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 · Thursday April 23, 2009
The first night race of the 2009 Cup season offered fans a rare Sunday off. I hope most of you were able to enjoy the same beautiful weather that we had here in the Northeast, as Spring finally made its long overdue arrival. My plans for Sunday were pretty simple; I slept in a bit. I rode the Harley. I did a little (very little, I assure you) yardwork, then cracked a beer and sat down to enjoy the ARCA race from Rockingham.
Because I can’t always follow the ARCA series the way I’d like, I’d circled Sunday’s date on the calendar in red. Yeah, before anyone else points it out, I am a huge fan of Rockingham and still mourn the loss of the two Cup dates at one of NASCAR’s most historic and competitive tracks. Next to Darlington, the Rock was always my favorite race track. You can call Rockingham many things, (and many drivers have called it some pretty awful things as they slid around on badly worn tires trying to stay out of the wall) but nobody has ever called it a “cookie cutter” track. When they built Rockingham… they threw away the mold.
Saturday night’s Cup race at Phoenix didn’t earn a red circle on the calendar, but the Rockingham race was must-see TV. Phoenix was just another “must do” event, because that’s my job. Truth be told, it’s been a long time since I’ve felt the eagerness and anticipation that used to begin five minutes after one Cup race ended while waiting for the next to begin.
For fans newer to the sport that may never have even seen a Cup race at Rockingham, what made the track unique was its surface. Nestled in the Sand Hills of North Carolina, that track surface was notoriously abrasive. Even after as little as five green flag laps at Rockingham, drivers would be hollering they wanted to pit for four fresh tires. Based on the dropoff in lap times as those tires wore, rarely did a team make two tire stops during the race.
With that said, I’m not going to try to convince you that Sunday’s ARCA event from the Rock was perfect. The crowd was notably sparse. Old school fans, myself included, had better start voting with our wallets and attending races at Rockingham if we don’t want to lose her all over again. There was a troubling amount of cars at Rockingham that lacked sponsorship decals — that’s always been a problem in the ARCA Series, but in these gloomy economic times the problem seems to have mushroomed. There were a lot of drivers and teams I remember from ARCA races last year who weren’t on hand, as well as a whole lot of drivers I’d never even heard of before. And yes, Kenny Schrader pretty much dominated the show. Over the course of his career, Schrader has probably turned more laps at Rockingham than some of his competitors have logged in any sort of race car at any race track anywhere.
Yeah, Schrader was putting on a clinic for some fast young drivers in the ways of the Rock. Anyone can look like a hero for five laps on fresh tires at Rockingham; but after they abuse and use up their Hoosiers, they’ll drop through the pack like they’re dragging a parachute behind them. ARCA teams were limited to four sets of tires at the speedway, including the set they started the race on. Tire management was going to be crucial to a good result, and Schrader ran just hard enough during the race to maintain the lead, while seeing to it he had good rubber underneath him for the later part of each stint.
More than once younger, bolder drivers lacking in experience made a run at Schrader; and that’s when something amazing happened. Schrader didn’t just roll over and play dead; he actually ran those drivers who challenged him hard, even in the earlier stages of the race. He’d run with them side-by-side, lap after lap, taking the preferred upper groove that is less abusive on tires and forcing them to use their stuff up grinding away in the low lane. And after a few laps, each challenger would fade. I have no doubt Mr. Schrader was grinning inside his helmet watching the young pups run themselves ragged into the prickle-berry bushes, but I am equally sure that he too was counting the laps until he could get fresh rubber as well.
The early stages of the race featured some added intensity because there was rain in the area and, a few times, sprinkles did visit the track. Based on weather forecasts, some drivers and teams were running as if the race would end shortly beyond the halfway point. That’s gambling against the odds, as no race at Rockingham has been shortened due to rain. Indeed, using up an extra set of tires early came back to haunt some teams — because something extraordinary did happen. Rain didn’t shorten the race, but the race went almost 85 laps at the end without a caution period, forcing teams to stay out even on badly worn tires with some question as to whether they had enough fuel in the tank to go the distance.
At least one of them did not. Kenny Schrader ran out of gas with three laps left, handing the lead and the win to a startled Sean Caisse. Patrick Sheltra, who’d given a good accounting of himself most of the afternoon, finished second. Watching the most experienced driver with one of the better teams in the series run themselves out of gas was an “out of left field” surprising moment that used to be a highlight of stock car racing.
Meanwhile, the SPEED TV coverage of the race couldn’t have been much different than FOX’s infuriating attempts at cramming as many commercials and sponsor mentions into a short span of time. Yes, SPEED’s coverage was notably more amateurish. There were no cartoon rodents. There were no trick camera angles. There weren’t carefully choreographed, pre-taped segments of drivers making jackasses out of themselves that the producer felt obliged to insert somehow even during green flag racing. Hell, there wasn’t even a pre-race show. That’s right. When SPEED came on the air Sunday, the cars were already rolling and, in fact, heading towards the green flag. Having endured way too many seemingly endless Hollywood Hotel Comedy-Less Hours posing as a pre-race show… I was delighted. Yes, SPEED probably did plan some sort of pre-race opening, no matter how bland, but with threatening weather in the area they skipped it and moved up the start of the race. There’s a lesson that FOX, ESPN, and TNT should take to heart here. Fans tune in to see a race… not a jabbering bunch of jackasses spout off their highly prejudiced opinions. And yes, somehow a race can be held without the aid of an animated rodent.
The fact race fans want to see racing wasn’t lost on the SPEED crew. The boys in the booth talked about the race the fans were seeing … not the Cup show from the day before. And when the action was tepid at the front of the pack, the cameras focused further back where better, hardcore racing was going on. Knowing a lot of the drivers would be unfamiliar to viewers, there were occasional mentions of who those drivers were, what the season ahead held for them, and what they had accomplished in other racing series to date. No, we didn’t learn what their favorite pizza toppings were, how they felt about Phil Parsons’ hair, or what they drove to the prom. (To be fair, some of those drivers looked like they weren’t old enough to have gone to the prom yet.) We certainly never “got to know” some of those drivers in pre-recorded clips that were aired instead of green flag racing. For race fans, it was a treat to finally have some race broadcaster and a producer focus on the race itself — the race we had, in fact, tuned in to see. It’s a respect issue that had been sorely lacking in the fan-broadcaster relationship for too long. Don’t try to sell us on auto racing like it was some new brand of laundry detergent. If we weren’t race fans, we’d be watching something else or be out in the driveway waxing the Trans Am. And the odd thing is an actual race, albeit not a classic one, was entertaining once again. Somehow, entertainment programming with a race as the backdrop, as pioneered by FOX, has never been much fun to watch. In fact, lately it’s been like getting a root canal from a sadistic dentist with no Novocain.
The two hour length of the race seemed about perfect, too. It was enough time for an educated fan to watch the race develop and play out, without the usual hourlong segment where it seemed the drivers had set their cars on cruise control just waiting for the final 20 laps. Now, don’t get me wrong here; I’ve always liked 500-mile races. If they were to hold a 24 Hours of Darlington Cup race, I’d be hanging onto the catchfence screaming the whole time as long as the drivers actually raced for the entire 24 hours. Maybe it’s a lack of patience, or maybe I’ve got too much more to do with less years left to do it… but I’m beginning to think that three hours is the upper limit of length I can entirely devote my attention to anything that doesn’t have breasts or an engine.
To risk straying off the trail (and I’ve never done that before, have I friends and neighbors?) after my second trip out on the scoot, I caught the end of the IRL race as well. They may have a new name for it, but they still show the race itself in a split box during commercial breaks so fans can actually watch what’s going on. And, no, oddly enough, they don’t lock the camera on the car of the sponsor presenting the current ads. Carl Edwards and Subway would have been enraged — but I really wish somehow, some way Cup telecasts could pick up this feature.
In the end, after Sunday’s ARCA race I actually felt better about the sport of auto racing. If, as I’ve been predicting for several years now, NASCAR eventually implodes under its own weight and ceases to be… that’s OK. Maybe it’s even preferable. The sport of stock car racing is so inherently fascinating to people like me and so ingrained in our American culture, stock car racing will survive without being run under the NASCAR banner. If the crowds are smaller again, that means it will be easier and cheaper to get a ticket, and the post-race traffic won’t be so bad. I’ve never felt the need to be one of those mindless sheep relentlessly searching out what’s new and hip as part of the herd. I was a stock car racing fan back when it wasn’t cool to be a racing fan. If a lot of the big dollar sponsors pack up their bags and go home, well… they have too much influence over the sport as it is. There will be still be drivers and team owners who will race on more limited budgets for less money. If it takes awhile to learn all those driver’s names — that’s OK, too. Eventually, the remaining fans will latch on to their favorites as they always have. If the big networks decide they want out and stock car racing goes back to a cable TV sport, well, hell…I get over 500 channels of programming, and I live out here in the sticks about a quarter-mile from the end of the Earth. And if some of the new cookie-cutter tracks get shuttered and turned into shopping malls while races are held at places like Rockingham, Darlington, and North Wilkesboro again… I’m down with that. If the cars look more like actual production cars, cost a lot less money, and feature a lot less flash-paint, I can’t see that as a bad thing. The series currently known as the Cup Series originally competed as the “Strictly Stock” division, after all.
So stock car racing will survive, even in this economy, just the same way Christmas came and went. It came without ribbons! It came without tags! It came without packages, boxes, or bags! It came without DW, it came without Hammond, it came without the Toyota Top Performers, or a cartoon rodent running amuck in Alabama.
Yes, there will always be Christmas, and there will always be stock car racing. Sunday’s ARCA race might just have given stock car racing fans a glimpse of their future. If it wasn’t your cup of tea… the exit doors are now unlocked. But if you dug it like I did, I’ll see you there.
©2000 - 2008 Matt McLaughlin and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
The very best article that I have read about the TV broadcasting. I am growing weary of the “Carl Edwards show” or the “Junior show”. If I do not see my favorite driver in an hour, I do not watch the remaining 2 hors of Cup racing. I seem to be losing my love of Nascar and like you, I NEVER miss ARCA. I nap thru the cup race,that is how exciting I find it.
Reminds me of late 80’s ESPN Cup broadcasts. It wasn’t odd to have them come on air and flash the starting lineups on the screen as the cars were on the warmup laps because threatening weather was in the area. I can hear Bob Jenkins’ voice now…
What has “racing” in this country come to?
Lets take the ARCA race, as you mentioned, the three (3) people that showed up and sat in the stands may have enjoyed the race, I dunno! I lost interest in ARCA when the “big names” and high buck teams kinda took over. I used to go to several ARCA events, but have not been in a couple of years! I don’t want to see the high buck Ken Schrader’s, or the Scott Speed’s taking money away from the everyday ARCA teams.
Then you take the sick state of NA$CRAP!
Couple that with “follow the leader” street races, ala The IRL & Long Beach (did you see where a couple of cars got together and actually totally blocked the course and the cars had to go thru the pit lane?), what a joke, always happens at Long Beach, maybe that’s why their stands were at best half full!
My point being, these scenarios are positively driving spectators and supporters away by the thousands, each and every weekend.
Is there any really TRUE series one can sink their teeth into these days?
Me thinks not!
It seems as though when a sport makes it big, they play not to lose…and that’s how they lose.
The “big names” do not always make for good racing. Like many other sports racing is relative. Schrader is one of a few true racers left. He will race anyone, anyplace, any time in any kind of car. ARCA at the Rock was great! NASCAR at the Rock again would be great, but, alas, it probably will never happen again because the Rock is traditional and it is in the South.
As I do agree with the notion that the TV coverage of NASCAR has been absolutely horrendous as of late, I’m about tired of hearing about the good ole’ days and how it used to be and reading absolutely absurd suggestions on how to fix it. If you hate NASCAR so much and how it is nowadays, then move on! Why are you doing this as your job? How can having smaller crowds be good for any sport? Although it might be more convenient for you to get back to your mobile home in only 20 minutes as opposed to 40 because traffic is a little lighter, that makes no sense. Attracting a large audience to a race is a very vital part to even having the race. Come on, you want filled stands.
I know it’s not in this article but I just read the article right before this which was suggesting that only the 12 chasers run the last ten races, are you kidding me? Why would a sponsor sign with a car, any car, if there was an outside chance that they wouldn’t run the most viewed last 10 races of the season, what a joke, and another example of a ridiculous suggestion on how to fix NASCAR.
Minus a few writers on this site, I wonder why most even bother to watch the races anymore, if it’s so awful, move on, do something you enjoy, cause believe or not there are actually people who enjoy the sport of NASCAR that you tear down all the time.
i watch arca races on speed. they usually don’t have pre-race deal. arca also races on all kinds of tracks, they still race a points race on dirt tracks.
went to arca race at lanier ga several years ago. i have pic of me and jason jarrett on my desk, and to this day, years later, i’ll crack a smile and remember the incredible day i had at that race. i had pit/garage (no garages there) access. prior to the race, after qualifying, the cars parked on the track and all the drivers were there meeting the fans. you didn’t have to have special pass or pay extra for this privilege. You could walk up to chad mccombee, take a million pictures with him, autographs, then go to norm benning and get purple mardi gras beads (they’re still hanging in my car). even 7 time champion frank kimmel was approachable, and if his team was grilling pork the other white meat (his sponsor at the time), you could get a sausage or chop. it was great…way racing use to be. lanier was sold out for that race. sure not 100,000 seats like atlanta motorspeedway, but that may day in lanier, ga….i had the best time. ate with team, watched teams work on cars under their tents, and cheered driver on. and you know what…driver knew it was me and acknowledged it, not just a blank wave without any eye contact.
i attended arca race at ‘dega several years ago, and same thing…only thing that kept me out of the pits was the chain link fence cause ‘dega is a nascar sactioned track. i have pieces of jason’s wrecked car that i made into a table, sitting in my sunroom. fans left the area with all kinds of sheet metal that day. it was cup weekend too, but the rent-a-cops kept us out of the cup area.
“I wonder why most even bother to watch the races anymore, if it’s so awful, move on, do something you enjoy, cause believe or not there are actually people who enjoy the sport of NASCAR that you tear down all the time.”
Because hope dies last. We are still hoping for racing without the input of inanely stupid trivia that would insult the intelligence of a three year old. And I don’t watch it anymore. What, really, is there to watch? A quarter of the race is devoted to commercials, a quarter to stupid trivia, a quarter to extolling the virtues of FOX and Digger, and a quarter to the racing itself. If that is what you want in your racing, then by all means, watch it. But we who know what it was just ten years ago will keep up the mantra and we won’t go quietly into that good night,as it were.
In the era when names like “Sears Point” or “Charlotte” have given way to “Lowes Motors Speedway” or “Infineon”, I am still slow to adopt the “brand name” in lieu of the original name. It’s the freakin’ “World 600”, dangitall! Who you trying to fool; some wet behind the ears newbie that’ll buy into anything?!.
North Carolina Motor Speedway is at Rockingham, North Carolina. I know what people mean when they say ‘Rockingham’, but I always think of Benny Parsons at North Carolina Motor Speedway.
Let’s hope Andy is successful enough to keep the place viable, but never gets rich enough to re-pave the joint!
I went there four times for races. Every time, the weather wasn’t nice to me.
A special to amy anderson: I can’t say I’ve ever seen any quote, let alone two attributed to Emily Dickinson when discussing NASCAR… excellent use of two pieces of writing that apply perfectly!
Amy, I agree with you, if you read the first line of my post I admit the TV coverage is awful, almost bad enough to make me not want to watch it, but I love the racing too much not to. And I share the hope along with you that it will get better, but I didn’t see you say anything was wrong with the racing itself, and thats what I watch for, not the mess that FOX puts on each week.
Well now , see there . It just takes a well reasoned , well thought out post by Casey to show us that we don’t know what we’re talking about . The Nascar races are just fine , the past should have no influence on the present , and if we don’t like the current state of affairs in Nascar , we should just move on .
I might be a “newer fan” to NASCAR but calling me a casual fan and then spouting out some names that any “diehard” fan should know just makes you sounds more like an old timer who’s been passed by one to many times. I’m sorry racing isn’t the way you want it. And I truely am sorry that this sport attracts new fans like myself, what a dumb sport for attracting new fans. It would be alot better if it didn’t attract new fans and all we had were a bunch of beer can tossing red necks to fill the stands.
And I love racing, that’s the only reason I put up with the coverage that we have, like I said twice before.
Being a newer fan to nascar i dont know guys that you mentioned, but i learn something new everyday, because i do follow the sport passionantly. Is that a bad thing? Is it a requirement to know every individual thats been involved with something to be a fan of it? But thanks for the names, i will look them up and expand my knowledge.
Wow, when one driver stinks up the show in a Cup race, Matt calls it a piece of crap.
It’s sort of a pet peeve but I’m not shy about venting my spleen, am I?
I welcome newer fans to the sport. I have spent countless hours in the grandstands at taverns and in the Wawa parking lot passing on what I know of the sport and its history to newer fans just as the fans who preceded me shared it with me in similar venues.
There’s always going to be a degree of tension between new fans and old fans as epitomized by the rivalry between fans of the 24 and the 3 back in the day.
But why is it when discussing the issue terms like “getting back to your mobile home” and “rednecks throwing beer cans” have to be tossed in, as if anyone who was actually at a stock car race Richard Petty won is a toothless product of incest witn an IQ of 50 with six DUI convictions? For the record, I have all my teeth minus three wisdom teeth, I graduated Villanova University with honors, and I do indeed have indoor plumbing though walking behind the garage to take a wizz when wrenching on classic car collection is a lot more convienient.
In these politically correct times, why is it still OK to call us brain dead rednecks? Just imagine the uproar if someone in a debate over the present state of the NBA were to term old school fans who preffered Dr. J to Alan Iverson, “Chitlin breathed-felons on parole from the ghetto.” If you find that comment as offensive as I do, thnk twice about painting all older stock car fans with a broad brush. The doctor who is doing the heart surgery to save your yuppie ass might just be a David Pearson fan.
Point taken Matt, unfortunately I am one of those 24 fans, he’s the one that got me hooked, and it seems like every victory that i have watched him get, minus this last one, he has something or another hurled at him, and it sure leaves a bitter taste in your mouth when you just spent the last countless hours rooting for him, so I guess thats why my attitude is so. But I get your point about not grouping all fans together, and my bad if I offended anyone else.
i was at THE ROCK sunday and i hate to tell yall but there was alot more than 3 or 4 fans in the stands, i didnt care if the leader laped the whole feild 5 times seeing cars going around the ROCK again was great been goning to lowes for 15 years been to martiansville ,been to the lady in black, “ill say i love martiansville” but being back at the ROCK was the best ill be back in july
Hey “amy anderson”!! !!
And for “pj”, ok, ok, I will count the hot dog vendors and the six (6)people in the rest rooms!
Glad the sun was not shining because the glare off all the open seats would have been hard on the eyes!
BUT! Once again, I ask, “why go to an ARCA race when you never know how many “cherry-pickers” are going to show up and ruin the show with their high $$$$ teams and pit crews?
Not me for sure!
Yes, there is an exciting series to sink your teeth into. The Truck Series.
Yes, it is tough to pull for a driver and only to see his wins booed by a lot of your fellow fans. But it is nothing new. Dale Earnhardt Sr. was loudly booed by a lot of fans during driver intros and after wins. Even more recent fans might recall the less than polite reaction Dale got for his win at the Bristol night race when he knocked Terry Labonte out of the way to take the win. If Jimmy Spencer had gotten to Dale’s rear bumper one corner earlier it might not have turned out that way. Yeah, back in the day there were T-shirts that read “I Don’t Care Who Wins as Long as it’s not the 3 car” just as there is ABG sentiments today.
I don’t mean to preach but if you are a recently minted fan to the sport take some time to Google older drivers like Mark Martin to see why his win at Phoenix was so popular and look at the accomplishments of such “lost” names as LeeRoy Yarbrough, Cale Yarborough, Curtis Turner, Junior Johnson, Ned Jarrett, Curtis Turner, Tiny Lund, Tim Richmond, Tim Flock, Tiny Lund, and too many others to mention. Just go to Wikidpedia and search those names before telling older fans Jeff is the greatest driver ever. Jeff deserves a mention in the endless debate over the Top 10 Drivers ever, but the hard work, accomplishments, sacrifice and even deaths of drivers who pave the way to make even an off season for current drivers earn a million bucks a year deserves some respect.
Seriously, just take those above names and look at Wikipedia. And maybe, just maybe, one day my boss here at Frontstrech might allow me to rerun the 104 column history series I once wrote about the history of our sport in honor of it’s 50th anniverary back in the day on another site here not to prove I am a better fan than the newbies but to let them know of the stories before they jumped on the band wagon,
I still have a problem with almost everyone complaining about the racing in NASCAR now. Other than Daytona I never get to attend a race in person but what the TV networks show is NOT the racing. All they show is special features or a close up shot of 1 car on track, so close that you can’t even tell if the car is loose or running good (or maybe just sitting on pit road to make it easier to film)or some stupid graphic plastered all over the screen blocking any chance of seeing the cars. If they ever decide to actually show the racing that supposedly goes on all over the track then people like me might be able to form an informed opinion as to the quality of the racing.
Bitch, Bitch, Bitch, that’s all I ever hear about the TV coverage. Sure it sucks, but then how could it not, when the racing sucks so badly. When someone is running things that knows why people watched NA$CAR in the first place, & gets back to it. Then it might become productive to rag on the coverage. As things stand, the best coverage won’t save it.
It’s been a feeling of mine for a long time that players or drivers and fans today have very little knowledge of the history of the sport they are in. It’s like basketball “fans” who do not know the difference between Bill Russell and Bill Walton or Jerry West and Jerry Seinfeld.
well doug keep on drinkin the kool aid from nascar and keep watching the iroc racing every sundy ill be at the rock seeing real rscing not what ever brand DW has been paid to talk about or what digger is doing nuff said
Back at ya, Casey B.- If you hate reading Matt talk about the lousy state of Nascar and all the replies why do you even come here?
So it hurts your feelings when Jeff Gordon gets booed and has cans thrown at him? I was an Earnhardt Sr. fan back in the day and he got that all the time. He said if they ain’t makin noise you’re doing something wrong. I’ve been to plenty of Cup races and it’s par for the course to boo the other guys. The biggest boos would be for Sr. and Jeff, except for the days when Rusty Wallace became the Black Hat for taking out Jabber Jaws.
I just wish all the new fans had a chance to see the ESPN race coverage from the early ’80s to 2001. You would be on Matts bandwagon for sure, and would be marching on Fox with pitchforks and torches.
Once again I’d like to thank Matt for watching the races so I don’t have to. I have not watched this year except for small snippets, and get the lowdown on Mondays here. I guess I’m a proud -18%er. I’ll have to get a diamond shaped patch to put on my Nascar colors with -18% in the center. I think us old timers should be refered to as -18%ers and wear our patch with pride.
Now you’re actually admitting that what you want is for Nascar to turn into a small-time sport of purely regional interest?
And you’re fine with never seeing or hearing about any races except the ones you personally attend?
When will even one of the Nascar-is-horrible whiners put his/her money where his mouth is and personally take responsibility for doing something about the problem?
If you actually know how the perfect racing series should be run get up and start that perfect racing series.
After all, it will be so much better than Nascar that it will instantly become the most popular series and thus attract all the best drivers and their fans so you’ll recoup your investment quickly.
Ummm…if that comment was directed at me, M.B. in this economy I don’t have enough money to open an lemonaid stand at the end of the driveway. I keep waiting for Humpy Wheeler or Bruton Smith to take the challenge of a new series. I’ll gladly put my so called career on the line and switch to writing about the new series and leaving NASCAR. If I find a crumpled ten dollar bill in an old jacket I’ll invest in stock in the new series.
What’s worse. Whining, or whining about other people whining? Lest I risk the accusation of whining about other people whining about people whining I will close here.