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 · Thursday August 5, 2010
The Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice. That’s what they call them in Iraq. There are other names for them in Saudi Arabia, Iran, Afghanistan, and other Mideast countries… but their jobs are all the same. Extremist clerics and their henchmen prowl the streets making sure decorum, their extreme and somewhat twisted interpretation of Islamic law is adhered to. They make sure women are properly covered and not associating with single men other than their blood relations. They make sure young people aren’t listening to Western Style rock and roll or watching movies made in the U.S. And, most certainly, they make sure nobody is badmouthing the powers that be, whether it be in whispers in the garden or shouting their view in public squares. Those who run afoul of these secret police can be jailed without trial, can have their property seized, can be beaten or whipped, beheaded, or, even in this day and age, stoned. (And not the fun kind of “stoned” by it’s Woodstockian definition, but actually pelted with rocks until such a time the “heretic” is dead). Say the wrong thing at the wrong time, and a citizen of some of these countries can disappear, never to be seen again. Not even family members can learn what happened to those folks. It’s a secret.
Thank God we live in the United States where such things can’t happen. Our country is a Garden of Freedom admired and yearned for around the globe. This precious garden grows only because it was watered with the precious blood of our young men and women who gave all when freedom was at risk. It’s a thirsty garden that must be watered again from time to time, which is supposedly why we’re fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Yeah, thank God for America and Americans. History shows when freedom truly hung in the balance during World War II, the last indubitably necessary war, our citizen soldiers rallied to the cause and defended it. The price paid was horrific, but the goal achieved precious. From the early days of grade school we’ve been tutored in those freedoms the sacrifices made by brave men and women have made on our behalf have earned us; freedom of association, freedom of religious worship, freedom to pursue happiness, freedom of the press and yes, gentle readers, freedom of speech.
And what sport is more American than stock car racing? Stock car racing is more American than V-Twin Harley motorcycles, Big Macs, little pink houses, Mustangs, and shiny red fire engines in a Fourth of July parade. Before every race, we have an Air Force flyover. Races are attended by hundreds if not thousands of military personnel in full uniform, who stand at attention saluting our flag. These guys and gals are our heroes every bit as much, if not more than Dale Junior and Jeff Gordon. And before every race, we sing the Star Spangled banner, sometimes well and sometimes poorly. In the worst renditions, the word “free” at the end of “the land of the free” line can drag on for an excruciatingly long time Frances Scott Key never intended. Sung well or sung poorly, “the land of the free” is still the keynote line of the song, even if suspension of habeus corpus and the Patriot Act have eroded at some of those essential freedoms that make us America.
Freedom of speech comes at a price. I read some of these websites that mock and celebrate the deaths of American soldiers, or count as second class friends of mine because of their religion, gender, or race… and I want to grab the webmaster of those sites by their throats and beat their heads against the wall until the dung stops coming out of their ears. But until those authors espouse violence or lawlessness, they remain free to talk their crap. To say otherwise is to start us down a slippery slope where the rest of us could be fined or arrested for criticizing actions of Congress, and that would make Tea Parties a whole lot briefer and less fun.
That’s what makes the revelation by the Associated Press last week that at least two drivers, Denny Hamlin and Ryan Newman, had secretly been fined 50 grand apiece, not for on track misconduct, but for pointed criticism of the National Association of Stock Car Auto Racing so much the more galling. Was either driver told they had to surrender their passport at the gate leading to the garage area? I’m sure somewhere in the obscure language or the application for membership to NASCAR required of drivers and team members, there lays new language it would take a battalion of lawyers and a forty foot stack of pizzas to ferret out over the course of a month a clause that forbids talking trash about NASCAR. That’s how Brian France and crew roll.
This was all supposed to be a secret until the Associated Press broke the story. NASCAR reacted to the controversy the way they always do, like a kid caught with his winky in one hand and the other in the cookie jar, their pants around their ankles, and a brood of pups that look suspiciously like them at their ankles despite their contention they haven’t well and truly screwed the pooch. It is, after all, how most major sports conduct themselves. Criticize the officiating or the league in a stick and ball sport, and players risk a big fine and censure.
Two thoughts come immediately to mind. First and foremost, “other sports” don’t keep their fines for disparaging comments secret. The fines are announced and widely debated amongst the participants, the media, and the fans. Was the comment truly over the line, was the player’s sentiment valid, and even if it was not, was it worthy of censure? This is no hole in the corner business in other professional sports. To use an example, along a dangerous section of interstate a marked police car in plain view serves as a clear deterrent to speeding for almost every driver passing by. (Well, maybe except for Brian France heading home from Happy Hour.) An unmarked unit hidden behind a billboard serves to slow down only that hapless driver who gets nailed for speeding. The marked unit increases safety. The unmarked unit collects revenue. Several drivers have commented they aren’t sure where the line is when it comes to criticizing NASCAR. Making public information about which drivers were fined and what they said that was unacceptable helps provide guidance to the other competitors.
Secondly, it seems odd that NASCAR seems determined to cite other sports as a reference in this instance. After all, isn’t one of their poorly received and ineffective marketing campaigns centered around the contention, “Everything else is just a game?” If we’re so much better and more exciting than the stick and ball sports, why are we trying to lop the drivers’ balls off in limiting what they can say negative about the sport? And this in the wake of this season’s “Boys, have at it” policy? Yeah, have at it, put each other on the roof at two bills, but don’t talk nasty about us!
Truth be told, Brian France has reaped as he has sowed. Appointed head of a business that was expanding and making dump trucks full of cash a week, dear Brian immediately started looking for a way to screw things up. First, there was the new network deal that initially sent longtime partner ESPN to the sidelines in favor of higher bidding FOX and NBC. NBC has since jumped ship, and FOX coverage is so bad that many fans refuse to tune in. Little Digger, my skinny white ass!
And the hits just kept on coming, as Michael Nesmith once wrote. We had realignment in which cherished race tracks and dates were replaced by boring events at cookie-cutter tracks, most notably when the Southern 500 race date that had been a fixture on the calendar for five decades was moved to Fontana. The track management in SoCal has proven they would be unable to sell a glass of water to a man ablaze, but still the circuit visits Fontana twice a year, Darlington once, and Rockingham none.
Then, we had the advent of the Car of Tomorrow. It was supposed to eliminate the dreaded “aero push” that made passing (and thus, exciting races) all but impossible. But rather than take care of the problem, the Car of Sorrow exacerbated rather than eliminated it.
Finally, after giving an endless string of boring races to his new tracks with his new cars, Brian France sunk back in the pocket and fumbled once again with the Chase concept that was supposed to ensure an endless string of bland races early in the season, then lead to a barnburner of a title chase in the final couple races. The idea hasn’t worked out, and fans have embraced it like a leprous leopard in a bad mood.
As a result of Mad King Brian’s changes, ticket sales at the turnstiles and TV ratings are in the crapper. Apparently, NASCAR officials would have you believe that that’s because various drivers have been mad-mouthing the sport. The winner of the first CoT race, Kyle Busch, declared he hated the new car and it was a piece of excrement. Ryan Newman suggested that the racing at Daytona and Talladega was stupid, but NASCAR would keep it up until somebody got killed. That was disingenuous on Newman’s part. NASCAR continued the same insane style of racing even AFTER somebody, the sport’s biggest star, was killed on February 18th, 2001. Denny Hamlin admitted he was saving his tires at Michigan, knowing that with as big a lead as he had, a bogus debris caution to liven things up was in the cards. Darrell Waltrip, perhaps having supplanted his brother as the ultimate NASCAR butt-kiss, once compared NASCAR officials to “Nazis” during a rain delay at Talladega. Tony Stewart once called NASCAR out, saying that stock car racing had no more credibility than cable TV wrestling conducted under a three-letter alphabet soup of monikers these days.
Stewart, in turn, returned to form on Friday, blaming the decimated ranks of the NASCAR touring media for the sport’s poor perception. Balderdash.
I’ve been writing about stock car racing longer than Stewart has been competing in the big leagues. Through email and face-to-face talks, I’ve gotten to know a lot of fans or ex-fans of stock car racing. They are a pretty savvy and astute bunch. They don’t need any driver or journalist to tell them whether a race was good or boring, whether that final debris caution was legitimate or illegitimate, or whether a new venue provides better racing than the one abandoned. If you think my columns are negative, I wish you could take a glimpse at my email and the increasing number of fans who say they are leaving the sport after attending races for decades. Brian France’s plan to abandon the longtime fan cocksure that newer, hipper, more affluent fans were ready to grab up their seats has proven to be fatally flawed. The new fans aren’t coming anymore and the longtime fans are gone, baby, gone.
It’s an interesting new interpretation of the competitor-sanctioning body relationship. To date, NASCAR has strongly asserted that the teams and drivers are “independent contractors.” That’s why there’s no NASCAR-funded health care, or retirement plans for the drivers, and that’s why there’s no franchising of the teams. If the “independent contractor” relationship is upheld, it seems NASCAR is limited to enforcing the rules during a race and making sure the cars competing on the track are legal, so nobody has an unfair advantage. What an independent contractor like Denny Hamlin has to say about NASCAR off track property and in private communications via Twitter is none of their concern. Are they going to start tapping phones and hacking into email addresses next?
It’s interesting a new buzzword has crept into the NASCAR vernacular. Mike Helton is famous for referring to the racing itself as “the product.” That mindset speaks volumes about the root of the problem “the sport” is facing. Now NASCAR says that they are secretly fining drivers for disparaging “the Brand.” They say in making negative comments about the sport, the drivers are damaging NASCAR’s integrity. That’s like damaging Lindsay Lohan’s virginity and virtue. That horse was out of the barn, several counties over and since turned into Alpo. NASCAR has zero credibility over the last decade, and the closer you get to the powers that be, the more you realize what a despicable, duplicitous, deceptive band of whores and scoundrels they are. As long as they’re making money, they’re happy, and when they’re not they need someone to blame, because certainly it can’t be their own actions and inactions that are at fault in their minds. Anyone recalling Mike Helton calling SAFER barriers “a cure worse than the disease” or how Bill France handled Tim Richmond’s drug testing can’t be surprised that NASCAR has hit this new low.
What can an outraged fan do about this whole mess? Not a damned thing. It’s NASCAR’s ball, bat, and ballpark and they’re free to do as they choose. On a personal level, I’ll never spend another dime of my money on a race ticket, souvenir, or on an official product of NASCAR. (Well, maybe Coors Light, since they’re giving up their Official Beer of NASCAR status after this season.) As an individual, I encourage you to do the same. Some folks with fancy job titles seem to have forgotten the fact, but ultimately every dime that flows into NASCAR’s coffers comes out of the pocket of the fans. We buy the race tickets. We watch the races. The sponsors spend millions a year to sell products to us. And if NASCAR thinks that we’re a bunch of half-wit rubes that be easily swayed by drivers telling us it was a great race when what we saw was bad, by telling us the Chase makes for more exciting racing when we see it is gutting the sport, and that the passion is back when the racing is listless, then they’ve got another thing coming.
I suppose I ought to just be happy the media can’t be fined for saying bad things about NASCAR. If we could be, I’d suppose my lifetime accrual of penalties would make the price of the federal stimulus plan look like pocket change. Oh, the powers that be cost me tens of thousands of dollars in unpaid wages when they bought the website I used to write for and fired me, but the classic car business was white hot at the time and I got by. The truth is, NASCAR can’t get rid of some of their critics like me, because I’d do what I do for free until I’m damn well ready to stop. Some of us have to keep the SOBs honest, after all. You in?
There’s something happening here
- Buffalo Springfield circa the Good Old Days-
©2000 - 2008 Matt McLaughlin and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
Matt, I can’t remember any head of a company being so totally oblivious to what’s going on with his own company as Brian France. He’s so busy pointing fingers at everyone and everything BUT himself as the reason for falling ratings and attendance that he continues to steam on like the Titanic. Fans have been giving their opinion in the one way that gets Nascar’s attention…in the wallet. It’s not an accident that TV ratings are down during a recession…the ‘product’
Sal – When I read your comment, I could not help thinking it also applies to the president of the United States.
Well said Matt. The only remaining loyalty I have is to my driver. Once he retires I may retire as well. Being a fan of a sport is supposed to be something that creates a positive experience but more and more it is negative and leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I don’t need this crap.
Awesome article Matt. I am a fan from the late 60’s when all you got was snippets on Wide World of Sports. NASCAR used to be “must see” TV for me. I went to a couple of races a year. I stopped going several years ago but still watched on TV. As the racing got worse, I started recording the races-a great way to get past all of the commercials, as well as the middle laps parade that have become more and more common. I taped the races, but I still watched them. Last year, and so far this year, I, more often than not, have not even watched the races that I have taped. The product sucks. I am so tired of the lack of racing, the horrible TV coverage, drivers with no personality, the (and I use this word sarcastically) leadership of the sport, the chase. I can go on and on. There is almost nothing in the sport that keeps me wanting to watch. It is sad but I wonder if all that has gone wrong can be reversed, or will NASCAR continue to creep towards the point of irrelevancy.
Hey, Brian France – YOU STINK!!!
(Well there goes a few Christmases, family vacations, kid’s college tuition..)
Love how NASCAR is using the “other sports do it” excuse for the fines. The NFL does fine players for comments – but normally this only happens when the players or coaches critize the referees and not the NFL itself. I was trying to think the last time a player was fined for insulting the NFL itself. I couldn’t and then I realized this is probably because there is a much clearer division of power in the NFL – which helps.
BTW, Matt – I hate Brian as much as you but the Fox / NBC deal was struck in 2000 (or possibly earlier). BF didn’t take over until 2003 (mmmm…. just a few years later, the ratings sorted to slide…)
(For those not around in 2001, get on both knees and be thankful that you missed the premiere season of NBC Sports NASCAR coverage. It was painful – trust me.)
Great article.All to true!
you have put to words what I have felt for 2 years. NASCAR should sanction not stifle.
Sharon , since Sals’ comment wasn’t related in any way to the President of The United States , i can’t imagine how you “ couldn’t help thinking it applies “ . Oh wait …. Sharon …. you wouldn’t by chance be the loon whos running for office in Nevada would you ?
Great article. The only people who don’t care about what you write are the ones who should.
All of this is so obvious, I ask Nascar WTF. As a fan who saw his first race at Darlington in 1964, I have had just about all I can stand. I am no fan of DW, but thanks for speaking out on the chase.
First off, Bill B, when Burton retires I will have very little interest in nas$car. And this from a 30+ years fan. Second, faux king Brian has done everything in his power to ruin a sport his grandfather and father built from the ground up into a success. While they weren’t by any means perfect, they put out a watchable, “product”. Even move faux king brian has made has alienated fans further to the point where nas$car has lost all creditibility. Thanks for listening.
Another great article…all so true.
I stop watching and following Nascar when “the chase” starts. My champ is the one that is in first place after 26 races, everything else is hype.
My last dime spent on anything NASCAR-related was in 2007, when my driver was robbed of an unquestionably deserved title by an idiotic playoff.
It’s interesting to watch NASCAR beg the fans for their opinion now, as their ratings have gone into the toilet. They NEVER used to give a crap what fans thought. They sure as hell didn’t when fans told them not to do the Chase.
What so many people who scream “First Amendment” fail to realize is that the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America only prevents the GOVERNMENT from censoring you. It does NOT prevent a private entity from censoring you. If frontstretch.com does not like your comment, Tom Bowles has every right to delete it and there’s nothing you can do about it. If NASCAR doesnt like what its drivers are saying, they have every right to levy fines against them and punish them, because NASCAR is a private company. Private companies are exempt from having to follow the First Amendment.
And I still believe the American public are sheep, myself included. They go along with whatever is popular. If Matt and other NASCAR writers say the racing sucks, then the public thinks it sucks too because they want to agree and be on the popular side. If a NASCAR driver is saying bad things about the racing or the cars, then the fans of that driver will agree with him and say the racing sucks, too. That’s my opinion and I dont care how wrong you think I am.
Gee Kevin in So Cal, you are making it easy on me. I just posted this comment at Greg Engles’ website on the same subject (The media shaping the fans’ view). So at the risk of plagiarizing myself allow me to cut and paste
I understand your point Kevin. If you hear about global warming enough in the media you’d swear that your summer was hotter than normal, there were more hurricanes than normal, there was less rain than normal, etc. in the absence of any empirical data. BUT…
In my case the guiding premise is that I think luck should be factored out as much as possible and skill, preparedness and performance should be the determining factor. So my number one issue is that NASCAR seems to be increasing the luck and crapshoot factor with every new rule and change they put in. Everyone of these rules increase the probability that the driver that wins the race and championship may not have been the one that deserved it most. Here is list – restrictor plates, COT, wave around rule, chase, double file restarts, fake debris cautions, multiple GWC, and the lucky dog.
Nothing anyone in the media says is going to change that opinion because it’s based on math and my personal preference to factor out luck.
The problem is NASCAR isn’t denying they are throwing deliberate “debris cautions” to spice things up. I tune in to see racing, not an orchestrated show. I get pissed off when it seems like the officiating is dictating the outcome of the race.
Also, as much as I admire Matt and agree with his views, I don’t think he has much sway over the average fan. I come here and read his articles because I agree with him, not the other way around.
NASCAR needs to take a deep look at its actions and see why the fans are becoming tired of their product. There is a problem with the racing and shutting the driver’s up isn’t going to fix it.
Good column. I was a huge Nascar fan from the late 70s until about 10 years ago. It wasn’t Dale’s death, but rather all the other changes you’ve talked about. To me, the biggest is the type of tracks they race on now. The popularity of this sport was created at North Wilksboro, Rockingham and Darlington. The old Busch series was awesome at South Boston,Hickory, Pikes Peak. Nascar supported the regional tours and local tracks. Fans had drivers to follow as they came up through the ranks. This year we have one rookie of the year candidate…….Conway, who almost no one knows. I could go on and on, but as a fan of all racing, I spend my time now with Indycar and F1, along with ALMS, rally and supporting my local tracks. Nascar is no longer an event I can’t wait for.
You keep preaching Matt!!….Sooner or later NASCRAP is going to hire you to turn them around!!….If they don’t go broke first!!
I’m with ya all the way Matt. Your article is the best I’ve ever seen written about the way Nascar is really run. I’m a 45 year fan and a USAF veteran. What Brian France and his butt kissing henchmen have done to Nascar is criminal. I am as fed up as you are. I used to go to the Daytona 500 every year, both Atlanta races and ‘dega. But I haven’t gone to any of them since BF took over running Nascar and I do not plan on going to any or buying any of Nascar’s Official what ever the product might be. I hope the SPORT (not brand or product) survives Brian Frances tenure as head of the whore house, but I have my doubts.
I’ve been a racing fan since RP was running hemi’s, still am, and I’ve watched the racing print media become increasingly negative and slanted over the last 20 years as TV exposure increased and newspapers withered. From my personal experience with the press I have learned that the credibility of the press is an endangered species – but what do I know. A noted NC sports columnist has written and stated publicly that NASCAR fans are “ignorant and gullible.” I don’t read him any more, either.
“Great article. The only people who don’t care about what you write are the ones who should.”
Oh! Oh! That’s me!
If everyone on this forum hates nascar so much, why do you spend all of your time and energy watching it and bi$c%ing about it on the internet.
What is the definition of insanity? Repeating the same action expecting a different result?
Those who complain about what they preceive as negative reporting obviously have their opinion. I don’t call it being negative, I call it honest responsible reporting. All the happy talk in the world by who ever isn’t going to fix what’s wrong with Nascar and believe me, Nascar has problems.
na$car “blackballed” matt years ago. he has a glorious history with those idiots. i think the icing on the cake was his article on 2/18/2001 entitled “blood on their hands”. he use to have a “pay check” from one of the other sites he worked for once na$car took it over, indirectly.
hamlin used personal time and vehicle for discussing his thoughts…just like a conversation between a group of friends. next up is na$car having passwords and hacking driver’s accounts. big bro don’t like the ship being rocked, and we’re leaving the ship too quickly that it’s sinking and not salvageable any longer.
Kevin in SoCal, I COULD NOT agree with you more my friend, people in general are swayed by the media (in this case, NASCAR writers such as Matt here) far too easily. Tony Stewart was not far off when he said the media is a major reason that NASCAR is experiencing problem. The media in general are predisposed to sensationalize everything. Global warming, 2012 phenomenon, all of that crap wouldn’t be so widely believed if the media wasn’t trying so desperately to make a story out of it. What we have here is no different. It probably started when 2 or 3 writers started criticizing NASCAR for something. Since ignorant people view these writers as “experts”, they blindly believe everything being said. Next thing you know, other writers and loads of fans start to chime in, and voila, the problems start. By this point, a negative perception has been created such that things that fans once shrugged off (debris cautions, lucky dogs) are viewed with contempt each time they occur. There are problems in NASCAR today, but these problems would not be nearly as bad if they weren’t so viciously exacerbated by the NASCAR media community.
I don’t need to be a sheep to have an opinion on NA$CAR, or anything else for that matter. Just because someone says the racing sucks, it doesn’t make it so. Unfortunately, the “product” speaks for itself. I’ve watched the decline and formed my own opinions for years, long before I found Frontstretch and many other websites. Don’t write off reality to lemmings following the piper unless, of course, you work for NA$CAR.
It certainly appled to President George W. Bush!
I have been on boycott since 05.
I have been boycotting Nascar since WW2. I win.
Brian France’s biggest error was that he assumed that when he made changes to attract new fans was that the old fans would never leave NA$CAR, no matter what he changed. Well, not only did he not attract as many new fans as he thought but he also alienated many of the core fans of old.
Overra88ted is right as well. The liberal media’s hatred of George Bush sure swayed the public into hating him too, regardless of what he was doing or not doing.
This is not just a column. It is a manifesto that should be plastered poster size in NASCAR Headquarters.
I have been a fan since the 1950’s (yes, 1950’s), but I have never been less of a fan than since the Brian and Mike Show started. The sport will not die, but it will atrophy even more than it has if nothing changes. In business as in politics if you lose your base you’re done in the big time.
All this reminds me so much of the truly pathetic press conferences held by Coca Cola executives in the mid-1980’s trying to prop up New Coke. Fortunately, they saw the light. I doubt, from his conduct, Brian has whatever it takes to do so. It is a shame he has no stockholder base to be responsible to.
Gee willikers Matt S, thanks for pointing out how dumb we in the great unwashed rabble actually are. We always enjoy intellectual observations such as yours telling us just how stupid most of us are,,,,like we believe everything we read, watch and hear. Most of us have a clue about any and all racing we attend or watch and can tell if it is a thumbs up or down.
Matt is spot on as usual. It is very enlightening to read such honesty. I find your references to song quotes very inspiring as well. Keep up the great columns. I am one of your loyal fans!
Matt another good article. To alot of people nascar was like a pair of your favorite shoes.You have had them forever they fit great but now those shoes just dont feel right because they might rub you the wrong way. SO now its time to make a decision do you keep those shoes or do you go out and find something new. Nascar needs to take a look at what happened to indy car racing in the USA when someone thought they were bigger than the sport itself
And, Surprise Surprise Surprise, it was reported in the sports section that Kansas Speedway will get another race next year.
Seems like Brian and Co. still have no clue.
Great column. NASCAR has every right to be criticized, just like a public leader has. Like President Harry S Truman said, “If you can’t stand the heat, then get out of the kitchen.”
I’ve disliked the way they run things without having to read any columns. They can’t stand any criticism at all and then when people rip them other people feel the need to defend NASCAR (who is a big enough boy) and say ,“Don’t watch it then!” I know lets always say how wonderful they are and how they never make any mistakes and how the stands are filled up and the racing is great. Please!
If they are going to go after the drivers for saying unapproved things about nascar, then they should stop the media for printing negative remarks towards the drivers.
Great article. I enjoyed it very much and also smiled at the comments. Those of us who have been fans for over 40 years have seen many changes and some are good and some are bad. It also brings about sadness because there truly is no freedom for drivers to really be themselves. This person really believes the media does influence the majority of the fans, or so called fans because of what they print or say. And even though there are a lot of us who do form our own opinions, the sad truth is the “sheep” as Kevin called himself and others far outnumber the true fans who stand by their own beliefs and thoughts. The truth is some people really tell it like it is while others are habitual complainers who will find absolutely nothing good about any thing. So be it.