NASCAR, IMSA and AMA Pro announce Fanschoice.TV
posted by Mike Neff
Wednesday March 12, 2014
Free live streaming of events will allow fans to view previously unavailable live events online
AMA Pro, NASCAR and IMSA announced the launch of Fanschoice.tv today. The free service will stream motorcycle races, sports car races and regional touring and local short track events. The first event will be the AMA Pro flat track 200 from the 1/4 mile dirt track at Daytona International Speedway.
Fans will have access to multiple camera angles, live timing and scoring and a feed from the track’s PA system. In addition to the touring events from IMSA, AMA and NASCAR, three NASCAR Home Tracks have already signed on to be part of the release. Langley Speedway in Hampton, VA., Lake County Speedway in Painesville, OH., and Evergreen Speedway in Monroe, WA. will have all of their races available for viewing on the new service.
NASCAR’s K&N Pro Series, Whelen Modified Tour and Whelen Southern Modified Tour will all be shown on Fanschoice.tv. The awards banquets for both the Whelen All-American Series and the Touring Series will also be streamed.
IMSA coverage will include streaming of its developmental and single-make series, as well as selected practice and qualifying sessions for the two IMSA national sports car series, TUDOR United SportsCar Championship and Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge that are part of the recently-announced five-year agreement with Fox Sports.
NASCAR Changes Qualifying Format
posted by Summer Bedgood
Tuesday March 11, 2014
Following safety concerns regarding NASCAR’s new qualifying format, the sanctioning body is introducing some changes in preparation for this weekend’s race at Bristol Motor Speedway. According to the Associated Press, NASCAR is banning teams from cool-down laps after their qualifying attempts, but will instead be allowed to hook up cool-down units to the engine through hood flaps.
Late Tuesday afternoon, a release from NASCAR fully detailed the changes. Teams will be allowed a single cool down unit to be connected through the right or left side hood flap, however the hood must remain closed. Additionally, two crew members will be allowed over the wall while cooling down.
“The qualifying is new to all of us and as we have said over the past several weeks, we are looking at it from all aspects,” said Robin Pemberton, vice president of competition and racing development. “Following discussions, both internally and with others in the garage area, we moved quickly to make a few revisions that will be effective starting with our two national series events at Bristol Motor Speedway this weekend. We believe this will only enhance and improve what has demonstrated to be an exciting form of qualifying for our fans, competitors and others involved with the sport. Moving forward we will continue to look at it and address anything else that we may need to as the season unfolds.”
The move comes after three weeks of NASCAR’s new knockout qualifying system, where multiple cars are allowed to make qualifying attempts at the same time instead of the traditional one-car-at-a-time procedure. Drivers and teams had complained that the new rules didn’t allow them to cool their engines down on pit road, and the cool-down laps caused a dangerous situation with slower cars staying on the track at the same time that other cars were running by them at much higher speeds.
The rule will begin this weekend in Bristol, a track that has a much narrower racing surface than Daytona, Phoenix, and Las Vegas.
Kurt Busch to Attempt The Indianapolis-Charlotte Double
posted by Phil Allaway
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Andretti Autosport announced this morning that Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet in the Sprint Cup Series, will attempt the Indianapolis 500 in a fifth entry for the IndyCar Series team. Once the Indianapolis 500 is completed, Busch will fly from Indianapolis to Charlotte, jump in his No. 41 Chevrolet and compete in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Busch considers the opportunity to do the double as an old-school throwback moment.
“This is really to challenge myself within motorsports,” Busch said in Andretti Autosport’s press release. “Perhaps I am a bit of an old-school racer; a throwback, I guess. I enjoyed the era of drivers racing different cars and testing themselves in other series. It is tough to do now for a variety of factors, but when the opportunity is there, I want to do it. While NASCAR is my home, I have been fortunate to compete in Pro Stock on the NHRA circuit a number of years ago and test a V8 Supercar. This opportunity was a talk with Michael [Andretti] over dinner one night, a “What if,” and now it’s becoming a reality for me to drive in the Indy 500 with Andretti Autosport. It’s literally a dream come true. To go to the famous Brickyard with the iconic Andretti name, it doesn’t get much cooler or better than that.”
Busch will be doing the Indianapolis-Charlotte double as a Memorial Day mission to men and women serving in the U.S. Military via the Armed Forces Foundation. Fans can contribute to the cause by texting AFF to 50555 to donate $10.
Busch, who has never raced an IndyCar, passed Rookie Orientation at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year during a test session. At the time, Busch was more or less testing the Dallara DW12 for fun.
Busch will be the fourth driver to attempt the Indianapolis-Charlotte double. John Andretti was the first driver to attempt it in 1994. After finishing four laps down in tenth in Indianapolis, Andretti crashed and had engine problems in the 600. Robby Gordon has attempted the double five times, most recently in 2004. However, Gordon failed to make it to Charlotte on time and did not start the 600 in 2000 (P.J. Jones started Gordon’s No. 13 Ford in that instance). Finally, Tony Stewart has attempted the double twice (most recently in 2001) and is the only driver to ever complete all 1100 miles. Neither of the three drivers has won either leg of the double. The best finishes are Stewart and Gordon’s sixth-place finishes at the Indianapolis 500 (although Gordon’s came in 2000, the year he didn’t make it to Charlotte in time to start the Coca-Cola 600), and Stewart’s fourth-place finish in the 2001 Coca-Cola 600.
Danica Patrick, Justin Allgaier Talk About Phoenix Incident
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
A disappointing start to the year for Danica Patrick won’t include continued conflict. Patrick met with rookie Justin Allgaier Sunday, shortly after the Phoenix Cup race after a wreck ruined both drivers’ days. Patrick, who was critical of the No. 51 car on the radio, claiming Allgaier was “driving all over the track” appeared receptive to a conversation that quickly settled differences over what will be a long season.
“She was just upset because she got involved in the crash that we had,’’ said Allgaier to the Motor Racing Network. “She says she’s been through this and that she felt like I needed to settle down at that point. I explained my position on why everything happened. I think she understood where I was coming from. It doesn’t fix either one of our racecars. It doesn’t fix either one of our days. Unfortunately, we were both having pretty decent days.’’
Allgaier wound up 30th due to the incident while Patrick was 36th. The incident, which was caused by Allgaier’s spin also involved the No. 32 team and Travis Kvapil, which wound up 38th after sustaining heavy damage.
Camping World Close to Extending Title Sponsorship of NCWTS
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Marcus Lemonis, CEO of Camping World, Grand Marshal of Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway, and star of CNBC’s “The Profit,” made the announcement over the weekend that the retailer is very close to announcing a deal that would continue its title sponsorship of NASCAR’s Truck Series. The original agreement with NASCAR is scheduled to conclude after the 2015 season.
According to the sanctioning body, no formal contract has been signed, but “the agreement between the two parties has proven to be a beneficial one.”
“In about a month, we’ll be announcing a significant extension to that contract. It’s been great for us,” said Camping World’s Lemonis in a statement. “The NASCAR relationship has worked well for Camping World. When we started, we had 35 stores. Now, we’re up to 120 stores. As we travel the country and we meet new customers in stores, they always are very appreciative of our relationship with NASCAR. It’s been good.”
Gaining a long-term commitment from Camping World to sponsor the Truck Series would be a relief for NASCAR, which is set to lose Nationwide Insurance as title sponsor for the NASCAR Nationwide Series at the end of the 2014 season. The sponsorship of the Cup Series by Sprint runs through 2016.
The NCWTS is back in action on March 29th at 2:30 PM (ET) when the trucks visit Martinsville Speedway in the Kroger 250, which can be seen on Fox Sports 1. Ratings for the season opener were up 11 percent.
Harvick Takes Win At Phoenix In Second Race With New Team
posted by Justin Tucker
Monday March 3, 2014
Phoenix International Raceway has become Kevin Harvick’s home away from home. Sunday Afternoon was no exception as Harvick charged to the front early and would dominate for much of the day, leading 224 of the scheduled 312 laps to record his record fifth win on the one mile oval and his third win in the last four races at Phoenix.
Harvick, coming off of a disappointing Speedweeks which was capped by a last lap crash in the Daytona 500 in his debut with Stewart-Haas Racing, set the tone on Saturday by winning both practices while having the best 5 and 10-lap averages in the first practice of the day on Saturday. On Sunday, Harvick and his No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet was nothing short of flawless as he was able to hold Dale Earnhardt, Jr. by .489 seconds after a late race restart to claim his 24th career Sprint Cup Series victory.
“Man, this is awesome,” Harvick said after his dominant victory on Sunday. “Man, this just solidifies so many things and so many decisions. It’s been so much work with all the time and effort that these guys (the crew) have put in—but what a race car.”
Stewart Haas Racing co-owner Gene Haas shared in Harvick’s excitement after the race.
“It took long enough,” Haas joked. “This is phenomenal. I think there was a lot of skepticism last year about what myself and Tony (Stewart) what we were up to, was there a lot of madness to this. Quite frankly, it’s a great team, there’s a lot of synergy at the shop, people working together. I don’t know what we did, but I think we put together a great organization.”
Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt, Jr. continued his hot start to the 2014 season. Earnhardt Jr. would finish second on Sunday, marking his seventh consecutive top 10 finish since the end of the 2013 season. Earnhardt Jr. was pleased with the effort after a coast-to-coast whirlwind week after winning his second Daytona 500 and also gave great praise to the efforts of Harvick and the No. 4 team.
“I’ve got to congratulate Kevin. Those guys were two-tenths faster than everyone all weekend in practice. They were just phenomenal,” Earnhardt said. “To be able to run with them all day was a big confidence builder for us.”
Joining Harvick and Earnhardt in the top 5 of The Profit on CNBC 500K were Brad Keselowski with his second consecutive top 3 run of 2014 in third. Keselowski’s Team Penske teammate Joey Logano would finish fourth, and Jeff Gordon would come home fifth in his No. 24 Pepsi Max Chevrolet.
Jimmie Johnson finished in sixth, followed by Ryan Newman with a nice rebound after Daytona in seventh. Carl Edwards would carry the banner for Roush Fenway Racing by finishing eighth, Kyle Busch was ninth, and Jamie McMurray would finish tenth.
A look at the Profit on CNBC 500K by the numbers. There were 14 lead changes among eight different drivers, there were eight cautions for 39 laps which slowed the race pace to 109.229 MPH.
Next Sunday, the Sprint Cup Series heads to Sin City and the Las Vegas Motor
Starting Lineup: The Profit On CNBC 500K
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday March 1, 2014
Drivers in RED (i) are those ineligible to collect Sprint Cup points
Daytona 500 TV Ratings Down
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Wednesday February 26, 2014
What was the longest weather delay in Daytona 500 history turned out to bring NASCAR lower ratings and TV viewership Sunday night than expected. According to a report Monday from FOX Sports, the 56th running of the Daytona 500 airing at 8 PM (ET) posted a 5.6/10 national household rating/share which averaged 9.3 million viewers. That’s down 44 percent from last year’s 9.9, easily making it the least-watched Daytona 500 of all-time.
Due to the six-hour, twenty-two minute rain delay in Daytona, the race was up against the primetime coverage of the Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony from Sochi, Russia on NBC (15.25 million viewers). FOX also reported that 69% of the pre-rain delay viewers of the race, which began at 1 PM (ET) kept tuning in.
In comparison, the 2013 Daytona 500 on FOX was the most-watched race in five years, posting a 9.9/22 rating/share, commanding 16.7 million viewers. The Daytona 500 in 2012, the first to ever be run on a Monday and in the primetime slot did a 7.7/13 overnight rating/share which resulted in 13.67 million households viewing the race according to Nielsen TV ratings data.
Earnhardt, Jr. Claims Second Daytona 500 Victory
posted by Justin Tucker
Wednesday February 26, 2014
Ten years is a long time. For Dale Earnhardt, Jr., it felt like an eternity. NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver endured many near misses and close calls at the Daytona 500 since his only win in the Great American Race in 2004. Earnhardt had finished second in two of his last three Daytona 500s coming into Sunday’s race. He was also riding the tail of a 55-race winless streak, dating back to Michigan in 2012.
However nothing would stop Dale Jr. on Sunday, not even a 6 hour and 22 minute rain delay from capturing his second Daytona 500 win. Earnhardt Jr. led a race-high 54 laps on the evening and used some timely drafting help from teammates Jimmie Johnson and, on the final restart, Jeff Gordon to separate from the pack and secure the victory.
“Winning this race is the greatest feeling that you could feel in this sport besides accepting the trophy for the championship,” said a jubilant Earnhardt after pulling into Victory Lane. “We could fight off battle after battle. We got a little help at the end there from Jeff to get away on the restart. This is amazing. I can’t believe this is happening. I never take this for granted, man because it doesn’t happen twice, let alone once.”
Aside from the race itself the big story of the race was the 6 hour and 22 minute red flag, which threatened to move the race to Monday evening (had the race been postponed, FOX Sports’ Chris Myers had tweeted that the race would resume at 5:00pm EST). However, Mother Nature would cooperate and would allow the race to be run under different conditions from which they practiced this week. Once the race resumed, the intensity picked up from the changing track conditions. This allowed the pack to race side-by-side and at times 3-wide up to seven rows deep.
Joining Earnhardt Jr. in the top 5 for the 2014 Daytona 500 were: Denny Hamlin who closed out a spectacular Speedweeks in second, Brad Keselowski in third, Jeff Gordon in fourth, and Jimmie Johnson who overcome two wrecks leading up to the 500 in fifth.
Rounding out the top 10 in the Daytona 500 were Matt Kenseth in sixth, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. in seventh and Greg Biffle would bring his No. 16 Ford home in eighth. Austin Dillon would come home ninth in his first Cup Series race in the iconic No. 3 for Richard Childress Racing, while Casey Mears would round out the top 10.
A couple of major contenders for the Daytona 500 win would see their hopes dashed early on as Martin Truex, Jr. would blow up just 30 laps into the race, relegating him to a 43rd-place finish in his debut for Furniture Row Racing. Crew chief Todd Berrier was already in Nashville for a test session before the race was even over. Kyle Busch, meanwhile would have a pit road violation just before halfway and would spend much of the race battling back from that mistake. Busch would eventually finish 19th after leading 19 laps.
Danica Patrick would also be bit by bad luck as she was caught up in a multi-car wreck on lap 145. Patrick would lead her second consecutive Daytona 500, but wouldn’t have the finish to show for it finishing 40th. Tony Stewart would encounter a frustrating evening as well, with a fuel pickup problem derailing his quest for his first Daytona 500 win. Stewart would finish 35th.
A look at the Daytona 500 by the numbers. There were 42 lead changes among 18 drivers, while seven cautions for 39 laps would slow the race pace to 145.290 MPH.
Next week, the Sprint Cup Series heads to the “diamond in the desert,” Phoenix International Raceway for The Profit on CNBC 500K. The Green flag is scheduled for 3:15pm EST.
Nationwide Series Post-Race Quotes: Drive4COPD 300
posted by Thomas Bowles
Tuesday February 25, 2014
Frontstretch Interviews – Courtesy Mike Neff
ELLIOTT SADLER – FINISHED 4th
Thoughts on the race?
It’s definitely a lot different racing than what we’re used to.
Comfortable with it?
Yeah, it’s just different. You’re worried about what you’re doing, but you’re also worried about what everyone else is doing and they’re not doing more than you’re doing. Physically pushing a guy is way better than just riding so you just gotta time it right and push it to the edge.
Happy to start the year with a top 5?
Yeah. Hell, that was the worst we ran all day, I think. I have no idea how they put the 3 car in front of us on that last restart. I hadn’t seen the 3 car hardly all day. When they put us from fifth to sixth, on the outside line, it just really boxed us in. I would have really restarted behind my teammate and given him a good push to the front. Anyways, it is what it is; we’ll take it and move on.
Looked like you were up front all day.
The guys did a good job. We had a fast race car. Great pit stops, just really proud of these guys. The car’s in one piece and we can take it to Talladega now. Great job by my guys. A lot of effort came into coming down here to Daytona and giving ourselves a shot to win. We had that chance to be up front and make some things happen. Fifth is not what we want, but we’ll take it and move on.
Bumping vs Pushing?
It’s way harder. You don’t want to lay on the guy in front of you, so it’s tough racing. A lot different than what we’re used to, ‘cause you gotta go. You gotta drag the brake too ‘cause you don’t want to hit the guys and you don’t want to stay on him. It’s a lot harder mentally than what we’ve done in the past.
Car was strong all day. Pushing vs. Bumping, is that harder to do than just getting on somebody and pushing them?
Yeah, it is a little bit. When you bump ‘em, you jar ‘em, it kinda jacks ‘em a little bit. It’s a little more abrupt, obviously. I thought it was OK there at the end. It was certainly fun and hopefully entertaining. But a little bit of a struggle in the early part of the race and the midpart of the race to see a good race. And that’s unfortunate for the fans. You can’t do that the whole race, you can’t tear up your stuff, knock your grill in, overheat your motor, all that stuff so there’s no sense in doing all that until you get down to the last lap. The 7 and the 6, they did a good job. Man, the 7 really held the 22 and I tight on the bottom. I was rubbing his door and hitting the apron at the same time, no room whatsoever. So it was good; wish we were the ones who could have won but a lot better now than what we were last year.
Going home in one piece makes it a lot better, right?
Yeah. My back feels good. My foot feels good. Past years here, I’ve been going home with pain so I’m alright.
Connect with Mike!
Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
Matt McLaughlin · Thursday April 15, 2010
As I get older, I get confused more often. That’s not good, because I spent a lot of my younger life dazed and confused already. I swore there was supposed to a be a Truck race this weekend out in Phoenix. Didn’t they used to race the trucks out at Phoenix in the spring? (Actually, not since 2000, you crazy bastard-Ed.) I mean c’mon, trucks and Arizona, right? It’s sort of like Harley Davidsons and Milwaukee.
Since I’m a high-tech redneck, I was able to do a little Internet surfing to find out where the Truck Series actually competes next, since I knew it had been awhile since I’d watched a Truck race in the background while catching up on my email and smoking my pipe. (Well, OK, I skipped Nashville so I could go riding and because the KHI strategy at Martinsville was so offensive to me.) The last time the Trucks ran was April 2 at Nashville. The next time they run is May 2 at Kansas. An entire month layoff this early in the season? No wonder the series struggles to gain traction. (Well that, and the fact SPEED comes in the same cable package that includes the Ugandan Cannibal Cooking Channel).
Now hang on just one dang tooting moment there, you cranky old man, some of you are thinking right now as you prepare to scroll down to the comments box below this column and leave some hate mail. Aren’t you Matt Pat Mick, the same cantankerous, aging hippie who just last week cried and whined that the Cup schedule is too danged long and there needs to be more off weekends so you can go ride your dang motorcycle and hopefully get hit by a bus? Now you’re going to raise a fuss and you’re going to raise a holler that the seemingly random long bits of time between Truck races is too long? What, are you dropping acid again? (Editor’s Note: We’ve been wondering the same lately)
Stick with me. Or don’t, I don’t care. You’ve heard of Goldilocks, right? (And I am so old, I dated her in high school before she left me for Baby Bear.) Well, you have three choices: too much, too little, and just right. The Cup schedule is too much. The Truck schedule is too little. A once grand experiment, racing pickup trucks, seems to be falling by the wayside of the American Experience, and survives only at the whims of a purveyor of motorized hunting shacks that get about two miles per gallon.
Back when it started 15 years ago (honestly, has it been that long?) the Truck Series, then backed by the badass side of Sears, seemed like a good idea. After all, in that kinder, gentler era of cheap gas and green weenies rants confined to Internet blogs nobody read, the Ford F-150 was the top selling vehicle in America. Its main rival, the Chevy/GMC C/K pickup series, was a perpetual number two runner-up. Ford and GM were locked in a life-and-death struggle to outsell one another when it came to trucks, whether they were bought by farmers who had to haul a load of manure to the back forty or a corner office executive with a cowboy hat and a cheap hair weave who never hauled anything heavier than a Starbucks mucho-grande-creamy-overpriced Cup of Joe. Pickups were cool, and damn, but were they profitable for the big car makers. Sure, Dodge made pickups too, but I’ve never known anyone who drove a Dodge truck other than the Forest Service and the Walt Whitman Bridge cops. Toyota made trucks as well, but the less said about that the better.
So as sales went through the roof, was there a better way to market hairy mastodons of pickups than an oval track series, wherein there were fast loud trucks that actually somewhat resembled their street counterparts: beating fenders, smoking tires, banging into walls, and knocking each other silly on the short tracks. Yeah, early Truck races epitomized the word “tough.” Hard-scrabble, poorly spoken rednecks like Jack Sprague and Mike Skinner (the first Truck Series champ) drug their knuckles along the ground on pit road and had at it on the track. Sure, the point-headed liberal New York City media types were driven to paroxysms of laughter at the notion of a bunch of rednecks on short tracks racing huge horsepower pickup trucks, but in the heartland, when you hadn’t spoken to your former best friend since he traded in his Silverado for an F-150 and left the “family,” the series was embraced. Fortunately, for early adopters the truck racing was typically the best of any given race weekend: hard-nosed, hard-fought, physical, and whiz your pants exciting. In that kinder, gentler era, back when dumpsters full of empty beer cans at the tracks had yet to be molten into the base stock of a Toyota Prius, all was sweetness and light.
I’m not sure what the original architects of the Truck Series envisioned for their baby back in the day, back when short tracks dominated the schedule. Maybe it was supposed to be the third rung of the ladder below the Cup and the Busch Series, another way to reach the big leagues. (Which worked out pretty well for some folks like Kevin Harvick, Carl Edwards, and Kurt Busch, but not so well for others like Hornaday, Bodine, Skinner. and Sprague.) Maybe it was supposed to be an equal to the Busch Series races which were being moved increasingly from the short tracks to companion events at the Cup Series’ big tracks. Maybe it was supposed to be a sop to those short tracks that were losing Cup and Busch dates and still needed an annual event that bought paying customers through the turnstiles. But whatever the original intentions of the Truck Series founders was, the series has gone so far astray a pack of bloodhounds couldn’t find it.
The first nail in the coffin was when the traditional racing networks like ESPN and TNT seemed to abandon the series. Maybe the television rights were too expensive, maybe the ratings weren’t there for the Trucks, or maybe cheaper programming like World’s Worst Car Chases, the X Games, and lumber sports were just more economically feasible. Somehow, by 2003 the Truck Series ended up on SPEED, the land of low-rent broadcasting talent, constant commercials, poor production values, and awkward time slots. SPEED TV: just another good idea that has been poorly executed and has alienated fans as it grew.
Certainly, the move from the short tracks that were its traditional cradle to companion events for the Cup series hurt the trucks. NASCAR saw fans were buying tickets for the truck races in smaller markets, and lusted after the bucks that might be generated at bigger tracks with more seats to fill. As such, the series lost its purity and its identity. The move to bigger tracks also bought in Cup team owners who dominated against the smaller teams with their mega-budgets and driver development programs. It was no longer the toughest drivers, but the best financed that were running up front.
The series original sponsor, Craftsman Tools, the darlings of blue collar Do-It-Your-Selfer sorts left after the 2008 season, taking with it a lot of the credibility and promotion the Truck series once enjoyed. To be honest, maybe it was a mercy killing. Sears, once the leading purveyor of high-quality goods for the working class as epitomized by their Craftsman brand, had become just another purveyor of Chinese-built, low quality crap to compete against Wal-Mart and K-Mart.
I don’t use my half-inch drive socket wrench all that often, and I still have the one I spent my hard-earned money on in high school three decades ago. It still has the feeling in my hand of a quality tool. I’ve brought back about two dozen broken 3/8th-inch ratchet wrenches to Sears in the intervening years (to increasing attitudes from sales associates who note the wrenches are all greasy and gross) before deciding last summer to bite the bullet and get a Snap-On replacement. The busted knuckles, pimply-faced teenagers’ attitudes, and the downtime on projects were no longer worth it. I haven’t walked into a Sears store since. Lord willing, the only time I will is if the hearse carrying by mortal remains crashes into one.
Sears’ departure left NASCAR with a prolonged and embarrassing search for a new title sponsor for their third-tier touring series. In the end, the best they could come up with was Camping World, a purveyor of motor homes and accessories just as gas began inching towards four dollars a gallon. Camping World’s promotion of the series has either resulted only in some embarrassingly bad advertisements, or I’m not shopping at the right mobile home park. I’m sorry, but if my last name was “Lemonis” I wouldn’t be appearing in my own ads anymore than a Dentist named “Dr. Payne” would take out billboards.
My lifestyle, chock full of automotive swap meets, hunting, snowmobile trips, and car races, has left me with an impression of the typical quality of an RV. They seem to be assembled by drunken blind men during a blizzard waving their propane torches, wire snips, and big hammers to and fro as they look for their next drink. Campers are like boats: everyone seems to want one at sometime in their life but once they actually acquire one, they rarely use it and spend more time fixing it than they actually do enjoying it. The two happiest days of a camper or boat owner are the day they buy it and the day they sell it.
Maybe I’m being too harsh. My main RV experience includes swapping a rebuilt 727 tranny into a 40-foot Champion in the breakdown lane of a Montana Interstate in snowy weather conditions that redefined the word “brutal.” (I had to. Nobody else wanted to fix it, and I had places to be…)
Anyways, to sum up, I feel the Truck Series has lost its way and is irretrievably broken. You may feel otherwise. I’m here to invite debate, not pronounce oracles. My second proposition is the notion of racing pickup trucks is valid given the competitive nature of that market, that short track racing is good, and NASCAR needs a new feeder series to channel talent to the top. So let’s start over again.
I envision a new Truck Series that runs from shortly before Memorial Day and wraps up before the NFL regular season. The Trucks feature spec bodies specific to each make and identical to their street counterparts right down to the door handles. Those bodies in white are available cheap, because they’re going to get bent up a lot as we return the series to mainly short track events at places fans today might never have heard of. Under the hood, you’ll find spec crate engines specific to each manufacturer. Our target goal is about 350 horsepower, easily attained by modern crate engines with enough durability that they’re sealed and need to be run for at least four events without a rebuild. The target price is around 3,500 bucks, carb to oil pan, balancer to flywheel. We need to make the entries cheap because we’re playing in smaller venues with less ticket revenue and thus, purse money is more modest. A good running team ought to be able to make a modest profit or at least sustain itself with perhaps some bucks thrown in by local sponsors for each event, be it a family-owned restaurant, wrecking yard, or auto parts house (the way it used to be.)
Because travel is such a huge expense we’ll run a west coast and east coast series. To further limit expenses, races will be of modest enough length (thus more excitement) that either no pit stops or one stop are needed. Only three men can go over the wall on pit stops: a fuel man and two tire changers carrying their own rubber and guns. Race lengths will be no more than 150 miles, and often less. Both divisions will run ten to twelve events a season. They’ll be broadcast on what network or networks chooses to be a partner in developing the new series during re-run season, where fresh programming is at a premium on Tuesday and Wednesday nights. Races will end by 9 PM local time and average about 90 minutes to two hours, including the pre-race and post-race coverage. The main promotion for the series will be on an internet site, with driver blogs and tweets, video highlights of each event, and the like. If YouTube can make stars of self promoting teenagers… so can we.
Most of the races will be short tracks with seating capacity: that means we don’t need RV driving loyalists to travel coast to coast. Instead, enough curious locals will show up to fill our seats. The price of tickets will be cheap, so much so that a fellow can bring his wife and kids to the track at the cost of a night out at a first run movie with a fast food dinner afterward. Admission to the race will also include free access to the infield for anyone over the age of fourteen, so fans can meet and get to know the drivers and teams on a personal level. We’re also going to get the Big Three back involved in racing in what they build, so each week one lucky-paying fan will win a brand new half-ton pickup from the manufacturer of their choice. (Oh, did I mention, Toyota gets the boot? A foreign manufacturer’s dominance is one of the reasons that the Truck Series has lost its luster.)
I’m open to and eager for a few dirt track races on each schedule.
The top six to ten drivers at end of the east and west coast seasons (and our points system rewards winning heavily over consistency) then go into a four-race playoff for a championship. How? NASCAR pays those teams trailering money to show up enough to make it worth their while. I’d envision those four playoff races being held at Darlington, North Wilkesboro, Rockingham, and Hillborough if the locals are successful in reopening that storied track. The championship races are Friday night under the lights, with a seven o’clock green flag time. Race lengths would be 75 miles at Hillsborough, 100 miles at North Wilkes and Rockingham, and 200 miles at Darlington, the Daytona 500 of our new series and perhaps the last race of the year. Can we make it work by Labor Day weekend?
Hell yeah, even if it means running two dates a week at tracks in close proximity a couple times a season. Ideally, the respective manufacturers would provide each team with a free new engine and body going into the playoffs. 500 points to win, 200 to finish second, 100 to the third-place finisher, 50 for fourth, and twenty for fifth. Everyone else gets a lovely parting gift, including a box full of worn out RV parts and dinner for the team at the Golden Corral or Waffle House. The series payoff for the champion is a cool million bucks (that ought to keep them up on the wheel) and guaranteed entry into the playoffs for the following three years, as long as they compete full-time that year in either coast’s series and win one race. Call it a modified form of franchising that you keep your key players in the public eye as we grow our series.
Who are our series’ best sponsors, willing to accept a modest return for backing us going to be? Hopefully BF Goodrich or Firestone, because I am sick to death of Goodyear’s shoddy products and the other tire makers being excluded. And let’s not forget about the car manufacturers, of course. For coverage, let’s grab newer TV networks looking to make a name for themselves without growing broke, as long as they are already part of a basic cable plan. Wal-Mart? This is, after all, a blue-collar division. (Let the teams camp at the local Wal-Mart the night before and after the race as long as they sign autographs.) A fast food company? We’re throwing it out there for corporate America to get involved at a fraction of their annual marketing budgets. Only they get to splash their corporate logos out there on the “next new thing” without dictating how the racing is conducted. As far as rules of engagement when it comes to on-track activity, if you didn’t maim or kill anyone to make a pass, you’re alright. This ain’t lawn tennis. Wrongs will be avenged next week, God willing, live in front of rabid fans and on TV.
Have I lost my mind? Perhaps. But I want to sit down for a couple hours on a work night and be entertained by old school racing, not a four hour endurance test of commercials occasionally interrupted by commercials. I want to set the Way-Back machine to somewhere around 1958, when a young driver named Richard Petty made his first Cup (well, actually Grand National at the time) start in a 33-mile race in Toronto and got booted into the wall by his Daddy Lee en route to a 575 dollar pay day. (Of course, in today’s dollars that would have to be at least 5,750 bucks, but you get the idea.) Think it won’t work? Remember, America has embraced shows like “American Idol” and “Dancing with the Dumbest Suspects on COPS on FOX” during the summertime…
Yeah, we’re going to create the newest batch of minor league stars, the best drivers who work a cotton mill or drive a tow truck during the week but never had a chance to drive in NASCAR racing because they’re too ugly or poorly spoken for corporate America. We’re going to give every hard-nosed race car driver regardless of their upbringing, color, creed, or gender a chance to win a million bucks if they don’t play nicely with others. We’re going back grassroots to the fertile mountain soil of the Carolina mountains that germinated the sport of stock car racing with the moonshiners, and we’re going to make current Cup racing look like a night at the local production company’s opera. We’re going to sell us some damned pickup trucks.
You in? Let’s roll.
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NA$CAR has too many touring series right now – there’s no need for both NW & trucks. First combine those two groups into one viable entity – maybe that would cut down on the start&parkers, too. Then apply your suggestions to the existing East/West series. They can run the trucks, or the trucks can stay as the step just below Cup. What ever body-style is run is less important than the rest of it – they could run school buses for all it matters so long as the racing is good.
With the dismal crowd the Trucks and Busch series got at Nashville and Phoenix, why not try going back to the short tracks like Irvindale on the west coast and Nashville Fairgrounds, North Wilkesboro, Hickory, South Boston, Rockingham all of these tracks and many others could hold 20,000 fans, which is probably the combined amount that saw the last 3 races live.
Same problem, different series. NASCAR doesn’t run what the dealers are selling so people quit watching. It is happening to NWS and Cup series also just to a lesser extent.
I especially like the idea of going back to more short tracks and other places such as Rockingham. When will nascar realize that short tracks usually give us better racing? I wish Cup would do that, but if they can’t, maybe the trucks can. Still, I know it’s a longshot, but we can hope and dream.
Don’t like the idea one bit Matt. The truck series does need some revitalization, but to basically turn it into the camping world east/west series that happens to be pickup trucks is… silly.
The truth is, they need to contain costs, but they also need to do a better job of marketing the event, making ticket prices less expensive, and getting the fans interested in racing again. Truth be told, the nationwide series coming to Gateway has ticket prices that START at 45 dollars a head. That is a lot of money for what is essentially the minor leagues of racing. When the trucks can sell their tickets for 10 bucks a pop, then they will get people to jump in. Until then, there will be empty seats with 4 trucks that can win the race.
nascar needs to tell these tracks they have to sell a min. numbers of tix to continue hosting these any of the touring series races. There are a large number of tracks that can sell 15,000 tix for the truck or Busch series, if nascar would lower the sanction fees they charge. I do believe $45.00 is a little steep for the cheap seats at these races, have a small number at $15-20 and go from there.
Damn straight, Let’s race some pickup trucks and NASCAR be damned. All you need is a crate motor, a roll cage, and a set of cojones.
Matt, your suggestion is called the K&N Pro Series. Does NASCAR needed another touring series at that level in trucks? I think not. Not to mention that the almighty dollar rules NASCAR’s decision making these days. Why would they want to demote one of its top series and make less money?