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 · Thursday October 8, 2009
It’s been almost 17 years now. Most devoted stock car fans know the story of the 1992 Atlanta season finale and the three-way battle royale for the title in that event that many of us label it the greatest stock car race ever. But with so many years passed by and so many new fans in the sport who don’t know much of the “Pre-Jeff Gordon” era of NASCAR, a lot of you may not know about the events that led up to that momentous and historic day in Atlanta late in the Fall of 1992. So let me tell you a little about that season and the greatest comeback this sport, and probably any sport, has ever known. Know that as I do it, I relate these incidents not as a historian, but as a witness to history. Yeah, I am that old. In that era, I ate, breathed, and slept stock car racing. I still have a tape of every one of those races and sometimes on a cold winter’s evening, I’ll rewatch some of them to recall the magic that made me want this damn job with every fiber of my being. A lot of you tell me that “the good old days” weren’t really that good. Trust me children, they were. Oh, good God, they were good.
First, let’s take a look at our three main protagonists (not to slight Kyle Petty, Mark Martin, or Harry Gant, all of whom also arrived at Atlanta that fateful day with a somewhat realistic chance at the title.)
Fan favorite Bill Elliott was driving his first season for Junior Johnson having left his family-owned team. The combination of one of the sport’s most successful drivers and its most successful team owner formed what folks called the Super Team. After a heartbreaker at Daytona (he was caught up in a big wreck while battling for the lead), Elliott won the next four races. Remaining consistent after that, he was a clear contender for the title from before the time winter’s jaws lost their grip on the Northeast area I call home. And having the Most Popular Driver back in the title chase energized fans almost as much as watching Richard Petty’s Farewell tour.
Then, you had Davey Allison driving for Robert Yates on a roller coaster of a season unlike any I can recall since. Heading into the title fight, Allison had won four races including the Daytona 500, North Wilkesboro, Talladega, and Michigan. He’d also been badly injured at Bristol, Charlotte and, more notably, in a savage series of flips at Pocono, a race he’d seemed comfortably in command of prior to a pit road miscue. Take it from someone all of 20 yards from the incident as it unfolded live, standing atop a platform on an old F150, jaw hanging open in horror — Allison’s wreck made Joey Logano’s rollover at Dover look like a Smurf’s picnic. He yielded the points lead to Elliott that afternoon, then his car to Bobby Hillin and others in the weeks that followed until his injuries fully healed (Allison would start the car, ensuring he’d get the points for that day’s race). During 1992, he would endure the pain of losing his shot at the Winston Million due to weather, watching Darrell Waltrip use some timely pit strategy to pull out the final win of his career in the Southern 500. Worse yet, he endured the loss of his brother Clifford who died in a Busch series practice crash at Michigan. But like those old Timex watches, Allison took a licking and kept right on ticking. Few title runs have better epitomized the indomitable human spirit — and few outcomes of such battles have better proven the cruelty of fate.
Then you had Alan Kulwicki, the owner/driver of a single car team. Compared to Robert Yates Racing and Junior Johnson’s outfit, it seemed Kulwicki and his boys had brought a knife to a gunfight. (Just try to imagine Robby Gordon battling it out with a Rick Hendrick and Jack Roush-owned team this season.) Kulwicki had won races at Bristol and Pocono, but he was still flying well below the radar (no savage irony intended) in that year’s title Chase. Only a year before, Kulwicki’s outfit had entered the Daytona 500 without a title sponsor. He’d finished 13th in the points and won just one race. Anyone who’d predicted prior to the season that Kulwicki would win the title would have been accused of munching on a stash of Woodstock-era brown acid.
Dover seemed to be Kulwicki’s Waterloo that season, the race that dashed his Quixotic title run. For whatever reason, Alan just never seemed to get the hang of Dover, and he wrecked a lot there. That weekend started out pretty well for the No. 7 team, who took the pole and led the first lap of the race. But it all went wrong on lap 93 (of 500, by the way) when Chad Little crashed into Kulwicki’s car and took him out of the race. As such, he finished 34th in a 36-car field. You want to talk about catching a size 12 1/2 steel tip in the nads?
Let me digress for a moment, gentle readers. (When do I not? It seems almost a birthright after all these years.) I was at that race. I attended the race with somewhere around 30 co-workers or employees of a rival business up the street, as well as my brother-in-law Ken. There were about four of us who were hard core stock car racing fans. The other 26 thought a tour bus trip to see their first stock car race with beer being served at dawn was an interesting diversion considering the Eagles sucked. (We’re talking the football team here, not the band.) As one of the resident racing experts, I was besieged by questions, especially after we all threw 20 bucks into a hat and drew numbers, with the person holding the winning car number after the race getting the entire kitty. “I got Rusty Wallace. Which car does he drive?” “Black number 2 Miller car.” “I got this Dale Earnhardt guy. Is that a good pick?” “Any year but this one, dude.” “Who’s Richard Petty?” “Are you a philistine or what?” For the record, I drew the number 7, Alan Kulwicki, and through sheer fate and my lifelong record of poor laundry room habits, I still have that scrap of paper.
Bill Elliott seemed to have that race won, but in a late race series of pit stops he took tires while Ricky Rudd pitted shortly afterwards for a splash of gas. Awesome Bill was about seven seconds behind Rudd (a very popular driver in that era, especially with the very busty and blonde first-timer in our group who’d probably never made 300 bucks in her life honestly). But you didn’t need a stopwatch to see Elliott was reeling Rudd in lap after lap.
And here’s where I have a problem with folks who tell me the good old days weren’t so good. Yes, only three cars finished on the lead lap. Yes, the margin of victory was over a half second, an eternity in stock car racing. Boring race, right? Hell no! Our group of 30 were on their feet, a bit unsteadily in some cases, stomping our boots and screaming as Elliott reeled Rudd in, some rooting for the Tide car but, given our general level of intoxication, most cheering for the Bud Wagon. To add to the merriment and to further encourage Rudd and her chances at a 300 dollar payday, said busty blonde was flashing her assets each time the Tide car passed by. Damn but did I love stock car racing back in the era before political correctness gnawed its pointy-headed little evil self into our sport.
Long story short, most of the guys in our group became stock car racing fans that afternoon…some of them hard core. Me, I ended up dating the blonde.
But back to the topic at hand. Because of his wreck, Kulwicki left Dover 278 points out of the lead with six races left. Let me repeat that for the benefit of Chase fans — Alan Kulwicki left Dover Two Hundred Seventy-Eight points out of the lead, fourth in the standings. Bear with me. What I’m telling you is with six races left, Alan Kulwicki was fricking TWO HUNDRED SEVENTY-EIGHT POINTS out of the lead with six races left to run. Keep in mind, too, this was under the old points system. There was a maximum of 185 points to be gained per race (if the three drivers ahead of you were kind enough to stay home) and with six races left, old Quickie was TWO HUNDRED SEVENTY-EIGHT points out of the lead. Put out the fire and call in the dogs… this one was over. Only it wasn’t. Brothers and sisters, I didn’t read this in a dusty old history text Brian France hauled to the landfill. I watched it unfold over the course of the next couple months.
Bill Elliott left Dover with a 154-point lead over Allison. Kulwicki was fourth, and as I might have mentioned, he was TWO HUNDRED SEVENTY- EIGHT POINTS out of the lead. Even Alan, the ultimate optimist but eternal pragmatist, admitted his chances at a title were all but over.
The next week’s race at Martinsville was rain-delayed until Monday. A blown engine cost Elliott dearly, as he finished 30th in a 31-car field. Davey Allison spun out twice and finished 16th, while Kulwicki drove to a fifth place finish. When the smoke cleared, Elliott led Allison by 112 points and Kulwicki by a still sobering 191 points.
The following Sunday’s race at North Wilkesboro was also rain-delayed until Monday. The event was another disaster for Elliott. He didn’t wreck and he didn’t suffer mechanical problems. The car was just more out to lunch then Andy Griffith on opening day of trout season. He finished 26th, eight laps off the pace. That never happened to Junior Johnson-owned cars at a track Johnson considered “His House.” Allison finished 11th, while Kulwicki finished 12th. And the race was on…here comes Pride in the backstretch.
But Elliott loyalists were confident with the circuit returning to a superspeedway next on the schedule (Charlotte). Elliott, a superspeedway master, was going to rally and dispatch the pretenders. The Awesome One did, in fact, have a good run until a sway bar tore free of its mount, dropping him to a 30th place finish 24 laps off the race pace. By comparison, Allison’s 19th place finish, a mere five laps back, looked good. But it was Kulwicki — who coasted to a second place finish behind Mark Martin — that made up the most points. Elliott left Charlotte 39 points ahead of Allison, with Kulwicki a still substantial 114 points out of the lead. Mark Martin, Harry Gant, and Kyle Petty were suddenly back in the hunt. And “bidness,” friends and neighbors, was just picking up with three races left to run.
Fans newer to the sport might be surprised to learn that Kyle Petty, the same Kyle Petty shown the door so unceremoniously last year at the once family team, led all but eight laps at Rockingham the following race. As such, Petty advanced to fourth in the standings, only 94 points behind Elliott and a mere nine points behind the Comeback Kid, Alan Kulwicki. Elliott led three laps (Kulwicki and Allison failed to lead a lap) and finished fourth, helping to calm his increasingly panicked fans and crew chief Tim Brewer. (Yeah, that Tim Brewer, with the creepy haircut and all the gold on his fingers.) Allison struggled home to a 10th place finish, two laps off the pace. Kulwicki was even slower, posting a 12th place result. So Bill Elliott left Rockingham with a 70-point lead over Davey Allison and, given the Junior Johnson teams’ record in title fights, the 1992 Cup championship seemed all but in the bag.
But remember the old saying about enumerating your fowl before gestation? It was at Phoenix that disaster struck Bill Elliott and the No. 11 Bud team. Early on in the race, ominous smoke began belching from the tail pipes, and Bill had to limp the nearly terminal engine to a 31st place finish, 52 laps off the pace. A season full of hope, promise, and occasional domination was rising into the Arizona sky in tiny white whiffs. Alan Kulwicki led 49 laps at Phoenix before fading late to a fourth place finish. Davey Allison, using a strong Yates engine and a heads up call to remain on the track when a caution flew with twenty-three laps left to go, even as his Ford threatened to run out of gas, went on to win the race. Allison and Kulwicki’s title chances rose like the mythical bird out of the flames in the city that bore its name. Allison left Phoenix 30 points ahead of Kulwicki with Elliott third in the standings, a further 10 points behind. To add a little more spice to the mix, neither Davey nor Alan had ever won at Atlanta. Bill, a Georgia native, had won there four times, including the Spring race of that year by a mere 18 seconds. To ice the cake, Kyle Petty, Mark Martin, and Harry Gant were still legitimately in title contention as well if the leaders faltered. NASCAR stats is ballyhooing the fact this week there are still six drivers inside 100 points of the lead just three races into the Chase. In 1992, there were still six drivers within 113 points of the prize with one race left to run…and that’s without any artificial contrivances like resetting the points late in the season. Add in the fact Atlanta would mark The King, Richard Petty’s, final stock car race and that it would be Jeff Gordon’s first, you had more plotlines than eight seasons of the Shield on FX. (Though, at the risk of irritating some Jeff Gordon fans, he was an asterisk to the big event, notable only in the rear-view mirror of history. The skinny-ass white kid with the cheesy moustache, bad haircut, and ugly race car was only notable at that point for having screwed over Ford — they had groomed him to be a star before he signed with Rick Hendrick and Chevrolet.)
Most of you know how the story played out November 15th at Atlanta. If you don’t, you can buy David Poole’s book on the topic. But here’s the highlights…
Davey Allison needed only to finish fifth or better to clinch the title. He was running fifth when Ernie Irvan wrecked and took Allison out of the race and title contention. (Though oddly enough, Irvan would one day race the No. 28 Havoline car out of Yates’ stable.) Alan Kulwicki and Bill Elliott raced side-by-side much of the race, the way a title was intended to be settled. They raced hard but clean, each of them scrapping for every inch of space on the track, not only racing for the win, but in a desperate bid to lock up the five points for leading the most laps. That matter was eventually settled by a margin of about six inches, with Kulwicki getting the nod. Elliott then asserted himself in the race, and Kulwicki’s crew chief Paul Andrews wasn’t sure that the team had gotten enough gas in the car to finish the race on the last pit stop. The team calculated that Alan had to finish second to Elliott to claim the title, but at the same time, he had to save gas while Geoff Bodine was closing fast. Even when the checkers flew, some of us weren’t sure who had won the title. In the end, Alan Kulwicki prevailed by 10 points over Elliott. Had Bill led two more laps (and he easily could have by pitting late), he’d have taken the five points for leading the most laps and the twosome would have ended up tied. Elliott would have been champion based on the first tie-breaker, most wins that season. Yeah, it was that close. If only Davey had missed Irvan… if only Bill had stayed out two more laps before pitting…
Tragically, most of you know the aftermath of this story as well. Both Winston Cup champion Alan Kulwicki and Davey Allison were fated to die in aircraft accidents before the end of the 1993 season. Bill Elliott would soldier on, but he’d never contend for another title and never finished in the top 5 in points again.
It’s hard for me to find a way to convey how exciting, and in fact fun, it was to be a stock car racing fan in the Fall of 1992. The schedule was still a more manageable and exciting 29 races long, but there was plenty of room left for two races at North Wilkesboro, the Rock, and Darlington. Fords still looked like Fords, Chevys like Chevys, and Pontiacs like Pontiacs. Your granny could have told them apart without putting on her reading glasses. Points weren’t reset with 10 races to go or five races to go or even for the final race. A championship was still the embodiment of a season-long string of successes, with one race as important as another. There was no Chase, no Car of Sorrow, and no Fontana. The beer, bikes, and smokes were cheaper, the girls were prettier, and the sun shined a little brighter as it set on a pair of stock cars running into the fourth turn of a Fall afternoon side by side, fenders clanging and tires smoking as they dueled for a win. Yes, indeed, the “Good Old Days” were that good. And if you’re going to try to convince me otherwise, preface your remarks by admitting back in 1992 you were still learning to pinch one into the potty or busy pursuing other pursuits, like holistic pottery glazing, on Sunday afternoons.
Stock car racing will likely never be as pure, as exciting, or as good as it was that one November afternoon back in 1992. But trust me my friends, that day it was very, very good.
©2000 - 2008 Matt McLaughlin and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
I still remember ’92 like it was last year, and you are spot on Matt.
Those were the days I was in front of the tube at noon sharp, and I don’t think I missed a single race for about a 15 year stretch. 1992 was the high water mark for Nascar, and I’m afraid those days will never be repeated. I’m just glad I was a fan and witness to the sports glory days.
You said it all Matt, and I really can’t add to what you have written, as it’s exactly the way I see it.
Your column describes the events of the day right on the money. However there is no way that the current crop of fans can understand just how wild and enjoyable it was to be a fan at that time. Watching nascar now is close in excitement to watching golf compared to “The good ol’ days” when a race was as exciting as the final race from Days of Thunder on a regular basis and Kyle Petty was not even close to the most colorful character in Nascar.
man i remember…..i loved season ending race at asm. after i moved south it was always a great after race party. i remember when jarrett won. awesome!
i too, remember being glued to the tv every sunday afternoon. phone better not ring, had no time for phone calls; fix dinner for my then spouse, heck no, call pizza place. i’d have my points spreadsheet out with a sharp pencil. i tallied up points at the end of every race. i knew before na$car posted the points where my man earnhardt stood. during races i’d say, dale only needed this many points to beat rainbow brite (gordon). such passion i had for the sport all those years ago. yeah, passion died on 2/18/01 for me. never really has come back. and of course brain fart has all but killed it for me.
now on sunday, takes me 30 min to remember what time race starts, have to make sure i have book ready or i’ll end up napping, phone rings, sure i’ll talk to you, only watching race. who’s out front……by how many seconds…..yawn. the big expectation for me now is what lap jr will have problems with and where he’ll end up finishing. on friday when i check qualifying results, i go from the bottom up.
sure miss old na$car. you know, i haven’t bought a na$car press guide to track teams in 9 yrs. heck, teams change so much during the season. and don’t ask me what driver drives a particular car number, i need that on a white board with eraser.
sigh…..now i know what my grandmother meant when she said “good old days”. of course she wasn’t talking about racing, but i’ll say “i remember the good old days”. i’m sorry the newer fans never got to experience that type of passion or excitement. it was something indescribeable!
To quote you from above: “And here’s where I have a problem with folks who tell me the good old days weren’t so good. Yes, only three cars finished on the lead lap. Yes, the margin of victory was over a half second, an eternity in stock car racing. Boring race, right? Hell no! Our group of 30 were on their feet, a bit unsteadily in some cases, stomping our boots and screaming as Elliott reeled Rudd in, some rooting for the Tide car but, given our general level of intoxication, most cheering for the Bud Wagon. To add to the merriment and to further encourage Rudd and her chances at a 300 dollar payday, said busty blonde was flashing her assets each time the Tide car passed by. Damn but did I love stock car racing back in the era before political correctness gnawed its pointy-headed little evil self into our sport.”
Candidly, this has to be one of MOST AWESOME paragraph’s EVER written!
I simply don’t know whether I should laugh or cry! Maybe even both!
A BIG THANKS!
Matt, you are a legend in your field. Racing One are a bunch of fools, but their loss is the Frontstretch’s gain. A great, great piece.
can any of you old timers tell me what ak’s car was nicknamed in 1992?
Atlanta 1992. I have only kept a few of the old tapes, but this race is one of them. It’s still amazing to see history being made and all the different story-lines. If not the high-water mark this race (and this season) is darn close. Man, do I miss real stock car racing. Thanks,Matt, for bringing it back so clearly.
canucme, the “Underbird” but I think it was only at this race (Atlanta)
Like the others, I remember that year and the last race so well. I was a huge Bill Elliott fan. I was disappointed that Elliott didn’t win, but happy for Kulwicki. I remember the awards banquet as well. It was before the time of slick Madison Ave junk. When Elliott accepted his award, he presented Kulwicki with a huge comb in reference to K. always fixing his hair before he got out of his car after a win. Ricky Rudd pulled a long string of tied together napkins from his sleeve to give to Davy Allison because he was always whining. Great times. Such human behavior wouldn’t be allowed today.
I will not argue with your article. I was not a fan of NASCAR in 1992, but I have seen the race on ESPN Classic. Considering the multiple story lines and the championship battle, it was a race for the record books.
What I want to say is in 1992, NASCAR coverage was not as widespread. Raceday isn’t as exciting, because the same storylines have been repeated for the past 5 days on each website and NASCAR show. I don’t even bother watching the pre-race anymore.
But the racing is still excellent. I’ve chosen to tune out until Sunday (although I will turn on qualifying or practice every now and then). I read articles for the better journalist’s opinions, like yours, Matt.
But the racing is still excellent.
Was it better in 1992? Probably. But it’s still great.
good point marc. and thanks for your honesty. i get tired of reading the same lame posts from all the nascar haters that pretend to be long time fans that are upset with the new mainstream nascar yet they’re glued to their tvs and every internet story there is. bunch of bs’ing kool aid drinkers. it’s very refreshing to read an honest reply that actually makes a point. most of the responses here are so transparent and full of shit.
I don’t think very many people watch the constant barrage of NASCAR “ junk food “ shows . The ratings for these pre race and week day shows are bumped up wildly so sponsors will buy air time . These shows are also heavily subsidized by NASCAR , so even when almost no one watches , they still keep going .
Awesome writing, Matt. It was the ’92 season that solidified my devotion to this sport…although I had yet to select a driver. It was that Atlanta race that introduced me to Jeff Gordon. I don’t know if its me getting older and “remembering when” that makes these memories happy, but it was the era that made me the fan I am today. No, life ain’t the same, in NASCAR or anywhere else. And that’s that. but maybe, we will have such storylines again…the passion, the “no that can’t be” and the joy. I hope so.
It wasn’t Kulwicki’s second year as an owner driver. He bought the then-#35 team from Bill Terry late in 1986. At that time the Wood Brothers had the #7 car rather than their traditional #21 due to sponsor 7-Eleven, which left after the ’86 season. Kulwicki changed his number to #7 and the rest was history. It was his sixth full season as an owner-driver.
Stewart is not comparable at all because he is an established driver with full Hendrick support. Kulwicki was NOT getting support from Yates/Roush/Bud Moore/Wood Brothers or any established Ford team like that…
ak’s car was the “underbird” because ak was underdog.
Marc, your reply really made me take a look at my daily routine of checking my favorite racing sites on the pc and watching tv for the latest news. This old fan will try something new and start limiting exposure to the racing scene and see if that helps bring back some of the “good old days” feeling on race day. It’s amazing how much stuff is out there to be immersed in, and, you’re right, most is repetitive. Thanks for making me take a different perspective on the sport with your clear and non-abrasive post.
ak had to get permission from Ford to remove the “TH” from thunderbird for that race. good thing ford said ok!
Spot on as always Matt. I’ll echo your recommendation of the late David Poole’s book “Race With Destiny” about the 92 season. (While you are at it, make it a 2-fer at Amazon and buy his book about Tim Richmond too.)
I was at the spring Atlanta race in 1991. Kulwicki was sporting the Hooters sponsorship for the 1st time. As I recall, their regular driver didn’t make the race. Alan won the pole in his unsponsored Ford but then got some help on Sunday from the Hooters folks. That’s amazing how underfunded he was in 91 and then became the champ only a season later.
I went to more races in 1992 – seven – than in any season before or since. My main reason was to see the King as many times as possible before he left the 43. I didn’t realize I was personally witnessing one of the greatest seasons for the sport.
I was in Atlanta for that final race – sat on the backstretch. Rather than a flyover by military jets as is the norm, several Apache helicopters rose from behind the backstretch grandstands and then circled the track during the pace laps. It was incredible to see, and it was just the start to a great day of racing.
I also remember all of us going nuts with 2 laps to go in the race. The King had wrecked fairly early in the race, and his car caught fire. But the crew thrashed feverishly. Sure enough, Richard belted in and made it back out for the final 2 laps of his storied driving career.
Once the race ended, we knew traffic would be horrific. So we drifted over to the frontstretch where we could see AK and the King up in the press box.
Although I had attended a few races at the old Columbia Speedway as a small child, my first race as an adult was at Rockingham; I believe it was 1988. We were camping in the infield, and there were two things I distinctly rremember about that weekend: One, it was so cold the night before the race that to stay warm we we were burning anything we could fit into the 55-gallon drums that were used for trash receptacles in the infield. Two, Neil Bonnett won the race, but a guy with a funny Polish name finished fourth. My friends made fun of him because of his name, but I decided he’d be the driver I’d pull for from that point on.
I was watching that 1992 season-ender in Atlanta with my brother and my Mom, hoping Kulwicki could pull it out, but being realistic at the same time. I remember that once Irwin wrecked Allison, man, it was on! What a great feeling it was seeing Kulwicki do his Polish victory lap. “My” driver had won the Winston Cup!
When Kulwicki died, I picked another up-and-comer… Terry Labonte’s little brother Bobby was driving Bill Davis’ #22 Maxwell House car at the time. Bobby would go on to drive for Joe Gibbs and win a championship of his own.
Racing ain’t the same these days, but I still watch, just not as much or with as much enthusiasm.
Matt, you said it all. AMEN!
Man, I was there – feeling no pain. Nothing like the action in the stands back in those days!
Davey was my driver back then. I was bummed when swervin’ Irvan knocked him out the race, and I cussed Irvan all day.
I have been bummed ever since Davey got killed.
Folks wouldn’t be talking like Gordon and Earnhardt was all there was if Allison had lived – that is for sure.
Matt, excellent as always! And Poole’s book does more than just describe the last few races. It delves into minutae of week to week NASCAR life, highly recommended.
An omen to Kulwicki’s season was the first race, Daytona. K had to take a provisional, started 41st and finished 4th. He also refused offers to drive for Junior Johnson at least twice, preferring to be independent.
As far as the #3 and #24 fans, I think things might have been far different is Davey and Kulwicki had lived and Irvan had not banged himself up. Yep, those were the days..Fords looked like Fords etc. etc.etc.
My friend and myself was there that day in 1992 when Alan Kulwicki became Champion. The events leading up to that Race and what went on during that Race I will never forget.
Great article. Ernie Irvin has a comeback story that might be the only one to rival this one. Steve Park, maybe.
I was only 9 years old when i saw this race and it was my first one ever. I remember missing the start, and the first accident ever seeing was the Irvan/Allison accident. I really thought the car was not damaged bad. I then was cheering for the 7 car, because he was the underdog, and i really wanted to see the underbird beat the Bud car. I did not even know Jeff Gordon was in the race until i got older, and he started winning. I really miss seeing these races, where cars could pass, you could tell what car a driver has by the style.
I also miss all the retired/passed away drivers. I would rather watch old races from the early 90’s on youtube, than those today.
Hard to believe that only Martin, Gordon, M. Waltrip, and Elliot (part-time) are still racing today from this race.
great article as always…Matt your articles always make me laugh and this one was no different…I can “see” the races when you write. I was at the Rock taht year.
I was at that race as well, Our group had plenty of room,As we had purchased 5 tickets that no one showed up for. We stayed until the PA announcer said the track would close in 5 min.Bill walked right by us on his way back from the post-race conference,Back then it was located on top of the frontstretch stands. Doesn’t get any better than that ! I still do not think the 43 car that finished the race was the same one that started..
The only thing I could add to that story would be Swervin Irvin spun out all by himself on the straightaway and collected Davey, bummer if you were a Davey Allison fan, which I was.
I was 8 years old at the time and Bill Elliott was my favorite driver. By far the greatest race I have ever watched. Still have it on VHS. Plus, you can’t go wrong when the race is sponsored by Hooters haha.
I was there ! It was awesome listening to that race on the scanner ! I was/am a huge Ford fan. My favorite drivers of the day were Elloit, Allison and Kulwicki. 1 was in heaven , I could not lose ! But being a small business owner I cheered for A.K. ! He was fighting on the radio with crew chief Paul Andrews over the last pit stop so Alan could get the most laps lead 5 bonus points which it turned out being the deciding factor in the championship. Having that happen while driving 200 mph showed what A.K. was all about ! I still have A.K. Hooters stuff all around my house ! My first Nascar race was in 1969 at T.W.S. and this race is stiil # 1 in my book !