Kurt Busch to Attempt The Indianapolis-Charlotte Double
posted by Phil Allaway
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Andretti Autosport announced this morning that Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet in the Sprint Cup Series, will attempt the Indianapolis 500 in a fifth entry for the IndyCar Series team. Once the Indianapolis 500 is completed, Busch will fly from Indianapolis to Charlotte, jump in his No. 41 Chevrolet and compete in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Busch considers the opportunity to do the double as an old-school throwback moment.
“This is really to challenge myself within motorsports,” Busch said in Andretti Autosport’s press release. “Perhaps I am a bit of an old-school racer; a throwback, I guess. I enjoyed the era of drivers racing different cars and testing themselves in other series. It is tough to do now for a variety of factors, but when the opportunity is there, I want to do it. While NASCAR is my home, I have been fortunate to compete in Pro Stock on the NHRA circuit a number of years ago and test a V8 Supercar. This opportunity was a talk with Michael [Andretti] over dinner one night, a “What if,” and now it’s becoming a reality for me to drive in the Indy 500 with Andretti Autosport. It’s literally a dream come true. To go to the famous Brickyard with the iconic Andretti name, it doesn’t get much cooler or better than that.”
Busch will be doing the Indianapolis-Charlotte double as a Memorial Day mission to men and women serving in the U.S. Military via the Armed Forces Foundation. Fans can contribute to the cause by texting AFF to 50555 to donate $10.
Busch, who has never raced an IndyCar, passed Rookie Orientation at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year during a test session. At the time, Busch was more or less testing the Dallara DW12 for fun.
Busch will be the fourth driver to attempt the Indianapolis-Charlotte double. John Andretti was the first driver to attempt it in 1994. After finishing four laps down in tenth in Indianapolis, Andretti crashed and had engine problems in the 600. Robby Gordon has attempted the double five times, most recently in 2004. However, Gordon failed to make it to Charlotte on time and did not start the 600 in 2000 (P.J. Jones started Gordon’s No. 13 Ford in that instance). Finally, Tony Stewart has attempted the double twice (most recently in 2001) and is the only driver to ever complete all 1100 miles. Neither of the three drivers has won either leg of the double. The best finishes are Stewart and Gordon’s sixth-place finishes at the Indianapolis 500 (although Gordon’s came in 2000, the year he didn’t make it to Charlotte in time to start the Coca-Cola 600), and Stewart’s fourth-place finish in the 2001 Coca-Cola 600.
Danica Patrick, Justin Allgaier Talk About Phoenix Incident
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
A disappointing start to the year for Danica Patrick won’t include continued conflict. Patrick met with rookie Justin Allgaier Sunday, shortly after the Phoenix Cup race after a wreck ruined both drivers’ days. Patrick, who was critical of the No. 51 car on the radio, claiming Allgaier was “driving all over the track” appeared receptive to a conversation that quickly settled differences over what will be a long season.
“She was just upset because she got involved in the crash that we had,’’ said Allgaier to the Motor Racing Network. “She says she’s been through this and that she felt like I needed to settle down at that point. I explained my position on why everything happened. I think she understood where I was coming from. It doesn’t fix either one of our racecars. It doesn’t fix either one of our days. Unfortunately, we were both having pretty decent days.’’
Allgaier wound up 30th due to the incident while Patrick was 36th. The incident, which was caused by Allgaier’s spin also involved the No. 32 team and Travis Kvapil, which wound up 38th after sustaining heavy damage.
Camping World Close to Extending Title Sponsorship of NCWTS
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Marcus Lemonis, CEO of Camping World, Grand Marshal of Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway, and star of CNBC’s “The Profit,” made the announcement over the weekend that the retailer is very close to announcing a deal that would continue its title sponsorship of NASCAR’s Truck Series. The original agreement with NASCAR is scheduled to conclude after the 2015 season.
According to the sanctioning body, no formal contract has been signed, but “the agreement between the two parties has proven to be a beneficial one.”
“In about a month, we’ll be announcing a significant extension to that contract. It’s been great for us,” said Camping World’s Lemonis in a statement. “The NASCAR relationship has worked well for Camping World. When we started, we had 35 stores. Now, we’re up to 120 stores. As we travel the country and we meet new customers in stores, they always are very appreciative of our relationship with NASCAR. It’s been good.”
Gaining a long-term commitment from Camping World to sponsor the Truck Series would be a relief for NASCAR, which is set to lose Nationwide Insurance as title sponsor for the NASCAR Nationwide Series at the end of the 2014 season. The sponsorship of the Cup Series by Sprint runs through 2016.
The NCWTS is back in action on March 29th at 2:30 PM (ET) when the trucks visit Martinsville Speedway in the Kroger 250, which can be seen on Fox Sports 1. Ratings for the season opener were up 11 percent.
Harvick Takes Win At Phoenix In Second Race With New Team
posted by Justin Tucker
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Phoenix International Raceway has become Kevin Harvick’s home away from home. Sunday Afternoon was no exception as Harvick charged to the front early and would dominate for much of the day, leading 224 of the scheduled 312 laps to record his record fifth win on the one mile oval and his third win in the last four races at Phoenix.
Harvick, coming off of a disappointing Speedweeks which was capped by a last lap crash in the Daytona 500 in his debut with Stewart-Haas Racing, set the tone on Saturday by winning both practices while having the best 5 and 10-lap averages in the first practice of the day on Saturday. On Sunday, Harvick and his No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet was nothing short of flawless as he was able to hold Dale Earnhardt, Jr. by .489 seconds after a late race restart to claim his 24th career Sprint Cup Series victory.
“Man, this is awesome,” Harvick said after his dominant victory on Sunday. “Man, this just solidifies so many things and so many decisions. It’s been so much work with all the time and effort that these guys (the crew) have put in—but what a race car.”
Stewart Haas Racing co-owner Gene Haas shared in Harvick’s excitement after the race.
“It took long enough,” Haas joked. “This is phenomenal. I think there was a lot of skepticism last year about what myself and Tony (Stewart) what we were up to, was there a lot of madness to this. Quite frankly, it’s a great team, there’s a lot of synergy at the shop, people working together. I don’t know what we did, but I think we put together a great organization.”
Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt, Jr. continued his hot start to the 2014 season. Earnhardt Jr. would finish second on Sunday, marking his seventh consecutive top 10 finish since the end of the 2013 season. Earnhardt Jr. was pleased with the effort after a coast-to-coast whirlwind week after winning his second Daytona 500 and also gave great praise to the efforts of Harvick and the No. 4 team.
“I’ve got to congratulate Kevin. Those guys were two-tenths faster than everyone all weekend in practice. They were just phenomenal,” Earnhardt said. “To be able to run with them all day was a big confidence builder for us.”
Joining Harvick and Earnhardt in the top 5 of The Profit on CNBC 500K were Brad Keselowski with his second consecutive top 3 run of 2014 in third. Keselowski’s Team Penske teammate Joey Logano would finish fourth, and Jeff Gordon would come home fifth in his No. 24 Pepsi Max Chevrolet.
Jimmie Johnson finished in sixth, followed by Ryan Newman with a nice rebound after Daytona in seventh. Carl Edwards would carry the banner for Roush Fenway Racing by finishing eighth, Kyle Busch was ninth, and Jamie McMurray would finish tenth.
A look at the Profit on CNBC 500K by the numbers. There were 14 lead changes among eight different drivers, there were eight cautions for 39 laps which slowed the race pace to 109.229 MPH.
Next Sunday, the Sprint Cup Series heads to Sin City and the Las Vegas Motor
Starting Lineup: The Profit On CNBC 500K
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday March 1, 2014
Drivers in RED (i) are those ineligible to collect Sprint Cup points
Daytona 500 TV Ratings Down
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Wednesday February 26, 2014
What was the longest weather delay in Daytona 500 history turned out to bring NASCAR lower ratings and TV viewership Sunday night than expected. According to a report Monday from FOX Sports, the 56th running of the Daytona 500 airing at 8 PM (ET) posted a 5.6/10 national household rating/share which averaged 9.3 million viewers. That’s down 44 percent from last year’s 9.9, easily making it the least-watched Daytona 500 of all-time.
Due to the six-hour, twenty-two minute rain delay in Daytona, the race was up against the primetime coverage of the Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony from Sochi, Russia on NBC (15.25 million viewers). FOX also reported that 69% of the pre-rain delay viewers of the race, which began at 1 PM (ET) kept tuning in.
In comparison, the 2013 Daytona 500 on FOX was the most-watched race in five years, posting a 9.9/22 rating/share, commanding 16.7 million viewers. The Daytona 500 in 2012, the first to ever be run on a Monday and in the primetime slot did a 7.7/13 overnight rating/share which resulted in 13.67 million households viewing the race according to Nielsen TV ratings data.
Earnhardt, Jr. Claims Second Daytona 500 Victory
posted by Justin Tucker
Wednesday February 26, 2014
Ten years is a long time. For Dale Earnhardt, Jr., it felt like an eternity. NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver endured many near misses and close calls at the Daytona 500 since his only win in the Great American Race in 2004. Earnhardt had finished second in two of his last three Daytona 500s coming into Sunday’s race. He was also riding the tail of a 55-race winless streak, dating back to Michigan in 2012.
However nothing would stop Dale Jr. on Sunday, not even a 6 hour and 22 minute rain delay from capturing his second Daytona 500 win. Earnhardt Jr. led a race-high 54 laps on the evening and used some timely drafting help from teammates Jimmie Johnson and, on the final restart, Jeff Gordon to separate from the pack and secure the victory.
“Winning this race is the greatest feeling that you could feel in this sport besides accepting the trophy for the championship,” said a jubilant Earnhardt after pulling into Victory Lane. “We could fight off battle after battle. We got a little help at the end there from Jeff to get away on the restart. This is amazing. I can’t believe this is happening. I never take this for granted, man because it doesn’t happen twice, let alone once.”
Aside from the race itself the big story of the race was the 6 hour and 22 minute red flag, which threatened to move the race to Monday evening (had the race been postponed, FOX Sports’ Chris Myers had tweeted that the race would resume at 5:00pm EST). However, Mother Nature would cooperate and would allow the race to be run under different conditions from which they practiced this week. Once the race resumed, the intensity picked up from the changing track conditions. This allowed the pack to race side-by-side and at times 3-wide up to seven rows deep.
Joining Earnhardt Jr. in the top 5 for the 2014 Daytona 500 were: Denny Hamlin who closed out a spectacular Speedweeks in second, Brad Keselowski in third, Jeff Gordon in fourth, and Jimmie Johnson who overcome two wrecks leading up to the 500 in fifth.
Rounding out the top 10 in the Daytona 500 were Matt Kenseth in sixth, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. in seventh and Greg Biffle would bring his No. 16 Ford home in eighth. Austin Dillon would come home ninth in his first Cup Series race in the iconic No. 3 for Richard Childress Racing, while Casey Mears would round out the top 10.
A couple of major contenders for the Daytona 500 win would see their hopes dashed early on as Martin Truex, Jr. would blow up just 30 laps into the race, relegating him to a 43rd-place finish in his debut for Furniture Row Racing. Crew chief Todd Berrier was already in Nashville for a test session before the race was even over. Kyle Busch, meanwhile would have a pit road violation just before halfway and would spend much of the race battling back from that mistake. Busch would eventually finish 19th after leading 19 laps.
Danica Patrick would also be bit by bad luck as she was caught up in a multi-car wreck on lap 145. Patrick would lead her second consecutive Daytona 500, but wouldn’t have the finish to show for it finishing 40th. Tony Stewart would encounter a frustrating evening as well, with a fuel pickup problem derailing his quest for his first Daytona 500 win. Stewart would finish 35th.
A look at the Daytona 500 by the numbers. There were 42 lead changes among 18 drivers, while seven cautions for 39 laps would slow the race pace to 145.290 MPH.
Next week, the Sprint Cup Series heads to the “diamond in the desert,” Phoenix International Raceway for The Profit on CNBC 500K. The Green flag is scheduled for 3:15pm EST.
Nationwide Series Post-Race Quotes: Drive4COPD 300
posted by Thomas Bowles
Tuesday February 25, 2014
Frontstretch Interviews – Courtesy Mike Neff
ELLIOTT SADLER – FINISHED 4th
Thoughts on the race?
It’s definitely a lot different racing than what we’re used to.
Comfortable with it?
Yeah, it’s just different. You’re worried about what you’re doing, but you’re also worried about what everyone else is doing and they’re not doing more than you’re doing. Physically pushing a guy is way better than just riding so you just gotta time it right and push it to the edge.
Happy to start the year with a top 5?
Yeah. Hell, that was the worst we ran all day, I think. I have no idea how they put the 3 car in front of us on that last restart. I hadn’t seen the 3 car hardly all day. When they put us from fifth to sixth, on the outside line, it just really boxed us in. I would have really restarted behind my teammate and given him a good push to the front. Anyways, it is what it is; we’ll take it and move on.
Looked like you were up front all day.
The guys did a good job. We had a fast race car. Great pit stops, just really proud of these guys. The car’s in one piece and we can take it to Talladega now. Great job by my guys. A lot of effort came into coming down here to Daytona and giving ourselves a shot to win. We had that chance to be up front and make some things happen. Fifth is not what we want, but we’ll take it and move on.
Bumping vs Pushing?
It’s way harder. You don’t want to lay on the guy in front of you, so it’s tough racing. A lot different than what we’re used to, ‘cause you gotta go. You gotta drag the brake too ‘cause you don’t want to hit the guys and you don’t want to stay on him. It’s a lot harder mentally than what we’ve done in the past.
Car was strong all day. Pushing vs. Bumping, is that harder to do than just getting on somebody and pushing them?
Yeah, it is a little bit. When you bump ‘em, you jar ‘em, it kinda jacks ‘em a little bit. It’s a little more abrupt, obviously. I thought it was OK there at the end. It was certainly fun and hopefully entertaining. But a little bit of a struggle in the early part of the race and the midpart of the race to see a good race. And that’s unfortunate for the fans. You can’t do that the whole race, you can’t tear up your stuff, knock your grill in, overheat your motor, all that stuff so there’s no sense in doing all that until you get down to the last lap. The 7 and the 6, they did a good job. Man, the 7 really held the 22 and I tight on the bottom. I was rubbing his door and hitting the apron at the same time, no room whatsoever. So it was good; wish we were the ones who could have won but a lot better now than what we were last year.
Going home in one piece makes it a lot better, right?
Yeah. My back feels good. My foot feels good. Past years here, I’ve been going home with pain so I’m alright.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Truck Series Post-Race Quotes: Daytona (Exclusives)
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday February 22, 2014
When you’re on the outside like that, how frustrating is it?
It’s so hard. Timothy Peters has won here. Kyle Busch has won everywhere. Ron Hornaday has been running Trucks forever, probably before I was even born. I was surrounded by veterans there, and like I told them I don’t have a rookie stripe but I’m a rookie. This is only my fourth Truck race ever, my fourth superspeedway race, and man, I figured out when the 17 got up in front of me, I pushed him. And as soon as I pushed him, he took off. And I went with him. And I just kept doing it, and before I knew it, he was leading. And I saw Ron in my mirror, backed up to him, and if it wasn’t for him, I don’t know what would have happened. I gotta thank him big time for that. That was a true teammate move right there. I really appreciate that. He just bounced off me and we got to the front. I tried my hardest to sidedraft Kyle. I was probably touching his door.
Top 5 in the No. 30 truck. This deal come together at the last minute, but you had a heck of a truck. Tell us about your night.
Yeah, I’ve got to thank Turner Scott Motorsports. The guys worked so hard on this Rheem Comfort Products Chevrolet. Exciting! Just got hung up on the outside and had to wait for my teammate there to catch up. And then he got to the bottom, so… I got the old 32 and started pushing ol’ Ryan to the front. So, it’s not bad. We’ll take it. You just don’t want to step over that boundary. You don’t know how far to push and shove. We bumped about six times down the straightaway without latching onto them. Hopefully, that was OK and we came home with a top 5.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Budweiser Duels Post Race Quotes
posted by Matt Stallknecht
Friday February 21, 2014
BUDWEISER DUELS POST-RACE QUOTES
They’re saying the wheel bearing burned up in it. I don’t know what caused it, they’re taking it all apart to figure out what the heck happened. Something abnormal that’s for sure I don’t think I’ve ever had that happen at all. Hopefully, we made the race and hopefully we can fix the problem before Sunday.
WHAT WAS THAT LOUD BOOM ONCE YOU TURNED INTO THE GARAGE?
Loud pop was a tire… thankfully, it popped, hopefully it didn’t hurt anybody. All the heat created in the left front that popped was pretty weird.
REALLY GOOD RUN. WHAT DID YOU THINK OF IT?
Yeah, it was good. We have a car we can work with for the 500. Got a good starting spot, so we’re going to rest easy, fluff and buff our car for a couple of days and get ready for Sunday.
ANY DIFFERENCE ON WHETHER THE TOP OR BOTTOM LANE WORKED?
Yeah, I was just moving around, trying to stay with the flow. For me, this car works on all parts of the racetrack. So I’m pretty happy with it.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.
GOT SHUFFLED BACK, AFTER PIT STOPS AND THEN COULDN’T GET BACK UP TO THE FRONT. WHY?
Nah, we were just sitting there waiting until the last few laps to make a move. You didn’t want to pull down and get sent to the back. Seen a couple of guys get sent to the back really quick so we were just kind of waiting for the end. I felt like we had a good situation there with Ambrose behind us — we had a good run off Turn 2 and I went. It was the last lap, time to go do something, nobody went with us but hopefully Sunday is a different story.
We got a great car. We don’t have to work hard. We learned, we got a good race car. Got a car in one piece, ready to go so we’ll try and get through the next couple of practices, deliver it to the starting group this Sunday and we’ll be real happy.
YOU’RE IN THE DAYTONA 500!
Yeah, it’s pretty awesome. This Whitetail Chevrolet was so fast that I knew all I had to do was stick it behind smart, intelligent drafters and we could have a good finish. That’s what we did in the Duels and I’m excited. I’m excited to go do some stuff with the Nationwide car and have some more practice with this. But to know that we’re locked in the Daytona 500’s pretty cool.
YOU WERE OBVIOUSLY IN FRONT OF THAT MELEE AT THE END. WHEN YOU WERE UP FRONT THERE IN THE BEGINNING, WERE YOU HOPING TO JUST STAY IN LINE AND LET YOU FINISH TOP 5?
I was pretty content to ride and luckily I knew a lot of people around us were. It was nice to have a little calm and not really have to be racing hard the whole time. I knew that the pit stop was going to shake everything up and that’s exactly what happened. Fell back a little bit there but made the right moves at the end to get a good finish.
HOW STRONG ARE THESE RCR CARS?
They’re very strong! They definitely have the capabilities to be winning one of these races.
YOU’RE IN THE TOP 5 FOR YOUR HEAT IN THE DAYTONA 500. YOUR PRIMARY CAR IS SITTING RIGHT IN THE GARAGE, KIND OF WADDED UP. DID YOU THINK THIS ONE HAD IT IN IT?
Yeah, it’s a brand new car also. It’s just not quite as good as the primary but still a damned good car. I’m just proud of everybody at RCR for building such fast race cars. All of our cars have been fast, ECR motor’s been strong, even our affiliate teams have been qualifying really good and racing good. So… excited about 2014! It’s going to be a good year.
WELL MAN, YOU STARTED IN THE BACK BUT WORKED YOUR WAY TO THE FRONT WHEN IT COUNTED MOST. WERE YOU JUST BIDING YOUR TIME THROUGHOUT THE RACE?
Eh, you never know if you’re going to get back up there or not. We had to start at the back, we had to make a run early and see what we could do. We drove right to 10th, or something like that and then it got stagnant. We tried to make something happen, and went to the back again. Drove back up to the front. Again, just really proud of my guys. Matt Kruder did a hell of a job on that pit stop getting just enough gas in to gain some spots there.
RCR CARS SEEM PRETTY DARNED STRONG. DO YOU THINK THE RCR CARS HAVE SOMETHING FOR THEM ON SUNDAY — ESPECIALLY THE THREE JOE GIBBS RACING CARS THAT SEEM TO BE THE CLASS OF THE FIELD RIGHT NOW?
Oh yeah. The 20 car was extremely fast. The 11 didn’t qualify that good, but he’s a good drafter. I think he won. We definitely have something for him.
Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
Matt McLaughlin · Monday July 13, 2009
The Key Moment: After a series of frantic restarts, Mark Martin on worn tires was able to hold off Jeff Gordon on fresher tires to hand Rick Hendrick an early 60th birthday gift.
In a Nutshell: See Mark run. Run, Mark, run. Doze, fans, doze. Close, Chicago-land, close.
Dramatic Moment: A wild series of events on the restart following the sixth caution flag saw Jimmie Johnson, Denny Hamlin, Martin, and Brian Vickers battling for the lead during the only vaguely interesting portion of the race.
What They’ll Be Talking About Around the Water Cooler This Week
If NASCAR hadn’t thrown three straight unnecessary “debris” cautions, would Mark Martin have lapped the field? True, in any sport there’s going to be occasions when one team completely dominates the others — but it’s still not much fun to watch. The Second City survived the Great Chicago fire. Will it be able to endure the Great Chicago-land Farce?
Thank goodness for the new double file restarts. Without the new rule, Saturday night’s race might have been completely devoid of any interesting moments.
It’s hard to believe, but at this point last season Dale Earnhardt, Jr. was second in the points.
Some allege that the first automobile race in America occurred in Chicago back in the 1800s. My guess is there were more spectators for that event than showed up in Joliet Saturday night.
Martin Truex, Jr.’s (soon to be ex) team faces penalties this week after his car was found to be too high after the race. Of course, NASCAR said the same thing about Jeremy Mayfield…
I’ve been doing this a long time. I know some Midwesterners are going to take me to task this week pointing out there were some interesting moments in the final 25 laps and claiming that my harsh assessment of the race is due to regional bias. I’m sorry. The race was dreadful. If it took place in the field behind my house at about the halfway point, I’d have turned out the lights, handed Martin the trophy, and told everyone to go the hell home. But, some will argue, Matt, you said last week’s race at Daytona was too intense. Now you’re saying this week’s race was too boring. What exactly do you want? Recall the Goldilocks principle: there’s too hot, there’s too cold, and there’s just right. Unfortunately, there just wasn’t enough “just right” Saturday night…
This weekend, I think Michael Waltrip offered ample evidence why it’s best he cut back to a limited schedule next year. He couldn’t get out of his own way most of the night, but his car sure managed to get in the leader’s way when they came up to lap him.
It’s interesting. There’s no Cup race next week. And, for all intents and purposes, there was no race this weekend either. Then, the series heads to Indy for what is likely to be another boring race. NASCAR’s Endless Bummer of a Summer is just hitting its stride.
If you’re having the guys over for dinner this week, you might want to seat Jimmie Johnson and Kurt Busch at separate tables. But once again, Kurt offered his younger brother a primer on how it’s possible to express disappointment and frustration with the outcome of a race and another driver without sounding childish and petty.
Kyle Busch left the track without comment after his 33rd place finish Saturday night. Color me surprised but relieved.
Can this whole Jeremy Mayfield situation get any uglier? NASCAR officials piled on the embattled driver for failing to enter a car for the second straight week after an emergency injunction allowed him to return to the track. So, let’s see. NASCAR’s apparently botched drug test cost Mayfield his sponsor, destroyed his reputation, and gutted him financially, forcing him to lay off ten members of his fledgling team and making him a pariah in the garage area. The owner/driver is now attempting to sell off what’s left of his “inventory” to pay his day-to-day living expenses. Yet wasn’t it only a few months ago Brian France was citing Mayfield’s team making the Daytona 500 as evidence good things were coming out of these tough economic times, opening the doors to new team owners to replace the organizations forced to shut down due to sponsorship woes? At this point, it seems unlikely that Mayfield will ever run another Cup race, much less win another. Ultimately, his last victory might be in a court of law, when NASCAR has to write him a real big check for the hatchet job they did on the journeyman driver. In my opinion, his fellow drivers would still be safer racing against Mayfield than riding home from dinner with Brian France after Happy Hour in his Tyrannosaurus Lexus.
Nyquil is really missing out on an opportunity to become title sponsor of the Joliet Nationwide Series race. Next to Nyquil, Friday night’s event had to be the most effective way to put large numbers of people into such a languorous, comatose sleep that they pissed themselves. I’m a night owl, but I’ll admit I was hanging on by the skin of my teeth just hoping a giant inflatable orange would come rolling down the track to add some merriment to the grim proceedings. Congratulations once again to Kyle Busch for his incredible display of class in the face of defeat. But hey, maybe Joe Gibbs really is giving Joey Logano all the good cars and sticking Kyle with the crap of the fleet. After all, Busch has finished first or second in the last six Nationwide races and has only had one chance to destroy a trophy since his win at Nashville. I’m sure the guys back at the shop working all that overtime appreciate Kyle’s insinuation they aren’t building him very good cars.
Once again, he returns to the scene of the crime. It’s impossible for NASCAR to return to the Chicago area without everyone recalling Jeff Gordon’s infamous mangling of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” and his reference to the ballpark as “Wrigley Stadium” rather than “Wrigley Field.” Yeah, even today those YouTube videos of Gordon proving why he chose to be a racer rather than a singer are painful to watch, but it seems to be an odd Cubs tradition to invite celebrities who can’t sing to lead that song in the seventh inning stretch. Certainly, Gordon’s mangled attempt at getting the job done wasn’t any worse than Danica Patrick’s or Ozzy Osbrorne’s hysterically failed attempts at singing the same song. And none of those three could even approach the jaw-dropping disaster that was Mr. T’s rendition of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” while nattily attired in a patriotic pair of Zubas. “Fo it one, two, three strikes, you out, at the old ballgame.” I pity the fool who tries to top that.
Well, Silly Season is certainly heating up as the annual summer news doldrums begin. Questions remain as to the future homes of David Stremme, Brad Keselowski, Paul Menard, and even former champion Bobby Labonte for the 2010 season.
TNT wrapped up their six-race section of the season on Saturday night. While their coverage was hardly faultless, they put FOX’s efforts earlier in the season to shame. C’mon ESPN, it’s time to step up to the plate and send one out of the park. Just please, for the love of God, don’t start beating fans over the head with the “Race to Chase” story angle. Treat each individual event as a unique and important event unto itself, like you did back in your prime. As for TNT, this year’s media MVP award goes to Kyle Petty, who was informative, self-deprecating, amusing, and brutally honest as he started his first year as a broadcaster with his racing career presumably behind him. Somewhere up there, Benny Parsons is flashing Kyle a big thumbs up.
A lot of folks have taken me to task for not including Big Bill France, the founder of NASCAR, in last week’s column picking my nominations for the first five inductees into NASCAR’s Hall of Fame. In my mind, inducting France would be like voting Jimmy Hoffa into the Teamster’s Hall of Fame. Pile whatever platitudes you wish to on Big Bill as a visionary, but the fact is stock car racing existed before he “invented it” just as America existed before Columbus discovered it. France was an egotistical, arrogant bully, not above waving a handgun around to keep drivers supportive of Curtis Turner from entering tracks where his organization was sanctioning a race. He was the fellow that decided to deprive Wendell Scott, African-American pioneer, of celebrating his duly earned victory out of fear that a black driver in Victory Lane with a white beauty queen might touch off rioting at the track. Only after the fans departed was Scott awarded the win. The France family has been an embarrassment to this sport from Jump Street, and it wasn’t Big Bill who was putting his life on the line to draw the crowds in the horrendously dangerous era of the early ’60s (other than a few laps in a highly illegal Ford to show that his new Talladega track was safe despite overwhelming concerns from the drivers). He was just counting the money at the turnstiles and crowing like a just laid rooster. If you’re counting on PC historical revisionism to cover the ugly truth, brother, you’re shopping at the wrong five and dime.
The Hindenburg Award For Foul Fortune
These double file restarts late in the race just aren’t working out for Jeff Burton, who has been collected in wrecks not of his own making four times since the rule was adopted.
It was a simply horrible night for Kyle Busch, which can only be seen as continuing Karmic payback for his destruction of that guitar at Nashville. He slapped the wall hard, dropped a cylinder, failed in an attempt to grenade an engine leaving the pits, and finally had it expire and cause him to wreck with seven laps left in the race. My guess is it will continue to a tough week for Busch, as the guys in the engine shop throw a blanket party for him to celebrate his John Force-style exit of the his pit stall with an already wounded engine.
Paul Menard had a solid top 10 finish spoiled by contact late in the race. And because the driver that hit him was Dale Earnhardt, Jr., you know in the minds of a lot of fans it was his fault.
Junior, his very own most popular self, seemed to have a solid top 10 run going until his team once again used the opportunity to adjust the car so far into left field the guardian angels of Richard Petty and Junior Johnson couldn’t have kept it in a 40-acre briar patch.
Greg Biffle’s luck was in the pits on Saturday night. He got nailed for speeding entering pit road and was later penalized for a catch can violation.
The “Seven Come Fore Eleven” Award For Fine Fortune
For procrastinating fans who chose to attend the race late, apparently there were plenty of good seats left right up until the green flag dropped. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem there were a lot of procrastinating fans out there.
Jeff Gordon narrowly avoided the squabble between teammate Jimmie Johnson and Kurt Busch late in the race en route to a second place finish. Earlier in the event, Gordon and Carl Edwards got into a little real estate squabble that easily could have ended both their nights.
What didn’t go wrong for Tony Stewart this weekend? His qualifying result was terrible, he had to head back to the pits after his crew dropped a lug nut, and he cut down a tire exiting the pits. Stewart just missed the Earnhardt / Menard mess, too … but he still finished fourth.
What’s the Points?
Tony Stewart remains atop the points standings, though second place Jeff Gordon took a nibble out of Stewart’s lead and is now 175 points behind.
Jimmie Johnson and Kurt Busch hold serve in third and fourth place, respectively, while Denny Hamlin displaces Carl Edwards to take over fifth place in the standings. Ryan Newman remains in seventh.
Kasey Kahne had an outstanding points night, rising four spots to eighth in the standings. On the flip side, Greg Biffle had a terrible points night, plunging four spots and out of Chase contention to 13th spot.
Rounding out the Chasers, Juan Pablo Montoya and Mark Martin each gained two positions in the standings to rise to ninth and 11th. Conversely, Kyle Busch and Matt Kenseth each lost two spots, and they are now tenth and 12th, respectively. Despite winning the first two races of the season, Kenseth is now just ten points ahead of the cutoff mark for the Chase.
Overall Rating (On a scale of one to six beer cans with one being a stinker and a six pack an instant classic) — Note from the Beer Nazi to Chicago-land: NO beer for you!
Next Up: The Cup regulars take a rare weekend off as NASCAR gears up for the All-Singing, All-Dancing Brickyard 400, the sport’s annual midsummer weenie roast that usually features a lot more sizzle than steak. The faithful might want to spend the next two weeks on their knees praying that last year’s Goodyear tire debacle doesn’t turn another Brickyard into a farce.
©2000 - 2008 Matt McLaughlin and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
Yeah Petty did Ok compared to who we’ve had to listen to so far this year. But he comes off as a middle school teacher that thinks he knows everything. It’s Dallenbac that has to go! Between his fawning all over Petty w/his school boy crush or his obvious disdain for so many of the drivers, he is out of control (a bit jealous/bitter there wally?) he’s gotta go.I’d rather listen to DW. No, not really.For the 2nd race in a row the broadcast team has misidentified drivers while shifting between topics in the play by play, are these guys even professionals? Do they get paid for this stuff? Come ESPN you’re our last hope.
Will we ever escape the “all Hendrick all the time” school of tv broadcasting ? Hendrick forces his way into every victory lane shot , the announcers never seem to have any storyline that doesn’t include Hendrick in some way , and of course McReynolds , the one man Hendrick ( or as Larry would say , Hiindrick ) love fest . And i’m sure there wasn’t a dry eye anywhere in America after his drivers gave Hendrick a birthday present by winning the race race . How precious .
Thank you to Kurt Busch for dishing out some long deserved payback to Jimmie Johnson . Johnsons longstanding record of dumb driving moves that cause wrecks for everyone else , and then his insipid Alfred E. Newman imitation afterward to the media have apparently worn thin with the other drivers also .
To quote: “ In my opinion his fellow drivers would still be safer racing against Mayfield than riding home from dinner with Brian France after Happy Hour in his Tyrannosaurus Lexus.”
Leaves me rolling on the floor in laughter!!
How true! How true!
(guess your not one of the citizen journalists for NA$CRAP! Right?)
About the only other thing that leaves me rolling on the floor in laughter is people referring to NA$CRAP as “RACING”!
Bill , it doesn’t seem to matter whether a Hiindrick team is winning or not , they seem to get an awfull lot of air time .
Direct TV has made their Hotpass free to all. I can’t imagine why anyone paid for it, but it made the race a tiny bit more interesting…a very tiny bit. Watching Tony Stewart move up through the field at the beginning was interesting. I still went to sleep and ultimately tuned it off. Kudos to Kyle Petty. He did a fine job this year. Unfortunately, today there are only two networks who cover the races and that cuts down on jobs. In order to cut their losses, NASCAR needs to cut races attracks like Chicago, California, and NH and give them back to good tracks.
For those of you wanting to see some real racing, head to Eldora, Stewart’s half-mile dirt track in west central Ohio this weekend for the Kings Royal sprint show. Smoke and Kasey Kahne will be racing.
I am curious about the hatred Jeff Burton has for the double file re-starts . There have always been double file re-starts , i’d think he would be used to them by now . Is his dislike of the new version because he doesn’t have a lapped car on his inside that he can easily outrun ? Does he feel its unfair to have to race for position at the drop of the green instead of coasting for a few laps while waiting for the tire pressures to come up ? I think he needs to get over himself and start racing . While he may have found himself involved in accidents on re-starts , most other drivers have not , so he may want to look at his driving , or his spotter .
What else is there to be said other than that race absolutely sucked.
Kudos to you Matt for being able to find SOMETHING to say about it.
i watched the beginning, tried to watch the middle, but the all martin show got to be too much, so i flipped it off. as usual most of the action was at the end of the race. i think my plan of watching beginning and end of race is the way to go. however i usually can’t make it til 11 pm. couch too comfy.
I’ll have to take your word for it that this race stunk. My DVR crapped out on lap 30. :( However, it seems like what was great for Mark Martin winning in Phoenix, its now boring to watch him win in Chicagoland?
Bill , i don’t know how it could be any clearer , but i’ll try . Tony Stewart is leading in points . That means hes finishing better than the vanilla twins .
Thanks Matt for saying the truth about Bill France. No one else will.
In my opinion it isn’t that clear at all. Not having any DNF’s all year is as much about luck as anything else. As for MM how many times have one of the vanilla twins finished ahead of him at the end of the race. Your narrow definition of success is the only reason your argument holds up. Jeff was leading the points prior to Dover so by your definition, up to that point, Jeff was whipping up on Tony. I don’t feel that was the case but if you had written this comment six weeks ago that would have had to been your conclusion (by your definition). You are entitled to your opinion but I find your premise shaky, your logic reckless and your over simplification of the facts mystifying.
Your comments about Bill France were right on the money.
Man, if it weren’t for that new restart rule, the chicago race would have been as boring as Auto Club Speedway in california. And this might be the only time I would thank nascar for phony cautions.
If any driver doesn’t like the new restart rule then maybe they should go ahead and retire.
Seem like Jimmie’s got two drivers mad at him. I’m just glad Hamlin finally grew a pair and returned the bumb-and-go favor. Keep it up Hamlin!
Hey, with Kyle Petty we don’t need three people in the booth. Just a play-by-play guy and Kyle. Kyle talks enough for 5 people anyway.
Sweet article Matt – keep up the good work!
Matt, I would like to nominate you for a “Profiles in Courage” award.
In addition to beating a dead horse every week about the current state of NASCAR, today you show great intestinal fortitude in slamming a guy who’s been dead for years.
Bill France did all of the things that you say he did, but union-busting and Jim Crow were not just part of motor sports at the time…just look at the way the Red Sox were run by Tom Yawkey duting that same time period for a glimpse of how life was in American sports. I’m not condoning it, it’s just the way it was.
I know that it is bordering on criminal to say anything positive about any France family member anywhere near a Matt column, but what would stock car racing be like today without his yes, visionary, leadership?
Tell you one thing, no one would be reading Matt’s column, because there wouldn’t be an FS.com. Or a Jayski, NASCAR.com or a NASCAR Sirius station, because it would have continued as a totally regional sport without network coverage.
Matt, I think that you are a very entertaining, witty writer, and I never miss a column. But, how about interjecting a note of fairness in the piece once in awhile? Have a nice day.
I wonder why people can’t take the truth about Bill France when told to them?
“Big Bill” was ruthless and cared nothing about the drivers and such. Just wanted the power to dictate his way of doing things!
Hey Jim, you must be related to the France family. Where would NASCAR be without France’s influence? Not exactly sure. But I can tell you this. It wouldn’t be as it is, a socialist dictatorship with parity built into every car of tomorrow.
Matt, don’t know how I’ve missed you up till now, but I won’t miss you any more. Great writing, imagination and fresh slants. And of course it’s admirable not to be PC, eating from the hand of NASCAR disciples.
Good on you!
Fair enough, but do you slam a guy like Pete Rozelle for introducing parity (Draft pick order, etc.)to the NFL?
Oh, and by the way, never met a France, nevermind being related to one. I did go to Montreal once…I guess that’s kinda close to France!
Mick, You speak of Kyle talking enough for 5 people. I noticed some dead air spots where no one was speaking which was fine. Let the fans watch the race .This is not radio. Petty may not be perfect but it is better than the useless BS chatter from Larry Mac and the dreaded RATCHET JAWS Waltrip. Why do you think he got his name JAWS from Cale Yarbrough? He continouslly runs his mouth and says NOTHING.
THIS IS AN OPEN, BUT VERY SHORT LETTER TO NAS$CAR. YOU’VE FINALLY DONE IT. AFTER THIS CHICAGO BOREFEST, I’VE FINALLY REACHED THE POINT WHERE I DON’T CARE. THIS IS COMING FROM A FAN OF 25 PLUS YEARS. THIS IS HARD TO SAY, BUT i JUST DON’T CARE ANYMORE. AND TO MICHAEL, YOU DON’T EVEN HAVE A CLUE AS TO WHAT REAL RACING. LEAVE BURTON OUT OF IT. THIS DOUBLE FILE RESTART IS JUST ANOTHER KNEE JERK REACTION TO REKINDLE FANS’ INTEREST. IT DOESN’T WORK SO SHUT YOUR YAP. REAL RACING IS GONE.
Yea, I’m back for a couple more comments to torture fellow commentators. A couple of observations: Double file restarts should go the way of the white buffalo. Gone. All they do is cause wrecks and take people out. If you want to see real action, get rid of these hidious boring mile and a half tracks. Anybody who likes these tracks has the IQ of a fencepost. I’ve been around long enough to k now what real racing is. Observation two I would compare Jimmie Johnson with a beard to Olive Oyl with boobs. Good Day.
Just one quick comment from a good ‘ol boy from South Carolina… home of the late Sen. Strom Thurmond. Ol’ Strom was a dyed in the wool Dixiecrat… he fought hard against racial integration, all the while fathering a mixed-race child he never even publically acknowledged. Know what? The man has more buildings, highways, parks, schools, and even a lake named after him. You can bet that somewhere in Heaven, Strom will be congratulating Big Bill on his induction into the Nascar HOF in the very near future.
Oh yeah… and for the first time in years, I fell asleep watching a race with less than 40 laps to go.
Great article, as always Matt…
Enough of the (insert brand) chugging at the end of the interview…we get it.
I fast forwarded through the race yesterday and will have to say the TV coverage was lousy. I was at the race and there certainly was more action than was shown on TV. The race definitely would have been worse without the infamous debris cautions at least keeping 16 cars on the lead lap most of the race. The hendick cars certainly have a distinct advantage over the rest of the field. They can just pass at will except for Earnhardt.
Yo, Jim. I can live without parity and socialism. Let the best teams reign and the others suck hind tortuga! In NASCAR they do regardless.
I absolutely love the double-file restart over the old method. Lapped cars should be where they belong, AT THE REAR!!
The only other option I’d consider is a single file restart each and every time. The way they were before the caution!!
Pay attention, Midasmicah!!