Kurt Busch to Attempt The Indianapolis-Charlotte Double
posted by Phil Allaway
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Andretti Autosport announced this morning that Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet in the Sprint Cup Series, will attempt the Indianapolis 500 in a fifth entry for the IndyCar Series team. Once the Indianapolis 500 is completed, Busch will fly from Indianapolis to Charlotte, jump in his No. 41 Chevrolet and compete in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Busch considers the opportunity to do the double as an old-school throwback moment.
“This is really to challenge myself within motorsports,” Busch said in Andretti Autosport’s press release. “Perhaps I am a bit of an old-school racer; a throwback, I guess. I enjoyed the era of drivers racing different cars and testing themselves in other series. It is tough to do now for a variety of factors, but when the opportunity is there, I want to do it. While NASCAR is my home, I have been fortunate to compete in Pro Stock on the NHRA circuit a number of years ago and test a V8 Supercar. This opportunity was a talk with Michael [Andretti] over dinner one night, a “What if,” and now it’s becoming a reality for me to drive in the Indy 500 with Andretti Autosport. It’s literally a dream come true. To go to the famous Brickyard with the iconic Andretti name, it doesn’t get much cooler or better than that.”
Busch will be doing the Indianapolis-Charlotte double as a Memorial Day mission to men and women serving in the U.S. Military via the Armed Forces Foundation. Fans can contribute to the cause by texting AFF to 50555 to donate $10.
Busch, who has never raced an IndyCar, passed Rookie Orientation at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year during a test session. At the time, Busch was more or less testing the Dallara DW12 for fun.
Busch will be the fourth driver to attempt the Indianapolis-Charlotte double. John Andretti was the first driver to attempt it in 1994. After finishing four laps down in tenth in Indianapolis, Andretti crashed and had engine problems in the 600. Robby Gordon has attempted the double five times, most recently in 2004. However, Gordon failed to make it to Charlotte on time and did not start the 600 in 2000 (P.J. Jones started Gordon’s No. 13 Ford in that instance). Finally, Tony Stewart has attempted the double twice (most recently in 2001) and is the only driver to ever complete all 1100 miles. Neither of the three drivers has won either leg of the double. The best finishes are Stewart and Gordon’s sixth-place finishes at the Indianapolis 500 (although Gordon’s came in 2000, the year he didn’t make it to Charlotte in time to start the Coca-Cola 600), and Stewart’s fourth-place finish in the 2001 Coca-Cola 600.
Danica Patrick, Justin Allgaier Talk About Phoenix Incident
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
A disappointing start to the year for Danica Patrick won’t include continued conflict. Patrick met with rookie Justin Allgaier Sunday, shortly after the Phoenix Cup race after a wreck ruined both drivers’ days. Patrick, who was critical of the No. 51 car on the radio, claiming Allgaier was “driving all over the track” appeared receptive to a conversation that quickly settled differences over what will be a long season.
“She was just upset because she got involved in the crash that we had,’’ said Allgaier to the Motor Racing Network. “She says she’s been through this and that she felt like I needed to settle down at that point. I explained my position on why everything happened. I think she understood where I was coming from. It doesn’t fix either one of our racecars. It doesn’t fix either one of our days. Unfortunately, we were both having pretty decent days.’’
Allgaier wound up 30th due to the incident while Patrick was 36th. The incident, which was caused by Allgaier’s spin also involved the No. 32 team and Travis Kvapil, which wound up 38th after sustaining heavy damage.
Camping World Close to Extending Title Sponsorship of NCWTS
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Marcus Lemonis, CEO of Camping World, Grand Marshal of Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway, and star of CNBC’s “The Profit,” made the announcement over the weekend that the retailer is very close to announcing a deal that would continue its title sponsorship of NASCAR’s Truck Series. The original agreement with NASCAR is scheduled to conclude after the 2015 season.
According to the sanctioning body, no formal contract has been signed, but “the agreement between the two parties has proven to be a beneficial one.”
“In about a month, we’ll be announcing a significant extension to that contract. It’s been great for us,” said Camping World’s Lemonis in a statement. “The NASCAR relationship has worked well for Camping World. When we started, we had 35 stores. Now, we’re up to 120 stores. As we travel the country and we meet new customers in stores, they always are very appreciative of our relationship with NASCAR. It’s been good.”
Gaining a long-term commitment from Camping World to sponsor the Truck Series would be a relief for NASCAR, which is set to lose Nationwide Insurance as title sponsor for the NASCAR Nationwide Series at the end of the 2014 season. The sponsorship of the Cup Series by Sprint runs through 2016.
The NCWTS is back in action on March 29th at 2:30 PM (ET) when the trucks visit Martinsville Speedway in the Kroger 250, which can be seen on Fox Sports 1. Ratings for the season opener were up 11 percent.
Harvick Takes Win At Phoenix In Second Race With New Team
posted by Justin Tucker
Monday March 3, 2014
Phoenix International Raceway has become Kevin Harvick’s home away from home. Sunday Afternoon was no exception as Harvick charged to the front early and would dominate for much of the day, leading 224 of the scheduled 312 laps to record his record fifth win on the one mile oval and his third win in the last four races at Phoenix.
Harvick, coming off of a disappointing Speedweeks which was capped by a last lap crash in the Daytona 500 in his debut with Stewart-Haas Racing, set the tone on Saturday by winning both practices while having the best 5 and 10-lap averages in the first practice of the day on Saturday. On Sunday, Harvick and his No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet was nothing short of flawless as he was able to hold Dale Earnhardt, Jr. by .489 seconds after a late race restart to claim his 24th career Sprint Cup Series victory.
“Man, this is awesome,” Harvick said after his dominant victory on Sunday. “Man, this just solidifies so many things and so many decisions. It’s been so much work with all the time and effort that these guys (the crew) have put in—but what a race car.”
Stewart Haas Racing co-owner Gene Haas shared in Harvick’s excitement after the race.
“It took long enough,” Haas joked. “This is phenomenal. I think there was a lot of skepticism last year about what myself and Tony (Stewart) what we were up to, was there a lot of madness to this. Quite frankly, it’s a great team, there’s a lot of synergy at the shop, people working together. I don’t know what we did, but I think we put together a great organization.”
Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt, Jr. continued his hot start to the 2014 season. Earnhardt Jr. would finish second on Sunday, marking his seventh consecutive top 10 finish since the end of the 2013 season. Earnhardt Jr. was pleased with the effort after a coast-to-coast whirlwind week after winning his second Daytona 500 and also gave great praise to the efforts of Harvick and the No. 4 team.
“I’ve got to congratulate Kevin. Those guys were two-tenths faster than everyone all weekend in practice. They were just phenomenal,” Earnhardt said. “To be able to run with them all day was a big confidence builder for us.”
Joining Harvick and Earnhardt in the top 5 of The Profit on CNBC 500K were Brad Keselowski with his second consecutive top 3 run of 2014 in third. Keselowski’s Team Penske teammate Joey Logano would finish fourth, and Jeff Gordon would come home fifth in his No. 24 Pepsi Max Chevrolet.
Jimmie Johnson finished in sixth, followed by Ryan Newman with a nice rebound after Daytona in seventh. Carl Edwards would carry the banner for Roush Fenway Racing by finishing eighth, Kyle Busch was ninth, and Jamie McMurray would finish tenth.
A look at the Profit on CNBC 500K by the numbers. There were 14 lead changes among eight different drivers, there were eight cautions for 39 laps which slowed the race pace to 109.229 MPH.
Next Sunday, the Sprint Cup Series heads to Sin City and the Las Vegas Motor
Starting Lineup: The Profit On CNBC 500K
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday March 1, 2014
Drivers in RED (i) are those ineligible to collect Sprint Cup points
Daytona 500 TV Ratings Down
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Wednesday February 26, 2014
What was the longest weather delay in Daytona 500 history turned out to bring NASCAR lower ratings and TV viewership Sunday night than expected. According to a report Monday from FOX Sports, the 56th running of the Daytona 500 airing at 8 PM (ET) posted a 5.6/10 national household rating/share which averaged 9.3 million viewers. That’s down 44 percent from last year’s 9.9, easily making it the least-watched Daytona 500 of all-time.
Due to the six-hour, twenty-two minute rain delay in Daytona, the race was up against the primetime coverage of the Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony from Sochi, Russia on NBC (15.25 million viewers). FOX also reported that 69% of the pre-rain delay viewers of the race, which began at 1 PM (ET) kept tuning in.
In comparison, the 2013 Daytona 500 on FOX was the most-watched race in five years, posting a 9.9/22 rating/share, commanding 16.7 million viewers. The Daytona 500 in 2012, the first to ever be run on a Monday and in the primetime slot did a 7.7/13 overnight rating/share which resulted in 13.67 million households viewing the race according to Nielsen TV ratings data.
Earnhardt, Jr. Claims Second Daytona 500 Victory
posted by Justin Tucker
Wednesday February 26, 2014
Ten years is a long time. For Dale Earnhardt, Jr., it felt like an eternity. NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver endured many near misses and close calls at the Daytona 500 since his only win in the Great American Race in 2004. Earnhardt had finished second in two of his last three Daytona 500s coming into Sunday’s race. He was also riding the tail of a 55-race winless streak, dating back to Michigan in 2012.
However nothing would stop Dale Jr. on Sunday, not even a 6 hour and 22 minute rain delay from capturing his second Daytona 500 win. Earnhardt Jr. led a race-high 54 laps on the evening and used some timely drafting help from teammates Jimmie Johnson and, on the final restart, Jeff Gordon to separate from the pack and secure the victory.
“Winning this race is the greatest feeling that you could feel in this sport besides accepting the trophy for the championship,” said a jubilant Earnhardt after pulling into Victory Lane. “We could fight off battle after battle. We got a little help at the end there from Jeff to get away on the restart. This is amazing. I can’t believe this is happening. I never take this for granted, man because it doesn’t happen twice, let alone once.”
Aside from the race itself the big story of the race was the 6 hour and 22 minute red flag, which threatened to move the race to Monday evening (had the race been postponed, FOX Sports’ Chris Myers had tweeted that the race would resume at 5:00pm EST). However, Mother Nature would cooperate and would allow the race to be run under different conditions from which they practiced this week. Once the race resumed, the intensity picked up from the changing track conditions. This allowed the pack to race side-by-side and at times 3-wide up to seven rows deep.
Joining Earnhardt Jr. in the top 5 for the 2014 Daytona 500 were: Denny Hamlin who closed out a spectacular Speedweeks in second, Brad Keselowski in third, Jeff Gordon in fourth, and Jimmie Johnson who overcome two wrecks leading up to the 500 in fifth.
Rounding out the top 10 in the Daytona 500 were Matt Kenseth in sixth, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. in seventh and Greg Biffle would bring his No. 16 Ford home in eighth. Austin Dillon would come home ninth in his first Cup Series race in the iconic No. 3 for Richard Childress Racing, while Casey Mears would round out the top 10.
A couple of major contenders for the Daytona 500 win would see their hopes dashed early on as Martin Truex, Jr. would blow up just 30 laps into the race, relegating him to a 43rd-place finish in his debut for Furniture Row Racing. Crew chief Todd Berrier was already in Nashville for a test session before the race was even over. Kyle Busch, meanwhile would have a pit road violation just before halfway and would spend much of the race battling back from that mistake. Busch would eventually finish 19th after leading 19 laps.
Danica Patrick would also be bit by bad luck as she was caught up in a multi-car wreck on lap 145. Patrick would lead her second consecutive Daytona 500, but wouldn’t have the finish to show for it finishing 40th. Tony Stewart would encounter a frustrating evening as well, with a fuel pickup problem derailing his quest for his first Daytona 500 win. Stewart would finish 35th.
A look at the Daytona 500 by the numbers. There were 42 lead changes among 18 drivers, while seven cautions for 39 laps would slow the race pace to 145.290 MPH.
Next week, the Sprint Cup Series heads to the “diamond in the desert,” Phoenix International Raceway for The Profit on CNBC 500K. The Green flag is scheduled for 3:15pm EST.
Nationwide Series Post-Race Quotes: Drive4COPD 300
posted by Thomas Bowles
Tuesday February 25, 2014
Frontstretch Interviews – Courtesy Mike Neff
ELLIOTT SADLER – FINISHED 4th
Thoughts on the race?
It’s definitely a lot different racing than what we’re used to.
Comfortable with it?
Yeah, it’s just different. You’re worried about what you’re doing, but you’re also worried about what everyone else is doing and they’re not doing more than you’re doing. Physically pushing a guy is way better than just riding so you just gotta time it right and push it to the edge.
Happy to start the year with a top 5?
Yeah. Hell, that was the worst we ran all day, I think. I have no idea how they put the 3 car in front of us on that last restart. I hadn’t seen the 3 car hardly all day. When they put us from fifth to sixth, on the outside line, it just really boxed us in. I would have really restarted behind my teammate and given him a good push to the front. Anyways, it is what it is; we’ll take it and move on.
Looked like you were up front all day.
The guys did a good job. We had a fast race car. Great pit stops, just really proud of these guys. The car’s in one piece and we can take it to Talladega now. Great job by my guys. A lot of effort came into coming down here to Daytona and giving ourselves a shot to win. We had that chance to be up front and make some things happen. Fifth is not what we want, but we’ll take it and move on.
Bumping vs Pushing?
It’s way harder. You don’t want to lay on the guy in front of you, so it’s tough racing. A lot different than what we’re used to, ‘cause you gotta go. You gotta drag the brake too ‘cause you don’t want to hit the guys and you don’t want to stay on him. It’s a lot harder mentally than what we’ve done in the past.
Car was strong all day. Pushing vs. Bumping, is that harder to do than just getting on somebody and pushing them?
Yeah, it is a little bit. When you bump ‘em, you jar ‘em, it kinda jacks ‘em a little bit. It’s a little more abrupt, obviously. I thought it was OK there at the end. It was certainly fun and hopefully entertaining. But a little bit of a struggle in the early part of the race and the midpart of the race to see a good race. And that’s unfortunate for the fans. You can’t do that the whole race, you can’t tear up your stuff, knock your grill in, overheat your motor, all that stuff so there’s no sense in doing all that until you get down to the last lap. The 7 and the 6, they did a good job. Man, the 7 really held the 22 and I tight on the bottom. I was rubbing his door and hitting the apron at the same time, no room whatsoever. So it was good; wish we were the ones who could have won but a lot better now than what we were last year.
Going home in one piece makes it a lot better, right?
Yeah. My back feels good. My foot feels good. Past years here, I’ve been going home with pain so I’m alright.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Truck Series Post-Race Quotes: Daytona (Exclusives)
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday February 22, 2014
When you’re on the outside like that, how frustrating is it?
It’s so hard. Timothy Peters has won here. Kyle Busch has won everywhere. Ron Hornaday has been running Trucks forever, probably before I was even born. I was surrounded by veterans there, and like I told them I don’t have a rookie stripe but I’m a rookie. This is only my fourth Truck race ever, my fourth superspeedway race, and man, I figured out when the 17 got up in front of me, I pushed him. And as soon as I pushed him, he took off. And I went with him. And I just kept doing it, and before I knew it, he was leading. And I saw Ron in my mirror, backed up to him, and if it wasn’t for him, I don’t know what would have happened. I gotta thank him big time for that. That was a true teammate move right there. I really appreciate that. He just bounced off me and we got to the front. I tried my hardest to sidedraft Kyle. I was probably touching his door.
Top 5 in the No. 30 truck. This deal come together at the last minute, but you had a heck of a truck. Tell us about your night.
Yeah, I’ve got to thank Turner Scott Motorsports. The guys worked so hard on this Rheem Comfort Products Chevrolet. Exciting! Just got hung up on the outside and had to wait for my teammate there to catch up. And then he got to the bottom, so… I got the old 32 and started pushing ol’ Ryan to the front. So, it’s not bad. We’ll take it. You just don’t want to step over that boundary. You don’t know how far to push and shove. We bumped about six times down the straightaway without latching onto them. Hopefully, that was OK and we came home with a top 5.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Budweiser Duels Post Race Quotes
posted by Matt Stallknecht
Friday February 21, 2014
BUDWEISER DUELS POST-RACE QUOTES
They’re saying the wheel bearing burned up in it. I don’t know what caused it, they’re taking it all apart to figure out what the heck happened. Something abnormal that’s for sure I don’t think I’ve ever had that happen at all. Hopefully, we made the race and hopefully we can fix the problem before Sunday.
WHAT WAS THAT LOUD BOOM ONCE YOU TURNED INTO THE GARAGE?
Loud pop was a tire… thankfully, it popped, hopefully it didn’t hurt anybody. All the heat created in the left front that popped was pretty weird.
REALLY GOOD RUN. WHAT DID YOU THINK OF IT?
Yeah, it was good. We have a car we can work with for the 500. Got a good starting spot, so we’re going to rest easy, fluff and buff our car for a couple of days and get ready for Sunday.
ANY DIFFERENCE ON WHETHER THE TOP OR BOTTOM LANE WORKED?
Yeah, I was just moving around, trying to stay with the flow. For me, this car works on all parts of the racetrack. So I’m pretty happy with it.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.
GOT SHUFFLED BACK, AFTER PIT STOPS AND THEN COULDN’T GET BACK UP TO THE FRONT. WHY?
Nah, we were just sitting there waiting until the last few laps to make a move. You didn’t want to pull down and get sent to the back. Seen a couple of guys get sent to the back really quick so we were just kind of waiting for the end. I felt like we had a good situation there with Ambrose behind us — we had a good run off Turn 2 and I went. It was the last lap, time to go do something, nobody went with us but hopefully Sunday is a different story.
We got a great car. We don’t have to work hard. We learned, we got a good race car. Got a car in one piece, ready to go so we’ll try and get through the next couple of practices, deliver it to the starting group this Sunday and we’ll be real happy.
YOU’RE IN THE DAYTONA 500!
Yeah, it’s pretty awesome. This Whitetail Chevrolet was so fast that I knew all I had to do was stick it behind smart, intelligent drafters and we could have a good finish. That’s what we did in the Duels and I’m excited. I’m excited to go do some stuff with the Nationwide car and have some more practice with this. But to know that we’re locked in the Daytona 500’s pretty cool.
YOU WERE OBVIOUSLY IN FRONT OF THAT MELEE AT THE END. WHEN YOU WERE UP FRONT THERE IN THE BEGINNING, WERE YOU HOPING TO JUST STAY IN LINE AND LET YOU FINISH TOP 5?
I was pretty content to ride and luckily I knew a lot of people around us were. It was nice to have a little calm and not really have to be racing hard the whole time. I knew that the pit stop was going to shake everything up and that’s exactly what happened. Fell back a little bit there but made the right moves at the end to get a good finish.
HOW STRONG ARE THESE RCR CARS?
They’re very strong! They definitely have the capabilities to be winning one of these races.
YOU’RE IN THE TOP 5 FOR YOUR HEAT IN THE DAYTONA 500. YOUR PRIMARY CAR IS SITTING RIGHT IN THE GARAGE, KIND OF WADDED UP. DID YOU THINK THIS ONE HAD IT IN IT?
Yeah, it’s a brand new car also. It’s just not quite as good as the primary but still a damned good car. I’m just proud of everybody at RCR for building such fast race cars. All of our cars have been fast, ECR motor’s been strong, even our affiliate teams have been qualifying really good and racing good. So… excited about 2014! It’s going to be a good year.
WELL MAN, YOU STARTED IN THE BACK BUT WORKED YOUR WAY TO THE FRONT WHEN IT COUNTED MOST. WERE YOU JUST BIDING YOUR TIME THROUGHOUT THE RACE?
Eh, you never know if you’re going to get back up there or not. We had to start at the back, we had to make a run early and see what we could do. We drove right to 10th, or something like that and then it got stagnant. We tried to make something happen, and went to the back again. Drove back up to the front. Again, just really proud of my guys. Matt Kruder did a hell of a job on that pit stop getting just enough gas in to gain some spots there.
RCR CARS SEEM PRETTY DARNED STRONG. DO YOU THINK THE RCR CARS HAVE SOMETHING FOR THEM ON SUNDAY — ESPECIALLY THE THREE JOE GIBBS RACING CARS THAT SEEM TO BE THE CLASS OF THE FIELD RIGHT NOW?
Oh yeah. The 20 car was extremely fast. The 11 didn’t qualify that good, but he’s a good drafter. I think he won. We definitely have something for him.
Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
The Key Moment – Carl Edwards soft-pedaled 113.5 miles out of a tank of gas to cruise across the finish line first at half throttle.
In a Nutshell – Edwards day-long domination forced his competitors to use risky strategy in the pits late in the race, but Edwards and the No. 99 bunch trumped them all with the riskiest strategy of them all at the end.
Dramatic Moment – Waiting to see if the No. 99 was going to run out of gas on the final two laps. Or, waiting to see if Texas Rangers were going to arrest David Gilliland for attempted murder after he wrecked the No. 42 car.
What They’ll Be Talking About Around the Water Cooler This Week
Well, I sure hope they aren’t talking about stock car racing Monday and Tuesday. This year’s presidential election is a crossroads for the greatest nation in the history of the world. Few will disagree with the fact things are pretty grim right now for most working class Americans, and our futures and the futures of our children are on the line. We have two compelling candidates with markedly different visions of how to straighten this mess out; and as is the case over the last couple of decades, we have a lot of negative disinformation spewed by both sides. It’s time for voters to sort through the wheat and the chaff and make an informed decision. Seven percent of voters still haven’t made up their minds, and the future of our country rides on the shoulders of those seven percenters. Study the issues. Make an informed decision. Then get out there and vote Tuesday. Our country has seen grim times before. We survived the Great Depression, the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and the tragedy of the morning of September 11th, 2001. And we’ll survive this mess as well, because this country’s greatest asset isn’t politicians; it’s the wisdom and resolve of the American people when the chips are on the table. If you don’t vote, don’t bitch. And as our friend Mr. Gump might add, “That’s all I’m going to say about that.”
What the devil was David Gilliland thinking knocking a competitor into the wall at a track where entrants flirt with 200 MPH all day? If they need to make room for Paul Menard at Robert Yates Racing next year, I have a suggestion.
You think the NASCAR officials are going to be having a real close look at the fuel cell in the No. 99 car after the race? There’s good gas mileage, there’s great fuel mileage, and then there’s Junior Johnson fuel mileage.
Racing is a fickle business. Because it worked out, Bob Osborne’s strategy for the No. 99 team looks brilliant in retrospect. Had Edwards run out of gas and fallen back into a twenty something-th finishing spot, though, he would have looked like the biggest dope ever to walk pit road for giving away a shot at the title.
The surprise ending perked things up a bit, but there’s no denying that the first four-fifths of the Texas race was putrid and utterly lacking in any redeeming social value. That was about as bad as it gets.
Be it herein resolved — no stock car race should end after 7 PM EST unless it was planned as a night race. These late race day starts wear at even a patient man’s soul. Oh, and before the clocks are set back an hour and flocks of noisy Canada geese fly south over the multi-hued autumnal skies of the northeast, the stock car racing season should be over. We hold these truths to be self-evident.
Texas track promoter Eddie Gossage could probably sell a cup of water to a drowning man, but it was hard not to notice (once again) huge blocs of empty seats in the stands Sunday. Whether it’s the economy, the price of gas, or the lack of exciting racing, I don’t know; but clearly, Houston (and Dallas/Fort Worth), we have a problem. If this keeps up, soon Carl Edwards will be able to thank the fans who showed up at the race by name.
Even the once free-dealing, hog-wild, spend your way to success world of the NASCAR garage area isn’t immune from the current economic crisis. Unable to find adequate sponsorship for two teams next season and having lost two million dollars in each of the last two years, JR Motorsports is cutting back to a single team in the Nationwide series for 2009 with a part-time second team running select races with various drivers. In a nutshell, that means massive layoffs at the shop. Let me ask you this: if Dale Earnhardt, Jr. — the most visible and popular driver in the sport — can’t attract sponsorships for his team, how are the full-time Nationwide owners going to fare?
Speaking of Junior, he went on the record this week as saying the Cup season is too long, and that, combined with the later start times for this series of races, is diminishing fans’ interest in the sport. He also admitted the changes in the sport are motivated by greed and some folks wanting to milk every dollar they can out of NASCAR. Meanwhile, in Daytona Beach, Emperor Brian keeps right on playing his fiddle as Rome burns.
With two races left to run, Johnny Benson leads Ron Hornaday by six points in the championship standings in the Truck Series. Of course, the Truck Series uses the old points system. Under the Chase system, the Cup points race is… well, um, a little bit more spread out than that. As our buddies at FOX might say, “We report… you decide.”
Kyle Busch can be pretty contemptible at times, but we have to give credit where credit is due. On Saturday, when he tied Sam Ard’s record for wins in NASCAR’s AAA (Once Grand National, then Busch, and currently Nationwide) Series, Busch announced he was giving a hundred thousand dollars of his winnings to Sam Ard. Ard is currently battling Alzheimer’s disease and is in serious financial trouble. Newer fans might not have ever heard of Sam Ard, but in his day Ard was an almost unstoppable force in the Saturday series. He won 22 races and two championships in just three brief years on the circuit before devastating injuries in a wreck at Rockingham ended his racing career. Prior to that dehabiliating wreck, Ard had posted Top 5 finishes in 24 of 27 races, and had missed the Top 10 just once. He’d won five of the last six races in the 1983 Busch season. At his best, Ard beat them all, including a fellow by the name of Dale Earnhardt on several occasions — most notably at Charlotte in 1983. As Ard’s health has begun to fail, several other drivers have contributed to helping his needs, most notably Kevin Harvick.
If you wish to contribute any amount, no matter how small, contributions can be sent to:
Sam Ard Care Fund
Think about it. You can donate to a big charity that will eventually filter down through layers of management to do some good, or you can write a small check that will help put food on a man’s table this week and help pay the slab fee for his double-wide this month.
With debacles like this year’s Brickyard 400 still fresh in our minds, there have been a lot of calls to adopt taller and wider tires that might hold up better under the strains of the Car of Sorrow. NASCAR official John Darby, who apparently didn’t get the memo about the urgency of the situation, went on record as saying any such changes are at least five years down the road. I have a one word response to that: “Unacceptable.” If we are indeed stuck with this pig in a poke of a race car, we need to rapidly develop a tire that can live under the strain of those mulish pigs. Other people seem to get it. Bruton Smith, who has to sell a lot of tickets to keep his empire afloat, said simply, “We have to constantly make the sport better for the fans. If we do that, then it’s better for everybody. It’s better for me, it’s better for the sponsors, and it’s better for NASCAR. That’s what we ought to do. Make the product better, and the fans will beat a path to your door.” Don’t you wish on Tuesday, race fans could also cast their ballot deciding if Smith or current NASCAR management would lead this sport into the future?
Bobby Hamilton, Jr. finished sixteenth in Saturday’s Nationwide race at Texas. That might not sound remarkable, but what is notable is Hamilton wrote a $380,000 check out of his personal account to keep his struggling team competing in the final three Nationwide races of the season. In addition to keeping Hamilton in a ride, that keeps Team Rensi team members employed for the rest of the year. If I were a potential sponsor, I’d take a look at the fact a driver believed enough in his team to lay out his own money rather than just accepting a paycheck, and I’d think there’s a driver and a team I can count on to maximize my investment.
It was hard to miss the sarcasm in Kurt Busch’s thumbs up approval of the new Dodge power plant as his stricken car sat parked in the garage area. My guess is that Busch and Penske are going to agree by mutual consent to part ways soon.
Congratulations to Lewis Hamilton, this year’s Formula One champion. Hamilton is the youngest driver ever to claim that title, and the first black driver to win this coveted honor. How tight was the championship chase? Hamilton won the title on the final corner of the final lap of the final race of the season, and the margin was a single point. To paraphrase a line from “When Harry Met Sally,” can we have some of what they’re having?
I’ll touch on driver’s personal lives only carefully and playfully. Admittedly, though, when I heard Carl Edwards is now engaged to a former classmate and a licensed physician, my first reaction was “Days of Thunder – Part Deux.” I’m seeing a potential situation comedy here, as a former substitute teacher and NASCAR star marries a pretty physician. They and their pet duck move to their dream home in the upscale suburbs of Charlotte, only to find there’s a fly in the ointment: their next door neighbor is Kyle Busch! OK, so it’s a lame idea for a sitcom, but it has to be better than Cavemen, right?
It was kind of hard not to notice that the ticker of one of the channels owned by “The Worldwide Leader in Sports” mistakenly noted Lewis Hamilton had won the Brazilian Grand Prix all afternoon with nobody catching the error. Hamilton won the title, but Felipe Massa of Ferrari won the race.
Yep, she’s a Gordon. One-year-old Ella Gordon carefully pointed to key sponsor patches on her Daddy’s uniform during his pre-race interview. Just wait until this little charmer can talk!
The Hindenburg Award For Foul Fortune
Juan Pablo Montoya had a solid Top 10 run going (again) when Gilliland’s punkish display of bad temper ended both their days. Montoya and his team have been running better lately, but he’s failed to finish four of the last six races.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr.’s team decided to gamble on fuel mileage as well, but the gamble came up short when Junior was forced to limp into the pits out of third place and out of gas. The No. 88 car wouldn’t refire at first, and that dropped Earnhardt to a twentieth place finish in the final rundown.
Right now, it appears the No. 20 team and Tony Stewart are just coasting out the waning weeks of their relationship.
The “Seven Come Fore Eleven” Award For Fine Fortune
I simply can’t believe Edwards made it that distance on a single tank of gas, even if RVs leaving the infield early were passing him during the final laps of the race.
After winning the pole, Jeff Gordon sank back through the field and fell a lap off the pace. But superior fuel mileage allowed Gordon to coast home second, matching his best ever effort at this track scored way back in 2002.
Jamie McMurray finally managed to put one in the bank after several weeks of strong runs with a third place finish.
David Reutimann ran even better than his eventual tenth place finish indicates.
It was a pretty good weekend for Jack Roush, with all five of his Cup drivers finishing eleventh or better at Texas.
The Top 10 finishers at Texas drove four Fords, four Chevys, and a pair of Toyotas. The best finishing Dodge pilot was Sam Hornish, Jr. in 23rd. Hornish was also the top finishing Rookie of the Year candidate at Texas.
What’s the Points?
Mr. James Johnson currently leads the Cup standings by 103 over Carl Edwards, and would request the honor of your presence at his coronation as a three-time Cup champion in New York the first Friday night of December, 2008. RSVP.
All drives from eighth place Matt Kenseth on back are now mathematically excluded from this year’s title, presuming Johnson starts the next two Cup races. If Johnson finishes seventh or better in the next two Cup races, the title is his.
Greg Biffle remains third in the standings, 140 points out of the lead. Jeff Burton remains fourth, 212 points behind, meaning that even if Johnson finishes last at Phoenix and Burton wins the race after having led the most laps, he could not leave next week’s race with the points lead.
Jeff Gordon moved up a spot in the standings to fifth. Clint Bowyer moved up a spot to sixth. Kevin Harvick yielded two positions to the above drivers to find himself seventh in the standings. And in their ongoing see-saw battle, Matt Kenseth now has the advantage over Tony Stewart for eighth.
Fitting for Halloween weekend, “The Thing That Came from the Cellar” Kyle Busch advanced two spots to tenth. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. fell a spot to eleventh, which is a Nightmare on Elm Street for promoters trying to sell tickets to the next two Cup races. Denny Hamlin rounds out the Chasers in twelfth.
Further back, David Ragan now has a 263-point lead over Kasey Kahne in the battle for the less-than-coveted thirteenth finishing position in the points.
Overall Rating (On a scale of one to six beer cans, with one being a stinker and a six pack an instant classic) — I’ll give this one a single can of skunked Lone Star. Despite the bizarre finish, it’s hard to ignore the first two and a half hours of the race were a processional parade, with polite distances between the lead lap drivers circling the track just wishing the day was over if they weren’t in the seat of the No. 99 car.
Next Up – By the time I get to Phoenix, I’ll just be wishing this whole sorry excuse of a season was over; but we’ve got two more weeks before it draws to its long overdue conclusion.
©2000 - 2008 Matt McLaughlin and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
Glad I wasn’t only one that felt that way. I watched the first few laps, turned race back on at 6:15 pm est. Just could not get into it. I was really surprised the mystery debris caution wasn’t thrown to tighten up the field mid-race to break up the napping of the fans.
Jr sure is making some waves lately. I’m waiting til NA$CAR tells Hendrick to muzzle him.
And for as much as I dislike him, I was happy to read that Shrub was donating $100,000 to Sam Ard. Maybe shrub is trying to show fans that he does have a heart and respect for the history of the sport.
How long before Logano goes from “Sliced Bread” to “Blogano” if he keeps finishing like that? This might be the best thing for him – at least next year no one will be expecting him to part the Red Sea right away.
For the second straight season, Formula 1 has been more exciting and more interesting than the Cup series (although the Craftsman Truck Series has been better than both)… This last race of the F1 season was absolutely mind-blowing, with more competitive passing than the last three Cup races (I’m exagerrating I’m sure, but it definitely felt that way)… and the championship came down to the last turn of the last lap. Anguish, heartache, celebration and triumph all in the span of a few minutes. It was amazing. And we definitely have a future star in Sebastien Vettel to watch.
5 years to come up with a new tire—are you SHITTING ME? Bridgestone and Michelin at times have developed whole new tires for indivudual RACES. DROP GOODYEAR NOW. Go back to Hoosier for god’s sake.
Every time the race and possible championship repercussions got interesting NASCAR threw a debris caution.
like janice, i’m not a KB fan, but what he did was great.
we met him many times in the pits. he was (is) a really nice guy.
i’m sending a check out today. i hope others will also.
I don’t think the gift to Sam Ard was out of character for Kyle Busch . I just don’t think the fans know very much about his real character .
I never for a moment thought there was anyone involved with auto racing that was more clueless than Brian France . But i stand corrected . John Darby is the biggest blowhard in all of racing . His statement about increased tire sizes in NASCAR should go into the history books . In actual fact , Goodyear , the wheel manufacturers , and the brake manufacturers would be able to adjust to new tire sizes in a matter of weeks . Maybe Darby has given all of us a clue as to why the sport is in a steep downhill slide . Maybe because a dim bulb like him is in charge .
While the idea of taller &/or wider tires sounds intriguing, is there any estimate of how many extra pounds would result? These crew guys are already speed demon monsters toting what they’ve got around the cars & then lifting & bolting them while down on their knees. How many more pounds would they be lugging? Are they going to ‘roid up the handle the extra weight while still being held to a 14 second stop expectation?
It is interesting to note that under the ‘old’ points format that Edwards would be 21 points behind Johnson following the Texas race.
If Dale Jr wants to (wuss) out and say the season is too long, he can go race the Truck Series, and the Pied Piper can take his fans with him. Good Riddance!
John, it doesnt take 5 years for Goodyear to develop a bigger tire. John Darby is saying it would take 5 years for NASCAR to research it and develop the best tire size to go with the new car, along with the appropriate rim size and brake caliper size to match.
edited by Ren for language.
i was trying to remember how many points roush got fined this year for that oil tank issue. how ironic if that’s the amount that would have lead carl to his first championship. roush seems to have luck like that all the time.
John Darby did have a lot of respect when he was over at the Busch garage. But seems like even the best of them get corrupted at the Cup level—corrupted or go into permanent Brain Fade [(BF) aka Brian France—take your pick.]
This season has been punctuated by great runs of Kyle Busch and Carl Edwards and the further bullet-proofing of JJ/Knaus. In that way the season has been good. But for the most part it has looked like a dog race, let the rabbit run and the greyhounds chase it (aka CoT racing).
One more season like this one (and all cards point to it by NA$CAR not tinkering with the CoT) and there will be more empty seats in 2009 than ever before. My guess is that the economy will only be slightly better by spring so most fans will just save their money instead of buying tix to lackluster races. And the TV ratings? Well most people by 2009 would rather watch paint dry or TV poker games than turn on to NA$CAR at its finest. I like to see the glass half full but I am afraid NA$CAR has seen a better day. KevinSoCal, Dale Jr. is right, greed is parly to blame for NA$CAR’s demise. They sucked the life out of this thing with the greed. I have been saying it for a long time. And by the way, why don’t you strap yourself in one of the Cup cars and think “pussies”…Betcha you would soil your pannies if you were in a car for 10 laps, much less 334 with 43 other cars. None of these guys are “pussies” in these cars. Some are racers and some are drivers and some are better than others, but no “pussies” in Cup. Doesn’t happen.
great. That’s complete garbage. Zero reason whatsoever for it to take more than a couple months worth of testing. Any other company would have it done in time for next season.
@Janice…the number of points the 99 was penalized for the oil cover issue was of little consequence since the points were re-set going into the Chase. The only thing they really lost was the 10 bonus points for the win. If they finish 2nd in the Chase by less than 10 points though…
Tire management? Anyone? Manage you tires?
NASCAR has always used narrower tires than a good amount of the other auto racing sanctioning bodies’ series. If your tire is wearing out too fast, slow down. That will solve it. If you want to gamble on being the blown tire that brings out the yellow then drive as hard as you want.
Don’t blame Goodyear. It’s not their fault. And don’t take Tony Stewart’s word for anything. He’s way to high strung to take seriously just after a race.
that’s right. i forgot. oldtimer’s disease and a busy monday.
greed..yep…na$car sold the boom of the 90’s and the tracks invested money in building more and more seats and adding amenities because tracks that have multiple race dates were all but told if you don’t improve your facilities we’ll take a race from you.
i guarantee you north wilkesboro would not have any problem selling out a cup date!
i know here in georiga, the end of sept through oct you have 4 races that are within 1000 miles of atlanta, or a 2 hr plane ride. i use to go to 3 of them. none this year. i just laugh myself silly at ams for getting rid of the weaver section (cheap seats) and building more suites and “club” levels. this past fall race, they were pleading with people to buy tickets and you’d be upgraded. guess the “if you build it they will come” mentality is a thing of the past.
I didnt say Dale Jr was a (sissy) compared to me. I said he was a (sissy) compared to the other drivers.
edited by Ren for language. Kevin, don't make me pull this website over.
isn’t texas one of the tracks that have the psl you have to renew just to be able to purchase tickets?
He may be a shrub, but on this occasion he’s a Rose Busch. I’m glad that he made the announcement in Victory Lane. The plight of some of the drivers who built this sport needs to be made public. If NA$CAR won’t help, someone needs to. Ard’s story isn’t the only one.
“ Don’t you wish on Tuesday, race fans could also cast their ballot deciding if Smith or current NASCAR management would lead this sport into the future? “
YES! YES! YES!
And Jr. is right. Remember that he’s also said that some races need to be shorter.
Of course, I already shorten the season for myself… I never watch california, pocono, most 1.5 mile tracks, and I haven’t watched a single chase race this year. And I didn’t miss much did I?
Oh, and just how long was the COT in development anyway?
Kids, Nascar has to look at the V8 Supercars that race in Austrailia. It is stock cars with doors, lights, wipers, no rainouts, LARGE WHEELS and tires, V8 sequential shifting, air jack under the car, one large wheel nut, pit stops 4 tires and gas 8 seconds, electronic speed limiter so there is no speeding in the pits. Mr. France and Mr. Darby do not have to think. Just watch it and you have the “old” Nascar back.