Kurt Busch to Attempt The Indianapolis-Charlotte Double
posted by Phil Allaway
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Andretti Autosport announced this morning that Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet in the Sprint Cup Series, will attempt the Indianapolis 500 in a fifth entry for the IndyCar Series team. Once the Indianapolis 500 is completed, Busch will fly from Indianapolis to Charlotte, jump in his No. 41 Chevrolet and compete in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Busch considers the opportunity to do the double as an old-school throwback moment.
“This is really to challenge myself within motorsports,” Busch said in Andretti Autosport’s press release. “Perhaps I am a bit of an old-school racer; a throwback, I guess. I enjoyed the era of drivers racing different cars and testing themselves in other series. It is tough to do now for a variety of factors, but when the opportunity is there, I want to do it. While NASCAR is my home, I have been fortunate to compete in Pro Stock on the NHRA circuit a number of years ago and test a V8 Supercar. This opportunity was a talk with Michael [Andretti] over dinner one night, a “What if,” and now it’s becoming a reality for me to drive in the Indy 500 with Andretti Autosport. It’s literally a dream come true. To go to the famous Brickyard with the iconic Andretti name, it doesn’t get much cooler or better than that.”
Busch will be doing the Indianapolis-Charlotte double as a Memorial Day mission to men and women serving in the U.S. Military via the Armed Forces Foundation. Fans can contribute to the cause by texting AFF to 50555 to donate $10.
Busch, who has never raced an IndyCar, passed Rookie Orientation at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year during a test session. At the time, Busch was more or less testing the Dallara DW12 for fun.
Busch will be the fourth driver to attempt the Indianapolis-Charlotte double. John Andretti was the first driver to attempt it in 1994. After finishing four laps down in tenth in Indianapolis, Andretti crashed and had engine problems in the 600. Robby Gordon has attempted the double five times, most recently in 2004. However, Gordon failed to make it to Charlotte on time and did not start the 600 in 2000 (P.J. Jones started Gordon’s No. 13 Ford in that instance). Finally, Tony Stewart has attempted the double twice (most recently in 2001) and is the only driver to ever complete all 1100 miles. Neither of the three drivers has won either leg of the double. The best finishes are Stewart and Gordon’s sixth-place finishes at the Indianapolis 500 (although Gordon’s came in 2000, the year he didn’t make it to Charlotte in time to start the Coca-Cola 600), and Stewart’s fourth-place finish in the 2001 Coca-Cola 600.
Danica Patrick, Justin Allgaier Talk About Phoenix Incident
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
A disappointing start to the year for Danica Patrick won’t include continued conflict. Patrick met with rookie Justin Allgaier Sunday, shortly after the Phoenix Cup race after a wreck ruined both drivers’ days. Patrick, who was critical of the No. 51 car on the radio, claiming Allgaier was “driving all over the track” appeared receptive to a conversation that quickly settled differences over what will be a long season.
“She was just upset because she got involved in the crash that we had,’’ said Allgaier to the Motor Racing Network. “She says she’s been through this and that she felt like I needed to settle down at that point. I explained my position on why everything happened. I think she understood where I was coming from. It doesn’t fix either one of our racecars. It doesn’t fix either one of our days. Unfortunately, we were both having pretty decent days.’’
Allgaier wound up 30th due to the incident while Patrick was 36th. The incident, which was caused by Allgaier’s spin also involved the No. 32 team and Travis Kvapil, which wound up 38th after sustaining heavy damage.
Camping World Close to Extending Title Sponsorship of NCWTS
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Marcus Lemonis, CEO of Camping World, Grand Marshal of Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway, and star of CNBC’s “The Profit,” made the announcement over the weekend that the retailer is very close to announcing a deal that would continue its title sponsorship of NASCAR’s Truck Series. The original agreement with NASCAR is scheduled to conclude after the 2015 season.
According to the sanctioning body, no formal contract has been signed, but “the agreement between the two parties has proven to be a beneficial one.”
“In about a month, we’ll be announcing a significant extension to that contract. It’s been great for us,” said Camping World’s Lemonis in a statement. “The NASCAR relationship has worked well for Camping World. When we started, we had 35 stores. Now, we’re up to 120 stores. As we travel the country and we meet new customers in stores, they always are very appreciative of our relationship with NASCAR. It’s been good.”
Gaining a long-term commitment from Camping World to sponsor the Truck Series would be a relief for NASCAR, which is set to lose Nationwide Insurance as title sponsor for the NASCAR Nationwide Series at the end of the 2014 season. The sponsorship of the Cup Series by Sprint runs through 2016.
The NCWTS is back in action on March 29th at 2:30 PM (ET) when the trucks visit Martinsville Speedway in the Kroger 250, which can be seen on Fox Sports 1. Ratings for the season opener were up 11 percent.
Harvick Takes Win At Phoenix In Second Race With New Team
posted by Justin Tucker
Monday March 3, 2014
Phoenix International Raceway has become Kevin Harvick’s home away from home. Sunday Afternoon was no exception as Harvick charged to the front early and would dominate for much of the day, leading 224 of the scheduled 312 laps to record his record fifth win on the one mile oval and his third win in the last four races at Phoenix.
Harvick, coming off of a disappointing Speedweeks which was capped by a last lap crash in the Daytona 500 in his debut with Stewart-Haas Racing, set the tone on Saturday by winning both practices while having the best 5 and 10-lap averages in the first practice of the day on Saturday. On Sunday, Harvick and his No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet was nothing short of flawless as he was able to hold Dale Earnhardt, Jr. by .489 seconds after a late race restart to claim his 24th career Sprint Cup Series victory.
“Man, this is awesome,” Harvick said after his dominant victory on Sunday. “Man, this just solidifies so many things and so many decisions. It’s been so much work with all the time and effort that these guys (the crew) have put in—but what a race car.”
Stewart Haas Racing co-owner Gene Haas shared in Harvick’s excitement after the race.
“It took long enough,” Haas joked. “This is phenomenal. I think there was a lot of skepticism last year about what myself and Tony (Stewart) what we were up to, was there a lot of madness to this. Quite frankly, it’s a great team, there’s a lot of synergy at the shop, people working together. I don’t know what we did, but I think we put together a great organization.”
Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt, Jr. continued his hot start to the 2014 season. Earnhardt Jr. would finish second on Sunday, marking his seventh consecutive top 10 finish since the end of the 2013 season. Earnhardt Jr. was pleased with the effort after a coast-to-coast whirlwind week after winning his second Daytona 500 and also gave great praise to the efforts of Harvick and the No. 4 team.
“I’ve got to congratulate Kevin. Those guys were two-tenths faster than everyone all weekend in practice. They were just phenomenal,” Earnhardt said. “To be able to run with them all day was a big confidence builder for us.”
Joining Harvick and Earnhardt in the top 5 of The Profit on CNBC 500K were Brad Keselowski with his second consecutive top 3 run of 2014 in third. Keselowski’s Team Penske teammate Joey Logano would finish fourth, and Jeff Gordon would come home fifth in his No. 24 Pepsi Max Chevrolet.
Jimmie Johnson finished in sixth, followed by Ryan Newman with a nice rebound after Daytona in seventh. Carl Edwards would carry the banner for Roush Fenway Racing by finishing eighth, Kyle Busch was ninth, and Jamie McMurray would finish tenth.
A look at the Profit on CNBC 500K by the numbers. There were 14 lead changes among eight different drivers, there were eight cautions for 39 laps which slowed the race pace to 109.229 MPH.
Next Sunday, the Sprint Cup Series heads to Sin City and the Las Vegas Motor
Starting Lineup: The Profit On CNBC 500K
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday March 1, 2014
Drivers in RED (i) are those ineligible to collect Sprint Cup points
Daytona 500 TV Ratings Down
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Wednesday February 26, 2014
What was the longest weather delay in Daytona 500 history turned out to bring NASCAR lower ratings and TV viewership Sunday night than expected. According to a report Monday from FOX Sports, the 56th running of the Daytona 500 airing at 8 PM (ET) posted a 5.6/10 national household rating/share which averaged 9.3 million viewers. That’s down 44 percent from last year’s 9.9, easily making it the least-watched Daytona 500 of all-time.
Due to the six-hour, twenty-two minute rain delay in Daytona, the race was up against the primetime coverage of the Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony from Sochi, Russia on NBC (15.25 million viewers). FOX also reported that 69% of the pre-rain delay viewers of the race, which began at 1 PM (ET) kept tuning in.
In comparison, the 2013 Daytona 500 on FOX was the most-watched race in five years, posting a 9.9/22 rating/share, commanding 16.7 million viewers. The Daytona 500 in 2012, the first to ever be run on a Monday and in the primetime slot did a 7.7/13 overnight rating/share which resulted in 13.67 million households viewing the race according to Nielsen TV ratings data.
Earnhardt, Jr. Claims Second Daytona 500 Victory
posted by Justin Tucker
Wednesday February 26, 2014
Ten years is a long time. For Dale Earnhardt, Jr., it felt like an eternity. NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver endured many near misses and close calls at the Daytona 500 since his only win in the Great American Race in 2004. Earnhardt had finished second in two of his last three Daytona 500s coming into Sunday’s race. He was also riding the tail of a 55-race winless streak, dating back to Michigan in 2012.
However nothing would stop Dale Jr. on Sunday, not even a 6 hour and 22 minute rain delay from capturing his second Daytona 500 win. Earnhardt Jr. led a race-high 54 laps on the evening and used some timely drafting help from teammates Jimmie Johnson and, on the final restart, Jeff Gordon to separate from the pack and secure the victory.
“Winning this race is the greatest feeling that you could feel in this sport besides accepting the trophy for the championship,” said a jubilant Earnhardt after pulling into Victory Lane. “We could fight off battle after battle. We got a little help at the end there from Jeff to get away on the restart. This is amazing. I can’t believe this is happening. I never take this for granted, man because it doesn’t happen twice, let alone once.”
Aside from the race itself the big story of the race was the 6 hour and 22 minute red flag, which threatened to move the race to Monday evening (had the race been postponed, FOX Sports’ Chris Myers had tweeted that the race would resume at 5:00pm EST). However, Mother Nature would cooperate and would allow the race to be run under different conditions from which they practiced this week. Once the race resumed, the intensity picked up from the changing track conditions. This allowed the pack to race side-by-side and at times 3-wide up to seven rows deep.
Joining Earnhardt Jr. in the top 5 for the 2014 Daytona 500 were: Denny Hamlin who closed out a spectacular Speedweeks in second, Brad Keselowski in third, Jeff Gordon in fourth, and Jimmie Johnson who overcome two wrecks leading up to the 500 in fifth.
Rounding out the top 10 in the Daytona 500 were Matt Kenseth in sixth, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. in seventh and Greg Biffle would bring his No. 16 Ford home in eighth. Austin Dillon would come home ninth in his first Cup Series race in the iconic No. 3 for Richard Childress Racing, while Casey Mears would round out the top 10.
A couple of major contenders for the Daytona 500 win would see their hopes dashed early on as Martin Truex, Jr. would blow up just 30 laps into the race, relegating him to a 43rd-place finish in his debut for Furniture Row Racing. Crew chief Todd Berrier was already in Nashville for a test session before the race was even over. Kyle Busch, meanwhile would have a pit road violation just before halfway and would spend much of the race battling back from that mistake. Busch would eventually finish 19th after leading 19 laps.
Danica Patrick would also be bit by bad luck as she was caught up in a multi-car wreck on lap 145. Patrick would lead her second consecutive Daytona 500, but wouldn’t have the finish to show for it finishing 40th. Tony Stewart would encounter a frustrating evening as well, with a fuel pickup problem derailing his quest for his first Daytona 500 win. Stewart would finish 35th.
A look at the Daytona 500 by the numbers. There were 42 lead changes among 18 drivers, while seven cautions for 39 laps would slow the race pace to 145.290 MPH.
Next week, the Sprint Cup Series heads to the “diamond in the desert,” Phoenix International Raceway for The Profit on CNBC 500K. The Green flag is scheduled for 3:15pm EST.
Nationwide Series Post-Race Quotes: Drive4COPD 300
posted by Thomas Bowles
Tuesday February 25, 2014
Frontstretch Interviews – Courtesy Mike Neff
ELLIOTT SADLER – FINISHED 4th
Thoughts on the race?
It’s definitely a lot different racing than what we’re used to.
Comfortable with it?
Yeah, it’s just different. You’re worried about what you’re doing, but you’re also worried about what everyone else is doing and they’re not doing more than you’re doing. Physically pushing a guy is way better than just riding so you just gotta time it right and push it to the edge.
Happy to start the year with a top 5?
Yeah. Hell, that was the worst we ran all day, I think. I have no idea how they put the 3 car in front of us on that last restart. I hadn’t seen the 3 car hardly all day. When they put us from fifth to sixth, on the outside line, it just really boxed us in. I would have really restarted behind my teammate and given him a good push to the front. Anyways, it is what it is; we’ll take it and move on.
Looked like you were up front all day.
The guys did a good job. We had a fast race car. Great pit stops, just really proud of these guys. The car’s in one piece and we can take it to Talladega now. Great job by my guys. A lot of effort came into coming down here to Daytona and giving ourselves a shot to win. We had that chance to be up front and make some things happen. Fifth is not what we want, but we’ll take it and move on.
Bumping vs Pushing?
It’s way harder. You don’t want to lay on the guy in front of you, so it’s tough racing. A lot different than what we’re used to, ‘cause you gotta go. You gotta drag the brake too ‘cause you don’t want to hit the guys and you don’t want to stay on him. It’s a lot harder mentally than what we’ve done in the past.
Car was strong all day. Pushing vs. Bumping, is that harder to do than just getting on somebody and pushing them?
Yeah, it is a little bit. When you bump ‘em, you jar ‘em, it kinda jacks ‘em a little bit. It’s a little more abrupt, obviously. I thought it was OK there at the end. It was certainly fun and hopefully entertaining. But a little bit of a struggle in the early part of the race and the midpart of the race to see a good race. And that’s unfortunate for the fans. You can’t do that the whole race, you can’t tear up your stuff, knock your grill in, overheat your motor, all that stuff so there’s no sense in doing all that until you get down to the last lap. The 7 and the 6, they did a good job. Man, the 7 really held the 22 and I tight on the bottom. I was rubbing his door and hitting the apron at the same time, no room whatsoever. So it was good; wish we were the ones who could have won but a lot better now than what we were last year.
Going home in one piece makes it a lot better, right?
Yeah. My back feels good. My foot feels good. Past years here, I’ve been going home with pain so I’m alright.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Truck Series Post-Race Quotes: Daytona (Exclusives)
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday February 22, 2014
When you’re on the outside like that, how frustrating is it?
It’s so hard. Timothy Peters has won here. Kyle Busch has won everywhere. Ron Hornaday has been running Trucks forever, probably before I was even born. I was surrounded by veterans there, and like I told them I don’t have a rookie stripe but I’m a rookie. This is only my fourth Truck race ever, my fourth superspeedway race, and man, I figured out when the 17 got up in front of me, I pushed him. And as soon as I pushed him, he took off. And I went with him. And I just kept doing it, and before I knew it, he was leading. And I saw Ron in my mirror, backed up to him, and if it wasn’t for him, I don’t know what would have happened. I gotta thank him big time for that. That was a true teammate move right there. I really appreciate that. He just bounced off me and we got to the front. I tried my hardest to sidedraft Kyle. I was probably touching his door.
Top 5 in the No. 30 truck. This deal come together at the last minute, but you had a heck of a truck. Tell us about your night.
Yeah, I’ve got to thank Turner Scott Motorsports. The guys worked so hard on this Rheem Comfort Products Chevrolet. Exciting! Just got hung up on the outside and had to wait for my teammate there to catch up. And then he got to the bottom, so… I got the old 32 and started pushing ol’ Ryan to the front. So, it’s not bad. We’ll take it. You just don’t want to step over that boundary. You don’t know how far to push and shove. We bumped about six times down the straightaway without latching onto them. Hopefully, that was OK and we came home with a top 5.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Budweiser Duels Post Race Quotes
posted by Matt Stallknecht
Friday February 21, 2014
BUDWEISER DUELS POST-RACE QUOTES
They’re saying the wheel bearing burned up in it. I don’t know what caused it, they’re taking it all apart to figure out what the heck happened. Something abnormal that’s for sure I don’t think I’ve ever had that happen at all. Hopefully, we made the race and hopefully we can fix the problem before Sunday.
WHAT WAS THAT LOUD BOOM ONCE YOU TURNED INTO THE GARAGE?
Loud pop was a tire… thankfully, it popped, hopefully it didn’t hurt anybody. All the heat created in the left front that popped was pretty weird.
REALLY GOOD RUN. WHAT DID YOU THINK OF IT?
Yeah, it was good. We have a car we can work with for the 500. Got a good starting spot, so we’re going to rest easy, fluff and buff our car for a couple of days and get ready for Sunday.
ANY DIFFERENCE ON WHETHER THE TOP OR BOTTOM LANE WORKED?
Yeah, I was just moving around, trying to stay with the flow. For me, this car works on all parts of the racetrack. So I’m pretty happy with it.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.
GOT SHUFFLED BACK, AFTER PIT STOPS AND THEN COULDN’T GET BACK UP TO THE FRONT. WHY?
Nah, we were just sitting there waiting until the last few laps to make a move. You didn’t want to pull down and get sent to the back. Seen a couple of guys get sent to the back really quick so we were just kind of waiting for the end. I felt like we had a good situation there with Ambrose behind us — we had a good run off Turn 2 and I went. It was the last lap, time to go do something, nobody went with us but hopefully Sunday is a different story.
We got a great car. We don’t have to work hard. We learned, we got a good race car. Got a car in one piece, ready to go so we’ll try and get through the next couple of practices, deliver it to the starting group this Sunday and we’ll be real happy.
YOU’RE IN THE DAYTONA 500!
Yeah, it’s pretty awesome. This Whitetail Chevrolet was so fast that I knew all I had to do was stick it behind smart, intelligent drafters and we could have a good finish. That’s what we did in the Duels and I’m excited. I’m excited to go do some stuff with the Nationwide car and have some more practice with this. But to know that we’re locked in the Daytona 500’s pretty cool.
YOU WERE OBVIOUSLY IN FRONT OF THAT MELEE AT THE END. WHEN YOU WERE UP FRONT THERE IN THE BEGINNING, WERE YOU HOPING TO JUST STAY IN LINE AND LET YOU FINISH TOP 5?
I was pretty content to ride and luckily I knew a lot of people around us were. It was nice to have a little calm and not really have to be racing hard the whole time. I knew that the pit stop was going to shake everything up and that’s exactly what happened. Fell back a little bit there but made the right moves at the end to get a good finish.
HOW STRONG ARE THESE RCR CARS?
They’re very strong! They definitely have the capabilities to be winning one of these races.
YOU’RE IN THE TOP 5 FOR YOUR HEAT IN THE DAYTONA 500. YOUR PRIMARY CAR IS SITTING RIGHT IN THE GARAGE, KIND OF WADDED UP. DID YOU THINK THIS ONE HAD IT IN IT?
Yeah, it’s a brand new car also. It’s just not quite as good as the primary but still a damned good car. I’m just proud of everybody at RCR for building such fast race cars. All of our cars have been fast, ECR motor’s been strong, even our affiliate teams have been qualifying really good and racing good. So… excited about 2014! It’s going to be a good year.
WELL MAN, YOU STARTED IN THE BACK BUT WORKED YOUR WAY TO THE FRONT WHEN IT COUNTED MOST. WERE YOU JUST BIDING YOUR TIME THROUGHOUT THE RACE?
Eh, you never know if you’re going to get back up there or not. We had to start at the back, we had to make a run early and see what we could do. We drove right to 10th, or something like that and then it got stagnant. We tried to make something happen, and went to the back again. Drove back up to the front. Again, just really proud of my guys. Matt Kruder did a hell of a job on that pit stop getting just enough gas in to gain some spots there.
RCR CARS SEEM PRETTY DARNED STRONG. DO YOU THINK THE RCR CARS HAVE SOMETHING FOR THEM ON SUNDAY — ESPECIALLY THE THREE JOE GIBBS RACING CARS THAT SEEM TO BE THE CLASS OF THE FIELD RIGHT NOW?
Oh yeah. The 20 car was extremely fast. The 11 didn’t qualify that good, but he’s a good drafter. I think he won. We definitely have something for him.
Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
Matt McLaughlin · Thursday May 27, 2010
I guess it was a couple decades ago, a new style Japanese restaurant opened up in a town nearby the small burg I called home (where the local McDonalds was considered fine cuisine) and became all the rage. “We just had to try it,” a friend assured the woman I was dating. Well, that put me on edge. I’d hated every movie her friend had ever suggested, every song, every scenic point we just had to see, and most of all I just hated that friend of my lady’s. But being in a relationship means occasionally having to listen to her wishes as well. Wincing, I checked my credit card balance, patted the Harley an unwelcome goodbye on an off night for us, and loaded Vickie up in my El Camino for the dinner. (I think showing up at a Japanese restaurant in an El Camino is a pretty sure sign you’re outside your comfort zone. )
I was a bit perplexed when told to remove my boots by the very friendly hostess, and very afraid someone was going to steal them. We were then led to a quadrangular communal table surrounding the cooking station where the chef would prepare our meal. The table, for the record, was about calf high. Everyone around us was sitting on the ground, so I grumped down onto my backside and wondered what in Hell I was doing there. I wanted my own table. I wanted the noise posing as music that sounded like a tornado in the string orchestra closet to cease. I wanted a jukebox. I needed a cold beer with a label I could read that didn’t taste like fish. And I, for damn sure, didn’t want to be knee-to-knee with an obnoxious couple that was clearly headed to divorce or domestic violence later that evening.
At this particular restaurant, watching the chef cook your food was supposed to be entertainment, and the cook was very good. There were flashes of blue fire from the fry pans, crap catching on fire, vegetables being cut up mid-air and caught on a knife, daring thrusts of knifes dicing small edibles in such fast motion I was sure he was going to lose a few fingers (and I was going to end up eating them.) He’d throw up entire fry pans full of food, catch them, and season them before they all landed. My fellow diners were applauding, but I was kind of sitting there thinking, “Can I just get a hamburger, a Bud and a check?” This isn’t what I’m used to. I like my portions large, a private table, my damn boots on… and I ain’t liking the meat to vegetable ratio of what I’m seeing cooked. Still, no dinner rolls or onion rings had arrived.
Well, after all the histrionics and flashing fire of meal preparation, the first course of what I was warned was served. I wished I was eating my boot. The chicken was rubbery and spiced to a degree my sinuses ached. The vegetables were alternatively blackened or chewy as bubble gum, and whatever the urine yellow sauce that slathered the whole mess, was I was quietly waiting to see if it would eat through my plate and the table. “I can’t eat this,” I whispered to Vickie. “I wouldn’t feed it my dog. And he eats crap off the front yard.”
“It’s terrible,” she admitted, spitting something into a napkin. But there we were seated in front of our very enthusiastic chef who was lighting off more conflagrations, doing more magic tricks with knives, and rambling on incomprehensibly in some Asian dialect nobody understood while thinking himself terribly amusing. I got up as if to use the Men’s room, found the manager, and told him I just wanted to pay my check, get my boots, and get on out of there. “Not to your liking?” he asked, seemingly extremely hurt. “Not to my liking,” I admitted, handing over the credit card. “Maybe, next course better?” He asked hopefully. “I ought to be five miles out of here before anyone finds out,” I told him.
I grabbed my boots and motioned frantically for Vickie to join me. We made a hasty exeunt (I mean both N50-15s smoking) and stopped for dinner at a steak and hoagie joint back in town. I didn’t see that meal being prepared. It arrived in a brown paper bag dripping with oil and grease. The bag, I should note, was not set ablaze, nor were any ears of corn the size of your pinky quartered midair. But it tasted like food.
Yeah, I’m pretty patrician when it comes to dinner, but others must have agreed with my easily wounded pallet. A couple months later that hibachi house was out of business and replaced by a pizzeria. You can have all the flash, pyrotechnics, and magic tricks you can muster leading up to a main course, but the final test is in the tasting.
And through my as usual convoluted thought process, that takes us back to Saturday night’s All-Star Race. It was not to my liking, you’ll note. Oh, the last ten laps were fine, but three hours is a lot of time to wait for a ten-minute payoff. I am told by no less an authority by this site’s Owner and Senior Editor TB that folks today have a lot shorter attention spans than they did back when my contemporaries and I were still dragging our knuckles through the primordial ooze, working on this evolutionary thing that has led to the MTV generation and its successors. Back in those days, we were able to eke out an existence without microwave ovens that prepare snacks in seconds, cell phones that promise instant communication, access to limitless volumes of information (if you see it on the Internet, it must be true), Facebook, YouTube, Twitters, tweets, and American Idol. We endured cars that you had to warm up for three minutes before driving. We were so stupid, we didn’t realize that Lynyrd Skynyrd might have been onto something if they’d found a way to shorten Free Bird to two minutes thirty seconds, getting rid of all that guitar solo trash. But even for a member of the patient generation, Saturday night was too much. The All-Star Race, whatever they’re going to call it and whoever is going to sponsor it, needs fixing and it needs fixing bad.
The first question of many (and TB, are you getting the impression this isn’t going to be one of my new generation shorter columns yet?) is whether we still need the All-Star Race? It was a cool idea the folks at Winston came up with back in the day (1985) to pit drivers who had won races the previous season and that season to date against each other. A 70-lap shootout was created, with the winner getting a great big check at the end. It was an easily understood and palatable format. Somewhere along the process, things took a turn for the bizarre with giant pachinko machines, fan votes, field inversions, grandfather clauses, ten minute breaks, mandatory pit stops, fireworks, rock bands, and about everything but a dozen mermaids working stripper poles during crew introductions. (Yeah, some of you love the crew introductions… I’m not amongst you. I figure since this is MTV racing, we ought to be able to flash a few second image of each crew guy onto the big screen, as long as they promise not to wear purple robes and crowns or do up their hair like Ann and Nancy Wilson performing the Alone video out of the ’80s.)
I guess what really soured me on the whole “All-Star” concept was Joey Logano’s participation in last year’s event, fully four months into his rookie season, with one top-10 Cup result to his name. That’s an All-Star? A kid with a lot of promise and a decent third-place result when the night was over, sure. But an All-Star? I think not. The fact Logano was included based on what someone else did in the same car was too bizarre for me to handle. It’s like Dale Krantz getting inducted into the Rock ‘N’ Roll Hall of Fame for Ronnie’s version of Tuesday’s Gone.
If the All-Star race is to continue, it needs to be hot-rodded. First off, stuff a great big engine into it to make it more exciting and immediate. Then, strip off everything that doesn’t matter. Certainly, the event doesn’t deserve its own weekend. I’d run the Nationwide race on the Saturday afternoon before the 600 and run it as a companion event that evening, free to any fan who bought a ticket to the Nationwide race. Attendance figures as of late might indicate a “Doubleheader” would put more butts in the seats and allow another off weekend for drivers, teams, and fans to enjoy at home before starting the long summer stretch that visits some of the most boring tracks on the circuit.
I’d insist that they go back to the original format, where there was just one race and the only drivers who made the cut were ones who had won the previous season or the current season. If that means Dale Earnhardt, Jr. doesn’t make the show, oh well. There’s a little more incentive to win a race occasionally, which is what “All-Stars” do. There’s no free lunch.
The distance also needs to be pared back to a maximum of 50 laps. Thirty would be preferable. Twenty might even be ideal. If these guys are going to cruise until the final ten laps anyway, I don’t want to watch it. When the green flag drops, I want to watch these guys, purportedly the best in the business, stand on it, bend some fenders, smoke some tires, get well and truly pissed off at one another, and in general act like a million bucks is something other than a headache for their tax advisor to deal with. Oh, and the winner of the All-Star race should get first pick of pit stalls for the World 600, so the actual victory has some relevance to their day jobs.
Ideally, the entire All-Star telecast ought to be over in less than ninety minutes, replete with pre-race and post-race coverage, which would hopefully include post-race fistfights and severely dented fenders and egos. It ought to look like the “A” Main feature at your local short track, and it ought to be an event that even non-racing fans are still talking about when someone drinks the milk at Indy.
I have a tremendous amount of respect for every driver that makes it to Cup level competition. They’ve come up through the ranks at short tracks and through sacrifice, perseverance, and talent made it to the big leagues. It’s time to let these drivers show their bare-knuckled personalities for at least a single evening a year.
But right now? They’re not allowed. The All-Star race has become a Rube Goldberg-esque mess that’s incomprehensible to the new fans it was intended to attract and unendurable to the long-term fans it is meant to entertain. It’s time to fix it or get rid of it, because what we got is, to put it simply, not to my liking. Maybe the next course be better?
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Logano made the all-star in 2009 because he won the fan vote, not because he was in a “winning” 2008 car (when really Regan Smith won the only race Tony Stewart was credited for winning that year). There are many skeptics who believe Home Depot “bought” the fan vote, but I’m not going there. I don’t think there should be a fan vote, but the all-star did finally remove the rule of letting winning car owners with non-winning drivers in the field, which went back a long way. I believe Kenny Irwin and Elliott Sadler both got in based on Ernie Irvan and Ricky Rudd’s wins in their last seasons in the #28, etc…
Seriously, everything about your first paragraph makes me cringe.
Your 8th paragraph – the one where you finally talk about NASCAR mirrors everything you hate about the sport. Why should we read 7 paragraphs of YOUR dribble to get to something WE care about?
Logano made the 2009 show because he was on an all-star TEAM not just in a winning car. The All-Star Race is about the TEAMS as much as the drivers. When else do catch-can men have their names platered on national TV and get a Bon Jovi Style Entrance? Why does everyone miss that?
Dansmom, I no longer believe that you are serious.
I liked your analogy with the restaurant, Matt. Made a good point. The All-Star race is overhyped.
N50-15s on an El Camino, you were the apitome of cool back in the day. If you had Crager SS rims and it was a pre ’73 model all the more points for style.
I feel the same way about the bloated and over produced All Star race, and to add insult to injury we must endure the child like ramblings of DW in the booth. Was he right even once last weekend? He throws out Darrelisms as if they are fact, then when his theories are proven wrong on the track he changes his tune and acts like he knew what would happen all along.
The problem with todays races are not the length, but the quality of the product from the booth. Back in the day the announcers and producers would keep the fans informed of the days storylines and show all of the on track action without a thought of product placement or product plugs. Today it’s all about the money and harvesting as many dollars from the sponsors and using the race as the vehicle to get it done, at the expense of the fans. Add this to the bloated All Star format and the fans get hit from 2 directions.
I only needed to read the first line of “It’s” response to know it was another screed against the old school fans who brought Nascar to the dance. In case you don’t know DW has his own home on Fox Sports, and you can probably get some Genuine Bonified Official Nascar Pom Poms while you are there, and hang with like minded newbies while nodding your head in agreement with whatever DW is spewing that day. Why you come here with your tired old newbie rants while you could be somewhere else in Nascar bliss with like minded automatons is beyond me.
What is “Platered”, and can you use it in a sentence.
First, Matt I like your stories that lead us to what you want to say about nascar….
Next: Have been going to the All Star race for a long time now and I agree with matt….way too much whoopla especially if you are sitting in the grandstands….
Last: as for Logano getting the fan vote last year…what a joke…I think HD with held paychecks unless their employees voted for him…but really was it any less of a joke than the year kenny wallace got voted in due to the speed TV pushing it? If they continue fan voting there should be a rule…like the driver has won at least one cup race in their life
The fan vote was created for the sole reason to ensure that Dale Jr. gets into the show. He will have to use it next season, unless he can win a race in the next 12 months, which right now doesn’t seem likely.
I’m surprised no columnist has tried to write a story about how the fan vote is questionable at best. Is anyone really shocked by Edwards winning this considering his sponsor was the biggest of those that didn’t make the show. One has to wonder if Hornish or Menard got the most votes if they would have put Edwards in the show anyway. Nascars past questionable practices which are usually based on money, and add the fact that they don’t announce the results, it would be very easy for them to manipulate it to put whoever they want as the fan vote.
If I were Robby Gordon or another team, I would run a “Twilight” car; twitter / facebook / myspace that fact to every tween girl; and then laugh when I get voted into the All-Star race over everyone else.
DansMom, dribble is what is running down your chin every waking moment of your brain-damaged life; drivel is what you’re accusing Matt of writing. Man, if this is how you get your attention on a weekly basis, I feel very sorry for you.
I just wonder how you can call it an All-Star event and not include previous winners of the event and champions. Bill Elliott gets slighted every year in that category. I’ve always been an Elliott fan but it rubbed me wrong last year to see a rookie in Logano in the race and a past champion like Bill outside of it. I know Bill didn’t have a realistic shot at winning the event but lets give credit where its due in an All-Star event.
Dan’s mom gave me a rash
That made me laugh really hard !