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.
So what is NASCAR to do? They got lambasted by their passionate fans after the races at Texas, Fontana and Kansas with folks saying those races were boring. As evidence they cited the lack of caution flags. Late in Saturday night’s race on lap 388, NASCAR decided to throw a caution for debris, probably thinking it would help provide the fans with the exciting finish they were demanding.
So what was the debris in question?
Tony Stewart said it was a water bottle laying harmlessly outside the racing groove. NASCAR officials are now saying that it was a piece of sheet metal in turn three. Well that’s odd. How is it the guy leading the race never saw this potentially deadly metal chunk? You’d think he’d have had a pretty good view. Oddly enough, the TV cameras never showed whatever bit of debris it was that bought out the caution.
As a tangent, I think it is incumbent on whatever network is airing a race to clearly show any bit of debris that warrants a caution and the track workers who remove it. They are there to tell the story of the race and Saturday night whatever bought out that caution changed the outcome of the race. That story never got told. And as a secondary tangent from yer loyal non-linear thinking scribe, if drink containers are going to be sufficient reason for a caution NASCAR ought to fine any driver who tosses one out on the track. Remember the almost full bottle of Gatorade Juan Pablo Montoya hit at Kansas, though apparently it caused the No. 42 car no damage. Maybe the drivers could be forced to hang little recycling bags on their dashes as part of NASCAR’s green initiative.
As for a fan in the stands throwing anything on the track, in my mind not only should they be ejected, they should be arrested for risking a catastrophe, interference with a sporting event, or whatever local statute applies. Of course, I was once hit in the noggin by a thrown can of Budweiser at Dover that didn’t make it over the fence. It stung a good deal.
Earlier in the race on lap 310 they’d thrown another caution after Jeff Burton brushed the wall though the No. 31 car was moving under its own power towards the pits. That particular caution, probably unnecessary, came at an awkward time in the race, near the end of a cycle of green-flag pit stops. Normally NASCAR will swallow the whistle on throwing a caution at such a point in the race, unless there is clearly an imminent danger as the awkwardly timed flag will often reset the entire running order and trap some of the best cars laps down particularly at a short track.
That caution flag left just four cars on the lead lap though at least fifteen cars were able to take advantage of the less-than-loved “wave around rule” (the topic of another upcoming rant of mine) to get back on the lead lap. With all the confusion as to who was supposed to line up where the disorder led to the Edwards-Stewart restart fiasco which again probably altered the outcome of the race. It’s ironic perhaps that Stewart was the beneficiary of the one unnecessary caution and the victim of the next.
By and large the fans I’ve chatted with were either annoyed or enraged (in the case of No. 99 and No. 14 fans) by those two bogus cautions. Obviously I didn’t care for them either. In my eyes the one thing worse than a boring but fair race is a artificially manipulated race. If NASCAR could adhere to some policy about when to throw a yellow flag consistently we could end this debate and the resultant furor, but then again consistency has never been one of NASCAR’s strengths.
Already some drivers, media members and officials are blasting fans basically asking, “What the Hell do you want? You said the races were boring but when we try to add a dash of excitement to the end of the race you’re still crying.”
At the root of the issue is NASCAR still doesn’t seem to get what it is I feel the majority of the fans want. I don’t think fans thought the races they labeled “boring” formed an opinion based on the lack of wrecks. I am forced to admit, though I denied it for years, there are in fact some fans who go to or watch races to see wrecks but I know of no one who wants to see a driver hurt in one of those wrecks. As Humpy Wheeler once said, “people go to the circus to see the lion tamer stick his head in the lion’s mouth… not to see him get it bitten off.”
I think what fans are responding negatively towards isn’t too few wrecks, it’s too little side-by-side protracted bouts between drivers, neither of whom will yield position without a battle. (This “coop-atiton” Darrell Waltrip applauds is at the root of the problem. It really frosts my flakes when a driver in the lead yields to a second place challenger without a fight because he’s afraid he’ll damage his fancy little play-pretty car.) They want to see drivers banging fenders occasionally. They want to see drivers occasionally give someone else a shot in the rear bumper to express their irritation or desire to pass another driver.
Occasional plumes of tire smoke and tire donuts left on doors define good hard racing even if both parties are able to drive on without a caution. Why is this concept so hard to grasp for NASCAR? If you review the last few laps of last Friday night’s Nationwide race, I think that’s the sort of action fans are looking for, close hard side-by-side, occasionally ill-mannered racing, with both drivers able to finish the race and drive to the garage afterwards. Kudos to Kurt Busch and Denny Hamlin for putting on a show for the fans.
So where has the sort of action the fans lament gone? Fundamentally I think blame lies with the points system. When the race winning crew chief admits that they’re using the first 26 races of the year as a test session for the final ten races, you can see the problem. Carl Edwards was candid in his pre-race remarks stating given his tenuous hold on a playoff berth he couldn’t afford to risk wrecking his car in tight quarters racing at Richmond and ruining his chances at a title run. (Though he did seem to get up on the wheel there for awhile there it was impossible not to note the delicacy with which he dealt with lapped traffic while leading.) Other drivers aren’t as vocal about what’s going on but you can see they’re thinking along the same lines in the way they drive.
Other drivers place blame elsewhere for the lack of on-track action. Brad Keselowski says the current crop of cars have become so aero-sensitive it’s nearly impossible to get close enough to anyone else to make contact either inadvertently or with intent. If that’s the case it follows that with the cars that are as aero-sensitive as these, the drivers don’t want to risk creasing a fender or bending up a door panel anyway, which helps lead to these processional parades masquerading as stock car races anyway.
So what is it the bigwigs in NASCAR think fans are looking for? Wrecks…big grinding, fiery, destructive multi-car pileups preferably with a few cars overturned, in the catch fence and on fire. How do I know this? Have you seen the ads trying to sell tickets to races or the ones FOX uses to promote their TV broadcasts lately? They look like outtakes from the old “And They Walked Away” wreck footage compilations. They don’t show hard, tight racing, brilliant passes for the lead or drivers making great saves. They just show wrecks, often wrecks that occurred at tracks other than the one trying to sell tickets with those ads. I can only imagine that stick and ball sports fans seeing those ads are shaking their heads and thinking, “Those dumb rednecks are still out there trying to kill themselves? Who wins? The last guy with a running car?” Oddly enough when FOX tries to promote the baseball games they broadcast they don’t show commercials with batters getting hit in the head with a brushback ball and the resultant bench-clearing brawls.
Why? Apparently NASCAR and the networks still think stock car racing fans are stupid.
NASCAR has always had a paternalistic attitude towards its fans. We’re a bunch of dumb little Bubbas that probably wouldn’t be able to read a rulebook if they allowed us to see one. They know what’s good for us and we’ll accept what they’re serving up without question. If there’s something we’re not fond of we’re supposed to shyly approach them, eyes downcast and ask quietly before them like Oliver Twist asking Fagin, “Please, sir, could I have some more excitement?”
Oh, very well, here’s a late race bogus debris caution! Are you happy now you bastards?
NASCAR underestimates the intelligence of their own fans at their own risk. A lot of us have been following the sport a long time. When NASCAR’s Robin Pemberton tried to dismiss the No. 99 team’s complaints about the black flag on a restart as ridiculous as not even worth discussing he forgets some of us were around back when Rusty Wallace got black-flagged for the same infraction and was so vocal in his protests he was fined for what he said after the race and paid that fine in pennies.
Oh, and guess who his crew chief was at the time, and as I recall that fellow was pretty angry as well.
Most race fans I know are pretty sharp and they have long memories. I said after Matt Kenseth was allowed to pass leader Brad Keselowski coming to a re-start at Bristol that the precedent set was going to cause controversy, and soon. Now that hen has come home to roost. If NASCAR thinks that hard core fans and I are going to fall for a few bogus late race cautions and accept the outcome as an exciting finish, I’ve got news for them. I’ve been following this sport awhile. This ain’t my first rodeo, Cowgirl.
©2000 - 2008 Matt McLaughlin and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
Great column Matt
While I hate to see the leader have a 10-20 sec lead, I hate it more when nascar interferes “to improve the product”.
This is racing sometimes 1 or 2 teams are going to hit the set-up spot on and dominate, while I hate this (if its not my drivers) its not nascar’s job to penalize them for getting it right.
If the teams had more time for testing during race weekends. This includes practice during race conditions. Not testing at 10am for 2pm race or 2pm for 7pm race. If more practical practice time was used more teams should hit set-up and races should improve.
I am not a big fan of Smokes but he has probably won more races then he’s lost due to debris cautions.
“They are there to tell the story of the race “. Bad premise there Matt. From what I have seen they are there to cheerlead their favorites and whomever is leading at the time and, even more importantly, provide more opportunities to advertise during green flag racing.
The chase has dramatically affected how the first 26 races go down. They posture for points not race for wins. Under the old system, if you were 100 points or more out of 1st by 10 races into the season you raced for wins. Now you race for top tens and wait for the reboot of points when the chase starts.
“I think what fans are responding negatively towards isn’t too few wrecks, it’s too little side-by-side protracted bouts between drivers, neither of whom will yield position without a battle..”
Really? Then why all of the whining from “fans” about Bristol?
“Apparently NASCAR and the networks still think stock car racing fans are stupid.”
Well, duh. You mean you’ve not seen any big, fat dudes sporting Danica shirts at the track? It’s not a good look but it must be media approved due to all over the coverage given to her.
they better not be beating the front end of those cars at dega this weekend…..will have a lot of overheated cars. suppose to be summer hot. been hot all week here in atlanta.
i thnk na$car wants us to have the mentality of their fearless leader, brain fart france.
good column matt.
hit the nail smack daub on the head with this column you did…. while nascar and most of the media are just making ugly dents in the wood around the truth.
awesome column matt.
A tour de force column in the use of metaphors and literary allusions department, Matt. Worth reading twice just to check if I missed one the first time through.
I cannot disagree with anything you say, but I will add a metaphor of my own as regards the triumph of aero and the notion of parity. The science behind the design of the COT and the wind-tunnel testing/perfecting of it is not unlike the advances made in weaponry just prior to and during World War I. The weapons made the textbook tactics obsolete. The Generals on both sides of the conflict were bumfuzzled and the result was slaughter.
In the case of NASCAR the most visible result of the victory of science of aero has not been slaughter (thank God) it has been somnolence.
Sorry folks but all races can’t be photo finishes. Local tracks, which is the root of racing, have many races where the pole sitter leads the whole race uncontested. You have to look back in the pack to find some ‘racing entertainment’.
TV coverage is the key to making a race entertaining. Matt and ‘talk back posters’ have pointed this out repeatedly.
In this age of ‘instant gratification’ (video game mentallity) it seems people want every lap to be better than the last one. Thats not how racing works. Many races will be blowouts if one team hits a home run on the set up.
Its up to the networks to find the race within the race to entertain us. Thats why so many people talk about turning on MRN…the whole broadcast is NOT about the lead car.
nASCAR should not be allowed to survive in its present form.
I agree, Matt. It doesnt take big wrecks to have good races. Good side by side racing would be nice. When you’ve got a horrible points system that just encourages points racing, the end result is drivers taking no chances in the first 2/3 of the season. It’s doesn’t seem like any track is condusive to good racing nowadays. And last, those “boxcars” masquerading as stock cars don’t help. This old times is so frustrated by this kind of “racing” that the remote in hand is finding other forms of entertainment on the tele. And I used to be a fanatic of the sport.
Here, here Matt, could not have said it better
He did again!! I channeled Matt in my sleep and he put the dream to the written word! Great article, Mr. McLaughlin!
Robin Pemberton was quoted yesterday calling the people who wanted to see evidence of the debris “needy”. I’ve never seen a sport with such disdain for their fans.
Re the sport thinking fans are idiots—I remember a Nationwide race where Danica Patwreck stayed out while everyone else pitted, which put her in 3rd place. ESPN showed a graphic with her position on various laps, making it look like she’d been charging through the field. (And somehow the slobbering commentators missed it!)
Yes, they think we’re that dumb. No small reason for the continuing drop in ratings and attendance.
I have often wondered … and I would love to hear everyone’s comment … … what if … a “new NASCAR” allowed the teams to “take what they know (modern technology, etc.) now” … but, use the (i.e.) 1982 rule book (back when you could walk in to NASCAR Headquarters, plop down $5.00, and they would hand you one)?? BTW … the rule book (I used to get one every year during my July 4th trip to Daytona) wasn’t very thick in days of yore, either … and it covered every division from “Grand National / Cup” all the way down to “Street Stock,” too!
Great lookin cowgirl
1) There is NO reason NOT to show the debris UNLESS there is something fishy going on. Why did FOX stop showing it when they were doing it before?
2) For nascar to dump the Chase and current points system would be to admit it’s a failure and would mean putting an asterisk by Chase winners. That would look bad for 5-time and Hendrick.
WOw! Matt, you’ve read my mind!
i will say that it offends me to no end when people who say that the races of late have been boring are accused of wanting more wrecks or worse, not understanding the sport at all…no, no and no. As Matt pointed out. we’d like to see races with some meaningful and un-manufactured side by side action. GOT it?
I am beginning to believe that this isn’t possible because we keep getting told by people who are smarter than us that we’re supposed to like the current “product” with all it’s twisting strategies, great acts of physical endurance and that every race can’t be a classic… but i don’t watch the chess channel much either. I do hear their coverage is equally as bad with the svolensky brothers in the booth trying to entertain the common man.
Home run Matt.
is it possible that the lack of sponsorship money is causing the racing to be cautious? If i crash a car and miss points, which leads to possibly missing the chase, the trickle down affect is crazy. 1) shop goes into overtime building a replacement car at higher wages cost, material cost and not having a car to sell to a lesser team down the road and 2) possible loss of sponsorship money at renewal for missing the chase. you have to perform, and wrecking or driving side by side increases possible loss of revenue from sponsorship. teams need the money.
Excellent article, Matt!
Here’s one I thought of. I get so sick of listening to Larry Mac telling us that the drivers have to understand that “You need NASCAR more than NASCAR needs you”. Well Larry Mac, here’s one that France, Helton, Pemberton, and Company need to hear: “NASCAR needs the fans more than the fans need NASCAR. And NASCAR had better smarten up real quick, as it might already be too late to save NASCAR’s life!
Thank you for pointing out that ‘exciting races’ does NOT mean more wrecks. Stock cars have fenders and bumpers for a reason…they used to use them without messing up their ‘aero’. I learned to love Nascar way back when I’d get 2 25 minute segments on Wide World. I was a fan when many races were won with the leader several laps ahead of the field…and I still found those races exciting. Just because there are more cars on the lead lap doesn’t mean the racing is exciting or close. And Bristol lost it’s edge when the ‘chase’ started. The repave just sealed the coffin. Judicious use of the bumper used to be an art form. Now it’s just non exsistant. I guess Nascar expects us to just ‘shut up and watch’. I somehow doubt that insulting the people you depend on to pay the bills is a good business move.
Stop trying to sell me furry little rodent puppets, DW.com, Rick Hendrick, Sunoco, Goodyear, and the reality show following the race for 5 hours straight and I might not doze off while waiting for the GWC finish.
Flush Fox, Waltrips, Larry Maaaac, the official “insert sponsor here” garbage, and that godforsaken HollyWood Hotel and you’ve improved the sport by 50% in one swoop.
You read my mind Matt! I get so tired of DW, Larry Mac and Michael Waltrip telling me how great the racing is, and then insult all the fans by saying we just want to watch the wrecks. I miss the side by side racing, beating the bumpers and going for the win, and not points racing. I have been a fan for many years and to tell you the truth I only put it on tv now because I have been doing it for so long. I do turn the volume way down because I just cannot stand listening to DW or Larry Mac, and now we have Mikey in the Hollywood Hotel. What other sport would allow an owner to comment on what is going on? Both DW and Mikey are nothing but pimps for there sponcers and Kiss a@@@@ for NASCAR and King Brian. Like I said in the beginning I am along time fan, but I really don’t think I will be watching much longer. It is no longer the sport I love.
Go Matt, you tell ‘em! Lordy, I miss Dale Sr., Rusty, Harry Gant, Benny Parsons, Ned Jarrett, and even Swervin’ Irvan. At least they made racing exciting.
I still watch races, only because we have DVR and I can fast forward through the dull parts and mute DW, Larry Mac and MW. I truly don’t like to be talked down to as a fan.
Ezrider 714 – I agree she is a fine looking cowgirl. woo hoo!!