Kurt Busch to Attempt The Indianapolis-Charlotte Double
posted by Phil Allaway
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Andretti Autosport announced this morning that Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet in the Sprint Cup Series, will attempt the Indianapolis 500 in a fifth entry for the IndyCar Series team. Once the Indianapolis 500 is completed, Busch will fly from Indianapolis to Charlotte, jump in his No. 41 Chevrolet and compete in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Busch considers the opportunity to do the double as an old-school throwback moment.
“This is really to challenge myself within motorsports,” Busch said in Andretti Autosport’s press release. “Perhaps I am a bit of an old-school racer; a throwback, I guess. I enjoyed the era of drivers racing different cars and testing themselves in other series. It is tough to do now for a variety of factors, but when the opportunity is there, I want to do it. While NASCAR is my home, I have been fortunate to compete in Pro Stock on the NHRA circuit a number of years ago and test a V8 Supercar. This opportunity was a talk with Michael [Andretti] over dinner one night, a “What if,” and now it’s becoming a reality for me to drive in the Indy 500 with Andretti Autosport. It’s literally a dream come true. To go to the famous Brickyard with the iconic Andretti name, it doesn’t get much cooler or better than that.”
Busch will be doing the Indianapolis-Charlotte double as a Memorial Day mission to men and women serving in the U.S. Military via the Armed Forces Foundation. Fans can contribute to the cause by texting AFF to 50555 to donate $10.
Busch, who has never raced an IndyCar, passed Rookie Orientation at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year during a test session. At the time, Busch was more or less testing the Dallara DW12 for fun.
Busch will be the fourth driver to attempt the Indianapolis-Charlotte double. John Andretti was the first driver to attempt it in 1994. After finishing four laps down in tenth in Indianapolis, Andretti crashed and had engine problems in the 600. Robby Gordon has attempted the double five times, most recently in 2004. However, Gordon failed to make it to Charlotte on time and did not start the 600 in 2000 (P.J. Jones started Gordon’s No. 13 Ford in that instance). Finally, Tony Stewart has attempted the double twice (most recently in 2001) and is the only driver to ever complete all 1100 miles. Neither of the three drivers has won either leg of the double. The best finishes are Stewart and Gordon’s sixth-place finishes at the Indianapolis 500 (although Gordon’s came in 2000, the year he didn’t make it to Charlotte in time to start the Coca-Cola 600), and Stewart’s fourth-place finish in the 2001 Coca-Cola 600.
Danica Patrick, Justin Allgaier Talk About Phoenix Incident
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
A disappointing start to the year for Danica Patrick won’t include continued conflict. Patrick met with rookie Justin Allgaier Sunday, shortly after the Phoenix Cup race after a wreck ruined both drivers’ days. Patrick, who was critical of the No. 51 car on the radio, claiming Allgaier was “driving all over the track” appeared receptive to a conversation that quickly settled differences over what will be a long season.
“She was just upset because she got involved in the crash that we had,’’ said Allgaier to the Motor Racing Network. “She says she’s been through this and that she felt like I needed to settle down at that point. I explained my position on why everything happened. I think she understood where I was coming from. It doesn’t fix either one of our racecars. It doesn’t fix either one of our days. Unfortunately, we were both having pretty decent days.’’
Allgaier wound up 30th due to the incident while Patrick was 36th. The incident, which was caused by Allgaier’s spin also involved the No. 32 team and Travis Kvapil, which wound up 38th after sustaining heavy damage.
Camping World Close to Extending Title Sponsorship of NCWTS
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Marcus Lemonis, CEO of Camping World, Grand Marshal of Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway, and star of CNBC’s “The Profit,” made the announcement over the weekend that the retailer is very close to announcing a deal that would continue its title sponsorship of NASCAR’s Truck Series. The original agreement with NASCAR is scheduled to conclude after the 2015 season.
According to the sanctioning body, no formal contract has been signed, but “the agreement between the two parties has proven to be a beneficial one.”
“In about a month, we’ll be announcing a significant extension to that contract. It’s been great for us,” said Camping World’s Lemonis in a statement. “The NASCAR relationship has worked well for Camping World. When we started, we had 35 stores. Now, we’re up to 120 stores. As we travel the country and we meet new customers in stores, they always are very appreciative of our relationship with NASCAR. It’s been good.”
Gaining a long-term commitment from Camping World to sponsor the Truck Series would be a relief for NASCAR, which is set to lose Nationwide Insurance as title sponsor for the NASCAR Nationwide Series at the end of the 2014 season. The sponsorship of the Cup Series by Sprint runs through 2016.
The NCWTS is back in action on March 29th at 2:30 PM (ET) when the trucks visit Martinsville Speedway in the Kroger 250, which can be seen on Fox Sports 1. Ratings for the season opener were up 11 percent.
Harvick Takes Win At Phoenix In Second Race With New Team
posted by Justin Tucker
Monday March 3, 2014
Phoenix International Raceway has become Kevin Harvick’s home away from home. Sunday Afternoon was no exception as Harvick charged to the front early and would dominate for much of the day, leading 224 of the scheduled 312 laps to record his record fifth win on the one mile oval and his third win in the last four races at Phoenix.
Harvick, coming off of a disappointing Speedweeks which was capped by a last lap crash in the Daytona 500 in his debut with Stewart-Haas Racing, set the tone on Saturday by winning both practices while having the best 5 and 10-lap averages in the first practice of the day on Saturday. On Sunday, Harvick and his No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet was nothing short of flawless as he was able to hold Dale Earnhardt, Jr. by .489 seconds after a late race restart to claim his 24th career Sprint Cup Series victory.
“Man, this is awesome,” Harvick said after his dominant victory on Sunday. “Man, this just solidifies so many things and so many decisions. It’s been so much work with all the time and effort that these guys (the crew) have put in—but what a race car.”
Stewart Haas Racing co-owner Gene Haas shared in Harvick’s excitement after the race.
“It took long enough,” Haas joked. “This is phenomenal. I think there was a lot of skepticism last year about what myself and Tony (Stewart) what we were up to, was there a lot of madness to this. Quite frankly, it’s a great team, there’s a lot of synergy at the shop, people working together. I don’t know what we did, but I think we put together a great organization.”
Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt, Jr. continued his hot start to the 2014 season. Earnhardt Jr. would finish second on Sunday, marking his seventh consecutive top 10 finish since the end of the 2013 season. Earnhardt Jr. was pleased with the effort after a coast-to-coast whirlwind week after winning his second Daytona 500 and also gave great praise to the efforts of Harvick and the No. 4 team.
“I’ve got to congratulate Kevin. Those guys were two-tenths faster than everyone all weekend in practice. They were just phenomenal,” Earnhardt said. “To be able to run with them all day was a big confidence builder for us.”
Joining Harvick and Earnhardt in the top 5 of The Profit on CNBC 500K were Brad Keselowski with his second consecutive top 3 run of 2014 in third. Keselowski’s Team Penske teammate Joey Logano would finish fourth, and Jeff Gordon would come home fifth in his No. 24 Pepsi Max Chevrolet.
Jimmie Johnson finished in sixth, followed by Ryan Newman with a nice rebound after Daytona in seventh. Carl Edwards would carry the banner for Roush Fenway Racing by finishing eighth, Kyle Busch was ninth, and Jamie McMurray would finish tenth.
A look at the Profit on CNBC 500K by the numbers. There were 14 lead changes among eight different drivers, there were eight cautions for 39 laps which slowed the race pace to 109.229 MPH.
Next Sunday, the Sprint Cup Series heads to Sin City and the Las Vegas Motor
Starting Lineup: The Profit On CNBC 500K
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday March 1, 2014
Drivers in RED (i) are those ineligible to collect Sprint Cup points
Daytona 500 TV Ratings Down
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Wednesday February 26, 2014
What was the longest weather delay in Daytona 500 history turned out to bring NASCAR lower ratings and TV viewership Sunday night than expected. According to a report Monday from FOX Sports, the 56th running of the Daytona 500 airing at 8 PM (ET) posted a 5.6/10 national household rating/share which averaged 9.3 million viewers. That’s down 44 percent from last year’s 9.9, easily making it the least-watched Daytona 500 of all-time.
Due to the six-hour, twenty-two minute rain delay in Daytona, the race was up against the primetime coverage of the Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony from Sochi, Russia on NBC (15.25 million viewers). FOX also reported that 69% of the pre-rain delay viewers of the race, which began at 1 PM (ET) kept tuning in.
In comparison, the 2013 Daytona 500 on FOX was the most-watched race in five years, posting a 9.9/22 rating/share, commanding 16.7 million viewers. The Daytona 500 in 2012, the first to ever be run on a Monday and in the primetime slot did a 7.7/13 overnight rating/share which resulted in 13.67 million households viewing the race according to Nielsen TV ratings data.
Earnhardt, Jr. Claims Second Daytona 500 Victory
posted by Justin Tucker
Wednesday February 26, 2014
Ten years is a long time. For Dale Earnhardt, Jr., it felt like an eternity. NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver endured many near misses and close calls at the Daytona 500 since his only win in the Great American Race in 2004. Earnhardt had finished second in two of his last three Daytona 500s coming into Sunday’s race. He was also riding the tail of a 55-race winless streak, dating back to Michigan in 2012.
However nothing would stop Dale Jr. on Sunday, not even a 6 hour and 22 minute rain delay from capturing his second Daytona 500 win. Earnhardt Jr. led a race-high 54 laps on the evening and used some timely drafting help from teammates Jimmie Johnson and, on the final restart, Jeff Gordon to separate from the pack and secure the victory.
“Winning this race is the greatest feeling that you could feel in this sport besides accepting the trophy for the championship,” said a jubilant Earnhardt after pulling into Victory Lane. “We could fight off battle after battle. We got a little help at the end there from Jeff to get away on the restart. This is amazing. I can’t believe this is happening. I never take this for granted, man because it doesn’t happen twice, let alone once.”
Aside from the race itself the big story of the race was the 6 hour and 22 minute red flag, which threatened to move the race to Monday evening (had the race been postponed, FOX Sports’ Chris Myers had tweeted that the race would resume at 5:00pm EST). However, Mother Nature would cooperate and would allow the race to be run under different conditions from which they practiced this week. Once the race resumed, the intensity picked up from the changing track conditions. This allowed the pack to race side-by-side and at times 3-wide up to seven rows deep.
Joining Earnhardt Jr. in the top 5 for the 2014 Daytona 500 were: Denny Hamlin who closed out a spectacular Speedweeks in second, Brad Keselowski in third, Jeff Gordon in fourth, and Jimmie Johnson who overcome two wrecks leading up to the 500 in fifth.
Rounding out the top 10 in the Daytona 500 were Matt Kenseth in sixth, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. in seventh and Greg Biffle would bring his No. 16 Ford home in eighth. Austin Dillon would come home ninth in his first Cup Series race in the iconic No. 3 for Richard Childress Racing, while Casey Mears would round out the top 10.
A couple of major contenders for the Daytona 500 win would see their hopes dashed early on as Martin Truex, Jr. would blow up just 30 laps into the race, relegating him to a 43rd-place finish in his debut for Furniture Row Racing. Crew chief Todd Berrier was already in Nashville for a test session before the race was even over. Kyle Busch, meanwhile would have a pit road violation just before halfway and would spend much of the race battling back from that mistake. Busch would eventually finish 19th after leading 19 laps.
Danica Patrick would also be bit by bad luck as she was caught up in a multi-car wreck on lap 145. Patrick would lead her second consecutive Daytona 500, but wouldn’t have the finish to show for it finishing 40th. Tony Stewart would encounter a frustrating evening as well, with a fuel pickup problem derailing his quest for his first Daytona 500 win. Stewart would finish 35th.
A look at the Daytona 500 by the numbers. There were 42 lead changes among 18 drivers, while seven cautions for 39 laps would slow the race pace to 145.290 MPH.
Next week, the Sprint Cup Series heads to the “diamond in the desert,” Phoenix International Raceway for The Profit on CNBC 500K. The Green flag is scheduled for 3:15pm EST.
Nationwide Series Post-Race Quotes: Drive4COPD 300
posted by Thomas Bowles
Tuesday February 25, 2014
Frontstretch Interviews – Courtesy Mike Neff
ELLIOTT SADLER – FINISHED 4th
Thoughts on the race?
It’s definitely a lot different racing than what we’re used to.
Comfortable with it?
Yeah, it’s just different. You’re worried about what you’re doing, but you’re also worried about what everyone else is doing and they’re not doing more than you’re doing. Physically pushing a guy is way better than just riding so you just gotta time it right and push it to the edge.
Happy to start the year with a top 5?
Yeah. Hell, that was the worst we ran all day, I think. I have no idea how they put the 3 car in front of us on that last restart. I hadn’t seen the 3 car hardly all day. When they put us from fifth to sixth, on the outside line, it just really boxed us in. I would have really restarted behind my teammate and given him a good push to the front. Anyways, it is what it is; we’ll take it and move on.
Looked like you were up front all day.
The guys did a good job. We had a fast race car. Great pit stops, just really proud of these guys. The car’s in one piece and we can take it to Talladega now. Great job by my guys. A lot of effort came into coming down here to Daytona and giving ourselves a shot to win. We had that chance to be up front and make some things happen. Fifth is not what we want, but we’ll take it and move on.
Bumping vs Pushing?
It’s way harder. You don’t want to lay on the guy in front of you, so it’s tough racing. A lot different than what we’re used to, ‘cause you gotta go. You gotta drag the brake too ‘cause you don’t want to hit the guys and you don’t want to stay on him. It’s a lot harder mentally than what we’ve done in the past.
Car was strong all day. Pushing vs. Bumping, is that harder to do than just getting on somebody and pushing them?
Yeah, it is a little bit. When you bump ‘em, you jar ‘em, it kinda jacks ‘em a little bit. It’s a little more abrupt, obviously. I thought it was OK there at the end. It was certainly fun and hopefully entertaining. But a little bit of a struggle in the early part of the race and the midpart of the race to see a good race. And that’s unfortunate for the fans. You can’t do that the whole race, you can’t tear up your stuff, knock your grill in, overheat your motor, all that stuff so there’s no sense in doing all that until you get down to the last lap. The 7 and the 6, they did a good job. Man, the 7 really held the 22 and I tight on the bottom. I was rubbing his door and hitting the apron at the same time, no room whatsoever. So it was good; wish we were the ones who could have won but a lot better now than what we were last year.
Going home in one piece makes it a lot better, right?
Yeah. My back feels good. My foot feels good. Past years here, I’ve been going home with pain so I’m alright.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Truck Series Post-Race Quotes: Daytona (Exclusives)
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday February 22, 2014
When you’re on the outside like that, how frustrating is it?
It’s so hard. Timothy Peters has won here. Kyle Busch has won everywhere. Ron Hornaday has been running Trucks forever, probably before I was even born. I was surrounded by veterans there, and like I told them I don’t have a rookie stripe but I’m a rookie. This is only my fourth Truck race ever, my fourth superspeedway race, and man, I figured out when the 17 got up in front of me, I pushed him. And as soon as I pushed him, he took off. And I went with him. And I just kept doing it, and before I knew it, he was leading. And I saw Ron in my mirror, backed up to him, and if it wasn’t for him, I don’t know what would have happened. I gotta thank him big time for that. That was a true teammate move right there. I really appreciate that. He just bounced off me and we got to the front. I tried my hardest to sidedraft Kyle. I was probably touching his door.
Top 5 in the No. 30 truck. This deal come together at the last minute, but you had a heck of a truck. Tell us about your night.
Yeah, I’ve got to thank Turner Scott Motorsports. The guys worked so hard on this Rheem Comfort Products Chevrolet. Exciting! Just got hung up on the outside and had to wait for my teammate there to catch up. And then he got to the bottom, so… I got the old 32 and started pushing ol’ Ryan to the front. So, it’s not bad. We’ll take it. You just don’t want to step over that boundary. You don’t know how far to push and shove. We bumped about six times down the straightaway without latching onto them. Hopefully, that was OK and we came home with a top 5.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Budweiser Duels Post Race Quotes
posted by Matt Stallknecht
Friday February 21, 2014
BUDWEISER DUELS POST-RACE QUOTES
They’re saying the wheel bearing burned up in it. I don’t know what caused it, they’re taking it all apart to figure out what the heck happened. Something abnormal that’s for sure I don’t think I’ve ever had that happen at all. Hopefully, we made the race and hopefully we can fix the problem before Sunday.
WHAT WAS THAT LOUD BOOM ONCE YOU TURNED INTO THE GARAGE?
Loud pop was a tire… thankfully, it popped, hopefully it didn’t hurt anybody. All the heat created in the left front that popped was pretty weird.
REALLY GOOD RUN. WHAT DID YOU THINK OF IT?
Yeah, it was good. We have a car we can work with for the 500. Got a good starting spot, so we’re going to rest easy, fluff and buff our car for a couple of days and get ready for Sunday.
ANY DIFFERENCE ON WHETHER THE TOP OR BOTTOM LANE WORKED?
Yeah, I was just moving around, trying to stay with the flow. For me, this car works on all parts of the racetrack. So I’m pretty happy with it.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.
GOT SHUFFLED BACK, AFTER PIT STOPS AND THEN COULDN’T GET BACK UP TO THE FRONT. WHY?
Nah, we were just sitting there waiting until the last few laps to make a move. You didn’t want to pull down and get sent to the back. Seen a couple of guys get sent to the back really quick so we were just kind of waiting for the end. I felt like we had a good situation there with Ambrose behind us — we had a good run off Turn 2 and I went. It was the last lap, time to go do something, nobody went with us but hopefully Sunday is a different story.
We got a great car. We don’t have to work hard. We learned, we got a good race car. Got a car in one piece, ready to go so we’ll try and get through the next couple of practices, deliver it to the starting group this Sunday and we’ll be real happy.
YOU’RE IN THE DAYTONA 500!
Yeah, it’s pretty awesome. This Whitetail Chevrolet was so fast that I knew all I had to do was stick it behind smart, intelligent drafters and we could have a good finish. That’s what we did in the Duels and I’m excited. I’m excited to go do some stuff with the Nationwide car and have some more practice with this. But to know that we’re locked in the Daytona 500’s pretty cool.
YOU WERE OBVIOUSLY IN FRONT OF THAT MELEE AT THE END. WHEN YOU WERE UP FRONT THERE IN THE BEGINNING, WERE YOU HOPING TO JUST STAY IN LINE AND LET YOU FINISH TOP 5?
I was pretty content to ride and luckily I knew a lot of people around us were. It was nice to have a little calm and not really have to be racing hard the whole time. I knew that the pit stop was going to shake everything up and that’s exactly what happened. Fell back a little bit there but made the right moves at the end to get a good finish.
HOW STRONG ARE THESE RCR CARS?
They’re very strong! They definitely have the capabilities to be winning one of these races.
YOU’RE IN THE TOP 5 FOR YOUR HEAT IN THE DAYTONA 500. YOUR PRIMARY CAR IS SITTING RIGHT IN THE GARAGE, KIND OF WADDED UP. DID YOU THINK THIS ONE HAD IT IN IT?
Yeah, it’s a brand new car also. It’s just not quite as good as the primary but still a damned good car. I’m just proud of everybody at RCR for building such fast race cars. All of our cars have been fast, ECR motor’s been strong, even our affiliate teams have been qualifying really good and racing good. So… excited about 2014! It’s going to be a good year.
WELL MAN, YOU STARTED IN THE BACK BUT WORKED YOUR WAY TO THE FRONT WHEN IT COUNTED MOST. WERE YOU JUST BIDING YOUR TIME THROUGHOUT THE RACE?
Eh, you never know if you’re going to get back up there or not. We had to start at the back, we had to make a run early and see what we could do. We drove right to 10th, or something like that and then it got stagnant. We tried to make something happen, and went to the back again. Drove back up to the front. Again, just really proud of my guys. Matt Kruder did a hell of a job on that pit stop getting just enough gas in to gain some spots there.
RCR CARS SEEM PRETTY DARNED STRONG. DO YOU THINK THE RCR CARS HAVE SOMETHING FOR THEM ON SUNDAY — ESPECIALLY THE THREE JOE GIBBS RACING CARS THAT SEEM TO BE THE CLASS OF THE FIELD RIGHT NOW?
Oh yeah. The 20 car was extremely fast. The 11 didn’t qualify that good, but he’s a good drafter. I think he won. We definitely have something for him.
Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
Matt McLaughlin · Monday July 6, 2009
The Key Moment: Kyle Busch tried blocking Tony Stewart once too often on the final lap. Stewart took the win, while Busch took a savage ride into the wall and through the pack.
In a Nutshell: Contrived excitement but very real danger, and a tragedy narrowly averted.
Dramatic Moment: Certainly, the carnage coming to the checkers is what everyone’s going to be talking about this week.
What They’ll Be Talking About Around the Water Cooler This Week
One more time… before it’s too late. End plate racing now. Yes, the new car design probably saved Kyle Busch’s life Saturday night, but plate racing caused a wreck that didn’t have to happen. Sooner or later, our luck is going to run out; and to be frank, watching that last lap incident I was certain it already had Saturday night.
Anyone else want to see the “no racing below the yellow line” rule rescinded on the last lap after the latest finishes at Talladega and Daytona? If you don’t, I figure you’re either a ghoul or a mortician.
Some folks are already debating what would have happened in Victory Lane if NASCAR officials hadn’t headed off Kyle Busch’s apparently determined efforts to go congratulate Tony Stewart. For what it’s worth, my money is on Stewart. He’d have knocked Busch’s block off… so to speak.
I love the fact the official finishing order lists the 18 car as “running” at the end of the race. About the only thing “running” on the 18 car after the race was its driver; and for that, I’m grateful to God.
After an ugly finish, their contributions might be overlooked, but Tony Stewart’s pit crew was absolutely flawless all night, getting their boy out first during every sequence of stops.
I’ve seen NASCAR throw a lot of competition cautions early in a race, but never one with fifteen laps left to go at a plate track. Oh, sure, there was debris on the track, right? Well, there was fixing to be a lot more debris on the track after that. It’s not like NASCAR didn’t expect and perhaps even welcome the last lap carnage.
If NASCAR is genuinely interested in arresting the declining TV ratings we’ve seen this season, they need to ensure that TNT’s Wide Open broadcast style that allowed fans to keep following the race during commercials is used for all races. It wasn’t perfect, but it sure beat what fans at home normally have to endure. Thanks to all the sponsors who participated. (Though you’d think Coors sells enough beer that they could come up with more than one ad.)
I’m not sure what Ramsey Poston’s official title is, but it ought to be “Official NASCAR corporate spokes-bully.” It seems lately when NASCAR wants to present its arrogant, churlish side to the world it will be Poston’s mouth moving. This week, Poston sneered at Jeremy Mayfield’s victory in a lawsuit urging a judge to lift his suspension, citing the urgency that he be allowed to return to the track when Mayfield failed to present a car for inspection for this weekend’s race. OK, let’s see. Mayfield has laid off ten workers from his tiny team and lost his sponsor as a result of the allegations NASCAR made against him. After the court ruling, he had less than 24 hours to prepare and transport a car to the track… and for a plate race, at that. And, he might have been a few bucks short of the 5,000-plus buck entry fee thanks to the torpedo strike below the waterline NASCAR inflicted on his career. Once again old Ramsey has proven himself a dirt bag. (I originally used a stronger term, but I’ve been told some parents let their kids read my columns. What are you, out of your minds?)
To be frank, I’m sick of this whole mess and I don’t want to see it drag through court for years. It’s cards on the table time for both parties. Mayfield should, at NASCAR’s bequest or on his own initiative, submit hair samples from his person to be tested by two independent labs under the tightest security and highest level of scientific expertise — with those tests witnessed by interested parties from both camps and the media. Yes, the hair on Mayfield’s head is pretty short, but there are other hairs on his body that grow more slowly and will reflect year’s worth of information. If the independent tests reveal Mayfield is a meth user, he’s gone with no possible reinstatement. If it’s proven he doesn’t use illicit drugs, NASCAR apologizes and writes him a big old check for setting off this whole dog and pony show with their incompetence. One way or another, the matter is settled once and for all, with both parties agreeing not to appeal the results.
I’m not a meteorologist and I don’t play one on TV. (I lack the boobs, blonde hair and vacuous nature to pull it off.) But I do know this about weather in Florida during the summer: it’s hot, humid, and unpleasant as hell by late afternoon. That tends to set off wild thunderstorms late in the afternoon into the early hours of the night. It’s why the Firecracker 400 (and that’s the real name, soda companies be damned to Hell) used to start at 11 AM, before the heat got too oppressive and so it would end in time for folks to head to the beach for a little relief from the worst of the late day heat. Moving the Firecracker 400 to a nighttime starting spot greatly increases the risk of rain delays or cancellations.
On a more human level, the nighttime race really messes up a lot of fan’s plans for the holiday weekend. If they’re going to watch the race, they can’t take the kids to the fireworks. They’ll have to miss Ms. Sheryl Crow on the Parkway here in Philly. They’ll have to turn down invitations to barbecues extended by friends, family and neighbors not addicted to the sport at this magic time of year when fireflies provide nature’s fireworks and Tiger Lilies as big as dinner plates light up embankments. As a big fan of Sheryl Crow, fireworks, fireflies, Tiger lilies, barbecues and beer, as well as this great old nation we live in, I think it’s high time that the July race at Daytona return to its rightful title, the Firecracker 400, and its 11 AM start time. We, the people, hold these truths to be self-evident… give us a race everyone will still be talking about as we barbecue at dusk and wait for the fireworks, and NASCAR will have gone a long way to restoring the sport.
You want to know just how bad things have gotten for NASCAR in the media? Every local and national media outlet I visited late Friday evening had verbiage about Saturday’s Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating contest (an event so disgusting I can’t watch) but not a word about the Firecracker 400. If qualifying hadn’t been rained out, a big name driver like Junior had won the pole and someone had been kind enough to crash to provide some chilling video, maybe the race would have gotten a little play. As it stands, apparently the mainstream media thinks people are more interested in watching gluttons vomit than stock car racing. Maybe what NASCAR needs is a vomitorium in the infield? To get the ball rolling, we can have Darrell Waltrip incite mass nausea with an impassioned “Boogity, boogity, boogity, let’s go retching boys!” I know that nonsense makes me sick to the stomach every time I hear it.
By all indications, it appears the Dale Earnhardt Jr./ Brad Keselowski relationship is winding down. Keselowski says he’s ready to compete full-time in the Cup series, although there’s no room at HMS racing for him. Junior says it’s unlikely Junior Motorsports would be able to make the shift from Nationwide racing to the Cup series by next year. (In a scary statement, Earnhardt says that in this economy, finding sponsorship would be nigh on impossible. If the sport’s Most Popular Driver can’t lure a well-funded sponsor — who can?) I think Keselowski is going to find when a small satellite drifts out of the universe that is Dale Earnhardt Jr., it’s lost in space forever.
It’s been 25 years since Richard Petty won his 200th race with President Reagan on hand to watch the triumph? Damn, that does make me feel old. As I recall that year, Bruce Springsteen’s Born in the USA classic album had finally deposed Michael Jackson’s Thriller atop the Billboard charts. Bruce is still doing OK. Jackson…not so well.
Maybe I’m too sensitive, but it bothered me that on the Fourth of July the only car company to advertise during the Firecracker 400 was Japanese.
I don’t know who Bill Weber pissed off with that loud profane argument at a hotel last week; but apparently they had some clout. Not only is Weber off the TNT team, they won’t even mention his name or discuss what happened.
Looks like there were a few empty seats there on the backstretch Saturday night, huh? But don’t you worry, baby, Brian France went on record again at the halfway point of the season saying things are just peachy. Editor’s Note: Daytona chooses not to sell the superstretch section for its annual night races in July.
Dagnabit, would somebody buy Dave Blaney’s Prism Motorsports team a new radiator? He keeps falling out of races after a couple laps with “overheating” issues. I’m sure they’re not just starting and parking to collect last place money. Similarly Tommy Baldwin’s driver, Partick Carpentier, is officially listed as falling out at Daytona after 18 laps with “engine” issue. What, did they forget to put one in the car?
The Hindenburg Award For Foul Fortune
There’s just something about Mark Martin and Daytona. He’s never won a points race here, and his chances at finally winning one ended early with a rare unforced error Saturday night.
Jeff Gordon almost had the lap 77 wreck cleared. Unfortunately, he was racing… not playing horseshoes.
Jeff Burton was running well right up until the last lap when he got caught up in that smoking pig pile. RCR really could have used a good finish with the season they’ve had and Burton is trying to claw his way back into the Chase. I’d guess in an unguarded moment Burton might admit the notion of decals on the windshield wasn’t the only thing “idiotic” going on at Daytona Saturday night.
Kasey Kahne could see the checkered flag and the chance of a decent finish until the only thing he could see was the undercarriage of the No. 18 car — with its rear axle assembly about ready to come through his windshield.
Several high profile team owners are going to be writing big checks to cover overtime at the body and fab shops this week after Daytona. RCR, Hendrick and Gibbs transporters all hauled a whole lot of junk back to North Carolina Saturday night. Their Cars of Tomorrow are now Cars of Never Again. My guess is Gibbs would be lucky to salvage the lug nuts off what was left of the 18 car.
Joey Logano dodged a whole lot of wrecks throughout the race. He just didn’t dodge the last one.
The “Seven Come Fore Eleven” Award For Fine Fortune
My guess is that Kyle Busch is well and truly pissed off after that last lap wreck, but maybe he ought to review the tape. He made a bad mistake and survived it.
Kurt Busch had a strong car but had his efforts waylaid by tire issues and contact trying to get back to the front. He rallied back to finish fifth. I’ll admit I was a little bothered to hear him say when the carnage broke out in front of him, he kept his boot in it on the last lap. Maybe if he’d known which driver was in the car at the front of the melee’ he’d have backed off a bit?
Juan Pablo Montoya took a wild ride through the grass early in the race and survived some hard contact out on the track, then needed two free passes under caution but still managed an eighth place finish.
Denny Hamlin advanced his position below the yellow line but NASCAR officials swallowed their whistles. He went on to finish third.
He might have preferred a long overdue win, but the last lap at Daytona Saturday night ended up being a lot better for Carl Edwards than the last lap at Talladega. A fourth place finish was a decent result.
The way the first half of the race went for Brian Vickers, I’m still scratching my head wondering how he finished in the top 10.
Marcos Ambrose might have been treated like a leper in the draft, but he still came away with a finish somewhere in the top 10. My guess is NASCAR will be resorting the final finishing order at Daytona until next Saturday.
On a plate track one mistake in the pits can end a driver’s chance at a decent finish. Jimmie Johnson’s rare mental error that caused him to slide through his pit box might have ended his evening; but instead, he came away with a second place finish.
A tire problem forced Matt Kenseth to make an unplanned pit stop and could have cost him a lap. Instead a caution flag flew as Kenseth exited the pits, and he wound up leading the race en route to a ninth place finish.
What’s the Points?
Obviously Tony Stewart remains the points leader. His victory coupled with Jeff Gordon’s problems now leave Stewart 180 points ahead of second place Gordon. Even if Stewart were to stay home next week he’d still be leading the points.
Despite all the carnage Saturday night, all drivers in the top 10 in points held serve in their respective positions.
Mark Martin’s early race wreck dropped him out of the top 12, two spots down to 13th in the standings.
Juan Pablo Montoya moved up a spot to 11th. Kasey Kahne re-entered the top 12, up a spot to 12th despite a windshield full of Toyota coming to the line.
If there was the slightest chance Dale Earnhardt, Jr. was going to make the Chase that chance involved a victory at Daytona, a track where Earnhardt has had some of his best runs. That didn’t happen and Junior fell another two spots to 21st in the standings.
Overall Rating (On a scale of one to six beer cans with one being a stinker and a six pack an instant classic) — Until the last lap the race was pretty sedate by the standards of plate racing. Sedate is good sometimes. Tragic sucks. We’ll give this one three cans of Colorado Kool-Aid served up by that blonde in the cowboy hat in the ad.
Next Up: It’s 48 miles from Chicago, we got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it’s dark out and we’re wearing sunglasses….hit it.
©2000 - 2008 Matt McLaughlin and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
You remind me of my dad. Everything was better in his time, and it all sucks now and has gone to hell.
I’m glad you brought up that caution with 15 to go. I was one of those out enjoying other things Saturday night but tuned into the race with 40 to go. When they pulled that caution out of their backsides I was reminded why I do not tune into Nascar like in the old days, and I just about turned it off. I was waiting for the cause from the booth, but all they showed was the obligitory safety truck, lights flashing with the safety workers safely in the cab as they took a spin down the frontstretch.
How about this for the next plate race; 15 laps from start to finish, caution laps do not count. That way we get rid of all the manipulation, fluff and filler of a 400 or 500 mile race and get down to business. The first 385 or 485 miles of plate races are nothing more than Nascar throwing cautions if the leaders are running away, TV partners need a long ad block, or if the Goodyears are not holding up. The smart drivers coast and set themselves up to race the last 15 laps anyway, so whats the differance other than 3 hours of filler?
I see the IRL has dumped Tony George. When does Nascar dump our Clown Prince and get back to the business of racing?
I watched Joey Chesnut live on ESPN as he downed 68 hot dogs and buns in 10 minutes to keep the Mustard Yellow Belt firmly on American soil for the third consecutive year. USA USA USA USA USA !!!!! This is a real American sport (tounge firmly in cheek) that is not manipulated by the governing body, unlike another sport we know.
Don’t be so hard on your Dad. Looks like he let you stay up late to be the first to comment on Matts recap.
I was thinking the same thing Kevin in SoCal. I also get tired of the dramatics of every crash the driver could be KILLED. Why do we only see that at plate races? Drivers can’t be killed at the other tracks? Atlanta and even Fontana they are over 200 mph going into the turns. Apparently it’s only dangerous and potentially fatal when it supports your tired bemoaning of the same things over and over again.
“You remind me of my dad. Everything was better in his time, and it all sucks now and has gone to hell”.
We just know how much better racing could be if NASCAR would get their heads out of their asses.
contrived crap as usual. And it seems like these cars are such a handful at Daytona now (as opposed to Talladega) that whoever gets the lead has a real hard time giving it up.
The last lap wreck was typical plate racing and a complete joke. Was Busch wrong to drift up? Sure, but he wouldn’t have done it if this wasn’t a plate race. Like Carl Edwards said, they’ll do this until someone else dies, and then NASCAR will decide to change the rule.
Plain and simple, NASCAR likes carnage because it gets The Average Fan excited. Meanwhile the rest of us spend less and less attention to the product.
Editor’s Note: Daytona chooses not to sell the superstretch section for its annual night races in July.
Well, they used to (shows how things have gone downhill). I was in the backstretch stands in 2002 for the Mikey’s “ticker-tape” parade of Pepsi seat cushions after the race ended under caution.
Looked like attendance was WAY down from the Tv angles.
Tony in the current plate master. He had Kyle beat in any event.
Hey Matt! You have enough good stuff here to make five (5) columns!
GREAT STUFF & LOTS OF IT TODAY!
And taking one of your comments a little further: “I’ve seen NASCAR throw a lot of competition cautions early in a race, but never one with fifteen laps left to go at a plate track.”
The TV people were talking about GOODYEAR TIRES and the fact the longest green flag run was 25 laps (that is yet another story in the making), and they tuned into the crews/drivers communications about the tire situation, they were afraid, “be very afraid”, that the GOODYEARS were about ready to start exploding!
They, the TV people, no sooner got these words out of their collective mouths, then a SURPRISE yellow flag appeared!
The TV people were obviously caught by complete surprise, and after fumbling for words for a minute, SIMPLY IGNORED THE YELLOW FLAG AND WHAT MIGHT HAVE CAUSED IT!
And the reason they avoided completely ANY discussion of why a yellow, they simply knew it was a NA$CRAP decision to allow teams to get those DEFECTIVE GOODYEARS off the cars so they would not have another INDY race fiasco by tires simply EXPLODING!
Ask yourself this question?
“is 25 laps maximum on a set of GOODYEARS really racing”?
And the “PHONY YELLOW FLAG” thus tightened up the field allowing for the fiasco of a finish that NA$CAR seems to love and promote!
BUT! Make no mistake! This is simply NOT RACING!
So you think after sixty years that they are going to change the track because tou say so it’s not going to happen
Good recap. I watched the entire race, which is strange for me and a plate race. Right editor, NASCAR “chose” not to sell the backstretch because there were empty seats on the front stretch. I get tired of reading the crap from these immature kids, comparing Matt with their dads. Apparently they love to see horrendous crashes like the last lap. That was unbelievably scary and totally unnecessary. There were crashes in the old days of slingshot passes (which were much more exciting than a failed block) but they didn’t involve the entire field. The “debris” yellow was ridiculous, but the commercial break coverage was great.
I really wish you had used your original descriptive name for that slug Poston . He embodies every nasty trait of Nascar and corporatespeak all in one package .
Just a note to clarify the superstretch comment. It’s not meant to mislead, just inform that they didn’t stop selling superstretch tickets in 2009 only … it’s actually been going on for a couple of years (where they’ve closed off that entire section).
So, to not have anybody on the backstretch for this race is actually right in line with the last couple of years … what IS unusual is the sparse crowd on the frontstretch. To be there covering it and see that type of crowd for Daytona … it was really sad to see.
Didn’t the 400 actually used to start at 10 EDT? I need to go check some old ticket stubs..
Oh and agreed 100% on Poston. #$%^bag
Didn’t take Hendrick very long to insert himself into the victory lane celebration on Saturday night . He must have made the golf cart driver run over anyone in the way to get there that fast . Is he trying desperatly to make everyone think that the success of Tony’s team is all about Hendrick ? Or is he trying to be sure that Hendrick is always shown and mentioned , even when they’re getting beat ? Or is Hendrick finally becoming aware that Tony Stewart is now just as important a car owner as he is ?
Yes, you guys are right. Let’s cut down the banking @ Talladega and Daytona and take the plates off. That will solve all the problems and no big crashes will ever happen again. <sarcasm> The finishes at Daytona and Talladega were the most exciting finishes of the year, not because of thw wrecking, but because we had no idea of what was going to happen. Both of the huge wrecks were caused by one thing – blocking. Keselowski holds his line + Edwards tries to block = Edwards wrecks. Stewart holds his line + Busch tries to block = Busch wrecks himself and many others. If they do anything to Daytona or Talladega, I will officially switch to Indycar. Or freaking soccer. Stop being ridiculous.
Elliott Sadler also finished in the top 10 at both Daytona races.
Great points Douglas. Time for Na$crap to start enforcing a blocking rule. BLOCKING is the reason Dale Earnhardt Sr. isn’t here today. The COT may be a safer car, but please explain to me just how safe it is when the time comes at a plate race and a COT ends up in the stands. Easily could have happened sat. nite. The clock is ticking on this one.
Maybe Brian can get a job running the contest for Nathan’s.
Bad Wolf, I’m 34 years old, married, and havent lived with my dad in over 10 years. I’m not a kid, but I guess since I’ve only been watching NASCAR for 6 years, I am one in your eyes. My first post was 1:30 am Eastern time, but that’s only 10:30 pm on the West coast.
Michael, thank you. I thought I was the only one that noticed Hendrick in v/l with Stewart. Will he be a fixture there everytime a Stewart/Haas team wins? I see this as a way to circumvent the 4 car ownership rule. Just lend engineering, chassis, engine and whatever else support to a team and it’s a satellite operation. That’s how I see Stewart/Haas. Guess Hendrick is doing this to hide his disappointment in his Jr investment and performance. So we’ll hear excuses until Feb 10 for developing chemistry with driver and crew chief?!
I knew the caution was going to come out when the tv announcers played the radio chat of Busch and Hamlin talking about their shifter chattering and how they knew they woudln’t make it to the end of the race on the tires they had.
Wonder if Indy will be a farce? 25 laps on a 2 mil track…50 miles on a set of tires. Not sure about that, doesn’t sound too good to me, but I’m no Goodyear Engineer.
I thought after the spring race at ‘dega the “powers that be” were going to address the blocking issues. Two races with near death experiences. Luckily at Daytona Busch’s car didn’t get into the fence and debris spewing into the grandstands like Edward’s car did at ‘dega. It’s only a matter of time. I said that 10 yrs ago, saying it and plates and blocking took Sr. Figured after that NA$CAR would have grown a pair to make sure that never happened.
I saw some fans in the backstretch grandstand when the race started. However, they were gone before the end of the race. Must have been Jr fans. If they don’t sell the backstretch, why not put the advertisting banners on the seats. Guess they figured us fans got wise to that trick.
Thank goodness, except for one slip up, no “shootout style restart” was mentioned. I loved Petty’s comment when the slip was made.
You know, ya think Dale Jr might have a better chance to entice sponsors if he performed better on the track, instead of his personal life and comments about lack of “party time” being the headlines in the news leading up to a race? Hum, maybe Teresa was right in some of her comments (I can’t believe I said that!)
Janice, it’s pretty hard for Jr to perform better on the track as long as there are idiots like KK who don’t know how and when to draft. It doesn’t help that some in the media (and commenters) don’t know Jr as well as they think they do. They simply want hits to their sites (or attention to their comments).
I’m sure your money would have been on TS if KB had visited Victory Lane. TS would have jumped him from behind just like he did Robby Gordon a few years back.
Yep, really tough guy.
Hey Overra88ted, thanks for the comment. And by the way, love your name! says it all about the 88!
AND, if the truth be known, I have now been officially
After all, that’s what NA$CRAP is supplying as entertainment! So, I await the REALLY, REALLY, BIG ONE!
If the drivers don’t have the cajoney’s to speak up to NA$CRAP about their lives being on the line, they then have accepted the circumstances!
Bring it on!
I will be watching!
And hoping for the BIG ONE! Over and above anything seen before!
A sick way of looking at things, but a realistic way as that is what is being sold today as “racing”!
MMMMMM, maybe the timing is right to go to the fall Talladega demo derby!
All they need is the crossover in the middle!
And finally for Joe d’Antoni, give that man a cigar!
“back-in-the-day”, when racing was really racing, the FIRECRACKER 400 started at 10:00AM! Oh how many times was I there? What great memories! (now you know why I rag on the current state of stock car racing, Brian Farce style!)
Plate racing is not racing…
Nascar threw the caution to bunch up the field…
What would people be saying if it were Jr. instead of Kyle there at the end? C’mon.
Nascar, and the fans, aren’t that hard to figure out.
I take it you didn’t read the USA Today article on Thursday/Friday where Jr was moaning about not having week off before Daytona. All he talked about, in explative filled language, was party, party, hang with my friends. Last I checked Jr is no longer 22 yrs old. He and a few drivers found out a few years ago about the perils of partying and hot tubs, I think Jamie McMurray and Elliott Sadler were involved with a wild weekend.
I’ve given Jr the benefits of the doubt for many years. He’s vocally come out and said he doesn’t need sports psychologist, as the other other Hendrick drivers use. Look at the performance of the other teams, even a 50 yr old, maybe Jr needs to get in the right mindset.
I didn’t make the Jr comment to get noticed. Everyone knows that his sister runs JR Motorsports. Remember, the rumor last week was that Danica Patrick was going to go to Hendrick, take JR’s ride, and JR Motorsports would be like Stewart/Haas with Jr and Brad in the cup cars. Watch the Nationwide races, Brad is consistent, he’s in top 5 in points. He’d be leading if not for the cuppers.
The COT you hate so much saved Kyle’s life – as well as the Hans device. But I’m surprised you even care that he is alive – you have spent so much of this season hating on him. And who can forget another last lap blcok that was a “mistake”? When Mr. godalmighty Dale Earnhardt Sr. blocked himself to an early death? Did you criticize him for that? You freakin hypocrite!
God, people, try to stay with me here.
Starting the race at 10 or 11 AM (that’s 7 to 8 PDT) means no network is going to touch the race.
Which means nobody, not Matt, not you and not me, are going to see it unless we buy a ticket and sit in the stands, where it was 87 degrees at noon today.
And what is all the hand-wringing about plate racing? The plates didn’t cause Kyle to block Tony…there’s your proximate cause right there. Nobody’s hurt, no cars in the stand, helluva ending and all we can worry about is what might happen someday? This sport never would have made it out of the 1950’s if some of you Sallys had been in charge.
Oh, and DOUGLAS, can YOU please STOP capitalizing EVERY third or so WORD? We DON’T need THE added EMPHASIS!
HMMM..I dunno. The race used to start at 11 PM ET on ESPN and the ratings were just fine. Apparently a lot of folks felt it was worth getting out of bed for out on the left coast.
As for the dichometemy between most superspeedway races being too boring and the plate tracks being too “exciting” (Bread and Circuses) let’s redefine the Goldilocks principal. there’e too hot, too cold and just right. There just hasn’t been enough just right lately.
As for Kyle Busch I respect his talent. He’s incredible. I’ve never wished him dead or injured. I just wish he would grow the frick up and stop acting like he deserves to win every race he enters because he’s Kyle Busch and you’re not. He’s a pencil necked geek with moles on his neck the size of robin’s eggs and the chip on his shoulder nearly matches the weight of his car. If he could show even an occasional flash of class I could respect him.
My guess is those that feel Kyle is one of the immortals haven’t been follwoing the sport long enough to know what true class on and off the track means.
I’d fear that Kyle was headed down the same road as Tim Richmond were it not for the fact “Ichabod Crane” Busch is far too ugly to get laid too often.
What on earth is your f-ing problem this week? Your column is somewhat coherent and it’s legitimate griping. It’s still negative as usual, but that’s normal. If I were you, I don’t know why I’d continue to write about something if I hated it as much as you hate NASCAR.
Escobar, If I were you, I don’t know why I’d continue to read something if I hated it as much as you hate reading Matt. The net is very large and you don’t have to keep reading what upsets you so much, or can’t you stand the thought of others agreeing with Matts take on Nascar and you just have to read it as you are not secure enough in your Nascarness.
I would suggest you read DW or McReynolds at Foxsports, or even Peter Pee at R1.
Hey, Matt! Since your comment was at least partly directed at me, let me tell you two things – first, I have been a NASCAR fan since 1985. Does that year ring any bells? Second, my all time favorite driver is Bill Elliott, a gentleman on the track, but a prickly you-know-what where the media was concerned. Kyle seems to be a combination of Dale Sr. on the track and Bill off it. Hard to beat that combination.
And moles, you are criticizing Kyle for having moles? That is soooooo professional of you. You hate this sport and everybody in it. Go away, already.