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.
Matt McLaughlin · Monday May 7, 2012
The Key Moment – Matt Kenseth got such a jump on the final restart he lost his pusher Greg Biffle. Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch were able to bypass the No. 17 and settle things amongst themselves.
In a Nutshell – Just another silly, contrived and violent plate race….racing that appeals to the least common denominators amongst us.
Dramatic Moment – Anytime you have a green-white-checkered finish at a plate track everyone is going to be holding their collective breaths. The reason Sunday’s finish was more sedate than most is half of the field had already been wrecked out of the race or were just trying to nurse badly wounded mounts to the checkers.
What They’ll Be Talking About Around the Water Cooler This Week
NASCAR has insisted on countless changes to the cars since the advent of plate racing. Each new change just seems to increase the level of carnage on the track. (Is that what they want?) Maybe it’s time to really fix the problem. Lower the banking in the corners, get rid of the plates and let these boys actually race.
The latest plate track rules change involved the smaller grille opening to limit the amount of time drivers could run in two car tandems. Unfortunately on a hot day in Alabama the opening was so restrictive the cars were overheating in the pack and even while running in clean air.
I don’t know how many times I read this week that “pack racing” was back at Talladega. Maybe so, but clearly it was a tale of two tandems there at the end of the race. The Nos. 17 and 16 failed to pair up correctly thus letting the Nos. 2 and 18 take the top spots.
I couldn’t have been the only person thinking this in the wake of Eric McClure’s horrific crash late in the NW race Saturday. As I watched them cut the driver out of his car and fasten him to a backboard, I just wanted to know if these “fans” who supposedly do in fact want to see more wrecks were finally satisfied.
Have you ever wondered how the young lady who had her jaw broken by debris when the No. 99 car got into the fence feels about watching incessant replays of the incident? That “finish” was shown at least ten times during the FOX pre-race show, with commentary. If Edwards’ car had actually made it into the grandstands would they still be using that footage?
In reacting to the “mystery debris flag” controversy in wake of last week’s race at Richmond, NASCAR’s Robin Pemberton went as far as to say that fans (and some elements of the media) are “needy” in insisting that we be able to see the “debris” that brought out the caution. “Needy?” No, really? I guess a proper race fan will just take NASCAR’s word the caution was legitimate because we’ve never been burned by questionable officiating calls before. Right. The scarecrow might not have had a brain in his head yet, but when Dorothy insisted on having a peek behind the curtain she found “the all great and powerful Oz” was just a basically flawed man that had screwed up. Listen, Pemberton, I’ve tried clicking the heels of my ruby red cowboy boots together and it’s not getting me back home to the sort of stock car racing I remember. Stop insulting your core audience.
The six Nationwide teams caught with illegal front snouts last week at Bristol got off this week with minor fines and the crew chiefs got probation. For those new to the sport, that’s NASCAR’s equivalent of pelting an individual with cotton balls while muttering unkind things about them under their breaths. Of course, at Daytona Jimmie Johnson had the book thrown at him for an illegal C-pillar… so I’m confused. Does NASCAR even have a rulebook anymore? I dunno. Has anyone sent them a 64-pack of Crayolas lately?
So why didn’t NASCAR call Danica Patrick and Sam Hornish to the trailer after Saturday’s Nationwide race? My guess is because at the time, the level of concern about Eric McClure’s condition overshadowed the incident. (If you missed it, Patrick felt Hornish had put her into the wall on the last lap. In retaliation, she put his Dodge into the wall on the cool-down lap. What had actually happened on the last lap is Hornish had a tire going flat and had been unable to steer his car, leading to the contact.) But after officials initially overlooked the controversy, Ms. Patrick has been asked to pay a courtesy visit to the NASCAR trailer after all, next weekend at Darlington to discuss what happened. I wonder if she’ll wear her boulevard beads?
My take on the above mentioned situation. I might not be a big fan of Patrick, but I applaud her for showing a little spunk. She felt someone had done her dirty on the last lap and she was out to prove she wasn’t going to stand for it. I wrote last Thursday I wanted to see some more emotion and bumper-banging back in racing and I’m not going to apply a double-standard here. Patrick hinted she flashed her boobs to get those beads she was wearing. She showed some balls after the race. (Yeah… disturbing hermaphrodite image… let’s move on.)
But Matt, I can hear some of you hollering already, like Rona who was recently appointed Vice President of my non-fan club by a certain President T. Swift, you’re already using a double standard. Last fall, you lambasted Kyle Busch for wrecking Ron Hornaday in the truck race. How is Saturday’s incident different? Let me count the ways. Hornish and Patrick are both Nationwide series regulars. Neither of them is battling for a title. The race was over, so Patrick cost Hornish no finishing spot or points. Had Patrick done the same thing to Hornish during an early caution period in the race, I’d be all enraged again. But as a reminder, if you’re going to rough somebody else’s car up a little after a race to express displeasure, do it on the track and not pit road where non-combatants could easily be injured.
I guess someone is going to have to explain to me how a race car goes into “vapor lock” when the current fuel injection system requires a minimum of 90 Psi to operate. Yeah, vapor lock used to be an issue on our old carbed muscle cars, particularly if they had headers, but with a carb the fuel system was operating at under 10 pounds of pressure. Remember that a liquid’s boiling point increases as the pressure in the system goes up.
Eric McClure’s savage Nationwide Series wreck Saturday could have been worse and potentially even fatal. McClure’s stricken car hit the SAFER barrier hard but just a dozen yards down the track was an opening in the inside wall and a long section without the protection of those SAFER barriers. That needs to be addressed. Come on, NASCAR; we’re talking Talladega. The porta-potties probably ought to be lined with SAFER barriers because the drivers will find someway to hit them. I’ve been watching races at this track long enough that I recall a driver flying up and over the fence into the parking lot…
No jet dryers were injured in the course of Sunday’s race.
The Hindenburg Award For Foul Fortune
I feel bad for all the drivers that they have to run these four stupid restrictor plate races every season as what amounts to Crash Test Dummies.
Jimmie Johnson was leading the race when his engine expired. He ended up 35th in the finishing order. Sponsor tie-ins are important, but Rick Hendrick’s engine room announced this week they will no longer be using Diet Mountain Dew in place of motor oil. Stupidest commercial EVER.
Ryan Newman was another victim of an HMS engine failure. I’m sure Tony Stewart, Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Kasey Kahne had to be imagining all sorts of odd sounds in their cars after learning of their teammates’ power plant problems.
Gordon’s engine never expired, though he was dealing with water temperature and pressure problems from the midpoint of the race. Getting taken out in a wreck probably only brought his misery to a quicker conclusion. In a post-race interview, Gordon said that his run of bad luck this year has gotten to the point it’s “almost comical.” For financial reasons, it’s probably best that Gordon decided to drive race cars and not become a cartoonist.
Kevin Harvick fought hard to get back on the lead lap after running out of gas but had his charge towards the front thwarted when he got a big piece of the Lap 184 wreck.
Denny Hamlin had also spent much of the day battling to get a lap back after a bad pit stop, but he tangled with A.J. Allmendinger trying to work the middle on Lap 184.
The “Seven Come Fore Eleven” Award For Fine Fortune
I’d have to say the luckiest guy at Talladega this weekend was Mike Affarano. While running in the ARCA series race Friday night, Affarano got hooked and turned into the outside wall, at which point his North Grand Auto Parts entry went into a dizzying series of almost seven rollovers. The accident was so severe the engine and transmission in that car almost came loose of the vehicle as it turned over. After several terrifying minutes, Affarano was able to crawl out of the car relatively unscathed, though I have no doubt that was one sore young man Saturday morning. For all the Hell I give NASCAR from time to time, the implementation of the SAFER barriers and HANS devices were a huge milestone in safety and have saved numerous lives. After Friday night’s race, you can add another name to that list.
Eric McClure was also a lucky young man to have survived that violent wreck Saturday. Things initially seemed grim with the Med-evac helicopter firing to life (the worst possible sound at a race track], the roof and rollcage being cut off the car, and an official frantically motioning for the safety crews to step it up. ESPN initially wasn’t even showing replays of the wreck , normally a sign that something awful has happened. (And a double-edged sword, as McClure’s team was huddled around the video monitor on their pit-box trying to catch a replay of what had happened to their driver.) As this column is being written Sunday evening, McClure is said to be awake and alert though in a great deal of discomfort at a Level One Trauma center in Birmingham.
Kasey Kahne get’s this week’s “Emerson Lake and Palmer ‘Lucky Man‘” award. He was directly in the midst of all three big wrecks Sunday and still finished fourth.
Kenseth was penalized for entering pit road too early after he lost power just as a caution flag flew. He recovered nicely and finished third. In addition to the penalty, the No. 17 had also been battling issues with a vibration all weekend. That issue apparently caused Kenseth’s car to start falling apart in some bizarre places during the race. After the event Jack Roush announced that his teams will return to welding together bodies again even though using library paste makes the seams lighter.
Despite getting hit by an out of control Casey Mears on lap 175, Trevor Bayne soldiered home to a solid eighth-place finish.
What’s the Points?
Biffle remains atop the points standings for yet another week. He’s now seven points ahead of teammate Kenseth, who moves up a spot to second in the standings.
Earnhardt drops a spot to third in the rankings, but just two points behind Kenseth. He’s got a comfortable gap over Hamlin (also down a spot to fourth) who trails the No. 88 by 18 points. Harvick rounds out the top 5 and is actually up two positions despite getting wrecked. Only at Talladega.
The top 10 is rounded out by Truex (-1), Stewart (+1), Johnson (-2), Kyle Busch (+2) and Clint Bowyer (+2).
Edwards is down two spots to 11th in the standings. His win moves Keselowski up a spot to 12th. With two wins in the bank as a backup, Keselowski is sitting plush with a royal flush, aces back to back.
Ryan Newman’s engine issues dropped him three spots and outside of the top 12 into 13th.
All right, it’s time for the No. 24 team to hit the panic button. He’s down six more spots to 23rd in the standings, a dizzying 146 points out of the lead. (That’s three full race win’s worth!). Everybody’s been talking about what a horrible start Kahne’s season got off to but he’s now up four spots to 19th in the standings, fourteen ahead of Gordon. When a name driver gets into a bad slump, conventional wisdom these days is he needs to talk to a sports psychologist. Gordon needs to skip that step and find his local Voodoo doctor.
Overall Rating (On a scale of one to six beer cans with one being a stinker and a six pack an instant classic) — We’ll give this one three cans of lukewarm Schlitz. It’d normally give two cans but a plate race always gets an extra can if nobody is badly injured during the event. Plate racing is like watching Cops on FOX. Most of us do it, but you sure hope your neighbors and friends don’t know you are.
Next Up – The series heads off to its most historic and storied track, Darlington, for the first in a series of Saturday night events culminating with the World 600.
©2000 - 2008 Matt McLaughlin and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
“Maybe it’s time to really fix the problem. Lower the banking in the corners, get rid of the plates”
I’d prefer to see them make the cars even more stock than they planned to next year. Replace the splitter with a front spoiler no deeper than 4 inches. Remove the shark fins and put OEM front clips on the car. That will slow the cars down and consumers will once again reap the benefits that racing once provided.
When Danica crashed Hornish into the wall, it wasn’t the cool down lap. They had just crossed the finish line to take the flag. So hooking a car and turning them nose first into the wall is ballsy?
Maybe you are right about plate racing. Maybe the potential carnage isn’t worth the spectacle. I have attended every Talladega race since the Spring race in 2007 and I haven’t experienced anything like it. The Dallas Cowboys, the New Orleans Saints, the Texas Aggies (Aggie bonfire—another event noted for unintended carnage), the Crimson Tide, Kentucky Wildcats in Rupp Arena: none of these events compare to the cars roaring into the tri-oval when completing the first lap. I don’t want anyone to die and I really don’t care about the wrecks, but I do love the spectacle of the pack (I liked the tandem too). I’m not sure the argument holds that the wrecks are more dangerous than they are at Watkins Glen or Texas or Bristol or Pocono. Maybe I am a blood thirsty rube hopped up on Mountain Dew and Coors Lite, but I enjoy plate racing and the skill set and tenaciousness that is required for success.
It doesn’t matter how many points Jeff Gordon is out of the lead; it only matters how many points he is behind tenth place. If he can make it to tenth, the whole 26-race “pre-season” becomes his mulligan. That’s how chase racing voodoo works.
The fact that Robin Pemberton is totally incompetent when it comes to rules enforcement was validated when John Middlebrook single-handedly overturned the #48 team’s Daytona penalties. Pemberton is a tool, that’s all.
I wonder if Brad Keselowski still thinks Kyle Busch is an ass.
Eric McClure’s accident was as scary as any I’ve seen in last few years. I’d like to know why his car never slowed, and possibly even accelerated. Stuck throttle? Thank goodness it appears that he will be okay.
Disagree with the Danica turn. Do it at a short track, not Talladega. Not the first time I’ve seen her use a car as a weapon.
Also, with the McClure thing, one thing I noticed that only enforces the need for a full time medical staff. Typically in the NFL, when there are hits where the initial on site diagnosis is some sort of a head and neck issue, THE HELMET STAYS ON. Facemask unscrewed but helmet stays on. When the EMTs were removing McClure, they took off his helmet prior to getting to a point where he was able to be removed from his vehicle.
i think princess patrick’s hook into hornish’s bumper was uncalled for. she’s still got to earn the respect of the other drivers and that just proved her “witchy” (replace the “w” with appropriate letter) reputation from irl. besides, if she did “flash for beads” not much to see anyhow, based on her lack of body fat. glad princess enjoyed talladega blvd. we’ll get overdose of princess next weekend at darlington.
still hate plate racing, glad no one was killed this weekend.
Matt, a driver is going to have to get killed before nascar does anything to fix the problem with these restrictor plate tracks. As far as wrecks go, I don’t want to see a lot of them. I just want to see some side by side racing at the other tracks. That will never happen with the current point system, the boxcar called a race car, and the boring race tracks. The McClure wreck was scary to watch. I hope he’s okay.
princess patrick’s move was anything but ballsy. Let’s flip the coin and just imagine son of Sam Hornish or anybody else putting her into the wall. Let me guess…oh no the Eric McClure situation would NOT have overshadowed that not for one second. danica does this crap because she knows she can do it but nobody would dare do the same to her because the media would smell blood in the water and would be foaming out of the mouth to crucify whoever dared spin her. The double standard is appalling and ridiculous.
Stupid race for stupid people to enjoy. Smaller/lower power engine packages are the solution (that way they make 450-500 hp without the poor throttle response and .00001% variation of the plate engines), but NASCAR will never do it because too many idiot rednecks enjoy these wreckfests.
Good for Brad K though, he’s shaping up as a contender this year.
Regarding the Danica move on Hornish, remember, you state to keep it off pit road to avoid hitting innocent crew members, but what about all the extra work that will now have to be done by the innocent crew members this week because of princess patrick’s tantrum…she has no class
Lower the banksand take off the plates and we will have another cookie-cutter track and single file racing. Best idea,go to nothing bigger than Darlington and at least they can
first off, I hate plate racing. It simply isn’t “fun” from my point of view. Considering that DW and JJ (and now Martin Truex) have all gotten into the act by accusing the fans of being bloodthirsty and wanting wrecks because the caution free racing is “boring”.
Hmm,let’s see – who exactly is running promo after promo of cars WRECKING in the most spectacular and frightening way possible to entice the fans to come to the track? Oh yeah, that would be the TV broadcast folks!
And then you have an accident like McClure’s happen – I wonder if it makes any of them think about it. It was scary to watch and I hope that he recovers fully. Completely agree about the SAFER barriers – no more excuses – put them inside and outside at all the tracks.
On the Danica deal, well, my problem with it is that it IS a double standard. Plus, she’s stomped her little foot at other racers before – she needs to play by the same rules as everyone else and be treated the same way. No special rules.
I’m with Stephen HOOD in enjoying the plate races (packs and tandems), but not wanting multiple wrecks. It’s the suspense of knowing those drivers are a second away from chaos, yet they still keep driving, lap after lap. The inevitable can come at any time, yet they keep driving. That suspense keeps me on the edge of my seat, especially as the end of the races draws near.
As for Robin Pemberton stating the fans & media are ‘needy’ for wanting to see the debris that brought out the yellow flag, are we ‘needy’ for wanting to see the race too? Maybe we just need to stop being so ‘needy’ and go outside for a few races. Let’s see how ‘needy’ Nascar gets for ratings. My suggestion would be to start with Indianapolis (especially the travesty-to-be Nationwide series race there this year).
And thanks for reminding us that when the 99 went into the fence, there were injuries to the fans. It wasn’t over when Edwards jogged across the start / finish line.
Been reading Matt’s columns for years, but did I miss an inside joke/story re: Taylor Swift? References to her are showing up a lot lately.
Plate racing isn’t racing.
But nothing will change until:
A) A fan/driver gets killed.
B) The fans stop going.
I would like to point out the success of Mark Martin’s approach to the first 2 restrictor plate races, predict continued success for him in the next 2 restrictor plate races and encourage all of NASCAR’s drivers to consider this approach until something is done to fix this mess.
Well said, T-Bone.
Commercials and DW equaled a less than stellar broadcast.
“I wrote last Thursday I wanted to see some more emotion and bumper-banging back in racing”
You mean like Bristol of old, Matt?
I wonder what the verdict would have been if it were Robby Gorden who hooked Hornish after the checkers.
Bad wolf- Call it the Goldilocks principal. When it comes to beating and banging you can have too much, not enough of it can be just right.
DWS44- Way too long and bizarre a story to relate here. Short answer, an intense nightmare bought about by Chantix,a bad diet and warm beer. If you email me, I’ll give you the full rundown, but I’ll warn you it’s a long and boring story..like some of my columns.
Every time I turned on the race there was a commercial running.
I was over there yesterday, and I would say between lap 75 and 150, they just all lay back and ride it out until there are 30 or so laps left.
They do this every time.
I think they ought to just take it down to about 125-130 laps because we get sleepy watching that portion of the race – I call that the lap-reduction portion.
Lotta drunk folks over there in turn four stands….
@Tim A driver did get killed (Earnhardt) and fans are not coming. But I agree with you, it’s not real racing. Even playing it on a computer it gets petty monotonous.
And I bet if Fox sat every on-air person for one race and replaced them with knowledgeable fans of the sport, the ratings would spike for that day.
When Edwards was in Toronto early this year, he said he bumped Danica in a race last year. She bumped him back in the next corner and waved as she passed him.
Talladega is once again a wreck-lover’s paradise.
I did turn on AMA, GP superbike and motocross over the weekend.
TONY- You are soooo right. Danica is Has no class and can’t waite for her to be gone.
The biggest demolition derby track in the world. That is if you are into demolition derby “Racing”
Racing at Talladega has become progressively sillier and sillier. I really don’t see the point anymore.
I know that Daytona is important because of all of the history wrapped up in it but I don’t feel the same way at Talladega.
I always feel like I’m watching the chariot races of death from Roman times when watching the races at Talladega.
Nothing is in a drivers hands there. It is the luck of the draw and try to avoid the carnage and destruction. Plus, hope nobody dies.
What a strange way to stage a ‘race’.
I agree with Max’s post above. I don’t understand why the Talladega races are not short. It could only heighten the ‘drama’.