Kurt Busch to Attempt The Indianapolis-Charlotte Double
posted by Phil Allaway
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Andretti Autosport announced this morning that Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet in the Sprint Cup Series, will attempt the Indianapolis 500 in a fifth entry for the IndyCar Series team. Once the Indianapolis 500 is completed, Busch will fly from Indianapolis to Charlotte, jump in his No. 41 Chevrolet and compete in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Busch considers the opportunity to do the double as an old-school throwback moment.
“This is really to challenge myself within motorsports,” Busch said in Andretti Autosport’s press release. “Perhaps I am a bit of an old-school racer; a throwback, I guess. I enjoyed the era of drivers racing different cars and testing themselves in other series. It is tough to do now for a variety of factors, but when the opportunity is there, I want to do it. While NASCAR is my home, I have been fortunate to compete in Pro Stock on the NHRA circuit a number of years ago and test a V8 Supercar. This opportunity was a talk with Michael [Andretti] over dinner one night, a “What if,” and now it’s becoming a reality for me to drive in the Indy 500 with Andretti Autosport. It’s literally a dream come true. To go to the famous Brickyard with the iconic Andretti name, it doesn’t get much cooler or better than that.”
Busch will be doing the Indianapolis-Charlotte double as a Memorial Day mission to men and women serving in the U.S. Military via the Armed Forces Foundation. Fans can contribute to the cause by texting AFF to 50555 to donate $10.
Busch, who has never raced an IndyCar, passed Rookie Orientation at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year during a test session. At the time, Busch was more or less testing the Dallara DW12 for fun.
Busch will be the fourth driver to attempt the Indianapolis-Charlotte double. John Andretti was the first driver to attempt it in 1994. After finishing four laps down in tenth in Indianapolis, Andretti crashed and had engine problems in the 600. Robby Gordon has attempted the double five times, most recently in 2004. However, Gordon failed to make it to Charlotte on time and did not start the 600 in 2000 (P.J. Jones started Gordon’s No. 13 Ford in that instance). Finally, Tony Stewart has attempted the double twice (most recently in 2001) and is the only driver to ever complete all 1100 miles. Neither of the three drivers has won either leg of the double. The best finishes are Stewart and Gordon’s sixth-place finishes at the Indianapolis 500 (although Gordon’s came in 2000, the year he didn’t make it to Charlotte in time to start the Coca-Cola 600), and Stewart’s fourth-place finish in the 2001 Coca-Cola 600.
Danica Patrick, Justin Allgaier Talk About Phoenix Incident
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
A disappointing start to the year for Danica Patrick won’t include continued conflict. Patrick met with rookie Justin Allgaier Sunday, shortly after the Phoenix Cup race after a wreck ruined both drivers’ days. Patrick, who was critical of the No. 51 car on the radio, claiming Allgaier was “driving all over the track” appeared receptive to a conversation that quickly settled differences over what will be a long season.
“She was just upset because she got involved in the crash that we had,’’ said Allgaier to the Motor Racing Network. “She says she’s been through this and that she felt like I needed to settle down at that point. I explained my position on why everything happened. I think she understood where I was coming from. It doesn’t fix either one of our racecars. It doesn’t fix either one of our days. Unfortunately, we were both having pretty decent days.’’
Allgaier wound up 30th due to the incident while Patrick was 36th. The incident, which was caused by Allgaier’s spin also involved the No. 32 team and Travis Kvapil, which wound up 38th after sustaining heavy damage.
Camping World Close to Extending Title Sponsorship of NCWTS
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Marcus Lemonis, CEO of Camping World, Grand Marshal of Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway, and star of CNBC’s “The Profit,” made the announcement over the weekend that the retailer is very close to announcing a deal that would continue its title sponsorship of NASCAR’s Truck Series. The original agreement with NASCAR is scheduled to conclude after the 2015 season.
According to the sanctioning body, no formal contract has been signed, but “the agreement between the two parties has proven to be a beneficial one.”
“In about a month, we’ll be announcing a significant extension to that contract. It’s been great for us,” said Camping World’s Lemonis in a statement. “The NASCAR relationship has worked well for Camping World. When we started, we had 35 stores. Now, we’re up to 120 stores. As we travel the country and we meet new customers in stores, they always are very appreciative of our relationship with NASCAR. It’s been good.”
Gaining a long-term commitment from Camping World to sponsor the Truck Series would be a relief for NASCAR, which is set to lose Nationwide Insurance as title sponsor for the NASCAR Nationwide Series at the end of the 2014 season. The sponsorship of the Cup Series by Sprint runs through 2016.
The NCWTS is back in action on March 29th at 2:30 PM (ET) when the trucks visit Martinsville Speedway in the Kroger 250, which can be seen on Fox Sports 1. Ratings for the season opener were up 11 percent.
Harvick Takes Win At Phoenix In Second Race With New Team
posted by Justin Tucker
Monday March 3, 2014
Phoenix International Raceway has become Kevin Harvick’s home away from home. Sunday Afternoon was no exception as Harvick charged to the front early and would dominate for much of the day, leading 224 of the scheduled 312 laps to record his record fifth win on the one mile oval and his third win in the last four races at Phoenix.
Harvick, coming off of a disappointing Speedweeks which was capped by a last lap crash in the Daytona 500 in his debut with Stewart-Haas Racing, set the tone on Saturday by winning both practices while having the best 5 and 10-lap averages in the first practice of the day on Saturday. On Sunday, Harvick and his No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet was nothing short of flawless as he was able to hold Dale Earnhardt, Jr. by .489 seconds after a late race restart to claim his 24th career Sprint Cup Series victory.
“Man, this is awesome,” Harvick said after his dominant victory on Sunday. “Man, this just solidifies so many things and so many decisions. It’s been so much work with all the time and effort that these guys (the crew) have put in—but what a race car.”
Stewart Haas Racing co-owner Gene Haas shared in Harvick’s excitement after the race.
“It took long enough,” Haas joked. “This is phenomenal. I think there was a lot of skepticism last year about what myself and Tony (Stewart) what we were up to, was there a lot of madness to this. Quite frankly, it’s a great team, there’s a lot of synergy at the shop, people working together. I don’t know what we did, but I think we put together a great organization.”
Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt, Jr. continued his hot start to the 2014 season. Earnhardt Jr. would finish second on Sunday, marking his seventh consecutive top 10 finish since the end of the 2013 season. Earnhardt Jr. was pleased with the effort after a coast-to-coast whirlwind week after winning his second Daytona 500 and also gave great praise to the efforts of Harvick and the No. 4 team.
“I’ve got to congratulate Kevin. Those guys were two-tenths faster than everyone all weekend in practice. They were just phenomenal,” Earnhardt said. “To be able to run with them all day was a big confidence builder for us.”
Joining Harvick and Earnhardt in the top 5 of The Profit on CNBC 500K were Brad Keselowski with his second consecutive top 3 run of 2014 in third. Keselowski’s Team Penske teammate Joey Logano would finish fourth, and Jeff Gordon would come home fifth in his No. 24 Pepsi Max Chevrolet.
Jimmie Johnson finished in sixth, followed by Ryan Newman with a nice rebound after Daytona in seventh. Carl Edwards would carry the banner for Roush Fenway Racing by finishing eighth, Kyle Busch was ninth, and Jamie McMurray would finish tenth.
A look at the Profit on CNBC 500K by the numbers. There were 14 lead changes among eight different drivers, there were eight cautions for 39 laps which slowed the race pace to 109.229 MPH.
Next Sunday, the Sprint Cup Series heads to Sin City and the Las Vegas Motor
Starting Lineup: The Profit On CNBC 500K
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday March 1, 2014
Drivers in RED (i) are those ineligible to collect Sprint Cup points
Daytona 500 TV Ratings Down
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Wednesday February 26, 2014
What was the longest weather delay in Daytona 500 history turned out to bring NASCAR lower ratings and TV viewership Sunday night than expected. According to a report Monday from FOX Sports, the 56th running of the Daytona 500 airing at 8 PM (ET) posted a 5.6/10 national household rating/share which averaged 9.3 million viewers. That’s down 44 percent from last year’s 9.9, easily making it the least-watched Daytona 500 of all-time.
Due to the six-hour, twenty-two minute rain delay in Daytona, the race was up against the primetime coverage of the Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony from Sochi, Russia on NBC (15.25 million viewers). FOX also reported that 69% of the pre-rain delay viewers of the race, which began at 1 PM (ET) kept tuning in.
In comparison, the 2013 Daytona 500 on FOX was the most-watched race in five years, posting a 9.9/22 rating/share, commanding 16.7 million viewers. The Daytona 500 in 2012, the first to ever be run on a Monday and in the primetime slot did a 7.7/13 overnight rating/share which resulted in 13.67 million households viewing the race according to Nielsen TV ratings data.
Earnhardt, Jr. Claims Second Daytona 500 Victory
posted by Justin Tucker
Wednesday February 26, 2014
Ten years is a long time. For Dale Earnhardt, Jr., it felt like an eternity. NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver endured many near misses and close calls at the Daytona 500 since his only win in the Great American Race in 2004. Earnhardt had finished second in two of his last three Daytona 500s coming into Sunday’s race. He was also riding the tail of a 55-race winless streak, dating back to Michigan in 2012.
However nothing would stop Dale Jr. on Sunday, not even a 6 hour and 22 minute rain delay from capturing his second Daytona 500 win. Earnhardt Jr. led a race-high 54 laps on the evening and used some timely drafting help from teammates Jimmie Johnson and, on the final restart, Jeff Gordon to separate from the pack and secure the victory.
“Winning this race is the greatest feeling that you could feel in this sport besides accepting the trophy for the championship,” said a jubilant Earnhardt after pulling into Victory Lane. “We could fight off battle after battle. We got a little help at the end there from Jeff to get away on the restart. This is amazing. I can’t believe this is happening. I never take this for granted, man because it doesn’t happen twice, let alone once.”
Aside from the race itself the big story of the race was the 6 hour and 22 minute red flag, which threatened to move the race to Monday evening (had the race been postponed, FOX Sports’ Chris Myers had tweeted that the race would resume at 5:00pm EST). However, Mother Nature would cooperate and would allow the race to be run under different conditions from which they practiced this week. Once the race resumed, the intensity picked up from the changing track conditions. This allowed the pack to race side-by-side and at times 3-wide up to seven rows deep.
Joining Earnhardt Jr. in the top 5 for the 2014 Daytona 500 were: Denny Hamlin who closed out a spectacular Speedweeks in second, Brad Keselowski in third, Jeff Gordon in fourth, and Jimmie Johnson who overcome two wrecks leading up to the 500 in fifth.
Rounding out the top 10 in the Daytona 500 were Matt Kenseth in sixth, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. in seventh and Greg Biffle would bring his No. 16 Ford home in eighth. Austin Dillon would come home ninth in his first Cup Series race in the iconic No. 3 for Richard Childress Racing, while Casey Mears would round out the top 10.
A couple of major contenders for the Daytona 500 win would see their hopes dashed early on as Martin Truex, Jr. would blow up just 30 laps into the race, relegating him to a 43rd-place finish in his debut for Furniture Row Racing. Crew chief Todd Berrier was already in Nashville for a test session before the race was even over. Kyle Busch, meanwhile would have a pit road violation just before halfway and would spend much of the race battling back from that mistake. Busch would eventually finish 19th after leading 19 laps.
Danica Patrick would also be bit by bad luck as she was caught up in a multi-car wreck on lap 145. Patrick would lead her second consecutive Daytona 500, but wouldn’t have the finish to show for it finishing 40th. Tony Stewart would encounter a frustrating evening as well, with a fuel pickup problem derailing his quest for his first Daytona 500 win. Stewart would finish 35th.
A look at the Daytona 500 by the numbers. There were 42 lead changes among 18 drivers, while seven cautions for 39 laps would slow the race pace to 145.290 MPH.
Next week, the Sprint Cup Series heads to the “diamond in the desert,” Phoenix International Raceway for The Profit on CNBC 500K. The Green flag is scheduled for 3:15pm EST.
Nationwide Series Post-Race Quotes: Drive4COPD 300
posted by Thomas Bowles
Tuesday February 25, 2014
Frontstretch Interviews – Courtesy Mike Neff
ELLIOTT SADLER – FINISHED 4th
Thoughts on the race?
It’s definitely a lot different racing than what we’re used to.
Comfortable with it?
Yeah, it’s just different. You’re worried about what you’re doing, but you’re also worried about what everyone else is doing and they’re not doing more than you’re doing. Physically pushing a guy is way better than just riding so you just gotta time it right and push it to the edge.
Happy to start the year with a top 5?
Yeah. Hell, that was the worst we ran all day, I think. I have no idea how they put the 3 car in front of us on that last restart. I hadn’t seen the 3 car hardly all day. When they put us from fifth to sixth, on the outside line, it just really boxed us in. I would have really restarted behind my teammate and given him a good push to the front. Anyways, it is what it is; we’ll take it and move on.
Looked like you were up front all day.
The guys did a good job. We had a fast race car. Great pit stops, just really proud of these guys. The car’s in one piece and we can take it to Talladega now. Great job by my guys. A lot of effort came into coming down here to Daytona and giving ourselves a shot to win. We had that chance to be up front and make some things happen. Fifth is not what we want, but we’ll take it and move on.
Bumping vs Pushing?
It’s way harder. You don’t want to lay on the guy in front of you, so it’s tough racing. A lot different than what we’re used to, ‘cause you gotta go. You gotta drag the brake too ‘cause you don’t want to hit the guys and you don’t want to stay on him. It’s a lot harder mentally than what we’ve done in the past.
Car was strong all day. Pushing vs. Bumping, is that harder to do than just getting on somebody and pushing them?
Yeah, it is a little bit. When you bump ‘em, you jar ‘em, it kinda jacks ‘em a little bit. It’s a little more abrupt, obviously. I thought it was OK there at the end. It was certainly fun and hopefully entertaining. But a little bit of a struggle in the early part of the race and the midpart of the race to see a good race. And that’s unfortunate for the fans. You can’t do that the whole race, you can’t tear up your stuff, knock your grill in, overheat your motor, all that stuff so there’s no sense in doing all that until you get down to the last lap. The 7 and the 6, they did a good job. Man, the 7 really held the 22 and I tight on the bottom. I was rubbing his door and hitting the apron at the same time, no room whatsoever. So it was good; wish we were the ones who could have won but a lot better now than what we were last year.
Going home in one piece makes it a lot better, right?
Yeah. My back feels good. My foot feels good. Past years here, I’ve been going home with pain so I’m alright.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Truck Series Post-Race Quotes: Daytona (Exclusives)
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday February 22, 2014
When you’re on the outside like that, how frustrating is it?
It’s so hard. Timothy Peters has won here. Kyle Busch has won everywhere. Ron Hornaday has been running Trucks forever, probably before I was even born. I was surrounded by veterans there, and like I told them I don’t have a rookie stripe but I’m a rookie. This is only my fourth Truck race ever, my fourth superspeedway race, and man, I figured out when the 17 got up in front of me, I pushed him. And as soon as I pushed him, he took off. And I went with him. And I just kept doing it, and before I knew it, he was leading. And I saw Ron in my mirror, backed up to him, and if it wasn’t for him, I don’t know what would have happened. I gotta thank him big time for that. That was a true teammate move right there. I really appreciate that. He just bounced off me and we got to the front. I tried my hardest to sidedraft Kyle. I was probably touching his door.
Top 5 in the No. 30 truck. This deal come together at the last minute, but you had a heck of a truck. Tell us about your night.
Yeah, I’ve got to thank Turner Scott Motorsports. The guys worked so hard on this Rheem Comfort Products Chevrolet. Exciting! Just got hung up on the outside and had to wait for my teammate there to catch up. And then he got to the bottom, so… I got the old 32 and started pushing ol’ Ryan to the front. So, it’s not bad. We’ll take it. You just don’t want to step over that boundary. You don’t know how far to push and shove. We bumped about six times down the straightaway without latching onto them. Hopefully, that was OK and we came home with a top 5.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Budweiser Duels Post Race Quotes
posted by Matt Stallknecht
Friday February 21, 2014
BUDWEISER DUELS POST-RACE QUOTES
They’re saying the wheel bearing burned up in it. I don’t know what caused it, they’re taking it all apart to figure out what the heck happened. Something abnormal that’s for sure I don’t think I’ve ever had that happen at all. Hopefully, we made the race and hopefully we can fix the problem before Sunday.
WHAT WAS THAT LOUD BOOM ONCE YOU TURNED INTO THE GARAGE?
Loud pop was a tire… thankfully, it popped, hopefully it didn’t hurt anybody. All the heat created in the left front that popped was pretty weird.
REALLY GOOD RUN. WHAT DID YOU THINK OF IT?
Yeah, it was good. We have a car we can work with for the 500. Got a good starting spot, so we’re going to rest easy, fluff and buff our car for a couple of days and get ready for Sunday.
ANY DIFFERENCE ON WHETHER THE TOP OR BOTTOM LANE WORKED?
Yeah, I was just moving around, trying to stay with the flow. For me, this car works on all parts of the racetrack. So I’m pretty happy with it.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.
GOT SHUFFLED BACK, AFTER PIT STOPS AND THEN COULDN’T GET BACK UP TO THE FRONT. WHY?
Nah, we were just sitting there waiting until the last few laps to make a move. You didn’t want to pull down and get sent to the back. Seen a couple of guys get sent to the back really quick so we were just kind of waiting for the end. I felt like we had a good situation there with Ambrose behind us — we had a good run off Turn 2 and I went. It was the last lap, time to go do something, nobody went with us but hopefully Sunday is a different story.
We got a great car. We don’t have to work hard. We learned, we got a good race car. Got a car in one piece, ready to go so we’ll try and get through the next couple of practices, deliver it to the starting group this Sunday and we’ll be real happy.
YOU’RE IN THE DAYTONA 500!
Yeah, it’s pretty awesome. This Whitetail Chevrolet was so fast that I knew all I had to do was stick it behind smart, intelligent drafters and we could have a good finish. That’s what we did in the Duels and I’m excited. I’m excited to go do some stuff with the Nationwide car and have some more practice with this. But to know that we’re locked in the Daytona 500’s pretty cool.
YOU WERE OBVIOUSLY IN FRONT OF THAT MELEE AT THE END. WHEN YOU WERE UP FRONT THERE IN THE BEGINNING, WERE YOU HOPING TO JUST STAY IN LINE AND LET YOU FINISH TOP 5?
I was pretty content to ride and luckily I knew a lot of people around us were. It was nice to have a little calm and not really have to be racing hard the whole time. I knew that the pit stop was going to shake everything up and that’s exactly what happened. Fell back a little bit there but made the right moves at the end to get a good finish.
HOW STRONG ARE THESE RCR CARS?
They’re very strong! They definitely have the capabilities to be winning one of these races.
YOU’RE IN THE TOP 5 FOR YOUR HEAT IN THE DAYTONA 500. YOUR PRIMARY CAR IS SITTING RIGHT IN THE GARAGE, KIND OF WADDED UP. DID YOU THINK THIS ONE HAD IT IN IT?
Yeah, it’s a brand new car also. It’s just not quite as good as the primary but still a damned good car. I’m just proud of everybody at RCR for building such fast race cars. All of our cars have been fast, ECR motor’s been strong, even our affiliate teams have been qualifying really good and racing good. So… excited about 2014! It’s going to be a good year.
WELL MAN, YOU STARTED IN THE BACK BUT WORKED YOUR WAY TO THE FRONT WHEN IT COUNTED MOST. WERE YOU JUST BIDING YOUR TIME THROUGHOUT THE RACE?
Eh, you never know if you’re going to get back up there or not. We had to start at the back, we had to make a run early and see what we could do. We drove right to 10th, or something like that and then it got stagnant. We tried to make something happen, and went to the back again. Drove back up to the front. Again, just really proud of my guys. Matt Kruder did a hell of a job on that pit stop getting just enough gas in to gain some spots there.
RCR CARS SEEM PRETTY DARNED STRONG. DO YOU THINK THE RCR CARS HAVE SOMETHING FOR THEM ON SUNDAY — ESPECIALLY THE THREE JOE GIBBS RACING CARS THAT SEEM TO BE THE CLASS OF THE FIELD RIGHT NOW?
Oh yeah. The 20 car was extremely fast. The 11 didn’t qualify that good, but he’s a good drafter. I think he won. We definitely have something for him.
Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
It’s been a tough week to be a NASCAR fan. Last week NASCAR’s Robin Pemberton called us “needy” for wanting to see the debris that warranted a late caution flag at Richmond. After Sunday’s Arron’s 499 at Talladega, Tony Stewart delivered a bizarre , sarcastic rant that seemed to blame the fans for the carnage that occurred during the race.
I was a bit taken aback by Stewart’s comments. If they were intended to be funny, he missed by a wide margin. Over the years I’ve learned from several failed relationships that when you start sensing a little bitterness in her sense of humor even as she laughs, it’s time to pack your bags and head for the next rodeo because it’ all over but the hurting part. If he was trying to express his frustration with NASCAR and plate racing there was no need to drag the fans into it. The majority of us are in agreement with the majority of drivers in thinking plate racing is stupid and dangerous. My guess is Stewart was concerned if he really spoke his mind he’d end up getting fined for it just as his teammate Ryan Newman did for expressing his displeasure with plate racing.
NASCAR has in fact said no penalties will be leveled against Stewart for his remarks. They’re probably too glad his bizarre rant is what people are talking about this week rather than the wholesale carnage at ‘Dega.
It’s also interesting to me that a driver who finished 24th in the last vehicle listed as running after all the smoke cleared, chose to address the media at all. Throughout his career Stewart has never been shy about expressing his disdain for the press. The top 3 finishing drivers are required by NASCAR to make themselves available to the scribes in the press box after the race. Stewart has blown off that obligation numerous times simply because he wasn’t in the mood to speak. If someone asks him a question Stewart feels is stupid he’ll let them know that in no uncertain terms and he’ll refuse to answer the question. That’s his right I suppose — but it’s not very polite.
Truthfully Stewart has often at least hinted at a certain level of disdain for fans as well. He was the driver who championed the concept of closing the garage area to race fans because he didn’t want to be bothered by them. (Well, I think he actually said he was claustrophobic and didn’t like crowds. I’m not sure how anyway with claustrophobia could stand to sit in much less drive the current generation of stock cars.)
You have to look at Stewart’s remarks in the context of the season-long debate over whether stock car racing has gotten too sterile and frankly, boring.
In my mind the season is off to one of the blandest starts I can recall, but that’s not because of a lack of wrecks prior to Sunday’s wholesale carnage. What’s been lacking has been side-by-side competition with most races quickly become single file processions of cars separated by gaps of several seconds. In last week’s column I gave my guesses on what’s causing the dearth of action and my opinion is in agreement with most of the fans who write me.
The reaction of some to complaints that the races are boring is that fans are ghouls who just want to see a bunch of wrecks. There’s some higher ups in NASCAR and in the media who feel that’s the case and apparently this misconception has spread to some of the drivers as well, most notably at least this weekend in the person of our reigning Cup champion. But I’ve heard other drivers express the same sentiment albeit it a bit more tactfully but in equally bizarre terms. Carl Edwards smiled as he said that if fans wanted more wrecks he and the other drivers were going to have to do that. Really? What are we going to pre-script the races like a pro-wrestling bout? All right, Carl, on lap 25 you run into the No. 48 and take him out. Jeff, on the restart you take out Carl for what he did to your teammate and stuff him into the first turn wall. When you get out of those cars make it look like you’re having a heated argument and are about to start throwing punches even if you’re actually discussing how your 401ks are doing. Oh, and we need someone to toss a water bottle onto the track with five laps to go.
What kind of nightmare would that be?
Well actually what sort of nightmare is the following statement, a direct quote from Stewart’s bizarre rant. “Like I said, if we don’t crash half of the field by the end of the race they really need to extend it because that is what the fans want. They want to see that excitement. I feel bad that as drivers we couldn’t do a better job of crashing enough cars for them today . I feel like that is what we are here for.”
Makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside, doesn’t it?
It’s especially troubling to me that Stewart would make such a comment after Friday’s ARCA race and Sunday’s Nationwide race both featured savage wrecks that left fans hanging and praying wondering if they’d just seen a driver killed. There is simply no sound at a race track worse than a med-evac helicopter firing to life. There’s few sights at a race track worse than the Jaws of Life being taken out of the back of the truck. All you can do at that point is pray, hope and wait. I know that’s what I was doing Friday evening and Saturday afternoon. Yet somehow Stewart seems to have an impression I’d be standing up and cheering hoping for the worst possible outcome. If that’s the case why is attendance at Talladega, a track known for and promoted as featuring savage wrecks drawing around 50,000 less fans per event than it was a decade ago?
Did the SAFER barriers installed to reduce the likelihood of serious injury or worse send all those ghoulish fans packing?
It’s funny, but for the last ten races of last season I don’t recall a lot of fans complaining about how boring the races were. That was due in large part to Stewart himself. After a disappointing regular season, Stewart caught fire in the Chase, getting up on the wheel and running every lap he drove as hard as he possibly could. When adversity knocked him back in the running order, he’d come storming back through the field like a maniac. Once he was in the lead, he wasn’t going to give it up to anyone, and if they tried to take it from him, he wasn’t above swapping a little paint to point out their lapse in manners. If a bunch of drivers would adopt a similar strategy for all 36 races, not just the last ten, the problem of “boring” racing would be solved completely but it’s unlikely we’d ever see that style of racing during the regular season with the current Chase points format.
It’s disheartening to how out of touch NASCAR officials and now even some drivers are with what the fans really want. That dichotomy is probably what lays at the base of most of the problems that plague our sport. But on behalf of myself and a lot of fans like me to anyone who thinks we’re ghouls eagerly anticipating the next big wreck, don’t worry about what we want. We were just fixing to leave anyway.
©2000 - 2008 Matt McLaughlin and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
Matt. This long time, “stupid” fan has just about had enough. Like a lot of “stupid” fans I just want to see good hard racing, not the Macy’s day parade at a race track I stated in a response yesterday that the nas$car whiny millionaire drivers’ are so disconnected from the fans that it’s become pathetic. Stewart affirmed that Sunday. And nas$car. Get your heads out of your rear ends. Sponsors might be paying the bills to a certain extent, but the fans pay them by buying their products. Regardless of how it’s put into context, the fans pay their arses. I guess it’s to much to ask for good racing.
Ex fans should stay away from the tracks, keep the tv off and don’t buy from sponsors of nASCAR.
I’m looking forward to a good race at Darlington.
I think we may be reading a little too much into this one. I feel like Stewart was taking a shot at NASCAR, not the fans. And let’s be honest: there is a small minority of fans that just watch for the wrecks. And I think NASCAR tries to cater to them more than the race fan, because they take the true race fan for granted. That’s the whole premise behind “have at it” and the new plate rules. They’re trying to re court that casual fan the just likes the wrecks. I think that’s what Stewart was saying. I don’t think he was addressing you, me, or any readers of Frontstretch. I think he was addressing the guy who sees a crash on Sportscenter, watches the next race, sees no wrecks and never watches a race again.
I can remember a time not too long ago when Stewart was the driver you could always count on to call it like it sees it, and to hell with whether Nascar liked it or not. He seemed poised to become the next Dale Sr. in that respect; the guy who, due to his place in the sport, could get away with publicly voicing what the other drivers were saying privately. Now he just seems petty and bitter most of the time. Personally, I lost a lot of respect for Stewart when he chastised the fans for complaining about the state of the sport a couple of years ago. His recent comments seem to support that assessment. However, I will admit that Stewart is sometimes hard to read.
Sounded like Tony listened to the radio last week and bit on the topics that the hosts wanted to be storylines for the race. There is a disturbing trend to force highlights on to the top ten on Mickey’s sport channel to “get the sport in front of the fans of other games on a daily basis, hoping they care enough to watch. BTW, I wonder who told DW to call it a race and not a show as he had in the past?
Tony made a mockery of the mainstream media. He stood in front of the sheep and they gobbled up everything Tony said. Never once did anyone from the media call Tony out on his statements. The lamestream media took Tony’s comments as fact. LOL.
Tony Stewart made the lamestream media look like mindless robots.
Full disclosure here…I’m a Stewart fan. That said, Matt mentioned this: “There’s some higher ups in NASCAR and in the media who feel that’s the case”
Like Country said above, I thought THAT sentiment was what Tony was going after…NASCAR’s perceptions of the fan wanting wrecks and trying to deliver them…not the actual fans themselves.
I’m sorry. But when I go to a race, the person sitting next to me in the stands is usually some drunk redneck eagerly waiting for some big crash to happen.
i thought stewarts comments were tongue in cheek funny and not really aimed at anyone. he’s opened his mouth and let words spill out in frustration before and let’s face it, he’s a great driver but a well known hothead when the right buttons are pushed. Having said that, the topic of discussion that he fueled (intentionally or not) is great for racing. Matt’s article here (to me) is exactly the right conclusion to that discussion. i hear more and more people correcting nascar and the buffoons who say the fan who cries “BORING” wants more wrecks with cries of “it’s the hard racing that’s missing, stoopid.”
and the macy’s day parade comment above… priceless.
Lugnut…you might want to consider upgrading your seats. Yes there are “fans” like you describe but from my dealings with race fans and being a fan myself, they are in minority.
I thought Stewart was perfectly lucid in what he was saying. He was simply expressing, in a very controlled, simmering way that the idiots who run Nascar wont admit that they do it but they devise rules to create pack racing because they think its exciting and will appeal to that subset of fans, who unfortunately do see things as Lugnut said above. Nascar doesnt care about those of us who cringe when a driver is involved in a serious wreck, they want the people who crane their necks to see more. They live vicariously that way. What was it Thoreau said about the “mass of men leading lives of quiet desperation”?
It takes a certain level of intellect to get or give sarcasm effectively, and no matter what, some just won’t get it.
Having said that, in no way am I questioning anyone’s intellect as I myself am far from equipped to judge ANYONE else’s!!!
There’s a billion different fixes for the plate racing mess, and while my favorite is to drop the banking & turn em loose…then there’s what I recall old Ironhead saying, something along the lines of…“build the fences up higher & take the plates off, the drivers that can stand it..will, the one’s that can’t..won’t”.
But at least with the tandem racing you didn’t wipe out 20 cars in a pig pile because someone had to correct the car by a tenth of a turn on the steering wheel while in the middle…like pack racing does.
So, is it possible that Tony’s comments were aimed at NASCAR for adjusting things to discourage tandem racing in favor of the pack & claiming that “pack” racing is what the fans want?
I just didn’t take it that Smoke was jabbing the fans at all, but turning NASCAR’s own words back on them…that’s what I thought anyhow…and frankly I laughed my ass off when I first read the transcript!!
Like him or not, Ole Smoke’s about as good of a shoe as there is & he’s got the time/wins/championships now to command a little attention when he talks….while less direct & more sarcastic, he’s sorta stepping in where Senior & even Russell Wallace have been in the past…seems like they’ve earned the right to speak their mind about things as long as they don’t get too out of hand.
Of course, as is always the case, if my driver runs top 5…I got no problem with pack racing, right?
Good article Matt, read you twice a week since 98-99.
LuvASmrtAz29, to paraphrase an old baseball adage about how to hit a knuckle-ball… “There are a billion different fixes for plate racing, but none of them work.”
You know Matt..Stewart has made racing much more exciting since the Chase last year..he’s driven his butt off! Maybe that’s wherein lies his rub…he’s been driving like a man possessed and it’s STILL not enough for the fans, media, and NASCAR! I ONLY included the “fans” for the heck of it..I, like many others truly believe Stewarts rant was directed to the media..and foremost to NASCAR. I think the fans “get it”… But the two groups who needed to “get it” the most…didn’t ! The media needs to quit saying Stewart mocked the fans and look in the mirror…and NASCAR needs to smarten up and quit throwing bandages on a severed limb!
While I agree with Tony’s sentiment (the sarcasm, not that idea of running Figure-8s) I can just see Robin Pemberton saying “Well, if you don’t like it you’re welcome to skip the plate tracks”. Of course, a majority of drivers WON’T do that. Too much at stake points-wise, sponsor-wise, etc. Plus for some drivers it’s their only 4 chances a year to run up front, even if it does mean you have a much higher chance of having a very expensive weekend or worse.
I now believe that Talladega cannot be fixed. Not and satisfy the majority. The rednecks that hold that infield orgy there want to see carnage, as long as Junior isn’t the one taken out. The drivers want to be able to drive, without these ridiculous rules packages that are making sure we get one or 2 “big ones”. Reconfiguring the track will cause a Bristol-like defection, no matter what you do. Lower the banking, and the track becomes a 2.66 mile version of Matt’s FAVORITE track, Fontana (that’s sarcasm, btw). Take off the plates it becomes a graveyard when the fences DON’T hold. Any other attempt at lowering horsepower will result in either pack or tandem racing. As long as drivers do not have to back off in the turns, drafting will always be the faster way around the track. So either you need to have the cars running on ice skates for tires or you need to make them so aerodynamically inefficient that you ELIMINATE Aero downforce. But guess what? Doing anything to eliminate packs/tandems simply causes strung out parades. That’s a product of too-equal cars with a points system geared for consistency over winning.
evidently you all forgot what
There’s an easy way to fix plate racing. Use a plate with the same size hole as the intake manifold, which should be the same size as the throttle body.
It honestly makes you wonder who is directing the sport right now. Drivers, journalists, and fans all seem to be frustrated and blaming each other for the problems in the sport.
I just realized now, Brian France has really been MIA this season.
Smoke remarks were just fine in my book. Plate racing sucks, period, and there isn’t a rule package out there that works. Change the track. We could knock down half the banking, and have much better racing. There just has to be a way to not put drivers and fans in danger and have good racing. If NASCAR didn’t own these tracks, they’d have been changed a long time ago. GO SMOKE, keep on talking until someone listens.