Kurt Busch to Attempt The Indianapolis-Charlotte Double
posted by Phil Allaway
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Andretti Autosport announced this morning that Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet in the Sprint Cup Series, will attempt the Indianapolis 500 in a fifth entry for the IndyCar Series team. Once the Indianapolis 500 is completed, Busch will fly from Indianapolis to Charlotte, jump in his No. 41 Chevrolet and compete in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Busch considers the opportunity to do the double as an old-school throwback moment.
“This is really to challenge myself within motorsports,” Busch said in Andretti Autosport’s press release. “Perhaps I am a bit of an old-school racer; a throwback, I guess. I enjoyed the era of drivers racing different cars and testing themselves in other series. It is tough to do now for a variety of factors, but when the opportunity is there, I want to do it. While NASCAR is my home, I have been fortunate to compete in Pro Stock on the NHRA circuit a number of years ago and test a V8 Supercar. This opportunity was a talk with Michael [Andretti] over dinner one night, a “What if,” and now it’s becoming a reality for me to drive in the Indy 500 with Andretti Autosport. It’s literally a dream come true. To go to the famous Brickyard with the iconic Andretti name, it doesn’t get much cooler or better than that.”
Busch will be doing the Indianapolis-Charlotte double as a Memorial Day mission to men and women serving in the U.S. Military via the Armed Forces Foundation. Fans can contribute to the cause by texting AFF to 50555 to donate $10.
Busch, who has never raced an IndyCar, passed Rookie Orientation at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year during a test session. At the time, Busch was more or less testing the Dallara DW12 for fun.
Busch will be the fourth driver to attempt the Indianapolis-Charlotte double. John Andretti was the first driver to attempt it in 1994. After finishing four laps down in tenth in Indianapolis, Andretti crashed and had engine problems in the 600. Robby Gordon has attempted the double five times, most recently in 2004. However, Gordon failed to make it to Charlotte on time and did not start the 600 in 2000 (P.J. Jones started Gordon’s No. 13 Ford in that instance). Finally, Tony Stewart has attempted the double twice (most recently in 2001) and is the only driver to ever complete all 1100 miles. Neither of the three drivers has won either leg of the double. The best finishes are Stewart and Gordon’s sixth-place finishes at the Indianapolis 500 (although Gordon’s came in 2000, the year he didn’t make it to Charlotte in time to start the Coca-Cola 600), and Stewart’s fourth-place finish in the 2001 Coca-Cola 600.
Danica Patrick, Justin Allgaier Talk About Phoenix Incident
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
A disappointing start to the year for Danica Patrick won’t include continued conflict. Patrick met with rookie Justin Allgaier Sunday, shortly after the Phoenix Cup race after a wreck ruined both drivers’ days. Patrick, who was critical of the No. 51 car on the radio, claiming Allgaier was “driving all over the track” appeared receptive to a conversation that quickly settled differences over what will be a long season.
“She was just upset because she got involved in the crash that we had,’’ said Allgaier to the Motor Racing Network. “She says she’s been through this and that she felt like I needed to settle down at that point. I explained my position on why everything happened. I think she understood where I was coming from. It doesn’t fix either one of our racecars. It doesn’t fix either one of our days. Unfortunately, we were both having pretty decent days.’’
Allgaier wound up 30th due to the incident while Patrick was 36th. The incident, which was caused by Allgaier’s spin also involved the No. 32 team and Travis Kvapil, which wound up 38th after sustaining heavy damage.
Camping World Close to Extending Title Sponsorship of NCWTS
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Marcus Lemonis, CEO of Camping World, Grand Marshal of Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway, and star of CNBC’s “The Profit,” made the announcement over the weekend that the retailer is very close to announcing a deal that would continue its title sponsorship of NASCAR’s Truck Series. The original agreement with NASCAR is scheduled to conclude after the 2015 season.
According to the sanctioning body, no formal contract has been signed, but “the agreement between the two parties has proven to be a beneficial one.”
“In about a month, we’ll be announcing a significant extension to that contract. It’s been great for us,” said Camping World’s Lemonis in a statement. “The NASCAR relationship has worked well for Camping World. When we started, we had 35 stores. Now, we’re up to 120 stores. As we travel the country and we meet new customers in stores, they always are very appreciative of our relationship with NASCAR. It’s been good.”
Gaining a long-term commitment from Camping World to sponsor the Truck Series would be a relief for NASCAR, which is set to lose Nationwide Insurance as title sponsor for the NASCAR Nationwide Series at the end of the 2014 season. The sponsorship of the Cup Series by Sprint runs through 2016.
The NCWTS is back in action on March 29th at 2:30 PM (ET) when the trucks visit Martinsville Speedway in the Kroger 250, which can be seen on Fox Sports 1. Ratings for the season opener were up 11 percent.
Harvick Takes Win At Phoenix In Second Race With New Team
posted by Justin Tucker
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Phoenix International Raceway has become Kevin Harvick’s home away from home. Sunday Afternoon was no exception as Harvick charged to the front early and would dominate for much of the day, leading 224 of the scheduled 312 laps to record his record fifth win on the one mile oval and his third win in the last four races at Phoenix.
Harvick, coming off of a disappointing Speedweeks which was capped by a last lap crash in the Daytona 500 in his debut with Stewart-Haas Racing, set the tone on Saturday by winning both practices while having the best 5 and 10-lap averages in the first practice of the day on Saturday. On Sunday, Harvick and his No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet was nothing short of flawless as he was able to hold Dale Earnhardt, Jr. by .489 seconds after a late race restart to claim his 24th career Sprint Cup Series victory.
“Man, this is awesome,” Harvick said after his dominant victory on Sunday. “Man, this just solidifies so many things and so many decisions. It’s been so much work with all the time and effort that these guys (the crew) have put in—but what a race car.”
Stewart Haas Racing co-owner Gene Haas shared in Harvick’s excitement after the race.
“It took long enough,” Haas joked. “This is phenomenal. I think there was a lot of skepticism last year about what myself and Tony (Stewart) what we were up to, was there a lot of madness to this. Quite frankly, it’s a great team, there’s a lot of synergy at the shop, people working together. I don’t know what we did, but I think we put together a great organization.”
Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt, Jr. continued his hot start to the 2014 season. Earnhardt Jr. would finish second on Sunday, marking his seventh consecutive top 10 finish since the end of the 2013 season. Earnhardt Jr. was pleased with the effort after a coast-to-coast whirlwind week after winning his second Daytona 500 and also gave great praise to the efforts of Harvick and the No. 4 team.
“I’ve got to congratulate Kevin. Those guys were two-tenths faster than everyone all weekend in practice. They were just phenomenal,” Earnhardt said. “To be able to run with them all day was a big confidence builder for us.”
Joining Harvick and Earnhardt in the top 5 of The Profit on CNBC 500K were Brad Keselowski with his second consecutive top 3 run of 2014 in third. Keselowski’s Team Penske teammate Joey Logano would finish fourth, and Jeff Gordon would come home fifth in his No. 24 Pepsi Max Chevrolet.
Jimmie Johnson finished in sixth, followed by Ryan Newman with a nice rebound after Daytona in seventh. Carl Edwards would carry the banner for Roush Fenway Racing by finishing eighth, Kyle Busch was ninth, and Jamie McMurray would finish tenth.
A look at the Profit on CNBC 500K by the numbers. There were 14 lead changes among eight different drivers, there were eight cautions for 39 laps which slowed the race pace to 109.229 MPH.
Next Sunday, the Sprint Cup Series heads to Sin City and the Las Vegas Motor
Starting Lineup: The Profit On CNBC 500K
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday March 1, 2014
Drivers in RED (i) are those ineligible to collect Sprint Cup points
Daytona 500 TV Ratings Down
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Wednesday February 26, 2014
What was the longest weather delay in Daytona 500 history turned out to bring NASCAR lower ratings and TV viewership Sunday night than expected. According to a report Monday from FOX Sports, the 56th running of the Daytona 500 airing at 8 PM (ET) posted a 5.6/10 national household rating/share which averaged 9.3 million viewers. That’s down 44 percent from last year’s 9.9, easily making it the least-watched Daytona 500 of all-time.
Due to the six-hour, twenty-two minute rain delay in Daytona, the race was up against the primetime coverage of the Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony from Sochi, Russia on NBC (15.25 million viewers). FOX also reported that 69% of the pre-rain delay viewers of the race, which began at 1 PM (ET) kept tuning in.
In comparison, the 2013 Daytona 500 on FOX was the most-watched race in five years, posting a 9.9/22 rating/share, commanding 16.7 million viewers. The Daytona 500 in 2012, the first to ever be run on a Monday and in the primetime slot did a 7.7/13 overnight rating/share which resulted in 13.67 million households viewing the race according to Nielsen TV ratings data.
Earnhardt, Jr. Claims Second Daytona 500 Victory
posted by Justin Tucker
Wednesday February 26, 2014
Ten years is a long time. For Dale Earnhardt, Jr., it felt like an eternity. NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver endured many near misses and close calls at the Daytona 500 since his only win in the Great American Race in 2004. Earnhardt had finished second in two of his last three Daytona 500s coming into Sunday’s race. He was also riding the tail of a 55-race winless streak, dating back to Michigan in 2012.
However nothing would stop Dale Jr. on Sunday, not even a 6 hour and 22 minute rain delay from capturing his second Daytona 500 win. Earnhardt Jr. led a race-high 54 laps on the evening and used some timely drafting help from teammates Jimmie Johnson and, on the final restart, Jeff Gordon to separate from the pack and secure the victory.
“Winning this race is the greatest feeling that you could feel in this sport besides accepting the trophy for the championship,” said a jubilant Earnhardt after pulling into Victory Lane. “We could fight off battle after battle. We got a little help at the end there from Jeff to get away on the restart. This is amazing. I can’t believe this is happening. I never take this for granted, man because it doesn’t happen twice, let alone once.”
Aside from the race itself the big story of the race was the 6 hour and 22 minute red flag, which threatened to move the race to Monday evening (had the race been postponed, FOX Sports’ Chris Myers had tweeted that the race would resume at 5:00pm EST). However, Mother Nature would cooperate and would allow the race to be run under different conditions from which they practiced this week. Once the race resumed, the intensity picked up from the changing track conditions. This allowed the pack to race side-by-side and at times 3-wide up to seven rows deep.
Joining Earnhardt Jr. in the top 5 for the 2014 Daytona 500 were: Denny Hamlin who closed out a spectacular Speedweeks in second, Brad Keselowski in third, Jeff Gordon in fourth, and Jimmie Johnson who overcome two wrecks leading up to the 500 in fifth.
Rounding out the top 10 in the Daytona 500 were Matt Kenseth in sixth, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. in seventh and Greg Biffle would bring his No. 16 Ford home in eighth. Austin Dillon would come home ninth in his first Cup Series race in the iconic No. 3 for Richard Childress Racing, while Casey Mears would round out the top 10.
A couple of major contenders for the Daytona 500 win would see their hopes dashed early on as Martin Truex, Jr. would blow up just 30 laps into the race, relegating him to a 43rd-place finish in his debut for Furniture Row Racing. Crew chief Todd Berrier was already in Nashville for a test session before the race was even over. Kyle Busch, meanwhile would have a pit road violation just before halfway and would spend much of the race battling back from that mistake. Busch would eventually finish 19th after leading 19 laps.
Danica Patrick would also be bit by bad luck as she was caught up in a multi-car wreck on lap 145. Patrick would lead her second consecutive Daytona 500, but wouldn’t have the finish to show for it finishing 40th. Tony Stewart would encounter a frustrating evening as well, with a fuel pickup problem derailing his quest for his first Daytona 500 win. Stewart would finish 35th.
A look at the Daytona 500 by the numbers. There were 42 lead changes among 18 drivers, while seven cautions for 39 laps would slow the race pace to 145.290 MPH.
Next week, the Sprint Cup Series heads to the “diamond in the desert,” Phoenix International Raceway for The Profit on CNBC 500K. The Green flag is scheduled for 3:15pm EST.
Nationwide Series Post-Race Quotes: Drive4COPD 300
posted by Thomas Bowles
Tuesday February 25, 2014
Frontstretch Interviews – Courtesy Mike Neff
ELLIOTT SADLER – FINISHED 4th
Thoughts on the race?
It’s definitely a lot different racing than what we’re used to.
Comfortable with it?
Yeah, it’s just different. You’re worried about what you’re doing, but you’re also worried about what everyone else is doing and they’re not doing more than you’re doing. Physically pushing a guy is way better than just riding so you just gotta time it right and push it to the edge.
Happy to start the year with a top 5?
Yeah. Hell, that was the worst we ran all day, I think. I have no idea how they put the 3 car in front of us on that last restart. I hadn’t seen the 3 car hardly all day. When they put us from fifth to sixth, on the outside line, it just really boxed us in. I would have really restarted behind my teammate and given him a good push to the front. Anyways, it is what it is; we’ll take it and move on.
Looked like you were up front all day.
The guys did a good job. We had a fast race car. Great pit stops, just really proud of these guys. The car’s in one piece and we can take it to Talladega now. Great job by my guys. A lot of effort came into coming down here to Daytona and giving ourselves a shot to win. We had that chance to be up front and make some things happen. Fifth is not what we want, but we’ll take it and move on.
Bumping vs Pushing?
It’s way harder. You don’t want to lay on the guy in front of you, so it’s tough racing. A lot different than what we’re used to, ‘cause you gotta go. You gotta drag the brake too ‘cause you don’t want to hit the guys and you don’t want to stay on him. It’s a lot harder mentally than what we’ve done in the past.
Car was strong all day. Pushing vs. Bumping, is that harder to do than just getting on somebody and pushing them?
Yeah, it is a little bit. When you bump ‘em, you jar ‘em, it kinda jacks ‘em a little bit. It’s a little more abrupt, obviously. I thought it was OK there at the end. It was certainly fun and hopefully entertaining. But a little bit of a struggle in the early part of the race and the midpart of the race to see a good race. And that’s unfortunate for the fans. You can’t do that the whole race, you can’t tear up your stuff, knock your grill in, overheat your motor, all that stuff so there’s no sense in doing all that until you get down to the last lap. The 7 and the 6, they did a good job. Man, the 7 really held the 22 and I tight on the bottom. I was rubbing his door and hitting the apron at the same time, no room whatsoever. So it was good; wish we were the ones who could have won but a lot better now than what we were last year.
Going home in one piece makes it a lot better, right?
Yeah. My back feels good. My foot feels good. Past years here, I’ve been going home with pain so I’m alright.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Truck Series Post-Race Quotes: Daytona (Exclusives)
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday February 22, 2014
When you’re on the outside like that, how frustrating is it?
It’s so hard. Timothy Peters has won here. Kyle Busch has won everywhere. Ron Hornaday has been running Trucks forever, probably before I was even born. I was surrounded by veterans there, and like I told them I don’t have a rookie stripe but I’m a rookie. This is only my fourth Truck race ever, my fourth superspeedway race, and man, I figured out when the 17 got up in front of me, I pushed him. And as soon as I pushed him, he took off. And I went with him. And I just kept doing it, and before I knew it, he was leading. And I saw Ron in my mirror, backed up to him, and if it wasn’t for him, I don’t know what would have happened. I gotta thank him big time for that. That was a true teammate move right there. I really appreciate that. He just bounced off me and we got to the front. I tried my hardest to sidedraft Kyle. I was probably touching his door.
Top 5 in the No. 30 truck. This deal come together at the last minute, but you had a heck of a truck. Tell us about your night.
Yeah, I’ve got to thank Turner Scott Motorsports. The guys worked so hard on this Rheem Comfort Products Chevrolet. Exciting! Just got hung up on the outside and had to wait for my teammate there to catch up. And then he got to the bottom, so… I got the old 32 and started pushing ol’ Ryan to the front. So, it’s not bad. We’ll take it. You just don’t want to step over that boundary. You don’t know how far to push and shove. We bumped about six times down the straightaway without latching onto them. Hopefully, that was OK and we came home with a top 5.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Budweiser Duels Post Race Quotes
posted by Matt Stallknecht
Friday February 21, 2014
BUDWEISER DUELS POST-RACE QUOTES
They’re saying the wheel bearing burned up in it. I don’t know what caused it, they’re taking it all apart to figure out what the heck happened. Something abnormal that’s for sure I don’t think I’ve ever had that happen at all. Hopefully, we made the race and hopefully we can fix the problem before Sunday.
WHAT WAS THAT LOUD BOOM ONCE YOU TURNED INTO THE GARAGE?
Loud pop was a tire… thankfully, it popped, hopefully it didn’t hurt anybody. All the heat created in the left front that popped was pretty weird.
REALLY GOOD RUN. WHAT DID YOU THINK OF IT?
Yeah, it was good. We have a car we can work with for the 500. Got a good starting spot, so we’re going to rest easy, fluff and buff our car for a couple of days and get ready for Sunday.
ANY DIFFERENCE ON WHETHER THE TOP OR BOTTOM LANE WORKED?
Yeah, I was just moving around, trying to stay with the flow. For me, this car works on all parts of the racetrack. So I’m pretty happy with it.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.
GOT SHUFFLED BACK, AFTER PIT STOPS AND THEN COULDN’T GET BACK UP TO THE FRONT. WHY?
Nah, we were just sitting there waiting until the last few laps to make a move. You didn’t want to pull down and get sent to the back. Seen a couple of guys get sent to the back really quick so we were just kind of waiting for the end. I felt like we had a good situation there with Ambrose behind us — we had a good run off Turn 2 and I went. It was the last lap, time to go do something, nobody went with us but hopefully Sunday is a different story.
We got a great car. We don’t have to work hard. We learned, we got a good race car. Got a car in one piece, ready to go so we’ll try and get through the next couple of practices, deliver it to the starting group this Sunday and we’ll be real happy.
YOU’RE IN THE DAYTONA 500!
Yeah, it’s pretty awesome. This Whitetail Chevrolet was so fast that I knew all I had to do was stick it behind smart, intelligent drafters and we could have a good finish. That’s what we did in the Duels and I’m excited. I’m excited to go do some stuff with the Nationwide car and have some more practice with this. But to know that we’re locked in the Daytona 500’s pretty cool.
YOU WERE OBVIOUSLY IN FRONT OF THAT MELEE AT THE END. WHEN YOU WERE UP FRONT THERE IN THE BEGINNING, WERE YOU HOPING TO JUST STAY IN LINE AND LET YOU FINISH TOP 5?
I was pretty content to ride and luckily I knew a lot of people around us were. It was nice to have a little calm and not really have to be racing hard the whole time. I knew that the pit stop was going to shake everything up and that’s exactly what happened. Fell back a little bit there but made the right moves at the end to get a good finish.
HOW STRONG ARE THESE RCR CARS?
They’re very strong! They definitely have the capabilities to be winning one of these races.
YOU’RE IN THE TOP 5 FOR YOUR HEAT IN THE DAYTONA 500. YOUR PRIMARY CAR IS SITTING RIGHT IN THE GARAGE, KIND OF WADDED UP. DID YOU THINK THIS ONE HAD IT IN IT?
Yeah, it’s a brand new car also. It’s just not quite as good as the primary but still a damned good car. I’m just proud of everybody at RCR for building such fast race cars. All of our cars have been fast, ECR motor’s been strong, even our affiliate teams have been qualifying really good and racing good. So… excited about 2014! It’s going to be a good year.
WELL MAN, YOU STARTED IN THE BACK BUT WORKED YOUR WAY TO THE FRONT WHEN IT COUNTED MOST. WERE YOU JUST BIDING YOUR TIME THROUGHOUT THE RACE?
Eh, you never know if you’re going to get back up there or not. We had to start at the back, we had to make a run early and see what we could do. We drove right to 10th, or something like that and then it got stagnant. We tried to make something happen, and went to the back again. Drove back up to the front. Again, just really proud of my guys. Matt Kruder did a hell of a job on that pit stop getting just enough gas in to gain some spots there.
RCR CARS SEEM PRETTY DARNED STRONG. DO YOU THINK THE RCR CARS HAVE SOMETHING FOR THEM ON SUNDAY — ESPECIALLY THE THREE JOE GIBBS RACING CARS THAT SEEM TO BE THE CLASS OF THE FIELD RIGHT NOW?
Oh yeah. The 20 car was extremely fast. The 11 didn’t qualify that good, but he’s a good drafter. I think he won. We definitely have something for him.
Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
Matt McLaughlin · Monday March 29, 2010
Editor’s Note: With the Cup race rained out Sunday, Matt did a shortened version of his “recap” column for today.
What They’ll Be Talking About Around the Water Cooler This Week
With all due respect to the incomparable Smokey Robinson (my second favorite “Smoky” next to Smokey Yunick) one of those things that’s sadder than the Tears of a Clown is rain at a race track. It’s tough on the drivers, who are mentally pumped up to compete only to wind up deflated. It’s tough on team owners, who must find overnight lodging for crew members to stay an extra day or fly some folks home and back again early Monday AM. It’s terrible for the network that broadcasts the race, in terms of financial givebacks to those corporations that bought commercial time, and for their final TV ratings, which are already on the ropes crying for their mommies. It’s tough for even minor league media folks like me who have set-in-granite commitments that will prevent me from seeing the Martinsville race, an event I love like cold beer and Harley Davidsons, live. So what follows below is the usual pre-race stuff I prepare for my columns prior to the green flag and during the rain delays. But I like to keep in mind that rain-delayed races are toughest on the fans, especially those who bought tickets for the race. It’s bad enough for those who are going to miss the race on TV because they have to work Monday, but pity the poor folks that planned to attend the race live and can’t come back Monday due to life commitments. They’re out the not insubstantial money they laid out for tickets, lodging, meals, and other ancillary expenses and they won’t get to enjoy a single green flag lap of racing. They’ll fight their way home down rain-soaked highways, get home late and wake up tired on Monday morning facing a long workweek and substantial economic loss with the hopes their DV-Rs and VCRs will at least allow them to catch a glimpse of the action they hoped to see live. To those fans, I feel your pain. I’ve been in your (sodden) shoes having spent my hard-earned money to buy tickets, too. So no, it doesn’t get much sadder than rain at the track on race day.
Fans of other forms of motorsports, those open-wheel types, shared our pain on Sunday when their event at St. Petersburg was rained out as well. To quote our old buddies from the Electric Light Orchestra, “It’s raining all over the world.”
Denny Hamlin is scheduled to have surgery for a torn ACL on Monday. Officially, the reason he’s electing to have surgery now rather than at the end of the season as originally planned is fear of long-term damage. Unofficially, the decision would seem an admission that the pain and lack of motion in the leg are part of the reason Hamlin and the No. 11 team are off to such a slow start after being considered preseason favorites to unseat the No. 48 for the title. Hamlin injured himself playing basketball prior to the season. That’s ironic in that many stick and ball sport players’ (including NBA stars) sign contracts that forbid them from engaging in high risk behaviors like pickup games, riding motorcycles, or (ironically enough) driving race cars. So perhaps this is a lesson for Hamlin to stick to what he’s good at. And for the love of God, please keep him away from Frisbees during recovery…
One man’s famine is another man’s feast. Sponsorship issues at the end of last season forced Richard Childress to release Casey Mears and close down his fourth team. Prior to driving for RCR, Mears, the scion of one of racing’s most famous families, drove for Rick Hendrick and Chip Ganassi as well. Obviously, some pretty savvy team owners think Mears has talent. Unfortunately, in the “What Have You Done For Me Lately” atmosphere of the Cup garage area, Mears’ win in the 2007 Charlotte (yeah, we don’t have to call it Lowe’s anymore!) 600 didn’t earn him a competitive seat. He’s been struggling to make races with a shoestring team, going just 1-for-6 after a Friday DNQ driving the No. 90 Chevy. But Hamlin apparently gave Mears a nod as the driver he’d like to stand by for relief should he not be able to drive a complete race after the surgery. If Mears does, in fact, relieve Hamlin in some races and he runs well, which he’s fully capable of doing, it might just salvage his career.
Most of Saturday’s Truck Series race was the epitomy of “old school.” We got to see rooting and gouging, tires smoking, three-wide racing, and doors and fenders flapping in the wind. Unfortunately, the end of the race left a bad taste in my mouth. Kevin Harvick has been on a roll in the Truck Series, winning his last time out at Atlanta, while his driver/employee Ron Hornaday was off to a terrible start this year with wrecks in the first two races. That meant Hornaday needed to finish a race and score some points to get back in the title chase, where he’s a perpetual threat. So at one point in the race Harvick let Hornaday pass him to take the lead and rack up five points in the process. But the biggest offense came on the final restart, where Harvick was leading and Hornaday was second. It seemed a shootout between two of the series’ most talented drivers was in the wings, but it wasn’t to be. Against all logic the leader, Harvick, selected the outside line for the side-by-side restart. It seemed he was handing the advantage to Hornaday. As it turned out, the move was staged. On the restart Hornaday, one of the best restarters in the business, dutifully gave way to his Boss and blocked for Harvick while he drove off to an uncontested win. Team orders helped ruin Formula One racing, and make no mistake, such shenanigans are going to ruin NASCAR racing as well. I was so disgusted, I’ve decided not to watch the Nashville race next week. Life’s too short to watch scripted races… screw it, let’s ride.
I’ve said it before but it bears repeating. The only thing more dangerous than a toddler with a fully loaded assault rifle is the FOX TV crew with a rain delay to endure. Then again, given the length of this column hours prior to any possible start of the race, I might be on that short list as well.
Do you think viewers at home got the word the race was rain-delayed before the fans in the stands, who were still sitting there patiently waiting in a soaking rain when FOX bailed? If you’ve been at this game awhile, when you saw the massive team toolboxes being pushed to the transporters during Kevin Harvick’s interview you knew it was over for the day.
Related to the above, Ron Hornaday got into Johnny Sauter’s contending truck during the race, sending Sauter spinning and out of contention. After the event, Mr. Sauter wished to discuss the issue with Mr. Hornaday, and there was a confrontation on pit road. I think the two drivers and NASCAR handled the situation perfectly. Hornaday and Sauter clearly had a heated and probably profane conversation after the race, while a NASCAR official stood just in the wings allowing them to talk but not allowing fists to fly or pit crews to riot. Sauter also chose to discuss the issue without resorting to underhanded tricks, like spinning his rival’s truck on pit lane putting others in danger. When NASCAR said they were going to let the drivers take the gloves off, I think this is what they had in mind – not Carl Edwards 190 MPH payback on Keselowski at Atlanta. SPEED also wisely chose to watch the event from a distance, without thrusting a microphone into the mess allowing kids watching the race to hear some pretty blue language. Well played by all parties involved!
Also related to the truck race, I’m sure he’s a swell guy but I sure hope Indian driver Narain Karthikeyan isn’t so successful I have to type his name too frequently. That’s not a name….that looks like an industrial accident at an alphabet soup factory. Remember the good old days when drivers had names like Petty, Allison, Johnson, Elliott, Wallace, Gordon and the like? To any up and coming driver, consider a last name change to something less than eight letters if you want the media to discuss you. Hell, I’m still struggling with Keso….er, Keselowski. (Speaking of Bad Brad, another note to up and coming drivers trying to make the “bigs,” appearance is unfortunately important. I think part of Keselowski’s publicity problem is he looks like a mule eating briars when he smiles.)
Forbes magazine recently disclosed that last year Dale Earnhardt, with earnings of $30 million, was the top compensated NASCAR driver of 2009, several million dollars ahead of four-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson. What? Hold the phone, here. This is the driver who finished 25th in the points and failed to win a single event? 30 million bucks for accomplishing basically nothing? Nice work if you can find it. I’m officially changing my name to Matt Earnhardt in hopes I’ll be the top compensated media member in the sport.
Given the high price of tickets and offers of “charter membership,” one has to wonder if NASCAR is more concerned with opening the “Hall of Fame” or reaping another “Haul of Cash.” I’m still seething over the first class of five inducted into the Hall. While Petty, Earnhardt and Johnson were no-brainers, not including Cale Yarborough or David Pearson in favor of Bills France Junior and Senior is insane. Bill France Jr. in the Hall of Fame? That’s like Idi Amin being inducted into the Ugandan Hall of Fame in the first class.
Kudos to Carl Edwards for giving a shout-out to less appreciated drivers Ricky Craven and Bobby Hamilton as two of the drivers who helped him figure out how to get around Martinsville.
As April 15th bears down on us like a Category 5 financial hurricane and the U.S. government scrambles to raise every dime in taxes they can to cover the mushrooming federal deficit, you have to wonder if some IRS agent at home was making careful notes to check Kyle Busch’s return for all those gambling winnings in 100 dollar increments discussed during the rain delay next year.
Am I the only one who thinks Martinsville and its fans used to be treated to much better weather back when it was the eighth race of the season rather than the sixth prior to 2005?
Talk about lucky? Robby Gordon arrived at Martinsville in a tense situation having to make the field on speed, having fallen out of the top 35 in points. Fortunately (for him anyway) qualifying was rained out and Gordon made the field without having to drive a lap in anger. Longtime readers know I’m not a charter member of Gordon’s fan club, but at least he’s trying to make every race and run every lap unlike the start and park teams.
Well this is going to get ugly! The SFI, which administers safety standards for safety equipment like seatbelts, is officially accusing racing safety guru Bill Simpson (who has saved hundreds if not thousands of lives at race tracks with his forward thinking innovations) and his Impact Racing corporation of using counterfeit “SFI Approved” labels on his products. As of April 27th, all Impact Racing products will be “decertified” and thus no longer legal for use in competition anywhere from Talladega to most local bullrings. My take? I’m not buying the SFI argument until all the evidence is in. I’ve met Bill Simpson. I’ve talked to him face-to-face and via email as the whole HANS device / Hutchens device debate moved forward. This is a guy who knew the old school drivers personally, and he cared deeply about protecting them not as customers but as friends. But Simpson’s once unsullied reputation as a safety innovator took a hard turn for the worse when NASCAR tossed him under the bus with their bogus argument that a broken Simpson seatbelt led to the death of Dale Earnhardt at Daytona in 2001. No, it wasn’t the lack of SAFER barriers, the HANS device, or the insane sort of plate racing Earnhardt so despised that killed Earnhardt. It was a broken seatbelt, despite a medic’s contention that he used a razor to cut that belt to help free Earnhardt’s inert body from the wreckage of his final ride. The accusations contained in NASCAR’s fatally flawed and self-serving report on the death of Earnhardt resulted in Simpson receiving death threats and losing control of the company that still bears his name. If I owned a Toyota (and you’re more likely to hear I married Heather Locklear at long last) I’d want Impact Racing belts in my car for when it lunged out of control. Bill Simpson didn’t kill Dale Earnhardt. NASCAR did, and to repeat what I wrote that night, they still have blood on their hands.
The Cup series takes a weekend off to observe the most solemn and joyous date on the Christian calendar, Easter, celebrating the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. Our Jewish brethren will also be celebrating Passover and we wish them peace. Racing resumes in two weeks’ time at Phoenix.
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“ Hamlin and the No. 11 team are off to such a slow start after being considered preseason favorites to unseat the No. 48 for the title.”
Should read “Self-proclaimed favorite.” Many of us knew better, injury or not – Hamlin isn’t ready.
Once Logano reaches his potential and Kyle Busch gets his game back on track, Hamlin will be 3rd fiddle in a two-man band.
Congratulations Matt , you managed to get the REQUIRED mention of Johnson into this weeks column . I think you have a perfect record , going back months or possibly even years .
Like you , i am appalled at Harvick giving his own team mate a chance to lead , collect points toward a championship that pays millions in prize money and sponsorhip potential , and pays the bills for Harvick himself . Except for the 200 or so instances that i could think of without trying too hard , i’ll bet this type of thing has never happened before . And obviously you , in Harvicks place , would never consider doing anything like that . Personally , i think Harvicks’ action is what the concept of team is all about .
I don’t know all of the facts yet , probably no one does , but i agree with you completely concerning Bill Simpson . I get the impression that the SFI labels themselves had to be purchased from SFI ( at a very high price each i’m sure ) and that Impact was simply having the labels made from a cheaper source . I may be wrong about that , but as for Impact intentionally putting racers at risk , i’d have to see some pretty serious evidence before i’d believe it .
Matt, you and I both know how Earnhardt felt about plate racing. He simply said, “that ant racing”. I miss him every day, and NASCAR’s bottom line has been on the decline every since that day he hit that wall. Sterling’s carrer also ended that day even though it took him nine years to make it offical. No one can race with out money, but when racing is all about the money then, “that ant racing.”
Yes MrBill, Earnhardt’s death was the beginning of the decline in Nascar. It doesn’t have anything to do with the fact that the racing is boring, the tracks they race on are boring and the car is terrible to drive.
When Nascar sacrificed the racing to line their pockets, that’s when it started the decline.
joy…johnson has the points lead. shall we start to debate if he’ll lose it during the season or keep death grip on it?
i’m amazed that hornaday pulled over and let harvick have the lead and the win. is harvick running the entire truck season this year?
i’d love to see how hamlin gets in and out of car once he has his surgery. i’ve had knee surgery and it was painful getting in and out of car with a car door to use. be interesting to see how mears does in gibbs equipment. he had hendrick, childress and now will have seat time in gibbs.
the blood stains on na$car’s hands will hever go away, even if they used michael jackson’s skin bleaching cream. i said all along na$car killed dale. they had deaths prior to dale’s as a result of basial skull fractures. but no….they looked away. after blaise alexander’s death in october 2001 then did they mandate head and neck restraints. remember how stewart kicked and screamed about having to wear it.
was thinking about going to dega. with johnson in points lead….seriously will stay home and save my money. hope biffle has some strong runs, or a miracle happens and the 48 team has a stretch of mechanical failure or bad luck. if he keeps the points lead from now til end of season, na$car might as well just turn the lights out and let the door hit their arses on the way out.
Where was NA$CAR’s great concern with:
Dammit, Hamlin. My foot tastes like crap. I’d much rather have JJ’s 9th in my mouth.
Bill Simpson once lit himself on fire to prove how safe his equipment was for racers. He’s given away countless amounts of safety equipment to make sure drivers at the local level are running safely. To accuse him of intentionally putting out an unsafe product is not only irresponsible, it is flat out wrong. SFI should be ashamed.