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 · Thursday September 23, 2010
As we discussed last week by the Rising Tide, there’s not much to talk about in NASCAR right now. We could really use a crew chief masterminding a botched bankjob or a driver missing a race because he was on a booze-fueled lost weekend with Lindsay Lohan. Hell, we could use a story on who is going to sponsor the No. 24 team. I’d settle for anything with a hint of validity worth discussing right now.
Which leaves us with the Chase. But I’m not allowed to discuss the Chase. So instead, I will discuss others discussing the Chase.
As most of you know the NASCAR media has lost a lot of experienced writers with more talent than I as of late. Even Southern papers don’t have beat writers anymore, by and large. These guys and gals were seasoned professionals who knew better than to follow the whim of the moment, trumpeting their stories with headlines like “Stewart Surges to Favorite Status in Chase.”
Yeah, it was pretty amazing. Tony Stewart won at Atlanta and all of a sudden he was the favorite for the Chase after a lackluster season to date with that one race win at Atlanta and six other top 5 finishes in the 25-race run to that point. After all, Tony Stewart has amassed more points than anyone else over the last sixteen races! That’s in, call in the dogs, put out the fire and put Stewart’s name on the trophy. It’s over. It’s not like that sixteen week stretch didn’t include some of Stewart’s best tracks, including the two road courses. There are no road courses in the Chase. Maybe Stewart accumulated the most points in those races because he had to. He left the first Richmond race fifteenth in the points. Stewart had to scramble to make the Chase while other drivers with their Chase hopes almost solidified played it conservative to maintain their status in the pecking order? Maybe their teams were playing with new packages, testing for the final ten-race run that really mattered? It sure did look like a whole lot of drivers were playing with their packages for those sixteen weeks.
So when Stewart became the favorite for the title, where did that leave Denny Hamlin? Poor Hamlin left Atlanta dead last with a blown mill. The same media pundits, great and small, anointing Stewart the favorite were writing off Hamlin. The team was already cracking under the pressure of a potential title fight. They’d never build an engine that lasted the distance again! Denny was angry and petulant after the DNF. He didn’t have the backbone to win a title, whiny little bastard that he was. Recall at that point in the season Hamlin, had one less race win than Stewart had top 5s.
But it didn’t take long for that tune to change. Hamlin won at Richmond and the headlines were screaming “Hamlin Favorite Going into Chase!” After all, he had six wins, more than anyone else. You short-timers might not recall Bill Elliott dominating on the big tracks in 1985 with his fleet Ford. After his Million Dollar winning Southern 500 win that September, Elliott left Darlington with a 208-point lead over short track ace Darrell Waltrip — and I prefer to think of the three-time champion and hugely talented legendary driver as “Darrell Waltrip,” not the hugely annoying, inane broadcaster he became as “DW.” There were only eight races left to run, not ten for the title. There was no resetting the points. Under that terrible old Latford point system, it was going to be a boring stretch of eight races before Elliott took the crown – except after the penultimate race of the season, Atlanta, Darrell Waltrip took a twenty-point lead over Elliott into the season finale at Riverside.
Waltrip was a very good road racer. But Elliott had scored his first career Cup win at Riverside. Now, folks, that’s entertainment. Elliott versus Waltrip. Ford versus Chevy. Coors versus Bud. Vocal fans on both sides worked up into a rabid frenzy. In the end, it was a bit of a letdown in that Elliott’s shifter linkage failed (parts made in Waltrip’s hometown of Franklin, TN by chance) and Elliott lost the title by 101 points despite having 11 wins to Waltrip’s 3… so winning the most races isn’t and never has been the litmus test of a champion. As a diehard Elliott fan in that era, I was crushed and started thinking for the first time race wins ought to be worth more points. Of course, I was discussing the idea while drinking a Coors Light leaning on the fender of my Mustang. My brother-in-law Kenny drinking a Bud on the hood of his 67 ‘Chevelle, that never lost a street race while we ran it felt a bit differently.
Sunday at New Hampshire, Clint Bowyer won the race. And the headlines trumpeted suddenly Bowyer was a darkhorse contender for the title. Well Hell, there’s a lot of darkhorse contenders for the title, but Bowyer had won in an unprecedented upset win! Mr. Peabody, cue up the Wayback Machine to 2007. Bowyer arrived at New Hampshire winless to date and having just eked his way into the Chase at Richmond. He went on to win that race at NHMS. Despite two more second-place finishes in the Chase, Bowyer finished third in the standings, a full 346 points behind champion Jimmie Johnson.
So let’s talk about Johnson. The ESPN analysts still say that the road to the championship goes through Johnson. And they’ve got to be right, Marvin, after all they’re up there on the TV screen. They must be the smartest fellows in the whole wide world. But there were some long faces on the TV after Johnson finished 25th Sunday. Mr. Peabody, if you would, dial in the Wayback Machine for 2006. Johnson blows up and finishes 39th. Everybody, including ironically at that moment Johnson himself, says final rites over his title hopes. Nope; that year yielded the first of Johnson’s record breaking four consecutive titles.
The slide rule in the pocket protector element of the media has suddenly focused on Carl Edwards as a big-time title contender. He has, after all, scored more points in the last ten races than any other driver. Gosh and golly, I am so gul-durn happy I could not take a swing at Matt Kenseth right now. If those ten races were the Chase races, he’d have been champion. Wait a second, are we talking the same driver who hasn’t won a race since Homestead at the conclusion of the 2008 season? Are we looking at a season where Ford pilots have won just one race? Could Carl Edwards take off on a blue flame streak like Bubba saw when he held the welding torch too close to the rear of his Levis after drinking a six pack of Bud 40s? Anything can happen. Am I betting the rent money on a Carl Edwards title? I think not.
So, OK, some say, this is all too confusing. Tony Stewart was the favorite a few weeks ago and Denny Hamlin was the favorite two weeks ago. What if neither of them win the Chase? Who will? Let us wrap ourselves up in the warm and fuzzy blanket of statistics. Here’s two stats that are being bandied around like pickup lines at a truckers’ bar at closing time. Only one person has ever won the Chase who started outside the top three going into those final ten races. Only one driver, (as noted, Johnson in 2006) went on to win the title after finishing outside the top 6 at New Hampshire to kick off the Chase. So, let’s see, going into the Chase we had four drivers in the top 3 (yes, it sounds like an oxymoron, but Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick were tied for third). Of those four, only Hamlin and Harvick managed top 6 finishes.
Hooray! We’re down to a two-man battle, right?
Recall what Disraeli said about statistics; “There are three types of lies; lies, damned lies and statistics.” Statistically speaking, a pedestrian gets run over every five minutes in New York. That is one unlucky son of a bitch. You’d think he’d move.
Then we have the “season to date” stats that clearly state Kevin Harvick will be champion, because over the course of 27 races he’s scored more actual (not “Chase”) points than any other driver. Far and away, as a matter of fact. I can’t discount Harvick as a title contender, but as those investment ads always read in the fine print, “Past performance is no guarantee of future results.” Quite frankly, if I had to wager a week’s pay on this year’s champion, I’d go with Harvick, but I’m not ready to put that fact in blaring headlines followed by breathless prose. That’s just my gut, a gut soured by way too many cups of crappy track coffee and snout-dogs over the years.
Come a little closer, friends. Pull down the blinds. Make sure there’s nobody here without their secret MPM decoder rings. I’m going to tell you, gentle readers, who I know will be 2010 Cup champion. You can take this to the bank. I am absolutely, positively, and spit on my mother’s grave if I’m wrong know this to be a fact, who will win the title. And ya’ll are the first to hear it. The driver who wins this year’s championship will be the fellow who has amassed the most points after the Homestead race. I’d stake my life, my Trans Am, and my Harley on it. And I hold the latter two more dear than the former.
But some commentators are going to be bleating they were right all along because they chose a new favorite every weekend based on the outcome of the race. Best I can recall, deceased Charlotte Observer beat writer and perhaps the greatest motorsports writer ever Joe Whitlock never wrote a column predicting a champion. Back then, it was just too much fun watching each race, and who cared about the title anyway? Were that it was still the same…
©2000 - 2008 Matt McLaughlin and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
Nothing to write about? What about the ilegal 33 car?
i still think it’s a two man race.
Seriously? Does matt even try anymore? Oh wait, he has a sore tooth. That completely justifies not having to write anything pertinent about nascar. Glad to see FS keeps paying him to write crap.
“Maybe their teams were playing with new packages testing for the final ten race run that really mattered? It sure did look like a whole lot of drivers were playing with their packages for those sixteen weeks.”
The first 26 races don’t matter and nobody cares about the last 10.
Great column, Matt. I remember the Waltrip-Elliott duel as well. As a Ford guy and a DW hater, it was like watching a plane crash in slow motion over those last couple of months.
Okay, I have to say this… The people who complain your columns week in and week out are getting tiresome to those of us who enjoy your columns. I can’t for the life of me figure out what could make people so miserable that they repeatedly come here to complain about something they could so easily avoid. Maybe they can’t keep a husband, maybe their kids have left home and never call, maybe they just need to berate other to justify their own failings. In any event, they really ought to get a life.
I’d avoid the comments section altogether but there are some people whose comments I enjoy reading.
I would imagine that Tony Stewart is talked about as the favorite because he’s the best all around driver in the sport . Kyle Busch isn’t far behind in the talented drivers list . Harvick would be third , Gordon fourth , Edwards fifth , Johnson sixth , Hamlin seventh . Statistics have nothing to do with outcomes in stock car races . Nor who wins championships . It’s driver ability , car , and having less bad luck than everyone else .
The only thing predictable are the whining comments of RandyGoldman. If you hate reading this column, then why are you always here????
Ahh, Joe Whitlock. Now there’s a name from the past. I looked forward to his articles in the weekly Winston Cup Scene newspaper years ago. He was a great writer. Thanks Matt.
If the people who bash this column would stop reading it there would be nothing to comment on and they would not be missed.
Any article that conjures up memories of Awesome Bill in his heyday and Riverside International is a good article to me. No complaints here.
Makes me wanna go crack open a cold Coors Light.
Once again a good read Matt.
“Seriously? Does matt even try anymore? Oh wait, he has a sore tooth. That completely justifies not having to write anything pertinent about nascar. Glad to see FS keeps paying him to write crap.”
It’s really simple; Love him or hate him Matt brings people to Frontstretch, and you are doing your best to keep the clicks coming by commenting with inane responses that keep the casual reader coming back to see what kind of retort Goldmom has this week.
I like how RandyGoldman always whines about Matt’s coulumn. Yet he is always one of the first to make a comment.
And in between the weekly favorite PR stories something far more disturbing is happening. Na$car reporters writing stories that beg for answers to Na$car’s problems to pass them on to Na$car. At least they could try to have a little credibility and not make it totally obvious that they are in bed with Na$car.
Don’t listen to all those negative people, Matt. This is a great article because it is true. All anyone was talking about after the richmond race was Denny Hamlin only because he won the race. Oh wait, Clint Bowyer wins at New Hampshire, oh wait he’s gonna win it all. The whole week after Richmond the media talked and talked about Hamlin like he was the next coming of Moses. Meanwhile, he was trailing Harvick by 200 points before this race, but the media completely ignored Harvick all week long. But yes some of the media just needs to get a grip. And to Carl D, i couldn’t agree with your comments more.
Randy Goldman is a moron. So is Dansmom. You people dislike Matt so much yet you read his stuff.