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.
The Key Moment: Matt Kenseth took the lead just as Aric Almirola spun to bring out the eighth and final caution of the race. Rain began falling before green flag racing could resume, handing Kenseth his first Daytona 500 win.
In a Nutshell: For better or worse, the 2009 Cup season is out of the gates. Let’s see how this nag is going to run down the stretch.
Dramatic Moment: Action heated up as the race approached the halfway mark once threatening weather moved into the area.
What They’ll Be Talking About Around the Water Cooler This Week
What in blazes was Dale Earnhardt, Jr. thinking when he used up the No. 83 as a chew toy on lap 125? Even Junior’s most devoted fans have got to admit that amounted to an on-track mugging. Sure, Earnhardt was frustrated after a second unforced error in the pits — but taking out half the field was uncalled for. On Saturday, Jason Leffler was penalized five laps for a similar case of brain fade, but NASCAR swallowed its whistle on Sunday. Listening to Junior’s comments during the rain delay, it would seem he feels there’s one set of rules for the other 42 drivers and another set for him. Supposedly, Earnhardt radioed his team saying that, “If Vickers wants to meet me in the garage to get his ass beat, I’m willing.”
With all the billions of dollars being thrown around to fix crumbling infrastructure as part of the stimulus package, Brian France pulled some “political strings” to get Daytona repaved in three years. The condition of the track is simply embarrassing nowadays with all those bumps and cracks. They call the Daytona 500 stock car racing’s Super Bowl, but the NFL doesn’t play their big game on a field of dead grass pock-marked with gopher holes. And when they do repave Daytona, this would be a perfect time to reduce the banking so the series could dump the pile-up plates forever.
Countless words were written this offseason about the dark financial clouds hanging over the future of NASCAR this season. Well, FOX found an interesting way to address the issue — basically ignoring it. More rodents, less news… that’s how you do an interminable pre-race show!
What kind of setup was the No. 24 team running that caused them all those problems with right front tires? By all indications, none of the other Hendrick teams had the same problem.
The paint scheme on the No. 44 car A.J. Allmendinger drove Sunday was intended to honor the ARCA mount Kyle Petty drove to victory in his first big league stock car racing start back at Daytona in 1979. Well, Kyle sounded less than moved by the tribute. In fact, he labeled himself “crushed” the team hadn’t even consulted with him before going forward with it.
With NASCAR’s four team per owner limit kicking in at the end of this season, I thought Rick Hendrick and Tony Stewart would be a bit more circumspect about the incestuous relationship between their two teams… I guess not. Hendrick was all but soul-kissing Stewart after Tony’s win in Saturday’s Nationwide Series event.
Speaking of Stewart, I recommend he not leave an open space on his fridge door for a Christmas card from Goodyear this year. After a Saturday practice crash destroyed the cars of Stewart and his driver Ryan Newman, both had some rather pointed comments about the quality of racing tires Goodyear provides.
Here’s another sign of the times: Todd Bodine won Friday’s Truck Series race in an unsponsored entry. Well, I guess with Bodine at the wheel, we can cross “Just For Men” off the list…
Lest anyone forget (and I know most of you have not), this Wednesday will mark the anniversary of Dale Earnhardt’s tragic death on the last lap of the 2001 Daytona 500. Join me in lighting a candle at 7:03 for the seven-time champion who drove the black No. 3 car.
With a baseline as low as they’ve set up over the last eight years, the optimists amongst us felt that maybe this year, FOX would somehow improve an unpalatable product. No such luck, I’m afraid. They’ve bought back everything old time fans hate about their coverage: the Hollywood Hotel, DW’s Boogity, Boogity, Boogity, and that annoying “Let’s Go Raisin Boys” ditty. This year, they’ve added the animated Digger segment. Maybe I’m just getting old and cranky, but I’m thinking this might be the worst waste of resources ever in sports broadcasting. Let’s see… we’ve gone from a gimmicky camera angle, to an unnecessary animated mascot for that camera, to a named mascot, to a five minute TV show (which I’m sure they hope is a chance to sell plush toys and other souvenirs). So, if you see an adult in a Digger T-Shirt, contact your nearest lifeguard and have them removed from the gene pool. On one level, any distraction that keeps us from having to listen to the residents of the Hollywood Hotel or Larry McReynolds taking a broadax to the English language can’t be all that bad — but this cartoon is just so calculated and cynical it defies common sense. FOX’s David Hill claims that the new Digger show will lure kids to the sport and hook them on racing for life. If that’s the case, maybe they need to lose the subliminal tie to the Coors Light logo on the side of the gopher’s camera.
The Hindenburg Award For Foul Fortune
Kyle Busch was the class of the field for most of the event, but his car was destroyed in the big lap 125 pileup. It’s tough not to feel bad for Denny Hamlin, Carl Edwards, and Jamie McMurray, too — all of whom ran well all day, but wound up caught up in that same mess.
Joey Logano’s first Daytona 500 didn’t go well, as he took a head-on hit into pit wall well before the halfway point of the race.
Ryan Newman’s debut at Stewart-Haas Racing was less than memorable. He wiped out two cars, blew an engine, then ran poorly on Sunday. Having his car fall off the jack in the pits was just rubbing salt into the wound.
Jimmie Johnson’s car just never got up to speed Sunday, and the entire team seemed befuddled trying to figure out why.
Jeremy Mayfield’s quixotic attempt to run the Daytona 500 started well in his qualifying race, but collapsed amidst a myriad of mechanical failures on Sunday. Cinderella might have found the glass slipper a good fit — but those things suck for kicking field goals.
Had the rain arrived just a few minutes earlier, Elliott Sadler would have been the upset winner of the Daytona 500 — certainly the biggest victory ever in his career.
The “Seven Come Fore Eleven” Award For Fine Fortune
Matt Kenseth only led one green flag lap, but it was the lap that counted, as rain sealed the deal before Kevin Harvick got a chance to make a run at him. Kenseth also barely dodged the big wreck that took out several other top contenders.
Given the amount of work required to basically rebuild a team from scratch during the offseason, one might imagine Tony Stewart was pleased with strong results during Speedweeks. His run in Sunday’s 500 was certainly a lot stronger than his eighth place finish indicates.
Richard Petty Motorsports was formed on a wing and a prayer during the offseason, but the organization did have two drivers finish in the top 5 on Sunday.
A.J. Allmendinger was one of four drivers to race his way into the field in Thursday’s Twin 150s. He made the most of the opportunity with a third place finish in the No. 44 Valvoline Dodge.
What’s the Points?
Oddly enough, one race deep into the season the point standings practically mirror the finishing result of the Daytona 500.
Overall Rating (On a scale of one to six beer cans, with one being a stinker and a six pack an instant classic) — We’ll give this one three cans of fairly chilly generic stuff. Despite some hard hits, nobody was badly hurt during Speedweeks, and that’s worth an extra can.
Next Up: The series heads west like the Joad family this season to Fontana. Who could have guessed? California still isn’t the Promised Land. And get this: actual racing will not commence next Sunday until somewhere around 6:15 PM EST. Whose notion of a good idea was that? I guess we’ll all have to wait to see how stock car racing ratings do against the over-sexed denizens of Wisteria Lane, Lily, and her partners.
©2000 - 2008 Matt McLaughlin and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
I’d like to start a petition so that the Daytona 500 starts before 2:00 eastern and we’d actually get the whole thing in. 3 effing 40 was the race start! And another thing, do we really need to watch Digger cartoons during pre-race? What a bunch of BS.
I think Rick Hendrick needs to take Jr to the garage and beat his arse and some sense into him. I could not believe Jr yesterday. He sure seemed like his head wasn’t into the race. He will not win until his attitude changes. It’s not all about him.
I lost interest in the race about 15 laps into it. It was on tv, but I was off doing things around the house.
I’m convinced NA$CAR called the race because it just wanted off of tv. It had an hour left in programming when the rain came. I felt like they ended it just to get it over with. No fantastic celebration in Victory Lane for Matt or Rousch.
With next week’s race not starting until 6 pm (and I hope that’s true), I know I won’t see the end of it. Not like it will be worth staying up to watch anyhow.
They’re giving away tickets to AMS on the radio already here in Georgia.
I thought the 500 was a farce. All that hype…I was tired of it before it started.
Amen Chad! I’ve aleady sent my e-mail to FOX sports telling them Digger is useless and insulting. Of course I’m not a six year old.
I tuned in at 2pm to see the race. Who thought they would have a second interminable bs “pre-race” show? A couple of hours later I tuned in to see the race, muting of course the first lap so that my day wasn’t ruined by Waltrip’s silly yelling. They said it was a sell out, but all camera angles were conveniently placed so as not to show any closeups. I was amused that the commentators refused to comment on Jr’s imitation of his dad. If it had been anyone else, Waltrip would have been placing blame immediately. Afraid of Jr’s fans I suppose.
Anyone notice how “Ole DW” backtracked very quickly to cover his butt after his initial criticism of Junior causing the “big one?” I think he quickly realized that he had just criticized one of his favorites and had to make amends for that and do it fast! Anyone else (but Mikey) and DW would have been all over the driver the rest of the race.
Yep, and how he was kissing the butt of Kyle Busch too during the broadcast. Unfortunately, here in Atlanta, they’ve stopped broadcasting races on “local Atlanta station”. Station that has MRN feed is a small-town radio station in Rome Georgia. So reception is horrible. Guess I’ll have to hook up speakers on pc and try to figure out if I can get the MRN feed off the internet on raceday. I’m on a budget so I have slowest dsl connection at&t offers.
I’m surprised Matt, I figured you’d post a column with a lot more negativity than that.
Did anyone notice that, on Despain’s show last night, DW looked extremely pissed or like he just lost his best friend. It just seemed like he was under some sort of duress!!
Another restrictor plate race, another round of griping about who caused the “big one”. (No; I’m not a Jr. apologist. There’s a “big one” at most every plate race).
Point the finger at NASCAR, and keep pointing it there until they figure out that plate racing is an artificial conglomeration they call competition.
About the TV coverage… for some people, it sucked. For others, it was wonderful. Something tells me that the tiny faction of Americans called “racing fans” despised the TV production. For the huge majority of viewers that don’t know which way the engine spins, the TV coverage wasn’t an issue.
Janice… for the record; it was still raining at Daytona at 9:40 (local time). If the rain would have stopped instantly, two hours minimum track drying time… and the race would have restarted just before midnight. I watched the local radar from Daytona and the field of rain stretched 250-300 miles west into the Gulf of Mexico when NASCAR called the race.
To Kyle Petty: When was the last time you drove well, managed a racing team well, or put teams out on the grid consistently capable of winning? Kyle Petty needs to realize his ship has sailed.
Michael; I watched Wind Tunnel last night and thought DW was irritated. I know he missed all of his assignments Saturday for not feeling well and I think the guy needed his bed about 20 minutes after the race finished. He didn’t have any of his hyper energy whatsoever.
What a letdown this 500 was. Matt, I totally agree on the idea of reconfiguring the plate tracks, they are obsolete. Any track where a good handling car can be held wide open and run 190 needs to be changed. You would think that the car owners would press for that cause of the enormous amount of their budget that must go to the plate car/engine programs.
You know, the more I look at the final standings, the more I think this race sucked big bananas.
I second and third the start before 2 pm.
The key moment was when Jr’s boneheaded stunt took out the cars that had been contending for win.
The only exception being Kenseth, who deserves the win as the sole surviving real contender after the Jr-caused carnage.
I would like to say congratulations to Matt Kenseth and Jack Roush. Everybody wants to talk about Jr. and forget about the winner. There were plenty of people who deserved better finnishes like Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart, Carl Edwards and Jamie McMurray. I hate they did not get the finsh they deserved. However I do not feel sorry for jerks like Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin or Brian Vickers. I am glad they were not injured but Vickers pretty much got what he deserved. Do you remember how he won his only cup race? It was by taking out Jr and Jimmie Johnson at Talledega. Also Matt, Tony was driving a Rick Hendrick car in the Nationwide race. It was not a Stewart-Hass car so Rick had every right to be in victory lane. I know it is popular to root for the “little guy”, but Rick Hendrick and Jack Roush got to where they are by a lot of hard work. They were not always the powers they are now. So I say go Hendrick Chevys and Roush Fords!! And once again BIG CONGRATS to Matt Kenseth, and Jack Roush! Good Job!
Well, after watching Daytona…sort of…. between sections of the Sunday Times,all I can say is its going to be a long season! Nascar is in danger of losing a lot more than the casual fan. The race was boring, the starting time was ridiculous, the broadcast quality abysmal. If it were up to me, Junior would be sitting out the next event after his petulant performance Sunday. God I hope things get better!!
Jamie McMurray was the class of the Fords yesterday and in fact all of Speedweeks. Today he’s looking at a 37th place finish and points ranking while watching his teammate celebrate a Daytona 500 win. Hats off to Kenseth for being at the right place at the right time… you make your own luck. As for Jamie, well… he has his own kinda luck…
I’m fired up about A.J. Allmendinger, but I want to see what he can do with that 44 car in a few non-restrictor-plate races before I call him the hottest thing in Nascar.
I feel for Kyle Petty. I have tremendous respect for Kyle Petty. One of my fondest memories of Kyle Petty was watching him tell an impatient reporter that she would have to wait for a interview until after he was done signing autographs for some kids. With that said, Kyle should keep his ill feelings about RPM out of the media.
I thought the race was decent and there was potential for an exciting finish had the rain not started. As for the Earnhardt-Vickers thing, in my opinion, that was two guys racing hard for the same piece of real estate. I wouldn’t have it any other way. Too bad some other drivers got caught up in their wake, but that’s how it goes down sometimes.
I’ve decided to only watch a few select races over the next few months. That won’t include California next weekend. I can only take so much Digger, DW, and all the other annoyances that comes with FOX’s race broadcasts. Vote with your remote, I say.
The situation with Richard Petty and the comments (and lack thereof) has disappointed me because of the lack of interest in the history of the sport. The comments by the older fans and the ridicule they get from the new fans makes me want to give them a glimpse into the past using a kind of history quiz, sort of “I remember when” deal.
Shame on NASCAR and FOX for not using common sense when deciding the start time for a race – especially the Daytona 500. When you have (arguably) your biggest event of the season and it is subject to weather issues, common sense dictates you determine the window in which in can be run (let’s say 12PM to 10PM) you start at the beginning of that window to allow yourself the longest possible chance to get the race in. Had the race started at 1PM it would have been over before the rain.
They should get rid of those restrictor plates even if it means putting in a chicane on the front stretches of Daytona and Talladega. Yes these four races are crap shoots that allow subpar cars to stay up with the cream of the crop.
The digger cartoon is just another slap in the serious hardcore fans face by Fox. They are more interested in attracting casual fans (that won’t be watching next week) than hard core fans.
Kyle Petty sounds like a bitter disgruntled ex-employee. If he had been running good for the previous five years that would be expected but he couldn’t expect to be a “legacy” driver at this level. His day is done. Whether you like it or not this sport has become a young man’s game over the last 15 years.
Good to see your muses again, Matt. As for the 500, in summary, it appears that The Hindenburg Award For Foul Fortune should actually go to the fans – start the 500 at 1 p.m. guys – what’s wrong with you??? Concessions are more profitable AFTER a GOOD race …….there’s no real controversy after this Sunday drive – everything on track during this “race” was a “racing deal” as they say……Vickers’ only chance at getting his lap back would have been an orange construction sign on the rear of his car reading “KEEP BACK 200 FEET – THIS VEHICLE MAKES SUDDEN TURNS” – apparantly if he can’t win by driving expertise he thinks he can hold the whole field back by swerving all over the place….very unfortunate for the good horses taken out, but Jr. had nowhere to go and Vickers knew it…Vickers may be better off driving a Greyhound bus… as for entertainment value, ratings would have surely soared if there was coverage of Jr. beating Vickers ass out behind the barn after the race, IF that ever happened, and it should have. As for the broadcast, one can’t argue with the excellent angles and on-track coverage… but Digger should be reduced to one or two appearances and then kept in his hole, there’s already enough silly “entertainment” with their broadcasts… we’re saving our beers now for mowing grass on Sunday afternoons and getting the results in the papers…. NASCAR has again Red Flagged the sport for us.
yeah I know what the radar showed. But I was surprised they pulle the plug on the race after 15 min. They kept saying it was not a large rain cell.
Didn’t the 500 use to start around 1 pm?? I swear you use to get home from church, eat lunch and watch the race. If I remember correctly Fox didn’t have anything too important on tv at 1 pm Sunday afternoon. Heck start it at 2 pm, they had an hour show about making it to the 500. That was an hour they could have used, plus the hour pre-race show. And please…someone tape up Chris Myers mouth!
Concerning Earnhardt… To discuss anything about the Vickers/Earnhardt incident without recognising that Earnhardt screwed up 2 pit stops and put himself behind the 8-ball all day is to ignore that Earnhardt put himself behind the 8-ball all day.
When I hear Earnhardt say, “I was a lap down and desperate as a result of my mistakes…” I’ll know he’s manned up to his failings.
Well Matt, always enjoy your synopsis of the races. Howerever Goodyear put more cars on haulers this week than Junior did. Junior without a doubt caused the big one and only ten cars were involved meaning he only took out 1/4 of the field not half. Where is the outcry at Geoff Bodine for causing the big one at halfway when running 2nd and sending a rookie into the pack in fridays truck race?
Goodyear could cause more fans to walk away from the sport if they keep brining an inferior product to the races. How many races will we not be able to see full fuel runs and green flag pit stops because the tires give up the goodie in them?
Fox is a lost cause as long as Chris Meyers is in the booth. One more crack from him about Dick Bergren’s age and I’ll need a new TV. Dick Bergren knows more about motorsports than Meyer’s knows about tupees. Now if we could only get rid oF DW’s and Larry Mac’s manlove of Kyle Busch and Dale Jr we’d have a decent race call. They self annointed Kyle as the race winner the seconds that car went into the wall. There is a reason that people race until the checkers and don’t pull over because a car can run up front.
I know that Dale jr is going to get alot of attnetion this week and deservedly so, but AJ Almendinger definately derserves more! And Valvoline needs to hear from race fans that AJ should carry valvoline colors for the rest of the year instead of the 8 race package he has now.
Janice… If you know what the radar showed, and it showed rain 250 miles to the west headed right at Daytona, why question NASCAR’s call?
Don Mei. I agree that Earnhardt seemed to have performed poorly on many accounts but don’t imagine for a second they’ll impose a sanction against Earnhardt.
DonInAjax. The top 35 rule is a controversy. It rewards teams for past performances and precludes opportunity for faster, more potent teams.
Yes, Kyle Petty does not have much to gripe about, given his lack of being competitive for so long. Get over it already.
Nascar and FOX, I just really can not take anymore this year. Same things (comments) are said year after year. ‘How great is it 80 laps into the race we have 30 cars within 3 seconds’ Duh. Congratulations the dumba$$ rules even allow for this. I can’t believe the drivers are putting up with it – Carl on Saturday said it was a bunch of fun?? Driving a car half out of control for several hours is fun? Until the next fatality. Anyway, didn’t watch much, thank goodness turned the TV on for the 1st time during national anthem. Who needs 1.5 hours of prerace when the race is a matter of luck/fate on what is going to happen? Why can I watch 12 hours of football in one weekend, and can’t stand to watch 2 hours of racing?
Jr is a bonehead.
The race stated too late.
Digger needs to die.
Attention ESPN bashers: So FOX is still better?
From what I saw – commercials took away four laps. Commercials came every 11 laps. Damn, that sucked.
I really thought the 6:15PM EST time was wrong in the ‘Next Race’ section. Nope – this race really does start that late.
SO WAY TO GO NASCAR, FOX, AND BRIAN!!! Next Sunday is the Oscars – so all the casual fans that you have been trying to woo will be more concerned about that other event in CA!!! Seriously!! The bone-headed moves are actually becoming funny!!
Amazing how Dale Jr gets a lot of free passes from na$car. A few years ago he went under the yellow line and won a cup race and the explaination was that he was forced. Now he retaliates against Vickers and takes out the top cars in one fell swoop. While I don’t like the fact that Talladega and Daytona encourage blocking, there was no excuse for what Jr. did. And that God awful rodent, that has to go. And then they showed it three tomes in a row. Once was too much.
I can’t believe that I waited 3 months for THIS!? It is kind of like Lucy always pulling the football away from Charlie Brown. You know it is going to happen, but you some how think it will be different THIS time. The problem is the same with NASCAR as with a lot of institutions in America. They listen to no one because they have all the answers…too bad their answers are all wrong! Good Grief what an f*#!?*’ grease fire that race was yesterday!
What is the problem? Jr. took out a few cars, someone had to do it. Thank God the Daytona moving parking lot spectacle is over. Now the real racing begins. I think it was a good move of JR to take out Vickers, a little payback for Vickers taking out Jr and Jimmy on the last lap of the UAW Ford 500 at Talladega. Didn’t hear any whining from Vickers that day.WAY TO GO JR!!!! Now if we can stop in our pit stall this year we’ll be golden.
I have been watching racing on TV since the very late 70’s and early 80’s which really does not make me anything more than just a fan..
What they try to pass off as racing anymore is just horrible and yesterday’s Daytona 500 is no exception. The brutal pre-race show with cartoons and nonsense nobody cares about, to starting the race exactly when they had planned when a little flexibility by starting the race a little early probably could have given us a full 500 miles.
To the incoherant ramblings of DW, who have you noticed has now a full blown throat problem..he is at best gurgling his comments any more, which if that makes him less intelligable I am all for that.
To cartoons that I guess someone thinks are funny.. to a race with cars that provide no real excitement.. its all just horrible and sad for anyone who remembers what reacing was 10, 20 or 30 years ago.
Unless there are major overhuals in nearly every category this “sport” is doomed.
Hey DoninAjax, I was at that race at the CNE in 1958, it looked like a bunch of taxi cabs lumbering around in a parking lot. We were accustomed to watching the modifieds and later the supermodifieds running in Ontario and NY. I don’t know if the racing was better then or not. However, I’m appalled at the current state or motor sports. Racing seems like an after thought, money seems the object of the game. And guess what, these COT things look like taxi cabs doing you know what.
I have also watched every Super Bowl, that event has not become banal, the announcers seem to be able to lose their egos and the game is still the event.
Real Racing Fans watch USAC Midgets and Sprits or World of Outlaws…where the best racing in the world lives.
When Chris Myers announced that the race was final, I was waiting for a punchline that never came. Nothing like running the biggest race of the year without the payoff every announcer was hyping up all week (the final 20 laps).
I’m predicting Matt’s columns will become increasingly entertaining to read as the year progresses, especially once we get into the long summer stretch.
Ted, tell us how you really feel.
You could have made your point without all of the “toeing the line” print friendly cursing. I’ll paraphrase fro you:
The product was disappointing but no one at ISC will do a thing about it until corporate America starts pulling out in droves.”
Hey Joe, I’m glad you understood what T#d wrote. Thanks for the lucid interpretation.
First off I want to say I really am not a die-hard Junior fan. My disappointment Sunday started as soon as they began discussing the double-yellow rule. Yes, we have had it for a couple years now (wish they had it back when Rusty almost won the 500 but that’s another story) but now that they are stating you can basically block and force someone below the yellow with no penalty on you, the car out front can pretty much stink up the show as KB was doing for most of the afternoon. What fun it was watching him just switch from line to line, stalling each line so he could stay out front with no real way for anyone to really get around him.
Does anyone really think Vickers didn’t get what was coming to him? C’mon, running someone all the way down to the grass? Is this still NASCAR or Racing Etiquette School???? I think Dale Sr. would have parked Vickers just the same, if you have a slower car and you know it, you are asking for it by swervin all over the track trying to block.
As a fan of over 20 + years, I want to see a race, not a parade.
BTW – Matt, look forward to your column every week, keep up the great work.
hey i got an idea next weeks race is cal-if – fourneer ! when nascar, fox and the trash is there why don’t they stay there for ,say another 40 years and see how its works out. after all they’ve used up their welcome in the eastern states. they can start the race late like here in the east and nobody will be awake to be punised by this——
Start the race EARLY. Next week, 6:15. you already lost me.
Guess what? Next week’s race in California doesn’t start until 5:00 ET. That’s 2:00 PST. The races seem to be starting later and later. Instead of getting started at an earlier time, we have to watch that God awful rodent. Please! Get rid of that thing. And with a cartoon and song too boot. And cudos to Jr. nation to once again sticking their heads in the sand in regards to Junior ever making a mistake. Come on. Get over it. He was somewhere in between mediocre and terrible Sunday.
I was at the race yesterday and yes there was the big wreck, what else is new. If Kyle had done that all of you would have said He sure is a hell of a racer, but when someone else does it is always a big deal. Vickers got what he deserved! Don’t any of you remember the DEGA race when he took out Jr and Jimmie and won the race ? No one faulted him then so it’s fair play right?? I’m glad Jr is getting a little backbone in his racing. It’s about time after being the good guy so long and getting shoved around.
What caused the wreck, the big block or the ensuing bump? Chicken or egg? As far as Busch being taken out, who gives a fat rats behind?
So what if Junior had a bad day, GET OVER IT!!!
As for all you so called race fans dissing on Kyle Petty, he doesn’t owe any of you one da@$ed thing. There has been a Petty in the 500 for 50 years, up until now. He lost a son, one of God’s great gifts to this sport. He is one of the nicest and most benevolent people you will ever have a chance to meet. So lay off already.
Douglas you are right NA$CRAP is here to stay.
As a 30+ year NASCAR fan, I’m trying to get excited about the new season; hell, my favorite driver is even back full time in the 5 car. But I just can’t get pumped up at all. I watched the 500, and granted plate racing is not my favorite, but I just could not get into it. Is it me or is this whole NASCAR circus getting to be tedious at best?
Kyle Petty might be the nicest guy in the world but his comments sure seem like sour grapes from a guy who should have stepped aside ten years ago when he realized the crap he was driving was going nowhere fast.
Why should he have stepped aside 10 years ago? He’s out there doing what he loves, for his family team, and sponsors who liked being associated with him. The economy is not being kind to a lot of businesses – racing is no exception. I’m not sure how I’d feel if my family business could only survive by selling out to a large investment group in the current climate. But, if the choice came down to family pride, or sense of duty to those who worked for the team – I think the honorable decision was made. We’re all complaining about the current state of NASCAR and the ‘product’, why can’t he?
As far as the paint scheme goes, maybe he could have kept his dissatisfaction a little more in check; but, how many would respond favorably to a team running a black and silver ‘tribute’ scheme – no matter how honorable?