Kurt Busch to Attempt The Indianapolis-Charlotte Double
posted by Phil Allaway
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Andretti Autosport announced this morning that Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet in the Sprint Cup Series, will attempt the Indianapolis 500 in a fifth entry for the IndyCar Series team. Once the Indianapolis 500 is completed, Busch will fly from Indianapolis to Charlotte, jump in his No. 41 Chevrolet and compete in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Busch considers the opportunity to do the double as an old-school throwback moment.
“This is really to challenge myself within motorsports,” Busch said in Andretti Autosport’s press release. “Perhaps I am a bit of an old-school racer; a throwback, I guess. I enjoyed the era of drivers racing different cars and testing themselves in other series. It is tough to do now for a variety of factors, but when the opportunity is there, I want to do it. While NASCAR is my home, I have been fortunate to compete in Pro Stock on the NHRA circuit a number of years ago and test a V8 Supercar. This opportunity was a talk with Michael [Andretti] over dinner one night, a “What if,” and now it’s becoming a reality for me to drive in the Indy 500 with Andretti Autosport. It’s literally a dream come true. To go to the famous Brickyard with the iconic Andretti name, it doesn’t get much cooler or better than that.”
Busch will be doing the Indianapolis-Charlotte double as a Memorial Day mission to men and women serving in the U.S. Military via the Armed Forces Foundation. Fans can contribute to the cause by texting AFF to 50555 to donate $10.
Busch, who has never raced an IndyCar, passed Rookie Orientation at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year during a test session. At the time, Busch was more or less testing the Dallara DW12 for fun.
Busch will be the fourth driver to attempt the Indianapolis-Charlotte double. John Andretti was the first driver to attempt it in 1994. After finishing four laps down in tenth in Indianapolis, Andretti crashed and had engine problems in the 600. Robby Gordon has attempted the double five times, most recently in 2004. However, Gordon failed to make it to Charlotte on time and did not start the 600 in 2000 (P.J. Jones started Gordon’s No. 13 Ford in that instance). Finally, Tony Stewart has attempted the double twice (most recently in 2001) and is the only driver to ever complete all 1100 miles. Neither of the three drivers has won either leg of the double. The best finishes are Stewart and Gordon’s sixth-place finishes at the Indianapolis 500 (although Gordon’s came in 2000, the year he didn’t make it to Charlotte in time to start the Coca-Cola 600), and Stewart’s fourth-place finish in the 2001 Coca-Cola 600.
Danica Patrick, Justin Allgaier Talk About Phoenix Incident
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
A disappointing start to the year for Danica Patrick won’t include continued conflict. Patrick met with rookie Justin Allgaier Sunday, shortly after the Phoenix Cup race after a wreck ruined both drivers’ days. Patrick, who was critical of the No. 51 car on the radio, claiming Allgaier was “driving all over the track” appeared receptive to a conversation that quickly settled differences over what will be a long season.
“She was just upset because she got involved in the crash that we had,’’ said Allgaier to the Motor Racing Network. “She says she’s been through this and that she felt like I needed to settle down at that point. I explained my position on why everything happened. I think she understood where I was coming from. It doesn’t fix either one of our racecars. It doesn’t fix either one of our days. Unfortunately, we were both having pretty decent days.’’
Allgaier wound up 30th due to the incident while Patrick was 36th. The incident, which was caused by Allgaier’s spin also involved the No. 32 team and Travis Kvapil, which wound up 38th after sustaining heavy damage.
Camping World Close to Extending Title Sponsorship of NCWTS
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Marcus Lemonis, CEO of Camping World, Grand Marshal of Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway, and star of CNBC’s “The Profit,” made the announcement over the weekend that the retailer is very close to announcing a deal that would continue its title sponsorship of NASCAR’s Truck Series. The original agreement with NASCAR is scheduled to conclude after the 2015 season.
According to the sanctioning body, no formal contract has been signed, but “the agreement between the two parties has proven to be a beneficial one.”
“In about a month, we’ll be announcing a significant extension to that contract. It’s been great for us,” said Camping World’s Lemonis in a statement. “The NASCAR relationship has worked well for Camping World. When we started, we had 35 stores. Now, we’re up to 120 stores. As we travel the country and we meet new customers in stores, they always are very appreciative of our relationship with NASCAR. It’s been good.”
Gaining a long-term commitment from Camping World to sponsor the Truck Series would be a relief for NASCAR, which is set to lose Nationwide Insurance as title sponsor for the NASCAR Nationwide Series at the end of the 2014 season. The sponsorship of the Cup Series by Sprint runs through 2016.
The NCWTS is back in action on March 29th at 2:30 PM (ET) when the trucks visit Martinsville Speedway in the Kroger 250, which can be seen on Fox Sports 1. Ratings for the season opener were up 11 percent.
Harvick Takes Win At Phoenix In Second Race With New Team
posted by Justin Tucker
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Phoenix International Raceway has become Kevin Harvick’s home away from home. Sunday Afternoon was no exception as Harvick charged to the front early and would dominate for much of the day, leading 224 of the scheduled 312 laps to record his record fifth win on the one mile oval and his third win in the last four races at Phoenix.
Harvick, coming off of a disappointing Speedweeks which was capped by a last lap crash in the Daytona 500 in his debut with Stewart-Haas Racing, set the tone on Saturday by winning both practices while having the best 5 and 10-lap averages in the first practice of the day on Saturday. On Sunday, Harvick and his No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet was nothing short of flawless as he was able to hold Dale Earnhardt, Jr. by .489 seconds after a late race restart to claim his 24th career Sprint Cup Series victory.
“Man, this is awesome,” Harvick said after his dominant victory on Sunday. “Man, this just solidifies so many things and so many decisions. It’s been so much work with all the time and effort that these guys (the crew) have put in—but what a race car.”
Stewart Haas Racing co-owner Gene Haas shared in Harvick’s excitement after the race.
“It took long enough,” Haas joked. “This is phenomenal. I think there was a lot of skepticism last year about what myself and Tony (Stewart) what we were up to, was there a lot of madness to this. Quite frankly, it’s a great team, there’s a lot of synergy at the shop, people working together. I don’t know what we did, but I think we put together a great organization.”
Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt, Jr. continued his hot start to the 2014 season. Earnhardt Jr. would finish second on Sunday, marking his seventh consecutive top 10 finish since the end of the 2013 season. Earnhardt Jr. was pleased with the effort after a coast-to-coast whirlwind week after winning his second Daytona 500 and also gave great praise to the efforts of Harvick and the No. 4 team.
“I’ve got to congratulate Kevin. Those guys were two-tenths faster than everyone all weekend in practice. They were just phenomenal,” Earnhardt said. “To be able to run with them all day was a big confidence builder for us.”
Joining Harvick and Earnhardt in the top 5 of The Profit on CNBC 500K were Brad Keselowski with his second consecutive top 3 run of 2014 in third. Keselowski’s Team Penske teammate Joey Logano would finish fourth, and Jeff Gordon would come home fifth in his No. 24 Pepsi Max Chevrolet.
Jimmie Johnson finished in sixth, followed by Ryan Newman with a nice rebound after Daytona in seventh. Carl Edwards would carry the banner for Roush Fenway Racing by finishing eighth, Kyle Busch was ninth, and Jamie McMurray would finish tenth.
A look at the Profit on CNBC 500K by the numbers. There were 14 lead changes among eight different drivers, there were eight cautions for 39 laps which slowed the race pace to 109.229 MPH.
Next Sunday, the Sprint Cup Series heads to Sin City and the Las Vegas Motor
Starting Lineup: The Profit On CNBC 500K
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday March 1, 2014
Drivers in RED (i) are those ineligible to collect Sprint Cup points
Daytona 500 TV Ratings Down
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Wednesday February 26, 2014
What was the longest weather delay in Daytona 500 history turned out to bring NASCAR lower ratings and TV viewership Sunday night than expected. According to a report Monday from FOX Sports, the 56th running of the Daytona 500 airing at 8 PM (ET) posted a 5.6/10 national household rating/share which averaged 9.3 million viewers. That’s down 44 percent from last year’s 9.9, easily making it the least-watched Daytona 500 of all-time.
Due to the six-hour, twenty-two minute rain delay in Daytona, the race was up against the primetime coverage of the Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony from Sochi, Russia on NBC (15.25 million viewers). FOX also reported that 69% of the pre-rain delay viewers of the race, which began at 1 PM (ET) kept tuning in.
In comparison, the 2013 Daytona 500 on FOX was the most-watched race in five years, posting a 9.9/22 rating/share, commanding 16.7 million viewers. The Daytona 500 in 2012, the first to ever be run on a Monday and in the primetime slot did a 7.7/13 overnight rating/share which resulted in 13.67 million households viewing the race according to Nielsen TV ratings data.
Earnhardt, Jr. Claims Second Daytona 500 Victory
posted by Justin Tucker
Wednesday February 26, 2014
Ten years is a long time. For Dale Earnhardt, Jr., it felt like an eternity. NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver endured many near misses and close calls at the Daytona 500 since his only win in the Great American Race in 2004. Earnhardt had finished second in two of his last three Daytona 500s coming into Sunday’s race. He was also riding the tail of a 55-race winless streak, dating back to Michigan in 2012.
However nothing would stop Dale Jr. on Sunday, not even a 6 hour and 22 minute rain delay from capturing his second Daytona 500 win. Earnhardt Jr. led a race-high 54 laps on the evening and used some timely drafting help from teammates Jimmie Johnson and, on the final restart, Jeff Gordon to separate from the pack and secure the victory.
“Winning this race is the greatest feeling that you could feel in this sport besides accepting the trophy for the championship,” said a jubilant Earnhardt after pulling into Victory Lane. “We could fight off battle after battle. We got a little help at the end there from Jeff to get away on the restart. This is amazing. I can’t believe this is happening. I never take this for granted, man because it doesn’t happen twice, let alone once.”
Aside from the race itself the big story of the race was the 6 hour and 22 minute red flag, which threatened to move the race to Monday evening (had the race been postponed, FOX Sports’ Chris Myers had tweeted that the race would resume at 5:00pm EST). However, Mother Nature would cooperate and would allow the race to be run under different conditions from which they practiced this week. Once the race resumed, the intensity picked up from the changing track conditions. This allowed the pack to race side-by-side and at times 3-wide up to seven rows deep.
Joining Earnhardt Jr. in the top 5 for the 2014 Daytona 500 were: Denny Hamlin who closed out a spectacular Speedweeks in second, Brad Keselowski in third, Jeff Gordon in fourth, and Jimmie Johnson who overcome two wrecks leading up to the 500 in fifth.
Rounding out the top 10 in the Daytona 500 were Matt Kenseth in sixth, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. in seventh and Greg Biffle would bring his No. 16 Ford home in eighth. Austin Dillon would come home ninth in his first Cup Series race in the iconic No. 3 for Richard Childress Racing, while Casey Mears would round out the top 10.
A couple of major contenders for the Daytona 500 win would see their hopes dashed early on as Martin Truex, Jr. would blow up just 30 laps into the race, relegating him to a 43rd-place finish in his debut for Furniture Row Racing. Crew chief Todd Berrier was already in Nashville for a test session before the race was even over. Kyle Busch, meanwhile would have a pit road violation just before halfway and would spend much of the race battling back from that mistake. Busch would eventually finish 19th after leading 19 laps.
Danica Patrick would also be bit by bad luck as she was caught up in a multi-car wreck on lap 145. Patrick would lead her second consecutive Daytona 500, but wouldn’t have the finish to show for it finishing 40th. Tony Stewart would encounter a frustrating evening as well, with a fuel pickup problem derailing his quest for his first Daytona 500 win. Stewart would finish 35th.
A look at the Daytona 500 by the numbers. There were 42 lead changes among 18 drivers, while seven cautions for 39 laps would slow the race pace to 145.290 MPH.
Next week, the Sprint Cup Series heads to the “diamond in the desert,” Phoenix International Raceway for The Profit on CNBC 500K. The Green flag is scheduled for 3:15pm EST.
Nationwide Series Post-Race Quotes: Drive4COPD 300
posted by Thomas Bowles
Tuesday February 25, 2014
Frontstretch Interviews – Courtesy Mike Neff
ELLIOTT SADLER – FINISHED 4th
Thoughts on the race?
It’s definitely a lot different racing than what we’re used to.
Comfortable with it?
Yeah, it’s just different. You’re worried about what you’re doing, but you’re also worried about what everyone else is doing and they’re not doing more than you’re doing. Physically pushing a guy is way better than just riding so you just gotta time it right and push it to the edge.
Happy to start the year with a top 5?
Yeah. Hell, that was the worst we ran all day, I think. I have no idea how they put the 3 car in front of us on that last restart. I hadn’t seen the 3 car hardly all day. When they put us from fifth to sixth, on the outside line, it just really boxed us in. I would have really restarted behind my teammate and given him a good push to the front. Anyways, it is what it is; we’ll take it and move on.
Looked like you were up front all day.
The guys did a good job. We had a fast race car. Great pit stops, just really proud of these guys. The car’s in one piece and we can take it to Talladega now. Great job by my guys. A lot of effort came into coming down here to Daytona and giving ourselves a shot to win. We had that chance to be up front and make some things happen. Fifth is not what we want, but we’ll take it and move on.
Bumping vs Pushing?
It’s way harder. You don’t want to lay on the guy in front of you, so it’s tough racing. A lot different than what we’re used to, ‘cause you gotta go. You gotta drag the brake too ‘cause you don’t want to hit the guys and you don’t want to stay on him. It’s a lot harder mentally than what we’ve done in the past.
Car was strong all day. Pushing vs. Bumping, is that harder to do than just getting on somebody and pushing them?
Yeah, it is a little bit. When you bump ‘em, you jar ‘em, it kinda jacks ‘em a little bit. It’s a little more abrupt, obviously. I thought it was OK there at the end. It was certainly fun and hopefully entertaining. But a little bit of a struggle in the early part of the race and the midpart of the race to see a good race. And that’s unfortunate for the fans. You can’t do that the whole race, you can’t tear up your stuff, knock your grill in, overheat your motor, all that stuff so there’s no sense in doing all that until you get down to the last lap. The 7 and the 6, they did a good job. Man, the 7 really held the 22 and I tight on the bottom. I was rubbing his door and hitting the apron at the same time, no room whatsoever. So it was good; wish we were the ones who could have won but a lot better now than what we were last year.
Going home in one piece makes it a lot better, right?
Yeah. My back feels good. My foot feels good. Past years here, I’ve been going home with pain so I’m alright.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Truck Series Post-Race Quotes: Daytona (Exclusives)
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday February 22, 2014
When you’re on the outside like that, how frustrating is it?
It’s so hard. Timothy Peters has won here. Kyle Busch has won everywhere. Ron Hornaday has been running Trucks forever, probably before I was even born. I was surrounded by veterans there, and like I told them I don’t have a rookie stripe but I’m a rookie. This is only my fourth Truck race ever, my fourth superspeedway race, and man, I figured out when the 17 got up in front of me, I pushed him. And as soon as I pushed him, he took off. And I went with him. And I just kept doing it, and before I knew it, he was leading. And I saw Ron in my mirror, backed up to him, and if it wasn’t for him, I don’t know what would have happened. I gotta thank him big time for that. That was a true teammate move right there. I really appreciate that. He just bounced off me and we got to the front. I tried my hardest to sidedraft Kyle. I was probably touching his door.
Top 5 in the No. 30 truck. This deal come together at the last minute, but you had a heck of a truck. Tell us about your night.
Yeah, I’ve got to thank Turner Scott Motorsports. The guys worked so hard on this Rheem Comfort Products Chevrolet. Exciting! Just got hung up on the outside and had to wait for my teammate there to catch up. And then he got to the bottom, so… I got the old 32 and started pushing ol’ Ryan to the front. So, it’s not bad. We’ll take it. You just don’t want to step over that boundary. You don’t know how far to push and shove. We bumped about six times down the straightaway without latching onto them. Hopefully, that was OK and we came home with a top 5.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Budweiser Duels Post Race Quotes
posted by Matt Stallknecht
Friday February 21, 2014
BUDWEISER DUELS POST-RACE QUOTES
They’re saying the wheel bearing burned up in it. I don’t know what caused it, they’re taking it all apart to figure out what the heck happened. Something abnormal that’s for sure I don’t think I’ve ever had that happen at all. Hopefully, we made the race and hopefully we can fix the problem before Sunday.
WHAT WAS THAT LOUD BOOM ONCE YOU TURNED INTO THE GARAGE?
Loud pop was a tire… thankfully, it popped, hopefully it didn’t hurt anybody. All the heat created in the left front that popped was pretty weird.
REALLY GOOD RUN. WHAT DID YOU THINK OF IT?
Yeah, it was good. We have a car we can work with for the 500. Got a good starting spot, so we’re going to rest easy, fluff and buff our car for a couple of days and get ready for Sunday.
ANY DIFFERENCE ON WHETHER THE TOP OR BOTTOM LANE WORKED?
Yeah, I was just moving around, trying to stay with the flow. For me, this car works on all parts of the racetrack. So I’m pretty happy with it.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.
GOT SHUFFLED BACK, AFTER PIT STOPS AND THEN COULDN’T GET BACK UP TO THE FRONT. WHY?
Nah, we were just sitting there waiting until the last few laps to make a move. You didn’t want to pull down and get sent to the back. Seen a couple of guys get sent to the back really quick so we were just kind of waiting for the end. I felt like we had a good situation there with Ambrose behind us — we had a good run off Turn 2 and I went. It was the last lap, time to go do something, nobody went with us but hopefully Sunday is a different story.
We got a great car. We don’t have to work hard. We learned, we got a good race car. Got a car in one piece, ready to go so we’ll try and get through the next couple of practices, deliver it to the starting group this Sunday and we’ll be real happy.
YOU’RE IN THE DAYTONA 500!
Yeah, it’s pretty awesome. This Whitetail Chevrolet was so fast that I knew all I had to do was stick it behind smart, intelligent drafters and we could have a good finish. That’s what we did in the Duels and I’m excited. I’m excited to go do some stuff with the Nationwide car and have some more practice with this. But to know that we’re locked in the Daytona 500’s pretty cool.
YOU WERE OBVIOUSLY IN FRONT OF THAT MELEE AT THE END. WHEN YOU WERE UP FRONT THERE IN THE BEGINNING, WERE YOU HOPING TO JUST STAY IN LINE AND LET YOU FINISH TOP 5?
I was pretty content to ride and luckily I knew a lot of people around us were. It was nice to have a little calm and not really have to be racing hard the whole time. I knew that the pit stop was going to shake everything up and that’s exactly what happened. Fell back a little bit there but made the right moves at the end to get a good finish.
HOW STRONG ARE THESE RCR CARS?
They’re very strong! They definitely have the capabilities to be winning one of these races.
YOU’RE IN THE TOP 5 FOR YOUR HEAT IN THE DAYTONA 500. YOUR PRIMARY CAR IS SITTING RIGHT IN THE GARAGE, KIND OF WADDED UP. DID YOU THINK THIS ONE HAD IT IN IT?
Yeah, it’s a brand new car also. It’s just not quite as good as the primary but still a damned good car. I’m just proud of everybody at RCR for building such fast race cars. All of our cars have been fast, ECR motor’s been strong, even our affiliate teams have been qualifying really good and racing good. So… excited about 2014! It’s going to be a good year.
WELL MAN, YOU STARTED IN THE BACK BUT WORKED YOUR WAY TO THE FRONT WHEN IT COUNTED MOST. WERE YOU JUST BIDING YOUR TIME THROUGHOUT THE RACE?
Eh, you never know if you’re going to get back up there or not. We had to start at the back, we had to make a run early and see what we could do. We drove right to 10th, or something like that and then it got stagnant. We tried to make something happen, and went to the back again. Drove back up to the front. Again, just really proud of my guys. Matt Kruder did a hell of a job on that pit stop getting just enough gas in to gain some spots there.
RCR CARS SEEM PRETTY DARNED STRONG. DO YOU THINK THE RCR CARS HAVE SOMETHING FOR THEM ON SUNDAY — ESPECIALLY THE THREE JOE GIBBS RACING CARS THAT SEEM TO BE THE CLASS OF THE FIELD RIGHT NOW?
Oh yeah. The 20 car was extremely fast. The 11 didn’t qualify that good, but he’s a good drafter. I think he won. We definitely have something for him.
Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
Matt McLaughlin · Thursday June 18, 2009
Editor’s Note: For this week, Matt put together a few random notes on some of the major NASCAR storylines heading into this weekend. Let’s get right to it:
— Wow, no wonder TNT was able to outbid ABC and FOX for this stretch of the Cup schedule. Last week’s Michigan race was perhaps the most tepid and unpalatable event since Jeff Burton led flag-to-flag at NHIS during the restrictor plate experiment that failed. And it seems unlikely that things are going to get much better with upcoming races at Sonoma, New Hampshire, and Joliet. The sport is stuck in the annual early summer doldrums, races which seem to have been inadvertently designed to get fans to flick off their TV and turn to more pleasurable activities outside. Of course, any one of these upcoming events could turn out to be a classic; but, given past history, the odds are against that happening.
— Thoughts and prayers go out to the family, friends, and fans of Carlos Pardo who died in a horrific wreck during a NASCAR Mexico event last weekend. Pardo was leading the race when the second place driver got into the left quarterpanel of Pardo’s car, sending it spinning savagely into the outside pit wall. The wall was guarded by only a set of water bottles and when Pardo’s Ford hit it, the damage was so extensive that it seemed a bomb had gone off inside the car. The impact was so severe, the car’s roof panel was actually launched several stories into the air. Pardo was removed from the twisted wreckage of his car and rushed to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead 45 minutes later. In a cruelly ironic twist, under NASCAR Mexico rules, when a caution flies the running order is reset to that of the last green flag lap. Since the race was never restarted, Pardo was awarded the win posthumously.
Pardo had won 10 races in 74 starts prior to this weekend, and was the series champion back in 2004.
Auto racing is an inherently dangerous enterprise, and some deaths just can’t be prevented. But in watching the video of the wreck, I was concerned by the odd shape of that pit wall which bent almost to the shape of a C at the pit entrance. The wall didn’t appear to be well constructed, and when it broke, it actually made the wreck that much less survivable. There was also no evidence of SAFER barriers placed anywhere at the track — and if that’s the case, they need to be added to all tracks right now. I’m not suggesting the series adopt the CoT (I don’t want Mexico to declare war on the U.S.), but I’ve been told that the foam between the rollcage and the sheetmetal — a key safety feature of the new car — can be easily adapted to the “old cars.” Considering the benefits, it probably should be on all chassis after this tragedy as an additional safety measure. You can’t save ‘em all, NASCAR… but you can’t lose any more from a lack of trying.
— With the long feared cutbacks in the Big Three’s financial commitment to NASCAR racing finally coming to fruition, most teams, drivers, and the sanctioning body are just bracing themselves to see how bad the fallout will be. Off the record, most folks will admit they fear it’s going to get really ugly, and the future of the Truck Series seems increasingly uncertain.
Last week, it stopped raining long enough that his handlers were able to loosen the rope that holds Brian France’s mouth shut without fear he’d drown himself looking up at a cloudburst. Mr. France then opined that the current economic challenges in Detroit might just lead to other foreign car manufacturers to explore the waters of NASCAR racing. There was a lot of conjecture that Honda might be interested in joining the party, though I sure hope they don’t plan to race Ridgelines in the Truck Series — those things are uglier than an overturned outhouse.
In order to be considered for entry into NASCAR, a car manufacturer would need to have at least one plant producing cars in the U.S. Among the names France dropped were Nissan, BMW, Mercedes Benz (yeah, right), and Hyundai. Hyundai? Please tell me they’re kidding. My guess is the first time a Hyundai “Accident” wins a Cup race, the already rapid exodus of fans towards the exits will become such a stampede that women and children will be trampled to death. The demographical data that NASCAR provides on its own fans indicates that BMW and Mercedes ownership is out of reach for a large majority of them — so that wouldn’t seem a valid marketing strategy for the German automakers, either. And even with all the success Toyota has enjoyed at all levels of NASCAR racing lately, their sales are down 45 percent in a year-to-year comparison over last year (worse than Ford or GM). I’m not sure anyone is looking at NASCAR competition as a reliable form of marketing right now.
— One of (my myriad) of self-appointed critics, a gentleman named Kevin from SoCal took me to task this weekend for expressing a feeling of nostalgia for the 24 Hours of LeMans, while holding less affectionate feelings for the upcoming Sonoma road course race. Maybe he was being facetious, but his argument seemed to be, “Is road course racing good or bad?”
Well Kevin, there’s simply no comparison between last week’s race at LeMans and this week’s NASCAR race at Sonoma. The cars at LeMans are specifically constructed to compete on road courses from the lugnuts on up. In comparison, heavy, wide, and under-tired Cup cars are crutched into some sort of acceptable handling on road courses. And then, there’s the experience factor. The drivers at LeMans are selected because they are among the best road course racers in the world. While NASCAR has many truly talented road course racers — the Gordons, Martin, and Stewart come readily to mind — the back half of the field looks like confused golden retriever pups hitting a newly waxed linoleum floor wide open. Add in a little rain like that one year in Montreal, and what you have is a farce of epic proportions. There’s also only one generally accepted passing zone for stock cars at Sonoma compared to many at LeMans. And, of course, one key factor at LeMans is the epic 24-hour length of the race. Sonoma only seems to drag on that long…
Now, there’s nothing wrong with road racing when it’s staged with cars built for that purpose, driven by pilots skilled in that discipline of racing. It’s even possible to have good racing in full-fendered coupes and sedans. In my mind, the greatest such racing was in the golden years of the Trans Am series that stretched from 1967 to 1970. Mustangs, Cougars, Camaros, Cudas, and Challengers waged war with full factory support in a series that ran heads up with NASCAR for popularity in most areas of the country outside of the Southeast. The racing was wide open, full contact, and unbridled with legends like Donahue, Follmer, Posey, and Jones at the wheel driving for fellow legends like Carroll Shelby, Roger Penske, and Bud Moore. In their efforts to dominate in the series, American carmakers produced such automotive legends as the Boss 302 Mustangs, the Camaro Z-28, and the Challenger TA/AAR Cuda twins. A look at the prices those cars demand at auctions like Barrett-Jackson speaks to the enduring affection for the good old days of Trans Am racing. (Oddly enough, Pontiac Trans Ams were never much of a factor in the Trans Am series back in the day — though Pontiac paid a fee to the SCCA for every Trans Am they ever built.)
So, what happened to end the Golden Age of Trans Am racing? Funny you should ask. The Detroit automakers began leaving the sport, just as they seem to be about to do in NASCAR right now. To fill the fields, the SCCA allowed foreign cars to run in the series, just as NASCAR is doing right now. The “street stock” appearance was one of the chief charms of the Trans Am series in the day. New rules were adopted that had the cars looking less and less like their street counterparts, just like NASCAR has done with the Car of Tomorrow. You know when someone who preceded you is nice enough to post signposts on the Highway to Hell for you, a wise man starts looking for an alternative route. Meanwhile, for fans of the old Trans Am series here’s a brief video showing the cars and crowds back in 1969.
— Uh-oh. If the rumors I’m hearing today are true, NASCAR’s drug case against Jeremy Mayfield just took a hit below the waterline.
I’m not sure who or what a “Bubba the Love Sponge” is — I’m from up north and I don’t even have a cell phone, much less satellite radio — and I have no idea how the tests were conducted, but the information I was provided today indicates Mr. Sponge took it upon himself to take Adderall and Claritin D (the same two medications Mayfield admits taking prior to his drug test). Mr. Sponge then submitted a urine drug test which supposedly revealed a false positive for methamphetamine.
My guess is someone called “Bubba the Love Sponge” is not a trained medical expert — I’m not going to have him look at my chest X-ray, and I surely wouldn’t allow him to take my temperature with a rectal thermometer — but whether he took the test seriously or as a joke, the results shed new light on the controversy.
If it can be proven that the two medications resulted in a false positive, NASCAR needs to immediately reinstate Mayfield, offer an apology, and reach a financial settlement for the monetary damages and loss of reputation that the driver suffered.
Of course, recently NASCAR seems to be saying that Mayfield is at fault for not telling Dr. Black he was beginning treatment with Adderall. Sorry, no sale. Adult Attention Deficit Disorder is a potentially embarrassing diagnosis for a fellow which could have adverse effects on others’ willingness to enter into business relationships with him. As long as the treatment isn’t going to affect his ability to compete safely, when a licensed doctor diagnosed Mayfield with this little understood disease and started a pharmaceutically correct regimen of FDA-approved drugs, that was between Mayfield and his doctor… no one else. There are reasons for the laws concerning doctor/patient confidentiality.
And if this mix of drugs is debatable … what’s next? “Hey, Dr. Black, I’m crapping through the eye of a needle right now. Is it OK to take some Kaopectate before the race?” “Hey, Dr. Black, I just hit 50 and I’m having a little trouble getting lead in the pencil. My wife is getting frustrated. Is Viagra OK the night before a race?”
What I really want to see is Brian France taking a random drug test. The cocaine rumors have been rampant since his Hollywood days, and I’d like to see them proven or disproved by analysis of a hair sample by an independent lab under tight security.
©2000 - 2008 Matt McLaughlin and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
Matt , i can’t think of any reason why foreign cars , all foreign cars shouldn’t be racing in Nascar Cup . BMW , Mercedes , Holden and Falcon ( Austrailian GM and Ford ) Honda , Suburu , and yes even Hyundai all have full blown race teams already . Bring em on . More competition , more fans brought on board , more money into Brians’ pockets .
The Pardo incident is regretable for many reasons , not the least of which is the apparent total lack of common sense by the track officials . That outcome was not necessary . I can look at that wall jutting out and realise that something radical should be done to change it . So can you . And neither of us are safety experts . So how dumb, or blind , or just lazy , must track officials be to miss hazzards like those . And if they aren’t missing them , why aren’t they being fixed ? And of course there are many more glaring faults , just like the one that killed Pardo , on tracks in every country on Earth . Including some Nascar tracks that have similar protruding pit walls only protected by water barrels , and vehicle openings in inside and outside backstretch walls .
Road racing is one of the best forms of auto racing for the simple reason that you get to see drivers actually drive . Turning left and right , sharp turns , long sweeping turns , short straights , long straights , shifting gears , and in many cases up and down hills . As most Cup drivers say , road racing gives them the chance to “ hustle “ the car . And theres no better show than Tony Stewart or Robby Gordon , or Kyle Busch , or Dale Earnhardt Sr. throwing a car sideways around a road course . The late , very much lamented Trans Am series you talked about is the perfect example . Jones , Follmer , Donahue , Titus , now that was a show , as much for the driving as for the cars .
I’m particularly disturbed by the apparent difference between Nascar’s safety standards in the U.S. and Mexico. Why has Nascar sanctioned a race at a track that would never be allowed to host a race in the U.S.? There’s no way that anyone can reconcile Carlos Pardo’s death with “expanding the fanbase”. A full investigation by a competent third party is in order.
Some nice writing and references today, big thanks!
Ah yes, the Trans-Am series in it’s hey day!
Nothing better than watching Parnelli Jones throw his race car around the track, and I do mean “throw”!
The biggest problem with road courses here in the US, narrow, no place to pass, particularly with the big bulky “stock cars” (did I really say that?), Only two “road course” come to mind that would provide real competitive road racing, not this follow the leader crap, one would be Road America, the other, believe it or not, would be the road course at Daytona!
No other road course exists that I know of that is capable of having two (2) “stock cars” (there I go again,
(well, there is a third, but it is so far out of the way, and that is Brainerd MN. A very nice, very fast road course, best I have ever driven on).
And I should mention the infamous Can-Am series! Now that was pure racing!
The tragedy in Mexico is a great example of NAXCAR only doing things when it is forced to do so. There wouldn’t be safer barriers or hans devices if Earnhardt, Petty, and Erwin hadn’t died. Even then NAXCAR had to be dragged kicking and screaming to the safety table. It costs money. NAXCAR only wants to make it, not spend it. Great comparison between LeMans and NAXCAR. I still think that the two road races should continue, just like I think there ought to be at least two on dirt each year.
It’s a shame with all of the safety changes over the past few years that we are still losing drivers at NA$CAR tracks. It seems to me that if NA$CAR has their name on it, it should meet certain specifications. Even our safety procedures at work undergo annual examinations and changes if necessary. The old saying “We’ve done it that way for forty years and it worked” doesn’t cut it any more.The safety culture has changed so much that they sent one guy home for two days without pay for a “procedure violation” and then sent him through a safety reinforcement program upon his return to prevent any future violations.
ime Rock Park in Connecticut is hosting a NASCAR 200 mile road race in august for NASCAR East…been doing it for years. Its a hell of a show.
Matt… that Trans-Am race video was from the 1969 race at Donnybrooke Raceway in Minnesota, now known as Brainerd Int’l Raceway. It was the first Professional race ever held there and the first major race I ever attended.
Charles… you’d be surprised just how stock some of those cars were. There was one Camaro I saw in the pits that morning, that actually had a STOCK steering wheel! The MAJOR CONTROVERSY that weekend was the VINYL COVERED ROOF’S on the Penske Camaro’s. Imagine that! The Carol Shelby and Bud Moore teams protested, accusing Penske of acid dipping the roof metal, but they were allowed to run. The Fords had been winning that year, Mark Donahue was leading comfortably until his engine blew late in the race, giving one of the Bud Moore Mustangs the win. The vinyl roofs were gone the next race, and the Penske Camaro’s went on a winning streak, beating Ford for the title. IRONICALLY it was the last time Penske raced Chevy’s until he brought the ILMOR Chevy into the Cart Indycar Series. I too have driven the road course there, and have won semi-pro drag races there.
I believe I made a similar argument about disclosure on another website. ADA rules and doctor-patient privacy do not require someone to reveal a disability or medication taken to treat such disability. Hope Jeremy wins his lawsuit, kicks out the Frances, reinstates Carl Long and brings back the old style cars like Trans-Am racing. Wouldn’t that be awesome!
What NA$CAR needs is to run a Sprint Cup street race in downtown Detroit !! Was there for the Red Bull Air Races this past weekend. There was a great crowd on hand and everyone had a great time.
Thank you for the shoutout and for explaining your position. But of course we’ll continue to disagree. I do like to watch road course racing among professionals like at LeMans. The problem I have with them is in series such as F1, IndyCar, and ALMS and Daytona Prototypes is what appears to be a complete lack of passing. The cars up front stay up front and rarely get passed, even worse than what we see in NASCAR races on ovals. But when the NASCAR drivers come to the road courses, its watching the “puppies on linoleum” that I enjoy. You’re guarenteed to see passing, cars nudging each other out of the way, brakes locking up, spins, and general mayhem. I think its great fun to watch these pros on ovals do something different with their cars.
Amen Kevin. We should have a road course in the Chase. After all they make up almost 8% of the Races to the Chase. Maybe Jimmie Johnson will have to learn how to really drive then.
Hey over88ated, “Donneybrook“wow, forgot the name. I drove SCCA GT-1, loved “Brainerd”, long fast straight leading into a very fast turn 1, a touch of the brake and turn right, hang on. Fastest track I drove.
Penske was well known for his “stretching the rules” in the Trans-Am Series.
He showed up one year with an “illegal” fueling rig (at MIS), after repeated attempts to have him remove it (he did not think I was serious as he had called everyone’s bluff at the previous Trans-Am races), I refused to let his cars on the track for “official practice” on Saturday! He was HOT! But the rig came down!
He also was suspected of running traction control in CART series, illegal, but they could not find it on his cars. (among other things)
As I read it Mayfield was under a contractual obligation to keep Aegis advised of the prescription medications he was taking, whether embarassing or not. I assume you feel differently about whether an airline pilot should disclose his medications in accordance with FAA rules, embarrassing or not, if they might impact his ability to function in the cockpit.
P on U says go Mayfield! Drug test Brian France – I agree. Once again Matt, U are P on U’s hero!
Looks like Mayfield and his attorneys shot themselves in the foot again. Not many toes left.
The scion xB is the only vehicle ugly enough to compete head to head with the COT, don’t you think?
Was the test that this individual took a screening test or a mass spectrometry test? Because its not hard to get a false positive on a screening test. The screener is always done first, because if the screener comes back negative then you don’t have to spend the money on the sophisicated test.
So yes, its entirely possible that their little experiment came up with a false positive. However, a real lab doing the test would then follow up with some sort of mass spectrometer testing, which would be conclusive.
Somehow I doubt that the Love Sponge ponied up for a real test, and only submitted to a screener.
And Mayfield signed away his rights when he signed the drug testing policy at the start of the year. So Nascar would be perfectly justified in the legal sense to suspend him for not revealing that he took adderall.
To itsborken, I agree but I think that the honda element could rival the Xb.