Kurt Busch to Attempt The Indianapolis-Charlotte Double
posted by Phil Allaway
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Andretti Autosport announced this morning that Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet in the Sprint Cup Series, will attempt the Indianapolis 500 in a fifth entry for the IndyCar Series team. Once the Indianapolis 500 is completed, Busch will fly from Indianapolis to Charlotte, jump in his No. 41 Chevrolet and compete in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Busch considers the opportunity to do the double as an old-school throwback moment.
“This is really to challenge myself within motorsports,” Busch said in Andretti Autosport’s press release. “Perhaps I am a bit of an old-school racer; a throwback, I guess. I enjoyed the era of drivers racing different cars and testing themselves in other series. It is tough to do now for a variety of factors, but when the opportunity is there, I want to do it. While NASCAR is my home, I have been fortunate to compete in Pro Stock on the NHRA circuit a number of years ago and test a V8 Supercar. This opportunity was a talk with Michael [Andretti] over dinner one night, a “What if,” and now it’s becoming a reality for me to drive in the Indy 500 with Andretti Autosport. It’s literally a dream come true. To go to the famous Brickyard with the iconic Andretti name, it doesn’t get much cooler or better than that.”
Busch will be doing the Indianapolis-Charlotte double as a Memorial Day mission to men and women serving in the U.S. Military via the Armed Forces Foundation. Fans can contribute to the cause by texting AFF to 50555 to donate $10.
Busch, who has never raced an IndyCar, passed Rookie Orientation at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year during a test session. At the time, Busch was more or less testing the Dallara DW12 for fun.
Busch will be the fourth driver to attempt the Indianapolis-Charlotte double. John Andretti was the first driver to attempt it in 1994. After finishing four laps down in tenth in Indianapolis, Andretti crashed and had engine problems in the 600. Robby Gordon has attempted the double five times, most recently in 2004. However, Gordon failed to make it to Charlotte on time and did not start the 600 in 2000 (P.J. Jones started Gordon’s No. 13 Ford in that instance). Finally, Tony Stewart has attempted the double twice (most recently in 2001) and is the only driver to ever complete all 1100 miles. Neither of the three drivers has won either leg of the double. The best finishes are Stewart and Gordon’s sixth-place finishes at the Indianapolis 500 (although Gordon’s came in 2000, the year he didn’t make it to Charlotte in time to start the Coca-Cola 600), and Stewart’s fourth-place finish in the 2001 Coca-Cola 600.
Danica Patrick, Justin Allgaier Talk About Phoenix Incident
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
A disappointing start to the year for Danica Patrick won’t include continued conflict. Patrick met with rookie Justin Allgaier Sunday, shortly after the Phoenix Cup race after a wreck ruined both drivers’ days. Patrick, who was critical of the No. 51 car on the radio, claiming Allgaier was “driving all over the track” appeared receptive to a conversation that quickly settled differences over what will be a long season.
“She was just upset because she got involved in the crash that we had,’’ said Allgaier to the Motor Racing Network. “She says she’s been through this and that she felt like I needed to settle down at that point. I explained my position on why everything happened. I think she understood where I was coming from. It doesn’t fix either one of our racecars. It doesn’t fix either one of our days. Unfortunately, we were both having pretty decent days.’’
Allgaier wound up 30th due to the incident while Patrick was 36th. The incident, which was caused by Allgaier’s spin also involved the No. 32 team and Travis Kvapil, which wound up 38th after sustaining heavy damage.
Camping World Close to Extending Title Sponsorship of NCWTS
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Marcus Lemonis, CEO of Camping World, Grand Marshal of Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway, and star of CNBC’s “The Profit,” made the announcement over the weekend that the retailer is very close to announcing a deal that would continue its title sponsorship of NASCAR’s Truck Series. The original agreement with NASCAR is scheduled to conclude after the 2015 season.
According to the sanctioning body, no formal contract has been signed, but “the agreement between the two parties has proven to be a beneficial one.”
“In about a month, we’ll be announcing a significant extension to that contract. It’s been great for us,” said Camping World’s Lemonis in a statement. “The NASCAR relationship has worked well for Camping World. When we started, we had 35 stores. Now, we’re up to 120 stores. As we travel the country and we meet new customers in stores, they always are very appreciative of our relationship with NASCAR. It’s been good.”
Gaining a long-term commitment from Camping World to sponsor the Truck Series would be a relief for NASCAR, which is set to lose Nationwide Insurance as title sponsor for the NASCAR Nationwide Series at the end of the 2014 season. The sponsorship of the Cup Series by Sprint runs through 2016.
The NCWTS is back in action on March 29th at 2:30 PM (ET) when the trucks visit Martinsville Speedway in the Kroger 250, which can be seen on Fox Sports 1. Ratings for the season opener were up 11 percent.
Harvick Takes Win At Phoenix In Second Race With New Team
posted by Justin Tucker
Monday March 3, 2014
Phoenix International Raceway has become Kevin Harvick’s home away from home. Sunday Afternoon was no exception as Harvick charged to the front early and would dominate for much of the day, leading 224 of the scheduled 312 laps to record his record fifth win on the one mile oval and his third win in the last four races at Phoenix.
Harvick, coming off of a disappointing Speedweeks which was capped by a last lap crash in the Daytona 500 in his debut with Stewart-Haas Racing, set the tone on Saturday by winning both practices while having the best 5 and 10-lap averages in the first practice of the day on Saturday. On Sunday, Harvick and his No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet was nothing short of flawless as he was able to hold Dale Earnhardt, Jr. by .489 seconds after a late race restart to claim his 24th career Sprint Cup Series victory.
“Man, this is awesome,” Harvick said after his dominant victory on Sunday. “Man, this just solidifies so many things and so many decisions. It’s been so much work with all the time and effort that these guys (the crew) have put in—but what a race car.”
Stewart Haas Racing co-owner Gene Haas shared in Harvick’s excitement after the race.
“It took long enough,” Haas joked. “This is phenomenal. I think there was a lot of skepticism last year about what myself and Tony (Stewart) what we were up to, was there a lot of madness to this. Quite frankly, it’s a great team, there’s a lot of synergy at the shop, people working together. I don’t know what we did, but I think we put together a great organization.”
Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt, Jr. continued his hot start to the 2014 season. Earnhardt Jr. would finish second on Sunday, marking his seventh consecutive top 10 finish since the end of the 2013 season. Earnhardt Jr. was pleased with the effort after a coast-to-coast whirlwind week after winning his second Daytona 500 and also gave great praise to the efforts of Harvick and the No. 4 team.
“I’ve got to congratulate Kevin. Those guys were two-tenths faster than everyone all weekend in practice. They were just phenomenal,” Earnhardt said. “To be able to run with them all day was a big confidence builder for us.”
Joining Harvick and Earnhardt in the top 5 of The Profit on CNBC 500K were Brad Keselowski with his second consecutive top 3 run of 2014 in third. Keselowski’s Team Penske teammate Joey Logano would finish fourth, and Jeff Gordon would come home fifth in his No. 24 Pepsi Max Chevrolet.
Jimmie Johnson finished in sixth, followed by Ryan Newman with a nice rebound after Daytona in seventh. Carl Edwards would carry the banner for Roush Fenway Racing by finishing eighth, Kyle Busch was ninth, and Jamie McMurray would finish tenth.
A look at the Profit on CNBC 500K by the numbers. There were 14 lead changes among eight different drivers, there were eight cautions for 39 laps which slowed the race pace to 109.229 MPH.
Next Sunday, the Sprint Cup Series heads to Sin City and the Las Vegas Motor
Starting Lineup: The Profit On CNBC 500K
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday March 1, 2014
Drivers in RED (i) are those ineligible to collect Sprint Cup points
Daytona 500 TV Ratings Down
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Wednesday February 26, 2014
What was the longest weather delay in Daytona 500 history turned out to bring NASCAR lower ratings and TV viewership Sunday night than expected. According to a report Monday from FOX Sports, the 56th running of the Daytona 500 airing at 8 PM (ET) posted a 5.6/10 national household rating/share which averaged 9.3 million viewers. That’s down 44 percent from last year’s 9.9, easily making it the least-watched Daytona 500 of all-time.
Due to the six-hour, twenty-two minute rain delay in Daytona, the race was up against the primetime coverage of the Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony from Sochi, Russia on NBC (15.25 million viewers). FOX also reported that 69% of the pre-rain delay viewers of the race, which began at 1 PM (ET) kept tuning in.
In comparison, the 2013 Daytona 500 on FOX was the most-watched race in five years, posting a 9.9/22 rating/share, commanding 16.7 million viewers. The Daytona 500 in 2012, the first to ever be run on a Monday and in the primetime slot did a 7.7/13 overnight rating/share which resulted in 13.67 million households viewing the race according to Nielsen TV ratings data.
Earnhardt, Jr. Claims Second Daytona 500 Victory
posted by Justin Tucker
Wednesday February 26, 2014
Ten years is a long time. For Dale Earnhardt, Jr., it felt like an eternity. NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver endured many near misses and close calls at the Daytona 500 since his only win in the Great American Race in 2004. Earnhardt had finished second in two of his last three Daytona 500s coming into Sunday’s race. He was also riding the tail of a 55-race winless streak, dating back to Michigan in 2012.
However nothing would stop Dale Jr. on Sunday, not even a 6 hour and 22 minute rain delay from capturing his second Daytona 500 win. Earnhardt Jr. led a race-high 54 laps on the evening and used some timely drafting help from teammates Jimmie Johnson and, on the final restart, Jeff Gordon to separate from the pack and secure the victory.
“Winning this race is the greatest feeling that you could feel in this sport besides accepting the trophy for the championship,” said a jubilant Earnhardt after pulling into Victory Lane. “We could fight off battle after battle. We got a little help at the end there from Jeff to get away on the restart. This is amazing. I can’t believe this is happening. I never take this for granted, man because it doesn’t happen twice, let alone once.”
Aside from the race itself the big story of the race was the 6 hour and 22 minute red flag, which threatened to move the race to Monday evening (had the race been postponed, FOX Sports’ Chris Myers had tweeted that the race would resume at 5:00pm EST). However, Mother Nature would cooperate and would allow the race to be run under different conditions from which they practiced this week. Once the race resumed, the intensity picked up from the changing track conditions. This allowed the pack to race side-by-side and at times 3-wide up to seven rows deep.
Joining Earnhardt Jr. in the top 5 for the 2014 Daytona 500 were: Denny Hamlin who closed out a spectacular Speedweeks in second, Brad Keselowski in third, Jeff Gordon in fourth, and Jimmie Johnson who overcome two wrecks leading up to the 500 in fifth.
Rounding out the top 10 in the Daytona 500 were Matt Kenseth in sixth, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. in seventh and Greg Biffle would bring his No. 16 Ford home in eighth. Austin Dillon would come home ninth in his first Cup Series race in the iconic No. 3 for Richard Childress Racing, while Casey Mears would round out the top 10.
A couple of major contenders for the Daytona 500 win would see their hopes dashed early on as Martin Truex, Jr. would blow up just 30 laps into the race, relegating him to a 43rd-place finish in his debut for Furniture Row Racing. Crew chief Todd Berrier was already in Nashville for a test session before the race was even over. Kyle Busch, meanwhile would have a pit road violation just before halfway and would spend much of the race battling back from that mistake. Busch would eventually finish 19th after leading 19 laps.
Danica Patrick would also be bit by bad luck as she was caught up in a multi-car wreck on lap 145. Patrick would lead her second consecutive Daytona 500, but wouldn’t have the finish to show for it finishing 40th. Tony Stewart would encounter a frustrating evening as well, with a fuel pickup problem derailing his quest for his first Daytona 500 win. Stewart would finish 35th.
A look at the Daytona 500 by the numbers. There were 42 lead changes among 18 drivers, while seven cautions for 39 laps would slow the race pace to 145.290 MPH.
Next week, the Sprint Cup Series heads to the “diamond in the desert,” Phoenix International Raceway for The Profit on CNBC 500K. The Green flag is scheduled for 3:15pm EST.
Nationwide Series Post-Race Quotes: Drive4COPD 300
posted by Thomas Bowles
Tuesday February 25, 2014
Frontstretch Interviews – Courtesy Mike Neff
ELLIOTT SADLER – FINISHED 4th
Thoughts on the race?
It’s definitely a lot different racing than what we’re used to.
Comfortable with it?
Yeah, it’s just different. You’re worried about what you’re doing, but you’re also worried about what everyone else is doing and they’re not doing more than you’re doing. Physically pushing a guy is way better than just riding so you just gotta time it right and push it to the edge.
Happy to start the year with a top 5?
Yeah. Hell, that was the worst we ran all day, I think. I have no idea how they put the 3 car in front of us on that last restart. I hadn’t seen the 3 car hardly all day. When they put us from fifth to sixth, on the outside line, it just really boxed us in. I would have really restarted behind my teammate and given him a good push to the front. Anyways, it is what it is; we’ll take it and move on.
Looked like you were up front all day.
The guys did a good job. We had a fast race car. Great pit stops, just really proud of these guys. The car’s in one piece and we can take it to Talladega now. Great job by my guys. A lot of effort came into coming down here to Daytona and giving ourselves a shot to win. We had that chance to be up front and make some things happen. Fifth is not what we want, but we’ll take it and move on.
Bumping vs Pushing?
It’s way harder. You don’t want to lay on the guy in front of you, so it’s tough racing. A lot different than what we’re used to, ‘cause you gotta go. You gotta drag the brake too ‘cause you don’t want to hit the guys and you don’t want to stay on him. It’s a lot harder mentally than what we’ve done in the past.
Car was strong all day. Pushing vs. Bumping, is that harder to do than just getting on somebody and pushing them?
Yeah, it is a little bit. When you bump ‘em, you jar ‘em, it kinda jacks ‘em a little bit. It’s a little more abrupt, obviously. I thought it was OK there at the end. It was certainly fun and hopefully entertaining. But a little bit of a struggle in the early part of the race and the midpart of the race to see a good race. And that’s unfortunate for the fans. You can’t do that the whole race, you can’t tear up your stuff, knock your grill in, overheat your motor, all that stuff so there’s no sense in doing all that until you get down to the last lap. The 7 and the 6, they did a good job. Man, the 7 really held the 22 and I tight on the bottom. I was rubbing his door and hitting the apron at the same time, no room whatsoever. So it was good; wish we were the ones who could have won but a lot better now than what we were last year.
Going home in one piece makes it a lot better, right?
Yeah. My back feels good. My foot feels good. Past years here, I’ve been going home with pain so I’m alright.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Truck Series Post-Race Quotes: Daytona (Exclusives)
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday February 22, 2014
When you’re on the outside like that, how frustrating is it?
It’s so hard. Timothy Peters has won here. Kyle Busch has won everywhere. Ron Hornaday has been running Trucks forever, probably before I was even born. I was surrounded by veterans there, and like I told them I don’t have a rookie stripe but I’m a rookie. This is only my fourth Truck race ever, my fourth superspeedway race, and man, I figured out when the 17 got up in front of me, I pushed him. And as soon as I pushed him, he took off. And I went with him. And I just kept doing it, and before I knew it, he was leading. And I saw Ron in my mirror, backed up to him, and if it wasn’t for him, I don’t know what would have happened. I gotta thank him big time for that. That was a true teammate move right there. I really appreciate that. He just bounced off me and we got to the front. I tried my hardest to sidedraft Kyle. I was probably touching his door.
Top 5 in the No. 30 truck. This deal come together at the last minute, but you had a heck of a truck. Tell us about your night.
Yeah, I’ve got to thank Turner Scott Motorsports. The guys worked so hard on this Rheem Comfort Products Chevrolet. Exciting! Just got hung up on the outside and had to wait for my teammate there to catch up. And then he got to the bottom, so… I got the old 32 and started pushing ol’ Ryan to the front. So, it’s not bad. We’ll take it. You just don’t want to step over that boundary. You don’t know how far to push and shove. We bumped about six times down the straightaway without latching onto them. Hopefully, that was OK and we came home with a top 5.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Budweiser Duels Post Race Quotes
posted by Matt Stallknecht
Friday February 21, 2014
BUDWEISER DUELS POST-RACE QUOTES
They’re saying the wheel bearing burned up in it. I don’t know what caused it, they’re taking it all apart to figure out what the heck happened. Something abnormal that’s for sure I don’t think I’ve ever had that happen at all. Hopefully, we made the race and hopefully we can fix the problem before Sunday.
WHAT WAS THAT LOUD BOOM ONCE YOU TURNED INTO THE GARAGE?
Loud pop was a tire… thankfully, it popped, hopefully it didn’t hurt anybody. All the heat created in the left front that popped was pretty weird.
REALLY GOOD RUN. WHAT DID YOU THINK OF IT?
Yeah, it was good. We have a car we can work with for the 500. Got a good starting spot, so we’re going to rest easy, fluff and buff our car for a couple of days and get ready for Sunday.
ANY DIFFERENCE ON WHETHER THE TOP OR BOTTOM LANE WORKED?
Yeah, I was just moving around, trying to stay with the flow. For me, this car works on all parts of the racetrack. So I’m pretty happy with it.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.
GOT SHUFFLED BACK, AFTER PIT STOPS AND THEN COULDN’T GET BACK UP TO THE FRONT. WHY?
Nah, we were just sitting there waiting until the last few laps to make a move. You didn’t want to pull down and get sent to the back. Seen a couple of guys get sent to the back really quick so we were just kind of waiting for the end. I felt like we had a good situation there with Ambrose behind us — we had a good run off Turn 2 and I went. It was the last lap, time to go do something, nobody went with us but hopefully Sunday is a different story.
We got a great car. We don’t have to work hard. We learned, we got a good race car. Got a car in one piece, ready to go so we’ll try and get through the next couple of practices, deliver it to the starting group this Sunday and we’ll be real happy.
YOU’RE IN THE DAYTONA 500!
Yeah, it’s pretty awesome. This Whitetail Chevrolet was so fast that I knew all I had to do was stick it behind smart, intelligent drafters and we could have a good finish. That’s what we did in the Duels and I’m excited. I’m excited to go do some stuff with the Nationwide car and have some more practice with this. But to know that we’re locked in the Daytona 500’s pretty cool.
YOU WERE OBVIOUSLY IN FRONT OF THAT MELEE AT THE END. WHEN YOU WERE UP FRONT THERE IN THE BEGINNING, WERE YOU HOPING TO JUST STAY IN LINE AND LET YOU FINISH TOP 5?
I was pretty content to ride and luckily I knew a lot of people around us were. It was nice to have a little calm and not really have to be racing hard the whole time. I knew that the pit stop was going to shake everything up and that’s exactly what happened. Fell back a little bit there but made the right moves at the end to get a good finish.
HOW STRONG ARE THESE RCR CARS?
They’re very strong! They definitely have the capabilities to be winning one of these races.
YOU’RE IN THE TOP 5 FOR YOUR HEAT IN THE DAYTONA 500. YOUR PRIMARY CAR IS SITTING RIGHT IN THE GARAGE, KIND OF WADDED UP. DID YOU THINK THIS ONE HAD IT IN IT?
Yeah, it’s a brand new car also. It’s just not quite as good as the primary but still a damned good car. I’m just proud of everybody at RCR for building such fast race cars. All of our cars have been fast, ECR motor’s been strong, even our affiliate teams have been qualifying really good and racing good. So… excited about 2014! It’s going to be a good year.
WELL MAN, YOU STARTED IN THE BACK BUT WORKED YOUR WAY TO THE FRONT WHEN IT COUNTED MOST. WERE YOU JUST BIDING YOUR TIME THROUGHOUT THE RACE?
Eh, you never know if you’re going to get back up there or not. We had to start at the back, we had to make a run early and see what we could do. We drove right to 10th, or something like that and then it got stagnant. We tried to make something happen, and went to the back again. Drove back up to the front. Again, just really proud of my guys. Matt Kruder did a hell of a job on that pit stop getting just enough gas in to gain some spots there.
RCR CARS SEEM PRETTY DARNED STRONG. DO YOU THINK THE RCR CARS HAVE SOMETHING FOR THEM ON SUNDAY — ESPECIALLY THE THREE JOE GIBBS RACING CARS THAT SEEM TO BE THE CLASS OF THE FIELD RIGHT NOW?
Oh yeah. The 20 car was extremely fast. The 11 didn’t qualify that good, but he’s a good drafter. I think he won. We definitely have something for him.
Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
Matt McLaughlin · Monday May 9, 2011
The Key Moment – Brad Keselowski gave Regan Smith just enough of a shove on the final restart to keep him ahead of Carl Edwards on two fresher tires for the final two laps.
In a Nutshell – Regan Smith, driving for an underfunded single-car team based out of Colorado scored the second big upset win of the season.
Dramatic Moment – You knew those final two restarts were going to produce some bent fenders and frayed tempers but I don’t think anyone expected the fireworks that ensued at the end of the race.
Waiting to see if Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick were actually going to come to blows after the race. It looked like the two of them were there to kick ass and chew gum. My money would have been on the one without the gum sponsorship.
What They’ll Be Talking About Around the Water Cooler This Week
Let me go on the record despite knowing a few of you are going to try to tear me a new one. I’m all for the “Boys Have At It” attitude. This sport has been sadly lacking in emotion and rivalries for over a decade. But there’s a line I think should never be crossed. If Harvick and Busch had leapt out of their cars and pounded each other half-comatose I’d have been OK with that. But it wasn’t acceptable for Busch to drive into the back of Harvick’s Chevy once the 29 driver had exited the vehicle. Crew members and officials were rushing to the area to intervene and the media was scrambling to that same area to get comments and pictures. One of these non-coms with no dog in the fight could easily have gotten run over or crushed between the 29 car and the wall. Fortunately the incident took place at the fourth corner end of pit road so few people had made it to the area yet though from his vantage point I doubt Busch knew that or cared much apparently. If Busch decided discretion was the better part of valor, reversed and fled the area before another punch was thrown that’s his prerogative. Take care of issues you have with another driver on the track or in the garage area (outside of their cars), not on pit road.
Also on the record I can understand Harvick’s level of annoyance. Busch swept down two lanes to hook Harvick and wreck him. It clearly wasn’t accidental. I predicted months ago when the kinder gentler Kyle Busch finally reignited it was going to be volcanic and Busch’s actions Saturday night made Pompeii look like a firecracker. Kudos to Busch’s PR person for being able to spin Busch’s post-race comments to look like he was being reasonable so quickly.
One last note on that pit road fracas. Some folks seem to think that Harvick left his car in neutral while climbing out. Even I won’t climb out of a stick shift car with the vehicle in neutral and I ain’t got the sense God gave a goose. Given the audio of the incident the 29 car was in gear. Yeah, it’s possible to push a car ahead of yours even while it is in gear and set it to rolling. How do you think they start sprint cars? And no, Cup cars don’t have parking brakes.
You know Juan Pablo Montoya had to be exhaling a huge sigh of relief after the race. Montoya, who had what could be politely termed an “eventful” evening, was off the hook after the Harvick/Busch war erupted at the end of the race.
Let me ask again. There was a great crowd on hand Saturday night despite the race’s awkward race date and the event featured some of the best racing of the season. How is it Darlington lost a race date to some McTrack out there in the Land of Fruits, Nuts, and Flakes?
It was hard not to notice the SPEED crew’s post-race team loudly applauding Smith’s win as he joined them on set. Wait a second, didn’t I hear earlier this year that applauding a race winner was unprofessional conduct for a media member? No, I don’t think the SPEED guys did anything wrong. I just think it’s further evidence some old school members of the media need to get the sticks out of their respective asses and lighten up a bit. Whatever media rulebook you pledged to as a journalism major at Faber College is just gone, baby, gone.
First it was Trevor Bayne at Daytona. Saturday night it was Regan Smith at Darlington (with his mother missing the event to help victims of the tornados in Alabama on Mothers’ Day Eve for goodness sake). If this sort of racing doesn’t sell some tickets and improve the TV ratings, what will?
Regan Smith isn’t going to win the Most Popular driver award as voted by the fans this year. That honor will almost certainly go to Dale Earnhardt Jr. again. But I think it’s a pretty telling tribute to who he is as a man and a racer that so many of his competitors were flat out thrilled he’d won the race even if it meant they weren’t holding the trophy aloft. Even second place Carl Edwards rushed over to the 78 car to offer congratulations to the journeyman winner after the race. Popularity is something your PR people garner for you by and large these days. Respect from your peers after enduring hard times is something you earn.
Was it just me or did Kasey Kahne sound a little off kilter in his post-race interview? Yes, he hit the wall, but not all that hard and yes it was a four hour race. And he is in fact still recovering from knee surgery which I can attest is no picnic. But Kahne sounded like someone who’d gotten a good dose of carbon monoxide during the race.
To everyone who emailed me on the topic, yes Darrell Waltrip sounded more than a little off his game Saturday night, constantly repeating and even contradicting himself and sounding badly confused at times. At times even Mike Joy seemed a little concerned about his broadcast partner. And for the record Waltrip’s eldest daughter Jessica was born on September 17th, 1987. The next NASCAR race was at Dover and Ricky Rudd won the race not DW. Waltrip finished tenth that day five laps off the pace and never even led a lap. Yeah, it’d have been a great story if a driver won the next race after both his children were born but it just didn’t happen. Like the tale of the minnow pond at Darlington it’s a great yarn but it simply ain’t true.
OK, did Ryan Newman actually haul off and slug Juan Pablo Montoya during a NASCAR moderated sit-down to cool off the differences between both drivers? Neither Newman or Montoya were saying much about the incident and NASCAR officials were only saying that “the meeting didn’t go as well as we hoped…..” (Sort of like the Chase, huh?) Could this be the first real test of “Boys Have At It”? NASCAR officials should frisk Montoya and Newman for weapons then let them go behind a trailer outside of public and media scrutiny and let them settle this feud that has been festering for all these years once and for all.
It does seem that old animosities can be laid aside eventually. Jimmy Spencer of SPEEDTV this week opined in his column that everyone should give Kurt Busch a little slack for his profane and pointed comments about his team over the radio last week at Richmond. This from a fellow driver who once poked Busch one right in the yap for mouthing off to him after a race? Spencer agrees with Busch that the team hasn’t been giving Kurt competitive equipment this year. If I recall Busch was the only driver to score top 10 finishes in this season’s first four races and he led the points at one point during that stretch before donning his role as martyr.
Much has been made about Brian France’s PR blitz earlier this week both on this site and others. Yeah, I watched it all just like you can’t turn away from a train wreck especially when you’re riding in the caboose of the train. (Waving red lanterns in my case.) Yes, France’s handlers got him to wear a tie, comb his hair and stop waving his hands around in the wind like his fingernails were on fire. But he still got that same pissed off look in his eyes every time he was asked a question he didn’t care for. What I found most telling was on several occasions he referred to NASCAR’s top division as “Cup” racing. So what, right? I do it every week. But notably lacking was the usual term France has insisted on for years, “Sprint Cup racing.” Trouble in paradise?
During a slow news week one of the press releases that caught my attention had to do with Jeff Gordon’s wreck at Richmond when the 24 car hit a section of wall not protected by the SAFER barrier. The impact measured 40gs, a potentially fatal amount of energy fortunately largely dissipated by the car before it reached the four time champion. In light of the force of impact NASCAR recommends that section of wall should have a SAFER barrier installed. No, really. You think? NASCAR also recommends that if your head is ablaze you consider dousing it. If it’s nice one day later this week maybe I’ll take the bike for a run up to Pocono to see what the track did with that section on the back straight where Elliott Sadler hit with such devastating force last summer.
The Hindenburg Award For Foul Fortune
It was a tough final few laps for Richard Childress Racing with Jeff Burton blowing up and Harvick and Clint Bowyer getting wrecked in that incident on the subsequent restart. All three drivers had posted strong showings throughout the night but came up short when the pay window opened.
The contact between Brian Vickers and David Ragan was typical Darlington but the results were bizarre. Because of the angle the two cars hit, the left side of Vickers’ Toyota was pretty much totally peeled away.
Kyle Busch clearly had a shot at winning until his team once again left a wheel loose during a pit stop forcing Busch to pit again. While Busch made a determined drive back to the front it was clearly his annoyance at the incident that triggered the melee that ended the race.
Jimmie Johnson’s crew also made an uncharacteristic error leaving a wheel loose on a late race stop. Earlier Johnson had to reverse out of his pit box after Paul Menard spun into the pit box directly ahead of the 48 team’s.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. drove from a 30th place starting position to flirting with the top 5 until a costly commitment cone violation entering the pits ended his chances at a decent result.
Martin Truex Jr. wanted his whole pit crew fired after last week’s debacle at Richmond. I wonder if that crew wants a new driver after Truex spun while trying to enter pit road.
Bobby Labonte was enroute to a solid eleventh place finish when he got caught up in that last lap wreck. I’m still curious why NASCAR didn’t throw the caution for that wreck. Yeah, it’s better to have the races finish under green but not at the cost of safety.
The “Seven Come Fore Eleven” Award For Fine Fortune
Regan Smith won his second Cup race….and gets to keep the trophy this time. (Not to mention how close Smith came to wrecking when none other than Kyle Busch chop blocked him late in the race.)
It looked like pole-sitter Kasey Kahne’s evening was over when he slapped the wall hard early in the race. Kahne rallied back to a solid fourth place finish.
Carl Edwards had a great week with a second place finish Saturday and the birth of his second child earlier this week.
As badly as he’s been running lately a competitive seventh place finish with an outside chance at the win late had to be sweet vindication for owner/driver Tony Stewart.
What’s the Points?
The top 5 in the points, Edwards, Johnson, Busch, Earnhardt and Harvick held their positions. Johnson is now 23 points behind Edwards. Harvick is fifty points, more than a full race worth of markers, out of the lead. But in the big picture Harvick is sitting plush with a royal flush, aces back to back. (In plain English he’s won two races.)
The Stewart-Haas Racing duo had a good points night with Newman advancing two spots to sixth and Stewart advancing three spots to seventh.
Kurt Busch and Clint Bowyer had bad points nights each falling two spots in the standings. They are now are now eighth and ninth respectively.
Greg Biffle advanced two spots to that coveted final twelfth position in the run up to the Chase. The honor is nebulous in that if the Chase field were to be determined right now Jeff Gordon would claim that final spot because he won at Phoenix.
There seems to be some confusion among some fans about the import of Smith’s win at Darlington. No, he isn’t in position to make the Chase quite yet. To win a Wild Card berth a driver must not only win a race but be within the top 20 in regular season points. Smith is currently 27th in the points, 29 points out of the top 20.
It’s still too early to panic about points but some big name drivers are probably beginning to sweat a bit. Drivers like Denny Hamlin (sixteenth), Jamie McMurray (21st), Jeff Burton (24th) and Joey Logano (25th) really need to win a race or two to solidify their Chase hopes. Any one of those drivers is capable of winning multiple races soon, but might need that back door into the Chase if their performance doesn’t improve dramatically.
Overall Rating (On a scale of one to six beer cans with one being a stinker and a six pack an instant classic) — We’ll give this one five bottles of icy cold Corona served up with a shot of Gentleman Jack and a fried bologna sandwich. Yes, the action dragged a bit in the center of the race costing Darlington another full six-pack, but the ending was all you could ask for… and then some.
Next Up – The circuit heads off to Dover but oddly enough, I am heading off to watch my beloved niece Hayley graduate from the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts (Bryan Keith will fill in). I’ll be back for Charlotte. Meanwhile, I urge you to check out the latest column written by Frontstretch’s newest columnist, Dr. Mark Howell, this Thursday; he’s a longtime friend of mine and a great addition to a great site.
©2000 - 2008 Matt McLaughlin and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
Kyle claimed the reason he didn’t back up on pit road was because he’d lost reverse. Do I believe it? No, but good try.
Since I neither like Harvick or Busch, but dislike Harvick more, I wasn’t upset to see Harvick get turned though there was no reason for Busch to do it except he was angry. I was glad no one else got taken out since he did it to him in front of the whole field. But it was amusing trying to watch Kyle run away from Harvick. I thought they were going to chase each other around the track until both cars were steaming piles of junk.
I thought NASCAR might park Busch after that hook-and-spin move (which happened after the caution came out but before anyone had slowed up much). They’ve done similar- parked Waltrip for ramming Mears a few years ago. But, they didn’t. Busch shoving Harvick’s unmanned car down pit road probably was dangerous, but I’d have to admit I’d have done the same thing with Harvick throwing punches in the window. Though I can’t see how he could land much with the helmet and seat in the way. Thankfully no one got hit.
Question is if this spills into Dover. Like Montoya/Newman they’ve probably been told not to get anywhere near each other.
Great racing Sat at Darlington. I would have preferred it without those last couple of cautions though. IMO, late cautions and double file restarts create crapshoot endings. Personally, I like the first of two-thirds of the race to matter more. You know, where a guy that ran in the top 5 all night ends up with a top 5 finish. Instead, more and more, they can easily get shuffled back when all the silliness occurs in the last 20 laps. What’s the point?
You mention DW being off Saturday night. Did anyone catch him saying “If it’s any conSTELLation” instead of “If it’s any conSOLation”? I cracked up when I heard that.
“Let me go on the record despite knowing a few of you are going to try to tear me a new one.”
Matt, that will be Susan once she’s read your take-down of her beloved Kyle Busch. In my opinion, it was just Darlington racing… drivers tend to lose their patience and get a little agressive at the track. The guy I felt sorry for was Clint Bowyer, who ran a solid race and got taken out for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. But again, that’s Darlington.
Is it just me, or does it seem silly for a guy with a helmet on to throw a punch at guy with a helmet on?
Kyle Busch seems to be making enemies at a brisk pace this year. That’s gonna bite him at some point in time.
As for the G-W-C restart, if you’re Brad Keselowski, you go with Regan Smith and then try to beat him for the win. Brad had to know that if Carl Edwards got the lead, the #99 on fresh tires would win the race. I don’t think it had anything to do with any past animosity between Brad and Carl.
Hats off to Regan Smith and the entire Furniture Row team for their improbable win.
Didn’t anyone else catch the seething irony of the FOX crew’s earlier mentions of “Kyle Busch at the height of his maturity”?
Holy Crap! No way! Matt M. doesnt like what Kyle Busch did? What a freakin surprise. I knew what this article was going to say before I even booted up my computer this morning.
Too bad the crappy Wood Brothers cant just win all the races so we can finally hear some optimism in Matt’s column.
Great race, nice to see a hometown (Syracuse) driver win a Cup race. Boy, I lost a ton of respect for Busch. He should be fined for not getting out and fighting. Kyle ruined the post-race entertainment. Maybe the pendulum is swinging back and some of these small teams have a chance again (if be it a small one). This has been a fun year in Cup all around. I can’t wait till Busch v. Harvick and Montoya v. Newman + fires up again.
Any real race fan on here knows that the trouble on Saturday night with Busch & Harvick started a half a lap earlier. Did you people watch the race! On the back stretch Harvick cut down and forced Kyle low and then let him by and gave him a shot going into 3. This is what caused any payback along with stupid Clint Bowyer forcing the issue 3 wide under his own team mate. These accidents, and I use that term losely are usually started a lap earlier than what everybody realizes. Go back and look for yourself. Now I am not saying what Kyle did on pitroad was correct but it will probably teach Harvick not to get out of his car again until he is in the garage! Spice it up and you may start filling seats again. I thought that is what Nascar wanted. Once again though I dont want to see anyone hurt on pitroad. But it was funny to see the result with no harm done this time. Dont get out just be patient and get even on the track a few weeks later. That is the way it was done in the old days.
We can argue all day about where it started. Maybe it started in Homestead last year when Kyle Busch decided to wreck anyone who got in his way and Kevin Harvick wasn’t having any of that. Maybe it started before that. Who knows? As for Clint Bowyer going three-wide, drivers were going three-wide to pass all night long. Any driver who won’t go three-wide at Darlington to gain position in the last 10 laps of the race is a driver who needs to find a new line of employment. The track too tough to tame ain’t for the timid.
These are my 2 drivers, and they both acted like a$$e$ Sat. night. But I agree with John this started a half lap back.
Where were the nascar officals after the race, they knew something would happen, First the little show outside pit road and then Harvick parks on pitroad and takes off belts and still no nascar officals in sight, then crawls out of car still no nascar officals. Are they trying to sell tickets to the allstar race with this weekend and the old west commercial talking about payback.
Great Job to Reagan Smith and The Front Row Team for racing to win and taking the chance.
First, and most importantly, it was great to see Regan Smith win his second race, (first officially.) The young man is a class act; I wish him many more.
Secondly, as to the incident with Kyle Busch and Harvick, quite frankly I am not a fan of either man but on an a****** scale, with ten being highest and one lowest, Busch is a 7 or 8, Harvick an undisputed 10. Busch yells at his crew in the heat of an event, Harvick humiliates them whenever he can; he is truly a jerk. That said, I completely agree with John above. Watch the incident in slow motion and see Harvick wreck his teammate then slide up into Busch’s car. I have to admit I chuckled when Harvick threw a punch at Busch’s helmeted head! DUH!
Faber College! LOL I’d say those writers GPA’s were “Zero point zero”.
I gotta laugh at Baby Busch. He had a chance to put his money where his mouth usually is and he ran like a little girl. I’m no Harvick fan, but at least he’s man enough to get out of the car. Baby Busch is all talk, writing checks with his mouth that his ass apparently isn’t willing to cash.
was it me or did Hammond have a Freudian slip when he was talking about why he thought Jeff Gordon would take the checkered FlAG and win the race?
FOX sure cut to another topic quickly and I have never seen someone turn from orange to red so quickly.
Matt, is it possible for you to write a column without bashing either ACS or the people of Southern California? Bashing the track is one thing. Talking shit about us fans is another, which takes things to another level.
Figure this out once and for all: WE DIDN’T TAKE THE RACE FROM DARLINGTON. NASCAR DID!
Joe, it sounds like you’ve taken a checkered FlAG or two yourself.
Yeah, Jim, I might have teed off on Californians a bit too hard.
It’s just a race date moving from The Track Too Tought To Tame to the Track So Timid It’s Lame has always roasted my chestnuts. I’d like to thank all of you CA residents for not supporting the race and making it the major embarasment it is to NASCAR and the ISC
Actually, Matt’s right about California the state for once. Los Angeles and San Francisco are embaressments to the rest of this great state and give us the bad name we’re known for. However, Jim’s right in that its not ACS or California that moved Darlington’s Labor Day date to ACS, its squarely NASCAR’s fault and that decision will haunt them until Darlington’s Southern 500 racing date is back on the Sunday before Labor Day. Since Atlanta only has one date now, it seems like it would be pretty simple to swap Atlanta and Darlington, but my bet is Bruton Smith doesnt want Mother’s Day weekend for his race.
There are a lot issues worthy of discussion from Darlington.
I’ll leave many aside for others but I too noticed DW yapping away out of his mind (was he getting monoxide too?).
And Mike Joy praising Jimmie Johnson for his great car control gathering up his spin off turn 4… ignores the mosty basic fact; JIMMIE JOHNSON LOST CONTROL OF THE CAR TO BEGIN WITH! You can’t praise a guy for recovering from a spin of his own failed talents!
It’s beyond high time both DW and Joy get replaced
I enjoyed the race, and while a part of me doesn’t like the cautions at the end that breed cautions, as I too, would like the midsections to count more, at least in this one they weren’t cautions for debris or some thought up excuse to bunch the field up. What happened after was anybody’s guess. Who’d have thought that Tony S on the freshest tires of those who stayed out would go straight backward, and that because Brad K gave Smith a push it kept him ahead of Carl. But I loved watching Smith drive that car, bouncing it off the wall and just kept on going. The Lady in Black at her best.
HAHA, i heard the conSTELLation comment too, shook my head and laughed hysterically.
Good Ol DW, he’s good for being the butt of jokes.
boogity boogity boogity, let’s learn English boys!
Kevin in SoCal-
Congrats to Regan Smith.
Harvick and Busch are both jerks. Kinda goes with the territory. The majority of the really successful drivers are dicks.
But the bottom line is that Kyle Busch is a fag … he could’ve killed someone. Afraid to take a punch while wearing a helmut, what an a**hole … guess it’s better to kill an innocent bystander.
Made for an interesting ending but lets keep it on the track.
No idea what you mean. All I was citing was the 30 of us who were watching the race at the wing bar noticed the same thing and thought it was awful peculiar how they shifted gears rather quickly after Jeff Hammond made his pick.
Maybe we notice too much.
Amen, Bobb. The Fox booth almost never shuts up about the Hendrick teams. Somebody mentioned years ago that McReynolds squeals “Hiiiindrick” like a schoolgirl. Sometimes I wonder: if Hendrick fielded Toyotas and Busch the younger still drove for him, would Waltrip acknoledge another team’s existence?
All apologies. Very sorry for jumping to conclusions.
no sweat man.
I’ve grown to respect and appreciate what Jeff Gordon has done for NASCAR as it achieved mainstream status. Was not a fan of his initially (thought all the rumors were ridiculous and obviously false) but as time has gone on, he’s been one of the class guys in the sport. I was a Terry Labonte fan and felt that the 5 and 25 were the test cars for the 24 during the Evernham days.
He has really been one of the best ambassadors for any sport over the past 15-20 years.
Kyle Busch could be a bigger crybaby?!?! It was funny watching him run away. He looked like he was about to get some Spencer like action similar to his big bro!!!! Talent or otherwise, I have tried to like Kyle but he makes it very difficult on many levels. This race showed him up as the usual petulant child – not seeing that ‘maturity level’ that Fox is touting. Kyle’s definitely got some paybacks coming back his way. I’ll be happy to see Harvick provide some.
Kudos to Regan Smith. He earned his win big time. Strategy and holding off Edwards were big. Great job for an underfunded team!!! Good stuff.
Great article Matt. Funny stuff.
Hey Matt, great stuff as usual. We used to chat in the old speedworld.net days! Anyway, regarding Kasey Kahne:
He admitted he was getting fumes and dust in his car during the interview, and admitted on Twitter later he was a little loopy. I guess after he hit the wall he started getting fumes in the cockpit. He feels better now though.
So that was a no on Bowles clapping???
Clap… clap… clap clap clap…. clap clap clap clap… DOG SHOW!
I think that KB listened to the media all weekend saying how he had won the last 2 spring Darlington races & expected him to win this one. He bought into it. With just a few laps left, he realized that he was too deeply buried in the field to get to the front, & he said as much post-race, he lost it & struck out. Kevin was the one there to bear the brunt of it.
The Southern 500 should be run on Labor Day Monday like it was originally. Not that the new fans knew that. That’s tradition.
Way to go ROWDY!!! Harvick is such an Jerk.
Congrats to Regan. Ability combined with strategy are how all races are won. Mind you, he drove from the back of the field to 6th under green flag conditions. Then finished it off on old tires. He EARNED that win!
Matt, great column as usual. I look forward to reading your take.
Congrats to Regan and the 78 team for a win for the little guys out there.
To the Matt haters out there, can one of you tell me why you continue to read Matt’s column if you hate it so much? If something set me off like his work sets you off, I’d ignore it completely.
SUSAN – why do you even waste your time opening this website? You obviously disagree with everything by the author and everyone else. The guy who writes this website has forgotten more than you will ever collectively know about racing. The rest of us want to be here and can agree or disagree with some semblance of civility. You are just a moron.
Another thing, I haven’t heard anybody mention the fact that when Kyle wrecked Harvick, the caution was already out. Unless I’m mistaken, during the replay, I saw Kyle chase Harvick down, I saw the caution lights come on, THEN I saw the 18 dump the 29. Susan, what say you about that? Wrecking a man under caution? That’s not cool.
Great race and great article Matt. Yep, DW ought to consider retirement.
Hey Wreck, I think they ought to duct tape Happy and Rowdy together and lock them in a phone booth! Whadoyathink???
I’m a misogynist??? That’s funny………….. You make assumptions.
Susan: in last week’s feedback you bashed me and said something liked you preferred to “live in the present.” What’s all this Bill Elliott crap about stuff that happened yrs ago? Live in the present girlfriend. Quit your day job as a lawyer … you could make much more in the evenings as a dominatrix. Your words cut like a knife and make me feel shackled in chains. It would be easy to be a misogynist with you around. But thank God I love normal women and they are out there. Not like you … way out there … out of your skull.
Golly Gary, you must be one sensitive guy if a few comments from a woman you disagree with gets you so worked up! Life is short…lets all try to be civilized on here and act like ladies and gentlemen who hold different opinions. To do otherwise is to stand out as a jerk.
Susan, Not a fan of Harvick nor Busch with that being said…In every response on this website on any given week all you do is bash the authors and any one that is not a Busch fan. Kyle Busch is NOT the saint you make him out to be. As someone else said, if you can’t be civil in your responses just keep your opinions to yourself.
Don Mei I’m not a jerk just an a**hole.
I don’t care whether you like my posts or not. Many people here have great posts with good ideas and opinions … except Susan.
And I’m not worked up … I look forward to responding to her posts because she’s crazy and it’s amusing. Haven’t you seen what others are saying about her. Why single out me dude.
You know back in the 1800s it used to be considered a fine family outing to go to the “lunactic asylum” and make fun of the mentally ill as they carpered, drooled and rambled. It seems barbaric these days, but that was the times (Somehow people were living without facebook or twiteter.)
I’d ask everyone to just laugh off Susan’s comments. Yeah, she might be the hot chick she clainms to be but more likely “she’s” some unemployed 300 pound truck driver sitting at the keyboard of an aging PC in teenage girl’s panties and bra desperately tryin to get you to disagree with her so “she” can feel some validation. My guess is one day she is goig to slit her wrists while on line and I don’t want to be the person that pushed her over the line. Sue, please get help. Whatever is wrong with your life, there are doctors and meds that can help you get back to stasis and be happy again.
Susan, Speaking of Dover, if you were there in Sept 2001, maybe we would have shed a few tears of joy together when JR won.
Susan: Being a dominatrix isn’t necessarily a bad thing (depends on your lifestyle). And I don’t hate you. Just find you very amusing and full of yourself like your bud KB (who is one heck of a fast driver).