NASCAR Changes Qualifying Format
posted by Summer Bedgood
Tuesday March 11, 2014
Following safety concerns regarding NASCAR’s new qualifying format, the sanctioning body is introducing some changes in preparation for this weekend’s race at Bristol Motor Speedway. According to the Associated Press, NASCAR is banning teams from cool-down laps after their qualifying attempts, but will instead be allowed to hook up cool-down units to the engine through hood flaps.
Late Tuesday afternoon, a release from NASCAR fully detailed the changes. Teams will be allowed a single cool down unit to be connected through the right or left side hood flap, however the hood must remain closed. Additionally, two crew members will be allowed over the wall while cooling down.
“The qualifying is new to all of us and as we have said over the past several weeks, we are looking at it from all aspects,” said Robin Pemberton, vice president of competition and racing development. “Following discussions, both internally and with others in the garage area, we moved quickly to make a few revisions that will be effective starting with our two national series events at Bristol Motor Speedway this weekend. We believe this will only enhance and improve what has demonstrated to be an exciting form of qualifying for our fans, competitors and others involved with the sport. Moving forward we will continue to look at it and address anything else that we may need to as the season unfolds.”
The move comes after three weeks of NASCAR’s new knockout qualifying system, where multiple cars are allowed to make qualifying attempts at the same time instead of the traditional one-car-at-a-time procedure. Drivers and teams had complained that the new rules didn’t allow them to cool their engines down on pit road, and the cool-down laps caused a dangerous situation with slower cars staying on the track at the same time that other cars were running by them at much higher speeds.
The rule will begin this weekend in Bristol, a track that has a much narrower racing surface than Daytona, Phoenix, and Las Vegas.
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!
Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
Matt McLaughlin · Thursday October 22, 2009
Whither Now, Ford Motors?
Lately, the Ford Motor Company, the corporation that put America on wheels, has been on a bit of a roll. The new Taurus has been such a hit that dealers in trendy California, typically a bastion of import buyers, can’t keep them on the lot. It’s a repeat of the rollout of the then-risky 1986 model that redefined midsize cars in America, one that went on to be the best-selling car in America for many years. The SHO variant of the Taurus is a darling of the Walter Mitty types, who dream of being a race car driver while ferrying Junior and Buffy to Gymboree. These are the same folks who, a few years ago, were developing ulcers trying to decide between a Camry and an Accord without a thought towards a domestic car.
The new F-150 with its “man-steps” is selling well. The upcoming new diesel engine in the Super Duties is a technological tour-de-force that fascinates me, even if it has to inject what amounts to piss into the exhaust system to meet emission standards. (Look it up. “Urea” is a polite term.) The Fusion and Escape Hybrids have become the darlings of ecologically concerned domestic buyers and Polar Bear huggers to the point even Al Gore, his hysterical old self, takes his Starbucks runs in a Mercury Mariner Hybrid when the Lear Jet is down for service — and so does the Prez when he’s home in Chi-Town. Meanwhile, the new Mustang is just flat out gorgeous to the point I’ve calculated payments on one more than a few times. And the Ford execs who color outside the lines have bought to fruition several niche models like the Raptor off-road pickup, the Cobra Jet race cars, and the Shelbys that keep us car guys programming the number of the local Ford franchise into our cells and playing the Powerball lottery. Ford’s market share is up, and the latest JD Power numbers indicate that Ford has equaled, if not surpassed, Hondas and Toyotas as far as reliability and owner satisfaction. (Lately, Toyota has been revealing their feet of clay to give the home team a little breathing room. Can I interest you in a used set of floor mats?) Yeah, in the bottom of the ninth Ford has hit an out-of-the-park grand slam that would make Ryan Howard weep with envy, even if the game still isn’t over.
Perhaps most importantly to the war-winning, pickup driving, tattooed, beer drinking backbone of the American population, the sort that made the name Harley equal to Locklear for desirability, Ford forewent the dole when the current administration was handing out government bucks — our tax dollars — to car companies like Halloween treats to fat kids. Ford was confident enough they had the product in the pipeline to swear off the government handouts that make GM and Chrysler look like the Welfare Mothers of the Universe… and they did. That gave them some important street cred amongst those with concerns their great-grandkids are going to be paying off the debt for short-sighted investment types of our generation.
Before we go forward, let me admit a certain degree of affection for Ford. My first car was a silver ’70 Mustang Mach One 428 Cobra Jet four speed, slathered with the requisite shaker, spoilers, and slats. (And there’s not a day that goes by I don’t daydream of finding that car under cover in the back of a barn, in the same shape I had it when my dad sold it out from under me because I got caught street racing for the third time.) My first new car out of college was a 1982 Mustang GT. Along the way I’ve owned Bosses, a Shelby, numerous GTs, and such Blue Oval oddities as a 428 four speed Ram Air Ranchero and a 1969 Mercury Cougar Eliminator Cobra Jet that could lift the front tires on cheater slicks. (I had “Mercury Poisoning” lettered in gold leaf on the rear decklid, and more than a few Mopar and Chevy guys succumbed to the disease on Front Street.)
I’m not a dyed in the wool Ford fan. My current fleet includes a GMC half-ton pickup, my ’76 455 Trans Am, a ’63 Nova SS convertible, a ’70 SS Nova clone, and a ’72 big block Chevelle. (I just haven’t bought a new GM vehicle since my brand new Z28 left me and my soon-to-be ex-girlfriend walking in the pouring rain after my sister’s wedding.) Over the years, I’ve owned Road Runners (one a six pack), Chargers, and Darts. Hell, once when I was broke, I bought a Toyota Celica that was serving as a doghouse for 150 bucks, then drove it for three years and over a hundred thousand miles while I got my financial house in order. Yes, we all have our shameful pasts we need to fess up to.
So to sum it all up, I’m a car guy. If it’s got a big engine and it lights my fire, I’ll survive on bologna sandwiches and generic beer a few months to own it. But if I were to bet the 401k (what’s left of it) on one of the Big Four right now, I’d have my chips down on Ford.
But let’s look at NASCAR racing. (Gentle readers, you know eventually through a roundabout way I always return to topic like a retriever with wanderlust always returns to the porch.) The 2009 season started off great for the brand. Matt Kenseth won the Daytona 500, which is sort of like Don Knotts winning a prize fight. He followed that up with a win at Fontana the following week, making Roush look like they were on top of their game. But since then, Ford has been blanked in 29 straight races. They’ve won zero, zip, nada Cup races (their worst slump since 1982-83) even while Chevy has hogged the limelight and Toyota and Fiat-Chrysler (as unholy an alliance as has ever been seen since Pamela Anderson married Tommy Lee) have enjoyed their moments in the sun.
In years past, the sort of domination that GM is enjoying this year would have had NASCAR rewriting the rules on an hourly basis to try to restore parity. Ask Bill Elliott. By now, the Fords would be allowed to run superchargers and the Chevys would be forced to tow 30 foot travel-trailers behind them.
But in the brave new world of the Car of Sorrow, the bodies of the cars are so similar, even NASCAR can’t justify tweaking spoiler or roof heights to equalize the racing to the least common denominator. So what’s gone wrong for Fords?
In Cup racing, Ford has basically put all their eggs in one basket, Roush Fenway Racing, and its affiliate, the once proud Yates Racing. Sure, we still have the Wood Brothers part-time effort with Bill Elliott, but when the cards are on the table, Ford’s NASCAR efforts center on Roush. So as Roush’s fortunes rise and fall in NASCAR, so do those of the Blue Oval faithful. That’s a far cry from an era where Robert Yates Racing, Junior Johnson, the Wood Brothers, and the Elliott single-car team all carried the flag to great heights. When Fords seemed all but dead in the water way back when, privateer Ernie Elliott’s high swirl cylinder head work simply caught the GM teams asleep at the wheel in what would be a renaissance for their brand (Remember 1985?) Some would argue that there was some aerodynamic chicanery (the seven/eighth scale Thunderbird that allowed Bill Elliott to rally back from three laps down without a caution at Talladega) or rear end geometry (Junior Johnson’s cambered rear ends) that also gave Ford what Roger Penske used to call “an unfair advantage.” Be that as it may, you had three or more organizations fighting not only their crosstown automaker rivals, but each other for supremacy back then — which greatly increased the frequency of innovations.
Likewise, GM has put the majority of their eggs in the basket of Rick Hendrick and friends, though RCR still soldiers along like a three-legged dog chasing pheasants. Next year, Dodge will have just one supported team — Roger Penske — and Toyota has shifted their focus to Joe Gibbs Racing, while Michael Waltrip and company remain nothing more than an amusing sideshow.
So let’s face it: Hendrick, Roush and Gibbs are the key players here, and that’s not good for the sport. As one of the organization’s ships come in on an annual basis, the tides of the others tend to go out. This year, it’s Hendrick’s time to dominate? Why? In watching the races with the new cars, it seems the Rick Hendrick bunch have figured out something with the front end geometry that allows them extra speed in the corners — even with the coil springs wound up so tight the splitters are dragging the track. That allows those Chevys to carry extra speed through the corners, and it was clearly evident at Charlotte down the straights the Hendrick engines were in a class of their own. Johnson could outrun Matt Kenseth in a straight line so handily it appeared the 17 car was dragging an anchor.
In the good old days of which I am so fond, there would have been two or three organizations affiliated with the various carmakers looking for new tricks to avoid having their asses handed to them again next week. But as I mentioned above, Ford has only Jack Roush. I’m sure Roush is about to launch into one of his accusatory rants that Hendrick and his boys are not only cheating, but screwing sheep in acts of pagan worship to the demons that run NASCAR today — but that’s not going to help any. Horsepower would, and both Ford and Dodge actually have new engines ready to go — but the teams seem hesitant to use them for fears of reliability, one of the unintended consequences of the testing ban. Well here’s a hint, guys… you ain’t beating Rick and friends for the title this year. So go ahead and throw the dice on the new engines in an attempt to salvage a little dignity with an eye towards next year. Work out the bugs now, so you can come hard out of the gate in 2010. And while you’re at it, screw around with the front end geometry to try to find out that secret HMS has. Because it’s over for 2009: You’ve had your asses handed to you in a hat with a big red bowtie on the TV panel.
Compounding the problem for Ford is off song seasons by some of their top pilots. Carl Edwards, last year’s most prolific winner, has yet to win a race. Greg Biffle, who has won at least one race per season since 2003, has yet to hoist the hardware this year, either. Since winning the first two races of the season, Matt Kenseth has enjoyed just four top 5 finishes in 29 races. UPS may be sold on David Ragan, but he hasn’t delivered.
In the first year of the Chase, Kurt Busch won the title driving a Roush Ford. All four of Roush’s teams made the Chase. (Though Jimmie Johnson finished just eight points out of the hunt.) In 2005, all five of Roush’s drivers finished in the top 10 in points, despite Kurt Busch having been handed his walking papers with two races left to run. Roush won three of the last four races in a quixotic attempt to wrest the title from Johnson some way or another. But since then, it’s been an all-Chevy and the all-Jimmie Johnson show at year’s end.
Ford’s showrooms might be crowded, but the stands at NASCAR races are increasingly barren. Because of that, we need a good Chevy-Ford-Dodge rivalry to reignite interest in some fans for the good of the sport. Meanwhile, if you know of a certain silver and black Cobra Jet Mustang with wads of Kelly Murphy’s Dentyne chewing gum stuck under the glovebox, I’d love to hear from you.
©2000 - 2008 Matt McLaughlin and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
Fiat bought into Chrysler, not Renault…
Good article though.
Jack Roush has a legitimate beef. He can’t run five cars, but Hendrick can run four and two satellite cars?
You also mentioned Bill Elliott when talking about how Chevy’s dominance today would bring out all sorts of parity rules. Except Elliott drove a Ford. Jeff Gordon dominating provoked no such reaction from NASCAR…and I say that as a Gordon fan.
It’s ok to crush the field, so long as there’s a bowtie on the car. Ask Toyota.
That’s what the idiots at Ford get for putting their money behind the biggest jerk in racing! Maybe now they will smarten up and pull all funding from Jerk Roush and put it behind Petty/Yates! Then maybe we’ll see the last of that moron and his fleet of no-talant drivers! But then, they will never ever be a match for the powerhouse at Hendrick Motorsports! Ford should just get out of NASCAR all together and leave it to the only worthy manufacturer, Chevrolet. That would make me happy!
You do tend to ramble a bit Matt . I think the gist of this column is about reviving the car wars of the old days . But as you may have noticed , NASCAR decided some time ago to marginalize the Chevy vs Ford vs Dodge vs Toyota and instead push the hero worship of the drivers . And that also made it much easier for the networks to hire pit reporters , they don’t have to know even the basics of racing and race cars .
i seriously doubt petty/yates will do anything next year. eversince robert turned over the reighs to doug, it hasn’t been good.
just sad to see what’s going on. and eventhough i hate him with a passion, roush is right to complain. maybe he needs to jettison off that 5th team to a satellite operation like hendrick did with stewart/haas. come on na$car, i think the blind, deaf and mute monkey knows s/h is hendrick part II.
i remember when cars won the daytona 500 and were put into daytona usa, the other teams would go and visit and try to figure out what made the winning car run so well.
i’d love a new ‘stang, but i have a problem with car that starts at $23,000 (here in ga), and depreciates as quick as my 401(k)no more than you leave the lot. i’ve had 3 ‘stangs in my life, and still love the pony car, but that’s a lot of coin to drop, especially with economy still shakey and jobs as well.
will the last one to leave turn the lights out?!
Nascar showing favortism to GM is one of the reasons ‘CAR Fans” are leaving the sport!
Mike, slow down on the kool-aid. You bad mouth anyone who does not like Hendrick’s, then go and bash Roush. I’m not a fan of either, I like RCR. If Roush would share some of they handling setups with Yates that might help. When Roush got Yates power they started running in the front but Yates cars did not move, this I believe was do to handling.
Bottom line: NASCAR is proping up GM because it is bankrupt and needs to show how well its teams do in the sport. I’m sure some heads are turned to “enhancements.”
Mike, your constant bashing of Roush is not only getting tiresome, it’s bordering on Psychotic! Give it a rest, for crying out loud!
My big black Ford Freestyle may look like a hearse, but it’s one of the best cars I’ve owned in my 35 years of driving. And my 2004 Mustang may not look as boss as the newer models, but it’s given me 5 years of trouble-free service. The last Chevy I bought was a mid-90’s Lumina; I don’t remember the exact year nor do I care. What a piece of crap! My ex-wife got it in the divorce settlement so there is some justice in this world.
Kudos to Ford for doing so well without government assistance. My next vehicle will surely be a Ford, probably an F-150.
I won’t get involved in the manufacturer debate as it pertains to Nascar. There’s no such thing as Fords, Chevys, Dodges, or Toyotas in Nascar, just COT’s with misleading emblems and decals.
Spare us the Studs Terkel liturgy please. Lot of us eastern effete Ivy league snobs know how to handle an M16, ride a motorcycle and drive a Mustang 5/5. As to Fords involvement in Nascar…lets get serious here. I bought a bunch of Ford stock last year for $2 or so a share because I felt Ford had the best product line and had not taken any federal money. Quite frankly, as a stockholder I really could care less if Ford goes Nascar racing. Its a spec series now; the only differences are the decals. “Win on Sunday, sell on Monday” is stone cold dead. Why dont we just go ahead and call all the POS cars Frances and be done with it.
Jack Roush never won regularly until the deal with Yates and he finally got good engines. But Yates got nothing.
Matt, a good read as always. My first was a yellow ’69 Mach One with a little 351C and my second, after I had to get married, was a ’73 Grand Torino Squire stationwagon complete with fake wood on the side.
I’ve always been a Ford man and loved watching Pearson, Yarborough and even Petty (‘69) tear up the tracks. Ford hasn’t given me much to shout about at the races lately but then again , they are not really Fords or Chevys on the track.
Kudos to Ford for staying off welfare, catching up with Toyota/Honda in quality and outselling the current so called “winners” on the track.
How is NASCAR going to get some “brand” excitement back into racing? How can they do anything with the Car of Sorrow? They better do something after looking at the Lowes grandstands last Saturday…100,000 attending a track with a 155,000 seating capacity.
Ahh, so many things!
But interesting your comments about the front suspensions! Maybe Chad K. found something and passed it on to his teammates (well, apparently all except Jr. it appears).
With the POS, and with NA$CRAP claiming that all the engines that they dyno being within a very few horsepower (is it horsepower or torque that gets a car around an oval?), then a “super secret” suspension trick just might be in order.
BUT HOW? This is yet another area where NA$CRAP dictates travel, springs, shock absorbers, pick up points,etc.
Back-in-the-days, you could have rear steer, front steer, and many other things to help handling, today, not sure there is any manuevering room with front end components.
And how exciting do you think it is to be a FoMoCo supporter and want to go to the track to see a “Fusion” or a “Taurus” as a “race car”?
Now that is one sick proposition!
And last but not certainly least, just love your writing style and all the elements you bring into play!
Almost makes reading about NA$CRAP interesting!
Almost I said!
McLaughlin you got it right! It’s been in the bag for GM (Chevy) ever since they took the bailout money. NASCAR is still living under the “race on Sunday/sell on Monday” attitude. So that the government won’t loose (not that they haven’t already) their money, they but the bite on NASCAR to let GM win—-this year. If Ford had the dominence, then you’d see rule changes and gasping for air by the suits in NASCAR—-and government. And one last thing—-ya’ gotta wonder if an FR-9 wasn’t under the hood of the #17 last Saturday night. But NASCAR couldn’t let that happen to the Lowe’s car at the Lowe’s track. So they took the #48, #5 and #16 cars for testing?? Beware GM—-be very aware of 2010 when all bets are off and the new super-cooled FR-9 comes a callin’.
Lots of interesting comments on here. As a Ford fan I will take exception with a few. The 23k for a Mustang is a steal when compared to 40k for a Camaro or Challanger and NO IMPORT has ever made a car like those three. End of story there. Now as far as Ford fans not liking the Fusion or Taurus as a race car Douglas, tell me in your infinate wisdom, how that is so much worse than a Camry or Impala. I don’t see it. I have a Fusion and a Taurus and they are both great. I also had a Taurus SHO and loved it. I also loved my 99 Mustang GT until some idiot hit me in it. I never had any problems with it. I never even had to put a battery in it. I had it from 99 to 2006, before the fore mentioned idiot. I would love, love, love to have a new Mustang or Taurus SHO and while I still want Ford to have a precence in Nascar I must admit that even I am boring with the JJ show. Oh one more thing, Mike this constant Roush bashing is unhealthy. I think you need to see a shrink because this could be considered an obscession.
Uh, Joe, you can also buy a Camaro for $23k, and it is 304 HP and will smoke the V6 Mustang. The SS Camaro starts at $31k, lets than the GT Mustang, and oh yeah smokes that too (13.0 in quarter). Argue that the Camaro has more HP. Fine, but it still costs less, end of story. Don’t even start the GT500 argument, KR or not. Compare to a Hennessey HPE550 (yes they are both supercharged version of the factory car using aftermarket parts) or a Lingenfelter LPE570 (also supercharged), and the GT500 is a whipped puppy once again. Oh, and once again the Camaro costs less. You can get a HPE550 performance packaged installed for a total price of $48k on the car, compared to over $50k on GT500, and did I mention the HPE550 or LPE570 kicks the snot out of the GT500? Don’t believe it? Check youtube, check 1/4 mile times, check 0-60 times, etc. In fact, the STOCK SS Camaro ran a 12.9 second quarter mile up against a GT500 w/ 540 HP which ran 12.8 seconds. Yeah, that extra $22k was worth 0.1 seconds!! Haha, roll in it Mustang fans, you’ve had your day and the Camaro is back – more power, better brakes, independent suspension, and CHEAPER!
Get the facts, you need to get the facts. Where I live you can not get a Camaro cheaper. That is just not possable. Get your damn facts straight!! You can not buy an SS for 31k. The last one before they deleted it was 35K! The v6 is over 30k here. This Ford vs Chevy BS needs to be over. We need to be together against the imports but some of you Chevy guys will just never get it. I think the Camaro is cool, and the Challanger is cool, but where I live the Mustang is cheaper and guess what, it never got deleted and brought back. It has always been here in one form or another and the new one is pretty sweet. Why can’t we all just get along? LOL
Joe, keep trying dude. I have a 2SS that I paid $34k for. I have a friend who bought a 1SS for $31k. The new 2010 1SS stickers at $30.2k. Look it up dude, it is real, those are the numbers. Yes, they deleted it back in ’02 and brought it back right in ’09 as a ’10 model. Are you not aware of the 2010 Camaro, all the numbers you cite are are 2002. BTW, I’m glad they deleted it. It was a piece of crap in ’02. The ’10 is a kick-arse car! And I do agree with you, I would buy a Mustang (god forbid, lol) before I bought an import. I am very proud of Ford, GM, and Chrysler for allowing us to have debates like these. So I am not debating your love of Mustangs or that Mustangs are good and respectable cars, I am simply saying the ’10 Camaro is more car for the money – it is faster and cheaper, and yes those are the facts. Look them up. Go to a Chevy dealer and get pricing or to go www.chevrolet.com/camaro and read base prices on the models. The 1SS with 426HP LS-3 engine w/ 6-speed manual beats the ’10 Mustang GT by over 0.5 sec in 1/4 mile and is withing 0.1 sec of the GT500 … for $22k less than a GT500!!