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.
The Key Moment – Jimmie Johnson edged ahead of Mark Martin on the final restart to take the lead for good.
A valid argument could be made that the entire complexion of the race changed when Juan Pablo Montoya, who flat out dominated the race, was penalized for speeding on pit road during the last round of pit stops.
In a Nutshell – OK, I’ve seen worse races. I don’t remember enjoying them much either.
Dramatic Moment – During the final ten laps, Mark Martin’s determined attempt to run down Johnson woke fans from the siesta Montoya had lulled them into.
What They’ll Be Talking About Around the Water Cooler This Week
Before the usual tidal wave of cynical observations, limited insights, and strained attempts at humor, I need to send out sincere get well wishes to TMS’s General Manager Eddie Gossage, who is currently battling cancer. Gossage has decided not to speak publicly about his disease or his prognosis… and that is his right. But though we’ve crossed swords a few times, once with threats of legal action against me heavy in the air, Gossage is one of the good guys in this sport willing to at least listen to dissenting opinion — and he’s always a champion of the fans who patronized his beloved Texas Motor Speedway. While respecting his right to privacy, I’ll still be praying for a quick and successful recovery from this dreaded disease for Mr. Gossage. As soon as you’re up to it, Eddie, let me know and we’ll celebrate with a beer on your front porch. I’ll buy and bring it in my cooler.
Did you think the fallout from last year’s Goodyear-fueled debacle at the Brickyard was over? It was hard not to notice all of those empty seats at Sunday’s race. Given the enormity of Indy, there was still a massive crowd on hand, but it’s notable that a whole lot of folks that attended last year simply voted not to come back.
Was Montoya actually speeding, or was he penalized for stinking up the show? He seemed pretty adamant swearing on his wife and his children’s life he hadn’t been speeding.
Maybe when NASCAR visits Indy, they should put a “No Passing Zone” sign on the Gasoline Alley entrance.
What’s wrong with the new cars? Even with the way Montoya dominated the race, once he got back in traffic he couldn’t make any headway. Wasn’t this new car supposed to solve the “dreaded aero push” problem?
My first week with the NASCAR Internet Citizens Journalists Corps has been remarkably uneventful. No packages arrived on the front porch suspicious enough to warrant calling the bomb squad. There were no uniform patches, no secret handshakes, and dammit, no secret decoder rings or Daisy Red Rider BB guns with compasses in the stock. (Just as well … I’d probably put my eye out with that thing.) I did have dinner with my boss, though, in the booming metropolis of Eagle, PA at the eponymous tavern just down the street from Smaltz’s Harley Davidson. Over our meal, we discussed the origins of the term “Silly Season.” Mike Joy coined the term in racing first in the open-wheel series and later in NASCAR. It has been defined as the long stretch of the summer season where there’s little real news to talk about other than rumors of which drivers might be leaving which teams and where they might end up. Of course, Jayski has made the term “Silly Season” a household word. But the term has its roots in English politics. During the summer, with the Parliament on holiday for the most part there was little hard news for the papers to cover… so reporters were forced to produce and comment on rumors entirely of their own making on a variety of topics that seemed “silly” compared to real hard news reporting. All they could hope for was some member of the royal family would enter an ill-advised dalliance that would get the readers all up in a lather. So, if any NASCAR driver out there is engaged in an ill-advised dalliance please write me. I need something to write about Thursday. But fear not, campers, having nothing to say rarely keeps me from saying it. Miss Hathaway, call the Ocean City Chamber of Commerce: it’s time for me to book my summer vacation.
Saturday night’s Nationwide Series race at IRP was arguably the best race of the season and featured yet another dramatic side-by-side battle between series points leaders Carl Edwards and Kyle Busch. Edwards prevailed this time, and in an odd twist of events, Busch stuck around to comment to the press after the race. Busch this week vowed to be more mature and positive in his post-race comments, realizing he’s become a PR nightmare for his sponsors and the sport. He came so close… dammit you were almost pulling for the guy to handle defeat graciously like a man, and he made it right up until the last two sentences. That’s when he added that sometimes you win a race in the pits and sometimes you lose because of on-track contact, Busch noted, adopting that beady-eyed extended front teeth look of a rat with its tail caught in a trap by implicating Edwards for somehow doing him wrong. Meanwhile, Edwards once again nailed it, noting what a great driver Busch is and what fun it is to race him side-by-side for a win. Busch ought to walking on sunshine with the NW title now firmly in his grasp absent a nuclear meltdown this late in the season, but his default emotion seems to be childish petulance. There’s a lot of folks who have won championships … but there’s a decidedly smaller subset of those so blessed who learned to act like a champion.
You know fans wait for their favorite drivers to speak because of the inestimable bits of wisdom they impart on us mere mortals. After battling a stomachache this weekend, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., his very own popular self, imparted this insightful bit of wisdom: “I’m not a very big fan of stomach viruses now.” You know, I was kind of on the fence when it came to viruses that cause fever, vomiting, diarrhea, and general malaise but thanks to Dale’s insight, I’ve now decided I don’t like them either. On the other hand, most Junior fans have been feeling sick to the stomach watching their boy race most weekends this season.
Carl Edwards similarly offered his fans insight into his 44th-fastest speed posted in qualifying. “That’s bad,” he noted with Zen-like wisdom.
Most fans and even most of the media were somewhat startled when RCR stalwart Kevin Harvick began publicly expressing his strong desire to leave the Childress organization at the end of the year. After all, Harvick had made such noises before a few years back threatening to leave RCR for the Toyota camp in an attempt to strongarm better contract terms. But this time, it seems that Harvick is seriously attempting a move to become the third driver in the Stewart-Haas stable, which is a satellite operation of the Hendrick Racing dynasty. Childress has said he has no intentions of letting Harvick or Shell/Pennzoil out of the last years of their contracts (2010) but it was barely a year ago that that Joe Gibbs was saying he had no intention of letting Tony Stewart break his contract and leave that team, either. When a driver wants out, he or she can make such a pest of themselves they become a corrosive acid to an organization and in the end, it’s best to just let them go. There is one key difference here to remember, though. The Home Depot stuck with Gibbs Racing despite the defection of their longtime spokesmodel Stewart, while the Shell contract stipulates that the company’s contract with Childress is based on Harvick driving the car they sponsor. Keep your hands inside the car, campers, this is likely to be a dark ride that’s more weekday afternoon soap opera than Sunday afternoon racing.
Another surprise this week was the announcement that DeWalt Tools will be leaving driver Matt Kenseth and Jack Roush Racing after a long and successful association that saw the threesome celebrate the 2003 championship. Since 1999, when Kenseth ran a part-time Cup schedule, he’s been in the yellow DeWalt car most every weekend with the exception of some limited runs for associate sponsors. The paring is one of the longest in the sport this side of Jeff Gordon and DuPont. In this economy, the search for a sponsor to replace DeWalt even for a driver of Kenseth’s caliber and given the marketing expertise of Roush Racing is going to be a challenge.
Speaking of Roush, it seems we have a loser in the game of musical chairs to decide which of the five Roush drivers will be out a seat (and headed to satellite operation Yates Racing most likely) next year. It would seem that David Ragan, as the new kid on the block, would be the odd man out; but Ragan’s sponsor UPS, who bring a lot of money to the table with them, said the terms of their agreement with Roush are that Ragan is their driver and he campaigns under Roush Racing colors. Jamie McMurray now seems like he’s going to be outside looking in. If I were Elliott Sadler, I’d be polishing my resume and trying real hard to win a couple races soon. If I recall, the Mars/M and Ms folks were particularly fond of Sadler, and Kyle Busch’s immature acts this season might be bitter fruit for the sweet’s manufacturer to swallow. It’d be my guess that Mars’ association with Busch has been a marketing bonanza for candy store rival Reese’s Pieces. Being able to lure Mars back over to Yates Racing might secure Sadler a ride next year.
It’s a scientific breakthrough! At long last, someone has developed a cure for the fungal growth on the underside of Jimmie Johnson’s face that his PR people tried to call a beard.
Kelly Ripa? To use terms familiar to my texting nieces and nephews: OMG!!! YGTBFK me!
Talk about an assist! An ESPN reporter managed to work in a sponsor plug and manufacturer mention for Brian Vickers, who forgot to do so in his post-race interview.
The Hindenburg Award For Foul Fortune
Juan Pablo Montoya’s dream afternoon ended with that nightmarish speeding penalty on pit road.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. was having his best run in recent memory when his engine expired in dramatic fashion late in the race.
It’s kind of hard for a fellow like Elliott Sadler to win a race when his car suffers a mechanical issue on the first of 160 laps.
Kyle Busch really struggles on the big, flat tracks. He blew a tire and hit the wall hard, leading to yet another lousy finish. The wreck dropped Busch out of the top 12 in points.
Denny Hamlin had a strong run going before drivetrain issues sent him to the garage.
Reigning F1 champion Lewis Hamilton won his first race of 2009 at Hungary in a season that’s featured a hapless title defense. Unfortunately, during qualifying for the same event, Ferrari’s Felipe Massa suffered potentially life-threatening injuries when a spring from another car hit him in the helmet and passed through his visor. Massa underwent successful surgery for a cranial fracture, and is currently in a medically-induced coma listed in stable condition. Prayers go out to Massa, his family, his team, and his fans.
This running stock cars at Indy, a track totally unsuitable for them, really isn’t working out, is it? What’s next? Racing bulldozers at the Nurbergring?
The “Seven Come Fore Eleven” Award For Fine Fortune
Brian Vickers was almost penalized for taking pit equipment out of his pit stall, but the gas can fell off quickly enough. He also had to overcome an equalizing tire in the final laps of the race to hold on for a fifth place finish.
Ron Hornaday won his fourth consecutive Truck Series race on Friday. That’s not bad for an old guy who was a grade ahead of Mark Martin in elementary school.
Kevin Harvick really needed a decent run and he got one with a sixth place finish.
Greg Biffle nearly ran out of gas on the final lap but was able to coast to the checkers.
Bill Elliott qualified fourth driving for the part-time Wood Brothers team. The 53-year-old driver ran in the top 10 early in the race and in the top 15 for most of it before fading late.
What’s the Points?
Tony Stewart holds onto the points lead yet again. He’s now 192 points ahead of Jimmie Johnson, who supplanted Jeff Gordon to take over second in the standings.
Carl Edwards and Denny Hamlin once again swapped fifth and sixth spots in the standings, with Edwards now having the advantage.
Mark Martin’s strong run moved him up two spots to ninth in the standings.
Greg Biffle’s fourth place finished moved him up two spots into eleventh in the standings and back into Chase contention if the season were to end right now. And after the last two races, I almost wish it would.
Kyle Busch fell four spots to 14th in the standings. Maybe he ought to start concentrating on his day job?
David Reutimann moved up a spot to 13th. He’s 68 points out of twelfth.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. fell yet another spot to 21st in the standings. In the infamous words of Bill Murray’s Tripper Harrison in Meatballs, “It just doesn’t matter.”
Overall Rating (On a scale of one to six beer cans, with one being a stinker and a six-pack an instant classic) – We’ll give this one three cans of bovine beer. It was pretty much what was expected absent last year’s tire fiasco.
Next Up – Pocono. Again? Weren’t we just there? In fact, I doubt the last of the June post-race traffic has made to I-81 yet.
©2000 - 2008 Matt McLaughlin and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
Looks to me like the fans are voting with their feet after last years tire debacle, the COT and all the insane changes instituted by the powers that be.
I gave up my Indy seats a couple of years back, after being there for every race from 1994 on, and they were great seats (I could see the cars come out of turn 4, down the frontstretch and into turn 1, pretty good for this track) right next to the Winners Circle in the Tower Terrace. We got to see all the pre race hoopla, and I used to get fantastic pictures of the victory celebration. The racing was never really great at Indy but I remember a lot more passing and actual battles for the lead before the COT.
If I went back now I would park the camper in the Coke lot, party all week and watch the race from the campground on the dish. No need to waste my cash sitting in the stands for what I saw today.
Thanks Brian Z. France and Nascar. You saved me $1500 this weekend by creating boring racing and giving me the incentive to stay home.
Why bother watching a race when you know whose going to win. Montoya got screwed, plain and simple. With a 4 second lead, fo you think he’s going to speed on pit row. After that I knew was going to win so I switched back to baseball. When I watched sports highlights later I was right on as to who won. Surprise! Surprise!.. Hendricks and Hendricks-Stewart dominated the top ten again. After this fix I’m to the point where I’ve lost Most of my once fanatical interest in nas$car. Judging by all the empty seats at damn near every reace I know I’m not alone.
i side with montoya. no way, as bad as he wants to win on oval, and especially indy, that he was speeding i think na$car didn’t want him to win and to show him he was “stinking up the show”. would have been a good v/l celebration, instead, we got vanilla, vanilla, vanilla…..just give a hendrick team the trophy and close the door on the season.
People keep asking “should NASCAR be racing in Indianapolis?”. After watching all three races this week the answer is “Yes, at O’Reilly Race Park.”.
What an unbelievable robbery in broad daylight! Was it a boring race? Answer: this one could be used as the definition of boring! But to see how NA$CAR decided to “spice it up a bit” was just plain LOW. Neither my wife nor I are Montoya fans, but dadgummit, that man was ROBBED! I guess it was too hard to justify a “Miss Terri Debris” caution; and besides, even if they bunched up the field, Montoya was strong enough to get ahead on any NA$CAR-generated restart. So they had to “take him out”. Juan Pablo is no dummy: he knew he had the strongest car; he knew they couldn’t catch him; and there is no doubt he knew that he needed to NOT MAKE ANY MISTAKES. I do not doubt him when he says he was being extra careful on pit road. Bad NA$CAR! BAD BAD BAD! Downright disgusting!
I also side with Montoya! And I notice that John “Dingbat” Darby has come out with Montoya’s speeds on pit road. Oh ya? And who else actually saw these numbers Darby quoted? NASCAR screwed Montoya bigtime! And I will say that they did it, not because he was stinking out the show, but rather they knew there were three Hendrick cars right behind him, and after all, Brainless Brian and The Felon are the best of friends. Rick has probably donated more money to France’s pockets than anyone. So it makes perfect sense that a Hendrick car had to win. And you can bet that everything will be done to make sure that Jimmie, NASCAR’s precious disgraced Champion, will be the Champion this year!
I am not a Montoya fan, never was, even in his I.R.L. days. But what happened yesterday has now officially turned me off NASCAR. And I have to thank that idiot France! He has now saved me lots of money, money I won’t be spending at Michigan in a couple of weeks, a trip I have cancelled. And no more tee shirts, hats and diecasts! Screw you France! I hope you and The Felon have a happy life together! Your catering to him has destroyed the sport and cost you this fan who has followed NASCAR since Fred Lorenzen and Fireball Roberts rubbed fenders together!
Hey, Kid Lightning, It ought to be obvious to anyone after this weekend that the racing should be done at IRP, yeah I still call it that, rather than the brickyard. Boring.
i missed the post-race stuff. did they reference “winner of indy” = champion for season?
i loved the racing at irp. truck race was awesome. that’s what na$car needs to get us fans back. just think, next season nationwide will be cot…
matt, i’m surprised you didn’t mention the accident during qualifying for the f1 race. hopefully massa makes a complete recovery. very frightening and the pics of him when they lifted him from car, horrible.
At least there were some pretty funny moments during the Brickyard 400 . Jimmie Johnson almost bursting into tears on the radio because Brian Vickers wouldn’t pull over and let him pass . And we now know that in spite of the constant drumbeat of the press , Hendrick does not build the best cars and engines . Montoya had the field covered , including on the long straightaways , and his car was from DEI/Gannasi with a Childress engine . The pit road speeding incident was unfortunate , he deserved to win .
Should we put the same trust in Nascars’ pit road speed numbers for Montoya as we do for Nascars’drug test results for Mayfield ? Yes , i think we should .
i just choked on my cereal…..EXCELLENT POINT!
I’m not sure if I still miss Dale Earnhardt or what, but NASCAR racing is less meaning now than in the past. Indy is just another boring race with the car out front looking good as long has it is getting the needed air on the nose. Jerry Punch is a good guy, but he needs to come out of the booth for ESPN. Bad race with a bad play by play man. I will not watch the race next week.
I switched over occasionally, but when I saw Johnson had taken the lead and Montoya had been canned, I never looked back. I don’t know why anyone would go to a race at Indy, F1, Indycar, or NASCAR. You can’t see anything.
I’m not a big fan of pre-race shows , but i did see one segment this weekend that i thought was not only very well done , but a perfect metaphor for the current state of NASCAR . The segment was of Tony Stewart and AJ Foyt in conversation . It was interesting to see the virtual black and white difference between two men who live and breath racing vs. the following segment of Jeff Gordon at a trendy New York eatery being interviewed by a vapid talk show host . Talk about your two different worlds .
“Tony Stewart (third) hasn’t missed a top 10 result in the last seven races. Seven of those results were within the top 5.”
Ummm…then shouldn’t you have said that Smoke hasn’t miss a TOP 5 in the last seven races? or am I missing something?
Interesting point about Kyle in the NW series. I ran some numbers last night. Of the top 12 in points, 8 have run at least 1 NW race, 4 have run more than 2 (3 ran only 1). Of the top 4 in points, only Tony Stewart has run a NW race this year (2). Of the drivers 13-17 in points, they have all run at least 6 NW races. The average # of NW starts for drivers in the top 12 (excluding Edwards) is 2.27; average # of starts for positions 13-17 (excluding Busch) is 7.5. The notable drivers not in the top 20 in Cup points that were expected to compete at least for the chase are: Earnhardt, Jr. (6 starts), Harvick (12 starts), Ragan (12 starts).
So, is the NW series a distraction? I say probably. Does it really help you on Sunday? Most likely not, except maybe in the case of Logano, who needs the seat time. Besides, if you are a cup driver using the NW series to get seat time and experience, maybe you are not ready to be a Sprint Cup driver.
“Hendrick teammates Johnson, Gordon, Martin, Stewart and Newman have won eleven of this season’s 20 points paying Cup races with Johnson and Martin alone combining to win seven of those events. “
So will nascar put the Hendrick cars on the dyno like they did to Toyota for “stinking up the show?”
Just a note on the speeding penalty for Montoya, something I’ll be putting in my own column this week. I know everyone likes a good conspiracy theory, but while it sounds ridiculous the man WAS speeding. An inside source clued me in to new pit road times given to ESPN that allow you to accurately measure the data on pit road. That source showed me Montoya’s time in and out of the pits was over half-a-second faster than any of the other readings seen all day. Sounds hard to believe, but maybe the nerves were getting to him or something … this was not conspiracy but reality. Trust me on this one …
Well, Tom, given that fact wouldn;t it have behooved ESPN in sharing that data with the fans live, given the fact that single incident altered the entire complexion of the race? I mean maybe they could have had Kelly Ripa explain it.
I will let the tens of thousands of EMPTY seats do my talking today!
A sad sport at that!
The streak continues…still only two of the 16 BY races that I have stayed awake throughout the flag to flag “action”. Eh, whatever, jimmy cracked corn….
I love it when Jimmie wins! NASCAR is the greatest sport ever!!!! Can’t wait for the chase when the 48 Lowes team turns it on and wins 8 of the 10 chase races. Afterall, the other two real hendrick teams have to win atleast one.
Also can’t wait for the chase to begin for Hendrick to supply Stewart with the secondary equipment. Its a good thing they’ve had Dale Jr testing that garbage all year so they know exactly what to provide “smoke” with.
Nascar give us something to cheer for and talk about every week!!!!
Does anybody know what happened to Bill Elliott to suddenly put him a lap down near the end?
Of course ESPN couldn’t be bothered to comment..
How many times has this appeared in the “Thinkin’ Out Loud” series?
“Dramatic Moment – During the final ten laps”
Dans Mom has a point there . Why wouldn’t Hendrick give Stewart the second rate parts . Fortunatly though , Stewart is twice the driver that Johnson is , so Tony will still win the championship , he’ll just do it with inferior equipment .
Well, well! The Managing Editor is certainly sucking up to the NASCAR line now that they are part of the Citizen Jounalists! I never saw that graphic! And besides, given that this is supposed to be electronic equipment, where are the calibration certificates, and where is the certification of qualification of the operators? Right! In NASCAR’s files! How disappointing that you are now towing the NASCAR line! Montoya was robbed for the sake of France caving to giving The Felon yet another undeserved win! I said it before and I say it now, that race was rigged! If I were Chip, I’d punch France, Helton, and Dingbat Darby right in their ugly pusses!
And Dan’s Mom, I hope Johnson falls flat on his face! Him and his sleeze-bag crewchief! Same goes for Hendrick’s other team with Smoke-head driving! But let’s face it, Rick hendrick has paid Brian France off to ensure that this Championship has already been decided, and Jimmie will get his fourth Championship! And I hope he chokes on the trophy, and France chokes on the bribe money Hendrick pays him!
I agree with Ed. With all the things in the infield you can only see the cars coming out of turn 4 and then into turn 1.Worst view of any track we have been to and we only have a handful of tracks we haven’t visited. We wouldn’t go to Indy if we had free tickets. We could have done better things with the 280.00 we had spent on tickets the year we went. Now with the COT the racing is even much worse. My husband just said Sunday how much he misses real racing. He said he used to get excited to sit down and watch a race now he thinks we should go fishing instead he is losing interest.
when i saw the me comment here, first thing i wondered was calibration of the equipment. that all should be done by an outside organization. i just think it’s typical response. tow the line. considering na$car did pit road speeding violations by visual methods vs. state-of-art methods doesn’t let me think that they’re all that sophisticated, well until they want to make a case.
Folks, that expression is TOE the line. Not tow the line. Where are they going to tow that line? Can’t stand poor spelling.
Why would NASCAR want to screw Juan Pablo? Wouldnt it help their “drive for diversity” campaign and help their international fan base if he won again? Instead, with Jimmie Johnson winning, all they get are a bunch of folks complaining about black helicopters again. Why does it have to be NASCAR’s equipment that needs certifying? Perhaps Juan Pablo’s tachometer was wrong?
WOOOOHOOO!! Go team Hendrick!!! NA$CAR knows never to mess with anything team Hendrick! They OWN every one!! All the team owners, the team members and other drivers know they must bow down to team Hendrick or else! They all do exactly what Rick orders them all to say and do! Noone on any other team, or in NA$CAR will ever say a word about who owns them. They do only what Rick orders them to do! And that will never change!
Matt, Elliott did not fade, he made cup history, I think. They said he had a lugnut tightened up between the wheel and the rotor. I’ve never heard of that before. He circled the track and came back in. He also ran out of gas that stop and coasted in from turn 4. Of course if you don’t get raceview, you will never hear anything about him during the race. The team radios are cool to listen to and no, I do not now nor will I ever work for the France Mafia.
Also, on the last restart Kurt Busch was supposed to line up behind Bill but instead lined up 4 spots in front of Bill and in front of cars on the lead lap. nascar told him to fall back and he basically ignored them. No black flag – the power of Penske?? If nascar can’t even line up the cars right how can we believe pit row speeds. Speaking of which, if the power to the car transponder or the loops were increased for just a split second creating a larger field of energy, would that cause the loops to “see” the car sooner thus a speeding penalty?? just wondering
Janice, MATT did mention Massa’s crash, even though it’s not an F1 column.
Unlike what MATT said, Newman hasn’t won yet, so Hendrick + Stewart-Haas has only won 10 times, not 11. However, you can still count it as 11 if you count James Finch’s win with Brad Keselowski, which was basically just as much a Hendrick car as the Hendrick/Stewart-Haas cars proper.
I’m spending the week in NYC and spent yesterday at the Al Hirschfeld Theater watching the revival of the hippie musical “Hair”. I had a great time. My condolences to those of you who were left to watch the Brickyard 400. From what I understand, it was a bummer, man.
I think the biggest point being missed here…..
Could NASCAR allow JPM, driving an EGR (That’s Teresa by the way), to win one of the three biggest races of the year? Not as long as their poster child can’t win in, arguably, the best equipment available in NASCAR.
Do you think an EGR win might lay waste to the claim that it was the equipment at DEI and not the driver?
As long as Jr. races for HMS, nothing associated with his former team will be allowed to visit victory lane.
anyone remember how Regan Smith got screwed last year driving a DEI car?
What a bunch of whiners!
Montoya got caught & paid the price. I don’t like the guy or his owner Ganassi, but he blew everyone away, including himself. If he wants to cry about who killed his chances, let him look in the mirror (note: I don’t particularly care for JJ either).
JPM isn’t the only guy penalized for pit road speeding this year; it happens all the time.
Actually, NASCAR probably knew that a win by JPM (why does he have to go by three names, by the way—it isn’t as if he’ll be confused for someone else) would be good for its image, but rules are rules.
Speed ‘em and weep, if you’ll pardon the pun.
Jaymatt, Juan Montoya is JPM’s father, so yes there is confusion. JPM has always been known as Juan Pablo Montoya so that is what NASCAR calls him, too.
Kevin, he was simply called Juan Montoya when he was in CART and IRL. He didn’t adopt the third name until he was in F1.
Matt — a comment from Eric from the old Awesome Bill From Dawsonville forum(ABFD) –
I have to disagree with your comment about the Busch race being the best race this weekend. Did you happen to catch the truck race at IRP? (it is neither Nationwide nor ORP to me) I rarely catch a BGN or CTS event but could not pull myself away from the couch after that 4 truck fight for the lead from 50 laps to go until the end, it was quite possibly the best racing i’ve seen since ESPN used to air Saturday Night Thunder…