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 October 13, 2008
The Key Moment: Jeff Burton and Jimmie Johnson waged a spirited battle for a few laps after the final restart before points leader Johnson apparently decided discretion was the better part of valor.
In a Nutshell: Wasn’t this new car supposed to end the era of cars up front with clean air on the nose running away from the field, with previously fast cars mired in traffic unable to pass anything but the time? Newsflash: It didn’t work. Film at 11.
Dramatic Moment: There was some good racing back in the pack and after every restart, with track position so key and passing so difficult. The short-lived Burton / Johnson battle probably takes top honors.
What They’ll Be Talking About Around the Water Cooler This Week
Maybe they ought to add some reverse light decals to the rear of the 48 car, because Jimmie Johnson seems to want to back his way into this championship.
If Carl Edwards wasn’t on the lead lap when caution froze the field on lap 54, it seems certain he was the first car a lap down. I don’t get that call. In the end, though, it didn’t much matter, did it? Could this have been a “silent” penalty for Thursday’s garage area confrontation?
Why on earth is there any wall at a race track still not protected by the SAFER barrier? Travis Kvapil took a savage hit nose first into unyielding concrete on the frontstretch Saturday. Apparently, Marcus Smith has his first challenge to fix.
Some folks like big burnouts and doughnuts by the winning driver after a race, but I prefer Jeff Burton’s more modest display reacting like you expected to win.
Wasn’t the rap against the “old” points system that with several races left to run, it was usually down to a two or possibly three man battle for the title? Gee, it’s a lot more exciting under the Chase system, isn’t it?
I cannot understand why some people get so excited when a couple of drivers like Kevin Harvick and Carl Edwards have a pushing and hollering match while discussing “issues”. Back in the day, drivers often settled matters with their fists, tire irons, and even an occasional drawn gun. Many still feel it was the spirited fistfight between Bobby Allison and Cale Yarborough at Daytona in 1979 that put this sport on the national map. Somehow, the equivalent of an elementary school playground shoving match just doesn’t raise my blood pressure anymore.
It did seem curious to me with dozens of photos taken of the Harvick-Edwards hissy fit some behind the scene machinations kept most of those photos from reaching the Internet and thus the media for close to 72 hours. In the brave new world of the electronic media, photos of celebrities behaving badly are usually online in minutes. I’m still searching for a photo of Harvick tossing an Ozark into Edward’s koi pond.
Well, some scribes and fans still think NASCAR made the right call at Talladega, stripping Regan Smith of his apparent win, but I find it interesting that I haven’t heard a single driver other than Michael Waltrip who felt that Smith hadn’t won the race fair and square. All agreed that Stewart forced Smith below the line, even Stewart his bad old self. So, NASCAR needs to clarify the real rule so that every driver understands it. It seems impossible to argue that Smith wasn’t forced out of bounds when paint from Stewart’s car was found on his front fender. In plain English, “On the final lap of a plate race at Talladega or Daytona, the driver with less popularity and a lower dollar sponsor shall yield position to his more famous rival.” I’ve had a week to think about, review the tapes, and YouTube footage of Dale Earnhardt, Jr.’s win at the 2003 Aaron’s 499, and my conclusions remain the same. Smith got robbed. We report. You decide. (Warning: video contains the highly annoying sound of Darrell Waltrip’s voice.)
I think it’s time to study how NASCAR sets the field when weather cancels qualifying, as was the case for the eighth time this season at Charlotte on Thursday. Rain is a random event that nobody can control and that no “meteorologist on TV” seems to be able to predict accurately even ten percent of the time. Giving the points leaders the top positions based on an unpredictable event gives them an unfair advantage to start with, so I say take the Top 43 in drivers’ (italics added for emphasis) points and have a random drawing out of a hat to determine starting position and pit stall selection. (I’m sure SPEED will televise the drawing. There’s only so many times they can show old episodes of Pinks.) Others have suggested that to make things more exciting, maybe NASCAR should use the point standings but invert the starting order. Excitement? I like excitement. Sign me up.
Aluminum panels were shedding off Paul Menard’s car. Brian Vickers slapped the wall hard and was limping around the top side of the track. But NASCAR didn’t throw a caution. Was that because Jeff Gordon had just pitted out of sequence and it would have trapped him a lap down? Certainly, we’ve seen a ton of caution flags for less severe contact with the wall and smaller bits of debris. It’s just one of those things that make you go Hmmm…
There’s talk in the trades that struggling automakers General Motors and Chrysler have reached such desperate straits they are considering a merger. (Earlier this week, GM staved off talks they were considering filing for bankruptcy, which seems to make much more sense than the merger idea.) These are strange times we live in. One can only consider the possible implications to teams’ NASCAR support after such a merger. NASCAR needs to seriously start re-thinking its exit strategy for the third major pullout of the U.S. carmakers from the sport following the debacles of 1957 and 1971. The sport survived the early ’70s withdrawal of support from the Big Three (well, I guess it was the Big Four back then though AMC hung out awhile) thanks to the divine intervention of the R.J. Reynolds Winston brand. Here’s a hint: I don’t think the next life raft is going to be tossed by a cell phone provider or cigarette company.
I don’t know if this was the first time they used them at a night race or if I just never noticed them, but those lights mounted to the underside of tire changers’ crash helmet visors were a pretty neat idea.
“Through the perilous flight? “Proof to the night?” Had Ms. Simpson ever even heard the National Anthem before prior to mangling it? Maybe she should stick to playing second banana to a puppet in pizza commercials.
The term seems to be entering the NASCAR lexicon, and I gag every time I hear it. The word “Sporty” is a noun used to affectionately describe Harley Davidson’s smallest displacement lightweight models, not an adjective.
A note to Dale Jarrett: As a male, I can say there is very little effort needed to raise “Breast Awareness” amongst my gender. Now, raising “Breast Cancer Awareness” is a very noble cause because the deadly disease has cost us too many of the women we love. I’m glad to see teams and drivers support it, even if I can’t really warm up to pink race cars.
The Hindenburg Award For Foul Fortune
Carl Edwards had more pit road problems; but in the end, it just didn’t matter. Some fluke failure of both the primary and secondary ignition boxes left him sitting in the pits for sixteen laps while repairs were made. If there’s anything more frustrating for a driver than having to cruise around in a badly damaged car making laps for points, it’s got to be running a car fast enough to challenge the leaders to a 33rd place finish. Yes, Carl Edwards could still win the title. And I could still win the Powerball and arrive at the Homestead season finale towing a Harley Crossbones behind my new Challenger en route to congratulate him… but I’m not programming the Garmin quite yet.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. had a competitive car until he blew a tire and slapped the wall hard on lap 103, a lap before the team planned to pit. It seems this year Earnhardt has blown more tires than Britney Spears has blown… well, let’s not go there.
Brian Vickers had another strong run and led a lot of laps, but his evening ended with a hard shot to the wall.
Robby Gordon was having a better than average run when an airgun broke during his pit stop. NASCAR rules won’t allow the teams to use a third gun, so the team elected to change right side tires only. But Gordon had locked up his left front tire entering the pits, flat-spotting it, and that tire gave out before he could return to the pits for left side replacements.
Matt Kenseth got caught up in a wreck not of his own making for the second straight weekend. As far as his title hopes, put out the fire and call in the dogs…
The “Seven Come Fore Eleven” Award For Fine Fortune
Jeff Burton’s team wasn’t sure they’d gotten enough gas into the car on the final pit stop to complete the race. With the rash of right front tire failures, the decision to go with no new tires on the final stop was a high stakes gamble.
Kasey Kahne’s car went backwards from the drop of the green flag and he eventually lost a lap to the leaders, but recovered to finish a strong second.
Jeff Gordon hit the wall twice in the first five laps and he was forced to pit for repairs, losing a lap to the field. But Gordon managed to rally back to actually lead a lot of laps en route to an eighth place finish.
Typically, a late race pit road speeding penalty dooms a driver’s chances at a decent finish. However, Kyle Busch was able to fight back to fourth.
Kurt Busch survived an ill-tempered little bumping match with Juan Pablo Montoya well enough to finish third, ending plans by Dodge to have his photo placed on milk cartons as a missing person.
What’s the Points?
Jimmie Johnson retains the points lead, and is now 69 ahead of Jeff Burton, who moved up two spots to second. Greg Biffle remains in third, now 86 points behind Johnson.
Carl Edwards dropped two spots to fourth. Edwards and the rest of the drivers in the Chase are now more than a full race worth of points behind Johnson with five races remaining in this farce.
The only other movement within the Top 12 was Kyle Busch moving up two spots to ninth, a sobering 326 points out of the lead. From here on out, JGR’s strategy at winning the title is for Jimmie Johnson to be kidnapped by space aliens before Martinsville. Matt Kenseth fell two spots to 11th.
Just outside the Chase, David Ragan maintains 13th spot and is now 86 points ahead of 14th place Kasey Kahne. Fifteenth place Ryan Newman is no longer a factor in the “Best of the Rest” class. Ragan and Kahne continue to battle for that coveted 13th place spot, which includes such valuable incentives as discounted go-kart rides at a local amusement park in Charlotte.
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 three cans of lukewarm Dixie beer. It was pretty much your typical modern day McRace. It had its moments, but dragged on relentlessly in other portions.
Next Up: Set the way back machine for nineteen fifty-something as the tour returns to the quaint magic of Martinsville. When NASCAR’s top series first visited Martinsville in 1949, the Dow Jones Industrial Average hovered around 675 points. We might be below that before next weekend.
©2000 - 2008 Matt McLaughlin and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
Regarding the manufacturer’s involvement in NASCAR, since they went to the COT I see very little value for the manufacturers given the amount of money they spend. I think they would be just as well served by being the primary sponsor on one car and it would be a hell of a lot cheaper.
Bill.. I agree. Besides, the old “Win on Sunday, Sell on Monday” strategy is pretty meaningless when the make of the car that wins on Sunday (or Saturday) can only be identified by the emblem on the grill.
Where is the Jr. NATION when you need them most?
Holy cow! They should be picketing outside NA$CAR
Folks, now is the time!
Two races in a row, two EXPLODED tires, and twice hard into the wall!
C’mon all you Jr. fans! If you love your driver as much as I think you do! Then get writing and calling NA$CAR!
Matt , i’m very surprised that you still have to wonder about caution flags that seem to benefit Jeff and Jimmy . Anyone whos been paying attention over the years knows for a fact that the yellows most definately fall in favor of Gordon and Johnson . In fact , NASCAR doesn’t even bother to try to hide it anymore .
Portions of race tracks still not covered by Safer Barriers ? C’mon Matt . Track owners spending money on Safer Bariers or more suites . Well thats easy .The tracks can’t charge 5 and 6 figures for VIPs to slug down free beer and food on Safer Barriers , so guess where they spend the money .
I can’t help but notice that every time you bring up the finish at Talladega , you always leave out the determining factor in the finish . I know thats the only thing that allows you to make your weak case , but you always manage to leave out the rule that states a driver cannot improve his position while below the yellow line , NO MATTER HOW HE GOT THERE . You know for a fact that NASCAR modified the rule after the Dale Jr. You Tube incident , so lets try to find a real argument to Stewart winning . And since you’re using Jr. as your argument , he also said that Tony did exactly what he , and every other driver in the garage would have done , including Smith . Its over . Let it go . Oh , thats right , you can’t can’t ever let things go . Okay , press on .
What did JPM say in his exit interview after hitting the wall?
Its hard to let stupidity go when its repeated over and over. I do like your drawing idea..especially inverting the field. I would guess that Speed will soon give us endless replays of their latest idiotic program,Wrecked; My GOD! A fate worse than death..or the sound of a Waltrip.
marshall – I disagree with your point, because the pass on Stewart did not happen until after Stewart moved over – the actual pass itself happened above the line, as far as actual change of position. It’s not like he crossed the checkered below the yellow. He moved down to keep from wrecking, they got back up in the groove, and then he passed Stewart.
I attended the Charlotte race and watched from the infield as I have done for 30+ years.
First off, since the radio (and now TV) have the idiotic 10 second delay (why don’t they broadcast the race on a low wattage FM station so the fans can get a real time call), and since I’ve never cared to own a scanner, I watched much of the race on Sprint Vision (with no sound).
The Sprint Vision director shows the entire field and any racing happening in the pack (vs. showing the leader running by his lonesome.) Even without sound, the video is entertaining and added excitement to a rather unexciting race.
The COT has killed racing for Charlotte. Sure, there have plenty of 5, 10, and 15 second leads built by dominate cars over the years in races at Charlotte. However, for both the 600 and 500, with few exceptions, those who had clean air led the race. The notable exception was Tony Stewart charging the front in the early going. However, dominant cars such as Stewart, Vickers, and Busch became so-so when they were stuck in traffic.
Burton and Kahne won the same way. They were the first car off pit road after the final pit stop. Gordon’s beat up car became a world beater in clean air.
At this point, why doesn’t the top division just switch to running the Trucks??? Sure, it would break tradition, but with common templates, that has already happen. The Truck aero package seems to work better than the COT.
Humpy and Bruton put the grind on Charlotte and the COT finished the deal.
Bruton reconfigured Bristol into a multi-lane high banked interstate and the COT finished the deal as well.
The COT can still put a good race on at Martinsville, but the cha-ching of the Casino in Kansas will cut that excitement back to one race a year.
The only improvement to racing in the past 5 years was when Homestead was reconfigured (the jury is out on Vegas, although the added banking should help.)
Thanks for giving us something to think about each week, Matt. Keep it up!
“Kasey Kahne’s car went backwards from the drop of the green flag and he eventually lost a lap to the leaders, but recovered to finish a strong second. “
Strong second, yes. Lap down at one point in time during the race, also yes. Backwards from the drop of the green flag? Only if starting 15th and driving up to 10-11-12 area is the new backwards.
He went a lap down mostly because they took 4 tires every pit stop except the last one. So, the 4-tire stop, when alot of folks took 2, followed by a long green run. It happens. Not really an indication of the performance of the car, more an indication of the “traffic issues”.
Overall, I thought it was a pretty good race. Kept my attention, but I may be watching it wrong or something. :)
I agree that the aero package on the Trucks is better than cup, and much better than the old car. I hope that gets remedied at some point in time. The truck races are just awesome.
If Smith is penalized for passing under the yellow then Tony must be penalized for pushing him down there.
Both are violations. It is the giving of one a penalty and not the other that is the problem.
Now the way to win at those tracks is to just nudge the faster car getting ready to pass you under the line during the final laps and then back off and hold off the 3rd place car.
I think rain outs should cause the field to be set on the finishing order of the last race.
Using points to set it when there is a drizzle allows NA$CAR to queer the field in favor of the chasers.
Maybe dudes would race every week then and not just commute to work.
ya know, i read today where tony romo broke a finger. dimwit simpson is his girlfriend. a big deal was made last year of her presence at cowboy games and the team loosing. i noticed sat night she was decked out in 88 gear. guess jr just wanted another dumb blond to add to the collection for the night. seems he ended up with the simpson curse.
i’d also like to know why it looks like singers today, are passing solid waste when they sing? man that anthem was horrible. i say bring on the mro kids!
i’m glad burton won. maybe he can surprise us and win the championship.
with the news of the american automakers, looks like IROC series is reborn. wonder how the nationwide iroc cars will compare to the cup cars?
Hey Mike. If you’re going to get all “grammatical” on us, use a dictionary first. An adjective is used to describe something. A noun is used to name that thing.
At least this article was worthy of a few beers unlike last weeks pile.
The only thing that held my attention in this race was the “Mayor”. Jeff Burton’s quiet rise in the standings has given the only true excitement this farce deserves. For once, I’d like to see one of the last class act racers get what they deserve. No better ambassador for the sport in these sorry times. I haven’t been a diehard Burton fan over the years, but have always admired his ability and conduct. Perhaps as Champion he could help some much needed change come about. Hey, in the fantasy world we all live in, dreaming of fair competition and unbiased NA$CAR rules, I can dream too can’t I? And maybe Martin will win next year!
Point one: The Stewart/Smith thing is over. Will the remaining whiners please get a life and move on?
Point two: Like the word or not (personally, I don’t), “sporty” is a bonafide adjective.
Point three: Go, 31! Jeff Burton is one of the really good guys.
Brent said “the actual pass itself happened above the line, as far as actual change of position.”
Brent, take another look at the replay. In one view, I agree with you, it looks like Smith came above the line before he passed Stewart. But in the other view, it clearly shows Smith’s bumper ahead of Stewart, and two wheels are still below the yellow line.