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 · Thursday December 15, 2011
Was the 2011 Cup season a good one, a bad one or a lousy one? Truthfully, there were moments this year that met all three definitions. One way or the other, what is conclusive is that the season is finally over. Before closing the books, let’s take a quick back look at some of the highlights, lowlights and abominations of this season’s NASCAR series…
Kentucky Traffic Woes: After years of wrangling, Bruton Smith finally landed a Cup date for his Kentucky track. Apparently, track management never got the memo the big show was coming to town. Traffic getting to the event was a nightmare, with the backup reaching up to seventeen miles of gridlock at its height. Some pissed off fans pulled U-turns and headed home to get out of the hopeless mess. Other fans who endured that traffic arrived at the track, tickets in hand only to be told they had to leave because there were no more parking spaces available. The most dedicated of those folks found places to leave their cars alongside the road, often miles from the track. By the time they hiked to those seats they’d paid big money to buy, they’d missed the majority of the race. All parties involved, track management, the state of Kentucky and the police admitted it was a boondoggle of yahoo major league proportions but wanted to absolve themselves of blame by pointing fingers at one another. A lot of fans will doubtless not be returning to Kentucky in 2012. (If, in fact, they have managed to find their way home yet.) One more mess like that and they might as well just dump the racing program and build a Super-K there in the infield.
Trevor Bayne: When young Trevor Bayne improbably won the Daytona 500, the majority of NASCARdom stood up and cheered. (To the best of my knowledge, only one of them lost his job for doing so.) But weeks later, Bayne disappeared from the radar screen as suddenly as he’d popped up there, plagued by a mystery illness that affected his vision and balance and kept him out of a race car for over six weeks. While the mystery ailment seemed to be Lyme Disease, the fact the doctors can’t say for sure what was wrong with Bayne is troubling to me, especially given his youth.
Chad Knaus’s Pre-Race Comments at Talladega: Chad Knaus is normally a very detail-oriented person. But it apparently slipped his mind that his pre-race conversation with driver Jimmie Johnson was open microphone on the Race Buddy on-line race coverage. Knaus told a clearly startled Jimmie Johnson that in the event he were to win the race, he had to back his car into the wall as part of the post-race celebration antics. While Johnson was clearly surprised by the request, he did not demur. During this postseason break, I’ve began wondering if Johnson’s decision not to make a move towards the front that day in Talladega was his way of covering his butt, knowing the car was likely illegal and NASCAR wouldn’t be happy about that. As it turned out NASCAR wasn’t too happy with that pre-race conversation they heard as well as about everybody else in the world. The 48 car was tagged for a trip to the NASCAR R and D center for a thorough inspection after every race for the rest of the season.
The situation was especially troubling in that Johnson had won the spring race at that same track. Was the car legal that day? How often does Knaus try to slip something by NASCAR? Often enough; he’s been suspended several times and at one point escorted off the property at Daytona for a major rules infraction. Knaus and Hendrick Motorsports tried painting a happy face on the situation but I heard what I heard. As far as I’m concerned you have to look at every race win and championship the No. 48 team has won as suspect now. Way to shoot your own legacy in the foot, guys!
Uneasy Lays the Head of He Who Is Atop the Box: I’m still stunned by Darian Grubb’s predicament. Here’s the crew chief that not only led Tony Stewart and the No. 14 team to the Chase, he subsequently partnered with Stewart to win five of those ten Chase races. Yet at the end of the season, he’s out a job. (Grubb has since landed at JGR as crew chief for Denny Hamlin and the No. 11 team.)
Grubb’s situation was not unique. Kevin Harvick finished third in the standings the last two seasons, yet Gil Martin was also released from his crew chief duties after the season. Steve Addington got Kurt Busch into the Chase but apparently decided to resign at the end of the season fed up with Busch’s abusive comments. Denny Hamlin also made the Chase and darned near won the title last year, but his crew chief Mike Ford was also let go at the end of the season.
All these crew chief changes amongst the sport’s top teams are counterintuitive. You’d think if your results show you to be among the best at your profession, your job would be safe, but that’s not the case. Perhaps its telling that Rick Hendrick has had Jimmie Johnson paired with Chad Knaus since his first Cup race. Together, they’ve been through the ups and downs of the sport, the giddy times and the lean times. They’ve learned to speak the same language, and the combo paired up for five consecutive titles. There’s a lesson there. Maybe it’s not time to start outsourcing crew chief duties to the Chinese just yet.
So what’s going on? Simply put, given current economic conditions there’s just more talented crew chiefs, pit crew members and team members than there are jobs available for them. And why is that? Read on.
Sponsorship Crises: It can cost upwards of twenty million dollars annually to back a top-notch team in the Cup series, a team likely to win races and to contend for a championship. Given the economy, that’s a huge marketing investment for any corporation. (And the deal can inadvertently backfire on that company, as it did for Mars Candies with Kyle Busch.) After this year, UPS is gone as a full-time primary sponsor (Though they are still presumably writing big checks to be the official delivery company of NASCAR.) That shut down the No. 6 team and put David Ragan out of work. Matt Kenseth and the No. 17 team lost Crown Royal as their primary backer at the end of the season, leaving Kenseth to implore the company to reconsider from Victory Lane at Charlotte in one of this year‘s most awkward video clips. Despite Carl Edwards’ outstanding season, AFLAC is cutting back on their involvement with the sport. (Yeah, things are so tough at Roush right now that Trevor Bayne and eventual series champion Ricky Stenhouse ran most races this season without sponsorship.)
Over at JGR the Home Depot, which has been around a long time is cutting back their sponsorship to twenty races as the primary next year. (Dollar General will sponsor the car for the remaining races.) General Mills pulled up stakes, forcing Richard Childress to shut down the No. 33 team and leaving Clint Bowyer’s future uncertain. He landed a job at Michael Waltrip Racing (in large part because he brought the Five Hour Energy drink sponsorship bucks to the table) leaving David Reutimann without a ride next year. Red Bull Racing was in a unique position as both sponsor and owner of two teams, but they’ve decided to shut down operations. As of December 8th, all members of that team were let go. And in addition to being out a paycheck, those guys and gals no longer have medical insurance. Trust me, I realize what a big deal that can be after I blew out my knee (again) in August. I owe the hospital more than I made this year… by a wide margin.
Yeah, the economy is tough. Yet when I watch my old VHS tapes of races during the 1980s and ’90s, it never fails to amaze me how many Fortune 500 companies have left the sport, leaving sponsors with deep pockets few and far between. If we’re to weather this storm, NASCAR needs to find ways to cut costs to the teams so that a team with less than ten million in sponsorship (and preferably half that amount) could be competitive. And while they’re at it, with so few fish left in the pond NASCAR needs to stop angling for those same corporate dollars by selling the rights to be the “Official Something Of NASCAR.”
The Busch Brothers Behave Badly: Man, what a pair these two jokers (not my first choice of words) are. I’m not sure how either of them survived high school much less made it to the Cup ranks.
While he led the points early in the season, elder brother Kurt was tough to satisfy. He constantly berated his crew chief, pit crew, team, and engineers over the radio. At times, he had the audacity to cuss out legendary team owner Roger Penske. He had numerous fallings out with the media this year, which culminated in the now infamous incident at Homestead with Dr. Jerry Punch, one of the most respected members of the media.
Kyle Busch’s episodes started with getting caught speeding on a public highway at 128 MPH, roughly triple the speed limit and not far from a school in session and the area where Rob Moroso was killed in a high speed crash. He had his little dustup at Darlington with Kevin Harvick, which led to a rather lopsided fist fight with AARP member Richard Childress, who had been warning Kyle for more than a year if he tore up one more piece of RCR equipment the owner was going to kick his ass. Busch made the Chase after winning four races, but true to form, once in the title hunt he went into meltdown mode. That frustration culminated with Busch’s now infamous on-track mugging of Ron Hornaday, costing the Truck Series veteran a shot at the title while putting him at risk of serious injury. Busch being Busch, he managed to destroy his own truck in the incident as well. If brains were dynamite, he couldn’t level an anthill.
At one point, it looked like Kyle might be out much more than a truck as well. For a week there, it looked like he might be out a job. In fact, his sponsor got so much negative feedback on their boy they decided they didn’t want him flying their colors for the final two races of the season. Somehow, NASCAR allowed Busch to compete in the final two races of the season and somehow, Joe Gibbs lined up alternate sponsorship for those two events. I’ll admit earlier this week I needed two batteries for the GMC to prepare it for the winter. I didn’t buy Interstate Batteries, though they were on sale (I went with Dekka instead) simply because I’m not going to spend my money on the products of any firm foolish enough to align themselves with Busch.
What infuriates me is that Roger Penske finally decided to cut his losses and let Kurt Busch go but Kyle still has a job. While unpleasant, Kurt’s unseemly tantrum at Homestead lacked even the implied threat of violence against Punch. Kyle could have killed Hornaday at Texas. Yet in NASCAR’s eyes, at least, both offenses were equal. Both of the Busch brothers were fined the same $50,000 for their abhorrent behavior.
The Tragic Death of Dan Wheldon: Only months after winning the Indy 500, Dan Wheldon was killed in an early race wreck during the IndyCar season finale held at Las Vegas. If it wasn’t the most savage wreck in the history of motorsports (that award should go to the LeMans wreck that killed a driver and around 85 spectators) the incident was certainly the worst accident ever broadcast on TV live. The aftermath looked like a passenger jet had crashed onto the circuit. As such, the lurid replays of the wreck made it to media venues that typically don’t even give auto racing a thought, including all three major nightly news broadcasts that Monday night. The common thread of those newscasts seemed to be, “What are those idiots doing out there and what sort of ghouls pay to watch them do it?”
Wheldon’s tragic death was a horrific reminder that even in this era of SAFER barriers, HANS devices and numerous other commendable safety innovations over the last decade at the heart of the matter racing remains a dangerous sport. Had it not been for those SAFER barriers, Jimmie Johnson’s Charlotte wreck the night previous to Wheldon’s death would almost certainly have been fatal. The angle and the impact looked eerily similar to one that took place at Daytona on February 18th, 2001.
Though Johnson miraculously walked away from that crash, now is no time for the powers that be in NASCAR to get complacent. In this year’s Daytona 500, ten years after his father’s death at the same track, Junior managed to auger the No. 88 car into a section of the wall STILL not protected by a SAFER barrier. Jeff Gordon has joked about being a crash test dummy because every time he wrecks hard, he manages to find an unprotected section of wall. Elliott Sadler’s 2010 wreck at Pocono was savage enough that it sent his engine tumbling across the track. Fortunately, Pocono attended to that matter this year and upped their safety standards.
No, racing cars is never going to be completely risk free. But let Dan Wheldon’s legacy be that his death serves as a reminder when it comes to safety there’s no way for any sanctioning body to do enough to promote it. Because, in the end, there’s no way to do enough when trying to preserve human life.
©2000 - 2008 Matt McLaughlin and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
Gee, Matt, You do not have any reason to quiet your feelings about the Brothers. I thought the original rendering, “Man, what a pair these two breath-takingly astonishing and awesome bonzer boys are” captured it quite nicely.
I still think Matt blew out his knee praying too much for the demise of King Brian and the Chase.
The sponsorship crisis is really worrying to me. I think the sport has just made it too expensive in a bad economy to fully sponsor a competitive race team. It’s got to be hard in corporate board rooms to justify spending $20 mil+ on racing. I don’t know what they can do, but NASCAR has to do something radical. I think they kind of have their heads in the sand on this issue, hoping the economy will take care of itself.
The ugliest of the Ugly in 2011 is the fact that Brian France is still in charge of NASCAR.
Nascar doesn’t want the world to find out about Cheatin’ Chad….just like the PGA doesn’t want the world to find out Tiger Woods took PEDS.
Ugly: The commercial in which Michael Waltrip shakes his ass at the TV audience.