NASCAR Changes Qualifying Format
posted by Summer Bedgood
Tuesday March 11, 2014
Following safety concerns regarding NASCAR’s new qualifying format, the sanctioning body is introducing some changes in preparation for this weekend’s race at Bristol Motor Speedway. According to the Associated Press, NASCAR is banning teams from cool-down laps after their qualifying attempts, but will instead be allowed to hook up cool-down units to the engine through hood flaps.
Late Tuesday afternoon, a release from NASCAR fully detailed the changes. Teams will be allowed a single cool down unit to be connected through the right or left side hood flap, however the hood must remain closed. Additionally, two crew members will be allowed over the wall while cooling down.
“The qualifying is new to all of us and as we have said over the past several weeks, we are looking at it from all aspects,” said Robin Pemberton, vice president of competition and racing development. “Following discussions, both internally and with others in the garage area, we moved quickly to make a few revisions that will be effective starting with our two national series events at Bristol Motor Speedway this weekend. We believe this will only enhance and improve what has demonstrated to be an exciting form of qualifying for our fans, competitors and others involved with the sport. Moving forward we will continue to look at it and address anything else that we may need to as the season unfolds.”
The move comes after three weeks of NASCAR’s new knockout qualifying system, where multiple cars are allowed to make qualifying attempts at the same time instead of the traditional one-car-at-a-time procedure. Drivers and teams had complained that the new rules didn’t allow them to cool their engines down on pit road, and the cool-down laps caused a dangerous situation with slower cars staying on the track at the same time that other cars were running by them at much higher speeds.
The rule will begin this weekend in Bristol, a track that has a much narrower racing surface than Daytona, Phoenix, and Las Vegas.
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!
Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
Matt McLaughlin · Monday October 17, 2011
Editor’s Note: Because my columns on racing tend to be (or at least attempt to be) humorous in places and cynical in others, I sometimes feel that I should just delete them in the wake of a tragedy such as occurred Sunday at Las Vegas. I in no way want to come off as insensitive. The column below was submitted well before the Indy Car race. In fact, I hurried the final edit in hopes of getting in a motorcycle ride before watching the IndyCar finale. I am no expert in IndyCar racing, but I do enjoy catching the open-wheel events when the schedule allows. I do know that series officials, participants and fans will have a long debate over the advisability of having a race with 34 entrants at a track like Vegas given the mechanics of what they call “pack racing.” The network types will have to debate if replays of the incident were appropriate and if the race should have been canceled. But right now, that doesn’t matter. What matters is a young man lost his life twelve laps into that race. Dan Wheldon was a man of notable achievements, most notably two Indy 500 wins, an IndyCar championship and a Daytona 24-Hour victory. He is described by people who knew him best as the eternal optimist, always smiling and always ready for the next race in whatever discipline of the sport it might have been, be it an IndyCar or a go kart. He even briefly explored the idea of going NASCAR racing and we’d have been blessed to have him. Most importantly, he was a husband and father to two young children, the younger of them born just in March of this year. The highlight of this IndyCar season was surely Wheldon’s emotional and improbable Indy 500 win, captured on the last turn of the final lap; but the low point of this season was his tragic death today.
Despite Wheldon’s death, the Frontstretch Staff and I have decided to run my NASCAR column with a quick edit. I mean no disrespect to the memory of Dan Wheldon by doing what I do. I am just following his example… though at a far lesser degree of skill.
The Key Moment – With 25 laps to go Matt Kenseth, who’d been trying to pass Kyle Busch on the outside, snookered him by diving low to take the lead. Once Busch and Carl Edwards got to scrapping over second, the deal was sealed for the No. 17.
In a Nutshell – Blame it on yet another mile-and-a-half track. Blame it on tires that were too consistent. Blame it on the parity between the cars. No matter what the cause, nobody could blame anybody who saw that race for feeling like they’d wasted four hours of their lives.
Dramatic Moment – We’ve got a mighty thin field of candidates in this category so let’s give it to that brief battle between Kenseth and Kyle Busch after the final restart.
What They’ll Be Talking About Around the Water Cooler This Week
Thank God for the SAFER barriers and the HANS device. Jimmie Johnson’s wreck looked horribly similar to a certain last lap wreck in the 2001 Daytona 500.
In the aftermath of Johnson’s wreck, a large percentage of the crowd on hand erupted into cheers. I’ve never really been comfortable with folks cheering any driver’s misfortune, particularly a wreck that involved that hard a hit. At least wait to see if that driver has been hurt before applauding.
To what degree has Kyle Busch’s ego swollen? He noted over the radio during the Nationwide race that NASCAR ought to be able to see his Toyota was at a horsepower disadvantage because he wasn’t leading and Charlotte is his best track. Busch then repeated the contention during his terse post-race comments. So, let’s see… Busch has won eight of the twenty Nationwide races he’s entered this season. It’s kind of hard to argue he’s at too bad a disadvantage.
Speaking of Kyle, you think he’ll be having nightmares this week of seeing a Roush Ford closing in on his rear-view mirror late in a race? I guess his Cup engines are at a disadvantage, too?
I think maybe Kenseth’s appeal to his main sponsor Crown Royal to reconsider leaving the team at the end of the season in Victory Lane sounded a little desperate. But I suppose it’s just another sign of how tough finding funding is right now.
If Kenseth became the inadvertent father of the Chase with his single-win 2003 championship, what’s NASCAR going to do if points leader Carl Edwards holds on to take this year’s crown with just one victory? Will they dump the Chase? We can only hope.
Is Gordon out of this year’s Chase? He has two good tracks coming up (Talladega, six wins, Martinsville, seven wins) but after that there’s three tracks left on the schedule that haven’t been so kind to Gordon. At Texas, Phoenix, and Homestead Gordon has made a combined 58 starts with just three wins.
Rumors began circulating this weekend Steve Addington would be leaving Kurt Busch’s No. 22 team at the end of the season. While team spokespeople were quick to deny any such move was afoot, listening to Busch and Addington over the radio during the race it’s pretty clear the thrill is gone. By the way, it’s a little tough to rub your lucky charms when you’re wearing an anti-submarining safety harness.
The promoters at Charlotte don’t miss a trick. They apparently added something to the yellow paint on the outside track walls that throws up a huge amount of sparks when a car brushes those walls. There’s some sparks on impact at all tracks, but at Charlotte casual contact produced fireworks worthy of an Alice Cooper concert finale.
Isn’t it odd just as Brad Keselowski was about to go a lap down NASCAR had to throw a debris caution? The caution was for debris and the debris was a can of Miller beer, the same brewery that sponsors Keselowski’s car. Was it an overly zealous (and stupid) fan of Bad Brad, or does the driver keep a six pack aboard during races just in case?
In a classic bit of understatement even ABC/ESPN’s Alan Bestwick was forced to admit, “On a night when it’s proven hard to pass….”
The Hindenburg Award For Foul Fortune
Saturday night’s big loser was Johnson, who’d run midpack much of the race but as is typical emerged inside the top 10 late. That forward progress, of course was rudely halted with a one-way trip to the wall that ended his day (34th). Oddly enough, Charlotte used to be Johnson’s best track; he once won four straight points races here. This year, the No. 48 team has suffered but two DNFs… both at Charlotte.
Jeff Gordon was also off song most of the evening, but pit strategy and a timely caution flag in the midst of a green flag session of pit stops moved him into the top 10 as magically as anything Scotty ever pulled off in the transporter room. I’m sure Gordon would have been thrilled to leave Charlotte with an eighth-place finish but the car got out from under him late in a three-wide situation and he spun out en route to 21st. Johnson and Gordon both losing it at Charlotte due to unforced errors? Until Saturday night, that was unthinkable.
What didn’t go wrong for Greg Biffle Saturday night? While leading the race, his team was penalized for missing a lug nut and the No. 16 fell off the lead lap. A free pass got him back in contention, though and Biffle once again drove determinedly towards the front. En route, he encountered Tony Stewart and felt Stewart had run him into the wall. (The tape seemed to indicate Stewart never hit Biffle.) Incensed, Biffle decided to show his displeasure by banging into Stewart. The move cut down the left front tire of the No. 16 and Biffle drove into the wall himself. Now that’s just stupid; he was lucky to hang onto 15th.
As if Dale Earnhardt, Jr. can’t lose a championship all by himself, his team insists on helping him do so every week. The No. 88 car had a lackluster run most of the evening until a wheel left loose during a pit stop (for a second straight week) was the icing on the cake. Junior wound up 19th.
The “Seven Come Fore Eleven” Award For Fine Fortune
Kyle Busch actually had a good weekend, finishing second in both the Nationwide and Cup races. Just don’t expect to see him satisfied Toyotas aren’t at a disadvantage until he wins every race and laps the entire field before the first round of pit stops.
Carl Edwards freely admits that Charlotte hasn’t been one of his better tracks. I’m sure a third-place finish and his leaving still leading the points was satisfying for him.
Kevin Harvick had to take to the grass to avoid the Gordon / Kasey Kahne / David Ragan incident but still wound up sixth.
Considering his involvement in the above incident, Kahne had to be thrilled to finish fourth.
It was another good race for Richard Petty Motorsports. Once again, like at Dover two weeks prior they had both cars (Marcos Ambrose 5th, A.J. Allmendinger 7th) finish inside the top 10.
What’s the Points?
For the record, under this year’s Chase format fifth-place Tony Stewart is 24 points out of the lead. Under the traditional Latford system that took into account season long performance, fifth-place Matt Kenseth would be 32 points out of the lead.
Back to reality, I guess. Edwards maintains his lead in the standings and is now five points ahead of second-place Kevin Harvick. Matt Kenseth advances two spots to third, just seven markers out of the lead.
Kyle Busch advanced four positions to fourth in the standings, 18 points behind the top spot. Tony Stewart moved up two positions to fifth, 24 points behind Edwards.
Brad Keselowski’s Cinderella season took on a bit of a pumpkinesque tint at Charlotte with a noncompetitive run and a drop of two positions in the standings to sixth. Kurt Busch, in tandem fell two spots with his Penske Racing teammate to seventh.
Johnson took the hardest hit in the standings, falling five spots to eighth but more importantly 35 points out of the lead. While you can never count the No. 48 bunch out, they are now in the unenviable position of not only having to run well, but hoping that seven drivers ahead of them all suffer some manner of misfortune in the next five weeks.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. sits ninth in points, while Ryan Newman rounds out the top 10. Jeff Gordon fell another spot to eleventh in the standings, a seemingly insurmountable 66 points out of the lead. In fact, I’d say it’s fairly safe to say everyone from ninth-place Earnhardt on down is realistically out of title contention this year.
Things are actually getting interesting in the Best of the Rest category just outside the top 12. Clint Bowyer is currently thirteenth, just three points ahead of A.J. Allmendinger. Fifteenth-place Kasey Kahne is eight points behind Allmendinger and one point ahead of sixteenth-place Greg Biffle.
Further back, Mark Martin is twentieth in the standings and Jeff Burton finds himself 24th in the rundown. Who’d have thunk?
Overall Rating (On a scale of one to six beer cans with one being a stinker and a six pack an instant classic) — I don’t think I can even give this one a single beer. I have to save beers to hand out to trick-or-treaters at the end of the month.
Next Up – It’s on to Talladega for another restrictor plate event… racing for the least common denominator. It’ll be interesting to see if the newly resized plates and lowered cooling system pressures (not to mention a prohibition against slathering slippery stuff on the bumpers) will break up the “tandem racing” duos we’ve been seeing in this sort of event as of late.
©2000 - 2008 Matt McLaughlin and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
Nascar can’t be happy with a Ford in the lead.
1) it’s not a chevy and 2) no Hendrick drivers drive a Ford.
Maybe they’ll mandate a restrictor plate be put on all Ford engines like they did with Toyota after Toyota built a better engine that was perfectly legal.
Or maybe nascar will just declare the 48 the champion because he almost died.
tv ratings are up??
Just a quick point on Wheldon’s death. I believe that the stunt that the race promoter pulled relative to having him start at the rear of the pack in order to get to the front for a $5 million payday needs to be looked into very carefully.
Was Wheldon careless in slowing down, thinking he could get more track position? Was he taking unecessary chances? Not saying this is what happened, but it needs to be investigated.
We all hate conservative, big picture racing. But I think we need to think about unecssecary chances just for a bigger payday.
Starting with the 100K bonus at ‘Dega next week for 100 lead changes. And while I’m at it, ditch the All-Star race as well.
We’ll have to see next race if the fans who show up for the wrecks cheer the carnage, especially at the end of the race.
Your intro was superb. Thank you. I, btw, read you for exactly 3 reasons: 1. You are (often) humorous. 2. You are (always) snarky. 3. You handle the language with the deftness of one who has, as Malcolm Gladwell posited, practiced his craft for the requisite 10,000 hours.
As to dissin’ KYBU — watch your tongue. There are alleyways and other tenebrous quarters where you might encounter a fate most foul. ;)
Matt, I assume you will go to your grave hating Kyle Busch (and heartily cheering any wreck he is in), but explain to me why it is “ego” for Kyle to be unhappy with second place, when it is great competitive spirit for anyone else? Racing is not supposed to be about finishing second. And yes, in point of fact, Kenseth did outpower (not snooker) Kyle at the end of Saturday night’s race.
And why did you give a pass to Carl Edwards for his crybaby act after the race when he “lectured” Kyle on how he was supposed to simply move over if Carl wanted a position?
Kyle is all but out of championship contention. He should use the final five races for payback. First, to the thugs Harvick and Childress, and then to the media whore and resident prima donna, Carl Edwards. Play the spoiler and let Kenseth get the championship he deserves rather than letting those other two douche bags have a chance at it.
And yes, Matt, you WOULD cheer a Busch wreck and even more enthusiastically a Busch injury. Because that is the kind of bitter old man you have become.
Saw One Hell of a race this weekend passing through the field bumping and rubbing, tempers flowing and plenty of exiciment.
It was the ARCA race at Toledo. I can remember when nascar races were like this more weeks then not and the stands were well and fans talked about the race all week. Nice memory.
Did nascar save 5 time from going 2 laps down when they throw the caution for Trevor when he was slow down the backstretch? That is the problem with the “new” nascar, debris cautions,lucky dogs and wave around. Strategies are gone.
I’ll just say this about fans cheering the Johnson wreck. I think most of them would have been happier if Johnson had just volunteered to accept a 34th place finish without wrecking.
Otherwise what a clunker of a race. Only one car seemed to be able to pass others (Biffle) and he made sure to “fix” that himself. If it wasn’t for cautions that mix things up in the pits, the race might be decided in qualifying due to the lack of passing.
Matt, Gordon’s car didn’t “get away from him”. From what I saw, Ragan slid up into Kahne, Kahne slid into Gordon and it was on.
RIP Dan Wheldon. What a sad day. A reminder to all racing fans that maybe they shouldn’t cheer wrecks, ever.
Matt, I thought your notes pre-column were well done. I don’t follow Indycar very much, but I’m so very sorry to hear that Weldon lost his life in that race. RIP Dan and God bless his family.
I was at the race in Charlotte and it was incredibly boring to watch – even AT the track there wasn’t any racing to see. Of course at the end of the race we all got to see the ugly side of things as the laps wound down.
I disagree that Gordon spun out by himself, the 4 hit him after the 6 forced his car underneath them both. I understand that restarts are a great place to make up positions, but turn 2 at Charlotte probably requires a little more finesse – not evident by either driver of the 4 or 6.
Also, I never cheer a wreck – just on general principles – until I see the driver get out and walk away. Life is short, you just never know.
Again, so sorry for Dan Weldon’s family. RIP.
I’d like to echo the thoughts of many at how tragic the loss of Dan Wheldon is… not just as a race car driver, but as a father, a husband, and as a human being. We can debate the contributing factors once the shock has passed and respects have been paid. Rest in peace, Dan.
I’m gonna fight the urge to respond to one of the other comments. Today just ain’t the day.
RIP Dan. And condolences to your family, friends, and fans.
When Bayne ran out of fuel, it took the ever watchful eyes of NASCAR 2 full laps to wave the caution flag. Until that point, Bayne had been steadily moving up through the pack. You probably didn’t see it on TV. He had the fastest car during a good portion of the second half of the race. But then, you probably didn’t see that at home. As to his fuel problems, you can bet that both Leonard and Glenn Wood drove from Stuart down to the shop in NC to have a few words with the team.
When Johnson hit the wall in Turn 2, yes, some fans cheered. When the car came to rest in Turn 4, fans cheered some more. When he got out of the car, the fans cheered again.
Should Edwards pull a Kenseth with a 1 win championship, how many “tweaks” will be generated by the “soda” drinking palm tree hunter from Daytona Beach to once again prove that even though 80% of the fans hate the Chase and it’s a failure, that he’ll keep trying to make it work until he buys a football team for LA and tries to dictate policy to the NFL Players union and the NFL Commissioner?
Matt, Very classy of you to start off your column with an heartfelt acknowledgement of Dan Wheldon’s death.
Thank you Matt for your touching and respectful comments on Dan Wheldon. I’m primarily an IndyCar fan but I do enjoy stock cars too. Racing has sustained such a loss with Dan’s passing – a first class driver; classy individual.
I got Dan Weldon’s autograph and had my picture taken with him at this years Brickyard 400. Dan was one of the nicest drivers I’ve met.God Bless you Dan!
R.I.P. Dan Wheldon
another good read Matt
Jim; Your points are totally worthless,I was at this race(Vegas), the wreck started directly below our seats in turn one; Wheldon NEVER lifted!! Nobody in this tragedy never had the chance to lift! It was a UGLY scene from the start!! (Remember, I was there!!) God Speed, Dan Wheldon,hope to never see this happen again in my old lifetime!! TO any Driver!!
I did cheer JJ’s self-induced demise, but absolutely only after it was quite clear that he was able to walk away from a brutal hit. Even before Dan Wheldon’s shocking and tragic passing, JJ’s wreck was a reminder that it is just a sport.
Was it me, or did the view from Wheldon’s car as the wreck was starting just totally creepy? RIP Dan, out thoughts and prayers are with your family as they mourn, and as we mourn with them.