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 October 31, 2011
The Key Moment – Tony Stewart drove by Jimmie Johnson on the outside with less than three laps to go to claim his third victory in seven Chase races this season.
In a Nutshell – Motorized mechanical mayhem at Martinsville. Easily the best race of the year.
Dramatic Moment – If you’re into bending fenders, smoking tires, and frayed tempers like I am the first quarter of this race was tough to beat.
The race dragged a little in the middle but the last fifty laps were exciting as well with countless improbable turns of tide. Johnson got passed on the outside at Martinsville? You’ve got to be kidding.
What They’ll Be Talking About Around the Water Cooler This Week
All these new race tracks have CAD/CAM designs, billions of dollars invested and committees studying everything right down to the coloration of the grandstand seats. So how come they can’t build a better track than Martinsville, which hosted its first NASCAR race 62 years ago?
Boy Howdy! As if we didn’t have enough to talk about after Talladega, yet another big story related to the event broke mid-week. By now, most of you have heard the live audio of crew chief Chad Knaus telling Jimmie Johnson prior to the race if he won, he either needed Johnson to smack the back end of his car into the wall doing his victory doughnuts or have someone run into the back of him. This shocker isn’t a conspiracy theory. If you haven’t heard it, listen to this; clearly, there’s no ambiguity here. Johnson, who sounds surprised, is told to cheat. He doesn’t refuse. That calls into legitimacy not only his two wins this season but his five straight championships. You want to talk about a smoking gun and a black eye for the sport? NASCAR’s reaction to date has been pretty mild, other than telling the No. 48 team their cars are going back to the R and D center for a post-race look over after the rest of this season’s four races. Sorry, the appropriate punishment would be to suspend Knaus for the rest of this season and all of 2012 in hopes it would embarrass Lowe’s into leaving the team which has been caught cheating numerous times before. Yeah, yeah, yeah, the No. 48 survived pre-race practice, pre-qualifying and pre-race inspections… but so did Clint Bowyer’s car prior to last year’s Chase kickoff race at New Hampshire, and it was found to be illegal after the race with a heavy points and monetary fine invoked to punish the infraction. This controversy is the series’ equivalent to the 1919 Black Sox scandal in baseball, and unless it is addressed with the seriousness it deserves, NASCAR will be stripped of whatever wavering amounts of credibility they have as a legitimate sport. If having heard or just listened to that video doesn’t burn your buns, get out of the kitchen before this whole MF sport burns down.
Johnson certainly didn’t do his reputation any good with the above mess last week. He was roundly booed at Martinsville all weekend. I’ve already got an email from one conspiracy theorist who said Johnson let Stewart win to avoid post-race inspection. Dude, the No. 48 was already slated for a trip to the R and D center for a post-race going over, one that will likely have it returned to Rick Hendrick in about fifty milk crates.
Listening to Kurt Busch’s comments over the radio, it’s clear that drivers tend to run poorly at tracks they hate. There’s definitely a causal relationship there, but do drivers hate tracks because they run poorly there… or do they run poorly there because they arrive at the event hating the track?
Miss Manners would be appalled by all the drivers getting in touch with their inner-barbarian at Martinsville, but keep this in mind: This series has been racing since mid-February. A lot of these guys are getting frustrated and just wish the overly long season would end. They either missed the Chase or they fared poorly enough in the championship run they know they’re out of it. They’ve been banged up, bruised and spent too many days away from their homes and the families they love. In some cases – cough, Brian Vickers, cough – they crossed the line enough times during the race they should have been given breathalyzer tests on pit road before being allowed to return to the track. However, the main culprit here is the grueling season and having to worry about a ride for next year after a substandard 2011. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the NASCAR season should start after Easter and end by Labor Day.
It was a brief period, but for old timers like yer humble correspondent it sure was good to see the Petty blue No. 43 car leading laps at Martinsville.
This season, NASCAR tried to limit the amount of Cup drivers entering Truck and Nationwide races by ruling a driver could only earn points in one of the top three touring divisions. Thus, Denny Hamlin was awarded no points for his truck win at Martinsville. But the Cup interlopers are still affecting title outcomes. Ron Hornaday is in a relatively tight title hunt with Austin Dillon, among others. On Saturday, he finished second to Hamlin while Dillon finished third. Had Hamlin not entered the race, presumably Hornaday would have won; that win would have carried an extra three-point bonus, one which would have helped him make up more ground in the standings. Instead, he gained only a single point over Dillon.
Sean Irvan, who serves as jackman for the No. 38 team of Travis Kvapil was hit by Mark Martin in the pits and knocked briefly unconscious. He was later diagnosed with a concussion and knee and neck injuries but nothing life-threatening at a local hospital. Editor’s Note: We didn’t hear of this injury being mentioned by anyone at all during the race – certainly not on ESPN. Big miss if true.
Speaking of the Truck Series, the purse Hamlin won on Saturday was just over 32 thousand bucks. That’s about half what the start and parkers in the Cup series earned racing at Martinsville in the spring. No wonder Todd Bodine is so pissed off. After Saturday’s race, the term “cool-down lap” was an unintended irony. What I saw instead was more like a “meltdown lap.”
Junior decided Sunday that after this spring’s humiliating loss at Martinsville, he was going to let his knuckles drag, play rough and get a little aggressive. Lo and behold, he had a decent finish (seventh). Maybe this hearkens back to the old ’50s TV show “Father Knows Best?”
ESPN offered up one of those insightful nuggets you can only find in their pre-race programming. To quote Ms. Briscoe: “Qualifying was rained out by rain earlier this weekend.” Yes, qualifying is so rarely rained out by high humidity, or sunshine, or… honeybadgers. What the hell is with Kyle Petty and honeybadgers?
The Hindenburg Award For Foul Fortune
Kyle Busch led a lot of laps and clearly had a strong car. But he got tangled up with Kenseth late, then ran into the pits with an apparent flat tire. His team was so desperate to fix the damage and replace the tires without losing a lap (a virtual impossibility at Martinsville) that they neglected to reinstall four of the lug nuts before sending Busch back out onto the track. The fifth one was hand-tightened, and the wheel separated from the car before Busch made it above the blend line re-entering the half-mile oval. (He wound up 27th).
Brad Keselowski had a solid run going until he became the unwitting victim of a personality conflict between Earnhardt and Hamlin. Earnhardt had vowed on the radio there’d be “no mercy” when he got back to the No. 11 car, whose driver he felt had done him dirty and Keselowski was the collateral non-com damage. That dropped Kes to 17th in the final running order, costing him nearly a dozen points in the process.
Matt Kenseth seemed poised to take over the points lead most of the race, but then he got into a tangle with Brian Vickers that appeared to be a rare mental meltdown by Kenseth. Contact with Harvick on pit road then seemed to bend the sheet metal onto the No. 17 car’s tire, putting Matt hard into the wall en route to a 31st-place finish. That disaster, for all intents and purposes ended his run at the title.
Vickers had a piece of the first five cautions of the race (and more later in the event) but had somehow moved back up into the top 10 before he ticked Kenseth off. That’s one Red Bull car that won’t be up for grabs at the end of season garage sale when the team shuts down. Vickers saw to that by exacting a little payback on the No. 17, finishing his ugly afternoon in 30th place.
Jamie McMurray was one of those drivers hit by Vickers (which didn’t put him in very exclusive company) but he looked rather foolish trying to exact some payback under caution and putting himself into the wall again. The car never reentered the race, leaving its battery on the track en route to a “powerless” 35th.
The “Seven Come Fore Eleven” Award For Fine Fortune
Stewart fought with an ill-handling car throughout the first half of the race and battled tooth and nail to stay on the lead lap when a timely caution aided his cause. The driver/owner made the call to take an extended period of time on a stop to fix the car and the strategy played off splendidly in the end.
Carl Edwards couldn’t stay out of his own way for much of the race and went a lap down twice during the event. Two free passes got him back on the lead lap and a combination of attrition and a few passes (some of them less than surgical) allowed him to post yet another top-10 finish (ninth). It’s also rather rare for NASCAR to rescind a black flag for passing prior to the green, even when the preponderance of evidence suggests that’s the right call. Edwards didn’t win the title at Martinsville, but he damn near surrendered it earlier in the event.
It’s not often a driver will wreck on lap seven at Martinsville and still bounce back to a third-place finish. Jeff Gordon also thought his car had overheating issues, indicative of a busted radiator after that shunt but contrary to the norm for mechanized devices the car chose to fix itself. Call it the “Christine Principle.”
What’s the Points?
Edwards improbably hung onto his points lead. He is now eight points ahead of Tony Stewart, who moved up two positions into second. Kevin Harvick also moved up two spots to third, but he’s 21 points behind Edwards with three races left to run. If Edwards keeps finishing inside the top 10, that’s going to be a tough amount to make up so it appears we have a two-man battle for this year’s title.
His late-race wreck (not of his own making) dropped Keselowski a spot to fourth in the standings but more importantly 27 points out of the lead. Former second-place driver Kenseth tumbled three spots to fifth in the standings, now with a deficit of 36 to make up. Johnson moved up one, to sixth, but mathematically actually lost ground. After last week, Johnson needed to make up 12.5 points a race to beat Edwards. After Martinsville, he needs to make up fourteen plus points an event to bypass him.
Kyle Busch fell a spot to seventh in the standings, a whopping 57 points out of the lead so you know which side of the “trick or treat” equation his day came down on. Kurt Busch, Dale Earnhardt, Jeff Gordon, Denny Hamlin and Ryan Newman held serve in the eighth through twelfth spots, eliminated from serious title contention. But, on a brighter note they will win some lovely parting gifts at the end of the season… like more money than you or I will likely earn in our lifetimes.
Clint Bowyer retains control of the “best of the rest” class (thirteenth in the points) by 24 over fourteenth-place Greg Biffle.
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 a full six pack of Corona served up by Deanna Carter with an “I ain’t driving home tonight” smile.
Next Up – The series heads to Texas, allowing weary writers too tired to ply their trade endless opportunities to phone one in with the usual trite cowboy analogies.
©2000 - 2008 Matt McLaughlin and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
I haven’t watched a race from start to finish all season – until today ……..
The race was great, but the multiple cautions every few laps were terrible. That’s not exciting racing to me.
I wish there were more half mile tracks on the circuit (or that ten of the 36 races were at Martinsville) because that race was interesting from beginning to end. No long lines with no passing. There was always actions somewhere. I agree with Kevin from SoCal that a few less cautions would have been better but if Brian Vickers would have parked after the first wreck that would have probably gotten rid of four of those cautions.
Great race from beginning to end.
Not so sure Junior was being aggressive as much as just driving poorly.
I’m sure the curb would say that he was aggessive.
Nascar doesn’t want to find the 48 cheating….just like the PGA doesn’t want to find out that Tiger Woods took steroids.
But they will totally destroy an up and coming driver for having some engine part 1/10,000ths of an inch off.
Believing nascar is a legitimate sport is like believing the Earth is flat. And I used to be a complete nascar hardcore freak with stickers on my truck and t-shirts and hats.
Sadly, I can no longer follow what used to be a big part of my life.
Corona my ass. If you are going to use the phrase, “Boy Howdy” it should be “Boy Howdy Beer”. But nobody except me and you probably remembers “CREEM”. ;))
I am not sure why anyone would be surprised by learning the #48 are cheaters, especially you, Matt? Don’t forget that this is an organization run by Rick Hendrick. Yes, the convicted felon Rick Hendrick (regardless if he was pardoned by Bill Clinton). Remember those federal charges with his Honda car dealerships? Do you remember when the #24 was winning all those races in 1995-1998? Gordon’s car was always plastered with the ‘Donate Bone Marrow’ decals? When he would win a race, he would get out of the car, kiss Brooke, thank God, and then say he wished Rick could be there but he was home fighting bone cancer. Truth be told, Rick Hendrick was under house arrest during those years and could not attend the races if he wanted to. When is the last time you have seen those bone marrow decals on one of his cars? Seems like that would be a cause that would stick with you especially if it saved your life?
As usual, no matter how bad the racing gets, it’s nothing a real racetrack can’t fix. And what a pass for the win! With Johnson out of the picture, the championship is actually interesting now!
Another week, another good points day for Stroker Carl. Gotta cheer for Tony now. And why isn’t there a rule about how many cautions one driver can cause before he is black-flagged for incompetence? Brian Vickers should have “fouled out” out of this race in the first 100 laps.
And let’s put the blame where it belongs on this year’s Chase miseries for Kyle Busch. And not for the first time. The crew choked, pure and simple. The car looked to be minimally damaged. All they had to do was change the right side tires, come back around and change the lefts and repair the minor damage. Jeff Gordon made 4 pit stops under the first caution for repairs. What genius in the 18 pits decided to try to do it all at once at the shortest track on the circuit?
As for Chad and JJ, yeah, maybe they have been cheating. But where is that crazy little thing called proof? What did they do and why can’t NASCAR inspectors find it? You can’t suspend somebody and strip 5 championships on the basis of a comment like Chad’s. Is that really a smoking gun or just smoke? Get some real evidence and then throw the book at them.
Heh… The short track I race at black flags you if you cause two caution flags. Tough love.
Mark Martin caused a caution that gave Carl one of his laps back. Then he was involved in another one that gave Carl another lap back. It would be interesting to sit in at the Monday morning meeting after Rick’s phone call to Brian.
I liked the Christine reference. Some body men could use the principle.
The Knaus comment made me think that if someone wants you to watch his right hand his left hand is probably on your wallet.
I liked the train shot at the end of the race. I could see my camping spot when I went to the Cardinal 500.
It seems Tony wanted to win more than Jimmie.
I recall watching Keslowski jumping up and down on the roof of his car in the Winner’s Circle at Bristol. I thought doing that was verboten which is why drivers now stand on the window sill. Bending the roof made it impossible to measure car height accurately. Chad needs to be fined for stupidity, if nothing else. Where did the last 17 minutes of that tape go?
Don’t blame Shrub’s crew. They’re not the one who said he would run over a crewman who wasn’t out of the way when he wanted to go. Put that one where it belongs – right on Mr. Busch the Impatient.
No, Jeb, I still have to put it on the crew or crew chief. There was NO NECESSITY to change 4 tires on that stop. They had plenty of time to change two, go out ahead of the pace car and come back for the other two. As I noted, Jeff Gordon made 4 stops on the first caution to get the car right. Kyle’s crew lacked the patience, they got panicky trying to do the whole job on one stop. You could clearly see the difference between the calm approach of the 24 crew versus the panic of the 18 crew.
Matt, I have a comment on the Knaus/Johnson cheating scandal. For the record, JJ isn’t my favorite driver, but I don’t hate him either. First of all, like you, I’m an old school racing fan. My first race, back when I was a kid, was the 1972 World 600 at Charlotte, and I’ve been hooked ever since. I can just about guaran-damn-tee you that similar pre-race instructions have been given by the likes of Junior Johnson, Smokey Yunick, Dale Inman and others down through the years. The only difference back then is that your comments were not being broadcast on TV or over the internet in realtime. You also didn’t have NASCAR inspectors looking over you shoulder ready to measure your car within a few thousands of an inch. It didn’t take a template to realize that Junior Johnson’s yellow banana car or Smokey Yunicks Chevelle were not exactly in their “as shipped from Detroit” shape. The point is there has always been cheating in NASCAR and there always will be. No point in getting so morally indignant about it. Especially for an old school guy like yourself.
I’m with you JD. Nascars rules are fundamentally absurd and produce cookie-cutter cars (for cookie-cutter tracks) that are, with the exception of their grille and headlight decals, essentially identical. Face it boys and girls; its a spec-car series that completely discourages innovation. If we had this crap years ago, Nascar would still be running at bullrings for $200 purses.
Lets see. The 48 crew chief has been busted cheating many times. Car owner is a convicted felon and an instruction was given to wreck a car on purpose. The driver acted very surprised at such instruction. What else are people supposed to think? Chads smart. Nascar would not be able to prove his car illegal either way so he’s covered either way. Are the 48 bunch getting desperate?
People have forgotten how hard Smoke worked to stay ahead of Hamlin earlier in the race when about to go a lap down. It paid off because the caution came out and he stayed on the lead lap.
I was at the race on Sunday. It was the best race of the season. There was actually racing from start to finish. What a shocker! The trouble is if you had to watch it on TV, you wouldn’t know it. If NASCAR wants more fans in the seats, they need more races like this one AND get the TV partners to show the action – not single car shots.
“Do you remember when the #24 was winning all those races in 1995-1998? Gordon’s car was always plastered with the ‘Donate Bone Marrow’ decals?”
I remember, and I was in the stands in the Tower Terrace at the Brickyard 400 when Jeff Gordon forgot to turn off the Traction Control before his “Burnout”, and did a 750hp no spin of the tires rocket ship launch down the track. I saw the tire marks on the track in person and it was definatly TC at work.
Let’s change the schedule and run Martinsville the day after Talladega. The drivers that lost their dance partners could exact their revenge on the short track and make for an even more interesting race! The race yesterday reminded me of the old Bristol.
What I saw on the restart was; Denny was in front of Brad on the outside. Denny dove down in front of Jr. to be on the inside, Jr. got rear-ended by Joey, & Brad got spun.
It’s Halloween Mary Beth, and Dale Jr. dressed up as a “race car driver”, give Lil’ June Bug a big “atta boy” award. It’ll go real nice in Jr.‘s 3’x3’ section of the trophy case in the 48/88 shop. Right next to his Sprint All-Star race Pity Pass, JJ’s checkered flag from the spring Talledaga, and just enough room for his annual Na$crap Most Popular Loser award later this month. Another “Career” year for Dale Jr.!
Agree GinaV24. I was there also, could always find something going on to watch and listen to on the scanner.
Wow, what a race. Wish we could have a few more like this one. Maybe we could even get rid of the CHASE. I really don’t think we need it.
If NASCAR would listen to the fans and exchange a few of the mile and a half’s for Iowa & Irwindale and the like, we could get more of this kind of action. But apparently they’re not the good listeners they claim to be.
Matt, 6 beers? For all those commercials??
I would like to know why Edwards doesn’t get black-flagged for passing before the green flag?! Oh yeah, it’s Nascar and they like to make sure their boys do well. Would have possibly changed the pts standings a lot! Shady Nascar…