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 October 25, 2010
The Key Moment – After the two of them were running nose-to-tail, then side-by-side for a dozen laps, Denny Hamlin finally passed Kevin Harvick for the lead on lap 471.
In a Nutshell – There’s nothing so wrong with the new NASCAR an old racetrack can’t fix it.
Dramatic Moment – There were about 500 laps worth.
The crowd really seemed to eat it up when Dale Earnhardt took the lead on lap 285 and led the race for the next 90 circuits.
What They’ll Be Talking About Around the Water Cooler This Week
Some newer fans who read my columns note an occasional touch of negativity in them. More than once they (and you know who you are) have asked me, “What exactly is it you want out of a race?” Well, kiddies, review your tapes of Sunday’s 500-lapper. That there will do quite nicely, thanks.
You know the action is approaching the boiling point when even teammates in the Chase are threatening to park one another for the day. Did Kevin Harvick really expect Jeff Burton not to try to pass him because it “wasn’t good for RCR?” And a quick note to Kurt Busch: you didn’t “accidentally” get into Jeff Gordon. You stuffed him into the wall. Cowboy up and admit it.
You could tell the race was reaching the limits of its time slot on TV there at the end. Cars spewed oil and grease all over the racing groove, blew right fronts and all but came to a stop out on the track, yet no caution flags were thrown. Compare that to other races this season, when a hot dog wrapper blowing across the apron could draw a ten-lap long yellow flag on command.
For the record, I still think that grandfather clock Martinsville awards race winners is easily the coolest trophy in the sport. Fans who agree might want to drive by Jimmie Johnson or Denny Hamlin’s house next time they’re holding a garage sale to see if either driver is getting rid of one of their excess clocks.
No offense to Richard Childress, who used to win Cup titles pretty regularly with the No. 3 team, but on my scorecard I’ve officially eliminated Kevin Harvick as a title contender for 2010. Why? This week, it was announced there will be a pit crew swap between Harvick’s No. 29 team and Clint Bowyer’s No. 33. To me, that smacks of desperation. Yes, Harvick is constantly critical of his pit crew in all three series in which he drives. He berates them caustically for slow stops he feels cost him race wins, because the man is, after all, Kevin Harvick; he never makes an on-track mistake that costs him a spot. But the No. 29 pit crew is the one that brought this boy to the party, and they should be the ones who stay to the end. During the regular season, remember, this team scored more points than any other despite its “lousy” pit crew. Now those same guys are pitting Bowyer and likely still smarting from the reprimand, creating internal tension that didn’t need to be there. Meanwhile Bowyer’s crew, who has been staging a Quixotic battle with their boy all season for credibility with their underrated driver, particularly after the NHMS penalty and the drawn out appeals process that followed, is now paired with a former rival – one they know will tan their asses over the radio if they can’t perfect five-second, four-tire pit stops. They’re not used to that. According to several sources I have in the garage area, if you’re going to work on pit road Clint Bowyer is one of the top three drivers you want to work for. Harvick is at the bottom of the same list.
I seem to recall back in 1990, heading into the season finale with a chance to beat Dale Earnhardt (the Jimmie Johnson of his day), Mark Martin and Jack Roush panicked. In testing leading up to the event, with Ford desperate to win the driver’s title, the No. 6 team tested their own cars as well as ones prepared by Bill Elliott’s team and Robert Yates Racing. Martin was slightly faster in the Elliott-prepared car, so that’s the Ford they entered in the race that Sunday. The car was bad fast, alright, but it didn’t drive the way Martin wanted it to and he hadn’t left the dance with the ones who brought him. The team had no idea how to adjust on the unfamiliar car, and Martin lost that title by 26 points to Earnhardt and RCR. You’d have thought Childress would have learned something that weekend… perhaps not? Here’s the skinny; if your team was good enough all season long, on and off pit road, to put you in position to win a title, you stick with them and either win as a team or lose as one.
My take on Kasey Kahne’s release from RPM this week? Well, Kahne ought to be glad this is the kinder, gentler era of stock car racing. If he’d been driving for Junior Johnson and had quit on the team last Saturday night because of an upset tummy he’d have left the team alright… spitting a mouthful of bloody Chiclets that used to be his front teeth out as he ran. In all honesty, there’s no room in this sport for a lame duck driver. If a team’s driver decides the grass is greener on the other side of the fence, they ought to be helped across that fence immediately with a good swift boot to the ass. Such combinations just don’t work.
Thankfully still sporting a pearly white set of choppers, my guess is Kahne probably feels like a fellow tossed off the side of a sinking ship. He got his final paycheck from an ex-employer and trust me, I know that can be a trial and sometimes never comes to pass. But if I were an employee of Red Bull Racing and knew Kahne was just phoning it in, waiting for a seat to open at Hendrick Motorsports in 2012, I doubt I’d be giving it my all next year, either. It’s sort of like someone asking you to the prom because your best friend turned her down; it’s hard to get excited when you know the whole plan is option B. Hopefully, the Red Bull team is professional enough to prepare cars up to Kahne’s lofty standards next year. To the best of my knowledge, he is about to become the first driver to wheel Chevys, Fords, Toyotas and Dodges in such a brief career (Robby Gordon has, too, but he’s also been driving nearly twice as long). Like Jerry Maguire might holler: “Show me the money!”
My take on the possible shutdown of Richard Petty Motorsports? Richard Petty has been a figurehead at the organization for years, not really running the show or even having much meaningful input into the team that bears his name. The championship-winning organization that started as Lee Petty Engineering is long since defunct, with absentee owner George Gillett the engineer in the cab of this train wreck. At this point, they might as well have gotten a cardboard cutout of the King to place in front of the shop with a hinged arm that waved in the breeze. Like Patti Loveless once sang, “And you don’t even know who I am, what do you care if I go?”
One final note on the whole Kahne/RPM debacle. Sayeth young master Kahne, (he of the intact smile) “I was sick to the stomach. It was time to call it a day.” As I recall it, Charlotte last week was a night race. But yeah, I’d guess he decided to throw in the towel during daylight hours.
For those of you who might not have heard, Daytona USA (I think they changed the name to the Daytona 500 Experience somewhere along the way) is being shut down. The once much-ballyhooed interactive stock car racing theme park that houses the winning car for a year after each Daytona 500 has apparently been operating at a loss for some time despite the exorbitant ticket prices those who did visit the attraction had to pay. Yet another canary in the coal mine warning for the powers that be… I wonder if Brian France will consider what’s gone wrong when he drives by the shuttered up attraction on the way to his office?
I’ll have to admit that in forty-some-odd plus years of following stock car racing, I’ve never heard of a team having an illegal “driveshaft cover” discovered in pre-race inspection, but I guess the No. 48 team has to live on pins and needles until Wednesday to find out if the R & D center imposes a penalty. But then again, this is the same network that said Jeff Gordon managed to switch to his “backup starter” last week at Charlotte. Knowing where a starter is located and how it’s mounted to a car, my guess is Gordon actually threw a switch to change over to his backup battery.
Still thinking team orders can’t affect the outcome of stock car races? Jeff Burton was clearly told to let Kevin Harvick pass him so he could lead a lap and gain five bonus points.
In the Battle of the Exes, Kasey Kahne prevailed with a fourteenth-place finish to Aric Almirola’s 21st-place result in the RPM No. 9 car.
The Hindenburg Award For Foul Fortune
How’d you like to work in a Cup team’s fab shop and see the mess the Martinsville car was reduced to rolling out of the truck Monday morning? Then, next week the Cup guys race at Talladega… where doubtless more carnage will ensue.
A slow pit stop for Jeff Gordon left him mired in the pack of least common denominators though he’d run in the top 5 most of the afternoon. Perhaps Gordon was a bit irritated as a result, but an ill-considered lapse of manners running with Kurt Busch sent the No. 24 car hard into the inside wall.
Still smarting from the post-NHMS penalty, this wasn’t a good week for Clint Bowyer. First he lost his pit crew, then Sunday he lost the rear gears in his differential, leaving him 38th.
You have to think the marketing managers at Bud are delighted with this week’s move to remove Kahne from the 9 car. Look at the roster of past drivers of the Bud machine: Darrell Waltrip, Neil Bonnett, Bill Elliott, Terry Labonte, and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. Now, they have Aric Almirola, and the man they focused their marketing efforts on the past few seasons is now driving for an energy drink.
Hey, this isn’t racing-related and I’m not asking for sympathy, just a little understanding. I returned home this weekend to find out that somehow or another a rather largish John Deere green lawn tractor had taken up residence atop the roof of the turnout shed where it’s clearly visible from most of the property – if you know where to look and what to look for. Imagine looking out the office window to enjoy the autumn foliage and the first thing you see is a rusty old lawn tractor fifteen feet above the ground sucking out your will to live. I don’t know who put it there or how, but my guess is large amounts of suds and a purloined skid steer were involved. If you’re responsible for this miscreant action, please undo it shortly. Eyesore Acres looks hillbilly enough without lawn tractors on the roof.
The “Seven Come Fore Eleven” Award For Fine Fortune
At the start of the race, pole-sitter Denny Hamlin valiantly fought his way back through the starting field courtesy of an oddly matched set of tires. But when the pay window started creaking open, he fought back and reasserted himself to the lead.
It looked like Mark Martin’s day was over when he went spinning off of A.J. Allmendinger’s front bumper and dropped two laps off the pace. But Martin frantically charged his way back onto the lead lap and all the way up to second in the end. Shine on brightly, you crazy old man.
At Martinsville, a poor qualifying effort and the resultant tricky pit stall for the race are usually the kiss of death for a driver’s chances. But Kevin Harvick defied the odds, qualifying 36th only to really up to third by the end of the day.
Jimmie Johnson must have felt the other drivers were using his rear bumper as a chew toy for much of the race, but he hung onto the car well enough to finish fifth.
You won’t see it in the highlight reels, but Robby Gordon’s 22nd-place finish (despite a flat tire) combined with a 35th-place finish by Travis Kvapil in the No. 38 car helps solidify the No. 7 team’s hold on a top-35 position in owner’s points and their possible future next season with a guaranteed spot for the first five races. Of course, I tend to dwell on the ironic, and Gordon driving the Extenze car is perfect. I’ve always considered him the biggest d… oh, never mind.
What’s the Points?
Jimmie Johnson retains his points lead but is now just six markers ahead of Denny Hamlin. Kevin Harvick remains third, 62 outside the top spot. Next week’s race at Talladega will truly tell the tale, as it’s the one track where through no fault of his own a driver can find himself climbing bruised and battered out of a race car so thoroughly trashed, all the King’s horses and all the King’s men can’t patch the SOB together again.
Keep in mind, in the highly unlikely (as in it has never happened) event Hamlin and Johnson were to finish tied in the spot, the driver of the No. 11 car would have the advantage. The first tiebreaker is number of wins this season, and Hamlin now has seven victories to Johnson’s six.
Kyle Busch takes over fourth in the standings from Jeff Gordon but is a formidable 172 points out of the lead. Barring a first lap incident that takes out Johnson, Hamlin, and Harvick at Talladega next week, Gordon, Busch and those trailing them in the points have been effectively eliminated.
In that “best of the rest” race, Gordon holds fifth while Carl Edwards wrested the sixth points position from Tony Stewart. Jeff Burton had the best points day advancing two spots to eighth in the standings. Greg Biffle had the worst points day falling three spots to eleventh, while Kurt Busch and Matt Kenseth sit right in the middle at ninth and tenth.
Much will be made this week of the Chase having come down to two drivers within six points of each other battling for the big prize. “Big prize” in French is “Grand Prix.” (Say what you want about the French, they make a damn good salad dressing.) In the Grand Prix series, where the points system rewards excellence, not consistency, the points race between five potential champions is even tighter heading into the last two races of the season.
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 five well-iced bottles of Corona served up by a fetching lass of questionable moral character who is off shift in a half-hour. A few less cautions at the midpoint of the race for the backmarkers doing stupid things would have earned this race a six.
Next Up – Talladega on Halloween? It’s likely the race will become a real life horror show. Keep your hands inside the car; this is a dark ride.
©2000 - 2008 Matt McLaughlin and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
I love Martinsville and the race lived up to expectations. I do think that the double file restarts are a bit unfair at a one groove track like this. Something is wrong when you are better off being 11th or 13th than 6th. It’s not a big deal at the start of the race because you have 500 laps ahead of you, but as it gets later in the race being on the outside is a real disadvantage. Still, Martinsville is definitely a good race for spectators to watch.
Randy, only you could find something to complain about with that race. You obviously don’t understand what people mean when they use the term “cookie cutter”. It means there are tracks similar to it ON THE 36 WEEK NASCAR SPINR CUP SCHEDULE. The fact that there are lots of half mile tracks sprinkled across the country is immaterial. I just wanted to make sure you understood that concept.
Sometimes I get into arguments with people and then feel bad when I learn that they have mental problems. So I’m not responding to Randy today.
Damn straight Matt, that was a great race. Martinsville always is. I’ll take one Martinsville event over ten Chicago or Kansas races anyday.
It was a great race that happened to be run at Martinsville.
Any track is capable of producing a great race…but it’s up to the drivers to put on a good show, with assistance from the crews and crew chief and the people back at the shop.
Saying that only old tracks can put on great races is like saying there can’t be a great ball game unless it’s at Wrigley, or Fenway, or Lambeau Field.
Easily one of the best races of the season. I was a little surprised that the last few laps were caution free, because during the race when there was still plenty of time to make adjustments, drivers were unforgiving to each other and to their cars. I figured the last 20 laps or so would be pure carnage.
I just can’t imagine being a crew member for Kasey Kahne’s Red Bull team next year. I’m sure they will do their job professionally, but it’s got to be difficult to dedicate yourself to a driver who is just counting the days until he’s someplace else.
Matt, Almirola’s finish in the Petty ride shows just how little effort RPM was putting into his car. Every new part left on the truck was bolted onto the 9 car this week. How bad would it have looked if there was another brake failure?
As for your Harvick/Burton and Harvick’s crew/Burton’s crew comments, I agree. While Kevin is going to focus on fighting his teammates, he will be unavailable to contend for the championship. Usually I say this regarding Kyle Busch, but no pit crew will give 110% to a driver that constantly berates them, Kevin Harvick is just as immature as Kyle Busch, but he can’t even blame it on being young and needing time to mature.
Finally, Matt, I am offended that you compared Dale Earnhadt to Jimmie Johnson. Dale Earnhardt was a MAN, an aggressive racer that took every position like he was a soldier going ashore in Normandy. He was NOT a corporate shill too afraid of hurting sales to speak his mind. Jimmie Johnson isn’t fit to walk Dale Earnhardt’s dog.
@ Bill B: Randy understands the concept just fine. He is an asshole simply for the sake of being one. He comes here to spout his venom because whenever he drags his fat ass outside, the girls in his neighborhood beat him senseless and make him walk home in his tightie whiteys. Only the internet allows him the anonymity to say anything he wants without being sent home nearly naked with tears running down his face.
That race is why I love short track racing. If NASCAR ever takes a race from Martinsville and doesn’t replace it with another short track, that will be the last straw for me. I just hope Hamlin survives next week because I think he can win it. On a personal note, I don’t think I’ll be drinking any Miller products. Kurt better watch out at Texas and Phoenix. I also hope a tire changer gets canned on the 24. Wow my thoughts involve racing this morning, not NASCAR politics thank you Martinsville.
Everyone feeling sorry for the old 29 pit crew is sad. This is a business not a charity. Harvick has had the season he has had in spite of his pit crew not because of them. Anyone who thinks otherwise obviously hasn’t been following the season long issues on pit road. It’s not like they had one bad stop and the rest of the race they were good. Consistent 15-16 seconds stops isn’t going to get it done for a championship caliber team. The surprising part is it took RC so long to fix it. Harvick lost about 45 positions on pit road the first 5 Chase races. With a 60 point deficit you don’t think some of those points would be valuable?
Gordon82Wins – You just made me laugh out loud! Thank you for making my day.
It is obvious that Randy wasn’t alive in 1985, 1988 or 1992 to see a legitimate points race.
NA$CAR outgrew the Short Tracks, in the 80’s, & 90’s. Now it seems they’re growing back into them. If the powers that be, pulled their heads out of wherever they have them, & actually watched any of this race. Then they ought to have a clue what it will take to get the sport moving in the right direction again.
Thanks for the recap Matt. Glad with Denny Whiner winning, I did not watch one complete lap of the race. TGFF. Thank God For Football!!
I too used to schedule my weekend around NASCAR. Qualifying, truck, Busch, Happy Hour, Cup Race. Now spend 2 minutes, and read Matt’s columns.
I do not care what the boys at PETTY drive just as long as my hero wants to there I hope hope he can be.Been a fan Petty fan for over 35yrs Long live the the king and his Queen ms linda
So wait… we are decided that Randy is 17? Does that mean the naked pictures Jacob has of him are illegal?
You forgot to say “Nana-Nana Boo-Boo, stick your head in Doo-Doo.”
Matt said: “To the best of my knowledge he is about to become the first driver to wheel Chevys, Fords, Toyotas and Dodges in such a brief career. Like Jerry Maguire might holler, “Show me the money!””
Robby Gordon drove for 4 different manufacturers in 4 straight years in 2006 (Chevy), 2007 (Ford), 2008(Dodge), and 2009(Toyota). And it wasnt Jerry Maguire who said “Show me the money!” but the character played by Cuba Gooding Jr.
Paul said: “It is obvious that Randy wasn’t alive in 1985, 1988 or 1992 to see a legitimate points race.”
Wow, three times in the last 30 years has there been a close points battle in the Cup series. Since the Chase era in 2004, we’ve had 2004, 2005, and so far 2010 being a close points battle. Thats 3 times in 7 years.
Jacob, I’ve been waiting for you to come back around. I keep asking for that list of drivers seriously injured/killed in one of Petty’s ‘Death Traps’, but you haven’t provided one yet. ?
At least the close points races in ’85 ’88 and ’92 were real, and not pasteurized, made-for-TV shams like we have with The Chase format.
That is the first race I’ve watched in it’s entirety in quite a while. Thank you Martinsville!!!! What a refreshing afternoon for a change. Get rid of the Chase and I think they’re on to something……..
I don’t think Daytona USA is closing, just the IMAX theater inside of it is closing.
Secesh, does the name Adam Petty mean anything to you?
Jed, so a 500 point slaughter over 36 races is more exciting to you than 6 points with 4 races to go? I guess we’re watching different sports then.
You’ve been a fan long enough to know that what killed Adam Petty was a stuck throttle, the same thing that killed Kenny Irwin. It wasn’t a Petty Motorsports issue, it was a stock car racing issue that ultimately led Nascar to mandate kill switches inside the cockpit. To imply that Adam Petty was killed due to Petty’s car being substandard is irresponsible.
“I guess we’re watching different sports then.”
You want to watch a points race.
I’d rather watch a stock car race.
The NASCAR championship should not be about manufactured excitement, it should be about making sure the best team each year is rewarded with a Championship. I’m happy the points race is close, but I’m happier the three best teams all year are the three left in the mix. If anyone other than the 11, 29, 48 won this title it would be wrong. All three have showed both consistency and an ability to win. If the 24, 99, 31, 33, 16 had won this year, I would have a problem with that. Those teams either didn’t show the ability to win or the consistency to be Champion.
I have no problem with a driver blowing out the points race. If they have won the most races and have the consistency then so be it. Brad K. deserves to win the Nationwide by the margin he has. The only problem with the old system was that it didn’t award winners enough. So, no a 500 point slaughter isn’t exciting, but if a team has the wins and consistency to build up that type of lead they deserve the title. Not to have it stripped away so NASCAR can have a show at the end of the year to sell to suburbanites who would rather be watching football anyway.
That’s nice Kevin, but Adam’s truck wasn’t built by PE. He was driving for another team.
Matt, I was at the race at Martinsville and it is always one of my favorites.
Thank you very much for saying what I was thinking about KuBu wrecking Gordon. Yes, Jeff bumped him first, but oh yeah, Busch wrecked him deliberately, then wasn’t man enough to stand up and just say so. Ooooh, I didn’t mean to get into him that hard — really, from my seat it looked intentional.
I don’t know what it looked like on TV, I hate ESPN’s coverage style – being there is always the best.
Secesh: I never said anybody was killed in a Petty car.
Finally, I have to wonder when you asked me to clarify my comments. I usually re-read the comments section a second (or more) time per day and I try to be diligent about answering any questions asked of me.
VolcanoNacho: It would be less transparently obvious that you are just Randy hiding behind another layer of fear, if you didn’t just show up to defend him. Although, if you start to show up more often now, the people that matter will still know it’s Randy hiding behind your screen name.
The people that matter?
adam and kenny irwin died from hung throttles, so did tony roper. sr died from seat belt installation/seat installation issues as well as the fact that na$car did nothing when we had already lost 3 racers to death due to basial skull fractures. they finally had to do something, head and neck restraints after a 5th driver was killed that october in charlotte, blaise alexander before they mandated that the drivers were a head and neck restraint system.
thankfully since then the drivers have survived hits. most recently elliott sadler at pocono. if he had no head or neck restraint on when he wrecked, we would have lost another.
darn shame it took earnhardt sr being killed and one other before na$car pulled their heads out from their backsides. and na$car only investigated dale’s crash as they did because of liability issues. they had a public relations nightmare on their hands and wanted to distance themselves as far away as possible from any reasonable doubt that they could have mandated something. that’s why na$car made bill simpson the sacrificial lamb over that death.
be real interesting to see how shame hmiel’s accident changes things with the construction of the usac cars.
Actually, Matt, Harvick led a lap on pitroad under caution as the 29 was pitted further down pit road than the 31 and they told him this on the radio so team orders to let the 29 lead a lap is kind of silly
…as I was saying, Jr. has not lost the will or ability to drive. Today he finally got a decent car, for once. I hope Jr. is driving for an owner next year who wants him up front and winning every week, instead of once every 3 years when Jr. nation puts pressure on. :)
Actually, I believe Mark Martin and Jack Roush chose the Robert Yates car, not one of Bill’s. And wasn’t that also the year that NASCAR gave Martin that 50 point penalty for an illegal carb spacer that was legal the week before, but not legal after NASCAR handed out a TSB during the race weekend in which the part was confiscated and penalty handed down?
Since 1983, 28% of all NASCAR races have been won by four men: Darrell Waltrip, Dale Earnhardt, Jeff Gordon, and Jimmie Johnson. All driving Chevys. Tell me they were “just that good” and I’ll call you a liar :-)
Matt, does na$car mandate that any positive comment or mention of Robby Gordon must be immediately followed by someting, oh ,similar to what you did, or is it that you just can’t help yourself? I mean it’s not like he is hard to pick on. In this particular case – I think you showed just who the big D… is.
Buzz – I’m pretty sure that the carb spacer was legal. The infraction was that it was too tall to be bolted on to the manifold. If they had welded it, it would have been fine.
He went on to miss the championship that year by 26 points.
Mark Martin’s 46 point carb spacer penalty in 1990 was because it was 2-1/2 inches tall when the rules specified 2 inches. The controversy was because they could have welded the intake manifold so it was 1/2” taller (same diff.) and it would’ve been legal.