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!
2014 Budweiser Duels Post Race Quotes
posted by Matt Stallknecht
Friday February 21, 2014
BUDWEISER DUELS POST-RACE QUOTES
They’re saying the wheel bearing burned up in it. I don’t know what caused it, they’re taking it all apart to figure out what the heck happened. Something abnormal that’s for sure I don’t think I’ve ever had that happen at all. Hopefully, we made the race and hopefully we can fix the problem before Sunday.
WHAT WAS THAT LOUD BOOM ONCE YOU TURNED INTO THE GARAGE?
Loud pop was a tire… thankfully, it popped, hopefully it didn’t hurt anybody. All the heat created in the left front that popped was pretty weird.
REALLY GOOD RUN. WHAT DID YOU THINK OF IT?
Yeah, it was good. We have a car we can work with for the 500. Got a good starting spot, so we’re going to rest easy, fluff and buff our car for a couple of days and get ready for Sunday.
ANY DIFFERENCE ON WHETHER THE TOP OR BOTTOM LANE WORKED?
Yeah, I was just moving around, trying to stay with the flow. For me, this car works on all parts of the racetrack. So I’m pretty happy with it.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.
GOT SHUFFLED BACK, AFTER PIT STOPS AND THEN COULDN’T GET BACK UP TO THE FRONT. WHY?
Nah, we were just sitting there waiting until the last few laps to make a move. You didn’t want to pull down and get sent to the back. Seen a couple of guys get sent to the back really quick so we were just kind of waiting for the end. I felt like we had a good situation there with Ambrose behind us — we had a good run off Turn 2 and I went. It was the last lap, time to go do something, nobody went with us but hopefully Sunday is a different story.
We got a great car. We don’t have to work hard. We learned, we got a good race car. Got a car in one piece, ready to go so we’ll try and get through the next couple of practices, deliver it to the starting group this Sunday and we’ll be real happy.
YOU’RE IN THE DAYTONA 500!
Yeah, it’s pretty awesome. This Whitetail Chevrolet was so fast that I knew all I had to do was stick it behind smart, intelligent drafters and we could have a good finish. That’s what we did in the Duels and I’m excited. I’m excited to go do some stuff with the Nationwide car and have some more practice with this. But to know that we’re locked in the Daytona 500’s pretty cool.
YOU WERE OBVIOUSLY IN FRONT OF THAT MELEE AT THE END. WHEN YOU WERE UP FRONT THERE IN THE BEGINNING, WERE YOU HOPING TO JUST STAY IN LINE AND LET YOU FINISH TOP 5?
I was pretty content to ride and luckily I knew a lot of people around us were. It was nice to have a little calm and not really have to be racing hard the whole time. I knew that the pit stop was going to shake everything up and that’s exactly what happened. Fell back a little bit there but made the right moves at the end to get a good finish.
HOW STRONG ARE THESE RCR CARS?
They’re very strong! They definitely have the capabilities to be winning one of these races.
YOU’RE IN THE TOP 5 FOR YOUR HEAT IN THE DAYTONA 500. YOUR PRIMARY CAR IS SITTING RIGHT IN THE GARAGE, KIND OF WADDED UP. DID YOU THINK THIS ONE HAD IT IN IT?
Yeah, it’s a brand new car also. It’s just not quite as good as the primary but still a damned good car. I’m just proud of everybody at RCR for building such fast race cars. All of our cars have been fast, ECR motor’s been strong, even our affiliate teams have been qualifying really good and racing good. So… excited about 2014! It’s going to be a good year.
WELL MAN, YOU STARTED IN THE BACK BUT WORKED YOUR WAY TO THE FRONT WHEN IT COUNTED MOST. WERE YOU JUST BIDING YOUR TIME THROUGHOUT THE RACE?
Eh, you never know if you’re going to get back up there or not. We had to start at the back, we had to make a run early and see what we could do. We drove right to 10th, or something like that and then it got stagnant. We tried to make something happen, and went to the back again. Drove back up to the front. Again, just really proud of my guys. Matt Kruder did a hell of a job on that pit stop getting just enough gas in to gain some spots there.
RCR CARS SEEM PRETTY DARNED STRONG. DO YOU THINK THE RCR CARS HAVE SOMETHING FOR THEM ON SUNDAY — ESPECIALLY THE THREE JOE GIBBS RACING CARS THAT SEEM TO BE THE CLASS OF THE FIELD RIGHT NOW?
Oh yeah. The 20 car was extremely fast. The 11 didn’t qualify that good, but he’s a good drafter. I think he won. We definitely have something for him.
Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
Matt McLaughlin · Monday March 1, 2010
The Key Moment: With sixteen laps left to run Jimmie Johnson, shod with four fresh tires, passed race leader Jeff Gordon, who had just two (and two worn ones) to take the lead and eventually the win.
In a Nutshell: Man, I’ve seen more damned passing on a merry-go-round.
Dramatic Moment: It was an afternoon totally bereft of drama, a good nap spoiled. An utterly insipid excuse of a sporting event.
What They’ll Be Talking About Around the Water Cooler This Week
Hopefully, SportsCenter is going to show that decisive pass Johnson made on Gordon a bunch; that’d benefit the majority of fans who’d already dozed off by that point.
While there’s a lot of races left to go, fans dreading yet another HMS juggernaut this season have reason to be concerned.
I have my own guess as to why those caution lights kept turning on inexplicably at Las Vegas in what was yet another black eye for the sport. FOX had wired a mouth-controlled remote to the jaws of hundreds of fans across the country, and when the action got so tepid and predictable, they drifted off to sleep. With their jaws in the wide open “fly-catching” position, the caution lights were triggered to spice up the action and jolt them awake…
OK, the Olympics are over. NASCAR officials are going to have to hurriedly do an about face and blame the college basketball tournament for their lackluster ratings. Remember back when they told us stock car racing was the second biggest sport to the NFL?
None of the Ford teams chose to run the new FR9 engine at Las Vegas. I don’t know about you, but if I got my butt kicked by my crosstown rivals three weeks in a row to start the season, I think I’d be pulling everything but the lint out of my bag of tricks at Atlanta next week. If you’re going to go down, at least go down in a blaze of glory. It worked for Bon Jovi, right?
A quick note to Kyle Busch… when storming off after a Nationwide event, it behooves one to be surrounded by one’s entourage to avoid appearing like a spoiled little monster taking his ball and going home. Doing it solo just looks foolish and probably makes one’s sponsor wonder why they’re writing those big checks.
After Saturday’s successful if trouble-plagued Nationwide race, team owner Kevin Harvick has officially ended his pit crew’s pre-race ritual of staying up all night watching Three Stooges episodes while drinking grain alcohol with hookers.
Fifty years ago today, one Richard Petty won his first race in NASCAR’s top division at the old Charlotte Fairgrounds on North Tryon Street, showing his Plymouth’s tailfins to the other 20 cars in the field. The crowd on hand to witness this achievement, which is perhaps only notable in hindsight, numbered 7,900… a figure that almost equals last week’s crowd at Fontana. One of Petty’s top 10 race-winning purses that year, the victory paid a sum of eight hundred dollars. My guess is Jimmie Johnson would drop that amount of money out of his pocket and not bother to bend over and pick it up.
Rain in the desert helped spoil Part Tres of the Danica Patrick experiment. Is this God’s way of saying, “Hey, Hun, you might want to consider keeping your shirt on?” Let the record show that Ms. Patrick’s toe-dipping dalliance into Nationwide racing resulted in an average finish of 34th in three starts, with one race actually completed, well ahead of many start and park teams but somewhat behind many teams that never garnered a moment of airtime. Oh, and for the record I have to agree with one poster who commented on my column last week. Minus the glam treatment for commercials, Ms. Patrick in race day trim does indeed resemble Eddie Munster. (For those who would argue Eddie…er…Danica was taken out in two crashes not of her own making, I counter that given the equipment she had, she shouldn’t have been running back there with the least common denominators. When you’re playing in the sandbox with the stupid kids, you have to expect to get a cat turd shoved in your ear from time to time.)
Jon Wes Townley, a Nationwide driver for RCR, was cited for underage possession of alcohol this week in Vegas. Who does this guy think he is… a member of the Canadian women’s hockey team?
Jimmie Johnson won his 49th Cup event to take over 12th on the all-time list. I will say that FOX commentators’ assertion that David Pearson (who has won 105 events in NASCAR’s top division, second only to Richard Petty) better start looking in his rear-view mirror is simply farcical, though. You know, there was an era they thought Jeff Gordon was going to bypass the Silver Fox for race wins, too, but now victories are few and far between for Boy Wonder.
Give this track its due. Las Vegas is the one NASCAR speedway where the pace car (a 2011 Shelby GT350 this year) is cooler than the race cars.
Longtime readers know I’m like a volunteer fireman, which means I’m never off duty. This week, a good friend needed his buddy with a pickup truck to take him to Lowe’s to pick up some plumbing parts after a winter-related plumbing disaster. On a whim, or perhaps because he took me out for dinner and a few beers before the trip, I decided to check the NASCAR knowledge of employees of the home improvement center that backs our four-time Cup champion here in eastern Pennsylvania. The original plan was to ask ten employees, but the folks at the store were so helpful as I wandered around looking clueless and bored (I do auto parts, not home improvement) that I talked to twelve of them. Of the twelve, four correctly identified Jimmie Johnson as the driver of the No. 48 car. We’ll give half points to Mike, who knew that the reigning champion drove for Jeff Gordon (sic). But the best answer of the night goes to Anne, who told me, “I’ve seen him, but when I’m off I tend to watch This Old House… not racing.”
Is there some sort of competition between NASCAR drivers to be filmed wearing the ugliest set of sunglasses this season?
Not at all racing-related, but a heads up to my loyal readers. If the quaint village of Guthriesville gets another foot of snow or suffers another extended power outage, my columns will be posted a few days late. It takes a few days for handwritten missives written in crayon to float to the east coast in a coconut from the islands.
The Hindenburg Award For Foul Fortune
Jeff Gordon led 219 laps, only to have questionable pit road strategy cost him a probable race win.
Pole winner Kurt Busch never even led the first lap, and eventually got caught up in an intramural wreck between EGR teammates Juan Pablo Montoya and Jamie McMurray. Note to Chip: You might want to keep JPM and McMurray a few seats apart at tomorrow’s team meeting to discuss this latest screwing on the pooch.
Kyle Busch’s late race speeding penalty dropped last year’s winner of this event to a fifteenth place finish. After the race, he was seen beating a baby seal pup with an aluminum baseball bat. At least this time, he didn’t use a guitar…
The “Seven Come Fore Eleven” Award For Fine Fortune
Jimmie Johnson had to overcome a rare botched pit stop by the No. 48 team, when several lug nuts were dropped, on the way to his second consecutive Cup win.
Kevin Harvick wrecked in practice Friday, but won Saturday’s Nationwide race and finished second on Sunday in the Cup event. So all in all, it was a pretty productive weekend for him.
Matt Kenseth had to overcome a wheel left loose during a pit stop en route to a fifth place finish.
Greg Biffle ran strong early, but got boxed into his pit stall midway through the event and fell back to 25th. He eventually rallied to a tenth place finish on a track where passing was at a premium.
Kasey Kahne was penalized for running over an air hose in his pits and fell a lap off the pace at one point. As a result, his eventual ninth place finish has to be a moral victory – especially after wrecking his car the last two weeks.
What’s the Points?
Why are we even bothering to discuss this three races in, with ten miles behind us and ten thousand more to go?
Yeah, OK, this is why I get paid the big bucks. Kevin Harvick continues leading the points. That would be a big deal if this was November, not March. He leads teammate Clint Bowyer by 47.
Mark Martin moved up three spots in the standings to third, and trails Bowyer by two points. Matt Kenseth also moved up three spots to fourth, and trails Martin by just nine points.
Look out! Jimmie Johnson leapfrogged seven spots up to sixth in the standings and is now just 63 points out of the lead. Haven’t we seen this Looney Tune somewhere before?
Kyle Busch desperately clings to the coveted 12th place in the standings, the final Chase spot, by his well-polished fingernails emblematic of the Boy-Bitch he is. He leads Jeff Gordon by just two points.
Further back, Daytona 500 winner Jamie McMurray fell another ten spots to fourteenth in the standings. Winning Daytona pays well monetarily, but it’s just one of 36 races on the schedule points-wise.
The sport’s Most Popular driver, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., (his bad old self) has moved up to fifteenth in the standings. That puts Junior all of nine points ahead of lesser-known Scott Speed, who I believe is driving cars rented from Hertz at the airport in this year’s Cup events. Of course, Speed is likely to drop further in the standings after learning someone placed a macramé plant holder atop his head prior to the Vegas race.
Among those who have dug themselves a nice-sized burrow in the points early in the season (And remember, a burrow is a hole in the ground, a burro is an ass. It’s important to be able to tell the difference between the two) we find Kurt Busch (19th), Denny Hamlin (22nd), Kasey Kahne (23rd), and Ryan Newman (32nd). Yes, we’re still just three races into the season, but I hereby award Newman fans the right to start panicking. Just do it outside my earshot.
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 parade one lukewarm can of generic stuff skunked by the desert sun. I know I’ve seen worse races, but as I grow old and my mind goes soft, I can’t remember the last of them this bad. Maybe that’s a blessing.
Next Up: After a less than successful two-race Western swing, the Cup series heads back to its spiritual roots for a little Southern Comfort at Atlanta.
©2000 - 2008 Matt McLaughlin and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
I knew it would be three races and the old Matt would be back.
I bet Danica is dreading the thought of coming back to Nascar in a few months. She has proven to be all sizzle and no steak, All hat and no cattle, all boots and no saddle. After seeing her Saturday I would say she needs to learn where the brake pedal is and learn how to watch for slow moving vehicles. One more thing about Danica, Eddie Munster was played by Butch Patrick. I wonder if there’s a family tie there, hence the resemblance.
Expect the ratings to plummet next week since Jimmie Johnson is on a roll, and look for Nascar to pull out the stops to end the Johnson Express. Maybe they can find something illegal or slightly out of spec with his ride and make the charges stick this time.
Matt- go back to monster trucks and RC racing. NASCAR just isn’t for you.
That was one of the worst I’ve ever seen. Thank God I DVR’d it and ran through it in about 45 minutes after the hockey game. Talk about two polar opposite events. They need to let the crews tinker with the car again. The COT has just ruined the sport.
Look, this race is the epitome of what “old school” fans talk about from yesteryear.
A dominant car – ala Petty – lapping the field with a handful of cars finishing on the lead lap or in contention to win. What else do you guys want?
Just because the guy in victory lane doesn’t have a bumbling souther accent doesn’t make the race a snoozer.
Yeah Matt , i’ll bet David Pearson is really losing sleep over Johnson winning races .
I think other teams such as Penske, Rousch, and RCR should become start and park teams to save money and spend more time and money testing. Come back to the race track when you have competitive cars that can run with the Hendrick cars.
Not being much of a open-wheel racing fan, I’d never really heard Danica Patrick interviewed. However, I caught her interview after she was wrecked out of the Nationwide race on Saturday. If her ability to race a stock car ever matches her ego, she’s going to win a lot of races.
A family matter came up and I ended up missing the cup race yesterday. I’ve never loved my family more than I did when I read about the race last night.
When did Brad Crashalotske become a notable?
I’m glad I didn’t bother to watch the race. The hockey game was a 6 pack!
Is there any barrier strong enough to keep Shelby from elbowing his way in front of the camera , any camera ? The champion of that behavior is of course Rick Hendrick , who has demonstrated his ability to follow camera crews around and then knock all in his way aside to get his face on live tv . But Shelby makes the list in second place by a barrage of self promotion this weekend .
1st to Mark 08:38 AM, Be real, the only reason DP passed anybody was because they wrecked out earlier than she did….stop drinking the Danica Cool Aid and you’ll feel much better…..
Now on to the Farce of Cup Race…all I can say is WTF?????
Thanks in advance.
Don’t knock Rick Hendrick for being a camera hog. With as many races and championships as he’s bought and paid for, he obviously deserves to be front-and-center of all things Nascar related.
“Just because the guy in victory lane doesn’t have a bumbling souther accent doesn’t make the race a snoozer.”
what is with this wave around thing? confuses me, i guess they do it to keep the fans confused and to help jr get back on the lead lap when lucky dog is busy.
i watched the beginning of the race, saw kim kardashian, saw her as co-grand marshall and she couldn’t get a word out when giving the starting command. maybe her hair was pulled back too tightly, talk about dumb looking, dazed and confused that girl was at vegas. i switched to the hockey game, flipped over back to racing, saw who took lead (johnson), went back to hockey game.
Seeing yesterday’s race just made me think more about saving the money and not going to Atlanta this coming weekend. However, right now, old Mother Nature seems like she’ll be in a good mood come race weekend.
NA$CAR will always have some excuse about lack of attendance. They said Bruton sold out the track. Sure looked like that one section of track didn’t have any butts in the seats. But overall the butt in seats ratio looked good.
If there is a contest, JPM will win shades down. Did you notice last week after on of his interviews he walked away, took of those stupid looking red and white things and handed then to his handler? It cracks me up to watch the driver promote products…one sip here…one sip there…right glasses….stickers…etc.
You know one day, the handlers are going to hand a driver the “promoted-drink-of-the-day” and he’ll take one big ole well deserved slug, spit it half way cross the county, and demand to know the hell is this crap….all live of course. Can’t wait!!!
it’s official. chad must have sold his soul to the devil. we’ve seen everything but the contract.
Usually Vegas has some decent racing. Not this year. This race was so boring that I kept switching to the NBA games that were on tv. And Johnson dominating again has to be real good fo the sport. NOT!!! I never thought I’d say this, but the Fontana race was more exciting then the Vegas race. One last thing. DansMom must also be JimmiesMom. Two wins in a row for Johnson this early in the season proves he’s a great driver, but it also will chase fans away even more because why watch when one driver wins all the time.
I guess it was a blessing that I watched the gold medal hockey game. That deserved a gold medal in itself, while the race – deserved a lead medal from potholes.
There was a race on yesterday? Great hockey game though!!!
LaTarte(?) deserves to be demoted after that stupid call on Sunday. He finally figured out the car and then figured out how to sabatoge the win by calling for two tires. Jeff had plenty of time to take four and the car to stay in front. Hang ‘em high!
And maybe we could poll the sponsors of this website and see how many of their employess have heard of you. I’m willing ot bet WAY less than 33%. Or would one half of Carey and Coffey count as a majority?
- Side bar: I bet they’ve ALL heard of Danica.
I’d like to echo Ann’s thoughts. I’m surprised LeTarte has gotten a free pass from almost everyone after that 2-tire call Sunday. Although, I’m not in agreement with the guy who called into Wind Tunnel last night wanting Letart to be fired – those are the kind of calls a championship team doesn’t make.
Kind of reminds me of prevent defense in the 4th quarter of a football game with a 6 point lead. All it does is prevent you from winning the game.
I’d rather send my driver out with the message “go win us one” than “go hang on to this one”.
Todays racing features vanilla spec cars, bullet proof engines and milque toast drivers controlled by sponsors. When a driver dominates you can take mechanical failure out of the picture, and knowing all the cars are the same one can bet the rest of the field only has a chance for the lead in the next pit cycle.
Back in the day a good driver could also manhandle a car when the set up was off, unlike todays COT that comes down to all set up. Give me the old skool any day over todays scripted and controlled circus.
Ann and VaBluegrass,
Mini-Me’s winning average is .667, not .666 :-P
This seems to be the new standard procedure for watching races:
1) Turn on Tv about 30~60 min after announced start time to avoid Digger and lame pre-race show.
2) Check to see if 24 or 48 in the lead.
3) If so, either watch something else or play Nintendo with the boys.
I used to:
Holy crap, this is damn near unfixable!
Hey ESPN bashers, HOW DO YOU LIKE YOUR TELECASTS NOW!!!! That was AWFUL! FOX has funked it up good – and getting worse by each and every lap. It used to be the first lap was silent, the booth goofs would’nt speak until the lead car crossed the line to score the first lap. Not yesterday, friggin Waltrip had to open his freakin blow hole as they’re coming out of turn two of the start. 2009, 2008, 2007 all over again!!!
This is about it for me. I honestly don’t know whats keeping my interest.
Matt said: which is perhaps only notable in hindsight, numbered 7,900… a figure that almost equals last week’s crowd at Fontana.
You got it backwards again. It was 9,700.
I have looked at Danica’s practice times, qualifying times and race results, it appears that she is not even competitive in top flight equipment. I was disgusted by the announcers making a big deal out of her running third at one time. It’s not as if she actually raced her way by all those Nascar drivers. Cant wait til she goes to the Louden track, she won’t have a clue there either.
“That’s it, hell has frozen over. damned if you do damned if you don’t”LeTarteif works for Rick Hendrick, Jeff own part of Hendrick, Jimmy Johnson IS NOT THAT GOOD, Chad IS, Chad could make Jeff a seven time champ. Jeff chose wrong.
Good review Matt. Some of my comments:
In the old days the manufacturer could make changes to the production car and use that template in Winston Cup. We would biatch about it and then our manufacturer would make changes to leap frog. Now it’s just the Hendricks show and we all live in it. Not JJ fault, he’s a good driver but it’s ruining the sport. I wish Nascrap would take teams that owned more than one car and randomly assign the race car to the driver. So JJ or JG would not know what Hendrick car they get that weekend until assigned. That would show the real drivers skills.
About the Ford engines, with the Chase for Chumps teams won’t experiment due to points racing. If they gave 200 extra points to win a race they would.
I see DE Jr dropped like a elevator with no cable attached again. I’m thinking Hendrick is wondering what the hell he’ll do after this year, will he fire him?
The caution lights fiasco is just “Miss Terry Debree” disguised. What better way to get side by side action then a few fake cautions blamed on the track. They probably paid someone to stand by the light plug in and wiggle it a few times during the race.
The Busch series race was actually really great.
Announcers said Kahne went a lap down due to running over hose, but scoring did not show him a lap down. I think it’s a tail end penalty, but then when they allow all the cars ahead of the leader to lap around, he gets to go ahead of them. So he restarted in 10th and finished in 9th. Otherwise he’d have been down the order more, there were around 20 cars on lead lap I think?
24 team “LeFart” messed up not taking 4 tires. When you have the best car all day long you take 4 and make them beat you. There were tons of laps left. Major boo boo for Jeffy poo.
Well, until the next boring Hendrick fest have a good week.
When the checkered flag dropped we heard the strangest, loudest, noise. Upon further review, we realized it was just DansMom’s shuddering, orgasmic response to the race results.
Waiting for a car to fail isn’t racing. That’s the demolition derby.
Tuned in with ten laps to go. The FOX nerds were “going through the field.” I knew it was time to tune back out.
Thank goodness Jamie MacDonald’s took out Juan-Mon or the most exciting thing about this race would have been the caution lights thinking they were part of the strip. I have a theory about that: I think I may have heard somewhere that those sweet Shelbys were made at a shop on the track grounds? Maybe I was just dreaming that over and over. Anyway, could an enterprising employee have snuck in overnight and adjusted the caution lights so the pace car gets more time at the head of the pack? ;)
oh…and did Carrot Top frighten anyone else just a little? I thought it was that crazy clown from the video game come to wreak havoc on the race fans.