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 · Monday February 14, 2011
The Key Moment – On the final lap, Denny Hamlin made an ill-considered move to dip (well, hell, actually he dove headfirst) below the yellow line coming to the stripe, cementing the win for Kurt Busch.
In a Nutshell – I haven’t heard of a two-by-two procession like this since Noah loaded the ark.
Dramatic Moment – Well, four cars racing off of turn four to the checkered flag was pretty intense. Too bad only one of them was racing.
A close runner-up: Waiting to see if the back straight lights were going to go out again Saturday as they did in Friday night’s second round of practice for the race. At the time, four cars were passing by at full speed, locked up at over 200 MPH before getting blinded. Even a normally droll Matt Kenseth was discussing taping flashlights to the hood of his car just in case.
What They’ll Be Talking About Around the Water Cooler This Week
Are we due another eleventh hour rules change this week reducing the size of the restrictor plates? NASCAR officialdom tends to brown their drawers when speeds exceed 200 MPH at Daytona or Talladega in particular and we’re well north of that now; on Saturday night, Michael Waltrip reportedly turned a lap in excess of 206. The rules change to limit cooling ducts to the engine was supposed to limit the amount of time one driver could push the car in front of him without overheating, but there was no evidence of that working Saturday night. A major, last minute rules change isn’t unprecedented in this former sport; remember the “no bump drafting” rule instituted at the drivers’ meeting at Talladega in the Fall of ’09?
Editor’s Note: As of Sunday night, NASCAR did institute two new rules which, despite not involving the restrictor plates should still curb the use of these two-car drafts going forward. Now, the maximum size of the air inlet for the cooling system will be 2½ inches tall by 20 inches wide, while the pressure release valve on the water system will be set at 33 pounds per square inch. Combined, these changes will (in theory) keep the cars from being able to lock together in the fashion they did Saturday night by causing them to overheat. Stay tuned…
OK, I just don’t get it. NASCAR schedules a major four-day test on Daytona’s new track surface this winter. The teams come and dutifully participate. Some outfits, unhappy with their results, take the test data, go back to the shop, and build a new car to fit the rules and the new track surface. In the case of the No. 48 bunch, they built not one but two new cars looking for speed given the new reality of the two-car draft being fastest. Then, the teams actually arrive at Daytona and NASCAR decides it’s time to change the cooling package on the cars, the sort of change that would usually lead to a flurry of wind tunnel tests. So why hold a test at all? If NASCAR folks didn’t know that speeds with the new cars and surface were going to be north of 200 MPH, they must have been partying with J.C. France during the test.
There were nothing but raves about the new smooth and grippy track surface at DIS. It would seem that Goodyear has brought the perfect tire for the new surface as well. But I can’t help but feel that an opportunity was squandered here. While they had the old asphalt – which looked like the parking lot of an old steel mill abandoned generations ago – torn up they could have lowered the banking ten degrees, dropping the speeds and helping ensure no cars could get airborne enough to enter the grandstands.
Well, if they haven’t figured out how to sell tickets again (and to be fair, there looked to be a pretty fair crowd on hand Saturday night for the Shootout) Daytona management has at least found a way to make the stands look fuller. The multi-color lower grandstand seats give an impression at speed that those empty seats are full.
Give credit where credit is due. This year’s iteration of the Car of Sorrow “stock car” with its new front end does, in fact, look more like a car. But it still doesn’t look very “stock.”
OK, so where do you and your buds stand on this “new” form of racing at Daytona? (That’s what the comments section below this article is for.) I’m not completely sold on this two-by-two form of racing, armed with a closing rate of 20 MPH+ on a single car ahead but I like it better than the big packs of the last few years where driver skill and car prep had little to do with the outcome of the race. On the flip side, Monte Dutton of the Gaston Gazette declared Saturday night’s race a “farce” and went on to say it was a “stupid ending to a stupid race.” I’ve got a ton of respect for Dutton as a straight talker. So is this new formation flying better or worse than what we had, gentle readers?
I am not the brightest bulb on the tree but I don’t get it. Sure, it’s nice Daytona has lights, but the Bud Shootout is held on Saturday evening, a traditionally slow ratings night, when a majority of fans could arrange to be home Saturday afternoon to watch it in daylight. In comparison, the Twin 150 qualifying races, typically two of the more competitive races of the year are run on Thursday afternoon when a majority of fans at home will be at work. Even a lot of those traveling to the race won’t have arrived yet…
Well, it didn’t take long for Darrell Waltrip to find a way to earn a big check from his friends at Toyota with the annoying new “tattoo” commercial. Of course, the Toyota folks realized if he shoots a commercial with them, DW will be plugging the “Furrin‘” cars incessantly for the whole FOX portion of the season rather than showing any bare modicum of journalistic detachment. But if I were DW, I’d get what looks like a melanoma beside his left eye in the commercial looked at before too long.
To help fans with brand identification with the “universal” new cars, manufacturers might want to quadruple the thickness of the carmaker logos on the front bumper. With the new package, they’re worn away to illegible in ten laps. By the way, it’s good to see the rules change has also added fake foglight decals to the front of Cup cars. Do they have a fake foglight switch decal on the dash, too?
Doesn’t ESPN love us anymore? They’ve consigned this spring’s Richmond Nationwide race to SPEED so they can cover the NFL draft. The draft? Come on, it isn’t even a game.
It looks worse on some color cars than others, but this new apparently mandatory lime green “American Ethanol” logo around the car’s fuel fillers just isn’t attractive. As it is, it’s been pretty well proven that using corn to produce ethanol takes more energy than it produces and is increasing global hunger plus the national debt with all the subsidies for the industry. (Has the AARP gotten that memo yet, Jeff?)
The latest troubling trend in the battle between wealthy Cup teams and those struggling to get by? Hendrick teams this year will bring two full pit crews per car, a first and second-string crew, just in case the “A” team falters like they did several times last year for the No. 48 bunch. This way, they don’t actually have to swap crews like the 48 and 24 did last year in the Chase. Didn’t NASCAR try to cut costs by limiting the number of credentials any one team was issued for individual events? At least maybe it gives all those unemployed catch can guys a new lease on a job…
The Hindenburg Award For Foul Fortune
Denny Hamlin had a second-place finish in hand but took the chance going for the win and strayed below the yellow line. I do have a ton of respect for his decision not to try to force Newman high, which likely would have ended up with a car in the catch fence. Hopefully Brad Keselowski was watching.
Kasey Kahne’s first full season with Red Bull Racing got off to an inauspicious start with mechanical woes long before the first intermission.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. started from the pole (I find it laughable some folks say he “won the pole” by correctly choosing a red bottle) but his night ended early after losing an argument over real estate with Carl Edwards and Regan Smith.
Tony Stewart survived his wreck with Michael Waltrip relatively unscathed but suffered radio problems all evening that kept him from making a late-race charge. He wound up 11th.
Michael Waltrip’s presumably last Speedweeks as a driver got off to a slow start after contact from Stewart destroyed the No. 15 car in the second segment. Speaking of Waltrip, I hear he’s written a book. I didn’t know the iPad accepted crayon input.
Kyle Busch’s car was clearly one of the fastest but he got turned by a repentant Mark Martin. It’s not often Martin wrecks out a competitor.
The “Seven Come Fore Eleven” Award For Fine Fortune
Bobby Gerhart won his seventh ARCA race at Daytona Saturday afternoon. To put that in perspective, Gerhart has won eight ARCA races total in his career. And you’re wondering why an 18-year-old kid was afraid to try to pass him?
Kurt Busch seemed more surprised than anybody he’d won the race.
The Roush Camp in particular and the Ford camp in general haven’t had much to cheer about so far this Speedweeks, but Greg Biffle’s fifth-place finish in the Shootout and Trevor Bayne’s third-place qualifying effort in the Wood Brothers car might indicate things could get better for the Blue Ovals later this week.
What’s the Points? – This race is pointless… and increasingly so each year.
Overall Rating (On a scale of one to six beer cans, with one being a stinker and a six pack an instant classic) — I’ll give it two cans of Bud. It was an intriguing race even if it wasn’t a particularly good one.
Next Up – The Daytona 150 Qualifiers run Thursday, and based on Saturday night it ought to be rather tense with the new rules package. So they say Chevy (and even GM brass say it’s OK to use that abbreviated form of “Chevrolet” again) “Runs Deep?” Let’s just hope they don’t fly high when crossed up in a wreck heading to the checkered flag.
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The 2 car draft is Nascars version of Pro Wrasslins’ tag teams, and I predict major carnage from it next week after watching how well it worked Saturday night. Anymore the Nascar rulemakers remind me of a bunch of monkeys in a room full of footballs with their childlike band-aid fixes. Over 20 years of frustration and 20 years of trying and they still can’t fix the temperary solution called the restrictor plates.
I predict Nascar will look foolish once again as the overflows spew steam and engines expire from overheating, and we may well see a fusilade of beer cans tossed on the track when Jr’s mill expires from being stuck back in the draft with yet another ill handling car.
Anyone else notice how Fox missed a lot of the live on track action as they were showing us replays of what happened while they were away on commercial break or showing us Digger? At least Larry Mac gave us a break from his usually lame “Pull dem belts tight one more time” schtik, but ol DW still had to give us his triple B claim to fame at the drop of the green.
I noticed Saturday night they were advertising tickets are still available for Nascars Superbowl. Funny, I didn’t see ads for tickets to the NFL’s superbowl advertised during the Bears-Packers game.
R.I.P. Tom Carnigie. You were the voice of Indy and there will never be another like you.
Matt, it’s time to stop dissing Brad for Carl’s swerving across three lanes of traffic. Brad did exactly what he should have, as per NA$CAR’s rules. He maintained his line, and won a race for a true underdog team. Blame Carl, NA$CAR, and blocking for Carl ending up in the fence.
As for the rest of your column, thanks for the update. I (as usual) refuse to watch the train wreck that NA$CAR is, and I was sure that I wouldn’t miss anything important. It would seem that I was right.
Finally, in NA$CAR’s defense (I feel dirty just saying that), it’s wasn’t possible to lower the banking in the time that they had to repave the track. Between July and February, the would have had to remove the old asphalt, adjust the banking, add new walls and safer barriers, pave the track again, and adjust the lights.
OK, randy “need one more?”, “volcanonacho”, “DansMom”, “JACOB” goldman, if you have anything retarded to add under my name, now is your chance.
Since I am not a fan of restrictor plate races I can only say that the two car draft isn’t much better than the large packs. As long as you can only go fast with the help of other competitors I will never like RP racing. I will say this, I found the two car break away deal less exciting to watch than the large pack racing. It was probably more fun for the drivers though. I still feel the RP races are crapshoots and I didn’t see anything Saturday night to change that opinion.
That “race”…. there are no words. Well, maybe one, awful. Just another by product of what Cup racing is today; NASCAR makes rules to stay in control of “the product” and race teams figure ways around them bringing all sorts of new rules and undesirable results.
I pay no attention to off season changes. When I watched the shoot out I had no idea there was going to be two car drafting.
Yeah, RG, that was exciting… if you like wheel-barrow racing. Old school racing ? Hardly. Good article, Matt, keep ‘em coming.
I thought the Bud “shootout” was a complete waste of my night. I was looking forward to seeing the cars on the track again and boy was I disappointed with the “2 car tango” BS.
Plus Fox was a mess. They missed everything as it happened, we saw it all in replay. Based on this, I don’t plan to watch the entire 500 mile debacle on Sunday – unless it’s raining or snowing in NJ – I can watch the first 10, stop by once in a while to catch up and then watch the last 20 and not waste my entire day having to listen to DW blather on about Junyah or toyotas.
Randy…sorry, but your comments always seem clueless.
Looked like a street stock buddy race where they chain the cars together. Make it interesting, add a Figure 8 track. Lead changes mean nothing at the big tracks, just some hype to drive the sport..sorry , that stat means nothing at all. At least they didn’t show the “If the race ended now, who would be in the chase crap, thanks FOX. Why the football lead in music?
Your definition of good racing seems reasonable on the surface but since most fans know the only reason that is happening is because of the restrictor plates we can’t pretend to be excited about it. Restrictor plates makes the whole thing contrived and fixed to many of us. People don’t like to waste their time when they feel that the “sport” of the event is being compromised in the name of entertainment. I don’t want a crapshoot I want the best cars/drivers/teams be able to beat the crap out of those who aren’t the best. You watch, at Daytona and Talladega, drivers that quickly fall off the lead lap in 90% of the races will be able to stay within a few seconds of the leaders as long as they don’t lose the draft.
The new two car drafts are kind of interesting with the added speed,etc. But its not really racing unless the car in back actually tries to pass once in a while, not just let go by from the buddy to get car cooled down. Racing is not buddy-buddy. I would really like to see Brian France and Mike Helton put on helmits and race the season. Then we can have a rookie of the year again.
What we saw was similar to “chain racing”, which is what Bob referred to. It’s not a big draw at the local tracks either. So if this is the path NA$CAR wants to go down, then they had best be ready for another Monte Dutton saying. Fans disguised as seats.
It sure was strange seeing ads for Martinsville during the Shootout. Is NASCAR really in that dire of straits that they still have tickets availble for the 500 and have to advertise for Martinsville before the first official race has been run?
I’ll have to agree with Randy on this one.I’d rather see them 2×2×2 20 deep or even a freight train of 12×12 side by side than be scattered out here and there with half the field way off the pace,and then be praying for a caution to bunch the field back up.
It ain’t perfect,but it is what it is.The racin’ is exciting,didn’t you hear the drivers saying how much fun they were having! That’s a good sign! or at least I think it is.
I don’t see what’s wrong with the 2 car draft. Its a little more like the old days and its a hell of a lot better than a 30 car parade like we’ve seen since 1989.
to answer Matt’s question “where do you and your buds stand on this “new” form of racing at Daytona?:”
Hak J Kim,
Viva la Resistance!
Settle down Beavis.
Can you hear the sound of one hand clapping? Does a wet bird fly at night??
The “racing” Saturday night was the most boring race I have seen in a long time. Maybe they could just eliminate the driver in the pushing car and control both throttles from the front car. Sunday’s race ought to be real exciting especially for the odd man out. There will be 21 packs of 2 cars with 1 left over.
“Matt, it’s time to stop dissing Brad for Carl’s swerving across three lanes of traffic. Brad did exactly what he should have, as per NA$CAR’s rules. He maintained his line, and won a race for a true underdog team. Blame Carl, NA$CAR, and blocking for Carl ending up in the fence.” – Jacob
Bill B, great post!
RandyG, I don’t consider myself one of your “haters” and I did NOT like the racing. I’m with Bill B – excellent assessment
Not a huge fan of the two-car style of racing, but I’ll see what we end up with on Sunday. The 500 has a pretty good record of living up to its own hype.
What else they’ll be talking about: due to a bad rule at plate races, the car who crossed the finish line first didn’t win. (Also, it looked to me like Hamlin was past Newman before diving under the line, which isn’t a yellow line violation anyway… but I’m sure someone will have a yellow line column this week.)
matt the corn put More carbon in the air NOT LESS
Susan – The only problem with your theory is that Nascar couldn’t organize a gang splash in a whore house.
I would not call it racing. Awful. It all depends on who you happen to get attached to your bumper and no chance to change. That is luck, not racing.
Thanks for coming back for another season Matt, really enjoy your columns. Racing was okay, I really can’t say it was great or terrible in the little taste we got Saturday night. On a different note, did I hear this correct, “only two cars per 150 race will be racing for a place in the 500”? As a long time fan I have to say that the “top 35” rule is really taking the excitement out of speed weeks. Please correct me if I am wrong.
Bob said… “Why the football lead in music?”
I’m glad I’m not the ONLY one who noticed that!!!! I thought that was pretty laughable and pathetic too!!!! Just shows Fox’s and nascar’s desparation!!!!!
The only thing ‘bad’ about NASCAR is reading the above drivel by all you ijits. It is racing! If Richard and Cale coulda kept their cars in line, they woulda raced two-by-two also. Whether its 2-paks or 36-paks, it’s still restrictor plate racing, and is different than the whiry-gig of Bristol.
If ya don’t like this racing, SHUT OFF THE TV, go outside, and do something else. there will be a race next week that you MIGHT like. If more than 6 races a season make you upset, you might consider Monster trucks, THAT might be more to your liking.
NASCAR is a marathon, always has been. If it bores you, watch something else…it may be above your attention span.
Matt, “Dale Earnhardt, Jr. started from the pole (I find it laughable some folks say he “won the pole” by correctly choosing a red bottle)”. You probably found his winning the ‘500’ Pole laughable too.
Good column Matt & geez do you people have a life or what??..3, maybe 4 posts were from fans who watched the race, Damn people, If you don’t like Matt or Nascar stay the F**k away & let the rest of us conversate about the column…
I seem to recall Donnie and Cale pulling away in a two car draft in 1979 to settle the 500 themselves. Look how that turned out. Too bad some of these posters never saw races from the seventies and sixties.
Get used to the Football Music. FOX is using it on all sports packages. Started during the World Series last year.Matt good column, the permanent 2-pack is teh suck as far as I am concerned!
I thought the Shootout was interesting to watch. Can’t really say I’ve seen anything like that with the plates before. I think that NASCAR’s doing the right thing by trying to make it work less, without taking it away. The 2 car hookup should be a tool, not a magic bullet. I think with warmer weather (daytime) for the duel and the 500, it’ll be just that.
The closing rates were insane.
“Wheel barrow racing” Good one, Frank. That hot mess made me yearn for “normal” plate racing. Wow…did I say that out loud?
I didn’t think they used restrictor plates when Cale and Richard raced.
It’s not just football music folks, surely you’ve noticed. The verbal terminological conversion of NASCAR to football began when we put helmets on the teams rather than on the pit crews. We now have out of bounds, overtime, Saturday night we had half-time even though the break in the race was at about the one-third mark. The attempted transition to football has been there for quite a while. The next time you watch a race, if you bother, count the number of times you hear football or other stick-and-ball terminology applied in the commentary.
I’ve seen worse racing at Daytona. I think the year they introduced the Taurus, Larry Mac made his comment about cots in the grandstands.
Was it the best? No, and part of me thinks McMurray was sitting back so he could avoid the inevitable wreck.
Same thing will happen next week but will the driver drop below the line?
I didn’t like the two car “packs.” It looked silly and reminded me of local short track chain races like a couple have mentioned above. The one thing that stuck out to me right away was during driver announcements how most of the drivers had non-descript black firesuits while a few had their normal colors. Is Fox trying to slip in their non Fox sponsor airbrushing again like they did a few years ago?
Also I wanted to mention this last year. Why do you have to be over 300 lbs to be a pit road official? It looks like “The Biggest Loser” could do an entire season just on NASCAR officials. How does NASCAR afford to fly those behemouths all over the country? Do they have a second plane to carry their luggage?