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 May 2, 2011
The Key Moment – Kyle Busch was able to stretch 107 laps out of a tank of fuel to drive to victory Saturday night.
In a Nutshell – Perhaps it’s appropriate that on a weekend where gas prices soared north of four bucks in most parts of the nation, all three of Richmond’s marquee events were decided on fuel mileage.
Dramatic Moment – Waiting to see who, if anyone, would run out of gas on those final laps.
What They’ll Be Talking About Around the Water Cooler This Week
So let’s take a scary look ahead to Richmond this fall courtesy of team orders and the new points system. Let’s say that going into that race, the one that will finalize the contenders for the Chase, Denny Hamlin is still mired in the teens in the points and still hasn’t won a race. He and Kyle Busch are once again the dominant cars but Busch is leading, yet again, and Hamlin is second. During the final laps might JGR executives radio Busch and tell him to slow down and let Hamlin win the race so the No. 11 team makes the Chase? Would Busch comply? Would the fans riot afterwards? Don’t worry, darling, don’t you fret, we’re living in the future and none of this has happened yet.
So what do we call next weekend’s race? Officially it’s the Southern 500 presented by such and such and sponsored by whoever really wants their product boycotted but it is not THE Southern 500. THE Southern 500 is run at Darlington on Labor Day weekend. It is run during the brutal heat of the late summer afternoon of the Carolinas. Winning said event memorializes the winner into the august pantheon of the sport’s most elite drivers. That’s what THE Southern 500 is, not just a 500 mile race run south of the Mason-Dixon line or God forbid in Southern California. And until NASCAR realizes as much after their Fontana travesty, don’t look for the TV ratings to improve for the sport amidst the army of disengaged loyalists.
What is with Ryan Newman and Juan Pablo Montoya? It seems Newman has been running into Montoya every second or third week since the Columbian joined NASCAR’s top rank.
Good wishes go out to Daytona 500 winner Trevor Bayne who has been hospitalized again due to reoccurring symptoms (including double vision and numbness in his arm) that were originally attributed to a bug bite. It’s a little frightening that this deep into his medical issues doctors still can’t say what’s wrong with Bayne, but the kid is only 20 years old and an abundance of caution with his future health is clearly the best strategy. I’m sure for Bayne it is frustrating and frightening to be hospitalized again at such a young age after his time in the spotlight after Daytona, but he hopefully has many more years to race and prosper. Maybe he needs to talk to Brian Vickers and Ricky Craven.
It’s been a sad week for old school fans. The “Best Damn Garage in Town,” Smokey Yunick’s old shop, burned down. Yunick was one of the sport’s most talented mechanics and might be the most brilliant guy who ever devoted his attention to the greasy mechanical bits that make up the internal combustion engine. In addition to all his race wins and his innovations in open wheel cars (which included the first winged car to ever run at the Indy 500), Yunick was once courted by the Big Three during the 70s when gas mileage and lower emissions were center stage to help them develop new engine technologies. Had the Big Three actually listened to his ideas the only Honda in your neighborhood would likely we owned by a fat kid on a Mini-trail trying to chase down the ice cream truck. But Yunick had little tolerance for fools, charlatans and those trying to make a career out of college degrees and when they wouldn’t listen to his ideas he soon headed back home to Daytona. The fire has been determined to be caused by arson and it’s not surprising considering the upscale developments that have been erected all around the former shop which to be kind was a little on the unsightly side. Smoky Yunick was the DaVinci of the automobile, and an American patriot who flew bombers during World War II. The loss of his shop is the automotive equivalent of a massive fire at the Louvre. If you think you know a thing about NASCAR history and haven’t read his three volume autobiography, published posthumously, you sir are a pompous ignoramus.
Also this week, April 29th, would have marked Dale Earnhardt’s 60th birthday. My guess is by now Earnhardt would have retired from full time Cup competition and would be focused on his role as team owner. I’d also guess that when NASCAR officials sought his counsel on impending ideas like the Chase and the Car of Tomorrow, Dale’s less than generous assessments of such concepts would have been sufficient to knock them off the drawing board and out of public sight. There has never been a voice in the garage area that NASCAR respected the way they did Earnhardt’s and it it’s unlikely there ever will be again given our current five time champion is so bland it would probably take him and his PR team two weeks to draft a statement saying that, all things being equal and given that there was room for debate on the issue, he’d just as soon hope that no future infants or puppies ever contract malaria again, or at least they do so in smaller numbers than infants and puppies do today.
Given the Earnhardt anniversary weekend it was all that much more troubling to see Jeff Gordon, a good friend of the Intimidator but a driver who fans of the 3 car once considered his chief rival, going slamming driver’s side first into a section of concrete wall STILL not protected by SAFER barriers. Why is it so hard for track owners, particularly the ISC (which is, nod, nod, wink, wink NASCAR its very own self), to realize that drivers are eventually going to find the least convenient place on the track to wreck their cars heavily even where you think a couple of marshmallows glued to an inert surface would offer adequate protection?
I’m not sure who thought it was a good idea to have both Michael and Darrell Waltrip in the booth for Friday night’s Nationwide race. Fortunately despite the fact neither of them can ever shut up long enough to let anyone else wedge a word in sideways, they were both able to promote Kenny Wallace and Toyota to the point you thought early in the event he was the only car in the race.
Someone needs to let parents know that nobody under the age of 30 who hasn’t done prison time needs to be listening to Kurt Busch’s radio channel during the race. He apparently feels (and has made abundantly clear over the radio) the Dodges he has been provided by Team Penske are not competitive. If I were the crew chief of the 22 team I’d be packing a blanket and a dozen ball bats amidst the stuff I was hauling to Darlington next weekend. Maybe Jughead needs to recall the last time he was with a top tier organization, Jack Roush Racing, and he got a little mouthy over the radio and to his owner. It wound up costing him a job before the season even ended despite being the defending Cup champion. Roger Penske has little use for whiners who are supposed to be winners.
It was nice to see the FOX network solicit donations for those whose lives have been turned upside down by this week’s tornado and flooding disasters. But is there somewhere we can offer thoughts to help cure the disaster that is FOX’s own pre-race show before it drives us all insane? You probably remember the law of Conservation of Matter from high school. (It’s one of the few things I remember from high school simply because it comes up every time I can’t find my car keys.) Let me propose the Law of Conservation of Annoyance and Incompetence. It doesn’t matter if the FOX pre-race show is an hour or a half-hour. They can still annoy the Hell out of you just as much no matter how long they have your attention.
The Hindenburg Award For Foul Fortune
Martin Truex looked competitive early in the race but his team left a lug nut loose and to compound his misery Truex was then nailed for speeding when he returned to pit road to correct the issue.
Jeff Gordon looked like, well like you’d expect Jeff Gordon to look at Richmond, leading briefly and running up front. He got the worst of the nine car wreck after a restart.
Even though his car never really seemed up to speed, Earnhardt’s Chevy didn’t get very good gas mileage either. A late stop for a splash of gas dropped the 88 to a nineteenth place finish.
The way Joey Logano’s season is going makes me wonder if Charlie Sheen has been informed of a possible career opportunity with the 20 team.
I feel bad for any fan who laid out the bucks for a ticket to Friday’s Nationwide race (and the overpriced gas to drive there). To be blunt that race just sucked. (I also feel bad for a guy who rushed home from Carlisle and left the company of a good woman just to watch it. What the Hell was I thinking?)
The “Seven Come Fore Eleven” Award For Fine Fortune
How close was Kyle Busch on fuel? He ran out of gas doing his post-race burnouts.
After a horrendous start to his season, Denny Hamlin had the sort of weekend folks expected of last year’s second place points finisher, winning his own charity event Thursday, winning the Nationwide race on Friday and finishing second on Saturday.
Only days after remedial knee surgery Kasey Kahne enjoyed his best race of the season, finishing third.
Jimmie Johnson’s car looked so out to lunch early in the race it’s a wonder Knaus didn’t break out the picnic hamper. Somehow he rallied well enough to finish eighth. Anymore questions on how the 48 team has won five straight titles?
What’s the Points?
Carl Edwards remains the points leader, now nine points ahead of Jimmie Johnson who remains second.
His win propels Busch forward three spots to third in the standings. The news isn’t as good for his JGR stable-mates, Hamlin who remains 17th despite the second place finish, and Logano who is 21st.
Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch occupy fourth through sixth place in the standings respectively, each down a slot from last week.
Everyone from seventh place Clint Bowyer is already a full race’s worth of points out of the lead. These guys need to post a victory to ensure their plans for the fall Chase.
A.J. Allmendinger leapt forward four spots to eleventh in the standings.
Jeff Gordon tumbled three spots to sixteenth in the standings despite his Phoenix win. He is within one point of being a full two races out of the points lead.
Overall Rating (On a scale of one to six beer cans with one being a stinker and a six pack an instant classic) Frankly I found the race curiously lacking for a Cup event at one of my two favorite tracks. We’ll give it three lukewarm cans of generic stuff and a discount for five cents a gallon off your next gasoline purchase.
Next Up – It’s off to Darlington, NASCAR’s most historic track, for the “new” tradition of Mother’s Day weekend. Don’t bother sending a card or flowers. The Lady in Black is one mean mother of a track that makes Mommie Dearest, Joan Crawford, look like Mother Theresa.
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My comments are going to be all over:
1. I give this 4 cans for nascar not throwing a late caution to bunch everyone up and guarantee everyone had a enough fuel
2. Why whould a start and park change an engine to only run a handfull of laps? Is the post race inspection more intense then qualifying inspection?
3. Disappointed to hear 5 Time whine when Chad tells him the way he’s driving the car will burn the tires off, and Jimmie whining how I’m I suppost to drive it. I would think a 50+ Cup race winner and 5 time Cup Champ would know how it save his equipment.
4. A shout out to Dave Blaney and his Golden Corral team for a great 13 th place finish.
5. How many drivers would have brought out a caution for scrapping the wall like Kurt Busch did around the lap 195?
The Friday night Nationwide race may have been the worst race I’ve witnessed at Richmond. No one really to blame, though… some races are just stinkers and that’s all there is to it. It was nice of Kyle Busch to sit this one out so that another Cup driver could have his turn at shooting fish in a barrel.
I was so disappointed that there was no Newman-Montoya confrontation after the race. Montoya might be the only driver with with the guts to stand up to Newman and not be intimidated. I’m not taking Montoya’s side; he may have been owed a little payback for something that I just can’t recall, but Newman was clearly the first aggressor on Saturady night.
No, next weekend is not Labor Day, but there’s a new tradition in the Carl D. family. Every Saturday before Mother’s Day I pack up some dinner and head to Mom’s and we watch the Darlington race together. Mom’s been a race fan all my life and pulls for whoever’s driving “Richard Petty’s car” even though I usually have to remind her who it is (Sometimes she still calls A.J. Allmendinger John Andretti). Say what you want about the Southern 500 not being run on Labor Day, but these days I look forward to watching the race with Mom.
I come here once every few months… today, I read Matt’s comments and agree with them for the most part.
Matt says he found the race, “curiously lacking”; I atrribute that to the off-sequence pit stops scrambling the field frequently.
Granted… fuel prices are escalating again. But, of all the tracks I’ve been to, Richmond is the best to be at for a race. I was shocked at how many empty seats there were.
NOTE: When is NASCAR going to clearly state that they sometimes throw a yellow just to clean marbles from worn away tires? It’s no secret, there’s no shame… the junk on the track at times limits the racing so it has to be cleaned off.
This race could have been good had the first 250 laps mattered. There were lots of guys that fell off the lead lap early and then, through the magic of the wave around and lucky dog, suddenly they are all back on the lead lap.
I know some people think this is great but I don’t. To me it’s like watching a football team kick ass for the first three quarters of the game and then having some rule wipe that lead out to where it’s a one score game again in the 4th quarter.
Let’s face it, even with top notch equipment Little Joey is the Danica Patrick of Nascar, a field filler.
Matt—here’s a challenge: Write a column w/o mentioning Dale E. if you can.
wcfan: Why chide TBR for having to Start and Park? They only did so because they didn’t have the money to run a full race. Realize racers actually DO want to race… and when they survive the economic hardtimes, they race!
Instead of criticing Start and Park teams, sponsor them… pick up the tab for engines, tires, and rebuilds. (I know… you can’t afford to pay all that money, but it’s exactly why teams Start and Park).
It’s a matter of economics and not a choice they make when teams Start and Park.
I’m glad Matt didnt think this was a great race, even at Richmond. Several laps after a restart the top 10-15 cars were all nose to tail in a parade usually reserved for the bigger tracks. And there were many many empty seats.
The #46 team changed an engine because they blew one in final practice. Any engine change requires starting at the back, even if its before qualifying.
However, I suspect some S&P teams do change engines after qualifying in order to not risk their “Qualifying Bullet” in a lap-1 wreck. A lot of these S&P teams only HAVE 2 engines.
However, I was under the impression that when they change an engine, the “bad” engine has to be submitted for inspection. But even having to pay for a rebuild (really just a reassembly) is better than totally destroying the engine. The “race” engine is usually down on power but is somewhat more durable.
I watched the Nationwide race with the motormouth brothers in the booth. At least I watched it until the utter boredom put me to sleep.
I skipped the Cup race completely. I had made plans with friends before remembering the race was on Saturday night and decided to just enjoy the evening. Glad I did because when I started watching the recording, well, I could FF through most of the so called coverage.
I agree – they can CALL the race next weekend the southern 500 whatever, but it’s not and won’t be until its on Labor Day. That said, I really like races at Darlington so I plan to be there
Nice of the yuppies and/or whoever wants to develop the property where Smokey’s garage was to burn down a garage since they probably don’t follow racing anyway. (that’s sarcasm folks). I hope the law finds and prosecutes them.
I found it curious how the broadcast is now able to clean up radio transmissions from drivers before they air them. I was listening to Jeff Gordon’s radio when he slammed that wall, and trust me, the language that Fox replayed was not “friggin”. It was a profanity laced rant about the lack of safer barriers and his ability to find the walls without them.
I was giving Tommy Baldwin and Dave Blaney a good job for wanting and trying to race the whole race.
Yes there have always been teams that did not plan on racing the whole race, but they were not as obvious about taking the money as Joe “First to the Pay Window” Nemacheck in Cup and Jeff “All Class” Green in the Busch Series.
I really, really wish Kyle Busch was a more personable guy so I could be happy at the end of most of the races. He’s just not likable and that’s a shame.
I couldn’t believe how many empty seats there were for the Cup race this weekend. I have been to Richmond many times, and I don’t recall EVER seeing empty seats for any of the Cup races. The gaping holes in the back stretch seating were particularly shocking…
Don’t know if it was intended irony or not, but three of the Gospels have pretty clear parables about folks working all day under the blazing sun and being paid the same as other harversters who’d only worked an hour. Right now, NASCAR needs the start and parkers, so they will be allowed to remain as unfair as it is. If NASCAR doesn’t have full fields for every event they have to give back some bucks to the networks. Prying a buck out of Brian France is like battling a rabid pit bull for a T-bone steak.
Susan, you are of course entitled to your opinion but comparing Kyle Busch to Dale Earnhardt is like comparing Charlie Sheen to Humphrey Bogart. Yeah, Sheen makes more bucks, but do you really want to envision the end of Casablanca with Sheen and L. Lohan rather than Bogart and Bacall? We’ll always have Darlington….
I agree with you on the safer barriers. I have been to dozens of short tracks and seen hundreds of races, one thing I have learned is race cars will end up in places you would never think they could. Never assume there is a spot that a car will not hit a wall, or go off a track. Every wall, inside and out, should be covered with the safer barrier.
I think Kyle Busch is one hell of a race car driver, maybe the best we’ve seen in some years. But I see him more as the Darrel Waltrip type, not the Dale Sr. type. I think it’s due to his arrogance and his ego. Still, when he pulls his car out onto the race track, he often backs up every word he says.
Matt, regarding Dale, Sr., could he have not made a much better contribution to the sport by NOT dying on the track? By installing his seat belt equipment as Bill Simpson instructed him to, by wearing a full face helmet, by being the leader in using the HANS device, and by not attempting that ill-conceived blocking move at the end of the Daytona race which killed him and damaged the sport irreparably? Just asking…….
This from “Susan” who a couple weeks back to fit her meme made it sound like she was Dale Earnhardts biggest fan ever.
Having both of the Motormouth Brothers in the booth Friday night was an invitation for disaster and it sure panned out that way. Then with just Jabber Jaws Saturday, it was a Toyota Love Fest with a dash of excuses for Jimmie Johnson’s performance. When is Fox going to learn that the biggest reasons fans aren’t watching is because of the Motormouth Brothers? The 10 minutes the President spent talking about Bin Laden being dead was more exciting than either race this weekend as seen on Speed/Fox.
Susan, you really need to put the crack pipe down. Kyle the new Dale Sr.? Maybe you need hormone therapy or something because you just ain’t right in the head.
I love the way nascar throws 2 cautions one for debris and the other for kurt busch not wrecking to save Jr from going a lap down watch next week for the mystery caution as Jr is getting ready to go a lap down or the first car a lap down
another good article Matt
Wasn’t it amazing how the cautions continued until fivetimeshouldbenone got his lap back?
Susan, Also being a long time Bill Elliott fan, I can’t deny that Dale Earnhardt was a ‘cult of personality’.
Susan, A race car driver’s job is not promote safety.
I admit in I screwed up on the Ingrid Bergman thing. Memory is the second thing that starts lackning as you get older.
I am still proud to have been a Bill Elliott fan and will never deny the fact I was a particularly rabid fan of the man back in the day….before I started writing about this sport which requires a lot of impartiality on the part of the writer. We all talk about the finishes of the 76 and 79 Daytona 500s, but I can never forget the “Million Dollar” win Bill scored at Darlington which was a big part of why so many fans tuned in and turned onto NASCAR. It was a brilliant marketing strategy by Winston, and Bill carried that honor well.
No, I was not always a big fan of Earnhardt. At times, again before I started writing about the sport I thought I he was the most loathesome son of a bitch ever to compete in the series. But as I began traveling the circuit and talking to the man I learned that outside the race track he was one of the most generous and charitable gentlemen ever to compete in the sport. It tore the heart out of men when he died and I put my fist through the wall I was so angry about how it happened. I can look over now and still see the scars on that hand from the incident. I wear them proudly despite the fact the colummns that followed his death basically ended my chances of ever being a mainstream NASCAR writer in the Bigs. Sometimes you gotta follow your heart and not your head. What the heart knows today, the head will figure out tommorow.
I used to at least respect Mike Joy as a broadcaster, but I’m at the end of that, too. Every week, he desperately tries to convince me that I’m watching the best racing EVER. His pleas have become more and more desperate lately and, frankly, I’m to the point of classifying Mike Joy as a NASCAR hack. His comment that “back in the old days” drivers used to ride it out at Richmond and only race at the end….but in TODAY’S NASCAR, they race hard the whole race. Oh really??? I guess Mike is getting his info from Darrell Waltrip and not actually watching the race himself.
Bob Jenkins….please come back!!!
The only reason DE had so much sway with NASCAR policy is because Bill France Jr valued his opinion. Once Brian came in, all bets would be off as to how much DE’s opinion was valued. From what I have seen, it probably wouldn’t have made a difference because Brian isn’t listening to anyone.
Susan: do you like leather? And what do you think about women wearing collars? I have a job for you and your venom. They say love can heal the broken. No beers for you.
Live in the present … you do that lol … venomous may be a hard word for you to swallow so keep bashing everyone … guess that’s living in the present in your world.
Susan, I never made any comments about agreeing with Matt about his view on DE and safety.