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 · Thursday May 28, 2009
On Tuesday, NASCAR held a pair of town hall meetings, reaching out to drivers and team owners for suggestions on how to fix what ails the sport. I guess my invitation got lost in the mail, because I’ve got ideas on that topic like a mongrel dog has fleas. In a way, these sessions proved sadly ironic, as the sport seems primarily concerned about how to re-attract increasingly frustrated and disenfranchised fans whose numbers are shown by decreasing ticket sales and declining TV ratings. But guess which one group of folks wasn’t invited to the meetings? The fans themselves! NASCAR has shown a decidedly egalitarian view when it comes to listening to the fans — and now, that’s coming back to haunt them. By and large, millions of supporters are growing disgusted with the sport that was once a passion for them and, as just another race fan with a soapbox and a cool job, I count myself amongst them.
Yeah, admittedly holding a town hall meeting with the fans would be a rather unwieldy enterprise. Who would decide which fans got to attend? And my guess is that Brian France would get such an ass-scorching at such a meeting, he’d be wearing asbestos boxers the rest of the season and cuddling up with a fire extinguisher when he laid down to sleep at night. In fact, I’d suggest that if he were to hold such a forum, any stout branches be chopped down from trees in the area while participants be frisked for rope before entering.
Call me cynical, but I don’t buy this whole charade, including the new talking point of NASCAR stressing thanking the fans in the stands for coming out after winning a race. I think after most races lately, the drivers ought to be apologizing to all the fans that aren’t there as evidenced by empty seats. But in the interest of constructive criticism, let me offer some of my ideas… though I’m keeping the tar boiling and accumulating bags of feathers by the local railroad track.
Shorten the Season — The NASCAR season is way too long, longer than any other professional sports season I am aware of. Our season starts the week after the Super Bowl and stretches into the 10th week of the NFL regular season. The glut of races diminishes interest in, and the importance of, every race, while some tracks offer up such pitiful competition year in and year out that they just need to be scrapped. Nobody wants to give up a race date; thus, as I’ve suggested before, the tracks should be split up into regional groupings of three apiece. (Dover, Pocono, and New Hampshire for instance.) Each year, one track in the group would get two race dates and the others would get one. And this road racing idiocy needs to be ended. I’m tired of the argument that stock car racing started with bootleggers running loads on public highways; if that’s the case, I guess the NHRA should be running a few nationals on public streets annually. Also, the two non-points events should be run on the same weekend as the Daytona 500 and the World 600. Ideally, I’d like to see a schedule of 24 points-paying events, one that started in March and ended in early October.
Shorten the Races — The Daytona 500 and the World 600 would be the exceptions, but I think every other race needs to be shortened by at least one third. By their own admission, the drivers and teams don’t even start competing for real prior to the final quarter of the race. Watching cars run in a processional parade for three hours prior to a half hour of actual racing isn’t much fun to watch. Americans’ attention spans are shorter in this age of informational glut and nearly unlimited entertainment options, as evidenced by cable TV networks with 600 channels, YouTube, and Tweets. Races should come on the air by 1 PM ET and end by 4 PM. Sing the song, fire the engines, and start the race.
Reduce Horsepower — It might seem counterintuitive, but higher speeds make for worse racing. If the drivers are balanced on the edge of a razor blade trying to control their cars as they hurtle through corners, you’re not going to have the side-by-side racing which proves the hallmark of our sport. Reduced displacement, lower compression ratios, limits on camshaft lift and overlap, smaller carbs (dare I suggest fuel injection to drag NASCAR kicking and screaming into the modern age…for the millionth time?) and increased weights for internal components could all help limit horsepower to a more reasonable target area of 500 HP without completely stifling an engine builders’ creativity. Getting these pushrod OHV engines to turn at close to 10,000 RPM is an expensive enterprise that is killing the sport. Hell, I’d prefer crate engines to the current madness if it contains costs. And one more time, NFRP! In case, you didn’t get it, the first word in that acronym is No and the last two are Restrictor Plates. You figure out the other one… I’ll be polite and say it rhymes with “chicken.”
Revamp the Cars — Since bringing its Frankenstein of a race car — the Car of Sorrow — kicking and screaming, spewing pea green projectile vomit all over itself and onto the scene, NASCAR had steadfastly refused to allow changes to be made to the ugly little bastards. If you’ve read my stuff for more than a week, you know how I feel about the Car of Horror… but I’m willing to be reasonable to an extent. Team owners have now spent a ton of money on these new cars, and we can’t just scrap the CoT in this current economic climate with sponsorship dollars so hard to come by. So let’s start by tweaking the front clip, allowing a conventional suspension system… not this coil-bound nonsense teams currently run. Folks I talk to who are a lot smarter than me tell me lengthening the noses of the cars, even just a few inches, will dramatically reduce the aero-push condition that makes passing all but impossible these days. And for God’s sake, let’s send those rear spoilers to charity to be used as picnic tables for Munchkins. Put a blade type spoiler back on the cars…
As a car guy, aesthetics in vehicle design are as important to me as cold beer and 99 cent burgers (the breakfast of champions.) Yes, some people are going to debate my tastes, as I regularly drive an old Pontiac with a screaming chicken decal on the hood. But while beauty is skin deep, ugly goes right to the soul. I’d estimate that the life cycle of a new race car is about three years (unless it’s running in close quarters with Michael Waltrip while trying to lap him.) So let’s start phasing out the CoT just as it was implemented — starting at the short tracks — while working our way back to more conventional-looking and acting race cars with Mustang, Camaro, and Challenger bodies. I want those bodies to be virtually indistinguishable from their street counterparts, right down to the grilles and outside rear-view mirrors. Yeah, it might seem insane, but sometimes objects in the rear-view mirror really are closer than they appear.
Revamp the Points System — If a driver who finishes second is only going to lose 10 points to the winner, what’s the risk / reward ratio to making a no guts, no glory pass on the last lap? In a perfect world, I’d like to see the emphasis of winning a title diminished and the emphasis put back on winning races. But that’s not going to happen now that NASCAR has embraced the Chase, a cancer on the heart of racing. So, let’s change things to make winning a race at least 100 points more than finishing second. A win should earn far more points than a top 10, and a top 10 finish should earn a ton more points than a finish outside the top 10. Any finish outside the top 20 should earn no points at all, and at the end of the season drivers should be able to drop their worst three finishes from their tallies.
Leading laps should carry a lot higher award, as well. The driver leading the most laps should get 25 points, the driver leading the next highest amount of laps should have 15, and the driver who leads the third highest amount of laps gets 5.
Finally, any driver winning a race should get an automatic bid into the Chase, and any driver who fails to win during the regular season shouldn’t race for the title. You want to talk about turning up the intensity in the final few races before the Chase? Consistency is good in investment strategies, choosing a mate, and raising rug-rats… it just makes for crummy racing.
Reopen the Garage — It’s been a pet peeve of mine for many years, but it seems the downturn in our sport coincided with NASCAR deciding the garage area was off limits to fans, thanks to Tony Stewart’s caterwauling about claustrophobia. I still had regular access to the garage area, but I felt the fans were being slighted. No, I’m not suggesting that the gates be thrown open to all who wish to enter, but there should be some fan access to the inner-sanctum — be it by lottery or any other method other than who is willing to pay the most bucks, as long as they handle themselves with a degree of decorum.
These drivers need to understand (as they once did) that the fans buy the sponsor’s products. The sponsors spend some of that money backing race teams. The sponsors make the drivers millionaires. Without the fans (and they are leaving in record numbers), the whole business model is just more sweet dreams and flying machines in pieces on the ground. Hey, let the track promoters tell fans if you buy a ticket, 50 of you will be allowed garage area access and we will let you bring one guest. You’ll get five minutes of one-on-one time with your favorite driver, a tour of a NASCAR hauler, suite access for the race, a chance to attend the driver’s meeting, and a T-shirt autographed by all 43 competitors. 50 winners among all the tens of thousands of tickets sold doesn’t give a fan a great chance of winning… but state lotteries aren’t going broke because the odds suck. You buy a ticket, you have a shot.
For one weekend, you get a chance to feel like the principals in NASCAR give a crap about you. And maybe five lucky winners during the season get to attend the text “Town Hall” meeting to address the future of the sport.
After they’re frisked for rope, of course…
©2000 - 2008 Matt McLaughlin and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
1. Shortening the season, this sounds like a good idea that would allow for more rain dates if needed, and maybe also help The Fans by allowing them to only buy 1 set of tickets every 3rd year. While I’m not a big road course fan I believe it helps round out the Champion, (or it did before the chase).
2. Shortening Races
4.Revamp the cars
6.Reopening the garage
Great article Matt, keep up the Great work.
Alot of us are low budget, stay in/around the RV until race time cuz we spent most of our wad on just gettin the ‘old girl’ there and we still got to drive X number of hours to get the old girl back home again so we got no extra money to do anything else fans! You know, the ones nascar cares so little about!
As a former fan of 45+ years, these 5 things MUST happen before I’ll ever give NA$CAR the time of day again:
Reducing horsepower has been tried , many times in many ways . But horsepower always seems to increase again . Thats what engine builders do . So scratch that idea .
Why bother. Nothing is going to change. While I agree there are a lot of things that need “fixing” in NASCAR these “what NASCAR needs to do” articles are becoming an exercise in futility.
Matt, I agree with some of what you said and disagree with other things, but you left out the top three reasons for NASCAR’s steady and growing decline:
The broadcasts are horrible and getting worse by the week. Tune in to a Fox broadcast and the absolute constant corporate shills covering up the racing make it a miserable experience. Until fans get to see more racing and fewer ads…and less of an idiotic gopher…the ratings are going to continue to fall.
Good article, Matt, but I agree with Bill B. Everyone is talking about this, but nothing is happening. France will do nothing to “fix” the sport for the fans. I have given up on it. I like the racing in the IRL, although few others seem to. I’ve turned to the ALMS and road racing as well. I don’t care about “championships,” just the individual races. I couldn’t tell you who the champion was last year or the year before in any sport. Golf picked up the “chase” mess and I don’t know anyone who cares. Just let NAXCAR die. When it starts over, maybe someone will do it right.
Shortening the races? That only keeps the short attention span crowd interested, providing they haven’t changed channels after the first commercial or Digger appearance. Races are supposed to be about the endurance of both man and machine. So leave the race lengths the way they are.
A former champ once said to me “We used to beg fans to come to the pit and garage area. Why charge them for something they rightly deserve?” It is a marketing tool nowadays.Why should I pay big bucks for something that is only for a cold pass and that won’t necessarily include any drivers being around? I do like the idea of the raffle, etc. based on the current regime running things. It would give some lucky fans access.
I’m all for putting stock sheet metal back on the cars. The last two generations of cars haven’t really resembled anything on the street. The present monstrosity is more aero dependent than the car it replaced. Simple things like changing the steering points and using an Indy mod for the wing could make the racing exciting again and give the drivers something they could control.
Lowering the HP might seem like a good idea but it’s been tried before and every time some engine builder finds a way to get more HP out of the engine. Using crate engines would turn this “One Car Fits All” brands beast into a true spec car and spec racing series. Look what happened to IROC and the ASA.Enough said there.
In the end, the only time changes will be made is when it severly impacts NASCAR’s pocketbook. Until then, it’ll be business as usual.
Get rid of the Nepotistic Nincompoop and put somebody in there to run NASCAR who knows what racing is supposed to be about and not just for making yourself look good to the media.
Something I just don’t understand! (of course there are many, but lets just start with one).
What I don’t understand, is why NA$CRAP has to call a “special meeting” to discuss it’s ill’s!
ANY, and I do mean ANY, CEO that runs an organization ALWAYS knows what’s going on and affecting his organization!
ALWAYS I say!
In the case of NA$CRAP, it is in the papers everyday, it is on the internet everyday, it is in the talk media everyday!
Why does this idiot Brian France have to call a “special meeting” to discuss what’s wrong with the sport?
This makes no sense whatsoever!
It’s like he just climbed out of a cave and says “what’s going on”?
Of course that could be the case, as his cave has a really nice bar in it I understand!
I love the article and agree with most of what was said. The only disagreement I have is awarding all race winners a spot in the Chase. What if the “Big One” happens at the Daytona 500, taking out 15 good cars, and Dave Blaney wins the race, he can go back to starting and parking the rest of the year, only to get an automatic bid into the chase. shudder to think about that.
another 50 year fan (was) here noting that when the garage area became off limits, the drivers started wearing those dumb assed, prima donna sunglasses. nothing like trying to hide from the fans.
The other current fixes I’d like to add, are make the car lighter. 3000 lbs is a good number.
Matt – it all sounds good; but, nothing will happen unless NASCAR wants it to change. They seem to be seeking a solution that will help them bring back fans while not really changing the essence of what they’re currently doing. I’m particularly fond of the points and race length suggestions you made.
For those that want everything put back the way that it was, you’ll continue to be disappointed… sorry.
And, for one more reform – fastest 43 only. No top-35 crap. Maybe this will cut down the number of teams; but, maybe that’s not such a bad thing – fewer, but healthier teams.
ONCE UPON A TIME Brian the Arrogant held court and heard what the kingdom had to say then he the bringer of the great COT had the great words of wisdom Praise the Arrogant or be like mayfeild or Long or R.Gordon.And the kingdom heard the Arrogant and said we understand the drug policy and the COT is perfect we just can not drive.We were wrong to complain and that is why the stands are empty and the TVs are watching anything but the races of the great COT .So now we praise the Arrogant and like the TV hosts pimp the great racing. So peace and shut mouths once again roam the kingdom of Brain the Arrogant and the great racing will began. THE END
Take them off and leave everything off. A total reliance on down force for grip is what is slowly ruining all types of racing in my opinion. Aero-push is not unique to NASCAR. Make them find grip mechanically, I say.
if your a true nascar fan shut up and enjoy if not go watch irl or nhra
I know I’m getting away from the topic at hand, but mit ties in as to what’s wrong with nas$car. I just read where nas$car fined and took points away from Robbie Gordon. Boy, don’t they go after the little guy lately. The teams that can afford it least. Whose next? Dave Blaney, Joe Nenachek, maybe Tony Raines?
I’m gonna disagree with you, Matt. You want better racing, but shorter races? If we have better racing, then there’s no reason to shorten the races.
Same with shortening the season. If we have better races, then your reasoning for shortening the season goes out the window too. And quite frankly, i’m sick of all the comparisons of racing with other sports. This ain’t football. This ain’t baseball. Quit trying to be the NFL and get back to worrying about RACING.
Funny thing is, everyone says they want more exciting racing, want more competitiveness, want more drivers to have a shot at the win, but look at all the complaining about Talledega. Any way you slice it, that was an exciting race, and I enjoyed seeing Keselowski get the win. yet most columnists and a lot of fans complained about that.
And let’s be honest – we like to see wrecks. It’s not politically correct to say it, and a lot of columnists put up this phony front about it, but fans like to see wrecks. They’re exciting. Sometimes they’re scary (Edwards) or tragic (Earnhardt), but that element of danger is what draws the fans in, what brings the casual fans to watch and as they watch more, they become more dedicated fans.
In the end, the ‘Chase’ is the achilles heel of NACAR. It’s a joke. it’s a stupid way to determine the champion, and it turns the focus from winning the race to conservative points racing, and THAT is the single biggest thing wrong with NASCAR today.
As for changing the cars, I’ll agree with you on wanting the cars to look like the ones we see at the dealerships, but then again, 99% of the cars at dealerships these days are just as conformist and ugly as the COT.
I don’t have the knowledge to comment much on the engineering and design of the cars. But I do see a problem with that rear wing. It looks to me like it’s the reason for cars flipping and going airborne anytime they start going backwards up the track at speed.
And while I keep seeing people say they should switch from carburetors to fuel injection, I have yet to see an explanation of WHY they should.
As for Toyota, let them race. Let any manufacturer who wants to, race. Nothing in NASCAR as it is today has any relevance to the manufacturers anyway.
Quality racing should be rewarded by consistency, not a flash in the pan. Winning qualifying you for the chase can NOT qualify you to win the championship. Otherwise, the winner of the second race of the year could take 8 months off and still win the championship.
Now, winning one of the 4 “major” races as qualification for the chase (as long as you stay in the season top 20 in points) makes sense. Daytona 500, COKE 600, the Brickyard, and Richmond (of whatever race ends up right before the chase). Winning one of those, or being one of the top 10 drivers to win any race that year, puts you in the hunt for a championship
I agree with Gordon82Wins
OK – great that a meeting was called. But am I only the one who thinks this meeting is about 2 years too late?
If NASCAR was being run with any forethought, they could have seen the grumblings and growing disinterest years ago. But instead they wait until the fire has spread before worrying about buying buckets to put the water into.
I used to work for a company like that. Used to because they went bankrupt.
Re. Gary Hammond’s comment:
Take away the Toyotas (Camrays sold here ARE made in the US by US workers), and what’s left will be Fords (holding their own for the time being—that’s good) the Fiats, and Obamamobiles, aka Government Motors.
Maybe the Democrat party could sponsor Junior’s Obamamobile. Then, I suppose, all would be well.
Yes Nascar is a big hole in the ocean. When Earnhardt Sr., Davey, Cale, Bobby, Richard and others raced they raced a man’s race (touch, intimidating, race to win, achieve the dream of a Nascar win, bump and run, draft, etc.). The COT’s are stupid, they are a wasted piece of $$$ (but not in Nascar’s pocket. ) The chase sets you up for a disappointment! About like qualifying (where you give the top 35 a spot in the race, what happened to the ‘top’ qualifiers). Make them earn the race spot in qualifying. Then there is fining the little guy, who well can afford to be fined; but the big teams don’t get much fines and they get away with the tricks of the game. Then Nascar doesn’t publish what they found or fined them for – imagine that. Then there is TV – select one station that all ‘fans’ can watch/see and stick with them. And how about giving “ALL” the teams a chance to be seen on TV, Their sponsors shown, talking to the big and little drivers and teams. I don’t like to see the jeff and jimmy show every race. There is a lot of teams and their sponsors deserve a chance to be seen and heard. Pan thru the field of race cars—show them all during a race. Talk with the various crew chiefs and owners of all race teams. Get rid of some of the ‘goofy’ reporters you now have. Then there is the ‘jobless’ness of Nascar and the teams – where did those 900+ jobs go all the sudden; well into the team owners pockets, crew chiefs and drivers only. Hire these non-experienced young guys to work and they don’t know what the heck they are doing (besides messing up a team’s chance to make it good/big). Those guys (10+ yrs. experience) deserve a fair chance to work. they have years of experience and a willingness to work hard and achieve a dream, not based on a ‘i look good’ attitude. Not base getting a job on the who-you-know in the sport; but honestly look at the resumes and give the guys/mechanics-engineers-fabricators-etc. a chance at a job. yes, i think they now understand they will take a pay cut. Bout like the garage and pit passes, and pit lizards (how’d they get in there??). I’ve heard sponsors of cars even say “hey there goes a pit lizard working up the food chain” — what about them. Brian sure ain’t like his daddy or grandfather. Let’s get some of the older racers opinions, dreams and ideas back into Nascar. Let’s get back to RACING like NASCAR used to race. Thanks!!!
Here’s an analogy- If Heinz started putting water in their ketchup bottles but still called it ketchup, would people continue to buy it? NASCAR became famous for “Stock Car” racing, but no longer races “Stock Cars”, and now they are surprised that business is declining. Or in Brian France speak; they’ve gotten away from their core product.
If you have that large of a margin between first place and second place, you will have endings like Edwards vs Keselowski every race as drivers run over each other trying to get to the front. Is that what you really want?
How to fix NASCAR?
1- Fire Brian France
2- Fire Mike Helton
3- Cut all tracks back to one race each, including Charlotte, Daytona, and Talladega.
4- At least bring back The Rock and North Wilksboro
5- Reduce the engines to what most people actually have: V6’s. And change to fuel injection! The last car I had with a carburetor was a 1980 Ford LTD!
6- I like the idea that at least have the bodies use stock sheet metal. I can see the need for using full frames, but at least make the bodies STOCK.
If you have that large of a margin between first place and second place, you will have endings like Edwards vs Keselowski every race as drivers run over each other trying to get to the front. Is that what you really want?
How about finishes like tje one between Kurt Busch and Ricky Craven at Darlington, or Jimmie Johnson and Carl Edwards last year at Texas, or Bobby Labonte and Dale sr. at Atlanta. Isn’t that what you really want?
I may be getting too old, but I believe the racing was much better with BIAS PLY tires! In my mind, the RADIAL tire ruined racing! I watch races on ESPN Classic and see Harry Gant running against the wall, Darrel Waltrip hugging the bottom and Dale Earnhardt Sr. SMOKING the right rear tire in the middle —- AT BRISTOL!!! Yes, three wide at Bristol with Earnhardt dead loose! You cannot do that with the radials. In today’s racing, if the car is loose – it snaps around and you’re in the wall; thus, they set the cars up tight which compounds the aero tight condition.
Bring back Bias Ply race tires — bring back the “feel” for the drivers — bring back the ability to race a ‘loose’ car.
The current nascar overlords have taken the fans for granted.
Anybody remember the glorious years of Winston Cup when the sport was growing by the day? Anywho…
Yes, shorten the season. It should be over when the NFL season starts.
Yes, shorten MANY of the races but NOT at short tracks.
MORE SHORT TRACKS! MORE NIGHT RACING!
Personally I’d dump Auto Club Speedway. Or at least move it away from after the 500. What a joy kill after the big race.
NO PLATE RACING! It’s a crap shoot anyway. It’s NOT racing.
I can do without the chase. It hasn’t provided any excitement for me to stop watching the NFL. Drivers still points race just like the other system. I TOTALLY HATE points racing and “it was a good points day”.
It should be ALL ABOUT WINNING.
Brian said he wanted to get back to the roots of NA$car. OK, Everyone pretty much agrees that California has never put on a good race. Fine, haul in some dirt, & really get back to the roots. A whole lot of the newbie fans have never seen a dirt race. Some drivers never raced on it. Everyone is blaming the current car. While it’s no great shakes. The cookie cutter tracks have to share a lot of the blame. With the incestuous relationship between NA$CAR, & ISC. we’re pretty much stuck with them. I strongly disagree about the Road courses. Anything not a cookie cutter, or not Indy, I look forward to.
I’ve been following racing since Darlington was a virgin and Daytona was run on the beach, so maybe I’m senile, but….
I consider the above picture proof positive King Brian is wired on cocaine.
While I despise all the goofy gimmicks (like the gopher and the Hollywood Hotel), these aren’t new to the sport. Watching ESPN Classic the other day, the race was the 1989 Dover race. They cut from the racing action to show a “Short Track Racing Rap Video.” It was painful to watch. Even Bob Jenkins was making fun of it after it played.
Then there was that stupid, “What is Benny stuffing in his fat face this week?” And I remember some stupid “western” skit starring Earnhardt and Wallace before a race in Phoenix. So even back in the hayday, they had stupid gimmicks littering up the race.
KSipe. Ya put it all in a nutshell. Now figure out how to CC it to the Crowned Prince and he can forget all these “meetings”.
Matt, The only thing I know is if they shorten the races I will start dropping the tickets I go to about 6-10 races a year and been doing so for 30 years and it will be 0 real quick.
MATT – I always enjoy your columns, and I agree with everything you say (you just say it better than I can). I also strongly agree with all the comments by Gary Hammond; Scrap the Chase format, bring back Rockingham and the Labor Day race at Darlington, and get rid of the Toyotas. But most important, get rid of that mental midget Brian France. He must have the IQ of a retarded turnip.