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.
My, how times have changed. Earlier this year, NASCAR seemed poised to propose allowing teams almost unlimited testing dates for next season. Then, the economy hit the skids, and a week and a half ago a new policy was announced instead that will ban all Cup teams from testing at all — at least, on tracks that hold NASCAR-sanctioned races. Effective January 1st, 2009, the really stunning part of this announcement was that the traditional preseason tests in preparation for the Daytona 500 are also included on the list. It wasn’t that many years ago that NASCAR was trying to market those weeks as a “Must See” fan event, with driver meet and greets intended to eliminate the T. Wayne Roberts charity event at Charlotte where fans lined up to get a look at the new season’s cars in their race livery and gather a few autographs.
As one of NASCAR’s harshest critics (or at least one of its harshest critics in the media), I have to give credit where credit is due. In this instance, I think the powers that be made a decision with the best of intentions. There’s no doubting that all of us, from the fans right on up to the top team owners, are living in tough economic times right now. I’m not smart enough to know if the U.S. economy is in recession or on the brink of depression, but I know from the stock market to the supermarket the average American is frightened right now, possessing a rather gloomy view of the future ahead. I know the Big Three automakers are teetering on the edge of bankruptcy; and in a worst case scenario, if all three were to fail, one in ten Americans would be added to the rolls of the unemployed. A lot of big name race teams are at risk of going out of business — especially with sponsorship money so hard to find right now and so many teams looking for backing. It doesn’t help that the spending on the Cup level side of the garage area has gone insane, because reality is finally intruding its ugly little head into matters.
On the face of it all, you’d think eliminating testing will save teams millions of dollars a year and help them get by with limited or reduced spending — and that’s a good thing. But as I reflect further on the testing ban, I have my concerns. First and foremost, I am aware it’s going to put an awful lot of hard working men and women who work for Cup teams out of a job. Last Monday was a termed “Black Monday” in Mooresville, as a lot of hard working employees of even the top teams learned that despite their best efforts, the end of the 2008 season also meant the end of their employment. I am mindful that these are real men and women who have been receiving decent paychecks and using them to raise families, pay mortgages, and make car payments. Now, through no fault of their own they are suddenly out of work, and with the current unemployment rate and almost all teams cutting back, they have limited opportunities to find employment at the Cup level or even working for a Nationwide or Truck Series team.
Most of these smart, skilled, and hard working folks shown the door were people who chased their dreams relentlessly to make it to the top level of this sport. You or I might not know their names, but we see their accomplishments in an era where small block engines akin (except in the case of Toyotas) to what we drove on the streets in the ’70s can routinely rev to 9,500 RPM and hurtle boxy stock cars to speeds over 200 MPH. Maybe some of them will find work as mechanics at local repair shops and dealerships, but only at greatly diminished rates of pay. And at least those fortunate ones will have jobs…
Of course, things have gotten out of hand when the big teams have “testing teams” never intended to field entries in the Cup series, but solely to develop and experiment with new cars and ideas for the real Cup teams. Testing is hideously expensive, and it’s time even guys like Roush and Hendrick sober up and realize spending at the Cup level has gotten totally out of hand. But that doesn’t change my concern for a fellow who worked hard and did a good job suddenly having to walk into his home he has a 30-year mortgage on after parking his heavily financed pickup truck to tell his pregnant wife he is unexpectedly unemployed and not sure what to do next. I’ve been there. Despite doing my best, I lost a once good-paying job when the internet bubble burst, and it sucked. I feel nothing but empathy for the newly unemployed. And as a side note here, I want to remind those of you reading this that sudden and unexpected unemployment isn’t solely a NASCAR issue. It’s an issue hitting folks in our neighborhoods hard as well. Among those suddenly “unemployed” are our brave soldiers returning from a war fought on two fronts, many with dehabilitating injuries that have changed their lives forever. If you are fortunate enough to still have a job, you need to consider tightening your belt another notch to give to charities that support our wounded GIs, as well as those that will give the less fortunate a decent Thanksgiving dinner or a few toys for children who might not otherwise have gifts this Christmas.
I am also concerned the testing ban is going to have unintended consequences on and off the race track. This season has been dominated by three super teams that are still sitting flush with solid sponsorships, proven race-winning teams, and large budgets. As such, I fear the testing ban could allow the Big Three (Gibbs, Roush and Hendrick) to exploit their financial strength to further distance themselves from the “best of the rest” or perhaps, given the current economic climate, “the best of what’s left.” Roush and Hendrick have previously considered and proposed building test tracks for their organizations, and can still afford to do so. Zoning considerations might keep them from developing such test tracks at their current locations, but there’s nothing stopping them from building them somewhere out in the wilderness of Wyoming —especially considering they can afford to truck test cars and fly test personnel out there. If the Big Three don’t control their spending, this could be a classic example of the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer.
Even lacking private test tracks, the big organizations have a decided advantage over the smaller teams with their seven post-shaker rigs, computer simulations, and wind tunnel time that aren’t limited under the testing ban. The big multi-car teams also already have the advantage of sharing notes between several teams. I’d hate to see this sport dominated by three teams and their satellite organizations, even while storied teams like Petty Engineering and the Wood Brothers fall by the wayside — leaving unemployed workers in their wake and traditional fans like me heartsick. But it’s a distinct possibility.
I also have concerns for the next crop of rookie drivers. Unlike the old days, when freshmen earned their stripes running for lesser funded teams and even had a couple of years to get up to speed once they signed on with a big organization, nowadays, rookies are expected to run competitively from the get-go. And to be able to run with the Big Dogs, rookies have traditionally been able to do more testing to get themselves acclimated to the new cars and tracks where they will be competing. The testing ban is going to hamper that effort, and if I was Joey Logano right now, I’d be sweating bullets. The same goes for the new teams of Tony Stewart and Ryan Newman, who have to enter next year’s Daytona 500 with limited track time. Teams and drivers need time to get acclimated to each other, and the less opportunity they have to spend together before the season starts paying points makes it a steeper mountain to climb if they experience early trouble.
I also have concerns on how the testing ban is going to affect the quality of racing we as fans see next year. None of the Big Three teams, much less the smaller outfits, seem to have their arms completely around the Car of Sorrow quite yet. Instead, everybody is still trying to sort out what these cars need to run competitively side-by-side and nose to tail. A ban on testing with no points on the table limits the teams’ abilities to sort these new cars out, so we, as fans, can see good racing again after a season notably lacking in many good races. The economic meltdown has hit the sport at a vulnerable time. Were it to have happened a year ago, NASCAR might have put the new car program on hold this year as they did with the Nationwide Series. But with team owners having spent millions to convert their fleets to the Car of Horror already, there’s no turning back now. That leaves track owners having to promote less competitive and exciting races to fans facing harsh economic realities themselves — and thus unwilling to buy all those high-priced seats. Given enough testing, perhaps, the team engineers could find a way to make these new cars able to run in close quarters and side by side. But given the current economic reality and testing ban, that’s almost certainly not going to happen. And if the quality of the racing doesn’t improve, then almost certainly there will be less fans in the grandstands next year. If that trend is allowed to run its course, I can certainly envision the sport imploding into itself — at least, NASCAR racing as we’ve come to accept it — and possibly cease to exist.
The testing ban was doubtless a difficult decision, but it was still the right one given the severity of the hard times we’re all facing. Unfortunately, there are far reaching and unfortunate implications already. The ISC is going to lose money not having their traditional preseason Daytona test, and there will be a ripple effect from that which spreads to local restaurants and hotels, right down to the waiters and waitresses, hotel maids, and local gas station attendants. I hate that it has to be the case; but in this instance, it’s a matter of sharing the pain.
Realizing the genuine hardship that some people will suffer — from highly compensated engineers to barely getting by cabbies — it is the responsibility of those with enough financial resources to easily weather this storm to act responsibly. Right now, there’s a Cold War going on between the Big Three: Jack Roush, Rick Hendrick, and Joe Gibbs. Each one has pledged lip service to the testing ban, but all are keeping a wary eye on the other organizations. At the first sign one of them is trying to circumvent the testing rules to gain an advantage, the other two will respond in kind, and it will spiral out of control from there — just as it has under other testing limitations NASCAR has tried to impose on the teams. So, it’s time for the Big Three to realize they have reaped a lot of wealth from this sport, and they need to act in its long-term best interests. I’d suggest a private summit, perhaps at the upcoming NYC Banquet, where the Big Three team owners — and maybe Richard Childress and Roger Penske — sit down together behind closed doors and discuss these issues in private. For example, Rick Hendrick could tell Jack Roush, yes, my teams and I are going to live to the letter and intent of this new policy. And if you feel someone in my employ is violating the spirit of these rules, call me personally and we’ll talk things out.
There’s thousands of things that could go wrong here — but only one reason they must not. The future of the sport is on the line, as are the livelihoods of people who either directly or indirectly draw their paychecks at least in part from the sport of NASCAR racing. From millionaire drivers to waitresses who work extra shifts when the NASCAR circus is in town, there’s a lot of folks depending on this ban working out long-term.
©2000 - 2008 Matt McLaughlin and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
“it is the responsibility of those with enough financial resources to easily weather this storm to act responsibly.”
True, but for a business owner to act “responsibly” mean that he takes care of the business and does whatever is necessary to ensure that it remains successful.
If testing at Rockingham or buying and revamping North Wilkesboro for a test track is the use of money that will return the best performance results for the investment than doing that IS acting responsibly.
In addition to keeping the company healthy that responsible use of company money to benefit the company will also put money into the pockets of the test team personnel, the independent track owners, the people hired to repave North Wilkesboro, the local restaurants/gas stations/etc. and so on.
Everyone all suffering together may sound noble, but its better for those who have the money to use it productively because wise investment creates prosperity — enabling them to hire more people — while simply sitting on money creates stagnation.
In fact, this would be a good time for Nascar to re-think the 4-car limit and permit the team owners who have the money to expand so as to field as many fully-sponsored, competitive cars as they can finance instead of forcing a healthy business (Roush), to contract while preventing other healthy businesses (Gibbs, Hendrick, Childress), from growing and hiring more people.
LOL – Car of Sorrow! I love it! This ‘sport’ is bleeding itself to death! Wicked! I stick to watching racing that doesn’t have puppets as drivers!
Death to Nascrap!
The VERY LAST thing the sport needs is to let the teams grow to whatever size they want . That would be the end of NASCAR . Period .
NA$CAR holds the key to the survival of smaller teams. Teams that they seem to view as expendable. Turn loose of some money. It’s as simple as that. They need to talk with the companies who have paid NA$CAR for the right to be the Official Whatever, of NA$CAR. Give them a list of Cars, tell them “pick one” The car gets a sponsor, & they can still be the Official Whatever of NA$CAR. NA$CAR has made it’s Billions from the car owners. It’s time to stop treating them like Kleenex. Using them, then throwing them away.
That’s the quick fix. The long term solution is Franchising. Anyone who has been an owner for 10 years, is awarded one, no money needed. Additional cars, would be at full price.Current owners would buy in on a sliding scale, depending on time as an owner. Owners could only franchise cars that attempted a full schedule last season. The Wood Bros. would be franchised at no cost. Petty would have to buy the second one.Furniture Row could buy one at a 30% discount, etc, etc.
The France family, has grown tremendously fat from the sport/business. It’s time for them to give something back.
I’m sure they would love to step up. Was that a pig that just flew by my window?
Second thought, they could just sell it. That should work too.
BTW, M. B. Voelker has a good point and I will take it a step further. Tilting the rules for struggling teams is the equivalent of a bail-out. If there is one rule that defines capitalism it’s that those who make a profit and have a viable business plan survive and those who do not perish. The Wood Brother and Petty have been struggling for 15 years, it has nothing to do with the current economic conditions. All the current crisis has done is make it harder for them to fool themselves into thinking they still are a healthy company. What’s their excuse for the last 10 years?
My question is: How can ANYONE take the word of a pardoned felon car owner(a pardon he bought with hard cash left over from what he stole) to tell the truth about testing or cheating in any form…and I beggingly ask Mr. Voelker to please send me some of whatever he is smoking…..
Ordinarily I would agree with Matt, but the insanity has to stop somehwere. Nobody is giving us, the fan, a break so I have a real hard time feeling sorry for the millionaire car owners who will “suffer” due to the economy. Not one team owner has stepped up to the plate to tell Brian France he is at fault for the explosion in costs, so they have all participated in squeezing out the little guy. If we are going to tout capitalism as truly American, then we need to stop bailing out everyone. And I do mean everyone. For every business, bank, or Nascar team that fails, there will be someone to step up and take their place. I’m getting sick of hearing that this and that is “too big to fail”. Screw ‘em. We’d all live just fine without Nascar.
“And it would be surprisingly easy to enforce . Cup transporters are hard to miss going down the road .”
Except for that minor, inconsequential little issue of property rights and the fact that NO business can tell its independent contractors how to run their business.
Once the team steps out of Nascar’s territory Nascar has no legal authority over them. What Roush, Hendrick, Gibbs, etc. do on their own time when away from Nascar sanctioned tracks is 100% their own business.
Would you accept your boss telling you that if you want to work for him you are not allowed to spend over $50/week on groceries or live in a house with more than 3 bedrooms? Do you think your boss has the right to say how many kids you can have or that your spouse can’t hold a job that pays more than 10% above minimum wage?
Why do you think Nascar should be able to make equally intrusive rules for people who aren’t even employees?
Thanks, Bill B. Its amazing how many outright communists crawl out of the walls where Nascar rules are concerned.
M B , you are as far out of touch as its possible to be . And i’m not certain JohnBoy , but i think its Ms . Voelker . Property rights would obviously have nothing to do with fans spotting transporters . The point is that if there were a total ban on testing , then the local fans would actually be the enforcers . What cup team could go to a test anywhere and not be noticed ? And how long do you suppose it would take for the test session to be spread all over the internet , thus enabling NASCAR to know who broke the testing ban .
And then we will only have the big 3 left.How exciting is this? Who would want to watch only the big 3 race?
Well Bill B , if you have a formula you’d like to share with everyone regarding what performance is required so as to be allowed to stay in CUP , we’re all waiting . You might want to be carefull though . The first few races of the year the 48 was one of the worst performing cars on the track . And then too , several of the Gibbs cars were lagging behind . Just how would you go about determining who should be allowed to race in NASCAR ?
Lets be honest NA$CAR will do what ever little Bryan Wants, the four car limit is over before it started.
I see you and others keep referring to “the Big Three (Gibbs, Roush and Hendrick)” in NASCAR as the power teams. Did you notice that Childress cars finished 4, 5, and 6 in the final points?
Property rights have everything to do with a business owner’s right to run his own business in the way he sees fit.
Your boss can’t dictate what your spouse earns.
Your boss can’t tell you what to spend on groceries.
Your boss can’t tell you what you can and can’t do in your own home outside working hours.
And Nascar isn’t even “boss” to the team owners because both team owners and drivers are independent contractors.
Federal law sets VERY strict limits on a business’s ability to dictate rules to independent contractors. They don’t even have the limited rights that an employer has over employees.
I’m not the one here who is out of touch.
I had my say in the column but I’d like to interject something here.
Yes, Hendrick, Roush, Gibbs (and Childress) have the right to run thier businesses anyway they choose seeing as they are independent contractors. And yes, trying to gain an advantage on your competitors (or even put the competition out of business) is a fundamental goal of business.
But there’s short range goals and there’s long range goals for any business. Seeking short term profit at the expense of long term health is a recipe for disaster. Ask the folks at GM who now need you and I and everyone who earns a paycheck to bail them out.
At some point the Big 3 (or big 4 if you prefer) have to take a long term outlook, beyond what is good for thier businesses in 2009 and 2010.
All of them have made out pretty well at this stock car racing game. But if there desire to gain a short term advantage damages the sport, the platform on which they ply thier businesses, they may be left with the best cars, the best drivers, and the best team members but no place left to play the game.
Sometimes even as a business man you have to suck it up a little and look a decade down the road. Are the decisions you’re making short term going to damage your business down the road.
Look at a classic example of a decision made by the Ford Motor Company. The Pinto was very profitable when it first came out. It gave Ford a bite of the economy car pie they hadn’t had since the Falcon. But faced with adding a few bucks and pounds to thier product to keep the things from going up in flames in a severe accident they decided the cost of the potential litigation by survivors of customers outweighed the long term good of doing the right thing. When the Smoking Gun documents were leaked they had thier butts handed to them in court. That also started a mindset in many consumers minds that exists to this day that Ford builds shoddy, poorly engineered products that may even be dangerous, despite the fact that Ford’s current cars’ quality and safety are actually equal to or better than the Japanese competition. In retrospect I bet they wish they’d added those shields over the differential housings on the Pintos, which was a loathsome car in retrospect but no more loathesome than most econony cars of the era.
And then we will only have the big 3 left.How exciting is this? Who would want to watch only the big 3 race?
Uh thats you have now week after week