Kurt Busch to Attempt The Indianapolis-Charlotte Double
posted by Phil Allaway
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Andretti Autosport announced this morning that Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet in the Sprint Cup Series, will attempt the Indianapolis 500 in a fifth entry for the IndyCar Series team. Once the Indianapolis 500 is completed, Busch will fly from Indianapolis to Charlotte, jump in his No. 41 Chevrolet and compete in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Busch considers the opportunity to do the double as an old-school throwback moment.
“This is really to challenge myself within motorsports,” Busch said in Andretti Autosport’s press release. “Perhaps I am a bit of an old-school racer; a throwback, I guess. I enjoyed the era of drivers racing different cars and testing themselves in other series. It is tough to do now for a variety of factors, but when the opportunity is there, I want to do it. While NASCAR is my home, I have been fortunate to compete in Pro Stock on the NHRA circuit a number of years ago and test a V8 Supercar. This opportunity was a talk with Michael [Andretti] over dinner one night, a “What if,” and now it’s becoming a reality for me to drive in the Indy 500 with Andretti Autosport. It’s literally a dream come true. To go to the famous Brickyard with the iconic Andretti name, it doesn’t get much cooler or better than that.”
Busch will be doing the Indianapolis-Charlotte double as a Memorial Day mission to men and women serving in the U.S. Military via the Armed Forces Foundation. Fans can contribute to the cause by texting AFF to 50555 to donate $10.
Busch, who has never raced an IndyCar, passed Rookie Orientation at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year during a test session. At the time, Busch was more or less testing the Dallara DW12 for fun.
Busch will be the fourth driver to attempt the Indianapolis-Charlotte double. John Andretti was the first driver to attempt it in 1994. After finishing four laps down in tenth in Indianapolis, Andretti crashed and had engine problems in the 600. Robby Gordon has attempted the double five times, most recently in 2004. However, Gordon failed to make it to Charlotte on time and did not start the 600 in 2000 (P.J. Jones started Gordon’s No. 13 Ford in that instance). Finally, Tony Stewart has attempted the double twice (most recently in 2001) and is the only driver to ever complete all 1100 miles. Neither of the three drivers has won either leg of the double. The best finishes are Stewart and Gordon’s sixth-place finishes at the Indianapolis 500 (although Gordon’s came in 2000, the year he didn’t make it to Charlotte in time to start the Coca-Cola 600), and Stewart’s fourth-place finish in the 2001 Coca-Cola 600.
Danica Patrick, Justin Allgaier Talk About Phoenix Incident
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
A disappointing start to the year for Danica Patrick won’t include continued conflict. Patrick met with rookie Justin Allgaier Sunday, shortly after the Phoenix Cup race after a wreck ruined both drivers’ days. Patrick, who was critical of the No. 51 car on the radio, claiming Allgaier was “driving all over the track” appeared receptive to a conversation that quickly settled differences over what will be a long season.
“She was just upset because she got involved in the crash that we had,’’ said Allgaier to the Motor Racing Network. “She says she’s been through this and that she felt like I needed to settle down at that point. I explained my position on why everything happened. I think she understood where I was coming from. It doesn’t fix either one of our racecars. It doesn’t fix either one of our days. Unfortunately, we were both having pretty decent days.’’
Allgaier wound up 30th due to the incident while Patrick was 36th. The incident, which was caused by Allgaier’s spin also involved the No. 32 team and Travis Kvapil, which wound up 38th after sustaining heavy damage.
Camping World Close to Extending Title Sponsorship of NCWTS
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Marcus Lemonis, CEO of Camping World, Grand Marshal of Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway, and star of CNBC’s “The Profit,” made the announcement over the weekend that the retailer is very close to announcing a deal that would continue its title sponsorship of NASCAR’s Truck Series. The original agreement with NASCAR is scheduled to conclude after the 2015 season.
According to the sanctioning body, no formal contract has been signed, but “the agreement between the two parties has proven to be a beneficial one.”
“In about a month, we’ll be announcing a significant extension to that contract. It’s been great for us,” said Camping World’s Lemonis in a statement. “The NASCAR relationship has worked well for Camping World. When we started, we had 35 stores. Now, we’re up to 120 stores. As we travel the country and we meet new customers in stores, they always are very appreciative of our relationship with NASCAR. It’s been good.”
Gaining a long-term commitment from Camping World to sponsor the Truck Series would be a relief for NASCAR, which is set to lose Nationwide Insurance as title sponsor for the NASCAR Nationwide Series at the end of the 2014 season. The sponsorship of the Cup Series by Sprint runs through 2016.
The NCWTS is back in action on March 29th at 2:30 PM (ET) when the trucks visit Martinsville Speedway in the Kroger 250, which can be seen on Fox Sports 1. Ratings for the season opener were up 11 percent.
Harvick Takes Win At Phoenix In Second Race With New Team
posted by Justin Tucker
Monday March 3, 2014
Phoenix International Raceway has become Kevin Harvick’s home away from home. Sunday Afternoon was no exception as Harvick charged to the front early and would dominate for much of the day, leading 224 of the scheduled 312 laps to record his record fifth win on the one mile oval and his third win in the last four races at Phoenix.
Harvick, coming off of a disappointing Speedweeks which was capped by a last lap crash in the Daytona 500 in his debut with Stewart-Haas Racing, set the tone on Saturday by winning both practices while having the best 5 and 10-lap averages in the first practice of the day on Saturday. On Sunday, Harvick and his No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet was nothing short of flawless as he was able to hold Dale Earnhardt, Jr. by .489 seconds after a late race restart to claim his 24th career Sprint Cup Series victory.
“Man, this is awesome,” Harvick said after his dominant victory on Sunday. “Man, this just solidifies so many things and so many decisions. It’s been so much work with all the time and effort that these guys (the crew) have put in—but what a race car.”
Stewart Haas Racing co-owner Gene Haas shared in Harvick’s excitement after the race.
“It took long enough,” Haas joked. “This is phenomenal. I think there was a lot of skepticism last year about what myself and Tony (Stewart) what we were up to, was there a lot of madness to this. Quite frankly, it’s a great team, there’s a lot of synergy at the shop, people working together. I don’t know what we did, but I think we put together a great organization.”
Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt, Jr. continued his hot start to the 2014 season. Earnhardt Jr. would finish second on Sunday, marking his seventh consecutive top 10 finish since the end of the 2013 season. Earnhardt Jr. was pleased with the effort after a coast-to-coast whirlwind week after winning his second Daytona 500 and also gave great praise to the efforts of Harvick and the No. 4 team.
“I’ve got to congratulate Kevin. Those guys were two-tenths faster than everyone all weekend in practice. They were just phenomenal,” Earnhardt said. “To be able to run with them all day was a big confidence builder for us.”
Joining Harvick and Earnhardt in the top 5 of The Profit on CNBC 500K were Brad Keselowski with his second consecutive top 3 run of 2014 in third. Keselowski’s Team Penske teammate Joey Logano would finish fourth, and Jeff Gordon would come home fifth in his No. 24 Pepsi Max Chevrolet.
Jimmie Johnson finished in sixth, followed by Ryan Newman with a nice rebound after Daytona in seventh. Carl Edwards would carry the banner for Roush Fenway Racing by finishing eighth, Kyle Busch was ninth, and Jamie McMurray would finish tenth.
A look at the Profit on CNBC 500K by the numbers. There were 14 lead changes among eight different drivers, there were eight cautions for 39 laps which slowed the race pace to 109.229 MPH.
Next Sunday, the Sprint Cup Series heads to Sin City and the Las Vegas Motor
Starting Lineup: The Profit On CNBC 500K
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday March 1, 2014
Drivers in RED (i) are those ineligible to collect Sprint Cup points
Daytona 500 TV Ratings Down
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Wednesday February 26, 2014
What was the longest weather delay in Daytona 500 history turned out to bring NASCAR lower ratings and TV viewership Sunday night than expected. According to a report Monday from FOX Sports, the 56th running of the Daytona 500 airing at 8 PM (ET) posted a 5.6/10 national household rating/share which averaged 9.3 million viewers. That’s down 44 percent from last year’s 9.9, easily making it the least-watched Daytona 500 of all-time.
Due to the six-hour, twenty-two minute rain delay in Daytona, the race was up against the primetime coverage of the Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony from Sochi, Russia on NBC (15.25 million viewers). FOX also reported that 69% of the pre-rain delay viewers of the race, which began at 1 PM (ET) kept tuning in.
In comparison, the 2013 Daytona 500 on FOX was the most-watched race in five years, posting a 9.9/22 rating/share, commanding 16.7 million viewers. The Daytona 500 in 2012, the first to ever be run on a Monday and in the primetime slot did a 7.7/13 overnight rating/share which resulted in 13.67 million households viewing the race according to Nielsen TV ratings data.
Earnhardt, Jr. Claims Second Daytona 500 Victory
posted by Justin Tucker
Wednesday February 26, 2014
Ten years is a long time. For Dale Earnhardt, Jr., it felt like an eternity. NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver endured many near misses and close calls at the Daytona 500 since his only win in the Great American Race in 2004. Earnhardt had finished second in two of his last three Daytona 500s coming into Sunday’s race. He was also riding the tail of a 55-race winless streak, dating back to Michigan in 2012.
However nothing would stop Dale Jr. on Sunday, not even a 6 hour and 22 minute rain delay from capturing his second Daytona 500 win. Earnhardt Jr. led a race-high 54 laps on the evening and used some timely drafting help from teammates Jimmie Johnson and, on the final restart, Jeff Gordon to separate from the pack and secure the victory.
“Winning this race is the greatest feeling that you could feel in this sport besides accepting the trophy for the championship,” said a jubilant Earnhardt after pulling into Victory Lane. “We could fight off battle after battle. We got a little help at the end there from Jeff to get away on the restart. This is amazing. I can’t believe this is happening. I never take this for granted, man because it doesn’t happen twice, let alone once.”
Aside from the race itself the big story of the race was the 6 hour and 22 minute red flag, which threatened to move the race to Monday evening (had the race been postponed, FOX Sports’ Chris Myers had tweeted that the race would resume at 5:00pm EST). However, Mother Nature would cooperate and would allow the race to be run under different conditions from which they practiced this week. Once the race resumed, the intensity picked up from the changing track conditions. This allowed the pack to race side-by-side and at times 3-wide up to seven rows deep.
Joining Earnhardt Jr. in the top 5 for the 2014 Daytona 500 were: Denny Hamlin who closed out a spectacular Speedweeks in second, Brad Keselowski in third, Jeff Gordon in fourth, and Jimmie Johnson who overcome two wrecks leading up to the 500 in fifth.
Rounding out the top 10 in the Daytona 500 were Matt Kenseth in sixth, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. in seventh and Greg Biffle would bring his No. 16 Ford home in eighth. Austin Dillon would come home ninth in his first Cup Series race in the iconic No. 3 for Richard Childress Racing, while Casey Mears would round out the top 10.
A couple of major contenders for the Daytona 500 win would see their hopes dashed early on as Martin Truex, Jr. would blow up just 30 laps into the race, relegating him to a 43rd-place finish in his debut for Furniture Row Racing. Crew chief Todd Berrier was already in Nashville for a test session before the race was even over. Kyle Busch, meanwhile would have a pit road violation just before halfway and would spend much of the race battling back from that mistake. Busch would eventually finish 19th after leading 19 laps.
Danica Patrick would also be bit by bad luck as she was caught up in a multi-car wreck on lap 145. Patrick would lead her second consecutive Daytona 500, but wouldn’t have the finish to show for it finishing 40th. Tony Stewart would encounter a frustrating evening as well, with a fuel pickup problem derailing his quest for his first Daytona 500 win. Stewart would finish 35th.
A look at the Daytona 500 by the numbers. There were 42 lead changes among 18 drivers, while seven cautions for 39 laps would slow the race pace to 145.290 MPH.
Next week, the Sprint Cup Series heads to the “diamond in the desert,” Phoenix International Raceway for The Profit on CNBC 500K. The Green flag is scheduled for 3:15pm EST.
Nationwide Series Post-Race Quotes: Drive4COPD 300
posted by Thomas Bowles
Tuesday February 25, 2014
Frontstretch Interviews – Courtesy Mike Neff
ELLIOTT SADLER – FINISHED 4th
Thoughts on the race?
It’s definitely a lot different racing than what we’re used to.
Comfortable with it?
Yeah, it’s just different. You’re worried about what you’re doing, but you’re also worried about what everyone else is doing and they’re not doing more than you’re doing. Physically pushing a guy is way better than just riding so you just gotta time it right and push it to the edge.
Happy to start the year with a top 5?
Yeah. Hell, that was the worst we ran all day, I think. I have no idea how they put the 3 car in front of us on that last restart. I hadn’t seen the 3 car hardly all day. When they put us from fifth to sixth, on the outside line, it just really boxed us in. I would have really restarted behind my teammate and given him a good push to the front. Anyways, it is what it is; we’ll take it and move on.
Looked like you were up front all day.
The guys did a good job. We had a fast race car. Great pit stops, just really proud of these guys. The car’s in one piece and we can take it to Talladega now. Great job by my guys. A lot of effort came into coming down here to Daytona and giving ourselves a shot to win. We had that chance to be up front and make some things happen. Fifth is not what we want, but we’ll take it and move on.
Bumping vs Pushing?
It’s way harder. You don’t want to lay on the guy in front of you, so it’s tough racing. A lot different than what we’re used to, ‘cause you gotta go. You gotta drag the brake too ‘cause you don’t want to hit the guys and you don’t want to stay on him. It’s a lot harder mentally than what we’ve done in the past.
Car was strong all day. Pushing vs. Bumping, is that harder to do than just getting on somebody and pushing them?
Yeah, it is a little bit. When you bump ‘em, you jar ‘em, it kinda jacks ‘em a little bit. It’s a little more abrupt, obviously. I thought it was OK there at the end. It was certainly fun and hopefully entertaining. But a little bit of a struggle in the early part of the race and the midpart of the race to see a good race. And that’s unfortunate for the fans. You can’t do that the whole race, you can’t tear up your stuff, knock your grill in, overheat your motor, all that stuff so there’s no sense in doing all that until you get down to the last lap. The 7 and the 6, they did a good job. Man, the 7 really held the 22 and I tight on the bottom. I was rubbing his door and hitting the apron at the same time, no room whatsoever. So it was good; wish we were the ones who could have won but a lot better now than what we were last year.
Going home in one piece makes it a lot better, right?
Yeah. My back feels good. My foot feels good. Past years here, I’ve been going home with pain so I’m alright.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Truck Series Post-Race Quotes: Daytona (Exclusives)
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday February 22, 2014
When you’re on the outside like that, how frustrating is it?
It’s so hard. Timothy Peters has won here. Kyle Busch has won everywhere. Ron Hornaday has been running Trucks forever, probably before I was even born. I was surrounded by veterans there, and like I told them I don’t have a rookie stripe but I’m a rookie. This is only my fourth Truck race ever, my fourth superspeedway race, and man, I figured out when the 17 got up in front of me, I pushed him. And as soon as I pushed him, he took off. And I went with him. And I just kept doing it, and before I knew it, he was leading. And I saw Ron in my mirror, backed up to him, and if it wasn’t for him, I don’t know what would have happened. I gotta thank him big time for that. That was a true teammate move right there. I really appreciate that. He just bounced off me and we got to the front. I tried my hardest to sidedraft Kyle. I was probably touching his door.
Top 5 in the No. 30 truck. This deal come together at the last minute, but you had a heck of a truck. Tell us about your night.
Yeah, I’ve got to thank Turner Scott Motorsports. The guys worked so hard on this Rheem Comfort Products Chevrolet. Exciting! Just got hung up on the outside and had to wait for my teammate there to catch up. And then he got to the bottom, so… I got the old 32 and started pushing ol’ Ryan to the front. So, it’s not bad. We’ll take it. You just don’t want to step over that boundary. You don’t know how far to push and shove. We bumped about six times down the straightaway without latching onto them. Hopefully, that was OK and we came home with a top 5.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Budweiser Duels Post Race Quotes
posted by Matt Stallknecht
Friday February 21, 2014
BUDWEISER DUELS POST-RACE QUOTES
They’re saying the wheel bearing burned up in it. I don’t know what caused it, they’re taking it all apart to figure out what the heck happened. Something abnormal that’s for sure I don’t think I’ve ever had that happen at all. Hopefully, we made the race and hopefully we can fix the problem before Sunday.
WHAT WAS THAT LOUD BOOM ONCE YOU TURNED INTO THE GARAGE?
Loud pop was a tire… thankfully, it popped, hopefully it didn’t hurt anybody. All the heat created in the left front that popped was pretty weird.
REALLY GOOD RUN. WHAT DID YOU THINK OF IT?
Yeah, it was good. We have a car we can work with for the 500. Got a good starting spot, so we’re going to rest easy, fluff and buff our car for a couple of days and get ready for Sunday.
ANY DIFFERENCE ON WHETHER THE TOP OR BOTTOM LANE WORKED?
Yeah, I was just moving around, trying to stay with the flow. For me, this car works on all parts of the racetrack. So I’m pretty happy with it.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.
GOT SHUFFLED BACK, AFTER PIT STOPS AND THEN COULDN’T GET BACK UP TO THE FRONT. WHY?
Nah, we were just sitting there waiting until the last few laps to make a move. You didn’t want to pull down and get sent to the back. Seen a couple of guys get sent to the back really quick so we were just kind of waiting for the end. I felt like we had a good situation there with Ambrose behind us — we had a good run off Turn 2 and I went. It was the last lap, time to go do something, nobody went with us but hopefully Sunday is a different story.
We got a great car. We don’t have to work hard. We learned, we got a good race car. Got a car in one piece, ready to go so we’ll try and get through the next couple of practices, deliver it to the starting group this Sunday and we’ll be real happy.
YOU’RE IN THE DAYTONA 500!
Yeah, it’s pretty awesome. This Whitetail Chevrolet was so fast that I knew all I had to do was stick it behind smart, intelligent drafters and we could have a good finish. That’s what we did in the Duels and I’m excited. I’m excited to go do some stuff with the Nationwide car and have some more practice with this. But to know that we’re locked in the Daytona 500’s pretty cool.
YOU WERE OBVIOUSLY IN FRONT OF THAT MELEE AT THE END. WHEN YOU WERE UP FRONT THERE IN THE BEGINNING, WERE YOU HOPING TO JUST STAY IN LINE AND LET YOU FINISH TOP 5?
I was pretty content to ride and luckily I knew a lot of people around us were. It was nice to have a little calm and not really have to be racing hard the whole time. I knew that the pit stop was going to shake everything up and that’s exactly what happened. Fell back a little bit there but made the right moves at the end to get a good finish.
HOW STRONG ARE THESE RCR CARS?
They’re very strong! They definitely have the capabilities to be winning one of these races.
YOU’RE IN THE TOP 5 FOR YOUR HEAT IN THE DAYTONA 500. YOUR PRIMARY CAR IS SITTING RIGHT IN THE GARAGE, KIND OF WADDED UP. DID YOU THINK THIS ONE HAD IT IN IT?
Yeah, it’s a brand new car also. It’s just not quite as good as the primary but still a damned good car. I’m just proud of everybody at RCR for building such fast race cars. All of our cars have been fast, ECR motor’s been strong, even our affiliate teams have been qualifying really good and racing good. So… excited about 2014! It’s going to be a good year.
WELL MAN, YOU STARTED IN THE BACK BUT WORKED YOUR WAY TO THE FRONT WHEN IT COUNTED MOST. WERE YOU JUST BIDING YOUR TIME THROUGHOUT THE RACE?
Eh, you never know if you’re going to get back up there or not. We had to start at the back, we had to make a run early and see what we could do. We drove right to 10th, or something like that and then it got stagnant. We tried to make something happen, and went to the back again. Drove back up to the front. Again, just really proud of my guys. Matt Kruder did a hell of a job on that pit stop getting just enough gas in to gain some spots there.
RCR CARS SEEM PRETTY DARNED STRONG. DO YOU THINK THE RCR CARS HAVE SOMETHING FOR THEM ON SUNDAY — ESPECIALLY THE THREE JOE GIBBS RACING CARS THAT SEEM TO BE THE CLASS OF THE FIELD RIGHT NOW?
Oh yeah. The 20 car was extremely fast. The 11 didn’t qualify that good, but he’s a good drafter. I think he won. We definitely have something for him.
Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
Matt McLaughlin · Monday February 23, 2009
The Key Moment: Matt Kenseth’s crew was flawless all night, getting him off pit road first on the final sequence of pit stops. Despite Kenseth’s initial Charlie Brown-like resignation over the radio, he was able to hold off the No. 24 car.
In a Nutshell: With all due apologies to Albert Hammond, “It never rains in Southern California, but boy don’t they warn you, that it bores, that it bores…”
Dramatic Moment: For the last twenty laps, Jeff Gordon kept Matt Kenseth honest, but he apparently licked all the red off his candy too early in the run.
What They’ll Be Talking About Around the Water Cooler This Week
People complain about Pocono all the time, but if there’s any race that needs to be shortened from 500 miles to 300 miles, especially given the starting time, this is it.
Yes, I’m going to beat the same old dead horse one more time. It’s tough to take that we gave up Rockingham for this sorry excuse of a race track. What’s really galling is NASCAR officials said Rockingham had to lose its date due to poor attendance. Did anyone else note just a few gaps in the grandstand seating at Fontana?
Remember last year, when Las Vegas track owner Bruton Smith offered Fontana track GM Gillian Zucker a new job and a nice pay increase? She declined the offer. If I was Ms. Zucker, I’d spend this week at the Las Vegas airport, resume in hand waiting to greet Smith when he arrived in town.
It’s hard to say which was more embarrassing Saturday afternoon: the Truck race itself, or the size of the audience in the grandstands there to watch it? Kyle Busch just spanked the field en route to victory, with more than a nine second gap back to second place Todd Bodine. As for the “crowd,” I’ve seen more people at a middle school lacrosse game in the rain. Qualifying ticket sales were even more embarrassing… but that’s understandable. NASCAR’s top 35 rule has taken all the drama out of qualifying to the point they might as well just draw numbers out of the hat to set the field. It’s not like winning a pole even gains a driver entry into next year’s Bud Shootout, after all.
The Haas Automation decals on Ryan Newman’s car seem to indicate the entry was competing without a sponsor. Gene Haas owns half the team.
Give the folks at FOX points for trying hard to put a positive spin on things. They feel that the ratings for last week’s Daytona 500 “reaffirmed its status as one of America’s premier annual sports events.” They go on to say that their audience of sixteen million viewers beat last year’s Beijing Olympics, a somewhat questionable statistic given 211 million Americans watched that multi-day event.
Here’s the hard numbers, fans: Last year’s 500 garnered a 10.2 Nielsen Rating, while this year’s race drew a 9.2 rating. That’s a drop of nearly 10 percent. FOX says that’s because it rained. Of course, the last time a Daytona 500 was truncated by rain, the race still drew a 9.8 Nielsen rating. It is safe to say that this year’s event was the highest-rated Daytona 500 since a rodent was introduced as part of the broadcast team… Darrell Waltrip notwithstanding.
Hey, maybe I’m too old-fashioned as someone who reads the Bible more than I do the Wall Street Journal, but I’m seeing a dichotomy here. If FOX is going to give us the unamusing and unnecessary Digger segments during their race broadcasts to attract kids, should they also be accepting the softcore porn ads from Go.Daddy.com? And if Ms. Danica Patrick ever wishes to raise the issue with the media again as to why she isn’t treated as a serious and talented race car driver but rather just another pretty face, she need only look at the endorsement deals she’s done and let them speak for themselves. Let’s just say I haven’t seen that many big boobs together in one place since Brian France and NASCAR officials delivered their usual “State of the Sport” address during the preseason Media Tour.
I guess there’s a reason I’m a writer, not a network executive. For the life of me, I don’t understand how it’s going to help TV ratings for a race to constantly remind viewers that the Oscars would be airing on a competing network later in the evening. Hey, anyone who’s bored of this column, you might want to go see what Monte Dutton had to say about this weekend’s race! He’s a very talented and funny writer.
While it’s true that Kenseth’s crew has always been the best in the business and Drew Blickensderfer is two for two atop the pit box… don’t forget that this season Kenseth is reunited with his spotter from his championship year, Mike Calinoff. Fortunately for Calinoff, there seems to be plenty of room left on his meaty calves for additional race victory tattoos.
The Hindenburg Award For Foul Fortune
Kevin Harvick blew an engine, enduring his first DNF in 81 races to bring out the night’s only caution not related to rain.
Greg Biffle might have had a car fast enough to compete with Kenseth and Gordon, but he overshot his pit board and ran over the air hose on the final pit stop.
The one thing worse than having a car not fast enough to get up front is having a car not fast enough to compete that blows up early. Such was the fate of Dale Earnhardt, Jr. I guess that’s the last time the No. 88 team lets Brian Vickers set the valve lash prior to the race.
Mark Martin also suffered a rare blown engine out of the Hendrick shop.
Jeff Gordon had to feel like Tantalus, with his first victory in 42 points races so close… but so far away in those final laps.
Joey Logano looked like he was channeling Casey Atwood out there on the track this weekend.
The “Seven Come Fore Eleven” Award For Fine Fortune
Kenseth’s engine temperature rose to an alarming degree at one point due to debris on his grill, but a timely caution allowed him to pull up to the pace car and remove that hot dog wrapper on his way to a second straight win.
Third place might not have been what he envisioned, but given two dominating victories in Saturday’s truck and Nationwide races, Kyle Busch had a pretty fair weekend at Fontana.
After Daytona, Brian Vickers has got to be pleased to leave Fontana with a top 10 finish and no reason for Earnhardt Nation to channel their ire at him.
Given this sport’s history of aircraft tragedies, the MWR members aboard the team plane forced to make an emergency landing in Vegas for engine problems have to feel blessed. The situation was so tense that even though Waltrip wasn’t aboard the plane, he took off his shoes and tried to run home when advised the FAA was en route to investigate.
Wow, Kyle Busch and his Nationwide team really seemed to benefit from the return of Jason Ratcliffe back to the pit box after his long suspension for trying to doctor the dyno results after last year’s Michigan race. It must be Jason’s magnetic personality…
What’s the Points?
It is still WAY too early to worry about points to any meaningful degree.
Not surprisingly, considering he’s won the first two points-paying events of the season, Matt Kenseth leads the Cup standings. He has a 81-point lead over Jeff Gordon, who is second in the regular season points tally. Kurt Busch and Tony Stewart are tied for third, a further ten markers behind Gordon. If the season were to end right now… many of us longtime fans would be vastly relieved.
Among the surprises in the top 10 in points right now are: Michael Waltrip (seventh), David Ragan (eighth), and Juan Pablo Montoya (tenth).
Notable drivers who need to dig themselves out of an early season (real early) points hole include Jimmie Johnson (19th), Mark Martin (27th), Jamie McMurray (28th), Jeff Burton (31st, ironically enough), and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. (35th). Again, recall we’re just two races deep into the 26-race regular season. Next weekend’s race at Las Vegas could really shuffle the deck, so to speak.
Overall Rating (On a scale of one to six beer cans, with one being a stinker and a six pack an instant classic) — I’ll give this one a single can of generic stuff. Air traffic controllers allow passenger aircraft to fly closer together than most of the field ran on Sunday night.
Next Up: The series heads off to Las Vegas to give the folks at FOX a chance to trot out their usual toxic and tortured Elvis routines. Oh, and the race starts about 4:45 EST. What the…
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Glad to see I didn’t miss much. I did notice that Newman’s car, well from the one rear shot I saw, reminded me of another black and silver car from days gone by.
I tuned in about halfway through the race and over half the field was a lap down. I hope that the first part was better than the last. It sure took the boorish booth crew long enough to see Gordon burning up his tires. Matt, I think one can may be too much.
It’s Drew Blickensderfer, not Dale. 88’s trouble on your mind, Matt? :P
That race proved to me that the leader still can’t be passed with the new car. No passing for the lead equals crappy racing.
The Daytona 500 was bad, but yesterday’s race was a joke. Putting the drivers on tricycles would have been more exciting.
I didn’t even fight with my wife when she wanted to turn the channel to watch the Oscars.
I am not sure how much longer I can bear to watch such a pitiful product and I am talking about both FOX and NASCAR.
Ok, so only passing was in pits? Can tell how into the race I was. I watched reruns of Law & Order SVU.
I was like Randy. My wife wanted to watch that ******* Seacrest talk to people about what their clothes – and honestly I really couldn’t think of a reason why the CA race would be a better alternative.
The CA Race: A boring event led by a guy who thinks he knows all.
The Oscars: A boring event for people who think they know all.
The only difference is that the general public still talks about the Oscars the next day. (By noon Monday, Daytona was no longer mentioned in the local media)
I rated the race “FF” for fast-forward, which is what I did to my Tivo a LOT while watching this snoozer.
Someone please kill off the pre-race show as a mercy killing! The green flag dropped exactly 82 minutes after the telecast started (which took about 7 minutes to get there with the Tivo after stopping only for the Logano and Shrub interviews)!
There’s no point in Matt reviewing any California Speedway race. He’s so biased against the track and the state that it could be a five-car battle from turn 4 to the finish line and he’d complain that 6th place was 10 seconds behind. I dont want to hear any complaints about the attendance at the Cup race. You had to strain a lot harder to see empty seats this year. There’s no way there were less people there this year. Did you see the crowd around the stage during Raceday? I’m guessing there was about 80,000 this year compared to 70,000 last year. However, the Saturday attendance was completely sparse, I cant argue with that.
You know what all eight drivers born in California have in common? They’ve moved to North Carolina
The reason birds fly upside down over Calif. is that there is nothing in the whole state worth c.r.a.p.p.ing on!!
The whole state is full of liberals, fruits, and nuts, all very worthy of being crapped on!
I had to spend the weekend driving my mother from Columbia, SC to Orlando, FL and back for a funeral. My sympathies to those of you who watched the race yesterday. Sixteen hours in a car with my Mom can be a little trying from time to time, but it ain’t EVER boring.
How can you call it boring? This race was much better than in year’s past. We had several battles for the lead all throughout the race, great pit stops leading to different drivers taking the lead, no cautions for wrecks until the end of the race, which led to several green flag pit stops, and two drivers with something to prove fighting for the win at the end. Yep, sounds like a race at any other speedway on the circuit, but because its California, it must have been boring.
What a total bore. I dozed off not once but twice. Kevin in SoCal your life must be really a snooze if you think there was any interesting part of that race. Even Jr’s car didn’t cause any smoke.
We are trying to make every race on the circuit and last night after the race I asked my husband if he understands why I haven’t been in any hurry to go to this track. He responded that it would be a waste of money for sure. To bad because we don’t have many tracks left.
Kevin, don’t worry about Matt dissing your track.
I go to two races in NH every year and the racing is perfectly fine. Fun atmosphere, great sightlines, few cooler restrictions, free parking. But since it’s not North Wilkesboro or Rockingham, and since Davey or Tim Richmond aren’t racing, the venue and the race can’t possibly be any good.
It just amazes me how these internet hacks who never go to a race can comment on how the product is so bad.
And Matt, if Fox (or TNT,or ESPN)really is so bad, why not try writing your Monday column without the benefit of watching the broadcast? At least is would cut down the size of the column to a couple of paragraphs, which would be just about right.
Kevin, if you thought the race wasn’t boring enough to bring tears, you were either smoking something or watching a rerun of another race. I fell sound asleep twice and my wife who was supposed to wake me up also fell asleep. I would have missed the last part of the race if I had not gotten a telephone call.
Hey Matt, it’s Eric from the old Awesome Bill From Dawsonvill Forum, anyway, couldn’t agree more.
There are so many things wrong with the sport but I’m starting to wonder if they seriously need to drastcially lower the CID of the engines. One has got to figure that the racing was better at 550-650 HP, the speeds were still high and there was less “aero-push”.
Another factor to the snoozing is that by 6:15 on the east coast, most folks are tired from running all day, family events, etc. or getting supper and giving the kids baths. Who has time to start watching a race at 6:30 on a Sunday night. My advise to NASCAR all green flags drop at 1:00 pm local time. Take care of the folks who have to drive home after a race and not make them have to take a day off of work to watch a Sunday night race. Hint: this may be why no one shows up to these. They are not worth missing a day of work these days.
You must enjoy and prefer the artificial world of plate racing and the multiple passes and big wrecks to award yesterdays race one stale generic beer.As shown by the results, the race demanded the utmost of car, driver, and team. To win, Kenseth’s combined effort had to be superior in every aspect of racing. The genius is to be appreciated!
Granted, the winner of almost every race has to have those elements, but in the race yesterday, it was required moreso than perhaps other races. The long green runs allowed the truly superior cars to present as well prepared and driven. Teams and drivers not equal to the task clearly fell from contention. NASCAR’s artifical enhanced competition rule, the “lucky dog” didn’t interefere with the natural selection of the fastest.
When the checkered flag fell, there weren’t any false rewards. Kenseth drove brilliantly, his car’s handling was spot on for the duration of the race, and his team’s flawless work created what has to be a satisfying victory for the entire team.
It’s too bad and alarming that you prefer fake races and display disdain for a masterpiece like yesterday’s race by kicking it in the knees.
Well, wouldn’t you know it, 6 or 7 laps into this “race”, rain fell and we endured 20+ laps of caution…
A caution that we would not have had to put up with if the race had started when it should start, i.e. 1 pm local time.
I am not going to watch any racing at 9 or 10 on a Sunday night, and certainly not at one of the worst races of the year.
That track is so wide that there literally are 43 separate races going on simultaneously.
I decided to watch the movie “Patton”, which I have only seen about 50 times.
And it still was more entertaining….
I am with Matt – we lost Rockingham for this?
And why do they have 2 races?
So Brian can scout for an NFL team while he is there?
It looks as if the ayes have it for a boring race. For those of you who think that was, A. racing and B. exciting, I’m so sorry. An intervention may be your only hope.
Try as she might . MS. Zucker has one very tall hurdle to clear in getting the L.A. audience interested in NASCAR . And that hurdle would be FOX . Why would she think the relatively sophisticated So Cal crowd would take NASCAR seriously after listening to the cornpone brothers and their sidekick The Pontificator in the booth make a mockery of the English language and sports broadcasting in general . The L.A. crowd knows what broadcasting is supposed to sound like and NASCAR on FOX isn’t it .
I’m 33 years old and in decent shape. You people who fell asleep must either be over 60 and overdue for your naps, or in horrible shape that just sitting on the couch tires you out. I’ve never fallen asleep at any race with 43 850-horsepower engines zooming past me, even on TV.
Jim, thank you for the support. Despite the haters pre-conceived opinions, this was a better race than previous years at this track.
Gee, Marshall, apparently the rest of us just aren’t worthy of California polish. If that’s true, we in the Midwest and Southeast are more than willing to keep the races here where they might be run at a decent hour of the day.
One other thing—I“m a retired English teacher, and those little language slip-ups don’t bother me a bit. Maybe you should check into the use of colloquism in the language. Perhaps you should have watched the Oscars—maybe they’re more suited to your taste.
I do agree with you about Digger; he’s about as annoying as it gets.
Kevin – Just because it was better than last year does not mean it was a good race, just that it was better than last years race. I have nothing against So. Cal. I actually lived there for 9 years, but the racing at this track has never been good. Prior to Brian France taking over, even Michigan could put on a good show. It’s those silly looking cars that make the racing so poor. When was the last time there was a decent Bristol race? At least I didn’t have to endure the silly rule that the trucks have to put up with. NASCAR is getting more like wrestling all the time. When they come up with a rule that says you can’t get tires and gas on the same stop, I figure it’s time for me to stop watching. Maybe that was why there were so many empty seats for the truck race.
You keep saying that this year’s Fontana race was better than the Fontana races of previous years. That’s like comparing waterboarding with, well, watching a race broadcast on FOX. True, there are various degrees of torture, but none are actually pleasant.
Compared to Mr. McLaughlin’s biased writing and opinions, the race was a gem.
Compared to USAC Midgets and Sprinters, the World of Outlaw Sprinter or Indy Cars…any NASCAR event is, by comparison, boring…those “Heavy Metal” TAXI CABS just aren’t real race cars.
You lost Rockingham for this:
Fontana Est. Attendance (February Race):
The racing may be bad (like it’s better on any of the cookie-cutter Downforce tracks) but economics still win out. I know, I know, folks are gonna say the numbers are inflated. Of course they are. But for both locales.
Sure, I’d love to see Rockingham (and North Wilkesboro) back, but it’s not gonna happen. Not with King Brian in charge. Cookie Cutter Cars on Cookie Cutter Courses, that’s his thing.
I agree that California doesn’t deserve 2 races, but neither does Michigan, Atlanta, Charlotte, or Texas. None of those tracks produce exciting racing. Of course, with these topheavy boxcars you could hold a race on ice in Fairbanks and it probably wouldn’t be exciting.
This race, in a word, was boring. In fact it defined the word boring. I’ve attended a race a ACS and it’s just as bad in person as it is on tv. As for the announced attendence, did any of you see all the empty seats. 78,000!!! Come on. Tell me another fairy tale. They must have been counting all of Digger’s buddies too. All three races had to rate about 1.5 on a scale of 10 on the snooze meter. And they took away Rockingham’s race for this sad excuse for a race track. All I’ve got to say is nas$car is reaping what they’ve sown.
I have to agree w/ Kevin from SoCal. After the truck race and the nationwide race I was expecting a snooze fest, but the race was actually not that bad. If they had raced the same race at lowe’s you would not here near the amount of complaints because of the location of the track. The races at Lowe’s were boring last year. In the All star race and the 600 last year if you got out front even on old tires compared to others on new tires you ran away from the field. Really this track is the same as Michigan but everyone saves their vitriol for Cali.
As for Fox they were pretty bad yesterday. There were so many drivers they did not cover yesterday. They really never explained what happened to most of the drivers throughout the field. The RCR cars are a good example of cars they ignored, with the exception of Harvick.
They were showing JPM, Stewart and McMurray racing for 10th and just as JPM was diving to the bottom in the process of passing the other 2 cars they cut to a in car camera of Harvick riding by himself. My guess is that there was probably a lot more racing throughout the field that got ignored.
78,000? That goes beyond wishful thinking to downright delusional.
As an added note, the last time they ran the spring race at the Rock (2004) it drew a 6.3 rating. California got a 5.2 Sunday. So which race really had more eyeballs reading all those sponsor logos on the cars?
The Key Moment? 9:05 PM EST,,,,bedtime here. 5:00 AM EST Monday is the wakeup call assuming I still have a job to go to. Sunday night racing…sorry folks, it’s snooze time.
It just plain sucked.
Matt, Thanks for watching the races so I don’t have to. Your recaps are all I need to know what I missed. Sundays are so much more productive now, and my blood pressure is lower.
I was Nascar way before Nascar was cool, and now I’m out before the implosion of the sport. I saw the inane Digger cartoon on my way out to the shop, and that was what kept me from turning the race on yesterday. My Nascar was serious and never turned into a cartoon. I also read last week that King Brian was meeting with Al Gore to figure out how to make Nascar more green. In the famous words of Cosmo Kramer; “I’m Out!!!”
Good news, Bad news. Nope, sorry. Bad news, Bad news. First we got cheated out of the only racy laps at Daytona, the last 50. Second, & this is worse news. We got in every boring lap at Whatever the hell they call it speedway in Calif. Yes you are correct, Monte is everything you said he was.
Matt @ 7:59pm, you cannot compare ratings from different years. NASCAR TV ratings are down across the board from 2004. Please post the Rockingham 2004 ratings with the California 2004 ratings for a more accurate comparison.
Shawn @ 7:34pm, thank you for the support. You are right in that if this race was at Michigan or Charlotte or Texas, there would be nothing but high marks for the racing. But as I said in my first post, if there was a 5-wide drag race for the win from turn 4, the haters would complain that 6th place was 10 seconds back so the race was just a parade. I also feel that if there was another speedway track in this 2nd date, would you all be complaining this loudly that we gave up Rockingham for it? I doubt it.
And I believe the 78,000 figure. I guessed 80,000 based on what I saw. The only place with empty seats was in the extreme corners. I dunno whether you saw other empty seats or your hatred just made you see empty.
OK, we’ll play your way.
As noted, 2004 Rockingham, with it’s less than covted winter date….6.3
Labor Day weekend 2004 at Cali, 4.4.
Kevin in SoCal,
Not a bash on you in anyway, but have you ever been to Irwindale? How about Orange Show? Maybe Saugus when it was open? How about Willow Springs?
Ever seen a race from the Rock or North Wilksboro? I figure you have not because if you had you would not defend that crappy Fontana track.
Matt, where’s the spring ratings from California, in May I believe?
Mike, I’ve never been to Irwindale in person but I’ve watching the All-Star Shootout in January a few times.
I started watching NASCAR in 2003 so I only saw a few Rockingham races. I’ve only seen North Wilksboro on ESPN Classic. I watched the Rockingham ARCA race last year and it looked like a parade with Joey Logano out front all day.