Kurt Busch to Attempt The Indianapolis-Charlotte Double
posted by Phil Allaway
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Andretti Autosport announced this morning that Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet in the Sprint Cup Series, will attempt the Indianapolis 500 in a fifth entry for the IndyCar Series team. Once the Indianapolis 500 is completed, Busch will fly from Indianapolis to Charlotte, jump in his No. 41 Chevrolet and compete in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Busch considers the opportunity to do the double as an old-school throwback moment.
“This is really to challenge myself within motorsports,” Busch said in Andretti Autosport’s press release. “Perhaps I am a bit of an old-school racer; a throwback, I guess. I enjoyed the era of drivers racing different cars and testing themselves in other series. It is tough to do now for a variety of factors, but when the opportunity is there, I want to do it. While NASCAR is my home, I have been fortunate to compete in Pro Stock on the NHRA circuit a number of years ago and test a V8 Supercar. This opportunity was a talk with Michael [Andretti] over dinner one night, a “What if,” and now it’s becoming a reality for me to drive in the Indy 500 with Andretti Autosport. It’s literally a dream come true. To go to the famous Brickyard with the iconic Andretti name, it doesn’t get much cooler or better than that.”
Busch will be doing the Indianapolis-Charlotte double as a Memorial Day mission to men and women serving in the U.S. Military via the Armed Forces Foundation. Fans can contribute to the cause by texting AFF to 50555 to donate $10.
Busch, who has never raced an IndyCar, passed Rookie Orientation at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year during a test session. At the time, Busch was more or less testing the Dallara DW12 for fun.
Busch will be the fourth driver to attempt the Indianapolis-Charlotte double. John Andretti was the first driver to attempt it in 1994. After finishing four laps down in tenth in Indianapolis, Andretti crashed and had engine problems in the 600. Robby Gordon has attempted the double five times, most recently in 2004. However, Gordon failed to make it to Charlotte on time and did not start the 600 in 2000 (P.J. Jones started Gordon’s No. 13 Ford in that instance). Finally, Tony Stewart has attempted the double twice (most recently in 2001) and is the only driver to ever complete all 1100 miles. Neither of the three drivers has won either leg of the double. The best finishes are Stewart and Gordon’s sixth-place finishes at the Indianapolis 500 (although Gordon’s came in 2000, the year he didn’t make it to Charlotte in time to start the Coca-Cola 600), and Stewart’s fourth-place finish in the 2001 Coca-Cola 600.
Danica Patrick, Justin Allgaier Talk About Phoenix Incident
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
A disappointing start to the year for Danica Patrick won’t include continued conflict. Patrick met with rookie Justin Allgaier Sunday, shortly after the Phoenix Cup race after a wreck ruined both drivers’ days. Patrick, who was critical of the No. 51 car on the radio, claiming Allgaier was “driving all over the track” appeared receptive to a conversation that quickly settled differences over what will be a long season.
“She was just upset because she got involved in the crash that we had,’’ said Allgaier to the Motor Racing Network. “She says she’s been through this and that she felt like I needed to settle down at that point. I explained my position on why everything happened. I think she understood where I was coming from. It doesn’t fix either one of our racecars. It doesn’t fix either one of our days. Unfortunately, we were both having pretty decent days.’’
Allgaier wound up 30th due to the incident while Patrick was 36th. The incident, which was caused by Allgaier’s spin also involved the No. 32 team and Travis Kvapil, which wound up 38th after sustaining heavy damage.
Camping World Close to Extending Title Sponsorship of NCWTS
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Marcus Lemonis, CEO of Camping World, Grand Marshal of Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway, and star of CNBC’s “The Profit,” made the announcement over the weekend that the retailer is very close to announcing a deal that would continue its title sponsorship of NASCAR’s Truck Series. The original agreement with NASCAR is scheduled to conclude after the 2015 season.
According to the sanctioning body, no formal contract has been signed, but “the agreement between the two parties has proven to be a beneficial one.”
“In about a month, we’ll be announcing a significant extension to that contract. It’s been great for us,” said Camping World’s Lemonis in a statement. “The NASCAR relationship has worked well for Camping World. When we started, we had 35 stores. Now, we’re up to 120 stores. As we travel the country and we meet new customers in stores, they always are very appreciative of our relationship with NASCAR. It’s been good.”
Gaining a long-term commitment from Camping World to sponsor the Truck Series would be a relief for NASCAR, which is set to lose Nationwide Insurance as title sponsor for the NASCAR Nationwide Series at the end of the 2014 season. The sponsorship of the Cup Series by Sprint runs through 2016.
The NCWTS is back in action on March 29th at 2:30 PM (ET) when the trucks visit Martinsville Speedway in the Kroger 250, which can be seen on Fox Sports 1. Ratings for the season opener were up 11 percent.
Harvick Takes Win At Phoenix In Second Race With New Team
posted by Justin Tucker
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Phoenix International Raceway has become Kevin Harvick’s home away from home. Sunday Afternoon was no exception as Harvick charged to the front early and would dominate for much of the day, leading 224 of the scheduled 312 laps to record his record fifth win on the one mile oval and his third win in the last four races at Phoenix.
Harvick, coming off of a disappointing Speedweeks which was capped by a last lap crash in the Daytona 500 in his debut with Stewart-Haas Racing, set the tone on Saturday by winning both practices while having the best 5 and 10-lap averages in the first practice of the day on Saturday. On Sunday, Harvick and his No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet was nothing short of flawless as he was able to hold Dale Earnhardt, Jr. by .489 seconds after a late race restart to claim his 24th career Sprint Cup Series victory.
“Man, this is awesome,” Harvick said after his dominant victory on Sunday. “Man, this just solidifies so many things and so many decisions. It’s been so much work with all the time and effort that these guys (the crew) have put in—but what a race car.”
Stewart Haas Racing co-owner Gene Haas shared in Harvick’s excitement after the race.
“It took long enough,” Haas joked. “This is phenomenal. I think there was a lot of skepticism last year about what myself and Tony (Stewart) what we were up to, was there a lot of madness to this. Quite frankly, it’s a great team, there’s a lot of synergy at the shop, people working together. I don’t know what we did, but I think we put together a great organization.”
Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt, Jr. continued his hot start to the 2014 season. Earnhardt Jr. would finish second on Sunday, marking his seventh consecutive top 10 finish since the end of the 2013 season. Earnhardt Jr. was pleased with the effort after a coast-to-coast whirlwind week after winning his second Daytona 500 and also gave great praise to the efforts of Harvick and the No. 4 team.
“I’ve got to congratulate Kevin. Those guys were two-tenths faster than everyone all weekend in practice. They were just phenomenal,” Earnhardt said. “To be able to run with them all day was a big confidence builder for us.”
Joining Harvick and Earnhardt in the top 5 of The Profit on CNBC 500K were Brad Keselowski with his second consecutive top 3 run of 2014 in third. Keselowski’s Team Penske teammate Joey Logano would finish fourth, and Jeff Gordon would come home fifth in his No. 24 Pepsi Max Chevrolet.
Jimmie Johnson finished in sixth, followed by Ryan Newman with a nice rebound after Daytona in seventh. Carl Edwards would carry the banner for Roush Fenway Racing by finishing eighth, Kyle Busch was ninth, and Jamie McMurray would finish tenth.
A look at the Profit on CNBC 500K by the numbers. There were 14 lead changes among eight different drivers, there were eight cautions for 39 laps which slowed the race pace to 109.229 MPH.
Next Sunday, the Sprint Cup Series heads to Sin City and the Las Vegas Motor
Starting Lineup: The Profit On CNBC 500K
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday March 1, 2014
Drivers in RED (i) are those ineligible to collect Sprint Cup points
Daytona 500 TV Ratings Down
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Wednesday February 26, 2014
What was the longest weather delay in Daytona 500 history turned out to bring NASCAR lower ratings and TV viewership Sunday night than expected. According to a report Monday from FOX Sports, the 56th running of the Daytona 500 airing at 8 PM (ET) posted a 5.6/10 national household rating/share which averaged 9.3 million viewers. That’s down 44 percent from last year’s 9.9, easily making it the least-watched Daytona 500 of all-time.
Due to the six-hour, twenty-two minute rain delay in Daytona, the race was up against the primetime coverage of the Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony from Sochi, Russia on NBC (15.25 million viewers). FOX also reported that 69% of the pre-rain delay viewers of the race, which began at 1 PM (ET) kept tuning in.
In comparison, the 2013 Daytona 500 on FOX was the most-watched race in five years, posting a 9.9/22 rating/share, commanding 16.7 million viewers. The Daytona 500 in 2012, the first to ever be run on a Monday and in the primetime slot did a 7.7/13 overnight rating/share which resulted in 13.67 million households viewing the race according to Nielsen TV ratings data.
Earnhardt, Jr. Claims Second Daytona 500 Victory
posted by Justin Tucker
Wednesday February 26, 2014
Ten years is a long time. For Dale Earnhardt, Jr., it felt like an eternity. NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver endured many near misses and close calls at the Daytona 500 since his only win in the Great American Race in 2004. Earnhardt had finished second in two of his last three Daytona 500s coming into Sunday’s race. He was also riding the tail of a 55-race winless streak, dating back to Michigan in 2012.
However nothing would stop Dale Jr. on Sunday, not even a 6 hour and 22 minute rain delay from capturing his second Daytona 500 win. Earnhardt Jr. led a race-high 54 laps on the evening and used some timely drafting help from teammates Jimmie Johnson and, on the final restart, Jeff Gordon to separate from the pack and secure the victory.
“Winning this race is the greatest feeling that you could feel in this sport besides accepting the trophy for the championship,” said a jubilant Earnhardt after pulling into Victory Lane. “We could fight off battle after battle. We got a little help at the end there from Jeff to get away on the restart. This is amazing. I can’t believe this is happening. I never take this for granted, man because it doesn’t happen twice, let alone once.”
Aside from the race itself the big story of the race was the 6 hour and 22 minute red flag, which threatened to move the race to Monday evening (had the race been postponed, FOX Sports’ Chris Myers had tweeted that the race would resume at 5:00pm EST). However, Mother Nature would cooperate and would allow the race to be run under different conditions from which they practiced this week. Once the race resumed, the intensity picked up from the changing track conditions. This allowed the pack to race side-by-side and at times 3-wide up to seven rows deep.
Joining Earnhardt Jr. in the top 5 for the 2014 Daytona 500 were: Denny Hamlin who closed out a spectacular Speedweeks in second, Brad Keselowski in third, Jeff Gordon in fourth, and Jimmie Johnson who overcome two wrecks leading up to the 500 in fifth.
Rounding out the top 10 in the Daytona 500 were Matt Kenseth in sixth, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. in seventh and Greg Biffle would bring his No. 16 Ford home in eighth. Austin Dillon would come home ninth in his first Cup Series race in the iconic No. 3 for Richard Childress Racing, while Casey Mears would round out the top 10.
A couple of major contenders for the Daytona 500 win would see their hopes dashed early on as Martin Truex, Jr. would blow up just 30 laps into the race, relegating him to a 43rd-place finish in his debut for Furniture Row Racing. Crew chief Todd Berrier was already in Nashville for a test session before the race was even over. Kyle Busch, meanwhile would have a pit road violation just before halfway and would spend much of the race battling back from that mistake. Busch would eventually finish 19th after leading 19 laps.
Danica Patrick would also be bit by bad luck as she was caught up in a multi-car wreck on lap 145. Patrick would lead her second consecutive Daytona 500, but wouldn’t have the finish to show for it finishing 40th. Tony Stewart would encounter a frustrating evening as well, with a fuel pickup problem derailing his quest for his first Daytona 500 win. Stewart would finish 35th.
A look at the Daytona 500 by the numbers. There were 42 lead changes among 18 drivers, while seven cautions for 39 laps would slow the race pace to 145.290 MPH.
Next week, the Sprint Cup Series heads to the “diamond in the desert,” Phoenix International Raceway for The Profit on CNBC 500K. The Green flag is scheduled for 3:15pm EST.
Nationwide Series Post-Race Quotes: Drive4COPD 300
posted by Thomas Bowles
Tuesday February 25, 2014
Frontstretch Interviews – Courtesy Mike Neff
ELLIOTT SADLER – FINISHED 4th
Thoughts on the race?
It’s definitely a lot different racing than what we’re used to.
Comfortable with it?
Yeah, it’s just different. You’re worried about what you’re doing, but you’re also worried about what everyone else is doing and they’re not doing more than you’re doing. Physically pushing a guy is way better than just riding so you just gotta time it right and push it to the edge.
Happy to start the year with a top 5?
Yeah. Hell, that was the worst we ran all day, I think. I have no idea how they put the 3 car in front of us on that last restart. I hadn’t seen the 3 car hardly all day. When they put us from fifth to sixth, on the outside line, it just really boxed us in. I would have really restarted behind my teammate and given him a good push to the front. Anyways, it is what it is; we’ll take it and move on.
Looked like you were up front all day.
The guys did a good job. We had a fast race car. Great pit stops, just really proud of these guys. The car’s in one piece and we can take it to Talladega now. Great job by my guys. A lot of effort came into coming down here to Daytona and giving ourselves a shot to win. We had that chance to be up front and make some things happen. Fifth is not what we want, but we’ll take it and move on.
Bumping vs Pushing?
It’s way harder. You don’t want to lay on the guy in front of you, so it’s tough racing. A lot different than what we’re used to, ‘cause you gotta go. You gotta drag the brake too ‘cause you don’t want to hit the guys and you don’t want to stay on him. It’s a lot harder mentally than what we’ve done in the past.
Car was strong all day. Pushing vs. Bumping, is that harder to do than just getting on somebody and pushing them?
Yeah, it is a little bit. When you bump ‘em, you jar ‘em, it kinda jacks ‘em a little bit. It’s a little more abrupt, obviously. I thought it was OK there at the end. It was certainly fun and hopefully entertaining. But a little bit of a struggle in the early part of the race and the midpart of the race to see a good race. And that’s unfortunate for the fans. You can’t do that the whole race, you can’t tear up your stuff, knock your grill in, overheat your motor, all that stuff so there’s no sense in doing all that until you get down to the last lap. The 7 and the 6, they did a good job. Man, the 7 really held the 22 and I tight on the bottom. I was rubbing his door and hitting the apron at the same time, no room whatsoever. So it was good; wish we were the ones who could have won but a lot better now than what we were last year.
Going home in one piece makes it a lot better, right?
Yeah. My back feels good. My foot feels good. Past years here, I’ve been going home with pain so I’m alright.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Truck Series Post-Race Quotes: Daytona (Exclusives)
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday February 22, 2014
When you’re on the outside like that, how frustrating is it?
It’s so hard. Timothy Peters has won here. Kyle Busch has won everywhere. Ron Hornaday has been running Trucks forever, probably before I was even born. I was surrounded by veterans there, and like I told them I don’t have a rookie stripe but I’m a rookie. This is only my fourth Truck race ever, my fourth superspeedway race, and man, I figured out when the 17 got up in front of me, I pushed him. And as soon as I pushed him, he took off. And I went with him. And I just kept doing it, and before I knew it, he was leading. And I saw Ron in my mirror, backed up to him, and if it wasn’t for him, I don’t know what would have happened. I gotta thank him big time for that. That was a true teammate move right there. I really appreciate that. He just bounced off me and we got to the front. I tried my hardest to sidedraft Kyle. I was probably touching his door.
Top 5 in the No. 30 truck. This deal come together at the last minute, but you had a heck of a truck. Tell us about your night.
Yeah, I’ve got to thank Turner Scott Motorsports. The guys worked so hard on this Rheem Comfort Products Chevrolet. Exciting! Just got hung up on the outside and had to wait for my teammate there to catch up. And then he got to the bottom, so… I got the old 32 and started pushing ol’ Ryan to the front. So, it’s not bad. We’ll take it. You just don’t want to step over that boundary. You don’t know how far to push and shove. We bumped about six times down the straightaway without latching onto them. Hopefully, that was OK and we came home with a top 5.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Budweiser Duels Post Race Quotes
posted by Matt Stallknecht
Friday February 21, 2014
BUDWEISER DUELS POST-RACE QUOTES
They’re saying the wheel bearing burned up in it. I don’t know what caused it, they’re taking it all apart to figure out what the heck happened. Something abnormal that’s for sure I don’t think I’ve ever had that happen at all. Hopefully, we made the race and hopefully we can fix the problem before Sunday.
WHAT WAS THAT LOUD BOOM ONCE YOU TURNED INTO THE GARAGE?
Loud pop was a tire… thankfully, it popped, hopefully it didn’t hurt anybody. All the heat created in the left front that popped was pretty weird.
REALLY GOOD RUN. WHAT DID YOU THINK OF IT?
Yeah, it was good. We have a car we can work with for the 500. Got a good starting spot, so we’re going to rest easy, fluff and buff our car for a couple of days and get ready for Sunday.
ANY DIFFERENCE ON WHETHER THE TOP OR BOTTOM LANE WORKED?
Yeah, I was just moving around, trying to stay with the flow. For me, this car works on all parts of the racetrack. So I’m pretty happy with it.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.
GOT SHUFFLED BACK, AFTER PIT STOPS AND THEN COULDN’T GET BACK UP TO THE FRONT. WHY?
Nah, we were just sitting there waiting until the last few laps to make a move. You didn’t want to pull down and get sent to the back. Seen a couple of guys get sent to the back really quick so we were just kind of waiting for the end. I felt like we had a good situation there with Ambrose behind us — we had a good run off Turn 2 and I went. It was the last lap, time to go do something, nobody went with us but hopefully Sunday is a different story.
We got a great car. We don’t have to work hard. We learned, we got a good race car. Got a car in one piece, ready to go so we’ll try and get through the next couple of practices, deliver it to the starting group this Sunday and we’ll be real happy.
YOU’RE IN THE DAYTONA 500!
Yeah, it’s pretty awesome. This Whitetail Chevrolet was so fast that I knew all I had to do was stick it behind smart, intelligent drafters and we could have a good finish. That’s what we did in the Duels and I’m excited. I’m excited to go do some stuff with the Nationwide car and have some more practice with this. But to know that we’re locked in the Daytona 500’s pretty cool.
YOU WERE OBVIOUSLY IN FRONT OF THAT MELEE AT THE END. WHEN YOU WERE UP FRONT THERE IN THE BEGINNING, WERE YOU HOPING TO JUST STAY IN LINE AND LET YOU FINISH TOP 5?
I was pretty content to ride and luckily I knew a lot of people around us were. It was nice to have a little calm and not really have to be racing hard the whole time. I knew that the pit stop was going to shake everything up and that’s exactly what happened. Fell back a little bit there but made the right moves at the end to get a good finish.
HOW STRONG ARE THESE RCR CARS?
They’re very strong! They definitely have the capabilities to be winning one of these races.
YOU’RE IN THE TOP 5 FOR YOUR HEAT IN THE DAYTONA 500. YOUR PRIMARY CAR IS SITTING RIGHT IN THE GARAGE, KIND OF WADDED UP. DID YOU THINK THIS ONE HAD IT IN IT?
Yeah, it’s a brand new car also. It’s just not quite as good as the primary but still a damned good car. I’m just proud of everybody at RCR for building such fast race cars. All of our cars have been fast, ECR motor’s been strong, even our affiliate teams have been qualifying really good and racing good. So… excited about 2014! It’s going to be a good year.
WELL MAN, YOU STARTED IN THE BACK BUT WORKED YOUR WAY TO THE FRONT WHEN IT COUNTED MOST. WERE YOU JUST BIDING YOUR TIME THROUGHOUT THE RACE?
Eh, you never know if you’re going to get back up there or not. We had to start at the back, we had to make a run early and see what we could do. We drove right to 10th, or something like that and then it got stagnant. We tried to make something happen, and went to the back again. Drove back up to the front. Again, just really proud of my guys. Matt Kruder did a hell of a job on that pit stop getting just enough gas in to gain some spots there.
RCR CARS SEEM PRETTY DARNED STRONG. DO YOU THINK THE RCR CARS HAVE SOMETHING FOR THEM ON SUNDAY — ESPECIALLY THE THREE JOE GIBBS RACING CARS THAT SEEM TO BE THE CLASS OF THE FIELD RIGHT NOW?
Oh yeah. The 20 car was extremely fast. The 11 didn’t qualify that good, but he’s a good drafter. I think he won. We definitely have something for him.
Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
Writer’s Note: Some of you might want to sit this column out. With an off weekend ahead, there’s not much going on in racing and this column will deal with religion and politics in addition to what happened to a Nationwide team and their sponsor. If you’re looking for a story about fast loud cars and the greasy bits that they’re made of, move along. I don’t wish to offend anyone but I am going to speak my peace.
When it comes to advertisements during NASCAR races most fans have an opinion that there’s just too darn many of the things and all those commercials make it hard to keep up with the ebb and flow of the race. But there’s one commercial presented by a sponsor of a Nationwide team you won’t be seeing on ESPN or its sister networks.
This is a story about Blake Koch, Rick Ware Racing’s Nationwide Series driver. I know a lot of you are scratching your heads and wondering “who?” but Koch is a talented driver trying to make his way up through the NASCAR ranks like so many other young men and women. In 2010 Koch ran in the K&N West series, with a best finish of second at Irwindale Raceway, with seven top 10 results in nine starts. That left him sixth in driver’s points driving for Steve Portegna, as a development driver for Richard Childress Racing. If Childress sees promise in this guy I’m not going to doubt him. After all Childress saw potential in a young rough as a cob driver from North Carolina by the name of Dale Earnhardt.
Koch drives the No. 41 car in the Nationwide series, and will compete full time this year, and for twenty of those races he’ll be sponsored by Riseupandregister.com. Rise Up and Register avows itself to be a non-partisan movement with a goal of registering a million voters for this year’s elections who didn’t vote in 2008. That’s a well stocked pool to fish from. In the hotly contested, politically divisive 2008 presidential race just 64 % of eligible Americans actually cast a ballot.
Such a low turnout would be a major embarrassment in most industrialized democratic nations. Even in some third world countries citizens risk being shot, tortured or imprisoned to cast their ballot in higher percentages while all we Americans have to worry about is finding a parking space. But that 64% turnout was actually the highest turnout in recent decades here in the US even if it means that 1/3rd of the potential voters sat it out.
I don’t want to belabor this point and start sounding preachy but the right to vote isn’t just a right but an obligation as I see it. Through countless wars too many brave men and women have sacrificed their lives to protect that right in blood soaked fields both here and abroad. Yes, I’m a little lax in voting during off-year elections, but when it comes to presidential years I go out and exercise that duty that cost four of my uncles and two grand-uncles their lives in World War II.
Yeah, I’m like the rest of you, I don’t like waiting in line and I’m anxious to get home and have my dinner after a long day at work but I do it anyway out of sense of obligation to six men I have seen only in pictures. In my book if you don’t vote you’ve lost your right to bitch about the direction this nation is heading too. You could have made a difference. You chose not to. Far be it from me to tell you who to vote for this year but at least give the decision as much thought and study as you would deciding which fast food restaurant to patronize tomorrow night.
I think most of us (or at least more than 64% of us) would agree that Rise up and register’s message is a good one and deserves support. But ESPN feels differently. They have declined to run the Rise Up and Register ad. Blake Koch contends, saying that it was “too religious and political” in nature. (I contacted ESPN through numerous sources over the last two weeks and haven’t heard back from any of them to hear their side of the story.) So I watched the ad in question and here’s a link to it if you want to decide for yourself.
OK, for those of you who chose to watch the video, here’s my question: Did it seem overtly political? Did it seem to ask only members of one race and faith to vote?
I don’t think so. To me the key words are “Every voice is critical so join me and let’s rise up together for our country.” Every voice. What I saw was the typical ad festooned with the old red, white and blue, a nice rural neighborhood, and a good looking young spokesperson. The same approach has been used to sell everything from American-built cars to burgers and “freedom fries.” (Can we at least all admit now “freedom fries” were a really stupid idea?) Naturally I thought there had to be a second more controversial ad that set ESPN’s teeth on edge so I wrote Rise Up and Register and asked for a glimpse at that one. They said there was no second ad. (And of course ESPN never wrote back.)
About the only thing controversial I saw in that ad was the paint scheme on the cool Camaro Rise Up and Register is giving to someone who enters to win it. Blake, if I win, you don’t have to deliver it yourself. Drop it off at my local Chevy dealer to have it painted Steel Cities Gray.
OK, I may have fallen off the turnip truck yesterday but I landed feet first on the grass beyond the curb. I understand demographics. When a register to vote effort decides to use NASCAR racing as a marketing effort they might just be looking for a certain type of voter. Compared to the general American population NASCAR fans are far more likely (though not universally by any means) to be white, conservative, Republican and blue collar, a highly coveted voting bloc. Again, I saw and heard nothing in the contested ad that singled out of even appealed to that bloc.
From many happy afternoons spent fishing I can tell you that you might bait your hook for a bass and hope for a bass but that doesn’t mean that you won’t pull up the occasional Sunny or even pike.
What really frosts my flakes is ESPN doesn’t seem very selective in who they sell ads to. Ads for medicines said to stiffen or elongate the male organ or to increase a man’s ability to perform in the sack or a woman’s ability to enjoy such ministrations are countless and have led to many awkward conversations between parents and kids watching a race together. Thanks to a certain Ms. Patrick and her sponsor Go Daddy.com which are basically soft core porn with enticements to go to their site to see more flesh are constant. I’m thinking of one Go Daddy ad in particular which seemed a slap to the face of every female police officer out there that topped the “Bad Taste” meter.
Offers to the unwary to take out $5,000 dollar loans at a mere 156% APR over six years are allowed. Everyone has their own set of ads they dislike. Teetotalers might not like ads that promote beer and booze. Parents worried about childhood obesity might decry all the fast food ads that promote unhealthy meals. If I never see another ad featuring singing grilles it will be too soon.
But, oh, dear cautions ESPN, let’s steer away from Christianity. That might offend someone.
On March 29th Koch appeared on Fox and Friends and said what made ESPN nervous wasn’t the ad itself but Koch’s own deeply religious testimonials on his webpage
If you go to that page most of the content is about racing but in the Blog and Outreach sections there’s content in which Koch gives his Christian witness as several Christian denominations encourage to Jesus’s followers. After all, their faith and a hope for eternal life were a gift to them and it’s incumbent on them to share that gift with others.
In the interest of full disclosure here my full name is Matthew Patrick John McLaughlin. As such it’s probably not a shock to anyone that I’m Catholic and devoutly so. I am a product of Catholic schools through the eighth grade. My faith and my personal relationship with my Savior Jesus Christ are the bedrock my life is built around. I pray and read the Bible everyday 7/52/365. I don’t write about faith often here in my columns because I’m supposed to be writing about racing and if you follow me you’ll know this column is a rare exception.
The Catholic church isn’t as evangelical as other Christian denominations or perhaps even as much as it should be. And I take a lot of heat time to time for being Catholic with this whole priest abuse scandal (which sickens me as much as anyone) but you know what? There’s crooked cops out there but I still hold the profession of law enforcement in high regard despite the actions of a tiny minority of officers. And I don’t dislike or feel superior to Jews or Muslims, nor do I feel I have any better chance of getting into Heaven than any of them. The world’s three major faiths, Christianity, Islam and Judisim all believe in the same God. We just differ on who’s number two in the hierarchy, Jesus, Muhammad, or Moses. I’m a sinner, perhaps more so than most, and I’m working on my relationship with God as a journey not a destination.
I’m working on seeing God as less of a Santa Claus who owes me a winning Mega-Millions ticket and keeping Him in mind as much when times are good as when they are bad.
Many feel that this ad being banned goes back to the to NASCAR’s two network partners. FOX and its affiliates are typically seen as the most conservative and Republican news outlets. (Though that might be hard to see given the Mothership’s prime time lineup.) ABC, parent company of ESPN is most often seen as the most liberal and Democratic of the news outlet, though oddly enough their lovely and talented World News anchor Diane Sawyer started out her career working for the Richard Nixon presidency. Fox has and almost certainly will run the same ad ESPN black-flagged. Darrell Waltrip, NASCAR on FOX’s chief analyst routinely quotes scripture and confesses his faith on his blog without raising an eyebrow.
I am forced to confess here that I’m sensing a reverse discrimination against Christians not only in ESPN’s decision but in the media as a whole. ABC is after all the network of GCB, which for the clueless stands for “Good Christian Bitches”, ladies behaving in ways far outside their supposed faith. So would ABC air FMJ (Financially Manipulative Jews) or SDM (Somewhat Dangerous Muslims)? Of course not. There’d be a huge uproar and rightfully so. I’d be a part of it.
When Tim Tebow takes a knee to thank God for a successful pass some people see that as quaint or even odd. Would you prefer to see him showboating or spiking the ball on the home team’s logo at midfield? Hey, I’m with Tebow. If nine steroid crazed men the size of boxcars were coming at me with evil intent and possibly even a bounty on my head, I’d be thanking God too. (Prior to pissing my pants and running from the stadium screaming girlishly of course.) In another recent instance, The New York Times ran a full page ad ridiculing the Catholic church and urging Catholics to abandon their faith. When another entity tried running an ad blasting Islam and urging Muslims to abandon their faith, the Times wouldn’t run it saying it is was potentially incendiary and insulating.
How is it that it has become essential we be politically correct towards minorities but it’s OK to ridicule, taunt and even discriminate against Christians? I’ve danced cheek to cheek with the devil enough times in my life I know his work when I see it.
So what happens next for the No. 41 team? A writer for the Frontstretch.com Newsletter noted that Rise Up and Register sponsorship wasn’t on the car for Fontana. There’s no need to read anything into that because as noted above Rise Up and Register is only contracted for twenty races this season and LA wasn’t one of them. In response to an e-mail RU+R spokesperson Barry Bennett wrote, “Rise Up and Register will not abandon Blake. We will continue our 20
Jesus warned us while he walked here on earth that being his follower wasn’t going to be all sweetness and light. He said every day we’d need to take up our crosses and follow Him enduring the same ridicule, insults and jeering he did on his way to Calvary.
I just never thought a sports programming network would get in on the action.
©2000 - 2008 Matt McLaughlin and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
I have almost nothing to add, Matt, you said it all beautifully.
I just wonder if ESPN realizes how much publicity they handed Rise Up and Register…I’d never heard of it before this. Or how much damage they did to their own ratings. Christians are getting pretty sick of being bashed all the time. Yes, we can turn the other cheek. It doesn’t mean we have to support ESPN or ABC. They still have some decent people as commentators, but I won’t miss them.
Don’t forget to vote and vote often.
Matt – thanks for writing what I’ve been thinking since I heard about the espn deal. I watched the utube clip….didn’t find anything religious about it. Seemed to me an ad, especially towards the younger folks, to register to vote much like “rock the vote” did years ago.
Let’s talk about Mogan Shepherd for a minute….how often have the racing powers to be tried to redirect his “racing for Jesus” car?
I, for one, am sick of the mockery of the mainstream and Tebow’s taking a knee. Let the man alone. Trevor Bayne was broadcasted praying on the radio prior to the daytona 500 that he eventually won. He got sick on a mission trip.
I refuse to watch shows like GCB. Heck, society is even commercializing Easter. The greatest gift we’re given is to be celebrated on Easter, not the bunny. But that’s just me.
Yes voting is a pain and you might get called for jury duty. But, unlike driving a car, which is a priviledge, voting is a right that was fought for. And being a female, it took it an extra amendment to allow me to vote, so it’s very important to me to vote.
It will be intersting to see, once the “primaries” are over with if the “nascar dads/fans” vote will be courted as it had been in the past. To me, the two potential candidates are so out of touch with us average folks, but of course a race is a wonderful photo-op. Whatever!
While faith is personal,I don’t care what folks say, but our laws are based on those 10 commandments that Moses brought down from the mount.
As a fellow Christ Follower , I applaud your article, tact, and willingness to proclaim your faith when the opportunity presents itself. I find nothing in the ad itself that would be considered overtly religious, polarizing or otherwise offensive. Somehow, ESPN or one of their heavy hitter advertisers has a personal axe to grind with the RUAV message. It is a shame.
I am generally low-key politically and when it comes to faith, I let my actions and regard for others over myself speak for me in lieu of street-corner proclamation, but this one stirs a “boycott” gene somewhere in me and creates a desire within me to write emails to ESPN and their other advertisers.
Well said Matt, well said.
Do you think ESPN would have a problem running a Diddy spot for his “Vote or Die” awareness program?
Didn’t think so. Maybe RU+R isn’t ‘edgy’ enough to pass muster – they need a celebrity endorsement apparently…
These post are ridic…can we please keep politics out of racing? Sorry GCB is not that bad against Christians and I hate the fact that they think that they are the one’s being bullied in culture. I know gay marriage is totally an attack on your beliefs and GCB is totally a show to get people to think shitty bout Christians and I know fox news is the bible and should be followed without ever being questioned and that the “lame” stream media totally picks on conservatives all the time.
But one thing espn does not do as far as I know is post ads that are as political in nature. Hell I still don’t think santorum should have been allowed to advertise a sprint cup car that was horrible and send a bad message to fans like me just saying….and you wonder why people like me have no desire to go see a race in person?
Also, would espn have put up an ad that linked to pro abortion? probably not but would we be hearing anything about it? nope.
Matt, excellent column. one of your all time best. thank you
Although the ad is seemingly neutral, if you go to the website to register to win the Camaro, you end up giving your personal data to a right wing political organization based in Fairfax, Virginia. The organization isn’t innocently hoping you will register to vote. The organization is hoping to gather your personal data so they can swamp you with political advertisements and other materials to convince you to vote for candidates that support the organization’s agenda.
Maybe ESPN is blackballing Koch’s race team or maybe ESPN is protecting its viewers from deceptive advertising or maybe ESPN is carrying the water for its liberally biased masters.
Based on my experience of watching NASCAR events for the pasty 10 years and attended races for the past six years, I don’t think the conservative Christian or politically conservative world views are threatened in the world of NASCAR. As a mainline Christian and political independent, I’d like my NASCAR experience to be a little less politically and religiously charged. But I also recognize that most NASCAR fans don’t think like I do, so I put on my headphones on and I tune out the political speeches disguised as prayers and the overt political conservatism on display. I like to watch cars race just like my politically conservative friends so I bond with other NASCAR fans based on our love of racing, not based on a shared religious or political worldview.
I do love my country and I love my Lord, but I don’t need the media or a professional sport to affirm my prejudices. I want my liberal friends and my friends of other faiths to enjoy NASCAR too, but I often feel the sport hurts itself by being so blatantly aligned with the political and religious right. I always enjoy it when the sport heads out West or to the Northeast and a Rabbi or UCC pastor is invited to offer the invocation. I look forward to the day when a rabbi gives the invocation at Talladega. I’ll probably be waiting a long time.
BSPN is a very liberal organization and you have know that to understand why they do what they do.
I hope other drivers will mention voting during their victory speeches.
In fact, I urge everyone here to email or tweet their driver about this issue.
And tweet this story so the word gets out about BSPN.
I think religion is garbage and Christianity is among the worst for lies, violence, death and suppression of personal freedoms.
But last time I checked, there was no law saying he can’t preach to the masses every time he opens his mouth. And yeah, the sponsor doesn’t seem outright religious. As an atheist I can’t say I’m offended by it. Getting peope to vote is never a bad thing.
BUT, if you dig deeper into the organization, it really does seem like it’s guiding toward voting conservative. And maybe ESPN was more worried about that, not the religious aspect of the driver?
It sure is hypocritical of anyone involved in NASCAR racing to suppress or stifle religious freedom when a driver can’t go 30 seconds without thanking their “god.”
But, just as some would see ABC as stifling and villainizing Christians, FOX does an awful good job of villainizing atheists. Christians may get tired of “being bashed,” but to be an atheist or agnostic in your country, ESPECIALLY in the South? You might as well be a terrorist the way people treat you.
On a side note, It’s a shame we’ll probably never see a racecar sponsored by the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Science and Reason. I’d be shocked to hear any NASCAR driver or crewmember come right out and identify himself as an atheist. Or hell, a Muslim, even.
I thought about sending Dawkins a letter to ask for sponsorship on my short track car, but figured I’d be too small beans. :p
To summarize my comments, for those who don’t like reading much, I’m playing devil’s advocate: It’s possible ESPN is distancing themselves from the sponsor not because of religious reasons, but because it leads/directs the viewer to a partisan, conservative organization.
Excellent Article Matt,keep up the good work!
Is there any real evidence ESPN blocked for religious regions rather than political?
ESPN doesn’t air political ads period.
It would be hard for me to understand how an ad encouraging people to register to vote is not political in nature.
Rise up and Register has now received more publicity for saying it was denied for religous reasons than they would have received had the ad simply run. I am skeptical of their story.
Not skeptical that ESPN refused, but skeptical they told them it was for religous reasons instead of political ones.
i like that….a rabbi at talladega.
I watch sports on TV to GET AWAY from politics and religion.
Thanks for the great column, Matt. I too have noticed that the rules of political correctness do not seem to apply when dealing with Christianity.
I’m a lifetime resident of South Carolina, probably the reddest state in the union, and I can’t say I’ve seen any non-Christians here treated with hostility. I’m not saying it doesn’t happen; people can be raging fanatics about anything. Still more people fight over college football teams here than they do religion. Today’s southerners are a lot more tolerant than a lot of people realize. Yes, there’s a lot of churches in the bible belt, but there are plenty of synagogs, mosques, and other religious institutions as well. People may try to convince you to convert to their religion, but by words, not by force or politics. On a personal note, my best friend is an atheist, and I’d defend his right to be an athiest to my last breath. If you have experienced any true hostility from Christians, I hope it was an isolated instance, and that you know that most of us just want to practice our religion in a peaceful, respectful manner.
Great article Matt, you delivered a sermon without preaching! And like Red, I think this one ranks up there with “What would Dale Do?”
I could give a $%^& less if you are a “con”, a “lib”, God fearin’ red neck what ever. I just want to see good racing at any level and don’t care who has an add or not. Most of the time will go to the local track and watch race later so don’t see adds. Saw a Great Sign on a Church,, “I’m not mad at God. I just don’t like his fan club.”
I could not have said it better than Stephen Hood, BRAVO and well said. If these Koch people really wanted to sponsor a team they easily could have kept religion and politics out of it.It amazes me how smart people get fooled by these type of web sites.If this Koch guy is related to the mega rich Koch brothers, they have many businesses they could put on the car. Sorry Matt, I usually agree with you, think about it, but you’ve never been more wrong than this!!
Amen Matt, Amen. God bless you brother.
Indeed, Wayne. Not seeing the forest for the trees, I think. This has little to do with religion and everything to do with (what appears to be) a company that’s a thinly-concealed conservative marketing campaign.
I can’t speak for the rest of the staff but I can say that I am proud to have Matt speak for me concerning this issue!
PTL and pass the ammunition!