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 · Wednesday March 21, 2012
How confident was I that the penalties assessed against the No. 48 team for violations found in pre-race inspection at Daytona were going to be upheld? I actually wrote another column yesterday so I had something to file with the editors this week. Tuesday, I tended to errands and barely spared a glance at the Internet. I figured sometime late that afternoon I’d see a brief blurb the penalties had been upheld. That wasn’t worth sitting around waiting for on such a gorgeous, sunny and warm afternoon. So I did what I normally do on afternoons like today. I actually had my helmet in hand and was heading for the Harley when the phone rang. Anything that interferes with a chance to ride typically annoys me, but looking at my Caller ID I saw the number of a friend in North Carolina. He was working the “Stakeout” at the NASCAR R and D center Tuesday and promised to call me with any updates.
I’ll admit when he told me that the penalties against the No. 48 outfit had been by and large overturned I dropped my helmet. I asked him if he was kidding me (or words to that effect). But he was clearly as shocked as I was. The Harley was staying parked. My buddy wasn’t joking with me. The only joke was John Middlebrook’s decision.
In case you were caught off guard, here’s the gist of Tuesday’s verdict. The $100,000 dollar fine against Chad Knaus was upheld. The 25 driver and team owner points were restored to Jimmie Johnson and car owner of record, Jeff Gordon. The six-race suspensions against Knaus and car chief Ron Malec were dismissed. Instead, both men will be on NASCAR probation until May 9th. (What’s that mean? Basically nothing. If a person on NASCAR probation is caught outside the rules again, he is then put on double probation and gets a loud scolding.)
I don’t know Mr. Middlebrook. I’ve never even laid eyes on him. I’ve been told by reliable sources that Rick Hendrick and Middlebrook have been frequent dinner companions over the years and that doesn’t surprise me. Before he owned race teams, Rick Hendrick made his fortune opening and running multiple new car dealerships, selling mostly Chevys and Hondas. With Hendrick one of the largest Chevy dealers in the Charlotte region, it isn’t surprising he’s had a few dinners with Middlebrook, a former top-level GM executive.
What is surprising is that given the level of familiarity between the two men, Middlebrook didn’t choose to recuse himself from the case. Certainly, if any judge in civil or criminal court had had dinners with a defendant or prosecutor involved in a trial, he’d have stood aside and let someone else stand in.
The verdict itself is baffling. Middlebrook let stand the $100,000 fine. While that might not be a lot of money to Hendrick, that’s two to three years’ salary for many fans. If an infraction is serious enough to earn a six-figure fine, how can it not be serious enough to warrant penalties that will actually hurt the operation of the team, the loss of team and drivers points and forcing Knaus to the sidelines for six weeks? Either the infraction was serious or it wasn’t. Trying to slice things down the middle like Tuesday’s decision did reeks of awkward compromise and cronyism. Even NASCAR officials are offering the fact the fine stood as proof that No. 48 car was illegal.
As you might guess, Rick Hendrick is basically pleased with Tuesday’s result, claiming he was confident all along that the No. 48 team and the car in question had been compliant with the rulebook. (A nice way of saying, hey we slipped one through on a rule that hadn’t been added yet.) He professed to be shocked by last Tuesday’s decision by a three-member panel to uphold the penalties. Then he added an offhand comment that set my blood pressure through the roof. He noted, “I would have liked to have the fine gone, too.”
No … really? It reminds me of an old joke. A grandmother is walking her grandson down the beach when a rogue wave sweeps to shore and carries the lad out to sea. Unable to swim, she drops to her knees and begins to pray, “Oh, God, please don’t let my grandson drown. If you restore him to me, I’ll be the person I know you want me to be, I’ll confess my sins, and I’ll give one tenth of all I own to charity.” Another wave sweeps the boy back to shore and he’s fine. The grandmother looks up angrily towards Heaven and hollers, “Hey, he was wearing a hat!” For most of us, a $100,000 windfall would be a game changer but to Hendrick, it’s pocket change.
If Tuesday’s decision was just, where does that leave the NASCAR organization? NASCAR paid and trained inspectors identified the suspect C-pillars and flagged them as an infraction. Those aren’t the fellows that decided on the penalties to be issued. That decision moved way up the food chain to the top echelons of the sport’s hierarchy. The top brass had plenty of time to inspect those parts themselves and listen to the inspectors’ concerns. After long deliberation, they decided on penalties I felt were too mild but understandable. Then a three-referee panel of men that NASCAR appointed as experts listened to the evidence (for almost six hours) and came to a unanimous decision: the parts in question were illegal and the penalties were appropriate.
So we’re left with two possible conclusions. Either justice wasn’t served on Tuesday or all those NASCAR inspectors, officials of the highest rank and the referees they’ve appointed are all incompetent and should be immediately replaced by more savvy individuals. I mean seriously, the most damning charge thrown at the No. 48 team was “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.” So if NASCAR officials used their “judgment” (this one isn’t a litmus test, it is or it isn’t), and the C-pillars were obviously intended to “enhance aerodynamic performance” then how can you say the penalty wasn’t appropriate? The key word here is “judgment” not “measurement.”
Hendrick’s case hinged on the “not previously approved” part of the sentence. He said that that same car had passed inspection multiple times last year which is a nice way of saying, “We made you look like idiots last year and you’re going to look even dumber when this mess gets sorted out.”
Yeah, NASCAR is looking pretty stupid right now. They really didn’t need this. They’re quite good at making themselves look stupid on their own. If there is at least an appearance of conflict of interest, given Middlebrook’s personal relationship with Hendrick NASCAR didn’t do themselves any favors in that regard either. After all Lowe’s, the sponsor of the No. 48 team, is the Official Home Improvement Center of NASCAR, a title they write some big checks for to boast. In modern society, appearances are, by and large, reality and when it comes to the sniff test this one could knock a buzzard off a sh!t-wagon. NASCAR should have no official partners that are also sponsors of race teams to remove even the appearance of impropriety. (And in this economy, they should be courting sponsors that back race teams, not ones to become the Official Whatever or What-not of NASCAR.)
The outcome today might have been preordained. The atmosphere at the R and D center is said to have been notably more subdued today than the quasi-carnival of last week. Two Frontstretch readers told me after feeling like they missed out on all the fun last week they decided to attend the parking lot “happening” this time. One had the day off anyway and the other took the day off. Both were turned away from the R and D center for lack of a NASCAR hard card. (An annual credential.) It was as if those in charge knew something unsavory was about to occur and the less witnesses around to see it, the better. You’d think if NASCAR wanted their appeals process to have any sense of legitimacy, in this electronic age they could have set up a web camera to broadcast the hearing to any and all who could sit through what was doubtlessly a highly technical discussion. For all their talk of “transparency” NASCAR apparently still doesn’t want to give the unwashed masses that make up their fan base a peek behind the curtain or even to be in the area when the Wizard makes a break for his hot air balloon.
As I wrote last week on this topic, in order to be effective punishment needs to be swift, severe and certain. This whole mess has now dragged on over a month. The penalties that remain are not severe. Throw away the NASCAR rule book. Punishment is no longer certain – at least not for certain teams.
Editor’s Note: Looking for the other side to this story? Check out Amy Henderson’s column here which claims this decision was the right move. And most importantly, let us know what you think!
©2000 - 2008 Matt McLaughlin and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
Maybe Middlebrook took the middle way. Hendrick’s case looks good. NASCAR’s case is strong as well. Let’s split it down the middle. I envision multiple scenarios where this is a fair and sensible outcome based on the rules in place. The final court often overturns or amends the decisions of lower courts. If lower courts didn’t make errors, there wouldn’t be a need for appeals.
I believe Middlebrook’s message to NASCAR was: if you believe there is a problem, put the car through the inspection first. A visual inspection isn’t enough to assess such harsh penalties.
The car never was subjected to a template, it’s NASCARS Fault for this being over turned. Had the Officals put the car through the template proccess, then the fines would have been upheld. NASCAR got spanked with it’s own rule book for once. Good!
You had it right!! The FELON bought his way out of another one!!…
I think the less time we spend thinking about this one and trying to understand it, the better off we will all be. It defies logic. None of this, from beginning to end, makes sense.
The real problem is that while Middlebrook’s decision may be the correct one, his familiarity with Hendrick creates the taint, the perception, that it’s not. He should have recused himself.
Having said that, if any drivers out there are pissed he got away with it, all they need to do to re-impose a 25 point penalty is “accidentally” put him in the wall and out of the race about a third of the way in… heck, there are probably enough ticked off fans to sponsor a car at a dollar apiece to do just that! :)
i’m sure some check, besides the fine, was involved.
whatever little credibility na$car had left, ha!
Can you say CHEATER? Cheaters never win and winners never cheat!
Well nascar. How many more fans are you trying to chase away from the sport. This not only screams of conflict of interest,it it reeks of cronyism. A f**king sad day for the fans.
I blasted an email to Tom Bowles yesterday basically saying what you did… there’s either something very fishy going on here, or everyone from the technical inspectors to Robin Pemberton and Mike Helton, and including the members of the appeals panel, are grossly incompetent. My assessment… it’s probably both. The fact that Middlebrook took the coward’s route and didn’t bother explain his decision makes the appeal ruling even more suspect. If this whole process isn’t complete BS, it certainly has the same stench. I’m disgusted.
Never got your email! Where’d you send it? email@example.com usually works…
Just saw this quote from Knaus and it says it all.
“There’s two sides to every story.There’s my side, NASCAR’s side and the truth. That always lies in the middle somewhere
Well, ummm, isn’t that three sides to the story? And isn’t Knaus admitting he wasn’t entirely truthful?
I can’t understand why any of this even took place! From what I hear the 48 car never even rolled on to Pit Road before the C-Posts were changed. Where is the infraction? All adds up to more NASCAR drama. As far as the $100K, once cash hits the France Family pocket, it ain’t comin’ out.
The car never raced or even took a lap on a track. It was stopped in pre-race inspection. At the local tracks a failure of pre-race inspection prevents an illegal car from racing. NASCAR succeeded in that aspect and that should have been the end of it.
I understand the car has race before..If the Team was told not to bring the car back to the track thats would somewhat explain NASCARs actions. What happened was ‘it didn’t look right’ and that not compelling evidence in any hearing.
Big fan of Matt’s, read every column he writes (for years) but I can’t agree. As Amy Henderson said in another article ‘Taking points when no points were earned is ridiculous”
I used the Contact Us/ Email Us link at the top of the page: It goes to TomBowlesFS@gmail.com.
Middlebrook never recinded 12-1 violation hence the $100k fine and probation…
Nascar had the tools at hand to make actual measurements of the violation and of cars that did pass and didn’t.
Middlebrook is a very good friend of Childress and only slightly reduced his penalties.
Middlebrook has a track record of reducing fines in all his cases.
I seriously doubt either Nascar or Hendricks has the cash to bribe Middlebrook—-Those old GM folk made a fortune at GM.
Everyone has a price but I seriously doubt the case was worth the fortune it would have taken.
PS. Glad to hear you’ve taken courses to improve your village standing – LOL
The verdict to me doesn’t really matter to me..except I’m not sure what the verdict was! Was it you’re guilty but not “too guilty”? OR was it you’re innocent but “not really”? If I commit a crime I sure hope I have Mr. Middlebrook as my judge!
Well I guess money can buy anything……
Josie, Precisely. Yesterday Middlebrook basically said the patient was half-pregnant.
A convicted felon knows how to work the system. I think this casts a shadow on the legitimacy of all of Johnson’s championships.
For all consperacy(sp) theorists this is what got the Sh!t overturned…Hendrick argued that other teams had similar problems with their C-posts during the same assessment, but officials allowed them to go back to the garage and make adjustments while Jimmie Johnson’s car wasn’t given that opportunity. Unconfirmed reports had Kyle Busch’s No. 18 as one of those cars. So should they all have 25pt penalty, suspensions, and fines? 1st Nascar needs to be fair and consistent..HaHa 2nd All you jurors out there need to have the facts before handing out a verdict.
Middlebrook is a crook like FELLON Rick,what a joke !!
Middlebrook is a crook like FELON Rick,what a joke !!
It sounds like the final ruling mostly in favor of the 48 was based on NASCAR not following their own inspection procedure – you KNOW someone tipped them off to this issue before hand. That is how it works in the Cup garage.
That said – I thought a lesser penalty was needed (maybe 1-2 races) with some points taken away….if we are reducing the penalty make it 10 points. I think the 48 should have gotten a penalty that included suspension/points – but also think the original penalty was too harsh.
So… “unconfirmed reports” are facts? And do you really think Nascar would show favoritism to Kyle Bush over Jimmie Johnson?
Nascar has stolen championships from other teams for much less. Just ask Clint Bowyer or Mark Martin. Hendrick and GM have been circumventing the nebulous rules for years without fear of reprisal. I assumed (wrongly) that when GM became Government Motors that their graft payments would stop, but I suppose that was just wishful thinking.
I am not surprised by this decision in the least.
A gentleman high up in the NASCAR rules making foodchain once told me that if the lawyers didn’t have to approve everything in the various NASCAR rule books, things would go much better. NASCAR’s rule books have always been reactive in their writing instead of making a proactive, clear black & white rule and standing by it.
When an individual that is not only a close personal friend of the team owner in question but a former top level executive and loyal to the manufacturer in question can come in and overrule a decision previously upheld by a three person panel, which has made it’s determination based on facts from NASCAR’s own inspection personnel, this reeks of conspiracy and back room payments.
And AGAIN, for those saying that the car never made it to the track, then why was it at the track to begin with? To race, that’s why. It was going to the track, so stop saying that the car wasn’t on the track. That has NO bearing. The intent to race was there.
This debacle is a HUGE embarrassment for NASCAR, and they will see a lot of fallout over this in the weeks to come.
The car was in fact on the track.It competed in all four plate races last year and won in the Spring at Talladega. It’s the same car Chad told Jimmie to back into the fence at Talladega if he won there last fall. Yet, they bring it to Daytona and profess to be surprised it earned aa little extra scrutiny. After Chad’s comments to Jimmie a sane man would have had the body of that car sliced to pieces before NASCAR came to have a look at it but apparently Chad knew he was above the law. I’m not going to compare first degree murder to cheating in a car race, but this is NASCAR’s OJ Simpson verdict.
Just when you think Nascar can’t fall any lower.
I wish Roger Goodell ran Nascar.
I hope none of you are ever on a jury, because your opinions of Chad, Jimmie, and Rick all cloud your judgement. The deal breaker for me is the car was never put on the templates to see if it was wrong. The NASCAR officials just said “it looks wrong” and gave them a fine, penalty, and suspension.
If the car was indeed illegal NASCAR screwed themselves on this. Put on the templates and take pictures of being out of spec. Exhibit A your honor – case closed. But instead all they have is it “didn’t look right” (what do you mean officer? No radar proof but it looked like I was going 50 in a 35?).
I’m pretty sure the $100,000 fine was a sign that NASCAR had them red handed, but messed up (Something was fishy, but NASCAR blew the case)
It’s not about Jimmie or Chad or Rick. Nascar officials said the car was illegal. An appeals panel said the car was illegal. One man, without any explanation, said that they were all wrong. This is about credibility and competence. If Middlebrook is right, then everyone else is wrong, from Nascar’s top management to it’s technical inspectors. If Middlebrook is wrong, then Matt is right… justice was not served.
A Travesty is that lame excuse for missing Kenseth TWICE jumping the green …Talk about fixed! & Then to lie & say Brad didn’t start fast enough instead of “we were asleep at the switch & didn’t know what to do ….Maybe use the guy who spotted those “C Pillars” to watch the race as nascar thinks his eyes are great
Just when I thought it couldn’t get worse. A former VP at GM overturns all but the money. Tell me again, what brand of car does JJ drive? Na$$$$car, you did it again. Finally, my brother is coming around to the fact that mega-bucks has destroyed our sport. Kinda reminds me of other sports… just pay off a ref and you’re good to go. I’ve got no dog in this hunt, but, my gut feeling is nascar was peeved when they figured out that Chad had been sneaking one by them all last season. thus, the lack of tech, or templates.
I’ll say it again…if I’m a nascar racer I want to drive a chevy with Hendrick motors/connections.
And if I’m a sponsor I want my sticker on a Hendrick/chevy car.
If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.
Otherwise you’re just wasting you’re money. It’s nascar’s playground people.
It’s hard to say NASCAR is like “other sports” when today the NFL came down on the New Orlens Aints like a ton of bricks for rules infractions. The head coach is suspended for the entire 2012-13 season.
This whole thing just has a rotten smell to it. I can’t imagine what the other owners must be thinking at this point. If you break the rules just make damn sure you’re driving a Chevy.
It’s going to be a long year for us underdogs. While some of my teams are struggling along without major sponsorship, others can afford to share theirs (and their arbitrators) with Nascar.
I wonder how many of my tax dollars went to pay this guy off.
boy….i wonder how many drivers are holding their tongues for fear of the secret fine from nascar for exercising their right to free speech?
The only thing that is a tragedy is that some moron somewhere lets you write columns about anything
REMEMBER FOLKS NASCAR I S NOT A DEMOCRACY.WHICH WAY IS UP?
Brian laughed all the way to his bank.
FYI, Matt’s restart column is being held until Friday because of the breaking news on Bristol’s re-repaving. You guys get four doses of Matt in one week!
David newton wrote an excellent article posted on ESPN.com Wednseday that offers a clearheaded assessment of the appeal decision without any black helicopters. All reading here should read that as well.
AGAIN I SAY…the fact that over and over again, Chad gets caught cheating(…whether properly punished or not) takes all legitimacy of those five championships.
This needs to be taken to the sponsors. Apparently LOWES condones cheating. What kind of message are they conveying to our children?
Reading all these comments, it occurs to me most have been written by Ford fans.If he wants to compete maybe Roush should switch to Chevrolets.
Think what the sport would be like if we had someone at the top like the NFL does. Sean Payton got caught trying to cover up the bounty program at New Orleans and lying about it to investigators, after he was clearly told it was against the rules and to stop it. So the commissioner suspended him from coaching for the entire 2012 season, WITHOUT PAY. When his suspension starts, he can have no contact with the team for the year. I guarantee you, that got not only Sean Payton’s attention, but every coach’s attention in the league. It’s too bad NASCAR doesn’t have the guts, or the integrity, to treat rule breakers the same way.