NASCAR Changes Qualifying Format
posted by Summer Bedgood
Tuesday March 11, 2014
Following safety concerns regarding NASCAR’s new qualifying format, the sanctioning body is introducing some changes in preparation for this weekend’s race at Bristol Motor Speedway. According to the Associated Press, NASCAR is banning teams from cool-down laps after their qualifying attempts, but will instead be allowed to hook up cool-down units to the engine through hood flaps.
Late Tuesday afternoon, a release from NASCAR fully detailed the changes. Teams will be allowed a single cool down unit to be connected through the right or left side hood flap, however the hood must remain closed. Additionally, two crew members will be allowed over the wall while cooling down.
“The qualifying is new to all of us and as we have said over the past several weeks, we are looking at it from all aspects,” said Robin Pemberton, vice president of competition and racing development. “Following discussions, both internally and with others in the garage area, we moved quickly to make a few revisions that will be effective starting with our two national series events at Bristol Motor Speedway this weekend. We believe this will only enhance and improve what has demonstrated to be an exciting form of qualifying for our fans, competitors and others involved with the sport. Moving forward we will continue to look at it and address anything else that we may need to as the season unfolds.”
The move comes after three weeks of NASCAR’s new knockout qualifying system, where multiple cars are allowed to make qualifying attempts at the same time instead of the traditional one-car-at-a-time procedure. Drivers and teams had complained that the new rules didn’t allow them to cool their engines down on pit road, and the cool-down laps caused a dangerous situation with slower cars staying on the track at the same time that other cars were running by them at much higher speeds.
The rule will begin this weekend in Bristol, a track that has a much narrower racing surface than Daytona, Phoenix, and Las Vegas.
Kurt Busch to Attempt The Indianapolis-Charlotte Double
posted by Phil Allaway
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Andretti Autosport announced this morning that Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet in the Sprint Cup Series, will attempt the Indianapolis 500 in a fifth entry for the IndyCar Series team. Once the Indianapolis 500 is completed, Busch will fly from Indianapolis to Charlotte, jump in his No. 41 Chevrolet and compete in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Busch considers the opportunity to do the double as an old-school throwback moment.
“This is really to challenge myself within motorsports,” Busch said in Andretti Autosport’s press release. “Perhaps I am a bit of an old-school racer; a throwback, I guess. I enjoyed the era of drivers racing different cars and testing themselves in other series. It is tough to do now for a variety of factors, but when the opportunity is there, I want to do it. While NASCAR is my home, I have been fortunate to compete in Pro Stock on the NHRA circuit a number of years ago and test a V8 Supercar. This opportunity was a talk with Michael [Andretti] over dinner one night, a “What if,” and now it’s becoming a reality for me to drive in the Indy 500 with Andretti Autosport. It’s literally a dream come true. To go to the famous Brickyard with the iconic Andretti name, it doesn’t get much cooler or better than that.”
Busch will be doing the Indianapolis-Charlotte double as a Memorial Day mission to men and women serving in the U.S. Military via the Armed Forces Foundation. Fans can contribute to the cause by texting AFF to 50555 to donate $10.
Busch, who has never raced an IndyCar, passed Rookie Orientation at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year during a test session. At the time, Busch was more or less testing the Dallara DW12 for fun.
Busch will be the fourth driver to attempt the Indianapolis-Charlotte double. John Andretti was the first driver to attempt it in 1994. After finishing four laps down in tenth in Indianapolis, Andretti crashed and had engine problems in the 600. Robby Gordon has attempted the double five times, most recently in 2004. However, Gordon failed to make it to Charlotte on time and did not start the 600 in 2000 (P.J. Jones started Gordon’s No. 13 Ford in that instance). Finally, Tony Stewart has attempted the double twice (most recently in 2001) and is the only driver to ever complete all 1100 miles. Neither of the three drivers has won either leg of the double. The best finishes are Stewart and Gordon’s sixth-place finishes at the Indianapolis 500 (although Gordon’s came in 2000, the year he didn’t make it to Charlotte in time to start the Coca-Cola 600), and Stewart’s fourth-place finish in the 2001 Coca-Cola 600.
Danica Patrick, Justin Allgaier Talk About Phoenix Incident
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
A disappointing start to the year for Danica Patrick won’t include continued conflict. Patrick met with rookie Justin Allgaier Sunday, shortly after the Phoenix Cup race after a wreck ruined both drivers’ days. Patrick, who was critical of the No. 51 car on the radio, claiming Allgaier was “driving all over the track” appeared receptive to a conversation that quickly settled differences over what will be a long season.
“She was just upset because she got involved in the crash that we had,’’ said Allgaier to the Motor Racing Network. “She says she’s been through this and that she felt like I needed to settle down at that point. I explained my position on why everything happened. I think she understood where I was coming from. It doesn’t fix either one of our racecars. It doesn’t fix either one of our days. Unfortunately, we were both having pretty decent days.’’
Allgaier wound up 30th due to the incident while Patrick was 36th. The incident, which was caused by Allgaier’s spin also involved the No. 32 team and Travis Kvapil, which wound up 38th after sustaining heavy damage.
Camping World Close to Extending Title Sponsorship of NCWTS
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Marcus Lemonis, CEO of Camping World, Grand Marshal of Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway, and star of CNBC’s “The Profit,” made the announcement over the weekend that the retailer is very close to announcing a deal that would continue its title sponsorship of NASCAR’s Truck Series. The original agreement with NASCAR is scheduled to conclude after the 2015 season.
According to the sanctioning body, no formal contract has been signed, but “the agreement between the two parties has proven to be a beneficial one.”
“In about a month, we’ll be announcing a significant extension to that contract. It’s been great for us,” said Camping World’s Lemonis in a statement. “The NASCAR relationship has worked well for Camping World. When we started, we had 35 stores. Now, we’re up to 120 stores. As we travel the country and we meet new customers in stores, they always are very appreciative of our relationship with NASCAR. It’s been good.”
Gaining a long-term commitment from Camping World to sponsor the Truck Series would be a relief for NASCAR, which is set to lose Nationwide Insurance as title sponsor for the NASCAR Nationwide Series at the end of the 2014 season. The sponsorship of the Cup Series by Sprint runs through 2016.
The NCWTS is back in action on March 29th at 2:30 PM (ET) when the trucks visit Martinsville Speedway in the Kroger 250, which can be seen on Fox Sports 1. Ratings for the season opener were up 11 percent.
Harvick Takes Win At Phoenix In Second Race With New Team
posted by Justin Tucker
Monday March 3, 2014
Phoenix International Raceway has become Kevin Harvick’s home away from home. Sunday Afternoon was no exception as Harvick charged to the front early and would dominate for much of the day, leading 224 of the scheduled 312 laps to record his record fifth win on the one mile oval and his third win in the last four races at Phoenix.
Harvick, coming off of a disappointing Speedweeks which was capped by a last lap crash in the Daytona 500 in his debut with Stewart-Haas Racing, set the tone on Saturday by winning both practices while having the best 5 and 10-lap averages in the first practice of the day on Saturday. On Sunday, Harvick and his No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet was nothing short of flawless as he was able to hold Dale Earnhardt, Jr. by .489 seconds after a late race restart to claim his 24th career Sprint Cup Series victory.
“Man, this is awesome,” Harvick said after his dominant victory on Sunday. “Man, this just solidifies so many things and so many decisions. It’s been so much work with all the time and effort that these guys (the crew) have put in—but what a race car.”
Stewart Haas Racing co-owner Gene Haas shared in Harvick’s excitement after the race.
“It took long enough,” Haas joked. “This is phenomenal. I think there was a lot of skepticism last year about what myself and Tony (Stewart) what we were up to, was there a lot of madness to this. Quite frankly, it’s a great team, there’s a lot of synergy at the shop, people working together. I don’t know what we did, but I think we put together a great organization.”
Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt, Jr. continued his hot start to the 2014 season. Earnhardt Jr. would finish second on Sunday, marking his seventh consecutive top 10 finish since the end of the 2013 season. Earnhardt Jr. was pleased with the effort after a coast-to-coast whirlwind week after winning his second Daytona 500 and also gave great praise to the efforts of Harvick and the No. 4 team.
“I’ve got to congratulate Kevin. Those guys were two-tenths faster than everyone all weekend in practice. They were just phenomenal,” Earnhardt said. “To be able to run with them all day was a big confidence builder for us.”
Joining Harvick and Earnhardt in the top 5 of The Profit on CNBC 500K were Brad Keselowski with his second consecutive top 3 run of 2014 in third. Keselowski’s Team Penske teammate Joey Logano would finish fourth, and Jeff Gordon would come home fifth in his No. 24 Pepsi Max Chevrolet.
Jimmie Johnson finished in sixth, followed by Ryan Newman with a nice rebound after Daytona in seventh. Carl Edwards would carry the banner for Roush Fenway Racing by finishing eighth, Kyle Busch was ninth, and Jamie McMurray would finish tenth.
A look at the Profit on CNBC 500K by the numbers. There were 14 lead changes among eight different drivers, there were eight cautions for 39 laps which slowed the race pace to 109.229 MPH.
Next Sunday, the Sprint Cup Series heads to Sin City and the Las Vegas Motor
Starting Lineup: The Profit On CNBC 500K
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday March 1, 2014
Drivers in RED (i) are those ineligible to collect Sprint Cup points
Daytona 500 TV Ratings Down
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Wednesday February 26, 2014
What was the longest weather delay in Daytona 500 history turned out to bring NASCAR lower ratings and TV viewership Sunday night than expected. According to a report Monday from FOX Sports, the 56th running of the Daytona 500 airing at 8 PM (ET) posted a 5.6/10 national household rating/share which averaged 9.3 million viewers. That’s down 44 percent from last year’s 9.9, easily making it the least-watched Daytona 500 of all-time.
Due to the six-hour, twenty-two minute rain delay in Daytona, the race was up against the primetime coverage of the Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony from Sochi, Russia on NBC (15.25 million viewers). FOX also reported that 69% of the pre-rain delay viewers of the race, which began at 1 PM (ET) kept tuning in.
In comparison, the 2013 Daytona 500 on FOX was the most-watched race in five years, posting a 9.9/22 rating/share, commanding 16.7 million viewers. The Daytona 500 in 2012, the first to ever be run on a Monday and in the primetime slot did a 7.7/13 overnight rating/share which resulted in 13.67 million households viewing the race according to Nielsen TV ratings data.
Earnhardt, Jr. Claims Second Daytona 500 Victory
posted by Justin Tucker
Wednesday February 26, 2014
Ten years is a long time. For Dale Earnhardt, Jr., it felt like an eternity. NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver endured many near misses and close calls at the Daytona 500 since his only win in the Great American Race in 2004. Earnhardt had finished second in two of his last three Daytona 500s coming into Sunday’s race. He was also riding the tail of a 55-race winless streak, dating back to Michigan in 2012.
However nothing would stop Dale Jr. on Sunday, not even a 6 hour and 22 minute rain delay from capturing his second Daytona 500 win. Earnhardt Jr. led a race-high 54 laps on the evening and used some timely drafting help from teammates Jimmie Johnson and, on the final restart, Jeff Gordon to separate from the pack and secure the victory.
“Winning this race is the greatest feeling that you could feel in this sport besides accepting the trophy for the championship,” said a jubilant Earnhardt after pulling into Victory Lane. “We could fight off battle after battle. We got a little help at the end there from Jeff to get away on the restart. This is amazing. I can’t believe this is happening. I never take this for granted, man because it doesn’t happen twice, let alone once.”
Aside from the race itself the big story of the race was the 6 hour and 22 minute red flag, which threatened to move the race to Monday evening (had the race been postponed, FOX Sports’ Chris Myers had tweeted that the race would resume at 5:00pm EST). However, Mother Nature would cooperate and would allow the race to be run under different conditions from which they practiced this week. Once the race resumed, the intensity picked up from the changing track conditions. This allowed the pack to race side-by-side and at times 3-wide up to seven rows deep.
Joining Earnhardt Jr. in the top 5 for the 2014 Daytona 500 were: Denny Hamlin who closed out a spectacular Speedweeks in second, Brad Keselowski in third, Jeff Gordon in fourth, and Jimmie Johnson who overcome two wrecks leading up to the 500 in fifth.
Rounding out the top 10 in the Daytona 500 were Matt Kenseth in sixth, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. in seventh and Greg Biffle would bring his No. 16 Ford home in eighth. Austin Dillon would come home ninth in his first Cup Series race in the iconic No. 3 for Richard Childress Racing, while Casey Mears would round out the top 10.
A couple of major contenders for the Daytona 500 win would see their hopes dashed early on as Martin Truex, Jr. would blow up just 30 laps into the race, relegating him to a 43rd-place finish in his debut for Furniture Row Racing. Crew chief Todd Berrier was already in Nashville for a test session before the race was even over. Kyle Busch, meanwhile would have a pit road violation just before halfway and would spend much of the race battling back from that mistake. Busch would eventually finish 19th after leading 19 laps.
Danica Patrick would also be bit by bad luck as she was caught up in a multi-car wreck on lap 145. Patrick would lead her second consecutive Daytona 500, but wouldn’t have the finish to show for it finishing 40th. Tony Stewart would encounter a frustrating evening as well, with a fuel pickup problem derailing his quest for his first Daytona 500 win. Stewart would finish 35th.
A look at the Daytona 500 by the numbers. There were 42 lead changes among 18 drivers, while seven cautions for 39 laps would slow the race pace to 145.290 MPH.
Next week, the Sprint Cup Series heads to the “diamond in the desert,” Phoenix International Raceway for The Profit on CNBC 500K. The Green flag is scheduled for 3:15pm EST.
Nationwide Series Post-Race Quotes: Drive4COPD 300
posted by Thomas Bowles
Tuesday February 25, 2014
Frontstretch Interviews – Courtesy Mike Neff
ELLIOTT SADLER – FINISHED 4th
Thoughts on the race?
It’s definitely a lot different racing than what we’re used to.
Comfortable with it?
Yeah, it’s just different. You’re worried about what you’re doing, but you’re also worried about what everyone else is doing and they’re not doing more than you’re doing. Physically pushing a guy is way better than just riding so you just gotta time it right and push it to the edge.
Happy to start the year with a top 5?
Yeah. Hell, that was the worst we ran all day, I think. I have no idea how they put the 3 car in front of us on that last restart. I hadn’t seen the 3 car hardly all day. When they put us from fifth to sixth, on the outside line, it just really boxed us in. I would have really restarted behind my teammate and given him a good push to the front. Anyways, it is what it is; we’ll take it and move on.
Looked like you were up front all day.
The guys did a good job. We had a fast race car. Great pit stops, just really proud of these guys. The car’s in one piece and we can take it to Talladega now. Great job by my guys. A lot of effort came into coming down here to Daytona and giving ourselves a shot to win. We had that chance to be up front and make some things happen. Fifth is not what we want, but we’ll take it and move on.
Bumping vs Pushing?
It’s way harder. You don’t want to lay on the guy in front of you, so it’s tough racing. A lot different than what we’re used to, ‘cause you gotta go. You gotta drag the brake too ‘cause you don’t want to hit the guys and you don’t want to stay on him. It’s a lot harder mentally than what we’ve done in the past.
Car was strong all day. Pushing vs. Bumping, is that harder to do than just getting on somebody and pushing them?
Yeah, it is a little bit. When you bump ‘em, you jar ‘em, it kinda jacks ‘em a little bit. It’s a little more abrupt, obviously. I thought it was OK there at the end. It was certainly fun and hopefully entertaining. But a little bit of a struggle in the early part of the race and the midpart of the race to see a good race. And that’s unfortunate for the fans. You can’t do that the whole race, you can’t tear up your stuff, knock your grill in, overheat your motor, all that stuff so there’s no sense in doing all that until you get down to the last lap. The 7 and the 6, they did a good job. Man, the 7 really held the 22 and I tight on the bottom. I was rubbing his door and hitting the apron at the same time, no room whatsoever. So it was good; wish we were the ones who could have won but a lot better now than what we were last year.
Going home in one piece makes it a lot better, right?
Yeah. My back feels good. My foot feels good. Past years here, I’ve been going home with pain so I’m alright.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Truck Series Post-Race Quotes: Daytona (Exclusives)
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday February 22, 2014
When you’re on the outside like that, how frustrating is it?
It’s so hard. Timothy Peters has won here. Kyle Busch has won everywhere. Ron Hornaday has been running Trucks forever, probably before I was even born. I was surrounded by veterans there, and like I told them I don’t have a rookie stripe but I’m a rookie. This is only my fourth Truck race ever, my fourth superspeedway race, and man, I figured out when the 17 got up in front of me, I pushed him. And as soon as I pushed him, he took off. And I went with him. And I just kept doing it, and before I knew it, he was leading. And I saw Ron in my mirror, backed up to him, and if it wasn’t for him, I don’t know what would have happened. I gotta thank him big time for that. That was a true teammate move right there. I really appreciate that. He just bounced off me and we got to the front. I tried my hardest to sidedraft Kyle. I was probably touching his door.
Top 5 in the No. 30 truck. This deal come together at the last minute, but you had a heck of a truck. Tell us about your night.
Yeah, I’ve got to thank Turner Scott Motorsports. The guys worked so hard on this Rheem Comfort Products Chevrolet. Exciting! Just got hung up on the outside and had to wait for my teammate there to catch up. And then he got to the bottom, so… I got the old 32 and started pushing ol’ Ryan to the front. So, it’s not bad. We’ll take it. You just don’t want to step over that boundary. You don’t know how far to push and shove. We bumped about six times down the straightaway without latching onto them. Hopefully, that was OK and we came home with a top 5.
Connect with Mike!
Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
Matt McLaughlin · Monday March 19, 2012
The Key Moment – Brad Keselowski prevailed on the final restart to keep Matt Kenseth behind him. Kenseth drove for all he was worth as the duo battled through lapped traffic, to no avail; he lost the race by seven-tenths of a second.
In a Nutshell – A classic battle of skill, stealth and strategy.
Dramatic Moment – Keselowski and Kenseth had what appeared to be equally fast cars for the second half of the race, so it came down to which driver wanted it most and dealt with lapped traffic better. It was a whale of a show for the fans.
What They’ll Be Talking About Around the Water Cooler This Week
College basketball… more and more and more frickin’ basketball. Seriously, if I hear one more damned word about March Madness, I’m going off the grid until after Easter. Anyone know where to download an application to join the Amish church? I can’t find their website.
Kenseth, running second to Keselowski, clearly beat the leader to the line once and possibly twice. Why did the NASCAR referees swallow their whistles and not call a foul? The evidence was irrefutable. Call it the luck of the Irish, I suppose.
After Sunday’s race, the debate is going to rage on which is better, the old Bristol track configuration or the new one? I know I’m going to be in the minority on this issue but I prefer the new graduated banking. The top lane is faster but the bottom lane is the shorter away around the track. To make a pass, a driver needs to stalk his prey, set him up and then keep his car fast down low for a few laps to prevail. One slight slip-up? You’re forced to begin the whole process all over again. Thus a good run at Bristol now requires patience, planning and strategy as opposed to the old layout that rewarded brute force. I mean come on, did you really prefer those old Bristol wreckfests, with eighteen cautions in a 250-mile event and the pace car leading the most laps just because it occasionally involved drivers throwing crap at each other? You want to watch grown men behaving badly? Watch the next Republican debate.
The thing about punching race cars is it tends to hurt you a lot more than the car, as Kyle Busch will probably attest. In punching the roof of his No. 18, Busch also dented the one body part on that car that hadn’t already been damaged.
Is it really safe for the drivers of cars patched together as badly as the Nos. 5, 99, and 18 to even return to the track after battlefield surgery? I was particularly concerned about the No. 5 Chevy, which was absent its driver side door panel amongst other vital bits and pieces.
This Tuesday (tomorrow when this column is published) will mark the final appeal of Hendrick Motorsports for the penalties assessed for the C-post violations with the car prior to the Daytona 500, a long, long, time ago in a universe far away. While doubtless there will be another media circus worthy of the Lindsay Loathsome trial(s), what’s the likelihood the penalties will be reduced or even overturned? Normally, I’d say slim to none but then the final referee, John Middlebrook, is a frequent dinner companion of team owner Rick Hendrick. Maybe NASCAR should be allowed a court of final resort in case their decision is overturned as well, presenting evidence to Judge Joe Brown? Just in case, whoever is feeding the media this week might want to add some of Alice’s magic mushrooms to the menu?
Well apparently “Saint Patrick” is an Italian fellow who converted Ireland to Catholicism, not the driver of the No. 7 car in the Nationwide Series as ESPN would have you believe. Saturday Patrick started the Nationwide race 27th and fell a lap down on Lap 58 of a rare, extended green flag period at Bristol. She’d finish the race two laps behind, a distant 19th and has yet to finish a race this season inside the top 10. Maybe they should repaint her car a different color? Older fans might recall a green race car was considered bad luck in the days of yore.
It’s probably no more than a pipe dream speedway, but I’m still intrigued by the idea. Bruton Smith has announced he’d like to build a replica of Germany’s infamous Nurburgring in Nevada. He plans a track that is an exact duplicate of the famous 13-mile plus road course, right down to the angle and banking of the corners and each elevation change. Why out West? Simple: there’s plenty of space available, for cheap; the government of Nevada owns 84 percent of the land in the state. For those who don’t know, the Nurburgring has become the hot spot for wringing out concept cars and production vehicles for car makers to prove the roadworthiness of their product. In addition, anyone with a valid driver’s license in Germany can pay to hot lap around the track in their personal car or motorcycle with no fear of a traffic ticket. That’s what I’d like to see at a track that size in Nevada. But of course, we live in a litigious society which would probably eliminate a chance for such fun. Too bad… not to mention there’s probably some Great Horned Southwestern Spitting Toad, one that the environmentalists would holler might get run over at such a track or at least might be annoyed by the noise.
Let’s set a couple things straight. “The Blue Deuce” hasn’t won all those races for Penske at Bristol. Rusty Wallace’s car was black and yellow (but still sponsored by Miller) in many of those events. And the Bristol night race is run in the Summer, not the Fall unless they use metric seasons in Tennessee.
Tickets to even the Bristol winter race used to be all but impossible to get but like Jerry might sing, “From that Cup, no more.” A generously estimated 102,000 fans attended this year’s event, down significantly from the 120,000 ticket buyers last year. The size of the crowd at California next weekend might be even more telling. Whatever late season momentum NASCAR gained with a stirring championship battle that went down to the wire appears to have been squandered. Of course, four buck a gallon gas (and it’s over five bucks in some spots in California) isn’t helping any.
The Hindenburg Award For Foul Fortune
Jeff Gordon had a car that appeared to be as stout as the Nos. 2 and 17, but incidental contact with his teammate Dale Earnhardt, Jr. as they scrapped over a top-5 spot cut down a tire on his Chevy and put him into the wall. Gordon limped home 35th.
Think the new Bristol layout doesn’t make for enough carnage? Carl Edwards, Kyle Busch, and Kasey Kahne (among others) would probably beg to disagree. The early race wreck (lap 24) was particularly hard for Busch, a prohibitive favorite coming into the event. None of that trio wound up inside the top 30.
Remember the mentally refreshed, happy new Denny Hamlin whom the sports psychologist had helped rid of the funk he was in for all of 2011? I think the team left him in Phoenix. A pit crew member left a wheel loose on Sunday, dropping a clearly unhappy Hamlin (who hadn’t been all that mirthful all weekend) into a 20th-place finish, two laps off the pace.
Robby Gordon and his underfunded team hauled a Dodge to Bristol but were unable to get the engine started. That’s a new one on me. (So was it an electrical issue or a fuel injection problem?) The McLaren engineers might still be figuring it out; as it is, Gordon never made a Friday qualifying attempt and missed the race.
Earnhardt had a solid top-5 run going when he got nailed for speeding on pit road late in the event. Losing track position isn’t the only thing the teams and drivers gamble on pitting when most of the top of the field stays out. By the checkered, the No. 88 was still stuck, running as the last car on the lead lap in 15th.
A.J. Allmendinger started on the outside pole and even led 54 laps on Sunday. But some sort of handling issue dogged him the second half of the race and Allmendinger wound up 17th.
The “Seven Come Fore Eleven” Award For Fine Fortune
The only other driver who left Bristol Sunday as happy as the winner was Brian Vickers. He led 132 laps and finished fifth in his return to Cup competition, the first of a limited schedule of events for Michael Waltrip Racing. Perhaps just as notably, he did so with no questionable judgment calls or controversy.
Keselowski was actually the third man into the lap 24 Smith-Kahne incident but managed to snake his way through the carnage with only a bump to the nose of his Dodge.
Jimmie Johnson, who finished ninth was right behind that big wreck but managed to barely squeeze through on the bottom. In fact, if “Five-Time” was running those widened C-pillars he’d probably have gotten hit on both sides.
Elliott Sadler is off to a solid start in his quest for a championship. His victory in Saturday’s Nationwide event was his second in four 2012 races in that series.
What’s the Points?
Greg Biffle maintains his championship lead and is now nine points ahead of Harvick. Kenseth’s runner-up finish advances him two spots to third in the standings. Martin Truex, Jr. moves up four spots to fourth, continuing his best ever start for the NAPA Toyota. Hamlin and Earnhardt are now tied for the fifth position.
Tony Stewart, after his accident late slipped to seventh in the standings. Clint Bowyer’s strong run Sunday trampolined him up six positions to eighth, tied with Joey Logano. Paul Menard rounds out the top 10, trailed closely by Jeff Burton and Ryan Newman.
Keselowski’s win also advanced him eight positions to thirteenth in the standings; he’d now earn the first “wild card” to get him inside the Chase. Further back, despite the Daytona penalty, Johnson is now listed as 17th. If that 25-point deduction is overturned Tuesday, he’ll be eleventh in the standings.
But even if the consequences stand, for Johnson it could be worse. His teammate Gordon, who hasn’t been penalized, finds himself an uncharacteristic 23rd in the points race, a whopping 72 behind Biffle after just four events. The fourth HMS driver, Kahne, finds himself in even more dire circumstances. After yet another wreck, he fell six spots to an abysmal 32nd. If Kahne’s No. 5 finds itself outside the top 35 in owner points after next week’s California event, he’ll have to race his way into the field starting at Martinsville. I’m fairly certain Kahne has the equipment and talent to make every race on speed, but losing that top 35 safety blanket has got to be worrisome for a driver.
Kurt Busch needs to post a few good finishes as well. He’s 27th in the standings, just 23 points ahead of that top 35 cutoff. And if points were awarded now… we’d all have a lot of beautiful free weekends to go out and ride our motorcycles.
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 five icy cold bottles of Corona, dyed green in honor of Saint Paddy’s.
Next Up – Oh, boy! The circuit heads off to Fontana, historically one of the most tedious tracks on the circuit. Like an insurance agent will tell you, hope for the best but expect the worst. By the way, is it possible the reason Fontana has problems selling tickets is because three of the first five Cup races are all held in the same region? Whoops.
©2000 - 2008 Matt McLaughlin and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
…which is better…. Let’s start a poll, in my opinion so far it’s: 2 – Zip for the new configuration. I like the racing now – and there’s racing going on, all around the track, every lap, all the time!!! I’ve been to several races in Thunder Valley. The only good things about the old configuration were the bathroom breaks (yellow flags). It used to be there was never a line in the latrines. That’s because there was a caution every 15 – 20 laps – whether they needed it or not. Let’s hope NA$CAR sees it that way and doesn’t mandate some kind of change to screw things up.
The racing isn’t bad at the new Bristol but it’s not the spectacle that it once was and that is why the stands are half filled.
So, at the risk of being accused of being one of those “I only watch it for the wrecks” people, I will say that I liked the old configuration better.
With that said, I still think Bristol racing is better than any of the cookie cutter 1.5-2 mile tracks.
The only reason those rolling wrecks are out there is Nascar’s insistence on awarding points through 43rd place. If they cut off paying points to say twenty fifth place, the problem would disappear or they could simply black flag cars without impacting the points race.
I never thought I’d see so many empty seats at a Bristol race. It looked REALLY bad on TV.
And the race was BORING. Bristol boring? Yeah.
But I wonder if it’s the chase that’s hurt the racing more than the concrete. Drivers are SO careful because they need those points.
Whatever the case, it’s sad to lose what used to be MUST WATCH racing at Bristol. Now, it’s not much different from a 1.5 mile track.
If there is a safety caution to check tire wear on a green race track shouldn’t it be mandatory to change all four tires and check tire wear?
I’m with you on the track configuration. Heckuva battle between Kez and Kenseth. The tickets are still pricey and so is the gas. When it really hits NASCAR in the wallet, trust me, they’ll do something then.
Let the debate rage on. I think I came here last year after the Bristol race and commented and I will do it again.
First, I have been going to the Bristol Spring race every year since 1995. I have only been to one night race and that was 2001, I believe.
If this track was just built somewhere else, people would probably rave about the racing, at least compared to most other tracks. However, the problem is, this is NOT Bristol Racing now. Its still @Bristol, but its not the type of racing that filled as many seats as they could squeeze around the 1/2 mile track.
I do not go to races to see wrecks, but I enjoyed going to Bristol and seeing good hard, bullring racing. What happened to “rubbin is racin”?
For all you football fans out there, lets try this comparison.
What if the “Super Bowl” was a touch football game instead of full contact tackle? Would it still be as exciting? I think not. You dont want to see players hurt, but its part of the game, well wrecking is sometimes the by product of good hard racing, and sometimes short patience!
Sure the drivers love it now, its not 500 laps of mental fatique! It’s 500 laps of cruising around now, with little to no worry of even getting a donut on your door. I remember when you were hard pressed to find a car on the track after 500 laps without a dent, ding or donut minimum! Now most of the cars look like they just came off the hauler after the race is over.
All the empty seats have way more to do with the pavement reconfig, the IROC type cars, and the stupid Chase than the economy!
If the racing was still as exciting as it was just a few years ago, the economy “might” keep it from being a sell out, but it wouldnt keep the place from being nearly full every year! People FOUND ways to make it to and into Bristol Motor Speedway even when it sold out way in advanced. Now people would rather just stay home and save their money, because the action on the track just isnt worth the expense!My Dad has been a season ticket holder since the mid 1980’s. 6 of the original 8 for the August night race no longer go. One couple quit going a few years ago, selling their tickets every year, then this past year, the other 2 couples informed my Dad they no longer want their tickets anymore either. Their reason, the race just wasnt worth the sacrifices anymore. There are 4 of us that still go to the Spring race every year, but every year we complain about how different (boring) the races are here now compared to how it used to be.
#ThisAINTBristolBaby! (its a twitter thing)
I’ve been saying this for years. Make the damn tires wear out before a full fuel run and you’ll see a lot better racing. Anytime you turn a race into a pitbox strategy session, the racing itself suffers. There’s nothing wrong with these tracks, it’s the freaking tires.
Goodyear has become so conservative with thier compounds that guys are running half of these races on the same set of tires. Put things back in the hands of the drivers and make them learn how to race again.
Matt,you should have referred to both parties the Republicans and the Democrats.
So I dvr the race and start to watch it about 2 hours after start time. I begin to fast forward to get past the bs and actually fall asleep in ff mode. Missed the whole race, so I give it 1 can of LaCroix for a good nap.
Holy Crap! Matt has changed his tune and actually likes the new Bristol now? Stop the presses! Call the National Guard! Matt’s been replaced with an alien.
Well, Kev, historically you’re right, but here in Amish Country today it’s flirting with 80 degrees. I Ddon’t think daytime highs have been below 65 for 10 days now and it’s often been in the 70s. Anyone up for calling the teams and telling them to show up at Dover this weekend?
102,000 fans? There goes the NASCAR PR machine again. There were more empty seats than there were butt-filled seats. Oh yeah, like at Fontana, they were under the bleachers getting out of the sun, right?
It’s evident that the track reconfiguration in not taken kindly in Tennessee. And it’s not quite the same on TV. I think I like the old Bristol better. There was more action on the track. Now you see more riding around and less banging and bumping. Except when they show Tony Stewart.
And Matt, your point about 3 early races out “West” is a good one.
The schedulers seem to think it’s always warm and sunny in these parts. In a word, Wrong.
Wait til next week at Fontana. It won’t be warm and sunny for that race, again.
To be sure, there are many factors that are contributing to the smaller crowds at Bristol. One thing not mentioned by anyone else yet is Kyle Busch’s recent dominance at the track. Before any of KB’s fans get all upset about this idea, even they would have to agree that the majority of fans at any race boo him the loudest, and cheer if he has a problem during the race. The point is a lot of KB haters (myself included) are less inclined to take the time and spend the money to go to a race where he has a recent history of dominance. Bristol is my closest track and I haven’t been since 09.
I’ve been to the august night race – once – before the track was reconfigured. Getting to that track in person to see the race had been on my “to do” list and I’ve never regretted the $ and time it took. I wouldn’t waste a dollar on it now. Even watching it on TV before the configuration was changed was exciting, now it’s watching paint dry. Granted some of that may be the way the TV broadcasts have changed since Fox is all about the cult of personality and ESPN is all about it’s script – both networks like to play with their toys far more than actually showing the racing. It may be better racing, but it’s NOT Bristol.
As soon as Kyle got taken out, 90% of the excitement was gone.
Maybe, but if Junior got taken out 90 percent of the fans would have been gone.
It’s a sad state of affairs when an Earnhardt apologizes profusely for accidentally rubbing another car at Bristol.
I liked the old configuration, because rubbin’ is racin’ so maybe Underbird is right about the tires.
What’s 50 feet long and has 12 teeth….?
The funnel cake line at Bristol Motor Speedway…
Much better racing now at Bristol than before which was not racing at all and honestly it isn’t NASCAR keeping people at home but rather the economy and soaring inflation…this is especially true in certain areas of the country where there is not a good paying job to be found…
Bristol used to be unique. No other track came close (well, maybe Martinsville) to the non stop bumping and grinding that Bristol had. With so many cookie cutter tracks that offer LOTS of racing room, you can see races like what happened at Bristol an almost any other weekend. I used to have season tickets, but no more. I can see ‘racing’ like this at MIS 2 hours from home, (but I don’t bother). I’m sure not going to drive 12 hours to watch a race that’s just like all the others. Yes, the ‘new’ track might have better ‘racing’, but it certainly doesn’t have the excitement of the ‘old’ Bristol. Trying to ‘sell’ the races there now as ‘racing the way it aught to be’ is false advertising. I’m so glad that I got to see the OLD Bristol racing before the ‘chase’ and the repaving tamed it.
Did you see the driver intro for #$%#@ Denny Hamlin? What?? I am sure FOX then dubbed in fake cheering. There was an exhuberant cheer from the stands, but in the background, no one was doing anything differnt than what they were before he came out. Can’t believe it has come to this.
Jr agrees with you underbird: “It’s possible to have an awesome race here. And I think Goodyear could come in and pull some trickery with the tires and improve the racing.” In the same interview he applauds the first race at Bristol after the config. as being very competitive. I remember how much progressive banking improved the racing (initially) at Homestead. The drivers all complained this year about the hard tire at Phoenix and Vegas, both progressive-banking tracks…and the racing WAS less than stellar.
cfool…thanks for the laugh! I can see that happening to me, especially at snoozefest Fontana this weekend!
Ive been to bristol a few times both spring and night since 94 always before it didnt matter how broke I was or how much gas cost nothing mattered I was going. Maybe it is better racing now without all the cautions but its not the same track that I was willing to be put on 3 yr waiting list just for a chance at tickets. Another good read Matt
SMI owner Bruton Smith is the culprit,he levigated Charlotte and the track lost its personality it had for years with its unique bumps and dips!
Then the most sacriligious act in racetrack history………..HE screwed up BRISTOL!!!
why should we be surprised,its a**holes like him who cost us North Wilkesboro and Rockingham!
The old fart strikes again!!!!
Agree with you Matt about the new being better racing, but I don’t go anymore. I dropped my season tickets due to what a weekend cost me. ~$400 a couple for tickets for NW and Cup. ~$450 for an RV site (for the week even though I only stay 3 nights) with water and electric. Throw in food and gas and that’s a big weekend. I go to Martinsville, $80 for the tickets and $22 a night for camping for 4 nights, $160 total ccmpared to $850. Why would I go to Bristol. My 2 weeke in Charlotte in May barely cost more than 1 at Bristol. Those folks in TN think alot of themselves.
I’ll always prefer good close racing without beating and banging, so count me as preferring the new Bristol. If I want to see beating and banging, there’s always Martinsville, which is a lot tighter, more exciting and also SAFER to beat and bang on.
The PROBLEM with Sunday’s race was that FOX made it their mission to only ever cover the top 5. While Kenseth vs BK was fun to watch, there was even better racing back in the pack that no one heard a damn thing about.
Well, a few folks agree.
However, I think I can put it in better perspective. I remember when they used to run bias ply tires. That made for some awesome racing because the drivers that could manage their tires the best usually came to the front during a run, those that couldn’t would run fast for the first 20 laps or so, then they’d start fading. This made for lots of “comers and goers” (God, I can’t believe I’m quoting D freaking W).
When they went to radial tires, there began to be talk of running two or three fuel runs on left sides, then Kurt Bush won his first race at Bristol running the same four almost all of the second half of the race. I was there. Saw it first-hand.
Since they’ve gone to these radials, and they’ve made the compound so hard, it tends to be more about track position and fuel strategy than managing your average speeds over a fuel run. That’s what makes the racing suck so bad anymore.
Think about it. If a guy starts 10th on a run, should he just stroke away in 10th for 100 laps, then pit for fuel only to gain track position, or should he run his ass off for the run, make up two positions, then have to pit for two tires with everyone else and still come out 10th? It begs for the drivers to be more conservative until the last run of the day.
Now if that doesn’t describe about 80% of the races run in the last 5 years, I don’t know what does.
Matt, I find it interesting that the new style of racing at Bristol which you applaud is the exact same style of racing you see at road courses, but you find those boring. You have limited passing opportunities and need to set up your pass for a few laps. If it doesn’t work, you start over again.