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 25, 2009
Something remarkable happened Saturday night in Milwaukee. The Nationwide Series race featured a lot of side by side racing not only for the lead, but for positions in the top 5 and top 10 and throughout the field. With the majority of the Cup regulars, save Carl Edwards and Kyle Busch, a half continent away, some of the Nationwide regulars and part timers finally got to strut their stuff a little.
While not unprecedented, it was pretty remarkable how quickly Edwards and Busch were able to move from the back of the field to the top 10 in so few laps. Yeah, they’ve got the best equipment, but both drivers displayed a lot of talent in their charge to the front as well. It was even less remarkable that Busch was able to finally take the lead of the race and that he stayed there for such a long time. Busch has, after all, led more than 50 laps in 11 of the 15 Nationwide races he’s run this season and he’s led more than 100 laps in eight of those events. He’s won four of those 15 events and in major league racing—that’s a pretty remarkable average. That’s why he’s leading the points in that series.
Carl Edwards went on to win the race, his first victory of the season, while Busch finished second. Then something unremarkable, but still regrettable, happened yet again. In his post-race comments not only was Busch less than gracious, he once again came off as a whiny, petulant child who was going to throw a tantrum because he didn’t get his way. After all, it would seem, he is the great and wonderful Kyle Busch and he’d flown halfway across the country to compete at Milwaukee. The win was his just due, because, to paraphrase Chevy Chase, I’m Kyle Busch and you’re not. Deprived of a chance to taunt the fans or smash musical instruments, Busch made it clear that he felt robbed. That poor pit road reporter tried twice to lob Busch a softball question that would draw the desired response, noting it had to be fun and exciting to be have waged such a side by side battle with his chief title contender for all those laps. Busch responded snippily, once again tossing his team under the bus. Nor did Busch bother to congratulate Edwards on his win as Edwards has congratulated Busch so many times when the roles were reversed. You’d be more likely to see Busch grab up what’s left of his Nashville trophy and launch into a version of John Denver’s Country Roads in the wake of defeat. If there’s a single individual who demonstrates less grace and maturity in victory or defeat than Busch, fortunately, they’re not running well enough for the fans to have to endure them.
In his later post-race comments, Busch was just a bit more magnanimous. If I were assigned the job of his PR person (and I’d rather take on the task of mucking the Aegean stables with a teaspoon), after a race I would bind and gag Kyle and drag him for a 10 minute timeout somewhere before allowing him to address the media.
My purpose here isn’t to crucify Kyle Busch. Race car drivers don’t like finishing second. I get that. If they did, they shouldn’t be racing. None of us are perfectly black or white when it comes to our actions. Just about all of us live in the vast gray spectrum between those extremes, capable of occasionally selflessly doing the right thing but at other times saying or doing something we later regret and wish we could take back. Kyle Bush is not an evil person, even if at times he seems demonically possessed. Earlier this year, with far less fanfare than the deed deserved, Busch made some pretty noble gestures to help out former Busch series champion, Sam Ard, who is ailing as of late. It was one of those rare gestures when a contemporary driver took time to remember the pioneers of the sport that built the table in which today’s drivers feast.
To be frank, I have to laugh when Busch does take a win, then climbs out of his car and takes a bow to the crowd while the majority of them are booing his success. It’s an “in your face” gesture that I find appropriate as opposed to exiting his cars and flipping the fans the bird which would be grossly inappropriate. The effect is the same, though one gesture is almost self-deprecating (or as close as Busch is going to come to that) while the other would be provocation for a riot. The late Dale Earnhardt taught Jeff Gordon, among others, that it doesn’t matter if they’re cheering or booing, it’s when the fans are silent that you’re in trouble.
Some folks have taken to comparing Kyle to Dale and I find that irritating to the point of infuriating. There are similarities. Both drivers are or were supremely talented and successful at what they do and capable of pulling off long strings of wins without notice. Both have or had love/hate relationships with the fans—some booing them and some cheering them. (Though I’d quickly point out Earnhardt had a huge fan base that dwarfs Busch’s. It would seem sometimes that Busch’s fan club could meet in a Miata with two seats left open.) Neither driver liked to finish second. Earnhardt once dubbed the second place finisher “first loser.”
I’m not here to suggest that Earnhardt was always gracious or mature in his post-race comments. I recall a rather profane tirade he launched against Ricky Rudd after Rudd wrecked him while the two were engaged in a tight title battle. But for the most part, the Intimidator gave no quarter and asked for no quarter on the track. I recall vividly the Pocono race that Dale Earnhardt led going into Turn 3 on the final lap. Jeremy Mayfield knocked the No. 3 car aside to take the win. To rub a little salt in the wound, Mayfield claimed he hadn’t meant to wreck Dale, he just wanted to “rattle his cage a little,” parroting Earnhardt’s infamous comments after that infamous, but storied finish at Bristol. Clearly seething after the race, Earnhardt didn’t whine or cry about a win stolen from him or blame his crew. He just stated that he hoped Mayfield didn’t crow too much about the win. The clear implication was that he was Dale Earnhardt. He’d won a bunch of races and he’d lost a lot races. He could handle either because, in the long run, he was going to win a lot more races than Mayfield. (Later that year, I heard a fellow scribe ask Earnhardt if he was ready to join Mayfield’s fan club yet. “Mayfield has a fan club?”, the Intimidator sniped as if he was surprised by such a notion.)
That Bristol race was another barometer of the measure of Dale Earnhardt. He was used to being booed, just perhaps not that loudly or unanimously. Even the normally mild mannered Ned Jarrett, calling the race from the booth, had expressed disgust at the way Earnhardt wrecked Labonte. In his post-race comments it seems, if somehow it was possible, Earnhardt sounded a bit sheepish defending his maneuver, claiming he was only trying to rattle Labonte’s cage. “Sheepish” is an emotion I doubt we’ll ever see from Kyle.
There’s a huge difference between the Intimidator and the Irritator that can’t be changed. Kyle Busch’s parents helped start his career at a very young age. Earnhardt lost his dad as a young man after a period of estrangement caused by Dale’s decision to marry against his father’s wishes. With little support behind him, Earnhardt ran races not for the trophy, but to earn enough money to put food on the table to feed his family after dumping most everything he earned into his racecar. Earnhardt was 24 when he made his first Cup start for an under funded team. He was nearly 28 before he landed a full time Cup ride. Jack Roush was trying to get Busch started in the truck series when he was just barely 16.
Both Earnhardt and Busch enjoyed quick success in the big leagues. Earnhardt won Rookie of the Year honors in his first season on the Cup circuit and was Winston Cup champion the next. Then Earnhardt went through a long drought when he couldn’t seem to get out of his own way some weeks. People began questioning his abilities and calling his title a fluke thing. Eventually Earnhardt would pair up with Richard Childress and the two of them were off on a tear that saw Earnhardt the most dominant driver of the 80s and early 90s. In my opinion, that long drought was what forged Dale Earnhardt into the driver he’d later become. He learned to accept defeat with a measure of grace most weekends and to celebrate each victory, knowing wins at that level of racing were hard to come by and each was to be cherished. Busch, on the other hand, seems to feel he’s entitled to win each time he gets in a race car and any other outcome is an outrage.
Here’s a news flash for young Mr. Busch…No driver, not Dale Earnhardt, not even Richard Petty or David Pearson, won every race they ran. In fact, they lost a lot more than they won, and, as of yet, you aren’t worthy of being mentioned in the same breath as those three drivers. You’re seven Cup titles shy of Petty and Earnhardt and 90 wins shy of David Pearson’s mark. There are seasons that you’ll win bunches of races and contend for titles. And there will be seasons it seems fate has chosen you as her least favorite son. Count on it—hard times buddy, they come to us all, sure as the tickin’ of the clock on the wall.
Enjoy your success while you can, and celebrate it any way you choose, but quit whining when you lose. It’s irritating. The Intimidator didn’t whine. He accepted defeat, even if the flinty-eyed look on his face and his measured words made it clear he didn’t much care for it. He let those measured tones stand as a warning to his competitors, the media, the fans who loved him and the fans that loathed him that he expected to win next week or, if not win, at least make sure they all knew he’d been out there.
Yes, the fans want to see genuine emotion and strong personalities, not sponsor spewing robots in our sport. But when the only genuine emotions you can convey are petulance, arrogance, and pettiness, run, don’t walk away from the cameras. When the only glimpse you can give people of who you are is a truly vile display of your loathsome personality defects too numerous to enumerate, don’t be surprised when people don’t like you and cheer your losses. Kyle Busch’s self-centered Busch-centric view of the world has grown tiresome and irritating. You’re in the big leagues now, son. Grow up or shut up. There’s no crying in auto racing.
©2000 - 2008 Matt McLaughlin and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
Other than his childish behavior that boy can drive. Once he grows up he will have a huge following in the Nascar/Iroc series. I have a feeling the Jr. Nation will jump on his bandwagon after jumping off that sinking ship.
I remember when Kurt was the most hated driver out there. Fans from the Las Vegas area gave warning, “Wait until his brother moves up. He’s twice as bad.” Boy, they weren’t kidding.
No one is supposed to like losing, but if Kyle can’t make peace with the fact that losing is part of the profession he has chosen then he should look elsewhere and find something to do that doesn’t bring out the prick in him (if that’s possible).
in a world of “vanilla” I find myself liking him, he’s got talent!
Kyle Busch is still a lot younger than Earnhardt was when he started Cup racing. Maybe he will grow up.
I’m with you, Tom. These days anyone with a bit of “personality” negative or not, gets my attention. He’s a jerk, but so was Earnhardt on many occasions.
I’m one of the “Jr. Nation” fans and trust me, I will never ever abandon Dale Jr. for Vile Kyle. Seems his momma didn’t spank him as much as she should have.
I can’t deny the talent, but the whining and “entitled to win” attitude continue to rub me the wrong way. The Irritator, indeed!
I too think Kyle will eventually gain some maturity to go with his unquestionable talent. As was pointed out above, Kyle is younger than Dale Sr. was when he started, so he still has some growing up to do (I hope).
I think that Kyle Busch is probably the most talented pure driver in Nascar right now, but because of his attitude, I’m hoping he misses the chase this year. Some humiliation might be humbling.
Kyle Busch can win every race and I still won’t respect him. I can’t imagine how mortified his parents must be to listen to his interviews or watch his behavior. His lack of respect for anyone and anything is a direct result of his upbringing and personality and has nothing to do with maturity. I don’t see him changing through the years, only getting worse. By the time he wins a title, nobody will be watching.
Just a whiny little baby, disrespectful and childish, shame when he has so much talent.
Nobody likes a new kid coming in, running his mouth, and backing it up; DW, Earnhardt, Stewart were all hated by a pretty big fan following before they stuck around and became respected competitors.
And let’s be honest… Dale was rude and snippy towards reporters, raced dirty, usually had a smug smile whenever he did something that other people disagreed with, and he was one of the few drivers I’ve seen take his hand off the wheel at full speed just to flip another driver the bird. I miss the old man, and the circuit isn’t the same without him.
i had first hand experience with shrub years ago at ams. child wanted his autograph and he told the child and his father “he doesn’t do autographs”. he was walking along pit road to go to his car. no one was around him but his pr person. me, and my tact, yelled, “guess you don’t want any fans”. people remember stuff like that behavior for a long time. in all the years i saw Dale race, i never once saw him be rude to a child. i hate it when i read people comparing shrub and Dale. NEVER!!!!
It does not matter how many times Kyle finishes 1st, he will never be a true WINNER unil he has a major change of attitude. He needs to stop acting like a 5 year old little girl, when he is not 1st. When he grows up, and acts like an adult, then he will be a true Winner. Until then, he is just a kid who finishes 1st. Nothing more. There is a BIG DIFFERENCE between the two.
ha ha!!! The Irritator!!! That’s brilliant! Michael T. – Kurt was ‘cooled out’ by the open palm to the face from Jimmy Spencer!You see Na$crap today is like an overprotective parent, back in the day things would sort themselves out in the school yard if you know what I’m saying. Maybe Jimmy Spencer should get off that crappy pre-race show he does on Sundays and be a ‘cooler’ if you will in the garage area! Keep these punks in check! LOL!
Kyle Busch needs to smacked around a bit both on and off track if you ask me!
I just don’t think Kyle Busch is as tallented as he seems. His brother seemed to have sparks of brilliance and even won a championship, but he’s going downhill. Jr. never even made it to the top and never will, and he’s falling too. I don’t see Kyle winning a championship. Part of what drives him is his youth and punkness. As he gets older and matures, his racing is going to erode.
Great article. You have summed up Kyle Busch perfectly. I will never agree with the Dale Earnhardt comparrison for the very reasons you mentioned. I agree he has talent but Carl D. I really do not think he is the most talented driver. The things I have seen Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart and Mark Martin do over the years tells me they have more raw talent. I also saw big Dale do things at Bristol that the irritator(love that nickname) will never be able to do.
I hear a lot of complaints of how NASCAR has changed. Forgot its roots. That NASCAR is more focused on entertainment than competition. And this all is true, but something else has changed too. “The FAN”. Rewind three decades back and you will see my point.I began following NASCAR in 1961 listening on an AM radio and attended my first race in 1963. Fireball Roberts, Fred Lorenzen, Junior Johnson, David Pearson and Richard Petty were the standouts of that time. No one was much concerned of anything about, but rather how they performed during the race. I must be one of the few “Race Fans” left, because I don’t care if the driver is a jerk or is from racing royalty. I don´t care if the driver is a pretty boy or uglier than sin. I don’t care if the driver is popular or what country he comes from. I don’t care whether he does back-flips or burn-outs after the race. I don’t care if he speaks PC or every other word is beeped out. Heck he could be a deaf mute, what does it matter, won’t affect his driving skills. I don’t care if he is boring vanilla or charming, or whether he gives to charities or not. I don’t care who the car owner is or what brand decal is on the car. I don’t care if he is a teenager or an old fart. I don’t care whether he sells millions of T-shirts or none. As long as the driver is not DWI or using his car as a weapon the rest is just useless gossip crap.
Where have all the “Race Fans” gone? Real “Race Fans” are concerned with what happens between the green flag and the checkered flag. Seems most “fans” now days are more concerned with the “Pre-Race” and the “Post-Race crap. The race itself has become secondary. If you are a “Race Fan” you make your judgment only by the on track performance of the driver. Is he a “Wheel Man”? Does he have a relentless desire to win? Does he know how overcome setbacks and still be a winner? These qualities can only accomplished on the track. It’s up to the driver, not what the media thinks or the modern fans wish for or dreams of them.
I find to hard that anyone could argue otherwise, if so, maybe its time for me to fade into the sunset, perhaps that’s where my fellow “Race Fans” have gone and now its time for me to join them and leave NASCAR to the today`s modern fan.
I wish Kyle’s sponsors and owner would step in and require certain behavior. They are the ones that have the real power here to make Shrub change. Coach Joe & Home Depot did it to Tony, and Tony is drastically improved over the way he used to act. It can be done to Kyle and I think it will if he last long enough. Gibbs Racing has too good a name and reputation to allow this kid to ruin it.
Of course some don’t care about how a driver behaves or doesn’t. They probably don’t have kids. If you want a sport to grow it must be marketable to a large portion of the public. Nascar wants to make money too. If drivers can say anything they want with no limits or expected behavior that sport will be tough to market. And if I’m the one writing the check at M&M’s; which by the way is how Shrub is able to drive a car on 36 weekends a year for an incredibly well paying job; then yes I want him to drive and I want him to want to win with everything in him. But he also better be able to lose with class for the most part or I’ll take my candy elsewhere.
Yes there are many differences between Dale and Kyle, but at the end of the day Both of them got/get everything out of the car that it had if this is a win or last thats the all that car had in it. There are very few nascar drivers that you can say this about (Smoke, Biffle, Gordon in his prime)
Hey, Jer good points watching ole Fireball back when a ball game got rained out up here in the north, I saw a class act, before he got out of the car a crew member passed a bowl and some water in the car so he could clean up before talking to the TV crew, and he was polite and courteous. The big thing is these kids are coming up so fast that they don’t have time to grow up. Much like the kids in the stick and ball games, like you said it’s the stuff before and after the race the fans come for. Chris Economaki once said they come to Indy to party and Daytona for the race. Everybody was “shocked” when Kyle busted up the trophy well NASCAR wants to treat these races as rock concerts, guess what they are getting, let’s hope nobody shows up with body piercings and tattoos on their forehead. Also, as for whining back in the eighties the biggest whiners were Childress and Earnhardt, so much in fact when some reporter asked Rusty Wallace about a comment they made he said ask him if he wants some cheese with that whine. Like I said before if they had cameras and mics every where like they do today maybe we wouldn’t think so much of our hero’s. At lease nobody is getting a “tire iron combing” these days. I heard that Childress’s wine business is doing good, I guess the man knows wine as well as “how to whine”…..
Dale was a dick. Kyle is a dick. They both win alot although the competition is tougher now.
Your purpose isn’t to crucify Kyle Busch, but you call him—let’s see here—whiny, petulant, arrogant, needing of a timeout, petty, vile, tiresome, irritating and loathsome. Are you sure you’re putting away the hammer and nails there Matt?
I remember when a young driver came along in the 90s and turned the whole sport upside down, winning dozens of races. He was almost always gracious in both victory and defeat, always thanked his sponsors and his team, was well spoken and was a good role model for children. In other words Matt, Jeff Gordon was everything you think a great young driver should be.
The way fans of Earnhardt and his son reacted to him, you’d have thought he molested their daughters. They booed the hell out of him, gave him the finger every time his car went by, threw beer cans at his car when he won, and did everything they could to convince the world he was a homosexual…a rumor, by the way, that found its roots in a joke from the Intimidator himself. Many of them still to this day give a standing ovation at even his scariest crashes, long after Daytona 2001 showed that drivers don’t always walk away.
This is the crowd Kyle Busch ought to try to please?
So Kyle Busch said the new car sucked once. If he says it 20,000 more times he’ll be somewhere in Matt McLaughlin’s league.
So Kyle Busch smashed a guitar in victory lane. He won the trophy and gave pieces of it to his crew. I really don’t care.
So Kyle Busch doesn’t want to answer moronic questions from reporters when he loses a lead late in the race (“Gee, what happened there Kyle?”). Can’t say I blame him for that.
So Kyle Busch gets mad at his crew like every other driver on the planet. I still haven’t seen his owner sit him and his crew chief down for milk and cookies yet.
So Kyle Busch doesn’t give a crap what fans of anyone named Earnhardt think.
Good for him.
Matt, you indeed are trying to crucify Kyle Busch. Just as you hate everything else about racing today. Do you really think you can make a living being nothing but a “grumpy old man?”
I have been a NASCAR fan since Bill Elliott won my heart winning the 1985 Daytona 500. And I can honestly say I enjoy racing today as much as I have at any time since those glory days of the mid-80’s. I am lovin’ it! How about you let ME write your column and put a positive perspective out there?
Attitude is everything. And yours is far worse than Kyle Busch’s on his worst guitar-smashing day.
By the way, I am from Milwaukee and I was thrilled to see Kyle and Carl show up and put on a great show.
And as for Dale, Sr.? Well, he put a heck of a lot of people in the wall during races, which to me is worse than anything that is said or done after the race is over. Lives are at stake on the track. Guitars are at stake on Victory Lane. Just which is more important?
Go for it, Kyle! You can smash my guitar any day. And you can mouth off to the media or simply walk away as Bill Elliott frequently did when he was pissed off. The fans matter; the press does not.
KBF- No, Rick Hendrick didn’t sit Ky;e down for milk and cookies. He fired his ass for being so corrosive to the team and immature. But yeah, given Kyle’s success as of late Rick might be second guessing that call.
Tam, you can write my bosses at email@example.com. Tell them you have my personal blessing and encouragement to be my fill in writer for this Thursday’s column (I’m on vacation this week to due the local car show and post-event party). Go on ahead and try to do what I do. Every column is like walking out on a high-wire. You want to make it look easy but it ain’t. Let’s see how folks react to your “Happy Furry Monsters feeling Glad” take on things (You-tube it if you don’t know what that means.”
Tom, Ren, et al, let’s have some fun with this. Let Tam write a column for Thursday. Make sure that comments are open. I’ll stop by to critique what she has to say. Because I think we can all agree a grumpy old man in a loud Hawiian shirt, driving a black Firebird with a gold screaming chicken on the hood is after all the best arbiter of taste and subtelty.
The Grumpy Old Man Who Hates the Car of Tommorow.