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
Monday March 3, 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 · Sunday November 14, 2010
The Key Moment – With 47 laps left, Carl Edwards passed Denny Hamlin to take a lead he’d never relinquish.
In a Nutshell – For the want of a nail the shoe was lost, for the want of a shoe a horse was lost… and for the want of a gallon of gas, the battle was lost. How about the war?
Dramatic Moment – Edwards and Hamlin had a protracted battle for the lead running side by side, unusual to see for a points leader in the penultimate race of the season.
What They’ll Be Talking About Around the Water Cooler This Week
Was the No. 11 car really that low on fuel or did the pressure of the title chase force the team to play it conservative?
There was no clear victor in last week’s Gordon-Burton battle, but Hamlin clearly knocked the crap out of that bottle of water he was handed after the race. His dashboard might have been heading for the canvas, too. Anyone else remember when Davey Allison broke his hand punching his transporter after losing a race at Talladega?
Was Kyle Busch under team orders not to pass Hamlin on the fourth restart?
Didn’t they use to run this race on Saturday night? I’d prefer that time slot for the penultimate race of the season. Editor’s Note: The Phoenix race in November has always been run on Sunday; it’s the one in the spring that gets run Saturday night.
I’m a little confused as to why Jamie McMurray wasn’t penalized for throwing his water bottle out the window of his badly damaged car to draw the caution he needed. Typically, there’s at least a one-lap penalty for a driver purposely drawing a yellow flag. Somewhere, Jimmy Spencer is laughing.
Longtime fans who still revere the King are increasingly concerned. The four RPM entries for the Phoenix race were basically held hostage at Texas until Wednesday of this week as Roush Fenway Racing waited to see if the check to pay for those cars cleared. Apparently, it finally did and the four RPM transporters rolled west out of Fort Worth Wednesday evening. If I was one of those truck drivers, I’d be more than a little concerned if the corporate credit card was going to be approved after I fueled up and if my paycheck might bounce once I got home.
Yeah, yeah, I understand about TV being nationwide and all (we even got cable TV here in the sticks now!) but it seemed a kind of odd pairing to have Robby Gordon sponsored by Polaris snowmobiles for a race in the Arizona desert near a town where snowbirds flock to avoid the Northeast winters. No offense to Polaris; I own a Polaris Indy Special that’s currently residing somewhere in that third garage bay under boxes of Christmas lights, unsold novel manuscripts, mustard-colored Carhartt zoot suits and about fifty dozen scrapers. Guess it’s time to wade into that zombie zoo before winter hits for real.
According to Brian France and Mike Helton, NASCAR is still considering possible tweaks to the Chase. In a related note, the White Star Ocean Liner company is still considering a more southerly route for the Titanic in future passages stateside to avoid icebergs.
You have to wonder if Mike Helton hosting a press conference wearing a “48” cap this weekend was a good idea. No, the cap didn’t have Johnson’s team’s colors or stylized number, but it raised a few eyebrows.
The bank Wells Fargo has begun foreclosure procedures against the NASCAR Plaza tower located alongside the floundering NASCAR Hall of Fame. Hmmmm. Building new office space in an already floundering commercial real estate market? Who knew that wasn’t going to work?
Another fun factoid for new Danica Patrick fans; when she’s upset, her voice hits a frequency range only small dogs and bats can hear. At least she finally learned that you can use the front bumper of a car for something other than an object to lean against whilst wearing swimming apparel.
Kurt Busch, who has dabbled at drag racing, earned his Pro Stock license on the very first full pass he took in the King of Door Slammers. I guess the way he’s been running in the Chase, it’s wise to have a few career options. (Note to Kurt: The first rule of drag racing a Mopar…make sure the nitrous is off before you park it in the pits.)
Listening to ESPN’s Brad Daugherty reminds me of a parody Saturday Night Live once did on Family Feud’s Richard Dawson: “I hope you’re all as excited as I’m pretending to be!”
Congratulations to Sebastian Vettel, who won this year’s F-1 title. Vettel was third in the points entering the final race of the season. Fernando Alonso, in the lead, only needed to finish fourth to clinch a championship while Vettel had to win the race and hope his rival finished fifth or worse. Well, Alonso’s crew chose a conservative strategy and finished fifth while Vettel won the race in dominating fashion. I can’t predict who will win our title next weekend, but I hope it’s whichever driver runs his heart out all day and wins the race, while the driver and team that choose to play it conservatively falter. (Oh, and for the record, F-1 doesn’t reset the points late in the season or host a Chase. Vettel’s margin of victory was four points.)
In even better news, John Force at 61 years of age claimed his fifteenth NHRA Funny Car title on Sunday. Force, who was badly injured a few years back in a wreck, went on to thank the doctors who pieced him back together. (As in, “Thank you to the doctors who got my arms and legs back. I’m 40 again. I’m still ugly, but I’m 40.”) No, I’m pretty confident he’s still 61, but the inestimable Mr. Force remains the face of his sport and serves as an inspiration to those of us with a few years on the odometer.
The Hindenburg Award For Foul Fortune
It’s hard to imagine how Denny Hamlin must feel tonight. To have a car that good, that fast, and to lead the most laps only to finish 12th because of fuel mileage has got to be soul-crushing.
Brendan Gaughan rarely gets to compete at the Cup level, but his race lasted barely two laps this time out.
Kyle Busch also seemed to have a top-5 finish in hand most of the day, but his Gibbs Toyota was also forced to the pits for an extra splash of gas near the end. He finished one spot behind Denny Hamlin in 13th.
The “Seven Come Fore Eleven” Award For Fine Fortune
Edwards finally broke a 70-race winless drought. It was a pretty good weekend for the Missouri veteran, who took the Cup pole and the Nationwide race in addition to his Cup victory.
Johnson and the No. 48 team have gambled on fuel mileage before with less successful results, but they had enough gas Sunday to get to the finish and remain in title contention despite a merely adequate car all day.
When his pit crew failed to tighten a lugnut late in the race, it looked like Kevin Harvick’s race and season were over. The extra bit of gas in the tank turned out to be crucial.
Not only was his wife kind enough not to go into labor during the race, Ryan Newman left Phoenix second. He won at this track in the spring what seems like decades ago.
Early in the race with his entire decklid hanging askew, it appeared Jamie McMurray’s race was over. He rallied back to finish in the top 10, so there’s no sense in crying over spilled water. Now if that water bottle had gone through the grille of the No. 48, then we’d have something to talk about, wouldn’t we?
What’s the Points?
After all these years, the Chase format finally yields the sort of season finale its architects (and I doubt any of them could even spell that word) envisioned we’d have every year. Hamlin leads Johnson by 15 points and third-place Harvick by 46.
Edwards trails Hamlin by 264 points. What that means is if Hamlin, Harvick and Johnson are all abducted by space aliens this week and if NASCAR were to unexpectedly add another race to the season, he’s still got a chance!
Matt Kenseth is fifth in the standings, followed by Jeff Gordon and Kyle Busch. Greg Biffle and Tony Stewart swapped the eighth and ninth spots, with Biffle now having the advantage. Kurt Busch took over tenth in the standings from Clint Bowyer, while Jeff Burton remains dead last among the 12-man field.
In the “Best of the Rest” category, Mark Martin arrives at Homestead thirteenth in the standings, 24 points ahead of Jamie McMurray.
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 three bottles of Dos Equis floated across the Rio Grande-o, across that lazy river.
Next Up – With a very unpleasant sneezing and wheezing, the rusted and groaning calliope that has become the 2010 Cup season heads off to Homestead for the season finale. One way or another, this ten-month long disaster is going to finally be over. That’s why they have Thanksgiving the week after the season ends.
©2000 - 2008 Matt McLaughlin and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
Matt said: “You have to wonder if Mike Helton hosting a press conference wearing a “48” cap this weekend was a good idea. No, the cap didn’t have Johnson’s team’s colors or stylized number, but it raised a few eyebrows.”
Remember, Jim Hunter would wear a hat with NASCAR ’48 on it, in reference to NASCAR starting in the year 1948. I’m guessing Mike Helton is wearing the hat to honor Jim Hunter, who passed away last week.
Matt,this 10 month long disaster (as you call it) is your bread and butter,is it not?
You should give thanks on Thanksgiving for the sport,you knucklehead!
With Hamlin looking like he was about to cry in post race interviews, you think he’s already defeated himself in his own mind?
I just happened to tune to the race when Hamlin had a 2.5 second lead, and the competition debrie caution reared it’s ugly head. I turned it off for the day.
Thanks for the update Matt, now I know what I didn’t miss, but my leg has a tingle going down it now thinking about the close manufactured points battle going into next week. Wooooo freaking Whooooo!!
I’m actually surprised by NASCAR’s restraint. When Hamlin and Johnson were supposedly running low on fuel in the last 25 laps, I was expecting a mysterious caution flag to be thrown to give ‘em the chance to fuel up without losing spots.
I thought the Danica Patrick comment was funny, but more importantly, right on the money. We’ve all seen her commercials.
Last week I noticed a bottle of water thrown out of Carl Edwards’ car and I don’t think he was looking for a caution, though I could be wrong. Maybe there’s a reason they don’t want empty bottles in the cockpit of the cars.
Brad Daugherty has actually become a pretty good booth announcer. Don’t forget that, come February, we get DW back, so save your complaints until then.
Not really a Dale Junior fan, but I thought his fan-designed paint scheme was pretty awesome, and it gives his fans something positive to talk about this morning.
As always, I enjoyed your column.
I have to agree with ElectricPeterTork. I was very surprised that there wasn’t a phantom caution thrown for Denny and Jimmie’s fuel concerns.
It is increasingly apparent that all Richard Petty will get out of RPM for next season is his name and the #43. I wonder how many of his long-time fans will start wearing Toyota hats if MWR fields an entry for The King next season. I wonder how many will claim that King Richard is an American traitor, should he attach his name to Toyota. Not very many teams have showed even a modicum of interest in keeping his name in the sport, except for Waltrip.
Even though Ferrari (F1’s version of HMS) cheated its way to the top of the points, and Red Bull did everything in their power to throw the championship away, karma still brought the trophies to the best chassis this season.
Congrats to John Force, I guess. His dominance of Funny Cars made me stop watching drag racing years ago, but after his terrible crash, it is good to see him in top form again.
Finally, I have to wonder: When will certain people realize that they get bashed for bashing other posters, because they, themselves, are the ones that show NO actual knowledge of the sport?
“At least she finally learned that you can use the front bumper of a car for something other than an object to lean against whilst wearing swimming apparel.”
Ha ha ha. That’s funny and it works on so many levels. It’s funny because it’s true. Matt says what we’re all thinking.
The above responses brought to you by Homer Simpson for the benefit of Randy Goldman. LOL
i kept waiting for the mystery debri caution to come out with 3 laps to go. i was also hoping that the 48 car would have slowed down on the front stretch just far enough away from the s/f line.
i’d also like to have the winning lottery numbers for this week.
Matt, I’m surprised you missed Chad’s attempt to sneak illegal wheel studs on the right rear of the #48 through pre-race technical inspection, which would have helped make for a little faster pit stop. The officials allowed Chad’s team to change them back to legal length studs and go through inspection a 2nd time.
ESPN’s guys reported this before the race, but that’s the absolute last you heard of it. It’s like it never happened.
Polaris makes much more than snowmobiles Matt. They have a big line of off-road four wheelers, including the Ranger RZR 4 seater Robby Gordon edition. It’s the week before the Baja 1000, and off-road racing is huge in Arizona. Quite smart for Polaris to sponsor the defending Score Off-road champion as he heads off to compete in the Baja 1000.
Matt, I sure hope this 50+ year old race and music fan is not the only one who gets your occasional insertion of lyrics into your writing.. I sure do love it.
Halfstep, mississippi uptown toodeloo, hello baby I’m gone goodbye..
and the last 50 laps yesterday was some decent racing. Go Denny Hamlin!!
As ticked off as Denny was at the end of the race. He still has the points lead, he just doesn’t get to ride around at Homestead next week. I thought his biggest worry was that the 48 would do his usual Phoenix domination act and take back the lead. Odd track to have a fuel mileage race though, someone usually burns off a tire at the end of a run. Hopefully, this close finish with the points will keep NASCAR from considering this “elimination chase” garbage.
Congrats to John Force, I guess. His dominance of Funny Cars made me stop watching drag racing years ago, but after his terrible crash, it is good to see him in top form again.
Everyone is entitled to their opinion, and I have the same feelings about how dominant Bob Glidden, WJ, Greg Anderson, and the WayneCounty boys were in PS (still my favorite class thought…) – BUT, you have to give him credit in a sport where the fastest 16 earn the right to compete each week. No ‘Top 35’, no sponsor’s or past Champion provisional. Force is getting it done the same way the other 15 drivers are – and he’s not always in the top 3 qualifiers.
Congrats to him.
THANK YOU SoCAL KEVIN! This forum is so full of conspiracy theorists that they completely ignore the obvious and most logical solution to questions.
Also, to continue with the random posts this week… RandyG do you think I should sit Santana Moss tonight for MNF? I would ask Jacob but he is probably too busy designing pink toyota paint schemes with baby seals for kyle busch.
Saw the 48 crew working on the car in the garage after the race. I guess they were trying to make it legal.
How would you like John Force as your father-in-law?
Why do people post comments under different names? An idiot by any other name is still an idiot.
MATT, your comment about Danica was pretty darn funny.
This 50+ y/o fan caught the Todd Rundgren lyrics and thought he was the only one. Rock on!
I’d like to remind everyone of the comments disclaimer at the top of the page.
“We welcome your opinions so we’ll never hold back a differing viewpoint. The only comments that will not be published are comments that serve only to personally attack another commenter or the article writer, vulgar comments, or comments that are written in all caps.”
We’ve let a lot go the last few weeks, but I’ve about had enough. Please keep bashing other posters to a minimum, please, or I’ll have no choice but to put a block on your IP address.
Thanks, hope everyone heeds the warning.
Finally! Maybe we can get back to actually discussing racing on this forum!
Good. Now the comments wont be full of pissing contests.
I thought the race was pretty good. Got exciting at the end. Harvick really was up on the wheel the last fifty laps when that pit stop put him back in the pack. Surprised no one wrecked him.
If the hat that Mike Helton(who I despise) was wearing a hat to Honor Jim Hunter That is a VERY BIG point for you to emit. Saying Helton was wearing a “48” cap gave me one impression. Reading Kevin in SoCal’s post stating that Helton was wearing the cap to honor Jim Hunter gave a very different impression.
For all the fans of the chase how do you justify winning the “regular” season and not be the # 1 seed starting the “playoffs” and how can Harvick have a better average finish then Johnson but trail him by 31 points
I think Hamlin had to pit because the Gibbs cars had more horsepower then the Chevies. Even little Joey had a good finish.
For all the fans of the chase how do you justify winning the “regular” season and not be the # 1 seed starting the “playoffs” and how can Harvick have a better average finish then Johnson but trail him by 31 points?
Because Nascar (like all other forms of racing) decided to emphasize winning over consistency. They have just chosen to do it in the format of the chase. IRL does it by only giving the top few drivers points each week. Horse racing does it by, well, only rewarding the top three. You dont hear people talking about “MrBojangles” finishing fifth on turf every week.
They need to have the Chase seeding reflect regular season finish again. Seeding should be a combination of regular season finish and wins. I’m guessing they reset everyone even then added win bonus points so a driver (like Kyle in 2008) couldn’t have a massive lead (100+) on the lower seeds. However, if a driver wins 8 races in the regular season and is the points leader, they should have a massive lead on the 10th, 11th, 12th, place drivers. In my opinion the last few drivers in the Chase 10-12 are just window dressing to give teams and sponsors a “participation ribbon”. This is probably why they are floating 15 drivers for next. It’s the NASCAR equivalent of elementary school.
If winning in the regular season is so important then you should not need the chase to put you in the points lead.
Harvick had a 300+ points over Johnson and 400+ over Hamlin. With 2 more top 5’s and 3and 6 top 10’ respectively over Johnson and HamlinWhile a agree the race winner should be getting more points, consistant top 5 should also be getting rewarded.
I bet Hamlin wrecks next week. Maybe a tire falls off like Kurt busch in the first chase.
Go Kevin Harvick
To the management – Cleaning up the personal attacks is a great idea.
Looks like that bad-ass intake manifold that the Toyotas got over the winter bit the 11 team in the back side. Breaks my heart.
The fuel mileage game can be an engine tuner’s nightmare. Denny was fast, but he didn’t have the fuel mileage he needed, probably because his motor was tuned more for power than fuel mileage.
You can Tuna Fish, but you can’t Tune a Toyota.
Matt M. is the Richard Petty of frontstretch.com
He was the man, when there was no one else competitive. But he has long past his time of departure.
LET IT GO!
I’ve been a reader of Matt’s going back 3 websites. Honestly, I don’t think I can take it much more. I have to agree with many posters above. He’s become to crotchety, too self-righteous, and simply too hung up on the past.
I’m sick of hearing about how bad the racing is these days. That simply is not true, it is the most competitive it has ever been. I challenge Matt to name 2 statistics that show the old days were more competitive than today. If you don’t like the lack of personality, now I’ll agree with that – NASCAR tightened down too hard and is having a hard time figuring out how to back it off without appearing gimmicky. Yes, the COT was not a good idea. Neither were a lot of the cars run before, either – they tended to be death traps, remember?? But hey, it does produce close and tight races. Complaints? Not from this long-time fan. Stop complaining about the “quality” of the racing.
You also contradict yourself so badly. You want personality yet you cut all over Danica for showing some. Who cares if she can get more sponsorship money by putting on a swimsuit – tell me you wouldn’t if racing was your passion? Yes you would. She has more driving talent in her thumbnail than you’re whole family has. Who are you to insult her? I am not a Danica fan, but that is because her personality doesn’t resonate with me. For those that do, great. For those that don’t, find a different driver to pull for. I’ve had about enough Danica and Jr comments. I’m also so freaking tired of hearing about how GREAT Tim Richmond was. Funny how he failed to ever seriously challenge for a championship, yet according to MM he’d have denied Dale Sr ANY future championships – wake up old man. You tend to make martyrs. You spoke a LOT of crap about Dale Sr before his untimely death. Reading you now you’d swear he was a godsend. Yesterday wasn’t always better, and yesterday’s athletes were actually rarely better than today’s considering the ones today have been bred and groomed for this their whole lives. That’s why Jeff Gordon kicked the crap out of Dale Sr and the whole old guard, this is spoken from a lifetime Dale fan. Spare me the whole traction control argument, I have a degree in electrical engineering and have designed traction control systems – I’d happily debate the feasibility of that with you or any of your readers.
Finally, you jump to conclusions and make strong comments without even taking pause, just to put even more negative tone to this sport that has fell to hell in a handbasket, at least in your opinion. If Kevin is right, you have egg all over your face since you all but accused Helton of favoring the #48. Funny how when you don’t like the dominant team you assume they are dominant because NASCAR is SURELY favoring them. Get real. They are dominant because they are the best of the time. Sure, they have been caught cheating, but tell me a team that hasn’t? Yes, even Tim Richmond’s and, oh my, Alan Kulwicki’s were. And Davey Allison too. That’s right, look it up, it happened. So the lesson is simple – do not assume the dominant team is cheating every week. Makes you look extremely foolish and childish.
I’m debating whether I will get my weekly fill of negativity and drama by reading your articles or just stop reading altogether. I think many, many readers are in this exact same position right now. You are not making it easy on us long time fans, Matt. And yes, though I know you will not admit it, you are absolutely biting the hand that feeds you. I own a company with about 30 employees. I got into my position by being grateful for those that helped me and finding ways of taking care of them. I didn’t badmouth when I disagreed with something. My momma taught me “if you don’t have anything nice to say ..”. Maybe you were not taught the same lesson? If not for NASCAR you’d not have had the career you’ve had. But maybe you are too proud to care anymore.
Anyway, this novel must end, as must your career. The question is whether it will be on your own terms or whether enough people will have gotten fed up listening to you. We shall see, eh?
Hey, keeping it REAL…. I have 2 words for you. Anger Management.
Keeping it real…..
WOW!! Keeping it Real, tell me what you really think. gopapa, you have the quote of the year “You can Tuna Fish, but you can’t Tune a Toyota.”
Right on, Keeping it REAL! I too have read Matt’s columns for years and have tired of the constant negativity. I’ve noticed that over the past few years he has gone from expressing his usually negative opinions in comedic and enjoyable fashion with common-sense and facts to back it up.
Even when I thought he was completely wrong, I respected what he had to say because of his ability to show us why he formed his opinions. It’s like he’s “jumped the shark” and has taken the easy road by simply spewing the same ol’ negative hash in each column he writes. I get the feeling he doesn’t want to do it anymore and his writing is suffering. But, like anyone, he’s afraid to give it up. He’s become the DW of NASCAR opinion columnists.
I’ve enjoyed so many of Matt’s columns over many years, it’ll be hard to skip him.
Thank you Keeping it Real for putting it so eloquently what many of us long time Matt readers have been thinking.