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 · Thursday June 3, 2010
I must admit, as a guy who has called Pennsylvania home for going on four decades now I feel a great deal of affection for the Pocono track. I won’t claim it’s the best one on the circuit (that honor belongs to either Darlington or Richmond) or that it provides the sort of constant side-by-side excitement that once was Bristol. But I have witnessed some outstanding races at Pocono. I remember in particular Bobby Labonte and Dale Earnhardt, Jr.’s last lap, land-rush finish in 2001, Jeremy Mayfield knocking Dale Earnhardt the original aside on the last lap in 2000, and Tim Richmond’s emotional comeback win in 1987. (Unfortunately, I’ve also seen some terrible crashes there, too, including wrecks that almost killed Bobby and Davey Allison, Harry Gant, Dale Earnhardt, and Jeff Gordon.)
Naturally, my recollections and reflections of Pocono are colored by the fact I attended a lot of race weekends there with my friends, as chronicled in the infamous 1313 Turkey Court column a few years back. By and large, I believe the statue of limitations is up on those shenanigans, so I’ll admit those were some of the best weekends of my life. It was male bonding at its best and beeriest, irresponsible operation of various types of off-road vehicles in pursuit of no trophy or points but mere bragging rights, campfires, raw in the center burgers, tall tales, outright lies, and that now taboo taste of a first beer at breakfast. Growing older is a wonder after all those weekends. Growing up sucks. Yeah, Pocono race weekends and those memories still make me grin.
But based on my email and comments from readers on my columns, Pocono is not universally beloved. (Let me state one basic truism; any race you attend live is better than the same race watched on TV). There are constant complaints from various members of the media that the 500-mile race distances are way too long and they need to be shortened to 400, or even 300 miles. A lot of Pocono races start off well and end well, but do tend to drag in the center as teams and drivers battle attrition rather than each other. Others argue that Pocono should lose one or both race dates.
Pocono is just about equidistant from two of the largest and most coveted TV markets in the country: New York City and Philadelphia. Other attempts to break into the NYC market, most recently the ISC’s proposed Staten Island track, have failed miserably. Perhaps NASCAR ought to just steal a page from Joliet and rename Pocono “New York-Land Speedway,” thus being able to boast they have a track in the market. I’m told by people paid to understand and care about such things that the Pocono track has the largest potential pool of race attendees within 300 miles of any NASCAR track other than Fontana. And let’s face it: Fontana well and truly sucks. That track is always going to suck until they level the place to the ground, turn over every last teaspoon of earth, and start over with an oversized Richmond layout.
I think any reasonable person would also agree that Pocono is not the only Cup track where the action tends to die down during the middle stages of the event. In fact, that phenomenon has become almost universal in Cup racing everywhere, from Martinsville to Talladega. Most weekends, it seems all but a handful of drivers are on cruise control until the final fifty miles of the race before they finally get down to getting after it. As I’ve said before, it’s difficult for the MTV generation to devote three-and-a-half hours to a sporting event that really only sizzles in the final twenty minutes. I don’t know how to fix that, though no less an authority than Humpy Wheeler proposes a points system that awards points for each and every pass of another driver. (I have my doubts as to how that would work, with teammates letting each other pass and repass, but I’m willing to study any written proposal the inestimable Mr. Wheeler might put forth.)
So no, I don’t have a definite answer on how to fix the product. But I do know this much: if the end of the race is the best part of the race, two ends to the race beats one.
So how about this? We take the two 500-mile Pocono races and split them into four 250-mile races. (Or, OK, maybe two 200-mile races). I’m open to awarding either full points or half points for each event. After the first race, the teams get a half-hour break during which they can change springs, shocks, or any other such work that can be accomplished in a half-hour period. After that, the field lines up in the reverse order of how they finished in the first race, with the exception of those drivers and teams who failed to finish the first race. They’d line up in the rear of the field in their backup cars. Then, everyone would have back at it again.
Think about it. If your favorite driver failed to win the first race, maybe he’d fare better in the second. We’d have twice as many beginnings and ends to races — the best part — and half of the middle-stages, the parts that tend to drag. Casual fans might choose to watch only the first or second race, not both, but that’s still going to help TV ratings if they watch one or another. A special points or cash bonus could also be reserved for the driver with the best overall finish in both races, giving the fastest drivers with the fastest cars extra incentive to get to the front and stay there. The system works very well in motocross, and I think it would work just fine in Cup racing. As an added benefit, the TV networks could offload a lot of their advertising breaks during the half-hour of downtime, leaving them more time to cover racing action live.
Yeah, I know this idea is controversial. Some of you are going to despise it altogether, and are already salivating at letting me have it in the comments section below. I admit this is a break from the norm for me, a normally hidebound traditionalist. I’ll happily sit through a 500-mile race at Pocono; the problem is, I fear there’s not enough other hidebound traditionalists left to sit elbow-to-elbow with me in the two tiers of grandstand seating and the massive infield of the track. The way I see it, any type of racing at Pocono beats none at all …
In baseball, double-header tickets are among the most coveted by the fans. Maybe it holds true for stock car racing as well; and if the idea works at Pocono, there are some other tracks that could look at Daily Doubles to reinvigorate interest in their events.
©2000 - 2008 Matt McLaughlin and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
Matt: I’ve only ever been to one Pocono race. An IndyCar event long before Tony George decided to murder open wheel racing in cold blood. Those cars went so fast that I couldnt even tell which color the blur was before it was at turn 1. That actually made me never want to go to a NASCAR race there. Pocono is my second closest track (Watkins Glen being the closest), but I used to drive to Dover so I can see more of the event.
Your plan could be adopted at every track not just Pocono. I am usually completely against major deviations from the historic traditions of the sport. But after spending the last few years in a coma most of Sunday afternoon, I’m ready for a change.
It would create a podium style points award where there is a huge bonus to win. If someone has a DNF, they don’t lose so many points, but can make up ground easily with a top 3 finish.
As an answer to your question about Humpy’s idea, just don’t award points to passes made on teammates.
I live 30 minutes from Fontana, and I’ve said for years now that Fontana shouldn’t have 2 races. But I’ve been saying that about Pocono before Fontana was opened.
The first several races at Fontana were actually pretty good, 4 wide racing, basically something that had never been seen before. But the track weathered in poorly over the years and needs to be tore down and rebuilt. Texas and Homestead have done it, the other 2 newest Cup tracks.
One other thought about Fontana is to make one of the races a Roval. I saw a Grand Am race there and the roval course was actually pretty good.
When it comes to Pocono though, about the only thing that used to be consistently exciting was the guys that set up their cars to shift during the back straight, compared to those who didn’t. With the rear-end rule now, that is no longer an option.
The racing there is just downright boring for 95% of the race (which can be said for most races these days). I really wish that they would take at least one race away from it and give it to a more deserving track.
The one track I always suggest that should have 2 dates is Vegas. The HUGE difference with a race weekend in Las Vegas is that the NASCAR experience doesn’t stop when you leave the track. Go to any casino and you will see the 100,000+ fans (and probably family that didn’t buy tickets) “flying” their favorite driver’s colors. So just sitting down at a bar can lead to meeting NASCAR fans. It sounds like the closest thing to camping at a track, which I’ve yet to do, as it gets. Plus Vegas has gone out of its way to help fans get to and from the track, clearing up the 4 hour 10 mile drive, each way, they had when the track first opened. They even route you across the Airforce base now.
BTW, I don’t know how Pocono’s fan experience has been over the years, but Fontana seems to go out of its way to make it worse and worse… to the point I refuse to go see a race there any more, not because the track is boring, but because of the way they literally harass their paying customers. (I could go on for a few hours about this if you want to hear it.)
The ideas about changing the point system or splitting the races up all have valid points. But I don’t think many of them would make NASCAR excel above the rest.
I do like the idea of points being rewarded for the pole though. But then again, getting that first pit position is such an advantage that you are basically being given points already. Even Earnhardt said he owed a couple of his Championships to the days in which the reigning Champ got the first pit stall for the season. Even with JJ’s bad luck these days, how close to think the points races would have been if that was still the case the past 3 seasons?
Pocono used to be better when the gear settings allowed it to be a “roval”. I remember they used to have a camera showing the different foot work between guys who liked to treat it like a road course and the guys who drove it like a normal track. In recent years, I really have not seen a difference.
Visiting a track 2x in a month makes little sense. Been saying this since ’03 but NASCAR REALLY needs to look at their schedule.
It would be like your favorite NFL; baseball; whatever team playing the same teams in the same order year after year due to the NFL; baseball; whatever a) owning half of the stadiums and b) being just too lazy to make improvements.
Until then – sorry – despite where I live I never plan to go to Pocono (heard very bad reports from friends who went there; apparently half of the track is not visible due to the size of the track) nor do I wish to view what has recently been a bigger snooze fest than Fontana.
Matt, the race is basically broken into two 500 lap segments split by 5 weeks. A ridiculous scheduling mistake that was never corrected. I have been to two races at Pocono and will not be back. The only thing worse than not being able to see the entire Pocono track, is road racing where the only part of the track visible is the corner where you sit.
Statute of limitations, not statue. A statue is a structure.
You and Matt both have some good Ideas. The only thing that worries me about more points for the winner is, I remember back in the late 80’s early 90’s when Rusty either won(10+ wins) or DNF and if only the winner got more points he may have still won Championship.
I really like your idea of NO POINT OR MONEY if you do not complete at 75% of the race(this could be fine tuned some, but would fix many more problems then it would create.)
Ann—Five weeks? Try eight weeks between the two races. It used to be that both POCONO and NHIS were about six weeks apart but NASCAR scheduling changes made several years ago kept spreading out the time between races. June 6 and August 1 are not five weeks apart!
Matt-While I like the concept of splitting the race into two 200 contests, how do you handle someone like Davey Allison in 1992 who not only destroys his car in a wreck but is too shaken/injured to return to action that same day? I’ve been to POCONO for at least one race every year since 1992. Once you figure out the shortcuts and the traffic issues, its not really a bad place. Quite frankly, getting home from POCONO at 5:00 on a Sunday afternoon is much easier than getting home from Charlotte/Lowes at 11:30 on a Saturday night.
Hey – if the NHRA can shake things up with 4 wide drag racing, why can’t NASCAR try something innovative? The racing has gotten tepid in the last few years, so maybe its time to try something new. I totally agree with fastest 43 start. Unlike drag racing, NASCAR’s slogan is ‘Go fast as you can, or go to your points…’
I’ve been to a number of Pocono races; but, not in the last 20 years. Like you, I think I remember the “experience” more than the actual race – although I’m pretty sure Bill Elliott (remember him?) won pretty much every time I was there.
Do they still let you buy a pit road pass and stand on pit road during practice and qualifying? That was always $20 well spent! I have video of Rich Vogler practicing his car before flying out to compete in the Sprint Car race at Salem Speedway that night. I was standing next to Bob Dotter’s ARCA pit where he was busy fixing up his car that had fallen off the (open) trailer on the PA turnpike… Rusty Wallace almost ran me down as he was coasting into the garage area when I was crossing – not really paying as much attention as I should have been. Was able to meet Alan Kulwicki and discuss being an owner/driver for a few moments – and got to meet Ned Jarrett, someone who I’ve always admired and appreciated as a connection to the sport’s past.
You’re totally right – being at the track is much better than seeing it on TV.
@ WCFan: I agree the 10 win or DNF scenario could present a problem, but I think that a 50 point difference between 1st and 2nd would make people fight much harder for the win than the current 10 point difference.
Not that anyone cares —especially Brian France et al but…
Get rid of both races at California, one at Pocono, one at Michigan, one at Charlotte, Texas, Chicago, Kansas, and one each at New Hampshire and Las Vegas.
Add race back to Rockingham, add one to Iowa, the road course in Birmingham, AL,the short track at Irwindale, CA. Use the balance to shorten the season.
Oh, lose the IROC,err COT, template and put stock front end / decks & make ‘em look like frappin stock cars again.
Run the race on the 3/4 mile track.
Not sure it would be beneficial to not pay for finishing less than 75% race distance. What happens if there’s a wreck early on, and a car is out? Lots of risk for the car owner, no reward. Employees still need to get paid, and the team has the same travel expenses as the other teams. Plus -what happens to the money? Split among the other teams? Track owner keeps it? (Rich get richer)
At the end of the day, what’s worse – start & park drivers, or 20 car fields? Its a tough call…
As the story goes Dale raced TO PUT FOOD ON THE TABLE (not a problem today, when start and parks teams are “stealing” a couple million a year. The start and parks are making more then some champions won in a year and more then a few made in their careers)
While I believe money is a big part of the problem, I also think if nasacr took money away from the championship prize money and gave it to race winners this would help(winners gets extra $100-$150,000 for each win)
Hmmm, the racing is boring over the past few years? Gee, the COT must have something to do with it. Let the nose look like a real car (wait til the Nationawide races have the new nose, people are gonna go nuts). Let em use whatever spring they want (I never understood that rule), and let em use the gear ratio they want. Why do they limit this stuff anyway? It takes the imagination out of the crew chief. Let em use their brains!!!
With start and parks, we still have short fields
In nascar the only teams that like the current rules are the ones that have made them work. ie Hendricks (before return of spoiler)if they don’t win the championship and the most races watch Rick start asking for changes.
The guys I know who go to Pocono every year from Phildelphia love it and I really enjoy watching the Pocono races. Where else do you have to be concerned about a fog delay?
At the same time, any races so uniformly disliked by the press (because they are inconvenienced?) will always be a favorite of mine.
Instead of having to finish 75% of the race, the teams should at least be made to prove their car is unable to return to the race before they can pack up and go home with check in hand.
I think the COT and the mandated gear rules pretty much screwed up The racing at Pocono. the races were a lot more exciting when the drivers could shift. It really became something of an endurance test to see who blew out their engines and transmissions and who didn’t. The solution is simple. Get rid of the COT and the mandated gear rules. However, getting the solution implemented isn’t simple because of the simpletons ruining things.
Matt, your are right about Pocono and Fontana having a lot of people within 300 miles but Dover might have more than all of them including 250 miles of ocean to the east. If Pocono and Fontana were better race tracks they might have INDY size crowds at them not a bunch of empty seats like Fontana.
Any track whose early Indy races were sponsored by Schaefer Beer is good in my book. Have never been there – but on short list of places I want to visit.
I would be willing to try anything there, it could not hurt.
I hate the gear rule, let them shift. For Pocono & the road courses, allow 5-speed transmissions & run any gear that you want.
If you over-rev & blow-up, it is your own fault!
I disagree about having a real short field, versus a field with S&P teams. F1 had really short fields a few seasons back, and all it really did was amplify the better funded teams. Same with the IRL. People think that when some team come to the track that its all about the check. I don’t think any owner could justify the expense of doing that for a $10,000 check. They need to be seen to possibly attract sponsors to their team – if they don’t come to the race, I have as good a chance as they do to attract a sponsor – sitting at home. Maybe their budgets only allow them to run a certain number of laps before they’re throwing money away. Plus, if they’re out of the top 35, the odds are already stacked against them even making some of the shows. Finishing money gives at least a little incentive to these owners to show up.
As much as I understand that the concept is somewhat distasteful, I don’t think its as bad for the sport as some people seem to think – as long as they’re not a hinderance on the track. Its not really as blatant as appearance money – but, is probably as important to the teams, tracks, and NASCAR.
While I will admit that I do not know what would happen if nascar had short fields, I’m talking about going back to the 36 car fields not 20 or 25 car fields.
These start and park teams are making MUCH MORE then $10,000 a race. If the same team started every race this year and EARNED THE SMALLEST check he still would have “earned” approx. $1,160,000 for 13 races or an average of $89,000 per race.
While there are teams that are trying to actually get into Cup racing and do have to start and park to make the money to fund their race team. But right now we have owners who are making a career out of this trend.
These teams are breaking no rules and nascar has allowed and even encouraged this practice by rewarding these teams.
A bunch of knee-jerk reactions… keep things how they are.
I loye how it is now. That way i do not have to go to the races or watch them on tv
But right now we have owners who are making a career out of this trend.
Yes, but its hard to be able to tell whether a team is purposely doing this, or is simply incapable of making a go of racing. Its frustrating to think that at the pinnacle of oval track racing there is even the whiff of this happening; but, it is going on in ALL professional sports. The Florida Marlins and LA Clippers come to mind pretty quickly – teams that are owned to make money, not necessarily to compete as the average fan might expect they would. As you say, they’re not breaking any rules – so, I’m not really sure what you can do to punish them… They’re just using the sport to line their pockets.
Given that, I’m still not inclined to see NASCAR start to estimate a team’s intent in entering a race.
BTW – I checked on the purses for last place, and I stand corrected – the money doesn’t suck; but, still – I can’t say I wouldn’t like to make that paycheck each race either!
When I first started watching Cup races, I recall watching a guy race who apparently won the lottery, and ‘decided to go Cup racing’ on his winnings. He was just living out a fantasy – is that worse than being a S&P racer?
Have a great weekend!
it’s so crazy it just might work! Then again any solution might be better than status quo.
A simple way to solve many of these racing (or lack thereof) issues is to score points for positions of every lap rather than just the last one.
This way you can’t ride around until the end because you give up too many potential points.
I will also agree it would be a slippery slope trying to do much to punish these teams, because intent is hard to prove. But it is frustrating to watch Prism, Tommy Baldwin and Joe Nemechek Motorsports (To me it would be different if these were “outsiders” men who had never contributed to the sport, but these owners/drivers grew up around the sport). continue to go to the track(at least the second year) with little intent of racing. How many times has Dave Blaney qualified in top 10 only to run a handful of laps. If I was a sponser I would like to see that this car/driver is capable of finishing BEFORE I INVESTED MONEY in them. I read somewhere that Dave Blaney was making $5,000 a week, Not bad for a couple hours work.
It is also hard to watch teams like #26 & 90 go home(yes the are slow, but at times Top 35 cars have been slower) when the have the “intent” to race the whole race
but these owners/drivers grew up around the sport
I suppose that this is the only way that they can continue to be around the sport – hopefully until they can figure out a way to be more competitive.
Sponsors are strange too. As a normal fan, you’d naturally assume that they want to have a successful relationship with a team – but, what is that success? The cornerstone of a national marketing campaign; or, the ability of a small business to get his name on a car and bring current and prospective clients to a national touring series race or three as VIP guests of the team? As Dennis Miller once said, “that alone ought to convey to you the whore-like nature of my existence”. Everyone is using everyone else for their own purposes. Teams, sponsors, track owners, and NASCAR are all trying to do whatever they can to keep the money rolling in.
If the by-product of that is that the racing gets better, then I suppose its worth it. But, if the product is being cheapened, then the fans will (continue?) to leave. I think this is where Matt is coming from when he gets nostalgic in his columns. I tend to agree with the trend he is reporting. IMO, big money was the death knell for what the sport once was. The days of racing for a box of donuts is LONG GONE – unless it carries a sponsorship package for the team and driver!
With the modern electronic scoring … it would be very well possible to have a Point System that paid points based on the running order of every single lap! Of course, the BIG (POINTS) PAYOFF would still be the finishing order … and do recall NASCAR once had a point system that awarded points for every lap a driver completed in addition to the points at the finish.
Such a system would probably require the points be paid as fractions (i.e. 1.000 point for leading, .975 for second, .950 for third, etc., etc. — and would have to be adjusted per track for the number of laps in the race)… … but, that would place an incentive on passing every lap and throughout the entire field.
Mike and WCFan: I’m sorry I took a day off and missed your great debate. You both make excellent points. I myself hate the idea of start and park teams. I don’t think NASCAR needs 43 teams on track if only 35 show up to race.