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 November 1, 2010
The Key Moment – Juan Pablo Montoya pushed Clint Bowyer past Kevin Harvick just as the caution lights illuminated, freezing the field on the last lap of the race.
In a Nutshell – All the excitement NASCAR and plate racing can contrive with half the carnage. Call it Talladega Lite.
Dramatic Moment – When Jeff Burton got sideways in the pack, it looked like the wreck might decimate the field.
What They’ll Be Talking About Around the Water Cooler This Week
So why are TV ratings down? Well, let’s see. The race ended unexpectedly under caution on the final lap due to a wreck that put A.J. Allmendinger on his lid. For the next five minutes, ESPN announcers seemed thunderstruck, admitting they didn’t know who won. They showed side-by-side photos of Bowyer and Harvick in their cars while asking that same question. Then … instead of trying to answer it, they showed Bowyer doing a burnout. Wait a second! Aren’t these the guys with all the cameras scattered around the track? Why didn’t the producer rewind some footage to show the exact moment the caution lights came on and who was ahead at the time? If such footage was missing (and they eventually found it), why not show the last lap wreck and how it started?
If I were Clint Bowyer, I reckon I might have just backed my car into the fence doing my burnouts to make sure it didn’t end up at the NASCAR R&D center again.
Did Jeff Gordon’s engine actually lay down for a bit, or was Gordon just looking for a chance to break off as Jimmie Johnson’s wingman to go out and get the win for himself?
I leave today’s race with two great hopes; first, that I live long enough to see restrictor plate racing ended, and second, that all the drivers do as well. It’s got to be tough for Ricky Craven to do Sportscenter and analyze a Talladega race. After all, it was a wreck at Talladega that basically started the sequence of events which eventually cost Craven a promising Cup career.
The finish to Saturday’s Truck Series race was about as exciting as any race in any series I can recall in the last decade, and was said to be the closest finish in any of the three top NASCAR touring divisions since high speed electronics started keeping track of them. But to my jaded eye, Kyle Busch sure did look like he advanced his position from second to first with two wheels below the yellow line that marks “out-of-bounds.” Even Busch admitted it was “a judgment call” although I doubt Regan Smith would be as charitable. If I recall, the rule states a driver can go below that yellow line and advance his position if he is “forced below the yellow line” (again…I don’t think Smith would agree) but in this case, Busch drove up the track, hit the leader (who incidentally pushed him to victory in last year’s Truck race here) and got himself all catawampus in the process. Yes, Busch was out of control (a theme that seems to follow his entire racing career) but no, he wasn’t forced out of bounds. If nothing else, this controversy will only add fuel to the fire of the classic “Dale Earnhardt, Jr. out of bounds win” theory. Let’s settle this one once and for all. On the final lap of a restrictor plate race, drive through the infield care center if you have to. There is no out of bounds on the last lap, the true definition of “boys, have at it” (once we get done doubling the strength of the catchfence.) It sure beats an implied result that states, “If you’re Tony Stewart, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. or Kyle Busch, there’s one rule. If you’re Aric Almirola or Regan Smith, well, we do have some lovely parting gifts for you.”
Maybe time will prove me wrong, but this whole new sponsorship deal with the No. 24 team and the AARP program to help stamp out hunger amongst the elderly strikes me as desperate. Wal-Mart and 7-Eleven left the table (no pun intended) so this agreement is what we’re left with. I do applaud the goals of the charity, though. During my mom’s last years of life, I’d frequently have to drive her to the drug store to pick up one of her few zillion prescriptions and all too often, I heard the lady or gentleman in line in front of us decline to pay for their prescription drugs and walk away because “I either get my meds or I buy food this week, and I’m hungry.” It really does happen even in relatively wealthy Delaware County, PA, so I can’t imagine what things are like in West Philly or Appalachia.
The comment I’ve heard most often from fans and non-fans alike following the surprisingly subdued and little-covered media event to announce Gordon’s new deal is, “So if the problem is so bad, why isn’t the AARP spending their money to stock food banks rather than sponsor a stock car?” The contrary argument is this partnership is like using a little water to prime a well pump to produce greater quantities of water. We’ll see. In a tough economy with even kindhearted Americans having to scale back their charitable contributions, it’s sad to watch all these organizations they once supported fight to make their cause the latest “glamour” one in the public’s eye. Something has gone bad wrong here when, in the greatest nation on earth where GM, Chrysler, and Wall Street got billion dollar bailouts, any man, woman or child – no matter their age – goes to bed hungry at night. Vote on Tuesday for a candidate of either party you truly feel will help fix this mess.
After the No. 46 Whitney Motorsports team got caught with two front A-arms full of buckshot this weekend, I am expecting penalties to be announced Tuesday that are going to rock a lot of people clear out of their snakeskin booties. In this case, there’s no doubt the infraction was both intentional and severe. And for whatever reason, NASCAR really seems to enjoy hitting the little teams with huge penalties to drive them out of the sport. Whatever the consequences are, remember Darrell Waltrip’s team used to fill his frame rails with buckshot, where DW himself would pull a cable to release it onto the track during the pace laps. And Mr. Waltrip wonders what the delay is in getting him into the Hall of Fame before it goes Chapter 11? (Well, his brother’s appearance dressed as a woman Saturday ought to delay that eventuality another couple years.)
So what’s really going on at Richard Petty Motorsports? Have the creditors seized control? Is Budweiser refusing to make their final payment to the team because the contract specified Kasey Kahne would be in the car? How much of that ski resort did George Gillett own, and what did he earn from the recent fire sale? Hell, nobody who works there knows what’s going on, so how should the media? Pity poor Marcos Ambrose. It’s tough to hitchhike to Tasmania when your contract falls apart.
God save us from well-intended souls that think we tune into race coverage to be entertained rather than letting the racing entertain us. The less said about the SPEED team’s hour-long farce of a pre-race show before Saturday’s Truck race, the better. Apparently, last year’s Batman-themed debacle didn’t “learn them nothing.” This year, the pre-race “show” featured alleged professionals posing as characters from Gilligan’s Island. As an added bonus, they were a bit short of female characters, so we got to see Michael Waltrip dressed as an elderly woman (Mrs. Howell), complete with a dress and lipstick. Well, there’s one Weight Watchers ought to patent because I doubt I’ll eat this week. Somehow, they suckered truck driver Jennifer Jo Cobb into taking the role of Ginger (apparently, Waltrip nixed the idea of undergoing breast transplants) though she wasn’t allowed to speak a single word while in costume because she doesn’t have an actors’ guild card. The “theme” of the whole debacle was that the “characters” were trying to get off the “island” of landlocked Talladega. (Perhaps they should have studied the empty seats for the race. Apparently, emigration from the island isn’t that hard.) I found my own exit strategy, that little red button on the top right hand corner of the remote, after about five minutes of that mess. Last year, I was loudly castigated by the folks over on the Daly Planet for not getting into the spirit of the fun of Halloween. Stupid me. Here, we have a Truck Series where few fans recognize the names of three quarters of the participants and an increasing number of the trucks feature blank quarter panels. Maybe a little more time spent introducing the competitors and a little less time spent showing Waltrip in drag would have been in order? Note to Patti Wheeler: any non-lethal method of ending this stupidity before next year would greatly enhance SPEED’s credibility as a racing network and not an open mike (no pun intended) audition for the next generation of Hee-Haw.
OK, let’s get something out of the way before I go any further. As I write this column (draft three), the finishing order from Talladega has been shuffled once again… significantly. Typically, race results are not posted until Monday, but this ending is a worst case scenario, a final-lap caution flag at a plate track where timing and scoring loops are used to sort out who finished where combined with video if those answers are inconclusive. Eventually, I have to submit a column so I can have dinner, go to bed, and so that the editors can do their magic and post it. If the final results are shuffled again overnight, some of the comments below might be incorrect. I’m using the latest updated data I have available to me at this point. Editor’s Note: Final running order positions are up-to-date as of the information we had at 12:30 AM EST. Official results are released Monday afternoon and should be closely monitored, in particular the eighth-place position between Jeff Gordon and Denny Hamlin which could change hands once again.
How confusing are the results posted as of right now? The initial ones I had showed Allmendinger as finishing 32nd, the first car one lap down. He’d been on the lead lap prior to the wreck, and what was left of his car clearly was across the start/finish line. How’s that work? Why is that important? Because if Allmendinger wrecked on lap 187, there would have been a green/white/checkered finish. NASCAR’s decision to throw the caution on the final lap stands in sharp contrast to the call they made to let Martin and Harvick race back to the end of the 2007 Daytona 500 while carnage ensued on the frontstretch.
The Hindenburg Award For Foul Fortune
Jeff Burton had taken several turns at the front either pushing or being pushed in the lead pack. But an awkward bump from Dale Earnhardt, Jr. sent Burton for a wild ride that ended his race and left the third RCR car with a 41st-place DNF by his name – not a winner’s trophy.
Earnhardt led a race for the second straight week, a statistical oddity this year, and clearly had a strong car before getting collected in the wreck he initiated with Burton. The No. 88 did make it back on track, but settled for a disappointing 39th.
Lately, Jamie McMurray has proven to be a threat on the plate tracks, but he was the third car involved in the Earnhardt-Burton incident and limped to the line 36th.
Tony Stewart rallied back from two laps down after cutting a tire but got caught up in the last-lap wreck. He finished 31st.
The “Seven Come Fore Eleven” Award For Fine Fortune
Kevin Harvick’s former pit crew had to feel a sense of vindication helping Bowyer not only win, but beat their former boss. Just two weeks earlier, Harvick insisted his crew be swapped with Bowyer’s because he felt his own team was far too slow and had cost him too many race wins. As it turns out, the former No. 29 pit crew was fast enough today while Harvick, well – he found new stuff to moan about on the radio once again.
Maybe Harvick’s mood improved a little after the race. When the No. 29 car slid into the side of Marcos Ambrose’s stricken Toyota, it appeared not only were his chances of a win eliminated, so were any remaining title hopes. The team still wound up second, though, Harvick posting the best finish of any of the three remaining title contenders in an impressive comeback. Richard Childress is a pragmatist, but I bet he has to be wondering why he’s spending all those millions on wind tunnel time when a car with its nose restyled with duct tape’s handier younger cousin can still finish second at Talladega.
There’s laying back to avoid trouble ahead, then there’s laying back to your own hurt. Denny Hamlin lost the draft not only of the lead pack but of the second pack as well and found himself a sitting duck, running three seconds a lap slower than the leaders as they put him a lap down. It took until late in the race for the No. 11 to finally get back onto the lead lap, although he made the most of it with a finish somewhere in the top 10 (ninth as of this writing).
Jeff Gordon felt he had an engine letting go when he smelled oil smoke, but the mill held together well enough to drive him to a finish somewhere around eighth.
What’s the Points?
Who the hell knows? They keep changing the finishing order. Here’s what we do know for certain: Jimmie Johnson still leads the points. Denny Hamlin remains in second, somewhere between two and (more likely) 14 points behind. Kevin Harvick should wind up 38 points behind Johnson in third.
Barring a Texas tornado, those three are the sole remaining title contenders. Jeff Gordon takes over fourth spot in the standings, relegating Kyle Busch to fifth, but neither of them have a sno-cone’s chance in hell of being this year’s champion.
Carl Edwards and Tony Stewart remain sixth and seventh. Jeff Burton’s wreck dropped him two spots in the standings to tenth, with Matt Kenseth taking over that eighth-place points position Burton abdicated. Kurt Busch held serve in ninth, while Greg Biffle and Clint Bowyer round out your top-12 playoff participants.
Further back, Jamie McMurray’s misfortune leaves Mark Martin just 39 markers behind him for 13th.
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 two shots of Maalox. Honestly, I get sick to the stomach watching plate races.
Next Up – Expect a veritable tsunami of Cowboy metaphors next week as the circuit heads off to Dallas/Fort Worth, the southern-most precinct of New York City. What are the chances of a great race there? How do you like the Cowboys’ chances of making the Super Bowl?
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Looked to me in the truck race that Kyle Busch had already advanced his position before he went below the yellow line.
Matt, I also thought about Kyle going below the line being a penalty when I saw the picture. After watching the replay, it was keeping his truck from wrecking that put him on the trajectory of going below the yellow line. It has always been a rule that if a driver is avoiding a wreck, all bets are off when it comes to the yellow line. Apparently that also applies when the driver in question is avoiding wrecking himself, all by himself.
A couple of interesting notes on the Cup race. na$car.com offered a ‘FREE‘ live feed of ESPN’s coverage of the race, I decided to check it out. They pulled the plug at the race’s halfway point. Who wants to bet that they were mad about the better ratings on the net, than the ones from cable?
As much as I hate plate racing, it usually provides some sort of excitement. Yesterday’s race was flat boring.
Good point about Kyle Busch going below the yellow line to keep from wrecking himself in the truck race. I’m guessing, like so many of Nascar’s “rules”, this one is a judgement call, meaning some Nascar honcho at the track calls a scotch-soaked Brian France and asks him how to rule.
I have a feeling Jeff Gordon is getting tired of being Jimmie Johnson’s push man.
Both RPM cars got torn up. Seems a fitting end to their week.
Matt, I hear Robby Gordon is still looking for his truck.
I know the purists hate them, but I love plate racing. They’re a welcome break from 1.5/2 mile strung out races and the most unique form of racing NASCAR has. I think ‘Dega has too much impact on the Chase. Nice to see everyone survive this one.
On Gordon, I’m tired of hearing the hate on the AARP deal. Apparently, Hendrick had another sponsor “in his back pocket” (I assume 7-11), but they chose to do something different. AARP is going to make out great on this because not only will they get donations, but they will get a nice cut of all souvenir sales. Nice to see this in NASCAR. I’d like to see more of this considering the sport spent 30+ years endorsing a product that KILLED/KILLS PEOPLE, Winston Cigarettes. They might have been good marketing the sport, but Winston should have been kicked to the curb in 1990s. At that point the writing was on the wall about tobacco advertising, and NASCAR would have had the clout to go to a new title sponsor with boom years forward to establish them.
I’m not really sure it matters what the rest of us think about the sponsorship deal for Jeff Gordon; what matters is if Rick Hendrick has enough financial support to run the team for the full season. Did anyone really think the #24 team was ever in jeopardy of becoming a S&P team? As to what this says about the issue involving smaller teams struggling to find sponsors, the writing has been on the wall there for a couple of years now. Besides, Nascar is intent on running those teams out of the sport anyway.
Jimmie was pushing Gordon when Gordon made the comment that they were “blowing up” so I am not so sure how the comments hold up the Gordon is tired of pushing Jimmie.
I watched women’s tennis when this race was on.
The LPGA was on! But Caroline isn’t too bad to look at.
Jayski’s results from yesterday are the same as the “official” results.
Regan Smith went below the yellow line to avoid causing a huge wreck a couple of years ago at Talladega and the win was awarded to Tony Stewart.
Whatever Busch’s excuse was it was no better than Smith’s was.
NASCAR really needs to be clearer about the yellow line rule. I guess you might as well risk going below there for the win as there is a 50-50 chance NASCAR won’t call you on it as Busch got away with it in the truck race.
What would the points look like if Boyer did not have his NH spanking?
It is just really ironic that Gordon will end up pocketing millions from a charity sponsorship.
I could not agree more that the coverage at the end was horrible. If not showing clips to determine who won, (instead of the burnout), then at least show clips of how the wreck started, who started it, etc. What a joke.
I was thinking the same thing.
I loved the booth’s comment about gordon being 50. not even close.
Unfortunately cigarettes cause the cancer that’s killing folks. Latest victim, Jim Hunter. All those winstons. Pay attention Matt!!!
Jennifer Jo was a natural Ginger. Save the rack.
Craig said: “AARP is going to make out great on this because not only will they get donations, but they will get a nice cut of all souvenir sales.”
So they spend $20 million to get $5 million in t-shirt and die-cast sales. Sounds like something our government would do, like “Cash for Clunkers.”
Cigarettes, cigars, and smoking of any kind are the worst. I hate them.
I agree… there’s something fundamentally wrong with a charitable organization spending millions of dollars to ask for my money.
Matt loves to compare the NFL to NASCAR, about how the NFL does everything right and NASCAR can’t do anything right.
Well, they called the race correctly in less time than it generally takes to get the ref out from under his replay hood, so I didn’t mind waiting the minute or so.
Also, I’ve never been a TV director, but I think it must be a little hard dechiphering the exact second NASCAR calls the winner when there is live action on the track, countless replays to review, and so on.
At least it’s harder than writing a totally predictble column with the aid of TiVo hours after the fact.
Matt, you summed it up correctly about the stupid yellow line rule and the ending of the truck race. What a bogus non-call by NA$CAR after what happened with Regan Smith two years ago! I was so disgusted on Saturday! I know there have always been calls favoring the stars, but this issue just so blatantly favors the big names and not the little guy. How much more fun would it have been to see Smith and Armirola celebrate in Victory Lane as the “little guy?”
That yellow line rule is one of those duh moments for NASCAR. The rule causes more problems than it solves on the last straight of a plate race, controversial calls and wrecks (Dega Oct. 2008, April 2009, Daytona July 2009). Mark a spot either on the exit of turn 4 or at Dega in the tri-oval. Once you pass that line going to the checkers, no yellow line rule. It’s more dangerous at that point to put the drivers in a box, than let them use all available track to go for the win.
Jeff said to Jr. in the medical center, “Man you did nothing wrong. We were just racin’.” After seeing the video of how off-center Jeff bumped Jamie & knocked him totally sideways, & Jamie saved it, there wasn’t much else Jeff could say. :)
After AARP sold us out to Obama care for billions last year, I sent my card back & have not & will not renew it.
We didn’t renew with AARP either. We sent the renewal notice back with a note telling them why.
Along the same limes, I decided to not renew my subscription to “Midget Tossing Quarterly.” It just didn’t seem right in these uncertain economic times.
I was wondering what lame excuse Marybeth, the apparently senile alien from planet AMP was going to come up with for her weekly BS excuse for Dale Jr. Once again it’s not Jr. fault because he ran out of talent and Stupidly bump drafted Burton in the corner.In 2011 it’ll be seven, that’s 7 years Marybeth, since 2 average at best drivers Dale JR and Mikey Waltrip have won a points paying Cup restrictor plate race. Something neither one can’t seem to do without the DEI HP/AERO advantage they had 10 years ago. And you think they have talent?
Does this mean that Jeff Gordon’s sponsorship apparences will have him serving soup at the local soup kitchens?