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.
The Key Moment: Denny Hamlin’s crew got him off pit road first while two of his chief competitors, Jeff Gordon (missed pit road trying to enter) and Jeff Burton (ran over an air line exiting his stall) basically took themselves out of contention on the last round of stops.
In a Nutshell: Buy her all the flowers, candies, and cards you want, but even on Mother’s Day weekend the Lady in Black is one mean mother.
Dramatic Moment: When Joey Logano spun exiting the pits early in the final set of pit stops, it triggered more chaos than a flash flood at the Alka-Seltzer factory.
What They’ll Be Talking About Around the Water Cooler This Week
OK, let’s get to it. When is “a” Southern 500 not “The” Southern 500? As I see it, “The” Southern 500 is run on Labor Day weekend, not Mother’s Day Eve. It’s like moving Christmas to June 25th and still trying to call it the same holiday. “The” Southern 500 is also run in the heat of the afternoon, not after dark. The sweltering South Carolina heat is one of the three challenges a Southern 500 winner must face, in addition to the notoriously tricky track and 42 other drivers. Oh, I understand the night races are a little more comfortable for the fans, especially on a sweltering hot weekend like this one. I’m all about them having the best time going to or watching races; but, I’ve sat through some hot Southern 500s in the grandstands, and it was part of the fun (liquid air conditioning was available in 12-ounce cans, if I recall.) Finally, if they want to go back to the original Southern 500, somebody needs to buy a compass. Somewhere along the way, they got the front straight and back straight mixed up, putting the start/finish line on the wrong one and getting everything all catawampus. Don’t get me wrong, though; they’re racing 500 miles at Darlington, and for that I give thanks despite the awkward date. So Saturday’s race might have been “A” Southern 500, but it’s not “The” Southern 500.
Yes, I have reviewed the videotape several times, and Jeff Gordon on pit road beat then-race leader Denny Hamlin back to the start/finish line as the caution waved to stay on the lead lap. But I still don’t see how that’s possible. The No. 24 car slowed down to pit road speed while behind the leader, who was still running 170 plus miles per hour. Gordon then slowed a second time to enter the pits while Hamlin was still running WFO. The caution flew, but Gordon was still obligated to slow to pit road speed since he hadn’t been forced onto pit road to avoid an incident. How did that work? I’d love to see the timing and scoring loops of Gordon’s speed on pit road during the pass-thru before he was waved around the pace car to remain on the lead lap. There seems to be some rift in the time-space continuum.
Related to the above, maybe Gordon has forgotten how to even win at Darlington, a track he once dominated? Fans doubtless got bored watching him lead a ton of laps, seemingly pulling away at will, but at the end of each long green-flag run other drivers who hadn’t been working their equipment so hard reeled Gordon back in and passed him. As our old friend Buddy Baker used to say, “I believe that boy done gone and licked all the red off his candy.”
Wow, rumors persist that workers are scrambling to get a lot of the interactive attractions up and running in time for this week’s opening of the NASCAR Haul of Cash… er, Hall of Fame. One report claims 70% of such attractions aren’t working properly as of last Friday. The story in the Charlotte Observer also says that the Hall hasn’t sold as many corporate sponsorships to companies or commemorative bricks to fans as projected. Dang, I thought those bricks were sold out; they never charged my credit card for the two I ordered. One of them was to read, “Bill France screwed over Tim Richmond.” The other? “Blood on Their Hands – February 18th, 2001,” the date of my personal Fort Sumter with NASCAR management.
Could Budweiser really be leaving the Cup series after over three decades of being a primary sponsor for such notable drivers as Darrell Waltrip, Bill Elliott, Terry Labonte, and Dale Earnhardt, Jr.? The mega-deal Bud’s new owners made with the NFL might indicate plans to cut back on racing sponsorship. I’ve always felt beer company sponsorship was perfect for NASCAR racing (most fans I know drink a fair amount of it) but there is a downside. In this fickle consumer age, I think the three things the people remain loyal to are their brands of pickup trucks, smokes, and beer. Coors’ association with Bill Elliott got me to try the stuff back when it was hard to find in the Northeast, but when Elliott went to Bud I didn’t switch brands. Of course, I still drink Folgers coffee because of their association with Tim Richmond and because those plastic, re-sealable containers are about the handiest thing in the world for storing parts and hardware in the garage.
How sayeth you, KevinFromSoCal? There were bunches of empty seats on the back straight, but it looked like Darlington drew a pretty healthy crowd for a race held on the eve of Mother’s Day. (And a real nice crowd Friday night, as well.) Fontana track GM Gillian Zucker would probably Jell-O wrestle a leper to sell that many tickets.
There was some talk this week about “A New” Kyle Busch, a more mature driver. Well, anybody listening to Busch’s radio transmissions during Friday night’s Nationwide race heard the same old boy-bitch instead. He was furious at the start of the race, furious at the end of it, and an ugly combination of nasty/sarcastic every lap in between. His crew chief called him in under a late caution, but Kyle decided to stay out. Then, he complained not pitting had cost him the race. How does that work? Busch also whined that teammate Denny Hamlin had “freaked him out” by staying on track under that caution. Is there a rule in NASCAR’s ghostly rulebook that freaking Kyle Busch out is conduct unbecoming to the sport? It’s too bad, in a way. Joe Gibbs has invested a lot of time and money with this brat, and I truly think Busch is one of the greatest talents in the sport’s history; but then again, NASCAR’s rich narrative is fraught with cautionary tales of talented drivers who never reached their potential. It’s too bad Junior Johnson will never be Busch’s crew chief, because he’d end the whining right quick. “Boy, shut the Hell up. I don’t need any of your lip. You ain’t laying down on me out there, are you?” As for Busch’s contention passing is impossible at Darlington, was he at home drinking 20/20, watching Judge Judy in yellowed BVDs the Monday his brother and Ricky Craven battled to the line for the win? It can be done, Kyle; you just have to want it badly enough.
Is it just me, or did the volume of cheering when Jimmie Johnson’s mangled Chevy was towed away (fortunately, after Johnson was able to safely walk away following a savage hit) approach that of the ABG folks circa 1998-2003 when Gordon used to suffer bad luck in the No. 24 car?
While he doesn’t seem ready to throw him under the bus quite yet, Dale Earnhardt, Jr.’s comments about his crew chief Lance McGrew prior to the race seemed like a hard shove in that direction. You know Rick Hendrick isn’t going to fire the driver of the No. 88 car… so could the Hendrick organization consider a crew chief swap between the 88 and 14 teams?
Silly Season continues to evolve early this year with word that Old Spice deodorant, co-primary sponsor of Stewart-Haas’s No. 14 car, won’t be back next year. That’s going to make any efforts to expand SHR to three cars (possibly to accommodate Kasey Kahne) that much more difficult. Is it time for another of Burger King’s occasional forays into primary sponsorship again?
OK, I’m not a Rhodes scholar but Darrell Waltrip’s post-race comment still has me scratching my head. Sayeth the inestimable DW (between plugs for his brother’s teams, sponsors, and drivers) “The hardest wins to take are the ones when you beat yourself.” Yeah, I’d say so. That’s right out of the Twilight Zone.
During a press interview Friday, Jimmie Johnson noted that all the team members are trying to improve their performance by “massaging their packages.” Well, OK, if it makes you go faster and feel good, go on ahead; but do you want to discuss it in public?
The Hindenburg Award For Foul Fortune
To put it politely, Jimmie Johnson had an eventful evening. At one point, even Chad Knaus told him if he was going to keep wrecking, to do it right next time so they could all go home. His night could have easily ended when he tangled with Martin Truex, Jr. trying to avoid Greg Biffle’s spin, but the Coup De Grace came when A.J. Allmendinger lost his brakes trying to slow for a caution flag. The No. 43 car flew down onto the apron, then backed up the track straight into the side of the No. 48. It was Johnson’s third DNF of the season (36th) which now offsets his three victories.
Kyle Busch fought his way up from last to first, putting himself in contention to win the race. But the final adjustments to the No. 18 car were not to his liking, and Busch faded to seventh after starting second on the final restart. Naturally, Busch had already told his crew chief he was to blame for costing them the race win.
Tony Stewart (23rd) just can’t seem to get out of his own way lately.
There’s going to be a whole lot of body and fab guys at the race teams’ shops missing dinner, their son’s Little League games, and the David Letterman show patching back together the right sides of cars that practiced, qualified, or raced at Darlington this weekend. Expect long lines at the Dunkin’ Donuts coffee shops in the wee hours of the morning over the next few weeks.
Jeff Gordon leads the most laps. Jeff Gordon loses the race. Haven’t we seen this Looney Tune a few times before this season?
The “Seven Come Fore Eleven” Award For Fine Fortune
Denny Hamlin had a pretty fair weekend, winning both the Nationwide and Cup races for his first ever such sweep. He’s now won three of the last six Cup races, even while preparing for and recovering from knee surgery. (In a statistical oddity, two of those wins were scored on Mondays, one on a Saturday, and none on a Sunday.) As I prepare for my own knee surgery this week, I’ll just remember to buy my lottery tickets on Monday and Saturday.
Juan Pablo Montoya finished fifth despite numerous trips into the wall at full speed. How he kept going, I don’t know; the right side of the No. 42 car must have been built out of Kryptonite. Maybe our Colombian friend likes Darlington a little bit more now?
Jamie McMurray’s decision to start on the inside lane on restarts seemed odd at a track where the preferred groove is up high, but time after time he managed to muscle his way into the lead by the first turn. For a driver who late last season was considered a leading candidate for any number of start-and-park teams before Chip Ganassi took him back into the fold, a Daytona 500 win and two second-place finishes make for a pretty good start to the year.
What’s the Points?
Kevin Harvick retains the points lead with his sixth-place finish and Jimmie Johnson’s misfortunes. Johnson remains second in the standings, but is now 110 points out of the lead. Kyle Busch remains third in points, just three behind the four-time champ. Hopefully, his close proximity to Johnson in the standings isn’t freaking Kyle out.
Jeff Gordon moved up two spots to fourth in the standings, but is just about a full race point-shift out of the lead. Kenseth dropped a spot to fifth, while Denny Hamlin’s third win of the season moved him up a spot in the standings to sixth.
Greg Biffle dropped two spots to seventh, with Kurt Busch, Jeff Burton, and Mark Martin rounding out the top 10. Carl Edwards sits eleventh, and then … release the bluebirds and cue up the Carpenters. All is sweetness and light at NASCAR headquarters, as chronic underachiever Dale Earnhardt, Jr. rebounds a spot to twelfth and back into Chase contention. Why do birds, suddenly appear, every time, you come near…
For one driver to enter the top 12, one must yield position. Clint Bowyer fell three spots to fifteenth. Ahead of him, Martin Truex, Jr. now stands poised to enter the top 12, thirteenth in the standings and 16 points back from the Promised Land. Ryan Newman in fourteenth and Bowyer are actually tied as far as points earned, but Newman gets the nod for fourteenth based on his race win.
Tony Stewart fell another three positions to eighteenth in the standings. He was fifth in points just six races ago.
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 icy cold Colorado Kool-Aid. Even as driver after driver tried to run away with the race, the Lady in Black reasserted she was in charge.
Next Up: It’s off to the White Cliffs of Dover for another white-knuckle battle with the Monster Mile.
©2000 - 2008 Matt McLaughlin and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
Since when does Darlington repaint the walls during the weekend? Is this something to do with the Showtime sponsorship, or did they do this before?
When are you going to stop whining about the Labor Day race? Get over it already.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. is still looking for his first top-5 result of 2010. His three official teammates have combined to put fourteen such finishes up there on the board.
So that second place finish in the Daytona 500 wasn’t in the Top 5?
You say you’ve “sat through some hot Southern 500’s in the grandstands, and it was part of the fun.” I’ve survived 51 summers here in South Carolina. I’m now convinced you are a masochist.
Jamie McMurray has been a pleasant surprise so far this season. He’s a genuinely likeable guy, and it’s nice seeing him have some GOOD luck for a change.
As for the Nascar Hall of Fame, I’ll go when Jocko Flocko makes it in.
i thought jr finished 2nd at the daytona 500? does that race not count as part of the season?? i could be wrong.
who was complaining about how jamie mc was restarting the races? can’t remember, but someone was whining that he was jumping the restarts.
abg….come on matt….what about abe….that started the ab acronym.
jr throwing crew chief under bus…….i will say it again, HE needs to get his life back in control. his body language when they interviewed him druing pre-race show says it all to me. lackluster. seems like jr has the communication issues. seems to me that he can’t communicate with anyone. what’s the one common thread with his team? him! won’t swapping his crew chief for grubb just be more proof that the shr is hendrick?! i’m sure jack roush is not happy about the hendrick team ownership loophole.
in the prerace stuff i saw, they asked jr about his car…he said weather had changed. sure it was hot on friday and saturday daytime, but here in ga we had winds coming in and knew it would be cooler on saturday night. i thought that was why adjustability was put into the cars, especially at night races.
sure hope what you said you wanted put on your hof bricks is true…that would be the reason that they never charged your card. you’re not pc! those two bricks should have been put at the front door the the hall.
i wonder how much illegal labor was used to get that building done for this opening date. i think most long-time fans could care less about hof. years ago bill elliott opened up a racing museum in dawsonville. it has since gone out of business.
You should make an honest attempt to sober up before writing these columns Matt . Please explain how Hendrick is going to swap a crew chief that doesn’t work for him . And before you go to the well again for your tired old “ SHR is really owned by Hendrick “ routine , instead try a little reality and a lot of common sense , cause it just ain’t so . But it makes good gossip .
One thing DW said awhile back I agree with – Junior needs to learn what it takes to win again.
He needs to drop down and race the trucks – it might do a world of good for his psyche.
Maybe it is time to let Pops Eury have a shot at getting Junior straighened out.
The most success Junior ever had was when Pops was calling the shots; perhaps that is what the doctor ordered in this case.
Would you not love to be a fly on the wall if you could listen to Junior talk to a shrink.
It might be scary to learn what makes Junior tick….
Why would Grubb want to leave SHR and why would Tony want Lance? Tony and Grubb get along great and have a great relationship. You don’t split that up just because Jr is having issues with another crew chief. And no offense to Jr but why would Grubb want to crew chief for a guy who is going to argue with him? He has it pretty easy with Tony.
@ Mark: You need to sober up Stewart-Hendrick uses Hendrick engines, Hendrick chassis, and are pitted by (former) Hendrick employees. It is clearly a violation of the spirit of the 4 teams per owner rule. GET OVER IT, GO BACK TO BED AND SLEEP OFF YOUR HANGOVER!
Matt, take anything Darrell Waltrip says with a grain of salt. Remember, he raced his entire career breathing carbon monoxide and “gettin’ his bell rung purty durn hard!” Always remember another Junior Johnson-ism: That there boy just ain’t right.
I’ve said it before and I will say it again: Dale Jr. needs a crew chief to quit babying him. I was and still am a HUGE Dale Earnhardt fan, but does anybody think his father was a cuddly teddy bear worried about Jr.‘s emotional integrity? NO, NO, and F NO!!! During Jr.‘s rookie season it was his father that told him if he wanted to get drunk all night before a race partying with his friends, he could find a different team to drive for. His father was the one (also during his rookie season) at Martinsville when Jr. hit everything including a tow truck that radioed the team to park the car. If Dale was alive today, and Jr. was running like this, he would stick his foot so far up Jr.‘s backside that he would taste the rubber sole. That is what Jr. needs in the worst possible way. It is the only nurturing love he knew growing up.
As for Jeff Gordon, I don’t know if you have watched the last decade but he has long since forgotten how to win in any consistent fashion.
“i’m sure jack roush is not happy about the hendrick team ownership loophole.”
That would be hypocritical because he has more or less been using Yates the same way in past seasons.
“SHR is really owned by Hendrick routine”
If Tony Stewart really owned the team all by himself, he wouldn’t have had Hendrick personnel like Darian Grubb end up there, he wouldn’t have Jimmie Johnson calling him a teammate, and he wouldn’t be competitive for race victories. If even ROUSH is struggling to be competitive, how would Stewart be successful as an owner-driver without being a Hendrick franchisee? (Yeah, I know Childress and Gibbs are back, but they’ve yet to be successful with satellite operations.)
max….i think jr needs to go to a sports psychologist. once when it was suggested jr took his “i don’t need that crap” attitude.
i don’t think pops eury would go back to cup. besides, jr is 35 and has to realize that there are other people who know what they’re talking about, and he has to take their constructive criticism without putting up his wall. personally i think todd parrett would have been best crew chief for jr. todd wouldn’t take crap from him. jr is cash cow (even without winning) and that is why he can do what he does. until sponsors make more noise than they’re already making (and nat guard is), jr will be jr and it will continue to be everyone else but him.
sean – the roush/yates think isn’t hyped as much as being “one group” as the hendrick/shr is. the hendrick/shr connection is so close as the mothership/satellite that it’s ridiculous. besdies if they’re not related how come the media says kahne will go to a shr team, that isn’t even in existance. maybe that will change with the 14 needing primary sponorship and even newman’s team doesn’t have full time primary sponsorship. just like jr’s 88 and 7 nationwide teams. it’s just a way of diversifying things at hendrick.
Hey Mark. It’s not Stewart-Haas. It’s Hendricks-Stewart Racing. It’s how they get around the four team limit. So yes, they would be making an in house change.
Just wanted to clear up that the Earnhardt stat has been fixed. Daytona was so long ago, it’s easy to forget isn’t it…
I’d say they had a good crowd on Friday for the Nationwide race and they did not expect it because they did not have enough of the gates open and enough staff working. I had to walk from my camping spot across from turn 3 to the ticket booth at the start finish line to get tickets through 2 long lines waiting to enter the speedway that must have took a half hour to stand in. Since the Tyler tower lines were so long we decided to sit in the Pearson tower and had to walk back to farthest entrance away in the middle of turns 3 and 4 stand in line for 10 minutes to get in and walk all they way back to the start of the front straight away to get to our seats I must have passed 5 closed entrance gates having to do this.
Seems to me that you’re all clueless idiots…especially the moron noel!!! What asinine, clueless comments she makes!!! Normal for a Jr. fan though!
Keith, agree with you about the NW race. Darlingon management screwed up there. I stood in line for at least 15 minutes with a couple of older gents using canes who weren’t real happy.
Wow, thank you for the mention. I feel honored.
But 60,000 fans at a track that holds 66,000 looks a lot better on TV than 60,000 fans at a track that holds 90,000. That’s easy to understand. However, its terrible for a track as awesome and historical as Darlington to not be able to sell out all 66,000 seats. Its even worse when its noticable on TV. We can understand Bristol not selling out 160,000 seats, but 66,000? At Darlington?? Something is seriously wrong, and we all know it.
You could have left the Daytona stat as it was. Restrictor plate races don’t mean squat.
Maybe Jr fans need to notice what everyone else has. It doesn’t matter who the crew chief is, he just isn’t that good of a driver.
He doesn’t know how to make his car better as the race goes along and expects the crew chief to figure it out. If the CC doesn’t, he complains about it. Along with his lack of passion to win races, why would anyone want to be this guys crew chief?
why was there never much mention about the MWR violations & fines? the fact that only “affiliated” teams lost points for the same violation? now another “affilated” team has a rear end taken by nascar? they are all in the same bldg!! we know why faux won’t mention it, why cant you??
I had to give it 6 beers! With Denny (my driver) winning and Jamie (the wife’s driver) finishing 2nd and then our most hated driver (JJ) crashing, I’d have to say, to us, this would be a 30 pack race!!!
The “ Matt “ version of reality seems to be contagious for at least a couple of people .
Jr. had Grubb on his pit box with Tony Jr. when he first started at HMS and ran quite well. When Grubb left, things went down hill.
Where were all you guys when SHR was Haas CNC before Tony came along? The relationship between the two organizations has not changed. Just the quality of drivers and because of those quality of drivers they were able to gain people who were able to undersatnd what HMS was giving them in regards to the set ups and such.
Get used to the parade. Not the racing, the big corporate sponsors leaving.
If you paid more attention to the facts than bashing NASCAR you might write something almost accurate about the Hall of Fame. Anything’s possible, maybe.
If it’s ok to make a mistake because it happened at Daytona, it’s not ok to make a mistake when the race happened two days ago. Hamlin was not leading when Gordon was coming down pitroad, Burton was. I think its funny as hell for Matt to bash everyone from DW to NASCAR to readers that don’t agree with him. But week after week he makes mistakes in his “reporting” of the race.
Mark and Melissa,
I attended the “Southern 500” and there’s no way that it earned 4 beers. Very little passing (either for the lead or in the back of the back)
Also, the COToday doesn’t lose speed after hitting the wall. Although the cars resembled a demolition derby field at the finish, their overall lap times were unaffected.
2 beers for this one (although the track, the fans, and the setting deserve more)
Hendrick was in victory lane before/with smoke the first? time Stewart won.Felon Rick sure seemed to consider it a hendrick win.
It’s funny ya’ll don’t hold Nascar to the same standards as you do Matt…
I was out of town at the beginning of the week so I didnt get to put in my typical two cents on Matt’s “article” (please note the quotes).
I completely agree with budsudz, this weeks race was a snore-fest. I think two beers is pushing it. Of course Matt, and his completely backwards perspective on NASCAR, thought it was great.
For the record, Doug Yates built his own cars. Yes, Ford Motor Company combined all their engine eggs into a basket carried by both Jack Roush and Doug Yates. But that’s where the similarity ended. Far different from Stewart-Haas-Hendrick Racing.