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.
Well, it’s been a few years since a new track was added to the schedule, but this weekend Kentucky gets tacked on to the slate of Cup dates. Naturally, I wish those in charge well in their endeavor while accepting the fact there’s likely to be a few glitches as the initial foray into the big leagues begins. They’ve sold out the track, a notable accomplishment these days, but the big question is how many of the fans on hand will be back for next year’s race? It’s a bit late to be offering advice to Kentucky management, but I present the following both as a reminder to them and as a refresher to the management at other tracks.
Here’s the hurdles you have to leap in order to keep the fans happy and coming back as paying customers:
Traffic: The late and lamented T. Wayne Robertson spent the final years of his life (tragically ended in a boating accident back in January of 1998) trying to convince Bill France, Jr. and track owners that traffic prior to and after a race was going to be the biggest hindrance to the then-explosive growth of the sport. Who was Mr. Robertson? T. Wayne was the architect of the then-Winston Cup program, saving NASCAR from the brink of doom when the factories left the sport in the early ’70s while building it into the elite tiers of professional sports at the time of his demise. While his paycheck was signed by R.J. Reynolds, no person in this sport’s history has ever cared more about its health and its fans than Mr. Robertson. He contributed more to the growth of NASCAR than any three members of the France family combined.
Traffic. Do you know anyone who likes sitting in traffic? In addition to being aggravating and wasteful, it can also be humiliating. New cars can park themselves, connect you to the Internet, give you directions and inform you of vehicles in your blind spots but they still don’t have pissers aboard. The good old Gatorade bottle still has to stand in when it takes you two hours just to get out of the parking lot at a race track. Then, it can be another hour and a half to two hours to get back into free moving traffic so you can wind your way home.
I’m a realist. When that many people try to exit the same venue at the same time, especially with most tracks located in remote rural areas there’s going to be some traffic. Even in these days of declining race attendance, that’s still a lot of folks and cars to get on the road. But every time I watch some inept part-timer issued a yellow vest and a blinking red wand simply overwhelmed and waving on whichever lane of traffic has the most people honking at him, I want to scream. See, I’m from Chester/Lancaster County, PA and the sticks at that. My idea of rush hour traffic is when there’s two cars ahead of me at the stone, one-lane bridge down the street.
Cup races generate a tremendous amount of revenue for localities and states. Thus, it behooves the track management to coordinate with traffic engineers, the State and local cops to come up with a workable solution to manage traffic. Alternate exits, slip ramps, turning two-lane roads into single direction travel ways and other methods can all help, but only if key checkpoints are manned by professional police officers – not teenage kids working a one-day summer job. Helicopters above the track monitoring trouble spots and reporting to a centralized traffic command center should be considered essential. One broken down motorhome or fender bender can turn an already bad situation into an obscenity.
Again, NASCAR races pour an awful lot of revenue into a community and they do so year after year. If roads need to be widened, widen them. If turn lanes need to be added, add them. If special use off ramps need to be added, build them. Make sure the pathway to and from the track is clearly marked with signage to help guide first timers. Have tow trucks on hand to clear disabled vehicles from lanes of traffic. I’ve gotten to the point if I can’t be in free moving traffic heading home a half-hour after a race, I’m not going. And there’s a lot of folks like me. Right, T. Wayne?
Concession Stands: This is another key irritant that fans write me about regularly. I’m kind of weird. I can go the length of a race without food as long as there are cold beverages on hand. In fact, I often go 24 hours without eating in day-to-day life if I’m busy.
But in that regard, I’m an exception, few of you do the same, and if you’ve ever brought children or teenagers to a race you know the drill. Most of the snacks you’ve packed for the afternoon are gone before you even reach the track. The rest are devoured before the race starts. And twenty laps into the race you get the usual, “Mom, Dad, I’m STARVING.” So off you head with the lad to the concession stands to wait in an interminably long line whilst the race continues buzzing along. The attendant serves up two lukewarm hot dogs that look like death, an equally lukewarm Coke and then asks you for 12 bucks. What? I can go to the local Wawa (for those who don’t know, think of it like a 7-Eleven run by English-speaking people), get two decent dogs and an ice cold Coke for three bucks and pocket change I wouldn’t bend over to pick up. But you’re at their mercy. It’s not like you’re going to hike back to the car and run down the street to the 7-Eleven. You’d miss half the race.
Simply put, track owners, the lines need to be shorter, the food better and the fare more fairly priced. You’ve got a captive audience and they’ve already paid out the big bucks for race tickets, travel and accommodations. The gouging has to stop somewhere if you ever expect to see them again. I’ve been to countless automotive swap meets, arena rock concerts, hill climbs, music fests and the like and nowhere have I seen any venue with the audacity to charge such ripoff prices for such unsavory fare.
Welcome the Out of Towners: Of course, you need to cherish every fan from the local area who attends your race. When they stop coming, that’s your “dead canary in the coal mine” warning sign.
But recall that a lot of folks travel long distances to help fill up those stands. The latest statistics I have read stated that fans travel about six hours, on average to go to a Cup race. That means that many are going to need overnight accommodations, are going to be eating out every evening, patronizing local businesses and in general pouring millions of dollars into the local, regional and state economy. All of you business owners, from the track owner to the local mom and pop diners and service stations have suddenly got the Goose that Laid the Golden Egg nested in your lap.
But some folks will tend to want to wring it by the neck to get the most they can out of that poor goose. Hotel rooms that would normally be 55 bucks a night on the weekends are suddenly 185 bucks and up with three-night minimum stays. Restaurants raise prices or don’t have sufficient server staff on duty to handle the crowds. Some business owners are simply overwhelmed and others have larceny in their hearts. So go to the local Chamber of Commerce and to elected officials, sit down and have a heart-to-heart meeting. Together, we are going to ride this wave for everything it’s worth and make our guests feel welcome as we accommodate them… or we’re going to run this thing into the ground. It only takes a few hotels signing onto the plan and agreeing to charge reasonable rates (with full occupancy) to shame the other chains into being more reasonable as they have empty rooms on race weekends. Most race fans aren’t looking for the Taj Mahal. A clean and safe room at a reasonable price with friendly staff will keep them coming back year after year.
Parking: I’ve always espoused the theory that when attending a big race, it’s in a fan’s best interest to arrive unreasonably early to beat traffic. There’s plenty to see and do, plus a lot of nice folks to meet and befriend as the extra hours before the race simply disappear. (As opposed to each nanosecond spent in traffic… see above). Part of my early arrival strategy is to park as close as I can to a main exit lane near the exit of the parking lot so as to beat some of the post-race traffic. Once the race ends, I can walk back to my car faster than the cars I am walking past will make it to the same spot. And since I’m way early, I have plenty of time to get to my seat before the race starts. But at some, if not most tracks, this practice is prohibited. Weekend Gestapo in bright yellow shirts insist that you follow their wild gesticulating and park in orderly rows at the parking sites closest to the track. Why? Because they can. Try to deviate from the herd and you’re likely to end up with some pencil necked geek who looks like he’s got two bullfrogs wrestling over a grasshopper in his Adam’s apple leaning in your car, spitting all over you as he orders you to get back with the pack and do as he says or…or…or… his mom is going to be really, really, mad at you. As a paying customer, I don’t appreciate getting screamed at upon my arrival at the track.
But then, we can’t have people parking their cars in appropriately designated spaces on their whim, can we? The same thing happens at shopping malls all across the country daily and there’s not much in the way of anarchy or mayhem as a result, is there?
Security: Those parking lot attendants who don’t succumb to massive coronaries before they turn 20 often show up as cop wanna-be security guards in the stands. While most of the security people I have dealt with have been pleasant and helpful, there’s always been their fair share of Barney Fife wanna-bes who have been complete a-holes and incompetents. Yes, in any large gathering like a Cup race there’s a need for security. People who toss beer cans, get profanely abusive with the fans beside them, become threatening to the safety or enjoyment of others and the like need to be dealt with. But if I’m smoking in a non-designated area all you need do is tell me. I will extinguish my cigarette, apologize and comply with the rule. There’s no need to grab the smoke out of my hand and start threatening me with ejection.
In most cases where I’ve seen security go into hand-to-hand combat with patrons, it’s been the security guard who escalated the situation to a fight and laid hands on the other party first. And trust me: I’ve been to a lot of races over a lot of decades. (Pocono infield security is particularly notorious for their gang attacks on patrons.) These people need better training in crowd control, manners and how to respond to a potentially unruly patron. They need to be reminded that they are there to assist race-goers, not assault them. Does a drunken lout ever need to be ousted? Certainly, for the safety and comfort of the other fans around him. But such ejections should be handled in the least violent manner possible with good manners and understanding. After all, that drunken clown is going to wake up in the morning feeling like a jerk anyway. There’s no sense in you stooping to his level.
The bottom line, security is you’re paid to be a professional; act like one, or get actual off-duty police officers who are trained to handle such potentially volatile situations weekly, if not daily to do the job. To sum up, security guards do your job quickly, equitably and without violence so the rest of us can get back to enjoying the race.
And for goodness sakes, if they’re going to be wearing that “Security” shirt and people are going to be turning to them for help, give these guys and gals at least the bare minimum of first aid training. One of my worst memories at a Cup track is an afternoon at Bristol. I had agreed to hike up into the stands to meet some longtime readers prior to the race. When I got there, they were fussing over an overweight, older gentleman who was ashen gray in the face and complaining of chest pain after his long trek towards his seats. Fearing he was in imminent danger of a major cardiac event, I went and found the nearest security person. Her advice: “Give him some water and let him sit awhile. If he doesn’t feel better in a half-hour, come see me.” My friends eventually walked that poor fellow to a medic’s station where they got one look at the patient and had him taken by ambulance to the nearest hospital. I hope the story ended happily, but I don’t know.
Restrooms: Again, I’m not picky. When nature calls point me behind a dumpster, picket fence or a strategically parked dually and I’ll take care of my business. But over the course of a long afternoon a lot of fans will feel the need to visit a restroom. It’s insane that a person should have to miss a half-hour of a race to answer nature’s call. And the deplorable conditions of some of those restrooms and porta-potties by mid-race is so bad, it’s near criminal. Again, I’m not fussy but a whole lot of race fans, more than some track owners seem to be willing to admit to, are of the female variety. Women in general seem a bit more demanding of clean restroom facilities and since they tend to take longer to get the job done, the lines can be even worse. Somewhere in the arcane data related to holding stadium-hosted events, there are perfect numbers for the number of patrons on hand to restroom accommodations for both genders. Some tracks have answered the call. (Pocono proudly bills itself as having the largest men’s room in the world.) Others lag badly behind.
Follow Up: These days, most fans order their race tickets online or over the phone. They make a substantial financial investment to attend these races. If I were running Kentucky Motor Speedway, job number one Monday morning would be to start a mass mail campaign. Since I have their addresses on file, I’d send them a note thanking them for attending the race. “Please” and “thank you” are becoming arcane terms but they are still appreciated in some circles. I would ask them to list what positive things they took away from their race experience. I would also ask them to list the things they didn’t like so much. I’d again thank them for their patronage and ask if we, as a track would be entertaining them again next year for the Cup race. If they responded “no“, I’d write back individual letters asking what would have to change to get them back in the grandstands. Collecting those responses, I’d start new track initiatives to address the wants of my customers. Yes, Kentucky will be sold out this weekend but will it be again next year? A proactive approach to customer satisfaction is the only way to go in this economy.
©2000 - 2008 Matt McLaughlin and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
I no longer attend the Bristol races (by preference, not economics), but was always impressed with how well they maintained the track and facilities. With that many people in such a small track, the restrooms were always clean, and lines (even for the ladies room) were seldom long. Just cleaning up the stands between races was done superbly. I luckily found a great ‘escape route’, and managed to avoid the worst of the traffic. Motel rooms are another story.
Good call on all of this. It took TMS’ Gossage a while to figure this out but things aren’t too bad now. Except, I sure don’t see $12 for two dogs and a coke there or nearly anywhere…..
Spend a weekend in the infield at Charlotte and you will find out quickly what the owners figured out a long time ago… ice is as valuable as gold and is priced accordingly.
I quit going to the races in Charlotte when they kept me out of my reserved infield spot for a full day and night in order to show the word premier of the movie “Cars”. Sorry, I didn’t go there to watch a cartoon. That was the final straw.
I’ll give the security guys a bit of a break; the infield can be a pretty challenging place. I’ve seen stuff going on that would shock Charlie Sheen. Because there’s so many people, folks try to get away with a lot of things (just don’t light any fireworks; apparently that’s worse than commiting murder in NC).
These days I only attend races when I can get greatly discounted grandstand tickets. The bottom line is that the racing just isn’t worth what it costs to spend a weekend at the track.
Well done Matt. Although I will say this…back before the Chase when individual races actually mattered, I never minded any of the inconveniences. Racing could be great, but the first 26 races don’t matter, and 33 drivers mean nothing in the last ten, so why bother?
If they hadn’t turned it into a crapshoot, people might be a little more tolerant of the traffic.
I went to a Grand National race at Kentucky many moons ago. It’s literally right off I-71 & the parking method was to park cars according to the N/S direction they’d be leaving in. The method was fine but the amount of parking seemed inadequate even by GN standards. All the other things, I agree with Matt on. Best venue in NASCAR is Martinsville. They’re realitvely inexpensive, great lines of sight, and most importantly the racing is always good. I’m for eliminating cookie cutters & wouldn’t have added Kentucky.
I ilke Martinsville as well, but the last time I was there (April 1999) the only bathroom facilities were port-a-johns and there were long lines at them all day long. Do you know if that has changed?
Pocono traffic can be a nightmare leaving the racetrack. It could take 2+ hours to get out of the parking lot and 3 hour drive home plus a rest stop. I went until 2007, and the experience was worth the yearly battle with mother nature and traffic issues. The state of the sport in 2008 lowered my enthusiasm to the point I ended my summer Pocono trip. I started attending the Whelen modified race at Riverhead instead and loved it.
I found Phoenix the greatest disappointment in racing. Absolutely uncaring personnel. Not a place for the handicapped. For people with handicaps, Texas and Kansas will accomadate your requests.
Nicely said, Matt. It’s a shame that your poll didn’t have “all of the above” as an option to choose since at various tracks different things are equally important.
CarlD — We go to Martinsville (both races every year) and I agree the bathrooms of 1949 vintage were hard to handle. According to an e-mail that I received a few months ago from the track, the restrooms were being upgraded and should be ready for the October race. Hooray!
We had one of the worst experiences in the free parking area at Richmond some years ago with people who were uniformed law enforcement – they were monitoring the parking and were completely and utterly unreasonable. I had surgery the week before and probably should not have gone to the race. We asked (politely mind you and no we weren’t drinking) if we could please park near a port a john so I didn’t have to walk across the acre of field each time. They absolutely refused to allow it – when my brother finally got tired of it and told the officer we were moving – they threatened us with arrest — one of the officers told me I should have arranged to have gotten handicap parking. We have never been back and I wouldn’t go if they handed me free tickets. It only takes ONE bad experience for a fan to make that decision a permanent one.
Have also been stuck in the traffic nightmare after Pocono — twice was plenty. IMO that track is already difficult to see the action on as it is so big, being unable to get out of the parking lot for 3 hrs and then spending another 2 on the roads leading to the interstate was enough for me. I’d say one and done, but I caught talked into “it can’t be that bad again”. Yes, it was, no, I won’t do it again.
NASCAR has forgotten that we are the customers, treat us like dirt and we will not be back.
Restrooms: I can pretty much say with certainty that the restrooms are totally clean the morning of the race. But after you get hundreds of people using them, people that dont care because its not their restroom, they’re bound to get filthy during the day. I’ve been in some restrooms that it would be easier to condemn the building than clean it. All because people only care about themselves. So, I cant find fault with the tracks, I place the blame on the drunk and discourteous fans for that one.
Great points all but there’s ONE thing that nascar needs to do more than anything else: MORE SHORT TRACKS.
I go to the Dover cup races. I’d add the entire weeked but the hotel costs would put me in debt for years so I deal with the parking and traffic instead. Every year we leave at the crack of dawn, drive 2+ hours and still have to park in the far corner of the track. This means sleep in the car after we get there for him and after the race for me because it takes at least an hour before we can get off track property. We’ve tried all knids of ways to avoid the waiting with limited success. This past May was the best it’s ever been and then I realized it was because it was the worst attendence ever. Thankfully Dover still lets you bring in coolers only problem if you put in enough drinks you can’t carry it
All tracks are hard 2 get in and out. except the brickyard but then it is such a boring race.Question are the drivers paied to lie a little??????
My biggest gripe is traffic too but you have to ask, how much should a municipality spend for a once or twice a year event.
The one thing that is in the tracks’ control is the actual venue. They can make the ammenities nicer and the concession prices more reasonable.
I’ve been going to Sears Point pretty much every year since 1990. The facility certainly was not prepared for 100,000+ people the first few years. The traffic in and out was horrendous. Missing the first 20 laps was not unheard of just trying to get in to the parking lot.
Old, rickety wooden bridges would sway unnervingly as they were overloaded with people trying to cross the track.
Bruton Smith bought the track and finally dragged the facility into the 21st century. Two tunnels big enough to drive two busses through replaced the bridges. New roads and gates eased the traffic in and out. All facilities were upgraded and mountains were leveled to improve sightlines around the track.
Now it takes less than an hour to get out and be in free moving traffic. Gone are the days we would bbq in the parking lot for two hours before even attempting to get in line to get out.
The only complaint I still have is the tram system of busses they use to get you from the parking lots to the track. It’s not so bad coming in when everybody is trickling in, but when everybody is leaving all at the same time it can be a nightmare to even get on a bus. Most people give up after an hour of waiting watching bus after bus packed to the gills just keep on driving by your shuttle stop. Walking a couple miles up and down large hills eating dust from shuttles and cars.