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.
For those who have been caught up in the tidal wave of hype and ignored the facts after this weekend’s Nationwide race, Ms. Danica Patrick will be taking a four month break from taxicab racing to return to her day job wheeling glorified go-karts in IndyCar in front of hundreds, if not thousands, of fans who still enjoy the maggot-riddled corpse of the once proud premiere open-wheel racing series in America. (For the Danica-maniacs, Ms. Patrick will return in late June at NHIS.)
Now, I cannot imagine any driver, especially one in NASCAR’s AAA series, garnering as much attention as Ms. Patrick has in her three-race busman’s holiday. To rival that coverage, Dale Earnhardt the Original would have to rise from the dead, take five gold medals at the Olympics, and return to win three straight races by more than a lap with Pamela Anderson tied naked to his hood. And even that might not be enough. Some blame the media for latching onto the story like a meth-addicted terrier grabbing onto a rat, but Ms. Patrick’s own marketing people have been positively Machiavellian in orchestrating the coverage of this comely brunette. Were she to have developed a yeast infection, the coverage might have overshadowed the Olympics.
Not all of Ms. Patrick’s invasion has been negative. Certainly, she has directed more eyeballs towards the flat screens during her brief sojourn into NASCAR racing. That can only be seen as a positive thing given the struggles of the second-tier series on TV over the last few seasons. Hopefully, some of those attracted to the sport by Mommy GoDaddy kept watching the races after she crashed out or went laps down, and saw that the Nationwide Series does, in fact, provide some compelling racing and interesting finishes. With Nationwide going against the Olympics, the attention was certainly welcome, keeping ratings relatively stable (unlike the Cup side). But the experiment was less successful in putting paying butts in seats, as witnessed by the weak crowds at the Vegas and Fontana Nationwide races – although I’m told Ms. Patrick was paid quite well (ludicrously well) to plant her butt in the seat of that race car.
Patrick’s good finish in the ARCA race at Daytona set tongues to wagging. Neophytes to the sport might not have realized that given the team backing her in that event, she might as well have been hunting chipmunks in a nature preserve with an M16. But that good finish led some pundits to loudly predict a top 10 finish in that week’s Nationwide race – one that was added to her schedule quicker than most GoDaddy girls can disrobe.
To an extent, I was impressed by both Patrick’s poise in front of the camera and her maturity behind the wheel. If she wasn’t up to speed, at least she was able to calmly and rationally communicate to her crew chief Tony Eury, Jr. what the car was doing and what she needed it to do to advance her position. Given Eury’s experience with another high-profile driver who could only curse the car and add such helpful insights as, “I couldn’t keep this car inside a forty acre briar patch,” that had to be a relief for the team. It seemed eventually Ms. Patrick began to adopt the NASCAR car mindset. The car isn’t going to handle like an open-wheeler. It’s never going to be perfect, and that doesn’t matter. You just need to be better than the cars you’re trying to pass.
On the other hand, some lessons that seem obvious took Ms. Patrick some time to learn. First and foremost amongst them, when the yellow flag flies and those obnoxiously bright yellow caution lights start blinking around the track, it behooves a driver who wishes to finish the race to lift off the gas. In certain instances, such as when cars are spinning around you in a blinding cloud of smoke, a driver might even want to depress the pedal in the center which experienced drivers have learned deploys the brakes and causes the car to slow down. If one’s spotter is screaming “low, low, low” certainly that opinion should be taken into consideration given his vantage point, even if the final decision is still to drive down the middle of the track and hit stuff. Perhaps Ms. Patrick was waiting for a yellow light on her dash to illuminate, as it would in an IndyCar to start using some caution (and brakes.)
Again, in the IRL car a speed limiting button that is pressed entering and leaving the pits keeps drivers from exceeding pit road speed limits. In NASCAR, drivers have to use that mysterious brake pedal and keep an eye on the tach to calculate speed. Certainly there’s no reason for a car already laps down to speed entering or leaving pit road to advance her position.
Obviously, the most controversial part of Danica’s brief flirtation with stock car racing can’t be laid entirely at her feet. The media has overblown this would-be-story more completely out of proportion than the dangers of swine flu. And I, for one, am sick of it. There are other new teams and drivers (including some female drivers) who are also trying to make a name for themselves. Those drivers need some recognition, as do the sponsors who are supporting their fledgling efforts at big time racing. The fact their sponsors can’t afford incessant soft-core porn ads during commercial breaks to support their driver should not overshadow their effort and achievements. Frankly, I find those GoDaddy ads completely inappropriate for a sport that promotes itself as “family friendly”.
Hopefully, with Ms. Patrick returning to her full-time gig for awhile, ESPN will be able to put some focus on other young drivers and full-time Nationwide teams trying to compete against the carpet-bagging Cup regulars, as the series needs those drivers and organization to survive and hopefully one day prosper again. If even a small percentage of those attracted to Saturday’s races by Ms. Patrick’s freak show continue tuning in, it’s important to hook them with other compelling stories of young people trying to make their way in a sport with a steep learning curve where expenses have far outstripped available sponsorship resources. When Mark Martin, the winningest driver ever in NASCAR’s AAA series, states on TV that he’d love to race some more Saturday events if he could just find sponsorship, you know something is badly askew akin to a cosmic rift in the universe. And I haven’t seen one of those since that night I left the Dead concert in Providence back in 1981.
The drive for diversity in NASCAR is a noble goal. Any child, no matter which gender, which race, or what background they come from, should be able to dream of one day being a star driver in any NASCAR division. But we live in a very different world then the one an old guy like me grew up in. On my first trip to Atlanta I recall vividly (and with a good deal of shock and revulsion, having recently learned to read) signs that said restrooms were for whites only. Today, the President of the United States, the most powerful man in the world is black. (And I know I’m wading into the swamp of politics here; half of you like the man and half of you loathe him, according to the polls, but hear me out.)
When I was growing up, the only place you saw working women was at the doctor’s office or the department store. Most women were expected to raise children and keep house. (Was there ever a more enslaving Christmas gift than the Betty Crocker EZ-Bake oven?) Today, a woman is speaker of the House of Representatives and seemingly raises nothing but Hell. The Supreme Court of the United States, arguably the most powerful and important branch of our government since it keeps the other two branches from trampling the constitutionally guaranteed freedoms our forefathers passed on to us, is composed not just of old white Protestant guys but Blacks, Hispanics, Women, and Catholics. This is a lot better world than I experienced when I was four years old visiting Atlanta.
But in this brave new world we live in, it’s time for people to stop looking for a handout. It doesn’t matter if you were born in the ghetto or into abject poverty in the Appalachians, you can succeed if you work hard and believe in yourself. It’s been proven and documented. And it doesn’t matter if you can write your name in the snow or if you have to squat to pee; if you want to be a race car driver, you can be. Early in NASCAR’s history, women routinely ran competitively in the big leagues. If the sport got to be a men’s club for awhile, Ms. Patrick is strolling through doors women like Janet Guthrie kicked in decades ago. If I were a female (and that’s a frightening thought, for those who know what I look like) frankly I’d be insulted by the message Ms. Patrick and her sponsor are sending towards female drivers of the future.
Well Danica, you don’t have to put your makeup on and fix your hair up pretty to meet us tonight in NASCAR city. You don’t have to tear your shirt off at the slightest provocation to get a sponsor. If you want to race, race. Start in the hobby stocks, work your way up to the late models, and then the Truck and Nationwide series. And if you’re fast and you’re lucky, not only will you not see that hanging tree, Ms. Dalton, maybe you’ll make it to the Big Leagues. You don’t need breast enhancement surgery to make it. You just need to win some races. When you do, thank your sponsors, show some emotion, and give us a bit of personality to let us know you weren’t biologically engineered in the Stepford Ladies Racing Labs.
For now, at least, female drivers are a bit of novelty in the sport. There was a time when drivers from the Northeast or Midwest were a bit of a novelty as well in a sport dominated by Southerners. They weren’t always welcome, but guys like Fred Lorenzen proved they could do the job back in the days of yore. So all this focus on Danica Patrick is nothing less than reverse discrimination, a really well-compensated affirmative action job.
It would be a bit of an understatement to say that Patrick’s NASCAR racing career to date hasn’t lived up to the hype. It might have been impossible for her to do so even if she won all three races. Three races isn’t enough time to decide if Danica can succeed in this form of racing, but my gut tells me racing NASCAR is like learning to swim. You’ve got to dive into the deep end, not dangle your toes in the water. So as long as Patrick wishes to keep her IRL gig and dabbles at NASCAR, I think she’s in for a nine-mile skid on a ten mile ride. She’ll be back in June and we’ll see. In the meantime, heaven help any other rookie driver who tried to garner some attention by doing something meaningless like winning a race once she returns.
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JPM and Danica have the same number of top 10 finishes in the Nationwide Series = 0. Montoya struggled for years on the Cup level before he was considered (by some) a contender in the Cup Series outside of Road Courses. It takes time.
Danica is a good looking driver. So? Last time I checked that wasn’t a crime. Check out the cougars at Kasey Kahne’s hauler. (Something he seems to embrace if his commercials are any indication.) And Carl Edward’s topless pose for Men’s Health, that brought quite a bit of popularity to the sport from the female persuasion.
And give Danica’s commercials a break. This is coming from the columnist who ranks every race with a 6-pack of beer and over the past week has documented many an alchohol related incident. I hope there is no one under the age of 21 who reads this column! – Oh wait I forgot… “web content is unrated”
hum…..there’s still a lot of people who think the way they did when you were 4 visiting atlanta. i know cause i live here. sure the world has changed, but in some places it stayed the same or regressed.
Good reading, Matt. Insightful and dead on in your assessment of Danica-mania. Other young and potentially up-and-coming drivers deserve their mention on the air and in print too. But those stories don’t make $$$ to the suits in the booth, so we don’t hear much about them. Thanks for scribes like yourself who stand up for them with a mention online.
I actually agree with DansMom again. In fact I’d give her comment four frigid cans of Miller Light, which is less filling but tastes great.
I wonder if Danica likes beer?
When Danica breaks the top 30, she’ll be worth a hundredth of the coverage she’s getting.
Personally, I prefer an AK47 for chipmunks: better trajectory. As to open wheel-racing itself, had it not been for the stupidity of one Tony George (think of him as the Brian France of open wheel but with better teeth) tearing CART apart in 1996 or thereabouts, NASCAR would still be playing second fiddle. Check the mid 90’s ratings oh ye of little faith.
Sure you’re not gender biased. A yeast infection????? You just insulted every woman who reads your articles.
Cuteness notwithstanding … Danica Patrick is NOT ready for Sprint Cup … NOT ready for Nationwide Cup … MAYBE ready for ARCA. People … she has 1, that is ONE win in her illustrious (sic) career. IF she didn’t look good in a wet t-shirt, no one would have given her a second look at anything above soap box derby racing. Come on Danica-tics … GET REAL.!! Danica-mania is over for now. She needs to pay her dues as much if not more than any guy trying to move up in the ranks. Give her some time, she may be ok … NOT !!
You know that Nascar has jumped the shark when the resort to gimmicks and hype to fill the seats.
How much hype and airtime did JPM get when he first came over to Nascar compared to Danica? JPM has won the International F3000 championship in 1998, Cart series Championship in 1999 (his rookie year)the Indy 500, 24 hours of Daytona, Monaco Grand Prix and has raced in F1, Cart, Indy Car, Grand Am and Nascar. I remember he got plenty of airtime, comenserate with his racing background, and a lot of time spent by Nascar in a quest for Hispanic fans ( Which I don’t get since he is Columbian)but nothing like the all out media blitz we have with Danica.
Danica won ONE exibition race in Japan on fuel mileage with only half the regular series drivers there.
Don, your right about open wheel back in the early ’90s. I used to be at the Indy 500 each year during those days and it was the premiere event in motor sports. I followed open wheel back then with the same zeal I had for Nascar, with my weekends spent watching the up and comers on Saturday in the Bush series, then taping open wheel while watching Nascar and watching it later. Back then Open Wheel was King and it had a heart and soul it is missing now. I keep hoping they can revive it and bring it back to it’s former glory.
Matt, when I used to get tickets for Vegas they would throw in Saturdays for free with the Cup. If that’s still the case it is very telling on the health of the Nationwide series with all the empty seats on Saturday.
Agree w/ pepper. I didn’t make it past the ‘yeast infection’ quip. Someone needs to grow up a little.
males also get yeast infections. just not as common.
madame patrick ran well in arca race cause of attrition. it was survival. also, her equipment outclassed everyone else. i remember the times when kerry earnhardt ran arca races, he was up front or won. put her in equal equipment that norm benning prepared out of his shop and see how she would have ran.
i guess cause no nationwide race at atlanta espn can fixate on something else danica does this week/weekend.
I agree that the coverage is over the top, and I have nothing against her. Someone made a lame comparison to Ashley Force in a previous column. Ashley was in contention for the Funny Car title last season – finishing second. She has 3 wins in 13 final round appearances. She also has 5 TAD wins in 9 final round appearances. You can argue that its superior equipment – but, she still has to be at least 16th fastest each week to get a shot.
That said, I can’t say I ever recall seeing on the ESPN crawl that Ashley lost in the second round, during a basketball game.
We can blame a lot of entities for the oversaturation of Danica; but, lets not forget NASCAR’s ‘TV partners’…
Oh – I was mortified by Michael McDowell profusely apologizing for not getting out of her way at Vegas. If that accident were to happen on the freeway, she would have been the vehicle behind – shouldn’t she be more aware of him in that case?
I guess it doesn’t matter that there were only 18 drivers in the 08 Japan 300 that she won – it was a ponts paying race, so a win. But, until she notches a couple more wins against full fields, I think of her as racing’s Anna Kournikova.
The word that best describes this column is rambling . GEEEZZ Matt , have a thought and stick with it .
I’m noticing that more and more media sites that don’t toe the nas$car company line are disappearing. Even some writers who were critical of nas$car in the past are becoming apologists nowdays. I just hope the frontstretch keeps doing it’s job and remains objective about what happening in the sport, not wear rose colored glasses like the shills others in the sport have become. I love racing, but the condecending attitude the major media sites have toward racing fans makes me want to vomit. The Danica coverage is just one example of this “affliction”. Keep up the good work dudes.
DansMom Montoya won Mexico City road course race in 2007 in Nationwide. :)
I’ve got one cure for you Danica. Come on up here and sit your A*S in one of our Late Models in the bullring on Saturday night. You wanna bring your “brand”, go for it, but it won’t amount to a hill of beans when these real stock car drivers get done with you. Pay your dues, learn to swim with the sharks and, if you don’t become chum, then maybe you’ll garner some respect. You’ll never gain that by leapfrogging more qualified talent because of your connections and certainly not by being the flash in the pan you’re destined to be.
Ratings are down, track attendance is failing and I counted dozens of Vacancy signs on the beachside in Daytona this year, the first I can remember this happening. Meanwhile Nascar’s fine leadership is trying to find Gimmics like the “Fan Deck” on the backstretch to entice greater participation instead of allowing drivers to be racers. What to do with Danica Patrick? How about Nascar forcing all drivers to race “Topless” with mandatory cautions every few laps. I’m sure the guys wouldn’t care and think about Driver Introductions. It would bring a new audience to the track.