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.
The Key Moment: On the final restart with twelve laps to go, Greg Biffle muscled his way past Jimmie Johnson to the subdued delight of anyone left awake.
In a Nutshell: Another NHMS snoozer. C’mon, Bruton, fix this mess.
Dramatic Moment: Drama at NHMS? You might as well be searching for couth in Philadelphia.
What They’ll Be Talking About Around the Water Cooler This Week
Before we start discussing Sunday’s race, let me say the entire Frontstretch staff and myself want to offer our prayers and support to our friends and fellow fans down on the Gulf Coast who bore the brunt of Hurricane Ike’s fury. We are with you during this difficult time. A good friend of mine in Galveston lost everything he owned to the storm, but his positive attitude in discussing the fact that he, his wife, and children survived unscathed is a less than subtle reminder that all of us need to be grateful every day for those things we have — and to remember the relationships we have with those who love us outweigh anything we can own.
Could the Chase have started off with any more drama? Sure, if the Brady Bunch were allowed to play a spirited game of lawn croquet before the race.
To those detractors ready to write off Kyle Busch as a title contender after a disastrous afternoon at Loudon, it might be wise to recall that Jimmie Johnson finished 39th here in 2006 en route to his first Cup championship.
OK, how many laps did you make it before drifting off for a nap?
NASCAR’s network partner “ESPN/ABC” tried to break a story this week accusing Craftsman Truck stalwart and multiple time champion Ron Hornaday of using performance enhancing drugs. The sad fact of the matter is the drugs in question were prescribed not to enhance Hornaday’s chances against younger competitors, but to save his life after he was finally diagnosed (after many missteps) with a thyroid disease. I have my own somewhat unique perspective on the issue in that after my own nasty fall that almost cost me my left leg, I was also prescribed with steroids and male hormones to help my body heal. I don’t recall being able to juggle pianos, win marathons, or star in porno movies while I was being treated. What I do recall is that the drugs the doctors prescribed me allowed me to toss aside the walker and begin those first few fleeting steps to a normal life again against the odds. Kudos to Ron Hornaday for the class with which he faced this non-issue, and his willingness to face it head on — but brickbats to ESPN for trying to invent a story and then refusing to address their error when it was proven false. I am especially disappointed in Dr. Jerry Punch, who due to his medical training could have issued a unique and authoritative opinion on the issue, stating this was standard treatment of Graves’ disease. If Ned Jarrett and the late Benny Parsons were still around, they’d doubtless we hosting a “Come to Jesus” meeting with their colleagues over this sensationalized story, and they’d give them such an ass-chewing nobody involved would be able to sit down for a week. I’m just glad that NASCAR took an informed and compassionate look at Hornaday’s treatment and condition, then decided no penalties were in order. That’s in stark contrast, of course, to their lifelong ban of Tim Richmond for “substance abuse” of over the counter cold remedies prior to the 1988 Busch Clash.
Qualifying was canceled for the seventh time this season and the second week in a row at NHMS. It’s almost as if our infinitely patient and forgiving God is weighing in on the Chase from above.
With Dodge having announced their withdrawal from the Truck Series next year, Bobby Hamilton Racing, the last marquee Dodge team, has announced they will throw their lot into the crowded Toyota pool next year. One part of me thinks that the late Bobby Hamilton must be spinning in his grave considering his team will be driving for a foreign manufacturer next year. But the rest of me acknowledges that Hamilton was a realistic man, and given the present circumstances with Dodge leaving the series, he’d likely have decided “Any port in the storm.” Born into near poverty, Bobby Hamilton was a practical guy who never lost his roots. He once told a senior class at a local high school to pursue their dreams no mater what the odds, given that he was a “redneck millionaire” but a millionaire nonetheless. My other favorite Hamilton quote was his answer to a question as to who was the greatest NASCAR driver ever. Hamilton responded that the greatest NASCAR driver ever was probably driving a tow truck somewhere in the Charlotte area, because he wasn’t pretty and well-spoken enough to earn a ride in today’s NASCAR climate despite his talent. Hamilton died of cancer on January 7th, 2007; and as Forrest Gump might add, “and that’s all I’m going to say about that.”
Is it just me, or does Jeff Gordon look and sound a decade older than he did last year? It bears mention that Gordon, the original young gun, has been at this game full-time for fifteen years now; and by his own admission, he’s got more career behind him then ahead of him. Where do the years go?
The Hindenburg Award For Foul Fortune
Last week, Kyle Busch saw a 200-point plus lead evaporate due to the Chase format. Busch could use a few of those points back after a failed sway bar link and subsequent crash left him 34th in the field.
Matt Kenseth was looking slightly less hapless than usual this season when he got hooked by the out of control No. 45 car and took a quick jaunt into the wall. It was the first DNF for the No. 17 bunch this season.
Joey Logano may indeed be the next big thing; but at New Hampshire, he was just another rolling road block running a lap down. Sweet.
Jeff Gordon seemed to have a solid run going, and avoided yet another Robby “he ain’t my brother” Gordon wreck. But locking up his tires to avoid it all forced Gordon to the pits and an eventual fourteenth place finish.
The “Seven Come Fore Eleven” Award For Fine Fortune
The brake problems Greg Biffle encountered early in the race seemed to indicate he was in for a very long afternoon coasting around the track. Instead, he coasted into Victory Lane for the first time in almost a year.
A pit road collision and a penalty for speeding on pit road seemed to doom the No. 20 car and Tony Stewart; but, he rallied back nicely to post an eighth place finish.
With the sort of season he’s had since Daytona, few people might have noticed — but Kurt Busch finished sixth.
What’s the Points?
For the first time seemingly since mankind invented the wheel, Kyle Busch no longer tops the standings. In fact, he tumbled seven spots to eighth, 74 points out of the lead.
Carl Edwards and Jimmie Johnson are technically tied atop the points standings, each having gained one spot — with Edwards holding the advantage over Johnson with more race wins.
Greg Biffle’s win launched him up six points in the artificially contrived points stratosphere to third in the standings. Other beneficiaries of this silliness include Jeff Burton (up two spots to fifth) and Tony Stewart (up a spot to seventh). Kevin Harvick climbed a spot to tenth in the standings.
On the flip side, Clint Bowyer tumbled four places, from fifth to ninth in points. Jeff Gordon fell a spot to eleventh, and Matt Kenseth remains the Chase cellar dweller — in twelfth, already 177 out of the lead.
For those few of you who realize there were more than twelve drivers out there on the track today, Kasey Kahne remains atop the standings for the “Non-Chaser Invisible Men,” 59 points ahead of David Ragan in 14th.
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 lukewarm cans of the generic stuff. It wasn’t as mind-numbingly insipid as some NHMS races, but it wasn’t far off.
Next Up: It’s off to the white cliffs of Dover, the second most hazardous to Talladega in the Chase. None of the Chasers will win the championship at Dover, but some of them will surely piss away their chances at winning the title.
©2000 - 2008 Matt McLaughlin and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
Boy! Am I stupid or what??
Can someone please, please, (try) to explain this “CHASE” thing?
Lets see now, ONLY 12 cars are in the “CHASE”! All others being “eliminated”! (please note the parenthesis),
Well, supposedly so, because they, the remaining 31 cars, cannot win the CHUMPIONSHIP! They have been “eliminated”! (mmm, there is that ugly word once again)!
So, if 31 cars have been “eliminated” from “THE CHASE”!
My very simple questions is: “how can they, the 31 cars in the elimination group, then take points away from the chase contenders?
Example: Kurt Busch “stole”, or took away, 150 race points from several “chase drivers”!
Now how can that be? He, Kurt has been “eliminated” (oh, oh, that word again) FROM THE CHASE! Or so I was told, and how about Martin Truex, he “stole” 146 points from some “chase contender”, BUT! Truex also has been officially “eliminated” (that word once again) from the chase.
Folks? Are you paying close attention?
In this playoff format, and a very sick one at that, how can “teams” that have been “eliminated” take points away from the CHUMPIONSHIP contenders?
And how about the chase leader going into the “race”! (love these parenthesis)and then come out with only 66 points because all the other points were stolen by those “eliminated” (!!!!) from the chase?
And worse yet, Matt Kenseth gathers only 43 points, because, YEP! Teams/cars that have been “eliminated” from chumpionship contention “stole” his points!
So, to begin the “CHASE”, Kyle has many many points deducted from his total that he earned in “good faith”, but then has even more points “taken away” by cars not even in the “CHASE”??
Gee? Can one even begin to try and describe what a mess NA$CAR and it’s “CHASE” format is in?
Things I saw at the race this weekend, with my kid… I was sandwiched between “F-bomb Guy”, three rows back, who couldn’t use a sentence (it seemed) with out the F word – and the fact that I could hear him with the jet dryers or cars running testifies how loud he was (and we had earplugs to boot) – and “Finger Guy”, who had to raise his middle finger high and proud three rows in front any time a racer he didn’t like came by – KB and anyone he thought should give way to his car (the 24). Yeah bud, I’m sure they could see you up in the 40th row above the pit exit. Nice do-rag cap by the way, very 90s.
I was a bit concerned about exposing my kids to these guys until my son asked me, “Why are those guys being such jerks?” Good question kid. I’m proud of you.
Another thing I saw – a couple who left after 50 laps (Biffle fans no less)(they let us take up the room in their seats because they said they were leaving). I know the race was boring, but leaving at lap 50? From $110 seats? Wow.
Oh, and there was a boring race too. Bruton now says he thinks the track is very racy so they’ve scrapped plans to reconfigure it. Bruton, were you watching the same race I was? More likely tight financial times are the real reason. And good luck getting the lights, the more he thinks he can just go out and say he’ll be able to just ignore the agreement with the neighbors, the more they’ll dig in and fight it.
Attendance aficianados take note, I’d say (though it was tough to tell with so many people constantly wandering the trailer and front areas rather than being in their seats)we were looking at maybe 90% capacity at most. My guess is if the race was more interesting more people would be in their seats.
Finally, us NH folks get bombarded with political ads practically all day, so the last thing I wanted to see was a candidate at the race. Hopefully that’ll be the last of that. Though I can’t remember the last time I saw a potential first lady in a t-shirt of any kind, never mind for her husband’s campaign. Wierd year.
AND!! I must also mention, how can one ever even make it to the “CHUMPIONSHIP” round, WITHOUT EVEN WINNING ONE (1) RACE? (as in Biffle)
NO WINS! ZERO! NADA! NOTHING”
But a “contender” none the less!
While “actual” race winners don’t make it!
Yesterday the football announcers talked about how “exciting” the “chase” is and picked their “favorites.” Obviously, someone scripted it for them. Boring race. The “Chase.” Who cares?
i was confused when i saw the points line up before the race of the chase contenders. what, did they all get the same amount of points and then the winners got extra 10 points? how could 3 or 4 drivers be 70 points behind the leader at the start of the race? this requires too much concentration. i woke up from my nap when biffle was in v/lane. then of course espn/abc hand to interview all the chase contenders. post-race show was almost as long and interesting as the pre-race show.
kind of surprised at you matt….no comment about the number of times john mccain said “new hampshire”?
hey i just got offered free tickets and pit passes to ‘dega, and i didn’t jump right on it. have to weigh the options and the $$$ of gas. $4.29 here this morning in west georgia. ouch!
Wow. From being 207 points ahead to 74 points behind in just 20 laps. Now a guy with eight wins is just barely ahead of a guy with half as many top fives.
But hey, we needed to create more excitement.
Guess racing wasn’t exciting enough before.
Dang you Matt Kenseth!
I was also at the race yesterday, and for the life of me, I just don’t know what has to happen on the track to satisfy people anymore.
There were at least a half-dozen passes fot the lead under green, the last coming with just 10 or so laps to go. No one car dominated, and it seemed any of a half-dozen cars could have pulled the thing out after the red flag.
Oh, and a couple of wrecks, too.
There was plenty of passing throughout the field (how many cars did the 20 have to pass…70 or 80, I bet.)
I guess if we have to compare every race to Matt’s memory of some long- forgotten Goody Headache Powders at North Wilkesboro (won by Tim Richmond, of course) then nothing will ever satisfy him.
I’m sorry Mike had a couple of A-Holes and John McCain ruin his day, but the consensus in my well-mannered section up in Row 40 of the Concord section agreed it was a great time.
Hope my rosy outlook hasn’t ruinned anyone’s day…You’ll just have to wait until Matt returns next week for Chapter 27 of “Why Nascar Ain’t No Good No More”.
Mike in NH: If he says the track is ‘racy’ as it is, and that he wants to install lights – even though there’s an agreement with neighbors not to, I think there’s changes-a-coming at NHMS.
He’s making a show of a capital improvement that he knows he’ll probably not get (lights, and approval from the neighbors for them), while he’s not going to make an improvement that is within his control (track reconfiguration). I realize that the racing surface is much more costly; but, I smell a red herring…
I would say this as the first step in him arguing why a date needs to be moved from NHMS to another SMI property.
Jim – I did watch Tony as he made his way through the field, and that was fun to watch, I’ll grant you. But while that was going on, until the last few laps – sprints interspersed with red and yellow flags – the same 7 guys in front ran in pretty much the same position, strung out in a line for about half the race. People pay to see the folks up front battle for the lead, not just the middle and rear of the field, and for most of the race that didn’t happen.
Another improvement needed, Jim – a display of more than just the top 7 positions on the light pole, and while they’re at it, keeping up with what is actually on the track (a few times I noticed the positions on the pole display didn’t change until three or four laps after the positions actually changed). Also one time the #4 was displayed in 4th – Ward Burton would be thrilled to find he was running that day. Finally after 4 laps they changed it to 48. As for any position outside the top 7, I had to count cars. The displays were showing Chase point updates but not positions (or at least not often enough for me to catch them).
The end salvaged what would have been a real snoozer, and that’s because all the flags kept the leaders from being on the track under green long enough to string out again. A long green at the end would have resulted in more of what we saw the rest of the race (plus some fuel strategy stops since some guys were getting low before being saved by the flags).
It seems to me that you shouldn’t have to depend on crashes and debris cautions to make the race exciting. No, not every race is (insert your favorite race in the past here), but with the new car the racing at NHMS is just not as good as, say, Bristol or Richmond. Hopefully as they tweak the new car that will change.
Just last week Bruton was saying that over time the cars change and tracks need to change with them. Now suddenly the racing is fine with him? I think not. Bruton is up to his usual shenanigans, and we’ll see where they wind up.
M&M Peanuts – $1
JGR Racing Hat – $25
Electric Visual, LTD Series Sunglasses – $250
8 wins enterinig the chase – MEANINGLESS!
Come on Matt . Jeff Gordon the original young gun . Your background in NASCAR racing goes back further than the ninetys . Jeff Gordon has never been the original anything , unless maybe he was the original publicity mahine in NASCAR . Fred Lorenzen would easily qualify for the young gun designation , and several others even before that .
oh yeah, i forgot….seeing jeff gordon stretch like he did before he got into the car…looks like me when i’m getting ready to do yard work or major cleaning. however i have a few more years on jeff gordon. jeff burton even mentioned aging.
I think “Mike” makes a very good point. Bruton is a snake. I live close to Charlotte and he is NOT well liked at all.
He wants to move races to his other tracks.
Remember, he is a self made Billionaire…. He KNOWS what he is doing..
If you are going to rip Matt’s view of history, at least get it right. The Goody’s races were always at Martinsville. North Wilkesboro hosted the Northwestern Bank/First Union 400 and the Holly Farms/Tyson 400.
Even the racing at Wilkesboro changed dramatically when the series changed from bias ply to radial tires. Just like to COT at Bristol today, the radial tires allowed the drivers to run multiple lines and produced such memorable races as Geoff Bodine’s caution free win on a Monday.
Despite being a NASCAR fan for 30 years, once again I watched the NFL yesterday and pretty much “forgot” the race was on until 100 laps remained. Even then, football dominated my TV and I switched over to watch the final 15 laps of the race. If it wasn’t for Fantasy Racing, I don’t know that I’d keep up at all with the diluted product.
Prior to the chase, fall racing used to be great because you would have teams trying to salvage a season by going for a win, and from Labor Day on, you would see 4 short track races, Darlington, Rockingham, Dover, Charlotte, and the Atlanta oval.
Jim hit the nail on the head. From the seats that was a great time. Matt sits and pronounces what is a good race from what TV allows him see.
I was in EN 47 10 and from where I sat it was a very good race. About 5 people could have taken that race.
Mid pack there were a lot of battles and passing going on.
Drivers who can drive, even these lead assed shoe boxes, were driving into the corners and making progress all race long.
That was one fine afternoon under the clouds if you ask me. It just shows how bad TV coverage is, they just don’t get it.
Matt said, “Another NHMS snoozer. C’mon, Bruton, fix this mess.”
Not according to Amy in the newsletter. She said, “the New Hampshire track put on a good show this week.”
I guess it all depends on your perspective.
With all due respect, you are making my point.
The fact that fans like you and Matt even care to remember that Goody’s was the sponsor at Martinsville and not N. Wilkesboro shows that you guys are steeped in the nostalgia of when this was “your” sport, and that you are hyper-critical of whatever current tracks not in the Southeast have to offer.
You never mention the races that were won by laps, not seconds, or that the field was full of racers that couldn’t sniff the finish line unless Petty, Pearson and Cale got in a multi-car wreck on the first lap.
And while we are at it, what NFL games held you so spellbound yesterday?
That Denver/SD game looked like fun, but other than that, I didn’t see a lot of drama. And how about that Ohio State/S. Cal game from the night before? I don’t know when I haver seen such an over-hyped game result in such a blow-out.
My point is that week in and week out the race is just as good as whatever else is on the tube, and in person, there is nothing like it.
But if you are only going to compare it to your memories and not current reality, then you might as well not watch anymore. And in Matt’s case, write any more.
added notes: while I only caught a few glimpses Sunday, I did notice how much the CoT “porpoises” thru the corners!
Must be hell to drive, or try to drive, one of Brian’s brain far**!
Did anyone else pick up on this?
Racing at it’s finest!
Nice Bobby Hamilton reference. Don’t forget he got his big break based on his stunt driving, if that’s the correct term, for Days of Thunder.
As for the race and the Chase, the race first, it was a snoozer. I was more annoyed that my friend made me watch all 300 laps of that crap. Bruton knows what he’s doing and for the first time since the late 40’s, he has a member of the France family he can outwit. It seems like he’s trying to either bore us with a bad product or piss off the Chowderheads enough that he is “backed into” giving a date to Kentucky. Remember Bowyer looked like a darkhorse after Loudon last year as well.
As for Jim, yesterday’s NFL leaving you spellbound is a bad comparison. There were at least 5 games that were down to the wire along with the SD/Denver game. Bottom line is in the good ole days, pre 2001, the racing was pretty good. Now, I can’t say I’ve watched an entire race on my own accord. Heck, I was at a bar in Washington DC watching the Bristol night race and I can honestly say, I probably didn’t watch half of it whereas in the past, I’d watch every televised lap.
The race was a snoozer? I beg to differ. I don’t know what needs to be done to New Hampshire to please some of the whiney fans. The race was an excellent show to say the least. I guess there are many that would rather have the cookie cutter type of race track than one that actually tests the drivers abilities. There was certainly plenty of side by side racing and there were multiple drivers that lead at some point during the day, so I’m not sure where the snoozing comes in.
I wasn’t even there and things kept my attention all day long. I will say that television doesn’t do the race any justice as I saw much action on RaceView that never hit the television screen.
The race was ok except for the fact that they didn’t qualify. If they are going to continue with this Great Chase, they should consider starting the top 12 in the rear of the field if qualifying is rained out. At least that way they would have to work for their points.
Jim — What has to happen on the track to satisfy the McLaughlinites? Simple. David Pearson, Richard Petty and everyone else from that long past generation would have to be out on the track. Nothing else will satisfy the true disgruntled “old school” fan that was there. They don’t like today’s racing and probably never will.
Here’s the thing though. MOST of the people complaining about it weren’t around then. They only know what they see on ESPN Classic, and then come on the blogs pretending to be “old school” even though they either weren’t alive to see the crappy races that never made it to ESPNC, or if they were, they didn’t even notice NASCAR until they saw Jeff and Brooke Gordon selling Fritos. They just pretend to have been fans since the 40s. Since you can’t talk to them face to face, where they don’t have the vast reference resources of the Internet to fall back on, you can’t prove them for what they are. Pretenders. Until I see otherwise though, I assume they all are. And 4 out of 5 times, I’m sure I’m going to be right.
It’s just guys driving around in a circle faux-school guy. It’s never going to be exciting for an entire race. If you want non-stop action, go watch drag racing.
Sure the races are only three – four seconds long, but it’s non-stop action for those three – four seconds.
after reading all the posts, I have to say…bad racing, Bruton scheming, Chase crappiness…it’s all been
covered…but I didn’t see anyone adress the most important point Mike in NH made…
I thought the race was interesting and fun to watch throughout. It was better than I expected.
Matt, can you please spare us for a couple weeks on the Tim Richmond speel? Seriously, it’s tiring. You get your vacation week where you repost the same story about him every year. Can you let up on it for the remaining months?
I won’t pretend to be anymore ‘old school’ than I truly am – I started paying attention to Winston Cup racing in early 1988 (after watching Lake Speed win the TranSouth 400 at Darlington on ESPN). That said, I’m sorry that I missed getting to watch Tim Richmond drive. I’m sure Matt has fond and nostalgic memories of Tim, and maybe he likes to write about these times – but, its important to remember that NASCAR in the 80’s and 90’s was more than Dale Sr and the re-invented DW. Considering how little information there actually is on Tim Richmond, its nice that Matt has provided this tribute to a part of NASCAR history that might otherwise fall by the wayside.
NHIS is now NHMS. Other than that I don’t see any difference between this year’s and last year’s “Thinking Out Loud” on this race.
As for the C4C, NASCAR had a plan to keep viewers late in the season, when they usually dropped off. I guess they never noticed the NFL is just 1 station up and 2 down from their show. You could make the teams use Playboy Bunnies for pit crews and you still won’t get a football fan to watch if their team’s game is on too.