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.
MPM2Nite · Matt McLaughlin · Thursday March 1, 2012
NASCAR handed down their penalties to the No. 48 team for unapproved C-pillars on their Chevy Wednesday, and a lot of folks were surprised by how harsh they were. Chad Knaus, crew chief for the team, was fined $100,000. He and car chief Ron Malec were suspended for six weeks and will be on NASCAR probation until May 9th. Jimmie Johnson will lose 25 driver points, meaning he heads to Phoenix with a total of -23, a whopping 70 points out of the lead (and 58 out of a Chase berth.) Car owner Jeff Gordon will also be docked 25 owner points. (Let’s clear up a little confusion here, since people are already asking me. Jeff Gordon, not Rick Hendrick is listed as the team owner for the No. 48 car. The 25-point penalty does not, in any way, affect the driver points Gordon earns in the No. 24.)
What did Knaus do to bring down the wrath of NASCAR? Quoting from the original press release: The No. 48 car was found to be in violation of Sections 12-1 (actions detrimental to stock car racing); 12-4J (any determination by NASCAR officials that race equipment used in the event does not conform to NASCAR rules detailed in Section 20 of the rule book or has not been approved by NASCAR prior to the event); and 20-2.1E (if in the judgment of NASCAR officials, any part or component of the car not previously approved by NASCAR that has been installed or modified to enhance aerodynamic performance will not be permitted — unapproved car body modifications).
We all know that “actions detrimental to stock car racing” is pretty much a catch-all penalty that can cover anything from cussing to saying something negative about NASCAR they don’t care for. 12-4J is an odd rule to cite, because the car never took to the track. 20-2.1E is the most serious accusation and what, to my mind at least is at the heart of the matter and the smoking gun. Sure, some other cars have run afoul of the templates in NASCAR’s room of doom. Those cars were precluded from taking to the track until repairs were made, but no further penalties were issued. In NASCAR’s eyes, those were sins of inadvertency or negligence. The No. 48 car was different. It’s NASCAR’s determination (and remember, it’s their stick and ball) that this modification was no slip-up or accident. The alterations to the car were purposely made, done to enhance its performance and give Johnson an unfair advantage over the other drivers and their teams. The way the C-pillars were shaped would have directed much of the air flowing down the sides of the car away from the rear spoiler, reducing drag and thus increasing speed even with a restrictor plate engine. An aerodynamic engineer involved with the sport told me the advantage would have been sufficient enough that Johnson would have had to play with the throttle to keep it from being too obvious.
So are the penalties fair, too stiff, or not harsh enough? Let’s look at them. 100,000 dollars means nothing. Rick Hendrick will pay that amount without blinking an eye. He probably spends more than that on hospitality on a race weekend. Recall Carl Long got fined twice that for running an engine that was a teaspoon of displacement over the 358 cubic inch limit and offered no performance advantage. Despite finishing 42nd, Johnson and the No. 48 team’s winnings are listed at just over 360,000 dollars for the Daytona 500 due to the complex nature of NASCAR’s awards system.
In this digital age, Knaus’s six-week suspension isn’t as big a deal as it used to be. He’ll be able to keep working at the shop preparing cars for Johnson. Via cell phone, he’ll be able to remain in constant contact with any interim crew chief chosen to sub for him. He’ll be able to monitor Johnson’s radio transmissions online and may even be able to watch in-car views from the No. 48 to better analyze what’s going on. They’ve got a lot of depth on the bench at Hendrick Motorsports. Recall the last time Knaus was suspended Darian Grubb, then an HMS employee, filled in and Johnson won the Daytona 500.
The loss of 25 points is a somewhat bigger deal, even this early in the season. For all Hendrick’s money, you can’t buy points (not driver points, anyway). This deficit leaves Johnson with a serious hole to climb out of. Still, he has 25 races to do so. Even if he fails to make the cut, it’s all but unimaginable Johnson won’t win at least a couple races prior to the cutoff for the Chase and, as such, he’ll be eligible for one of the two Wild Card slots to get in. (In that scenario, it just makes things tougher for one of the smaller teams to make the Chase.)
Considering the above, my opinion is NASCAR went too easy on the No. 48 team and Knaus. I’m not buying this excuse the misshaped sheet metal was a mistake. None of the other Hendrick cars prepared for the Shootout or the 500 (along with their backups) had the same modification. When the team was told those parts had to be removed and replaced, they surely had a replacement set that conformed with the rules awfully quickly, didn’t they? Even Rick Hendrick’s complaint seems to condemn the team. Hendrick says the No. 48 car that was flagged for the infraction was the same one that the team raced at all four plate races. Does that mean the car was legal? No, it just means they got away with it last year. And if, in fact, the failed car was the same one used last fall at Talladega during the Chase then Knaus clearly knew it wasn’t compliant. You’ll remember the uproar when Knaus was heard telling Johnson if he were to win that race, he should back the car into the wall during the victory celebration. He knew if that car was taken to the R and D center, as all winning Cup cars are there was a risk it was going to be found illegal. That pretty much deflates the “but the car never even got out on the track” argument of one of my colleagues here at the Frontstretch. I think we can all agree that HMS didn’t haul that car down to Daytona to display it in the parking lot at some burger joint.
Knaus and the entire Hendrick Motorsports team are habitual offenders when it comes to running afoul of NASCAR. Let’s make an important distinction here. In my personal opinion and that of most people in the sport, Rick Hendrick as an individual is a fine and principled man. He’s done countless charitable acts to help his employees, others in the sport and even strangers. He suffered through unimaginable loss following the team’s plane crash on Bull Mountain and did so with admirable Christian grace, his faith unshaken. But that’s Rick Hendrick as a man. The racing organization he owns has a corporate culture of cheating. It was true with Ray Evernham and the No. 24 team and it’s well-documented with Chad Knaus and the No. 48 bunch. Even when team members are caught red-handed cheating, there are no serious repercussions. Those employees are not terminated and even if they’re suspended, they continue to be paid. If they are fined, the boss pays the damages. HMS’ business philosophy is to win at any cost and apparently by any means necessary. In that sort of business environment, cheating is going to flourish. Forget that old fairy tale that cheaters never win unless you add a codicil: “Well, they don’t win anymore than five straight titles, anyway.”
The fact cars can be found to be outside the rules after a race and yet the driver keeps the win is one of the things casual fans and non-fans of the sport can’t come to grips with. It gives our sport a black eye and reduces stock car racing to the tier of professional wrestling in many folk’s opinions. And it’s time for NASCAR to crack down in a meaningful way. Money isn’t going to do it. Suspensions aren’t going to do it. Even points penalties (and I think at least a 50-point penalty was due in this case) probably won’t do it. If NASCAR is serious about policing the ranks, it’s time to drop the big one. If I had a vote, the penalty for the No. 48 team would have been a three-week suspension for the entire outfit. That means a serious loss of points and income but more importantly some sponsor (in this case, Lowe’s) isn’t going to have their rolling billboard out there for three straight races and that’s not going to make them happy. The loss of advertising exposure and the humiliation of being involved with a cheating scandal might even make them decide to terminate their sponsorship agreement, and in this economy that’s going to get everyone’s rapt attention. In addition, just to make sure the team got the message I’d warn them that each subsequent offense would earn stiffer penalties still and that any driver or team (and I am talking any team here, not just the No. 48) found guilty enough of a infraction sufficient to warrant a suspension would be ineligible to compete in the Chase that season. I think maybe that would be sufficient to put everyone on notice.
So what happens next? Hendrick Motorsports has announced they will appeal these penalties. Since there probably isn’t time for an appeal to be heard prior to Phoenix, Knaus will be atop the box, a track where Johnson has won four times. When the appeal board hears the case, they have four options. They can dismiss the penalty, reduce it, uphold it, or even increase the sanctions. Odds aren’t good the consequences will be dismissed, but fortunately for Knaus and the No. 48 team, I’m not a member of the board. I’d vote for that three-race team suspension.
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History shows that teams push the envelope all the time. However, if your description of the infraction is accurate, this goes beyond bending the rules; this is blatant cheating. Add to that the fact that Knaus is a habitual offender, and you have a situation that I think deserves a harsher punishment by Nascar than what they have imposed. Personally, I think Chad Knaus should have to sit out the rest of the season.
As someone who had to sit through all five years of this jackass winning championships, and listening to the reports that ooh and aah over Jimmie and Chad, this crap makes me want to gag. Those five championships are BS. Would love to see how much money “Mister” Hendrick has paid Brian France under the table over the past 20 years. And what’s the deal with his employees having to call him Mister? To me, that is team propaganda. When Kasey Kahne, in the same breath, called his then-boss, 7-time Champion and the King of stock car racing, “Richard”, then called Rick “Mister Hendrick”, I was disgusted.
I wholeheartedly disagree that Rick Hendrick is a fine and principled man. He gives to charity to look good. He was convicted of over a dozen federal crimes, yet spent only a year in house arrest. And he runs an operation that makes Congress look honest. Yeah, he’s had personal tragedy, but who hasn’t? That doesn’t make it OK for him to be a cheating felon that doesn’t pay the consequences of his actions.
That should be “the France family”, not just Brian.
I kind of feel the same way Matt. This whole thing makes me wonder if it’s possible to be successful in this sport without questionable methods. Were any of the great drivers really that much better than their competition or did they just have their day’s Chad Knaus.
Yes the 48 team will in a deep hole, looking at being about a race and a half down in points which is hard to make up. Though still early in the season, all JJ really has to do is win at least 2 of the next 25 races to qualify for the lame chase championship. Certainly capable of doing that, and with the lame 10 race DO-OVER chase format, anything can happen. Tony stewart proved that last year.
If the infraction is so serious that your “aero engineer source” tells you he’d have to manage the throttle to avoid running through the field and making it an obvious mockery, AND if that same car with the same infractions was supposedly run last year (I still think Chad was screwing with the audience talking right into the mic knowingly .. he is smarter than that folks .. ), then why didn’t that car smoke the field in last year’s plate races? Sure he won one, but far from dominant fashion. You’d think he’d have ran a little better at Talladega .. in the CHASE .. with that supposedly cheated-out dominant car, eh??
if they really wanted to get serious about penalizing a team for cheating during a race, NASCAR would start enforcing the disqualification rule again. But as money takes precedence it won’t happen.
As to the current Knaus situation, based on his previous track record, I’d have suspended him for the entire season. Maybe that would get the attention of both him & the team owner?
The former felon and BZF will have a few drinks at Slick Rick’s place, discuss the situation, and all will be right when the appeal’s board reviews the situation.
Matt, I normally agree with almost everything you write but your following statement made me want to gag: “In my personal opinion and that of most people in the sport, Rick Hendrick as an individual is a fine and principled man.” Are you frikin’ serious? Hendrick’s automotive empire and personal fortune is based upon the felony bribes he paid to Honda executives. The man has no integrity or scruples. He has been a cheat from day one—long before he ever entered NASCAR
mark me down with the crowd that thinks nascar has far too many rules and polices them only when it is to their own benefit even if that’s only to be vindictive.
My gripe is with this stupid “detrimental” rule. It’s all encompassing for anything NASCAR wants it to be on any given day. It only feeds into the dictatorship that is NASCAR.
With all these pundits beating Chad down it’s kind of funny that the vast majority of other crew chiefs appreciate his willingness to walk in the gray areas. Not a single crew chief to date has criticized him. It’s racing folks, it ain’t neurosurgery! NASCAR has always had gray areas that everyone involved has used. NASCAR does enough to appear PC, Chad is doing the job that he gets paid well to do and he does it well. He’s made a long journey from floor sweeper to crew chief.
IMO Rick and Richard are two totally different people in how they are viewed by the public. Richard is blue collar an everyday man to everybody. He probably would be far from comfortable being called Mr Petty. He is too close to most of us to be addressed that way. Rick on the other hand is a businessman, a very good businessman. He simply doesn’t fit as one of the boy’s. I’m pretty sure that he gets addressed as Mr Hendrick out of respect by his employees because of how he treats them. I certainly don’t think he orders them to do it. Richard get’s called the “KING” out of respect because of who he is and what he has done. By the older fans anyway.
Jeez…many of these comments make it sound like you want to just turn the Cup series into an IROC race. Chad and the 48 crew were doing their jobs. They are supposed to find as much speed as possible based on the outline provided by NASCAR. This sounds just like a typical NASCAR after the fact reaction. Just like when they were fined for the fenders, the ‘claw’ fit but that isn’t what NASCAR meant. My bet is that the C posts were within tolerance but that NASCAR figured out that Chad had found a way to stay in compliance but gain an advantage. They don’t like the fact that he can outthink all of their rule makers, hence the penalty.
Matt your an idot, the car never went thru inspection,
I was hoping to steer conversation towards yesterday’s penalties, but any time you mention Rick Hendrick in either a positive or negative light you immeadiately have someone yelling “FELON”
I have a better way of addressing the kind of man Rick Hendrick is. Have you ever heard anyone in NASCAR talk badly about him? All I ever hear in interviews with other NASCAR insiders (you know, the people that deal with him first hand and not just from what they hear in the news) is what a stand-up, helpful and nice guy he is. Doesn’t that count for anything?
Matt a FELON is a FELON no matter how you try to spin it!! He broke the law, got caught and paid the price and bought himself a full pardon from a crooked President!!…..He STILL did the crime and earned his name!…once a turd always a turd. The crime may change but the crimes will continue….he just does it in nascrap now!!
Until (at least!) the DRIVER is held completely responsible for the actions of his team, nothing will change. “If I had a vote, the penalty for the No. 48 team would have been a three-week suspension for the entire outfit.” Damn straight, Matt!
Smoke and mirrors folks.
This makes nascar look like they are “cracking down” on Hendrick when it’s really nothing but a good show.
Just like the PGA doesn’t want to find out Tiger Woods took PEDs.
It would be a HUGE black eye to Nascar and “5 time” for fans and media to find out the 48 cheated to those championships.
This is nascar trying to smooth over the video of Chad telling JJ to wreck to car.
I bet all involved are getting a good laugh out of this….all the way to the bank.
I’m pretty sure a lot of other race teams do this too.
Wasn’t it last year Chad got caught with the cable and pin trick to drop the rear glass or deck to gain an advantage? I see a pattern developing. When certain drivers spun other drivers out, they were parked for one race. Which is more detrimental to the sport, trying to kill another driver or trying to win a race at all costs by body modification?
Whether or not Rick Hendrick is Satan or a saint is irrelevant. The issue is whether or not Knaus broke the rules. If he did, he deserves to be appropriately penalized. We can talk all day about what’s really appropriate, but Rick Hendrick’s character isn’t part of that discussion. Also, it doesn’t matter if other crew chiefs do the same thing or whether they “appreciate his willingness to walk in the gray areas”. You break the rules, you pay the price.
Matt – you are out of control here. You and Nascar are both reacting to last year’s radio conversation.
If last year’s car was so good, how come the 48 was not better in the Chase Talledega? A race where cheating would have really paid off.
This was practice. You should be able to use a jet engine if you want. How do you know that Knaus would not want to learn something to use for the race, and go back into spec.
No templates used, no real measurement as far as I read.
This is PR or pay back to someone else by Nascar. No wonder non-Nascar fans think this is wrestling. Have at it boys is OK – but not in this case. Yellow line is a penalty – but not in this case. Swearing on TV is a penalty – but not in this case. On and on – arbitrary enforcement.
Less rules – consistent enforcement.
Maybe Ive just been around racing too long but after I toss my two cents into this debate, feel free to jump on my back. First, I dont give a fat rats ass about Rick Hendrick; what he did or didnt do to keep getting Hondas for his dealership has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with the discussion here. Calling him the felon or howling about what a good/bad guy he is/is not is a complete waste of everybodys time here. Personally, I think Nascar overstepped their bounds. What has happened to the rules the last ten years or so is an absolute joke. We have spec cars now; they are all identical except for the grille decal. Racing is supposed to be about technical innovation, the “unfair advantage “ one team gets over another because they work harder or smarter than the next team. The rules are so ridiculously restrictive now they stifle imagination and cleverness. Loosen up the spoiler rule, use some basic templates and stop it there. I cant believe we are all being critical of Knaus for figuring out a way to use the air to keep the tail down at high speed! You would think that was a good thing and that after word got out, everyonewould be doing it and all the cars out their would benefit.I mean for gods sake can you imagine some of the heroes of our sport like Yunick and Lee Petty putting up with this Mickey Mouse crap? Brians body would have been found face down in the lake a long time ago.
It is about time that someone in the media said these things
I’m not a fan of Johnson, Knaus or Hendrick, but I still think some comments are more influenced by people’s opinion of the #48 team than actual justice or fairness. And my opinion is, pre-race inspection should be a warning only that it needs to be fixed before the car gets on the track surface. Anything found after practice should be a penalty, and anything found after qualifying or the race should be a suspension.
Concerning Johnaon’s Chase Race at Talladega last year (thenow infamous back it in race) I seem to recall Johnson was paired with the 88 running at the back of the field most of the day to avoid the wrecks. When they chose to they could charge to the front at will. A few late cautions screwed with thier plans and both suffered miserable finishes but it wasn’t like those HMS cars didn’t have speed.
Is polishing the car’s paintjob to make it slicker in the wind cheating? Or is it not, because everyone does it? If you could stick a wad of gum on each fender to help it go faster, is that cheating? The car fit the templates, didn’t it? If the problem wasn’t caught before, maybe was assumed it was okay. That is what prerace inspections are for. If it was caught and not allowed, and still tried to run with it…then it IS cheating!
Bill, My point is pretty basic, yes..the rules suck but Im not sure what rule he broke here. My point is simple, the rules need to be changed to encourage technical innovation. Otherwise its god damned kit car racing, because Nascar is simply doing what it can to appease the auto companies and major sponsors. I get it..its all about the “show”; doesnt mean I have to either like it or stay quiet about it.
“That pretty much deflates the “but the car never even got out on the track” argument of one of my colleagues here at the Frontstretch. I think we can all agree that HMS didn’t haul that car down to Daytona to display it in the parking lot at some burger joint.”
When you bring it to the track that way you obviously intended to race it that way. Initial inspection is not some isolated happening that is divorced from “the event” but, rather, it is an integral part of “the event” — which lasts from the moment the competitors are allowed onto the premises until the gates are locked behind them after they leave.
You simply can’t bring modified parts to the track and present them for initial inspection then expect people to believe that you actually intended to remove them and replace them with legal parts before taking the car onto the track.
You guys that are saying “the car fit the template” need to look at the rule book. Just because the car fits where the claw makes contact with the car, that doesn’t constitute legal. You can’t have the body bulging out in points between. Moreover, as already said, you can’t mess with the NASCAR’s body design.
2 points I would like to make.
1) nascar told these guys long ago that there won’t be any warnings if they show up to the track and fail pre race inspection. It was made clear when the COT was introduced
2.) I think its safe to say that most real fans want more innovation from crew chiefs, but until Nascar changes those rules, infractions of this sort are going to be penalized. Hate the lack of innovation but this does not change the fact that as the rules are now, Chad broke them.
Everyone is talking about him making the Chase, but a few more bad finishes and he won’t be able to stay in the top 35 after the 5th race. At least he has the champs provisional to fall back on unless Tony happens to fall out as well.