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 22, 2009
The Key Moment: Kasey Kahne held off Tony Stewart on no less than four restarts at the end of the race to claim his first victory in over a year.
In a Nutshell: Everything some fans love and other fans hate about road course racing was featured in a single event.
Dramatic Moment: Those final ten laps were about as exciting as it gets. Unfortunately the action was spread over so much topography it was tough to keep up with who was hitting who where.
What They’ll Be Talking About Around the Water Cooler This Week
The double file restarts did in fact spice up the action at Sonoma without any of the wholesale carnage some drivers predicted. Oh, there was enough bumping and banging going on to make the typical mosh pit look like a Church Sunday social but no field decimating wrecks. But if I hear the term “Shootout Style” added after “Double File Restart” one more time I’m going to take a cordless drill to my eardrums. Even Wally Dallenbach seemed to admit just how ridiculous the term has become.
With all the left front camber some teams were running it’s a wonder their tires would last ten laps.
I still don’t like stock cars running at road courses and I’m never going to like stock cars running at road course races. Despite that twice annually some folks will try to change my contrary ways with the usual arguments some of which I addressed in Thursday’s column. Here are some of the other arguments I’ll undoubtedly be hearing this week.
- Road course races show a potential champion driver has a variety of skills- Of course that argument supposes that running ovals as diverse as Martinsville, Bristol, Michigan and Pocono doesn’t take a variety of skill sets to start with. OK, you want a multi-faceted champion? How about one weekend a year we stage a quarter-mile NHRA style drag race and allow the teams to run supercharged engines in elimination style races for points?
- NASCAR actually started on the roads with moonshiners outrunning the cops- Sorry, no sale. While many of the drivers from NASCAR’s early era honed their driving skills in such late night competition, stock car racing started on a variety of horse tracks at county fairgrounds and courses specially bulldozed in fields and around wrecking yards. If this argument is valid than the NHRA ought to stage an event annually with the cars running down Front Street in South Philly, because drag racing has its roots in street racing.
- Variety is the spice of life- True but I’m still not going to have couscous for breakfast tomorrow.
- It’s an interesting change of pace- It’s also a hideous expense for the teams developing specialized cars for the two road courses and sending their drivers to test at non-NASCAR sanctioned tracks to get ready for these two dog and pony shows. In this economy, especially with GM and Fiat-Chrysler cutting back on financial support to the teams, eliminating the two road course races would be a good first step to saving the teams a couple million dollars.
- Road course racing rules! You’re a moron!- Guilty as charged. But based on the TV ratings for the road courses a lot of my fellow morons don’t like watching road course races either. Back in the 80’s, NASCAR had to pair TV rights for the Glen and Riverside/Sonoma with some popular oval races just to get them on TV. And my fellow morons and I are the sort of morons that buy products from the sponsors that keep the moron sponsors buying those decal packages that keep your favorite drivers gainfully employed. Mull on that a moment you geniuses.
Folks who watched Saturday night’s Nationwide race at Milwaukee got a rare glimpse at something special. Milwaukee is a flat mile track and the teams competed in what’s now regarded as the “old car”. There were several desperate side by side battles for the lead and great physical side by side battles throughout the field on Saturday, more so than at any Cup event I’ve seen this season. Cars ran down the straights with their front valances several inches off the ground with suspensions functioning the way God and Junior Johnson intended them to work. Yet the first three quarters of the race were run with limited cautions. Milwaukee was a good clean, hard fought stock car race, old school style. If you missed it, more the pity for you because this sort of entertainment has become increasingly rare in the Brave New World of NASCAR.
You truly have to worry about the health of NASCAR’s Nationwide series after seven drivers who made the field had retired to the garage before the 25 lap mark. Those teams specified reasons like “handling”, “brake”, “vibration” and such. None of them were honest enough to say “We got the check we came here to collect.” I fully expect someone to claim “Driver really needed a potty break” as a reason for retiring soon. An increasing number of fans writing me are enraged the TV networks are purposely and carefully avoiding telling the story of the race by not commenting on the Start and Park teams, showing full field rundowns and using camera angles carefully so as not to show vast swaths of empty seats in the grandstands.
I don’t think NASCAR officials have figured out how to officiate a road course race after all these years. In real road course racing a full course yellow for debris means half the field is the debris and the course is completely blocked. Localized yellows are used for small bits of debris or simple single car incidents.
Maybe I’m being overly romantic, but there were some feel good stories in the weekend leading up to the Sonoma race. When TRG driver David Gilliland wrecked his car in practice, Earnhardt/Ganassi racing leased the struggling team a competitive mount that had been slated to be Martin Truex’s backup car. Joe Nemechek yielded the driver’s seat of the 87 car to road course specialist Scott Speed after Speed failed to make the race in his own No. 82. Boris Said needed a pit crew and the Wood Brothers team loaned him theirs since they were slated to be idle this weekend in fair exchange for some of the favors that Boris has done for the team in the past. In this tight economy it seems some teams and owners have figured out that in these challenging times, we are going to hang together or we are going to be hung separately.
I found this interesting. Everybody has been wondering what’s wrong with Richard Childress Racing this season. Court documents released this week indicate that GM owed RCR two and a half million dollars that was to be paid on June 15th. Childress was coy as to whether he got the check or not but he did say he remained loyal to Chevrolet and GM. He did say our sport is in uncharted waters financially right now. He went on to note it was likely he was going to have to tighten up his organizations finances in light of the financial crunch but vowed none of the cost cutting was going to affect his teams’ performance. As I see it, if RCR is spending two and a half million bucks on stuff that doesn’t improve the teams’ performances we might be getting a glimpse as to why those teams are running off song this season.
It was a pretty good week for the old guys with 50 year old Mark Martin winning the Michigan Cup race and 51 year old Ron Hornaday claiming Saturday’s truck series race in Milwaukee.
Let’s put this whole Danica Patrick rumor to rest. Every time this young lady’s contract is up for renegotiation she dangles the stock car threat to try to leverage her best deal in the IRL. Besides I’m not sure NASCAR fans are ready for a driver even more effeminate and whiny than Kyle Busch.
Rumors surfaced this weekend indicating Stewart/Haas team principal Tony Stewart might be interested in adding a third team to the organization next season. I’ll admit I badly “misunderestimated” Stewart’s chances of enjoying much success this year either as an owner or a driver so I won’t second guess him this time. But it does seem that the timing is odd with all the upset in the garage area over how much money GM is going to be investing in the sport going forward. As best I recall SHR is still looking for additional sponsorship for Ryan Newman’s team so absent a firm financial commitment from a rock solid sponsor this would seem an unusual time to be thinking about expanding. If nothing else trying to firm up business deals and land a sponsor in a time period where it appears both Stewart and Newman will be competing for a title could be a distraction. In business there’s the Peter Principal that states even talented individuals will rise up the ranks to a level where they find themselves incompetent rather than being allowed to remain in a position where they did well.
One other possible reason for the rumored expansion plans at SHR concerns Brad Kesolowski. Kesolowski is a development driver for Rick Hendrick racing through Junior Motorsports. Apparently Kesolowski is quite convinced he’s ready to move up to the Cup ranks though others have their doubts. With the four team maximum rule set in stone for next year there’s no room for Kesolowski at Hendrick because Gordon, Earnhardt, Johnson and Martin aren’t going anywhere. With the Stewart/Haas team being a satellite operation to Hendrick Motorsports, a third team for Kesolowski would keep him in the fold.
When he acquired the New Hampshire track Bruton Smith promised big changes. There was even talk that he was going to tear the track down and start over with a three quarter mile replica of Bristol. None of that has come to pass but there was “big” news this week from New Hampshire. The track introduced their new mascot Milo The Moose. (Seriously….not even I can make up something this bizarre.) Well I guess it isn’t any more bizarre than the giant spark plug mascot, but I’m not investing my 401k in stuffed plush Milo The Moose replicas. This aberration made me feel like I was having an acid flashback watching Bullwinkle. The scary part is some marketing type got paid to develop the Milo The Moose concept while the rest of us have to do an honest day’s work for a paycheck. Given the typically tepid action at the track maybe promoters could have a pre-race steel cage death match between Milo the Moose and Digger the Gopher. If the gopher goes down Smith would be a hero to us all.
What was Boris Said’s left front fender made of, Kryptonite?
If I were a heavy-hitter with the race’s title sponsor (in this case Toyota) and I could only get a cold pass to the garage area I’d be peeved. (Check out the command to start the engines if you’re not sure what I’m talking about.)
The Hindenburg Award For Foul Fortune
Kurt Busch had a strong run for most of the event only to get put into the tire barriers off the front bumper of the 48 car. Busch’s post-race comments showed a lot of class and maturity. Quick, someone send a tape of that interview to his younger brother.
Kevin Harvick desperately needs a good run and he was in fact running seventh when an equalized tire sent him to the rear of the field.
Joey Logano was having an extremely solid run in his first Cup road course start until a bent fender cut down a tire and ended his chances at a strong finish.
Mark Martin’s Michigan win is a distant object in the rearview mirror after a cut-down tire and a last lap wreck left him 35th.
Robby Gordon’s strong run and team strategy were negated by a caution flag that flew the lap before he was to pit, ending any chance he had at winning.
Kyle Busch won both Cup road course races last year but Denny Hamlin sent Busch spinning out of contention and into the pits. It ought to be an interesting team meeting at JGR racing Monday. Sam Hornish was also collected in that mess.
David Ragan had better be on his guard against the Earnhardt Army after he wrecked the 88 car while Junior was in the midst of a half decent run. (And for all those TV folks talking about what a hapless road course racer Junior is, he did in fact beat Ron Fellows to win a Busch series race at Watkins Glen. Now you don’t have to look it up because I did.)
The “Seven Come Fore Eleven” Award For Fine Fortune
It was the first win for Richard Petty Motorsports. Though the King is only titularly involved with the organization he was in fact on hand to join the celebration.
Marcos Ambrose lost his third place starting spot and had to start at the rear of the field after losing an engine in practice. He compounded the error by running into Jimmie Johnson late in practice. Somehow Ambrose was still able to drive back to a third place finish.
Jimmie Johnson was penalized for speeding on pit road (NASCAR’s radar cops were particularly ticket happy Sunday), took an off course excursion of his own and barely missed several wrecks to finish fourth.
A.J Allmendinger got spun twice but soldiered on to a resolute seventh place finish.
Denny Hamlin hit everything but the pace car and still wound up finishing fifth despite a beat up Toyota that could be dubbed “Final Express.”
Two road course ringers, Patrick Carpentier (11th) and Max Papis (12th) aquitted themselves pretty well at Sonoma. Some Cup series regulars will recall Carpentier’s run less than fondly. The others will figure that it was still Michael Waltrip in the car.
What’s the Points?
Tony Stewart retained his points lead. Jeff Gordon, who remains second in the standings, is now 84 points behind Stewart. Jimmie Johnson remains third in the standings and Kurt Busch remains fourth.
Jeff Burton had the worst day in the points standings, falling three spots and out of the Chase cutoff to 15th. That means that there are currently no RCR cars qualified for the Chase. Damn, that’s going to leave a bruise.
Mark Martin fell three spots to 11th in the standings despite his three wins this season.
Denny Hamlin moved up three spots in the standings and now finds himself seventh.
Juan Montoya moves into Chase contention up two spots to 12th. If every Cup race was held on a road course Montoya would be the presumptive champion. Of course if every Cup race was run on a road course there’d be so little fan interest the Cup title would probably pay “two dollars and fiddy cents.”
Carl Edwards took over fifth place in the standings displacing Ryan Newman to sixth.
Matt Kenseth moved up a spot to tenth in the standings while his teammate Greg Biffle fell a spot to seventh.
Kasey Kahne moved up two spots to 13th in the standings and is now just three points outside of 12th.
The “Chances of Junior Making the Chase” death watch rolls into its fifteenth week. Earnhardt fell two more spots into the standings to 20th. It would take a comeback that would rival Lazurus’ for Earnhardt to overcome those odds.
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 three plastic cups of screw top strawberry wine. The race was better than I expected but then I wasn’t expecting much.
Next Up: The circuit is heading to New Hampshire but I’m heading to my small town’s car show and hosting the post-event party next Sunday. Life’s too short to waste watching races at New Hampshire. If you find yourself in Guthriesville next weekend stop on in and set a spell.
©2000 - 2008 Matt McLaughlin and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
Tickets are available for the Bristol night race.
I need say no more about the current state of Nascar.
Whether or not stock cars should be racing on road courses is irrelevant to me; I admit that I enjoy the road course races. However, two are enough.
The road course specialists seem to do pretty good most of the time, but they never seem to actually win a road course race.
I wonder how close Kyle Petty was to exploding when Wally commented on what a great Father’s Day present it would be for Richard Petty if Kasey Kahne won the race. I don’t know what “titular” means, but I’m guessing it means something like “we bought your name, now go find us some more sponsors.” We all know how Kyle felt about that whole deal.
Road courses are a heck of a lot better measure of a driver’s skills than having them all go the same speed. If all the races were plate races, Michael Waltrip could be the champion.
Call me nuts, but I’d say Montoya is a little bit better wheelman. I’ll take Sonoma or Watkins Glen over Talladega every day of the week.
I usually agree with you, but not in this case. Sunday’s action was what NASCAR used to be at the oval tracks as well; tons of rubbing and bumping with lots of side by side racing. I also got a kick out of watching them fight the car so much, especially late in the race.
I realize it’s not for everyone. Neither is Talladega.
I do understand your point on the expense though. I just think it would be yet another nail in their coffin to end this tradition as well. Of course, I wouldn’t have as much of a problem with it if they had a car they could actually race on ovals and didn’t go to so many tracks where they can’t pass, but I digress.
First, I LOVE ROAD COURSES!
Second, I HATE NA$CRAP running SONOMA! (not that the Glen is much better). No passing areas, banzai runs to the corner knocking someone out of the way, single file (except after the double file re-starts!) (or when your simply so frustrated you run double wide to into the corner creating mayhem!
And throughout the “race”, who knows who was in contention because of pit stop timing and how much fuel was left, never mind the stupid TV people could not keep up with pit stops either.
The mid-part of the race was just a bunch of cars going round and round on different pit stop sequences!
And don’t tell me JJ’s banzai move on Kurt Busch was not intended! When you run over the curb, and I mean DIRECTLY
In summation of the “event” at Sonoma!
(and remember, the CoT highly contributes to a car that does not handle and is not capable of being properly set up for road course racing)!
By the way, this is the ONLY race I will watch this year! why waste the time, I had hoped for better!
And to quote: Milwaukee is a flat mile track and the teams competed in what’s now regarded as the “old car”. There were several desperate side by side battles for the lead and great physical side by side battles throughout the field on Saturday, more so than at any Cup event I’ve seen this season. Cars ran down the straights with their front valances several inches off the ground with suspensions functioning the way God and Junior Johnson intended them to work”!
THE CoT SUCKS, HAS ALWAYS SUCKED, AND WILL ALWAYS SUCK AS A RACE CAR UNTIL SIGNIFICANT CHANGES ARE MADE TO IT!
Are you listening NA$CRAP?
Probably not, they never do!
Call me crazy, but didn’t it just seem uncomfortable watching the King in Victory Lane with his winning car adorned by a beer sponsor, especially recalling all those years they never had the Bud/Busch Pole sticker on their car as an agreement he made with his momma?
The times are a changin’.
I have to say I like the two road courses. If nothing they are a good change of pace. Also, some great aesthetics with cool camera shots of the cars on the track.
I have no respect left for Boris Said. He goes out there with nothing to lose and proceeds to make dubious on track decisions which leave others wrecked in his wake. I know some may like that but to me he is a guest in the series and he should show some respect for others on the track.
Also, Jimmy Johnson must have gotten used to always having the best car. He never seemed willing to back off even when he had been out-maneuvered on the track. He was lucky he didn’t end up with the short end of the stick (in the dirt) on a few of those moves.
Isn’t titular one of the seven words you can’t say on tv?
I’ll be at NHMS next week and will provide you with all the details.
Those lame-o mascots drive me nuts. The Bruins recently brought some creepy bear on board and he gets routinely booed at every game, so I can’t wait to see the reception Milo gets. I don’t think moose hunting season begins in NH until November, but you never know…
Nascar does in fact already have two drivers more effeminate than Danica Patrick . Jeff Gordon and Jimmy Johnson .
Nice Vertical Horizon reference!
Well Matt , you seem to be outnumbered here . The majority seem to like Nascar road racing . The Sonoma race was rerally pretty good . Certainly couldn’t ask for much more action . And again , TNT showed how much better they are than FOX at broadcasting Nascar .
I felt sorry for Richard Petty when he decided that he needed to jump into the victory lane camera shot . When i watch him i can’t help but think of DW , on the verge of being totaly irrelevant but wanting to be on camera at all costs . The RPM team has nothing to do with Richard , except the team uses his name for whatever marketing value they can wring out of it . He’s a great champion , he shouldn’t be pimping himself .
Saw Kyle Busch on TV after the NW race the other night. While I have no problem with a general ‘in your face’ demeanor, he really came off as an unsufferable prick, rather than a disappointed non-winner. I hope that’s the image his team and sponsors are going for, because it can be a fine line between the two…
I think the reason Scrub whines so much when he doesn’t win is because nobody has bothered to change his Pampers.
There was a time when the media loved sticking a camera in King Richard’s face for an interview or an opinion. Notice how quickly they moved him out of the way to interview Kahne. Of course, they had the totally irrelevant Sprint girl in camera though.
Sonoma wasn’t one of the best road course races I’ve seen, but it wasn’t one of the worse either. It would be a lot better if they had an actual race car instead of this generic wanna-be.
The reason they still have road course races goes back to the criticism offered up by other racing series when Bill France Sr was running things. NA$CAR was criticized for just running in circles. Bill Sr didn’t like the criticism and made sure that road courses stayed on the schedule. Since then, it’s become a tradition, like it or not.
Reagan did not wreck JR….Uncle Carl wrecked Reagan which then turned June Bug. For a Road Course it was not a bad race…pretty exciting at the end.
I like road racing in NASCAR. It shows skills that are not shown in all the other races.Wonder if I could get one of the transmissions for my street truck.As for Danica Patrick we don’t need her in stock car racing with her attitude. She needs to stay where she is and consentrate on winning Indy races.News letters and TV should never mention her name in relation to her moving to NASCAR.
He’s still bringing in sponsor money. In these tough economic times that might be more important than winning races.
My my!! Aren’t we getting pouty about road racing!! You really want to compare the event at Sonoma with plate races or those boring cookie cutter one mile tracks? Hell I would pay more attention if we had road races at Road Atlanta, VIR, Laguna, etc. Come to Lime Rock in CT some time or Canada. And spare me the concerns about $$$..I would be willing to bet a road racing cup car is set up a lot like a short tracker. I still have memories of full size sixties stock cars at the old Bridgehampton track on Long Island. “Two dollars and fiddy sents? “ LOL..talk about Buschian petulance!!!
As far as SHR adding 3rd team goes, Stewart has strong ties to Bass Pro Shops going back quite a ways. So, Truex goes to MWR, Bass Pro Shops goes to SHR w/Brad K as the driver. Maybe even Jr’s Nationwide Team gets folded into SHR as well, giving SHR 4 teams and Hendrick 8! Rouse would not be happy.
How come you praise Milwaukee yet bash New Hampshire? They’re almost identical 1 mile flat ovals.
I was wondering the same thing. New Hampshire has got to be one of the hard-drivin’est tracks out there.
And since the poll wasn’t up, I’d give the Sears Point race five cans of the cold stuff. Fantastic late-race battle, tons of hard side-by-side racing, and a guy nobody hates to see in Victory Lane at the end. Not sure what else you could ask for; that was one of the most exciting races this season, and the excitement didn’t have anything to do with wondering who was going to run out of gas.
Itahad , i suspect Tony would pass on that scenario . Bas Pro Shops will likely be on the SHR cars at some point , and Truex would make a pretty good fit at SHR himself . Brad is simply not ready for a full time Cup ride . And it looks like Tony can probably build a better Nationwide team than Jr. so why take his team into the fold .
Can someone explain what you mean by:
“If I were a heavy-hitter with the race’s title sponsor (in this case Toyota) and I could only get a cold pass to the garage area I’d be peeved. (Check out the command to start the engines if you’re not sure what I’m talking about.) “
i watched the last 20 laps of the race. i was surprised, beyond belief, that jr was in top 15 and running in 10 when the mess started.
i too thought it ironic that the bud car was in v/lane with cans of bud and richard petty. how many petty drivers over the years could not participate in shoot out because he didn’t run the bud sticker?
personally i was hoping marcus ambrose would have been able to pass stewart and kahne. that would of been an incredible celebration, as well as seeing how tnt media would handle marcus’ accent in interivews.
if gm owes(d) rcr 2 million dollars, i wonder how many other bowtie teams are waiting for checks? what is this i saw this morning, toyota is pulling funding too? wow…guess the honeymoon is over. wonder if brain fart will have to turn in his keys?
seems like bruton’s tracks all have mascots. remember we have lug nut here in atlanta.
I like the road courses, although this isn’t a very good track, IMO. Still, I’d like to see 4 or 5 road courses on the schedule. And bring back Rockingham and a couple more short track races. heck, I’d even enjoy a couple dirt tracks on the schedule. Get rid of about half of the mile and a half cookie cutter ovals to make room on the schedule.
Jr was having more than a half-decent run. He was running 9th and going forward when one of Nascar’s pinball machines (Carl Edwards) dive bombed his teammate David Reagan who then hit Jr. Back to 34th or 35th, with 7 laps remaining, Jr made his way back to 26th. Carl is a flipping nuisance on any track. He went to Jr’s trailer to apologize. Wonder how that turned out. Jr is too forgiving for his own good.
As I said back when everyone was whining about Bristol, if you didn’t like the race we saw this past Sunday then you simply don’t like racing.
Even my DH, who doesn’t much like racing, was glued to his recliner forgoing even his most beloved computer games until the checkered flag fell.
This year’s edition of the Infineon race was exactly what racing ought to be every week.
Milwaukee was OK, but both the trucks and the Nationwide cars were, like almost every other oval on the schedule, victimized by the clean air effect on the leader.
Sonoma showed it’s true colors once again. It is a highly technical course that demands precision in all eleven turns. All this while doing battle with the rest of the field. For once the COT was not a factor in this race. I’ve been with several classes of cars on this track and it’s always the same style. Hit your marks and take advantage in the two passing areas. That for me is what makes it so much fun to watch NA$CAR drivers on this track. You could put them in Grand AM cars or Street Stocks and the style of race would be the same.
Why does it take years for drivers from outside NASCAR to learn to drive a stock car when years ago AJ Foyt … competed in several races without years of practice.
Foyt started racing in 1956, and was a 3 time USAC Nat’l Champion and had won his first Indy 500 before his rookie year in NASCAR (1963). He won the Firecracker 400 and his second Indy 500 in 1964.
He had plenty of seasoning…
To turn your question ‘sideways’ a little – why do racers that have won a single race feel they’re ready to make the jump to Cup? Danica may be a great racer; but, she’s still the Anna Kournikova of the IRL until she wins regularly. Her GoDaddy ads aren’t helping that image, IMO…
When I originally got into racing I was a fan of F1,Trans Am and the Can Am series. I’ve been to races at Mosport,the Glen and Bridgehamton to see those races. But there has been sense of obligation with Nascar running road courses as to validate it as a true race series. If running mile and a half ovals is so easy why haven’t the road racers that have come into the series dominated the sport? The lead sled car that Nascar is using makes the road races even worse. Heck the original Trans Am cars were still mostly stock cars. Nascar should eliminate the road courses and give the dates to tracks that need dates and get back to what they used to do right.
Christopher, I didnt catch it, but I am guessing the Toyota executive who was part of the 3-person command to start engines was not wearing the same “all-inclusive backstage pass” that the other two gentlemen did.
Nascar has clamped down tremendously on the available number of pit passes of all types . And the All Inclusive and Hot Pass even more so . You still see hayseeds in the background of tv shots , on their cell phones trying to get their 15 minutes , but they are becoming increasingly rare . Haven’t heard why , but have heard that passes a really getting hard to find , even for people who normally get them .
Road courses suck. Always have when it comes to so called stock cars.
Kyle Bushe is way over do for an ass kicking.
The race at Sonoma was very exciting to watch. It reminded me of why I got into watching NASCAR in the first place. Beating and banging, tires smoking, dust flying, fenders crunching. If you can’t get past your hatred for road racing in NASCAR after a race like this, then you are too far gone and nothing will please you. Just tune in for your “traditional” 1.5 mile tracks.
Marshall, you are so right. The NHRA wants fans in the pits where NA$CAR does not.
Kevin in SoCal
How come you praise Milwaukee yet bash New Hampshire? They’re almost identical 1 mile flat ovals.
You sir have obviously never been to Milwaukee. I have been to both and they are in no way similar.
Patrick, I’ve never been to either track, so what is the difference? Milwaukee is 9* of banking and 1265’ of straightaway, and New Hampshire is 7* banking and 1500’ of straightaway. So Milwaukee has more curved track. Is that the difference?