Kurt Busch to Attempt The Indianapolis-Charlotte Double
posted by Phil Allaway
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Andretti Autosport announced this morning that Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet in the Sprint Cup Series, will attempt the Indianapolis 500 in a fifth entry for the IndyCar Series team. Once the Indianapolis 500 is completed, Busch will fly from Indianapolis to Charlotte, jump in his No. 41 Chevrolet and compete in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Busch considers the opportunity to do the double as an old-school throwback moment.
“This is really to challenge myself within motorsports,” Busch said in Andretti Autosport’s press release. “Perhaps I am a bit of an old-school racer; a throwback, I guess. I enjoyed the era of drivers racing different cars and testing themselves in other series. It is tough to do now for a variety of factors, but when the opportunity is there, I want to do it. While NASCAR is my home, I have been fortunate to compete in Pro Stock on the NHRA circuit a number of years ago and test a V8 Supercar. This opportunity was a talk with Michael [Andretti] over dinner one night, a “What if,” and now it’s becoming a reality for me to drive in the Indy 500 with Andretti Autosport. It’s literally a dream come true. To go to the famous Brickyard with the iconic Andretti name, it doesn’t get much cooler or better than that.”
Busch will be doing the Indianapolis-Charlotte double as a Memorial Day mission to men and women serving in the U.S. Military via the Armed Forces Foundation. Fans can contribute to the cause by texting AFF to 50555 to donate $10.
Busch, who has never raced an IndyCar, passed Rookie Orientation at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year during a test session. At the time, Busch was more or less testing the Dallara DW12 for fun.
Busch will be the fourth driver to attempt the Indianapolis-Charlotte double. John Andretti was the first driver to attempt it in 1994. After finishing four laps down in tenth in Indianapolis, Andretti crashed and had engine problems in the 600. Robby Gordon has attempted the double five times, most recently in 2004. However, Gordon failed to make it to Charlotte on time and did not start the 600 in 2000 (P.J. Jones started Gordon’s No. 13 Ford in that instance). Finally, Tony Stewart has attempted the double twice (most recently in 2001) and is the only driver to ever complete all 1100 miles. Neither of the three drivers has won either leg of the double. The best finishes are Stewart and Gordon’s sixth-place finishes at the Indianapolis 500 (although Gordon’s came in 2000, the year he didn’t make it to Charlotte in time to start the Coca-Cola 600), and Stewart’s fourth-place finish in the 2001 Coca-Cola 600.
Danica Patrick, Justin Allgaier Talk About Phoenix Incident
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
A disappointing start to the year for Danica Patrick won’t include continued conflict. Patrick met with rookie Justin Allgaier Sunday, shortly after the Phoenix Cup race after a wreck ruined both drivers’ days. Patrick, who was critical of the No. 51 car on the radio, claiming Allgaier was “driving all over the track” appeared receptive to a conversation that quickly settled differences over what will be a long season.
“She was just upset because she got involved in the crash that we had,’’ said Allgaier to the Motor Racing Network. “She says she’s been through this and that she felt like I needed to settle down at that point. I explained my position on why everything happened. I think she understood where I was coming from. It doesn’t fix either one of our racecars. It doesn’t fix either one of our days. Unfortunately, we were both having pretty decent days.’’
Allgaier wound up 30th due to the incident while Patrick was 36th. The incident, which was caused by Allgaier’s spin also involved the No. 32 team and Travis Kvapil, which wound up 38th after sustaining heavy damage.
Camping World Close to Extending Title Sponsorship of NCWTS
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Marcus Lemonis, CEO of Camping World, Grand Marshal of Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway, and star of CNBC’s “The Profit,” made the announcement over the weekend that the retailer is very close to announcing a deal that would continue its title sponsorship of NASCAR’s Truck Series. The original agreement with NASCAR is scheduled to conclude after the 2015 season.
According to the sanctioning body, no formal contract has been signed, but “the agreement between the two parties has proven to be a beneficial one.”
“In about a month, we’ll be announcing a significant extension to that contract. It’s been great for us,” said Camping World’s Lemonis in a statement. “The NASCAR relationship has worked well for Camping World. When we started, we had 35 stores. Now, we’re up to 120 stores. As we travel the country and we meet new customers in stores, they always are very appreciative of our relationship with NASCAR. It’s been good.”
Gaining a long-term commitment from Camping World to sponsor the Truck Series would be a relief for NASCAR, which is set to lose Nationwide Insurance as title sponsor for the NASCAR Nationwide Series at the end of the 2014 season. The sponsorship of the Cup Series by Sprint runs through 2016.
The NCWTS is back in action on March 29th at 2:30 PM (ET) when the trucks visit Martinsville Speedway in the Kroger 250, which can be seen on Fox Sports 1. Ratings for the season opener were up 11 percent.
Harvick Takes Win At Phoenix In Second Race With New Team
posted by Justin Tucker
Monday March 3, 2014
Phoenix International Raceway has become Kevin Harvick’s home away from home. Sunday Afternoon was no exception as Harvick charged to the front early and would dominate for much of the day, leading 224 of the scheduled 312 laps to record his record fifth win on the one mile oval and his third win in the last four races at Phoenix.
Harvick, coming off of a disappointing Speedweeks which was capped by a last lap crash in the Daytona 500 in his debut with Stewart-Haas Racing, set the tone on Saturday by winning both practices while having the best 5 and 10-lap averages in the first practice of the day on Saturday. On Sunday, Harvick and his No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet was nothing short of flawless as he was able to hold Dale Earnhardt, Jr. by .489 seconds after a late race restart to claim his 24th career Sprint Cup Series victory.
“Man, this is awesome,” Harvick said after his dominant victory on Sunday. “Man, this just solidifies so many things and so many decisions. It’s been so much work with all the time and effort that these guys (the crew) have put in—but what a race car.”
Stewart Haas Racing co-owner Gene Haas shared in Harvick’s excitement after the race.
“It took long enough,” Haas joked. “This is phenomenal. I think there was a lot of skepticism last year about what myself and Tony (Stewart) what we were up to, was there a lot of madness to this. Quite frankly, it’s a great team, there’s a lot of synergy at the shop, people working together. I don’t know what we did, but I think we put together a great organization.”
Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt, Jr. continued his hot start to the 2014 season. Earnhardt Jr. would finish second on Sunday, marking his seventh consecutive top 10 finish since the end of the 2013 season. Earnhardt Jr. was pleased with the effort after a coast-to-coast whirlwind week after winning his second Daytona 500 and also gave great praise to the efforts of Harvick and the No. 4 team.
“I’ve got to congratulate Kevin. Those guys were two-tenths faster than everyone all weekend in practice. They were just phenomenal,” Earnhardt said. “To be able to run with them all day was a big confidence builder for us.”
Joining Harvick and Earnhardt in the top 5 of The Profit on CNBC 500K were Brad Keselowski with his second consecutive top 3 run of 2014 in third. Keselowski’s Team Penske teammate Joey Logano would finish fourth, and Jeff Gordon would come home fifth in his No. 24 Pepsi Max Chevrolet.
Jimmie Johnson finished in sixth, followed by Ryan Newman with a nice rebound after Daytona in seventh. Carl Edwards would carry the banner for Roush Fenway Racing by finishing eighth, Kyle Busch was ninth, and Jamie McMurray would finish tenth.
A look at the Profit on CNBC 500K by the numbers. There were 14 lead changes among eight different drivers, there were eight cautions for 39 laps which slowed the race pace to 109.229 MPH.
Next Sunday, the Sprint Cup Series heads to Sin City and the Las Vegas Motor
Starting Lineup: The Profit On CNBC 500K
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday March 1, 2014
Drivers in RED (i) are those ineligible to collect Sprint Cup points
Daytona 500 TV Ratings Down
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Wednesday February 26, 2014
What was the longest weather delay in Daytona 500 history turned out to bring NASCAR lower ratings and TV viewership Sunday night than expected. According to a report Monday from FOX Sports, the 56th running of the Daytona 500 airing at 8 PM (ET) posted a 5.6/10 national household rating/share which averaged 9.3 million viewers. That’s down 44 percent from last year’s 9.9, easily making it the least-watched Daytona 500 of all-time.
Due to the six-hour, twenty-two minute rain delay in Daytona, the race was up against the primetime coverage of the Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony from Sochi, Russia on NBC (15.25 million viewers). FOX also reported that 69% of the pre-rain delay viewers of the race, which began at 1 PM (ET) kept tuning in.
In comparison, the 2013 Daytona 500 on FOX was the most-watched race in five years, posting a 9.9/22 rating/share, commanding 16.7 million viewers. The Daytona 500 in 2012, the first to ever be run on a Monday and in the primetime slot did a 7.7/13 overnight rating/share which resulted in 13.67 million households viewing the race according to Nielsen TV ratings data.
Earnhardt, Jr. Claims Second Daytona 500 Victory
posted by Justin Tucker
Wednesday February 26, 2014
Ten years is a long time. For Dale Earnhardt, Jr., it felt like an eternity. NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver endured many near misses and close calls at the Daytona 500 since his only win in the Great American Race in 2004. Earnhardt had finished second in two of his last three Daytona 500s coming into Sunday’s race. He was also riding the tail of a 55-race winless streak, dating back to Michigan in 2012.
However nothing would stop Dale Jr. on Sunday, not even a 6 hour and 22 minute rain delay from capturing his second Daytona 500 win. Earnhardt Jr. led a race-high 54 laps on the evening and used some timely drafting help from teammates Jimmie Johnson and, on the final restart, Jeff Gordon to separate from the pack and secure the victory.
“Winning this race is the greatest feeling that you could feel in this sport besides accepting the trophy for the championship,” said a jubilant Earnhardt after pulling into Victory Lane. “We could fight off battle after battle. We got a little help at the end there from Jeff to get away on the restart. This is amazing. I can’t believe this is happening. I never take this for granted, man because it doesn’t happen twice, let alone once.”
Aside from the race itself the big story of the race was the 6 hour and 22 minute red flag, which threatened to move the race to Monday evening (had the race been postponed, FOX Sports’ Chris Myers had tweeted that the race would resume at 5:00pm EST). However, Mother Nature would cooperate and would allow the race to be run under different conditions from which they practiced this week. Once the race resumed, the intensity picked up from the changing track conditions. This allowed the pack to race side-by-side and at times 3-wide up to seven rows deep.
Joining Earnhardt Jr. in the top 5 for the 2014 Daytona 500 were: Denny Hamlin who closed out a spectacular Speedweeks in second, Brad Keselowski in third, Jeff Gordon in fourth, and Jimmie Johnson who overcome two wrecks leading up to the 500 in fifth.
Rounding out the top 10 in the Daytona 500 were Matt Kenseth in sixth, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. in seventh and Greg Biffle would bring his No. 16 Ford home in eighth. Austin Dillon would come home ninth in his first Cup Series race in the iconic No. 3 for Richard Childress Racing, while Casey Mears would round out the top 10.
A couple of major contenders for the Daytona 500 win would see their hopes dashed early on as Martin Truex, Jr. would blow up just 30 laps into the race, relegating him to a 43rd-place finish in his debut for Furniture Row Racing. Crew chief Todd Berrier was already in Nashville for a test session before the race was even over. Kyle Busch, meanwhile would have a pit road violation just before halfway and would spend much of the race battling back from that mistake. Busch would eventually finish 19th after leading 19 laps.
Danica Patrick would also be bit by bad luck as she was caught up in a multi-car wreck on lap 145. Patrick would lead her second consecutive Daytona 500, but wouldn’t have the finish to show for it finishing 40th. Tony Stewart would encounter a frustrating evening as well, with a fuel pickup problem derailing his quest for his first Daytona 500 win. Stewart would finish 35th.
A look at the Daytona 500 by the numbers. There were 42 lead changes among 18 drivers, while seven cautions for 39 laps would slow the race pace to 145.290 MPH.
Next week, the Sprint Cup Series heads to the “diamond in the desert,” Phoenix International Raceway for The Profit on CNBC 500K. The Green flag is scheduled for 3:15pm EST.
Nationwide Series Post-Race Quotes: Drive4COPD 300
posted by Thomas Bowles
Tuesday February 25, 2014
Frontstretch Interviews – Courtesy Mike Neff
ELLIOTT SADLER – FINISHED 4th
Thoughts on the race?
It’s definitely a lot different racing than what we’re used to.
Comfortable with it?
Yeah, it’s just different. You’re worried about what you’re doing, but you’re also worried about what everyone else is doing and they’re not doing more than you’re doing. Physically pushing a guy is way better than just riding so you just gotta time it right and push it to the edge.
Happy to start the year with a top 5?
Yeah. Hell, that was the worst we ran all day, I think. I have no idea how they put the 3 car in front of us on that last restart. I hadn’t seen the 3 car hardly all day. When they put us from fifth to sixth, on the outside line, it just really boxed us in. I would have really restarted behind my teammate and given him a good push to the front. Anyways, it is what it is; we’ll take it and move on.
Looked like you were up front all day.
The guys did a good job. We had a fast race car. Great pit stops, just really proud of these guys. The car’s in one piece and we can take it to Talladega now. Great job by my guys. A lot of effort came into coming down here to Daytona and giving ourselves a shot to win. We had that chance to be up front and make some things happen. Fifth is not what we want, but we’ll take it and move on.
Bumping vs Pushing?
It’s way harder. You don’t want to lay on the guy in front of you, so it’s tough racing. A lot different than what we’re used to, ‘cause you gotta go. You gotta drag the brake too ‘cause you don’t want to hit the guys and you don’t want to stay on him. It’s a lot harder mentally than what we’ve done in the past.
Car was strong all day. Pushing vs. Bumping, is that harder to do than just getting on somebody and pushing them?
Yeah, it is a little bit. When you bump ‘em, you jar ‘em, it kinda jacks ‘em a little bit. It’s a little more abrupt, obviously. I thought it was OK there at the end. It was certainly fun and hopefully entertaining. But a little bit of a struggle in the early part of the race and the midpart of the race to see a good race. And that’s unfortunate for the fans. You can’t do that the whole race, you can’t tear up your stuff, knock your grill in, overheat your motor, all that stuff so there’s no sense in doing all that until you get down to the last lap. The 7 and the 6, they did a good job. Man, the 7 really held the 22 and I tight on the bottom. I was rubbing his door and hitting the apron at the same time, no room whatsoever. So it was good; wish we were the ones who could have won but a lot better now than what we were last year.
Going home in one piece makes it a lot better, right?
Yeah. My back feels good. My foot feels good. Past years here, I’ve been going home with pain so I’m alright.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Truck Series Post-Race Quotes: Daytona (Exclusives)
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday February 22, 2014
When you’re on the outside like that, how frustrating is it?
It’s so hard. Timothy Peters has won here. Kyle Busch has won everywhere. Ron Hornaday has been running Trucks forever, probably before I was even born. I was surrounded by veterans there, and like I told them I don’t have a rookie stripe but I’m a rookie. This is only my fourth Truck race ever, my fourth superspeedway race, and man, I figured out when the 17 got up in front of me, I pushed him. And as soon as I pushed him, he took off. And I went with him. And I just kept doing it, and before I knew it, he was leading. And I saw Ron in my mirror, backed up to him, and if it wasn’t for him, I don’t know what would have happened. I gotta thank him big time for that. That was a true teammate move right there. I really appreciate that. He just bounced off me and we got to the front. I tried my hardest to sidedraft Kyle. I was probably touching his door.
Top 5 in the No. 30 truck. This deal come together at the last minute, but you had a heck of a truck. Tell us about your night.
Yeah, I’ve got to thank Turner Scott Motorsports. The guys worked so hard on this Rheem Comfort Products Chevrolet. Exciting! Just got hung up on the outside and had to wait for my teammate there to catch up. And then he got to the bottom, so… I got the old 32 and started pushing ol’ Ryan to the front. So, it’s not bad. We’ll take it. You just don’t want to step over that boundary. You don’t know how far to push and shove. We bumped about six times down the straightaway without latching onto them. Hopefully, that was OK and we came home with a top 5.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Budweiser Duels Post Race Quotes
posted by Matt Stallknecht
Friday February 21, 2014
BUDWEISER DUELS POST-RACE QUOTES
They’re saying the wheel bearing burned up in it. I don’t know what caused it, they’re taking it all apart to figure out what the heck happened. Something abnormal that’s for sure I don’t think I’ve ever had that happen at all. Hopefully, we made the race and hopefully we can fix the problem before Sunday.
WHAT WAS THAT LOUD BOOM ONCE YOU TURNED INTO THE GARAGE?
Loud pop was a tire… thankfully, it popped, hopefully it didn’t hurt anybody. All the heat created in the left front that popped was pretty weird.
REALLY GOOD RUN. WHAT DID YOU THINK OF IT?
Yeah, it was good. We have a car we can work with for the 500. Got a good starting spot, so we’re going to rest easy, fluff and buff our car for a couple of days and get ready for Sunday.
ANY DIFFERENCE ON WHETHER THE TOP OR BOTTOM LANE WORKED?
Yeah, I was just moving around, trying to stay with the flow. For me, this car works on all parts of the racetrack. So I’m pretty happy with it.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.
GOT SHUFFLED BACK, AFTER PIT STOPS AND THEN COULDN’T GET BACK UP TO THE FRONT. WHY?
Nah, we were just sitting there waiting until the last few laps to make a move. You didn’t want to pull down and get sent to the back. Seen a couple of guys get sent to the back really quick so we were just kind of waiting for the end. I felt like we had a good situation there with Ambrose behind us — we had a good run off Turn 2 and I went. It was the last lap, time to go do something, nobody went with us but hopefully Sunday is a different story.
We got a great car. We don’t have to work hard. We learned, we got a good race car. Got a car in one piece, ready to go so we’ll try and get through the next couple of practices, deliver it to the starting group this Sunday and we’ll be real happy.
YOU’RE IN THE DAYTONA 500!
Yeah, it’s pretty awesome. This Whitetail Chevrolet was so fast that I knew all I had to do was stick it behind smart, intelligent drafters and we could have a good finish. That’s what we did in the Duels and I’m excited. I’m excited to go do some stuff with the Nationwide car and have some more practice with this. But to know that we’re locked in the Daytona 500’s pretty cool.
YOU WERE OBVIOUSLY IN FRONT OF THAT MELEE AT THE END. WHEN YOU WERE UP FRONT THERE IN THE BEGINNING, WERE YOU HOPING TO JUST STAY IN LINE AND LET YOU FINISH TOP 5?
I was pretty content to ride and luckily I knew a lot of people around us were. It was nice to have a little calm and not really have to be racing hard the whole time. I knew that the pit stop was going to shake everything up and that’s exactly what happened. Fell back a little bit there but made the right moves at the end to get a good finish.
HOW STRONG ARE THESE RCR CARS?
They’re very strong! They definitely have the capabilities to be winning one of these races.
YOU’RE IN THE TOP 5 FOR YOUR HEAT IN THE DAYTONA 500. YOUR PRIMARY CAR IS SITTING RIGHT IN THE GARAGE, KIND OF WADDED UP. DID YOU THINK THIS ONE HAD IT IN IT?
Yeah, it’s a brand new car also. It’s just not quite as good as the primary but still a damned good car. I’m just proud of everybody at RCR for building such fast race cars. All of our cars have been fast, ECR motor’s been strong, even our affiliate teams have been qualifying really good and racing good. So… excited about 2014! It’s going to be a good year.
WELL MAN, YOU STARTED IN THE BACK BUT WORKED YOUR WAY TO THE FRONT WHEN IT COUNTED MOST. WERE YOU JUST BIDING YOUR TIME THROUGHOUT THE RACE?
Eh, you never know if you’re going to get back up there or not. We had to start at the back, we had to make a run early and see what we could do. We drove right to 10th, or something like that and then it got stagnant. We tried to make something happen, and went to the back again. Drove back up to the front. Again, just really proud of my guys. Matt Kruder did a hell of a job on that pit stop getting just enough gas in to gain some spots there.
RCR CARS SEEM PRETTY DARNED STRONG. DO YOU THINK THE RCR CARS HAVE SOMETHING FOR THEM ON SUNDAY — ESPECIALLY THE THREE JOE GIBBS RACING CARS THAT SEEM TO BE THE CLASS OF THE FIELD RIGHT NOW?
Oh yeah. The 20 car was extremely fast. The 11 didn’t qualify that good, but he’s a good drafter. I think he won. We definitely have something for him.
Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
Matt McLaughlin · Monday May 11, 2009
The Key Moment: Mark Martin was able to gap Jimmie Johnson on the final restart with an old school approach of braking early and accelerating hard out of the corners… a lesson I’d guess Johnson isn’t going to forget anytime soon.
In a Nutshell: New car, new tires, new track surface… same old Darlington.
Dramatic Moment: This is Darlington. The dramatic moments start in the first corner of the first lap and keep piling up throughout the race.
The final restart offered up some great racing until Jimmie Johnson basically hollered over the radio “No Mas” and threw the fight. Not a big surprise, however, as the No. 48 team is too concerned with making the Chase and not concerned enough about winning races these days. What are you doing down there, Jimmie? Points racing, guys… points racing.
What They’ll Be Talking About Around the Water Cooler This Week
Mark Martin is turning NASCAR into a sequel of Ron Howard’s film Cocoon. Cocoon meets American Graffiti, anyone? Call my people, we’ll do lunch.
How could NASCAR justify not throwing the caution flag when Sam Hornish, Jr. spun out the length of a straightaway in heavy traffic? For that matter, why did Carl Edwards’ trip into the wall draw a caution flag when a very similar incident involving Kyle Busch a few laps before didn’t earn a yellow? My guess is NASCAR officials were panicking the race was running long for TV and being overly judicious in calling for a caution as a result.
I don’t know if the Roush drivers have to attend the Monday meetings to break down the race weekend; but if they do, I’d suggest that Greg Biffle and Carl Edwards be kept on opposite sides of the table.
When it comes to the All-Star race next weekend or whatever in blazes they’re calling it this year (I still consider it The Winston), dozens of rule packages, formats, and eligibility requirements have been experimented with over the years — each one lamer than the one that preceded it. This year, things have been changed yet again… but they are changes no one needs. I’m old school when it comes to this thing, and I’d like to see them go back to the original format. Take the drivers who won a race the previous season, line them up, and let them race for 70 laps. I can live without field inversions, giant pachinko machines, made for TV timeouts, and drum corps.
It didn’t look like Darlington sold out Saturday night, but given the awkward race date and the economy in the Carolinas, track management seemed to have done a good job selling tickets. Next to aged Labrador Retrievers, you won’t find any loyalty that runs deeper than stock car racing fans in the Southeast.
Sometimes, it’s the little things that add up. The retro red and white paint scheme on Darlington’s walls not only looked cool… it heightened the sensation of speed for fans watching the race from the grandstands or even at home on TV.
Are you waiting for FOX to get the message from the fans and make some changes? Don’t bank on it. Told some fans really dislike this whole Digger business, FOX Sports head honcho David Hill replied, “Tough.” In brighter news, FOX has only two more race broadcasts to hawk T-Shirts left in 2009.
It’s common knowledge that corporations that buy commercial minutes during the race broadcasts get their cars featured more often during the race itself. But it’s more than a little over the top when FOX returns from commercial and shows the UPS crew repairing the No. 6 car in the garage while there was green flag racing going on.
It’s been a tough week for the family, friends, and fans of Kevin Grubb, a once promising rookie in the Busch Series who died by his own hand earlier this week. Grubb had been suspended by NASCAR for violations of the drug policy even back when NASCAR barely had a defined drug policy. Now, I write about stock car racing… I don’t preach. I had my own misspent youth, losing friends to substance abuse while watching others destroy their lives. But there is a lesson here. The same week Kevin Grubb died far too young, Mark Martin on the far side of 50 won a 500-mile race on a brutally hot night thanks in large part to the tremendous physical condition he keeps himself in. As a young man, Martin battled and eventually conquered alcoholism; if he didn’t, maybe he’d have wound up dead in a hotel room as well. So if you’re battling demons… don’t give up hope. The fight can be won.
On Mother’s Day, a big thank you to Mother Nature for no rain delays during Saturday night’s race. These races ending at midnight are too tough to take these days — even at the Track Too Tough to Tame.
Well, my guess is that’s that. Owner/driver Jeremy Mayfield was suspended this week for failing a drug test. Mayfield claims that he failed because of a combination of a prescribed medication and over the counter drugs (some allergy medications can indeed trigger a false positive test, and this is a record year for pollen in many parts of the country.) Having watched NASCAR lynch Tim Richmond, though, I am viewing this entire situation with some skepticism. It’s also worth noting that while NASCAR’s Jim Hunter would not identify the substance Mayfield is said to have abused, he did note it was not an alcohol-related issue. Mayfield is one of the last truly blue collar drivers left on the circuit, and it might just be that his beer consumption celebrating an occasional good run by his fledgling team made some of the straight-laced superteam owner BAC (Born Again Christian, not Blood Alcohol Content) types like Joe Gibbs and Rick Hendrick uncomfortable.
Did anyone else realize that the song that plays in the background of the “NASCAR Day/Victory Junction Camp ad about old cars in the backyard” was written and performed by former Hollywood star Kevin Costner? While I doubt he has as many old cars in his backyard as I do (and all of mine run, at least for a fashion), if it came down to starting a singing career or making a sequel to Waterworld Costner made the right call.
Anyone else remember when Pole Day at Indy would have been THE top sports story of the day? To be frank, I’d completely forgotten it was this weekend. Sunday morning, I went to foxnews.com and found two racing-related stories on the front page. One noted that Jeremy Mayfield had been suspended for a failed drug test, while the other said a contractor had been killed by an out of control race car in Seattle. Otherwise, there was no mention of Martin’s win or Helio Castroneves’ pole at Indianapolis. And this is from a news site related to the network that broadcast the awkwardly titled Southern 500! It seems that the separation of church and state works a lot better between FOX’s news and sports outfits than it does between the sports and advertising entities during race broadcasts.
The Hindenburg Award For Foul Fortune
Into every life a little rain must fall, even into the most charmed of lives. Kyle Busch has been on a roll this season; but Friday night, he dominated in the Nationwide Series race until a flat tire in the final couple of laps cost him a win. Then, in the Cup race Busch just never found enough speed, eventually hitting the wall hard enough that he was forced to retire. The ever effervescent and philosophical Busch was notably short on comments afterwards — though the crowd at Darlington did seem to take a certain perverse pleasure at his twin misfortunes.
Clint Bowyer’s impressive streak of avoiding DNFs over the last three seasons (83 races) came to a hard end at Darlington. All the king’s horses and all the king’s men apparently weren’t able to piece the thoroughly trashed 33 car back together again after contact with A.J. Allmendinger on the backstretch.
Michael Waltrip Racing suffered through a tough evening, with all three drivers winding up wrecked and Waltrip himself hopping out of a thoroughly flambéed car after a catastrophic engine failure.
Jamie McMurray and the No. 26 team just can’t seem to buy a break. After another strong run, a wreck not of his own making left McMurray with a 22nd place finish and a torn up car.
Greg Biffle seemed to have the strongest car for much of the race, but questionable pit strategy left him mired in the pack. Biffle’s charge to the front cost his teammate Carl Edwards a decent finish and ultimately finished off Biffle’s chances at winning as well. The fabricators at Roush Fenway Racing have a lot on their plate in the upcoming week.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. suffered through another rough race both on track and in the pits. Given the domination of the Hendrick outfit at Darlington, that’s just more salt being rubbed into the wound.
The “Seven Come Fore Eleven” Award For Fine Fortune
It might be easier to recount who didn’t hit the wall at Darlington than who did after Saturday night’s race. One of those who didn’t was Mark Martin, whose No. 5 car was notably lacking the standard issue right side damage after the race. Remember that old line about old age and experience beating youth and enthusiasm every time? Rock on, you crazy old man.
It was a great night for Hendrick Motorsports, with four of their drivers claiming top 5 finishing positions and two of their satellite teams also claiming top 7 finishing spots.
Jimmie Johnson and the No. 48 team suffered through some problems this weekend. To start with, Johnson wrecked in qualifying, giving him a starting spot in the back of the field with a poor pit selection. Perhaps as a result of that bad pit stall, Johnson wound up getting spun out on pit road during the race. A gamble on pit strategy also left Johnson a lap down to the leaders at one point — and the hits just kept on coming with a car that struggled to get a grip on the track at times. Ultimately, a second place finish has to be considered a miracle with everything that went on. It’s the way this team takes chickensh*t and turns it into chicken salad when they struggle that has helped them win three consecutive titles.
The Lady in Black is notoriously cruel to rookie drivers, but Joey Logano led some laps and eventually matched his best Cup career finish to date with a ninth place run.
Jeff Gordon lost a lap after a green flag pit stop caused by loose lugnuts, but he somehow rallied back to finish fifth — allowing him to retain the points lead.
As hard as Denny Hamlin wrecked early in the race, it seemed unlikely he’d even finish. Given that, a 13th place recovery was a pretty fair result for him.
What’s the Points?
Jeff Gordon retains his points lead, which is now 29 over a fast closing Tony Stewart, who moves up a spot to second. After a midrace spin, Kurt Busch fell a spot to third in the standings, 55 behind.
It may be worth noting that three drivers who have combined to win seven of this season’s eleven Cup races (Kyle Busch, Matt Kenseth, and Mark Martin) are all outside the top 5 in points. Busch (three wins), Kenseth (two wins), and Martin (two wins) are now seventh, tenth, and eleventh in the standings, respectively. His Darlington win did move Martin up four spots into the top 12 for the first time this year, though.
Four drivers escaped the carnage at the Lady In Black to move up two spots in the standings: Johnson, Newman, Biffle, and Kenseth. Those four drivers are now fourth, eighth, ninth, and tenth in points.
On the flip side, Kyle Busch fell two spots to seventh in the standings while Carl Edwards fell three positions, tumbling down from ninth to 12th. Clint Bowyer actually had the worst night in the points, falling five spots and out of the top 12 to 13th — just seven points behind Edwards.
Among other notables with a big hole to dig themselves out of moving forward, we find Dale Earnhardt, Jr. 18th in the standings and Kevin Harvick 21st. For comparison’s sake, Juan Pablo Montoya is currently 14th in points despite hitting everything but the Powerball lottery this season.
Overall Rating (On a scale of one to six beer cans, with one being a stinker and a six pack an instant classic) — I’ll give this one five well dented cans of icy Coors Light. I’m no fan of wrecks, and seventeen cautions broke up the momentum of the race, but it’s cool to see cars with the decals wiped off the right side finishing in the top 10. If this sort of racing keeps up, NASCAR might just have to move the Darlington date to Labor Day weekend the way God and Cale Yarborough intended it to be.
Next Up: It’s off to Charlotte for the all singing, all dancing, all too hyped up All-Star race.
©2000 - 2008 Matt McLaughlin and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
Matt, your love for Darlington is well documented and it very well be heresy for me to say this but, last night’s race didn’t look much different to me than the usual follow the leader, can’t pass the leader snooze-fests that the cookie cutters give us. I don’t really blame the track, more a fault of the COT in my opinion. They’ve managed to make the racing suck at Darlington, too. Sad… (Just my opinion, your mileage may vary.)
Come on, Matt. Where’s the consistency. Can’t take off the Darlington rose-colored glasses for one race? How many green flag on-track passes for the lead? One? Where’s the, “My stomach was in knots waiting for a driver or fan to be killed in one of those crashes?” Where’s the, “The monotonus single file line of cars was enough to lull everybody into a nice early evening slumber?” I know I fell asleep during the race. Where’s the, “How many millions of dollars of equipment were destroyed during this crash-fest?”
Matt, you lose a lot of credibility when you condemn some tracks for these storylines and then praise Darlington for the same thing. How about being a little objective from time to time. I understand this is your article and I don’t have to read it, but if you keep up this gushing for one track, only Chris Browning will want to read it.
Also, why is Mayfield automatically innocent just because it reminds you of Tim Richmond? Did you give any of the other drivers and crew members the same benefit of the doubt?
If the drug tests were administered by a reputable entity , they would have have far more validity than the farce that Nascar represents . We’ve seen how Nascar manipulates the facts to discredit drivers .
A few less cautions would have been nice but I thought the race was very good.
I didn’t like the fact that tires didn’t make much difference though. That’s one of the things I always liked about Darlington – the fact that tire management was part of the equation. It was baffling to see cars stay out on old tires and not pay the price within five laps.
Matt, if this race had been west of the Mississippi you would be ripping it apart.
This would be an excellent time for tv producers , directors , and camera men to apply for work at Fox , because a lot of people are gonna be fired this week . Saturday nights’ disaster will not go unpunished . Rogue camermen showing crew chiefs on their boxes that none of us recognized ( They have never been shown on Fox before ) , cars back in the pack that haven’t been on screen so far this season , and actually catching some of the race action .
Hum, guess I had a different version of the Darlington race broadcasted here in Atlanta…I fell asleep. I did wake up in time for final 35 laps. Seems to be catch first 50 and then find something else to do and catch back up for final 50 laps and you’ve got most of the race covered. With broadcast, you don’t miss that much as they have to have a purpose for Meyers, so they rehash the race in the Hollywood hotel. I was on phone with a friend who lives in Maine and she even said something about the follow-the-leader race. Maybe just selective markets had good race broadcasted. I saw Jr overshoot his pit stall (again), and knew it was going to be a long night. Rumor has it that Hendrick has changes coming. Wonder if it will be at the expense of the 5 team. Have to see about that.
Was it me or did DW scale back his mancrush on Kyle Busch. Maybe I missed it cause I fell asleep on couch.
Pollen counts are always astronically high here in Georgia. So high that we have accumulations of “green snow” on the sides of the roadways and on cars. When it was in full bloom here, I’d be driving down the road and it would come at your car like a light rain or light snow. If Mayfield did take an otc allergy med knowing that NA$CAR tests, I would have just called doc and had him write script to make sure I was legal if I came up dirty in a random test. Basically if you take presc meds for anything, warning lables on otc medications speak about drug interactions. Not worth the chance. I know cause where I work they do random testing, and I wouldn’t want to loose my job cause of one too many sneezes. Be interesting to see how this plays out with NA$CAR. Wonder if Jeremy has enrolled in NA$CAR’s prescripted program to regain his ability to race in the series. According to the rules of the testing, that is only way driver can resume their career.
I doubt I’ll watch the allstar race. I’m sick of the shameless self promotion SPEED has done for the past month.
I did learn, when I opened the newspaper here in Atlanta on Sunday am that Helio won the pole. I was shocked as most of the motorsports writers here no longer have their jobs with the local newspaper.
Good Darlington race. The first complete race I have watched in a while. It takes a combination of skill, conditioning, patience and experience to win at that track. I even put up with the FOX monkeys for a change. It was great to see Mark Martin win again. I won’t be surprised to see him win a few more.
Not a bad race except for the seemingly non-stop cautions . I’m not sure you can make a case for NASCAR being at the top of the auto racing ladder when the drivers can’t seem to avoid running into walls and each other every few laps .
I emailed a question to foxsports.com last week for David Hill’s on-line chat. Asking about the possibility next year of a new PRE-pre-race show, hosted by Darrell Waltrip, called “PIMP MY GOPHER”.
Nothing great about this race…Biffle had an eight second lead at the crossed flags…had that occurred at Fontana or Loudon, Matt would be calling for the bulldozers, or moving the race to North Wilkesboro.
Also, if fans around Darlington are so loyal, how is that they can’t sell out the smallest capacity track on the circuit? The Mother’s Day weekend excuse just doesn’t fly…Moms don’t go to races? You can’t call your Mom on Sunday because you went to a race on Saturday night?
As usual, Darlington manages to make an epic race out of even the crappiest cars in the most dismal race season. There was drama from lap 1 onward. Felt like I was watching a race from the 90s. GO MARK.
I dunno what race you guys were watching… Yes Biffle and Truex pulled away to big leads… But cautions brought them back. And there was tons of side by side racing, it just wasn’t for 1st. It was for 2nd and every other position throughout the Top 10 though. Plenty of exclamations of “three wide!” and “Side by side!” all night… Heck, remember Gordon and Truex having fun in particular?
Who would’ve thought that Darlington would produce more side-by-side racing than any of the Mile-and-a-half Crapovals this season?
Went to the race, had an amazing seat(Person Tower E-35) right across from Jr’s pit) loved the race, but I will watch it from home next year. Had to walk way too far because Handicapped parking was filled(walked past it and it was not) and had to walk up way too many steps to get to my seat( first time I have not visited a rest room in 6 hrs in years because I could not face all those steps again) and had to come home and face my hubby who flat refused to go this year and agree with him: great seat, great race, but another damned fan-unfriendly facility. Went to Richmond last week and must commend them on the most fan-friendly facility I have visited Thank god for escalators, trams and lots of handicapped parking. So glad we bought season tickets for Richmond.And I live 45 minutes from Darlington. When are these tired old tracks going to realize that“new” fans expect to go to a track where there is decent parking and enough of it, trams to get from the parking to the track and elevators and escalators to get close to your seats? If you don’t have these, don’t expect “new” fans to come to tracks when they can watch from the comfort of their couch. We were surrounded by “new “ fans Sat and there was a lot of compaining about too many steps.
Please tell me what’s so impressive about running, & or limping around to take the checkered flag with a patched up race car? To be running competitively at the finish for 83 races. Now that would be something. As it is it’s just another meaningless stat for the talking heads, to talk about, & the ink stained, or should I say, the carpal tunnel, wretches to write about.
The highlight of the weekend was David Pearson on the one of the pre race shows announcing that he thought ALL of the latest rules on the cars and the racing were silly . Now when someone of Pearsons’ stature in the sport makes a statement like that , maybe its time for Nascar to take a fresh look at the whole picture .
As anyone who actually goes to race knows they never show as well on TV…We were in Colvin where we have sat for almost all of the last 25 years and it was a great race…loads of side by side racing, plenty of cross over moves, drivers dirt tracking it thru the turns as to not hit the wall…yes Biffle pulled into a big lead as did Treux but the Lady in Black showed them who was boss. And that is what makes Darlington great….it has many twist and turns that almost never leave you disappointed. As soon as the surface wears out a little more we will get to see it starting chewing up tires again and that will be the icing on the cake!
Ryan… I watched that pre-race show with Pearson too. Did you notice he was wearing a tee-shirt with Fred Sanford’s face on it and the caption “You Big Dummy!”. I wonder if that clever dig was directed at Brian France or DW.
Is it true that NA$CRAP is going to expand the CHASE to the Top 25 in “HOPES” that JR. “might” make it?
Somebody needs to start a new business selling “Gopher Road Kill” shirts and stuffed animals. Bet you could make a fortune at the track. Maybe I’ll have a “Gopher” BBQ at MIS in June.
Talk about a loss of credibility. I bet the NFL would never have such a ridiculous mascot.(Detroit Lions don’t count)
Richie said: “usual follow the leader, can’t pass the leader snooze-fests that the cookie cutters give us.”
Why is it that every race I can remember for the last 5 years (even before the new car) has drivers complaining about how hard it is to pass, and track position is SOOOOOO important. They say this at every race. And yet, you always have good drivers who qualify in the back and at the end of the race they’re in the top ten.
Ryan said: “No more pompous Mike Joy , or Larry “ injun “ Mac , or Jerry “ one note “ Punch .”
Guess again Ryan. Jerry Punch is doing the Nationwide broadcasts all year, and will do the Cup broadcasts too starting at Indy in July.
60,000 fans at a track that holds 66,000. Even Fontana sells that many and you all complain about it not selling out. And dont give me any “bad economy in SC” excuses. CA’s unemployment rate is over 10%, worse than all except Michigan.
If the stands in Fontana were packed the gills with race fans and there was one blind old lady in the stands at Darlington, that blind old lady would see a better race than everyone in Fontana would.
edited by Ren to clean up link
First, fontana is 1 hour from one city of a couple of million people. If you combined all the people in all the cities within a hour from Darlington you wouldn’t come close to that number (probably less than half of that)Second, california ranks in the top 10% of the nation for annual income, South Carloina in the bottom 10%. When you buy a ticket to Fontana you also get a ticket to another pro sports event, a free tram ticket, a free pit pass, a free program and hat. My 70.00 got me into the Darlington backstretch and that was it. Fontana is the France family’s pet project and they will do whatever it takes to try to make it work.
BTW carl D….I laughed out loud at your post
I personally thought the Darlington Race was one of the best so far this season! I mean, look at the top 7 finishers: 6 cars with Hendrich connections and 4 of them directly from Hendrick! You couldn’t ask for a better race result, except for having Junior be up there with his teammates! Only down side was two Roush junkheaps in the top-10! Best of all, Keselowski once again proved he has far more talent than that Lame Duck driver in the #99! Heck, maybe NASCAR will finally catch Idiot Carl and his Steroids and ban the clown for good! Would sure look good on The Jerk In The Hat!
Carl, I’m not comparing the quality of the racing, we all know Darlington puts on a better race. I’m simply comparing the number of people in the stands.
I’d move Darlington back to Labor Day, put Atlanta second, put Fontana on Mother’s Day Saturday night, and put Kentucky in fourth.
RE: CALIFORNIA ATTENDANCE FIGURES!
How does ANYONE know how many tickets they “actually” sell?
You look on the TV at ALL the empty seats, maybe 60% empty, but their published figures say they sold enough tickets to fill 75% of the seats!
Who ya’ goin’ to believe?
But my eyes can see the truth!
Bill: 60,000 out of 66,000 is a higher percentage than 70,000 out of 92,000. We all know that.
Laidbackracing: And you know how many tickets are given away for free? I only know of the country music station near the track giving away tickets but I doubt they have thousands. Stater Bros supermarkets will give you two Nationwide tickets to the Feb race if you buy $75 in groceries from them, but not Cup tickets. What other free tickets am I missing out on? I’d love to know so I can get them for the October race.
Douglas: Atlanta showed far more empty seats this year than Fontana did. I guess that means we’ll dump Atlanta next, for Kentucky?
Los Angeles may have more than 2 million people, but they’re 90% hispanic and black. They’re more interested in the Raiders and the Lakers. Every place has the same problem with getting fans of other sports interested in NASCAR, too, not just here.
I love how every other week Kevin starts an argument about the California track.
And I agree with LaidBack, Carl D’s comment was hilarious.
KevininSoCal: I own a website and receive emails from fans from all over and have had fans from CA email me to tell me about the free ticket giveaways…and when I went to CA for the race a few years ago I got a free pole day ticket when I bought one and 2 free pit passes….And by the way I noticed you wanted to point out I had stats to back up some of my info but not other parts…I wanted to point out that you did not have accurate stats on your post and that is why I took the time to find the correct info. (I noticed how you skipped that you were incorrect) Every week it is the same from you….so i will tell you what i tell people I see no point in keeping a conversation going….
I dont start arguements, I just defend my home from the dog poop that gets flung into the yard.
LBR, yes you corrected my mis-info on NC and SC having higher unemployment than CA. Thank you for the correction. Is that want you wanted me to say?