NASCAR Changes Qualifying Format
posted by Summer Bedgood
Tuesday March 11, 2014
Following safety concerns regarding NASCAR’s new qualifying format, the sanctioning body is introducing some changes in preparation for this weekend’s race at Bristol Motor Speedway. According to the Associated Press, NASCAR is banning teams from cool-down laps after their qualifying attempts, but will instead be allowed to hook up cool-down units to the engine through hood flaps.
Late Tuesday afternoon, a release from NASCAR fully detailed the changes. Teams will be allowed a single cool down unit to be connected through the right or left side hood flap, however the hood must remain closed. Additionally, two crew members will be allowed over the wall while cooling down.
“The qualifying is new to all of us and as we have said over the past several weeks, we are looking at it from all aspects,” said Robin Pemberton, vice president of competition and racing development. “Following discussions, both internally and with others in the garage area, we moved quickly to make a few revisions that will be effective starting with our two national series events at Bristol Motor Speedway this weekend. We believe this will only enhance and improve what has demonstrated to be an exciting form of qualifying for our fans, competitors and others involved with the sport. Moving forward we will continue to look at it and address anything else that we may need to as the season unfolds.”
The move comes after three weeks of NASCAR’s new knockout qualifying system, where multiple cars are allowed to make qualifying attempts at the same time instead of the traditional one-car-at-a-time procedure. Drivers and teams had complained that the new rules didn’t allow them to cool their engines down on pit road, and the cool-down laps caused a dangerous situation with slower cars staying on the track at the same time that other cars were running by them at much higher speeds.
The rule will begin this weekend in Bristol, a track that has a much narrower racing surface than Daytona, Phoenix, and Las Vegas.
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!
Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
Matt McLaughlin · Thursday November 13, 2008
A news item earlier this week probably flew well beneath most fans’ radar screens, but it raised my blood pressure up a notch or two. It hearkens back to comments I made in last week’s column that touched on NASCAR’s current economic crisis. Some fans reading that have written to strongly support my opinion; but apparently, no one in Daytona Beach is getting the message.
In case you missed it, this week NASCAR offered up “news” in one of their turgid press releases to the effect that O’Reilly Auto Parts is now the Official Auto Parts Supplier of NASCAR. As such, the memo noted the deal allows for O’Reilly Auto Parts to be “an exclusive NASCAR partner, and utilize NASCAR marks and marketing programs in store and in related media.” (Of course, it also left open the possibility that that some other parts chain could become the Official Truck Parts Supplier, Official SUV Parts Supplier, or the Official Mini-Van Parts Supplier of NASCAR, since O’Reilly only got the “official auto parts” part of the deal. Such a contract seems typical of the ravenous greedhounds at NASCAR who are milking the life out of this sport.)
My purpose here is not to diss O’Reilly Auto Parts. I’ve never even been in one of their stores, and brothers and sisters, I buy a ton of auto parts. In fact, I might be in the YearOne Hall of Fame by now with the four Chevys my buddy and I are restoring for resale. I haven’t made a conscious decision to avoid doing business with them; it’s just that their nearest store is over 200 miles from my farm, and that’s a long way to go to get spark plugs. According to their website, O’Reilly claims to be the fastest growing parts chain in America, with 1,830 stores open and more on the way. Maybe an O’Reilly’s will open next door to me next week — although I doubt that. Neither of my neighbors seem inclined to move, and my area is zoned “Limited Redneck, Non-Running Cars, and Appliances Storage.” However, they could indeed open a store near here in hysterical Guthriesville (perhaps beside the Wawa that the Anti-Christ has slated for the intersection of Horseshoe Pike and Bondsville-Hopewell Road). I’d certainly take a stroll through the joint to see what they had, and if they had genuine countermen or the usual “couldn’t get any other job so this will do, though I hate it” high school degenerates.
“So what?,” many of you are thinking. NASCAR has more “Official This’s and That’s” than a junkyard mongrel has fleas. If there’s not an official Toilet Tissue of NASCAR yet, it’s only because no jerry roll corporation has waved a sufficiently large check in front of the powers that be’s piggish little faces.
The problem here, once again, is that in this troubled economy NASCAR is competing against the teams and tracks for sponsorship dollars. If O’Reilly Auto Parts wanted to become involved in NASCAR racing, they could have backed any number of worthy teams right now desperately searching for sponsorship to stay viable. This year, O’Reilly’s signed up to be title sponsor of a Cup race, two Nationwide races, and two Truck Series events. However, it remains to be seen if the company will continue to sponsor races after dumping all this cash into NASCAR corporate coffers for their “official” rights. And this is in an era where track owners are already facing declining attendance and increasing expenses.
It’s also weird to know that O’Reilly will be the Official Parts House of NASCAR when some of their main competitors are also knee-deep in the sport. NAPA signed a deal with the late Dale Earnhardt to sponsor the third team run out of his DEI shop. They went on to follow Michael Waltrip to a team of his own, for better or worse. CARQUEST is a co-sponsor of Rick Hendrick’s No. 5 team and, of course, is the “Official Auto Parts Supplier of Hendrick Motorsports,” a firm which has changed its “Official Oil” more often than I change printer ribbons. So, as a NASCAR fan, do you shop at O’Reilly’s because they’re the Official Parts House of NASCAR, or do you shop at NAPA because you like Mikey, or do you go to Carquest because Jeff Gordon wears their patch on his uniform? Or, do you go to Rich’s Auto Parts store on the corner, because there’s always a fresh pot of coffee up on Saturday mornings — and, he once opened his store at 10 PM on a Sunday after running into him at the diner, when the alternator on the truck you needed to get to work on Monday crapped the bed on the way home from Dover?
But in NASCAR’s world, O’Reilly, not Rich’s, will always win out. In one of those underhanded deals NASCAR is famous for, it appears even cars sponsored by other auto parts chains will have to run O’Reilly decals as part of the contingency program next year — just as the Alltel car and the AT&T car have to run Sprint decals on their cars this year.
What’s ironic about this is auto parts chains other than the anointed ones still carry parts that also include “Official NASCAR” signage. I change a ton of spark plugs, and every box of Autolites I use has NASCAR’s official logo on the package. It’s the same with WIX Filters, Mobil One oil, and numerous other products that I’m forgetting. So, when you a buy a set of NASCAR’s official spark plugs from a non-sanctioned parts house, are you liable to be bought up on charges of treason or even blasphemy? The sheer illogic of the whole situation seems lost on the hog boys at NASCAR, and will remain so as long as the trough they have their snouts in remains full — even while starving piglets around them try to muscle their way to their trough for a smaller portion simply to remain alive.
To be truthful, the whole myth of NASCAR fans being fanatically loyal to sponsors involved with the sport is as out of date as whitewalls and fake convertible roofs. To this day, I still drink Folgers coffee because they sponsored Tim Richmond. I wear Wrangler jeans because they sponsored Dale Earnhardt back in the day. I drink Coors Light because they backed Bill Elliott in his glory years. Some habits die hard. But I can’t think of a more recent sponsorship agreement that sways my personal buying decisions. I work hard for my money. When I spend it, I want a good product at a good price, and I don’t give a flying fig if I’ve seen their decals on a race car, much less on the list of NASCAR’s anointed ones. In fact, I’ll even avoid some products simply because their makers are in bed with NASCAR in what I see as adulterous circumstances. If a corporation backs the Labor Day weekend race at a track anywhere else than Darlington, they’ve lost my business for life. No Pepsi, Sharp, Sony TVs, or Pop Secret popcorn will be found on these premises; and occasionally at the grocery store, I’ll move all the Pop Secret back behind competitors’ brands just to hide it.
So, best of luck to the O’Reilly people with their new corporate relationship. But if you’re thinking that you’re going to sway the real car guys into your store by writing NASCAR big checks, don’t count on it.
Gentle readers, I have made my point. Allow me to swing off on a tangent as you have indulged me so many times before. I’m a real car guy. I can prove my bonafides with the scar tissue on my knuckles, grease under my fingernails, and boxes full of used car parts to vehicles I haven’t owned in two decades carefully piled in my garage … just in case. I’ve owned over 150 vehicles in my lifetime, and have spent more on tools this year than I did on clothing and furniture combined. In fact, I’ve spent more on car parts than I have on food every year for at least a decade. I’ll live on hot dogs and generic corn chips for months at a time just so long as I can drop a rebuilt big block under the hood of the latest project car. The “toy car” I keep in the garage is worth four times more than my daily driver that lives in the driveway. I’ll gladly scrape the ice off the windows of the daily driver, cursing the weather with a cigarette dangling from the corner of my mouth rather than letting the Trans Am spend a night under the stars. My Harley is parked in the living room all winter lest it catch a chill.
Let me tell you how real car guys pick a parts house. You go to the place where you’ve found a counter person, usually quite a few years older than the kids at Pep Boys, who knows what he’s doing. He gives you the right parts time after time, whether it’s for your late model truck or your 40-year-old Ford. If you tell him you need valve cover gaskets for a small block Chevy, he goes and gets them without a glance at the computer. The same happens when you tell him you need a battery for a Ford F-Series pickup. He’s the guy who sells you calipers, then remembers to ask you if you have enough brake fluid at home to complete the job because you seldom do, saving you the ride back. He’s the guy willing to hang out a half hour after work so you can get there with a ride from a buddy to get the parts you need, to get your car running so you can get to work the next day. Eventually, he remembers your first name and greets you as a friend. He’ll drop parts by your place on the ride home from work, have a beer with you and offer advice. When you need the hard to find stuff, he leaves the computer, scours paper catalogs that are dog-eared and, if necessary, takes down your number and calls you later to say he’s found what you need for your 40-year-old Plymouth. He’s got pictures of his cool old cars and his projects at his work station. He’ll call tech lines and tear through boxes with you to find the correct starter for that old El Camino you just bought with an engine of unknown vintage and displacement. He’s the guy who takes pride in being a counterman and, given a chance, wouldn’t switch to selling high end electronics just because it pays better.
Car guys find their counter guys and stick by them loyally. They also don’t hammer their guy to find him a foot actuated starter for a International KB1 panel truck and then run down to Pep Boys to get their oil because it’s 50 cents a quart cheaper; instead, they steer business to their counter guy and his shop. And if they run into the guy’s boss, they remind him that guy is the only reason they shop there. If they run into their counter guy at a bar, they buy him a brew.
The relationship between a real car guy and his counter guy is almost as sacred and cherished as a marriage … and there are a lot fewer divorces. And that’s from someone who’s followed my counter guys from store to store as they changed jobs just like I used to follow the Dead. So, maybe what O’Reilly’s needs to be doing with their marketing money is to increase the salaries of their best counter people to keep them around, rather than dumping it into the troughs of NASCAR — where all their cash is nothing more than just another drop in the bucket.
©2000 - 2008 Matt McLaughlin and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
So, now, Matt M. is a “real” car guy w/ a Harley in the living room. I guess that gives him the right to mouth off about O’Reilly’s, doesn’t it!
Talk about the epitomy of a self-appointed redneck—Wow! I’m impressed (not!)
Great commentary. I wish I could find a counter man like that here in Deep South Texas. I also remember the relationship that my dad had with the counter men at the NAPA store and the Chevy dealer back in Titusville, Florida. I was just a kid then but I still remember their names- Clint and Rolf. Dad could spend hours talking with them about stuff besides parts- I think sometimes that Clint and Rolf took the place of ‘father confessor’.
Sad to say, NASCAR has strayed far, far from it’s roots. The only reason I keep up with it is because it was such a big part of my life growing up.
Hopefully the ‘Brainless’ France era will not last too much longer and we can get some racing people in to replace the hogs at the trough.
My brand loyalty was making the switch from Marlboro to Winston. Hey, free smokes meant a lot to me. I went to an O’Reilly’s, once, in Thomasville, NC. This was after I went to Advance Auto and Auto Zone first. I wasn’t impressed. Maybe GM steering wheel pullers are one of those “never heard of one of them” kind of tools. I wonder how much Brian France got for selling his soul?
I have a friend from a die-cast site who works for O’Reilly’s. He constantly harps on the fact that Auto Zone and Advanced carry inferior products. O’Reilly’s supposedly only carries the best parts, not the cheapest. Whether that is true or not is up for debate. Since they have just begun opening stores here in the Carolinas I have just begun to frequent them, although my auto mechanic skills pale in comparison to Matt’s. I have found that their counter personnel were extremely knowledgeable and quite helpful and felt they were much more qualified than the Advanced folks just down the street. If I need something, I’ll make the effort to hit O’Reilly’s, whether it is out of loyalty to my buddy or because of their service, not because they’re writing the check to NASCAR.
What a wonderful piece of writing!
A big thanks for putting it into writing!
The only time I see an O’Reilly’s is when I visit the wife’s family in Quincy, FL. such as right now! And had I known yesterday, what I know now, I would not have purchased a $4 fuse package there to try and cure a problem with one of their cars down here, gee, let me find the receipt, I will take them back and go find a NAPA store, see, I like Mikey, I also like the fact NAPA is loyal to the MWR team.
And, to this day, you will NEVER EVER see a box of TIDE in my house, I still hurt from when they dumped DW!
Memories are long my friend!
But, the basis of your article is quite clear, as long as Brian can continue to line his pockets with cash, the (struggling) teams can be damned!
jaymatt, you OBVIOUSLY haven’t been reading Matt very long if you think he is “now” a car guy. He has been talking about writing about his cars for years. Good article, Matt. We have an O’Reilly’s in our town across from Advance, but I go to my childhood friend’s Bumper to Bumper, not because of the brand, but because he will take the time to give me the benefit of his years of experience. My second choice is NAPA. I have been burned too many times by Advance and its buddy Auto Zone. The few times I have been to O’Reilly’s they didn’t have what I needed and they offered no help or advice.
I’m a parts guy for Carquest, Matt, so this column caught my attention for a couple of obvious reasons. ;)
I’d like to think I’m in that group of “good” parts guys, even though I’m only 28. I’m surrounded by pictures of my Super Stock and my various street car projects, I ENJOY customers asking me for obscure old auto parts, and I never ask for year/make/model when someone asks me for intake gaskets for a smallblock chevy. :) … Just last week I helped a guy find points, condenser, cap, rotor, intake, exhaust and valve cover gasket for a ’65 AMC Ambassador with a straight six!
My fellow counter-person Ken has been doing this somewhere around 25 years, and he still surprises me every now and then by bringing out some obscure dusty parts book to find something I didn’t know existed.
I can’t keep count of the number of times in a week I have a customer come in, I serve them, and they say “finally, someone who understands what I’m asking for—I went to <insert large chain store name here> and it was just some 17 year old punk who could only read a computer!”
My point is, it’s not so much the size of the company, it’s the hiring practices—A place like NAPA may only hire a “customer service rep”… Carquest hires auto parts clerks. One of our local NAPAs here is nicknamed McNAPA, because half the counter staff and the manager were hired from a McDonald’s staff layoff.
In regards to O’reilly’s sponsorship, I’m worried what this means for Mark Martin’s car next year. As soon as I heard my fav driver would be driving our car next season, I vowed to have one more go at watching the Cup series, and bought our big fancy team jacket.
But what if NASCAR pulls the same BS they did with Sprint’s competitors? Will Carquest and NAPA be forced out of the sport?
Couldn’t agree more with you Matt. Used to be I would seek out the N logo on products, any more, I tend to avoid them as I percieve it adds cost to the product with no value. As far as parts guys and parts suppliers, on the same page, doesn’t matter where they work. If they’re good (the good ones are hard to find!)I’ll always be a return customer, official supplier or not.
There are (or maybe were with the current ecomomy) so many sponsors involved in NASCAR at one level or another (i.e, official sponsor, primary sponsor, associate sponsor, track sponsor, race sponsor, tv sponsor, etc.) that you could go into any store blindfolded and end up with a brand that is sponsoring NASCAR in one form or another. It would be harder to go to a store and find products that have no association with NASCAR whatsoever.
Amazing!!! With so many mid to small teams about ready to fold, we get one more “official product of na#car). It’s as if na$car is trying to run the smaller teams out of business. We as fans. have our favorite drivers. As na$car weeds them out as relevant, they lose more core fans. Not everyone roots for johnson, gordon, stewart, etc. Looks like F-1 or IROC to me. Thanks for the memories, na$car.
This is one of my biggest complaints about the way the sport is run. If any company signs on to be the official blahblahblah of Nascar, it should not come with an exclusivity deal. That is literally Nascar taking money out of the teams’ pockets.
I don’t see any reason why there can’t be verizon cars driving around in a Sprint Cup race.
The only ones I sort-of understand (and still disagree with) are Sunoco and Goodyear. But, really…wouldn’t having the sprint logo (stickers) on a Verizon car, or the Sunoco sticker on a Chevron car, or the Goodyear sticker on a Cooper Tires car (let alone that those cars would actually be using Goodyear tires) be enough?
Nascar, as a sanctioning body, is making money like they stole the printing press, and yet the teams that come to race are being folded/spindled/mutilated as sponsors leave.
Just think about how much healthier the sport would be if:
That’s a very interesting article Matt with just as many interesting Reader Comments. But, one thing to remember; both NA$CAR and the racing teams are businesses, and thus, both are competing (in a sense) against each other for the same thing: sponsor’s money. And both are just as crafty as to how they go about getting that money. What NA$CAR has failed to realize to this point, that by them sucking up as many “Official Sponsor” dollars as they do they are in essence killing the goose that lays the golden eggs. When the teams can’t find sponsor money (because NA$CAR swallowed it) and have to close, NA$CAR will have no product (races) to sell. Interesting catch 22 huh????
ok, i’ve been thinking too much today. just what, exactly, does na$car need with money? tracks pay fees for the races, teams pay fees for the annuual hard cards to be able to race at the tracks, drivers have to pay a fee for na$car license in order to participate. race sponsors pay the purse. in order to broadcast the mess of a race, tv has to pay a fee to the golden calf. to my knowledge, the only france owned track that’s had improvements recently is new surface at ‘dega and darlington. so what do the licensing fee’s go towards? brian’s salary, retirment? i mean, sure you have the inspectors and whatnot that have to be paid, and of course that rule book that is written in invisible ink, and open to interpretation. the teams have to buy the cars and parts, tires, sunoco gives the teams the fuel. and i’m quite sure that daytona usa charges an admittance fee. and i’m sure that besides being the official whatever of na$car, the products have to pay for advertising during the televised races. and i’m almost sure that the tracks and possibly citizens of areas pay the taxes on the property that the tracks are located. oh yeah, isn’t na$car part of the $700 billion bailout that the rules keep changing to everyday?
i’ve always said that the “official t/paper of na$car” is a thousand dollar bill.
Might I say that I feel the same way about you as an auto racing journalist, having followed you from website to website as you have moved on, not always of your own choosing. You are, have been and always will be the best. You always hit the nail on the heads — opps a carpentry metaphor while praising a real car guy. Well, you get the point. Keep up the good work as always.
No commentary about Camping World leaving KHI to become the Truck Series sponsor? Harvick announced they are now actively looking for replacement sponsorship on short notice. That is NASCAR stealing directly from the hand that feeds it.
eeeh I dunno, the Truck series actually NEEDED a title sponsor tho. O’Reilly being the “official bla bla” of NASCAR isn’t quite the same thing.
Unfortunate for KHI and my favourite driver Ron Hornaday, though. :/
“Sad to say, NASCAR has strayed far, far from it’s roots. The only reason I keep up with it is because it was such a big part of my life growing up.”
Hey, heres an idea, you fans of Brian France, get O’Reilly’s “official Auto Parts of NASCAR” tatooed on your butts, then wait until AZ or NAPA takes over that position, then what do you do? Hey anybody want to see a picture of a crackhead? Look beside the fifth paragraph of this article.
We have an O’Reillys hear in Cedar Rapids. Buddy of mine picked up a starter for me for a Ford Explorer from there. Long story short, the gear on the starter that engages the flywheel was the wrong one. O’Reillys insisted that it was correct and all their stock was the same (cept for a manual tranny). Took the starter to the Ford dealership and they confirmed that the wrong gear was on the starter, and was even the wrong one had they mistakenly given one out for a manual tranny.
It has gotten to the point with me, that any product that IS the official anything of NASCAR, I WILL NOT buy it just because of that!
Glad to know your a red neck, I am to, that is if you can be from Cal.
“I still drink Folgers coffee because they sponsored Tim Richmond. I wear Wrangler jeans because they sponsored Dale Earnhardt back in the day. I drink Coors Light because they backed Bill Elliott in his glory years.” me to , that should be I also that is, were you were talking about Brian! how could you, thats just terrible you have just destroyed his image of him self.
If a corporation backs the Labor Day weekend race at a track anywhere else than Darlington, they’ve lost my business for life. No Pepsi, Sharp, Sony TVs, or Pop Secret popcorn will be found on these premises; and occasionally at the grocery store, I’ll move all the Pop Secret back behind competitors’ brands just to hide it.
Oh holy crap, that’s hilarious. Bordering on psychotic, and completely idiotic. Thanks for the laugh!
Your printer has a ribbon?