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.
Matt McLaughlin · Monday March 9, 2009
The Key Moment: Kurt Busch dominated the race, but a late caution and a two tire stop put Carl Edwards at the head of the pack. Busch was able to easily retake the lead when the green flag flew with two laps left.
In a Nutshell: It looks like this new Dodge engine is going to work out all right.
Dramatic Moment: Kurt Busch pretty much had his way all afternoon, but that final caution flag gave the rest of the top 5 cars a final shot at him.
A crew member of Marcos Ambrose’s team made an ill-advised stroll onto the quad-oval grass to retrieve a wayward tire, trapping many competitive cars a lap down during a cycle of green flag pit stops.
What They’ll Be Talking About Around the Water Cooler This Week
OK, it seems political correctness has gone out the window once and for all — and NASCAR better wake up and smell the coffee. Prior to the race, Junior his Very Own Exalted Self weighed in on the tire wear issue at Atlanta. “This is a hell of an excuse for a race car,” he said. “It is hard to drive. It makes everybody’s job harder, even Goodyear’s.” One Hell of an excuse for a race car? That’s less than a ringing endorsement from a fellow who actually has to pilot one of Brian France’s multi-make clown cars. Maybe we ought to see if Brian could drive one of these rolling abortions home from Happy Hour without hitting another palm tree.
How good was it to see a race winner drinking a beer rather than a soft drink in Victory Lane again?
Apparently, attendance is an issue that stretches beyond the seats in Chicken Bone Alley at Atlanta. A good friend with inside information tells me only half the corporate suites at the track were full on Sunday.
You’ve got to love it anytime the circuit arrives at any track owned by Bruton Smith, because you just know the Big Guy is going to have something quotable to say. Smith feels that it’s time for the season finale to move from Homestead back to Atlanta, where the circuit held its finale for so many years. Of course, O. Bruton put it a bit more colorfully than most, noting; “Why have the last race of the season at some Godforsaken area just north of Cuba?” Speak on, Preacher. The congregation hears you.
I’ve had a few people ask me via email this week whether I actually read the comments that are attached to my articles. Naturally, I do. I appreciate the positive comments, and I respect the opinions of folks who feel differently than I do. (Though I remain confused by folks who tell me if I don’t like the current state of Cup racing, I shouldn’t watch. Doesn’t that beg the question, if they don’t like what I do, why read it?) This week certain individual posters, one in particular, took my negative opinion of the Fontana race to task. Again, I respect those dissenting opinions. If they choose to buy tickets to Fontana, I’m good with that, as long as they aren’t taking the hard-earned money out of my wallet to buy them. This week, the loyal opposition (and I use that term affectionately, not cynically) put forth the proposition that the flat, multi-use tracks like Fontana provide better racing because the action is more cerebral than visceral. If I am interpreting their comments correctly, certain folks enjoy these races because to succeed at tracks like Fontana, the team has to bring their “A” game to the track aerodynamically and horsepower-wise. Drivers have to be mentally prepared for a 500-mile gauntlet, and crew chiefs must change strategy on the fly when cautions fall in a certain manner that alters fuel mileage and tire strategies.
In saying so, proponents of these races and tracks are correct, and I respect that opinion — just as I realize some people would rather watch a chess match than an outdoor motocross event. In my opinion (and that’s, in fact, what these columns are…opinions, not oracles) the racing at Michigan (the original multi-use track) was better back in the day when the draft played a large part in determining the outcome of the races — though strategy was always a big part of the game, too. And therein lays my complaint with today’s races like Fontana. The Car of Tomorrow won’t draft anywhere but the plate tracks. In fact, due to its aerodynamic deficiencies, the overtaking car is at a decided disadvantage to the car ahead of it due to aero push… an issue I think the new design was meant to address but has not. So, when NASCAR finally admits the Car of Sorrow is a like a Chihuahua — a high strung, unpredictable mutt that just won’t hunt — it behooves their design of the Car of Next Month to have the boxcar aerodynamics of the Glory Days cars of the late eighties (your mileage may vary). OK, Bobb?
I saw this one coming like a train wreck, but I hesitate to comment on it in these PC times. I get a ton of those annoying FW emails each day from friends, strangers, and fellow countrymen, and this week I got one with the title “Digger and the White House.” I’m a glutton for punishment, so I clicked on the link (since thankfully removed) that played a two minute parody of David Hill’s Little Digger cartoon character as a blatantly offensive and racist parody of President Barack Obama. I’ll let your imagination fill in the blanks, because it was just that hateful and obscene whether you support the current administration or dislike it.
Another hot button issue I am hearing about from fans is the new Truck Series pit road rules that only allow teams to change tires or add fuel during a single pit stop. While the majority I have heard from disapprove of the rule, I like it. I understand that it’s been enacted to help the truck teams save money, and that can only be a good thing given the troubled state of the series and the dearth of full-time teams right now. Yes, it will take awhile for crew chiefs to adapt the rules to their best advantage; but once they do, it ought to make the racing more interesting.
Another sign of the times — or a sign their time is gone? Todd Bodine has finished first, second, and third in the first three Truck Series races this season; but unless a sponsor steps up to the plate before Martinsville in three weeks’ time, his team won’t be making the haul to the race. Can somebody please step up to the plate and back the No. 30 team? And you don’t think that the Truck Series is falling out of favor just because Toyotas have won all three races this season and claimed twelve of fifteen possible top 5 finishing positions, do you? Fans of other disciplines of motorsports can testify that when it comes to racing, Toyota’s motto is “I came, I saw, I conquered, I split,” usually leaving nothing but dust and ashes in their wake. If I were Brian France, I’d be sure to get my last free oil change on my Lexus prior to November…
Hey, maybe they are listening! If nothing else, FOX proved that when it comes to the pre-race show, less is more. Just thank goodness they were still able to work in the animated Digger segment. My life is Digger. Everything else is just waiting. Not.
It’s sad to say, but if the fans in Atlanta want to continue having two Cup races a year, they better start showing up at the turnstiles. Bruton Smith is probably going to have to move one of his races to get a second date at Vegas, and the difference in the crowds between last Sunday and this Sunday was notable.
I might be getting to the party late, but personal commitments Friday night meant I had to follow qualifying on the computer. I didn’t realize that SPEED was showing qualifying with tape delay until I talked to a friend who was watching the coverage live — and he was about five cars behind the live action.
Isn’t it sad that the only place race fans see Kyle Petty this year is during commercial breaks?
The Hindenburg Award For Foul Fortune
Joey Logano is going to be lucky to have a ceiling fan left if he doesn’t start running faster soon. Speaking of soon… it seems like he made the leap to the bigs a year too soon.
Mark Martin started on the pole, but was never a real factor in the race. A blown tire just added to his misery.
Atlanta’s favorite son Bill Elliott had a credible run going for the Wood Brothers until Sam Hornish finally got around to finishing off the wreck he’d been hinting at causing most of the race.
Jimmie Johnson had a car that appeared able to keep Kurt Busch honest, but a pit road speeding penalty cost him a shot at the win.
Doug Yates watched two of his three cars succumb to engine problems during the race.
The “Seven Come Fore Eleven” Award For Fine Fortune
About the only thing that Kurt Busch wore out more than the rest of the field was his right side sheet metal. Yet despite visiting the Wall more than Pink Floyd, Busch hung on to win the race. He also had to overcome refueling issues in the pits to take the checkered flag.
Clutch problems could easily have brought Jeff Gordon’s day to a premature end, but he soldiered on to a second place finish.
If you think passing other cars is tough, try passing a kidney stone. Martin Truex, Jr. did so on Saturday night, yet came back to post a top 10 finish on Sunday.
Carl Edwards’ team struggled in the pits all day, costing their driver numerous spots during the race; but Edwards managed to finish third, anyway.
Tony Stewart’s team nearly sunk their boy’s battleship when they only got three gallons of fuel into the Old Spice car during a botched stop, but a timely caution allowed Stewart to come away from Atlanta with a top 10 finish.
What’s the Points?
Repeat after me… it’s way too early to start worrying about points.
That being said, Jeff Gordon continues to lead the standings with a 43-point margin over second place Clint Bowyer. Kurt Busch’s win propels him forward four spots to third, a mere three markers behind Bowyer. Carl Edwards moves up five spots to fourth in the points, the highest he’s been so far this year.
Further back, Brian Vickers moves up six spots to enter the top 12 in eleventh. Jimmie Johnson also moved up six positions in the standings; he now finds himself knocking on the door in 13th.
On the flip side, Michael Waltrip fell out of the top 12 in the standings, tumbling four spots to 16th. David Reutimann fell seven spots after engine problems left him 32nd — but he’s still clinging to the 12th and final Chase slot.
The only people who need to be sweating the points right now are those drivers trying to stay in the top 35. After Bristol in two weeks’ time, only the top 35 teams in this year’s standings are guaranteed a spot in the subsequent races. Among the notables flirting with that 35th place mark are Mark Martin (34th), Joey Logano (33rd), and Ryan Newman (32nd) .
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 lukewarm beer. Yeah, Busch pretty much dominated, but Gordon and Vickers kept him honest at times. With two laps left to go, it was anyone’s race, but Busch was able to spring forward when it counted.
Next Up: Well, this is odd. Next weekend, the circuit takes a week off just four races deep into the season that includes damn few off weekends from now until Thanksgiving. Perhaps FOX can air a Digger Cartoon Marathon next Sunday to fill the air time…
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Great read Matt. Maybe the fans did not buy tickets at Atlanta because of the frigging COT.
Lets face it. The racing sucks with the COT.
The France family needs to get Brain Fart into either a rehab program or a school for the for the “mentally challenged”.
Yes, kudos to Fox for cutting down the pre-race show. Nice to see an earlier race today too.
Lets see here:
Matt’s rating for Fontana: Warm cup of mule spit.
Now, explain to me the difference, if its not your east-coast bias?
You’re misrepresenting the races to make your point. And it looks silly complaining about bias with that name, especially when defending arguably NASCAR’s least popular track in favor of a historically popular one. It looks silly.
Well, I think we have a new whipping boy for tracks that can’t sell tickets. Move over Fontana, make way for Atlanta. From what I saw, attendance was much worse in Atlanta.
Why no beer can rating for us to vote on this week?
Kevin, Matt is probably no more E.-W. biased than you or I. We all have these biases.
You never realized that Speed TIVOs the qualifying broadcasts so that we don’t have to miss parts during the commercials?
They’ve been doing that for a couple-three years now.
Always thought provoking. A couple of quibbles among the majority of stuff which I agreed with:
First, there would have been a yellow with or without the crewmember stroll just because the tire was already out there, which would draw the flag. Though that guy was an idiot for being out there. For the record, that 47 tire got booted out there by another car, it didn’t just roll away from the 47 pit, though obviously it was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Second, another whine/excuse from Junior doesn’t really register as the almighty truth for me. Certainly the Busch Brothers, Carl Edwards, Jimmy Johnson, and now his other teammate Jeff Gordon seem to be doing okay with the new car. It’s here, deal with it Junior or retire. You’re at the top level of the sport, its not supposed to be easy. But good job for not screwing up any pit stops this week.
Regarding attendance, I’m wondering if the track owners are making more money with two races 75% full than they are with one race 100% full. That would equal 50% more tickets sold per year, but of course it costs more to host two races. Just a thought.
Logano did come up too soon. JGR wasn’t planning on running him full time in Cup until next year but changed strategies when Tony left. Problem was that they couldn’t get a fourth car sponsored and who (that was any better) would sign onto the 20 car knowing it was only for 2009? Plus I think Home Depot was promised Sliced Bread for their car after Tony and didn’t want to support an interim driver.
Allstate no longer sponsors the 9 car, hence no more creepy MILF chick ads for Kahne.
Vickers crew cost him a better finish than he had. He was second before the pit stop and 6th afterward.
I just can’t see the poor ticket sales being a function of the COT as much as the economy.
The corporate suites weren’t half-full due to the racing (the suits don’t watch the race whether the race is a barn-burner or a dud)
They were half full because the expense accounts and discretionary spending at the corporations who purchase the suites are kaput.
Plus, let’s face it….both SoCal (sorry Kevin) and Atlanta just are not good pro sports towns/areas. Unless we are talking about the Lakers, or the Braves in a Game 7, fan interest is generally pretty weak. I haven’t seen full stands in Atlanta in years, well before the COT.
Anyway, nice to see the #2 in victory lane again.
the only thing the news here in atlanta is focusing on this morning is not the race or who won, but how empty the place was. and even the camping areas and the fact that hotels/motels near the track still had rooms available. normally monday after race here, they just talk about winner and that’s it.
i have a friend in maine who comes south to go to races with me. she called me right when they started the race and she commented about the empty stands. she was shocked to see them so empty, especially in champions grandstand where we normally sit. only place that had good seat coverage was the elliott grandstand and those tickets were $39-$65 and family 4-pack deal was offered. comment was made on traffic reports saturday afternoon about now easy it was getting to the track on saturday.
i thought about driving down after church yesterday and doing walk-up. glad i didn’t as it was ho-hum until the last 20 laps, and that was only exciting because caution kept falling. there are several members of my church that are racing fans and they weren’t at race either. their reason….cot…boring races and cost.
jr needs to wack himself with the hammer before he starts out on the team. you don’t hear bickering with other and drivers and crew chiefs like you do with the 88 bunch. i find it interesting how fox kept saying that jeff gordon is back on his game because he’s focused and physically and mentally prepared. maybe jr needs to have a copy of that commentary engraved on his brain.
they kept advertising tickets for bristol here during commericals. like they were shocked that there were seats available afor the cup race at bristol. now if there are still cup seats available for the summer bristol race, something drastically wrong. i know talladega keeps sending me emails about the aarons weekend.
i missed digger cause i was napping. i swear ams race use to start at 12:30. oh well.
was it me or were mike joy and his gang looking for things to talk about to help excite up the race?
I’m not so sure that we shouldn’t be pinning the poor racing on Goodyear just as much or more than the COT . The one recurring theme in every NASCAR race is the tires . HOW CAN RACE TIRES ONLY LAST 10 LAPS BEFORE THEY GO AWAY . THATS INSANE ! And we’ve all just excepted it .
Just remember if you are watching the race on normal television you only hear what the network decides to let you hear. Just because you didn’t hear “driver X” whining doesn’t mean he wasn’t.
Let’s face it Matt. A large number of fans attending any race aren’t from that city. They come from near and far. People simply can’t afford tickets and gas and motel rooms. Don’t completely blame the fans in a city for empty seats. Great column, otherwise. Nothing makes racing any worse than the fact that a car can’t pass another because of “aero” issues. Bring back the old car design and take “aero” out of the mix!
It’s amusing that poor attendance is not regarded as a function of the worst economy in 75 years!
Here is my story concerning Atlanta attendance because I live here and have been going for many years:
I have been lucky enough to get free tickets from a connection at Dupont for the last 12 or so years for both races.
So I would go over to the Dupont hospitality in the old cup garage and eat breakfast and lunch and drink the free beer.
A sweet deal no doubt.
Well, back in the late 90’s, there would be 600 or so folks in the Dupont area.
Last October, there were 200 at best, and they ran out of beer. I saw the handwriting on the wall.
Of course we all got tickets all in the same section (usually Earnhardt) and this is where we all sat.
Well, if Dupont kills their hospitality program at Atlanta, then that section of seats goes empty, and multiply this several times over for all the other companies that have killed their programs, and you can easily see why there are so many empty seats.
The fact is that in the last 12 or 13 years the companies have been purchasing half of the tickets and distributing them among customers, workers and friends.
So when things dry up, you get back to more realistic attendance figures for the region and the race.
I chose not to purchase a ticket and go to Atlanta, because if I am going to do that, I want it to be Bristol and Talladega. Those are my personal favorites.
Atlanta racing has just been sub-par in the last few years and I am not spending money on it anymore.
I know some think Talladega is bad racing, and I hate restrictor plates too, but I love the pure speed and imminent disaster that it is always on the edge of.
At the end of the day, the Atlanta spring race is probably only going to draw about 60,000, which is a very manageable crowd. Anything more than that taxes the roads and the facilities there too much anyway.
I predict the Labor day night race to be well attended – why?
Weather will be good, it is the first time for a scheduled night race there, and it is on Saturday night.
Races there in October and November always sucked because the weather was so unpredictable and usually cold.
I hope this sheds some light on attendance issues at this track.
Just wanted to let everyone know Matt’s beer poll is now up and running. Sorry for the delay … vote away!
One more thing:
If Nascar wants good racing, remove the splitter and put bumpers back on them and allow air to flow UNDERNEATH the car!
And reduce horsepower.
There would be no “aero-push” and cars could pass at will.
Why won’t they do this?
They still have the Allison in-the-fence scene still playing in their minds, even with all the safety changes that all but prevent that from happening now.
Remove the splitter!
Michael, the width of the tires is a function of NASCAR rules, not the tire companies. The wider the tires are, the easier it is to gain purchase which turns into better grip in the corners. However, making things easier isn’t something that should need to be done for pros at this level.
Personnaly, I don’t believe that the Goodyear tire is all that bad. Granted, there were some issues at Indy and the CoT has been pretty hard on tire, but most of the problems are from aggressive setups and/or hard driving which cause the tires to wear faster than other team’s and blow, not explode. They look like they are exploding because of the damage, but that damage is caused by bringing the car down from 200 MPH, then driving up to 2.66 miles to the pits at a relatively high rate of speed.
One of the biggest reasons that Atlanta has trouble drawing crowds is the traffic . And this isn’t only at Atlanta . But for world class , time and gas wasting traffic jams , Atlanta is very near the top of the list .
Correct me if I am wrong, but didn’t Allstate have to pull out along with Geico and State Farm due to Nationwide being a title sponsor much like the cell phone companies? I think a 1 year grace period was allowed.
I went to Atlanta several times… right after it was reconfigured.
I agree on two points… the traffic flow was a nightmare! But something I learned was no matter where you are going, head south first and you’ll save time in the long run. The vast majority of fans head north and go nowhere for hours!
Secondly, at both the spring and autumn events, I have all but frozen at one time or another. When I read that Bruton Smith wanted to once again have the season finale at Atlanta, I felt my toes freezing all over again!
The night, Labor Day race ought to be just perfect…
And yeah, the security folks at Atlanta are dubious. I was once detained for “selling alcohol” in the parking area… which turned out to be me carrying a case of beer from my truck to my trailer parked 100 feet away! Even showing that the truck and the trailer were both mine, the trooper wouldn’t relent until a gracious fan, that happened to be a lawyer, intervened.
I liked how FOX didn’t notice that a lug nut fell off the RF during Vicker’s final pit stop, thus dropping him to 6th. You could clearly see on the broadcast the crew member picking it up off of the ground and putting it back on.
atlanta traffic is horrible. where i live, i would be able to take back roads all the way to the track. however, after the tornado a few years ago and rehabed the place, if you came to track on back roads, the “rent-a-cops” put you back on 19/41 in the back up. that really irritated me. going 19/41 to 75 is way out of my way. i remember, about 8 yrs ago it took me 6 hrs to get home from race. all the people before the race directing you to park and whatnot, but not a single soul helping to get 100,000 people out. once you get out then the state police take over and also the local sherrifs, who are more interested in ticketing people than directing traffic. they just stand there cause they’re on the clock at premium pay.
i know when i’ve had pit passes, the rent-a-cops that are the “security” for pit road are a joke. however, once the cars take the track, their egos swell and they love blowing their whistles. i remember a few years back, a fan got hit by rusty wallace, cause rent a cop wasn’t doing their job. now grant it, the fan should be aware of all around him first and foremost, but rent-a-cop was a joke. was more concerned with keeping people away from the fence that keeps you out of the garage area than keeping the entrance for the drivers/cars in the fence clear access.
To sighing… at 4:31am:
Your last part is exactly my point. Racing at Fontana is no better or worse than any other speedway, but because California has the second date, which used to be Rockingham, and had the Labor Day date, which used to be Darlington, it gets unfairly bashed for being a new track on the schedule, instead of one with a long time history such as Michigan or Atlanta. All I want is for people to watch the Fontana race with an open mind. But people like Matt, Amy, Tom, and others here on Frontstretch have already made up their mind that the race will be bad, and write their columns accordingly. The Fontana race two weeks ago played out almost exactly the same as the Atlanta race this weekend, including the poor attendance, but Matt rated Atlanta higher because its Atlanta.
Its the exact same as the Kyle Busch phenomena. Kyle was just another racer until he dared to spin Dale Jr at Richmond. Then suddenly everyone hated him and called him a bad guy.
Second, to those complaining about the tires only lasting 10 laps, did you complain the same way about tires at Darlington or Rockingham only lasting 10 laps? Why not? Its not Goodyears fault this time. Its the rough, abrasive track surface.
Sighing— I think what Kevin is trying to point out is Atlanta and Fontana had many of the same characteristics, but Matt gave Atlanta two more cans of the brew. Actually it probably should have been two cans of the suds for both races. Too high for Atlanta and not high enough for Fontana. I don’t know about a East-West bias, but it sure seems like Atlanta=free pass and Fontana=always awful.
Kevin, I have been to Fontana a few times. It sucks more then any other track and I have been to many tracks.
One thing Fox really dropped the ball on was the 99 car and the issues in the pit. I have Hot Pass on Direct TV and listened to them the whole race. Late in the race, Carl actually asked if he could pit in someone else’s pit. Probably would have wanted Kenseth’s since those guys can do it quick. I am not sure what bungling was going on, but they kept dropping him from 3rd or so to 9th. Then he would slice and dice back up, and the whole process would start over again.
I am not sure you can use another pit, but one would doubt it.
I’m siding with Kev AND Bobb…Fontana isn’t as bad as you make it out to be, and Atlanta isn’t as good. California, as Bobb has said, is a different kind of racing, It’s wide, it’s long, cars are never very close together. So the racing is more chess-match than boxing match. It’s STILL racing. Atlanta is a 1½-er, like many others that size. This race yesterday was a snoozer, compared to LVMS the week before, though both weren’t no Bristol.
I don’t go to the races, personally. They’re WAY to spendy for the fun. The gang at Aloha Tav have a much better venue, with cable, than you get at a turn 4 seat in LVMS (2004, the only one I’ve attended) for $65.
But, still, the racing is as good as it’s ever been. Just different.
How can having 2 crew members standing on one side of the wall scratching their ass instead of being on the other side of the wall fueling the truck save any money? The money saving was supposed to be from limiting crew size to 12, it only takes 7 to pit normally so where is the savings by doubling the number of pit stops
Atlanta was a great track till Bruton made it a poor copy of Charlotte.
Bottom line is that Daytona,Fonyawna, and Atlanta all sucked. Las Vegas did provide some moments but until NA$CAR addresses the core problem, being the CAR OF SORROW and an inept tire manufacturer, exciting racing is lost no matter the track. I’m quite sure I’ll be reading the same thread after the Bristol race. Remember, this is a race that once was the hardest ticket in any sporting event to get. Now, two weeks before the event, tickets are being advertised nationwide. In some ways I believe NA$CAR may be relieved about the economy. It helps take the focus off of BF’s misguided attempt to lead a family dynasty.
I attended the Atlanta race and I have to say it wasn’t that bad of a race. Sure the top 10 were strung out at times, but there was plenty of racing further back in the field. The drivers were constantly altering their lines which meant they were actually having to drive the cars. The race really reminded me of Darlington. I might not be like most people, but I really enjoy races where the drivers have to do more than turn left and hold the gas pedal to the floor to go fast.
It is very hard to judge a race from watching TV. I have been to a few races that were pretty damn good that on TV looked boring as hell. I am sure all of us have. But that is because at the track we can watch what we want, not what they want to show. There is always more going on than between the #1 and #2 car. TV does not seem to get it. What they should do is secretly listen to MRN and then point the cameras at whatever they are talking about. The major problem with truck racing is that it is not on commercial television. It needs more exposure. It is some great racing and with more exposure it can’t help but become more popular to watch.
Alright Kevin, California sucks because we decided it does. Has nothing to do with the cars all racing a dozen car lengths from each other.
Atlanta sucked too, but I thought the mid-pack racing(when shown…) was considerably better. The racing for the lead sucks at any track over a mile with the COT, that’s a common denominator now, but the mid-pack racing is still varied. California magnifies the “boring racing for the lead” syndrome throughout the field with its long distance and wide, flat turns. It’s just designed like crap. I’d love to look at it with an open mind again like I did the first 2-3 times, but frankly, it was disappointing enough when the cars weren’t junk.