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 March 28, 2011
The Key Moment – Kevin Harvick got up on Jimmie Johnson’s bumper entering turn three on the final lap to get the No. 48 loose. That opened the top lane and Harvick drove jauntily on by for the win.
In a Nutshell – 195 laps of terrible followed by five laps of terrific.
Dramatic Moment – A lot of fans at home must have been startled out of a nice nap by all the cheering there at the end.
What They’ll Be Talking About Around the Water Cooler This Week
Probably most of them will be talking about basketball. It’s all anyone around here is discussing and it drives me nuts every March. The official stats say there are many more stock car diehards than college hoops ones, but the problem with a couple million “stock car racing fans” is they don’t watch or attend the races.
If the drivers are only going to actually race for the final ten to twenty laps anyway, maybe Fontana should try a 200-mile race distance next year?
What in blazes went wrong for Tony Stewart on the final restart? Listening to his radio, it seems he felt Landon Cassill was somehow at fault.
ESPN made a big deal Saturday about the bumps in the Fontana track surface. Oddly enough, the issue wasn’t even mentioned Sunday on FOX.
Kevin Harvick complimenting his pit crew over the radio. Kyle Busch gracious in defeat. Jeff Gordon running like a three-legged lamb at Fontana? Thanks for the tea, Alice, but I think I’d like to go back to my side of the rabbit hole.
Do you think Carl Edwards is sick of running second, especially to Kyle Busch?
Get well wishes go out to A.J. Foyt, arguably the most successful and versatile driver in racing history, who had to have a heart stent inserted Friday to clear a 95 percent blockage in an artery.
The IRL was pretty clever in kicking off their 2011 broadcast schedule a couple hours before a West Coast Cup race began. Unfortunately, the start of the event was sloppier than most of my buddy’s son’s quartermidget races. But once again, despite the growing pains of double-file restarts I was left to wonder why open-wheel fans get “side-by-side” coverage during commercials (half the screen still displays race action during breaks) while the stock car side still has to endure constant, full-scale interruptions. You know that I like to stir things up. Who’s interested in a grassroots movement for the fans where they refuse to buy any product advertised during NASCAR commercial breaks? The deal would be if side-by-side coverage for stock car racing gets adopted, they’ll all try to buy at least one product advertised during those segments every week.
Speaking of the IndyCar season opener at Saint Pete’s, while Dario Franchitti won the race going away a very impressive female driver scored a strong fourth without setting a wheel wrong. And here’s the odd part: it wasn’t that young lady ESPN seems so infatuated with, Danica Patrick, but Simona De Silvestro driving for a team that lost a lead engineer just earlier this week. Folks talk about diversity and equality in racing; well, I’ll buy into that just as soon as results and not appearance define a successful female racer.
I was saddened but not surprised to learn this week that National Speed and Sport News is shutting down after having been published since 1934. (For the record, that’s fifteen years before NASCAR staged their first season.) Shortly after I became able to read, a neighbor of my family was kind enough to pass along every issue after he was done poring over it; I’d also read the paper cover to cover. While not the founder, legendary motorsports journalist Chris Economaki was the guiding light that kept the paper fresh, informative and dynamic for all those decades. But in the end, the immediacy of the internet was too much to overcome for a print publication. NSSN will be sorely missed along with the old Winston Cup Scene paper.
Well if nothing else, the sparse crowd at Fontana had to make the folks at Bristol feel a little better. I think right now, you’d have better luck selling tickets to a wading pool at Fukushima than a Cup race at Fontana.
It was a daring experiment, but the white graphics on a white paint job for Clint Bowyer’s quarterpanels were absolutely impossible to read.
How can a TV show be a hit when the first episode hasn’t even aired yet? What FOX lacks in talent, it makes up for in hype.
Speaking of FOX, my guess is there’s somebody who is supposed to be in charge of reviewing graphics to be used during the race broadcast just to be certain nothing can be misinterpreted. Yes, I know they were talking about speeding on pit road, but when I read one of the UPS Logistics to the Fontana race was “don’t get a ticket,” I blew two streams of coffee six inches out of my nose. I’m sure the track’s box office appreciated the lapse in judgment…
The Hindenburg Award For Foul Fortune
Denny Hamlin ran strongly for a brief time early in the race. But after yet another engine failure, you know they’re going to be burning the midnight oil in the Joe Gibbs Racing engine department this week. Joey Logano’s engine apparently also had a fatal flaw that was discovered prior to the race; for the No. 20, it was a penalty for passing on the restart that left that Toyota the last car on the lead lap in 25th.
Jeff Burton’s strongest run of the season was sidelined by a pit road speeding penalty. The 15th-place finish was still his best of 2011, though.
Stewart ran up front and looked capable of winning right up to that final restart. A 13th-place finish, no comment post-race interview ensued.
After finishing in the top 10 in the first four Cup races of the season, Kurt Busch couldn’t get out of his own way on Sunday. He ran 17th.
The “Seven Come Fore Eleven” Award For Fine Fortune
Kyle Busch had a rough start to the weekend, wrecking his primary car in the first practice before leading 151 laps and finishing third. What I want to know is what a manhole cover is doing in the tri-oval grass? You’d have thought the people at Fontana would have learned something after Greg Moore’s fatal wreck there.
Brian Vickers enjoyed his best run since returning to the circuit after last year’s health problems. He finished eighth.
Harvick had slid back as far as 28th and seemed in danger of losing a lap, but he roared back to lead the only lap that counts, the last one.
A key decision to make a final stop under caution for two tires allowed Matt Kenseth to finish fourth after having been invisible much of the race.
What’s the Points?
Carl Edwards now leads the championship by nine markers over Ryan Newman who advances two spots to second in the standings. Former points leader Kurt Busch has dropped to third; he’s ten points behind Edwards. His brother Kyle is right behind him, eleven points out of the lead while Johnson rounds out the top 5. He’s fourteen back.
Stewart fell three positions to sixth in the standings, followed by Paul Menard, Juan Pablo Montoya, then a three-way tie for ninth among Harvick, Kasey Kahne and Kenseth. Among the drivers who might want to try harder to score a win as a backdoor way into the Chase: Greg Biffle (20th), Denny Hamlin (21st), Jeff Burton (25th), and Jamie McMurray (28th). But I doubt any of the above drivers are panicked about points five races into the season, so why should we be? Remember, the leaves that have yet to grow on the trees here in the northeast will be ready for raking by the time the Chase begins.
Overall Rating (On a scale of one to six beer cans, with one being a stinker and a six pack an instant classic) — The first 195 laps rate a gentleman’s zero, all the monotony in eighty percent of the distance. But those final five laps get a solid six pack of the good stuff.
Next Up – Set the wayback machine to 19-fiftysomething as the circuit takes a delightful run back to historic Martinsville, Virginia.
©2000 - 2008 Matt McLaughlin and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
I completely agree with you Matt. The first 190 some-odd laps were the typical Fontana you all yawn about. If it wasnt for the action following the last restart, I’d have a nice plate of crow in front of me.
Matt, I really like Kyle Busch and I don’t think it’s very nice of you to call him a manhole cover! ;)
I tuned in just as the final caution came out. Glad I did. I missed all the boring parts and got to see a great 10 lap battle for positions. Keep in mind though, if it wasn’t for the restart with 10 to go the ending would have probably been a stinker like the rest of the race. At least this one wasn’t for phantom debris.
glad i woke up in time. i was almost certain bush would have had his boom out.
that manhole cover was scarey. didn’t the track seep on friday as well?
Thank god for that late race caution. It gave us the best Cali finish I can remember. Textbook move by Harvick. Maybe all the races at Fontana, Michigan and Pocono need to have a mandatory late caution, because I see it every year, crazy racing for the first 15 laps of a restart then everyone goes single file till another caution with almost no passing.
Throughout the entire race I kept thinking “Well, this is the nail in Fontana’s coffin”. Then we get the most exciting finish since Daytona. Still, a great finish doesn’t change the fact that for the most part, this race was the most boring event on television since Rosie O’Donnell’s show got cancelled.
I don’t know what the attendance was like yesterday, but Saturday’s attendance at the Nationwide race looked pathetic. I’ve seen bigger crowds at my local karaoke bar. The sad part is, other than the finish, the Nationwide race was a better race than the Sprint cup race.
Hopefully there will be some exciting racing at Martinsville this coming weekend.
so you want side by side commercials like the irl for the boring racing that you hate? that makes sense…
to kevin in SoCal: Didn’t you catch the top of all the sections in turn one covered with the banner?
Is it just me, or does a weekend of Nascar racing seem empty without Danica’s natural talent and good looks. I’m ready for the IRL season to end so Danica can come back and wow us.
Oh, and 20 bucks says Matt M. didnt even watch the race. My bet is, he surfed Nascar.com as soon as it ended.
I already make it a point not to buy anything that says NA$CAR on it or what they advertise on TV
Please forward the twenty bucks to me via this website. In fact I watched the IRL, the Cup and the NW race all flag to flag. The last Cup race I didn’t either attend or watch was the 2007 Firecracker 400 the day my mom died.
We taped the race and gave it 2 hours before we started watching. As usual, after fast forwarding through the tons of commercials, we still ended up watching the last of the race only 38 minutes after it actually ended. That’s ALOT of commercials.
I was actually cheering for JJ to pass Busch for the win, thinking he was the lesser of two evils when WOAH! here comes Kevin to give us a thrill! Thank you Mr. Harvick for sparking the life into a really, really boring race.
If you follow DeLana Harvick on Twitter, you saw where she didn’t want to go to the Fontana race because it’s boring (her words, not mine). Class act of Kevin to give her a shoutout during the interview.
Sorry Cali folks, but the attendance was awful, no matter how you spin it. The huge banners covering stands doesn’t hide a thing. They worst thing the tracks did was paint the bleachers different colors. It really does show up when the stands are empty.
you’re in a nutshell comment said it all – 195 laps of terrible and 5 laps of fun to watch.
I flicked back and forth between the race and re-runs of a soap opera since I’ve seen this show before and it isn’t worth spending 4 hrs of my day on (the soap rerun was more interesting). Had the radio on for PXP because Fox’s persistence in showing one car or in car camera shots rather than something that lets us see whatever racing there MIGHT be doesn’t tell me enough (although at Calif – there’s not much to tell). That track sure isn’t on my list of “must see” tracks. I’m happy I got to Bristol before they “improved” it.
Randy, I didn’t miss Danica’s hype machine one bit. Thought Simona did a good job — between her, Johanna Long and Jennifer Jo Cobb, there might be a female racer I can follow — someone who can actually race, rather than whine, complain, toss her hair around and stamp her little foot when things don’t go her way.
It was nice to watch a race like this that only have to watch for about three hours. Now if NASCAR would only give added incentive for actual (racing) lead changes, that would improve interest in watching the races. Also when the day comes when Danica and Jennifer Jo Cobb both are racing Cup series and crash each other out of a race. What a fight that could turn out to be. Kind of like what Donnie Allison and Cale Yarborough did at Daytona. WOW!
I agree. 195 laps of crappy and five laps of racing. This not even “racertainment”. Get ride of Fontana and bring back “the rock”.
I disagree completely..Good Race..Great Finish and the Stands looked full after about the 1/4 point in the race…Like AI was told last year “Hang it up MM, it’s over, you just can’t get it done anymore…”
each year we say the same thing about Fontana, when is NASCAR going to get it? A bad race at Charlotte or Bristol is an anomaly, at Cali it is the norm. At their worst any of the east coast tracks are better
gee fonzi,,,don’t think mark’s problem could be his new crew chief do you?????? last few years everyone just wanted to blame JR!
Excuse me, but what race were you all watching! It rained overnight and the track got green. That caused the cautious early racing with no yellows. Then as the track got rubbered in a lot of drivers lost the handle on the track and some found it. You all complain when NA$CAR throws phony yellows and they don’t here and you complain that it was boring. What do you want competition crashes! Vickers and Kahne charged towards the front and then lost the handle when the track rubbered in. There were other drivers that went back and forth in the pack as the conditions changed.
I enjoyed the whole race. I just eliminated Frontstretch from my favorites and I won’t even look at the responses. You all need a new hobby and leave this one to those that still enjoy it!
A fight between Danican’t and Jennifer Jo would NOT be the same as Cale and Donnie. But it would make for a PPV. The smart money would be on JJ. (Now there’s a JJ I could like)
A lot of discussion surrounds track attendance. Baseball has official paid attendance figures for every event.
another good article Matt for a change really enjoyed the race but only because I got directv and instead of listening to the fox broadcast I watched the incar camaras
Five laps of thrills does not offset 195 laps of boredom.
The only thing that NASCAR should say to Fontana is this: Reconfigure the track or we’ll close it down and plow it up!!!
Also, give Toyota Speedway at Irwindale a call and tell them that they have been awarded a Cup race, and to have them get to work renovating the track for next year.
Matt, I’ll agree about the last 5 laps being great to watch, but the 1st 195 were past boring…& for whoever it was who said there was A crowd at this track after a 1/4 of the race was run, I’m guessing your partying was kicking in by then, the place wasn’t even 1/2 full…This track is just as bed as MIS, too much room for competitive racing with this “race” car …
Matt, well said. The ending of the race was good, but I gotta admit I spent most of the race watching college b-ball. However, this was the first time I’ve ever been happy with a finish at this track. I’d trade it for Rockingham in a second though.
@ Tom Dalfonzo:
Problem is NA$CAR already owns California, so that ain’t happening. Ooops, my fault, I$C owns Fontana. Either way, the France family still owns Fontana. If they were smart (and Brian obviously isn’t), they would’ve tore down that track 6-7 years ago, built a North Wilkesboro or Rockingham-clone track with about 140,000 seats, and it would sell out every time. There are enough gear-heads in Cali to fill it if you provide something worth watching. The current configuration is pathetic, and attendance proves it.
Simona Di Silvestro is bad-fast in everything she drives. If the equipment holds up (and is a competitive grade) she’ll win races.
Let’s be honest, any track 1.5 miles or larger becomes boring when there are 80 or more green flag laps. California doesn’t have a monopoly on that and it isn’t something that just started happening in the last 10 years. A Michigan race in 1993 (an arbitrary year) would look just the same if there were 100 green flag laps. The difference is in 1992 the 1.5+ tracks were the minority so when those “boring” races happened it didn’t bother people as much.
I actually would have preferred the race finished without that last caution which, was the main reason we had that spectacular finish. As much as I didn’t want to see Kyle win it, sometimes it really seems unfair and arbitrary when a late caution allows guys that have been behind the leader a chance to take one away. I just makes me feel like I was a schmuck for watching the first 90% of the race.
IndyCar hasn’t been called the IRL in two years. I was at the St. Pete race, it was pretty exciting. Great action in turn one, and with 5 support series running, there was racing all day from 10:30 in the morning until 6:00 at night. That is getting your money’s worth. The World Challenge race was pretty exciting too, real stock cars, Mustangs, Vipers, Corvettes, 911’s, Caymans, Volvos, VW, Acura, Honda, Mitsu, Nissan GT-Rs, Cadillacs, good stuff.