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 April 6, 2009
The Key Moment: Jeff Gordon emerged from the final round of pit stops with the lead as Carl Edwards’ No. 99 team fumbled the ball badly, dropping their boy to eleventh.
In a Nutshell: Jeff Gordon won for the first time in 47 races. You knew it was coming eventually — just not at Texas.
Dramatic Moment: Jimmie Johnson did his damnedest to keep Gordon honest in the final ten laps, but came up short.
What They’ll Be Talking About Around the Water Cooler This Week
“Wide Open Spaces” makes for better cowboy songs than races. The gaps between even drivers in the top 10 often seemed eternal at Texas.
Does it seem like the only side-by-side, fender-banging racing we see these days is during commercial breaks? If the racing was half as good during the events themselves as it is in commercials, these drooping ratings would take care of themselves.
All cars and drivers seem to benefit from “clean air” when they’re running in the lead, but does it seem the No. 24 car is in a league all its own in that regard?
I’ve been a race fan for almost all my life, and a rabid one at times. This is what I do on Sundays from February to November. But I can’t be the only one lately who watches a beautiful Spring afternoon pass by outside my window and thinks that there’s got to be better ways to spend my time.
Does it seem like 2009 is offering up a record number of transmission and clutch failures? Maybe some of these guys need to start running C6s.
Matt Kenseth seems to be like that little girl with a curl in the nursery rhyme. When he’s good, he’s very, very good; but when he’s bad, he’s awful.
Maybe they need to put a cold bottle of beer at the end of Dale Junior’s pit road pole. There’s one thing the guy isn’t going to miss.
A record number of lead changes? And a record lack of cautions. Do the math. Green flag pit sequences shuffle the drivers at the front of the pack as the sequences play out, but it’s not the sort of passes for the lead fans get excited over. (Though to be fair, the increasingly desperate Earnhardt Nation did go nuts when a two tire stop put the No. 88 car into the lead.)
You know, sometimes these dumb SOBs just seem to be trying to shoot themselves in the foot — no pun intended. One of the coolest trophies in NASCAR racing (way behind the Martinsville grandfather clock, of course) is the Beretta guns the race and pole winners are awarded at Texas. But on a day when a psychotic went on a shooting rampage in Binghamton, New York, killing at least fourteen innocent souls, do we really need to see David Reutimann grinning like a Jack-0-Lantern as he aims a shotgun into the grandstands? Hell, I’m a “cold dead hand” gun rights constitutional amendment sort who happens to feel that enforcement of current gun laws is going to solve a whole lot more problems than new ones — but that made even me wince. You never point a weapon, even one you are certain is unloaded, in the direction of an innocent person or persons (even if it only was media members within shotgun range.) Why give the loyal opposition that much more ammo? (Again, no pun intended.) I guess when they outlaw guns for good, outlaws will beat us over the head with grandfather clocks instead.
It is rumored (to the point of fact, I’m certain) that this year’s Cup awards banquet will be moved from New York to Las Vegas. The banquet, which was originally held in Charlotte, moved to New York in 1981 to try to drum up some interest on Wall Street and attention in the mainstream media. Yeah, it’s a long flight to Vegas … but it’s perfect. Vegas is fake, showy, tacky, and crude, just like our sport has become. The odds favor the house: yesterday, today and forever. Folks arrive in Vegas hoping to get rich, but end up broke just like new team owners in NASCAR — and the house always wins. Like the founders of the Vegas strip, NASCAR is a mob unto itself, with its unholy alliance between NASCAR and the ISC that tends to rub out those who cross it. (But like the Boss used to sing, Baby, everything dies, that’s a fact, but maybe everything that dies, sometimes comes back… I’m still here.) So what we’re likely to see is a NASCAR banquet long on flashing lights, hype, and lies but with all the substance of a South Park Cheezy-Poof. An awards banquet in Vegas is the ultimate kick to the sack to a sport born in the Buckle of the Bible Belt from our friend, Brian France (Vegas does, after all, proudly dub itself “Sin City,” right?). On a brighter note, maybe Penn and Teller can stage a magic act that makes Dear Brian disappear… and not come back.
Expect an announcement this week that Richard Petty Motorsports will try to field a car for this year’s Indy 500 with John Andretti at the wheel. Yeah, with all the stellar success they are enjoying to date this season and all those race wins, a little distraction can’t hurt them any, right? How about running Kyle Petty as Andretti’s teammate at Indy? I hear he’s looking for work.
Stop the presses. Despite long odds, track owner Bruton Smith will be inducted into the Texas Motorsports Speedway Hall of Fame. I’m sure Frances Ferko will be next.
Bruton Smith angrily denied that his chain of Sonic new and used car dealerships was heading into bankruptcy, despite a report in the Charlotte Observer that quoted Smith’s son who runs the company. Mr. Smith says that his dealerships are making lots and lots of money — tons of money, in fact — in a sign that the troubled U.S. economy is turning around. He does admit that last year the company gave away 560 million dollars towards “good will,” however. Good will? Is my check in the mail? I figure as a U.S. citizen, I ought to be worth at least ten bucks right there — but I’ll settle for a used Challenger RT Hemi, black on black please.
Smith (and I love when he hosts race weekends because he gives me so much to write about) went on to say that NASCAR needs to skew the race purse more towards winning than a consistent finish to spice the racing back up. I agree… but I do so with my usual site-enforced decorum. In comparison, here’s what Mr. Smith had to say about drivers commenting on a good points race. “Well, I had a pretty good day. I finished fourth. That’s pretty good points.’ Well, that’s bullshit. That’s what we don’t need. We’re not in the points racing business.” Editors, break out your black magic markers and “s**t,” please.
Uh-oh. NASCAR is said to be “putting out feelers” to find a replacement title sponsor for Camping World for the Truck Series. Who’d have thunk? In this economy, with all the focus on gas mileage and environmental sensitivity, you’d think selling RVs that cost more than the homes many of us live in would be a license to print money, right?
If Earnhardt Ganassi racing does shut down the No. 8 team after this weekend’s race as rumored, Martin Truex, Jr. technically becomes a free agent. His contract and that of Bass Pro Shops with the team stipulates that the organization he drives for will run three fully-funded and sponsored competitive cars. I wonder how Truex would look in orange and white?
Oh, boy! The return of a Digger cartoon and Jeff Hammond dressed up like an extra from Brokeback Mountain! Apparently, director Artie Kempner wants to make sure that fans’ blood pressure remains unhealthily high during the off week ahead. Isn’t it odd that while Kempner was on hiatus, the damn gopher was as well?
Department of Corrections – Fictional Facts. A note to our old friend Larry McReynolds: Dale Earnhardt, Jr. did not win his first Nationwide Series race at Texas. He won his first Busch Series victory. Nor did Earnhardt win his first Sprint Cup race at Texas. He won his first Winston Cup race at TMS. Stick to mangling the English language — not the facts.
I guess the editors don’t want me to do any more political editorializing no matter how benign or bipartisan, but I feel sad that three Pittsburgh police officers were killed in the line of duty and all those poor folks lost their lives in Binghamton this week.
The Hindenburg Award For Foul Fortune
Carl Edwards lost if not race wins at least a solid shot at contending for two wins in the pits on Saturday and Sunday.
David Reutimann started from the pole and ran up front early, but a miscue in the pits ended any chances of scoring his first win. Note to all crews: When those NASCAR officials in your pits start waving their hands over their heads and getting all bright red in the face, you might want to take a second and see what those fellows’ concerns are.
Kyle Busch got annoyed with John Andretti and showed his displeasure by ramming into the side of Andretti’s car. It wasn’t a wise move, as in the end it cut down a rear tire on the No. 18 car and dropped him off the lead lap.
Marcos Ambrose had a solid run going until a terminally expired engine announced by an epic amount of smoke ended his afternoon.
I wouldn’t want to be a member of any of the Roush pit crews this Monday when the owner calls them together for a team meeting. If Charlotte is Jimmie Johnson’s House, Texas is supposed to be Roush’s tree fort.
Hopefully, the No. 29 team packed Kevin Harvick a nice picnic basket, because his Chevy was clearly out to lunch on Sunday.
It can’t be easy to be Dale Earnhardt, Jr., watching another win by one of his teammates while he slunk home 20th. Earnhardt’s cause was greatly hindered by problems in the pits. And who runs that pit crew? Oh, right, we’re supposed to back off that guy. Forget I said anything.
The “Seven Come Fore Eleven” Award For Fine Fortune
Jimmie Johnson barely avoided Sam Hornish’s spinning Dodge en route to a second place finish. And you know there’s a lot of pit crews who’d like to steal that magic wand of Chad Knaus’ that turns a hopelessly slow car early in the race into a contender late out of the No. 48 team’s toolbox.
Matt Kenseth overcame problems in the pits to rally back for a fifth place finish.
Tony Stewart’s tenure as a driver/owner could hardly be off to a better start in even his wildest fantasies.
Don’t shovel any more dirt into Juan Pablo Montoya’s grave just yet. Recently, there seems to be a pulse within the No. 42 team.
Paul Menard had a solid run in the best ride his father’s millions can afford him on Sunday.
What’s the Points?
With everything going on in the world right now, if you’re truly worried about the points at this stage of the season you’re just not paying attention.
Not surprisingly, race winner Jeff Gordon remains atop the standings. If he shows up at Phoenix (and my guess is, he will) he’ll still be leading Jimmie Johnson after the race as Johnson, now second in points, is 162 off the pace.
Within the top 12, Matt Kenseth had the best points day at Texas, rebounding three spots to ninth. Tony Stewart moves up two spots to fifth in the standings, while Clint Bowyer took it in his not inconsiderable chin at Texas, dropping two spots to fourth.
Jeff Burton eased up a spot into the top 12 this week, taking over that coveted 12th place spot. Juan Pablo Montoya finds himself sitting 13th in the standings, just sixteen points behind Burton. Behind him sits Kevin Harvick, who fell four spots from 10th clear down to 14th.
Greg Biffle had a solid points day at Texas, moving up eight spots to 15th. Mark Martin was another beneficiary of a strong run, as he moved up nine spots to 18th.
On the other hand, Michael Waltrip continues his Three Stooges-like plummet down the points ladder, falling another four spots to 21st. Why, you, I oughta…
Oops. Don’t look now, but “Sliced Bread” Logano finds himself perched precariously in 35th in the standings. I’m sure he’s got talent, but right now watching this kid at the wheel of a Cup car is like watching a man drown. Only Aric Almirola has made all seven races to date this season and is lower in the points than Logano. And Almirola likely won’t be back at Phoenix…
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 somewhat chilled domestic stuff. Just another McRace at another McTrack a lot longer on hat than cattle.
Next Up: The circuit takes a weekend off as Christians worldwide celebrate their most sacred solemnity, the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, and our elder brothers in faith celebrate their Passover and liberation as a people from slavery in Egypt. Racing, or some tepid facsimile thereof, resumes at Phoenix on April 16th. Meanwhile, be sure to pay your taxes… AIG executives are counting on you.
©2000 - 2008 Matt McLaughlin and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
Taped the race, wife asked if she could tell me who won, I say yes, she says Jiffy Poo and I rewind the tape and put it in the VCR to be taped over. The only thing worse than a boring race at Texas is a boring race that Jiffy or Jooooooner win.
I wonder how much longer Joey Slogano is gonna be in the 20.
If you record a race, never let somebody tell you the winner. It will ruin the whole thing for you. Anyway, I’m not a Gordon fan but he’s been in the sport long enough to where he’s earned his stripes. It was pretty cool seeing him win again.
I think we can all agree that there is something going on behind the scenes with Jeff Hammond . His outfit this week pretty much screamed OUT OF THE CLOSET .
Glad everyone is in agreement regarding Jeff Hammond. Who dresses him?
Woohoo!!! The monkey is dead. Number 82 is in the books.
The race might have not been the most exciting, but seeing the 24 cross that finish line first sure got me going, and the reason to which I’m hungover now at work, but it’s always worth it, I agree with you marshall, it might not be to long before Hammond takes that bold step out the closet.
To the Editor – no beer can vote this week?
Someone still records NASCAR races? Why? You will wear out the FF button. Take it one step further…someone still watches NASCAR races, recorded or live?
Junior’s crew screwed up a lugnut, but then Junior compounded it by missing his pit box coming back down pit road. And then he asked if the pole was shorter on the radio. Gee, Junior, why don’t you ask the other 42 drivers that didn’t miss their pit?
I like Junior but his head is TOTALLY out of the game this year.
Cool to see the 24 back.
By the way, Larry Mac is wrong. Ella Sophia Gordon has been in victory lane with her father in a points paying race…..Fall Talladega race 2 yrs ago. Now grant it, Fox wasn’t broadcasting it.
Luckily I turned on the race and Digger cartoon was over with, however the other clowns, Meyers and Hammond were going full steam ahead. Sure wished Hammond would have gone out in the windy conditions with his lovely colorful bandana and got taken away by a strong gust. I’m sorry, lead changes because of green flag pitstops….sure this is a legitimate lead change, but oh hum……What is with all these pit road issues and miscues? Trying too hard for the 12 second pit stop? Heck, I remember when a 21 second pit stops with 3 air guns was lightening fast.
Watch the first hour, turned off tv, went and checked it periodically and then watched the last 40 laps. I’m still trying to figure out why Jr came in on that last pit stop when he went a lap down from rimriding a few laps earlier. Oh well…I’m not the braintrust at Hendrick, so I guess I should just accept Hendrick’s wisdom and keep on drinking the cool aid that Jr knows what best for him and Jr (HA!)
Wonder what color Jr’s pit sign was that blended in withe everyone elses? Jr needs his head removed from his rear. Remember he said last week that Martinsville was a pain in the head and butt….Maybe he’s got butt pain from his heading being up it so far.
I figured out pit road issues….NA$CAR’s new drug testing policy! Can’t get shot up before the races. Makes one think!
Hammond has been playing dress up for years. One week Jeff “just got back from Sturgis” and shows up dressed as a biker, ala Village People. Then it was the rodeo and Jeffy is a cowboy. We’ve suspectd Hammond was a fancy boy for quite some time. I was lucky enough to miss the Texas race so I didn’t see his cutey suit this week.
RE: better ways to spend my time
I believe that if you don’t watch the race, recorded or otherwise, you forfeit the right to bitch!
The beer poll is up for your voting pleasure … we’re happy to see fans beginning to look forward to it each week!
Thanks for reading FS and Matt’s work.
NASCAR should go ahead and re-name any race held on a mile and half track the Snoozefest 500. That was about as boring of a race as there has been since they put restrictor plates on at New Hampshire.
To Jr.‘s defense when he missed his pit why wasn’t his crew chief counting him down to his pits like every other crew chief does for their driver? It would have also been nice for the guy holding the sign to do so, so someone other than the guy in the blimp could actually see the numbers. That team is a mess right now.
Finally, Kyle Busch got what he deserved when he rubbed Andretti and ended up cutting down his own tire. It was a total Busch league move but not one that is unexpected from the most classless driver out there. Kyle Busch’s motto is “What is mine is mine and what is yours is also mine, so get out of my way. I am entitled.” I wish Dale Sr. was still around to teach thiis boy a few manners.
I turned on the race with about a half hour to go until the scheduled green flag. I heard the announcer say not to go away because they had a brand new Digger cartoon coming up after the commercial. So this is what it has come to… Fox is the new Cartoon Network, featuring SpongeBob Waltrip and Patrick McReynolds. And Digger. And Hopalong Hammond. Have I mentioned lately how much I miss Ned & Benny? And professionalism?
Here’s hoping the Village People go on tour soon so we can get a break from Jeff Hammond.
Matt your right, your not the only one who watches a beautiful Spring afternoon pass by outside your window and thinks that there’s got to be better ways to spend your time. I skipped watching yeasterday race live to snowboard in 1 to 2 feet of deep powder. And after watching the race last night, I’m glad I did head up to the mountain.
I just don’t understand how Hendrick can tolerate the pit stop issues that the 88 continually has. One week have a meeting and people snap into shape. Next week, back to “normal”. It’s painful to watch.
Matt: Really… what is up with the clutch and transmission failures? After years of almost bullet-proof reliability, they’ve become an Achilles’ heel.
Two weeks until the next race… think there’ll be extra pit practice not only at Roush? Biffle and Edwards had fast cars only to stumble getting in line for the pay window.
RCR’s poor showing shocked me. The 8 car has a decision to make this morning (if the decision isn’t made already for them), but the puzzlement at RCR this morning has got to be more troublesome; there’s another 1.5 mile track or two to run yet!
Oopsie; forgot to add…
Awesome to see the 24 win! His happiness in Victory lane was great to see. I love when a driver shows excitment when they win. Refreshing to see that.
I keep hearing how Truex will be a free agent because EGR will only be running two cars after the #8 gets parked, but I count three remaining cars on the track: #1, #34 & #42. So what gives?
I see you can’t resist pooping on Michael Waltrip. However, there was nary a word out of you when he moved up some 4 or 5 spots last week. Your obvious venom towards him says more about you than about him.
Hey Bad Wolf, you are way bhind the times. Wheres your TIVO, or your DVD? Nobody, but nobody, does VHS anymore.
If Matt can’t do anything but complain about practically everyone and everything, maybe he should just shut up.
His whining is getting very, very tiring.
I use VHS. I don’t have money for that other stuff, and if I did I don’t see a reason to spend it when I have a perfectly fine VCR. It works and it works well.
And by the way, I played hockey all day Sunday and had a nice time. Then I watched parts of the race at night(recorded on my antique VHS tape, haha), although admittedly most of it in fast forward due to the minimal action and even less willingness of FOX to show the action that was going on. Does anyone else get annoyed when Mike Joy says, “Tons of action midpack…” and they’re not even bothering to show it? It makes them look stupid and careless.
They just need three cameras atop the grandstands like before. Then they can’t get all giddy with the melodramatic “fly by” view and all the inarticulate in car cameras. Even the old in car cameras were better where you could see almost the entire driver. It’s still a crappy angle since you can’t see a damn thing behind the guy but seriously, wide open views are best for racing. If the best experience is to be there, shouldn’t the cameras try to reflect the live experience with wide open views?
jif, I think the 34 is officially listed as a “Front Row Motorsports” car still. Technically, it’s an EGR but it isn’t officially, so that technicality could mean Truex would only have Montoya as a teammate… This is similar to MWR which effectively runs the 47 of Ambrose but is actually owned by JTG, or Yates which runs the 96 of Labonte (to the point of putting Todd Parrott there), but the team is still listed as a Hall of Fame team.
TNT is known for large panoramic camera shots that mimic the view spectators get at the track. The first time I saw their production, I instantly realized they were “putting us at the race”.