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.
Thomas Bowles · Tuesday August 11, 2009
Editor’s Note: Matt McLaughlin is on vacation through the race at Michigan. For the next two weeks, Managing Editor Tom Bowles fills in.
The Key Moment: Tony Stewart got the jump on Kyle Busch on a double-file restart with 23 laps to go. After that, it was his race to lose unless the No. 14 spun or ran out of fuel – neither of which came close to happening.
In A Nutshell: If you like road course racing, well, this one had a little bit of everything that started to peter out towards the end of the day. If you don’t like road course racing, well…then you aren’t going to be convinced this race was good even if I told you Dale Jr. won it while spinning out Kyle Busch in the last turn before the checkered flag, then smooched surprise new girlfriend Jessica Simpson while she endured a “wardrobe malfunction” in Victory Lane.
What They’ll Be Talking About Around The Water Cooler This Week:
It wouldn’t be fair to talk about Monday’s race without mentioning the one that should have happened on Sunday. Yes, I understand that NASCAR often finds itself between a rock and a hard place with rainouts. If they call it too soon, fans scream they should have waited, and if they call it too late, fans ask why the hell they waited so long. But this weekend, any person with both a 3rd grade education and a radar screen could have told you we’d get rained on for about two and a half hours sometime in the middle afternoon hours. That’s exactly what happened, with the thunderstorms happening between 2:30 p.m. and 4:45 p.m.…so then why did NASCAR wait so long to call it? With the weather forecast holding firm, they had three options: dry the track for a 6:45 p.m. start (getting a little over half the race in before sunset); call the race at 2:00 p.m., saying thunderstorms were in the area and were forecast not to let up; or run the race starting at 1:30 p.m., getting as much racing in as possible before the rain before bringing the cars out to finish around 6:45 p.m.
I don’t necessarily have a problem with NASCAR choosing to postpone the race. What I have a problem with is the amount of time it takes them to make a decision. This is the type of sport where fans devote three, four, five hours in front of the TV on a Sunday afternoon when there’s plenty of other entertainment out there. You’ve also got a lot of people who paid a lot of dough to sit in those seats, patiently getting brutalized by Mother Nature while awaiting a final decision. For their safety (and their sanity) it would be nice to know whether to head back to their cars before getting seriously soaked. Yet too many times these last few years, the sport has gone hours upon hours agonizing over making a weather-related call when millions of fans, weather forecasters, and heck, even my grandmother’s cat could correctly point out the direction they should go. What would I have done if I were in their shoes? Considering the forecast, I’d have moved up the race as much as possible (remember the old “hurry up” schedules that ESPN employed in the mid-to-late 1990’s?) to ensure the green flag dropped at exactly 2 p.m. You get a handful of laps in (15?, 20?) before the rain comes around 2:30 p.m., then wait out the storm, dry the track and attempt to get to as close to lap 90 as possible when you restart the cars a few hours later. That’s giving due diligence to both the tens of thousands of fans who paid hard-earned cash to get to the speedway, combined with the millions more who are stuck trying to evade their boss to get any sort of update from their desk the next day. By the way, ESPN said they ran an online poll where fans said they’d rather watch the race the next day in its entirety instead of a shortened version during a rain delay at the track. But how many of those fans A) have actually gone to a race track only to fly back Monday without seeing the race or B) have to go into work on Monday and miss it? That result still absolutely baffles me.
Tony Stewart continues to pose the biggest challenge to Jimmie Johnson’s bid for four straight titles. But if Stewart is within striking distance heading to Homestead this November, will he really be put in position to bite the hand that feeds him? And by hand, I mean the big, giant hand of Hendrick which is expanding its chassis and equipment business to more than just SHR in 2010 (so much for the “four team” rule). With that said, I hope Stewart-Haas scoops up all the regular season success they can…the postseason’s going to be a prime example of why sharing equipment in this series like one big, happy family instead of having 15, 20, 25 different owners can only go so far.
Don’t you get the feeling Jeff Burton and Juan Pablo Montoya should be switching paint schemes? Montoya’s been bulldozing through his competition as of late, while Burton’s become a giant bulls-eye every spinning car loves to hit. And while we’re on the subject of Montoya, how weird is it that the series’ most aggressive driver two years ago is now using words like “points racing” and changing his style just to make the Chase? Man, has this point system really started to suck.
While we’re on the topic of wrecking, David Stremme said during Sunday’s rain delay he feels “solid in the company” when referring to his future at Penske Racing. Really? I could have sworn he meant “shaky.” That word could also be used to describe his driving performance the last two weeks; after all, Pocono’s feud with Robby Gordon was followed up by his guest appearance as a pinball at Watkins Glen. Among those he hit for bonus points included Kevin Harvick, Jeff Gordon, and Casey Mears – all of whom had their days ruined as a result. You know, if I were Brad Keselowski, I’d pull a visit by the Penske hauler this weekend just to see how Roger’s been doing these days …
I know Kyle Busch says some pretty crazy things, so Monday’s post-race interview was G-rated by comparison. But claiming you were tired after that race? I don’t mean to insult these drivers, because they give 110 percent and accomplish things the average man can only dare to dream. However, the racing at Watkins Glen is one of the shortest all season long, with just 220.5 miles making up a race that lasts less than three hours. If he’s worn out after this one, man, you wonder if he’s going to collapse by lap 250 at Bristol. Perhaps the weeks of double duty (and undue stress about finishing second each week in AAA) are finally taking their toll? Either that, or Kyle just needed something to keep his whiny level at an 11 out of 10.
Let me get this straight: medical personnel had to take special precautions over Jeff Gordon’s back? As it is, the last thing an injured driver needs (especially one keeping its extent tightly under wraps) is to slam head-on into a violently spinning car at speeds approaching over 100 miles an hour. But walking out of the infield care center afterwards, the once-formidable champ was talking like a man who needed a relief driver if the series went to Bristol instead of Michigan next week. Other media might have stopped asking questions for a few months, but the No. 24’s on-track results speak volumes as to how its driver behind the wheel is currently feeling. Right now, the team is surviving, not thriving, heading into a Chase it looked like it had a chance to win back in April…and privately, it seems the driver may have to weigh the idea of offseason surgery if he’d like to race competitively beyond the next year or two.
Speaking of that crash, don’t be surprised to see major changes to turn 9 before the Watkins Glen race in 2010. The track has a great history of reacting to safety concerns, and there were plenty after Jason Leffler’s scary practice crash in the Nationwide Series was followed up by Monday’s multi-car wreck in the same place.
I’ll talk more about this in Did You Notice? tomorrow, but it’s sure nice to see some feuds coming back into vogue in NASCAR. And at the rate Jimmie Johnson and Kurt Busch are going, it looks like that’s the next duo who’ll reach a boiling point soon enough.
The Hindenburg Award For Foul Fortune
Seriously, what else could go wrong this season for Dale Earnhardt, Jr.? The No. 88 was one of the race’s biggest movers until a brake failure on his Chevrolet had him shooting through the gravel trap and pummeling the wall by Turn 10. Afterwards, he looked like a guy who was ready to wave the white flag of surrender and simply get this season over with; and considering it’s been three-and-a-half months since his last top 10 finish, who can blame him?
Sam Hornish, Jr. was already involved in a little skirmish early in the race that left the No. 77 with significant damage. But considering what happened after a little visit with the Turn 9 wall, I think he’d much rather have had that earlier wreck end his day. One of the worst road racing wrecks in recent history also sidelined Gordon and Burton (mentioned above), caused damage to Joey Logano, and ended a solid debut by road racing veteran turned Tax Slayer Andy Lally. Lolly, lolly, lolly, get your tow truck here…
Boris Said had himself a top 5 car in the newly-minted RCM Racing Ford before mechanical failure brought him down with just a handful of laps to go. Fellow road course ringer Ron Fellows also spent time behind the wall, never becoming a serious factor in a race he’d finished second in both 1999 and 2004.
Mark Martin had a dreadful weekend, never finding speed at a track he once dominated with three straight wins in the mid-1990s. A 23rd-place finish wasn’t exactly what the Chase doctor ordered to better his playoff potential.
The “Seven Come Eleven” Award For Fine Fortune
Note to Marcos Ambrose’s pit crew: you probably shouldn’t plan your strategy by throwing darts at a piece of paper blindfolded (Phil Allaway explains why in his column today, as he was in the No. 47 pit when it all unfolded). Yet despite a series of stops that both hampered his track position at times, then left the No. 47 with older tires than his closest competition, Ambrose somehow came out of it all in second place.
Carl Edwards entered the Glen a little closer to the Chase bubble than he would have liked. But after a scintillating drive from 33rd to 3rd, the AFLAC duck can safely punch his first playoff ticket — and a whole set of new commercials to go with it.
Greg Biffle had never finished better than 10th at the Glen in six career starts. That changed Monday, as with 13th place Kyle Busch trying to close the gap between them Biffle put together a fine 5th place run, finishing right behind his rival while jumping up two spots in the standings to boot.
Denny Hamlin had an early penalty for speeding on pit road drop him from the top 5 to back in 38th. It took a looong time to work his way back up through the field, but last week’s winner had a nice recovery in climbing back to 10th.
What’s The Points?
As you might expect, Monday’s winner added another big chunk of points to his lead (not that it matters much with the Chase a month away). Stewart now finds himself a season-high 260 points ahead of Johnson with four races left in the regular season. Keep in mind, however, that entering the playoffs both drivers would be tied for second in the standings, 10 behind Mark Martin (both men have three wins apiece to Martin’s four).
As far as clinching playoff spots, Stewart’s is locked up the second he starts his engine at Michigan this weekend. Johnson needs to merely finish 30th or better over the last four races to get the job done (and that’s if Kyle Busch explodes to win the next four in a row … a rather unlikely scenario). Third-place Jeff Gordon, over 400 points ahead of Busch in 13th, and 4th place Kurt Busch have also likely secured their bids, with 5th place Denny Hamlin and 6th place Carl Edwards right behind them.
That means the battle will seemingly come down to 7th through 15th, with just 195 points separating those nine drivers. Juan Pablo Montoya was the big mover on Sunday, jumping up a spot to seventh. Kasey Kahne dropped a spot to eighth, while Ryan Newman held serve in ninth. Greg Biffle’s top 5 run bumped him up into the top 10, with Mark Martin and Matt Kenseth dropping to eleventh and twelfth behind him, respectively.
After Kyle Busch’s top 5 performance at the Glen, he’s cut the gap to just 58 between him and a slot in the Chase. 14th place Brian Vickers is 38 points behind that, with Clint Bowyer in 15th (99 behind Kenseth) the only other driver with a reasonable shot to break in.
Overall Rating (with a one being a stinker and a six being a classic): For a road course race, there was plenty of side-by-side action, in-race drama, and pit strategy to go around. While the end of the race was a bit of a snoozer, I’ll give it four cans of Corona, although one can’s watered down with Sunday raindrops and the bitterness of being left out in the heat a little too long.
Next Up: This Sunday, we’re back to the Irish Hills of Michigan for the annual summer 400-miler (weather permitting). The CARFAX 400 will come your way this Sunday, August 16th, at 1:00 PM on ESPN…or your local MRN affiliate.
©2000 - 2008 Thomas Bowles and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
Being somebody who enjoys road course races, this one was pretty decent. Not enough to be called a classic but definitely more exciting than any restrictor plate or cookie cutter track. They need a road course race in the play-offs to help sort the champs from the chumps.
No other road racing series cancels because of rain. There are racing rain tires available.
Somebody fire David Stremme already. He’s already had his chance at the Cup level and couldn’t cut it. There has to be some driver out there better than that clown.
MMMMM, how many ways can one say BORING?
A few points if I may;
1. “points” racing sucks! JJ and Chad Knaus agreed BEFORE the race a “top 5 finish” would be good enough! So the fans pay big bucks to see someone tool around just for the points, not the win? How sick!
2. You need to REALLY understand what KB and ALL the other drivers were REALLY saying when the stated they were “tired” after the race!
THE CoT IS A PIECE OF CRAP RACE CAR AND CANNOT BE DRIVEN! POINT IT AND HANG ON! That folks, IS NOT RACING! And the on track parade shows that!
3. Congrats Dale Jr. you have finally leveled off at your true talent level! (what talent you might ask?)
4. And as regards rain tires! HUH? The REAL reason the CoT cannot use rain tires is because it has ZERO suspension travel that would accomodate the use of a rain tire. Driving on rain tires requires a “good suspension”, and the ability of the driver to control the attitude of the race car!
NEITHER is available with the CoT!
Jeff Gordon sure has milked the back injury for all the press he can get . Though the only blogger who seems to swallow it is Bowles .
Hey Ed, the race wasn’t canceled, it was postponed. Find a dictionary and look it up and quit making NASCAR fans look ignorant.
Canceled means the event will NOT be held.
Goodyear has yet to make a rain tire for this new POS NASCAR is using, as they are behind trying to make normal racing slicks for it.
I couldn’t help but laugh at your analysis of the upcoming god awful Chase . You really think Tony is the one who will be in trouble when the Chase starts ? I’d say the Hendrick teams are the ones who should be worried . As you should have noticed by now , the set-ups are becoming further and further apart between SHR and Hendrick . And the results speak loudly that Tony and his team are easily a match for any Hendrick car . SHR relys far more on its set ups and expertise than it does on Hendricks . The Chase won’t be any different .
Ryan (Gordon comments)
Hmmmmm….spoken like a person who has never had their life interrupted by back pain.
And yet another observation on “points racing”!
How sick, or how stupid, is it to give 5 “bonus points” for “LEADING” a lap?
Think about it people, some back marker “stays out”, while everyone else pits, BUT HE GETS 5 POINTS FOR “LEADING THE RACE”?
Is he really the leader, knowing full well that when he pits he drops to 40th or so?
Only NA$CRAP could call this racing!
AND! This race was named improperly & mis-leading!
It was called “THE HELUVA GOOD RACE”!
How sick is that notion?
Won’t be buying any of their products for sure, they probably match the racing! LOUSY!
Douglas, I am surprised you waste your valuable time watching Nascar as bad a you HATE it. I have yet to see a kind word about anything in Nascar while reading your posts….NUFF SAID!
I have a road racing background so I thoroughly enjoyed the Glen. Stewart is an extremely talented driver in any kind of race car. Marcus is a breath of fresh air in Nascar. The man goes for it. I do hate the fact that the Glen is just another “qualifier” for the chase with the resulting conservatism from a number of good drivers.
As to racing in the rain, it was done at Motegi sometime in the late 90’s. Good article in Stock Car magazine about it.
Ryan, you’re an idiot! So please shut your pointless yapper!
As a long time Burton fan, I just cannot believe what’s happened to him this year. You’re right. He seems to have a big bulls-eye on his car. He’s been in 7 or 8 wrecks and none of them his fault. I could really sense the frustration yesterday. Part of the problem is that Childress Racing has gotten behind the eight ball. They don’t qualify very good so they’re slways mired back in the pack where anything can happen. The cars don’t race well either. Combine that with a little bad luck and you have a wicked brew. Next year Jeff.
Hey Marilyn, thanks for your observation, BUT!
When NA$CRAP gives me anything, I mean ANYTHING positive, I will be the first to say so!
NOTHING NA$CRAP has done in the past few years has ADDED to the sport!
Everything they have done has SUBTRACTED from the sport!
How many races do you attend each year?
And, look at the POLL as part of this article!
A FULL 43%, almost HALF of the voters, gave this “event” 3 beer cans and less!
43% did not like this event!
Only 56% thought it was DECENT or better!
WOW! Nice job NA$CRAP!
Thanks for your input Tom , erhh , i mean greg …wink wink .
Since when does Tony have “seven victories overall in nine road course starts.”
Which seven and what nine?
Douglas, for a guy who hates everything about Nascar, posting at 8:27, 9:58, 10:29, and 12:25 sure says an awful lot. That would be: posting before work, posting after you get to work, posting again before anyone else has even responded, and posting during lunch. And thats just this one article. You put in more hours at FS than Tom Bowles! And you hate Nascsar?
Douglas, just do us all a favor and find a new sport to follow/criticize.
Hey Leo, thanks for the observation, but I am retired, so when home, time to play!
And for Phil Dirt (love the name by the way), I guess in my little way, I am trying to save people money by NOT attending this sick racing! Hopefully you don’t consider NA$CRAP as good and fair racing? (do you?)
Remember, I have been foillowing the sport for over 40 years, and kinda know what’s good, what’s bad! And trust me, this current state of stock car racing, is BAD! Very BAD!
Douglas, I see Nascar from a different angle…. Do I think its fair? Not 100%, no. Do I think is good? Not 100%, no. Would I rather Brian France got the boot? Yes, 100%. But do I really enjoy it every week anyway? Yes, 100% and with enthusiasm.
And I hold that anyone who thinks any other “professional sport” does better is wearing rose colored glasses.
And the same for anyone who thinks Nascar was better before. In some ways it used to be better. And in some ways it was far worse. Any other “opinion” of it is simply someone remembering what they want and forgetting what they don’t. No more, no less.
WHAT’s with CAPITALIZING all THE time? You could probably get in 20 or 30 more POSTS every week if YOU just used generally ACCEPTED grammar.
Oh, and YOU could grab some EXTRA time by leaving th “$” out of “NASCRAP”.
Or better still, try to write everything in one posting, then go hit the beach with your metal detector.