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 · Thursday October 23, 2008
OK, let’s admit it. Something is wrong. It’s not that this year’s Cup racing has been mediocre. NASCAR fans — those that haven’t chosen to leave the sport — have come to accept mediocrity as the norm over the last few years. To be frank, this season as a whole has featured boring races, though there have been occasional great finishes like the final laps at Kansas a few weeks back.
The Chase was supposed to add some excitement to the season, particularly at the end of the year as NASCAR spars with the NFL, college football, and the World Series for the attention of sports fans. But with four races left to run, the Chase is arguably over. Jimmie Johnson is going to win it, and we’re not going to head into Homestead with three or four drivers having a good shot at the Championship. Ironically, under the old points system, the battle for top spot would actually be closer — if still somewhat lopsided. From a fairness standpoint, Kyle Busch, the driver who has won the most Cup races this season, would actually still be hanging on by his fingernails with a shot at the title after dominating much of the season.
Ultimately, the Chase was destined to fail. Fans attend a race, or watch it on TV, hoping to see a good event that day — not one piece of a 10-piece puzzle that will later determine the title. And no matter what, fans want to see a great finish. They may be tangentially aware of the championship implications of the race results afterwards (or the networks will be happy to hammer them over their heads with it to alert them), but they just want to see good racing.
In my mind, the root of the problem is the damn new Car of Horror. OK, it’s ugly, but that’s not the main point. Pretty is as pretty does. The cars were supposed to be harder to drive; but by and large, they have appeared to be impossible to drive. It’s clear to me that at this point, they’re just not working out. There’s been little side by side racing and numerous times where tire problems have made a mess of the entire event — most notably the debacle at the Brickyard. With their high centers of gravity, weight distribution, and aerodynamics, the new cars have seemed to throw a curveball at Goodyear that they just can’t hit. And in the height of irony, the problem the “new car” was intended to solve was aerodynamic issues. Remember when the old car lost the air off its nose and began plowing to the point that passing was nearly impossible? If anything, the new car has just made the problem worse.
Despite a season of boring races, NASCAR still clings to their new mount like a stage mom trying to get her ugly teenage daughter entered in a beauty contest. Officials have refused to consider any changes to make the cars more drivable. In fact, they’ve already announced that the teams should expect no such changes next year. The smart guys and engineers have tried to convince NASCAR officials they need wider tires and wheels, and to raise the front valence up off the race track to make for a more drivable car. That can only lead to better racing, but NASCAR officials don’t want to hear it. “Yeah, she’s ugly, but wait until you hear her belt out ‘Tomorrow’ from Annie.” The question is, will anyone be left in the stands to listen if NASCAR officials continue to micromanage the inspection process of the car to eliminate innovation?
There’s another problem here. Given the ability to tweak on the cars a little, there’s some real smart crew chiefs and mechanics in the garage area who could make these new cars drive better. But by stifling that “shade-tree” mechanical ability, NASCAR isn’t limiting the costs of running a competitive car — they’re actually raising it. Since no significant improvements can be made, team owners in search of better performance need to find a whole lot of minor tweaks that will fly under NASCAR’s radar. Hideously expensive seven-post shaker rigs have now become a necessity for a successful team. And to interpret that data and incorporate the improvements on the cars, teams need a flock of highly compensated engineers. The multi-car team owners with the deepest pockets can afford that sort of research, but the lower-funded single car teams cannot. Thus, our sport has been the stomping ground of four “super teams” (Roush, Childress, Hendrick, and Gibbs) while the rest of the cars are becoming little more than field fillers. The power shift also means the same drivers are winning races week in and week out; and frankly, that’s boring. The last time a driver from a team outside the top four even won a Cup race was when Kurt Busch took the 17th race of the season at Loudon.
That sort of domination leads to even more problems. Even once proud organizations like Robert Yates Racing and DEI are now in danger of falling out of the sport due to both competitive and financial concerns. You see, the rest of the teams need to find high dollar sponsorship to compete with the Big Four, which is especially difficult in today’s economy. But with less success to show a sponsor they are worthy of backing, there’s less opportunities to get a decent funding package from corporate America. And with less sponsorship (or at times no sponsors), the lesser teams can’t succeed to draw that corporate backing. It’s a vicious, downward spiral.
Yes, to some degree the driver is still part of the equation. In days of yore, aspiring Cup drivers (think Dale Earnhardt, Tim Richmond, Rusty Wallace here) had to spend several years toiling for one of the lesser teams when they entered the sport. If they ran better than the quality of their equipment indicated they should, those men then moved up the ladder to the bigger rides they deserved. But in the process, they gave the smaller operations a brief shot at success. As those successful drivers moved up, they also left open seats for others wanting to get in the game. Nowadays, superstars like Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart, Matt Kenseth, and Jimmie Johnson have started their Cup careers with the Big Four, enjoying nearly instant success. Having seen their career path, is it any wonder other new drivers are courting rides with the Big Four and their development programs?
Add it all up, and the gap between the “Haves” and “Have Nots” has become such a huge chasm this season that in the next year or so, it will become a matter of the “Still Heres” and “Have Gones.” There likely won’t be enough field fillers to fill the fields, and the competition will be further diminished.
Trace the problem back to its root, and it’s still the new cars. Yet NASCAR steadfastly refuses to address the issue, even as TV ratings tumble and empty seats have become an embarrassment at most tracks. I guess the question here is by the time NASCAR finally pulls their corporate heads out of the sand and admits there’s a problem, is there going to be anyone left who gives a damn?
©2000 - 2008 Matt McLaughlin and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
You hit it right on the head about fans just wanting to see a good, competitive race without having to figure out where that puts anyone for the final 10 races. While appreciating the success of drivers like Petty and Earnhardt with their multiple championships, that has seldom been the most compelling reason to watch an individual race. By encouraging teams to run just well enough to make the ‘final 12’, each individual race has become secondary to the final 10. Doesn’t make for the most interesting racing. I can’t even look at the COT!
The only thing that NASCRAP will ever understand is money! As long as fans go to races, watch them on TV, the gooney birds that run it will continue to pat themselves on the back! Quit going, quit watching, and it WILL change but no until.
There’s an old saying: Desperate men do desperate things. I don’t remember where I heard it…. Hell I might even have said it first my self. A man measures his success in a couple of ways:
– The level to which he has risen in his given (and I use that word tongue in cheek) profession.
– The amount of money he has in his bank account in relative comparison to the amount of work he had to perform to get it.
– The number of people that flock to his product and use it exclusively
A man can also measure his failure in a couple of ways too.
– How fast he falls from his lofty perch
– How fast he lost his money doing dumb things.
– How fast his loyal customers (fans) abandon his product (races)
So far NA$CAR has experienced all of the three success measures. Well now it time for that desperate man to start doing desperate things. Race attendance is off, we see that. TV ratings are down, we hear that. And fans are just not real happy right now. In my 30 odd years of following this sport, I can’t remember this much dissent amongst the common folks… can you? NA$CAR you need to open your eyes and ears and take a REAL good look around before you truly experience the last three measures of success…. sorry I mean failure.
In a Lemming like rush to try to achieve parity. The Suits from Daytona, have instead achieved mediocrity.
They are in full denial. Much like a proud mother who won’t admit to herself, that her baby is ugly.
One thing that might improve the so-called, COT. Would be a tire of tomorrow. Until that comes about. I think we’re going to continue to see the cars wallow around. With races decided in favor of the few CC’s who have figured this deal out. I have never seen tires damn near blowing cars in half. Like Matt, Jr., & JPM.
Well, here we go again. The votes on the poll you put up tell it all. 88% of the people voted that changes need to be made to the caroftrash. nas$car also insists goodyear is doing the best they can. Oh really. What na$car has proven time and again is that THEY WILL NOT LISTEN TO WHAT’S LEFT OF THEIR DIE HARD FAN BASE. Johnson may be a great driver, but that doesn’t translate into fan interest. The problem is the mostly boring racing on boring tracks, a car that makes it impossible to pass on these boring tracks. a tire that implodes if you look at too hard, and an organization that constantly tries to shove this crap down our throats. Lately I’ve been watching the nfl on Sunday and periodicly switching over to check on the race. That’s how much interest and excitement I was getting from it. And if I see one more Jimmie Johnson storyline I’m going to upchuck. Okay, we get it. He’s a good driver. But believe it or not, there are other drivers in the series. Once other thing. Being a Jeff Burton fan, I had a faint glimmer of hope, but that’s gone in a flash. Same for any Biffle or Edwards fans. With four races left it’s over. What possible interest should I have left. Particularly when I’ve got football to watch. Wow, I wouldn’t have made that statement a couple of years ago
“Fans attend a race, or watch it on TV, hoping to see a good event that day — not one piece of a 10-piece puzzle that will later determine the title.”
I’ve been saying that for years now. Personally, I could care less about the season title. I only care about the race that day.
I agree. I see each race as an independent event. Who cares about the Championship.
Hell, keep the current point system for figuring out purse money and such but crown a “Champion” at the end of the season strictly on wins. Make racing full out important each week.
No more than 3 car teams. None of that “my sister owns that team, my dog the other” crap either.
Make Officials independent like in the NBA and MLB.
NA$CAR should own the system as the sanctioning body or tracks, but not both. They make enough money off trademarks and licensing, right now they are too much of a monopoly and the lack of competition and transparency is what makes it a WWE type of joke now.
What I would also like to see is stock cars racing in the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing Races. What made it exciting was that you could watch people racing cars not much more different than the ones we drive.
It is that feeling that “I could do that”, that connection you get that holds you, and makes it an exciting sport to watch. Football, and Baseball are so popular because we can all play them, there is a connection, but the Pros just do it so much better. Which makes it popular. The realism is gone, it’s no longer something we can touch, it’s fantasy now. And someting real is always better than fantasy.
Great column Matt and you hit the nail on the proverbial head dead center. This bloody car which has been foisted upon the teams and drivers is a huge disappointment – racing is no longer captivating this season thanks to the COT – sure there have been glimmers of some occasional laps of real racing but they are few and far between. I used to be totally enrapt watching races on TV and attending races for years because there was always good racing going on but no more. Unless and until NASCAR feels the pinch in their overflowing pockets, they will continue to bury their collective heads in the sand and do nothing to stimulate the racing situation or the fans. We lose big time. I have never felt so ‘sold down the river’ before – and thats what has happened: we the fans have been sold down the river by NASCAR. Parity? Shish!!!!
Lately I’ve been watching the nfl on Sunday and periodicly switching over to check on the race.
In a nutshell, yup – me too.
Funny how its a foregone conclusion who will be in the mix each week to win the race – yet the NFL has had all the underdog stories this year! St. Louis, Cleveland, Oakland… These are the equivalents of the Woods’ or BAM winning a Cup race these days.
Hey midasmicah! I even watched a Detroit Lions football game over NA$CRAP!
If that doesn’t put NA$CAR in perspective, I don’t know what will!
Johnboy 60 wrote:“The only thing that NASCRAP will ever understand is money! As long as fans go to races, watch them on TV, the gooney birds that run it will continue to pat themselves on the back! Quit going, quit watching, and it WILL change but no until.”
The fans HAVE quit going and watching. Hence the mass of empty seats and low tv ratings!
Guess what? Brian France is too stupid to notice.
What if they put on a race and nobody came! That would be awesome!!!!
Let’s start a movement (besides our daily morning one)
I wish I was ultra rich so I could pay people not to go.
Great comments folks. I can’t add much to what’s already been said. We were discussing Charlotte next year and I told my friend not to buy me a ticket. I’d rather hangout in the campground with some great friends instead of watching the COT struggle for 600 laps.
Johnson is NOT a great driver.. good I Have no idea, when you start your driving at the top level with a owner that has more money than any one else and your a half ass good driver, your going to win, look how fast Chad figure out the COT, and was set down for cheating, but the money was spent this is not racing it a boring Show. Big Bill is turning over in his grave
I was watching NA$CAR Now on ESPN just now, and Ray Evernham said something that makes a lot of sense. (I know, I know!)
He said that NA$CAR wanted to make the CoT drive like the cars from back in the 70’s, and they have, but those cars back then had 300 less horsepower and went 50 mph slower.
I like 5.8L engines as much as the next guy, but it’s time to downsize.