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 22, 2010
The Key Moment: Kevin Harvick reeled in and ran down race leader Jimmie Johnson but slapped the wall with three laps to go, breaking his momentum and handing the victory to the No. 48.
In a Nutshell: Foul weather in the area and uncertainty as to whether the race would run its full distance ignited something fans have never seen during a Cup event at Fontana before … real racing.
Dramatic Moment: The final twenty laps of the race featured some intense racing within the top 10. A nod also has to go out to the rear tire changer for the No. 1 team, Adam Mosher, for his leap over the hood of the No. 29 exiting the pits.
What They’ll Be Talking About Around the Water Cooler This Week
Fans were treated to two memorable finishes at Fontana this weekend, but let’s put things in context. On Saturday, Joey Logano completely dominated the Nationwide race until the last lap of a green/white/checkered finish, when Greg Biffle bumped him aside. Johnson also seemed to have matters in hand for most of Sunday’s Cup event before looming storm clouds off the back straight amped up the rest of the field.
Despite Sunday’s finish, I’m still convinced that the races at Fontana need to be cut back to 400, if not 300 miles – and the track still attracts a crowd that could be described as “a bit sparse.” Official estimates seem to indicate that the grandstands were half empty for the event – or, as my dear friend KevinInSoCal will term it – they were half full.
Wow, ratings were down sixteen percent for the Daytona 500. This was supposed to be the year that NASCAR turned around declining TV ratings, but I guess along the path there’s going to be a few bumps… or potholes… in the road.
After several less than successful attempts at fixing the potholes at Daytona, what was the high-tech solution that allowed the race to at least continue? Bondo. You’re kidding me, right? Bondo may be the third eldest element in the universe behind dirt and rust. Rust was, of course, the nemesis that caused Bondo to be created, as all of us car guys have used that quick curing pink stuff to patch holes in our rides that’ll last long enough to pass state inspection. Some guys were artisans with it while others, generally derided as Bondo Barbarians, slathered the stuff on rusted sheet metal several inches thick to avoid costly repairs or to hide sheet metal sinfulness under a new coat of paint for resale. But in this new century, if the most “high tech” weapon NASCAR has for combating crumbling tracks is Bondo, I’d suggest they also use the old school method for putting butts in the seats… Cheap Beer. As countless untalented bar bands can attest, nothing packs a roadhouse like cheap beer…
Danica-Mania, Part Deux: Ms. Patrick charged to an electrifying 31st place finish Saturday, a mere three laps from competing for the race win. At least she looked quite pretty in doing so as, after all, next to actually succeeding we all want to look good in failure. Ms. Patrick has been entrusted with a solemn duty of putting paying butts in the seats, and at California she succeeded notably. If the crowd for last year’s Fontana Nationwide race was humiliatingly small, this year it was merely pitiful. Patrick will run just one more time in NASCAR, next week at Vegas, before returning to her day job in IndyCar for several months. What happens then? My guess is the Nationwide series announcers will be rendered mute by her departure, since they seem to talk about little else other than “Herself.” Maybe it’s time to roll out those Mustangs and Challengers a bit early?
Superstition is apparently still rampant in NASCAR racing. At Fontana, there is no pit stall “13” but instead pit stall 12A, which was chosen by outside pole sitter Juan Pablo Montoya and his team because that stall had a clear exit path through an entry to the garage area. Joe Weatherly would be proud. Weatherly, a NASCAR champion, was so superstitious about the number 13 that he refused to run in the thirteenth Southern 500 until the promoters billed it as “The 12th Renewal of the Southern 500.” Sadly, Weatherly eventually died in a wreck not far from Fontana at the Riverside road course. Had he won that day, he’d have scored his 26th Grand National win (and 26 is, of course, two times 13.)
Maybe I’m reading too much into something, but in light of the track problems at Daytona last week might NASCAR want to redo their commercial promoting standardized start times that shows the animated track blowing apart? Oh, and for the record, if they’re going to promote one o’clock and three o’clock start times, how about fans that tune in at 1 or 3 see the cars already on the pace laps?
Styx? You’ve got to be frickin’ kidding me. I remember meeting those guys at the record store where I worked during college, and I graduated college three decades ago. I suppose I should be grateful that they haven’t aged any more gracefully than I have. But what’s up with these pre-race concerts? When’s the last time you went to a concert and they used footage of a NASCAR race as a lead in?
Are any of you out there old enough to remember that NASCAR was officially incorporated on this date in 1948? We can mourn what we’ve lost or we can celebrate what we’ve achieved, often at the same time. To put it musically, “It was 62 years today, Bill France taught the band to play, they’ve been going in and out of style, but can still occasionally raise a smile, may I introduce to you, the one and only National Association of Stock Car Auto Racing… What would you do if I sang out of tune, would you stand up and walk out on me…”
The Hindenburg Award For Foul Fortune
While his boy Jamie McMurray engaged in a whirlwind media tour, Daytona 500-winning team owner Chip Ganassi ended up with a rack of broken ribs in a skiing accident Saturday.
Some folks were ready to pronounce Dale Earnhardt, Jr.’s problems behind him after that stunning second place finish in the Daytona 500. But the No. 88 team and Earnhardt returned to mediocre form at Fontana before some sort of problem in the rear of the car finally stuck a fork in their day.
Joey Logano had a career day at Fontana on Saturday until a little brush to the rear bumper, courtesy of his good buddy Greg Biffle, ended his chances at a win. At least a fifth place finish on Sunday had to ease a bit of the sting for the young driver.
Juan Pablo Montoya ran strong early in the Fontana event, but was sidelined by engine failure shortly before the 300-mile mark.
Only two races into the season, it’s a bit too early to hit the “panic” button in earnest, but two consecutive DNFs are obviously not the way Ryan Newman and his team wanted to start their 2010 campaign.
While his engine held together well enough to allow him to finish the race, three-time Fontana Cup winner Jeff Gordon could garner no better than a 20th place result.
The “Seven Come Fore Eleven” Award For Fine Fortune
Jimmie Johnson’s title defense didn’t start out well with a miserable finish in the Daytona 500. But he returned to form at Fontana, exiting the pits ahead of leader Jeff Burton as a caution flag flew for Brad Keselowski’s spin with 25 laps left. That eventually left him on the lead lap and back up front for the final restart once everyone else had to pit.
Clint Bowyer’s car was doing its best imitation of Mount Vesuvius late in the race, blowing water out the overflow, but the engine hung on well enough to allow Bowyer to post a top 10 finish.
Second and third place Kevin Harvick and Jeff Burton both had to overcome pit road speeding penalties earlier in the race to contend for the win. Whoever was handing out the speeding tickets at Fontana this weekend seemed rather trigger happy. Or, maybe, with passing at such a premium out on the track with these new cars, drivers are in fact pushing the limits to the breaking point on pit road.
It was another great weekend for Richard Childress Racing, with all three of Childress’ drivers finishing in the top 8.
It was a pretty good day for Red Bull Racing, as well, with Scott Speed finishing eleventh and Brian Vickers twelfth.
What’s the Points?
Kevin Harvick assumed the points lead by nineteen over teammate Clint Bowyer. But as Harvick himself stated, it’s kind of hard to read too much into that with 34 races left to run.
Greg Biffle’s season is starting out well, and he’s currently third in the standings. Behind him … fame is fleeting, as Daytona 500 winner Jamie McMurray has already slipped to fourth. The Great American Race pays pretty well to win, but it provides no more points than any other race.
Rounding out the top 5 in the championship is Jeff Burton, meaning that all three RCR drivers are currently 5th or better in points. In comparison, at this time in 2009 just one of them was in the top 15.
Further back, Jimmie Johnson’s win propelled him forward 23 positions in the points to twelfth after his disastrous Daytona finish. My guess is he’ll easily maintain that top 12 ranking the rest of the season.
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 give this one three-and-a-half cans of reasonably cold generic stuff… which is, I believe, the highest I’ve ever rated a Fontana event. It took a long time for the race to come to a simmer, but it was cooking quite nicely there at the end.
Next Up: The Western Swing continues with an event at Las Vegas. Is there anyone else here old enough to recall that NASCAR once headed to Rockingham and Richmond after the Daytona 500, gathering momentum for the season rather throwing it away at cookie cutter tracks?
©2000 - 2008 Matt McLaughlin and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
I must have missed something during my traditional mid-Fontana nap. The race was a snoozer, then I was a snoozer, then there was some mildly-decent racing between Childress teammates for second place while Johnson toyed with them in his rear-view mirror. But as they say, you snooze you lose, so maybe the best racing was during my power nap.
Proof that California is the most boring race of the season. Fox Broadcast showed Jeff Gordon slipping his helment on pre-race and he was wearing a Breath-Rite Nasal Strip®. Guess he, like the rest of us, were worried about snoring once the incesant bordom of the middle 300 miles set in.
- The Nationwide finish was quite entertaining though.
I didn’t think the racing was that bad at Fontana – but the coverage is awful. If puts a bad tint on the wonderful action in our sport.
I was watching coverage of the olympics this weekend, and as much as I hate the prime time “human interest stories” they show instead of actual sports, there is some great commentating. While viewing figure skating, I noticed the odd but welcomed silence from the tv announcers. Despite the bald guy (who’s been announcing figure skating since Matt was in diapers – circa 1850) who only makes negative comments. The announcers are typically silent outside of instances of exceptional good or poor. There is no “PULL THOSE LACES TIGHT… ONE MORE TIME!!!!”
Maybe if DW, Larry Mac, and what’s his name would shut up more. We could form our own opinions about how the races play out.
If this race isn’t proof that California Speedway, or whatever it’s called, needs to be removed from the schedule, I don’t know what else needs to be done to get rid of this farce! And I’m not saying that because I absolutely hate seeing the “Sleeze-Team” win. The race was boring right from the start! It will be interesting to see what the TV ratings are. I turned it off when Johnson first took the lead and never turned it back on! So glad I didn’t waste the rest of my afternoon!
Interesting that Fontana keeps 2 races despite having less than 50% attendance, and Rockingham, lost both races because attendance dropped to 75%????
True enough, it took rain to make the racing at Cali any good. It’s amazing how much they raved about them going 4 and 5 wide… Of course they only did that on the restarts, and only because it was double-file.
The finish was exciting enough and all, but really, it was only exciting because EVERYONE ON THE PLANET wanted Harvick to get past Jimmie. But I knew as he drew closer and closer that all Johnson was gonna do was drift up nice and high to block and that would be that.
This track is a joke.
have your days mixed up. danica ran saturday, not sunday, unless the slipped her into a car on sunday.
i fell asleep and lost interest about an hour into the race. i knew by jr’s pre-race interview it was going to be another typical jr day at the track. someone needs to put a firecracker up that man’s butt to get him into racing. i use to think mark martin was a depressing interview, jr’s replaced him.
i did catch the last 25 laps. sure wished harvick wouldn’t have kissed the wall. i can’t stomach a jimmie johnson win. seeing him and knaus, hurl.
by the way, i know todd parrott is loyal to yates, but why on earth could not hendrick gotten a crew chief like parrott to kick jr’s butt into the game of racing?
and man…martha earnhardt selling hellman’s mayo. sigh….and eury sr helping jr sell nationwide insurance. i see jr has figured a way to use photo of sr in nationwide ads this year. guess teresa didn’t object.
lots of tickets on sale for atlanta. maybe they’ll do a good walk up crowd on race day if the weather is nice.
i remember when they went to rockingham and richmond after daytona. they stopped doing that cause of the unpredictable winter weather in the northeast. but hey, we had 3” of snow here in atlanta on 2/13 and it was in the 60’s this past weekend.
thank god for dvr, now i only have to complain about 20 minutes of my life that i’ll never get back instead of a several hours.
It was great to have a champion back in victory lane.
As I said on the other Cali article (summed up here): I didn’t find the race particularly interesting; the TV coverage at the end of the leaders (while the action was behind them) didn’t help.
Regardless of the racing, 1/2 filled stands means it’s time to take Cali out of week 2 and move up the schedule up to the Texas race in April 1 week(LV week 2 would carry the momentum over from Daytona better than the Cali snoozefest too; Atlanta week 3, etc). Put Cali’s 2nd date (or another track) after Texas and before Talladega.
This also gets Cali away from the Vegas race date; in Western terms Vegas is too close to Fontana and offers far more to do to make a weekend out of it than Fontana does.
Glad I watched Olympic curling instead of the race.
The race was better than the last 4 or 5 hosted here. However, you are right they need to shorten these races. And reduce the prices at all races already. You would lose money per person, but make it up with more people. And your product looks more presentable on TV. Easy!
All I have to say about the state of racing. Blah.
I hate to use the “good ole days” thing but, in the good ole days there was a reason to watch. Cars were not all the same and there weren’t so many rules to make everyone “even” like today.
P.S. I really don’t care to see wives and girlfriends in the pits. What is this? ABC indy car racing?
Not only do I remember Styx but I can tell you who did the half time show at the Super Bowl.
‘Cmon, ask me, I’ll tell you Who.
This is just an idea but these tracks that have problems selling all their tix, why not contact local schools and have a program where all “B” students and above and get 2 or 4 free tix. In the larger city’s this could help nascars drive for diversity, but in all city’s this could open racing up to kids(fans) who may otherwise never see a nascar race. And for the most part if they are at the track they will spend MONEY.
Matt, you were more generous in your rating than me. This race was exactly what you call “typical boring Fontana” that I fight so hard to prove isnt the norm. I certainly have to eat crow about it this time. But I disagree on your estimate of 50% attendance though. I havent seen the “official” attendance figures, but the TV shots on Sunday looked about the same as always, 65 to 70,000. Saturday’s crowd was better than last year, that is for sure.
It was 66 degrees in NC yesterday…the group that I was with, all whom have been to Rockingham before, talked what a great day it would have been to watch a race at The Rock!! Instead we got another snoozefest to half empty stands. At least Miss Zucker has changed her tune this year and the fans were not in the seats because of shopping this time, they were not there beacause no one in Cali has any money…but the hispanic attendance was up 20%!!! Woo Hoo!! If Martinsville loses a date and Cali keeps both or Chicago gets a second date, that will be the end of NASCAR for me, and I bet a whole lot of others. NASCAR has seemed to make some pretty good decisions this year, lets hope that trend continues and they finally realize that Cali is a turkey that needs to go!
Pittenger – if there are rules to make everyone even then why did Jimmie Johnson and Juan Paublo almost lap the entire field in the first 50 laps?
That sounds a lot like “old school” racing to me. 3-4 cars that can win. Winning margins of a lap or more. Actually, that doesn’t sound exciting at all.
It may have been 66 degrees in Rockingham yesterday, but I’ve spent a couple of weekends at the Rock in February where I thought I was going to freeze to death. The racing was worth it, though. I wouldn’t have attended the race in Fontana yesterday if the temp was 92, the skies were blue, and the tickets were free.
Hey Kevin… please tell me southern California is too hip for old arena rockers like Styx. Weren’t the Blasters from L.A.? Now that was a band…
““I havent seen the “official” attendance figures, but the TV shots on Sunday looked about the same as always, 65 to 70,000”“
You are kidding right? That would make the place 76% full…3 out of every 4 seats filled. I know NASCAR tries to hide the shots of the granstands but from the ones I saw yesterday it was barely half full! That puts them at around 40-45K….which is less than what they had the last few years at Rockingham.
Thanks DansMom, I just threw up in my mouth.
In regards to the 16% drop in ratings for Daytona: much like the race results, I would wait for a few races before predicting the 2010 tv ratings. Daytona had to compete with the Olympics and Valentines Day.
Brian and Friends SERIOUSLY need to take a few seconds from their liquid lunches and golf games and revamp most of the schedule (CA then to Vegas? Pocono races within 3 weeks of each other?)
I love how the system to determine the Championship was changed on a 2 second whim while changing the schedule to improve attendance, interest, and racing takes forever.
Carl, I cant answer that one, as my taste in music leans towards heavy metal and alternative rock. Styx is before my time, but that is a good song.
Jeff, I dunno what to tell you. I’ll take off my rose colored glasses if you take off the blinders, how’s that? There were more than 60,000 in the stands. It looked about the same attendance as they’ve always had the last four years. And definitely more than have shown up for the ARCA race at Rockingham, too. The stands sure emptied out quick after Johnson’s win though.
It will be interesting to see how the Danica Patrick experiment plays out. Maybe fans who have seen her race in NASCAR will switch over and watch her in the Indy Car series. Doing that they will realize the racing in Indy Car has actually become pretty exciting. The end result will be a further loss of fans/viewers to NASCAR.
I tried an experiment this weekend . I’ve often seen suggestions that fans should mute the FOX coverage and listen to the MRN commentary instead . What a revelation that was . The MRN reporters actually care about the on track action . I noticed that while the FOX cameras were constantly on the 48 and 24 , the MRN guys were busy describing the actual racing , which didn’t even include the 48 and 24 , even though we were watching them lap after lap . I’ll be tuning into MRN from now on .
The announcers were really good at making a boring race even less interesting. Thank god for the olympics and remote controls!!!
I’m a SoCal fan who actually pays money to go to ACS, and I must say, I’m tired of the focus on stars and celebrities. Who cares? We’re there to see racing. If I wanted to see stars I’d go to Hollywood instead of Fontana.
I wus at Fontanya this weeken’ and I dun counted them fans. But I can only count to seex.
Matt , I watched Danica charge to her “ electrifying “ 31st place and i noticed something . She began the race with a disaster of a car , she informed the crew what the problem was , they made it much better on the first stop , and she began passing Nationwide series regulars . The fact that she got caught speeding on pit road dropped her off of the lead lap . But after all was said and done she was listed as 3 laps down and in 37th place . She then PASSED 6 Nationwide series drivers to move up to 31st place . And thats as far forward as she could go since she was then the first car three laps down . I think she put on a pretty good show .
The Auto Club Speedway page on Facebook is lit up with people who actually enjoyed the race, and some first time fans even plan to go back. The track says they dont release attendance numbers, but NASCAR estimated 72,000. Yeah, I know, the same NASCAR we all love to hate, and cant trust.
For Sale: Race track seating. Approx 30,000, barely used. Perfect for upgrades to your local short track. Possibly more available after Oct. 10th. If interested, PLEASE call 1-800-FON-YAWN.
Jimmie has an axle problem at Daytona. Junior has one at California the next weekend. So maybe now we know another area where the Hendrick cars area cheating. Hmmmmmm…I wonder if there are any rules as regards construction, weight and materials of axles…
How about the FOX approach to covering races.I am so sick of DW, Larry, and Hammond. That NYUCK, NYUCK,Boogity, approach ruins the races for me. Then Chris Meyers, terrible.Your other points pale to me compared to how FOX treats us.It’s insulting how they talk to us older, longtime fans
I totally agree regarding the fox tv crew!!! I’m so sick of those fools and their very tired and foolish green-flag saying!!! I’m also sick of the luckiest driver in the history of nascrap…the idiotic, robotic, and hated jimmie johnson!!! He and the ridiculous chase are the 2 biggest reasons for nascrap’s decline! I know no one who cheers for jimmie….NO ONE!!!!!!!!
DansMom needs to change her name to JimmiesMom. Yesterday’s race was better then most at Fontana, but still on the boring side. Funny how Fox is doing everything they can to NOT show the empty stands. If you wanted to watch a boring race with 2 cars dominating the whole race, then the Danicawide race was for you. And to Joey Logano whining after being ruffed up by Biffle, I have only this to say. “wah”
Just for the record the Matt who posted two entries above me is not me, Matt Pat Mick, the author of this article. He is of course entitled to his opinion but I don’t want there to be any confusion here. I guess I’m going back to MATT like on the R1 and RS boards to avoid confusion.
I got to see the start of the race with JPM leading and JJ inching up to him…I was thinking that I have seen this movie before. Then, I left and went to the Jeff Beck/Eric Clapton concert here in Toronto (one word – Wow!) When I got home I checked Jayski and lo and behold! JJ won! I hope he doesn’t stink it up again. I respect their teamwork and talent but we don’t need him to 5-pete.
Hey Carl D. Yessir! The Blasters. Dave Alvin and The Blasters actually. That was a band indeed.
Good review but lots higher than me. A few comments: – 88 driver can’t drive, if some of the start and parks had his equipment they would be start and winners. – Why not just race 10 laps, call a timeout and then race 10 more? Do this 17 times (plus the start) and we have a race. However drop the 2 cars in last place at the end of each 10 laps. – This track should be made into a freeway for racers. Put a double yellow line in the middle of the track all around. Each lap you have to choose bottom or top and you can’t cross it. Next lap you can choose either one again. – Going from FL to CA after our biggest race is just plain stupid. – I’d love to see racers kids put in the booth and I bet ratings go up.
saturday before the race i got on their website just messing around and found 20 seats together right where the exit to pits only reason it wasnt more was because that was highest number you could get on their site try it see how good of seats you can for the fall race lol – now for the race it wasnt real bad last 20 laps were good and as the announcers talked about good racing thru out the field why didnt they show some of it damn i can remember when espn had the races ned benny doc punch we miss you
1St – It was better than probably every race ever held there but the bar hasn’t been set that high
2nd That track president must smoke the best dope on the west coast with the attendance figures she came up with….
3rd – mkrcr I laughed out loud at your post:
Matt Pat Mick-Your comment about the exploding track in this year’s NASCAR ad even made my parrot laugh!
Do any of my SoCal compatriots remember Riverside or Ontario? Riverside in particular leaves some pretty big shoes for Fontana to fill. I attended Fon Yawn once: in 2001 on Dale’s birthday after he died—it was a miserable experience on so many levels, so every race after that should be on the upside right? I would gladly travel 3K miles and spend the cash to go to Richmond or Bristol instead—which I have. All that being said, I must admit that Sunday’s race was the best one I’ve seen at ACS. Of course it doesn’t hurt that I’m a Harvick/RCR fan, in JJ’s backyard no less! But one tolerable race doesn’t move me to buy tickets for the track’s next event. ACS management is going to have to prove that they can produce (along with Nascar’s rulebook and Goodyear) consistently non-sucky racing before I’ll invest time and $$ into being meat in a seat.
And for those of us on the Left coast familiar with the geography, the Hollywood angle is simply laughable. Anyone who has been to Fontana and Hollywood knows that they are lightyears apart and no amount of FOX hype is going to put silk panties on that pig.