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 September 13, 2010
The Key Moment – Kyle Busch made a late-race surge after teammate Denny Hamlin, but licked all the red off his M & M’s candy (and burned all the good out of his Goodyears) in a determined charge that ultimately fell short.
In a Nutshell – Not too much drama other than ESPN hopelessly beating a dead horse, claiming that Bowyer was balanced on the edge of a razor trying to make the Chase when he’d all but secured his place in the title hunt by halfway. But there was some good old fashioned side-by-side racing and passes for the lead all the same.
Dramatic Moment – When leader Denny Hamlin got caught up in lapped traffic in the final 25 laps of the race, Kyle Busch was able to get right up to his bumper and for several circuits could have knocked the No. 11 out of his way. Even a clearly concerned Joe Gibbs didn’t seem certain how that was going to play out.
What They’ll Be Talking About Around the Water Cooler This Week
Not too much of anything, I’m afraid, given the recent lack of notable news NASCAR-wise, which is especially troubling heading into this sport’s playoffs. Wondering whether Mattias Ekstrom was going to get the nod to drive the No. 83 Red Bull Toyota didn’t keep too many hardcore race fans awake late at night trembling with anticipation.
I guess the biggest news in NASCAR this week is what’s not happening. Wal-Mart will not be the primary sponsor for Jeff Gordon and the No. 24 team next season despite protracted negotiations that lasted most of the summer. Maybe Rick Hendrick refused to have his cars built in Red China to save money because it would put Americans out of work? Truthfully, I never felt that Gordon and Wal-Mart were a good fit to begin with. My guess is he doesn’t run down to Wally World for charcoal, paper plates, and Dixie Cups when he’s having guests over for dinner. He probably has such affairs catered, living comfortably in a city (Manhattan) that doesn’t exactly have that type of store on the street corner.
The news, of course leaves a four-time championship team with no primary sponsor for the 2011 season. But I wouldn’t panic, they’ll find someone… just perhaps at fire sale pricing compared to the salad days of the sport. Wishing to help as always, I am willing to pay the sum of one hundred dollars, payable in U.S. cash, unmarked non-sequential bills on demand to have the No. 24 team run the “Save the Endangered Harley Riders… Get Off Your Damned Nextel and Drive!” logos I have designed for Daytona next year.
Was the roar of the crowd after the race a tribute to local boy Hamlin… or his detractors expressing their glee Kyle Busch had lost again?
A fond farewell to our fair-weather football fellow fans who only follow NASCAR racing until the NFL regular season kicks off. We’ll see ya’ll next year… maybe. I truly hope your season generates more excitement this year than ours has to date. And even for the rest of you, remember to check the batteries in those remotes because upcoming races are likely to have you channel surfing over to another network to see how the local team is doing.
It ought to be an interesting week in the Comments section below and around the ‘net as we find out what some fans truly want as opposed to what they actually want. Yes, Richmond was a bit short on drivers throwing helmets, threatening to brawl, and questioning one another’s ancestry. That’s WWE stuff. There was, in fact, a lot of side-by-side racing and passing for the lead, featuring a protracted battle between Hamlin and Clint Bowyer who traded the top spot five times. With only three cautions (one for rain) there weren’t a lot of restarts, and there was no late-race debris caution (I guess NASCAR is still stinging from Hamlin calling them out on that one) to add artificial drama. But I was satisfied. I saw a stock car race, albeit one that didn’t have me on the edge of my seat. Other folks are going to say it was boring, the same folks who missed 25 caution periods during the Bristol night race. Some of you are going to say I’m letting Richmond off easy because I like the track. Hell, yeah, I like the track. What’s not to like? If they ran the season as a thirty-race schedule with all events held at Richmond, I’d watch every one.
Apparently, all the drivers and owners in the Cup garage got the memo. This is going to be the closest, most exciting Chase ever, not a seventh repudiation of Brian France’s ill-considered unwieldy method of determining a title. If it’s so, it’s because the outcome is manipulated, sort of like the NFL deciding all games will have their points reset to 1-0 entering the fourth quarter with the team leading at that point getting the one bonus point. If it’s not, and my guess is we’re in for another rout, will it finally be enough to abort this insane idea that should have been stillborn? What we really need is for FOX to cover the Chase races. That way, fans could despise DW more than Brian France.
It’s only fitting on the ninth anniversary of the 9/11 tragedy a pre-race tribute was paid to the innocent victims of those attacks, as well as the first responders who continue to put rescuing others ahead of their own safety. But it makes me gnash my teeth to see NASCAR try to wrap themselves in the mantle of that tragic day. Here’s my recollections of NASCAR after 9/11. Like every other American and most citizens of the world I was saddened, shocked, and angered by the attacks of that tragic Tuesday. I’d been glued to the TV for the 24 hours after a friend woke me up that morning to tell me something was bad wrong in New York. I literally got sick to my stomach watching the second plane hit, and again when the Towers collapsed.
Kenny had a nice piece of property but it was fairly remote, ten exits beyond “the sticks” and a quarter mile from the edge of the earth. It seemed like the safest place on earth that weekend, but Kenny was worried about an attack on the nuclear plant downwind. We discussed what we’d seen of the attack on TV: the people leaping out of buildings, the towers collapse, the toxic dust clouds, and the sheer insanity of it all sitting on a post fence drinking our Buds as the dirt bikes cooled off in the field. As we sat there discussing whether we felt the attack would be an isolated incident or the start of an all out war on American soil, I looked up at the sky. Even in rural Vermont, it was odd not to see at least an occasional jetliner pass by… odd and troubling, but all of the U.S. was a no-fly zone that day. Above us flew two bald Eagles instead, gliding in lazy circles over the field looking for lunch.
That evening, I recalled my mom telling me about her family learning of the attack on Pearl Harbor over the radio and how fearful, upset and confused they all were that Sunday. The World was at War, freedom hung in the balance and there were no guarantees. The next day, four of my Uncles went to recruiting stations to sign up. Only one of them came home after the war. Despite the terrible price, that one still worked out all right; sometimes, you just have to decide if you want to be the eagle or the rabbit…
The Indy Racing League and the ISC (International Speedway Corporation..the track-owning facet of NASCAR though they remain two separate entities – nod, nod, wink, wink) have parted ways. That means there will be no IRL races at the Glen, Chicago, Kansas, and Northern Cuba…I mean, Miami next year. Bruton Smith’s SMI will welcome the open-wheelers at Sonoma, New Hampshire (where I think eight people attended the last IRL race), Las Vegas, and Texas. The Texas event will be a groundbreaking event in that two full points-paying races will be held on the same weekend. Damn, I wish I’d been clever enough to suggest such a scenario months ago. Mr. Smith, can I get at least a free Mustang out of this one?
It’s time for me to quit smoking. Or at least try again. Chantix worked for Kenny and Jeanne, so that’s what I’m taking. One side effect of the medicine is vivid and occasionally terrifying dreams… but I’m good with that. After all, we used other substances for that purpose back in college. But my question to any other NASCAR fan using Chantix is do you frequently have nightmares about finding Tim Brewer in your garage? He’s just creepy.
The Hindenburg Award For Foul Fortune
Kasey Kahne not only missed the Chase, but offered some pretty convincing evidence why he wouldn’t have had a chance, anyway, slumping to a 29th-place performance – four laps off the pace.
Likewise, Mark Martin missed the Chase in pretty convincing fashion this year after making a run at the title in ’09. His 20th-place finish at Richmond was more a symptom than a cause for his missing the “postseason.”
If Martin and Kahne had bad nights, Dale Earnhardt, Jr.‘s was downright catastrophic. He struggled home 34th, six laps off the pace, with no accident damage or mechanical woes to excuse his sorry performance. If the man had any pride rather than just big dollar sponsors and a famous last name, he’d stay home next week and test with the team until the point they can bring a competitive car to the track.
Saturday wasn’t a fine evening for the Brothers Labonte. Terry blew a tire and hit the wall a ton. Bobby watched as his car set itself ablaze during a pit stop. There comes a time when former champions need to head off into the sunset, keeping their dignity rather than drive for teams that couldn’t put together a cold bologna and mustard sandwich without screwing it up.
Jeff Burton gambled on the rain continuing when everyone else pitted, but I guess RCR needs a better weatherman. (They can have the Wicked Weather Witch of WPVI, Cecily Tynan… but she‘s not very accurate). Racing resumed, and Burton was forced to the pits; he wound up 13th by the end of the race.
The “Seven Come Fore Eleven” Award For Fine Fortune
Denny Hamlin blew an engine and finished 43rd last weekend at Atlanta but rebounded nicely with a win at Richmond. As such, he enters this Chase foolishness first in the standings as well, courtesy a nice little 391-point gift from Brian France compared to the “Classic“ (read: legitimate) points system. Remember when everyone decided Hamlin and the No. 11 team had written off this season after he elected to get knee surgery – originally planned for after the season – at the end of March?
Saturday was, in fact, a pretty nice evening for the entire Joe Gibbs organization, with all three drivers finishing within the top 5, a first for the outfit since they expanded to three teams.
Greg Biffle only needed one car to fall out of the race to make the Chase, and it’s a good thing he did. The veteran suffered through a less-than-stellar, star-crossed run on Saturday en route to a 32nd-place finish. You know it’s going to be a long night when your helmet starts smoking on the parade laps.
Jeff Gordon struggled mightily early in the race, falling a lap off the pace at one point. All things considered, a 12th-place finish wasn’t all that bad, but there was an era when 12th for the No. 24 would have been considered a total disaster.
What’s the Points?
OK, which points are we talking here, real points or Sergeant France’s Lonely Grandstands Broken Parts Club Band’s Chase points?
Here in the real world, obviously Kevin Harvick would still be leading the points by 228 over Kyle Busch and 230 over Jeff Gordon. Anyone who thinks that’s an insurmountable lead with ten races left to run doesn’t know who Alan Kulwicki was. In comparison, current points leader in La-La land points Denny Hamlin would be 381 out of the lead and doubtless be preparing shelf space in his mansion for some lovely parting gifts after the 2010 season, in between frenzied trips to his driveway to make sure his Lexus was locked. How does anyone endure this insanity, Alice? Either the Chase needs to go, or NASCAR needs to start paying for Tums which I am currently swallowing by the fistful. (For those of you for whom I have been too subtle, I don’t much like the Chase. Dr. Hunter Thompson once wrote that the ultimate way to die would be to have the radio fall into the bathtub where you were having a scrub, listening to Gracie Slick belt out the last few lines of White Rabbit… feed your head and whatnot. For me, the ultimate way to die would be to blow a valve hearing Brian France had his CD player tumble into the tub while he listened to Ms. Slick belt out those lines.)
Shake it off, Matt, shake it off. Denny Hamlin now leads the points. (NO HE DOESN’T, NO HE DOESN’T, NO HE DOESN’T) by ten points over Jimmie Johnson. Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch are a further ten points back tied for third. (What are the odds after all these races? Pretty good if you understand how this underhanded chicanery works.) Five drivers who have failed to win a race: Jeff Burton, Matt Kenseth, Jeff Gordon, Carl Edwards, and Clint Bowyer go into the Championship Chase. (I think I just felt a little vomit in my nostrils writing that. To casual fans and non-fans who know me, I am not going to explain how that works at the Wawa tomorrow morning. It’s insane. I admit it. I follow an illegitimate sport. Brian France has bastardized Cup racing to the point it‘s just the WWE without the boobs. And the boobs are probably coming soon. I‘m just wondering where the lions are.)
Ryan Newman was left out of the Chase in thirteenth, a mere 98 points behind twelfth place Greg Biffle. Wow, what a squeaker! Can we re-tally the points from the swimsuit and talent portions of the competition just to be sure that we have a legitimate field of championship contenders? What’s that? Junior got an additional 270 points for his pedal steel banjo version of Led Zep’s Dazed and Confused and is now in the Chase? Seems fair to me.
Overall Rating (On a scale of one to six beer cans with one being a stinker and a six pack an instant classic) — We’ll give this one four and a half bottles of icy cold Corona. After this summer’s drudgery, that race was a classic.
Next Up – The All-Singing, All-Dancing Chase commences in a week’s time at New Hampshire. Can you feel the almost palpable buzz of excitement as mainstream American pop culture embraces this playoff as an obsession? Nope, me either. NHIS is likely to provide racing almost as exciting as the World’s Quadriplegic Tiddlywinks championship.
©2000 - 2008 Matt McLaughlin and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
Thanks for the recap Matt. This old time fan was out enjoying one of the last nice nights of the summer with cool brews and friends and did not care about the race, but noticed one 24 fan had brought a tv to the gathering and I caught the last 15 laps before I left. A few years back we would have all been gathered around the tv hootin and hollerin, but now it was just one die hard hoping against all odds that his boy Gordon would pull a rabbit out of the hat, and myself who only paused to see the last 15 laps. Such is the state of Brians Nascar.
As posted by a reader in response to another article on this site, the NFL opener last Thursday set an all time record for TV veiwers. So much for Brians assesment that the economy is keeping fans away from the Nascar broadcasts.
I think if Jimmy Johnson (the head coach) can be the paid spokesman for Extenze and extoll its virtues it should be no problem for Jeff Gordon to claim he shops at Wal-Mart. They could show in the ads that he is just like us, filling his cart with Budweiser, Beanie Weenies and Spam as his wife follows close behind in sweat pants and curlers.
seems like after we lost Dale Sr in 2001,Winston left,Brian France became the fuhrer and Nascar has fallen off the radar.I am fearful for my sport. I just hope someone or something can turn things around in the future.
Because I had nothing better to do, I counted how many laps of green flag racing ABC would show before going to commercial.
Every time, ABC would show somewhere between 10 and 15 laps of green flag racing (usually 14), and go to commercial. That’s it.
The longest uninterrupted stretch of green flag racing was the final 22 laps.
Laps at Richmond are around 23 seconds. That’s around 6 minutes of racing, followed by 3 or 4 minutes of commercials, over and over and over.
Though I suppose I should be glad that they interrupted the wall to wall erectile dysfunction commercials with the occasional race break.
Want a reason people aren’t watching? That’s a pretty good reason.
And the Busch race was worse!
CONGRATULATIONS DENNY HAMLIN!
What do you mean, NASCAR doesn’t show off boobs? What about Danica? Oh wait, my bad…
Matt’s track prejudice is amazing. This race stunk, and if it were at Chicago or NHIS, he’d be all over it (He’s already detracting from the NHIS race, a week before it happens)
Can’t remember such a boring short track race, and it was easily the worst race of the year. There was no question that Hamlin was going to win by 9 o’clock.
But at least we now have an insight into why he hates NASCAR…they made him drive on hour or two on the Pa. Pike during the week of 9/11…poor baby.
I get all the boob I need from Nascar by reading this column every week! (Sorry…too easy)
I hope Gordon, Burton, Bowyer, Kenseth or Edwards wins the championship but only if they can do it without winning a race all year. That would be hilarious and further discredit the concept of the chase (ie playoff format) in a sport in which a playoff format does not make sense. The only way I will ever buy into a playoff format in NASCAR is if those that don’t make the chase aren’t on the track once the playoffs start.
I was at the race in beautiful richmond and i had a blast. There was a lot of passing and side-by-side racing.
NASCAR is in trouble. Too many empty seats.
In this format a driver can win the chumpionship without winning a race.
I was watching the Red Sox on NESN and saw advertising for the New Hampshire “race” behind home plate.(Thank God for NESN and Heidi)
nascar.com is getting people’s selections for the drivers in NEXT YEAR’S CHASE. The end is nigh.
Great article Matt.
We see the same commercials over and over again because there aren’t very many companys
Thanks to Marty Reid for the every 2 lap up date on where the Hendrick cars were running . Also for the constant shilling for the chase .
I saw a wonderful race Saturday night. It featured plenty of drama with many sentimental favorites in the hunt for the victory, a pass for the win with only a few laps to go, and everyone fighting mightily for every position.
There was heartbreak too as three of the favorites were taken out of contention (two expired motors and a blown tire) after beating their cars up trying desperately to get to the front and handing the win to an underdog in the right place at the right time.
It was the Knoxville Nationals on SPEED and it was on at the same time as the NASCAR race.
Anyone who wonders what happened to NASCAR needs to watch racing like that. These are guys who want to win. They aren’t content to ride around in fourth to get points. There is action all over the track all the time.
Big money, cookie cutter tracks, bland drivers, and aero sensitive cars have ruined NASCAR. Brian’s ill-conceived chase was an answer to a question nobody asked. Phantom debris cautions don’t enhance competition. NASCAR has lost its vision and is trying to put on a “show” rather than a “race”.
It is just a matter of time before some other series has a breakout season and draws attention away from NASCAR. A good, competitive race lasting between two and three hours on a Sunday afternoon is what people want to see. As the IRL found out, it is a slippery slope to irrelevance once you get knocked off the top.
I’m going to go out on a limb here and pick Jimmy Johnson to win the Championship. Okay, I admit it’s a short limb, but Johnson has the last 4 Cup trophys, and until someone else can figure out a way to beat him in the Chase, he’s got to be considered the favorite.
Denny will choke again, as usual, and Kyle Busch will probably get some payback from Keselowski that will cost him the championship (at least I hope so). Harvick has a legitimate shot, but I’m afraid he’ll come up a little short in the end. The rest are all pretenders, sorry.
For the record, I’m no Jimmy Johnson fan, but I am a realist.
Once again, if Matt M. didn’t think of it first, it isn’t worth thinking about.
One more thing—somsbody had to drag “Old Dale” into the conversation. How was it that NASCAR ever developed (or survived) before him? He was just another good race driver—and there have been many. I’ve been around long enough to remember the sport before DE, and after him. Everything changes; get over it.
My review? I fell asleep twice. Then just went to bed at lap 20 to go.
So, 5 people in the chase with out a race win.
All that talk about Point leader Harvick for the past month and a half.
They think we are stupid. Anyone with a brain knew he was not going to stay on top come the shuffle.
NA$CAr dot CON showed a side by side breakdown of the points that I can’t find now.
How is JJ #2? I know he had 5 wins but the other factors were low. DNFs etc.
“Doctor my brain hurts”
I have my plan for the Chase this fall. While watching the real Mr. Excitement Miles Austin show his speed on Sundays, once in awhile I will look over on the shelf at my #28 Fred Lorenzen diecast and think about the real cars and drivers of the past.
How was it that NASCAR ever developed (or survived) before him?
Teach – you bring up a pretty good point; but, there is one flaw – Earnhardt was essentially the face of NASCAR during the early cable television years, as NASCAR started to develop a marketing campaign farther out than the South (mid-80’s), and as the internet started to really take off. It wasn’t that NASCAR couldn’t survive without him; but, they were totally able leverage the new technologies to grow with him.
He was at the height of his successes as a driver during this time, and this made him recognizable to many people – whether they were race fans or not. I think Dale Earnhardt (and his contemporaries) all represent the last link to a generation where racing was more than a vocation – it was a passion. And that came across loud and clear to anyone that was starting to pay attention to the sport. Maybe there are plenty of drivers who would still race “for a box of donuts”, but I have a hard time figuring out who those drivers are.
Fred Lorenzen? Didnt he cheat in the 1904 olympic marathon? This is an autoracing forum… not people racing. Come on man!
NASCARTuna – Fred Lorenzen was known as the “golden boy” of NASCAR. He raced in the 1960’s up through around 1972. He raced a lot of things, but I don’t think he was a marathoner in 1904 since he wasn’t born then.
And so as the wheel turns, once again NASCAR fans will be treated to the nonsense that is the chase for the chumps. Obviously if you are a 48 fan, you’re in hog heaven, but for me, its just bogus and like you, Matt, I don’t plan to try and explain this farce to my friends.
I don’t know how much racing I’ll watch on TV. Richmond wasn’t that exciting, at least not based on what little we saw on TV in between the many many commercials. Bored now.
I don’t think it’s any secret that a substantial number of the late 90’s early 2000’s fans were more loyal to Earnhardt the man than NASCAR the institution.
Matt said: “Here in the real world, obviously Kevin Harvick would still be leading the points by 228 over Kyle Busch and 230 over Jeff Gordon. Anyone who thinks that’s an insurmountable lead with ten races left to run doesn’t know who Alan Kulwicki was.”
And how many times in NASCAR’s history has a driver come back from being 200+ points down and won the Championship? Everyone points to 1992, but I’d bet the reason why you remember it so fondly is because it was such a once-in-a-lifetime thing. I’d much rather see the points separated by no more than 60, than see one guy run away with it by 200+ year after year.
Kevin in SoCal,
“The Texas event will be a groundbreaking event in that two full points-paying races will be held on the same weekend.”
That is incorrect. There will be 2 half distance races that equal what one event would be, and each race pays half points. They are counted as 2 seperate events, but are only worth half.
Thanks for the racing recap, Matt. Here in SW PA, NASCAR has been reduced to page 7 of the local news.
Sorry Brian France but your beloved Chase is getting beat by the 235th news report on a backup QB. I don’t think NASCAR is even mentioned on the 5, 6, or 10 o’clock news either except for a 10 second who-won blurb.
(As a side note: Listened to Mike and Mike this morning. Unless I missed it, I don’t think they mentioned NASCAR at all. Rather sad when a key program basically ignores a sport that is carried by their own company.)
“And how many times in NASCAR’s history has a driver come back from being 200+ points down and won the Championship? Everyone points to 1992, but I’d bet the reason why you remember it so fondly is because it was such a once-in-a-lifetime thing.”
And that is the exact reason it was so special, and why we will talk about it forever. I would compare it to the 1980 hockey win over the Russians, another once in a lifetime event.
In SoCal Kevins world everything would be bland vanilla pudding pops and no one would remember by next season. I’ll take the chance of a 500 point blowout so when someone does make a huge points comeback it’s something special to remember.
4 and a half beers!?
It was a good race. No fake cautions means it was a real race. I could care less if there are only 3 cars on the lead lap, not unusual at the main event at your local short track.
As a huge open wheel fan, I think it’s great the Izod Indy Car Series (not the IRL, a term no longer used) has told ISC to take a walk. ISC’s problems in marketing Indy cars is similar to their problems understanding what made Nascar great. Good riddance. The funniest part of it is, ISC built all these cookie cutter 1.5 mile tracks to help accomodate open wheel cars. In reality, open wheel fans don’t have alot of use for those tracks, just look at the attendance numbers. Now, Nascar is left to run on those tracks, Indy isn’t there, and Nascar has abandoned the tracks that made the sport, Rockingham, 2 at Darlington, North Wilksborough, the old Nashville track, 2 at Atlanta.
What would the ideal schedule be? If I was in charge, Darlington, Rockingham, Loudon, Daytona, Homestead, Talladega, Atlanta, Charlotte, Texas, North Wilksborough, Martinsville, Richmond, Phoenix, Bristol, the Old Nashville Fairgrounds, Pike’s Peak reopened, St. Louis (gateway), Milwaukee, Pocono, Watkins Glen, Road Atlanta, Road America and the new F1 track in Austin, Texas. Throw in a couple of one off old school short tracks like Myrtle Beach and Hickory.
Sorry for all the areas with the new cookie cutter tracks. Tear them up and build something cool instead.
didn’t watch. tried, pre-race was interrupted by college football, then when i came on, i lost interest. then i saw jr sink faster than a boat anchor i laughed. flipped to other channels, woke up at 11, didn’t even look to see who won, figured it would be hamlin or ky busch.
i guess brain fart will make change to the chase format to include the top 20 drivers in points to give jr a fighting chance to make chase next year, the 4th year of his 5 yr contract with hendrick.
too much talk about chase and constant updating, too many shrews following the na$car script.
sad, i’ve completely lost interest in a sport i so passionately lived and followed for 30 yrs.
I read somewhere that something like 226 of the 400 laps were shown on TV of the cup race. That would have been great in 1976. Now that is pretty pathetic. I agree with the comments above on how inept the announcing and TV production has become. That is killing NASCAR at about the same rate as the mediocre races and driver personalities.
When the Yankees win their division by 17 games MLB doesn’t change the rules.
When a football team clinches their division with four games left in a 16 game season, the NFL doesn’t change the rules.
When a golfer wins a major by 15 strokes (Volcano is getting excited), the PGA doesn’t change the rules.
Last week at Atlanta, Nascar tried to keep Jr. on the lead lap, while Rick was trying to bury him in mid-pack. This week Rick established that he runs Nascar. Mark Martin, his garage mate, also ended up 2 laps down. He is also R&Ding. HMS wants JJ to win his 5th championship, 5 in a row to set a record that will be hard to beat, and HMS is behind other teams, so all resources will be going to making that happen. Even JG went down a lap. Only JJ was up front. Can you imagine Jr. having these problems if Chad or Addington were his cc…? Not a chance! Jr. said in an interview on Friday that all resources would go to JJ’s win. This is just the way it is going to be. Contrary to what some folks who call themselves reporter/journalists keep repeating, Jr. is not in a ‘deep emotional abyss’, but handling the reality of the situation he has been trapped in by Rick with a great deal of maturity & responsibility. He is rationally analyzing where he is & what are reasonable expectations, and will be, for the next 2 1/3 years, unless the Lord intervenes. :) Why drop into a deep funk? I would love to see Dr. Phil fairly analyze what is going on at HMS. Have you ever heard of the 25/88 R&D car running competitively for a championship…? If Rick wanted Jr. winning, he would be. I am praying for the Lord to intervene. :)
MaryBeth the alien from planet AMP continues posting delusional excuses for Dale Jr. Really think God cares where Jr. finishes in a race? At Richmond Dale Jr. used his God given average at best talent and drove it hard in a “Danica Patrick Type Performance”. Starting 8th and racing to the rear, Jr. finished 34th, 6 laps behind the winner. Now 80 races without a Na$crap assisted win.
“Sergeant France’s Lonely Grandstands Broken Parts Club Band”
The 2nd best line of the weekend! The first came from my husband, regarding the 18 during Saturday’s NNS race when KB left his pit with equipment: “When you drive a pink car and wear a pink suit you should expect something to get stuck up your butt.”
Sounds like if you saw the race in person, it wasn’t a bad race. But because ESPN decided to show only the leaders lap after lap, everyone who watched it on TV thought is sucked.
ESPN obviously doesn’t care about Nascar once their bread and butter sports (college football and NFL) start. Now Nascar is just a time filler for them, judging by the amount of promos they showed during the race for those 2 sports.
NASCAR made their bed by accepting all that tv money from them, and now the fan has to suffer through the rest of this contract. ESPN is a good reason why this sport is on the decline. They stick to a script (for racing?), talk about the Chase ad nausiam (sp?), and the JJ show, and its only going to get worse starting this weekend. Those remotes are going to get alot of work switching from NASCAR to football this weekend.