Kurt Busch to Attempt The Indianapolis-Charlotte Double
posted by Phil Allaway
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Andretti Autosport announced this morning that Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet in the Sprint Cup Series, will attempt the Indianapolis 500 in a fifth entry for the IndyCar Series team. Once the Indianapolis 500 is completed, Busch will fly from Indianapolis to Charlotte, jump in his No. 41 Chevrolet and compete in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Busch considers the opportunity to do the double as an old-school throwback moment.
“This is really to challenge myself within motorsports,” Busch said in Andretti Autosport’s press release. “Perhaps I am a bit of an old-school racer; a throwback, I guess. I enjoyed the era of drivers racing different cars and testing themselves in other series. It is tough to do now for a variety of factors, but when the opportunity is there, I want to do it. While NASCAR is my home, I have been fortunate to compete in Pro Stock on the NHRA circuit a number of years ago and test a V8 Supercar. This opportunity was a talk with Michael [Andretti] over dinner one night, a “What if,” and now it’s becoming a reality for me to drive in the Indy 500 with Andretti Autosport. It’s literally a dream come true. To go to the famous Brickyard with the iconic Andretti name, it doesn’t get much cooler or better than that.”
Busch will be doing the Indianapolis-Charlotte double as a Memorial Day mission to men and women serving in the U.S. Military via the Armed Forces Foundation. Fans can contribute to the cause by texting AFF to 50555 to donate $10.
Busch, who has never raced an IndyCar, passed Rookie Orientation at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year during a test session. At the time, Busch was more or less testing the Dallara DW12 for fun.
Busch will be the fourth driver to attempt the Indianapolis-Charlotte double. John Andretti was the first driver to attempt it in 1994. After finishing four laps down in tenth in Indianapolis, Andretti crashed and had engine problems in the 600. Robby Gordon has attempted the double five times, most recently in 2004. However, Gordon failed to make it to Charlotte on time and did not start the 600 in 2000 (P.J. Jones started Gordon’s No. 13 Ford in that instance). Finally, Tony Stewart has attempted the double twice (most recently in 2001) and is the only driver to ever complete all 1100 miles. Neither of the three drivers has won either leg of the double. The best finishes are Stewart and Gordon’s sixth-place finishes at the Indianapolis 500 (although Gordon’s came in 2000, the year he didn’t make it to Charlotte in time to start the Coca-Cola 600), and Stewart’s fourth-place finish in the 2001 Coca-Cola 600.
Danica Patrick, Justin Allgaier Talk About Phoenix Incident
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
A disappointing start to the year for Danica Patrick won’t include continued conflict. Patrick met with rookie Justin Allgaier Sunday, shortly after the Phoenix Cup race after a wreck ruined both drivers’ days. Patrick, who was critical of the No. 51 car on the radio, claiming Allgaier was “driving all over the track” appeared receptive to a conversation that quickly settled differences over what will be a long season.
“She was just upset because she got involved in the crash that we had,’’ said Allgaier to the Motor Racing Network. “She says she’s been through this and that she felt like I needed to settle down at that point. I explained my position on why everything happened. I think she understood where I was coming from. It doesn’t fix either one of our racecars. It doesn’t fix either one of our days. Unfortunately, we were both having pretty decent days.’’
Allgaier wound up 30th due to the incident while Patrick was 36th. The incident, which was caused by Allgaier’s spin also involved the No. 32 team and Travis Kvapil, which wound up 38th after sustaining heavy damage.
Camping World Close to Extending Title Sponsorship of NCWTS
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Marcus Lemonis, CEO of Camping World, Grand Marshal of Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway, and star of CNBC’s “The Profit,” made the announcement over the weekend that the retailer is very close to announcing a deal that would continue its title sponsorship of NASCAR’s Truck Series. The original agreement with NASCAR is scheduled to conclude after the 2015 season.
According to the sanctioning body, no formal contract has been signed, but “the agreement between the two parties has proven to be a beneficial one.”
“In about a month, we’ll be announcing a significant extension to that contract. It’s been great for us,” said Camping World’s Lemonis in a statement. “The NASCAR relationship has worked well for Camping World. When we started, we had 35 stores. Now, we’re up to 120 stores. As we travel the country and we meet new customers in stores, they always are very appreciative of our relationship with NASCAR. It’s been good.”
Gaining a long-term commitment from Camping World to sponsor the Truck Series would be a relief for NASCAR, which is set to lose Nationwide Insurance as title sponsor for the NASCAR Nationwide Series at the end of the 2014 season. The sponsorship of the Cup Series by Sprint runs through 2016.
The NCWTS is back in action on March 29th at 2:30 PM (ET) when the trucks visit Martinsville Speedway in the Kroger 250, which can be seen on Fox Sports 1. Ratings for the season opener were up 11 percent.
Harvick Takes Win At Phoenix In Second Race With New Team
posted by Justin Tucker
Monday March 3, 2014
Phoenix International Raceway has become Kevin Harvick’s home away from home. Sunday Afternoon was no exception as Harvick charged to the front early and would dominate for much of the day, leading 224 of the scheduled 312 laps to record his record fifth win on the one mile oval and his third win in the last four races at Phoenix.
Harvick, coming off of a disappointing Speedweeks which was capped by a last lap crash in the Daytona 500 in his debut with Stewart-Haas Racing, set the tone on Saturday by winning both practices while having the best 5 and 10-lap averages in the first practice of the day on Saturday. On Sunday, Harvick and his No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet was nothing short of flawless as he was able to hold Dale Earnhardt, Jr. by .489 seconds after a late race restart to claim his 24th career Sprint Cup Series victory.
“Man, this is awesome,” Harvick said after his dominant victory on Sunday. “Man, this just solidifies so many things and so many decisions. It’s been so much work with all the time and effort that these guys (the crew) have put in—but what a race car.”
Stewart Haas Racing co-owner Gene Haas shared in Harvick’s excitement after the race.
“It took long enough,” Haas joked. “This is phenomenal. I think there was a lot of skepticism last year about what myself and Tony (Stewart) what we were up to, was there a lot of madness to this. Quite frankly, it’s a great team, there’s a lot of synergy at the shop, people working together. I don’t know what we did, but I think we put together a great organization.”
Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt, Jr. continued his hot start to the 2014 season. Earnhardt Jr. would finish second on Sunday, marking his seventh consecutive top 10 finish since the end of the 2013 season. Earnhardt Jr. was pleased with the effort after a coast-to-coast whirlwind week after winning his second Daytona 500 and also gave great praise to the efforts of Harvick and the No. 4 team.
“I’ve got to congratulate Kevin. Those guys were two-tenths faster than everyone all weekend in practice. They were just phenomenal,” Earnhardt said. “To be able to run with them all day was a big confidence builder for us.”
Joining Harvick and Earnhardt in the top 5 of The Profit on CNBC 500K were Brad Keselowski with his second consecutive top 3 run of 2014 in third. Keselowski’s Team Penske teammate Joey Logano would finish fourth, and Jeff Gordon would come home fifth in his No. 24 Pepsi Max Chevrolet.
Jimmie Johnson finished in sixth, followed by Ryan Newman with a nice rebound after Daytona in seventh. Carl Edwards would carry the banner for Roush Fenway Racing by finishing eighth, Kyle Busch was ninth, and Jamie McMurray would finish tenth.
A look at the Profit on CNBC 500K by the numbers. There were 14 lead changes among eight different drivers, there were eight cautions for 39 laps which slowed the race pace to 109.229 MPH.
Next Sunday, the Sprint Cup Series heads to Sin City and the Las Vegas Motor
Starting Lineup: The Profit On CNBC 500K
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday March 1, 2014
Drivers in RED (i) are those ineligible to collect Sprint Cup points
Daytona 500 TV Ratings Down
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Wednesday February 26, 2014
What was the longest weather delay in Daytona 500 history turned out to bring NASCAR lower ratings and TV viewership Sunday night than expected. According to a report Monday from FOX Sports, the 56th running of the Daytona 500 airing at 8 PM (ET) posted a 5.6/10 national household rating/share which averaged 9.3 million viewers. That’s down 44 percent from last year’s 9.9, easily making it the least-watched Daytona 500 of all-time.
Due to the six-hour, twenty-two minute rain delay in Daytona, the race was up against the primetime coverage of the Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony from Sochi, Russia on NBC (15.25 million viewers). FOX also reported that 69% of the pre-rain delay viewers of the race, which began at 1 PM (ET) kept tuning in.
In comparison, the 2013 Daytona 500 on FOX was the most-watched race in five years, posting a 9.9/22 rating/share, commanding 16.7 million viewers. The Daytona 500 in 2012, the first to ever be run on a Monday and in the primetime slot did a 7.7/13 overnight rating/share which resulted in 13.67 million households viewing the race according to Nielsen TV ratings data.
Earnhardt, Jr. Claims Second Daytona 500 Victory
posted by Justin Tucker
Wednesday February 26, 2014
Ten years is a long time. For Dale Earnhardt, Jr., it felt like an eternity. NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver endured many near misses and close calls at the Daytona 500 since his only win in the Great American Race in 2004. Earnhardt had finished second in two of his last three Daytona 500s coming into Sunday’s race. He was also riding the tail of a 55-race winless streak, dating back to Michigan in 2012.
However nothing would stop Dale Jr. on Sunday, not even a 6 hour and 22 minute rain delay from capturing his second Daytona 500 win. Earnhardt Jr. led a race-high 54 laps on the evening and used some timely drafting help from teammates Jimmie Johnson and, on the final restart, Jeff Gordon to separate from the pack and secure the victory.
“Winning this race is the greatest feeling that you could feel in this sport besides accepting the trophy for the championship,” said a jubilant Earnhardt after pulling into Victory Lane. “We could fight off battle after battle. We got a little help at the end there from Jeff to get away on the restart. This is amazing. I can’t believe this is happening. I never take this for granted, man because it doesn’t happen twice, let alone once.”
Aside from the race itself the big story of the race was the 6 hour and 22 minute red flag, which threatened to move the race to Monday evening (had the race been postponed, FOX Sports’ Chris Myers had tweeted that the race would resume at 5:00pm EST). However, Mother Nature would cooperate and would allow the race to be run under different conditions from which they practiced this week. Once the race resumed, the intensity picked up from the changing track conditions. This allowed the pack to race side-by-side and at times 3-wide up to seven rows deep.
Joining Earnhardt Jr. in the top 5 for the 2014 Daytona 500 were: Denny Hamlin who closed out a spectacular Speedweeks in second, Brad Keselowski in third, Jeff Gordon in fourth, and Jimmie Johnson who overcome two wrecks leading up to the 500 in fifth.
Rounding out the top 10 in the Daytona 500 were Matt Kenseth in sixth, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. in seventh and Greg Biffle would bring his No. 16 Ford home in eighth. Austin Dillon would come home ninth in his first Cup Series race in the iconic No. 3 for Richard Childress Racing, while Casey Mears would round out the top 10.
A couple of major contenders for the Daytona 500 win would see their hopes dashed early on as Martin Truex, Jr. would blow up just 30 laps into the race, relegating him to a 43rd-place finish in his debut for Furniture Row Racing. Crew chief Todd Berrier was already in Nashville for a test session before the race was even over. Kyle Busch, meanwhile would have a pit road violation just before halfway and would spend much of the race battling back from that mistake. Busch would eventually finish 19th after leading 19 laps.
Danica Patrick would also be bit by bad luck as she was caught up in a multi-car wreck on lap 145. Patrick would lead her second consecutive Daytona 500, but wouldn’t have the finish to show for it finishing 40th. Tony Stewart would encounter a frustrating evening as well, with a fuel pickup problem derailing his quest for his first Daytona 500 win. Stewart would finish 35th.
A look at the Daytona 500 by the numbers. There were 42 lead changes among 18 drivers, while seven cautions for 39 laps would slow the race pace to 145.290 MPH.
Next week, the Sprint Cup Series heads to the “diamond in the desert,” Phoenix International Raceway for The Profit on CNBC 500K. The Green flag is scheduled for 3:15pm EST.
Nationwide Series Post-Race Quotes: Drive4COPD 300
posted by Thomas Bowles
Tuesday February 25, 2014
Frontstretch Interviews – Courtesy Mike Neff
ELLIOTT SADLER – FINISHED 4th
Thoughts on the race?
It’s definitely a lot different racing than what we’re used to.
Comfortable with it?
Yeah, it’s just different. You’re worried about what you’re doing, but you’re also worried about what everyone else is doing and they’re not doing more than you’re doing. Physically pushing a guy is way better than just riding so you just gotta time it right and push it to the edge.
Happy to start the year with a top 5?
Yeah. Hell, that was the worst we ran all day, I think. I have no idea how they put the 3 car in front of us on that last restart. I hadn’t seen the 3 car hardly all day. When they put us from fifth to sixth, on the outside line, it just really boxed us in. I would have really restarted behind my teammate and given him a good push to the front. Anyways, it is what it is; we’ll take it and move on.
Looked like you were up front all day.
The guys did a good job. We had a fast race car. Great pit stops, just really proud of these guys. The car’s in one piece and we can take it to Talladega now. Great job by my guys. A lot of effort came into coming down here to Daytona and giving ourselves a shot to win. We had that chance to be up front and make some things happen. Fifth is not what we want, but we’ll take it and move on.
Bumping vs Pushing?
It’s way harder. You don’t want to lay on the guy in front of you, so it’s tough racing. A lot different than what we’re used to, ‘cause you gotta go. You gotta drag the brake too ‘cause you don’t want to hit the guys and you don’t want to stay on him. It’s a lot harder mentally than what we’ve done in the past.
Car was strong all day. Pushing vs. Bumping, is that harder to do than just getting on somebody and pushing them?
Yeah, it is a little bit. When you bump ‘em, you jar ‘em, it kinda jacks ‘em a little bit. It’s a little more abrupt, obviously. I thought it was OK there at the end. It was certainly fun and hopefully entertaining. But a little bit of a struggle in the early part of the race and the midpart of the race to see a good race. And that’s unfortunate for the fans. You can’t do that the whole race, you can’t tear up your stuff, knock your grill in, overheat your motor, all that stuff so there’s no sense in doing all that until you get down to the last lap. The 7 and the 6, they did a good job. Man, the 7 really held the 22 and I tight on the bottom. I was rubbing his door and hitting the apron at the same time, no room whatsoever. So it was good; wish we were the ones who could have won but a lot better now than what we were last year.
Going home in one piece makes it a lot better, right?
Yeah. My back feels good. My foot feels good. Past years here, I’ve been going home with pain so I’m alright.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Truck Series Post-Race Quotes: Daytona (Exclusives)
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday February 22, 2014
When you’re on the outside like that, how frustrating is it?
It’s so hard. Timothy Peters has won here. Kyle Busch has won everywhere. Ron Hornaday has been running Trucks forever, probably before I was even born. I was surrounded by veterans there, and like I told them I don’t have a rookie stripe but I’m a rookie. This is only my fourth Truck race ever, my fourth superspeedway race, and man, I figured out when the 17 got up in front of me, I pushed him. And as soon as I pushed him, he took off. And I went with him. And I just kept doing it, and before I knew it, he was leading. And I saw Ron in my mirror, backed up to him, and if it wasn’t for him, I don’t know what would have happened. I gotta thank him big time for that. That was a true teammate move right there. I really appreciate that. He just bounced off me and we got to the front. I tried my hardest to sidedraft Kyle. I was probably touching his door.
Top 5 in the No. 30 truck. This deal come together at the last minute, but you had a heck of a truck. Tell us about your night.
Yeah, I’ve got to thank Turner Scott Motorsports. The guys worked so hard on this Rheem Comfort Products Chevrolet. Exciting! Just got hung up on the outside and had to wait for my teammate there to catch up. And then he got to the bottom, so… I got the old 32 and started pushing ol’ Ryan to the front. So, it’s not bad. We’ll take it. You just don’t want to step over that boundary. You don’t know how far to push and shove. We bumped about six times down the straightaway without latching onto them. Hopefully, that was OK and we came home with a top 5.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Budweiser Duels Post Race Quotes
posted by Matt Stallknecht
Friday February 21, 2014
BUDWEISER DUELS POST-RACE QUOTES
They’re saying the wheel bearing burned up in it. I don’t know what caused it, they’re taking it all apart to figure out what the heck happened. Something abnormal that’s for sure I don’t think I’ve ever had that happen at all. Hopefully, we made the race and hopefully we can fix the problem before Sunday.
WHAT WAS THAT LOUD BOOM ONCE YOU TURNED INTO THE GARAGE?
Loud pop was a tire… thankfully, it popped, hopefully it didn’t hurt anybody. All the heat created in the left front that popped was pretty weird.
REALLY GOOD RUN. WHAT DID YOU THINK OF IT?
Yeah, it was good. We have a car we can work with for the 500. Got a good starting spot, so we’re going to rest easy, fluff and buff our car for a couple of days and get ready for Sunday.
ANY DIFFERENCE ON WHETHER THE TOP OR BOTTOM LANE WORKED?
Yeah, I was just moving around, trying to stay with the flow. For me, this car works on all parts of the racetrack. So I’m pretty happy with it.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.
GOT SHUFFLED BACK, AFTER PIT STOPS AND THEN COULDN’T GET BACK UP TO THE FRONT. WHY?
Nah, we were just sitting there waiting until the last few laps to make a move. You didn’t want to pull down and get sent to the back. Seen a couple of guys get sent to the back really quick so we were just kind of waiting for the end. I felt like we had a good situation there with Ambrose behind us — we had a good run off Turn 2 and I went. It was the last lap, time to go do something, nobody went with us but hopefully Sunday is a different story.
We got a great car. We don’t have to work hard. We learned, we got a good race car. Got a car in one piece, ready to go so we’ll try and get through the next couple of practices, deliver it to the starting group this Sunday and we’ll be real happy.
YOU’RE IN THE DAYTONA 500!
Yeah, it’s pretty awesome. This Whitetail Chevrolet was so fast that I knew all I had to do was stick it behind smart, intelligent drafters and we could have a good finish. That’s what we did in the Duels and I’m excited. I’m excited to go do some stuff with the Nationwide car and have some more practice with this. But to know that we’re locked in the Daytona 500’s pretty cool.
YOU WERE OBVIOUSLY IN FRONT OF THAT MELEE AT THE END. WHEN YOU WERE UP FRONT THERE IN THE BEGINNING, WERE YOU HOPING TO JUST STAY IN LINE AND LET YOU FINISH TOP 5?
I was pretty content to ride and luckily I knew a lot of people around us were. It was nice to have a little calm and not really have to be racing hard the whole time. I knew that the pit stop was going to shake everything up and that’s exactly what happened. Fell back a little bit there but made the right moves at the end to get a good finish.
HOW STRONG ARE THESE RCR CARS?
They’re very strong! They definitely have the capabilities to be winning one of these races.
YOU’RE IN THE TOP 5 FOR YOUR HEAT IN THE DAYTONA 500. YOUR PRIMARY CAR IS SITTING RIGHT IN THE GARAGE, KIND OF WADDED UP. DID YOU THINK THIS ONE HAD IT IN IT?
Yeah, it’s a brand new car also. It’s just not quite as good as the primary but still a damned good car. I’m just proud of everybody at RCR for building such fast race cars. All of our cars have been fast, ECR motor’s been strong, even our affiliate teams have been qualifying really good and racing good. So… excited about 2014! It’s going to be a good year.
WELL MAN, YOU STARTED IN THE BACK BUT WORKED YOUR WAY TO THE FRONT WHEN IT COUNTED MOST. WERE YOU JUST BIDING YOUR TIME THROUGHOUT THE RACE?
Eh, you never know if you’re going to get back up there or not. We had to start at the back, we had to make a run early and see what we could do. We drove right to 10th, or something like that and then it got stagnant. We tried to make something happen, and went to the back again. Drove back up to the front. Again, just really proud of my guys. Matt Kruder did a hell of a job on that pit stop getting just enough gas in to gain some spots there.
RCR CARS SEEM PRETTY DARNED STRONG. DO YOU THINK THE RCR CARS HAVE SOMETHING FOR THEM ON SUNDAY — ESPECIALLY THE THREE JOE GIBBS RACING CARS THAT SEEM TO BE THE CLASS OF THE FIELD RIGHT NOW?
Oh yeah. The 20 car was extremely fast. The 11 didn’t qualify that good, but he’s a good drafter. I think he won. We definitely have something for him.
Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
Matt McLaughlin · Tuesday April 20, 2010
The Key Moment – Denny Hamlin muscled his way past Jeff Burton on the final restart and held off a hard-charging Jimmie Johnson to claim his second win in the last three races. NASCAR officials must have had their flights booked, because they didn’t even bother to throw a debris caution on the final two laps to let Johnson win.
In a Nutshell – You know, if you only watch the final twenty minutes of these things the racing isn’t too bad this year.
Dramatic Moment – On a restart with 17 laps to go, some cars had four fresh tires and others had two. Some major scrambling ensued; Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart got to arguing over real estate, and Carl Edwards weighed in for the same acreage when Stewart got sideways. The resulting wreck decimated some very competitive cars.
It seems maybe Jeff Gordon is getting sick of getting beat by Jimmie Johnson. They had a few extracurricular moments out on the track Monday that would have had Ms. Manners’ sphincter slam shut like a steel rose.
What They’ll Be Talking About Around the Water Cooler This Week
After making contact with the No. 48, over his radio Jeff Gordon opined that Jimmie Johnson was just sore because he’s used to being treated differently than everyone else. Wow. I seem to recall another young multi-time champion who drove for Rick Hendrick that had the same attitude a decade ago. Mr. Dog, meet Mr. Fire Hydrant. Who’s pissing on who?
You figure with the way Denny Hamlin is running, some drivers struggling to get traction this year are going to schedule unnecessary knee surgery to see if it makes them faster, too?
It’s been awhile since I’ve seen Jeff Gordon race that aggressively, but then again, it’s been awhile since he had a car that dominant. Even the Vegas car wasn’t as good as his Texas mount. Is Gordon getting frustrated because of the quality of rides some weeks, or something else? Whatever the case, it’s now been a year since the winningest active driver won a Cup race. What’s Johnson going to do to piss Gordon off next… start dating Brooke?
The TV commentators and even some of the drivers said there was no appreciable difference at Texas despite the change from the rear wing to the rear blade spoiler. But in watching several instances of cars getting close together side-by-side, it seemed the new aero package was causing the inside car to get bad loose, particularly if the outside car was a few inches ahead. My guess is NASCAR needs to re-balance the cars to put more weight on the front tires. A spate of blown right rears seems to bear that out.
Guess what the weather forecast is for Talladega next weekend? A 60% chance of thunderstorms on Saturday and Sunday. Oh, joy!
The official party line is that Hendrick Motorsports and Stewart-Haas Racing are two separate entities. It has to be, since all team owners are limited by the rules to four cars, and any insinuation that’s not the case by the media causes all sort of ill tempers to flow. There’s just one problem with this whole arrangement: someone better tell Tony Stewart. For two years now, he’s constantly referred to Johnson, Gordon, and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. as teammates.
For the record: one hour and forty five minutes. That’s how long it took me to watch the race on the DV-R while fast forwarding through commercials, the Hollywood Hotel inane chatter, and watching the pace car lead the field around in circles. It’s like a video game: When Darrell Waltrip starts talking, you have to be fast on that FF button (and once he does, he’s usually at it awhile.) Note to self: pick up a fresh set of Duracell AAs tomorrow.
So Kasey Kahne is going to be driving the No. 5 car in 2012, but hasn’t announced his plans for 2011 beyond the fact he won’t be back with RPM. Nobody’s discussing it quite yet, but if I was Dale Earnhardt I’d shave, let someone else count the nightly receipts at the Whiskey River saloons, and start winning some damn races.
Isn’t it interesting that Kasey Kahne is already addressing his boss to be as “Mr. Hendrick” even though he calls his current titular boss “Richard.”
One possible home for Kahne being bandied about is a third seat at Stewart-Haas Racing, the de facto fifth and sixth Hendrick teams. Naturally, such a move would be contingent on Bud following Kahne to his new home (and Bud was involved with Rick Hendrick for many years) or a new sponsor signing on with the outfit. I can’t help but recall last year Richard Childress Racing struggled with four teams, and it seemed that they turned things around about the time they decided to cut back to three. Sometimes, too much is just enough, and sometimes, too much is just too much.
One final thought on Kasey Kahne prior to Thursday’s column (and for the record, it’s already written. I’m going to Carlisle this week for the semi-annual Pilgrimage to Mecca for Gearheads). Longtime readers know I am a huge fan of Jayski’s Silly Season page, and to a large extent my so-called career is owed to Jay’s choice to add links to other site’s columns. It used to be that in the ’90s, Silly Season started in the early fall, as drivers decided where they’d compete the following year. Now, we have a high profile driver announcing his plans not for 2011, but for a year hence seven races into the current season. Silly Season is now officially 365 days long, if not 730 days long. Of course, from an outsider’s view it’ll be interesting to see if GM is even still involved with our sport by 2012. I hear they lost a few bucks last year, and there’s no telling if the upcoming and highly touted Volt might not be a rolling barbecue pit when it is finally released. Remember the Vega? Or the Citation? Or the Aztek?
I guess it’s just an unintended consequence of the rule that locks the top 35 in the field in each week’s Cup race, but “crowds” for qualifying on Fridays lately have not only been a bit sparse but downright pathetic. You have to wonder if it even paid for TMS management to hire folks to collect the tickets, provide security (to chase motorcyclists away at the most unfriendly track on the planet for two-wheel types) and pickup the trash afterwards on qualifying day. If I was a track owner, I think I’d just let whoever wanted to come to qualifying in free, in hopes of getting some first-time fans to find out where the track was located, experience what it looked and sounded like live and in person, then sell a few unwanted tickets for Sunday’s event. It wasn’t all that long ago, at least not in the grand scheme of things, that I used to pay ten bucks (equivalent to five gallons of gas or two six-packs back in the day) to watch qualifying at Pocono and spend an hour in traffic trying to the leave the track after the field was set.
Eddie Gossage, TMS track promoter, and I haven’t always seen eye-to-eye, particularly when it came to the issue of fans being able to bring their own coolers to the track. Eventually, that issue blew over with the end result being coolers are still welcome at Texas (even if they do still hate two-wheelers.) That being said, it was great to see Gossage back at the track, seemingly healthy and a little lighter, after his recent unspecified health scare. Been there, done that. Growing old sucks, but it beats the alternative.
Speaking of qualifying, what’s happened to Ryan Newman on Fridays? Recall from 2002 to 2007, Newman won at least five poles a season. In 2003, he qualified first eleven times. Newman’s last pole was scored at Martinsville last fall, and this year he’s averaging a fifteenth-place qualifying spot.
It sounded like a plan in the beginning. TMS announced because of the inconvenience caused by this weekend’s crappy weather, fans holding tickets to either the Nationwide race or the Cup race could enjoy both events on Monday at no extra charge as long as they could stick around. But the press release went on to note that fans who hadn’t been planning to attend either race but wanted to come by for the “double-header” on Monday could do so … with ticket prices starting “as low as” 91 bucks. Let’s face it: if you can go to the races on Monday, very likely you are either unemployed, underemployed, or retired and likely living on a fixed income. 91 bucks is a lot of money. I remember in the old days, Pocono and Dover used to admit fans for free on Monday if bad weather forced the races to be postponed.
Is there anything better than rain at the race track leading to extended pre-race coverage? I mean, other than your HMO deciding the hospital janitor is going to perform your next colonoscopy using a lightly buttered, ’70’s era Polaroid camera duct-taped to a broom handle?
It was interesting that one of the themes of Saturday’s extended rain delay coverage was the fact that these days, rookies only have a short period to prove themselves before being released. The host(ess) of the program was Nicole Briscoe, who might have outlived her rookie status as a broadcaster. Honestly, it was painful to watch her. It was almost as if you could see the shadow of the folks writing her intelligent questions occasionally, but when she had to ad lib it was as if we were watching the Miss Illinois contest again. Her constant repetitions that the track was “a little damp” during downpours made me think that she’d have to change into a cheerleader outfit during commercial break. It’s just another example of modern TV’s notion of how to fix sagging ratings: PIAB (Plug in another blonde.)
Has it really been that long? On April 19th, fully eight years ago, Jack Roush was critically injured and almost drowned during an experimental aircraft accident during the Talladega race weekend. Though I’m sure he’s enjoyed his return to private life, let’s give another shout out to retired Marine Sergeant Larry Hicks, who saved Roush’s life at considerable risk to his own.
The Hindenburg Award For Foul Fortune
Jeff Gordon clearly had the fastest car at Texas, but got caught up in that late-race wreck. You can blame him, Stewart, or Edwards for that mess, but it’s just another sign that when in contention for wins, Gordon just isn’t sealing the deal anymore.
Jeff Burton overcame a pit road penalty (commitment cone violation) and stormed back to the front to take the lead late in the race. As Burton might say, he “put himself in position” to take home the victory … but it didn’t last. Not only did he end up surrendering the lead to Hamlin, but the No. 31 car took an unplanned trip into the outside wall, leaving RCR’s veteran 12th in the final rundown.
David Reutimann had a solid top-10 and even top-5 car before his engine expired in spectacular fiery fashion.
Tony Stewart squandered an unexpected pole and a strong run when his car became the Blue Diamond Strike Anywhere match that ignited the big wreck. (As I saw it, Gordon got into the left rear of the No. 14 car, getting it squirelly. Carl Edwards tried to dive down a lane to avoid Stewart’s suddenly slowing car, but Stewart moved down as well trying to catch his Chevy and Edwards got into the back of him.)
They might have been only 90,000 strong, half the size of the anticipated crowd at Texas due to the rain delay, but it seemed each time the No. 88 car and Junior took the lead the cheering shook the very core of the earth. Yet somehow, the No. 88 outfit once again managed to tune excellence into mediocrity with an eighth-place fade heading to the checkers.
The “Seven Come Fore Eleven” Award For Fine Fortune
I really thought that after Denny Hamlin had his knee surgery, he’d run the car to the first caution and abandon ship a couple months. Now, he’s won two of the last three races. That’s sort of comforting, considering I may be awaiting ACL surgery as well.
It was a pretty fair Monday for Kyle Busch. He finished third in the Cup race despite having a car so bad at the start he wanted to take it to the garage area. Then, he completely dominated the Nationwide race to score his fifth victory in that series at Texas.
For the second straight week, Mark Martin grabbed a competitive finish at the end of a race after having been out to lunch most of the event. At one point Monday, he was actually a lap down.
Kasey Kahne also struggled to stay on the lead lap and inside the top 20 before that field-decimating wreck allowed him to escape Texas with a top 5.
Jimmie Johnson’s bout of bad temper, deciding to run into the side of the No. 24 car, eventually cost him a cut down tire. He hit the wall late in the race gunning for a win, but still managed to hold on to second place.
Kevin Harvick snaked his way through the big wreck en route to a seventh-place finish.
Ryan Newman did a nifty bit of driving to dive below the big wreck en route to an 11th-place result. In even better news, there are unconfirmed reports the mangled corpse of Little Digger was found stuck in the No. 39 car’s rear suspension after Newman took it to the grass.
What’s the Points?
Jimmie Johnson’s runner-up finish didn’t add any drama atop the standings. Just eight races in, he’s already leading “rival” Matt Kenseth by 108 points. Greg Biffle, Kevin Harvick, and Jeff Gordon round out the top 5, with none of their positions changing from last week.
Behind them, there was plenty of movement. Kyle Busch made quite a jump in the standings, high-stepping it from twelfth to sixth. The anointed one, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. climbed up three spots to seventh, while Jeff Burton dropped a spot to eighth. Kurt Busch followed his brother’s lead, bouncing back up to ninth from fourteenth while Mark Martin moved back inside the Chase to tenth.
Denny Hamlin made the biggest leap of anyone this week, leaping seven positions from eighteenth to eleventh in the standings. Joey Logano and Tony Stewart are tied for 12th, with Clint Bowyer just one point behind them in 14th. Carl Edwards, Ryan Newman, and Martin Truex, Jr. are also solidly in Chase contention; they’re 15th, 16th, and 17th, respectively, while all within 25 points of Logano/Stewart.
Overall Rating (On a scale of one to six beer cans, with one being a stinker and a six pack an instant classic) – We’ll give this one three and a half cans, even if there’s more storm water than beer in that extra half can.
Next Up – It’s off to Talladega for the closest thing NASCAR has to human sacrifice at the altar of ratings. The Aztecs would be proud. (Here, we’re talking about the extinct Central American tribe, not the extinct, hideous Pontiac Crossover.)
©2000 - 2008 Matt McLaughlin and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
Talk about your alternate universes , the MRN broadcast and the tv train wreck of a broadcast couldn’t be further apart . By watching the race with the sound muted it was obvious that most of the field decided at the last minute to start and park . The only cars who decided to remain on track were Gordon and Johnson from what i saw on the screen . Imagine my surprise to learn from the MRN broadcast that there actually were other cars on the track . AND GET THIS , after listening to MRN , it turns out that there arew other car owners besides Hendrick and other crew chiefs besides Letarte and Knaus . Who knew ??
Less than a half hour…that’s how long it took me once I got home from work to fast forward to the last 20 laps, watch the big wreck, then fast-forward through the red flag period and watch the final laps of the race.
Does anyone besides me think Jeff Hammond in a cowboy hat looks more like a member of the Village People than he does the Marlboro man?
was flipping tv channels on monday night. saw that nascar show on espn. evernham had some interesting things to say about gordon. said he’s tired of not winning. gordon is being gordon. at least stewart took fault for the wreck.
i sure wished i would have had the surgeon that did hamlin’s knee. but then again 32 yrs ago, the guy was probably not born or still wearing pampers.
when will we hear hamlin being referred to as mr. monday?
still early with the ‘dega forecast. however early last week they were forecasting rain for texas and behold it was correct.
be interesting to see how the kahne thing shakes out. martin says he’s not retiring. i’d wager the 88 team needs some extra tums now. notice how kahne is announced as joining the fold and jr has a decent run most of the day? however, note to jr…you need to lead the field on the last lap.
i remember rainout weekends at ams and you got in free. no way i’d pay $91 to see two races when half the concessions aren’t there and the seats, restrooms and area around track are overflowing with trash. they don’t typically come and clean up on sunday when race is postponed til monday.
yee haw……i have next monday off for confederate memorial day. had to google to find out why. i tell you, these southern folks sure carry a grudge about the “war”.
Janice… you mean the “War of Northern Aggression” right? (just kidding… enjoy your day off)
carl….yep….but i tell you, here in GA they still carry grudge. i grew up in maryland…you’d think that was heart of yankee country.
Matt, your column is depressing and awful. I don’t know why anyone would read it. Isn’t it your job to be excited about the sport you cover?
I will not read a column by you again.
The first thing I thought when Jeffy started crying about Jimmie, was “isn’t this the pot calling the kettle black”.
If you can not stand the truth then don’t read Matt’s comments. There is a sitcom network, a cartoon network, and I think TV Land still shows Andy Griffin reruns. All those shows are fantacy and have happy endings.
The one thing that absolutely surprized me about yesterday was that, with Jimmie-the-sleeze bearing down on Denny as he was, that NASCAR didn’t throw a fake caution to force yet another green-white-checkered finish, and therefore give the race to their precious favorite driver! Bet Rick is giving Brian a good earful today! (Now look, Brian! I don’t give you all those “donations” for my guy to finish second! Next time, you better do the right thing and tighten up that field so my boy can win, or I’ll stop my “donations” to your “retirement fund”!)
Oh, am I mean, or am I mean?
The second sentence of this column raises a point I was thinking of before I read it. I would like to see a breakdown of the number of “debris” cautions on Monday make up races vs. regular races. I am positive there is a significant difference. Why does Nascar need a caution for brake ductwork on the track when Formula 1 races on with tons of carbon fibre shards on the track which create a far greater risk. Nascar has devolved into WWE nonsense over the last 15 years. I still watch and pay attention, but without anywhere near the intensity of 10-15 years ago.
Hey Mike, (First Post) The Radio production at Texas is provided by PRN, not MRN. There is a difference. Bruton Smith-owned tracks are PRN, France-owned tracks are MRN. Just FYI.
At least Hamlin didn’t look as gay as Johnson in that Brokeback Hat. But Hammond, boy howdy, doesn’t he realize he optimizes all the negative against FOX when he dresses like that?
Kasey should be using the proper title, Lord Hendrick.
Regardless of how much goodwill the “Free Mondays” would generate, you know they’re too addicted to the $$$$ to see the bigger picture. Repairing the damage can be done in many small steps, not big changes.
I got to listen to the race at work on PRN. I found it amusing to listen to the commentators count out the seconds between cars. Glad I didn’t waste a Sunday watching the parade.
Poor, Poor, Jimmie. Gordon has enough money, he should have just taken him out.
Can’t wait for TNT. Listening to the Faux bozos in the booth is pure torture. Add the unending parade of commercials and the brew is toxic. This race deserves a three beer rating. A snoozefest most of the way with a great finish. Didn’t help when my driver turned a top five car (again) into a 12th place finish. On to Talladega.
Good one, Rufus. I think the reason a faux caution was not thrown was the rate at which JJ was closing. I was at the race & the thought of a nitro bottle in the 48 crossed my mind. I’m certain that NA$CAR was confident that JJ would catch & pass the 11. Guess the bottle emptied too soon.
As for calling faux cautions, to be honest, the best racing came after a caution. After about 20 laps, things got rather boring, unless you could find a race within the race to follow.
LOL I see a Digger Fan.. to The Disgruntled Reader, VolcanoNacho (fn really?!): I rarely talk but I’ve been reading Matt for years and even own his book. Found him following a Jayski link way back before Jayski had a born-on date on his page. You probably don’t know ‘bout that. Always a highlight of my week to read Matt sum up everything I thought but make me laugh while doing it. That works by actually reading the words, in order. You should try that next time you tackle a Nascar article or op-ed piece.. by any author.
My eyes are target-locked towards our first DW-and-rodent-free race and pray I do not accidentally hurt someone until then. Thank God for Trackpass and my mute button to block DW from telling me what I should think about what I just saw. Thanks Matt, for the great read, as always.