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 23, 2010
The Key Moment – It’s rare a race is won entering pit road, but Kyle Busch aggressively pushed the limit, passing leader Jamie McMurray as the two entered the pits for the final sequence of stops. The 18 team got Busch out well ahead of the No. 1 car and from there Kyle was off to the house.
In a Nutshell – Kyle Busch completed the weekend sweep, winning all three major touring series races at Bristol.
Dramatic Moment – On the restart following the fourth caution, Kyle Busch forced Jimmie Johnson into a three-wide situation with David Reutimann on the outside. Johnson backed off rather than contest the issue and that led to his eventual downfall.
Given Friday night’s theatrics, Busch trying to lap new nemesis Brad Keselowski got a bit tense.
What They’ll Be Talking About Around the Water Cooler This Week
Ticket sales at Bristol are sort of like the canary in the coal mine that were once used to signal danger to the miners. A ticket to the Bristol night race was once said to be the hardest ticket in all of sports to get and there was a long waiting list of fans eager to get their hands on one, anywhere in the Coliseum of Speed. If they can’t sell out Bristol, no track can sell out. Given the attendance at Bristol for this once popular race the canary isn’t only dead, it’s been plucked, breaded, deep fried and served up with a side of bland onion rings and a bowl of limp pickles.
Given the above fact, it was kind of tough hearing the network types constantly harp on how large the crowd was. Tonight was one of two times that the Bristol night race didn’t sell out. It would seem that in addition to secretly fining drivers for damaging “the Brand,” NASCAR is also telling its network partners to keep things positive. That’s possibly a result of ESPN admitting on air that the crowd at Indy was less than stellar. That’s fine as long as the media types choose merely to accent the positive, not make things up to cover the truth.
Some fans still bemoan the loss of the “old” Bristol, a single groove race track where rooting and gouging and laying a bumper to the driver ahead was nearly the only way to make a pass. I’m a traditionalist, but admittedly I prefer the “new” Bristol with the graduated banking and two equally fast racing grooves. Passing still isn’t easy, tempers get frayed and bumpers get banged. Frankly, I like seeing fenders rubbing and tires smoking more than watching a constant stream of cautions with wrecked race cars getting towed to the pits. That’s why they call it “racing” and not “wrecking.” Friday night’s race was about as “old school” as they come and perhaps the only reason a similar scenario didn’t play out Saturday was Busch had a dominant car and his two chief rivals (Johnson and Stewart) suffered mishaps earlier in the race.
Friday night’s Nationwide race had the fans on their feet, especially during the closing laps. Some folks were appalled, but I felt that Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski’s little back and forth argument over the lead was classic Bristol. This could be what the sport needs, a rivalry between two of the most hardheaded and disliked drivers — a Battle of the Buttheads. Fans won’t care who comes out on the losing end of the deal as long as one or the other doesn’t finish the race. If Busch and Keselowski take each other out and hand the win to Dale Earnhardt Jr., there will be dancing in the streets from Charlotte, N.C., to Birmingham Ala., and all points between.
I’ve already heard from more than a few fans that they finally had to mute their TVs to avoid throwing a bottle at it if Marty Reid mentioned one more time that Busch was “chasing history” in trying to win the trifecta. The bleating was even more annoying than the constant barrage of references to Chip Ganassi being the first owner to win the Daytona 500, the Indy 500 and the Brickyard 400 in the same season. (How many teams have tried? Two, basically.) If any driver ever threatens Richard Petty’s streak of 10 consecutive race wins set back in 1967 I’ll make an allowance for an abundance of hype. I’ve seen history made. I saw the first man set foot on the moon. I watched a president of the United States tender his resignation. I saw the Twin Towers fall. Busch’s accomplishment this weekend, while impressive, isn’t history. It’s a statistical fluke.
I usually leave the TV coverage analysis to others but there were a lot of incidents that ESPN missed entirely as they occurred and could only offer distant shots of after the fact. In the final rundown, Bristol was a perfectly serviceable race spoiled by terribly inept coverage for the fans at home.
Despite having watched history being made, it was pretty obvious the majority of the fans at Bristol didn’t feel much affection towards this Kyle Busch lad. Wednesday and Saturday’s crowd expressed their dislike pretty clearly, but the Friday night fans were particularly rabid in expressing their dislike.
Press releases indicate that Jeff Gordon’s daughter, Ella, had a hand in designing the paint scheme her daddy ran at Bristol, though NASCAR artist Sam Bass helped a bit with it too. If he doesn’t win a race again soon you have to wonder if Rick Hendrick isn’t going to offer Ella a chance to drive the 24 car. Some things get better with age; wine, big block muscle cars, blue jeans and Harleys, but Gordon isn’t one of them.
It’s become almost obligatory to gush over how nice it is to have the MRN kid’s program participants sing the National Anthem at Bristol each year. I’ll say this, those young people surely beat whoever that clown was who turned the anthem into a dirge that seemed to last longer than the race last week. And it was nice that the children wore T-shirts offering good wishes to Bristol track general manager Jeff Byrd. Get well wishes also go out to Brian Vickers, who is recovering from recent heart surgery to repair a small hole between two ventricles.
NASCAR has announced that race purses for next year’s Nationwide races will be cut by 20 percent. Wow, that ought to help struggling Nationwide-only teams, especially as they adopt the “Car of Tomorrow” in that series. But hey, it’s not like the France family that runs NASCAR owns race tracks and will benefit from the purse cut. Oh, wait a second, yes they do. A lot of them. What I want to know is if NASCAR’s sanctioning fees to hold Nationwide races at a track are also being cut 20 percent.
Maybe Brad Keselowski was knocked a bit woozy(ier) by his trip into the wall on Friday. He certainly coined a new phrase when he said after the race that because he was on probation he was “playing with a hand slapped behind my back.” I guess it beats driving at Atlanta with a roof under your head.
Most of the Ford teams decided to run the “old” engine at Bristol, not the new FR9. Most of the Ford teams weren’t particularly competitive at Bristol. Am I sensing a correlation here? The old “tried and true” stuff is great, but I’m not bringing a musket to a gun fight.
I’m still trying to explain to the stick and ball fans I know how, exactly, a driver and team in NASCAR will qualify for post-season play without winning a single event … and why the other 31 teams will still be out there. The powers-that-be are still talking about adding an elimination system to spice up the Chase. My vote would be to eliminate the Chase all together.
Ryan Newman sounded borderline psychotic in a pre-race interview. He proclaimed himself the biggest, baddest driver in the garage area and expressed a willingness to punch out anyone who wronged him. That leads to an interesting question of the “Boys, have at it” policy. To date, NASCAR has been pretty lenient with drivers hitting one another with their cars, but we haven’t had a test case involving a physical altercation after a race, especially one caught by the networks live.
The Hindenburg Award For Foul Fortune
Jimmie Johnson’s late summer swoon continues. Johnson dominated the early stages of the race, leading 175 laps, but got tagged by Juan Pablo Montoya on lap 262 and sent to the garage area for extensive repairs. He finished last among the cars listed as running at Bristol.
Denny Hamlin broke a driveshaft (maybe as a result of running over that shock absorber) and also had to hit the garage for repairs.
Mark Martin’s chances at making the Chase took a torpedo beneath the waterline with a non-competitive 23rd-place finish. In fact, it was a tough weekend for the entire Hendrick camp, which was locked out of the top 10 for the second straight race despite all four teams showing some strength early.
Tony Stewart clearly had a car fast enough to contend for a win but got rear-ended by Tony Raines while checking up for a yellow flag. Stewart later prolonged his agony by putting himself into the wall en route to a 27th-place finish.
Carl Edwards had to pit under green after his team left three lug nuts loose during a stop. While Edwards rallied back to a credible 12th-place finish, the miscue probably deprived him of a top 5. Also of note, this was the first time a driver with the initials “CE” driving a Ford finished 12th in the Bristol night race after his team left three lug nuts loose during a pit stop. You saw history being made! History, as it turns out, is a lot like sausage: it’s easier to enjoy if you don’t see the ugly process that makes it.
The “Seven Come Fore Eleven” Award For Fine Fortune
I’ve seen incidents far less severe than the one where Kyle Busch bounced his right front fender and wheel into the 26 car lead to cut down tires and wrecked race cars.
David Reutimann overcame a bad bout of food poisoning this weekend to finish second? Were eggs on the menu Thursday?
Clint Bowyer had to overcome a 24th-place starting spot and a pit road speeding penalty to finish fourth. That finish all but cemented a place in the Chase for Bowyer, though that might lead to a lot of dead airtime in ESPN’s Atlanta pre-race program.
Kasey Kahne had to overcome a deflated tire (and let’s remember he either ran over debris or melted a bead — Goodyear couldn’t possibly have had an issue with their right front tires) and subsequent pit stop to finish fifth. It sure beat his “Ride on the Side” in a shower of sparks in Friday night’s Nationwide race.
Matt Kenseth also had to overcome a tire issue (possibly caused by moonlight reflecting off a female fans mirrored earring melting his valve stem, not a potentially defective Goodyear product) on his way to a 10th-place finish.
Given the weather forecast for Bristol Saturday night, it’s amazing the race was run to its full distance with no weather interruptions. I was braced for catching the race Sunday afternoon but wasn’t thrilled by the prospect. A Bristol night race run in daylight? To borrow a phrase, it’s like an ice cream truck on a deserted street, a drummer girl who can’t keep the beat …
What’s the Points?
Kevin Harvick remains the points leader but Jeff Gordon closed to within a still-considerable 279 points of the lead.
Kyle Busch’s win vaulted him up five positions to third in the standings. More importantly, as things stand now, when the points are reset he’d trail Denny Hamlin and Jimmie Johnson by 20 points, not 30.
Johnson’s wreck sent him tumbling four spots to ninth in the standings. As noted above though, in reality, with two races left before the Chase he is in fact tied with Hamlin as the points leader.
Carl Edwards moved up two spots to fourth in the standings. Unless he wins one of the next two races, and his chances are pretty good at Atlanta, he will still start the Chase sixth, tied with five other championship “contenders” who have yet to win a race.
Matt Kenseth moved up a spot to eighth in the standings.
Hamlin and Tony Stewart each dropped two spots in the standings. They are now fifth and sixth, respectively.
What NASCAR and ESPN would like you to get all hot and bothered over is the battle for the “coveted” 12th-place position that puts a driver in the Chase with no realistic expectation of contending for a title based on their season to date. Clint Bowyer clung to that 12th-place position after Bristol. Jamie McMurray actually took over the 13th spot outside looking in, but has a monumental 100-point gap to make up in two races. Barring an early race DNF for Bowyer, it’s just not going to happen. Mark Martin dropped a position to 14th, one point behind McMurray.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. dropped to 18th in the standings so look for a surprise announcement from NASCAR that the top 20 drivers in points will make the Chase.
Overall Rating (On a scale of one to six beer cans with one being a stinker and a six pack an instant classic) I’ll give Bristol five bottles of Corona. It was a good extended week of racing with fenders bent, tempers left askew, and the pretty white outside walls left in a psychedelic shade of hues.
Next Up – The last off-weekend of the 2010 Cup schedule, as it turns out. That means I am shore bound and down. Racing resumes at Atlanta on Labor Day weekend instead of at Darlington where the race belongs, so I’ll be sitting that one out.
©2000 - 2008 Matt McLaughlin and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
I miss the old Bristol, and so do those who were not sitting in all the empty seats Saturday night. The old Bristol night race was the one throwback to the days when you did beat the hell out of each other and put the bumper to the guy who was holding you up. There is no way you could race like that each week in this era, but it was the one race where we could step into the “Way Back Machine” and catch a glimpse of the past.
There was nothing else like watching a faster car being held up and staying a fraction of an inch off the rear of the car in front, waiting lap after lap for a slip and the chance to stick the nose under the quarter panel, and if that didn’t happen a slight bump would do the trick. Watching the masters of the game was like poetry in motion, and fireworks were garon damn teed before the night was over with the action hotly debated afterwards between freinds and beers.
If there were an equivelent to a Bristol night race in Football it would be a playoff game between the Packers and Brett Favres Vikings played outdoors on real grass in a rain/sleet mix with the chance of heavy snow later in the day. Nothing like adding in a wet slippery ball, mud, cold and lack of visibility to spice up the action. I would bet a game like that would push the fan interist through the roof. Just like an old Bristol night race you could not play in those conditions each week, but those are the games that are talked about and clips shown for years.
If it were up to me the tracks of the future would be like Rusty’s track in Iowa, Rockingham of old and the classics like Daytona, Darlington and Talledega. I hate plate races but there is no way you can take away Daytona or Talledega, just like the old Bristol should still be with us.
“Some things get better with age…but Jeff Gordon isn’t one of them.”
Right – second place in the standings and just the second driver to clinch a spot in the playoffs. Talk about falling off a cliff.
I only read your sumery of the race and don’t bother watching it anymore.
Reading Matt’s summary of the race is great if you only want to read contradictions that will make your head spin…
First: “Do away with the Chase!”
Then (Sarcastically): “Gordon has closed to within 279 points of the lead”
Or the negative stuff. There were some empty seats at Bristol, so Nascar is dead. Gee Matt, think the economy may have a tad to do with that?
And finally, while I am no fan of the #18, doing something that has never been done before is, by definition, making history. Had Tim Richmond ever done what Busch accomplished this weekend, you’d still me running a column on it every week.
Almost any driver could win 3 races in all 3 series in one weekend if they punted or wrecked cars out of the way in 2 of those races.
was sitting in the grandstands and told my husband, “this is the last chance I am giving the August race at Bristol a chance to get it together”…the chase has ruined racing at the Bristol night race not the new configuration. Glad to report Bristol is still on for next year. Both races were exciting…Friday night had it all and saturday’s was the best in a long time there.
So Kyle Busch has made history by winning all three touring series races in one weekend. Big freakin’ deal. Kyle’s “trifecta” was nothing more than a binge for his oversized ego.
And Kyle Busch got his NNS win Friday night by racing dirty. Contrary to what Kyle said, he slid up short in front of Keselowski and he got hit in the rear. Brad didn’t lift nor should he have. So Kyle used that as an excuse for dumping Brad. Call it typical short track racing if you like, it was still dirty. To his credit, Brad handled the situation with maturity… he didn’t vow to dish out payback or throw a Joey Logano hissy-fit. We all know what’s coming down the road, and so does Kyle. I can’t wait.
Kyle made history by outracing three or four trucks, five or six nationwide cars, and the Sprint Cup field. The hype around this “feat” is silly and most race fans know it. Kyle’s Sprint Cup win was impressive and he does seem to have mastered the “new” Bristol. I think its fine if Harvick/Busch/Edwards et al want to run the Truck and Nationwide series, but the story shouldn’t be how impressive it is win they win but what in the hell is going on when they loose.
What I would like to see in Nationwide and Trucks is for the “Big Boys” to be required to drive only in cars that they own outright or in some second or third tier team’s equipment. If Kyle won a race in a one off piece owned by the Nelson family of Arab, Alabama, now that would be historic. Keselowski’s win in Finch’s piece at Talladega comes to mind. Kyle’s early wins in Billy Ballew would qualify. Edwards’ win in Rousch Fords and Busch’s wins in Gibbs Toyotas = duh!
The thing about the truck race that struck me was: Why is Nascar sponsoring Kyle? Why not sponsor a team that really needs the support?
I agree on liking the “New Bristol” where they can race side by side and not just play follow the leader. Also agree with you on the 20% reduction of Busch purse. Nascar great way to do away with start and parkers, while at the same time encouraging new teams to enter the sport and series.(sarcasm)
I am a Rowdy fan and believe the “trifecta” was something to see, also agree that Like Chip and his “historic” wins this season, both are something that very few try and even fewer have the chance to win.
While I agree that in the Busch series Kyle has the best equipment and more money then most, I also believe that most of the records today in nascar are held by drivers that had the best equipment and more money then most when they made history. Look at alot of the records “The King” holds, back then only a few drivers raced all the races and went for the championship. He had the most money and the best equipment and is praised for beating lesser teams. Yes this was all in the “Grand National” series “Cup” today, but they raced 60+ races and alot of those were 100-200 lap short track races, a little like the Busch series.
Let my also say that while I am a Rowdy fan, I DID NOT LIKE him dumping Brad friday night. I thought that was GREAT short track racing until he dumped Brad. Brad raced him HARD and did not give an inch (Brads style) and got into Kyle after/during slide job(Good Hard Racing). Kyle could have rubbed him to show displeasure, DID NOT HAVE TO DUMP. Both drivers raced very clean and Kyle made sure to stay off of Brad till contact had been made.
Matt can always be counted on for the true hard hitting news , not the blather that most bloggers produce . I mean …. i’ll bet there are some race bloggers who would happily waste column space reporting on a completely made up bit of fluff from a drivers press agent concerning a little girls’ artistic ability . Way to keep it real Matt .
Kyle did a great job in winning all three races . Even more impressive is the fact that he came very close to doing it 5 or 6 times before times befoe .
If Kyle were still at HMS he would not have won the trifecta.
Jeff Gordon raced the flame Dupont car at Bristol. Ella Sophia helped design “Pappa’s Car” for the Atlanta race. Get your facts straight before you print them.
Glad to hear someone call out the TV coverage this week. With so many cameras at such a short track, I can’t understand how so much contact and so many passes were missed. Yes, there can be a lot going on at once at Bristol, but at least you should have a good replay of the action if you missed it live.
It would have been nice if ESPN had actually showed the race on TV. although I miss the “old” bristol and hate the chase, in between commercials, the viewers at home got a glimpse of what might have been decent racing. I’m still glad I was able to go there once before the chase, before the reconfig to the track and before the COT. I wouldn’t bother to go back now.
BTW – I don’t think Gordon is washed up either. Would I enjoy it more if he were winning a lot again — you bet! But he’s not out there running 20th every week and is 2nd in points, so I think saying he’s washed up is a bit much.
Kyle has a lot of talent, its a shame that he acts like such a jerk. And the “trifecta” is just nonsense and more hype on the part of all the TV broadcasters.
Martin, Why would Matt want to actually watch the race?! I mean if he watched it he might accidentally slip in some pertinent facts. We wouldn’t want that would we? Its much easier to be negative and boring when you don’t have to talk about the race.
Matt’s comments: prejudiced to the max.
Most of the responses: ditto.
I’m done reading this drivel.
- 30 –
The one thing that got me is that ESPN acted like the ‘owner’ Gibbs also got the sweep, in fact that is exactly what the lady said, but not the case. ‘What does it feel like to get the sweep as an owner Gibbs?’ Uh, I didn’t own all three entries, …..should have been his answer.
Marybeth is still in denial.
Nothing broke in the 88 car.
The only thing that is broken in the 88 car is the driver.
Mark said: And i got news for the “he only did it by knocking other drivers out of the way“ crowd. Theres a whole lot more to winning a race than one incident on one lap. The races at Bristol go on for many, many, many laps and a driver has to be leading at the end to win.
Right you are..and in order to lead he had to punt 2 different drivers to win 2 of the races.
Matt said: as for Kyle having the most money or best car, he has neither.
Are you serious? Gibbs Toyotas have been dominant in the NW series for the past few years and they have just as much money as Hendrick/Roush/Childress.
Matt said: Right now the Toyota engine is down on power compared to the Chevrolet, and even the new Ford.
Is that why Kyle has won 10 NW races. Yeah, that power is way down.
Come on man, stop drinking the Kool Aid. This 3 peat has only been tried a few times in the sports history because the truck series has only been around since ’95 and Cup regulars don’t feel the need to stroke their egos by going into the other series. Do you not think Gordon/Stewart would have done this already if he really wanted to.
To me the 3 wins this week are that. Wins. It’s a nice accomplishment for Kyle himself, but it is far from greatness.
Kyle winning the truck race and the N-Wide is akin to shooting fish in a barrel…sorry. Now, if a Truck or N-Wide regular won all three that would be special.
I like Jeff, but really he is in last place when the farce begins, isn’t he?
If the litmus test for being washed up is no wins then Jeff Gordon has lots of company… Stewart, Edwards, Kenseth, Burton, and the list goes on since only 10 of the top 35 drivers have won this year.
We are some of the people who did not get to see the race Sat.nite. We are still mad!!Our ABC decided to show a pre season football game!! If NASCAR is paying for ABC to show the race how can they not show it? We called our cable co. and they said they have no control over what shows ABC decides to show! Do you have any suggestions of what we can do? SO anyway we really enjoyed your column today.Oh, I misses you guys comments during the race. I could only get Nascar .com.Which is betterThen nothing. So I really enjoyed your column this A.M. Thanks so much.We love our NASCAR and really missed not getting to see SPRINT at BRISTOL
Matt said: “I’m a traditionalist, but admittedly I prefer the “new” Bristol with the graduated banking and two equally fast racing grooves.”
Holy cow! Stop the presses. Matt said he actually likes something new and changed! Has anyone checked the temperature of Hell lately?
Matt said: “My vote would be to eliminate the Chase all together.”
And then he’s right back to his usual Eeyore, with a comment about the Chase out of left field.
Matt said: “If his name was Dale Snodgrass he’d be driving as a start and parker next year.”
But thankfully, he redeems himself with this comment of the year. Thank you Matt!
The Earnhardt fans hae got to be the biggest hypocrites in the sport! Dale Sr. routinely dumped drivers if they were in his way. Result? Seven championships and the Hall of Fame and canonization by the fans. Dale Jr. can’t race his way out of a paper bag, but he “remains popular.” Give it up people. As another columnist quite succinctly put it, “Kyle Busch may be an arse, but he sure kicked yours.”
Bette, It’s actually the other way around, ABC pays NASCAR for the rights to air the race (and hopes to make that money back by selling commercials). If you didn’t see tne race in your region, call the ABC affiliate in your nearest local market and let them know how you feel. Someone there decided that preseason football was more important than the Bristol race. The cable company takes that local ABC station’s signal and passes it along to your home, so unless you have a dish or some other way to access the network feed directly you are out of luck.
Bill B – Were you referring to Matt’s comments or mine on Jeff G? I was being facetious – I agree 100% on the consistency rather than a 10 race chumpionship.
Say what you will about Johnson’s “swoon” When the chase starts he’ll be starting up front. This has become all too familiar. Most of the drivers trying to make the chase will not go all out to win. They take no chances. That’s one reason the chase is a joke. The first 26 races are all about jockying for position, no winning.
Geez Louise I sure am glad I don’t hate what I do as much as the author.
Bubba, Kyle Busch said that something broke on Jr.‘s car. He was coming up behind him.
matt, why are you boycotting the AMS labor day race? sure it’s not darlington, but at least it’s back in the south.
Bette – I too had a “fit” when I couldn’t find the race. We should have had it on Ch. 27 from Madison WI. I called Charter and they were no help. My husband remembered we had the same problem last year so checked the “900” channels and found it on 967. You might want to write that down as it will probably happen again next year!
MaryBeth, maybe if Jr. got off his arse during the week and tested more, instead of drinking adult beverages on mondays like he said after the “fixed Daytona NW race, he wouldn’t have to R&D during an actual race. But then again, Kyle’s been kicking Jr.‘s arse ever since he was moved out of HMS for a T-shirt selling driver with God-given average at best talent. FYI… MaryBeth, 7 more races until the “88 Races WithOut A Win” T-shirts go on sale! Have you pre-ordered yours yet MaryBeth?
By no means am I a Kyle Busch fan but I watched him sign autographs at anderson speedway for a couple hours sitting in the 95 degree sun gained alot of respect for him then,plus he visits alot of short tracks thru out the year which help their attendance . As far as him knocking someone out of the way to win was always why bristol soldout It was also reported that the pocono crowd that nascar said was 100000 was more like 48000 . Must be the same people giving numbers there that are at cali
Any chance that the 20% reduction in NW purses may allow the Series to return to it’s roots? (Hickory, South Boston, Myrtle Beach, Nazareth <ok maybe not Nazareth.)
Also, the kids are sponsored by MRO (Motor Racing Outreach), not MRN.
@Richard in N.C. – I couldnt have put it better myself. It must be miserable to spend your life covering a sport that you obviously dont like.
@ All you K.B. haters think winning in all three series on the same weekend is no big deal. But, still HE IS THE ONLY ONE TO EVER DO IT!!! Nice job Kyle, way to go!
Overated, And I ask myself for all of your vehemence comes from? Is paid, skin in the game, how much…?