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 April 26, 2010
The Key Moment: Kevin Harvick, running second, brushed leader Jamie McMurray’s rear bumper fifty yards from the checkers, getting the No. 1 car squirrelly and passing for the lead and the win.
In a Nutshell: Lots of passing, lots of lead changes, but still so contrived with the plates you hope none of the neighbors caught you watching the race.
Dramatic Moment: Three green-white-checkered restarts at the end of a Talladega race? The No. 42 car’s Tums sponsorship was perfect, because fans and crew chiefs had to be gobbling fistfuls of the tablets.
What They’ll Be Talking About Around the Water Cooler This Week
For fans watching Talladega races at home, there are two overwhelming questions: The Big One… when will it happen?, and the Pre-Race show… when will it be over?
The first plate race with the blade spoilers rather than the wings, and nobody gets turned over on their roofs or into the fence? I don’t think that’s a coincidence.
Jeff Gordon does seem a bit annoyed with his protégé Jimmie Johnson right now, doesn’t he? Could things reach a boiling point at Richmond next week? If you see Gordon and Rusty Wallace consulting over a playbook this week, expect fireworks.
So Junior is a bit miffed Darrell Waltrip ran his mouth and spoiled the secret Earnhardt will be running the number 3 car with Wrangler sponsorship at an upcoming Nationwide race. That just means he’s joined the rest of us in disliking Waltrip for talking too much. Prior to the race, DW said to in-car reporter Jamie McMurray (alluding to his sponsor), “I hope you catch the big one!” What a thing to say to any driver at Talladega.
To coincide with our early spring here in the Northeast, this year seems to be featuring a premature silly season. Last week, we learned Kasey Kahne was leaving Ford and Richard Petty Motorsports for Rick Hendrick… in 2012. This week, it was announced that Kevin Harvick’s sponsor Shell/Pennzoil will bolt Richard Childress Racing to join Roger Penske’s organization as a long-term sponsor for Kurt Busch in the newly-renumbered No. 22 car. (No wonder they dumped Harvick from their TV ad campaign this season.) Brad Keselowski will acquire long-term sponsor Miller Lite beer, with his number switching from No. 12 to No. 2. That leaves Sam Hornish’s Penske team without a sponsor, because Shell and Mobil are bitter rivals, and it also seemingly leaves Kevin Harvick with a diminished bargaining hand in the last year of his contract with RCR. Many expected Harvick to bring the lucrative Shell sponsorship with him to Stewart-Haas Racing next year as part of a third team (or seventh Hendrick team, if you want to be cynical) but now it’s widely believed that Kahne will fill that third seat. Budweiser’s long-term sponsorship is apparently in play as well. As of now, Bud can’t follow Kahne to Hendrick because of Hendrick’s contract with Pepsi. But that doesn’t mean a team unofficially associated with Hendrick couldn’t snag Bud. Mark Martin starts his own team with Bud backing? That would be awkward, as Martin is an alcoholic. (Many, many, many years since sober.) So where does that leave us? Kahne could always drive a Junior Motorsports entry under the Hendrick umbrella, potentially reuniting Junior and his long-term sponsor while leaving a third seat at Stewart-Haas Racing open for Harvick. That would mean eight (or as many as 10) teams under Hendrick’s direct control, and you have to wonder if eventually NASCAR would have to stop being cynical and lay down the law.
I’m sure that some of you expect me to tee off on NASCAR for deciding to cancel Saturday’s activities at Talladega because of potential bad weather before the first bolt of lightning struck. Actually, I’ve pondered the situation and I feel bad for them. Talk about stuck between a rock and a hard place. Last year, I was among an army of folks who lit NASCAR up for saying they didn’t care about fan safety after Carl Edwards’ Ford almost went into the crowd. Well Saturday, they had some high-profile events with the TV ratings disaster that was Monday at Texas still fresh on their minds. What’s more, just canceling the races wasn’t going to ensure that fans were safe. They remained in local hotels and motels. Many were in either tents in the infield (they were advised to seek safer lodging) or motor homes, and tornadoes seem to have a twisted sense of humor when it comes to RV’s and trailer homes whether it’s a double-wide, a million dollar Prevost coach, or a Mini-Winni. In the end, erring on the side of caution was the only way to go, though it was a massive inconvenience for many and a financial disaster for others.
You remember the big “to do” last fall when Grand Am racer J.C. France (grandson of Bill France, cousin of Brian France) and his roommate got busted for street racing in a pair of ultra-expensive rides, then were found in possession of significant quantities of cocaine? Well, the good news (for J.C. and his buddy, at least) is that all charges have now been dropped. WTF? Somehow or another, it’s now stated that the Daytona Beach police improperly pulled over France (who was driving at a high rate of speed, intoxicated at the time… what could go wrong there?) as the infractions happened outside their jurisdiction in nearby Holly Hill. I don’t get it. A uniformed, on duty police officer makes a traffic stop, then finds the driver is intoxicated and in possession of a controlled substance … so what the Hell does it matter where they were racing? Florida law must be way different than that of the U.S. outside that banana republic, because around here if an officer pursues a driver into another jurisdiction, once he makes the stop he radios for an officer from the neighboring jurisdiction, and based on the first officer’s statement the second cop makes the arrest. It would be setting a dangerous precedent to tell intoxicated felons that if you can make it to the township line by not slowing down, you can’t be charged. Such high-speed pursuits routinely end tragically…
There are men and women in Florida doing lengthy prison terms for doing exactly what France did. But of course they weren’t rich, they didn’t have a famous last name, and they didn’t have a phalanx of high-priced lawyers at their beck and call. One of the cornerstones of American society is that we have one legal system that is supposed to apply fairly to both the wealthy and the poor, the famous and the anonymous, but given the cases of Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton, O.J. Simpson (no wonder he fled to Florida) and now J.C. France, we see clear evidence there’s a two-tier justice system. Call it the “sh*t sandwich” version; the more bread you have, the less sh*t you have to eat. I attempted to contact the DBPD via email to have the officers involved email me their reactions to this abomination, but got no reply. Of course, those cops must have been rookies. The Daytona cops showed their unofficial policy back when Brian France drove drunkenly at high speeds home from a bar, hitting several objects along the way, but never got charged with a DUI because he made it to his condo before getting apprehended.
I’ve learned not to develop ulcers fretting over stuff I can’t control, but I invite you to join me in my own silent sort of futile protest. If any team, car maker or sponsor decides to back J.C. France going forward, not only will I not buy their products, if I already have some in my home, I’ll throw them out. I’m sure the folks at Porsche are shaking in their boots.
Hey, guess what. Despite their protestations last February the track didn’t need to be repaved (despite the two-hour delay for potholes), Frontstretch broke the story first that Daytona track officials now say they will repave (which was last done in 1978) in time for the 2011 Daytona 500, with work commencing immediately after this year’s Firecracker 400 in July. Why they had to make themselves look like idiots denying the work needed doing a few months before finally admitting to the obvious is beyond me.
Let’s flashback to 1978, the last time Daytona was paved. Jimmy Carter was in the White House. Fleetwood Mac’s Rumors was the album of the year, and Hotel California by the Eagles was the song of the year. (It surely beat 1977’s Soundtrack to Saturday Night Fever by the BeeGees). Elvis Costello, Devo (don‘t ask), the Police, and the Cars debuted. Bruce Springsteen released Darkness on the Edge of Town, and started a massively popular tour to support the LP. (Some things never change, thank God, some things never change.) The rock community was still coming to terms with the tragic plane crash that decimated the Lynyrd Skynyrd band on October 20th, 1977. I’d still cry every time I heard Free Bird. The Catholic Church lost two popes in 35 days, and Pope John Paul II began his long reign as Pontiff. Annie Hall won honors as Movie of the Year despite strong competition from the Deer Hunter. All the girls I went to school with wanted to dress and look like Annie Hall. All the guys wanted them to look like Farrah or Stevie Nicks, and the best bad girls did. The first episodes of the Dukes of Hazzard were being taped for release in 1979. All in the Family, Happy Days, the Rockford Files, Colombo, and M.A.S.H. were top-rated TV shows. Unemployment was at 6.1 percent, and the price of a First Class stamp rose to fifteen cents. The average American household earned less than 17 grand a year. Sony introduced their first Walkman. (No, kids, no iPods… or laptops… or cell phones, much less an iPhone.) In fact, Wozniak and Jobs were still a pair of hippie businessmen trying to convince the world there was a need for a home PC. Ford was touting the King Cobra Mustang with a total of 139 horsepower and perhaps the most sinfully ugly stripe and decal package ever conceived by a stylist bombed on Peruvian marching powder. A fully-loaded King Cobra would have set you back $6,400. That year’s 220 horsepower Trans Am was top dog on the streets. Most of us wanted one in the black and gold “Smoky and the Bandit” paint scheme with T-tops. Nowadays, pony cars feature more than 400 horsepower, but they’ll cost a bit more than $6,400. The last VW Beetle was built in Germany and its replacement, the hugely popular Rabbits, were rusting away in the holds of cargo ships destined for America. Speaking of the U.S., the Chevy Chevette was purportedly the best-selling car in the country. Cale Yarborough was Cup champion, winning his third straight title for Junior Johnson. People wondered if one driver dominating was good for the sport, and Junior told them to hush up and hold their tongues. Richard Petty failed to win a race that season for the first time since 1959. Jimmie Johnson was three at the time, while Ryan Newman was enjoying his first birthday party. Dale Earnhardt the Original started just five races, with a best finish of fourth at Atlanta, but that was enough to land him a full-time ride for 1979. I was in my first year at Villanova and driving a Boss 302, a Cobra Jet Ranchero, a GS455 Stage One, a Pinto Cruising Wagon (don’t ask… I did intend to put a 289 in it), and a big old Kawasaki that attempted to kill me that December and damn near managed the feat. My first Harley was two years in the future. A good portion of you reading this column hadn’t even competed in the Fallopian Tube 500 to be conceived yet, including my boss and the owner of this site Tom. But then again, Tom will never likely have the thrill of running a Boss 302 wide open through the pine barrens, making the trees look like a picket fence with “Racing in the Streets” blasting from the eight track and a pretty little blonde girl by his side on the way to shore.
Call it a matter of semantics, but I don’t feel Jimmie Johnson was the “pole-winner”. He never turned a lap in anger to earn that spot. He was the “pole-sitter” based on points due to weather.
My take on the yellow line incident at the end of the race? It’s a non-issue. Harvick already had the lead, so he couldn’t advance his position. McMurray was crowding him down the track, which is what the second-place driver is supposed to do, but it’s a matter of “no harm, no foul.”
Call it a Sixth Sense moment. I see dead people… and they’re selling gardening tools during Nationwide series commercials.
Editor’s Note: If they want to continue running Billy Mays commercials, they may want to edit out the opening line where he says “I’m Billy Mays, and I’m back…”
The Hindenburg Award For Foul Fortune
Nationwide officials, promoters, and sponsors have got to be despondent their third straight race in a row was rain-delayed.
For the second weekend in a row, Jeff Gordon had a potentially race-winning car wiped out in a late-race crash. He wound up 22nd.
What didn’t go wrong for Kasey Kahne Sunday? He had a spark plug issue, missed pit road, and finally wrecked his car not once but twice en route to 21st.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. had a solid top 10 finish in hand until the final restart, where he faded to 13th.
Ryan Newman just can’t seem to finish one of these plate races, wrecking for the third straight time at Talladega.
Joey Logano led the race and seemed to have solid car until he ran into the back of Ryan Newman while Newman checked up for an incident ahead of him. The resulting incident wiped out both cars and left them 35th and 36th, respectively.
Greg Biffle never got up to speed on the penultimate restart, got hit by the No. 48 car, and wound up seventeenth despite being a top 10 car most of the day.
Johnny Sauter (41st) became the latest victim of Kyle Busch’s legendary status in his own mind.
Jimmie Johnson got overaggressive in traffic and wound up spinning himself into the wall en route to a 31st place finish. Among his fellow drivers not rushing over to offer consolation were Jeff Gordon, Jeff Burton, and Scott Speed.
Brad Keselowski got a little aggressive entering pit road and it cost him big time. Marcos Ambrose got into Keselowski’s car and ended his chances at a competitive run. He slumped to 34th.
The “Seven Come Fore Eleven” Award For Fine Fortune
Kevin Harvick won for the first time in 115 Cup points races. (His last such victory was the 2007 Daytona 500.) I’m not sure how much gas the No. 29 car had left in the tank in Victory Lane, but on a dollar bet I’d drink it. Then again, I’d never heard a driver say “The best thing is, our sponsor is leaving.” I might have choked on that gas.
Kurt Busch’s car was damaged in the second incident of the day and later got nailed for speeding on pit road. He just missed the spinning No. 48 car late in the race, but he soldiered on to a top 10 finish anyway (8th).
Denny Hamlin drove to an incident-free fourth place finish despite an early spin and without getting caught in a wreck that could have further damaged his knee.
For the third straight race, Mark Martin emerged out of nowhere to score a great finish (in this case, fifth).
*Juan Pablo (is the Pablo optional now?) Montoya’s third-place finish matches his best result of the 2010 Cup season.
What’s the Points?
Jimmie Johnson maintains his points lead, but is now just 26 points ahead of Kevin Harvick, who advanced two spots to second. Greg Biffle remains third in the standings, a further 60 points behind Harvick. Matt Kenseth fell two spots to fourth, with Kyle Busch rounding out the top 5.
Mark Martin had the best points day, advancing four spots to sixth in the standings. Kurt Busch jumped up two spots to seventh, while Junior drops a spot to eighth. Denny Hamlin is now ninth, while Jeff Gordon plummeted from fifth to tenth (and I’m sensing a Three Mile Island temper meltdown in his future.)
Clint Bowyer jumped up three spots to 11th in the standings, while teammate Jeff Burton is now clinging to a top-12 position, dropping down to twelfth. Former Chase bubble man Joey Logano’s wreck cost him badly in the points standings. He fell four spots out of the top 12 and down to sixteenth.
Carl Edwards lurks just outside the top 12, just fifteen points behind Burton. Tony Stewart is six points behind Edwards in fourteenth.
Eight of the drivers in the top 12 in points haven’t won a race yet this year.
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 four cans of Colorado Kool-Aid. At least it ran on a Sunday, not Monday.
Next Up: The circuit heads off to Richmond, arguably the best track left on the circuit, for a little Saturday night short track racing.
©2000 - 2008 Matt McLaughlin and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
Yeah, what was up with Harvick’s comments about the sponsor in victory lane? Was that a knock on Shell or Childress?
Geez, Matt, you coulda mentioned Jeff Burton in your Hindenburg section.
Plate races always suck, and the idiotic multiple green white checkered rule turns them into last man standing demolition derbys. That was the worst race I’ve seen since Indy ’08.
We get it. You hate restrictor plates. Guess what? Lots of people don’t and listening to you bitch about it in the first paragraph just made me skip down here and then skip to another website. Nascar isn’t changing the plate races for any reason I can think of. They’re the closest finishes and most dramatic races they have. Get over it.
Mark Martin didn’t come out of nowhere. He played his own race, & he was there at the end.
Isn’t it funny that the only driver to try and block a 2 car freight-train was the 48? And imagine that, the leader of the 2 car train was the 24! Jeff has a reason to be miffed. He may want to remind that driver of the 48 who is part owner. It’s all about respect, and Jimmie doesn’t respect anybody.
i was a ‘dega. they made announcement about repaving daytona, i think they’re trying to sell seats to the july race. said something about being able to get piece of the asphalt they tear up.
race was ok…a few single file trains around the track for a while. was surprised mystery debris didn’t fly. jr is still the track favorite. lots if 88 gear in the stands and their sourviner riggs were 10 deep 7 wide most of the morning.
with 17 hrs of tornado warnings friday/saturday, they had to pull plug on saturday. i know living an hour east of the track we had some dicey weather in georgia. nothing, of course, like in mississippi.
what surprised me the most was the attendance. turn 1, front stretch, turn 4 looked like it had a decent crowd. i know where i sat we were shoulder to shoulder and knees jammed into seatbacks (rough for me as i’m 5’2”. i pity the people taller than myself) crammed into seats. so much for ‘dega’s grandstand renovations.
see where heat got to miss america. i guess that’s who was airlifted during the race. was wondering as i thought medivac had to be there when activity was on
no pre-race dribble when live at track. listened to mrn on scanner….interesting listening to the guys when they weren’t “live on the air”. they had some interesting comments about johnson and gordon way before the wreck happened. richmond should be interesting.
time to roll over and sleep. yeah, confederate memorial day holiday.
I’m actually starting to like Jeff Gordon. He could even make me full-fledged Gordon fan at Richmond. Nah…
Thanks for echoing my view on restrictor plates Matt. While they produce close and dramatic finishes all it proves is that if you tether the cars together they will stay close. So bitch away!
@ J-Dub: Why shouldn’t Jimmie try to block? NASCAR refuses to outlaw the block. It is the way they encourage drivers to race. The incident happened at the end of the race when letting cars by, means that you may not get the positions back. Sure the race ended up going another 18 laps after that, but that couldn’t have been predicted at the time.
What annoys me, is that for some reason, it is now expected that every driver should drive like Mark Martin. I’m not knocking Mark, but it shouldn’t be mandatory to pull over and let people pass. Who cares if Jeff is a partial owner? Jimmie needs to protect his position as best he can.
Remember in Oct. 1994, a hot-shot young Jeff Gordon gave Ricky Rudd a little disrespect? What did Ricky do? Ricky tucked up under Jeff’s spoiler and his rear wheels didn’t even touch the ground through the quad-oval. The result was one of the top 5 hardest hits Jeff has ever had into the wall. And it was a long time before Jeff disrespected another driver. Maybe Jeff, as the elder statesman, should go out and teach Jimmie some manners if he feels disrespected. But it is LONG since time drivers quit whining because someone didn’t let them have an easy drive-by!
Wonder what new rule changes there will be when J.C. France takes over for Brian in a few years?
I had to re-read this column several times for it to actually sink in . We owe Matt a huge thank you for breaking the news that rich , famous people don’t get the same treatment from the Police that the rest of us do . Now that he’s broken that bombshell story maybe he can do some investgative work into whether or not pro wrestling is real .
Ryan ( or Rine in McReynolds speak ) has done a bit better at plate racing than you give him credit for .
Thankfully we won’t ever have to find out what J C France would do as head of NASCAR . The most he can ever hope for is to be head of Grand Am , replacing his father Jim France .
Kevin, it will be cocaine for all!!!
I’m wondering now if Jeremy Mayfield will end up in the Grand Am series where you can street race, drink and drive, and posses cocaine but only get a 4 race suspension.
Restrictor plate racing is also the most insanely dangerous form of stock car racing ever. Setzer riding the fence in the Nationwide race was one of the more crazy things I have witnessed recently. It is appropriate that Talladega has a fence to fix after a weekend of insane racing.
All the crashes are really silly and over the top. Millions of dollars always down the drain at these events. That whole chain of events at the end of the Cup race might not have happened that way if the caution wouldn’t have fallen for Labonte who was clearly off the track and was able to keep going.
I just wish NASCAR would come out and embrace the insanity of plate racing at Talladega and say yes we know that drivers can be killed or maimed or get in the fence but folks that’s just part of it. Ryan Newman’s comments where spot on about the ‘racing’.
I really don’t see why they have to go top speed of 190-200 mph. Why can’t they go around 160? Maybe they could avoid the crashes.
JC France would be rotting in Raiford if his last name was Smith.
Yea, Jeff Burton should have been mentioned in the plain unlucky column. After leading or running in the top ten all day, he got caught up in an accideny that, upon further review, was set i n motion by Johnson. Just ask Gordon. After Burton’s crash I just plain lost interest. His crime was, once again, pitting at the wrong time. It put him in the middle of the big one waiting to happen. In conclusion, Harvick wouldn’t even be the cup series if it wasn’t for Childress. Talk about biting the hand that feeds you. As a driver AND a team owner his self-entitlement and arrogence know no bounds. I used to really like the guy, but now I can’t stand him.
“That whole chain of events at the end of the Cup race might not have happened that way if the caution wouldn’t have fallen for Labonte who was clearly off the track and was able to keep going.”
Thank you. That is my opinion but haven’t seen anyone else mention it. That had the same effect as a debris caution. I don’t think there would have been any crashing at all without that questionable caution for the Labonte spin; there was enough separation in the pack to prevent that, and it should have been decided to the seven-car breakaway. They’d already broken the number of lead changes by then, so I don’t see how that caution adds “excitement”.
No way this was the worst race since the 2008 Brickyard. Although plate races generally suck this race was as good as plate racing gets until the caution for Labonte’s spin. Had they not thrown a caution for that and just let the cars in the Burton/McMurray/Montoya/Junior/Biffle breakaway decide it among themselves, I’d call it a classic race. As it is, I just end up disgusted again with the carnage at the end. But the Regan Smith screwing and the Brad Keselowski win were much more grotesque races here…
How’s this for timing – I read your ‘Devo (don’t ask)’ comment as ‘Turn Around’ by none other than Devo – without the (don’t ask) – is playing on my itunes.
nice article again Matt.Was really glad to see Harvick win
Any race where both 24 and 48 crash is a good one.
Matt I think the word you may have been looking for in regard to NASCAR and the Hendrick racing teams is oblivious not cynical. Cynical would probably best describe you. Not that that is a bad thing in moderation.
I am starting to agree with you on the plate races. Ryan Newman had it right with his comment, “It’s Talledega, I’m not going to call it racing.“It is just a little too contrived. What is the point of all those passes when they really don’t mean a thing. Just tune in for the last 20 laps, or I guess now the last 35 laps with this whole G-W-C’s mess.
Chris – regarding Setzer going up into the fence in the NW race – it isn’t any different than when Keselowski ended up in flames up on top of the Safer barrier at Fontana a couple years ago. No restrictor plate there (although it might make Fontana a much more exciting race – I’m sure we’ll read about that in October when we Nascar rolls around to SoCal again). Plate racing is just a different beast, a beast all the drivers are aware of when they choose to their profession – a profession many many of us would love to be part of.
wow, i’ll admit that i’d said i wouldn’t watch any more races live but it was a soggy day in my part of the northeast so i broke down and watched, commercials and all. i must say that the commercials were exactly what i expected but i thoroughly enjoyed watching the field actually RACE for 500 miles (unlike say what happens at the cookie cutter snoozefests.) I found it very entertaining and that’s what this sport is all about now right, entertainment? Of wings and below the yellow line rules… who needs ‘em?
Another negative and depressing article. Thanks Matt. Back to Nascar.com it is… or maybe Jayski.com. At least they can entertain.
I started watching with 35 [sic] laps to go. Thoroughly enjoyed it – and the extra sleep I got prior.
Have you heard of Michael Nifong? Have any idea where the Duke lacross team members would be if they had not been able to hire good attorneys?
Let me get this straight, …
You, and other Nascar writers, are actually criticizing DW for committing an act of journalism by scooping other media and revealing the contents of a pending announcement before it was made?
Jealous of how an ex-driver, TV guy got ahead of you on the story?
I thought, for once, NA$CAR made the right call on Saturday. Considering the deaths that occurred to the west, it was absolutely the right call. That storm was a bastard. I’m sure the “massive inconvenience for many and a financial disaster for others” doesn’t compare to those is Mississippi.
Who is dw
Must be nice to enjoy the two tier justice system in this country – how ironic that the judge is named Kennedy… Grand Am officials said he was cooperative, and he did complete a rehab program administered by Dr. David Black – so that must mean he’s truly better. How does that make you feel, Jeremy Mayfield? All you gotta do is cooperate with NASCAR and Dr. Black… Should we also assume that Shane Hmiel and Jamie Skinner should have just followed this path back to their driving careers as well? Personally, I find this to be patently offensive…
@ bill and whom ever else cares, My point was more about nascar turning into a venue that provides entertainment over racing and a slam on tracks like Kansas, Vegas, California. bla bla bla…. But since you called me out, here goes… The restrictor plate is a fact of life like the top 35 it ain’t going away soon. Unfortunately, neither are the cookie cutter tracks. Regardless I do not wish or want to defend it. Personally, I enjoyed seeing many of the drivers test the draft and each other for passing, test the recovery from getting shuffled and what moves would allow them to pass or get passed. I was happy to see it “could” be done without a big one. (calamity carl should take note here.) As one who has successfully wheeled dirt cars, in my world good racing has many components; one’s skill in controlling the car, one’s set-up knowledge, the ability to adjust for changing conditions, and the thing that gets people (me anyway) standing up is the drivers ability (not the crew chief’s although that is part of it) to figure out how to outsmart another driver on the track. That’s what I saw last Sunday. Plate aside, If it’s sad to say that i’d rather watch that than 480 miles of cars that can only occasionally get close enough to pass each other until there is a late race caution (contrived or not) that causes a “crap shoot finish,” so be it.
Well if Dr. Black said that he is better, than he must be right? I forgot…who is Dr. Black paid by? What a joke!!
50 yards??? Matt I’ve always thought you were and idiot…now I know. Have you ever been to ‘dega. From the center of the tri-oval (where the 29 “brushed” the 1) is well over 50 yards.
DW and journalism in the same sentence? Surely you jest!!! He’s a shill for gods sake.