Kurt Busch to Attempt The Indianapolis-Charlotte Double
posted by Phil Allaway
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Andretti Autosport announced this morning that Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet in the Sprint Cup Series, will attempt the Indianapolis 500 in a fifth entry for the IndyCar Series team. Once the Indianapolis 500 is completed, Busch will fly from Indianapolis to Charlotte, jump in his No. 41 Chevrolet and compete in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Busch considers the opportunity to do the double as an old-school throwback moment.
“This is really to challenge myself within motorsports,” Busch said in Andretti Autosport’s press release. “Perhaps I am a bit of an old-school racer; a throwback, I guess. I enjoyed the era of drivers racing different cars and testing themselves in other series. It is tough to do now for a variety of factors, but when the opportunity is there, I want to do it. While NASCAR is my home, I have been fortunate to compete in Pro Stock on the NHRA circuit a number of years ago and test a V8 Supercar. This opportunity was a talk with Michael [Andretti] over dinner one night, a “What if,” and now it’s becoming a reality for me to drive in the Indy 500 with Andretti Autosport. It’s literally a dream come true. To go to the famous Brickyard with the iconic Andretti name, it doesn’t get much cooler or better than that.”
Busch will be doing the Indianapolis-Charlotte double as a Memorial Day mission to men and women serving in the U.S. Military via the Armed Forces Foundation. Fans can contribute to the cause by texting AFF to 50555 to donate $10.
Busch, who has never raced an IndyCar, passed Rookie Orientation at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year during a test session. At the time, Busch was more or less testing the Dallara DW12 for fun.
Busch will be the fourth driver to attempt the Indianapolis-Charlotte double. John Andretti was the first driver to attempt it in 1994. After finishing four laps down in tenth in Indianapolis, Andretti crashed and had engine problems in the 600. Robby Gordon has attempted the double five times, most recently in 2004. However, Gordon failed to make it to Charlotte on time and did not start the 600 in 2000 (P.J. Jones started Gordon’s No. 13 Ford in that instance). Finally, Tony Stewart has attempted the double twice (most recently in 2001) and is the only driver to ever complete all 1100 miles. Neither of the three drivers has won either leg of the double. The best finishes are Stewart and Gordon’s sixth-place finishes at the Indianapolis 500 (although Gordon’s came in 2000, the year he didn’t make it to Charlotte in time to start the Coca-Cola 600), and Stewart’s fourth-place finish in the 2001 Coca-Cola 600.
Danica Patrick, Justin Allgaier Talk About Phoenix Incident
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
A disappointing start to the year for Danica Patrick won’t include continued conflict. Patrick met with rookie Justin Allgaier Sunday, shortly after the Phoenix Cup race after a wreck ruined both drivers’ days. Patrick, who was critical of the No. 51 car on the radio, claiming Allgaier was “driving all over the track” appeared receptive to a conversation that quickly settled differences over what will be a long season.
“She was just upset because she got involved in the crash that we had,’’ said Allgaier to the Motor Racing Network. “She says she’s been through this and that she felt like I needed to settle down at that point. I explained my position on why everything happened. I think she understood where I was coming from. It doesn’t fix either one of our racecars. It doesn’t fix either one of our days. Unfortunately, we were both having pretty decent days.’’
Allgaier wound up 30th due to the incident while Patrick was 36th. The incident, which was caused by Allgaier’s spin also involved the No. 32 team and Travis Kvapil, which wound up 38th after sustaining heavy damage.
Camping World Close to Extending Title Sponsorship of NCWTS
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Marcus Lemonis, CEO of Camping World, Grand Marshal of Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway, and star of CNBC’s “The Profit,” made the announcement over the weekend that the retailer is very close to announcing a deal that would continue its title sponsorship of NASCAR’s Truck Series. The original agreement with NASCAR is scheduled to conclude after the 2015 season.
According to the sanctioning body, no formal contract has been signed, but “the agreement between the two parties has proven to be a beneficial one.”
“In about a month, we’ll be announcing a significant extension to that contract. It’s been great for us,” said Camping World’s Lemonis in a statement. “The NASCAR relationship has worked well for Camping World. When we started, we had 35 stores. Now, we’re up to 120 stores. As we travel the country and we meet new customers in stores, they always are very appreciative of our relationship with NASCAR. It’s been good.”
Gaining a long-term commitment from Camping World to sponsor the Truck Series would be a relief for NASCAR, which is set to lose Nationwide Insurance as title sponsor for the NASCAR Nationwide Series at the end of the 2014 season. The sponsorship of the Cup Series by Sprint runs through 2016.
The NCWTS is back in action on March 29th at 2:30 PM (ET) when the trucks visit Martinsville Speedway in the Kroger 250, which can be seen on Fox Sports 1. Ratings for the season opener were up 11 percent.
Harvick Takes Win At Phoenix In Second Race With New Team
posted by Justin Tucker
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Phoenix International Raceway has become Kevin Harvick’s home away from home. Sunday Afternoon was no exception as Harvick charged to the front early and would dominate for much of the day, leading 224 of the scheduled 312 laps to record his record fifth win on the one mile oval and his third win in the last four races at Phoenix.
Harvick, coming off of a disappointing Speedweeks which was capped by a last lap crash in the Daytona 500 in his debut with Stewart-Haas Racing, set the tone on Saturday by winning both practices while having the best 5 and 10-lap averages in the first practice of the day on Saturday. On Sunday, Harvick and his No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet was nothing short of flawless as he was able to hold Dale Earnhardt, Jr. by .489 seconds after a late race restart to claim his 24th career Sprint Cup Series victory.
“Man, this is awesome,” Harvick said after his dominant victory on Sunday. “Man, this just solidifies so many things and so many decisions. It’s been so much work with all the time and effort that these guys (the crew) have put in—but what a race car.”
Stewart Haas Racing co-owner Gene Haas shared in Harvick’s excitement after the race.
“It took long enough,” Haas joked. “This is phenomenal. I think there was a lot of skepticism last year about what myself and Tony (Stewart) what we were up to, was there a lot of madness to this. Quite frankly, it’s a great team, there’s a lot of synergy at the shop, people working together. I don’t know what we did, but I think we put together a great organization.”
Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt, Jr. continued his hot start to the 2014 season. Earnhardt Jr. would finish second on Sunday, marking his seventh consecutive top 10 finish since the end of the 2013 season. Earnhardt Jr. was pleased with the effort after a coast-to-coast whirlwind week after winning his second Daytona 500 and also gave great praise to the efforts of Harvick and the No. 4 team.
“I’ve got to congratulate Kevin. Those guys were two-tenths faster than everyone all weekend in practice. They were just phenomenal,” Earnhardt said. “To be able to run with them all day was a big confidence builder for us.”
Joining Harvick and Earnhardt in the top 5 of The Profit on CNBC 500K were Brad Keselowski with his second consecutive top 3 run of 2014 in third. Keselowski’s Team Penske teammate Joey Logano would finish fourth, and Jeff Gordon would come home fifth in his No. 24 Pepsi Max Chevrolet.
Jimmie Johnson finished in sixth, followed by Ryan Newman with a nice rebound after Daytona in seventh. Carl Edwards would carry the banner for Roush Fenway Racing by finishing eighth, Kyle Busch was ninth, and Jamie McMurray would finish tenth.
A look at the Profit on CNBC 500K by the numbers. There were 14 lead changes among eight different drivers, there were eight cautions for 39 laps which slowed the race pace to 109.229 MPH.
Next Sunday, the Sprint Cup Series heads to Sin City and the Las Vegas Motor
Starting Lineup: The Profit On CNBC 500K
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday March 1, 2014
Drivers in RED (i) are those ineligible to collect Sprint Cup points
Daytona 500 TV Ratings Down
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Wednesday February 26, 2014
What was the longest weather delay in Daytona 500 history turned out to bring NASCAR lower ratings and TV viewership Sunday night than expected. According to a report Monday from FOX Sports, the 56th running of the Daytona 500 airing at 8 PM (ET) posted a 5.6/10 national household rating/share which averaged 9.3 million viewers. That’s down 44 percent from last year’s 9.9, easily making it the least-watched Daytona 500 of all-time.
Due to the six-hour, twenty-two minute rain delay in Daytona, the race was up against the primetime coverage of the Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony from Sochi, Russia on NBC (15.25 million viewers). FOX also reported that 69% of the pre-rain delay viewers of the race, which began at 1 PM (ET) kept tuning in.
In comparison, the 2013 Daytona 500 on FOX was the most-watched race in five years, posting a 9.9/22 rating/share, commanding 16.7 million viewers. The Daytona 500 in 2012, the first to ever be run on a Monday and in the primetime slot did a 7.7/13 overnight rating/share which resulted in 13.67 million households viewing the race according to Nielsen TV ratings data.
Earnhardt, Jr. Claims Second Daytona 500 Victory
posted by Justin Tucker
Wednesday February 26, 2014
Ten years is a long time. For Dale Earnhardt, Jr., it felt like an eternity. NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver endured many near misses and close calls at the Daytona 500 since his only win in the Great American Race in 2004. Earnhardt had finished second in two of his last three Daytona 500s coming into Sunday’s race. He was also riding the tail of a 55-race winless streak, dating back to Michigan in 2012.
However nothing would stop Dale Jr. on Sunday, not even a 6 hour and 22 minute rain delay from capturing his second Daytona 500 win. Earnhardt Jr. led a race-high 54 laps on the evening and used some timely drafting help from teammates Jimmie Johnson and, on the final restart, Jeff Gordon to separate from the pack and secure the victory.
“Winning this race is the greatest feeling that you could feel in this sport besides accepting the trophy for the championship,” said a jubilant Earnhardt after pulling into Victory Lane. “We could fight off battle after battle. We got a little help at the end there from Jeff to get away on the restart. This is amazing. I can’t believe this is happening. I never take this for granted, man because it doesn’t happen twice, let alone once.”
Aside from the race itself the big story of the race was the 6 hour and 22 minute red flag, which threatened to move the race to Monday evening (had the race been postponed, FOX Sports’ Chris Myers had tweeted that the race would resume at 5:00pm EST). However, Mother Nature would cooperate and would allow the race to be run under different conditions from which they practiced this week. Once the race resumed, the intensity picked up from the changing track conditions. This allowed the pack to race side-by-side and at times 3-wide up to seven rows deep.
Joining Earnhardt Jr. in the top 5 for the 2014 Daytona 500 were: Denny Hamlin who closed out a spectacular Speedweeks in second, Brad Keselowski in third, Jeff Gordon in fourth, and Jimmie Johnson who overcome two wrecks leading up to the 500 in fifth.
Rounding out the top 10 in the Daytona 500 were Matt Kenseth in sixth, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. in seventh and Greg Biffle would bring his No. 16 Ford home in eighth. Austin Dillon would come home ninth in his first Cup Series race in the iconic No. 3 for Richard Childress Racing, while Casey Mears would round out the top 10.
A couple of major contenders for the Daytona 500 win would see their hopes dashed early on as Martin Truex, Jr. would blow up just 30 laps into the race, relegating him to a 43rd-place finish in his debut for Furniture Row Racing. Crew chief Todd Berrier was already in Nashville for a test session before the race was even over. Kyle Busch, meanwhile would have a pit road violation just before halfway and would spend much of the race battling back from that mistake. Busch would eventually finish 19th after leading 19 laps.
Danica Patrick would also be bit by bad luck as she was caught up in a multi-car wreck on lap 145. Patrick would lead her second consecutive Daytona 500, but wouldn’t have the finish to show for it finishing 40th. Tony Stewart would encounter a frustrating evening as well, with a fuel pickup problem derailing his quest for his first Daytona 500 win. Stewart would finish 35th.
A look at the Daytona 500 by the numbers. There were 42 lead changes among 18 drivers, while seven cautions for 39 laps would slow the race pace to 145.290 MPH.
Next week, the Sprint Cup Series heads to the “diamond in the desert,” Phoenix International Raceway for The Profit on CNBC 500K. The Green flag is scheduled for 3:15pm EST.
Nationwide Series Post-Race Quotes: Drive4COPD 300
posted by Thomas Bowles
Tuesday February 25, 2014
Frontstretch Interviews – Courtesy Mike Neff
ELLIOTT SADLER – FINISHED 4th
Thoughts on the race?
It’s definitely a lot different racing than what we’re used to.
Comfortable with it?
Yeah, it’s just different. You’re worried about what you’re doing, but you’re also worried about what everyone else is doing and they’re not doing more than you’re doing. Physically pushing a guy is way better than just riding so you just gotta time it right and push it to the edge.
Happy to start the year with a top 5?
Yeah. Hell, that was the worst we ran all day, I think. I have no idea how they put the 3 car in front of us on that last restart. I hadn’t seen the 3 car hardly all day. When they put us from fifth to sixth, on the outside line, it just really boxed us in. I would have really restarted behind my teammate and given him a good push to the front. Anyways, it is what it is; we’ll take it and move on.
Looked like you were up front all day.
The guys did a good job. We had a fast race car. Great pit stops, just really proud of these guys. The car’s in one piece and we can take it to Talladega now. Great job by my guys. A lot of effort came into coming down here to Daytona and giving ourselves a shot to win. We had that chance to be up front and make some things happen. Fifth is not what we want, but we’ll take it and move on.
Bumping vs Pushing?
It’s way harder. You don’t want to lay on the guy in front of you, so it’s tough racing. A lot different than what we’re used to, ‘cause you gotta go. You gotta drag the brake too ‘cause you don’t want to hit the guys and you don’t want to stay on him. It’s a lot harder mentally than what we’ve done in the past.
Car was strong all day. Pushing vs. Bumping, is that harder to do than just getting on somebody and pushing them?
Yeah, it is a little bit. When you bump ‘em, you jar ‘em, it kinda jacks ‘em a little bit. It’s a little more abrupt, obviously. I thought it was OK there at the end. It was certainly fun and hopefully entertaining. But a little bit of a struggle in the early part of the race and the midpart of the race to see a good race. And that’s unfortunate for the fans. You can’t do that the whole race, you can’t tear up your stuff, knock your grill in, overheat your motor, all that stuff so there’s no sense in doing all that until you get down to the last lap. The 7 and the 6, they did a good job. Man, the 7 really held the 22 and I tight on the bottom. I was rubbing his door and hitting the apron at the same time, no room whatsoever. So it was good; wish we were the ones who could have won but a lot better now than what we were last year.
Going home in one piece makes it a lot better, right?
Yeah. My back feels good. My foot feels good. Past years here, I’ve been going home with pain so I’m alright.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Truck Series Post-Race Quotes: Daytona (Exclusives)
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday February 22, 2014
When you’re on the outside like that, how frustrating is it?
It’s so hard. Timothy Peters has won here. Kyle Busch has won everywhere. Ron Hornaday has been running Trucks forever, probably before I was even born. I was surrounded by veterans there, and like I told them I don’t have a rookie stripe but I’m a rookie. This is only my fourth Truck race ever, my fourth superspeedway race, and man, I figured out when the 17 got up in front of me, I pushed him. And as soon as I pushed him, he took off. And I went with him. And I just kept doing it, and before I knew it, he was leading. And I saw Ron in my mirror, backed up to him, and if it wasn’t for him, I don’t know what would have happened. I gotta thank him big time for that. That was a true teammate move right there. I really appreciate that. He just bounced off me and we got to the front. I tried my hardest to sidedraft Kyle. I was probably touching his door.
Top 5 in the No. 30 truck. This deal come together at the last minute, but you had a heck of a truck. Tell us about your night.
Yeah, I’ve got to thank Turner Scott Motorsports. The guys worked so hard on this Rheem Comfort Products Chevrolet. Exciting! Just got hung up on the outside and had to wait for my teammate there to catch up. And then he got to the bottom, so… I got the old 32 and started pushing ol’ Ryan to the front. So, it’s not bad. We’ll take it. You just don’t want to step over that boundary. You don’t know how far to push and shove. We bumped about six times down the straightaway without latching onto them. Hopefully, that was OK and we came home with a top 5.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Budweiser Duels Post Race Quotes
posted by Matt Stallknecht
Friday February 21, 2014
BUDWEISER DUELS POST-RACE QUOTES
They’re saying the wheel bearing burned up in it. I don’t know what caused it, they’re taking it all apart to figure out what the heck happened. Something abnormal that’s for sure I don’t think I’ve ever had that happen at all. Hopefully, we made the race and hopefully we can fix the problem before Sunday.
WHAT WAS THAT LOUD BOOM ONCE YOU TURNED INTO THE GARAGE?
Loud pop was a tire… thankfully, it popped, hopefully it didn’t hurt anybody. All the heat created in the left front that popped was pretty weird.
REALLY GOOD RUN. WHAT DID YOU THINK OF IT?
Yeah, it was good. We have a car we can work with for the 500. Got a good starting spot, so we’re going to rest easy, fluff and buff our car for a couple of days and get ready for Sunday.
ANY DIFFERENCE ON WHETHER THE TOP OR BOTTOM LANE WORKED?
Yeah, I was just moving around, trying to stay with the flow. For me, this car works on all parts of the racetrack. So I’m pretty happy with it.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.
GOT SHUFFLED BACK, AFTER PIT STOPS AND THEN COULDN’T GET BACK UP TO THE FRONT. WHY?
Nah, we were just sitting there waiting until the last few laps to make a move. You didn’t want to pull down and get sent to the back. Seen a couple of guys get sent to the back really quick so we were just kind of waiting for the end. I felt like we had a good situation there with Ambrose behind us — we had a good run off Turn 2 and I went. It was the last lap, time to go do something, nobody went with us but hopefully Sunday is a different story.
We got a great car. We don’t have to work hard. We learned, we got a good race car. Got a car in one piece, ready to go so we’ll try and get through the next couple of practices, deliver it to the starting group this Sunday and we’ll be real happy.
YOU’RE IN THE DAYTONA 500!
Yeah, it’s pretty awesome. This Whitetail Chevrolet was so fast that I knew all I had to do was stick it behind smart, intelligent drafters and we could have a good finish. That’s what we did in the Duels and I’m excited. I’m excited to go do some stuff with the Nationwide car and have some more practice with this. But to know that we’re locked in the Daytona 500’s pretty cool.
YOU WERE OBVIOUSLY IN FRONT OF THAT MELEE AT THE END. WHEN YOU WERE UP FRONT THERE IN THE BEGINNING, WERE YOU HOPING TO JUST STAY IN LINE AND LET YOU FINISH TOP 5?
I was pretty content to ride and luckily I knew a lot of people around us were. It was nice to have a little calm and not really have to be racing hard the whole time. I knew that the pit stop was going to shake everything up and that’s exactly what happened. Fell back a little bit there but made the right moves at the end to get a good finish.
HOW STRONG ARE THESE RCR CARS?
They’re very strong! They definitely have the capabilities to be winning one of these races.
YOU’RE IN THE TOP 5 FOR YOUR HEAT IN THE DAYTONA 500. YOUR PRIMARY CAR IS SITTING RIGHT IN THE GARAGE, KIND OF WADDED UP. DID YOU THINK THIS ONE HAD IT IN IT?
Yeah, it’s a brand new car also. It’s just not quite as good as the primary but still a damned good car. I’m just proud of everybody at RCR for building such fast race cars. All of our cars have been fast, ECR motor’s been strong, even our affiliate teams have been qualifying really good and racing good. So… excited about 2014! It’s going to be a good year.
WELL MAN, YOU STARTED IN THE BACK BUT WORKED YOUR WAY TO THE FRONT WHEN IT COUNTED MOST. WERE YOU JUST BIDING YOUR TIME THROUGHOUT THE RACE?
Eh, you never know if you’re going to get back up there or not. We had to start at the back, we had to make a run early and see what we could do. We drove right to 10th, or something like that and then it got stagnant. We tried to make something happen, and went to the back again. Drove back up to the front. Again, just really proud of my guys. Matt Kruder did a hell of a job on that pit stop getting just enough gas in to gain some spots there.
RCR CARS SEEM PRETTY DARNED STRONG. DO YOU THINK THE RCR CARS HAVE SOMETHING FOR THEM ON SUNDAY — ESPECIALLY THE THREE JOE GIBBS RACING CARS THAT SEEM TO BE THE CLASS OF THE FIELD RIGHT NOW?
Oh yeah. The 20 car was extremely fast. The 11 didn’t qualify that good, but he’s a good drafter. I think he won. We definitely have something for him.
Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
Matt McLaughlin · Thursday November 4, 2010
Editor’s Note: Matt McLaughlin returns with the second installment of his ten ways to fix NASCAR. Miss Part I’s edition? Don’t worry, we have you covered; feel free to catch up by clicking HERE. Agree or disagree? Feel free to comment below.
Step Six: Hold the Chamber of Commerce’s feet to the fire
Chambers of Commerce in areas blessed with a Cup date know the economic impact a NASCAR race date brings. Those Chambers are made up of local merchants, the guys and gals that own the gas stations, the restaurants, bars and the like that profit so handsomely from the fans attending the race. But those small business owners are seeing their land rush companies threatened by the big bullies in the hospitality industry. When hotels and motels, by and large national chains these days, start doubling rates and making unrealistic minimum stay requirements during race weekends, they are raising the cost of attending a Cup event above what a lot of blue collar racing fans consider affordable. Lower race ticket prices are commendable, but they represent only a fraction of the true cost of a race weekend for an out-of-town fan.
Hey, I understand supply and demand, free enterprise and all that stuff. But the situation during some race events amounts to a lumberyard tripling the price of plywood, hammers and generators as a hurricane approaches. It’s just gouging. And if some of the smaller motels and hotels offer more modest rates and are fully occupied during race weekends while the chain hotels have rooms vacant, eventually everyone is going to have to be more reasonable. Yeah, yeah, it’s nice to see some of these places string up signs that read “Welcome Race Fans!” You just have to study the fine print that reads, “Now drop your pants and grab your ankles. This isn’t going to hurt too much.”
On a final note, it’s the job of those Chambers of Commerce to get politicians on a local and state level to help alleviate the traffic mess around race tracks hosting Cup events. Yes, when that many people all try to exit the same arena, many of them from out of state and some of them driving RV’s, there’s going to be some congestion. But to a man and woman, every fan I know (and I’ve met a bunch of them over the years) finds the soul sapping post-race traffic the worst part of going to a race live. No less an authority than T. Wayne Robertson said shortly before his untimely death that traffic was the number one issue the tracks needed to address. Whatever combination of new slip ramps, new traffic patterns, working with online map services to show alternate routes, or if need be, new highways or added traffic lanes has to be considered to fix this mess.
Politicians need to be made aware of the huge boost to local and state economies a Cup race weekend provides. Even with today’s greatly diminished crowds, most Cup races host more fans than the damned Super Bowl, and you see the lengths the politicos go to to try to bring the Super Bowl “in country.” Here’s an easy solution. Tell politicians running for office they can attend the race and be the Grand Marshal… if they drive to the event themselves and drive home afterwards.
Step Seven: Get rid of the start-and-parkers
The start-and-park types are the first vultures to reach the dying carcass of NASCAR racing. They’re just out there getting in the way, albeit briefly, and adding nothing to the show. There’s no need for a 43-car starting field anymore. Thirty-five cars would be perfectly adequate to stage a good race, much more in keeping with the reality of the times. If in the future, the sport prospers again and more fully-funded and competitive teams wishing to run full races start showing up, we can always incrementally start increasing the size of the field again. Remember back in the dance hall days of the sport when folks tried to start teams with fans contributing to offset the cost of running races? I’m fully expecting some investment firm to start sending out prospectuses soon telling would-be investors, “Throw in ten thousand dollars to help us buy us a couple cars, hire an over-the-hill driver, and double your money annually as we collect last place checks for ‘competing’ five laps.”
Step Eight: Friday, Friday, Friday!
Remember back when qualifying on Friday used to mean something? Remember when Dale Earnhardt usually had to go out in second round qualifying on Saturday to try to get a better pit stall? With the top 35 rule, what does Friday matter anymore? No wonder the “crowds” are down to a few hundred stalwarts camping at the track over the weekend with nothing better to do.
Let’s make this short and simple. The top 35 cars (as noted above, the entire field) qualify on Friday. The fastest 35 cars compete on Sunday. I don’t care if you’re leading the points and have won four titles. If you mess up and you’re not one of the fastest 35 cars, pack up your rig and go home. Would some fans be disappointed if their favorite driver missed the race they had tickets to see? My guess is they would be. But this is stock car racing. If your favorite driver is eliminated in a first-lap wreck, you can’t leave early and get half your money back.
As a codicil, let me add that if a team presents a cheated up car for pre-qualifying inspection or the car is found to be illegal after qualifying but prior to the race, that team and its driver would get a nice jump on traffic – evicted immediately from the premises with instructions not to return for three weeks. I’m tired of trying to explain to non-race fans how an illegal car wins a race and the driver gets to keep the trophy.
Step Nine: Tear down the walls
Newer fans simply can’t understand how accessible the drivers used to be to fans. It is postulated at Richard Petty, once the face of stock car racing, has probably signed more autographs than anyone else on earth. Yeah, in those kinder, simpler days after a race, fans could wander down to the garage area, seek out their hero, get an autograph, a smile, and a few words with the fellow. Hell, some of the drivers wandered out into the infield or parking lots to seek out fans, have a burger and brew with them or just hang out. That all changed when drivers started hanging out in their motor coaches behind locked gates and the garage area was by and large shut down to fans during race weekends. The attitude seemed clear: the Racing Gods are on this side of the fence, and the riff-raff are on the other.
Drivers like Tony Stewart said they were getting claustrophobic with so many fans in the garage area and they couldn’t do their jobs. Lo and behold, there’s now a lot less fans coming to the races, and the riff-raff that isn’t coming any more are buying less of your sponsor’s product and lowering TV ratings by not watching you compete. So, Mr. Stewart, have any trouble finding sponsorship dollars to fund your teams next year? Close call, wasn’t it? Maybe in 2011 you ought to run out in the parking lot and do a free Mobil 1 oil change on the cars of the first 25 fans who approach you to keep the sponsor happy. You do know which end of a wrench to grab, right?
It’s time for NASCAR drivers to leave their wine cellars, palatial estates, private helicopters and jets, and the safe confines of their motor homes to reconnect with what fans the sport has left. To help the process along, NASCAR should eliminate the motorcoach lots. If a driver needs to bring along his million dollar Prevost coach for the weekend he can park it amongst the fans’ campers in the infield. If that’s not acceptable, he can book a nearby hotel room and eat at the same restaurants as the fans. And if that’s not acceptable, either perhaps he can find a cloistered monastery that offers residents a few million dollars a year to reside in quiet privacy.
Oh, wait. That’s right. You’re too good to spend a long weekend dealing with the fans. You know what? Richard Petty was a hell of a lot better race car driver than you, and he dealt with it for a whole lot less money than you make.
Step Ten: TV repair shop
Given the nature of the sport, somewhere around 95 percent of folks who watch a race watch it on TV, not from the grandstands. Thus it doesn’t matter if the new NASCAR I am proposing is putting on thrilling races with good-looking stock cars from palatable race venues week after week if the TV networks’ race broadcasts are disjointed, constantly interrupted by commercial plugs and boring.
Step number one, and this change is going to cause some heads to roll to make it work, is a massive meeting of all those involved in the race broadcasts. You folks there, the money men who are paid to sell advertisements and generate other sources of revenue to make this venture profitable, you put on these currency green T-Shirts. The rest of you, the on-air talent, the producers, the camera operators, etc. put on these virginal white T-shirts symbolizing the purity of broadcasting. Team Green, sit on one side of the table. White Knights, sit on the other side. Reach across the table and shake hands with one another….because this moment’s the last time the two teams are ever going to speak to one another. The separation between the two is going to be like the separation of church and state… never the twain shall meet. Unless they elect Christine O’Donnell president.
Team Green, you have your twelve to fifteen minutes an hour to air commercials. Let your advertisers know they’ll want to view their ads in slightly reduced size, because we’re adding IRL style “Side by Side” ads. Remember, ours is a sport that doesn’t have any inherent time outs or scheduled stoppages of play.
Team Green, when the racing broadcast per se returns, you’re on the sidelines. No more of these Toyota Top Performers, Goodyear blimp history factoids or pit road reporters hollering about drivers getting “four fresh Goodyears and a full tank of Sunoco.” Hell, if they were getting Michelins and Exxon gas they’d have to leave the race track, right? Plugs for business entities belong in the commercials, not the race broadcasts. We can’t stop drivers from mentioning their sponsors in interviews, but I’m tired of watching in car footage from the No. 88 car while he runs 32nd just because AMP energy is the title sponsor of the race.
Race broadcasters, you are there to tell the story of the race through pictures and words. A special note to race broadcasters… if the pictures are telling the story… shut up! We don’t need to be told the No. 24 car is passing the No. 5 car. We can see that well enough. Let us know why Martin is fading while Gordon is making up spots. Visuals will speak for themselves. (You’ve heard Deanna Carter sing “Strawberry Wine” on the radio and you’ve seen the video. Which do you recall more clearly?) As the race unfolds, explain to us viewers what we’re missing based on your years of experience, all those eyes you have scattered around the track and ears monitoring scanner frequencies. When the action is compelling and self-explanatory enough, just shut up and let the pictures tell the story. Don’t talk down to us. We understand the sport. We don’t need Tim Brewer showing us the difference between a tire and a wheel even if some of your pit bunnies still do.
Let it be written in granite; if a race broadcaster has a business relationship with an entity or if a close family member does, in no instance is that broadcaster to use the name of that entity during a broadcast. Sorry, DW, no more Toyota plugs. Sorry DJ, you can’t say UPS anymore. Nor is it ever time for you or your colleagues to discuss your past achievements in the sport. Even a first-time viewer is going to understand you bought some credentials to the table to get that job. I don’t want to hear how many times DW won at Bristol unless you’re going to mention how many races he failed to qualify for during his ill-considered venture as a driver/owner.
We’re here today to watch a race together, you and the fans. We want to see it as a good race, not as a fraction of the championship drive. There’s time enough to discuss the ramifications of that individual race after the conclusion and after the season. Focus on the now. Don’t arrive at the race with a preset agenda of the stories you want to discuss. Let the story come to you as it happens, then explain it to us. And stop turning these four hour races into four hours worth of commercials occasionally interrupted by commercials.
Remember always; church and state. When is the last time you watched a football game where an announcer hollered, “Demarcos made an incredible turn downfield there aided by the Nike athletic shoes he’s wearing and the Gatorade he’s been drinking on the sidelines!” or “And the punting team comes off the field to wipe away their sweat with ultra-soft new Canon facial towels provided by Wal-Mart straight off a steamer from Red China!”
The White Knights tell the story of the race. Team Green sells ads. They’re never on the field at the same time. If Team Green can’t make money doing it that way, it’s time to renegotiate the terms of the broadcasting contract with NASCAR downwards to have it make financial sense. I’d guess given recent TV ratings, there won’t be a shark-feeding frenzy like there was back in 2000 to get broadcast rights to part of the Cup season. My guess is the way things are going, we all might end up watching races on YouTube before the end of the next decade.
©2000 - 2008 Matt McLaughlin and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
Wow, good one, Matt.
Insert hand clapping icon here.
The part about the broadcast partners hit the nail square on the head, and that one can be laid at the feet of the genius at Fox who paid all that stupid money for the rights back in 2000. What you laid out to fix Nascar is basically ESPN back in the mid ’80s, along with drivers who were not Prima Donna’s but came up from the dirt tracks, and a sanctioning body not ran by the Child King.
And now a word from our resident masochist who can’t stay away from the thing he/she loaths most in the world. Take it away, Randy.
Qualifying on time is fine but there should be a second round like there was several years ago. That was the fairest compromise. I’m sorry one bad qualifying lap should not disqualify an otherwise championship caliber team from being in the race.
Great column, Matt.
I’m going to do something I rarely do, and that’s copy and paste a comment I made yesterday on the Mirror-Driving column. It pertains to your suggestion for smaller fields…
“One thing to keep in mind, though… when you reduce the field, especially by locking out developing drivers and newer teams, you’ll be reducing the number of cautions and restarts. I don’t watch racing for the wrecks, but the idea of more spread-out fields with no reason to bunch them back up sounds like some pretty boring races, or even worse, more mystery debris cautions.”
Keep up the good work.
“ Remember, ours is a sport that doesn’t have any inherent time outs or scheduled stoppages of play”
I thought that was what the debris cautions were for?
Great ideas Matt! Now let’s package this whole thing up, find a website that can record signatures to it (similar to a general petition), and then send it off to NA$CAR. Not that it would do any good other than to prove to them that there aren’t 75 million fans. There’s really only about 18 – 20 million (and that’s generous) and they are loosing them faster than they think. And if they don’t react soon they won’t have to worry about when to schedule race start times….they have anyone left to please.
Some good points here Matt, but my feeling on hotel rates is that if a hotel is charging too much, don’t stay there.
If NASCAR goes to the Chamber of Commerces in racing counties and says, “you need to put an end to the gouging”, a local politician is for certain going to say “what’s in it for me”? And NASCAR will use their dollars to buy influence, maybe. Call me radical but to me that is everything that is wrong with our government right now (and always, for that matter).
I do agree with the endless mention of sponsors. Nothing is more grating than a broadcast being interrupted for the “Craftsman Tech Garage”. Compare broadcasts’ commercial breaks to sitcoms all you want, that counts too.
I’ll use an example far outside of NASCAR. When a band releases and album and a reviewer give it a good review it doesn’t mean that I am going to like it when I listen to it. Why should a NASCAR race be any different. Do you really think people are that easily manipulated by the words of another?
BTW, we don’t need later starting times. All the chase races should be on Saturday night. That removes the NFL from the picture.
i remember years ago being at dover and almost running over all of rusty’s crew as they ran across rt. 1 to the sheraton hotel to their rooms with rusty in tow. some of the crew members venture out to the local outback or places like that near track, but with drug/alcohol screening and morale clauses in contracts, they don’t do that a often as they use to. i remember about 10 yrs ago, friend of mine was partying in buckhead ga with bunch of crew guys and called me on a sunday am of ams race weekend and told me that “she was at my house all night long”. yeah right..wink, wink.
In reference to your 3rd step, you can’t “get over” declining TV ratings. TV Marketing 101 says that ratings are used to affix the prices charged for advertising space. Less viewers means less revenue. Less revenue means either:
In reference to step 4: That’s the point isn’t it? People aren’t watching.
No, I wasn’t yelling at you there, I hit submit before I proof-read.
RE: Tear down the walls: When Tony Stewart made a guest appearance at our local sprint car track earlier this year, one of the requirements was that the track management build a temporary FENCE around his car and hauler so the fans (that had to buy a pit pass) couldn’t get too close to him!! That won him a lot of fans!!
I love the idea of dropping the top 35! They should all have to qualify each and every week.
Besides, can you imagine the drama that could be created at the next race if a top driver, Jimmie Johnson, for example, failed to qualify at last week’s race. The network could be pushing that all week.
I still think that Randy Goldman is either Brian France in disguise or he is one of the idiots that work directly with Brian France.
Some nice points, some unrealistic. I totally agree with you on hotel costs and traffic when attending races. Both seem to get worse the more rural the track location is. I like to contrast the Pocono and Charlotte races I attended. At Pocono it took longer to get back to the highway than it took to run the whole race, and Pocono is a really long race. The hotel was way overpriced too, because the track is in the middle of nowhere PA. Charlotte on the other hand is a major city served major roads and lots of hotels. It was a breeze getting out compared to Pocono.
On driver accessibility, it can be improved, but it is still better than any other major sport. The need to plan more structured meet and greets, include them with pit passes or hospitality packages. I went to a Jeff Gordon fan club event a couple of years ago at the Hendrick shop, and that was a nice experience. I had to pay for it, but they included lunch, door prizes and you didn’t have to get into shoving match with anyone for an autograph.
On start and parks and qualifying, those suggestions are unrealistic. I agree shortening fields and going back to the provisional system might help, but NASCAR won’t risk any big stars in full time sponsored rides going home. This isn’t your local short track, people pay to Gordon, Johnson, Harvick and Jr.
I am absolutely amazed!
I basically agree w/ everything Matt said. Usually I think he’s been sniffing glue, or something.
“Jacob, was any of that important? nothing was bolded – i’m confused“
I agree with everything except the length of the race being shortened. If I take the time to go to the race, I want to be in the grandstand longer than a couple hours watching the race. If it’s boring on TV, DVR it and do something else then come back and fast forward all the boring parts. It’s as simple as that. I wish I could dig it up, but I clearly remember Matt saying that the races should not be shortened. That column came out within the past 3 years. If somebody can find it, please post the link.
Awesome ideas, Matt. That would be a pretty perfect scenario.
Matt, I am definitely on-board for more driver accessibility. That was one of the reasons I learned to like the sport so much growing up in the 70’s. Heck, I remember a weekend at Michigan when qualifying was over – that all of the cars came rumbling back out from the garage area, filed down pit road (to the left) turned left onto the front stretch and the nosed in on an angle and parked along the catch-fence. The drivers all got out and stood by or sat on the hood of their car, and just chatted with the fans, smiled for photos, signed autographs, etc. All you had to do was walk down to the fence and stand there. I remember being all excited that I could get that close and actually talk to the drivers. I still have those photos somewhere…
Anyway, the point of that trip down memory lane was to illustrate that there are other ways of making the drivers more accessible than to let the “riff-raff” interfere with garage operations. And certainly, something like what I’ve described was a NASCAR organized thing – which can still be done today! I completely understand why the garage area should be limited-access. It’s probably a safety (read: insurance) issue as much as anything.
Good article, Matt! Keep up the great work!
You are making some good points and I’m on your side, albeit with a few disagreements.
I guess the start and parkers don’t bother me as much. If all your revisions were adopted they’d be gone in a heartbeat without the points to assure a start and a shorter schedule and race would mean fewer interested sponsors. They’d vanish faster than an ice cube on hot asphalt.
I wholeheartedly agree with you on point number 9. I often equate NASCAR to country music because both were built up by common folk. NASCAR and country music is a lifestyle as much as it is a sport/genre. There is no format of music where the artists are as accessible than country music. Sure some singers are rich and have plush buses but they call ‘em buses, not hoity-toidy “motorcoaches”. Today’s drivers are acting like spoiled rock stars. You’ll never have a chance to meet your favorite driver unless you’ve got deep pockets or a corporate hook-up. NASCAR should not have to mandate who talks to the media after a race. Sponsor contracts should not have to force drivers to make appearances and see fans. They should just do it. It’s part of NASCAR racing. Period.
I didn’t get to comment in the first column so I’ll just state now that while I think the season could be shortened, just not as much as suggested. After Labor Day have Saturday night races. And shake up the schedule more often. Rotate in tracks like Iowa where teams dont’ have reams of data. As for shorter races to increase interest, I say maybe a bit shorter but add points for leading half way. There’s some incentive for not just riding around til the end. But don’t shorten them too much. As it is you can spend as much time sitting in traffic getting in and out of Texas Motorspeedway as you do watching the race! (Fixing traffic is also a valid point but you’ll never see that go anywhere in this current political climate unless SMI, et al have made the kind of political donations that will result in sweet deals to get things built with tax dollars.)
Overall, good work. Can’t wait til next week.
does anyone know why there is 43 cars in the starting grid. Why is 43 a magic number?
Great ideas Matt. Especially agree on the separation of commercialism and broadcasting. Anything that smacks of common sense won’t be a part of the NASCAR solution. Actually they’re not looking for a solution since Brain France doesn’t have a problem. Look how they treated Robby Gordon this past weekend. Just another nail………
Hey Randy, I mean DansMom. Take your negativity somewhere else. Great article, Matt.
Stirred up some comments with this one, didn’t ya, Matt? Actually, I like nearly everything you say. 43 minutes works for a regular one-hour network show, with 17 minutes for commercials and opening/closing, so why not for a race?
I like Danica Patrick too. She’s so cute! If she ever learns to drive a race car, she could easily be the cutest female driver, provided there are no other cute female drivers.
A couple points
I have to edit my original comment. I agree get rid of start and parks. It’s not the end of the world if we have a 38 car field as long as those car intend to run the distance. Not only can start and parks get in the way, they can impact a points battle. Remember Texas in the Chase last year when the 48 team got that car repaired he automatically picked up 3 spots because of start and parks. It didn’t change the outcome of the Chase, but in a close battle like this year it could. It’s one thing to salvage points when other cars wreck or blow up, but its another when 3 to 5 cars a race aren’t there to run the full distance.
When I stopped renewing my Richmond tickets about five years ago, I sent RIR a letter explaining why. Of course that did not elicit a response of any kind. I won’t copy the full letter here but one item that I included was a very small thing but I don’t see it mentioned very often and that is the delay between the National Anthem and the starting of the engines. When I first started attending races, the invocation went into the National Anthem which ended with the flyover and was immediately followed by the command to fire the engines which of course was followed by the cars rolling off the line, the pace laps and the green flag. The excitement built with each step of the process. I used to tell my friends, even if you don’t like racing, Na$car sure knows how to start a race. Now there is that 5 minute break between the flyover and the engines starting and in my opinion, that delay just drains the energy out of the track at the moment that it should be building.
Other items I mentioned included the proliferation of multi-car teams, the traffic, the fact that there are too many races and that there are too many similar race tracks. And of course I mentioned the Chase. I offered a way to fix it that a friend suggested to me…have all of the races on the schedule included in the chase and open it to all of the drivers. Of course, I am still waiting for a reply to my concerns/suggestions.
P.S. keep up the good work Matt, I have been reading you since speedworld.net.
But as for the PC provisional, contrary to popular opinion it wasn’t for the King’s benefit. It was for Darrell Waltrip. Waltrip was leaving Hendrick to start his own team and thus had no guaruntee he’d make the races. DW was still winning races in that era and NASCAR wanted to be sure he was in the field especially in the Southern races. Obviously since the most recent champion got the spot DW was going to get it over the King every time. (Oh, and I am told ESPN insisted on the rule but have never been able to confirm that.)
Danica is the “cutest”? I don’t date “cute woman” Puppy dogs are cute. Kids are cute. And when it comes to “good looking” I’d have to say Jennifer Jo Cobb is a whole lot gooder than DP.
Danica needs to be cute. She needs to bring something to the table for Nascar if she’s going to be it’s savior, because it ain’t gonna be her talent. But maybe I’m wrong… maybe what Nascar needs is a little more of what makes those GoDaddy commercials so memorable. Look what a little T&A has done for the WWE.
Once there was a place in Nascar for women with as little talent as Danica, but then Nationwide stopped doing those commercials with the women fantasizing about Kasey Kahne and running into things. So much for diversity, huh?
Another great article Matt. I agree with your ideas. Hope you sent about 500 copies to Nascar headquarters. And one to every Cup driver.
But I’m afraid you’re wasting your breath as long is BZF is in charge. I keep hoping the rest of the France family will finally realize that he is a part of the problem and show him the door.
Well, EZ, I was gonna say it, but u beat me to it.
Here’s a good way to make sure everyone tries to race every lap. NASCAR knows the running order after each lap. At the end of the race figure out everyones average running order during the race. The top 5 gets points (1st = 50, 2nd = 40, 3rd = 30, etc.). Then also give the winner of the race an addtional 50 points more than they get now if they win. We don’t want the second place guy getting more points for the day than the winner and most fans agree wins should get more points anyway.
I’ve never seen Tony Stewart turn down an autograph. I’ve stood by the garage and the souvenir trailer and he has always signed every single item from every single person in line. Maybe that has changed over the last few years, I wouldn’t know, but he was FAR from the worst driver in that regard. In fact Dale Earnhardt Sr. was the worst offender in this regard if you ask me.
Matt – Sorry dude, you are NOT the answer man. Here’re the problems:
6) You hard righties cry about gov’t spending too much money now you want them to spend my, and your, money on modifying roads and traffic so more people will come to a race? That’s insane. It is up to the tracks to improve inlets/outlets and pay for road improvements (yes this has been done before) rather than taking it out of the local gov’t budget. I do NOT want my tax dollars spent on this kind of crap. Furthermore, you hard righties tend to be all about capitalism .. until it disagrees with your personal finance. If hotels charge astronomical rates – PAY them or SHUT UP. Is it really more complicated? Ever heard of supply and demand? According to your type it free market fixes EVERY problem (funny how unregulated banks are now accused of “taking advantage” of poor plumber Joes out there …” yet all you Joes despise any sort of regulation). Oh the contradictions in #6 – blows my mind…
7) Remember free enterprise? NASCAR says there will be 43. I got no problem with S&P if there are not 43 funded cars. But if you wish to change the rule, then make it permanent. Don’t just do it because of a temporary market condition.
8) You bitch about the cost of racing these days yet you encourage Friday qualifying? Why not do it all on Saturday? A morning practice, an afternoon single-round qualifying, one final late afternoon session (usually best mimics race conditions), then lock them down and let them roar Sunday afternoon. Why 3 days? Saturday is a waste. Bad idea.
9) Hey old timer, this ain’t ’71 when there were what maybe 10,000 fans at best in the stands? This is 2010 where even the most dismal attendance is 6 times that. Doubling the fan involvement is hard on the drivers. Sextuple it (probably just lost the other half of the righties who didn’t leave after my first paragraph) and you got a major problem, friend. Sure, percentage-wise, the King signed more than today’s drivers. However, today’s drivers are flying damn near daily to sponsor commitments ALL YEAR LONG. They sign all year long and appear all year long. Between that and the number of wackos in the stands, I cannot blame any of them for wanting a fence…
10) I have no problem with “side by side” and agree with this point, other than your hypocritical “separation of church and state” remarks. You and your type and your “one nation, under GOD” … and separation is where? This country was founded on religious freedom yet in my lifetime there will not be a non-Christian, or heaven forbid (adequate dosage of sarcasm there for you righties) an ATHEIST?!? Who cares that an atheist is probably the one person who can not let ANY religious tendencies taint their decision making ability. Yeah, I’ve read enough of your columns and have seen the G-word and countless other references. Oh my, the hypocrisy.
Nice try Matt, but honestly this article is nothing more than a bunch of bad ideas with frightening contradictions.
Oh, and the arrogance of calling yourself “The Answer Man”. I think I just threw up in my mouth a little, or maybe a LOT.
Voice of Reason- Please look up reason in a Webster’s.
I remember when Bristol started 36 cars, I think that Martinsville and N. Wilkesboro did as well. Qualifying was very important because you had to have a front-stretch pit to have a chance to win. If you wrecked in qualifying, well, there was always second-day qualifying. RCR would give Dale’s qualifying engine to Dave Marcis for his second-day attempt.
When I leave at Noon on Monday for a Saturday Night race, do you think that I am worried about how long it will last? If you want shorter races, watch F1, if it is not over in 2 hours they flag it anyhow. I am not going to a track for a 2 hour race.
Sorry, I know the logic escapes you. What else could I expect from the name “EZ”? Oh well, least your name doesn’t contradict your intellect. BTW, sentences end with periods.