Kurt Busch to Attempt The Indianapolis-Charlotte Double
posted by Phil Allaway
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Andretti Autosport announced this morning that Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet in the Sprint Cup Series, will attempt the Indianapolis 500 in a fifth entry for the IndyCar Series team. Once the Indianapolis 500 is completed, Busch will fly from Indianapolis to Charlotte, jump in his No. 41 Chevrolet and compete in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Busch considers the opportunity to do the double as an old-school throwback moment.
“This is really to challenge myself within motorsports,” Busch said in Andretti Autosport’s press release. “Perhaps I am a bit of an old-school racer; a throwback, I guess. I enjoyed the era of drivers racing different cars and testing themselves in other series. It is tough to do now for a variety of factors, but when the opportunity is there, I want to do it. While NASCAR is my home, I have been fortunate to compete in Pro Stock on the NHRA circuit a number of years ago and test a V8 Supercar. This opportunity was a talk with Michael [Andretti] over dinner one night, a “What if,” and now it’s becoming a reality for me to drive in the Indy 500 with Andretti Autosport. It’s literally a dream come true. To go to the famous Brickyard with the iconic Andretti name, it doesn’t get much cooler or better than that.”
Busch will be doing the Indianapolis-Charlotte double as a Memorial Day mission to men and women serving in the U.S. Military via the Armed Forces Foundation. Fans can contribute to the cause by texting AFF to 50555 to donate $10.
Busch, who has never raced an IndyCar, passed Rookie Orientation at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year during a test session. At the time, Busch was more or less testing the Dallara DW12 for fun.
Busch will be the fourth driver to attempt the Indianapolis-Charlotte double. John Andretti was the first driver to attempt it in 1994. After finishing four laps down in tenth in Indianapolis, Andretti crashed and had engine problems in the 600. Robby Gordon has attempted the double five times, most recently in 2004. However, Gordon failed to make it to Charlotte on time and did not start the 600 in 2000 (P.J. Jones started Gordon’s No. 13 Ford in that instance). Finally, Tony Stewart has attempted the double twice (most recently in 2001) and is the only driver to ever complete all 1100 miles. Neither of the three drivers has won either leg of the double. The best finishes are Stewart and Gordon’s sixth-place finishes at the Indianapolis 500 (although Gordon’s came in 2000, the year he didn’t make it to Charlotte in time to start the Coca-Cola 600), and Stewart’s fourth-place finish in the 2001 Coca-Cola 600.
Danica Patrick, Justin Allgaier Talk About Phoenix Incident
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
A disappointing start to the year for Danica Patrick won’t include continued conflict. Patrick met with rookie Justin Allgaier Sunday, shortly after the Phoenix Cup race after a wreck ruined both drivers’ days. Patrick, who was critical of the No. 51 car on the radio, claiming Allgaier was “driving all over the track” appeared receptive to a conversation that quickly settled differences over what will be a long season.
“She was just upset because she got involved in the crash that we had,’’ said Allgaier to the Motor Racing Network. “She says she’s been through this and that she felt like I needed to settle down at that point. I explained my position on why everything happened. I think she understood where I was coming from. It doesn’t fix either one of our racecars. It doesn’t fix either one of our days. Unfortunately, we were both having pretty decent days.’’
Allgaier wound up 30th due to the incident while Patrick was 36th. The incident, which was caused by Allgaier’s spin also involved the No. 32 team and Travis Kvapil, which wound up 38th after sustaining heavy damage.
Camping World Close to Extending Title Sponsorship of NCWTS
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Marcus Lemonis, CEO of Camping World, Grand Marshal of Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway, and star of CNBC’s “The Profit,” made the announcement over the weekend that the retailer is very close to announcing a deal that would continue its title sponsorship of NASCAR’s Truck Series. The original agreement with NASCAR is scheduled to conclude after the 2015 season.
According to the sanctioning body, no formal contract has been signed, but “the agreement between the two parties has proven to be a beneficial one.”
“In about a month, we’ll be announcing a significant extension to that contract. It’s been great for us,” said Camping World’s Lemonis in a statement. “The NASCAR relationship has worked well for Camping World. When we started, we had 35 stores. Now, we’re up to 120 stores. As we travel the country and we meet new customers in stores, they always are very appreciative of our relationship with NASCAR. It’s been good.”
Gaining a long-term commitment from Camping World to sponsor the Truck Series would be a relief for NASCAR, which is set to lose Nationwide Insurance as title sponsor for the NASCAR Nationwide Series at the end of the 2014 season. The sponsorship of the Cup Series by Sprint runs through 2016.
The NCWTS is back in action on March 29th at 2:30 PM (ET) when the trucks visit Martinsville Speedway in the Kroger 250, which can be seen on Fox Sports 1. Ratings for the season opener were up 11 percent.
Harvick Takes Win At Phoenix In Second Race With New Team
posted by Justin Tucker
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Phoenix International Raceway has become Kevin Harvick’s home away from home. Sunday Afternoon was no exception as Harvick charged to the front early and would dominate for much of the day, leading 224 of the scheduled 312 laps to record his record fifth win on the one mile oval and his third win in the last four races at Phoenix.
Harvick, coming off of a disappointing Speedweeks which was capped by a last lap crash in the Daytona 500 in his debut with Stewart-Haas Racing, set the tone on Saturday by winning both practices while having the best 5 and 10-lap averages in the first practice of the day on Saturday. On Sunday, Harvick and his No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet was nothing short of flawless as he was able to hold Dale Earnhardt, Jr. by .489 seconds after a late race restart to claim his 24th career Sprint Cup Series victory.
“Man, this is awesome,” Harvick said after his dominant victory on Sunday. “Man, this just solidifies so many things and so many decisions. It’s been so much work with all the time and effort that these guys (the crew) have put in—but what a race car.”
Stewart Haas Racing co-owner Gene Haas shared in Harvick’s excitement after the race.
“It took long enough,” Haas joked. “This is phenomenal. I think there was a lot of skepticism last year about what myself and Tony (Stewart) what we were up to, was there a lot of madness to this. Quite frankly, it’s a great team, there’s a lot of synergy at the shop, people working together. I don’t know what we did, but I think we put together a great organization.”
Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt, Jr. continued his hot start to the 2014 season. Earnhardt Jr. would finish second on Sunday, marking his seventh consecutive top 10 finish since the end of the 2013 season. Earnhardt Jr. was pleased with the effort after a coast-to-coast whirlwind week after winning his second Daytona 500 and also gave great praise to the efforts of Harvick and the No. 4 team.
“I’ve got to congratulate Kevin. Those guys were two-tenths faster than everyone all weekend in practice. They were just phenomenal,” Earnhardt said. “To be able to run with them all day was a big confidence builder for us.”
Joining Harvick and Earnhardt in the top 5 of The Profit on CNBC 500K were Brad Keselowski with his second consecutive top 3 run of 2014 in third. Keselowski’s Team Penske teammate Joey Logano would finish fourth, and Jeff Gordon would come home fifth in his No. 24 Pepsi Max Chevrolet.
Jimmie Johnson finished in sixth, followed by Ryan Newman with a nice rebound after Daytona in seventh. Carl Edwards would carry the banner for Roush Fenway Racing by finishing eighth, Kyle Busch was ninth, and Jamie McMurray would finish tenth.
A look at the Profit on CNBC 500K by the numbers. There were 14 lead changes among eight different drivers, there were eight cautions for 39 laps which slowed the race pace to 109.229 MPH.
Next Sunday, the Sprint Cup Series heads to Sin City and the Las Vegas Motor
Starting Lineup: The Profit On CNBC 500K
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday March 1, 2014
Drivers in RED (i) are those ineligible to collect Sprint Cup points
Daytona 500 TV Ratings Down
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Wednesday February 26, 2014
What was the longest weather delay in Daytona 500 history turned out to bring NASCAR lower ratings and TV viewership Sunday night than expected. According to a report Monday from FOX Sports, the 56th running of the Daytona 500 airing at 8 PM (ET) posted a 5.6/10 national household rating/share which averaged 9.3 million viewers. That’s down 44 percent from last year’s 9.9, easily making it the least-watched Daytona 500 of all-time.
Due to the six-hour, twenty-two minute rain delay in Daytona, the race was up against the primetime coverage of the Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony from Sochi, Russia on NBC (15.25 million viewers). FOX also reported that 69% of the pre-rain delay viewers of the race, which began at 1 PM (ET) kept tuning in.
In comparison, the 2013 Daytona 500 on FOX was the most-watched race in five years, posting a 9.9/22 rating/share, commanding 16.7 million viewers. The Daytona 500 in 2012, the first to ever be run on a Monday and in the primetime slot did a 7.7/13 overnight rating/share which resulted in 13.67 million households viewing the race according to Nielsen TV ratings data.
Earnhardt, Jr. Claims Second Daytona 500 Victory
posted by Justin Tucker
Wednesday February 26, 2014
Ten years is a long time. For Dale Earnhardt, Jr., it felt like an eternity. NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver endured many near misses and close calls at the Daytona 500 since his only win in the Great American Race in 2004. Earnhardt had finished second in two of his last three Daytona 500s coming into Sunday’s race. He was also riding the tail of a 55-race winless streak, dating back to Michigan in 2012.
However nothing would stop Dale Jr. on Sunday, not even a 6 hour and 22 minute rain delay from capturing his second Daytona 500 win. Earnhardt Jr. led a race-high 54 laps on the evening and used some timely drafting help from teammates Jimmie Johnson and, on the final restart, Jeff Gordon to separate from the pack and secure the victory.
“Winning this race is the greatest feeling that you could feel in this sport besides accepting the trophy for the championship,” said a jubilant Earnhardt after pulling into Victory Lane. “We could fight off battle after battle. We got a little help at the end there from Jeff to get away on the restart. This is amazing. I can’t believe this is happening. I never take this for granted, man because it doesn’t happen twice, let alone once.”
Aside from the race itself the big story of the race was the 6 hour and 22 minute red flag, which threatened to move the race to Monday evening (had the race been postponed, FOX Sports’ Chris Myers had tweeted that the race would resume at 5:00pm EST). However, Mother Nature would cooperate and would allow the race to be run under different conditions from which they practiced this week. Once the race resumed, the intensity picked up from the changing track conditions. This allowed the pack to race side-by-side and at times 3-wide up to seven rows deep.
Joining Earnhardt Jr. in the top 5 for the 2014 Daytona 500 were: Denny Hamlin who closed out a spectacular Speedweeks in second, Brad Keselowski in third, Jeff Gordon in fourth, and Jimmie Johnson who overcome two wrecks leading up to the 500 in fifth.
Rounding out the top 10 in the Daytona 500 were Matt Kenseth in sixth, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. in seventh and Greg Biffle would bring his No. 16 Ford home in eighth. Austin Dillon would come home ninth in his first Cup Series race in the iconic No. 3 for Richard Childress Racing, while Casey Mears would round out the top 10.
A couple of major contenders for the Daytona 500 win would see their hopes dashed early on as Martin Truex, Jr. would blow up just 30 laps into the race, relegating him to a 43rd-place finish in his debut for Furniture Row Racing. Crew chief Todd Berrier was already in Nashville for a test session before the race was even over. Kyle Busch, meanwhile would have a pit road violation just before halfway and would spend much of the race battling back from that mistake. Busch would eventually finish 19th after leading 19 laps.
Danica Patrick would also be bit by bad luck as she was caught up in a multi-car wreck on lap 145. Patrick would lead her second consecutive Daytona 500, but wouldn’t have the finish to show for it finishing 40th. Tony Stewart would encounter a frustrating evening as well, with a fuel pickup problem derailing his quest for his first Daytona 500 win. Stewart would finish 35th.
A look at the Daytona 500 by the numbers. There were 42 lead changes among 18 drivers, while seven cautions for 39 laps would slow the race pace to 145.290 MPH.
Next week, the Sprint Cup Series heads to the “diamond in the desert,” Phoenix International Raceway for The Profit on CNBC 500K. The Green flag is scheduled for 3:15pm EST.
Nationwide Series Post-Race Quotes: Drive4COPD 300
posted by Thomas Bowles
Tuesday February 25, 2014
Frontstretch Interviews – Courtesy Mike Neff
ELLIOTT SADLER – FINISHED 4th
Thoughts on the race?
It’s definitely a lot different racing than what we’re used to.
Comfortable with it?
Yeah, it’s just different. You’re worried about what you’re doing, but you’re also worried about what everyone else is doing and they’re not doing more than you’re doing. Physically pushing a guy is way better than just riding so you just gotta time it right and push it to the edge.
Happy to start the year with a top 5?
Yeah. Hell, that was the worst we ran all day, I think. I have no idea how they put the 3 car in front of us on that last restart. I hadn’t seen the 3 car hardly all day. When they put us from fifth to sixth, on the outside line, it just really boxed us in. I would have really restarted behind my teammate and given him a good push to the front. Anyways, it is what it is; we’ll take it and move on.
Looked like you were up front all day.
The guys did a good job. We had a fast race car. Great pit stops, just really proud of these guys. The car’s in one piece and we can take it to Talladega now. Great job by my guys. A lot of effort came into coming down here to Daytona and giving ourselves a shot to win. We had that chance to be up front and make some things happen. Fifth is not what we want, but we’ll take it and move on.
Bumping vs Pushing?
It’s way harder. You don’t want to lay on the guy in front of you, so it’s tough racing. A lot different than what we’re used to, ‘cause you gotta go. You gotta drag the brake too ‘cause you don’t want to hit the guys and you don’t want to stay on him. It’s a lot harder mentally than what we’ve done in the past.
Car was strong all day. Pushing vs. Bumping, is that harder to do than just getting on somebody and pushing them?
Yeah, it is a little bit. When you bump ‘em, you jar ‘em, it kinda jacks ‘em a little bit. It’s a little more abrupt, obviously. I thought it was OK there at the end. It was certainly fun and hopefully entertaining. But a little bit of a struggle in the early part of the race and the midpart of the race to see a good race. And that’s unfortunate for the fans. You can’t do that the whole race, you can’t tear up your stuff, knock your grill in, overheat your motor, all that stuff so there’s no sense in doing all that until you get down to the last lap. The 7 and the 6, they did a good job. Man, the 7 really held the 22 and I tight on the bottom. I was rubbing his door and hitting the apron at the same time, no room whatsoever. So it was good; wish we were the ones who could have won but a lot better now than what we were last year.
Going home in one piece makes it a lot better, right?
Yeah. My back feels good. My foot feels good. Past years here, I’ve been going home with pain so I’m alright.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Truck Series Post-Race Quotes: Daytona (Exclusives)
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday February 22, 2014
When you’re on the outside like that, how frustrating is it?
It’s so hard. Timothy Peters has won here. Kyle Busch has won everywhere. Ron Hornaday has been running Trucks forever, probably before I was even born. I was surrounded by veterans there, and like I told them I don’t have a rookie stripe but I’m a rookie. This is only my fourth Truck race ever, my fourth superspeedway race, and man, I figured out when the 17 got up in front of me, I pushed him. And as soon as I pushed him, he took off. And I went with him. And I just kept doing it, and before I knew it, he was leading. And I saw Ron in my mirror, backed up to him, and if it wasn’t for him, I don’t know what would have happened. I gotta thank him big time for that. That was a true teammate move right there. I really appreciate that. He just bounced off me and we got to the front. I tried my hardest to sidedraft Kyle. I was probably touching his door.
Top 5 in the No. 30 truck. This deal come together at the last minute, but you had a heck of a truck. Tell us about your night.
Yeah, I’ve got to thank Turner Scott Motorsports. The guys worked so hard on this Rheem Comfort Products Chevrolet. Exciting! Just got hung up on the outside and had to wait for my teammate there to catch up. And then he got to the bottom, so… I got the old 32 and started pushing ol’ Ryan to the front. So, it’s not bad. We’ll take it. You just don’t want to step over that boundary. You don’t know how far to push and shove. We bumped about six times down the straightaway without latching onto them. Hopefully, that was OK and we came home with a top 5.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Budweiser Duels Post Race Quotes
posted by Matt Stallknecht
Friday February 21, 2014
BUDWEISER DUELS POST-RACE QUOTES
They’re saying the wheel bearing burned up in it. I don’t know what caused it, they’re taking it all apart to figure out what the heck happened. Something abnormal that’s for sure I don’t think I’ve ever had that happen at all. Hopefully, we made the race and hopefully we can fix the problem before Sunday.
WHAT WAS THAT LOUD BOOM ONCE YOU TURNED INTO THE GARAGE?
Loud pop was a tire… thankfully, it popped, hopefully it didn’t hurt anybody. All the heat created in the left front that popped was pretty weird.
REALLY GOOD RUN. WHAT DID YOU THINK OF IT?
Yeah, it was good. We have a car we can work with for the 500. Got a good starting spot, so we’re going to rest easy, fluff and buff our car for a couple of days and get ready for Sunday.
ANY DIFFERENCE ON WHETHER THE TOP OR BOTTOM LANE WORKED?
Yeah, I was just moving around, trying to stay with the flow. For me, this car works on all parts of the racetrack. So I’m pretty happy with it.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.
GOT SHUFFLED BACK, AFTER PIT STOPS AND THEN COULDN’T GET BACK UP TO THE FRONT. WHY?
Nah, we were just sitting there waiting until the last few laps to make a move. You didn’t want to pull down and get sent to the back. Seen a couple of guys get sent to the back really quick so we were just kind of waiting for the end. I felt like we had a good situation there with Ambrose behind us — we had a good run off Turn 2 and I went. It was the last lap, time to go do something, nobody went with us but hopefully Sunday is a different story.
We got a great car. We don’t have to work hard. We learned, we got a good race car. Got a car in one piece, ready to go so we’ll try and get through the next couple of practices, deliver it to the starting group this Sunday and we’ll be real happy.
YOU’RE IN THE DAYTONA 500!
Yeah, it’s pretty awesome. This Whitetail Chevrolet was so fast that I knew all I had to do was stick it behind smart, intelligent drafters and we could have a good finish. That’s what we did in the Duels and I’m excited. I’m excited to go do some stuff with the Nationwide car and have some more practice with this. But to know that we’re locked in the Daytona 500’s pretty cool.
YOU WERE OBVIOUSLY IN FRONT OF THAT MELEE AT THE END. WHEN YOU WERE UP FRONT THERE IN THE BEGINNING, WERE YOU HOPING TO JUST STAY IN LINE AND LET YOU FINISH TOP 5?
I was pretty content to ride and luckily I knew a lot of people around us were. It was nice to have a little calm and not really have to be racing hard the whole time. I knew that the pit stop was going to shake everything up and that’s exactly what happened. Fell back a little bit there but made the right moves at the end to get a good finish.
HOW STRONG ARE THESE RCR CARS?
They’re very strong! They definitely have the capabilities to be winning one of these races.
YOU’RE IN THE TOP 5 FOR YOUR HEAT IN THE DAYTONA 500. YOUR PRIMARY CAR IS SITTING RIGHT IN THE GARAGE, KIND OF WADDED UP. DID YOU THINK THIS ONE HAD IT IN IT?
Yeah, it’s a brand new car also. It’s just not quite as good as the primary but still a damned good car. I’m just proud of everybody at RCR for building such fast race cars. All of our cars have been fast, ECR motor’s been strong, even our affiliate teams have been qualifying really good and racing good. So… excited about 2014! It’s going to be a good year.
WELL MAN, YOU STARTED IN THE BACK BUT WORKED YOUR WAY TO THE FRONT WHEN IT COUNTED MOST. WERE YOU JUST BIDING YOUR TIME THROUGHOUT THE RACE?
Eh, you never know if you’re going to get back up there or not. We had to start at the back, we had to make a run early and see what we could do. We drove right to 10th, or something like that and then it got stagnant. We tried to make something happen, and went to the back again. Drove back up to the front. Again, just really proud of my guys. Matt Kruder did a hell of a job on that pit stop getting just enough gas in to gain some spots there.
RCR CARS SEEM PRETTY DARNED STRONG. DO YOU THINK THE RCR CARS HAVE SOMETHING FOR THEM ON SUNDAY — ESPECIALLY THE THREE JOE GIBBS RACING CARS THAT SEEM TO BE THE CLASS OF THE FIELD RIGHT NOW?
Oh yeah. The 20 car was extremely fast. The 11 didn’t qualify that good, but he’s a good drafter. I think he won. We definitely have something for him.
Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
Matt McLaughlin · Monday February 20, 2012
The Key Moment – Kyle Busch used a David Pearson, patent perfect slingshot pass to get around Tony Stewart coming to the line.
In a Nutshell – A whole lot more wrecking than racing. At times, I was wondering if anyone was going to finish the Shootout.
Dramatic Moment – Jeff Gordon decided he was going to get around Kyle Busch even if he had to wreck him. Ironically, in attempting to avoid that crash that never happened, Gordon found himself on his roof and out of the race.
What They’ll Be Talking About Around the Water Cooler This Week
Has this “race” outlived its shelf life? The “Born On” date for the Bud Shootout (nee the Busch Clash) was February 11th, 1979. The nine drivers eligible for the event had won a pole position at a Cup race the previous year; points, manufacturers, etc. had nothing to do with it. They raced for all of twenty laps, competing in an event that lasted just 15 minutes and 26 seconds. Buddy Baker won the race in dominating style, leading 18 of 20 laps and beating second-place Darrell Waltrip with ease. His winnings? Fifty grand even, big coin back in that era. It was a reasonable concept; but over the years, the length of the race has swollen and eligibility requirements have slackened. (Hate to say it, but the downward spiral began with the Earnhardt factor. Dale Senior was never much of a qualifier and they wanted to be sure the sport’s most famous face was in every Shootout.) This year, it seems that to be eligible, a driver had to have a pulse and a car. In fact, multiple drivers who were eligible chose to sit this one out either for lack of a ride or sponsorship. What’s the problem? For one, it’s distance; seventy-five laps are way too many for a “Shootout.” I’d love to see the race go back to twenty laps and be restricted to actual pole winners from the previous season again. Putting $500,000 in the kitty for the winner would guarantee some spirited racing, too. (Breaking News: NASCAR has announced that criteria for the 2013 Shootout will go back to the old rules, restricted to drivers who win a pole this season and previous winners of the event. Now, about that length…)
Among the notables not participating in this year’s Shootout was Trevor Bayne who, of course, won last year’s Daytona 500. He chose not to… what does that tell you about this race?
OK, after that one common logic says that NASCAR will add yet another new rule for Daytona, stating drivers cannot bumpdraft in the corners. But how to they enforce that and determine whether contact was accidental or intentional? After all the carnage Saturday night, my guess is that the first 190 laps of the Daytona 500 are going to be rather sedate, with many drivers choosing to cruise at the back at the pack until the pay window starts to open. After that, watch out.
One issue a lot of folks emailing me are flat out pissed off about is NASCAR’s blessed policy of buying a guaranteed starting spot in this year’s 500 based on the work and effort of others last year. Naturally, most of the ire is directed towards the No. 10 team, a result of some unholy alliance between Hendrick / Stewart-Haas and Tommy Baldwin Racing that secured Danica Patrick a top-35 spot in owner points. The practice amounts to corporate welfare for the wealthy which hurts legitimate teams trying to break into the sport.
A former boss taught me that if you’re going to point out a problem, you ought to have a suggestion to fix that problem at hand. So here’s my solution to teams buying into the first five races of the season. Daytona 500 qualifying has always been a bit Byzantine, what with Sunday qualifying and the 150s on Thursday. How about we keep both events, but the driver who qualifies fastest on Sunday gets one point towards making the race. The driver who qualifies second fastest gets two points and so on down to the 49th-fastest driver, who gets 49 points. Then, on Thursday the winner of the faster of the two 150s gets one point. The winner of the other 150 gets two points and so on down through the field. When the dust settles on Thursday evening, the 43 drivers with the lowest point totals (think golf) are in the Daytona 500. It doesn’t matter what the driver or team did last year or how many championships they might have won. The fastest 43 cars make the race and everybody else goes home.
I’m a little confused with the sound bites and headlines coming out in the wake of Saturday night’s race. The general consensus amongst drivers, team owners and media members is that “Tandem Racing” is a thing of the past. Well, I guess I saw the wrong race, because it appeared to me that in the final laps, Tony Stewart and Kyle Busch paired up in a tandem to escape the pack so they could settle the matter between themselves. From my view, yes two drivers can no longer hook up as easily or stay hooked together as long due to the new rules package. But… they still can. That means problems will occur when two drivers try to pair up to move forward in the pack because, in close quarters the slightest miscalculation can be disastrous. So what do we call this new hybrid of pack and “Tandem Racing?” How about Tupac Racing?
Oh, boy, Chad Knaus is up to his old tricks yet again. The No. 48 car entered for the Daytona 500 failed tech inspection due to C pillars that had been massaged to guide the air away from the rear spoiler – a modification which would have been a huge speed advantage on a plate track. Oddly enough, no other car in the Hendrick stable, not even the No. 48 car prepared for the Shootout, was stitched up in the same manner. Knaus, you’ll recall, was nailed red-handed at the last restrictor plate event (Talladega in the fall) telling his driver to run the back end of the car into the wall if he were to win; this car is the very same one. Now, the last time Knaus got nailed with a major rules infraction at Daytona, in 2006 he was escorted off track property and not allowed to return for the 500 (an event Johnson then won, with Darian Grubb on the box filling in for Knaus) but NASCAR says that won’t happen this time. Still, once again the validity of Johnson’s five titles has to be called into question. I’d recommend a record fine and suspension for our boy Chad, even if it’s not until after this Sunday’s 500. He’s not just a cheater, he’s a habitual offender.
Speaking of habitual offenders, Michael Waltrip Racing got nabbed yet again after qualifying. Clint Bowyer’s car was found to be too low and his time was disallowed, forcing him to start in the rear on Thursday. Well, I guess it’s better than a tank full of jet fuel this time…
A few notes on FOX coverage of the Shootout and the events leading up to it…
Only the FOX/SPEED team could come up with a method of drawing for starting positions for the Shootout that lasted longer than the race itself. If you spent an hour and a half Friday night watching drivers, some of them clearly irritable at being called out into the rain, pick beer bottles you really need to get a life or some reasonable facsimile thereof. And if there’s one thing worse than watching race fans scream and carry on, trying to get themselves shown on TV, it’s watching those Bozos being too stupid to come in out of the rain.
Sometimes politically correct is just stupid. The Grand Marshal of the Cup race at Phoenix won’t be allowed to drive his General Lee Charger around the track because it has a Confederate flag painted on the roof. Come on. Who’s going to be offended by the cartoonish General Lee, still a late night staple for insomniacs on cable? Those of you old enough to actually have seen the show may recall Cale Yarborough was an occasional guest star, back in an era when practically nobody north of the Mason-Dixon knew who he was. (Roscoe once threatened to arrest him for “impersonating Cale Yarborough.”) When the original Bo and Luke left the series for a year, the storyline went they’d gone off to run the NASCAR circuit.
The Hindenburg Award For Foul Fortune
David Ragan’s Shootout lasted only ten laps before contact with Paul Menard sent him spinning into a pack of cars. Michael Waltrip was third man in. Color me surprised.
Brandon McReynolds would have won the ARCA 199.9-mile race. He ran out of gas within a thousand feet of the checkered flag.
Kurt Busch wrecked a car in practice for the Shootout and totaled another in the event itself. At this rate, James Finch is going to be out of extra sheet metal by Fontana.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. had a great car Saturday night and led several stretches of the race to the considerable delight of the fans on hand. But he was unable to avoid the big wreck that resulted when Joey Logano got knocked sideways. With NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver out of the race, a ton of fans started visibly heading for the exits. It’s not easy being an Earnhardt fan…
The “Seven Come Fore Eleven” Award For Fine Fortune
Kyle Busch’s car was sideways and completely out of control at least twice during the race, but he gathered it up each time. Not only were both incidents glove saves, and beauties, but Busch went on to win the event in a thoroughly used up Camry.
In the ARCA Series, coming out of the fourth turn to the checkered flag Bobby Gerhart was running fifth. He scored an improbable win when everyone ahead of him seemed to run out of gas or run into someone else who had.
Clint Bowyer went for a wild ride through the grass but survived the incident well enough to finish eighth.
Despite never having run in the Shootout before, Marcos Ambrose did a credible job Saturday, leading the event late before finally finishing third despite having cooked his brakes early in the event. Brakes? We don’t need no steenkin’ brakes.
Denny Hamlin lost two laps having crash damage repaired, an incident he thought might have damaged his engine, too but went on to finish the race in fifth.
Tony Stewart mangled his car in the first practice session Friday but his team (with Stewart assisting with the wrenching) pieced it back together well enough for the series champion to finish a close second on Saturday night.
What’s the Points?
This race is pointless, in more ways than one.
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 four bottles of icy cold Bud with two of the bottles cracked, leaking, on fire and upside down.
Next Up – Qualifying will be over by the time this article is posted, so next up is the Twin 150s Thursday afternoon. Like the original Shootout, these were once very exciting races. Not anymore. With the top 35 in last year’s owner points now guaranteed a starting spot for the 500, about all we’re left with is battles at the back of the pack, scrapping over which driver will have the honor of being the first to start and park next Sunday.
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What a waste of good cars. This is not a race, it is a demolition derby. If I were an owner, I don’t think I
Matt, I’m not with you on shortening the shootout, whether it qualifies as a “shootout” or not. After the off-season DT’s, I need more than a 20 lap fix. Besides, if Michael Waltrip wrecked on the first lap, he wouldn’t even have time to make it to the booth for the end of the race.
Yeah, there was a lot of torn up cars Saturday night. They say that’s what the fans want to see. That and Danica.
Somebody needs to change the pit rules for the ARCA race so that it’s not virtually guaranteed to finish with multiple drivers running out of gas.
I don’t much like Kyle Busch but damn he’s fun to watch race.
It is nice to have your column back, Matt. I find nothing to disagree with and I particularly agree about the 90 minutes of choosing bottles one-by-one. I have puzzled in my head in previous years, and did again this year, whatever would I do if I were presented with a program concept/script to doctor where the central action must and can only be choosing bottles one at a time and peeling the labels. My solution, absent a hefty check for the work (I can be bought) would be to hit the delete key.
While I am here let me note what I think is 2012’s version of The Wang — which was added, according to Helton, for cosmetic purposes and resulted in airborne cars as any idiot with a basic undserstanding of areodynamics could see it would. This year’s The Wang award goes to the tandem of the smaller spolier and the UUUge (in Trumpspeak) Shark Fin. Simple physics and, again, a basic understanding of simple areodynamics tell you the highest area on the new fin coupled with the small spoiler produced very light back end and the heavy front end produces a pivot point that sends the back around really fast. This would have happened to the #18 as it did to other cars except for the fact he was at the bottom of the track and grounded out — twice thereby getting the milliseconds he needed to wheel it. The Shark Fin needs to be addressed.
Finally: I’d go for 25 lap Shootout(simply because I like 50 milers), and I think I like your qualifying idea, but need to cogitaate on it a bit.
Mondays are normal again! It’s amazing how your comments match the thoughts of so many of us old timers.
Let the destruction continue.
Matt, it’s great to have you back.
The only real mind numbing things so far are two (2) Waltrips in the booth with one on the track, and an overblown Danica presence in the booth, on the spotter’s stand, on the track, and damn near everywhere. HTH are we going to stand a full season of this? MUTE
Hey Matt! Good to see you back, and in fine form.
I’ve asked my electronic genius husband to design an automatic Waltrip/Larry Mac mute filter for race broadcasts. And maybe a pop-up blocker for Digger. By Thursday if possible.
Regarding the “sound bites and headlines” and the end of “tandem racing”… while you’re technically correct that Stewart and Busch paired up in tandem with a lap and a half to go, the end result — the guy in back successfully passing the guy in front by himself — and all of the events leading up to that point, were markedly different in nature to the racing at the plate tracks for the past couple of years. So while the sound bites and headlines are over-simplified, that’s what sound bites and headlines are supposed to be. I think the fundamental message — that the four-hour “brown nose” marathons are gone — is true.
Regarding shortening the race… I’m only in favor of that if NASCAR will also publish reliable start time information. I briefly tuned in near the start of the broadcast and figured out that it was nowhere near the start of the race. So I went off and did other things, and didn’t turn the TV back on for a couple of hours. By the time I got back, the younger Waltrup had just arrived in the Hollywood Roach Motel, but I really don’t feel like I missed much. If the race were only 20-25 laps long, I’d have either missed it altogether, or would have had to watch some of the pre-race.
Hell no don’t shorten the Shootout. The distance is fine. You get two solid hours of racing. It is what it is, a fun event to kick off Speedweek. Great event this year.
welcome back matt, i look forward to your thought inspiring and often humorous column. I have a few disjointed thoughts and observations which i’d like to share.
And finally. he’s still somewhat of a jerk but man that kyle can turn a wheel. I also found the length of the show to be fine. shortening the race would be ok with me if they ran two shorter races with one being a consi or last chance qualifier for whoever didn’t but still would want to run (or risk a car) in the “main.” Heck, it’s a plate race and usually almost anyone can win one of those. Pack racing for most of the 500 with some of the usual nonsense and then I think we’ll see several two car train (wrecks?) for the win.
“His winnings? Fifty grand even, big coin back in that era.”
Thanks for not saying, “Back in the day.”…I heard that enough Saturday night!
Fox started the broadcast by kissing Ole DW’s HOF ring, and then straight to Danica for “expert opinion” about a race she likely will never be in unless they create a “pity pass” like they do occasionally for Dale Jr.
Good to see you back Matt.
I think the Shootout gave us a dose of what to expect this season from Fox. Besides being sickened with 2 Walldrips flapping their gums constantly, the Fox coverage will be All Danica All the Time, even if she’s not on the track.
I’m thinking that the 26 part series of the mating of the Peruvian Spotted Slug on BBC America might be more interesting than the coverage (or lack thereof) that Fox will provide.
FYI…good advice for a bet in Las Vegas for the 2013 Shoot-Out winner, any driver in a Yellow uniform. Four in a row 2009 thru 2012!
20+ years ago, crew chiefs worked in every grey area they could to get a performance advantage in the car for their driver. Matt calls that brilliant.
Damn that kid can drive! GO ROWDY!
Two Waltrips and Butch Patrick in the booth, Thank God for radio.
Kevin ISC, (coincidence?)
No wonder the reaction of the crowd was cheering & clapping when they saw Jeff was ok. The Jr fans had left already, so they were not there to cheer that he had wrecked, then booing & hissing when they saw he was not hurt like were hoping he was.
Just think what it would be like if Earnhardt would be around and in his prime racing against Rowdy. Yikes!!!! Not a fan of his but the kid can drive a race car. I agree with Carl D, Rowdy sure is fun to watch.
The best part of the broadcast is Crank It Up. Gives about two minutes of silence from DW.
Thank you Iheart radio!! I can listen to MRN online at any station across the country. They sure do make a race exciting! The way they scream with excitment, I have to go running into the living room to look at the TV. LOL! Then again, they could make watching paint dry sound like the most exciting thing ever! LOL!
Avoided all the reality shows by not watching any of the broadcast that didn’t show cars on the track. However, it only took about two laps of green to get sick of DW and Larry MackReynolds.
I used to love the raceday preview shows and would start watching ESPN and Speed at 10:00 for a 1:00 start. Never again.
The racing was okay, nothing to write home about. Tandem racing was just as exciting, but without the multi-car pileups.
They need to take about two more inches off the rear spoiler to bring back the days of yesteryear. I remember watching cars qualifying and racing with spoilers laying flat behind the trunklid in the early 80’s and those were better races in my opinion.
Will be glad when the real racing starts in a few weeks.
Danica used a popular political tool. If you babble on long enough people may start believing you know what you’re talking about.
what a mess….i said after the january testing that the only winners at daytona would be the fans that collect sheet metal as souviners.
so when danica wrecks out sunday, will she join the booth for her insight and viewpoints? the waltrip brothers is enough to push me over the edge.
whenever there’s an arca race at daytona and if bobby gearhart is on the lead lap he’s a threat to win it. congrats to bobby!
matt……know you’re not a fan of fox’s broadcast, as well as most of us…but no condolence to Chris Myers? no parent should have to bury a child.
Welcome back Matt! Since they have decided to return to the roots of the original shootout (Busch Clash), I don’t mind the distance, but how about making it 3 25-lap segments. Just a suggestion. As for the “qualifying show”, if I remember correctly, in the very first Busch Clash, all the drivers stood around a large bowel with Busch beer cans packed under a mound of crushed ice. The cans had numbers on them that would decide your starting position. Whoever was officiating the show, and I can’t remember but it may have been Ken Squire, they waved a green flag in the air and all the drivers reached into the ice and grabbed a can. it was a lot more entertaining than what was on Friday night! Especially when they started throwing the ice at each other! And remember, we are talking about the likes of Cale Yarborough, Bobby Allison, Richard Petty, Buddy Baker, David Pearson, and even D. W. Woops, I’m aging myself here. Can you imagine Carl, Kyle, Denny, Tony, Jeffy-Poo, and Junior doing that today? Somehow, I can’t! Anyway, just a suggestion!
Opps! I meant to say “bowl of ice”, not bowel. Bowel is throwing a large round ball down a nicely waxed and polished narrow hardwood floor and watching said ball go into the gutter without hitting anything!
Glad you’re back, Matt. Long column for short attention span :-) How’s the knee?
Not that Kyle’s save wasn’t impressive but Ryan Newman and Robby Gordon made saves like that last year and no one made this big of a deal about it. And those two saved it the first time it went sideways.
Not only is the ever annoying Boogity chant back, so is that stupid verminous gopher.
and guess what?? so is Matt McLaughlin !
Glad to see you are back Matt to keep it real.
The Shootout starting grid process is the dumbest thing ever to be televised. But you need to see it for what it is, an hour commercial for Budweiser.
I for one am glad that the 2×2 racing won’t be as prevalent. It was nice to see drivers not being dependant on their partner. Even when two drivers teamed up, they couldn’t pull away from the pack for long.
I think the length of the Shootout should be 5 laps longer than a fuel run just to force everyone to pit at least once during the race.
Hey phil h (02/21/2012 01:54 AM) – if you are so annoyed don’t read it – it’s so easy a caveman could understand that. Just the same as I do with NASCAR: if it is good, I watch it. If it sucks, I don’t. And I’m not even a caveman yet.
@Ken from the North.
“Bowl” is also the game with the black ball. “Bowel” is where that brown, smelly, snake comes out of you into, funny enough, a toilet “Bowl”.
Sorry, I couldn’t help myself.
Ah you know its racing season when Matt fires up the keyboard, glad to see you back for another season Matt, honestly for the 1st time in at least 5 years, I believe nascar might possibly, kinda sort of, be on a small up swing, I look forward to another year of your insight, now lets just hope nascar gets back to at least some GOOD racing this year.