NASCAR Changes Qualifying Format
posted by Summer Bedgood
Tuesday March 11, 2014
Following safety concerns regarding NASCAR’s new qualifying format, the sanctioning body is introducing some changes in preparation for this weekend’s race at Bristol Motor Speedway. According to the Associated Press, NASCAR is banning teams from cool-down laps after their qualifying attempts, but will instead be allowed to hook up cool-down units to the engine through hood flaps.
Late Tuesday afternoon, a release from NASCAR fully detailed the changes. Teams will be allowed a single cool down unit to be connected through the right or left side hood flap, however the hood must remain closed. Additionally, two crew members will be allowed over the wall while cooling down.
“The qualifying is new to all of us and as we have said over the past several weeks, we are looking at it from all aspects,” said Robin Pemberton, vice president of competition and racing development. “Following discussions, both internally and with others in the garage area, we moved quickly to make a few revisions that will be effective starting with our two national series events at Bristol Motor Speedway this weekend. We believe this will only enhance and improve what has demonstrated to be an exciting form of qualifying for our fans, competitors and others involved with the sport. Moving forward we will continue to look at it and address anything else that we may need to as the season unfolds.”
The move comes after three weeks of NASCAR’s new knockout qualifying system, where multiple cars are allowed to make qualifying attempts at the same time instead of the traditional one-car-at-a-time procedure. Drivers and teams had complained that the new rules didn’t allow them to cool their engines down on pit road, and the cool-down laps caused a dangerous situation with slower cars staying on the track at the same time that other cars were running by them at much higher speeds.
The rule will begin this weekend in Bristol, a track that has a much narrower racing surface than Daytona, Phoenix, and Las Vegas.
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!
Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
Matt McLaughlin · Monday July 26, 2010
The Key Moment – Jamie McMurray edged out Kevin Harvick on the final restart, then drove off into the sunset as Harvick battled with his old friend Greg Biffle for second.
In a Nutshell – This was a race that started out slowly but eventually petered out altogether.
Dramatic Moment – Biffle and Montoya waged an extended battle for the lead well ahead of the rest of the pack, even if neither of them ended up winning.
What They’ll Be Talking About Around the Water Cooler This Week
OK, Indy is a huge track with lots of seats. OK, the economy sucks. OK, there’s empty seats at practically every track this year. OK, it was very hot Sunday in Indy. But there’s no getting around the fact there were huge swaths of empty seats at the Brickyard. Forget about the heat, the economy, and whatnot. Why isn’t Indy selling out? There’s a sign as you enter the garage area that reads, “Welcome to Gasoline Alley.” Well, there ought to be a sign posted at the track entrance that reads “No Passing Zone Next 400 Miles.”
Budweiser to the No. 29 team and Kevin Harvick next year? It looks like that’s in the cards. Dale Junior fans will doubtlessly be left wondering how their boy would have fared if he and Bud moved to RCR rather than Hendrick when he left DEI.
Someone ought to let Indy officials know a Corvette is a two-seater. If you need to haul seven, folks, a Suburban is better suited for the job.
NASCAR is considering using fuel-injected engines in some races next year as the primitive Cup cars begin actually putting a little “stock” back in stock cars. NASCAR’s big fear is that fuel injection means computers need to be added to the cars, and those computers could be used to run illegal technologies like traction control. It’s sort of like pot, though; the best way to eliminate the illicit trade in the drug is to simply legalize it. “Stock” cars, by and large, now have traction control already. (I’d really like to see how a showroom stock set of Shelby Mustangs, Dodge Challenger SRTs, and the upcoming Camaro Z28 with proper safety equipment and slicks would fare in a 200-lap race at Martinsville.) In a related note, the Des Moines school district has canceled warning notes that students should be vigilant against dinosaur attacks while walking to class.
It’s just another sign that the Brian France era of NASCAR isn’t working out as planned. TNT’s Summer Stretch is over and Cup racing will be handled by ABC/ESPN for the rest of the season, including the all-singing/all-dancing Chase. We’ll give ESPN a couple weeks to get over their first race jitters before commenting on their efforts (although it’s hard to consider them a rookie when they were providing top-notch Cup coverage when Jimmie Johnson was still riding a tricycle). It is interesting to note, though, that just three races, all of them Saturday night events, will be shown on the ABC network. The rest will be on the ESPN cable outlets, including nine of ten Chase events as well as today’s Brickyard 400. Back when Brian France was beating his chest over the now decade-old “new” TV deal (in addition to great big checks), the big news was the fact that stock car racing was moving from cable TV to network coverage. But this year, a majority of Cup races are now on cable again. Rumors persist that ABC/ESPN would desperately love to offload their unprofitable NASCAR coverage on another network ASAP; after all, the X games and timber sports are poised to explode in popularity…
Speaking of the TV coverage, it was a little disheartening to have ESPN choose to devote the opening segment of their pre-race coverage to just two drivers, Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon. Yep, that’s the same duo FOX’s broadcasters sang love sonnets to for the opening portion of the season. Oh, and when the Brickyard ratings come in, my guess is Rusty Wallace’s contention that “everybody in the world is watching” will prove to be a bit of hyperbole.
One last thought on ESPN’s first attempt at Cup coverage this season. The four drivers they highlighted in the pre-race show finished 22nd, 23rd, 15th, and 32nd.
I’m kicking around ideas for a column on the whole “Boys, have at it” concept that is so oft-discussed these days, mainly due to the incidents involving Carl Edwards and Brad Keselowski at Atlanta this spring and in last week’s Gateway Nationwide race. Some fans, some drivers, and some media members well and truly have their panties up in a wad that Edwards wasn’t tarred, feathered, whipped with desert thorns, and boiled alive in a vat of battery acid after Gateway. My guess is those same souls were at their mother’s teat back in the days when Richard Petty and Bobby Allison routinely tried to launch each other into the cheap seats week after week. At the height of the feud, crew members from the No. 43 team gave Allison a good beatdown at Islip, one where Allison threatened to take legal action. But it was the seats sold to watch the King and Allison take their battle to the next venue that kept NASCAR alive in the aftermath of the Big Three quitting the series. While I never want to see a fan hurt attending a race, I feel that’s the responsibility of the track owner, not the drivers. If nothing else, the Edwards-Keselowski feud has folks talking about NASCAR rather than golf and soccer again (and remember: this is stock car racing, not lawn croquet.) For the record, I think the poster boy of “Boys, Have At It” isn’t Keselowski or even Edwards (both of whom ran each other hard but clean at ORP Saturday night, so they must have gotten the message.) It was Jeff Gordon’s run at Sonoma, wrecking five drivers over the course of the day, that really pushed the limits of what is and isn’t acceptable in full-fendered automobile racing. If everyone who owes Gordon a little payback for Sonoma metes it out this season, the new baby on its way might not be the only one wearing diapers by this November.
The future of Richard Petty Motorsports looks tenuous, indeed, for 2011 right now. We know who won’t be driving for the team next year, but not who will be, and if there are any companies left who might sponsor them. I know the King is largely only a figurehead at the organization that bears his name as of late, but it’s still hard to imagine NASCAR racing without the most legendary and successful organization in the sport.
One of the more troubling trial balloons being floated about by NASCAR right now concerning updating the Chase concerns a single race elimination to decide the title. The proposed idea (which is far from being adopted at this point) is to have the top 5 drivers in the points show up equal at the last race of the season, with the driver posting the best finish of the five being crowned champion. On the plus side, it would surely add a lot of drama… for just one race. My biggest hesitation concerning the concept is team orders. Say David Ragan is out of title contention, while Carl Edwards and Greg Biffle had to beat Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon to win a lucrative and high-profile title. Might not Ragan be ordered to block or even wreck the Nos. 24 and 48 teams to help his organization win the championship? The day that happens is the day I leave this sport and all my accumulated stock car racing magazines, mementos, clothing, and diecasts are finally dragged to the curb (as if we actually had curbs here in hysterical Guthriesville) on trash day. One might note that team orders decided the winner of the German Grand Prix earlier on Sunday…
Can he be serious? Bernie Eccelstone, the demented troll that runs F-1 racing, is suggesting that the Monaco Grand Prix might be off the schedule. Our friend Bernie says the Auto Club of Monaco, which runs the race, isn’t paying him enough to keep it. (Purportedly, the Principality of Monaco pays F-1 zero dollars a year, banking on the prestige and history of the event to release them from such obligations. Plus, you have that whole royalty and tax exempt thing going on.) Well on the day dear Bernie shuts down the Monaco Grand Prix, I suggest that he turn off the lights at his office, head home, and hang his loathsome self by the neck, for he will have finally succeeded in his master plan and life’s work: destroying the once proud Formula One Series to feed his insatiable greed. Think I’m joking? Read on, gentle readers.
You have to wonder what Joe Weatherly, perhaps the most superstitious driver who ever competed in racing, would have thought about the field at the Brickyard being paced by a green Corvette pace car. (Green is traditionally considered unlucky at racetracks – except for at the pay window.) I’ll add that while a former buddy’s Fathom green 435 horsepower ’69 Vette with its white roof was one of the prettiest (and most frightening to ride in) cars I’ve been acquainted with, the pace car’s paint scheme just didn’t cut it. If they’re giving it away, I’m not going to fill out a raffle ticket…
The Hindenburg Award For Foul Fortune
For the second straight year, Juan Pablo Montoya dominated the Brickyard only to have victory wrested from his grasp. Last year, Montoya suffered a pit road speeding penalty. This year, conservative strategy with four new tires on a late pit stop dropped Montoya from first to seventh, and in a desperate attempt to get back to the front JPM wrecked his car en route to 32nd.
Jimmie Johnson didn’t look like a four-time champion and three-time Brickyard 400 winner on Sunday. Early in the event, he showed some speed, but a blistered tire and a setup that went away left Johnson disconsolate with a 22nd-place finish.
Four-time Brickyard 400 champion Jeff Gordon never really got up to speed. A broken splitter, then flat tire added insult to injury, leaving him a less-than-impressive 23rd.
Ryan Newman had a long afternoon after cutting down a tire on the ninth lap while running seventh. He wound up 17th.
The “Seven Come Fore Eleven” Award For Fine Fortune
That Greg Biffle had a shot at the win seems remarkable after he tangled with Brad Keselowski on pit road as the No. 16 entered his pit and The Brad was leaving his.
Ron Hornaday snapped a long winless drought and a somewhat dismal start to the 2010 Truck season with a victory at ORP Friday night.
Usually, when you wreck on the first lap it’s going to be a long day for a driver. But Kyle Busch emerged from the carnage far better than some of his victims in that incident and drove on to an eighth-place finish.
Carl Edwards’ chances at a decent performance seemed to be going up in the smoke through his coolant system vent tube early in the race. But grass was cleaned out of the grille area of the No. 99 without losing a lap, and Edwards caught a lucky caution and drove on to a seventh-place finish.
Bill Elliott and the underfunded Wood Brothers team managed a respectable lead lap finish in eighteenth, well ahead of some of the sport’s big names.
All three of Richard Childress’ drivers posted top-6 finishes at Indy.
What’s the Points?
Kevin Harvick maintains his point lead, and opened the gap over second-place Jeff Gordon to 184. Third-place Denny Hamlin is 260 behind Harvick, while Jimmie Johnson and Kurt Busch round out the top 5 in the standings.
Inside the top 12, only two drivers shifted positions. Denny Hamlin took over the third spot from Johnson, but his lead over fourth is a scant one point.
Outside the Chase, Mark Martin wrested thirteenth place in the standings from Dale Earnhardt, Jr. who was a PIV in the whole Montoya mess. Martin still needs to make up 62 points to re-enter the top 12, though.
Further back, Sunday’s victory moved Jamie McMurray up two spots to sixteenth in the standings, but he needs to make up a not inconsiderable 151 points before Richmond to make the Chase. Only three drivers remain within 150 points of the top 12 – Martin, Earnhardt (94 back) and Ryan Newman (147).
Overall Rating (On a scale of one to six beer cans, with one being a stinker and a six pack an instant classic) — We’ll give this one two lukewarm cans of generic stuff served up with a sizzle sandwich, because there sure wasn’t much steak served on Sunday.
Next Up – It’s off to Pocono for round two. Be sure to bring your sunblock and coolers, because Pennsylvania has been broiling under an endless stream of uncharacteristic heat waves for about three months now.
©2000 - 2008 Matt McLaughlin and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
“NASCAR is considering using fuel-injected engines in some races next year as the primitive Cup cars begin actually putting a little “stock” back in stock cars. NASCAR’s big fear is that fuel injection means computers need to be added to the cars, and those computers could be used to run illegal technologies like traction control.”
I still contend that Jeff Gordon was running TC back in the ’90s when he seemed to be invincible. I was at the Brickyard in the Tower Terrace the day he forgot to turn it off after winning and he attempted the infamous non-burnout right in front of me. The marks he left on the track after the attempt told me all I needed to know and I am convinced of his use of TC.
Tell me how an 800hp stock car will not light up the rears at the drop of the throttle, even without power braking.
Wasn’t it great to see the 21…on the lead lap….not in a smoking heap? Thanks for mentioning Bill and the Wood Brothers. They really did a great job given their circumstances.
Bad Wolf – I don’t mean this disrespectfully, but that’s crazy. Even a decade prior to that, there is NO WAY a TC system could have been “hidden” in the car. People are all over those cars the whole weekend and after the race. There are many large, heavy parts needed to effectively TC a car. Don’t try the “NASCAR looked the other way” theory. Nothing would have put more arses in the seats in that era than having Dale Sr winning all those races chasing his 8th. Gordon was bringing in a lot of new fans, yes, but turning away a lot of fans too. I just don’t see how that was feasible back in that day at all. As for the burnout, Jeff has always sucked at burn-outs, still does. Hell, I remember watching him wreck on pit road at 25 mph at MIS back in mid 90s due to wet pit road. The guy is/was crazy talented at speed but never had the “total car control” at all speeds / all scenarios like a Dale Sr or Pearson.
Matt – Sorry, but including the SRT Challenger (426 HP but over 4000 lbs!!!) with the Shelby (540 HP) and upcoming Z28 (expected to be about 555 HP) is crazy. I know you have this permanent love w/ old Mopars but by and large they are not in the modern big-boy race with nothing more potent than SRT8 that weights as much as some Silverado trucks! Anyway, just tired of hearing the Camaro being bashed (say what you want, sales numbers back up that car – I have a 670 HP one in my garage), and tired of the measly Mopars being put on an equal footing to the big dogs including the lengendary Shelby (I don’t like Mustangs, but that car deserves respect – it is bad ass and a GREAT rival to the upcoming Z28).
Lack of passing. I do not understand the complaint of lack of passing, when there’s quite a bit happening. Sure, it’s not up front- because the leader is IN THE LEAD! He got there by being faster than everyone else, or by pit strategy (which usually ends with getting passed).
I look back at videos from 10, 20, 30 years ago and I don’t see lead changes every single lap. It never happened- there were some races that the leader led from flag to flag- the only cars being passed were going lap(s) down.
Sure, we don’t see the top 2 banging into each other down to the wire, but I also don’t see to many examples of that. Maybe 10, 15 races in the last 35 years? Not every race is the 1979 Daytona 500.
I don’t see where throwing out the COT or going to actual “Stock” cars will help the lack of passing. Once the fast are in front, they’re in front for good. That’s kind of what happens when you’ve got a fast car- slower cars aren’t gonna catch you.
I guess if you WANT a lot of passing, do away with qualifying and run the field inverted on points every race. Points leader starts in the back and has to weave through the scrubs every race. But guess what? 30% through the race the fast will be in front and passing will cease.
Simply put, the races are too long and teh cars too reliable. If 50% of the field was dropping from mechanical failure, then I’d say the races were about right in length, but they aren’t, the cars hold up very well today because to finish first you have to finish, and DNFs really hurt in the points. No one gets really radical in setups that MIGHT break because… they might break. Well, except for the Start-and-Park folks who only need it to last one fuel load.
The fact that you talked more about current events in this article than the race itself makes a statement in itself.
Indy isn’t the most exciting race on the schedule, but McMurray’s outside line pass of Harvick after the last caution was good stuff.
Matt, we realize NASCAR isn’t what it once was in your opinion, but it isn’t all bad either.
Always enjoy your column.
While I enjoyed seeing Jamie McMurray win, I’m convinced that the best stock car racing in Indianapolis is at ORP. The Saturday night NNS race there was way better than the Brickyard, and even though ORP only holds about 30,000 people, based on the Brickyard attendance, seating isn’t really an issue.
Since you brought it up, I’ll make one last comment about the Edwards-Keselowski incident…. yes, folks talked about it all week long. They talked about Earnhardt’s death at Daytona for along time too. Rubbin’ fenders and rattlin’ cages is great. Deliberately sending a competitor head-on into the wall is not.
One last comment… everyone kept talking about how great this trifecta was for Ganassi Racing. Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t the Nascar team Earnhardt/Ganassi Racing? Doesn’t Teresa Earnhardt still own a sizable chunk of the team? I don’t think I ever heard the Earnhardt name mentioned after the race.
Not much knowledge of TC by poster, even back then the pieces required were very small and easily hidden
Another thrilling read as always Matt insert large amounts of sarcasm here
The 48 and the 24 must have used the 88’s setup at the brickyard, because they all sucked!
You’d be hard pressed to name any major auto racing series anywhere in the world ( except NHRA ) that hasn’t used electronic fuel injection for decades . And they have been able to easily police the use of traction control and other forms of cheating that can be done with computers . There is no doubt that Jeff Gordon was using TC in the 90s . But in this day and time , only NASCAR is behind the curve on computerized engines . NASCAR , under the leadership of Brian France , behind the curve and having to follow the lead of almost every other racing series on Earth ???? Wow , who could have seen that coming ?
It does seem curious that the networks , well not TNT so much , seem to be closet gays when it comes to Johnson and Gordon . It’s been going on for years and i have no doubt it will continue . I’ll bet theres a common thread somewhere , a producer , director …… no , hold on a moment . I’ll bet i can think of a reason for the networks to pay attention to the those two . RICK HENDRICK PAYING THEM TO ! Ever wonder wonder why the worst gasoline brand in the country ( and one of the tiniest ) is mentioned on every pit stop by every reporter while the tire manufacturer is not . One pays to get talked about ,the other one doesn’t feel it should have to pay to be part of the action . Why are the 24 and 48 on camera far more than any other cars ? Because the networks get paid to put them on . If your favorite driver or team doesn’t pay to be on tv , then they’re pretty much ignored .
Bernie freely admits , and has for years , that he says something outrageous every day to see if he can get writers to print it . And it works doesn’t it Matt .
Martin, I am no rocket surgeon, but I am pretty sure that Jimmy and Jeff get mentioned so much beacuse they are two of the best drivers in Nascar. I mean Jimmy is the figurehead of the sport 3 years running. Can you really not figure out why the media wants to talk to them and about them?
Thats like saying “Man, I cant figure out why people keep wanting to talk about Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. I dont get it?! What’s so special about them?”
There are some bright people on this forum.
I didn’t watch the race because i didn’t get home in time to catch the pre-race show and I HATE to miss the pre-race show.
Speaking of Tom Brady and Peyton Manning, what position would you want Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon to play on your football team? Do you think they could wear their racing helmets with the shaded visor or would that be illegal?
And, Matt, from your article it sounds like two cans of warm beer is TOO generous (again, i didn’t actually watch the race). Sounds like it deserved two shots of warm rum. Where did I put my Bengals shot glass…???
I’m sure you’re right about not being a rocket surgeon Randy . And i’m also sure that you’re right about why Johnson and Gordon are mentioned so much . Yeah …. that must be why .
That’s the thing. The MEDIA want to talk to/about Gordon and Johnson. Millions of fans who don’t drink Hendrick Kool-Aid couldn’t care less.
Anyone ever thrown up into their own beer can?
Why do the empty seats bother you? It’s not the race, ya know…
If you want to be a RACE reporter, report on the race. Otherwise, you’re a promoter reporter and shouldn’t be publishing here. The racing is on the track, not in the grandstands.
As for the race, I think TV (ESPN) is stepping up since they put Marty Reed in the booth. we’re seeing much more of the action back in the pack, instead of watchin’ the leader, or the storyline du jour. There were several leaders at times, but remember, kiddies, Cup is a marathon. Quick races are at your local tracks
I hate to tell keeping it REAL, but even 10 years ago they had TC devices that were about the size of a dime. Could have absolutley have been hidden. I am not saying they were using TC, but it is possible.
Can’t pass with the wing.
What a surprise: Matt said on Thursday he wasnt a fan of this race, and on Monday he proved it with a bad review. Did you have this article already written, or did McMurray’s win force you to have to re-write some parts?
Why do people come here and bash Matt? Last time I checked, reading his article was NOT required. If you think he’s negative or a downer, DON’T FREAKIN READ THE ARTICLE! Hello? McFly? Geez!
Personally, I was glad the pre-race started with JJ & JG. I didn’t feel that I was missing anything by switching to FOX to watch F1 for an hour.
I must have been having a flash back or sumtin’ on Sunday ‘cause I was trying to figure out why I was watching the TV so much. Then it hit me, this race ain’t so bad. There’s a fair amount of passing, the coverage isn’t all that bad, JJ is sucking, and the win was good for the heart. There was actually a hint of the things I’ve been asking for, and it was Indy of all places. Perhaps others saw a different race but I was pleasantly entertained, which is what I ask out of a race.
Adam, I enjoy reading Matt’s articles in spite of the negativity he focuses on. He’s a great story teller and I love hearing about the “good old days” when he visited the tracks and met his heros. Its just lately I feel like he’s unfairly pre-judging each race based on past history instead of watching with an open mind and reviewing each upcoming race on its own merits. When I said “keep it up” I meant it whole-heartedly as his style is obviously working. His column every Monday is always the most commented on all week. Just because I usually disagree with him doesnt mean I dont like him or that I think he’s wrong.
Oh, and BTW, did anyone pick up on the fact, in regards to F1 and NA$CAR fuel injection, that Mclaren was at Indy this weekend handshaking with who knows who? They’ve expressed interest before in regards to involvement in the US racing market. So there you go Matt, check it out. You might find a positive.
Yeesh… What a depressing review. Reading other reviews of events, the author doesn’t come across as a positive or happy person. Sad to say, but I can go elsewhere and enjoy NASCAR, but not here.
Personally I was glad McMurray won the race, I feel for happy for the owner of car #1, Teressa Earnhardt getting a Brickyard 400 win, to go along with her Daytona 500 win. Having attended the last 2 races and listening to the #88 on the scanner, Jr.‘s problem is that he could not communicate what his car was doing so Lance could fix it. Yesterday, Lance had to tell Jr. yet again, to shut and drive. I can’t wait to hear people like MaryBeth give their excuses on why Jr. failed to make the chase yet again. Jr. into the wall at Indy….Priceless!
Grudgingly, I have to agree with Kevin in SoCal this week. I thought is was a good race compared to many other races this year, and other Brickyard races. The drama of Ganassi pulling off the big 3 added alot to it, and after JuanMoTime blew it last year, waiting to see if he could do it, then Jamie Mac pulling it off for his boss was a feel good story considering he didn’t have a ride at the end of last season. Add to that Dale Jr. and Truex both bailed what was DEI, and seeing some success from….lemme think now…. Earnhardt Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates is kinda cool. Love Matt’s articles, but the negativity is becoming a tad overdone.
“I can’t wait to hear Juan’s apology to Jr. for what he did to his Chase chances.”
A) Its not Juan’s fault that Jr sucks as a driver.
B) Did I miss something, when did Jr have a shot at the chase?