Kurt Busch to Attempt The Indianapolis-Charlotte Double
posted by Phil Allaway
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Andretti Autosport announced this morning that Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet in the Sprint Cup Series, will attempt the Indianapolis 500 in a fifth entry for the IndyCar Series team. Once the Indianapolis 500 is completed, Busch will fly from Indianapolis to Charlotte, jump in his No. 41 Chevrolet and compete in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Busch considers the opportunity to do the double as an old-school throwback moment.
“This is really to challenge myself within motorsports,” Busch said in Andretti Autosport’s press release. “Perhaps I am a bit of an old-school racer; a throwback, I guess. I enjoyed the era of drivers racing different cars and testing themselves in other series. It is tough to do now for a variety of factors, but when the opportunity is there, I want to do it. While NASCAR is my home, I have been fortunate to compete in Pro Stock on the NHRA circuit a number of years ago and test a V8 Supercar. This opportunity was a talk with Michael [Andretti] over dinner one night, a “What if,” and now it’s becoming a reality for me to drive in the Indy 500 with Andretti Autosport. It’s literally a dream come true. To go to the famous Brickyard with the iconic Andretti name, it doesn’t get much cooler or better than that.”
Busch will be doing the Indianapolis-Charlotte double as a Memorial Day mission to men and women serving in the U.S. Military via the Armed Forces Foundation. Fans can contribute to the cause by texting AFF to 50555 to donate $10.
Busch, who has never raced an IndyCar, passed Rookie Orientation at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year during a test session. At the time, Busch was more or less testing the Dallara DW12 for fun.
Busch will be the fourth driver to attempt the Indianapolis-Charlotte double. John Andretti was the first driver to attempt it in 1994. After finishing four laps down in tenth in Indianapolis, Andretti crashed and had engine problems in the 600. Robby Gordon has attempted the double five times, most recently in 2004. However, Gordon failed to make it to Charlotte on time and did not start the 600 in 2000 (P.J. Jones started Gordon’s No. 13 Ford in that instance). Finally, Tony Stewart has attempted the double twice (most recently in 2001) and is the only driver to ever complete all 1100 miles. Neither of the three drivers has won either leg of the double. The best finishes are Stewart and Gordon’s sixth-place finishes at the Indianapolis 500 (although Gordon’s came in 2000, the year he didn’t make it to Charlotte in time to start the Coca-Cola 600), and Stewart’s fourth-place finish in the 2001 Coca-Cola 600.
Danica Patrick, Justin Allgaier Talk About Phoenix Incident
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
A disappointing start to the year for Danica Patrick won’t include continued conflict. Patrick met with rookie Justin Allgaier Sunday, shortly after the Phoenix Cup race after a wreck ruined both drivers’ days. Patrick, who was critical of the No. 51 car on the radio, claiming Allgaier was “driving all over the track” appeared receptive to a conversation that quickly settled differences over what will be a long season.
“She was just upset because she got involved in the crash that we had,’’ said Allgaier to the Motor Racing Network. “She says she’s been through this and that she felt like I needed to settle down at that point. I explained my position on why everything happened. I think she understood where I was coming from. It doesn’t fix either one of our racecars. It doesn’t fix either one of our days. Unfortunately, we were both having pretty decent days.’’
Allgaier wound up 30th due to the incident while Patrick was 36th. The incident, which was caused by Allgaier’s spin also involved the No. 32 team and Travis Kvapil, which wound up 38th after sustaining heavy damage.
Camping World Close to Extending Title Sponsorship of NCWTS
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Marcus Lemonis, CEO of Camping World, Grand Marshal of Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway, and star of CNBC’s “The Profit,” made the announcement over the weekend that the retailer is very close to announcing a deal that would continue its title sponsorship of NASCAR’s Truck Series. The original agreement with NASCAR is scheduled to conclude after the 2015 season.
According to the sanctioning body, no formal contract has been signed, but “the agreement between the two parties has proven to be a beneficial one.”
“In about a month, we’ll be announcing a significant extension to that contract. It’s been great for us,” said Camping World’s Lemonis in a statement. “The NASCAR relationship has worked well for Camping World. When we started, we had 35 stores. Now, we’re up to 120 stores. As we travel the country and we meet new customers in stores, they always are very appreciative of our relationship with NASCAR. It’s been good.”
Gaining a long-term commitment from Camping World to sponsor the Truck Series would be a relief for NASCAR, which is set to lose Nationwide Insurance as title sponsor for the NASCAR Nationwide Series at the end of the 2014 season. The sponsorship of the Cup Series by Sprint runs through 2016.
The NCWTS is back in action on March 29th at 2:30 PM (ET) when the trucks visit Martinsville Speedway in the Kroger 250, which can be seen on Fox Sports 1. Ratings for the season opener were up 11 percent.
Harvick Takes Win At Phoenix In Second Race With New Team
posted by Justin Tucker
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Phoenix International Raceway has become Kevin Harvick’s home away from home. Sunday Afternoon was no exception as Harvick charged to the front early and would dominate for much of the day, leading 224 of the scheduled 312 laps to record his record fifth win on the one mile oval and his third win in the last four races at Phoenix.
Harvick, coming off of a disappointing Speedweeks which was capped by a last lap crash in the Daytona 500 in his debut with Stewart-Haas Racing, set the tone on Saturday by winning both practices while having the best 5 and 10-lap averages in the first practice of the day on Saturday. On Sunday, Harvick and his No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet was nothing short of flawless as he was able to hold Dale Earnhardt, Jr. by .489 seconds after a late race restart to claim his 24th career Sprint Cup Series victory.
“Man, this is awesome,” Harvick said after his dominant victory on Sunday. “Man, this just solidifies so many things and so many decisions. It’s been so much work with all the time and effort that these guys (the crew) have put in—but what a race car.”
Stewart Haas Racing co-owner Gene Haas shared in Harvick’s excitement after the race.
“It took long enough,” Haas joked. “This is phenomenal. I think there was a lot of skepticism last year about what myself and Tony (Stewart) what we were up to, was there a lot of madness to this. Quite frankly, it’s a great team, there’s a lot of synergy at the shop, people working together. I don’t know what we did, but I think we put together a great organization.”
Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt, Jr. continued his hot start to the 2014 season. Earnhardt Jr. would finish second on Sunday, marking his seventh consecutive top 10 finish since the end of the 2013 season. Earnhardt Jr. was pleased with the effort after a coast-to-coast whirlwind week after winning his second Daytona 500 and also gave great praise to the efforts of Harvick and the No. 4 team.
“I’ve got to congratulate Kevin. Those guys were two-tenths faster than everyone all weekend in practice. They were just phenomenal,” Earnhardt said. “To be able to run with them all day was a big confidence builder for us.”
Joining Harvick and Earnhardt in the top 5 of The Profit on CNBC 500K were Brad Keselowski with his second consecutive top 3 run of 2014 in third. Keselowski’s Team Penske teammate Joey Logano would finish fourth, and Jeff Gordon would come home fifth in his No. 24 Pepsi Max Chevrolet.
Jimmie Johnson finished in sixth, followed by Ryan Newman with a nice rebound after Daytona in seventh. Carl Edwards would carry the banner for Roush Fenway Racing by finishing eighth, Kyle Busch was ninth, and Jamie McMurray would finish tenth.
A look at the Profit on CNBC 500K by the numbers. There were 14 lead changes among eight different drivers, there were eight cautions for 39 laps which slowed the race pace to 109.229 MPH.
Next Sunday, the Sprint Cup Series heads to Sin City and the Las Vegas Motor
Starting Lineup: The Profit On CNBC 500K
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday March 1, 2014
Drivers in RED (i) are those ineligible to collect Sprint Cup points
Daytona 500 TV Ratings Down
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Wednesday February 26, 2014
What was the longest weather delay in Daytona 500 history turned out to bring NASCAR lower ratings and TV viewership Sunday night than expected. According to a report Monday from FOX Sports, the 56th running of the Daytona 500 airing at 8 PM (ET) posted a 5.6/10 national household rating/share which averaged 9.3 million viewers. That’s down 44 percent from last year’s 9.9, easily making it the least-watched Daytona 500 of all-time.
Due to the six-hour, twenty-two minute rain delay in Daytona, the race was up against the primetime coverage of the Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony from Sochi, Russia on NBC (15.25 million viewers). FOX also reported that 69% of the pre-rain delay viewers of the race, which began at 1 PM (ET) kept tuning in.
In comparison, the 2013 Daytona 500 on FOX was the most-watched race in five years, posting a 9.9/22 rating/share, commanding 16.7 million viewers. The Daytona 500 in 2012, the first to ever be run on a Monday and in the primetime slot did a 7.7/13 overnight rating/share which resulted in 13.67 million households viewing the race according to Nielsen TV ratings data.
Earnhardt, Jr. Claims Second Daytona 500 Victory
posted by Justin Tucker
Wednesday February 26, 2014
Ten years is a long time. For Dale Earnhardt, Jr., it felt like an eternity. NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver endured many near misses and close calls at the Daytona 500 since his only win in the Great American Race in 2004. Earnhardt had finished second in two of his last three Daytona 500s coming into Sunday’s race. He was also riding the tail of a 55-race winless streak, dating back to Michigan in 2012.
However nothing would stop Dale Jr. on Sunday, not even a 6 hour and 22 minute rain delay from capturing his second Daytona 500 win. Earnhardt Jr. led a race-high 54 laps on the evening and used some timely drafting help from teammates Jimmie Johnson and, on the final restart, Jeff Gordon to separate from the pack and secure the victory.
“Winning this race is the greatest feeling that you could feel in this sport besides accepting the trophy for the championship,” said a jubilant Earnhardt after pulling into Victory Lane. “We could fight off battle after battle. We got a little help at the end there from Jeff to get away on the restart. This is amazing. I can’t believe this is happening. I never take this for granted, man because it doesn’t happen twice, let alone once.”
Aside from the race itself the big story of the race was the 6 hour and 22 minute red flag, which threatened to move the race to Monday evening (had the race been postponed, FOX Sports’ Chris Myers had tweeted that the race would resume at 5:00pm EST). However, Mother Nature would cooperate and would allow the race to be run under different conditions from which they practiced this week. Once the race resumed, the intensity picked up from the changing track conditions. This allowed the pack to race side-by-side and at times 3-wide up to seven rows deep.
Joining Earnhardt Jr. in the top 5 for the 2014 Daytona 500 were: Denny Hamlin who closed out a spectacular Speedweeks in second, Brad Keselowski in third, Jeff Gordon in fourth, and Jimmie Johnson who overcome two wrecks leading up to the 500 in fifth.
Rounding out the top 10 in the Daytona 500 were Matt Kenseth in sixth, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. in seventh and Greg Biffle would bring his No. 16 Ford home in eighth. Austin Dillon would come home ninth in his first Cup Series race in the iconic No. 3 for Richard Childress Racing, while Casey Mears would round out the top 10.
A couple of major contenders for the Daytona 500 win would see their hopes dashed early on as Martin Truex, Jr. would blow up just 30 laps into the race, relegating him to a 43rd-place finish in his debut for Furniture Row Racing. Crew chief Todd Berrier was already in Nashville for a test session before the race was even over. Kyle Busch, meanwhile would have a pit road violation just before halfway and would spend much of the race battling back from that mistake. Busch would eventually finish 19th after leading 19 laps.
Danica Patrick would also be bit by bad luck as she was caught up in a multi-car wreck on lap 145. Patrick would lead her second consecutive Daytona 500, but wouldn’t have the finish to show for it finishing 40th. Tony Stewart would encounter a frustrating evening as well, with a fuel pickup problem derailing his quest for his first Daytona 500 win. Stewart would finish 35th.
A look at the Daytona 500 by the numbers. There were 42 lead changes among 18 drivers, while seven cautions for 39 laps would slow the race pace to 145.290 MPH.
Next week, the Sprint Cup Series heads to the “diamond in the desert,” Phoenix International Raceway for The Profit on CNBC 500K. The Green flag is scheduled for 3:15pm EST.
Nationwide Series Post-Race Quotes: Drive4COPD 300
posted by Thomas Bowles
Tuesday February 25, 2014
Frontstretch Interviews – Courtesy Mike Neff
ELLIOTT SADLER – FINISHED 4th
Thoughts on the race?
It’s definitely a lot different racing than what we’re used to.
Comfortable with it?
Yeah, it’s just different. You’re worried about what you’re doing, but you’re also worried about what everyone else is doing and they’re not doing more than you’re doing. Physically pushing a guy is way better than just riding so you just gotta time it right and push it to the edge.
Happy to start the year with a top 5?
Yeah. Hell, that was the worst we ran all day, I think. I have no idea how they put the 3 car in front of us on that last restart. I hadn’t seen the 3 car hardly all day. When they put us from fifth to sixth, on the outside line, it just really boxed us in. I would have really restarted behind my teammate and given him a good push to the front. Anyways, it is what it is; we’ll take it and move on.
Looked like you were up front all day.
The guys did a good job. We had a fast race car. Great pit stops, just really proud of these guys. The car’s in one piece and we can take it to Talladega now. Great job by my guys. A lot of effort came into coming down here to Daytona and giving ourselves a shot to win. We had that chance to be up front and make some things happen. Fifth is not what we want, but we’ll take it and move on.
Bumping vs Pushing?
It’s way harder. You don’t want to lay on the guy in front of you, so it’s tough racing. A lot different than what we’re used to, ‘cause you gotta go. You gotta drag the brake too ‘cause you don’t want to hit the guys and you don’t want to stay on him. It’s a lot harder mentally than what we’ve done in the past.
Car was strong all day. Pushing vs. Bumping, is that harder to do than just getting on somebody and pushing them?
Yeah, it is a little bit. When you bump ‘em, you jar ‘em, it kinda jacks ‘em a little bit. It’s a little more abrupt, obviously. I thought it was OK there at the end. It was certainly fun and hopefully entertaining. But a little bit of a struggle in the early part of the race and the midpart of the race to see a good race. And that’s unfortunate for the fans. You can’t do that the whole race, you can’t tear up your stuff, knock your grill in, overheat your motor, all that stuff so there’s no sense in doing all that until you get down to the last lap. The 7 and the 6, they did a good job. Man, the 7 really held the 22 and I tight on the bottom. I was rubbing his door and hitting the apron at the same time, no room whatsoever. So it was good; wish we were the ones who could have won but a lot better now than what we were last year.
Going home in one piece makes it a lot better, right?
Yeah. My back feels good. My foot feels good. Past years here, I’ve been going home with pain so I’m alright.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Truck Series Post-Race Quotes: Daytona (Exclusives)
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday February 22, 2014
When you’re on the outside like that, how frustrating is it?
It’s so hard. Timothy Peters has won here. Kyle Busch has won everywhere. Ron Hornaday has been running Trucks forever, probably before I was even born. I was surrounded by veterans there, and like I told them I don’t have a rookie stripe but I’m a rookie. This is only my fourth Truck race ever, my fourth superspeedway race, and man, I figured out when the 17 got up in front of me, I pushed him. And as soon as I pushed him, he took off. And I went with him. And I just kept doing it, and before I knew it, he was leading. And I saw Ron in my mirror, backed up to him, and if it wasn’t for him, I don’t know what would have happened. I gotta thank him big time for that. That was a true teammate move right there. I really appreciate that. He just bounced off me and we got to the front. I tried my hardest to sidedraft Kyle. I was probably touching his door.
Top 5 in the No. 30 truck. This deal come together at the last minute, but you had a heck of a truck. Tell us about your night.
Yeah, I’ve got to thank Turner Scott Motorsports. The guys worked so hard on this Rheem Comfort Products Chevrolet. Exciting! Just got hung up on the outside and had to wait for my teammate there to catch up. And then he got to the bottom, so… I got the old 32 and started pushing ol’ Ryan to the front. So, it’s not bad. We’ll take it. You just don’t want to step over that boundary. You don’t know how far to push and shove. We bumped about six times down the straightaway without latching onto them. Hopefully, that was OK and we came home with a top 5.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Budweiser Duels Post Race Quotes
posted by Matt Stallknecht
Friday February 21, 2014
BUDWEISER DUELS POST-RACE QUOTES
They’re saying the wheel bearing burned up in it. I don’t know what caused it, they’re taking it all apart to figure out what the heck happened. Something abnormal that’s for sure I don’t think I’ve ever had that happen at all. Hopefully, we made the race and hopefully we can fix the problem before Sunday.
WHAT WAS THAT LOUD BOOM ONCE YOU TURNED INTO THE GARAGE?
Loud pop was a tire… thankfully, it popped, hopefully it didn’t hurt anybody. All the heat created in the left front that popped was pretty weird.
REALLY GOOD RUN. WHAT DID YOU THINK OF IT?
Yeah, it was good. We have a car we can work with for the 500. Got a good starting spot, so we’re going to rest easy, fluff and buff our car for a couple of days and get ready for Sunday.
ANY DIFFERENCE ON WHETHER THE TOP OR BOTTOM LANE WORKED?
Yeah, I was just moving around, trying to stay with the flow. For me, this car works on all parts of the racetrack. So I’m pretty happy with it.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.
GOT SHUFFLED BACK, AFTER PIT STOPS AND THEN COULDN’T GET BACK UP TO THE FRONT. WHY?
Nah, we were just sitting there waiting until the last few laps to make a move. You didn’t want to pull down and get sent to the back. Seen a couple of guys get sent to the back really quick so we were just kind of waiting for the end. I felt like we had a good situation there with Ambrose behind us — we had a good run off Turn 2 and I went. It was the last lap, time to go do something, nobody went with us but hopefully Sunday is a different story.
We got a great car. We don’t have to work hard. We learned, we got a good race car. Got a car in one piece, ready to go so we’ll try and get through the next couple of practices, deliver it to the starting group this Sunday and we’ll be real happy.
YOU’RE IN THE DAYTONA 500!
Yeah, it’s pretty awesome. This Whitetail Chevrolet was so fast that I knew all I had to do was stick it behind smart, intelligent drafters and we could have a good finish. That’s what we did in the Duels and I’m excited. I’m excited to go do some stuff with the Nationwide car and have some more practice with this. But to know that we’re locked in the Daytona 500’s pretty cool.
YOU WERE OBVIOUSLY IN FRONT OF THAT MELEE AT THE END. WHEN YOU WERE UP FRONT THERE IN THE BEGINNING, WERE YOU HOPING TO JUST STAY IN LINE AND LET YOU FINISH TOP 5?
I was pretty content to ride and luckily I knew a lot of people around us were. It was nice to have a little calm and not really have to be racing hard the whole time. I knew that the pit stop was going to shake everything up and that’s exactly what happened. Fell back a little bit there but made the right moves at the end to get a good finish.
HOW STRONG ARE THESE RCR CARS?
They’re very strong! They definitely have the capabilities to be winning one of these races.
YOU’RE IN THE TOP 5 FOR YOUR HEAT IN THE DAYTONA 500. YOUR PRIMARY CAR IS SITTING RIGHT IN THE GARAGE, KIND OF WADDED UP. DID YOU THINK THIS ONE HAD IT IN IT?
Yeah, it’s a brand new car also. It’s just not quite as good as the primary but still a damned good car. I’m just proud of everybody at RCR for building such fast race cars. All of our cars have been fast, ECR motor’s been strong, even our affiliate teams have been qualifying really good and racing good. So… excited about 2014! It’s going to be a good year.
WELL MAN, YOU STARTED IN THE BACK BUT WORKED YOUR WAY TO THE FRONT WHEN IT COUNTED MOST. WERE YOU JUST BIDING YOUR TIME THROUGHOUT THE RACE?
Eh, you never know if you’re going to get back up there or not. We had to start at the back, we had to make a run early and see what we could do. We drove right to 10th, or something like that and then it got stagnant. We tried to make something happen, and went to the back again. Drove back up to the front. Again, just really proud of my guys. Matt Kruder did a hell of a job on that pit stop getting just enough gas in to gain some spots there.
RCR CARS SEEM PRETTY DARNED STRONG. DO YOU THINK THE RCR CARS HAVE SOMETHING FOR THEM ON SUNDAY — ESPECIALLY THE THREE JOE GIBBS RACING CARS THAT SEEM TO BE THE CLASS OF THE FIELD RIGHT NOW?
Oh yeah. The 20 car was extremely fast. The 11 didn’t qualify that good, but he’s a good drafter. I think he won. We definitely have something for him.
Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
Matt McLaughlin · Monday April 11, 2011
The Key Moment – Clint Bowyer was leading, but with 87 laps left tangled with Brian Vickers while trying to lap him. The 33 got this S
and though Bowyer saved it, by that point Matt Kenseth was back in front to stay.
In a Nutshell – A Roush romp at one of the team’s favorite stomping grounds.
Dramatic Moment – There were damn few of them as Kenseth took the rest of the field to school most of the race.
What They’ll Be Talking About Around the Water Cooler This Week
Why in this day and age are there still concrete walls surrounding race tracks not protected by SAFER barriers? You’d have thought Elliott Sadler’s wreck last year at Pocono would have been the final straw.
OK, if Texas is going to be a night race how about shortening it to 400 miles?
Jimmie Johnson apologized this week for accusing NASCAR of wrongly penalizing him for speeding in the pits last weekend at Martinsville. It makes me wonder if NASCAR has just issued another one of their “secret” $50,000 fines for questioning the Daytona politburo’s wisdom. Of course, keep in mind Johnson’s contention originally is that he was just “managing” the timing lines a bit aggressively. I tried the same logic with a State Trooper one time, when I got pulled over for speeding in a Stage One Buick on the way to Carlisle, PA. I pointed out due to a construction delay, I had been on the Turnpike two hours and had traveled just over 90 miles, so I was averaging well under the then-55 MPH speed limit. The trooper congratulated me for a novel excuse and excellent math skills… then awarded me with a big buck speeding ticket anyway.
How can a team leave the same position tire loose more than once? Easily. When a wheel is left loose, it tends to bugger up the bottom threads of the wheel stud where it protrudes through the rotor. On subsequent stops, the tire changer tries running the lug on with the gun but when it gets to the damaged threads, while it feels tight it is, in fact still loose. Run that nut on too hard with the gun, and the next stop you risk breaking the stud which is going to cost the team several laps while repairs are made.
Kurt Busch was angry and frustrated during the race, complaining every week he has to drive his guts out just to keep up and wondering why. Well I’ve got a simple answer for ya, Kurt: because that’s your job, Dude. You think the other drivers are feasting on KFC and trying to tune their radios to an easy-listening ’70s rock station during the race?
I haven’t bitched about this one in awhile, but why is it Jeff Gordon got paid more at Texas to finish 23rd than Earnhardt did to finish ninth? Yes, I know how the purse system works. I just don’t understand why they haven’t fixed it.
Maybe it’s time for Joe Gibbs to swap the Nos. 11 and 18 teams’ pit crews and crew chiefs? They both seem pretty displeased with their current situations already, so why wait until the Chase? Do it now and beat the rush.
I loved listening to my former boss, spotter Mike Calinoff going off on his young Nationwide driver, Ricky Stenhouse Friday night. Stenhouse was complaining bitterly about his car most of the evening, which caused this Calinoff retort: “Don’t drive pissed off and wreck the car. Hold onto it and we‘ll work on it. You’re tight. We heard you the thirtieth time you said it.”
One of the weekend’s more bizarre incidents involved a lap 89 wreck in Friday night’s Nationwide race. Carl Edwards was leading Kyle Busch, who was in dogged pursuit of the top spot when they came up to lap Tim Schendel. As is expected and polite, Schendel went to the bottom of the track to give the leaders room to race without impeding their progress. But right then, he blew a right front tire and his car hooked a hard right towards the wall and into the leaders’ path. Schendel made only incidental conduct with the No. 99 car of Edwards, who survived to win the race but his rival… wasn’t so lucky. Busch, who must have thought that errant car had been dropped by a helicopter into his path, ran hard into the back of Schendel’s Chevy, leaving the No. 18 damaged heavily enough his night was over on the spot. It seems the sport has been enduring an awful lot of unexpected right front tire failures in all three series at most tracks this season, but rarely does the problem manifest itself so spectacularly. Goodyear needs to fix this one before somebody gets hurt. (Oh, and kudos to Schendel for going over to Edwards after the race to offer apologies for the near miss, though the tire problem clearly wasn’t his fault.)
Of all Darrell Waltrip’s loathsome defects as a race broadcaster, perhaps one of the most annoying is when he decides to pontificate about the importance of clean driving and sportsmanship in stock car racing. Oh, no, it would have been terrible if Dale Jr. had laid a bumper to Harvick to get back around him at Martinsville. Well since old DW’s selective memory is suffering from some degree of “Sometimers” syndrome, let me remind him of a race at Martinsville of all places held on September 20th, 1987. A caution there led to a restart with three laps left to go; Terry Labonte was leading, but Dale Earnhardt was coming after him hard and Waltrip was in third. Going into the first corner on the final lap, ol’ DW decided that 12 tires corner better than four and he divebombed the entry to force some contact. He hit Labonte, who then hit Earnhardt and Waltrip took the lead ahead of them both. Or, as a clearly unrepentant DW explained: “I shot into Terry, Terry shot into Dale and I shot into the lead.” An incensed Labonte saw it differently, of course, claiming, “I guess it’s one of those deals where you win any way you can.” Oddly enough, during that race Waltrip was trying to break a winless streak that started when he began driving for… who else? Rick Hendrick. What are the odds? Seriously, someday I’ll write a column about all the races Waltrip won in a car he knew was cheated up but there may not be enough time to complete it this season.
Maybe someone should explain to Carl Edwards Pepto Bismol is a product of Proctor and Gamble, a rival company to the makers of Claritin. Whoops!
A rare (well, somewhat rare) off topic discussion. Motorcycle Awareness Month isn’t until May, but Saturday in these parts was seasonably warm – despite overcast skies – and the bikes were out in force. (Mine remained parked due to the job.) Unfortunately, it didn’t take long for tragedy to strike; two bikers were killed within twenty miles of here, one within three miles and I had the misfortune of driving by the post-accident cleanup. In both instances, the bikers had the right of way but a car turned left in front of them. So to all our friends in cages (cars)… we’re back. Keep an eye open for us. We’d appreciate it. And to all my biking buddies, if you assume everyone in a car is about to do something monumentally stupid directly in front of you… you’ll rarely be disappointed! Right of way doesn’t mean anything compared to Rites of Passage. Oh, and check your tire pressures. At the local filling station this week, I was gassing up and noted a bike on the other side of the pumps looked to have under-inflated tires. I talked to the rider and broke out my trusty tire gauge. She was fifteen pounds low on the front tire which makes these things handle badly. When a bike sits all winter, it’s going to lose a lot of tire pressure. The excitement to get out there again on a nice spring afternoon is no excuse not to do a thorough safety check of the machine before saddling up. And either wear a helmet or sign an organ donor’s card: your choice.
The Hindenburg Award For Foul Fortune
It’s not often you’ll see Jeff Gordon running that badly in a car with no damage and no mechanical issues, but he looked downright terrible on Saturday night. Running out of gas on the last lap was just a final insult en route to 23rd, two laps off the pace.
Admittedly still sore from that savage Martinsville wreck, Martin Truex, Jr. taking another hard hit at Texas was like tossing a man in the river who don’t need to be swimming. He wound up 35th with a second straight DNF.
Kyle Busch had to make two unscheduled stops to get loose left rear wheels tightened; that was enough to cost him a top-5 finish (16th). Combined with the incident Friday night, it wasn’t a great weekend for him or JGR (no cars inside the top 10).
What didn’t happen to Tony Stewart Saturday night? He got involved in a pit row collision, got nailed for speeding entering the pits, and ran out of gas on the last lap while running third (he dropped nine spots to 12th by the checkered flag).
Joey Logano (24th) was another victim of a pit road collision. Remember when “No Fear” used to sponsor race cars? If there’s a boutique operation out there called “Diminished Expectations” there’s plenty of decal space left on the No. 20 car.
Kevin Harvick (20th) never had the slightest chance to make it three wins a row. He was pinned in his pits twice and in one instance, also got a penalty for a tire issue while making his stop.
The “Seven Come Fore Eleven” Award For Fine Fortune
It looked like winner Kenseth was in trouble when his team failed to get his tank full on a green flag stop. But as fast as the No. 17 was, as soon as he pitted most of the lead lap cars followed him in like the Pied Piper of Hamlin (no relation) even if it was eight laps early. Why? The other teams just couldn’t afford to give up the time Kenseth made up on fresh rubber. Earlier in the race, Kenseth also had trash clog the grille of his car and thought maybe he’d damaged the engine, causing overheating but it held together for 500 miles; in fact, no car lost a motor during this race.
Bowyer, Saturday night’s runner-up was lucky to finish at all after that contact with Vickers and his subsequent slide through the tri-oval.
Edwards rallied back from a stomach ailment during the race to run third. I’m not sure how blaming his mom’s cooking for a bout of food poisoning is going to work out, though. Next month on Mother’s Day, maybe he ought to order a pizza.
*For more on Ford’s 2011 resurgence at the Cup level, click here.
What’s the Points?
Carl Edwards resumed the points lead. (I am a bit confused by the FOX folks claiming a different driver has led the points after every race this year. Edwards also led the points after Fontana and Daytona.) Former leader Kyle Busch fell a spot to second, nine points behind Edwards.
Saturday’s win propelled Kenseth up six spots to third in the standings, thirteen points behind his Roush Fenway teammate. Technically, he is tied with Jimmie Johnson, but based on the win Kenseth gets the nod and the position. Kurt Busch rounds out the top 5, sixteen points in arrears of Edwards.
Earnhardt advanced two spots to sixth in the standings, followed by Ryan Newman and Juan Pablo Montoya. Harvick fell four spots to ninth in the standings so despite those back-to-back wins, he’s making a further mockery of the new points system. Tony Stewart now holds the final Chase spot behind him, up by four points on Paul Menard in 11th.
Further back, Clint Bowyer’s second-place finish propelled him forward four spots to 12th. On the flip side, along with having the breath knocked out of him a wicked wreck knocked some wind out of the sails of Martin’s title chase. He fell five spots to 15th, joining Greg Biffle (18th) and Denny Hamlin (20th) among those drivers on the outside looking in.
However, seven races deep into 2011 it is still way too early to panic about points or even pay them much mind. As an example, Matt Kenseth has advanced 28 spots in the standings since Daytona and any other driver could do the same over the next six weeks. Get back to me after the World 600 and we’ll start really crunching the numbers. After all, you know next weekend’s wreck-o-rama at Talladega is really going to shake things up…
Overall Rating (On a scale of one to six beer cans with one being a stinker and a six pack an instant classic) — Another McRace at another McTrack. We’ll give it two cans. You want fries with those?
Next Up – It’s off to Talladega. Don’t forget to pack the body bags.
©2000 - 2008 Matt McLaughlin and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
Thanks for the recap Matt. I was all set to catch the Casual Fan 50 laps at the end of the race, but severe weather in the area (I’m sure you saw the headlines from Iowa today) pre empted the race broadcast. Sounds like I didn’t miss much.
On a brighter note I fired up the ’71 Chevy and brought her out of the winter slumber. I met many a biker on my weekend cruise of the backroads. Yes, spring is here.
Ford should be careful. NASCAR only sees “parity” when Chevy and Toyota win everything. If Fords keep winning, NASCAR will add a boat anchor to the Fusion. Or change the rules on carb spacing right as the Roush cars go through inspection and fine them points and money. Wait, NASCAR has already done that.
Its a bad idea to switch crew chiefs between the 11 and 20. I like Hamlin right where he is: eating humble pie. Skippy might get him back up front.
That was a snoozer of a race but I’m not complaining, just calling it like I see it. Glad Kenseth won, he deserved it since he had the best car.
Another good column, Matt. However, you failed to mention what seemed to be the most important statistic of the race (at least it must have been, considering that the FOX crew repeated it at least 2 dozen times!): DENNY HAMLIN WON BOTH RACES AT TEXAS LAST YEAR!!!!!!!!!! At first, this comment was accompanied by “Harvick has won the last two races in a row”, but that died out about a quarter of the way through the race. But I noticed that Every last one of the FOX crew had to bring it up several times. What’s with that? Also on the subject of FOX coverage, did you notice that there was actually some good racing there at the end, althought you never would have guessed it by watching the tube. All that was shown by the FOX cameras was (as is OH-so typical of their broadcasts) the race leader circling the track for the last 10+ laps, while some serious jockeying for position was going on behind it. I can understand it if the 2nd place car is closeby and/or putting on the pressure; but an eight second lead?!? The only way anyone can get any info on the other cars in the race is to either watch the leaderboard or turn on MRN. OK, enough ranting. Gotta go clean off the Beezer and charge up the battery. Oh, by the way, did you know that Denny Hamlin had won both races at Texas last year?
Who’s Denny Hamlin?
Like Bill B. said, the best car won the race, and there’s really not much more to be said. What we’ll all be talking about around the water cooler is whether next week’s race at Talladega will be a replay of the two-car tandem racing we saw at Daytona. The Texas race, while not the worst race of the year, was certainly forgettable.
Talk about a snoozefest! We gave up North Wilkesboro for this crap?
I was sitting in the infield at the Miller Genuine Draft 500 on July 19, 1992 at Pocono at the 2nd turn. Davey Allison had the field covered that day with Ol’DW the second fastest car. After a restart and before Davey could get away Ol’DW hooked Davey coming out of turn two and sent him airborne with the car disintegrating,pieces of the rear suspension flying over our heads. They put a blue tarp over Davey’s car until they got him out with a couple of broken bones. Ol’DW went on to win the race and said “Thank God for a safe race”.
Matt when you said “someday I’ll write a column about all the races Waltrip won in a car he knew was cheated up but there may not be enough time to complete it this season.”
You would have to make it a book! Cheating & driving dirty was about all he had and that was fine because when he was mouthy he backed it up BUT his holier than thou attitude as an announcer makes me sick to even listen to him…he runs his mouth even more than his non-driving brother which is hard!
I tried watching the race on TV for as long as I could stand it, but after I fell asleep the 3rd time, I gave up and went to bed.
If they are going to bother to have the race on TV, how about showing it to the fans at home? We got to see the usually ADD direction by switching cameras every 5 seconds. That allows for no perspective on the racing action. Also what idiot decided to use the LIVE in car camera WHILE Mark Martin was wrecking into a hard wall? Terribly insensitive and stupid choice.
I’m pretty disappointed with the way the 24 car is running too. Bad at Bristol, Fontana and now again at Texas. All places they usually run well —
Matt, love the comments about DW — yeah, he’s become all “holier than thou” since he’s a broadcaster. He whined about the way Dale Sr drove, but DW was easily as guilty of driving the same way. Funny how he has such selective memory these days.
Ho-hum race. Watched on TIVO while surfing on computer, fast forwarding through commercials and some of DW’s incessant dribble and Larry Mac’s “ain’t not gonna never” double negatives. I’m a true Southern girl and sometimes it even takes me a minute to translate what he says.
I believe DW has been abducted by aliens (and their leader Brian France) and brainwashed to fit the NASCAR template. Either that or he just doesn’t care that he’s a hypocritical chatterbox.
Loved the column as almost always, and agree about the race. Its nice to see RFR up front again and being a threat each and every race, but I tend to disagree with logic behind the statement of Dale Jr’s winless streak and the downturn of Nascar numbers. There are a great many of us who are not and never have been fans of Jr and think Jr. Nation is about the most disillusioned bunch out there aside from the Danica minions.
While I tend to think the sport would see an upturn if Jr would win, I don’t think the malaise of the sport is attributable to Jr’s sad state of affairs, (being winless now for 100 races). It was a matter of time with Jr just as I have seen in Joey Logano, David Ragan, Reed Sorensen a few years ago, and Casey Atwood before that, the killer competition gene is missing from these drivers. They will not risk all to win, (or lose in spectacular fashion), and seem to want to just finish well. To me, its neither a long lasting or entertaining formula. I like Dale Jr, who doesn’t? He is affable and reminds long timers of a different era but I think his time is past and even he realizes he will never win a cup championship and it shows in more and more of his post race comments.
No, to me the downturn of Nascar is wanting it to be the equal of the NFL and I lay that at BF’s feet. He wants all the perks of super sportsdom without growing the sport to sustain it. I gave up a decade of season’s tickets at my track this year, because the cost of attending a race that featured little excitement any longer was prohibitive.
Add a 5 time champion who shows no sign of not attaining his 6th and 7th in a row, and people who love instant success and the underdog, no matter how severe, are tuning out in droves. There is nothing wrong with Jimmie Johnson but he garners no excitement in long time fans and the manipulation of the racing system every year is just not cutting it. Can anyone say the racing is actually better? That the rivalries are what make you come every week. Nope.
I just do not see the history books writing on this era as the time Nascar came back, whether or not Jr does anything….
Matt said: “And either wear a helmet or sign an organ donor’s card: your choice.”
Wow. As old-school and old-fashioned as you are, I never would have guessed you as a supportor of wearing helmets.
While you guys were suffering through a Texas Lobotomy, I attended the Indiana Icebreaker at the historic Brownston Speedway. Imagine this: 30 of the best drivers in the nation, with 20 solid regional and local drivers, competing for 24 spots on a racy, 1/4 mile track. Non-stop action, multiple grooves, more passes on the first two laps than the entire NA$CAR show. Plus, one of the best 5 drivers in the nation (Scott Bloomquist) took the checkers.
You guys missed out. I missed nothing, as I caught the last 30 laps of the NA$CAR snoozer on the radio, driving back from a thoroughly enjoyable experience.
Roush better slow their roll or Daytona will come up with creative ways to ensure a Chevy wins the Cup. I’m sure some rule changes are coming soon.
You know its another bad race when the only decision afterwards is rather the broadcast or the race is more boring, just add texas to MIS & fontana, never gonna see a good race at any of these tracks with these cars or this chase.
I was at TMS for Saturday night’s race and the long green runs took their toll on the fans as well. Plenty of time to hit the restrooms and not miss a damn thing on the track. Passing was minimal and other than 17’s dominance, it seemed like more happened in the pits to affect the outcome than happened on track. On a different note, maybe it’s because it was the first night race at TMS for the Cup cars, but there were actually butts in the seats all the way across the frontstretch, even in the nosebleeds where we were sitting. Wonder how much it cost NA$CAR to rent those fans. Just sayin’.
All you DW haters need to listen closely to the fools at espn and count your blessings while fox is on. Unless you really like scripted chatter from guys in ties ,some of whom wouldnt know a trackbar from a lugnut.
What’s the difference if it’s scripted or total BS. Either way the viewer feels like someone is pissing on their head and telling them it’s raining.
Actually the best thing all three television networks could do is just use the MRN feed, save the money they pay to the talking heads in the booth, and use those savings to lower the number of commercials they need to beat us over the head with in order to make a profit.
At least with the MRN feed we would know what is happening in the race. Too many times the camera only focuses on the leader and the commentators don’t/won’t pick up the slack to let us know what is going on that we don’t get to see.
another good column Matt
damn Brian FRance sucks my friends and I was looking for something sat night I looked all over ohio and ky forgot all about brownston never been there we have planned to go a couple of times and things didnt work out i think we are going to make it there sometime this year a good dirt show would have been alot better than what i watched sat night
I need every ones help here. I was snoozing off and on Saturday night also. During a lucid moment there was a caution out, I believe for the M.Martin, M Truex wreck.During the yellow flag after pit stops and the cars were lining up to go green again the Faux Camera showed Jimmy Johnson throw what appeared to me to be a water bottle out his window onto the track.Faux Cameras cut away immediately. So the help I need here is this..Is there something in the rules that state Jimmy Johnson should have been penalized for this??…Your Thoughts
CincyLady its call getting a pay check
Go to the Jackson 100 in September Tim. You’ll see some of the most talented drivers in the Nation on a 1/4 mile action track. Too bad some of them don’t look good enough to hawk product for sponsors, because they’re better drivers than most in the NA$CAR tours. Both of Bowyer’s cars were at the Icebreker, by the way.
There was a hockey game and baseball game on Saturday night.
Isn’t Tim Brewer ESPN’s guy?
Susan I need a new dominatrix. I think you’d be the best one ever. Meet me at the brat stop on hwy 50 at 9pm on Friday. I’ll be wearing the AK t-shirt.
yes they rebuilt it many years ago after the fire
see you there?
ok 7:30pm is better since I have to drive from downtown chgo, u game girl?