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.
I’ve got to admit, finding out this was an off weekend for the Cup series caught me by surprise. Traditionally this had been the second Pocono race weekend, but I guess it makes sense to separate the two Pocono dates by more than a month. Fans need a couple more paychecks to help pay for seats. In a way, perhaps we’re all lucky. After a hot dry start to summer here in Pennsylvania, the last five days have featured violent electrical storms and heavy downpours. Hey, I love jetskiing … just not in my basement. Many writers, even those who should know better, have written this week that this Sunday will be the last off-weekend for the sport. As best I recall, there’s no race on August 28th, between Bristol and Atlanta. I pray to a benevolent and forgiving God that’s the case because I simply can’t fathom going from now to Thanksgiving without one more weekend to catch my breath. I think the Geneva Convention forbids such cruelty.
Traditionally, this is always a slow time for NASCAR news. That’s why they invented Silly Season to begin the debate about which drivers are staying and which are switching to new teams, voluntarily or otherwise, and which sponsors were going where. We took care of that early this season, and it seems such announcements come earlier each year to the point we know where Kasey Kahne is driving in 2012 and not next year. So no, there’s not a lot to write about this week, but I’m one of those fellows that even left with nothing to say is rarely at a loss for words. Here’s some odds and ends left laying on Post-It notes around the work station.
OK, Which One is Goliath Again?
The editorial types here at Frontstretch.com have a way of trying to occasionally rein in their renegade aging hippie writer. I think this week, they felt I’d been too negative about the Chicago race, which in fact I truly did think licked the sweat off a dead wombat. Their usual tactic in pulling me up short is through the captions under the photos that accompany my articles. I have no control over the photos chosen or those captions. I see them the same time my readers do. I don’t approve them, much less write them. See, I’m out there fighting wicked witches and flying monkeys. The editor types are the behind the curtains types, and they do a fine job at it. You can only guess at how much they look forward to me faxing them my latest column, usually scribbled in crayon on the back of losing Powerball tickets with the big words spelled phonetically.
This week’s photo caption reprimand occurred under the lead photo of my race recap. I forget exactly how it read but here’s the gist of it: “Despite the fact David slew Goliath giving us a surprise winner, not one of the usual suspects, Matt once again thought the race was intolerable.” Oh. Oh, my. David slew Goliath? How did I miss that? I guess I watched the whole sorry affair, not the final twenty laps. Oh, and by the way, which one was David and which one was Goliath? I’ll argue Saturday night Goliath slew not only David, but the whole army of Israel, then the Philistines nailed their beheaded corpses to the side of their temple the way they did to Saul and his sons.
Understand I have no animosity towards David Reutimann. I don’t know the man. His PR person doesn’t even send me press releases. Reutimann entered the sport after I was “banished,” if not east of Eden at least outside of Pocono. To date, I have never heard anyone involved with the sport say anything bad about Reutimann. I’m told he’s a swell guy. In fact, Carl Edwards was particularly effusive in praise of David Saturday night saying that Reutimann was always the first driver there to congratulate a fellow driver on an accomplishment and the first there to apologize if he felt he had screwed up. So, yeah it was nice to see an unfamiliar face there in Victory Lane, and Reutimann was clearly overcome with emotion. I like genuine emotion. This sport needs more of it.
But who does David Reutimann drive for? He drives for Michael Waltrip. Waltrip, the former DEI Chevy driver, was trying to start his own race team and was the first to sign on the dotted line with Toyota when the Evil Empire decided to invade NASCAR racing. This, despite the fact Chevy and DEI had basically signed on to resuscitate Waltrip’s career back when he was 0 for 500 or something in the Cup series. As such, the MWR team is basically the house Toyota organization, a thinly disguised adjunct of TRD. Joe Gibbs Racing is the biggest organization under the Toyota umbrella, but they’ve never signed on completely to the program. Toyota’s racing philosophy states that all their teams share and share alike. Gibbs’ teams have their own separate development program that will accept help from Toyota, but not necessarily share info with their corporate teammates. That’s accepted because of the triple play firepower JGR brings to Toyota.
Toyota is a ruthless organization that epitomizes their natural culture. Winning at any cost is the only option. Crush, humiliate, and feast on the bones of the competition. They may be bloodied and dazed right now by a series of humiliating recalls that have finally revealed American car makers (or at least Ford) build a product every bit as good as theirs, but Toyota’s corporate purse is far from empty. And Michael Waltrip is the ultimate Toyota toadie. As long as the checks are big enough, whether written in dollars or yens, he’ll play ball. You won’t see Waltrip working at a soup kitchen this Thanksgiving in Dearborn or Detroit, helping out all the unemployed auto workers Toyota helped put on the dole. He’ll be feasting gluttonously in his own mansion.
From the very start, Waltrip stole sponsors from accomplished organizations with a proven track record, letting them know that given his multiple TV gigs and booth responsibilities he would plug them repeatedly and shamelessly – even when times were lean at the start. Then, in its very first race, MWR got nailed for blatant cheating when a substance rumored to resemble rocket fuel was found in the tank of the No. 55 car. How crass is that? Way to make a dignified and humble entrance! Waltrip was allowed to remain at Daytona, though I feel he should have been physically removed from the premises and told to sit out the season. Since then, there have been numerous attempts at cheating and fines levied against MWR. They dipped to a new low and stole parts belonging to another team (Roush Racing) that clearly weren’t their property to research them. How low can you go? As low as it takes to win. Waltrip is clearly not a class individual, given his recent string of off track traffic incidents. On any given Sunday, the No. 48 car is the only entrant I am convinced is less legal than the MWR cars. But that’s worked out pretty well for Chad and Jimmie, huh?
So MWR and Reutimann are David? Toyota has won eight of the last thirteen Cup events, often by crushing margins as was the case Saturday night. The tide is turning. Ford is winless. Dodge has one team left. Even GM is beginning to feel the heat. In the story of David and Goliath, David was the good guy, right? I’m still backing the home teams, against the odds, not the invading army.
I am writing this article Tuesday night simply because it seems like the one evening this stormy week that electricity will keep flowing in hysterical Guthriesville (We were off-line from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. last night). It’s hard for me to believe that today it has been seventeen years since we lost Davey Allison. I remember that day the way I remember 9-11 and the day Kennedy got shot. I remember being at the corner Texaco station filling my tank for the ride to Pocono with a brand new Allison diecast car already on the front seat (you had to prepay for gas in those days) when the news came on the radio Allison had been badly injured in a helicopter wreck at Talladega.
With the death of Alan Kulwicki in an aircraft accident only a few months before, the bad news seemed surreal. We all hoped his injuries weren’t too bad, and maybe Davey would at least be able to start the race at Pocono that weekend for points. After all, he’d survived a horrific accident at Pocono the previous June. The next morning, we all learned the worst: Davey Allison had died. The grief was as crushing as if Davey was a member of my family, not just a driver I rooted for who I had met standing patiently in line to get an autograph. Because I hadn’t just gotten an autograph and a picture, I’d gotten a smile and a handshake that made me feel for that brief instant as if Allison was genuinely thrilled to greet me. And it was the same story for all those fans in the long line snaking behind me. Allison would remain there until every last fan who wanted to meet him had been accommodated.
You can’t rewrite history, and you can’t second guess the Lord’s will. But sometimes at night, I’ll wonder just how different the NASCAR record books would look if Davey, Tim, and Alan hadn’t been called home in their prime. And this much, I know; racing in those intervening years would have been a whole lot more fun to watch.
Yet Another Member of the Fan Club
I thought I was hearing things after Kyle Busch’s Victory Lane interview following his Nationwide series race at Chicago last week. I figured that less than polite term I heard was muttered from a bystander. But as it turns out, it was in fact Rusty Wallace who took exception to Busch’s sarcastic thanks to the fans who booed his victory and labeled him a sphincter to put it politely. (And when, gentle readers, am I anything less than the model of decorum?) Again, let’s raise the issue whether a fellow who owns a team or teams competing in an event should be allowed to be a broadcaster covering the same race?
JPM and Mark Martin
After Saturday night’s race, Juan Pablo Montoya angrily stated Mark Martin needed to take driving lessons. From whom? A guy who wrecked his teammate en route to a Busch series win and managed a road course victory in the Cup series three-plus years ago? This, compared to a respected veteran who has won 40 times in Cup, and finishing second in the points five times? Montoya, you’ll get a memo when you are worthy to untie the lace of Mark’s shoes. Maybe JPM really stands for Juan’s Pissing and Moaning again.
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ive been lifelong nascar fan..and WAS die-hard GM supporter..both, on the track and in my drive-way…but, they killed Pontiac and are run by the Government now…needless to say…i bought my first Toyota last month..i love it..and wont look back :)
Great expose on MWR/Toyota! Its nice to hear someone tell it like it is. You’re so right about Toyota’s business model. I’ve seen that in other series and even in their recall debacle. Reports now show they’ve covered up numerous manufacturing boo-boos since the 1979 Celica.
But you know you’re gonna catch hell from Brian France, if he can ever figure out how to hold a cocktail and operate the bluetooth on his Lexus at the same time.
Maybe after Mikey defended Nascar’s late competition cautions, Nascar gave MWR a special pre-race inspection
ALL Toyota lovers…..PLEASE LEAVE THE COUNTRY!!!
To Johnboy 60…I agree 100%!!! To j22pa…go live in Japan if you like those tirds so much.
Im sure everyone knows..many Toyota cars are more “American” than the “American” cars that are made in Mexico and Canada…anyway..my tax money is enough support for GM..to pay the over-paid union workers..at the expensive of many elderly, retired bond-holders and pension plans..that the Govt. flushed away..in the bankruptcy
What do you mean this is usually the second Pocono date? There’s been an off-week after Chicago since I started watching in 2003. Oh, that’s right, you’ve been watching longer. :)
I’m torn in the whole American vs Foreign car debate. For one, I feel the unions are more than half the reason why “American” cars are mostly built in Canada and Mexico now, while non-union “Foreign” cars are built in America. But I still would rather buy an American car from the Detroit Three than see my money get sent to the “evil empire” in Japan. Right on, preach it Brother Matt!
Does it matter where the money ends up, we don’t see it and neither do the GM employees. What matters is who employs workers in this country, so, you can tell the foreign companies to leave, but then, how would you explain that to the thousands of famlies who are fed every day and have a roof to live under that their means of support is gone? I swear, some people can’t accept reality and try to live like it was thirty years ago still. Get over it, the “Big Three” caused theirown problems by putting out an inferior product. Plus Matt, the racing is just as boring at Pocono, always has been.
Sounds like you’ve been listening too much to Jack Rousch. I have no love for Toyota, but if you’re going to write about them you at least should try to address all the facts. As to the alleged Toyota juggernaut, what about the well over $1 billion Toyota spent in F1 without ever winning a race before they gave up and withdrew about a year ago? Goliath doesn’t always win.
I’ve been a Ford man for a long time, and I was glad to see that Ford managed to make through the recession without selling their soul to the Obama protection racket. That said, Ford’s involvement in Nascar is nothing more than a couple of decals, some R&D funds, and an executive suite at the nicer racetracks. That new FR9 engine? At this point it appears to me to be a waste of both time and money. And… I’ve watched the last two Nationwide races and have yet to see a car that looks anything like a Mustang.
I read the part about Waltrip and Toyota two or three times as I could not agree more. Right on target, BULLS EYE!! What I thought was comical was when the 00 won the rain shortened 600, the co-owner of a Toyota team bought David a Ford Mustang GT.Why? Because Toyota has nothing as cool or nice as the Mustangs. It’s refreshing to read from someone who is not too timid to expose the Waltrips as the phony frauds they are and to honestly talk about their issues and the Toyota factor in NASCAR.I hope the editorial people don’t rein you in as your perspective is needed and valuable.People like Scott Wimmer roll his car in the wee hours of the night, leave the scene and pay a HUGE price for it.Waltrip does the same and gets off scott free. His comment about the stolen sway bar, Jack and I agree to disagree! NO NO NO, your team stole the sway bar, nothing to disagree about.But once again he got away with it.
i do agree with all the Mikey comments…especially the dui’s..opps…non-dui’s i mean :)…i even do AGREE Toyota does not have any exciting vehicles..like the mustang or challanger..for myself being in he northeast..rear-wheel wont get me far in the winter..so toyota fit my particular needs. I also have nothing against Ford, and i would buy their products too.
I was going to comment on the Toyota haters, but then I realized that they are probably about all UAW guys, the ones who sent GM, Chrysler, and almost Ford straight into the dumper.
I grew up with that pile of people & realize they are mostly clueless about big business. I’ve seen far too many of those folks drop out of high school unable to even read & run straight to the auto factories for the big bucks jobs. Then they struck for more & more until there was no more. They’re on Obamacare now, laid off from Government Motors and resenting success stories like Honda and Toyota—thriving companies with American people working and supporting their families. I, for one, will never buy an Obamamobile for the above reasons.
Oops—guess I did comment, didn’t I? Oh, well . . . .
Besides, thanks to the NASCAR “car of today,” they’re all the same anyway, but for the engines. Decals shouldn’t fool anyone, but apparently they do (see above references).
As for the Waltrip/Reutimann comments, a few thoughts:
old farmer, if your talking about my comments you were fooled or didn’t read them carefully. First of all, I’m not a Toyota hater, just a realist. I bought a Camry for my mother. I have owned as many Fords as Chevies. I now own 1 ford and 1 chevy.Not a union person either, but history will show as much as I too hated it , saving GM and some banks had to be done. There were too many other things that are intertwined with the banks and auto industry, all the suppliers and their suppliers, a very long chain, that would have collapsed also.I never gushed over Hendrick, I always mention Haas as well as a convicted criminal.It’s M. Waltrip himself I have problem with, not David who I like, and I’m not alone. A few years ago I was in a local NAPA store, he drove a Chevy then, and I made a comment to the workers there about M.Waltrip and his extreme overkill sponsor plugging and goofy act bothered and insulted me. I was ready for an argument, but what I got was they teamed up and went into a rant about how it bothered them as well and were very embarrassed by his actions as well.He and his teams behavior also bothers me,drinking and driving, he could have killed that guy on the motorcycle and the rollover speaks for itself!! Matt is right about Toyotas business model. They spent a billion dollars in F-1,greatly outspending their competition is what they do, outspend and crush the competition. Hide problems and recall issues much more than the US automakers do. My friend had an old Toyota pickup with 160,000 mile, worth maybe $1500. Toyota gave him $10,000. buying it back as they have a severe frame rust issue that they are trying to keep out of the news. It’s the way they do business I’m not fond of.So I agree with Matt, Toyota is Goliath and my opinion of Waltrip is not very positive.
Plus the win in his rookie season in Sprint Cup and a chase spot, finishing 6th in points, in only his third year in sprint cup from open wheel. I’d say he has a right to speak to Martin as a frustrated driver.
I mean 8th in points
Wayne: I was not speaking to your comments; I was speaking to a general attitude that seems to be prevalent among “contributors” to these discussions.
If the shoe doesn’t fit, please take no offence. If it does, well, then, . . . .
Spot on Matt! And even more kudo’s for having the guts to say it! The Waltrips are a big part of what is WRONG with NASCAR today.
Spot on Matt. Keep it up and this site will be sold to a Nascar front organization and Peter Pee will be made editor.
Matt McLaughlin is the sole reason I started reading Frontstretch in the first place.
Crap… Matt is back. Remember those two weeks where someone else wrote his column? That was awesome! Can we go back to that?