week at Fontana. At Fontana it was ZIPPY that was blasting the pit crew for the terrible pit. stops. After the race, Tony just vented frustration over in-car radio. (at least Ton’t rant was G-rated…Zippy’s Fontana rant was PG-13) It is no different than when other driver vent frustration over the in-car radio. (IMO, it is good to see a driver not happy with a 2nd place finish). However, Tony did not throw his team under the bus during the ESPN interview. He actually praised the team for all their hard work.
There was nothing wrong with Tony’s last pit stop. There were no mistakes made by the crew. The difference was in exiting the pit box. Either Tony had pulled in too far, or Harvick (who was in the stall in front of Tony) came in too short. From what I saw that’s where Tony got beat by Jimmy on that final pit stop. Tony had to really come out at a sharp angle due to Harvick being in the next pit stall.
As for Gordon not speaking up about the COT… all that would be doing is wasting time and energy. NASCAR has already said they aren’t changing. That’s why no driver is saying much… what’s the point?
“Has there ever been an NFL team to reach post season play without winning a single game? “
That is without a doubt THE WORST analogy I have ever seen.
NA$CAR, & the media can,(& will) flog this so-called chase for all they’re worth. It doesn’t change the fact that it deprives the sport of a real, & worthy season champion, more times than not. To compare a fluke like Kyle Busch to a true season Champion like Matt Kenseth, is just not right.
Same old same old. This race once again shows the faults of the COT.
It is more important to get out of the pits first.
Get out front first stay out front. This car can hardly pass wind.
Check out the whole season and almost all have the same formula.
dawg, are you writing that just to get a response? It worked apparently.
Matt Kenseth only one one race when he won the Cup Championship. And you call KYLE Busch the fluke?
Sure, you can hate the Chase, but that was just jackass dawg.
Bill B’s second comment — Nail on the head brother. A better analogy would be ‘Has a team that didn’t even have the best record in their division ever go on to win the Super Bowl…” mmm, yeah, I see how that would have pretty much supported the validity of the Chase there Matt. Never mind. Straw man rocks.
The analogy does stink. It is the same as saying ‘Should a team that never scored the most points in the league in a single week be allowed to be in the superbowl?”
Why is it okay and no one says a word about it when Zippy throws the team under bus but when Tony does it my god it gets people going. Zippy said this last weekend to the crew on the scanner: “God damn you mother effers are pathetic.” So what is worse that comment from Zippy or Tony’s simple “ good job guys we gave another one away.”??
Let me get this straight – Boyer goes from barely making the chase to 5th. So if there is a qualifying rainout at NH he jumps 7 spots? Just by winning once? Yea, the chase is a crock of sh**.
Speed covered the opening ceremonies at the end of the Raceday program when NASCAR started them early. This happened a couple years ago at Texas, I think, too. I have no idea why they started early.
HELLO!! Jimmy beat Tony out of the pits by proper planning. Chad chose a pit which was just before a NASCAR timing line. As JJ and TS approached their pits, JJ accelerated and caught up a quarter to a half car on TS. THAT is where he beat TS. In preparation and proper pit selection.
You can’t spell “Massa”?
Lets go over this one more time for those who do not seem to understand. Any given Sunday, one NFL team plays one more NFL Team, not the entire NFL Roster. When NASCAR has a race, every team races every other team. This is why consistency matters, and why the top ten includes winless teams. A second place team has just beat 41 other teams. Get the idea.
Perhaps if Jr. hadn’t spun Kyle, Elliott Sadler’s spinning Kyle out would have gotten more play. On Trackside a few weeks back, Elliott said that Kyle was always rubbing up on the side of other driver’s car, as he did Carl after the Bristol race. Perhaps it was even “getting even”. :) Marybeth
Matt, if there were only one item in this column to agree with, it would be that it does suck to be Robby Gordon. Still laughing.
The way I see it, parity or parody, one and the same
I missed it, just what did David Ragan say?