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.
Growing up, I’d never have imagined that one day a Honda would be the best selling automobile in America. Certainly I’d have never guessed that one day Toyota would be competing with GM for title of the world’s largest automaker. And none of us ever would have believed that within our lifetimes Chrysler would file bankruptcy and apparently GM will do so soon.
Sadly, this has all come to pass. GM and Chrysler are currently kept alive by government bailout loans. Ford is enjoying a bit of a renaissance now and it would seem their decision to forgo government aid, at least for now, has helped spur their sales. I don’t want to debate the wisdom of the government bailing out two of the Big Three—to an extent the notion irritates me—but I realize there are a huge amount of jobs at stake not only at Chrysler and GM, but also in satellite industries ranging from parts suppliers to corner diners near assembly plants. Just letting free market economics take their course leading to massive American job losses in this already harsh economy doesn’t seem wise either. Yeah, I can hear some of you saying those “Union bastards have priced themselves right out of a job….” But now those Unions and their members are making some painful concessions to keep the businesses they work for open. If I had the perfect solution for this mess, I’d be running for Congress…but I don’t. I write about stock car racing and, given the reality of what’s happening with the Big Three, I want to focus on what this crises could mean for our sport.
The amount of money the United States has invested in the car companies is a considerable. And that money comes with more strings than the Bristol International Kite Flying Festival. In return for their investment, the government wants a say in how Chrysler and GM spend that money. Marketing costs make up a significant portion of annual budgets of those car companies. NASCAR involvement makes up a relatively small portion of that marketing budget but it is a highly visible and, to a degree, polarizing part of the marketing program. As the folks in Washington are fond of saying, “You start with a million here, and a million there and all of a sudden it adds up to real money!”
The Big Three carmakers continue to say that their NASCAR marketing campaigns are successful and cost effective. NASCAR fans are far more likely to own American cars than the general population. Toyota jumped into the pool with both feet in an attempt to lure some of those customers away and Toyota doesn’t have a bad track record in making marketing decisions.
But after last summer’s historic spike in gas prices (and they seem to be rising at an alarming rate again right now) and with a new focus on the environment that borders on hysteria, all of a sudden, in some circles, the automobile has gone from American Sweetheart and a proud example of this countries manufacturing might to Public Enemy Number One and a four wheeled environmental terrorist. Politicians on both sides of the aisle are suddenly calling for dramatically increased fuel efficiency, reduced emissions and alternative powerplants. That worries me a lot. It seems to me last time that politicians, and I don’t know one of them with an automotive design background, meddled in car-making, insisting on new standards in economy, safety and pollution, that triggered the tailspin the American auto industry has fallen into.
Despite my reservations, I accept reality. Some politicians are going to see spending millions of US taxpayers’ money by the automakers to support programs that center on fast loud cars with V8 engines, terrible fuel economy and no pollution control devices as a boondoggle. The money saved isn’t going to suddenly fix everything that’s wrong with GM or Chrysler, but it’s a high profile bit of grandstanding politicians can do to show taxpayers who aren’t race fans they’re keeping a tight leash on wasteful spending. (Insert your punch line here.)
So my guess is that within five years, maybe sooner, two if not three of the automakers currently supporting the sport will be gone. That raises the obvious question, can NASCAR racing survive without the auto manufacturers.
My guess is they can. In fact, NASCAR has done it before. The Big Three got out of automobile racing in the late 50s and again in the early 70s. GM officially was on the sidelines for close to two decades.
The loss of marketing dollars from the auto manufacturers is going to cause some pain. Some teams will probably not survive. The surviving teams are going to have to find some ways to curtail their spending to make up for the lost dollars because there are few, if any, sponsors left who can or will re-up their deals to make up for the shortfall.
Thus it behooves NASCAR to face the new reality barreling up the road like a Buick Roadmaster with a stuck throttle and no brakes. They need to find meaningful ways to make the racing less expensive, but at the same time more competitive. Originally this whole Car of Tomorrow nonsense was supposed to save the teams money but all I’m hearing is how many millions of dollars it has cost team owners. A trimmed down schedule, shorter races, more single day shows would be good first steps. A rule like the one in the Nationwide series forcing teams to use their engines for more than one event without an overhaul would help as well. Meaningful and enforceable spending limits would be tough to device but there needs to be a sense of urgency and cooperation here among the team owners and NASCAR, a coming together to admit we’re all going to either sink or sail on together.
Drivers are going to have to accept the new reality as well. It could be the days of a rookie driver becoming a millionaire without even posting a top 10 finish are fading. There’s a limit to what track owners can charge spectators to attend events in a tight economy and it already seems some of those race promoters have shot north of the mark given attendance at some tracks this year. Reduced income is going to have to be reflected in race purses.
Perhaps most importantly both NASCAR and the track owners are going to have make the distribution of TV revenue more equitable. After all you can have a slate of events but unless there is a full field of competitive cars and drivers the fans want to see compete, NASCAR can’t survive. Ultimately, it is the high wire walkers, the lion tamers, the trapeze artists, and the guys getting shot of cannons that fans of the circus come to see, not the clowns and the ringmasters.
A less expensive, more competitive, more exciting form of NASCAR racing can survive even in the new economic realities we are faced with. It’s time for NASCAR to be proactive on these issues rather than waiting for the carpet to get pulled out from under their feet. First staged in 1911, that first event was run when the American auto industry was still in its infancy. Ironically, that same industry may now be on its deathbed.
The disastrous split between CART and the IRL greatly diminished interest in the Indy 500 and there were some years the back half of the field was simply pitiful. That rift is now healed, but Indy and the entire series are still trying to get some traction back to capture the imaginations of auto racing fans. Having most of their races held on a TV network few people have even heard of hasn’t helped any. (As per usual the Indy 500 will be on ABC.) It’s too bad that more race fans haven’t taken the time to sample IRL racing since the split healed. They’ve got a bunch of remarkably talented and likeable drivers, even if most of them are foreigners. I just can’t help but like guys like Helio Castroneves and Tony Kanaan, though I’d love to see Alex Zanardi come back and try the Indy 500 one more time.
New series rules have homogenized the field at Indy where experimentation was once a hallmark of the race. Over the years the Indy 500 has featured stock block cars, four cylinders, turbines, diesels and even six wheeled cars. And it sure would be nice to see more than one brand of powerplant in the series.
Yes, the Indy 500 has been greatly diminished but there’s still something special about the race itself. The massive release of balloons, the three wide / 11 row deep formation as the cars come to the green flag, and the sense of history of the joint still make it a must see event for me. The speed, the screams of the cars and the imminent danger that lurks on every lap keep me glued to the TV. Perhaps the fact I once got to sit in Mark Donahue’s Indy winning car shortly after that race made me a fan for life.
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Zanardi never competed at Indy. He was a rookie in CART in 1996, the first year of the split, and CART teams didn’t return to Indianapolis until 2000 when Ganassi arrived with JPM and Jimmy Vasser. Zanardi probably would have raced Indy in 2002 with the Mo Nunn team had he not had his near-fatal Lausitzring crash in 2001, because Zanardi’s teammate Tony Kanaan did race at Indy in ’02 for Nunn. It bites that Zanardi and Greg Moore never got to race there…
Good article in general though…
That is one fine article you wrote.
Well rounded, very well summed up!
Good article. I agree that more fans should sample Indy Car. They actually race in that series. No sitting back and gathering points. Often its side by side lap after lap coming dangerously close to touching. As for NASCAR, shorter weekends would be great for fans and teams. I think they should qualify and run on race setups, all on the same day. Qualify in the morning, race in the afternoon. Start the race on qualifying tires and limit the number of tires used during the race. Throw out the awful COT and the wind tunnel. Race with the body configuration the manufacturer gives them.
No offense Ed, but have you watched many IRL oval races in the last couple of years?
The racing you describe, and I remember from 2003-05, had devolved into mind-numbing follow the leader parades with no passing and .5 second gaps between cars. Give me NA$CAR at Darlington any day over that.
Their road course races are actually more interesting, because the lower budget teams can compete, without all of the super high $$ oval parts.
If NA$CAR is still a viable marketing vehicle for US auto makers. That’s a pretty sad commentary on the consumers. If 50’ technology, in an IROC car works. Then maybe the stereotypes of NA$CAR fans are true after all. The only thing that might actually work is that fans should tend to be car guys. I remember when the IRL had multiple engine suppliers. The GM engine was so pathetically outclassed that they had to shop it out to Cosworth to get it competitive. Cosworth at the time was still a part of Ford.
Hey Joe D’Antoni,
WOW! Where did you come from, a cave or something?
For the past several years, it is actually FRIGHTENING to watch the Indy Cars on ovals!
Wheel to wheel, at times touching, nose to tail sometimes touching, 3 wide (where three wide is actually DANGEROUS), and two, three, four cars ALL racing for the lead, all race long!
I have seen it in person, I have watched it on TV!
And my friend it is FRIGHTENING!
And I am not talking racing those big stupid hunks of metal called the CoT!
I am talking REAL RACE CARS, OPEN WHEEL RACE CARS, AND FAST RACE CARS!
Not that watered down version of Stock Car Racing called NA$CRAP!
Indy Cars! REAL RACE CARS, REAL DRIVERS, REAL DANGER, REAL COMPETITION!
Oh, and at an Indy car race, the FASTEST CARS qualify, not some knee jerk system where LAST YEARS POINTS entitle you to a starting position ahead of FASTER CARS that have been sent home!
What a friggin joke!
Na$car and the goverment could solve most of the problems with mandating that cars run on Hydroxy which is water. This would solve alot of problems first it would stop alot of pollution so Al Gore can stop crying about global warming. It would stop us from buying foreign oil so the $$$ would stop flowing out of the country and help the trade defict. It would help make the middle east counties go broke which means they can’t afford to fund terrorists. Which means we can bring our troops home and let them starve over there. Then you tell the car companies that their profits will be tax free for 20 years if they build the cars in the USA this will save the automakers and give us our jobs back. Since Hydroxy is more 3X more powerful than gasoline you will use less but it don’t matter its just water. Also you would not have to redesign the car engines the ones we have now will work just fine with it. If you don’t belive it just Google the word Hydroxy and see for yourself.
Conquest Racing pulling Bruno Junqueira for Alex Tagliani was understandable due to sponsorship issues, even though Junqueira is the better driver, but it is still as lame as any NASCAR move (like people buying their way into the field literally). So no, really it isn’t quite the fastest 33 cars, at least this year. I am however in more of an IndyCar mood than a NASCAR mood of late…
Good article. I’ve been a Nascar fan for most of my 50 years, and I haven’t watched an Indy race since the days of Rick Mears. However, I’m gonna take your adice and watch the Indy 500 tomorrow. Then I’m gonna watch the Coca-Cola 500. The lady of the house is gonna really be pissed at me spending the day on the sofa, though…
Hey Shaun, good point, but that was a team move, not an orgaization move. And a minor hiccup here and there has happened since the IRL really got rolling.
BUT the IRL has none of the SOAP OPERA DRAMA, WEEK IN, AND WEEK OUT, such as NA$CRAP!
There are many things the IRL does not do correctly, but they are minor in scope when compared to the total of the whole!
How about the BIG one when NA$CRAP GAVE JR. the win at Talledega one year, all because NA$CRAP
Yeah, NASCAR’s had two or three controversial finishes the past five years or so where you can argue the wrong guy won (Junior’s “win” at Michigan and Stewart’s “win” at Talladega were certainly both jokes). The only controversial call in the last five years in the IRL was last year at Detroit when Castroneves was ordered to pull over for Wilson, and that was probably in response to the non-call from the year before when the IRL didn’t penalize Kanaan at Sears Point in ’07 when he was blocking for Franchitti to give him the championship…again, though, that’s just typical AGR antics, not really a problem with the officiating…
I’m disappointed that too many mediocre drivers are on the premier teams (especially AGR), and I’d rather see Road America and Cleveland and Michigan and Phoenix instead of St. Pete and Toronto and Kansas and Homestead, but those are all problems with the merger that will be fixed with time. IRL obviously has nothing to do with AGR’s hires, and they could only pick up the Champ Car races that were on IRL off weekends at first; I do understand that. I know I just have to be patient…