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 February 15, 2010
The Key Moment: Greg Biffle gave his friend and former teammate Jamie McMurray a vital push down the backstretch on the final lap to propel the No. 1 car to the win.
In a Nutshell: Daytona International: Putting the “Car” back in “Carnage.”
Dramatic Moment: Kevin Harvick’s take no prisoners move to the inside on the restart following the eighth caution wasn’t pretty, but it was effective. Dale Earnhardt, Jr.’s headlong charge from tenth to second on the final lap had the fans on their feet.
What They’ll Be Talking About Around the Water Cooler This Week
If the Daytona 500 is indeed the “Super Bowl” of racing, as some term it, having the field of play come apart in the middle of the race is completely unacceptable. So the folks that own it might be ready to repave it in 2012 after a mere 34 years? They could have saved themselves some egg on the face and done it after last year’s Firecracker 400.
Wasn’t it Jeff Gordon who ran crying to NASCAR saying they needed to clamp down on bump drafting? It occurs to me he wrecked Greg Biffle out on the final lap of the Shootout, then wiped out Kasey Kahne on one of the many final restarts of the 500. But in an ugly case of what goes around, comes around, it was Gordon who wound up wrecked on the race’s final lap.
Bigger restrictor plates? Somewhere up there, Dale Earnhardt the Original is flashing that infamous grin. Now, if they’ll just fix the tracks and get rid of the plates altogether, they might really be onto something. It was telling that all three networks covering Speedweeks continuously showed the “pre-restricted” finishes of the 1976 and 1979 500s as the best ever.
Maybe there is hope for NASCAR on FOX after all? The opening round of the season was notably lighter on lame comedy bits and gimmicks (Face it…you were dreading Hammond and Myers in the hot tub for Valentine’s Day again). It was a full 52 minutes before Little Digger made his first appearance, and while the cartoon vermin made an occasional cameo, it was without vocals and uncommented upon by the boys in the booth. There was actually some intelligent discussion of racing early in the broadcast, too – although faced with a couple hours of dead air to fill during the two red flags, things quickly spun back out of control.
To be fair, since I harped on it last season it did seem like the crowd for all the events during Speedweeks was bigger than last year’s. My guess is that was in large part due to the Hellish Apocalyptic winter those of us here in the Northeast are enduring. Florida might not have been the tropical respite that some fans were hoping for, but at least you don’t have to shovel rain. (Ironically, the Winter Olympics are being hampered by a lack of snow. Vancouver, if you need snow, send the dump trucks and skid steers here. The only grass I’ve seen this month was being smoked in a buddy’s basement.)
In another nod to the fans’ wishes in the aftermath of the Bud Shootout, NASCAR quickly adopted a new rule wherein there will be three attempts at a green-white-checkered finish to have races finish under green. Hoo-ray! Nice job, NASCAR – although I’m not sure they should be using the rules at Daytona or Talladega. Given the nature of restrictor plate races, it would seem that’s a prescription for six hour marathons that end when the last two drivers running wreck each other out short of the start/finish line. But let’s give credit where credit is due. Now the next step, if NASCAR officials really want to convince fans gone AWOL that they’re serious about drawing them home, is to return the Southern 500 to Labor Day weekend at Darlington…
Isn’t it interesting that the head FOX honcho recently said that he’s optimistic about good TV ratings given the new standardized start times? David Hill was once the chief architect of the later starts that put race finishes into primetime, a change he tried forcing down the throats of race fans only to end up with a steaming pile of vomit all over his shoes.
It’s Danica Patrick’s world; you just live here. Honestly, I’ve never seen so much attention devoted to a Nationwide driver who was running 30 somethingth. But as ESPN’s coverage persisted, it had to be a horror show to the rest of the sponsors and drivers looking for their fair share of Joyce Julius mentions. In fact, I’d recommend to any up-and-coming driver they might want to consider growing their hair out, a gender change operation, and breast implants to appear on screen from here on out. The fact ESPN’s Bottom Line ticker noted only Ms. Patrick’s misfortunes and not Dale Earnhardt, Jr. (who used to be pretty popular himself) ending on his roof – or the eventual race winner – was an Alice in Wonderland moment for true race fans. Now, don’t get me wrong; Patrick did well for a rookie during Speedweeks. I’m all for inclusiveness of talented drivers regardless of their gender, race, creed, or country of origin. But it seems that all the attention directed Danica’s way was a form of reverse discrimination for other rookie drivers looking to make a name for themselves. In the wake of last year’s “Batgirl” brouhaha, perhaps I should be more circumspect but, gentle readers, when you opened this column you just knew when it comes to this rodeo, it’s Bull Out of the Chute time. Frankly, absent the makeup consultants and hairstylists, on race day itself, I find Ms. Patrick, well … um… unremarkable. The fact she needs GoDaddy, the leading purveyor of internet soft-core porn, to be able to race speaks volumes…
I couldn’t help but wonder how the other drivers involved in the wreck that ended Patrick’s day on Saturday felt about the network’s apparent lack of concern for their safety or misfortune. When we last saw the No. 16 car, it was going up in flames. Where was the fire crew… standing in line to get Danica’s autograph? Did the car eventually burn to the ground, or did they get it put out?
It was a bit odd to see all the pre and post-race coverage with Jimmy Spencer missing in action. As I have cause to know, NASCAR can be pretty harsh in crushing voices of dissent; so Mr. Spencer, should you need an in, I’m pretty well connected. If you need a job, I can always gain you entrance to the Citizens Journalists Corps and teach you the secret handshake so you don’t look foolish at our First Annual Spring Gala. Mr. Weber, sorry; there’s no fixing stupid.
I’ve always said “there’s no crying in car racing,” but I’ll give McMurray a pass on his Victory Lane interview. After all, I know what it’s like to be on the outside looking in with no place in the circus a couple months before the season starts, even if I am just a clown. Speaking of which, does anyone know where RacingOne disappeared to during the offseason? To paraphrase Bruce Springsteen, I’m still here, they’re all gone…
Jezum Crowe, there’s no arguing that Daytona now has the nicest flagstand on the circuit, replete with an elevator to carry race officials to its summit. After Krista Voda waxed eloquently about this massive edifice during the Truck race, I think perhaps it’s time to add the flag-tower as an eighth Wonder of the World. But it would have been nice if Daytona spent a few bucks eliminating some of the bumps on the track instead, or seeing to it the double yellow lines that now mark “out of bounds” ran parallel to one another. Wouldn’t your average county road crew been fired and charged with fraud if they’d lined a road that badly? And given their new lofty perch, you’d have thought the Nationwide officials could have seen the safety truck blocking the pit road entrance right in front of them before opening the pits. My old buddy Bob Weir used to sing a song about monkeys, trains, and tragedy narrowly averted. (And speaking of the Dead, what was the deal with using Alabama Getaway as a segue to commercials for a race held in Florida?)
Fans of Matt Kenseth can be forgiven for panicking watching the yellow No. 17 Ford being pushed to the garage area while the cars were warming up on pit road prior to the race. Fortunately for them, that was last year’s winning 500 car being retired from the Daytona museum to make way for this year’s winner. For those who didn’t buy a program, this year Kenseth is driving the purple-blue Crown Royal car.
Yeah, I’m a nasty, cynical, bad-tempered old SOB who has been following the sport for over four decades, but I still get a little choked up listening to the National Anthem and watching the flyover prior to the Daytona 500.
It was hard not to crack up when Todd Bodine ended up the central figure in the “Just For Men” hair-coloring promo during the Truck race.
Maybe I’m just too sensitive (and long-term readers know I’m the shrinking violet type), but even almost a decade later I’m not comfortable seeing a black and silver number 3 RCR race vehicle out there on the track.
Denny Hamlin’s season is off to a poor start due to an injury playing basketball. Jimmie Johnson got hurt playing golf. Carl Edwards got hurt playing Frisbee. Any more questions about if today’s drivers are as tough as guys like Junior Johnson and Cale Yarborough?
In the interest of historical accuracy, Richard Petty did not win the 1969 Riverside season opener in a Ford Torino Talladega. The car was a regular Torino. Ironically, the Torino Talladega debuted at Daytona, while the Dodge Charger Daytona debuted at Talladega back in 1969.
The Hindenburg Award For Foul Fortune
Uber-aggressive Brad Kesolowski was vocal in stating he didn’t care if he ticked off other drivers. He wasn’t at Daytona to win friends. Apparently, he wasn’t there to win the race, either. Keselowski earned the dubious honor of triggering the first wreck of the 2010 Daytona 500 when he lost a right rear tire.
Kasey Kahne had a fast car, as evidenced by his winning his qualifying race, but he fell back through the field late and into the clutches of whatever demons have possessed the driver of the No. 24 car.
Axle issues thwarted any attempt by Jimmie Johnson to get his title defense off to a fast start.
A.J. Allmendinger clearly had a fast car, and he was up on the wheel, but problems in the pits and a spin later in the race ended his chances.
Elliott Sadler, with that new Ford engine under the hood, ran strong most of the day, but wound up 24th in the final rundown after overheating.
The “Seven Come Fore Eleven” Award For Fine Fortune
Months before the season began, Jamie McMurray was still out a ride after NASCAR rules forced Jack Roush to eliminate one of his teams and McMurray was selected as odd man out. My guess is that that Bass Pro Shops’ reluctance to have him as their driver is now officially at an end.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr.’s motivation and determination to win have been questioned in many quarters, by this writer included, but it sure did look like he wanted to win the 500 on the last lap.
David Reutimann is going to be a lot more popular with a large faction of race fans for pushing Junior to a second place finish.
After a disastrous 2009 Cup campaign, Richard Childress had to have left Daytona grinning after watching two of his drivers lead laps and all three of his entries posting top 11 finishes.
What’s the Points?
Oddly enough, the points pretty much mirror the finish of the Daytona 500. Can we not get our shorts all in a wad about points until at least springtime? After all, eventual champion Jimmie Johnson left Daytona 31st in the points last year.
Kevin Harvick finished seventh, but is actually fifth in the standings thanks to the ten-point bonus for leading the most laps. Reutimann and Martin Truex, Jr. are tied for sixth behind Harvick.
If they were to lock the top 12 in points into the Chase right now… it would spare us from having to go to Fontana 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) – We’ll give this one four icy cold Coronas, and it might have been five if the track hadn’t fell apart. It seems these drivers are actually able to police themselves pretty nicely. (For the record, I award the Twin 150s a six pack apiece.)
Next Up: After all the PT Barnum hype of the Daytona 500, the actual race season kicks off next weekend in Fontana. Perhaps not surprisingly, good seats remain available… in blocks of 500, if you wish to bring along a lot of friends. Color me surprised.
©2000 - 2008 Matt McLaughlin and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
Here is a suggestion for next weekend while the Sprint Cup takes a week off, if you have not caught the Furthur tour yet please try too. Listened to the show last night from Ithaca on Sirius and it really is something special. I am catching it in Manchester, NH this thursday night. Very Jerrylike.. The most since he took his enternal nap.
Why are you surprised about the Danica hype? During the offseason it was all “will she or won’t she.” It seems to me she is the Sarah Palin of racing except Danica actually has a resume with some substance. Maybe the other rookies should have been given some airtime, but the fact of the matter is Danica was the story. The F1 dude might have been the story if the NASCAR audience was mostly European, but we’re mostly a bunch of horny white dudes.
My vote for the most hype is Denny Hamlin. I think the dude is more overrated than Dale Jr. He’s also a whole lot less likable than his teammate Kyle. His diatribes against Kesolowski may not be without merit, but Kesolowski’s record isn’t that far off from Hamlin’s. My guess is by the end of 2011, Kesolowski will have surpassed Hamlin in Sprint Cup victories. He may have already surpassed Hamlin in NASCAR victories. I think Hamlin’s biggest problem with Kesolowski is fear.
Also, I’m glad Jimmy Spencer was replaced by Kyle Petty. Spencer didn’t get fired and is still on the air, plus Petty is pretty vocal about the problems with NASCAR, too. The difference in Petty and Spencer is Petty is actually articulate whereas Spencer mostly sounds like a dumb*#%. I understand why Kenny Wallace is on the show, but how much longer until he gets bumped by Michael Waltrip?
Finally, I always hear the drivers saying they want to go where Junior goes, and watching Reutimann push him through the field was pretty cool. One thing to note is the top two Toyotas were Waltrip’s cars (where was JGR?).
Matt is right on about the Danica-hype. Ugh! Enough is enough. It was almost as bad as ESPN2’s constant barrage of Ashley Force coverage on the NHRA broadcasts. Almost.
My Mom has been a Nascar fan for as long as I remember (if you said something bad about Richard Petty you might get cold grits for breaksfast the next morning); now all she talks about is Danica. “When does Danica race?”… “How did Danica qualify?”… Danica Danica Danica. Of course, Mom loves Darrel Waltrip too, but I digress. The point is, the hype is working. People are interested in Danica, and that’s good for the sport, whether you like her, dislike her, or, like me, could care less. (Sorry, Mom.)
Kudos to McMurray. While he got some help from Biffle, Jamie still had to dig for this one, and there’s no doubt he earned the win. It’s your party, Jamie… cry if you want to.
Jack… you might also enjoy the Wanee Festival in April. ABB, Johnny Winter, Bob Weir, Bill Kreutzmann, and many many more. Google Wanee.
I don’t mind the Danica show. I began following NA$CAR because a local Yankee was in it.
Now I am hooked with several trips to 5 different tracks under my belt. 7 season tickets to 2 races a year at my local track. I can attest to the positive side of generating interest to new fans.
I hope she does well. I think it would only help the sport.
I do think her spotter needs to be replaced. He told her nothing other than the wrecked cars were “up against the wall”.
In blinding smoke like that the race is in the spotters hands.
But for the Highway Department Road Crew the race was pretty good compared to what “shows” they have put on before.
Nice to see some other drivers up front mixing it up for a change than just the usual suspects.
I can understand J Mac losing it. Imagine how it must feel when you dedicate everything to a job you know you can do and it is suddenly gone with no apparent hope for a ride to then win the Daytona 500.
Did anyone else catch Mike & Mike in the morning where the guy subbing for Greeny said the media must not have done their job well enough because too many people were wondering why Danica wasn’t racing Sunday…
I disagree Matt , i think Danica is remarkable . She did a great job . Now as for the media blizzard about her , the media barely knows how to spell stock car racing , so the fact that they latched on to her every move isn’t really all that strange . They made Paris Hylton a star . Except of course Hylton has no talents whatsoever , Danica is a pretty good racer . And a great deal of the hype was generated by the Hendrick / Earnhardt Jr. marketing department . They realeased stories about Danica every five minutes from the day she anounced she was going to race . At least they were distracted from the usual media blitz of non-information about Jimmy Johnsons’ every breath .
Stephen HOOD – Denny Hamlin has more talent in his little toe than Kesolowski will ever have.
Time will tell. Personally, I think Keselowski is a diamond in the rough. As for Hamlin, well, I think Steven HOOD is spot-on with his assessment.
At least everyone made it out of there safe and sound, potholes notwithstanding. Unlike in other recent plate races.
As for the GWC rule, there should be unlimited attempts at a GWC, with the following rules:
1) Refueling (but not tire changing) under caution after the scheduled distance should be permitted without losing track position (preventing fuel mileage in such).
2) A red flag during a GWC situation automatically ends the race. However, they can only be thrown if there is rain, darkness, clearly visible damage to track/fencing/walls or an injured driver.
Matt said: The only grass I’ve seen this month was being smoked in a buddy’s basement.)
Well that explains A LOT about your opinions.
Mark said: I disagree Matt , i think Danica is remarkable… They made Paris Hylton a star . Except of course Hylton has no talents whatsoever… usual media blitz of non-information about Jimmy Johnsons’ every breath.
Your opinion is immediately discredited because you cant spell Paris Hilton or Jimmie Johnson’s names right.
Matt said: Perhaps not surprisingly, good seats remain available… in blocks of 500, if you wish to bring along a lot of friends. Color me surprised.
Judging by the commercials for Las Vegas and Atlanta shown during the race, lots of tickets are still available for those races, too. What’s your point?
While I like the new, earlier starting times, did you notice how long they lasted? Already gone! Texas switched from the 1 PM to 3 PM. While I certainly understand the 3 PM for the left coast, no one can justify it for Texas, the Indy 500 was a noon Central start for many years.
Danica was passable but it took JPM 3 years running full-time in Cup to get good. Who thinks that she can do it running part-time in Nationwide? Never happen!
Kevin in SoCal , both names were mis-spelled on purpose .
Except for the pothole fiasco I thought this was a hell of a race. I gave it five beers. That’s the most I’ve given a race in awhile. As far as Danicamania goes, this is typical ESPU. When they decide to create a story, they will ride it for all it’s worth.
Other than the track falling apart I was pleasently suprised by the racing on the track yesterday. I have to give credit to Nascar for the rule changes they put into effect this year, and I hope it is a first step of many to get the racing back the way it should be. I feel vindicated in that all the complaining from us old school fans, along with staying away from the tracks, has had a positive influence on what happened on the track at Daytona. I may just start tuning in to all the races again if they keep changing back the way it should be.
I hope after watching the racing action at Daytona all those who kept bleating for the complainers to just go away and don’t watch think about the changes that we have made happen.
As for Danica, hype is not good for the sport in the long term, but will give a short term boost to ratings. Danica has run 81 open wheel races and only won one in Japan on fuel mileage, while half the regulars did not even show up for that exibition race. I also think Danica looks like Eddie Munster with her hair pulled back and sans make up. The airbrush also gets a good work out on her print ads. I’m not saying she’s not cute in a girl down the street way, but she’s far from a Go Daddy Girl.
Gotta disagree with you about more GWC’s being a good thing, Matt. 1976 and 1979 didn’t have GWC’s, and if they did, they wouldn’t have been the classics they were. They had racing back to the line, which is a much more sensible (and likely no less safe, given the tendency to wreck up more cars if you get 3 GWC’s!) way of ending a race.
Of course, it worked out great for yesterday’s finish… but I don’t trust NASCAR to be impartial with it. Did they hold off the caution on the last lap because the wreck was in the back, or was it because the #88 was coming? Let ‘em race back to the line on the last lap all the time and there’s no way to complain about inconsistency when it rears its ugly head.
Agreed Connick’s singing of the anthem was good stuff – esp combined with fly over. But for the love of Pete, have some respect for the flag and nation for which you are singing, and REMOVE YOUR STINKIN’ HAT. I get it. The Saints won. HCJr is proud of New Orleans. But that doesn’t excuse him from wearing the fleur-de-lis during the anthem.
They should’ve spent the money paving the track instead of building that lame amusement park and “zoo” with the drivers on display. Just another shining example of how concerned the honchos in Daytona are for driver safety.
As to the Danica 300, BSPN stuck with their original script, even after she was out.
I can’t believe you gave them a “pass“on the pothole debacle? You of all people. If there were justics Daytona would have to refund every ticket and every business who bought advertising. Embarrassing and sad.
You might want to watch Jimmy Spencer’s show tonight on SPEED. Also, stuff happens. Didn’t they have to cancel an NFL pre-season game a few years ago between the Iggles and the Ravens because they couldn’t get the carpet fixed at the Vet?
Racing is back, sort of. I will wait untill the spoiler comes out and see if the COT is any better.
No matter how terrible your life was , no matter how bad things are in the world , being forced to listen to Joy , McReynolds , Waltrip , Hammond , and Meyers for over 6 agonizing hours was like being waterboarded . It made you realize just how big a fan of NASCAR you really are . Stick it out by poking needles in your eyes , or finaly breaking down into a sobbing wretch and admitting you just couldn’t stand that big of a dose of the FOX stooges .
Use that remote, son! During the red flags I watched bits from “The Godfather” on one of the other channels. While I was watching Brando, Pacino, Caan, and Duvall in one of the greatest movies of all time, you were watching DW, Larry Mac, and Jeff Hammond trying to fill dead airtime.
So happy to see McMurray take the Daytona 500. There couldn’t be a harder working, more deserving driver in the Cup garage… The guy’s taken nothing but crap ever since he won in Sterling Marlin’s car at Charlotte all those years ago. Firings, piss-poor cars, crappy pit crews, and Roush letting him go despite winning a race, because of NASCAR’s new 4-car rule. To see him jump back to the Ganassi stable, this time as Earnhardt/Ganassi racing, and to fire on all cylinders right out of the gate is really special.
The race itself was a refreshing change from the last, oh, FIVE Daytona 500s… Yes, there was a combined ~2 hour delay to fix the asphalt on the track. But honestly, this has happened at many tracks in the past, in many series (including F1 and CART), and it’s just an unfortunate accident that has to be dealt with. No one’s fault, and nothing to get panties in a bunch over.
No rainout bullshit, no Big One, and plenty of passing, with a record number of leaders, and number of lead changes damn close to the record. I call that a good race. For the longest time it looked pretty certain that Biffle or Harvick would take the win, but on that final restart, Biffle gave McMurray the push he needed to make the breakaway.
And how about Earnhardt Jr.? Shades of his old man there, from 11th to 2nd in one lap—had he had one more lap, he probably would’ve taken McMurray on the outside and won the thing. He’s gotta be happy starting the season off on the right foot.
Then again—what happens in Daytona often stays in Daytona, and is rarely a sign of things to come. I think McMurray and Jr. are hoping it is, though.
I might be fairly new to the sport of nascar… but I don’t understand why they wont let my girl Danica race in the Cup series. It seems to me that she would dominate almost every race and the ratings would be through the roof. Instead I end up losing 10 bucks in a bet because a no-name like McMurray pulls a win out of his you-know-what.
Matt, I’m like you about the patriotic part of the prerace show. The most impressive part was when the camera was on John Andreti and family at one of the 150 races. He and his wife had their hand over their heart and their son was giving a boy scout salute. It made me swell with pride. Many of the drivers and crew did not honor that tradition We all should show our respect to the flag when the National Anthem is being sung. If Obama and the ACLU have their way that too may be a lost tradition. Ray Connif did an excellent job and I think he should sing at all the races.
Michael, Mute the sound on Fox and listen to MRN instead. Thats what I do and it make the races much better.
Matt, if you can’t fix stupid, why would you offer to help Jimmy Spencer? I actually watched an entire RaceDay for the first time; in previous seasons I’d have to change the channel once I hit my quota of Spencer Stupid. And none of the other race fans I watch with missed him at all; we openly rejoiced over his being replaced by Kyle Petty.
Matt, I finally got off my rear and registered. Have read you for years and love your take on the sport. I look forward to more of your opinions in the future. And yes, I have opinions too and will express them as the year moves along. Good write up for Daytona.
C’mon, can you really see Junior Johnson or Cale Yarborough playing golf, basketball, or frisbee? I didn’t think so.
Yeah, I began hitting my head on the keyboard when Danica came up during the first pavement delay, but y’know, I can’t argue when I hear people who never watch asking me when they might be able to watch her race – after all, haven’t we been saying we want Nationwide to get some more attention? Getting eyeballs to the races will hopefully result in some of the Danica fans learning to like racing in general and watching. And before someone gigs me about depending on a single racer for eyeballs – hello, Junior fans, anyone?
Oddball thought of the day – MWR finished 5th and 6th. Gibbs cars were farther back. Could this be the first hint that Gibbs’ Toyota dominance is over?
I wasn’t surprised by the “All-Danica 300” and honestly think the girl can drive..not as good as some people seem to think she can but still I think she handled herself well, especially during her slide through the infield. I was a bit jerked that Ali was barely mentioned while she ran_ahead of Danica for most of the race. Anyway, while I can see why people get bothered by just hearing about one driver for the whole race I just have to ask what racing have you been watching for the last so many years? C’mon, think back gang..from the late nineties it was Jeff Gordon we heard about for most of the race, then we heard about Dale Jr/Jimmie Johnson/Kyle Busch(Fill in the name of anyone in the Chase here). This goes for whether they were running in the Busch/Nationwide series or the Winston/Sprint series. Only a few guys/gal ever get any attention. NASCAR/Race Broadcasters could have helped the ARCA and Nationwide series by covering other drivers/aspects of the races that Danica was in to viewers that are new to those series. Sure, we know that they came to see how Danica is doing but use that to educate and draw in new fans. Too many times in the last 10 years I’ve seen a few drivers turned into “the” storyline of every race. Let the race happen and cover the whole race..the storylines will be there.
My wife and I have been addicted to NASCAR for several years. After last year when Keselowski Left Earnhardt Jr for Penske, it seemed to us like he had a chip on his shoulder towards Earnhardt and Hendricks. After watching his comments and stating he was clearly going to rough it up and he did not care about friends on the track all off season and even up to this weekend, it really seemed to us that he though he alone would bring back the old racing fans and days too and even said so. We were shocked, so I bet my wife 2 things. The first was that Keselowski would wreck Earnhardt in the 300, I have watched the Edward’s Keselowski moving before Keselowski wrecked Earnhardt but it did not happen, there was no contact with Edward’s and also Keselowski would be the first wreck in the 500. Even I would not have guessed he would take out 2/3 of the Penske team immediately Both happened so am I right or Lucky.
One—All the Danica hype has been brought on by the media, not by her. Those who don’t like it should complain about the media, not her.
Two—The #3 is just a number, nothing more. DE is dead. It’s a shame, but it’s a fact. Get over it.
Danica hype – the talking heads drive the average ‘real’ race fan crazy. However, with the state of NA$CAR heading into this season, it needed all the help it can get. I wish Danica all the best – just hope the announcers will give the sponsers of the other cars their fair share of coverage.
Matt mentioned that it appeared the crowd was up for all the events this year. Concerning the 500, they had a sell out. How many realized that the speedway removed 12,000 seats since last year’s race. Great way to ensure a sellout – remove your empty seats from last year’s show (plus a few thousand).
Track problem – while I found the wait very fustrating (& cold) I don’t recall a stoppage in the racing for the track breaking up during my last 30 years of attending the 500. Accordingly, I am willing to give the track a bye on this one.