Kurt Busch to Attempt The Indianapolis-Charlotte Double
posted by Phil Allaway
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Andretti Autosport announced this morning that Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet in the Sprint Cup Series, will attempt the Indianapolis 500 in a fifth entry for the IndyCar Series team. Once the Indianapolis 500 is completed, Busch will fly from Indianapolis to Charlotte, jump in his No. 41 Chevrolet and compete in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Busch considers the opportunity to do the double as an old-school throwback moment.
“This is really to challenge myself within motorsports,” Busch said in Andretti Autosport’s press release. “Perhaps I am a bit of an old-school racer; a throwback, I guess. I enjoyed the era of drivers racing different cars and testing themselves in other series. It is tough to do now for a variety of factors, but when the opportunity is there, I want to do it. While NASCAR is my home, I have been fortunate to compete in Pro Stock on the NHRA circuit a number of years ago and test a V8 Supercar. This opportunity was a talk with Michael [Andretti] over dinner one night, a “What if,” and now it’s becoming a reality for me to drive in the Indy 500 with Andretti Autosport. It’s literally a dream come true. To go to the famous Brickyard with the iconic Andretti name, it doesn’t get much cooler or better than that.”
Busch will be doing the Indianapolis-Charlotte double as a Memorial Day mission to men and women serving in the U.S. Military via the Armed Forces Foundation. Fans can contribute to the cause by texting AFF to 50555 to donate $10.
Busch, who has never raced an IndyCar, passed Rookie Orientation at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year during a test session. At the time, Busch was more or less testing the Dallara DW12 for fun.
Busch will be the fourth driver to attempt the Indianapolis-Charlotte double. John Andretti was the first driver to attempt it in 1994. After finishing four laps down in tenth in Indianapolis, Andretti crashed and had engine problems in the 600. Robby Gordon has attempted the double five times, most recently in 2004. However, Gordon failed to make it to Charlotte on time and did not start the 600 in 2000 (P.J. Jones started Gordon’s No. 13 Ford in that instance). Finally, Tony Stewart has attempted the double twice (most recently in 2001) and is the only driver to ever complete all 1100 miles. Neither of the three drivers has won either leg of the double. The best finishes are Stewart and Gordon’s sixth-place finishes at the Indianapolis 500 (although Gordon’s came in 2000, the year he didn’t make it to Charlotte in time to start the Coca-Cola 600), and Stewart’s fourth-place finish in the 2001 Coca-Cola 600.
Danica Patrick, Justin Allgaier Talk About Phoenix Incident
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
A disappointing start to the year for Danica Patrick won’t include continued conflict. Patrick met with rookie Justin Allgaier Sunday, shortly after the Phoenix Cup race after a wreck ruined both drivers’ days. Patrick, who was critical of the No. 51 car on the radio, claiming Allgaier was “driving all over the track” appeared receptive to a conversation that quickly settled differences over what will be a long season.
“She was just upset because she got involved in the crash that we had,’’ said Allgaier to the Motor Racing Network. “She says she’s been through this and that she felt like I needed to settle down at that point. I explained my position on why everything happened. I think she understood where I was coming from. It doesn’t fix either one of our racecars. It doesn’t fix either one of our days. Unfortunately, we were both having pretty decent days.’’
Allgaier wound up 30th due to the incident while Patrick was 36th. The incident, which was caused by Allgaier’s spin also involved the No. 32 team and Travis Kvapil, which wound up 38th after sustaining heavy damage.
Camping World Close to Extending Title Sponsorship of NCWTS
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Marcus Lemonis, CEO of Camping World, Grand Marshal of Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway, and star of CNBC’s “The Profit,” made the announcement over the weekend that the retailer is very close to announcing a deal that would continue its title sponsorship of NASCAR’s Truck Series. The original agreement with NASCAR is scheduled to conclude after the 2015 season.
According to the sanctioning body, no formal contract has been signed, but “the agreement between the two parties has proven to be a beneficial one.”
“In about a month, we’ll be announcing a significant extension to that contract. It’s been great for us,” said Camping World’s Lemonis in a statement. “The NASCAR relationship has worked well for Camping World. When we started, we had 35 stores. Now, we’re up to 120 stores. As we travel the country and we meet new customers in stores, they always are very appreciative of our relationship with NASCAR. It’s been good.”
Gaining a long-term commitment from Camping World to sponsor the Truck Series would be a relief for NASCAR, which is set to lose Nationwide Insurance as title sponsor for the NASCAR Nationwide Series at the end of the 2014 season. The sponsorship of the Cup Series by Sprint runs through 2016.
The NCWTS is back in action on March 29th at 2:30 PM (ET) when the trucks visit Martinsville Speedway in the Kroger 250, which can be seen on Fox Sports 1. Ratings for the season opener were up 11 percent.
Harvick Takes Win At Phoenix In Second Race With New Team
posted by Justin Tucker
Monday March 3, 2014
Phoenix International Raceway has become Kevin Harvick’s home away from home. Sunday Afternoon was no exception as Harvick charged to the front early and would dominate for much of the day, leading 224 of the scheduled 312 laps to record his record fifth win on the one mile oval and his third win in the last four races at Phoenix.
Harvick, coming off of a disappointing Speedweeks which was capped by a last lap crash in the Daytona 500 in his debut with Stewart-Haas Racing, set the tone on Saturday by winning both practices while having the best 5 and 10-lap averages in the first practice of the day on Saturday. On Sunday, Harvick and his No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet was nothing short of flawless as he was able to hold Dale Earnhardt, Jr. by .489 seconds after a late race restart to claim his 24th career Sprint Cup Series victory.
“Man, this is awesome,” Harvick said after his dominant victory on Sunday. “Man, this just solidifies so many things and so many decisions. It’s been so much work with all the time and effort that these guys (the crew) have put in—but what a race car.”
Stewart Haas Racing co-owner Gene Haas shared in Harvick’s excitement after the race.
“It took long enough,” Haas joked. “This is phenomenal. I think there was a lot of skepticism last year about what myself and Tony (Stewart) what we were up to, was there a lot of madness to this. Quite frankly, it’s a great team, there’s a lot of synergy at the shop, people working together. I don’t know what we did, but I think we put together a great organization.”
Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt, Jr. continued his hot start to the 2014 season. Earnhardt Jr. would finish second on Sunday, marking his seventh consecutive top 10 finish since the end of the 2013 season. Earnhardt Jr. was pleased with the effort after a coast-to-coast whirlwind week after winning his second Daytona 500 and also gave great praise to the efforts of Harvick and the No. 4 team.
“I’ve got to congratulate Kevin. Those guys were two-tenths faster than everyone all weekend in practice. They were just phenomenal,” Earnhardt said. “To be able to run with them all day was a big confidence builder for us.”
Joining Harvick and Earnhardt in the top 5 of The Profit on CNBC 500K were Brad Keselowski with his second consecutive top 3 run of 2014 in third. Keselowski’s Team Penske teammate Joey Logano would finish fourth, and Jeff Gordon would come home fifth in his No. 24 Pepsi Max Chevrolet.
Jimmie Johnson finished in sixth, followed by Ryan Newman with a nice rebound after Daytona in seventh. Carl Edwards would carry the banner for Roush Fenway Racing by finishing eighth, Kyle Busch was ninth, and Jamie McMurray would finish tenth.
A look at the Profit on CNBC 500K by the numbers. There were 14 lead changes among eight different drivers, there were eight cautions for 39 laps which slowed the race pace to 109.229 MPH.
Next Sunday, the Sprint Cup Series heads to Sin City and the Las Vegas Motor
Starting Lineup: The Profit On CNBC 500K
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday March 1, 2014
Drivers in RED (i) are those ineligible to collect Sprint Cup points
Daytona 500 TV Ratings Down
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Wednesday February 26, 2014
What was the longest weather delay in Daytona 500 history turned out to bring NASCAR lower ratings and TV viewership Sunday night than expected. According to a report Monday from FOX Sports, the 56th running of the Daytona 500 airing at 8 PM (ET) posted a 5.6/10 national household rating/share which averaged 9.3 million viewers. That’s down 44 percent from last year’s 9.9, easily making it the least-watched Daytona 500 of all-time.
Due to the six-hour, twenty-two minute rain delay in Daytona, the race was up against the primetime coverage of the Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony from Sochi, Russia on NBC (15.25 million viewers). FOX also reported that 69% of the pre-rain delay viewers of the race, which began at 1 PM (ET) kept tuning in.
In comparison, the 2013 Daytona 500 on FOX was the most-watched race in five years, posting a 9.9/22 rating/share, commanding 16.7 million viewers. The Daytona 500 in 2012, the first to ever be run on a Monday and in the primetime slot did a 7.7/13 overnight rating/share which resulted in 13.67 million households viewing the race according to Nielsen TV ratings data.
Earnhardt, Jr. Claims Second Daytona 500 Victory
posted by Justin Tucker
Wednesday February 26, 2014
Ten years is a long time. For Dale Earnhardt, Jr., it felt like an eternity. NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver endured many near misses and close calls at the Daytona 500 since his only win in the Great American Race in 2004. Earnhardt had finished second in two of his last three Daytona 500s coming into Sunday’s race. He was also riding the tail of a 55-race winless streak, dating back to Michigan in 2012.
However nothing would stop Dale Jr. on Sunday, not even a 6 hour and 22 minute rain delay from capturing his second Daytona 500 win. Earnhardt Jr. led a race-high 54 laps on the evening and used some timely drafting help from teammates Jimmie Johnson and, on the final restart, Jeff Gordon to separate from the pack and secure the victory.
“Winning this race is the greatest feeling that you could feel in this sport besides accepting the trophy for the championship,” said a jubilant Earnhardt after pulling into Victory Lane. “We could fight off battle after battle. We got a little help at the end there from Jeff to get away on the restart. This is amazing. I can’t believe this is happening. I never take this for granted, man because it doesn’t happen twice, let alone once.”
Aside from the race itself the big story of the race was the 6 hour and 22 minute red flag, which threatened to move the race to Monday evening (had the race been postponed, FOX Sports’ Chris Myers had tweeted that the race would resume at 5:00pm EST). However, Mother Nature would cooperate and would allow the race to be run under different conditions from which they practiced this week. Once the race resumed, the intensity picked up from the changing track conditions. This allowed the pack to race side-by-side and at times 3-wide up to seven rows deep.
Joining Earnhardt Jr. in the top 5 for the 2014 Daytona 500 were: Denny Hamlin who closed out a spectacular Speedweeks in second, Brad Keselowski in third, Jeff Gordon in fourth, and Jimmie Johnson who overcome two wrecks leading up to the 500 in fifth.
Rounding out the top 10 in the Daytona 500 were Matt Kenseth in sixth, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. in seventh and Greg Biffle would bring his No. 16 Ford home in eighth. Austin Dillon would come home ninth in his first Cup Series race in the iconic No. 3 for Richard Childress Racing, while Casey Mears would round out the top 10.
A couple of major contenders for the Daytona 500 win would see their hopes dashed early on as Martin Truex, Jr. would blow up just 30 laps into the race, relegating him to a 43rd-place finish in his debut for Furniture Row Racing. Crew chief Todd Berrier was already in Nashville for a test session before the race was even over. Kyle Busch, meanwhile would have a pit road violation just before halfway and would spend much of the race battling back from that mistake. Busch would eventually finish 19th after leading 19 laps.
Danica Patrick would also be bit by bad luck as she was caught up in a multi-car wreck on lap 145. Patrick would lead her second consecutive Daytona 500, but wouldn’t have the finish to show for it finishing 40th. Tony Stewart would encounter a frustrating evening as well, with a fuel pickup problem derailing his quest for his first Daytona 500 win. Stewart would finish 35th.
A look at the Daytona 500 by the numbers. There were 42 lead changes among 18 drivers, while seven cautions for 39 laps would slow the race pace to 145.290 MPH.
Next week, the Sprint Cup Series heads to the “diamond in the desert,” Phoenix International Raceway for The Profit on CNBC 500K. The Green flag is scheduled for 3:15pm EST.
Nationwide Series Post-Race Quotes: Drive4COPD 300
posted by Thomas Bowles
Tuesday February 25, 2014
Frontstretch Interviews – Courtesy Mike Neff
ELLIOTT SADLER – FINISHED 4th
Thoughts on the race?
It’s definitely a lot different racing than what we’re used to.
Comfortable with it?
Yeah, it’s just different. You’re worried about what you’re doing, but you’re also worried about what everyone else is doing and they’re not doing more than you’re doing. Physically pushing a guy is way better than just riding so you just gotta time it right and push it to the edge.
Happy to start the year with a top 5?
Yeah. Hell, that was the worst we ran all day, I think. I have no idea how they put the 3 car in front of us on that last restart. I hadn’t seen the 3 car hardly all day. When they put us from fifth to sixth, on the outside line, it just really boxed us in. I would have really restarted behind my teammate and given him a good push to the front. Anyways, it is what it is; we’ll take it and move on.
Looked like you were up front all day.
The guys did a good job. We had a fast race car. Great pit stops, just really proud of these guys. The car’s in one piece and we can take it to Talladega now. Great job by my guys. A lot of effort came into coming down here to Daytona and giving ourselves a shot to win. We had that chance to be up front and make some things happen. Fifth is not what we want, but we’ll take it and move on.
Bumping vs Pushing?
It’s way harder. You don’t want to lay on the guy in front of you, so it’s tough racing. A lot different than what we’re used to, ‘cause you gotta go. You gotta drag the brake too ‘cause you don’t want to hit the guys and you don’t want to stay on him. It’s a lot harder mentally than what we’ve done in the past.
Car was strong all day. Pushing vs. Bumping, is that harder to do than just getting on somebody and pushing them?
Yeah, it is a little bit. When you bump ‘em, you jar ‘em, it kinda jacks ‘em a little bit. It’s a little more abrupt, obviously. I thought it was OK there at the end. It was certainly fun and hopefully entertaining. But a little bit of a struggle in the early part of the race and the midpart of the race to see a good race. And that’s unfortunate for the fans. You can’t do that the whole race, you can’t tear up your stuff, knock your grill in, overheat your motor, all that stuff so there’s no sense in doing all that until you get down to the last lap. The 7 and the 6, they did a good job. Man, the 7 really held the 22 and I tight on the bottom. I was rubbing his door and hitting the apron at the same time, no room whatsoever. So it was good; wish we were the ones who could have won but a lot better now than what we were last year.
Going home in one piece makes it a lot better, right?
Yeah. My back feels good. My foot feels good. Past years here, I’ve been going home with pain so I’m alright.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Truck Series Post-Race Quotes: Daytona (Exclusives)
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday February 22, 2014
When you’re on the outside like that, how frustrating is it?
It’s so hard. Timothy Peters has won here. Kyle Busch has won everywhere. Ron Hornaday has been running Trucks forever, probably before I was even born. I was surrounded by veterans there, and like I told them I don’t have a rookie stripe but I’m a rookie. This is only my fourth Truck race ever, my fourth superspeedway race, and man, I figured out when the 17 got up in front of me, I pushed him. And as soon as I pushed him, he took off. And I went with him. And I just kept doing it, and before I knew it, he was leading. And I saw Ron in my mirror, backed up to him, and if it wasn’t for him, I don’t know what would have happened. I gotta thank him big time for that. That was a true teammate move right there. I really appreciate that. He just bounced off me and we got to the front. I tried my hardest to sidedraft Kyle. I was probably touching his door.
Top 5 in the No. 30 truck. This deal come together at the last minute, but you had a heck of a truck. Tell us about your night.
Yeah, I’ve got to thank Turner Scott Motorsports. The guys worked so hard on this Rheem Comfort Products Chevrolet. Exciting! Just got hung up on the outside and had to wait for my teammate there to catch up. And then he got to the bottom, so… I got the old 32 and started pushing ol’ Ryan to the front. So, it’s not bad. We’ll take it. You just don’t want to step over that boundary. You don’t know how far to push and shove. We bumped about six times down the straightaway without latching onto them. Hopefully, that was OK and we came home with a top 5.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Budweiser Duels Post Race Quotes
posted by Matt Stallknecht
Friday February 21, 2014
BUDWEISER DUELS POST-RACE QUOTES
They’re saying the wheel bearing burned up in it. I don’t know what caused it, they’re taking it all apart to figure out what the heck happened. Something abnormal that’s for sure I don’t think I’ve ever had that happen at all. Hopefully, we made the race and hopefully we can fix the problem before Sunday.
WHAT WAS THAT LOUD BOOM ONCE YOU TURNED INTO THE GARAGE?
Loud pop was a tire… thankfully, it popped, hopefully it didn’t hurt anybody. All the heat created in the left front that popped was pretty weird.
REALLY GOOD RUN. WHAT DID YOU THINK OF IT?
Yeah, it was good. We have a car we can work with for the 500. Got a good starting spot, so we’re going to rest easy, fluff and buff our car for a couple of days and get ready for Sunday.
ANY DIFFERENCE ON WHETHER THE TOP OR BOTTOM LANE WORKED?
Yeah, I was just moving around, trying to stay with the flow. For me, this car works on all parts of the racetrack. So I’m pretty happy with it.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.
GOT SHUFFLED BACK, AFTER PIT STOPS AND THEN COULDN’T GET BACK UP TO THE FRONT. WHY?
Nah, we were just sitting there waiting until the last few laps to make a move. You didn’t want to pull down and get sent to the back. Seen a couple of guys get sent to the back really quick so we were just kind of waiting for the end. I felt like we had a good situation there with Ambrose behind us — we had a good run off Turn 2 and I went. It was the last lap, time to go do something, nobody went with us but hopefully Sunday is a different story.
We got a great car. We don’t have to work hard. We learned, we got a good race car. Got a car in one piece, ready to go so we’ll try and get through the next couple of practices, deliver it to the starting group this Sunday and we’ll be real happy.
YOU’RE IN THE DAYTONA 500!
Yeah, it’s pretty awesome. This Whitetail Chevrolet was so fast that I knew all I had to do was stick it behind smart, intelligent drafters and we could have a good finish. That’s what we did in the Duels and I’m excited. I’m excited to go do some stuff with the Nationwide car and have some more practice with this. But to know that we’re locked in the Daytona 500’s pretty cool.
YOU WERE OBVIOUSLY IN FRONT OF THAT MELEE AT THE END. WHEN YOU WERE UP FRONT THERE IN THE BEGINNING, WERE YOU HOPING TO JUST STAY IN LINE AND LET YOU FINISH TOP 5?
I was pretty content to ride and luckily I knew a lot of people around us were. It was nice to have a little calm and not really have to be racing hard the whole time. I knew that the pit stop was going to shake everything up and that’s exactly what happened. Fell back a little bit there but made the right moves at the end to get a good finish.
HOW STRONG ARE THESE RCR CARS?
They’re very strong! They definitely have the capabilities to be winning one of these races.
YOU’RE IN THE TOP 5 FOR YOUR HEAT IN THE DAYTONA 500. YOUR PRIMARY CAR IS SITTING RIGHT IN THE GARAGE, KIND OF WADDED UP. DID YOU THINK THIS ONE HAD IT IN IT?
Yeah, it’s a brand new car also. It’s just not quite as good as the primary but still a damned good car. I’m just proud of everybody at RCR for building such fast race cars. All of our cars have been fast, ECR motor’s been strong, even our affiliate teams have been qualifying really good and racing good. So… excited about 2014! It’s going to be a good year.
WELL MAN, YOU STARTED IN THE BACK BUT WORKED YOUR WAY TO THE FRONT WHEN IT COUNTED MOST. WERE YOU JUST BIDING YOUR TIME THROUGHOUT THE RACE?
Eh, you never know if you’re going to get back up there or not. We had to start at the back, we had to make a run early and see what we could do. We drove right to 10th, or something like that and then it got stagnant. We tried to make something happen, and went to the back again. Drove back up to the front. Again, just really proud of my guys. Matt Kruder did a hell of a job on that pit stop getting just enough gas in to gain some spots there.
RCR CARS SEEM PRETTY DARNED STRONG. DO YOU THINK THE RCR CARS HAVE SOMETHING FOR THEM ON SUNDAY — ESPECIALLY THE THREE JOE GIBBS RACING CARS THAT SEEM TO BE THE CLASS OF THE FIELD RIGHT NOW?
Oh yeah. The 20 car was extremely fast. The 11 didn’t qualify that good, but he’s a good drafter. I think he won. We definitely have something for him.
Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
Matt McLaughlin · Tuesday August 4, 2009
The Key Moment – With 20 laps to go, Denny Hamlin restarted 14th with fresh tires. With 10 to go, he drove past Clint Bowyer to take the lead and was never headed.
In a Nutshell – Better late than never. In this case very late, but very much better than the last few Pocono races.
Dramatic Moment – The final 20 laps of the race were among the best of this season’s Cup races.
What They’ll Be Talking About Around the Water Cooler This Week
Wow, talk about the perfect visualization of an exercise in futility. I was laughing my guts out watching those poor track officials trying to dry a 2.5-mile race track with leaf blowers on Sunday. (Yes, I know they had jet driers out there too… but it was still hilarious.)
Umm… Drs. Mattioli, might it not be time to fix those bumps down low in Turn 1?
Do you think Kyle Busch is beginning to realize his chances at making the Chase are heading down the hopper? He drove himself into the wall overdriving his car and wound up 16th. I wouldn’t want to be ahead of Busch next week at the Glen. Heck, I wouldn’t even want to be on the same track, because I think the Mother of All Hissy Fits is about to go nuclear.
Why on earth did NASCAR throw a caution flag when David Ragan just barely kissed the wall and continued on at full speed?
Crowd estimates for Monday’s race at Pocono were about 80,000. Yeah, there were lots of empty seats, but that’s still more fans than some tracks have been able to attract for their regularly scheduled Sunday afternoon or Saturday night dates lately.
A note to Robby Gordon: It’s usually best not to announce your intentions to wreck another car over the radio. As for wrecking out the No. 12 car, how’d that work out for you? I guess there’s a reason the No. 7 was sporting black quarterpanels at Pocono.
Related to the above… Robby Gordon had announced his intentions to wreck Stremme. A few laps later, he rapped on the No. 12 car’s rear bumper a few times. Stremme pulled over, let Gordon get alongside him, then wrecked him. Yet ESPN didn’t have a camera on the duo after the caution flew to document what Gordon did to earn him a five-lap penalty? How the hell could they have missed that?
On a brighter note, the ESPN’s rain delay coverage was more entertaining than some races this year. The broadcast crew finally got around to admitting maybe this year’s Brickyard 400 was less than entertaining, that maybe these new cars are at fault, and NASCAR ought to let the teams tweak on them a bit to make for better racing. Some of the stories of the early days of ESPN and racing were also entertaining (or alternatively terrifying) as well. The footage of old Junior Johnson taking out a NASCAR official at the knees with the jack was hilarious.
Kyle Busch tied a pretty incredible record after this weekend’s Nationwide race. He matched a mark set by legendary Grand National driver Jack Ingram, finishing first or second in nine consecutive races after a runner-up finish at Iowa. As one has come to expect, though, Busch was petulant after having finished second for the seventh time in those nine races, throwing a girlish hissy fit in his post-race comments. That act is getting old, to the point that even ESPN’s Randy LaJoie noted that it was likely the crowd didn’t cheer Brad Keselowski’s win as much as they did Busch’s loss. An old saw in racing states to finish first, first you have to finish. Another states, “Second place is the first loser.” To extrapolate, to be first loser seven times, first you have to be a loser. Let’s just call this streak of bad luck Busch is enduring Sam Bass’s Curse…
Speaking of Iowa, the new facility managed to pack in a capacity crowd for what turned out to be a fine race on a multi-groove track that had the crowd stamping their feet and cheering most of the afternoon. I have to agree this track deserves a Cup date a lot more than some of the other tracks currently on the schedule with two of them.
The Start and Park situation in both the Nationwide and Truck series is seriously out of hand. You have to wonder if the plethora of Start and Parkers is going to turn fans at home into Sit and Surfers looking for some more palatable fare. You also have to wonder if MSRP’s No. 90 and No. 91 team cars would qualify for Cash for Clunkers. After all, they can’t seem to run for more than eight miles without brake or overheating problems. Maybe Fiat is actually already funding NASCAR teams after all?
This week, Ford unveiled a prototype of its new Mustang Nationwide Series Car of Tomorrow that will debut next year. Color me underwhelmed. I’m a Mustang guy; my first car was a ’70 Mustang Mach One 428 Cobra Jet, replete with slats, shakers, and spoilers. (For which I laid out 1600 bucks in 1975…sigh.) My first new car out of college was a 1982 Mustang GT, which gave way to a near-annual upgrade to a new Fox body Mustang through the ’80’s. Along the way, I’ve had a bunch of other Mustangs, including two Boss 302s and even a Shelby back when such rides were affordable to mere mortals. I had high hopes for the new NASCAR Mustang… but the prototype looks like a Ford Fusion CoT with different decals for the headlights and driving lights. Chevy is also balking at marketing their new Camaro in the same series, saying the design engineers don’t feel the potential race car could look enough like its street counterpart to justify the marketing expense. I have my own doubts on why Chevy won’t campaign Camaros, though. In the infamous words of Eddie Murphy’s SNL character Velvet Jones, “The bitch ugly.” This new Camaro looks about as much like a 1969 model as your granny looks like Heather Locklear.
While the topic is fading in the rear-view mirror, the issue of pit road speeding penalties is still a hot topic after Montoya’s disaster at Indy. Several team members and drivers said they would like to have the same data NASCAR gets in the booth to figure out if their driver (or most likely other teams’ drivers) were speeding. That seems a reasonable request. It would be nice for the media and especially the fans to have access to that data, too. I seem to recall during one pit sequence at Indy, Jeff Gordon was traveling down pit road, presumably at the required speed, and the No. 48 car came storming up from ten car lengths back to get right on Gordon’s rear bumper. So, either Gordon was going too slow or Johnson was going too fast… and I find it unlikely Gordon was going too slow. This ain’t his first rodeo, cowgirl.
Gordon pointed out that in other forms of auto racing like F-1 and the IRL, cars are outfitted with a button on the steering wheel a driver hits as he enters pit road that limits the car to the maximum speed allowed. Why can’t NASCAR implement the same technology? It makes sense to me. I don’t guess there’s many fans who want to see a race decided by pit road speeding penalties like the Brickyard presumably was. The problem (for NASCAR, at least) is that such systems usually involve a wheel speed sensor, and if the sport were to allow such a device, teams could conceivably use that same sensor to provide data for some sort of traction control system on the track. But it seems to me with the relatively inexpensive GPS systems now available to us all, stuff that would have been Science Fiction a decade ago, a speed limiting system using GPS ought to be fairly easy to develop. Lacking that, how about a GPS system that triggered wiggle-waggle lighting systems on the front and rear of a car that exceeds pit road speed limits? When the car begins blinking like a Christmas tree Jeremy Mayfield watered, we’d all know that driver was speeding, and it would add some cool visuals to night races.
And finally, on the topic of speeding, I enjoy watching the YouTube videos veteran NASCAR beat writer Mike Mulhern posts on his Mikemulhern.net site to air his thoughts on race weekend live. Mulhern typically films his videos while driving to or from the track using an in-car camera while he’s at the wheel. Now, I know the Poconos pretty well; in addition to attending countless races there, I have friends who own vacation homes in the region, and we’re up there all the time riding dirt bikes, hunting, fishing, and hanging out. So every time I watched Mulhern (who was driving at a pretty good clip given the roads I also know well) take his eyes off the road to look into the camera, I wanted to scream “Eyes forward, look out for deer!” You see, white-tail deer have become so abundant in the Poconos we refer to them as rats with antlers. In some communities, they’ve become so domesticated you can hand-feed them doughnuts. Car/motorcycle collisions with deer are an everyday occurrence as a result … especially at dawn and dusk. In fact, I am convinced that our Creator never produced any mammal dumber than a white-tail deer outside the one that drives the No. 18 car. So if you’re going to the Poconos for a race or a vacation, you must learn to constantly scan the roadside for white-tail deer (or drunks wearing number No. 88 T-shirts on muddy old quads trying to cross the road unexpectedly).
I’m a curious sort, so I just had to check it out. David Gilliland’s car, which appeared briefly at Pocono as a start and parker, was sponsored by the National Leiomyosarcoma Foundation. So, what is Leiomyosarcoma? It’s rare sort of cancer Wikipedia describes as “a type of malignant sarcoma, which is a neoplasm of smooth muscle.” Cancer is no laughing matter, and I hope a cure is found for this disease. But how the Hell did they find room to fit the name of the foundation on the car?
The Hindenburg Award For Foul Fortune
Marcos Ambrose seemed to be in position to finish in the top 10 until an ill-advised move by Denny Hamlin took out David Reutimann, with Ambrose suffering collateral damage.
The No. 88 team once again found a way to adjust on a potential top 10 car and turn it into an also-ran.
You’ve got to feel for all those race fans who had (not inexpensive) race tickets to Sunday race but couldn’t come back on Monday. The weather in these parts Sunday was beyond atrocious. I’ve always wanted to live on a lakefront property; I just never expected my garage to be in the middle of it. After the race was called, I went kayaking… in my basement. Even a major interstate outside of Philly had to be shut down because the road flooded so deep it was up to cars’ windshields. Rain on a Pocono weekend is nothing new… but this was positively Biblical.
The “Seven Come Fore Eleven” Award For Fine Fortune
It just didn’t look like it was going to be Jimmie Johnson’s day. He began losing power, and believed his engine was about to blow. But the team changed a carb, plug wires, and plugs to get the car roaring back to life. Though at one point he was three laps down, Johnson rallied back to a 13th place finish. That’s how you win titles.
Likewise, Tony Stewart’s weekend didn’t start off on a great note. He crashed a car in practice and had to drop from the pole starting position to the rear of the field. Early in the race, his car was so evil-handling that Stewart had to pit even before the lap 20 competition caution. The team didn’t give up on their car or driver, though, and Stewart rallied back to finish 10th.
It was another great weekend for Ron Hornaday, who won his fifth straight Truck Series event at the age of 51. In NASCAR’s top three touring divisions, only Richard Petty (twice) and Bobby Allison have won five straight events previously.
Given the team’s recent performance, having two cars finish in the top 12 was a shot in the arm for the RCR organization.
Maybe Sam Hornish, Jr. is getting the hang of driving these taxicabs after all?
What’s the Points?
Despite a rough start to his day, Tony Stewart managed to increase his points gap over second place Jimmie Johnson to 197 points. Third place Jeff Gordon now trails Johnson by just two, while fourth place Kurt Busch is a staggering 238 points behind Gordon (however, the top four have all but secured a spot in the top 12 at this point).
Denny Hamlin and Carl Edwards swapped fifth and sixth spots yet again this week, with Hamlin now obviously holding the advantage. Juan Pablo Montoya moved up two spots to eighth, while Ryan Newman fell two spots to ninth. Mark Martin fell a spot to round out the top 10.
Finishing off the current crop of Chasers, Matt Kenseth took over eleventh in the standings from Greg Biffle. Kyle Busch moved up a spot to thirteenth, but he’s 101 points out of the top 12 with five races until the Chase. Brian Vickers trails Busch by three points, while fifteenth place Clint Bowyer is 14 points behind Kyle.
Overall Rating (On a scale of one to six beer cans, with one being a stinker and a six-pack an instant classic) — I’ll give this one four bottles of Genny Cream Ale. It took awhile to heat things up to a simmer; but once they got cooking, it was a pretty savory dish.
Next Up – It’s onto Chicago… or Detroit … I dunno, they do so many of these shows in a row, and these towns all look the same. But my long overdue vacation’s going to start right here. I’ll be off the next couple weekends, but my recaps return for the Bristol Night race. Till then, campers, keep ‘em greasy side down and let me share with you the one thing of worth I have learned in fifty years upon this planet. When you’re lost in the funhouse, look down and follow the heaviest wear patterns in the carpet. That’ll get you outta there.
©2000 - 2008 Matt McLaughlin and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
NASCAR make the pit-road timing data public? You gotta be joking. If they did that, then they’d have to enforce the penalties consistently.
While I admire the #48 being able to figure out what their gremlins were during the race, giving a car back 3 laps just for bein the first/only car a lap (or more) down isn’t really ‘earning’ your way back on the lead lap. I think it’s time Nascar limits the number of free passes a car can get in a race. How much more exciting would it have been watching JJ try to get up to the leader and have to pass him on the track to get his laps back?
Enjoy your vacation, Matt. I liked the Jackson Browne reference. Set ‘em up and tear ‘em down! I also liked the funhouse tip, but by far the best thing you wrote was the reference to the one mammal dumber than the whitetail. Classic!
Concerning Jimmy Johnson, if any other top driver had a tenth the luck of that team, the top ten race would be a lot closer. Change a carb on pit road? The only car 1 lap down and debris cautions one right after another. Yeah, he’s good, but the force is with him.
Start and Parkers…. (SAPs). That’s what you should call them SAPs…
Published speed data….are you stoned man???? If that was ever done you would see half the field being penalized at least once across the race…but then again it would be consistent (note: that is NOT a word in the NA$CAR dictionary or rule book).
The Sam Bass Curse…I like that…and hope it follows Mr. Busch for a long time given what he did to that beautiful trophy…jacka$$.
“Dramatic Moment – The final 20 laps of the race”
This is what the cup series has become.
ORP blows away Indy and Iowa blows away Pocono.
Since I had to work yesterday, the only race I got to see this weekend was the Nationwide Race at Iowa. Now THAT’S a race track. I gotta go with Matt… the place deserves a Cup date. Take a California date. Please.
Don’t count Kyle Busch out just yet. Don’t get me wrong, I really hope the spoiled little brat misses the Chase, but there’s still five races to go and it’s certainly not out of the realm of possibility for the 18 team to reel off a couple of victories in a row.
you must learn to constantly scan the roadside for white-tail deer (or drunks wearing number No. 88 T-shirts on muddy old quads trying to cross the road unexpectedly).
That added nothing to your column yet insulted millions of Dale Jr fans. When will the media learn they are a big part of tearing Nascar apart?
I have to agree with one of the previous posters regarding the “lucky dog” rule. Nothing against Stewart or Johnson personally, but both regained laps when they had no competitive ability to be in the position. I dislike rewarding drivers when they have miscues or car issues which force them to pit. I think it hurts competition and is a main reason why we have the usual 5~6 drivers always winning.
NASCAR has always and will always use the “speeding on pit road” penalty as a way to punish/control drivers…a perfect example is Rusty Wallace. There is NO way they are gonna let anyone see their “data”
I’d rather see a driver pissed off at finishing 2nd than hear the usual “we had a great points day”.
Too many damn drivers just ride around. We need MORE like Kyle.
How about Johnson passing people like they are standing still. Traction control? Time for a complete car teardown if you ask me.
Interesting info from Jayski’s penalty listing.
#64, Mike Wallace, lap 11, black flag, safety violation…………..no freaking pit crew. Where in the h*ll were his brothers, aunts and uncles, eh? Winnings, $64,592. No pit crew, WTF? Why in the Sam Hill actually race? Start and park? Should be Start and Profit. What a joke.
Pocono on a monday rain date draws 80,000 fans. Probably 30,000 MORE fans than the 50,000 that may have shown up for a sat. nite race at Chicagoland.
So if you’re going to the Poconos for a race or a vacation, you must learn to constantly scan the roadside for white-tail deer (or drunks wearing number No. 88 T-shirts on muddy old quads trying to cross the road unexpectedly).
That’s the funniest thing I’ve ever seen you write. Probably more close to the truth than most would believe.
“In fact, I am convinced that our Creator never produced any mammal dumber than a white-tail deer outside the one that drives the No. 18 car.”
Your best line of the year!
We call them “bambi-rats” here in CT.
I agree completely with the “too many Lucky Dogs and well timed debris cautions”. I have a bigger issue with the #48 being allowed on the track without the entire air cleaner assembly. The crew obviously felt there was a carb/fuel problem since they changed it. The air filter acts as a flame arrestor, so this should have been an automatic safety violation, especially since NASCAR’s #1 priority issupposed to be safety. A loose fuel line or faulty carb could have proven disasterous. A loose oil tank lid costs the #99 points and $, but wait, I forgot, we’re talking about JJ and HMS. Just my opinion, but I was really surprised warching the race that there was no penalty.