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.
I’ve been roaming this earth over half a century now so little surprises me, but there are still things I never expected to see or see again. I never thought I’d see two young people in love spending more time texting each other rather than speaking on the phone where they could enjoy the sound of one another’s voices. Back in the dark days of the Mustang II (a Pinto going out for Halloween as a Mustang) I never thought I’d ever see a new Mustang with over 400 horsepower again, nor did I think one day a six-popper Mustang would produce over 300 horses. And I surely never thought I’d see a day when a fan could walk up to the ticket gate at Bristol the evening of the Night Race and purchase a ticket.
Yes, there was in fact a fair amount of folks at Bristol on Saturday night as noted by the typical band of NASCAR apologists, syncopates and toadies. There were in fact more folks on hand than will attend any NFL game this season. ABC estimated the crowd size at 100,000. I’ve read laughable opinions that as many of 140,000 fans showed up. (Maybe they were all under the grandstands shopping with Jillian Zucker?) Even given the most optimistic estimates, and again I put as much stock in the higher number as I do on advice from cold call stockbrokers and online astrology sites, that means there were ten thousand empty seats at Bristol where there used to be a waiting list longer than that of fans desperately wanting a seat for the night race. Where’d everybody go?
According to Bristol track officials, 62 percent of fans who declined to renew their tickets for the big race cited the economy as the chief reason. I don’t know how scientific that sampling was, but I can believe that number. Of course if reached by a Bristol employee asking why I chose not to renew, A) I’d be pretty impressed they actually cared, and B) most people being polite, I’d guess more are going to say “the economy” rather than, “I’m pretty damned pissed off you jackasses won’t let me light up a smoke in an outdoor arena” or “Last year when I came the race was just awful and I’m not wasting anymore money on a race ticket until the last car of tomorrow is pushed into the depths of the sea.”
Yeah, the economy is tough right now. I’m not immune from that, nor are the people I am close to, some of whom are out of jobs, struggling to pay the mortgage or nursing tired old cars and trucks along on a shoestring because they can’t afford to replace them. But most of them still go on at least one vacation annually. Maybe it’s Ocean City rather than Myrtle Beach or the Keys, but they still go. In fact the two people I know who complain the most about being broke have gone on a dizzying array of vacations this year. I guess I’m lucky. I prefer Ocean City to Myrtle Beach. I can have a fine vacation just riding the scoot with the sun on my back, eating at KFC, and sleeping (late) in my own bed each night. The car and truck are paid for, as are the bike and the Pontiac and I don’t even have a credit card. So yeah, people are still going on vacation and for some folks “vacation” used to be race weekends.
But using the “economy” excuse begs the question “so why are TV ratings down too?” After all Saturday night’s race was on network TV meaning even those who had to cut out cable TV could have watched for free. I mean if these folks can’t afford to attend races, but are still NASCAR fans, why aren’t they watching on TV? Sure, there’s other ways to follow a race: on the internet, on your cell phone (if you have one of the cursed things) or on the radio, but the same is true for NFL games and NFL ratings aren’t in the crapper.
A lot of tracks, Bristol included, have finally admitted they priced a lot of fans out of attending their races back in the salad days of the sport when there were waiting lists for tickets. With knowledge and fore-planning they priced out the blue collar fans who had been attending their races for generations. To their credit most tracks have tried hard to win over the fans by lowering ticket prices, sometimes radically, in an attempt to convince race fans catching a race is no more expensive than taking the family to the movies and a sitdown dinner at a restaurant with cloth napkins and no drive-thru window, or renting a ski boat for the day down at the shore.
That’s all well and good for fans who live within easy driving distance of the track (and if I ran a track that’s who I’d be courting most heavily). The folks at Bristol note that the ironically named “hospitality” industry is a big part of their problem. Bristol is in a pretty remote area and there aren’t a whole lot of hotel and motel rooms, so the hotels closest to the track charge exorbitant fees and even some of them a good distance away jack their rates out of site and require three or four night minimum stays. I’m all for free enterprise but sometimes, like when retailers triple the price of plywood, generators and bottled water when a hurricane approaches, well, some folks deserve to be found with a single round to their head in the dumpster behind their businesses after the storm rolls through.
It behooves the track, local and state governments, and other area businesses to try to encourage and, if necessary, strong-arm concessions from the hospitality industry on race weekends. A NASCAR race pumps a lot of dollars into the local economy and the state economy. It helps provide jobs in these gloomy times, for waitresses, bar owners, and so on right down to the folks who make a little extra cash letting folks park in their front yards near the tracks. Some overtime hours and the extra tip money from the Pocono race weekends are a Godsend to a friend of mine who is a waitress in that area and is trying to raise three kids, one of them with Autism, as a single mom. Sally tells me that race weekends aren’t what they were for her even a few years back.
I truly feel that traffic woes are one of the unsung reasons that fans have stopped going to races. I hear from annoyed and even furious fans on the matter weekly. It takes some marketing work to convince a fan to bring his family or buddies to their first Cup race. Then that group misses the first fifty laps of the race because they weren’t expecting traffic to be so bad and it takes them three hours just to get out of the parking lot after the race. You know what? They probably won’t be back. If they get their car mired in a dirt and grass parking lot after a storm passes through the area and have to wait six hours and pay hundreds of bucks to get towed out of the swamp, they surely won’t be back and after hearing of their nightmarish experience their friends and coworkers probably won’t be going to the next race either.
I love the fact the local cops are trying to wrestle more money from Bruton Smith for security and traffic control which incidentally they suck at. Send in the state cops. Lots of them. Given the money those two races pump into the New Hampshire economy it only makes sense, and my guess is the troopers would appreciate the overtime and spend more freely as well. Wait until the politicians see the hit the area economy takes and the jobs lost if Bruton decides to move one of those NHIS dates to Las Vegas next year. I’m not a patient guy in traffic and my bladder isn’t what it used to be. For me traffic was always the worst part of attending a race professionally or personally.
But the fact remains if the racing itself was better, fans would get a second job to pay for those tickets and hotel rooms. They’d park in remote locations and hike miles to get to the track. They’d sit in hour long traffic jams still buzzing about what a great race they saw. Been there done that, bought the thirty dollar T-shirt. Not all races are going to be classics and they never have been. But the current ratio of clinkers to classics is so bad the idea of spending all that money and time only to wind up bored, unhappy and leaving the track at the halfway point to avoid some of the traffic doesn’t make sense. One of the things I always watch during races are how many people are filing out of the grandstands and how many cars are on the access roads exiting the track prior to the finish of the race. Of course when Dale, Tony or Jeff drop out of a race there’s a mass exodus of their fans, but even without problems for the big three I’ve noticed a decided uptick in the early departers even over the last few years.
I’m not a huge fan of baseball to put it politely. Most ball games I see are because they are on in the background at some tavern where I’m kicking back a few cold ones with the usual suspects. But I’d equate the current state of NASCAR to the dark days of the Phillies, a team once so hapless that when they won a game you had to wonder if the other team lost to them out of sympathy. But all of a sudden the Phillies are hot. They make it to post-season play. They won the World Series (talk about another thing I never thought I’d see again). The players are an interesting and colorful bunch of fellows. Even when they’re down six runs in the eighth you dare not leave early because the big guns might just start firing again and they might pull it off. And recently “the Bank” as local sportscasters call that stadium enjoyed their 100th straight sellout. HMMM. Is there a lesson here?
To cite another example, by the standards of FM radio play and album sales the Grateful Dead never did that well. But for decade after decade a ticket to see the Dead was one of the hardest to score in all of rockdom. You had to sleep on the sidewalk for nights before tickets went on sale or pay scalpers’ prices to see Jerry and the Band. Why? Because night after night the Dead put on a great show. Because the Dead stuck to what they did best (and they weren’t the best at what they did, they were the only ones that did what they did). They didn’t branch out into disco, hip hop and pop trying to win newer and trendier fans with more disposable income. The fans who grabbed up all those tickets were the loyalists. They didn’t have to be sold on the “product.” They knew what they were getting. And being at one of those shows it was impossible not to get the vibe the band appreciated their fans, not if you ever felt the surge of energy and heard the roar of the crowd during the opening notes of Box of Rain, Atlhea or Wharf Rat.
Is it the Chase, the new car, the new generation of drivers, the new TV coverage or some other factor or combination of factors that’s killing interest in NASCAR? I can’t say for sure. I’ve seen a lot of things I never expected to see. Unless they fix this mess, I might be around to see the final NASCAR race too and I surely never thought or hoped for that.
©2000 - 2008 Matt McLaughlin and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
I never received a call or e-mail after dropping my Bristol Tickets this year after having for 14yrs. If they would of ask me it was not the economy(yes times are tough, but if the racing was better I would have found the money) The last couple of years I have went and camped and watched on TV, and had a hard time GETTING FACE VALUE out of the Night Race tix (when scalpers are only getting 1/2 to 3/4 face value). And forget about selling Spring tix when you can be fighting snow and low’s in the 20’s.
There were 20 people in our group with 5 ticket holders and not one of us was contacted about why we dropped our tickets.
I’ve never been contacted about why I dropped my tickets either. However, my email in box still gets loaded with info from AMS. Charlotte and ‘Dega about race weekends and other activities at the tracks, especially at AMS. I know AMS once sent me info about “payment plan” to entice folks to renew their tickets, and they stopped demanding their money 9 months prior to event.
I know here in GA, the state patrol handles all off track traffic control. However, with the lack of funds in the state budget, there aren’t as many troopers who work race weekend, and they’re not there as early. State doesn’t have the overtime budget. I’m sure a “political contribution” or contribution to the state police charity fund helps.
I know when AMS recently lost the spring race, it was reported in news here that the govenor did petition na$car to rethink the decision, as it will have such a huge impact on the economy. Not specifically the price gouging, but on the employment of part-time workers for race weekend and the increased business for all those businesses within 50 miles of the track. I live 45 minutes west of AMS and on race weekend, even restaurants and hotels where I live would be booked and full.
I discovered a few years ago it was cheaper to nap at home and I didn’t have to wait to use restroom or stand in line for food/beverage. The only schlepping I had to do was from the car truck to the house when I bought groceries.
“Unless they fix this mess, I might be around to see the final NASCAR race too and I surely never thought or hoped for that.”
Before anyone starts ripping Matt a new one on this, go read this weeks Autoextremist (Fumes entry).
Matt. I agree with you. you are right on the top of it. I also will thro my regrets into the pot that has caused me to become less interested. 1. Since Brian France took over (have to put the ball in his court), racing has gotten more SHOW BUSINESS vs. RACING BUSINESS.2, The chase is garbage. Since some people complained that a champion is not a champion if he only wins one race on not win a race. Championships have always been based on consistantcy. Big Bill wanted cars there every week to race. As you know the early days, some car owners only raced now and then. 3, Double file restart is terrible. Drivers, Car owners and Sponsors don’t like it, because it tears up so many cars. It’s also a negitive safety factor. 4,Cookie cutter cars. where only decals and “C panels change the looks of a Chev, Ford or whatever. 5, The rules. There is avery small window for any creative engineering to make a car handle better or have more speed. I remember reading a slogan painted under a hood of a car “If your are cheating,You are not creative”. To me that takes talent. When NASCAR stops dishing out certain springs,shocks and spoilers and let the teams use their creative engineering. Note! One thing I like about the COT is the safety features. Last, Be consistant in laying down the ground rules for all competitors, (not special drivers).
HOW OLD is this article? This is far from the first Bristol night race that hasn’t been a sell-out.
I mean read the first paragraph! Certain careers require you to stay up-to-date to be successful: Law, Nutrition, Education, Fashion, and I thought Journalism.
I bet Matt still emails from his desktop, has a land-line with a long distance calling plan, and apparently gets his DAY OLD NEWS from chatting by the water cooler at work (after those of us smartwater drinking folks have gotten bored of tweeting about the subject)
Matt its 2010… Take a visit to Doc Brown and catch-up!
For anyone interested in the article Chicken Plucker referenced above, here is the link:
It seems that Chevy and Ford are finally admitting that the COT has no value to their marketing and research and developement programs. Hmmm, imagine that.
Good point Randy, Bristol races have sucked for several years now. Great reference to the Greatful Dead and their fans… Nascar certainly screwed the pooch by forcing all the long term fans out of attending races.
Randy, people like you who look down on others for not twittering their “peeps” constantly about what color shoes they’ve just bought are the exact reason NASCAR is hemhorraging fans.
Look it up…Bristol sold out 55 straight races until 2010.
Sorry for the long post but I read something interesting about 3 weeks ago and was saving it to share with everyone.
Add Sprint in with GM and Ford as a sponsor who might be figuring out that NASCAR might not be the best marketing tool.
I have heard not heard nor read anything from Sprint on this. But there was an article in Yahoo news that for the first time in many years, Sprint did not lose customers.
Since the Sprint / Nextel merger, Sprint has been not been losing customers – they have been hemorrhaging customers. The reasons for the losses were the iphone, customer satisfaction, and prepaid cells.
Now Sprint is barely losing customers – in fact compared to the other big wireless providers, they are actually gaining. The reasons for the growth are due to Sprint being the first with 4G, the introduction of the Google Android phone, and improved customer satisfaction.
Notice that neither their gains nor losses were affected AT ALL by their association with NASCAR. Actually there is almost a reverse trend: as NASCAR ratings slip, Sprint’s position improved.
So if you are Sprint’s Management and you have a few million to spend: A) Do you spend it on sponsoring a sport with declining ratings and fan base; B) putting up more towers so that your customers have better and faster service; C) investing in a better Android phone to battle the iphone.
Honestly if I were Sprint, I would have to say either option B or C – which per the other article is what GM and Ford are basically determining as well.
Note: I switched this year from AT&T to Sprint. Why: Pricing (for $5 more I get unlimited everything (Hey Matt: Give me your cell phone number so we can text!!!)) and the Android phone. Again notice that my decision was not based on their association with NASCAR.
Matt… this just in…
Oh wait, i forgot, with all the negativity and pessimism in your articles you probably don’t believe that happened either, do you?
Anyone else find it ironic that Bill and Gordon82 are bashing technology on an online nascar forum?
We need to go back to the good old days when the only people that had to hear people’s dumb opinions were the one’s within earshot.
Traffic is no worse now than it ever was . In fact , it’s less because far fewer people are going to the races and the two lane roads of the 60s have largely become four or even six lanes .
One of the many things that get me about the “new nascar” is these newer tracks complaining about the weather when it starts getting a little hot or cold. Look at the “old school” fans many in the southeast who went to the races in the cold and extreme heat(been to Bristol, for both snow, low’s in teens, and high’s near 100 with 90+ humidity) and while miserable was damn glad to be there. Try that with most fans at one of the tracks opened in the last 10-15 years.
I attended that last race before Bristol was reconfigured which also happened to have been the first race that the COT was run there. It was a snoozer. Which tells me it’s the car that’s the problem, it wasn’t the track. Then came the reconfiguration and the races haven’t improved any. Why? because of the COT. And just like the old days the only time things really get exciting is when there are wrecks. Just look at all the media coverage about last weekend. It wasn’t about tight racing or how exciting it was. It was about either Busch sweeping the weekend or him and Bad Brad.
As to the Autoextremist article, unless somebody in Daytona Beach awakens from their comatose state, Matt’s right on what’s going to happen to NA$CAR.
One thing not really covered in this article is the abundance of cookie cutter 1.5 and 2 mile tracks. For me, the racing on these tracks will be the death of Nascar. Pocono is even a little exciting because the track is something different, although only one race a year, and a 400 miler at that, is all there needs to be.
The COT is a work in process. Nascar really screwed up with the no testing policy, and with having such a tight box for the car & crew chiefs to work within. If they allowed testing at certain tracks the Thursday before race weekend, and allowed for more tinkering, I think the racing would improve. The move to the spoiler has made the racing better I think. And rumored changes to the front of the car and the splitter might help the manufacturers somewhat. What I don’t get is why are the manufacturers trying to sell a certain car instead of a brand? Ford & Chevy engines are used in the Grand Am series, but I don’t think there’s the model indentification there either. But it sure does showcase the engine power and reliability.
As for attending races, I live in SoCal and have put up with 105 degree heat in Fontana at Labor Day (no mention from me about how this race should be in Darlington – that was a HUGE foul-up by Nascar). The wife and I have attended every Fontana race since 2005 when we started watching. Also, we’ve been to Phoenix (Nationwide & Cup races) and Vegas (truck races) numerous times. And to Bristol and to Talladega. We’ve made it a priority to see the races, but for next spring we’re likely going to skip Fontana because the racing just isn’t good there. I understand some people like the high speeds and wide racing lanes, but personally, give me tracks a mile and smaller, with good banking for stock cars, where there’s action on the track. And I’ll admit to liking restrictor plate races too, because they’re dang exciting. Sure, they’re a demolition derby at times, but plate racing is a skill and it is something to behold.
Anyway, that’s my two cents. And as a final thought – having a casino is no reason to move a race to another boring cookie cutter track. BF – are you listening? Sadly, I don’t think so.
Michael in SoCal,
I went to the fall race at Fontana last year with 3 friends, and this year I received calls from the track asking if I was coming to the February race or the October race this year. I did tell them point blank I was upset the fall race was shortened to 400 miles and I wasnt getting my money’s worth. I havent gone to the February race because its my wife’s birthday weekend. She’s not a NASCAR fan and yes she wears the firesuit in the family most of the time. Next year when there is only one Fontana race and its in March, I’ll be going for sure. And I’ll have fun meeting the SPEED personalities, the drivers, and watching the “action” on the track.
On a side note, I find it hilarious that some people say its better to sit at home in comfort and watch the race on TV, and some people say we should get off the couch and the computer and go out and meet our friends in person. Is that irony?
Matt writes some great stuff and you guys/gals get all riled up! This (and the Monday addition )is a must read for me every week.
We started going to Nascar races 4 years ago. We have gone to Darlington, Martinsville, Charlotte and Richmond. Darlington, which is 35 minutes away and Martinsville are crossed off out list because they are not handicapped friendly or the traffic is just plain horrible. We like Charlotte and love Richmond. We attend Charlotte because it is just a short drive from my brother’s house and the racing is good. We are season ticket holders ar Richmond, consider it the most fan friendly track, and has fantastic racing. To us,the fact that the track has a shuttle from downtown, is a great example of how fan-friendly they are. We stay at the same hotel and the price is 15 bucks more than on a non race weekend. We thought about going to Bristol last week, but the accommodations prices were a joke. Next stop would have been Homestead, but JR not making the chase has put that onto the back burner until next year.
Here are a few paragraphs from extremist. If you care about Nascar racing then you sure as hell need to read the whole thing.
“The question is, just how much longer can NASCAR go about its business locked in a permanent haze of denial and irrelevance, acting like the dinosaur that didn’t get the “imminent destruction” memo way back when? How much longer can NASCAR withstand the declining in-person attendance, the plummeting TV ratings and the general apathy growing among what once was its hard-core fans? Juggling the schedule here and there and calling it good is not going to cut it with these new regimes at GM and Ford, I can assure you.
These manufacturers expect to be met more than half-way at this point, and if that doesn’t happen, there will be new opportunities and horizons to explore.
And given NASCAR’s now-legendary adverse reaction to anything “not invented here” and their idea of being “responsive” – meaning such a glacial pace of change that it’s all but imperceptible – there’s a very real chance they could be be left out in the cold.”
Not only did Bristol not ask why I didn’t renew my tickets, they keep sending me E mail? After fighting to stay awake thru the races the past 3 years, I finally decided that a Bristol race that more closely resembles MIS with traffic isn’t what I was willing to drive 13 hours to see. The COT changed racing there, as did the chase. Whether the racing there is better now or not, it wasn’t what I bought tickets to see…bumping and grinding on the most unique track in Nascar. Never thought I’d see the day when I had no motivation to see a live night race at Bristol.
Whole problem is few race to win…it ‘race for the chace’. On a side note, no smoking at Bristol is a Tennessee state law, not the tracks.
We go to both races in Daytona and park in the Lake Lloyd area. We go to the local Publix to buy groceries for the races on the first day, then come back to our RV and stay there for the duration of the race week. We no longer sit in the grandstands, we put a race deck on top of the Rv,carry a small TV up to watch the replays, listen MRN call the race and have a blast. We don’t pay the exhorbitant costs for food and drink – we’ve bought our own for a reasonable price and put the cooler on top of the RV with drinks and sandwiches. If you need a bathroom break, you can climb down and go into our clean bathroom. Yes, it is expensive to park there, but we make great friends, have a good time and enjoy the racing. We may never sit in grandstands at any race again because it is uncomfortable, expensive, and the racing can be boring. But we still go more for the socializing than the racing.
I think the main problem with Nascar is how gimmicked and “wwe” it feel nowadays. Phantom cautions, wave arounds, lucky dogs, poor commentating which is centered around something called Digger, the chase, bonus points for some races but not others. All of this adds up to piss the true fan off. And lets not get into the schedule changes theyve made in the last 5 years.
The sport is too gimmicked, the management is out of touch with the fanbase, and its not getting any better.
Here’s another quote from Fumes.
Sound familiar? Reminds me of the song “one sided conversations with a narrow-minded wall.”
Very good analogies, Matt. I would also throw in there, though, that not only is it the McTracks and the McCar, but also the McDrivers that are turning fans off.
Matt: You said… But using the “economy” excuse begs the question “so why are TV ratings down too?”
I just read all 27 post and several actually hit on good points… but to the long time true NASCAR fan these blips, I feel, really just keep the causal fan at bay.
yankeegranny almost hit the perverbial nail on the head when he said… “Next stop would have been Homestead, but JR not making the chase has put that onto the back burner”…
Yes… this is the problem with NASCAR… JR is a loser and because of this the “Red Army” of days past are abandoning ship…
Lets face it… Thats how much pull JR has… or shall I say had!!!
When Dale Sr passed all his fans went straight to JR and the “Red Army” was born… Then in 2004 when traction control was pulled away from JR he started his down hill slide… don’t believe me, just check out his stats since 2004…
Then JR decided he wanted to be a man when he battled his stepmom for control of DEI… thats when I lost respect for him… not only as a racer but as a man…
If he had stuck it out DEI would probably still be DEI and one day JR would have been at the control of DEI…
I attend 4 to 5 races a year… the racing is still great, the price gouging has become worse, I still buy tickets from scalppers at 50% to 75% of face value, traffic I horrible, but I still get to watch the best Viewer Friendly Sport in the World… especially when they let me bring my own beer into a race…. try doing that at Yankee Stadium…
Bring Labor Day racing back to Darlington and get STOCK back in to naScar!!!
The “Red Army” is no more…
Which I believe is a HUGE reason for TV ratings being down and stands not filling up…
NASCAR….. please give JR back his traction control so he can start winning a few races again and I can stop listening to all these babys cry about how bad NASCAR is…
oh… one last thing… Brain France has got to go!
has it ever occured to you that Nascar has peaked in popularity?Nascar bolted to number 2 in sports behind only the NFL in the 90’s!We had great racin’ tracks like Wilkesboro,Rockingham and the smaller series were racin’ at venues like Hickory,South Boston,Myrtle Beach and Orange County! Now we’re stuck with cookie cutter 1 1/2 milers,flat as a flitter Indy,and something called The Chase!!The smaller series are no longer at the bullrings and the cup drivers have made the Nat series a friggin joke!! okay,i’ll be quiet now,thx Matt for lettin me vent.
Two things to chew over: 1. The Chase. Say what you want, but I find it very, very difficult to stay interested in a sport where the winner is almost certainly decided when there is 1/3 of the season remaining. Unless Harvick has a total meltdown, he will be hosting the trophy at Homestead.