Kurt Busch to Attempt The Indianapolis-Charlotte Double
posted by Phil Allaway
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Andretti Autosport announced this morning that Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet in the Sprint Cup Series, will attempt the Indianapolis 500 in a fifth entry for the IndyCar Series team. Once the Indianapolis 500 is completed, Busch will fly from Indianapolis to Charlotte, jump in his No. 41 Chevrolet and compete in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Busch considers the opportunity to do the double as an old-school throwback moment.
“This is really to challenge myself within motorsports,” Busch said in Andretti Autosport’s press release. “Perhaps I am a bit of an old-school racer; a throwback, I guess. I enjoyed the era of drivers racing different cars and testing themselves in other series. It is tough to do now for a variety of factors, but when the opportunity is there, I want to do it. While NASCAR is my home, I have been fortunate to compete in Pro Stock on the NHRA circuit a number of years ago and test a V8 Supercar. This opportunity was a talk with Michael [Andretti] over dinner one night, a “What if,” and now it’s becoming a reality for me to drive in the Indy 500 with Andretti Autosport. It’s literally a dream come true. To go to the famous Brickyard with the iconic Andretti name, it doesn’t get much cooler or better than that.”
Busch will be doing the Indianapolis-Charlotte double as a Memorial Day mission to men and women serving in the U.S. Military via the Armed Forces Foundation. Fans can contribute to the cause by texting AFF to 50555 to donate $10.
Busch, who has never raced an IndyCar, passed Rookie Orientation at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year during a test session. At the time, Busch was more or less testing the Dallara DW12 for fun.
Busch will be the fourth driver to attempt the Indianapolis-Charlotte double. John Andretti was the first driver to attempt it in 1994. After finishing four laps down in tenth in Indianapolis, Andretti crashed and had engine problems in the 600. Robby Gordon has attempted the double five times, most recently in 2004. However, Gordon failed to make it to Charlotte on time and did not start the 600 in 2000 (P.J. Jones started Gordon’s No. 13 Ford in that instance). Finally, Tony Stewart has attempted the double twice (most recently in 2001) and is the only driver to ever complete all 1100 miles. Neither of the three drivers has won either leg of the double. The best finishes are Stewart and Gordon’s sixth-place finishes at the Indianapolis 500 (although Gordon’s came in 2000, the year he didn’t make it to Charlotte in time to start the Coca-Cola 600), and Stewart’s fourth-place finish in the 2001 Coca-Cola 600.
Danica Patrick, Justin Allgaier Talk About Phoenix Incident
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
A disappointing start to the year for Danica Patrick won’t include continued conflict. Patrick met with rookie Justin Allgaier Sunday, shortly after the Phoenix Cup race after a wreck ruined both drivers’ days. Patrick, who was critical of the No. 51 car on the radio, claiming Allgaier was “driving all over the track” appeared receptive to a conversation that quickly settled differences over what will be a long season.
“She was just upset because she got involved in the crash that we had,’’ said Allgaier to the Motor Racing Network. “She says she’s been through this and that she felt like I needed to settle down at that point. I explained my position on why everything happened. I think she understood where I was coming from. It doesn’t fix either one of our racecars. It doesn’t fix either one of our days. Unfortunately, we were both having pretty decent days.’’
Allgaier wound up 30th due to the incident while Patrick was 36th. The incident, which was caused by Allgaier’s spin also involved the No. 32 team and Travis Kvapil, which wound up 38th after sustaining heavy damage.
Camping World Close to Extending Title Sponsorship of NCWTS
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Marcus Lemonis, CEO of Camping World, Grand Marshal of Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway, and star of CNBC’s “The Profit,” made the announcement over the weekend that the retailer is very close to announcing a deal that would continue its title sponsorship of NASCAR’s Truck Series. The original agreement with NASCAR is scheduled to conclude after the 2015 season.
According to the sanctioning body, no formal contract has been signed, but “the agreement between the two parties has proven to be a beneficial one.”
“In about a month, we’ll be announcing a significant extension to that contract. It’s been great for us,” said Camping World’s Lemonis in a statement. “The NASCAR relationship has worked well for Camping World. When we started, we had 35 stores. Now, we’re up to 120 stores. As we travel the country and we meet new customers in stores, they always are very appreciative of our relationship with NASCAR. It’s been good.”
Gaining a long-term commitment from Camping World to sponsor the Truck Series would be a relief for NASCAR, which is set to lose Nationwide Insurance as title sponsor for the NASCAR Nationwide Series at the end of the 2014 season. The sponsorship of the Cup Series by Sprint runs through 2016.
The NCWTS is back in action on March 29th at 2:30 PM (ET) when the trucks visit Martinsville Speedway in the Kroger 250, which can be seen on Fox Sports 1. Ratings for the season opener were up 11 percent.
Harvick Takes Win At Phoenix In Second Race With New Team
posted by Justin Tucker
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Phoenix International Raceway has become Kevin Harvick’s home away from home. Sunday Afternoon was no exception as Harvick charged to the front early and would dominate for much of the day, leading 224 of the scheduled 312 laps to record his record fifth win on the one mile oval and his third win in the last four races at Phoenix.
Harvick, coming off of a disappointing Speedweeks which was capped by a last lap crash in the Daytona 500 in his debut with Stewart-Haas Racing, set the tone on Saturday by winning both practices while having the best 5 and 10-lap averages in the first practice of the day on Saturday. On Sunday, Harvick and his No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet was nothing short of flawless as he was able to hold Dale Earnhardt, Jr. by .489 seconds after a late race restart to claim his 24th career Sprint Cup Series victory.
“Man, this is awesome,” Harvick said after his dominant victory on Sunday. “Man, this just solidifies so many things and so many decisions. It’s been so much work with all the time and effort that these guys (the crew) have put in—but what a race car.”
Stewart Haas Racing co-owner Gene Haas shared in Harvick’s excitement after the race.
“It took long enough,” Haas joked. “This is phenomenal. I think there was a lot of skepticism last year about what myself and Tony (Stewart) what we were up to, was there a lot of madness to this. Quite frankly, it’s a great team, there’s a lot of synergy at the shop, people working together. I don’t know what we did, but I think we put together a great organization.”
Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt, Jr. continued his hot start to the 2014 season. Earnhardt Jr. would finish second on Sunday, marking his seventh consecutive top 10 finish since the end of the 2013 season. Earnhardt Jr. was pleased with the effort after a coast-to-coast whirlwind week after winning his second Daytona 500 and also gave great praise to the efforts of Harvick and the No. 4 team.
“I’ve got to congratulate Kevin. Those guys were two-tenths faster than everyone all weekend in practice. They were just phenomenal,” Earnhardt said. “To be able to run with them all day was a big confidence builder for us.”
Joining Harvick and Earnhardt in the top 5 of The Profit on CNBC 500K were Brad Keselowski with his second consecutive top 3 run of 2014 in third. Keselowski’s Team Penske teammate Joey Logano would finish fourth, and Jeff Gordon would come home fifth in his No. 24 Pepsi Max Chevrolet.
Jimmie Johnson finished in sixth, followed by Ryan Newman with a nice rebound after Daytona in seventh. Carl Edwards would carry the banner for Roush Fenway Racing by finishing eighth, Kyle Busch was ninth, and Jamie McMurray would finish tenth.
A look at the Profit on CNBC 500K by the numbers. There were 14 lead changes among eight different drivers, there were eight cautions for 39 laps which slowed the race pace to 109.229 MPH.
Next Sunday, the Sprint Cup Series heads to Sin City and the Las Vegas Motor
Starting Lineup: The Profit On CNBC 500K
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday March 1, 2014
Drivers in RED (i) are those ineligible to collect Sprint Cup points
Daytona 500 TV Ratings Down
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Wednesday February 26, 2014
What was the longest weather delay in Daytona 500 history turned out to bring NASCAR lower ratings and TV viewership Sunday night than expected. According to a report Monday from FOX Sports, the 56th running of the Daytona 500 airing at 8 PM (ET) posted a 5.6/10 national household rating/share which averaged 9.3 million viewers. That’s down 44 percent from last year’s 9.9, easily making it the least-watched Daytona 500 of all-time.
Due to the six-hour, twenty-two minute rain delay in Daytona, the race was up against the primetime coverage of the Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony from Sochi, Russia on NBC (15.25 million viewers). FOX also reported that 69% of the pre-rain delay viewers of the race, which began at 1 PM (ET) kept tuning in.
In comparison, the 2013 Daytona 500 on FOX was the most-watched race in five years, posting a 9.9/22 rating/share, commanding 16.7 million viewers. The Daytona 500 in 2012, the first to ever be run on a Monday and in the primetime slot did a 7.7/13 overnight rating/share which resulted in 13.67 million households viewing the race according to Nielsen TV ratings data.
Earnhardt, Jr. Claims Second Daytona 500 Victory
posted by Justin Tucker
Wednesday February 26, 2014
Ten years is a long time. For Dale Earnhardt, Jr., it felt like an eternity. NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver endured many near misses and close calls at the Daytona 500 since his only win in the Great American Race in 2004. Earnhardt had finished second in two of his last three Daytona 500s coming into Sunday’s race. He was also riding the tail of a 55-race winless streak, dating back to Michigan in 2012.
However nothing would stop Dale Jr. on Sunday, not even a 6 hour and 22 minute rain delay from capturing his second Daytona 500 win. Earnhardt Jr. led a race-high 54 laps on the evening and used some timely drafting help from teammates Jimmie Johnson and, on the final restart, Jeff Gordon to separate from the pack and secure the victory.
“Winning this race is the greatest feeling that you could feel in this sport besides accepting the trophy for the championship,” said a jubilant Earnhardt after pulling into Victory Lane. “We could fight off battle after battle. We got a little help at the end there from Jeff to get away on the restart. This is amazing. I can’t believe this is happening. I never take this for granted, man because it doesn’t happen twice, let alone once.”
Aside from the race itself the big story of the race was the 6 hour and 22 minute red flag, which threatened to move the race to Monday evening (had the race been postponed, FOX Sports’ Chris Myers had tweeted that the race would resume at 5:00pm EST). However, Mother Nature would cooperate and would allow the race to be run under different conditions from which they practiced this week. Once the race resumed, the intensity picked up from the changing track conditions. This allowed the pack to race side-by-side and at times 3-wide up to seven rows deep.
Joining Earnhardt Jr. in the top 5 for the 2014 Daytona 500 were: Denny Hamlin who closed out a spectacular Speedweeks in second, Brad Keselowski in third, Jeff Gordon in fourth, and Jimmie Johnson who overcome two wrecks leading up to the 500 in fifth.
Rounding out the top 10 in the Daytona 500 were Matt Kenseth in sixth, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. in seventh and Greg Biffle would bring his No. 16 Ford home in eighth. Austin Dillon would come home ninth in his first Cup Series race in the iconic No. 3 for Richard Childress Racing, while Casey Mears would round out the top 10.
A couple of major contenders for the Daytona 500 win would see their hopes dashed early on as Martin Truex, Jr. would blow up just 30 laps into the race, relegating him to a 43rd-place finish in his debut for Furniture Row Racing. Crew chief Todd Berrier was already in Nashville for a test session before the race was even over. Kyle Busch, meanwhile would have a pit road violation just before halfway and would spend much of the race battling back from that mistake. Busch would eventually finish 19th after leading 19 laps.
Danica Patrick would also be bit by bad luck as she was caught up in a multi-car wreck on lap 145. Patrick would lead her second consecutive Daytona 500, but wouldn’t have the finish to show for it finishing 40th. Tony Stewart would encounter a frustrating evening as well, with a fuel pickup problem derailing his quest for his first Daytona 500 win. Stewart would finish 35th.
A look at the Daytona 500 by the numbers. There were 42 lead changes among 18 drivers, while seven cautions for 39 laps would slow the race pace to 145.290 MPH.
Next week, the Sprint Cup Series heads to the “diamond in the desert,” Phoenix International Raceway for The Profit on CNBC 500K. The Green flag is scheduled for 3:15pm EST.
Nationwide Series Post-Race Quotes: Drive4COPD 300
posted by Thomas Bowles
Tuesday February 25, 2014
Frontstretch Interviews – Courtesy Mike Neff
ELLIOTT SADLER – FINISHED 4th
Thoughts on the race?
It’s definitely a lot different racing than what we’re used to.
Comfortable with it?
Yeah, it’s just different. You’re worried about what you’re doing, but you’re also worried about what everyone else is doing and they’re not doing more than you’re doing. Physically pushing a guy is way better than just riding so you just gotta time it right and push it to the edge.
Happy to start the year with a top 5?
Yeah. Hell, that was the worst we ran all day, I think. I have no idea how they put the 3 car in front of us on that last restart. I hadn’t seen the 3 car hardly all day. When they put us from fifth to sixth, on the outside line, it just really boxed us in. I would have really restarted behind my teammate and given him a good push to the front. Anyways, it is what it is; we’ll take it and move on.
Looked like you were up front all day.
The guys did a good job. We had a fast race car. Great pit stops, just really proud of these guys. The car’s in one piece and we can take it to Talladega now. Great job by my guys. A lot of effort came into coming down here to Daytona and giving ourselves a shot to win. We had that chance to be up front and make some things happen. Fifth is not what we want, but we’ll take it and move on.
Bumping vs Pushing?
It’s way harder. You don’t want to lay on the guy in front of you, so it’s tough racing. A lot different than what we’re used to, ‘cause you gotta go. You gotta drag the brake too ‘cause you don’t want to hit the guys and you don’t want to stay on him. It’s a lot harder mentally than what we’ve done in the past.
Car was strong all day. Pushing vs. Bumping, is that harder to do than just getting on somebody and pushing them?
Yeah, it is a little bit. When you bump ‘em, you jar ‘em, it kinda jacks ‘em a little bit. It’s a little more abrupt, obviously. I thought it was OK there at the end. It was certainly fun and hopefully entertaining. But a little bit of a struggle in the early part of the race and the midpart of the race to see a good race. And that’s unfortunate for the fans. You can’t do that the whole race, you can’t tear up your stuff, knock your grill in, overheat your motor, all that stuff so there’s no sense in doing all that until you get down to the last lap. The 7 and the 6, they did a good job. Man, the 7 really held the 22 and I tight on the bottom. I was rubbing his door and hitting the apron at the same time, no room whatsoever. So it was good; wish we were the ones who could have won but a lot better now than what we were last year.
Going home in one piece makes it a lot better, right?
Yeah. My back feels good. My foot feels good. Past years here, I’ve been going home with pain so I’m alright.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Truck Series Post-Race Quotes: Daytona (Exclusives)
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday February 22, 2014
When you’re on the outside like that, how frustrating is it?
It’s so hard. Timothy Peters has won here. Kyle Busch has won everywhere. Ron Hornaday has been running Trucks forever, probably before I was even born. I was surrounded by veterans there, and like I told them I don’t have a rookie stripe but I’m a rookie. This is only my fourth Truck race ever, my fourth superspeedway race, and man, I figured out when the 17 got up in front of me, I pushed him. And as soon as I pushed him, he took off. And I went with him. And I just kept doing it, and before I knew it, he was leading. And I saw Ron in my mirror, backed up to him, and if it wasn’t for him, I don’t know what would have happened. I gotta thank him big time for that. That was a true teammate move right there. I really appreciate that. He just bounced off me and we got to the front. I tried my hardest to sidedraft Kyle. I was probably touching his door.
Top 5 in the No. 30 truck. This deal come together at the last minute, but you had a heck of a truck. Tell us about your night.
Yeah, I’ve got to thank Turner Scott Motorsports. The guys worked so hard on this Rheem Comfort Products Chevrolet. Exciting! Just got hung up on the outside and had to wait for my teammate there to catch up. And then he got to the bottom, so… I got the old 32 and started pushing ol’ Ryan to the front. So, it’s not bad. We’ll take it. You just don’t want to step over that boundary. You don’t know how far to push and shove. We bumped about six times down the straightaway without latching onto them. Hopefully, that was OK and we came home with a top 5.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Budweiser Duels Post Race Quotes
posted by Matt Stallknecht
Friday February 21, 2014
BUDWEISER DUELS POST-RACE QUOTES
They’re saying the wheel bearing burned up in it. I don’t know what caused it, they’re taking it all apart to figure out what the heck happened. Something abnormal that’s for sure I don’t think I’ve ever had that happen at all. Hopefully, we made the race and hopefully we can fix the problem before Sunday.
WHAT WAS THAT LOUD BOOM ONCE YOU TURNED INTO THE GARAGE?
Loud pop was a tire… thankfully, it popped, hopefully it didn’t hurt anybody. All the heat created in the left front that popped was pretty weird.
REALLY GOOD RUN. WHAT DID YOU THINK OF IT?
Yeah, it was good. We have a car we can work with for the 500. Got a good starting spot, so we’re going to rest easy, fluff and buff our car for a couple of days and get ready for Sunday.
ANY DIFFERENCE ON WHETHER THE TOP OR BOTTOM LANE WORKED?
Yeah, I was just moving around, trying to stay with the flow. For me, this car works on all parts of the racetrack. So I’m pretty happy with it.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.
GOT SHUFFLED BACK, AFTER PIT STOPS AND THEN COULDN’T GET BACK UP TO THE FRONT. WHY?
Nah, we were just sitting there waiting until the last few laps to make a move. You didn’t want to pull down and get sent to the back. Seen a couple of guys get sent to the back really quick so we were just kind of waiting for the end. I felt like we had a good situation there with Ambrose behind us — we had a good run off Turn 2 and I went. It was the last lap, time to go do something, nobody went with us but hopefully Sunday is a different story.
We got a great car. We don’t have to work hard. We learned, we got a good race car. Got a car in one piece, ready to go so we’ll try and get through the next couple of practices, deliver it to the starting group this Sunday and we’ll be real happy.
YOU’RE IN THE DAYTONA 500!
Yeah, it’s pretty awesome. This Whitetail Chevrolet was so fast that I knew all I had to do was stick it behind smart, intelligent drafters and we could have a good finish. That’s what we did in the Duels and I’m excited. I’m excited to go do some stuff with the Nationwide car and have some more practice with this. But to know that we’re locked in the Daytona 500’s pretty cool.
YOU WERE OBVIOUSLY IN FRONT OF THAT MELEE AT THE END. WHEN YOU WERE UP FRONT THERE IN THE BEGINNING, WERE YOU HOPING TO JUST STAY IN LINE AND LET YOU FINISH TOP 5?
I was pretty content to ride and luckily I knew a lot of people around us were. It was nice to have a little calm and not really have to be racing hard the whole time. I knew that the pit stop was going to shake everything up and that’s exactly what happened. Fell back a little bit there but made the right moves at the end to get a good finish.
HOW STRONG ARE THESE RCR CARS?
They’re very strong! They definitely have the capabilities to be winning one of these races.
YOU’RE IN THE TOP 5 FOR YOUR HEAT IN THE DAYTONA 500. YOUR PRIMARY CAR IS SITTING RIGHT IN THE GARAGE, KIND OF WADDED UP. DID YOU THINK THIS ONE HAD IT IN IT?
Yeah, it’s a brand new car also. It’s just not quite as good as the primary but still a damned good car. I’m just proud of everybody at RCR for building such fast race cars. All of our cars have been fast, ECR motor’s been strong, even our affiliate teams have been qualifying really good and racing good. So… excited about 2014! It’s going to be a good year.
WELL MAN, YOU STARTED IN THE BACK BUT WORKED YOUR WAY TO THE FRONT WHEN IT COUNTED MOST. WERE YOU JUST BIDING YOUR TIME THROUGHOUT THE RACE?
Eh, you never know if you’re going to get back up there or not. We had to start at the back, we had to make a run early and see what we could do. We drove right to 10th, or something like that and then it got stagnant. We tried to make something happen, and went to the back again. Drove back up to the front. Again, just really proud of my guys. Matt Kruder did a hell of a job on that pit stop getting just enough gas in to gain some spots there.
RCR CARS SEEM PRETTY DARNED STRONG. DO YOU THINK THE RCR CARS HAVE SOMETHING FOR THEM ON SUNDAY — ESPECIALLY THE THREE JOE GIBBS RACING CARS THAT SEEM TO BE THE CLASS OF THE FIELD RIGHT NOW?
Oh yeah. The 20 car was extremely fast. The 11 didn’t qualify that good, but he’s a good drafter. I think he won. We definitely have something for him.
Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
The Key Moment: Kevin Harvick, on fresh tires, took the lead on the final restart right before mayhem occurred behind him, leading to a late caution in one of the most bizarre Green-White-Checkered finishes since… well, when Harvick won the Daytona 500 in 2007.
In a Nutshell: The racing fans got their racing and the wrecking fans got their wrecks. All in all, it wasn’t a bad way to spend the evening in the blizzard-ravaged northeast quadrant of the U.S.
Dramatic Moment: When Harvick restarted the race on fresh rubber behind Greg Biffle and Kasey Kahne, you just knew there were going to be fireworks. Fireworks and merriment, along with the expected NASCAR-rationed bit of bizarre quickly ensued.
What They’ll Be Talking About Around the Water Cooler This Week
What the Hell is the name of this race, anyway? It seems like we’ve been through at least three separate beer companies so far. It surely has strayed from its original concept of the previous year’s pole winners running 20 laps to kick off the season…
This isn’t racing-related at all, but I could go the rest of the winter without seeing a single snowflake and I’d be quite pleased. Saturday’s storm was a soul-sapper for an old cowboy waiting for springtime, his pastures to change. (And dreaming of doggies and glasses of beer… for the record, my pet population remains at zero, but my glasses of beer were Olympic Quality.)
I’m 100% on board with the idea of NASCAR allowing the drivers to police themselves when it comes to aggressive driving and bumpdrafting at Daytona. After all, it’s a long season, and there will be plenty of races left for the wronged to pay back any harm they felt was inflicted. The Daytona 500 may be the Big Daddy, but they all pay the same amount of points, right? Remember, this is stock car racing – not lawn tennis. Now, about that yellow line rule…
We’ll have to see how reliable they are, but those new Ford engines looked good in qualifying and the first segment of the Shootout. And thankfully, no Toyota NASCAR entries had to be recalled due to stuck throttle pedals – although it looks like Kyle Busch has a stand back excuse for the carnage you just know he’s going to produce this season…
Is there anything more boring than watching qualifying for a plate track with entrants taking more than a lap to get up to speed? My friend Andrew and I spent the morning coming up with a new acronym for the term NASCAR: Non-Addictive Sleep Causation Amidst Racing. (Get well soon, Adam!)
As long as Michael Waltrip is still out there racing, even part-time, we don’t have to worry about any races being run caution free. It’s odd to see Waltrip in the No. 51 rather than the No. 55 car, though (and without a hapless motorcyclist crushed under his front end). I’d suggest a change to No. 52… as in, Waltrip has managed to score wins in .0052 of his career Cup starts.
What in blazes happened at Daytona Saturday afternoon in the ARCA race? It was as if the majority of the field had taken leave of their senses. Danica Patrick’s much-hyped and scrutinized debut wound up with a sixth place finish in a stock car – or, if you prefer, sixth survivor.
Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon and their respective spouses are both expecting new additions to their families this year. Something tells me this isn’t a coincidence, just Rick Hendrick paying heavy bonuses to make sure his domination of the sport continues into the next generation. Mark Martin might want to renew his Viagra sponsorship if he hopes to meet team orders…
I hear Dale Earnhardt, Jr. is planning to open a new Whisky River Saloon/Eatery in Florida. Great. That’s just what he needs – another distraction from his day job.
With Super Bowl ad buys having become so expensive in an uncertain economy, it seems some big players decided to run some well done ads during the Shootout instead. NASCAR’s new tagline seems to be, “I Believe In NASCAR.” Cool. But I believe in the Tooth Fairy, too, and I’m not counting on those quarters to pay for my dentures down the road. As for the local affiliate ad buys, things weren’t quite as adventuresome. It was the usual mix of ambulance chasers, commemorative coin dealers, fortune tellers, and fitness fairies. Hey, I do race commentary, not advertising. If the “I Believe In NASCAR” thing works (which I believe it decidedly will not) so be it until they start burning heretics like me at the stake.
Wow, it sure was great to get reintroduced to our cartoon pal Little Digger and to hear Darrell Waltrip spit the gruel out of the old age home’s menu long enough to chant, “Boogity, boogity, boogity” again, wasn’t it? No, in fact, it was not. It was like having a root canal without an anesthetic.
The Hindenburg Award For Foul Fortune
In retrospect, not stopping for fresh rubber with six laps to go was a credible option for Greg Biffle, but an apparent flat tire and the subsequent wreck ended his Saturday night on a down note. In fact, it was an awful evening for the Jack Roush entries that showed such strength early in the event – only to have that late-race wreck decimate the herd. Biffle, Edwards, and Kenseth ended up 15th, 16th, and 17th, respectively.
Speaking of which, Carl Edwards looked untouchable early, leading a race-high 42 laps, but got shuffled out at the wrong time before getting swept up in that crash.
Kurt Busch showed some promise early in the event, but wound up with a wild slide through the grass, his hood bending back across the windshield of the No. 2 car and a hard hit in the outside wall. To top it all off, he had to suffer the indignity of racing a car with yellow wheels, so the big wreck was possibly karmic payback. Read my lips: Unless it’s a drag race, the natural order of things is for race cars to have black wheels. And this whole experiment with using dried elephant dung rather than steel for hood pins to save weight? I’d circular file that one.
Tony Stewart hit the wall while wrestling for the lead. Ninth place still pays pretty good, but it’s not going to keep His Obesity in Whoppers for the season.
For detractors of four-time champ Jimmie Johnson (and I have heard from a record number of you this offseason, which confuses me… no, he’s not the most colorful guy in the world, but I’m fairly certain he’s not the Anti-Christ either – even if he won’t throw his wife a Twinkie) a thirteenth place finish might be the first sign he has feet of clay. Let me remind you, though, Johnson doesn’t start racing until the final ten weeks of the season. Hate Brian France for that, not Jimmie, even if the only other people birth-named James who spell their first name “Jimmie” are gay bartenders in Malibu.
The “Seven Come Fore Eleven” Award For Fine Fortune
Kevin Harvick was at home earlier in the week with the flu. He rebounded quite nicely with a win in the Shootout, which ought to pay for a few doses of Tamiflu.
Kasey Kahne wound up second in his new Ford. The fact Harvick and Kahne, both of whom are rumored to be in their last seasons with their respective teams (which were admittedly in disarray in 2009), took first and second place in the Shootout may be the first shuffle in the Silly Season debate of 2010 – both had been looking at taking a third seat at Stewart-Haas Racing for 2011.
All three of the Joe Gibbs entries finished in the top 10. I guess those new gas pedals are working.
What’s the Points? No points are awarded for the Shootout. Drivers don’t start sweating top 10 points finishes rather than wins until next week.
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 shock some people and give this one a solid four cans. It beat shaking a fist at the window railing against the blizzard.
Next Up: The new qualifying rules have largely stripped the Twin 125s of their importance, but they still tend to be rather dramatic. Of course, by Thursday I fully expect my frozen bones to have been gnawed clean by Wooly Mammoths. Hey, Vice President Gore, we need to have a talk about this whole Global Warming Crisis…
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Tough luck for the 99 bunch. Those new Ford engines looked stout. Let’s see what they do at the 1.5’s. Harvick is one lucky dude.
Boogity Boogity Boogity, Dancing with the Cars and the comment about the “Little Sick Man Winning”? I bet ‘Ol DW spent all winter coming up with the Dancing with the Cars bit, and he grated on my nerves like fingernails on a chalk board.
Hell, I forgot the clash was on until into the second segment, and it made me happy to think of all the folksy DWisms I missed.
How about the job Kurt Bushes splitter did scooping up the Daytona sod? That would make a great Digger cartoon; He pops out of his hole just in time for his cute little head to be sliced off, goggles flying and blood spurting in slow motion as the crowd goes wild. I can dream, can’t I.
Matt, I think the off season is sorta like closing time at the bar where all the girls start to look better. Having no racing, even bad racing, for a couple months makes anything seem a little better. I give you 3 races, no make it the second race which should still be at The Rock, to come back to your senses and give ratings of 2 or 3 cans of warm mule spit pale golden 64 calorie 2.4 carb light watered down near beer.
I’ll take listening to ol’ DW over LarryMac anyday. Quit making Hammond act like a FOOL and put him in the booth, He done more in Nascar then LarryMac could even dream of.
1) Did anyone notice how AWFUL Danica is at speaking in public? In fact, almost all NASCAR drivers are horrible in front of cameras. Funny how people say that real talent drivers are shafted from quality rides for “corporate clones”. Yet, Danica can’t give a quality interview, Jimmie Johnson is reportedly “bland and vanilla” (not exactly a recipe for a great spokesman?) and Dale Jr. can barely FREAKING TALK.
No , just get rid of the entire on-air bunch from FOX and start over with people who care about the racing , not about re-living their own greatest racing moments or repeating the same tied racing 101 over and over and over .
I guess Dale Jr. is going for a new sponsorship as the Brawny Man? Just in case the Amp thing doesn’t work out.
Well, the first race tells me not much has changed!! Some of the writers are already following the nascrp line, that all is well, the less learned fans are believing it, johnson and gordon got laid during the off season, nascrap is biting its lip as “the wrong guy” won!! Don’t believe Jack Roush, as he has a vested interest is drawing fans so he will lie right along with brain france! God I love this stuff!!
g/w/c on a plate track is instant wrecker heyday. i knew that was going to happen. and of course, jr benefited from it, his finishing spot improved. doesn’t mean he ran that well. to me it still looked that on long runs whomever was out front took off. maybe carl is practicing for his drive to the hosptial next week for the birth of his daughter.
kind of speaks about the economy when cars that could have been in the race didn’t try cause of sponsorship issues. by the way…derrick cope?! and kenny schrader?! they were really stretching the “rules” to qualify to compete in this race. surprised they didn’t give a call out to harry gantt or bobby allison to come race in the shootout.
Jack Roush has a vested interest in his product and wants it to be the best it possibly can. From his comments he feels that the racing is top-notch, but the media shines a negative light on it.
I hate a G/W/C on a plate track…it takes them over a lap to even get up to speed….good to have matt to read on Mondays….I agree with badwolf…the beer count will go down as the season goes on. I only thought it was about a 2
give jack a few months of racing and see how “top notch” he thinks the product is.
If I NEVER hear “Danica” again, I would be perfectly happy. The commentators covering the ARCA race should all be fired. All they could do was talk “Danica”.
High point of the ARCA race was the in-car camera on Danica when she started off into the grass . Not only did she do exactly the right things , the impressive part was her shifting into neutral so she wouldn’t flood or damage the engine . Ever wonder why drivers spin and then can’t get the engine restarted ? Because they don’t remember to push in the clutch or take it out of gear when they start to spin . . Her hand went from the wheel to the shifter and back to the wheel so fast , i had to watch the replays to make sure i saw what i thought i saw . That lady is a racer .
Message to Jack Roush:
Just because the cars are safer, the competition is closer, and there are a lot of lead changes doesn’t mean the racing is better.
You only have a few racing organizations that dominate the sport. Everyone is more concerned about finishing in the top ten than they are about winning. Aero push is a major issue in the inability to pass. A majority of the lead changes occur during green-flag pit stops.
This is a recipie for a parade, not a race.
Message to Mike:
Which decade of NASCAR has NOT been dominated by a few teams/cars?
The old points system was a testimate to “outlasting” your opponet with top 10s. In the chase you have to WIN to STAY IN.
Inability to pass does not add up to record number of lead changes and quality passes. Look at the facts.
I’d give the shootout about 4 cans too. Maybe it’s because the crappy racing of late has me thinking anything slightly more competive than a funeral procession is exciting, I dunno.
DW said that the rear end of brother Mikey’s car seemed to “snap around all by itself.” Well that explains everything… it’s not that Mikey can’t drive a racecar, it’s just that he’s driving a car possessed by a suicidal poltergeist. I knew there had to be a logical reason for all those wrecks.
Matt said: even if he won’t throw his wife a Twinkie)
Considering she’s pregnant, I’d say Jimmie has thrown his wife several twinkies. LOL
DW is great when he’s commenting on the history of the sport. But when he starts talking about himself, he’s a bore.
VABlueGrass, about your point #3, you are exactly right. Its not that NASCAR fans hate the Chase, its that they hate CHANGE, of any kind. We’re all traditionalists, and we dont like things being messed with.
“How about the job Kurt Bushes splitter did scooping up the Daytona sod? That would make a great Digger cartoon; He pops out of his hole just in time for his cute little head to be sliced off, goggles flying and blood spurting in slow motion as the crowd goes wild. I can dream, can’t I.”
Gawd, that’s funny. Thank you, sir.
Love Bad Wolf’s Digger dream.
Having watched some of the ESPN Classic races over the winter where there was one camera covering the action on the track, one in the pit, one pit reporter, and two commentators who actually did race commentary about what was happening on the track, having to hear the normal pablum ad naseum coming out of the mouths of DW and Larry Mac just proved once again that the first part of the season will be as painful as a root canal done by a pack of demented rabid chimpanzees with a pry bar, and a jackhammer. The only plus was a lot of the cheerleading got cut short by the lack of performance from a lot of DW’s pets. It’s going to be a very long season. One can of stale drool from a mule without teeth chewing tobacco and not spitting is about as high a rating as I can muster.
2010 season begins with what?
Junior complaining of a loose race car that he can’t drive.
He was never in the game all night long….
I know that there are a lot of smart folks trying to get him on the right track, but it is looking like the same old result…
I’m thinking that as soon as they get that spoiler back on there, Junior will instantly do better – I think he can’t handle the wing, period.
You need to run a poll on Bad Wolf’s solution for Digger. It would be unanimous! I can never decide which is worse; Larry Mac, D.W. or Digger. All three are an insult to NASCAR & the long-time fans. The newbies just do not get it.
Henry, you are 100% correct, what FOX gives us is a huge insult to us longtime fans and NASCAR, unless you listen to that guy Daly Planet who has to be on the FOX payroll. Meyers and Hammond were also at their worst, and DW, Larry. much worse than a root canal!
i can’t believe it’s been 3 days now and no one has said anything about how jeff gordan wrecked half the field?! if that would have been dale jr every damn article would have been about how bad a driver he was! gordan’s excuse was exactly how he wrecked biffle but no apology, no taking the blame, no nothing but i was going for the win. he knew bif had worn out tires and he still bumbdrafted him into the corner. i know nascar said they are going to let the drivers police them selves so i guess that makes jeff the top cop!!! since he was going for the win it was ok to wreck everybody. and shame on all of you reporters who saw the same thing we all saw but are too afraid to say anything about it.
Mark, what Danica did by shifting into nuetral had nothing to do with worry about flooding the engine, but everything to do with years of experience spinning in open wheel where if you kill the engine you get a tow into the pits to be started by an external starter.
Argee with Max. Also expect Gordo to do better when the wings come off too.
Hate to sound old-school, but when we finally get announcers who understand the broadcast is about THE RACE and not about them, the races will be more enjoyable to watch.
In slight defense of FOX – when I first came to NASCAR I enjoyed the FOX broadcasts and found their segments on drafting, wedge, tire camber, pits, and pit stretegy enlightening and actually deepend my interest in NASCAR. Seeing the same things over and over again are boring – but you never know when a new fan – like I was will be watching.
I have never enjoyed Digger. My friends and I made it into a drinking game “drink when you see “Digger” – I don’t reccomend it if you have to work on Monday.
The best thing about Danica was the in car showing here pouting and “looking at her watch” under the Red Flag. If she could have gotten out and stomped around the car, I’m sure she would have felt much better. A preview of things to come. Kyle Busch should have proposed to her. On that note, did anyone expect that little Gold Digger to say no? Money can make you “love” anyone, even if they do look like Mr. Potatoe Head.
I’m already tired of pull them belts tight one more time Boogity Boogity Boogity lets go racing boys. It is so old it is pitiful.
It’s a race! Quit ending them under caution.
I really would have expected MATT to mention Gordon’s wreck, because it seemed to me to be the most blatant plate wreck since Junior/Vickers in last year’s 500. I noticed last year how DW was all over Junior but this year apparently he’s been told not to criticize any fan favorite.
“In the chase you have to WIN to STAY IN.”
Um, no. The chase system has the same points base as the Cup points system from 1975-2003, with a nominal bonus for winning. It’s simply about being consistent over 10 races instead of being consistent over 36. The first three chase champions won a combined two races in the chase, while others won more races than they did each season.