Kurt Busch to Attempt The Indianapolis-Charlotte Double
posted by Phil Allaway
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Andretti Autosport announced this morning that Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet in the Sprint Cup Series, will attempt the Indianapolis 500 in a fifth entry for the IndyCar Series team. Once the Indianapolis 500 is completed, Busch will fly from Indianapolis to Charlotte, jump in his No. 41 Chevrolet and compete in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Busch considers the opportunity to do the double as an old-school throwback moment.
“This is really to challenge myself within motorsports,” Busch said in Andretti Autosport’s press release. “Perhaps I am a bit of an old-school racer; a throwback, I guess. I enjoyed the era of drivers racing different cars and testing themselves in other series. It is tough to do now for a variety of factors, but when the opportunity is there, I want to do it. While NASCAR is my home, I have been fortunate to compete in Pro Stock on the NHRA circuit a number of years ago and test a V8 Supercar. This opportunity was a talk with Michael [Andretti] over dinner one night, a “What if,” and now it’s becoming a reality for me to drive in the Indy 500 with Andretti Autosport. It’s literally a dream come true. To go to the famous Brickyard with the iconic Andretti name, it doesn’t get much cooler or better than that.”
Busch will be doing the Indianapolis-Charlotte double as a Memorial Day mission to men and women serving in the U.S. Military via the Armed Forces Foundation. Fans can contribute to the cause by texting AFF to 50555 to donate $10.
Busch, who has never raced an IndyCar, passed Rookie Orientation at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year during a test session. At the time, Busch was more or less testing the Dallara DW12 for fun.
Busch will be the fourth driver to attempt the Indianapolis-Charlotte double. John Andretti was the first driver to attempt it in 1994. After finishing four laps down in tenth in Indianapolis, Andretti crashed and had engine problems in the 600. Robby Gordon has attempted the double five times, most recently in 2004. However, Gordon failed to make it to Charlotte on time and did not start the 600 in 2000 (P.J. Jones started Gordon’s No. 13 Ford in that instance). Finally, Tony Stewart has attempted the double twice (most recently in 2001) and is the only driver to ever complete all 1100 miles. Neither of the three drivers has won either leg of the double. The best finishes are Stewart and Gordon’s sixth-place finishes at the Indianapolis 500 (although Gordon’s came in 2000, the year he didn’t make it to Charlotte in time to start the Coca-Cola 600), and Stewart’s fourth-place finish in the 2001 Coca-Cola 600.
Danica Patrick, Justin Allgaier Talk About Phoenix Incident
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
A disappointing start to the year for Danica Patrick won’t include continued conflict. Patrick met with rookie Justin Allgaier Sunday, shortly after the Phoenix Cup race after a wreck ruined both drivers’ days. Patrick, who was critical of the No. 51 car on the radio, claiming Allgaier was “driving all over the track” appeared receptive to a conversation that quickly settled differences over what will be a long season.
“She was just upset because she got involved in the crash that we had,’’ said Allgaier to the Motor Racing Network. “She says she’s been through this and that she felt like I needed to settle down at that point. I explained my position on why everything happened. I think she understood where I was coming from. It doesn’t fix either one of our racecars. It doesn’t fix either one of our days. Unfortunately, we were both having pretty decent days.’’
Allgaier wound up 30th due to the incident while Patrick was 36th. The incident, which was caused by Allgaier’s spin also involved the No. 32 team and Travis Kvapil, which wound up 38th after sustaining heavy damage.
Camping World Close to Extending Title Sponsorship of NCWTS
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Marcus Lemonis, CEO of Camping World, Grand Marshal of Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway, and star of CNBC’s “The Profit,” made the announcement over the weekend that the retailer is very close to announcing a deal that would continue its title sponsorship of NASCAR’s Truck Series. The original agreement with NASCAR is scheduled to conclude after the 2015 season.
According to the sanctioning body, no formal contract has been signed, but “the agreement between the two parties has proven to be a beneficial one.”
“In about a month, we’ll be announcing a significant extension to that contract. It’s been great for us,” said Camping World’s Lemonis in a statement. “The NASCAR relationship has worked well for Camping World. When we started, we had 35 stores. Now, we’re up to 120 stores. As we travel the country and we meet new customers in stores, they always are very appreciative of our relationship with NASCAR. It’s been good.”
Gaining a long-term commitment from Camping World to sponsor the Truck Series would be a relief for NASCAR, which is set to lose Nationwide Insurance as title sponsor for the NASCAR Nationwide Series at the end of the 2014 season. The sponsorship of the Cup Series by Sprint runs through 2016.
The NCWTS is back in action on March 29th at 2:30 PM (ET) when the trucks visit Martinsville Speedway in the Kroger 250, which can be seen on Fox Sports 1. Ratings for the season opener were up 11 percent.
Harvick Takes Win At Phoenix In Second Race With New Team
posted by Justin Tucker
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Phoenix International Raceway has become Kevin Harvick’s home away from home. Sunday Afternoon was no exception as Harvick charged to the front early and would dominate for much of the day, leading 224 of the scheduled 312 laps to record his record fifth win on the one mile oval and his third win in the last four races at Phoenix.
Harvick, coming off of a disappointing Speedweeks which was capped by a last lap crash in the Daytona 500 in his debut with Stewart-Haas Racing, set the tone on Saturday by winning both practices while having the best 5 and 10-lap averages in the first practice of the day on Saturday. On Sunday, Harvick and his No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet was nothing short of flawless as he was able to hold Dale Earnhardt, Jr. by .489 seconds after a late race restart to claim his 24th career Sprint Cup Series victory.
“Man, this is awesome,” Harvick said after his dominant victory on Sunday. “Man, this just solidifies so many things and so many decisions. It’s been so much work with all the time and effort that these guys (the crew) have put in—but what a race car.”
Stewart Haas Racing co-owner Gene Haas shared in Harvick’s excitement after the race.
“It took long enough,” Haas joked. “This is phenomenal. I think there was a lot of skepticism last year about what myself and Tony (Stewart) what we were up to, was there a lot of madness to this. Quite frankly, it’s a great team, there’s a lot of synergy at the shop, people working together. I don’t know what we did, but I think we put together a great organization.”
Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt, Jr. continued his hot start to the 2014 season. Earnhardt Jr. would finish second on Sunday, marking his seventh consecutive top 10 finish since the end of the 2013 season. Earnhardt Jr. was pleased with the effort after a coast-to-coast whirlwind week after winning his second Daytona 500 and also gave great praise to the efforts of Harvick and the No. 4 team.
“I’ve got to congratulate Kevin. Those guys were two-tenths faster than everyone all weekend in practice. They were just phenomenal,” Earnhardt said. “To be able to run with them all day was a big confidence builder for us.”
Joining Harvick and Earnhardt in the top 5 of The Profit on CNBC 500K were Brad Keselowski with his second consecutive top 3 run of 2014 in third. Keselowski’s Team Penske teammate Joey Logano would finish fourth, and Jeff Gordon would come home fifth in his No. 24 Pepsi Max Chevrolet.
Jimmie Johnson finished in sixth, followed by Ryan Newman with a nice rebound after Daytona in seventh. Carl Edwards would carry the banner for Roush Fenway Racing by finishing eighth, Kyle Busch was ninth, and Jamie McMurray would finish tenth.
A look at the Profit on CNBC 500K by the numbers. There were 14 lead changes among eight different drivers, there were eight cautions for 39 laps which slowed the race pace to 109.229 MPH.
Next Sunday, the Sprint Cup Series heads to Sin City and the Las Vegas Motor
Starting Lineup: The Profit On CNBC 500K
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday March 1, 2014
Drivers in RED (i) are those ineligible to collect Sprint Cup points
Daytona 500 TV Ratings Down
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Wednesday February 26, 2014
What was the longest weather delay in Daytona 500 history turned out to bring NASCAR lower ratings and TV viewership Sunday night than expected. According to a report Monday from FOX Sports, the 56th running of the Daytona 500 airing at 8 PM (ET) posted a 5.6/10 national household rating/share which averaged 9.3 million viewers. That’s down 44 percent from last year’s 9.9, easily making it the least-watched Daytona 500 of all-time.
Due to the six-hour, twenty-two minute rain delay in Daytona, the race was up against the primetime coverage of the Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony from Sochi, Russia on NBC (15.25 million viewers). FOX also reported that 69% of the pre-rain delay viewers of the race, which began at 1 PM (ET) kept tuning in.
In comparison, the 2013 Daytona 500 on FOX was the most-watched race in five years, posting a 9.9/22 rating/share, commanding 16.7 million viewers. The Daytona 500 in 2012, the first to ever be run on a Monday and in the primetime slot did a 7.7/13 overnight rating/share which resulted in 13.67 million households viewing the race according to Nielsen TV ratings data.
Earnhardt, Jr. Claims Second Daytona 500 Victory
posted by Justin Tucker
Wednesday February 26, 2014
Ten years is a long time. For Dale Earnhardt, Jr., it felt like an eternity. NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver endured many near misses and close calls at the Daytona 500 since his only win in the Great American Race in 2004. Earnhardt had finished second in two of his last three Daytona 500s coming into Sunday’s race. He was also riding the tail of a 55-race winless streak, dating back to Michigan in 2012.
However nothing would stop Dale Jr. on Sunday, not even a 6 hour and 22 minute rain delay from capturing his second Daytona 500 win. Earnhardt Jr. led a race-high 54 laps on the evening and used some timely drafting help from teammates Jimmie Johnson and, on the final restart, Jeff Gordon to separate from the pack and secure the victory.
“Winning this race is the greatest feeling that you could feel in this sport besides accepting the trophy for the championship,” said a jubilant Earnhardt after pulling into Victory Lane. “We could fight off battle after battle. We got a little help at the end there from Jeff to get away on the restart. This is amazing. I can’t believe this is happening. I never take this for granted, man because it doesn’t happen twice, let alone once.”
Aside from the race itself the big story of the race was the 6 hour and 22 minute red flag, which threatened to move the race to Monday evening (had the race been postponed, FOX Sports’ Chris Myers had tweeted that the race would resume at 5:00pm EST). However, Mother Nature would cooperate and would allow the race to be run under different conditions from which they practiced this week. Once the race resumed, the intensity picked up from the changing track conditions. This allowed the pack to race side-by-side and at times 3-wide up to seven rows deep.
Joining Earnhardt Jr. in the top 5 for the 2014 Daytona 500 were: Denny Hamlin who closed out a spectacular Speedweeks in second, Brad Keselowski in third, Jeff Gordon in fourth, and Jimmie Johnson who overcome two wrecks leading up to the 500 in fifth.
Rounding out the top 10 in the Daytona 500 were Matt Kenseth in sixth, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. in seventh and Greg Biffle would bring his No. 16 Ford home in eighth. Austin Dillon would come home ninth in his first Cup Series race in the iconic No. 3 for Richard Childress Racing, while Casey Mears would round out the top 10.
A couple of major contenders for the Daytona 500 win would see their hopes dashed early on as Martin Truex, Jr. would blow up just 30 laps into the race, relegating him to a 43rd-place finish in his debut for Furniture Row Racing. Crew chief Todd Berrier was already in Nashville for a test session before the race was even over. Kyle Busch, meanwhile would have a pit road violation just before halfway and would spend much of the race battling back from that mistake. Busch would eventually finish 19th after leading 19 laps.
Danica Patrick would also be bit by bad luck as she was caught up in a multi-car wreck on lap 145. Patrick would lead her second consecutive Daytona 500, but wouldn’t have the finish to show for it finishing 40th. Tony Stewart would encounter a frustrating evening as well, with a fuel pickup problem derailing his quest for his first Daytona 500 win. Stewart would finish 35th.
A look at the Daytona 500 by the numbers. There were 42 lead changes among 18 drivers, while seven cautions for 39 laps would slow the race pace to 145.290 MPH.
Next week, the Sprint Cup Series heads to the “diamond in the desert,” Phoenix International Raceway for The Profit on CNBC 500K. The Green flag is scheduled for 3:15pm EST.
Nationwide Series Post-Race Quotes: Drive4COPD 300
posted by Thomas Bowles
Tuesday February 25, 2014
Frontstretch Interviews – Courtesy Mike Neff
ELLIOTT SADLER – FINISHED 4th
Thoughts on the race?
It’s definitely a lot different racing than what we’re used to.
Comfortable with it?
Yeah, it’s just different. You’re worried about what you’re doing, but you’re also worried about what everyone else is doing and they’re not doing more than you’re doing. Physically pushing a guy is way better than just riding so you just gotta time it right and push it to the edge.
Happy to start the year with a top 5?
Yeah. Hell, that was the worst we ran all day, I think. I have no idea how they put the 3 car in front of us on that last restart. I hadn’t seen the 3 car hardly all day. When they put us from fifth to sixth, on the outside line, it just really boxed us in. I would have really restarted behind my teammate and given him a good push to the front. Anyways, it is what it is; we’ll take it and move on.
Looked like you were up front all day.
The guys did a good job. We had a fast race car. Great pit stops, just really proud of these guys. The car’s in one piece and we can take it to Talladega now. Great job by my guys. A lot of effort came into coming down here to Daytona and giving ourselves a shot to win. We had that chance to be up front and make some things happen. Fifth is not what we want, but we’ll take it and move on.
Bumping vs Pushing?
It’s way harder. You don’t want to lay on the guy in front of you, so it’s tough racing. A lot different than what we’re used to, ‘cause you gotta go. You gotta drag the brake too ‘cause you don’t want to hit the guys and you don’t want to stay on him. It’s a lot harder mentally than what we’ve done in the past.
Car was strong all day. Pushing vs. Bumping, is that harder to do than just getting on somebody and pushing them?
Yeah, it is a little bit. When you bump ‘em, you jar ‘em, it kinda jacks ‘em a little bit. It’s a little more abrupt, obviously. I thought it was OK there at the end. It was certainly fun and hopefully entertaining. But a little bit of a struggle in the early part of the race and the midpart of the race to see a good race. And that’s unfortunate for the fans. You can’t do that the whole race, you can’t tear up your stuff, knock your grill in, overheat your motor, all that stuff so there’s no sense in doing all that until you get down to the last lap. The 7 and the 6, they did a good job. Man, the 7 really held the 22 and I tight on the bottom. I was rubbing his door and hitting the apron at the same time, no room whatsoever. So it was good; wish we were the ones who could have won but a lot better now than what we were last year.
Going home in one piece makes it a lot better, right?
Yeah. My back feels good. My foot feels good. Past years here, I’ve been going home with pain so I’m alright.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Truck Series Post-Race Quotes: Daytona (Exclusives)
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday February 22, 2014
When you’re on the outside like that, how frustrating is it?
It’s so hard. Timothy Peters has won here. Kyle Busch has won everywhere. Ron Hornaday has been running Trucks forever, probably before I was even born. I was surrounded by veterans there, and like I told them I don’t have a rookie stripe but I’m a rookie. This is only my fourth Truck race ever, my fourth superspeedway race, and man, I figured out when the 17 got up in front of me, I pushed him. And as soon as I pushed him, he took off. And I went with him. And I just kept doing it, and before I knew it, he was leading. And I saw Ron in my mirror, backed up to him, and if it wasn’t for him, I don’t know what would have happened. I gotta thank him big time for that. That was a true teammate move right there. I really appreciate that. He just bounced off me and we got to the front. I tried my hardest to sidedraft Kyle. I was probably touching his door.
Top 5 in the No. 30 truck. This deal come together at the last minute, but you had a heck of a truck. Tell us about your night.
Yeah, I’ve got to thank Turner Scott Motorsports. The guys worked so hard on this Rheem Comfort Products Chevrolet. Exciting! Just got hung up on the outside and had to wait for my teammate there to catch up. And then he got to the bottom, so… I got the old 32 and started pushing ol’ Ryan to the front. So, it’s not bad. We’ll take it. You just don’t want to step over that boundary. You don’t know how far to push and shove. We bumped about six times down the straightaway without latching onto them. Hopefully, that was OK and we came home with a top 5.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Budweiser Duels Post Race Quotes
posted by Matt Stallknecht
Friday February 21, 2014
BUDWEISER DUELS POST-RACE QUOTES
They’re saying the wheel bearing burned up in it. I don’t know what caused it, they’re taking it all apart to figure out what the heck happened. Something abnormal that’s for sure I don’t think I’ve ever had that happen at all. Hopefully, we made the race and hopefully we can fix the problem before Sunday.
WHAT WAS THAT LOUD BOOM ONCE YOU TURNED INTO THE GARAGE?
Loud pop was a tire… thankfully, it popped, hopefully it didn’t hurt anybody. All the heat created in the left front that popped was pretty weird.
REALLY GOOD RUN. WHAT DID YOU THINK OF IT?
Yeah, it was good. We have a car we can work with for the 500. Got a good starting spot, so we’re going to rest easy, fluff and buff our car for a couple of days and get ready for Sunday.
ANY DIFFERENCE ON WHETHER THE TOP OR BOTTOM LANE WORKED?
Yeah, I was just moving around, trying to stay with the flow. For me, this car works on all parts of the racetrack. So I’m pretty happy with it.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.
GOT SHUFFLED BACK, AFTER PIT STOPS AND THEN COULDN’T GET BACK UP TO THE FRONT. WHY?
Nah, we were just sitting there waiting until the last few laps to make a move. You didn’t want to pull down and get sent to the back. Seen a couple of guys get sent to the back really quick so we were just kind of waiting for the end. I felt like we had a good situation there with Ambrose behind us — we had a good run off Turn 2 and I went. It was the last lap, time to go do something, nobody went with us but hopefully Sunday is a different story.
We got a great car. We don’t have to work hard. We learned, we got a good race car. Got a car in one piece, ready to go so we’ll try and get through the next couple of practices, deliver it to the starting group this Sunday and we’ll be real happy.
YOU’RE IN THE DAYTONA 500!
Yeah, it’s pretty awesome. This Whitetail Chevrolet was so fast that I knew all I had to do was stick it behind smart, intelligent drafters and we could have a good finish. That’s what we did in the Duels and I’m excited. I’m excited to go do some stuff with the Nationwide car and have some more practice with this. But to know that we’re locked in the Daytona 500’s pretty cool.
YOU WERE OBVIOUSLY IN FRONT OF THAT MELEE AT THE END. WHEN YOU WERE UP FRONT THERE IN THE BEGINNING, WERE YOU HOPING TO JUST STAY IN LINE AND LET YOU FINISH TOP 5?
I was pretty content to ride and luckily I knew a lot of people around us were. It was nice to have a little calm and not really have to be racing hard the whole time. I knew that the pit stop was going to shake everything up and that’s exactly what happened. Fell back a little bit there but made the right moves at the end to get a good finish.
HOW STRONG ARE THESE RCR CARS?
They’re very strong! They definitely have the capabilities to be winning one of these races.
YOU’RE IN THE TOP 5 FOR YOUR HEAT IN THE DAYTONA 500. YOUR PRIMARY CAR IS SITTING RIGHT IN THE GARAGE, KIND OF WADDED UP. DID YOU THINK THIS ONE HAD IT IN IT?
Yeah, it’s a brand new car also. It’s just not quite as good as the primary but still a damned good car. I’m just proud of everybody at RCR for building such fast race cars. All of our cars have been fast, ECR motor’s been strong, even our affiliate teams have been qualifying really good and racing good. So… excited about 2014! It’s going to be a good year.
WELL MAN, YOU STARTED IN THE BACK BUT WORKED YOUR WAY TO THE FRONT WHEN IT COUNTED MOST. WERE YOU JUST BIDING YOUR TIME THROUGHOUT THE RACE?
Eh, you never know if you’re going to get back up there or not. We had to start at the back, we had to make a run early and see what we could do. We drove right to 10th, or something like that and then it got stagnant. We tried to make something happen, and went to the back again. Drove back up to the front. Again, just really proud of my guys. Matt Kruder did a hell of a job on that pit stop getting just enough gas in to gain some spots there.
RCR CARS SEEM PRETTY DARNED STRONG. DO YOU THINK THE RCR CARS HAVE SOMETHING FOR THEM ON SUNDAY — ESPECIALLY THE THREE JOE GIBBS RACING CARS THAT SEEM TO BE THE CLASS OF THE FIELD RIGHT NOW?
Oh yeah. The 20 car was extremely fast. The 11 didn’t qualify that good, but he’s a good drafter. I think he won. We definitely have something for him.
Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
Matt McLaughlin · Monday August 9, 2010
The Key Moment – Juan Pablo Montoya dominated at the Glen, with Marcos Ambrose doing his best to keep the Colombian native honest. But on the restarts, Ambrose was nowhere near as fast or flawless as JPM, and that ultimately made the difference.
In a Nutshell – Yes, you can road race stock cars. You can also drag race trash trucks, but why bother?
Dramatic Moment – While Montoya dominated the race, various trials and tribulations cost several title contenders and the normal road course experts a ton on Sunday.
What They’ll Be Talking About Around the Water Cooler This Week
NASCAR’s approach to the whole “secret fine” brouhaha seems to be the same as it always is when they get caught with their hand in the cookie jar: “What you can’t deny, endure in silence.” At the end of the day, it is what it is, so the makeover of competitors into the Stepford Drivers continues. Ignore the men behind the curtain. The great and wonderful NASCAR must not be dissed.
Eventually, Cup Series officials are going to figure out the “localized caution” protocol on road courses. There was no need for the caution to fly for Bobby Labonte’s spin (which he drove away from) or the debris dropped when Clint Bowyer lost a driveshaft other than to break up the monotony.
I recognize some folks enjoy the NASCAR road course races as much as I endure them. There’s also that tenth dentist that doesn’t endorse Dentyne. Let me throw this out there: would you prefer another race at Darlington and a return to Rockingham, or the status quo with Sonoma and the Glen having race dates? You’ll note the F-1 Series doesn’t stage an annual “change of pace” race on an oval.
I will admit, Watkins Glen on Sunday offered up its share of surprises. You’d have expected that Tony Stewart (five wins), Jeff Gordon (four wins), and Mark Martin (three consecutive wins from the pole) would have been factors in the race, but the three of them struggled mightily for most of the event.
Holy Smokes! After hosting two Cup races a season since I was in cloth diapers secured with safety pins, Atlanta will lose a race next season, yielding its coveted Cup date to Bruton Smith’s track in Kentucky. I guess there’s a few lessons here. First and foremost, if folks get stuck in miserable, soul-grinding traffic before and after your events, they ain’t coming back even if you make every effort years too late to fix that mess. Pocono, are you listening? Secondly, folks seemed to like Atlanta a lot better in its first configuration, a true symmetrical oval. Then, track management decided to change the design to make it a clone of Charlotte and Texas, with a tri-oval set up on the frontstretch to accommodate adding a few more seats… seats that, by and large, went unsold annually anyway. Unique is cool. Clones are not.
In brighter news, reports indicate that Fontana might be losing a race date as well, with its Fall event going to Kansas City. Kansas City? Has anyone contacted the folks at Keebler to see if they might be interested in sponsoring the Cookie Cutter 500? What about Darlington and Rockingham? Remember, it’s when we left those storied venues that race attendance in general and TV ratings went into a tailspin. But Kansas is going to have a casino. So what? If I wanted to gamble, which I don’t, Atlantic City is an hour away. Why should I drive across half the country to play Blackjack? There was a time when Las Vegas was something special because it was the only legal place to gamble in the U.S. As of late, casinos seem to be popping up coast to coast, and if there isn’t a place to wager within an hour of your home you probably also get your mail by carrier pigeon. Even here in the Quaker State, where puritans still don’t allow beer sales before noon on Sunday, we’ve got table games and slot machines. As for Fontana itself, the track might have become a lightning rod of criticism not only because the racing there typically sucks hind-teat, but because its other date was once moved from the storied Darlington Labor Day weekend event in what Mike Helton, in one of his most ludicrous moments, called “the start of a new tradition.” Well, the new tradition was a miserable failure, and maybe NASCAR ought to be spending more time reviewing their own mistakes rather than reviewing drivers’ Twitter comments.
I got an interesting if somewhat pissy email this week in the wake of my column Thursday lambasting NASCAR for their secret fines on drivers who called into question the fundamental goodness and infallibility of the sanctioning body. The note was purportedly sent from someone at ISC, and the return address seemed to bear that out. The gist of it was “people like you” (meaning me) are a major part of NASCAR’s perception problem. Yeah, OK, but it’s also people like me that used to buy race tickets and dutifully watch every race every Sunday afternoon… but don’t anymore. So, deal with it, NASCAR. Fix it. And as we say here in the City of Brotherly Love, “Shuddupabouditwouldja?”
It’s hard to cipher how many fans attend a road course race. Many of them choose to populate the infield, where they can wander around the track and enjoy the race from various vantage points. Some reports from the track said attendance was sharp, with the official NASCAR report claiming a 5,000-person increase. But from my vantage point, it did appear the grandstand seats were particularly empty this year at the Glen. Which driver do we fine 50 grand for causing that this week?
Is there a cosmic rift in the universe? All of a sudden, FOX’s Darrell Waltrip suddenly doesn’t like the Chase points system, changing his tune after dressing in a tight sweater and short skirt, waving pom-poms championing the concept all these years. (Yes, it’s a frightening visual.) My guess is that his brother Michael is now shunning DW for daring to be negative about a NASCAR initiative. Ought to make for an interesting Thanksgiving dinner at Ma Waltrip’s table, right? One day, the NASCAR Hall of Fame will open a special wing for drivers who managed to garner the most TV time without any corresponding on-track success. The first five inductees will be Michael Waltrip, Michael Waltrip, Michael Waltrip, Michael Waltrip, and Michael Waltrip.
I’m getting the feeling Jamie McMurray might eventually develop a knack for stock car racing after all.
I daydream about a kinder, simpler, more intelligent world when Allen Bestwick uses the term “the tricky triangle” for the final time.
The Hindenburg Award For Foul Fortune
Kevin Harvick would have finished far better than eleventh had it not been for a deflating tire on the last lap.
Boris Said had his best shot ever at winning a Cup race prior to his irritating and crowding Tony Stewart.
Jimmie Johnson just happened to be in the way when Kyle Busch and Jeff Burton got to arguing over the same real estate. Denny Hamlin ended up an innocent victim in that mess, as well.
Usually, the Hendrick organization does pretty well on road courses, a trend that dates back to the late and lamented Tim Richmond in the Folgers car. But this weekend, the team never really seemed to get up to speed. While Gordon soldiered on to a tenth-place finish, Mark Martin ended up 23rd, Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished 26th, and Jimmie Johnson finished 28th.
Whatever his faults, nobody can deny Robby Gordon is pretty handy on the road courses, where he used to ply his trade before well and truly pissing off the Ford Motor Company. But a broken transmission ended Gordon’s chances at a decent finish, while his team car, driven by P.J. Jones, also fell out due to mechanical issues. They wound up 36th and 41st in the final running order, respectively.
One of the pre-race favorites, Greg Biffle ran up front most of the day, only to get shuffled out of the deck on a late restart. That dropped the No. 16 car from eighth to 25th, and Biffle managed to recover only one spot after that disaster.
The “Seven Come Fore Eleven” Award For Fine Fortune
A week after announcing his November departure from JTG-Daugherty Racing, Marcos Ambrose went out and won the Nationwide Watkins Glen event. Even if he faded at the end of Sunday’s race, that victory — combined with a third-place finish on Sunday — adds a little luster to his resume as he begins searching for a new seat in 2011.
Internal strife resulting from a driver beginning to question his crew chief’s strategy can tear a team asunder. But a win at the Glen will go a long way towards healing the rift between Juan Pablo Montoya and Brian Pattie.
Kyle Busch’s day seemed doomed when he was forced to pit on the pace laps for a ballast that hadn’t been properly secured to the car. (It’s a rare mistake for an organization as professional as Joe Gibbs Racing.) Yet despite starting from the rear, then tweaking up the nose of his car in a charge to the front, Busch recovered well enough to finish eighth.
Chip Ganassi had a pretty good weekend, claiming victory in the Cup, IndyCar, and Grand Am races. It’s a wonder ESPN wasn’t breathlessly reporting that EGR (and the “E” is silent in that acronym) was the first organization to win the Daytona 500, the Indy 500, the Brickyard, and a NASCAR road race in the same season.
What’s the Points?
Kevin Harvick continues to lead the standings. He’s now 185 points (nearly a full race’s worth) ahead of second-place Jeff Gordon. Behind them, Jeff Burton and Kurt Busch had great points days at the Glen. Burton advanced two spots to third, while Busch trampolined up three spots to fourth. Jimmie Johnson fell to fifth, 328 behind Harvick but still holding four championship rings.
Denny Hamlin took it on the chin points-wise at the Glen. He fell three spots to sixth, while teammate Kyle Busch fell to seventh. Like the Beatles once wrote, “Boy, you’re going to carry that weight a long time…” Tony Stewart held on to eighth, while Carl Edwards moved up a spot to ninth over Matt Kenseth. Did anyone else even notice Kenseth was there at the Glen this weekend?
Greg Biffle held steady in eleventh, while in their back and forth battle, Mark Martin moved back into the top 12 Sunday over Clint Bowyer. Bowyer’s now thirteenth, ten points behind Martin and that final cutoff spot, with Newman and McMurray also closing to within 100 points of the playoffs.
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 the Glen two cans. It’s nice seeing new faces up front from time to time… it’s just not much fun to watch them stink up the show.
Next Up – Michigan! This again? Weren’t we just there?
©2000 - 2008 Matt McLaughlin and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
…would you prefer another race at Darlington and a return to Rockingham, or the status quo with Fontana and the other boring cookie-cutter tracks having race dates?
Great column as usual Matt. I like road course racing though, Montoya and Ambrose had some good battles yesterday, and road courses demand some driver skill, unlike plate tracks. (Cue Michael Waltrip line.)
Is ISC really picking a fight with you? Man, talk about a battle of wits with one side unarmed.
I’ve heard (but I don’t know if it’s true) that Hendrick gave Junior some of Mark Martin’s best engineers. If that’s true, they need to switch back, because Junior’s got nothing anymore.
I’d rather have a couple of road courses thrown in than more 1.5 races. Of course I’d trade one of them for a race at Rockingham or a 2nd race at Darlington but you and I both know that’s not what would happen. The race would go to another 1.5 mile track (probably Vegas). So if that’s my choice, keep the road course.
I got the “with autumn closing in” part of the Seger reference, but the rest of lyrics don’t fit at all. Hope you had fun at least because it didn’t make much sense from out here.
Is there a bigger tool in Nascar’s world than Mike Helton?
And no credibility whatsoever.
Of course that is not Nascar’s strongsuit anyway.
Little E is a complete mess. It is time to blow it up and start over (again).
I am really struggling as to whether I want to pay the $116 to go to the Atlanta race…..
Oh, and we all down here have known for years that we would eventually lose the spring race – we just looked at the stands…
Watched the tail end of Qualifing on Sat. and saw I believe Ron Fellows in an UNSPONSERED car warm up and WHOLE qualifing lap and then when P.J. Jones qualified in a SPONSERED car saw only him exiting turn 7 to start/finish line on qualifing lap. How are these teams to get new sponsers when ESPN gives more TV time to unsponsered cars?
I have a few other candidates for your “most TV time without on-track success”. Kenny Wallace who irritates me to death, or Jimmy Spencer who ought to stick that damn cigar where the sun don’t shine.
“I’ve heard (but I don’t know if it’s true) that Hendrick gave Junior some of Mark Martin’s best engineers. If that’s true, they need to switch back, because Junior’s got nothing anymore.”
Did I miss something? When did Jr EVER have anything? You have to have something before you can lose it.
It seems the right people are reading your column but then react in the typical manner: threaten the messenger and then pretend they are ostriches and bury their heads in the track.
On a different note I found a picture of the greatest finish in racing, the Richie-Geoff finish at Martinsville when Richie powered down the front stretch to the checkers against the fence.
Roger Penske rarely makes an error, but he did so at Fontana, in spades. He took the design of Michigan (where they invented booring races) and made it flatter. What was he thinking?
“Has anyone contacted the folks at Keebler to see if they might be interested in sponsoring the Cookie Cutter 500?”
While I expected Atlanta to lose the first date it still sucks. Wilkesboro, Rockingham and one from Darlington took out 5 GREAT races now we can add a sixth. The only thing wrong with the above mentioned races was THE WEATHER SUCKED!!!! Frigid cold with howling wind, snow, sleet or freezing rain, those were your choices for those race dates. I REALLY miss the Rock
OK Matt, you dont like road racing: we get it. Now knock off the whining like a 12 year old schoolgirl and get on with it. A lot of us out there LIKE road racing and wish there were a few more on the schedule. Sure as hell beats another boring parade on a 1.5 oval. Yesterday’s battle beteween JPM and Ambrose was the best racing I’ve seen all year in NASCAR. I actually watched the whole race instead of the first ten and the last ten laps.
A race at Kentucky and one more at Kansas. Cookie cutter 500 indeed. If nas$car is really interested in bringing fans back to the sport they’d bring Rockingham back and give Darlington it’s second race back.But that would mean actually listening to it’s long gone long time fans. I gave this race two beers. The paving of a couple of areas only served to make this race a complete borefest. And now we’re on to Michigan. Wow!! good writing here. I’m glad there are still some writers that are not shills.
After hearing DW, I think there will be a drastic reduction in his on-air time.
If DW is saying it then NASCAR has already decided to do it. DW is just setting things up so NASCAR seems like they are reacting to the fans when in reality they already have a dumber idea they are going to try.
The Waltrips are the mouth of NASCAR. Anything negative they say has some ulterior motive for NASCAR’s benefit.
we all knew atlanta would lose it’s spring race for years. butts haven’t been in seats, and weather in march is either rainy or cold. a few years ago we had snow the first weekend of march. sure it was just 3” but that was enough to shut the state down for 4 days. eversince the torndao hit and they rebuilt, the track hasn’t been the same. too many pricey seats, jr struggles too much and people out of work here. ga’s unemployment is in the top 5 of the country. they did fix the traffic issue years ago, but for us folks who use back roads to go back and forth to the track, making me get into the traffic on 19/41 was the last straw, especially when i ended up sitting on that road for 1.5 hrs to get into the track, when i had already been on the grounds 1.5 hrs earlier and they made me enter the track the “new” way.
ESPN did a great job on their advertising, especially during qualifying Saturday, I am all fired up for football now. I bet Helton loved seeing all those ads and prods for football.
Point #2, I just hate to see Denny with a tear in his eye. Poor guy.
Hey matt, i thought these guys are supposed to be the best drivers in the world. Road courses bring out the best in nascar drivers. They should add road america where they could really race and eleminate sonoma which is a bad parking lot.
Matt said: “Kevin Harvick continues to lead the standings. He’s now 185 points (nearly a full race’s worth) ahead of second-place Jeff Gordon.”
Yes, because being 185 points ahead is SOOOOO much more exciting than having 12 drivers separated by 50 points with 10 races to go.
And you all got half your wish, Fontana is going to lose a date. As I’ve always said, I’m fine with Fontana having one date because thats all they’ve ever asked for. Having Fontana with one date to give two to Kansas is much better than losing one of Martinsville’s dates. Every track up to the Cup level’s standards deserves at least one date on the schedule, even if its as boring as you think Fontana is.
And I’ve always thought Matt’s comments about cookie cutter tracks seem hollow, since he doesnt like the other unique tracks on the schedule such as Pocono and the road courses. He only likes Darlington.
‘tis true. i often find myself watching the whole of a road course race as opposed to the monotonous middle part of races at better tracks or any of most of the 1.5s. but it’s still via the dvr. i believe i’d actually pay real money to view a REAL race on tv without intelligence insulting ads.
I would even go one step further as to say that Matt doesnt even like racing at all anymore. When is the last time he posted a column where he said something positive? One of these days the powers-that-be at FS will realize that his column is depressing and sucks. Maybe then they will let someone else do the weekly race recap.
I agree with Mike about Jaws and his “bashing”.
The Waltrips need to go away !
The great Jerry Garcia passed away 15 years ago today, and I’d like to deadicate one of his tunes, “He’s Gone”, to Rockingham, North Wilkessboro, Atlanta, Darlington and all the other tracks that have lost or will lose a date due to antiquated facilities and/or poor fan support:
“Like a steam locomotive,
The only road course I liked in NASCAR was Riverside. And that was because they drove it like a moonshine run. The track is gone. Stock cars are gone. The real drivers are gone. So, yeah, I’d rather see Sonoma and The Glen dumped for North Wilkesboro and Rockingham. Then give Auto Club’s race date BACK to Darlington.
As for road courses, if NASCAR wants a “change of pace”, then go back to racing tracks less than 1.5 miles.
I like road races. I used to go to the road races twice a year at Riverside Ca back in the 1970’s and really enjoyed it. I’d much rather see a road race than sit through one of the mind numbingly boring 1.5 mile cookie cutter races.
I say bring back a race at The Rock and at North Wilkesboro. Kansas, Chicago, Texas, Las Vegas and New Hampshire are the most boring races of the year for me.
I agree about those Waltrip brothers. I cannot even stand to listen to them anymore. But what really gets me about them is the arrogance they both have. If someone is not very good at something but are humble, I can take that. But these two guys are the worst broadcasters on TV but they are both so cocky and arrogant as if they were really good, go figure?? Plus SPEED must think we like them as they keep putting them on TV more. What a way to ruin our enjoyment of a great sport.
When we race at the same course twice in one year, we should run it backwards the second time.
Have to agree with Randy.
“but it’s also people like me that used to buy race tickets and dutifully watch every race every Sunday afternoon… but don’t anymore.”
I guess that’s why Matt only writes about how great the racing USED to be. If you no longer diligently watch on Sundays, what qualifies you to diligently write a negative article on Mondays?
Attention everyone, I am an OFFICIAL ISC representative. I am not a casual fan who made up this username to pose as an official member of ISC because obviously – that would be very difficult to achieve.
I stand by my… er, someone’s claim that Matt’s article on Thursday was way out of line! “People like you” ARE a huge problem with the perception on NASCAR. But, in spite of you, we still have our successes. (After all, we’ve keep “those kinds” out of or sport for years!)
Speaking as the OFFICIAL ISC representative on this board, I would like to thank frontstretch.com for allowing me to comment on Matt’s articles which directly impact my day to day operations at work. This forum of Nascar Nation propaganda sways the tide of the future of our sport.
If it weren’t for Matt’s “blood on our hands article” there would be no COT.
If his hatred of the points system for not awarding more points to winner didn’t appear weekly in the early 2000’s. There’d be no chase.
In fact, every decision us officials at ISC make is directly related to a comment that make so eloquently inked to paper.
“Them There” know what I’m talking about!
I don’t mind the road course races, but I’m glad there’s only two on the schedule and none in the chase. I’ll take Watkins Glen over ACS or Michigan any day. As for Darlington, I love the track and it’s my home track here in SC, but the simple fact is they couldn’t fill the stands for two races even when the economy was decent. The writing was on the wall a few years before it ever lost the Labor Day race.
Don’t start thinkin’ Pocono will listen. The Mattioli family has been in bed with NA$CAR about as long as Bruton has been around.
“I would even go one step further as to say that Matt doesnt even like racing at all anymore. When is the last time he posted a column where he said something positive? One of these days the powers-that-be at FS will realize that his column is depressing and sucks. Maybe then they will let someone else do the weekly race recap.”
No, the Powers that Be at FS will get a visit from Nascar High Command and be made an offer they can’t refuse. Then the “New Owners” will fire Matt, not pay him for articles already published, then bring in Peter Pee to ruin the site and kiss Nascars arse with new material written by Randy “Nascar Crusader” Goldman.
In regard to the attendance at the Glen, were you there? You should at least make it clear what the basis is for your assertion.
Sounds like a plan to me!
(And isn’t Randy Goldman the name of the gay prostitute in the Canadian TV series “Trailer Park Boys” which might be the funniest show ever?)
There’s a little problem with one of the other talented writers here on FS taking over the Recap article. You see I developed the format. Other websites have copied it time to time, but I originally developed it because my then boss Mike Calinoff at Stock Car City felt my race analysis pieces were too long. I carried the format along with me from SCC to Speedworld, Racing One and SpeedFX (three names for one formerly proud website which is now “gone, baby, gone.” I bought it to the RacingStalkers site, then bought it here. The format isn’t going to win me any prizes, but it works and it will follow me when I move on from here if I choose to keep doing it. Hell, I even copywrited it when the post-race reviews over at FX got too uncomfortably close to what I did for them.
When I take time off, which I do more frequently Tom often asigns another writer to take over this column with my blessing. To a man (and lady) they have all commented to me that writing this piece, even with the format pre-determined is a lot tougher than it appears reading the same column. Yeah, it can be a pain in the ass to write, but I have fun with it, and to me it’s all about fun. When it stops being fun I quit.
Now, given the nature of the Internet (information wants to be free) here’s my challenge to you. Next week after Michigan sit down and write your own race recap using my formula. (I give you my blessing and I’m calling you out to do so.) Post it in the comments section below my column. Let’s see what folks think of the job you do, what they like about it and what they don’t like. Those who can do, those who can’t criticize.
When was the last positive thing I wrote about NASCAR? I dunno. Do you want to count the 104 article history series I did on our sport hoping I could get newer fans to respect the traditions and history of the sport I love as much as I do. I’m sure you read every installment. After all you’re not a big mouthed newbie (or a Canadian hooker) I am sure.
“Yes, because being 185 points ahead is SOOOOO much more exciting than having 12 drivers separated by 50 points with 10 races to go.”
Because there has never been an amazing comeback in the last 10 races, right? Nope, never has a driver come back from, say 278 points down with 6 races to go to win a championship.
Never happened. Ever. The old days were full of boring points races that were always decided with 3 races to go, while the chase has provided us with great points battles won by many different drivers.
I couldn’t find out Randy’s last name on Trailer Park Boys but I agree it is one of the funniest TV shows ever. I also think Brain France ru(i)ns Nascar as well as Mr. Lahey runs the Sunnyvale Trailer Park! Good writing as always Matt!
Thank you Matt for replying to Randy.
I have followed you for close to 15 years at all the sites you named above and it seems that 75% of the fans who reply to your columns are positive with the few who disagree not listening TO THEIR OWN ADVICE of not reading if THEY DO NOT LIKE the content.
I wish Speed would show some older races in their “Nascar Classics” then a couple years old. There are very few instant “Classics”. If Speed would show some of the older races (10+ years) it would show the newer fans some of what us “older fans” are talking about while at the same time reminding us “older fans” that not every race was Great or a classic and yes there were some stinkers.
Sounds like after next week we will have a new author for Monday recaps. Do you think Randy Goldman will get a secret fine from FS for criticizing Matt.
Here’s how I think the schedule should be shuffled: Why not let Atlanta keep its March spring race (run it under the lights, too.) That way, you give Kentucky the Mother’s Day weekend race, and that would move Darlington and the Southern 500 to Labor Day weekend, where they rightfully belong.
Also, I think NASCAR should form a new racing series devoted exclusively to road courses. A NASCAR road course racing circuit would be a perfect racing series. It would be fantastic for drivers like Boris Said, Robby Gordon, Scott Pruett, Marcos Ambrose, etc.
Another good article Matt.Nascar says they listened to the people when they brought the let the boys go attitude. Now to me if they were listening they would still be racing at the rock,north wilksboro and darlington on labor day.If they wouldve taken the money they spent on building cali speedway and upgraded the old tracks then give them better dates maybe they wouldve filled the stands there.Nascar was built on the short track and thats what brought the fans in. Granted Bruton Smith is just as much to blame.What did north wilksboro seat 45 thousand. To me it would be a hell of lot better to sell out 45 thousand and have the stands full than to only sell not even half the seats at cali.Whats nascar gonna do when they realize that cali with only one date still can only fill half the seats
Keep the road courses and add Montreal to the schedule.
Wow, Matt sure is thin skinned this week. I like his observation that “Those who can do, those who can’t criticize.”
So Matt, what is it that you can’t do so that you criticize NASCAR every week? Get some credentials so that you can actually go to a race instead of watching on the tube?
Go Randy! Pressure’s on pal, but we’ll be reading next week.
I have been a Nascar fan for a bit over 11 years now. I am considered a relatively new fan by many standards. But thanks to different racing forums I have joined, I have been educated to Nascar before Jeff Gordon, when Dale Earnhardt was just starting to win Championships and before. These people are dedicated race enthusiasts and passed on a love of the history of the sport for me. I saw the Championship decided before the Chase and now after. I am not a fan. While the race to the Championship may have been decided, pre-Chase, months before November, race enthusiasts tend to pick favorite drivers and/or manufacturers they support, and watch each race individually to see how their driver(s) do. It made each race important because your driver was there trying to win. The Chase focuses only on those drivers in the Chase, and we lose 31 other drivers. Even if the Championship was already decided, I still enjoyed seeing how my driver would do each and every remaining race. It provided a reason for me to attend short track races around my area, and introduced me to people around the country who remain good friends via the racing and internet.
Matt’s articles have become must reading for me after the races. I do not agree with everything he writes, (I do enjoy road courses, tremendously), but I respect what he writes as I agree with more than I disagree, and occasional disagreement is good for the soul. He makes me smile, virtually every week.
As someone for years who attended the MIS race twice a year, (I am a Michigan resident), but now am down to just the early summer race, I will be watching to dissect and write on the race following Matt’s directions. MIS quite often is a boring race to watch on tv, but is anything but at the track. Unfortunately, fuel mileage is too often a big part of the win there, and then it loses something.
There is much wrong with Nascar now, and most of it won’t be changed because the almight tv dollar drives all of the decisions of BF now, but I will keep watching and keep reading.
Keep writing Matt, as there are those who love it, and your replies in the comments column have finally induced me to write also…
Hahahaha. Sure thing Matt. Take the week off… oh wait, not like you have been really working the past 22 races anyway.
ElectricPeterTorq wrote: “Because there has never been an amazing comeback in the last 10 races, right? Nope, never has a driver come back from, say 278 points down with 6 races to go to win a championship.”
Once, in 1992, in 60 years has a driver come back from 278 points down to win. And you use that as an example of how great the old points system is? Try again. 99% of the time it was a runaway and the Champ was already decided before November.
So then, is it fair to say that the Chase is a failure, because last year, Jimmie Johnson won by 141 points, while Matt Kenseth, the whole reason for the Chase, only won his championship by 90some points?
Also, close points going down to the final race… 1979-1985, 1988-1990, 1992-1993, 1995-1997, and 2002. 2003 was only a 90 point win… much less than last year’s chase. Even Tony Stewart’s 2002 cup win was by a lesser margin than the Chase of the last three years.
So, what did the Chase fix?
2003 was ONLY a 90 point win because Kenseth already locked up the Championship the previous week, and Homestead was worth nothing but a win. Remember, he killed the engine early and finished 43rd, losing a ton of the points he was leading by.
“2003 was ONLY a 90 point win because Kenseth already locked up the Championship the previous week, and Homestead was worth nothing but a win. Remember, he killed the engine early and finished 43rd, losing a ton of the points he was leading by.”
I wish every race was worth nothing but a win, with the points championship talked about only during the last few races of the year like in the days of old. Imagine the outcry if the NFL went to a points system where the Championhip was decided by accumilated points and the Cowboys won the superbowl 4 years in a row not by winning games but by outscoring the other teams during the season. “We lost the game, but had a hell of a good points day. We keep this up and we will be Champions again this year.”
I went thru the 13 articles on the front page of Frontstretch. Some are positive (PR BS), some are negative (truth). No RandyGoldman comments on any of them, except Matt’s. You would think if he wants positive, he would be posting on the positive threads. If he is so anti-negative, you would think he would be bashing all the negative threads, not just Matt’s.
Why doesn’t RandyGoldman practice what he preaches?
OK, Randy it’s on. It is SO on. Of course I reserve the right to comment on your post and show you and your opinions the same respect you show mine. Of course I’m of the sort that completed eighth grade so I’ll be using a switchblade rather than a broadaxe, but I’m salivating at the chance to see your efforts.
My guess is you either throw in the towel and can’t get the job done, or you use your famous pseudonames to praise your efforts. Dan’s Mom continues her valiant effort to remain dead, right?
LOL You da man, Matt !!
I’ll try to keep the words to a maximum of two syllables, so I dont lose ya.
You are right Kid Lighning, the old Atlanta was a lot better.