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 · Monday October 26, 2009
The Key Moment: Denny Hamlin held off repeated charges by Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, and Juan Pablo Montoya during a flurry of late race restarts to claim another win in front of his partisan, home state fans.
In a Nutshell: There’s no problem so big with this sport that a great little short track can’t fix it… at least for a week.
Dramatic Moment: The first 350 laps were about as close to vintage stock car racing as newer fans are likely ever to see.
What They’ll Be Talking About Around the Water Cooler This Week
I noticed this doing my pre-race prep this week prior to Martinsville. Under the current points system, Jimmie Johnson led second place Mark Martin by 90 points and third place Jeff Gordon by 135. But under that tired old classic points system we used to use until it provided too many runaway champions, Tony Stewart would have been leading Jimmie Johnson by 117 points (27 more than the new system’s gap between first and second) and third place by 139 points. (Just four more than the current gap between first and third in the standings.) So tell me again how the Chase spices up the title hunt? If a faltering Stewart was losing points to a resurgent Johnson down the stretch, there might actually be some interest in the series. Yeah, yeah, I’m beating a dead horse. The Chase is here to stay. But a dream lives on forever. Maybe, just maybe, we can adopt a more reasonable points system down the road, and maybe, just maybe, someday Michael Waltrip and Brian France will be sharing an eight by ten residence, blasting out “Statesboro Blues” on their harmonicas while they serve DWI sentences. Wake up, mama…
Oh, and for the record, after Martinsville the gap between Stewart and Johnson under the old points system would be 85.
What is it cynics like me want from a stock car race to stop our incessant whining and negative hyperbole? Side-by-side racing for the lead, with tires smoking, fenders banging, and tempers fraying. We want to see the best drivers making seemingly impossible catches as their cars get out from under them or get shoved aside by a competitor. We want to see a handful of cars racing hard for the win in the fading sun of an autumn afternoon at a track so rich with history, it makes the White House look like a Taco Bell. Sunday’s race is what we want. Please, sir, could I have some more?
We, the fans, hold this truth to be self-evident: a bunch more short track races and a bunch less cookie cutter parades would greatly improve our sport and perhaps even arrest the declines in TV ratings and attendance.
It sure did sound like Denny Hamlin shares the opinion Kasey Kahne offered up two weeks ago that NASCAR is throwing bogus debris cautions late to add some excitement to the finishes of the Cup races.
Will the last person to care about the 2009 Cup season kindly shut off the TV and the lights when you leave?
Once again, there was a stricken car parked sideways across the start/finish line on the final lap of the race. (This time, it was John Andretti.) Once again, NASCAR didn’t throw a caution, though in other events they’ve waved the yellow hanky for debris the size of a gnat’s ‘nads in similar circumstances. It comes down to credibility and NASCAR’s account is overdrawn, in receivership and subject to foreclosure with all due prejudice.
A tempest in a teapot beats the doldrums, I suppose. Some folks are ready to form a lynching party for ESPN football analyst Bob Griese after an allegedly racist remark made during a promo for Sunday’s NASCAR race. The promo featured the top 5 guys in the points and someone asked, “Where’s Juan Pablo Montoya?” (Apparently unaware Montoya fell out of the top 5 after last week’s race.) “Probably out getting a taco,” Griese said in response. Insensitive? Yep. Uncalled for? Absolutely. Racist? Would everyone be in a huff if Griese had said Jamie McMurray (who might be Irish) was out grabbing a brew? If nothing else, it will be interesting to see if they can form a Politically Correct Lynching Party quickly enough to cost Griese his job for an ill-considered remark that reflected insensitivity but not hatred. Sometimes, I hate the times we live in…
It’s bad enough Michael Waltrip can’t seem to finish a single race without running into an innocent bystander, but he’s once again taken his show on the road. Earlier this week, Waltrip made an illegal U-turn and turned into the path of a rider on a Harley Davidson. The Harley struck Waltrip’s luxury Lexus SUV in the driver’s side door. (What is so wrong with Toyota’s lineup of cars and trucks that all its drivers opt for a Lexus rather than the base model when selecting a program car? The LX570 Waltrip was operating while impaired stickers out at 95 G. I drove one last week. It’s a big, stupid truck. A nice one, but a big, stupid truck.) In a bit of a surprise, unlike the last time he rolled a Lexus SUV late at night, this time Waltrip remained at the scene. He was able to pass roadside sobriety tests, but a breathalyzer scored his BAC at .06. In North Carolina, like almost every other state of the Union, .08 BAC is the standard for Driving While Intoxicated, a felony. But Police investigators concluded that alcohol played a major role in the incident, and thus Waltrip was cited with the lesser charge of DUI, or driving under the influence. At police discretion, a driver can be issued such a ticket even at a BAC as low as .01 if the officers determine that alcohol was a contributing factor to an accident. My guess is the folks at NAPA are burying their heads in their hands, but consoling one another knowing they’ve only got five races left with this lunkhead.
I’ve never liked Michael Waltrip. I like him even less now. I ride a motorcycle too, by chance a Harley. It’s bad enough trying to avoid collisions with distracted drivers without factoring in those who have been drinking and thinking that the size and price of their vehicles allows them to violate traffic laws the rest of us have to follow. When I’m on my bike, I’m not out there to show off, piss you off, and take off: I’m just riding my scoot. Please keep an eye out for me and my brothers in the wind, just as I give your learning teenage driver a little extra space when I’m in the pickup even if I’d win that battle. When you see a motorcycle in motion, don’t think of it as a machine: think of it as a human being. As for Waltrip, it’s time the idiot hires a chauffeur. He’s obviously no good at this driving crap.
You know one way you can always tell a stock car race is being held in the Southeast and not somewhere else across the country? When the Preacher finishes the invocation, the crowd responds, “Amen” — not “Wooooo-hooo” or “Johnson sucks.”
Isn’t it getting a little ridiculous that in the AT&T pit crew of the year voting, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and the No. 88 team remain atop the standings? They routinely cost Junior spots in the pits, and Earnhardt himself is a train wreck on pit road week after week. Do you think the fan vote portion of the balloting is keeping the No. 88 bunch at the top of the standings?
The Hindenburg Award For Foul Fortune
They could have shoveled what was left unbent or unbroken on Kasey Kahne’s No. 9 car into an empty pack of smokes, with plenty enough room left over for his title aspirations. They tell me Elliott Sadler will be driving a Ford for RPM next week at Talladega. It’s no wonder, as the team has to be nearly out of Dodges thanks to attrition over the last three weeks.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and the No. 88 team bought a brand new car and a fresh attitude to Martinsville this week. But they left with the usual half-ass finish after a string of blown right front tires.
The “Seven Come Fore Eleven” Award For Fine Fortune
Hard pit road contact with the No. 88 car bent up the right front of Hamlin’s No. 11 car and could have easily ended his day early. The Fed Ex Toyota wasn’t going to win any car shows, but it went on to win the race.
Starting 41st at Martinsville is usually a harbinger of a grim day at Martinsville, but Kyle Busch drove from 41st to a fourth place finish despite some problems in the pits.
A longish pit stop late in the race seemed to doom Jimmie Johnson’s chances at winning, but he drove on to a hard-fought second place finish.
It seemed Juan Pablo Montoya and Jeff Gordon were more determined to take one another out than win the race at times, but they cooled off and drove on to a third and fifth place finish, respectively.
Maybe it won’t be the same ratings bloodbath this week for NASCAR, with many NFL football contests that ran against the first three-quarters of the race decided by gaps of more than 28 points.
What’s the Points?
Jimmie Johnson continues to lead the points with Talladega next week, the final hurdle he must clear en route to a fourth straight title. He is now 118 points ahead of Mark Martin, who remains second in the standings and 150 points ahead of Jeff Gordon, still in third. Tony Stewart remains fourth in the standings, 192 points out of the lead, meaning that unless he won and led the most laps, he couldn’t take over the top spot even if Jimmie Johnson decided to stay home next week. So it’s now officially a three man battle for the title… and not much of one at that.
Further back, Juan Pablo Montyoa wrested fifth place honors from Kurt Busch. Ryan Newman took over seventh place honors from Greg Biffle.
Denny Hamlin moves up two spots in the standings to ninth. Carl Edwards holds on to tenth in the standings, while Kasey Kahne dropped down to 11th.
Brian Vickers remains the Chase’s cellar dweller in 12th.
Kyle Busch prevails in this week’s battle with Matt Kenseth in the “Best of the Rest” honors, regaining 13th spot in the standings.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. lost a further two spots in the standings and is now 24th. The combined points position of his three Hendrick teammates is sixth. Medic!
Overall Rating (On a scale of one to six beer cans with one being a stinker and a six pack an instant classic) — I’ll catch some static, but given this season’s racing I’ll give Martinsville five ice cold bottles of Corona for a good, old-fashioned race. In fact, I might have given it six bottles, but Michael Waltrip filched one as a roadie for his ride home.
Next Up: It’s off to Talladega for the Halloween weekend show. Plate tracks typically offer up a lot more tricks than treats, and real horror is always just a shot away, just a shot away. With all the safety advances in our sport, flight and fire remain the drivers’ biggest two fears. Get ready for the Battle of Icarus next weekend.
©2000 - 2008 Matt McLaughlin and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
Reading your recap almost makes me wish I watched the whole race instead of the last 35 laps. I saw all I needed when they showed that wad of tape that brought out that last caution.
Wait, where is the usual diatribe about the rows of empty seats? Oh wait, that’s only reserved for tracks you dont like. Why is it places like Dover, Kansas, Fontana and Charlotte get their empty seats and lack of attendance mentioned, but Martinsville gets a pass? Isnt this short-track racing what NASCAR is all about? Isnt this what the fans want to see? So, seriously, where were they?
kevin – i noticed the empty seats. the track covered some with the obligatory advertising banners. be interesting to see what ‘dega looks like next week.
race was ok. montoya made it interesting, i thought.
I have never been more ready for a season to be over than this year.
I still think short track racing is more interesting to watch from a fan’s perspective than any other track except, perhaps, the restrictor plate races. Of course those are rigged to be exciting because of the plates.
I think I could watch them race at Martinsville every week and never get tired of it (unless JJ won every race).
I don’t feel so alone knowing someone else doesn’t care for Mikey-won’t miss him at all or his brother.
Is the season over yet?
And a little banging and maybe some side by side racing, now we think everything is peachy-keen in the world of NA$CRAP?
How funny, kinda like using a WHOLE can of deodorant!
BUT IT STILL STINKS!
Come on Matt……….Do you honestly think that Brian could ever learn to play Statesborough Blues on a harmonica?
I swore I would only watch this race because it was the last short track race of the year. Still, once Johnson made his way to the front, I decided some fresh air was in order and so I took a ride in the Mustang along with some vintage J. Geils Band. I got back home in time to see the last 60 or so laps. John Andretti’s car may not have been very good, but it was definitely bigger than the debris that the previous caution flag was thrown for.
Oh yeah… Bobby Labonte had a top 15. Did anyone pick up on that? Oh that’s right… he’s not in the chase and his name isn’t Junior.
I’m gonna watch the Talledega race and then I’m done for the year. Congrats to Rick Hendrick on being rich enough to buy himself another trophy.
brian and mikey are used to having organs in their mouths, but harmonicas…probably not.
Geez Mike don’t sugar coat it… tell us how you realy feel?
Looks like a lot of people forgot there was a race…again. Too many empty seats for a great race track and race. The next time Waltrip has a wreck while drinking may be his last one for a long time. Let’s hope he doesn’t kill someone. Maybe it will shut his and his brother’s mouths and he won’t be there for FOX to coo over next year.
In a nutshell your In a nutshell was dead on. Stock car racing was born and thrived on short tracks.No matter what style of car, tracks longer than 1 mile stink.
Of course the remark by Griese was racist . Dumb and racist . But then Griese can’t even spell NASCAR , so how important is the incident .
I was there. Best race in a LONG TIME. (Been going since 1963). Do yourself a favor and buy a ticket for Martinsville next year and skip Kansas. Plenty of hotels in Greensboro and Charlotte to handle the folks. The leaves were changing, drive was great, traffic a breeze and hot dogs, well, the best.
I get very bored watching Jimmie Johnson, Jimmie Johnson, Jimmie Johnson. So I turned off the race.
In re Griese comment.
I’ve never been a bigger fan of Montoya than after hearing his response to the Griese comment. JPM didn’t give a rip and even laughed it off. He gets it. The way I figure if the target (no pun intended) of the crack is not offended why should anyone else be? Granted he didn’t even know who Bob Griese is, but last I checked 1970’s NFL was not big in Colombia. Class reaction by Montoya.
As for the late caution, NASCAR is getting more predictable than WWE. I keep waiting for Jerry Punch to say “GOOD GAWD, IT’S CHAD KNAUS WITH THE TIMEKEEPER’S BELL”
Speaking of Knaus, Loved it for the lipreaders at the end of the race. “What the * are they doing?” apparently in response to Andretti sitting on the start finish line.
All in all a great race, but I am becoming more and more convinced that NASCAR is staged. Hell, all I have to do is tune in to the last 5 laps of the race next week and that’s all I need to see.
Oh, and NASCAR definitely lends credence to the stance of non racing fans when they say al lwe watch for is the wrecks. I mean they show a commercial about Talladega, and show McDowell’s wreck during qualifying in Texas as a symbol of Talladega’s fury? I don’t get it. Probably never will. Bill Sr. and Jr. are turning in their graves like rotisserie chickens at the current state of the sport they built with unnamed help.
I don’t understand why the taco comment was that big of a deal. I’m Italian and if someone said I was eating spaghetti I wouldn’t get upset.
Matt said: “Isn’t it getting a little ridiculous that in the AT&T pit crew of the year voting, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and the No. 88 team remain atop the standings?”
Just more proof that Junior’s fans are more biased than the news media. I think Dave Despain said it best last year after the Kyle/Dale incident at Richmond. There was a poll somewhere about who’s fault it was, and 75% of the responses picked Dale Jr. Dave said they probably didnt even read the question, just saw Junior’s name and picked it.
Question of the week:
The flip side to the Michael Waltrip story is that the operator of the motorcycle was also impaired. He admitted to police hours after the incident, at the hospital that he had two beers before getting on his Harley. That fact was brought up on the forums two days ago.
I watched both the truck race and the cup race. Because I love Martinsville. Both series are in a supposed run-away. But the truck series race was a better product. Why? First off only 200 hundered laps. You had had to make what you brought run good for several yellows instead of fresh feel goods everytime the caution came out. Second: A better TV production. ESPN is what’s ruining races, not the product on the track.
NASCAR really needs to re-think it’s media contract at the next negotiating period. Because ESPN and Fox is driving away more fans than the COT.
Isn’t the whoel “AT&T Pit Crew Award” ridiculous? I’m a Junior fan, and there’s no way his pit crew should be up there. He’s only on there because he’s popular. I wouldn’t vote for him for this farce. Anyway, what’s the point? Tissot already awards a Most Valuable Pit Crew award based on pit crew speeds. Why do we need the popularity contest?
I never thought I’d say it but you could take away about 75 laps from the Martinsville race. The drivers did awesome racing at first, then settled in and just rode around until about 50 to go.
I’ve been screaming for more short tracks for years and even more so with the COT. The COT is MADE for short track racing in that it can take the beating that the old car couldn’t.
My stepson thinks nascar is boring but he watched Martinsville and thought it was awesome.
“Jimmie Johnson is averaging a 2.3 finish in the first six Chase races.“
Errm, based upon what math?
JJ finishes in the first 6 chase races:
4th at Louden
Add ‘em together, divide by 6, and you have an average finish of 3. Not that it’s a big difference, but you have had a few issues with math in these articles over the years and I felt the compulsive need to correct this one.
I did a little experiment based on my suggestion of changing the Chase to be the top 5 drivers with 5 races left. Since people dont like the Chase and Matt likes to post the classic standings, here you go.
I took the top 5 drivers after Charlotte, reset their points to 5000, and added the 10 point bonus for each win. Then I added the points they scored at Martinsville.
I like the Chase, I just think its diluted with too many drivers and too many races left in the season. As we can see, 10 races and the current points system still allows a driver to get a huge lead over everyone else. Not every championship race is going to be a 10 point fight to the finish, just like every race is not, either. But this system does more to assure a close points race than the old way. Just look at the Trucks and Nationwide standings, with Hornaday and Buch having a 200+ point lead and running away with it.
Jeff gordon beats and bangs with montoya but when his teamate jj is on outside of him on the restart he turns into a wuss and lets him take his spot. Jeff your never going to win another championship unless you start running jj like you do montoya.
Kevin in SoCal,
you know, you’ve got a great point there. I like Matt’s stuff enough to post regularly as well, but to rail about many issues which seem to be NASCAR’s actions or inactions on many issues, and yet, he rails about empty bleachers and not a peep about Martinsville. I flipped on the tv yesterday as well and first thing I said to my buddy was “Damn, I remember when Martinsville was among the 5 toughest tickets in NASCAR and the only time you’d see empty seats was during the truck and Busch races.
Matt, you gotta call a spade a spade, otherwise you’re stacking the deck in the same manner.
Also, for those talking about Junior winning the pit crew award, Junior’s gotta win something right? I doubt this is important to him as his primary mission is to scrap the season, collect the paycheck and wait til the checkers at Homestead to commence the bender at Whisky River. If I were him, I’d take my name out of all the awards (Most popular, worst beard, Ward Burton Memorial worst vocabulary award) and say I don’t deserve crap, hell I don’t even deserve my salary and cut of the merchandise so I’m gonna re-dedicate myself to being a championship calibur driver in 2010. If anyone doesn’t deserve to go to the banquet unless he’d serving food, it’s Junior.
The Sprint cup championship should be renamed the Hendricks cup because that’s whose going to take the top spots in the points again. Debris cautions when there is no debris has become laughable just as nas$car has become unwatchable. Talladega may be interesting, but the rest of this “chase your tail” is more like the WWE. I’m out.
The Talladega race will be my last this season and only reason for that is because it is unpredictable. The other races will be won by Jimmie Johnson, Jimmie Johnson, and some Roush driver at Homestead and only because JJ already wrapped up the title and won’t care to win.
Griese is an idiot. If anything JPM would be out getting an Empanada not a Taco.
i happed across qvc on thursday night and jr was on there for the 2nd hour of “for race fans only”. he was hawking his 2010 diecasts already. show was shot at wisky river. it’s all about the money. i nearly choked when qvc showed diecasts for the hof inductees. bill sr, jr, junior johnson, petty and dale. i stopped buying diecasts 8 yrs ago, especailly since they don’t do “limited numbers” any longer.
What Dirk Said…. Talledega then DONE.
I agree about the Michael Waltrip comments.He is so lucky after his two incidents that he hasn’t killed anyone yet, or suffered what Scott wimmer suffered. You would think after his first incident he would smarten up,but smart and MW don’t go together. Why he is still around has me confused. Never produced on track,if his personality is real, I mean not an act, then he is just plain ignorant.Don’t mention the DEI plate races as those cars were far superior at the time. Although if I posted this on the Dopey Daly Planet log it would be deleted.For some reason that ex ESPN employee loves the Waltrip brothers and snipes at ESPN with unfair cheap shots . I thought the race and coverage was good,you will never get perfection. When you find this coverage lacking, just remember what FOX gives us, which is pathetic.
It is nice that ABC has on the top of the screen most of the time who the current leader is, I can just flip over from football, and only have the race on for like 2 seconds, ‘Leader Jimmie’, and then I can flip right back to football, not to waste any more time. How convenient! Thanks ABC.
did I mention I can’t stand JJ?
Ha Ha Ha. You’re right Brent, I do the same thing and I’m sure we aren’t the only ones, very convenient. Stick that up your tailpipe NA$CAR. (JJ the S.T.D., he just won’t go away no matter what you do) Very predictable thus extremely annoying. Nobody wants anything to do with the S.T.D.
Did anyone notice Mark Martin leaning on the pit wall during the National Anthem. Was not a fan before, darn sure not a fan now. Also one reason for the empty seats the last 2 weeks is bad weather 50 degrees last wk. and cool temps and chance of rain this wk. Why buy tix early when you can wait and see what the weather will be like.
I think Marty Reid should replace Punch in the booth next year.
Let’s settle this here. This year the crowds at all Cup races has been off..bad off…with the possible exception of the first Vegas race. Even the Bristol night race wasn’t a sell out. It’s become unremarkable that the fans are missing so why remark on it. Yes, I noted California had an extremly bad crowd (that’s a sticking point with me since Little Miss Half-wit who runs the place claimed everyone was just under the grandstands shopping.) I noted again Atlanta had a poor crowd the next week. But the thinnest crowds I have seen at ANY NASCAR track this year were the support (Truck and NW) races at Fontana. Until someone manages to outdo that paltry number I will remamrk at what’s remarkable, races that actually draw a decent crowd. Over and out. Mustang 10 returning to base.
BS Matt! Both Fontana Cup races had the same crowd they always do, about 65-70,000 fans. Yes the Nationwide and Truck races in Feb were terrible, but not the Cup races. Stop picking on Fontana.
Kevin, quit blowing smoke. We saw the empty seats for ourselves. Give it up and get a life. Fontana doesn’t draw because it is a lousy track.
So if another track doesnt sell out, its because of the economy, or bad weather, but if Fontana doesnt sell out, then its a travesty based on a poor track, SoCal fans dont care, and NASCAR sucks for giving it two dates? Yeah, ok, nice double standard, hypocrites.
Wayne, our post on Mr. Waltrip and his troubles was entitled “Will Waltrip Draw Attention From The Chase?”
With only .02 more alcohol, a multi-car Sprint Cup Series team owner would have been in handcuffs with a mugshot posted online in a heartbeat.
The fact that his actions have been buried by the mainstream media is a crime unto itself.
BTW, most of my email is from folks who believe I hate MW. I think he has issues and wish him luck with making better decisions in life.
I left ESPN with a nice party in 1989 for a job with a different TV network.
Since 2007, ESPN has almost single-handedly ruined the TV coverage of this sport.
Don’t expect my comments to cease until change is made for the fans and TV viewers.
Thanks for the time, Matt.
I looked up the results of the races in 1983. Big E won the next race at Nashville, Tim Richmond won at Pocono and Big E won at Talladega. Big E was in a FORD. Bill Elliott won the last race of the year at Riverside in November. It was race number 30.