Kurt Busch to Attempt The Indianapolis-Charlotte Double
posted by Phil Allaway
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Andretti Autosport announced this morning that Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet in the Sprint Cup Series, will attempt the Indianapolis 500 in a fifth entry for the IndyCar Series team. Once the Indianapolis 500 is completed, Busch will fly from Indianapolis to Charlotte, jump in his No. 41 Chevrolet and compete in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Busch considers the opportunity to do the double as an old-school throwback moment.
“This is really to challenge myself within motorsports,” Busch said in Andretti Autosport’s press release. “Perhaps I am a bit of an old-school racer; a throwback, I guess. I enjoyed the era of drivers racing different cars and testing themselves in other series. It is tough to do now for a variety of factors, but when the opportunity is there, I want to do it. While NASCAR is my home, I have been fortunate to compete in Pro Stock on the NHRA circuit a number of years ago and test a V8 Supercar. This opportunity was a talk with Michael [Andretti] over dinner one night, a “What if,” and now it’s becoming a reality for me to drive in the Indy 500 with Andretti Autosport. It’s literally a dream come true. To go to the famous Brickyard with the iconic Andretti name, it doesn’t get much cooler or better than that.”
Busch will be doing the Indianapolis-Charlotte double as a Memorial Day mission to men and women serving in the U.S. Military via the Armed Forces Foundation. Fans can contribute to the cause by texting AFF to 50555 to donate $10.
Busch, who has never raced an IndyCar, passed Rookie Orientation at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year during a test session. At the time, Busch was more or less testing the Dallara DW12 for fun.
Busch will be the fourth driver to attempt the Indianapolis-Charlotte double. John Andretti was the first driver to attempt it in 1994. After finishing four laps down in tenth in Indianapolis, Andretti crashed and had engine problems in the 600. Robby Gordon has attempted the double five times, most recently in 2004. However, Gordon failed to make it to Charlotte on time and did not start the 600 in 2000 (P.J. Jones started Gordon’s No. 13 Ford in that instance). Finally, Tony Stewart has attempted the double twice (most recently in 2001) and is the only driver to ever complete all 1100 miles. Neither of the three drivers has won either leg of the double. The best finishes are Stewart and Gordon’s sixth-place finishes at the Indianapolis 500 (although Gordon’s came in 2000, the year he didn’t make it to Charlotte in time to start the Coca-Cola 600), and Stewart’s fourth-place finish in the 2001 Coca-Cola 600.
Danica Patrick, Justin Allgaier Talk About Phoenix Incident
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
A disappointing start to the year for Danica Patrick won’t include continued conflict. Patrick met with rookie Justin Allgaier Sunday, shortly after the Phoenix Cup race after a wreck ruined both drivers’ days. Patrick, who was critical of the No. 51 car on the radio, claiming Allgaier was “driving all over the track” appeared receptive to a conversation that quickly settled differences over what will be a long season.
“She was just upset because she got involved in the crash that we had,’’ said Allgaier to the Motor Racing Network. “She says she’s been through this and that she felt like I needed to settle down at that point. I explained my position on why everything happened. I think she understood where I was coming from. It doesn’t fix either one of our racecars. It doesn’t fix either one of our days. Unfortunately, we were both having pretty decent days.’’
Allgaier wound up 30th due to the incident while Patrick was 36th. The incident, which was caused by Allgaier’s spin also involved the No. 32 team and Travis Kvapil, which wound up 38th after sustaining heavy damage.
Camping World Close to Extending Title Sponsorship of NCWTS
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Marcus Lemonis, CEO of Camping World, Grand Marshal of Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway, and star of CNBC’s “The Profit,” made the announcement over the weekend that the retailer is very close to announcing a deal that would continue its title sponsorship of NASCAR’s Truck Series. The original agreement with NASCAR is scheduled to conclude after the 2015 season.
According to the sanctioning body, no formal contract has been signed, but “the agreement between the two parties has proven to be a beneficial one.”
“In about a month, we’ll be announcing a significant extension to that contract. It’s been great for us,” said Camping World’s Lemonis in a statement. “The NASCAR relationship has worked well for Camping World. When we started, we had 35 stores. Now, we’re up to 120 stores. As we travel the country and we meet new customers in stores, they always are very appreciative of our relationship with NASCAR. It’s been good.”
Gaining a long-term commitment from Camping World to sponsor the Truck Series would be a relief for NASCAR, which is set to lose Nationwide Insurance as title sponsor for the NASCAR Nationwide Series at the end of the 2014 season. The sponsorship of the Cup Series by Sprint runs through 2016.
The NCWTS is back in action on March 29th at 2:30 PM (ET) when the trucks visit Martinsville Speedway in the Kroger 250, which can be seen on Fox Sports 1. Ratings for the season opener were up 11 percent.
Harvick Takes Win At Phoenix In Second Race With New Team
posted by Justin Tucker
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Phoenix International Raceway has become Kevin Harvick’s home away from home. Sunday Afternoon was no exception as Harvick charged to the front early and would dominate for much of the day, leading 224 of the scheduled 312 laps to record his record fifth win on the one mile oval and his third win in the last four races at Phoenix.
Harvick, coming off of a disappointing Speedweeks which was capped by a last lap crash in the Daytona 500 in his debut with Stewart-Haas Racing, set the tone on Saturday by winning both practices while having the best 5 and 10-lap averages in the first practice of the day on Saturday. On Sunday, Harvick and his No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet was nothing short of flawless as he was able to hold Dale Earnhardt, Jr. by .489 seconds after a late race restart to claim his 24th career Sprint Cup Series victory.
“Man, this is awesome,” Harvick said after his dominant victory on Sunday. “Man, this just solidifies so many things and so many decisions. It’s been so much work with all the time and effort that these guys (the crew) have put in—but what a race car.”
Stewart Haas Racing co-owner Gene Haas shared in Harvick’s excitement after the race.
“It took long enough,” Haas joked. “This is phenomenal. I think there was a lot of skepticism last year about what myself and Tony (Stewart) what we were up to, was there a lot of madness to this. Quite frankly, it’s a great team, there’s a lot of synergy at the shop, people working together. I don’t know what we did, but I think we put together a great organization.”
Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt, Jr. continued his hot start to the 2014 season. Earnhardt Jr. would finish second on Sunday, marking his seventh consecutive top 10 finish since the end of the 2013 season. Earnhardt Jr. was pleased with the effort after a coast-to-coast whirlwind week after winning his second Daytona 500 and also gave great praise to the efforts of Harvick and the No. 4 team.
“I’ve got to congratulate Kevin. Those guys were two-tenths faster than everyone all weekend in practice. They were just phenomenal,” Earnhardt said. “To be able to run with them all day was a big confidence builder for us.”
Joining Harvick and Earnhardt in the top 5 of The Profit on CNBC 500K were Brad Keselowski with his second consecutive top 3 run of 2014 in third. Keselowski’s Team Penske teammate Joey Logano would finish fourth, and Jeff Gordon would come home fifth in his No. 24 Pepsi Max Chevrolet.
Jimmie Johnson finished in sixth, followed by Ryan Newman with a nice rebound after Daytona in seventh. Carl Edwards would carry the banner for Roush Fenway Racing by finishing eighth, Kyle Busch was ninth, and Jamie McMurray would finish tenth.
A look at the Profit on CNBC 500K by the numbers. There were 14 lead changes among eight different drivers, there were eight cautions for 39 laps which slowed the race pace to 109.229 MPH.
Next Sunday, the Sprint Cup Series heads to Sin City and the Las Vegas Motor
Starting Lineup: The Profit On CNBC 500K
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday March 1, 2014
Drivers in RED (i) are those ineligible to collect Sprint Cup points
Daytona 500 TV Ratings Down
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Wednesday February 26, 2014
What was the longest weather delay in Daytona 500 history turned out to bring NASCAR lower ratings and TV viewership Sunday night than expected. According to a report Monday from FOX Sports, the 56th running of the Daytona 500 airing at 8 PM (ET) posted a 5.6/10 national household rating/share which averaged 9.3 million viewers. That’s down 44 percent from last year’s 9.9, easily making it the least-watched Daytona 500 of all-time.
Due to the six-hour, twenty-two minute rain delay in Daytona, the race was up against the primetime coverage of the Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony from Sochi, Russia on NBC (15.25 million viewers). FOX also reported that 69% of the pre-rain delay viewers of the race, which began at 1 PM (ET) kept tuning in.
In comparison, the 2013 Daytona 500 on FOX was the most-watched race in five years, posting a 9.9/22 rating/share, commanding 16.7 million viewers. The Daytona 500 in 2012, the first to ever be run on a Monday and in the primetime slot did a 7.7/13 overnight rating/share which resulted in 13.67 million households viewing the race according to Nielsen TV ratings data.
Earnhardt, Jr. Claims Second Daytona 500 Victory
posted by Justin Tucker
Wednesday February 26, 2014
Ten years is a long time. For Dale Earnhardt, Jr., it felt like an eternity. NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver endured many near misses and close calls at the Daytona 500 since his only win in the Great American Race in 2004. Earnhardt had finished second in two of his last three Daytona 500s coming into Sunday’s race. He was also riding the tail of a 55-race winless streak, dating back to Michigan in 2012.
However nothing would stop Dale Jr. on Sunday, not even a 6 hour and 22 minute rain delay from capturing his second Daytona 500 win. Earnhardt Jr. led a race-high 54 laps on the evening and used some timely drafting help from teammates Jimmie Johnson and, on the final restart, Jeff Gordon to separate from the pack and secure the victory.
“Winning this race is the greatest feeling that you could feel in this sport besides accepting the trophy for the championship,” said a jubilant Earnhardt after pulling into Victory Lane. “We could fight off battle after battle. We got a little help at the end there from Jeff to get away on the restart. This is amazing. I can’t believe this is happening. I never take this for granted, man because it doesn’t happen twice, let alone once.”
Aside from the race itself the big story of the race was the 6 hour and 22 minute red flag, which threatened to move the race to Monday evening (had the race been postponed, FOX Sports’ Chris Myers had tweeted that the race would resume at 5:00pm EST). However, Mother Nature would cooperate and would allow the race to be run under different conditions from which they practiced this week. Once the race resumed, the intensity picked up from the changing track conditions. This allowed the pack to race side-by-side and at times 3-wide up to seven rows deep.
Joining Earnhardt Jr. in the top 5 for the 2014 Daytona 500 were: Denny Hamlin who closed out a spectacular Speedweeks in second, Brad Keselowski in third, Jeff Gordon in fourth, and Jimmie Johnson who overcome two wrecks leading up to the 500 in fifth.
Rounding out the top 10 in the Daytona 500 were Matt Kenseth in sixth, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. in seventh and Greg Biffle would bring his No. 16 Ford home in eighth. Austin Dillon would come home ninth in his first Cup Series race in the iconic No. 3 for Richard Childress Racing, while Casey Mears would round out the top 10.
A couple of major contenders for the Daytona 500 win would see their hopes dashed early on as Martin Truex, Jr. would blow up just 30 laps into the race, relegating him to a 43rd-place finish in his debut for Furniture Row Racing. Crew chief Todd Berrier was already in Nashville for a test session before the race was even over. Kyle Busch, meanwhile would have a pit road violation just before halfway and would spend much of the race battling back from that mistake. Busch would eventually finish 19th after leading 19 laps.
Danica Patrick would also be bit by bad luck as she was caught up in a multi-car wreck on lap 145. Patrick would lead her second consecutive Daytona 500, but wouldn’t have the finish to show for it finishing 40th. Tony Stewart would encounter a frustrating evening as well, with a fuel pickup problem derailing his quest for his first Daytona 500 win. Stewart would finish 35th.
A look at the Daytona 500 by the numbers. There were 42 lead changes among 18 drivers, while seven cautions for 39 laps would slow the race pace to 145.290 MPH.
Next week, the Sprint Cup Series heads to the “diamond in the desert,” Phoenix International Raceway for The Profit on CNBC 500K. The Green flag is scheduled for 3:15pm EST.
Nationwide Series Post-Race Quotes: Drive4COPD 300
posted by Thomas Bowles
Tuesday February 25, 2014
Frontstretch Interviews – Courtesy Mike Neff
ELLIOTT SADLER – FINISHED 4th
Thoughts on the race?
It’s definitely a lot different racing than what we’re used to.
Comfortable with it?
Yeah, it’s just different. You’re worried about what you’re doing, but you’re also worried about what everyone else is doing and they’re not doing more than you’re doing. Physically pushing a guy is way better than just riding so you just gotta time it right and push it to the edge.
Happy to start the year with a top 5?
Yeah. Hell, that was the worst we ran all day, I think. I have no idea how they put the 3 car in front of us on that last restart. I hadn’t seen the 3 car hardly all day. When they put us from fifth to sixth, on the outside line, it just really boxed us in. I would have really restarted behind my teammate and given him a good push to the front. Anyways, it is what it is; we’ll take it and move on.
Looked like you were up front all day.
The guys did a good job. We had a fast race car. Great pit stops, just really proud of these guys. The car’s in one piece and we can take it to Talladega now. Great job by my guys. A lot of effort came into coming down here to Daytona and giving ourselves a shot to win. We had that chance to be up front and make some things happen. Fifth is not what we want, but we’ll take it and move on.
Bumping vs Pushing?
It’s way harder. You don’t want to lay on the guy in front of you, so it’s tough racing. A lot different than what we’re used to, ‘cause you gotta go. You gotta drag the brake too ‘cause you don’t want to hit the guys and you don’t want to stay on him. It’s a lot harder mentally than what we’ve done in the past.
Car was strong all day. Pushing vs. Bumping, is that harder to do than just getting on somebody and pushing them?
Yeah, it is a little bit. When you bump ‘em, you jar ‘em, it kinda jacks ‘em a little bit. It’s a little more abrupt, obviously. I thought it was OK there at the end. It was certainly fun and hopefully entertaining. But a little bit of a struggle in the early part of the race and the midpart of the race to see a good race. And that’s unfortunate for the fans. You can’t do that the whole race, you can’t tear up your stuff, knock your grill in, overheat your motor, all that stuff so there’s no sense in doing all that until you get down to the last lap. The 7 and the 6, they did a good job. Man, the 7 really held the 22 and I tight on the bottom. I was rubbing his door and hitting the apron at the same time, no room whatsoever. So it was good; wish we were the ones who could have won but a lot better now than what we were last year.
Going home in one piece makes it a lot better, right?
Yeah. My back feels good. My foot feels good. Past years here, I’ve been going home with pain so I’m alright.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Truck Series Post-Race Quotes: Daytona (Exclusives)
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday February 22, 2014
When you’re on the outside like that, how frustrating is it?
It’s so hard. Timothy Peters has won here. Kyle Busch has won everywhere. Ron Hornaday has been running Trucks forever, probably before I was even born. I was surrounded by veterans there, and like I told them I don’t have a rookie stripe but I’m a rookie. This is only my fourth Truck race ever, my fourth superspeedway race, and man, I figured out when the 17 got up in front of me, I pushed him. And as soon as I pushed him, he took off. And I went with him. And I just kept doing it, and before I knew it, he was leading. And I saw Ron in my mirror, backed up to him, and if it wasn’t for him, I don’t know what would have happened. I gotta thank him big time for that. That was a true teammate move right there. I really appreciate that. He just bounced off me and we got to the front. I tried my hardest to sidedraft Kyle. I was probably touching his door.
Top 5 in the No. 30 truck. This deal come together at the last minute, but you had a heck of a truck. Tell us about your night.
Yeah, I’ve got to thank Turner Scott Motorsports. The guys worked so hard on this Rheem Comfort Products Chevrolet. Exciting! Just got hung up on the outside and had to wait for my teammate there to catch up. And then he got to the bottom, so… I got the old 32 and started pushing ol’ Ryan to the front. So, it’s not bad. We’ll take it. You just don’t want to step over that boundary. You don’t know how far to push and shove. We bumped about six times down the straightaway without latching onto them. Hopefully, that was OK and we came home with a top 5.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Budweiser Duels Post Race Quotes
posted by Matt Stallknecht
Friday February 21, 2014
BUDWEISER DUELS POST-RACE QUOTES
They’re saying the wheel bearing burned up in it. I don’t know what caused it, they’re taking it all apart to figure out what the heck happened. Something abnormal that’s for sure I don’t think I’ve ever had that happen at all. Hopefully, we made the race and hopefully we can fix the problem before Sunday.
WHAT WAS THAT LOUD BOOM ONCE YOU TURNED INTO THE GARAGE?
Loud pop was a tire… thankfully, it popped, hopefully it didn’t hurt anybody. All the heat created in the left front that popped was pretty weird.
REALLY GOOD RUN. WHAT DID YOU THINK OF IT?
Yeah, it was good. We have a car we can work with for the 500. Got a good starting spot, so we’re going to rest easy, fluff and buff our car for a couple of days and get ready for Sunday.
ANY DIFFERENCE ON WHETHER THE TOP OR BOTTOM LANE WORKED?
Yeah, I was just moving around, trying to stay with the flow. For me, this car works on all parts of the racetrack. So I’m pretty happy with it.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.
GOT SHUFFLED BACK, AFTER PIT STOPS AND THEN COULDN’T GET BACK UP TO THE FRONT. WHY?
Nah, we were just sitting there waiting until the last few laps to make a move. You didn’t want to pull down and get sent to the back. Seen a couple of guys get sent to the back really quick so we were just kind of waiting for the end. I felt like we had a good situation there with Ambrose behind us — we had a good run off Turn 2 and I went. It was the last lap, time to go do something, nobody went with us but hopefully Sunday is a different story.
We got a great car. We don’t have to work hard. We learned, we got a good race car. Got a car in one piece, ready to go so we’ll try and get through the next couple of practices, deliver it to the starting group this Sunday and we’ll be real happy.
YOU’RE IN THE DAYTONA 500!
Yeah, it’s pretty awesome. This Whitetail Chevrolet was so fast that I knew all I had to do was stick it behind smart, intelligent drafters and we could have a good finish. That’s what we did in the Duels and I’m excited. I’m excited to go do some stuff with the Nationwide car and have some more practice with this. But to know that we’re locked in the Daytona 500’s pretty cool.
YOU WERE OBVIOUSLY IN FRONT OF THAT MELEE AT THE END. WHEN YOU WERE UP FRONT THERE IN THE BEGINNING, WERE YOU HOPING TO JUST STAY IN LINE AND LET YOU FINISH TOP 5?
I was pretty content to ride and luckily I knew a lot of people around us were. It was nice to have a little calm and not really have to be racing hard the whole time. I knew that the pit stop was going to shake everything up and that’s exactly what happened. Fell back a little bit there but made the right moves at the end to get a good finish.
HOW STRONG ARE THESE RCR CARS?
They’re very strong! They definitely have the capabilities to be winning one of these races.
YOU’RE IN THE TOP 5 FOR YOUR HEAT IN THE DAYTONA 500. YOUR PRIMARY CAR IS SITTING RIGHT IN THE GARAGE, KIND OF WADDED UP. DID YOU THINK THIS ONE HAD IT IN IT?
Yeah, it’s a brand new car also. It’s just not quite as good as the primary but still a damned good car. I’m just proud of everybody at RCR for building such fast race cars. All of our cars have been fast, ECR motor’s been strong, even our affiliate teams have been qualifying really good and racing good. So… excited about 2014! It’s going to be a good year.
WELL MAN, YOU STARTED IN THE BACK BUT WORKED YOUR WAY TO THE FRONT WHEN IT COUNTED MOST. WERE YOU JUST BIDING YOUR TIME THROUGHOUT THE RACE?
Eh, you never know if you’re going to get back up there or not. We had to start at the back, we had to make a run early and see what we could do. We drove right to 10th, or something like that and then it got stagnant. We tried to make something happen, and went to the back again. Drove back up to the front. Again, just really proud of my guys. Matt Kruder did a hell of a job on that pit stop getting just enough gas in to gain some spots there.
RCR CARS SEEM PRETTY DARNED STRONG. DO YOU THINK THE RCR CARS HAVE SOMETHING FOR THEM ON SUNDAY — ESPECIALLY THE THREE JOE GIBBS RACING CARS THAT SEEM TO BE THE CLASS OF THE FIELD RIGHT NOW?
Oh yeah. The 20 car was extremely fast. The 11 didn’t qualify that good, but he’s a good drafter. I think he won. We definitely have something for him.
Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
Matt McLaughlin · Monday June 15, 2009
The Key Moment: Greg Biffle and Jimmie Johnson ran out of gas on the final lap to hand a win to Mark Martin.
In a Nutshell: To paraphrase Leonard Ginth-Parnell of Saturday Night Live’s “Master Bad Theater” skits: “Putrid, simply, putrid. Ultimately without any socially redeeming moments. This is about as bad as it gets.”
Dramatic Moment: Waiting to see who would run out of gas on the final lap while trying to avoid drowning on a mouthful of one own’s spit after perhaps the most boring race in the history of mankind.
What They’ll Be Talking About Around the Water Cooler This Week
Some folks have compared winning a fuel mileage race to kissing their sister. Well, I’d compare Sunday’s racing to marrying your sister and raising a brood of six-fingered offspring who never learn to recite the alphabet… but can still suck down a 30-pack of Coors Light on a Sunday afternoon applauding the sort of abject stupidity NASCAR has been offering up the last couple of weeks.
Admit it. How many laps of this stupidity do you watch before drifting into a well-deserved Sunday afternoon nap?
I can only wish anyone surprised by the announcement that GM is radically cutting back their financial involvement in NASCAR racing the best of luck in their tryouts for a starring role in Disney’s remake of Pollyanna. The storm clouds have been gathering on the horizon so long that when the rain began falling this week, only those folks riding the short bus to school were surprised. The fact a Toyota took the pole for this week’s race staged in the heart of the American auto industry was just more salt rubbed in the wound for millions. Unfortunately, like it or not it’s clear NASCAR and its teams are going to have to adjust to dramatically less involvement by the Big Three over the coming seasons. But I don’t think this is the end of the world as we know it. Back in ’73, with the fuel crisis and draconian government regulation we all thought that the era of the muscle car was at its end. But in 1982, Ford reintroduced the Mustang GT and GM, caught with its pants down, waged war with its seriously underpowered Camaro/Firebird twins and the Corvette. This year, well-heeled muscle car buyers have a scintillating choice to be made between Shelby Mustangs, Hemi Challengers, and big cube Camaros just as we did in 1970 — the renaissance years of the old muscle car era. My guess is those cars are going away in a PC age where hybrids are the darlings of the media. But they’ll be back. America’s fascination with fast, loud cars is such an ingrained part of our culture that they’ll remain a niche market automakers ignore at their own peril. And in a couple decades, the best of this year’s muscle cars will be going for dozens of times their original cost at Barrett-Jackson.
NASCAR announced a new “green pilot program” this week wherein ten trees will be planted for each race run to offset the carbon footprint of that event. Those ten trees, over their lifetimes, will absorb the CO2 emissions generated by the race cars (but not fans attending the event). I’d suggest to NASCAR that they up the amount of trees planted to twenty in an attempt to prove that they are trying to be proactive, not reactive, to this whole carbon footprint hijinks. I just wish I’d been savvy enough to suggest just such an idea (and others) in a column published on this site August 7th, 2008. Oh, wait a second, I did. Oh, and for the record, I’ve planted ten sugar maple trees this spring to offset the carbon hoofprint of the Trans Am, Harley, Nova, and XR75 for the next five decades, so don’t harass me the next time I go to buy gas in the Pontiac.
I’ve been a huge fan of the 24 Hours of Le Mans since Ford and Carroll Shelby launched their quixotic and ultimately successful campaign to dethrone Ferrari with their Cobras and GT40s. I just never thought I’d live long enough to see a diesel-powered Peugeot defeat a diesel-powered Audi for the big prize. I guess those Audis didn’t have enough unintended acceleration… and as far as the stars and stripes, the Corvettes once again dominated in their class. Those Chevys were decidedly non-diesel powered…
SCORE stripped Robby Gordon of his Baja 500 win this week, citing speeding on public roads and pitting irregularities. However, there’s a YouTube video posted on Gordon’s website that seems to clearly indicate he was not speeding as accused during the road segment cited by race officials. Hopefully, cooler heads will straighten this whole mess out, because anytime race results are decided in a court of law and not on the race circuit itself fans tend to lose interest rapidly.
I reject any comparison between the late and lamented Alan Kulwicki (or even Ricky Rudd) and Tony Stewart when it comes to wins by an owner-driver. Now, any NASCAR race win is a notable achievement, and I don’t mean to diminish one iota what Stewart accomplished at Pocono… but Alan and Rudd were true independents. In comparison, Stewart’s so called “independent” race teams are mere satellites of Rick Hendrick’s all-conquering organization. In saying that, I don’t mean to belittle the remarkable things Stewart and his employees have achieved this season; but rather, I want to remind everyone of what a miracle Alan pulled off in winning the 1992 Cup championship as a true independent. My guess is that feat will never be repeated in our lifetimes or even in the lifetimes of our children; but then again, I never thought a Peugeot was going to win at Le Mans, either.
The Jeremy Mayfield/NASCAR David versus Goliath saga hit an important milestone this week with the admission NASCAR is accusing Mayfield of using methamphetamine, known back during my misspent youth as “crank.” Now, I ran with a pretty uncouth bunch during my wild age, including several members of the Warlocks motorcycle club, and sat drinking beers with several bathroom chemists who cooked up batches of crank back in the days when east coast motorcycle clubs, not Mexican cartels, dominated the market for one of the most evil poisons ever to addict its users. I was fortunate enough never to have been blown to bits in one of those bathroom chemistry labs and never got addicted to the stuff despite smoking it out of light bulb rigs in cheap motels with the Warlocks, but on a first person basis I understand how vile meth is and how many lives it has destroyed. If NASCAR can convince me that Mayfield knowingly and willingly snorted, injected, or smoked crank I’d be the first person to support a lifetime suspension. But the key ingredients to make that crap were found in cold and allergy medicines available over the counter. And given the chemical makeup of crank, I’m going to need a lot of convincing that what the drug tests detected wasn’t just a double dose of Claritin D. As it is, I’ve watched people high on the stuff (including one guy who rode his motorcycle into a parked car, laid out, and snorted lines waiting for the rescue squad to arrive with his leg all but torn off below the knee) and I can’t understand how meth would give a driver any performance edge on the race track.
Yeah, I understand that the Michigan economy is in the outhouse, but the crowd in the stands at MIS this weekend was positively embarrassing.
It might seem obvious, but it’s worth repeating. When it comes to any challenge, like singing the National Anthem, things are better left to the U.S. military than rich folks, celebrities, or big breasted women (or rich, celebrity, women with large breasts.)
The Hindenburg Award For Foul Fortune
It’s been a terrible week for NASCAR’s version of Charlie Brown, Johnny Benson. First, the defending Truck Series champion was told that his Truck Series team was shutting down due to sponsorship issues. Then, on Saturday night Benson was seriously injured in a fiery wreck in a super-modified race at the Berlin Speedway in Michigan. Thoughts and prayers go out to Benson, one of the nicest guys in the sport, for a speedy recovery and a quick return to the majors somewhere in auto racing.
Jimmie Johnson dominated Sunday’s snoozer, only to come up a lap short on fuel. That calamity left him 22nd in the final rundown.
The folks at TNT must have been grabbing the ropes and preparing to go David Carradine after another terrible race they were forced to cover. Unless Holly Hunter finds a way to finally fall out of her bra soon during a commercial for Saving Grace, soon this whole NASCAR experiment might turn out to be a disastrous waste of money.
Kyle Busch finished second in this weekend’s truck and Nationwide series races, then lucky number 13th on Sunday. But at least he didn’t get a chance to smash any more trophies!
It was another tough weekend for Richard Childress, with only Clint Bowyer managing a top 10 finish. For a team that was once the GM/Goodwrench standard bearer, these have got to be troubling times.
The “Seven Come Fore Eleven” Award For Fine Fortune
When Mark Martin finally retires a couple decades from now, he’ll lean against his walker and admit this one was handed to him.
You’d have to guess after his disaster at Dover and having to start at the rear of the field for the second time in three weeks, Jeff Gordon was pretty well pleased with a second place finish.
The way Denny Hamlin’s season has gone, a third place finish falling into his lap has to be considered a great result.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. finished 14th. The fact that can be seen as a hope for optimism is a clear sign of how badly his season has started.
Bill Elliott and the Wood Brothers had a strong qualifying effort and went on to a 16th place finish against the super-teams. All in all, that was a pretty fair day’s work.
What’s the Points?
Tony Stewart remains atop the point standings, 47 ahead of Jeff Gordon and 142 in front of Jimmie Johnson in third. Kurt Busch and Ryan Newman swapped fourth and fifth spots in the standings, with Busch now having the advantage.
Mark Martin had the best points day, advancing five spots back into the top 12. He now sits eighth in the standings. Denny Hamlin also had a pretty good Sunday, advancing two positions to tenth. Matt Kenseth fell three spots to 11th, while Jeff Burton fell two to 12th in the standings — leaving him now just three points inside the Chase.
Behind them, David Reutimann is now just three points out of the top 12. The fact a MWR racing driver is poised to displace the only RCR driver currently qualified for the Chase speaks volumes about how hard and fast RCR has fallen.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. finds himself 252 points out of the top 12 in 18th place. Face it, folks, he just ain’t going to make the cut; and as a result, the ratings for the final ten races are going to be a disaster.
Overall Rating (On a scale of one to six beer cans, with one being a stinker and a six pack an instant classic) — We’ll give this one a single cup of warm mule-spit. Terrible, simply terrible.
Next Up: Any fans NASCAR has left will be forced to endure next weekend’s somnolent road course race at Sonoma.
©2000 - 2008 Matt McLaughlin and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
Matt said: “only to come up a half lap short on fuel.”
Your friendly neighborhood nit-picker here. Jimmie ran out of gas coming to the white flag lap, which means he was a full lap short of full, not a half a lap. Greg Biffle was a half lap short of fuel.
Also, Jeff Gordon started from the back of the field at Dover, two races ago. So that’s twice in three races, not twice in a row.
No, the absolute most boring race was in either 1999 or 2000 when Dale Jarrett led probably 900 labs at Michigan, lapped the field a dozen times and there were no cautions. Best cure for a hangover that day, I slept most of the race.
glad i missed most of the race. it was on, i was busy doing other things around the house. i did see the end when the field started to become litered with out of gas cars. kind of neat watching martin zip by the slowing cars. in post-race interviews biffle was kicking himself for racing johnson. if he had stuck with strategy he would have won by coasting home and have a few precious drops of fuel left.
i knew the track would have empty seats, as detroit has been hit hard by the economy, but it wasn’t a pretty scene. seems like empty sections of seats are the norm. guess there wasn’t enough advertising for the race that would have justified the banners to help hide the emptiness.
i was shocked when i read about johnny benson’s crash. you’re right he’s one of the good guys. i hope and pray he has a speedy recovery.
i don’t understand why the more people don’t realize that stewarthaas is a satelite team of hendrick. just as jr motorsports nationwide teams.
earlier sunday at church, we were talking about jr. what was the concensus, he started 30th, he only had to go back 13 positions to finish 43. glad to see he went the right direction, for once. i guess it’s a small victory for him and the team. guess daytona will be his “big hope” of a win in a few weeks.
the “shootout style” restarts help for a few laps, but it’s still a one car show most of the race. i wonder if sales of ambien have decreased?
think i’ll find something else to do next sunday. maybe clean gutters. and tune in for the end of the race. sad.
I wouldn’t say Martin was “handed” a win; he was conserving fuel against his will the lat 44 lap stint. He had plenty of car to go up there and lead – he was running at 2/3 throttle down the straights.
The only reason Johnson caught him and he did not pass Biffle before that,was because he wasn’t running flat out.
It is a shame though. The run before that, they all were pretty much equal – it would have been a pretty exiciting finsh – even though from my vantage point, and having access to driver and crew communication, it was. At least it wasn’t a long race…
That was 1999…I was there. Yes, it was pretty bad. The original, “Green/White/Checker” finish. It was the first race me and another buddy brought two of our non-race watching friends too. Needless to say, they were miserable.
Hey, wait a durn minute! Lay off the road course bashing will you?
seriously, very nice writing today! And yes, the attendance at MIS was EMBARASSING!
I wrote a letter to Roger Curtis LAST YEAR (MIS GM) suggesting he hold a meeting with NA$CRAP to “politely discuss” why the fans are not showing up!
He, Roger Curtis, said why? The racing at MIS is EXCITING!
Can you beleive that?
When one sees about 50% of the stands at MIS EMPTY! Someone better take note & get excited!
And finally, do you know where I could find one of the following? Quote: “(or rich, celebrity, women with large breasts.)”
Might as well have something exciting to do on a Sunday afternoon!
What was the point of even calling this a race. Everyone knew if they did not conserve fuel they would run out- So the the last 40 laps were spent riding around waiting to see who was better at driving slow and saving gas. Probalby over a 1000 gals of gas was wasted in the previous 150 laps. If we want to see who has the best engine tuners- why don’t we just put the engines on a dyno and see who runs out first- probably just as exciting as this race.
Boring?…That’s going to be resolved by adding Honda and Hyundai to the mix. God, I can hardly wait!
Ditto to the miracle Kulwicki feat. I still miss him.
FWIW, when I was kid working at a nursery, two of us planted more trees in a single day than NASCAR is going to plant in a year. Brian, I’m so impressed.
Jeff & Vito…
I remember that MIS race from 1999 as well. In my mind it has been one of the most boring races I ever watched. Even so, I remember a few MIS races that were pretty exiting. Up until recently, MIS has seemed to me to be a hit-or-miss track, with some good races and some stinkers. Now with the COT, it’s just miss-miss-miss.
See, that’s the problem I have with my parish…our priest never has anything to say about Junior! (Kidding).
Matt, Can’t blame this one on the cars or Nascar, just a product of racing at MIS…they are either great or snoozers for most of the day. Those Jarret wins that Jeff referenced were prime exhibits.
And if you think the race attendance was not chiefly the fault of the Michigan economy, check out the Tigers situation.
Last year they were averaging 38,500 per game through mid-June. This year, it’s less than 28,500. And, they are in first place in the AL Central
Boring? Not when Yankees-Mets, Spain-New Zealand Confederation Cup soccer, and UNC-Arizona State college world series are on at the same time.
It’s always better to be lucky than good…congrats to Mark. If someone is going to hand me a larger check just for being lucky, I’d take it…I’m sure you would too Matt. Sure the race sucked, but why are you so “CRANKY” Matt
Boring? The Yanks throttled the Mets 15-0. Spain beat NZ 5-0 and still played like they could care less. The Tarheels getting beat in the 10th by AS was the only nap killer of the day.
Finally, someone else has the bad luck and Mark Martin is sitting in the “driver’s seat.” I saw only the last 20 laps and the best thing I saw was the last lap when Johnson and Biffle ran out of gas. I did see enough to see the woefully empty stands. During these trying times, it looks as if NASCAR needs to return to its roots, reopen The Rock and N’wilksboro and forget Mich, Chicago, Fontanna, et.al. In other words go where the real fans are. :)
Thanks for pointing out those “tweaks.” They’ve been corrected … appreciate you being such a dedicated fan of the site as always!
thanks for bringing that whole owner/driver thing up. i literally want to reach through the tv and strangle these guys when they make that comparison to rudd and kulwicki. i agree stewart is doing well and is exceding expectations but what he is doing is in no way comparable to rudd or kulwicki. not only is he a hendrick satellite team but there was already a pretty substantial foudatin there at haas. granted they didn’t run well but it was still a decent team with a lot of resources from hendrick. it’s not like he has an upstart that he had to build from scratch.
i don’t want to diminish anything tony has done either but comparing him to those guys really diminishes what they were able to accomplish.
They don’t any more boring then this race. I watched other sporting events and merely switched ro check on nas$car every so often because you knew who would be in the lead and the only question was, “how many more cars had he lapped?’ This was bad!!!!!!!!!!!
Matt , the fact that you say you don’t want to diminish what Stewart has done , yet go ahead and diminish it anyway by dreaming up these HMS connections that are not as you try to make them bothers me . But heres a homework assignment for you , and for anyone else curious about Rudd and Kulwiki . Dig back into both of those teams and see if you notice some bold similarities to what Tony Stewart is doing . For example , did Kulwiki build his own cars from the ground up with his own designs ? Did he have his own exclusive engine building shop with parts unique to his engines ? Did he develop his team from scratch with all new employees who had no Nascar experience ? Did he rely on a long established Cup team or two for engineering help and advice ? I know the answers to those questions , look them up carefully and then maybe you can get over your dislike of the comparisons . And by the way , Dave Marcis was the last true independent that won a race .
Hey Matt,There’s a great article that discusses how drug tests can distinguish between “crank” and allergy meds.
Seems pretty clear to me that NASCAR may just have a case against Mayfield. Besides, if it were so easy to get “false positives” all the time, there is no way any company, sport etc. could ever use drug testing for their employees, athletes or what have you. It just wouldn’t be done, period.
I’m not passing judgement on Mayfield, but it certainly doesn’t help that he keeps changing his story … fuses from Talladega???
So far I’m siding with NASCAR on this one.
Michigan races are boring at least 50% of the time. Two more boring races than yesterday’s – last year’s Indianapolis and New Hampshire the year they ran restrictor plates (Burton lead every lap and there were no passes anywhere).
BTW, no one was complaining because the race was so boring but did we ever see the actual debris for either of those debris cautions yesterday?
I’d like to think we won’t see a fuel mileage race for a while but road course races are notorious for gas mileage. I don’t mind a FM race once in a while but three in three weeks may be enough to make me tune out.
Terrible about the attendance. I’ve heard they’ve tried everything except lowering the ticket price to get people to show up.
Can’t say i was surprised by the typical knee jerk reaction by NASCAR to the idea of imports . They said many times that they weren’t interested in letting more foreign manufacturers into the show . But now that the domestic car companies are tightening the purse strings suddenly Brian ( i’ll do or say anything for money )France can’t talk to enough foreign car makers . He really always wanted them to race in Cup wink , wink . Same goes for the idea of bringing Danica Patrick to NASCAR . Wasn’t interested until the money dried up , now can’t wait to get her into the sport .
My guess is that feat will never be repeated in our lifetimes or even in the lifetimes of our children; but then again, I never thought a Peugeot was going to win at Le Mans, either.
Peugeot won Le Mans in 1992 (ironically!) as well. Of course, it wasn’t diesel power; but, it was Peugeot none the less…
by the tv guys comparing stewart’s situation to that of kulwicki, rudd or as you point marcis diminishes what they all accomplished. there is one major thing that is different with stewart from the rest. he basically bought a stake in a team that was already pretty well established. i know tony was instrumental in bringing in a few key players but just as tony declared last week a lot of the guys on the team have been with the haas team for a long time and thuse never been to victory lane so he was happy for them. Did AK or rudd build their own cars. probably not. Im sure they got them from ronny hopkins or a company like that but they were still upstarts. they didn’t just open up their checkbooks and buy into exisiting teams with substantial foundations and a partner with a huge checkbook himself. to answer your other questions i am sure they purchased engines which is similar to the stewart hass hendrick deal but that alliance was there before tony came on board. that is an alliance gene haas developed. did ak or rudd start teams without people with experience? of course not. but they didn’t inherit a couple of hundred employees either. on race day a few weeks ago when stewart was walking around the haas shop in his flip flops he admitted he still didn’t know everyone’s name. i can bet you AK and rudd knew everybody’s names because they hired em, expierenced or not.
i can’t believe how you don’t see the difference. do you think jeff gordon owning the 48 team is comparable to stewart haas, AK and his underbird, rudd or marcis?
My point is , Tony Stewart has built a winning team . Now whether he did that by starting with one car instead of three , or twenty employees instead of 100 , he still did it . And he did it the same way Kulwiki , Marcis , Rudd , Childress , and every other independent team owner ever did it . By hiring the best people he could get , by using the best equipment available to him , by making very good decisions , and by lots of hard work and talent . The similarities are striking . And of course big sponsor money was eventually available from Hooters and from the begining for Rudd from Tide . I happen to think that giving credit to HMS for the accomplishments of Stewart Haas is a slap in the face for that team . Because it looks to me like Tony is doing a better job with the HMS engines and chassis than HMS themselves . Even more reason for Tony and the teams to be proud of what they’ve accomplished . And again , those engines and chassis were available for several years , Haas didn’t seem to get much benefit from them . Nor do the other teams that have used HMS complete cars and engines over the years .
The only difference between HAAS last year and HAAS-Stewart this year is a bigger budget and two drivers that don’t suck.
I give this race na$car owes the fans each 1 beer make that a 12pack
AIR , no , i don’t see any similarities between Gordon adding his name to the 48 team to pretend to be a car owner , any more than Jack Roushs’ wife or Joe Hendrick listing themselves as car owners . The honest hard work of all of the true car owners in Nascar is a far different thing . You obviously know the difference .
my point is tony stewart helped build a winning a team. tony brought over a handful of key people such as himself, newman, grubb, gibson and hutchens. most everyone else were already there. now those are major aquisitions and i agree would never have joined haas without smoke’s credibilty. i also agree with you that there are definitely similarities but rudd and ak’s situation were very different than tony’s other than those few similarities. tony is a satellite team of hendrick’s. he is buying the best of the best, the cream of the crop, stuff that has been tested and stuff that has gm factory support. he isn’t going out and buying a run of the mill hopkins chassis or medicore engines like carl long was forced to. as far as calling tony a satellit team of hms and that being a slap in the face it is what it is. he is basically buying not only hendrick cars but the engineering that goes into those cars. it’s a whole nother argument as far as who is doing better with the equipment. smoke has been consistent and is leading the points but you could argue the 48 and the 5 have speed and are faster just about every week. again… a different argument. i don’t know what i else i could say though. if you can’t see the difference between buying a stake in a team that already exists with a substantial foundation and an upstart i guess there is nothing i can do to change your mind. by the way it must be nice to be able to just slap his partner, gene haas’s, stickers on that 39 car for weeks where they don’t have a primary for the car.
anyway…. you never answered my question. where does jeff gordon rank in your world as far as owner/drivers go?
Actually i answered your question in my previous reponse . Jeff Gordon , Joe Hendrick , Roushs’ mother and his wife , are no more car owners than i am . And i’m not one . Gordon and the rest have their names on the entry blank for tax reasons , to bypass Nascar rules , for a variety of reasons .
So you’re saying that even though Kulwiki started with a couple of cars that he purchased from another team , along with engines he purchased , and pit equipment he purchased , and a hauler he purchased , that his start as a car owner was totally different from Tonys’, who purchased the very same things . Interesting logic . In truth , Rudd was the only one who started with no cars or equipment or employees at all . Going back to a former post , you would be far more correct by forgetting the Kulwiki and Rudd story . Because the only driver/car owner/race winner who truly built his team from scratch and accomplished what he did with virtually no money and no help was Dave Marcis .
Why is watching a road course race at LeMans a good thing, but watching a road course race at Sonoma or Watkins Glen a bad thing?
I read the Times during the race then fell asleep for an hour or so..it was raining all afternoon. With about 40 laps to go I switched over to Speed and watched a REALLY exciting AMA flattrack event on a mile dirt track. THAT will keep you awake!!! Missed the “excitement” of the last few laps. Oh well, I’ll live.
ryan, yes i am not saying the situations are totally different. yes, there are some similarities but i am going to leave at this…
AK and ricky rudd started with none of that stuff. they built their teams from scratch. yeah they purchased cars and engines but the teams themselves were built from scratch. tony bought into an existing and established team.
so the main difference is tony stewart helped turn a mediocre team into a weekly contender by buying shares in it. rudd and AK started with nothing. the teams did not exist. they started them. if tony had to start his own team fromt he ground up like they did it is very unlikely he would be this successful right out of the gate.
I think we’re nitpicking here . Who had how many pieces when . As far as Tony being able to build his team from an empty building , he already did with his USAC and WOO teams so i wouldn’t bet against him putting together a winning Cup team . But of course we’ll never know .
Here’s my dream. Jeremy stands his ground, (he really has no other choice.) He prevails over NA$CAR’s half- assed drug policy. In lieu of a monetary settlement, (Brian gets to keep his $$, & we all know how he loves his $$.) Jeremy is awarded NA$CAR, turns it back into NASCAR. More interested in running good races, than vacuuming up every last penny. The sport again flourishes. Enough real racers come back, that the S & P teams go away. Will this happen? Hell, I said it was my dream, not my vision. You get BIG points from me on two points. #1 You have a clear picture of the differences between what Alan accomplished, & what Tony may accomplish. #2 You haven’t yet, (unless I missed it) become a PR shill for Danica. Trying to pump up her price, by writing about her coming to NA$CAR. WTG.
AIR – I have a hard time buying into your argument when you are so wrong on one of your basic facts.
Tony Stewart did not buy into anything…he was given 1/2 of the operation.
Gene Haas has said that they were ready to “turn the place into a truck stop”.
So basically Tony was given 1/2 of a race team that probably wouldn’t even be in existence if not for the fact that it was given to him.
And he’s turned it around within a span of 6 months or so into an operation that could very well contend for the championship. Their other team is not doing too shabby either sitting 5th in points. This coming from an organization with 1 car barely in the top 35 and the other so far outside they needed binoculars to see 35th place.
This was with the same Hendrick equipment that they are now using. Funny, I don’t recall anyone referring to Haas-CNC has a Hendrick satellite team before. I guess it didn’t count as long as they were running in the back every week.
I say Tony has done something quite remarkable and he deserves all the credit that is being given to him.
You can say it’s not the same as what Kulwicki or Rudd did, but how could it be anyway. It takes so much more money now and the competition is better and more equal.
You might has well be comparing apples to oranges. The circumstances are just not the same.
“I guess those Audis didn’t have enough unintended acceleration…”
Good memory, although inaccurate. That was twenty years ago, and not even true…
i think we actually agree. i said i didn’t want to diminish what stewart has done and i think he has completely turned that team around but comparing him to AK and ricky rudd doesn’t make sense. as you said… apples to oranges.
Considering the fact that they blew Bristol all to Hell, Sonoma and Watkins Glen are the only races I look forward to.