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.
Matt McLaughlin · Monday May 14, 2012
The Key Moment – During the green-white-checkered restart, Tony Stewart lost fuel pressure allowing Jimmie Johnson to drive on unmolested to score HMS’s 200th Cup win.
In a Nutshell – The last 100 miles of the race weren’t bad but as awful as the first 400 miles were, was anyone left watching? If points racing can make a Darlington race this bland we’re in for a very, very long summer.
Dramatic Moment – All the ingredients were there: a green-white-checkered finish at Darlington, questions about who had the gas to go the extra laps, some drivers who had gambled on fresh rubber late in the top 8, and a notoriously slick race track, but the finish was a bit of an anticlimax.
What They’ll Be Talking About Around the Water Cooler This Week
It drives me nuts that they insist on calling this race the Southern 500. Yes, it’s held in a southern state and yes, it’s 500 miles long but it’s not the Southern 500. The Southern 500 is run in the afternoon during Labor Day weekend and once represented perhaps the most cherished trophy in the sport.
Well, I suppose we all knew it was coming… the latest episode of a Busch brother going ballistic. In this instance, Kurt Busch had been enjoying a strong run, spending much of the race inside the top 10. Eventually though, the No. 51 car got out from underneath him and Busch slapped the wall hard enough to cut down a tire. Ryan Newman was hit from behind and also spun trying to avoid Busch. After the incident, Busch went into full meltdown mode on his radio as he coasted to the pits. Following the stop, he did a burnout worthy of John Force leaving his stall and drove through Newman’s pit box, sending members of the No. 39 crew diving for cover. After the race one of those crew members, Andy Rueger, who is gasman for the team, strode down pit road to confront Busch. Busch, in his typical charming manner, then drove into the back of Newman’s car on pit road. (Busch claims he was removing his helmet and couldn’t see in front of him, an explanation Newman labeled, “a lie.”) Out of their cars, both drivers exchanged a few words but the situation seemed defused until the arrival of Rueger and other members of the No. 39 and No. 51 teams. In the ensuing tussle, a NASCAR official wound up sprawled across the hood of the No. 39 car though it did not appear he was shoved. Well, on a brighter note for Busch, at least this time there won’t be any awkward phone calls from sponsors to discuss this latest incident… now or possibly ever again.
NASCAR said if any penalties are warranted for the pit road brouhaha they’ll be announced later this week. I can’t imagine any possible penalty will be too severe though considering the sanctioning body, the Darlington track promoters and the network that televised the race all used extensive footage and still images of last year’s post-race pit road confrontation between Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch to promote the event.
OK, apparently FOX has decided (perhaps at the bequest of NASCAR’s Robin Pemberton) that us “needy” fans don’t need to be shown the debris that is judged to be dangerous enough to warrant a caution flag. (It was rather odd that the cameras were tight-focused on the No. 24 car as it rolled around the track on a flat tire and it never appeared any debris was thrown from that car.) I wonder how fans of the NFL would react to a major penalty being called but not being able to see a replay of the acts that led to the flag?
Everyone in the broadcast booth seemed stunned when Kenseth appeared as a contender late in the race. Maybe if they hadn’t been so fixated with the 31st-place car running six laps off the pace they’d have seen him creeping up during the second half of the race. DW gave Danica’s Darlington debut an A+. I wish I’d had him as my high school calculus teacher.
Maybe NASCAR is listening after all? A rules change was announced this week in an apparent attempt to leash the dreaded aero-push disadvantage to a driver trying to overtake another driver ahead of them. Starting next week at Charlotte, the sill skirts (those flat metal surfaces below the rocker panels) will be shorter. (And in my book, when it comes to skirts shorter is always better… but I digress). This adjustment might potentially reduce the aero grip of the cars and it addresses a new trend the teams are exploring, trying to streamline the undercarriages of their cars in an area where NASCAR currently doesn’t use templates. (Give ‘em time… give ‘em time.) We’ll see how well it works next week. I’ll give style points to NASCAR for first trying the idea in the All-Star race, which obviously doesn’t affect the team’s chances at a title. If unexpected problems arise, they can undo the change before the 600.
Ryan Newman said he was surprised that NASCAR didn’t fine Tony Stewart for his snaky post-Talladega rant last week. (Newman himself was fined for a somewhat milder condemnation of plate track racing in 2010.) No, I don’t think the man wanted his team owner fined. I think he was applying for a refund of that penalty.
Yes, this column is supposed to be about stock car racing but longtime readers will know I’m a lifetime devotee of classic muscle cars. If I could have any two muscle cars sitting side by side in my garage, they’d be a ‘67 Shelby 427 Cobra and a black on black with a white roof ‘68 Shelby GT500KR convertible. As such, I must note with a great deal of grief the passing last week of one of my personal heroes, Carroll Shelby, the man behind the legend of the baddest-ass cars ever sold to the public. Shelby’s legacy includes a lifetime of charitable works, particularly for organ transplants. (Shelby himself was the longest surviving heart-transplant recipient. Those extra decades he survived allowed him to continue producing some of the most coveted muscle cars of the modern era.) In my case, I think it was my first glimpse of a green ‘66 GT350 with white stripes Mustang a neighbor owned in Huntington, NY that ignited my lifetime passion for fast, loud cars even though I was seven at the time. If nothing else, if certainly made me a Mustang guy for life and I’ve owned over twenty of them in my time though only one of them was actually a Shelby. ( A ‘67 GT350 I traded a Boss 303 for.) If any good can come of Shelby’s tragic death, let it be an increased awareness of the need for donated organs to save peoples’ lives. Take a moment and consider becoming a donor; I hear you can even do it on that Facebook thing now. We all want to go to Heaven, but we don’t want to die. Well, consider for a moment that your organs can live on in another human being even after you leave this life for the next.
It’s a little off my normal beat but there were some frightening moments in the garage area (I think they call it a paddock) after Sunday’s Spanish Grand Prix. A fire broke out in the garage stall assigned to the Williams team which had ironically just scored their first race win since 2004. Thick clouds of toxic black smoke quickly filled the area, as initial speculation is that the fire was caused by an explosion in the KERS unit’s battery which is located beneath the fuel tank. (KERS systems store electricity generated while the car is braking or coasting, a very higher-tech version of the regenerative brakes found in most street hybrid cars.) Normally after a race, that battery is grounded to dissipate the electricity stored in the unit, but for whatever reason it appears it wasn’t. I’m told the race-winning car was still in F1’s equivalent of our Victory Lane so it wasn’t damaged; at press time, the report is 16 hurt, one seriously from the fire but thankfully no one dead.
The Hindenburg Award For Foul Fortune
Jeff Gordon cut down not one but three left-rear tires and even after he went to the garage area to have the car looked over, the team wasn’t able to determine why. A 35th-place finish was just the icing on the cake for Gordon’s start to the season which you’d have to be kind to label merely “horrific.”
Martin Truex, Jr.’s team made an extremely questionable call to pit their driver under the fifth caution period, handing the lead to Johnson. After that, Truex was unable to get back into the same zip code as the rear bumper of the No. 48 car and was clearly irritated. Barking at his crew, he then apparently decided to take out additional frustration on Darlington’s outside wall. The wall won, just as it always has over decades of racing at Lady In Black while capping his comeback at fifth place.
Elliott Sadler looked poised to win another Nationwide race Friday night until Joey Logano got into the back of him on a late restart and sent Sadler into the wall. While he gave a classy post-wreck interview, it was clear Sadler was clearly worried about the points implications of his disappointing finish.
Greg Biffle had the car to beat early but as the track cooled, the No. 16 team seemed unable to adapt to the changing conditions. At one point, they called their driver to the pits so suddenly he nearly wrecked trying to make his entrance. A 12th-place finish isn’t bad, considering the circumstances but it had to leave everyone in the organization wondering what could have been.
Again, not asking for any sympathy. I signed up for this gig. But writing something interesting about an uninteresting race is the worst part of the job. And besides T… oh, never mind.
The “Seven Come Fore Eleven” Award For Fine Fortune
In a race where most of the passing was in the pits Johnson overcame a botched stop to win in the end.
Stewart appeared to have issues with his clutch during a late pit stop and spent an agonizingly long time in his pit box before being pushed by his team to return to the track. The mechanical problem didn’t seem to be an issue for Smoke on subsequent restarts on his way to a third-place finish.
It was a pretty fair weekend for Denny Hamlin, with second-place finishes in both Darlington races.
What’s the Points?
Greg Biffle still maintains his points lead but he’s now just two ahead of his teammate Matt Kenseth. Earnhardt and Hamlin remain third and fourth in the standings, now 14 and 17 points out of the lead, respectively.
His win propels Johnson forward three spots to fifth in the standings. Truex, Stewart, Harvick (-3), Kyle Busch, and Carl Edwards (+1) round out the top 10 in that order.
Clint Bowyer is currently shown eleventh in points but the two drivers directly behind him, Keselowski and Newman, have each won races this season so they’d supplant him if the Chase were to start now. Others on the outside looking in include Menard (13th) and Logano (15th). Further back, Kasey Kahne keeps chipping away at a potential playoff berth after a terrible start to the season. This week, he’s up three spots to sixteenth.
It doesn’t look good for either Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing driver to make it into the Chase. Montoya is down two spots this week to 19th in the standings and McMurray is down four spots to twentieth.
Gordon slipped another spot to 24th (subtly ironic?) in the standings. He’s a point behind Mark Martin, who has only run eight of this season’s eleven races. Maybe they should change the decals on the car to read “The Drive to End Futility?”
Overall Rating (On a scale of one to six beer cans, with one being a stinker and a six pack an instant classic) — The first two-thirds of the race were as bad as it gets and it pains me to say that about Darlington, my favorite track. The end of the race was a bit more intriguing but still not up to the standards I expect of the Track Too Tough To Tame. As such, Saturday night earns just three cans, possibly the lowest rating I’ve ever given a race at Darlington.
Next Up – The series heads off to Charlotte for the annual All-Star shenanigans. Hopefully, with no points towards the Chase on the line we’ll see some actual racing on a 1.5-mile track… what a concept.
©2000 - 2008 Matt McLaughlin and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
That run of “debris” cautions was pathetic. I thought to myself, hmmmmm, where is Junior running? Ahhh, 1 lap down, and two cars back from the free pass. Two quick “debris” cautions took care of that. Ray Charles could’ve told anyone at the track or watching there was diddly squat on the track besides a few hot dog wrappers. The current NA$CAR as run by Brian France, Mike Helton, and Robin Pemberton, is embarrasing compared to what it was under Bill Jr.
I find it funny that after the outburst that Smoke has had the last couple of weeks, that this week when he had “ fuel pressure” problems he had little/nothing to say. Thats right his supplier just got his 200th win.
I think Kurt Busch is trying to get booted from nascar .Jeff Gordon is having the worst luck of his life.To solve the debris cautions do like ASA did years ago if you run 75 laps caution free you get a caution
Matt Wrote “It drives me nuts that they insist on calling this race the Southern 500. Yes, it’s held in a southern state and yes it’s 500 miles long but it’s not the Southern 500. The Southern 500 is run in the afternoon during Labor Day weekend and once represented perhaps the most cherished trophy in the sport.”
Amen Brother! When this race is moved back to it’s proper place in the schedule, then It will be “The Southern 500”!
It’s a shame you can no longer watch a race on TV, the camera work from FOX is horrific and the Announcers and their agenda’s just make it a miserable experience. Oh how I long for the day’s when a race was called, not scripted.
good i thought it was me about the ho hum race. i fell asleep and woke up with johnson in victory lane as fox was going to local news here in atl. i kept thinking that he trophy would have a fried chicken drumstick on it, since bojangles was the sponsor of the “southern 500”. after a while i had to remember it was may and not labor day. i have enough trouble remember what day and date it is, don’t need any additional confusion.
can danica just GO AWAY!!! i’m with you Matt, wished DW would have been physics teacher, would have gotten A instead of B 35 yrs. ago.
I guess burning question will be….will dale jr make the all star race? I’m sure Jr nation will be burning up the votes.
Did anyone expect Stewart to beat Johnson at the last restart? After all, he does drive for Hendrick-Stewart Racing.
I also thought it was a rather convenient fuel problem that bogged him down just enough to let Johnson get away.
The worst Darlington race I’ve ever seen. And the contrived finish finish with Stewart slowing other drivers so Johnson could give his “Boss” his 200th win. Stewart’s boss, that is. When I got up this morning, I had to think for a moment as to who won the race. When you can’t even have a good race at Darlington, something is very wrong. I gave this race 2 cans lousy beer.
When will someone finally get tired enough of Kurt Busch’s bratty behavior to whip his wormy little punk ass?
did i hear dw correctly….princess is running in the 600?? heaven help us!
Matt – I was also looking forward Darlington – for weeks.
There was some side-by-side racing back in the pack. I am working to lower my expectations.
Busch has problems – seems to be way beyond being a punk – which he is. Someone better stop or help him before he really hurts someone. That would be very sad if there was all this warning and no one (Nascar perhaps) stepped up to prevent it. Thanks for pointing out the hypocrisy of those ads though.
Is it possible to ruin Darlington? Never thought so.
I remember fans sticking pins in Gordon dolls – maybe the voodoo took longer to take hold.
Speed has been showing Shelby documentaries since his passing – good stuff. RIP
Not normally a conspiracy theorist, but it sure did seem like Hendrick received a lot of help.
I tried to watch this race (even hid the remote, so I couldn’t flip channels) waiting for something interesting to happen.
Finally fell asleep during the last 20 laps.
Same story, aero and the lack of tires giving up. I can’t even wish for Cup to return to the Rock right now, because even that may be a single file parade. The sport is in serious trouble.
Glad I did not watch.I have discovered it is more fun to sit on the porch and watch it rain. When will the rest of you turn off these Bozos and their sponsors?
I’m with Tim – if you run 75 laps of green flag racing, then you get a yellow. I’d adjust the 75 to a number that would equate to one and a half fuel windows based on the track.
Why not just fix the cars/tires and race? Get rid of all the contrived additions—-Lucky Dog, Double File Restarts, Green-White-Checker and just race.
It’s not “debris” caution as in something you can see. Like Neil Bonnett said, it is a “Pierre DeBris” (a French-Canadian-Mexican driver) caution, the invisible 44th car on the track that only NASCAR officials can see. They seem to come out when a Hendrick driver needs one, but not for a Roush car.
Lifetime South Carolinian here… It was a beautiful night here this past Saturday. Not too hot or humid. By contrast, I can pretty much assure you that the Sunday afternoon before Labor Day will be blistering hot and our legendary humidity will be in full force, or it will be raining.
Note to Kurt Busch… the last guy you wanna mess with after he wrecks his car is Ryan Newman.
the dvr stopped recording right at the GWC. I guess i missed the most interestig part of the race (which happened after the green flag had flown.) Well, at least someone (kurt) is trying to make the races interesting now that kyle’s been neutered…
I’m SO glad I missed DW giving a 31st place driver an A+. I might have broken my TV set.
I told my wife yesterday that I really can’t believe how disgusted I’ve become with NASCAR. I never used to miss a race, now I turn it on for five seconds and can’t bear the points racing and the Chase standings…and that’s the races that Danica isn’t in. Races with her falling off the lead lap ten laps in to the gushing of the announcers are utterly unwatchable.
I enjoyed a beautiful day in the sun courtesy of my DVR. It took very little time to get to the end of the race as there was nothing to watch. I hope it can’t get any worse but I am sure it will.
We watched Talladega last week on DVR with the sound turned OFF for the entire race, skipping commercials. This week we only turned sound on twice, briefly, to clarify something we saw happen on track. It was much better than listening to the idiots but still boring as hell, even though we enjoyed discussing what little racing and pit strategy we saw. Our commentary was probably better than theirs. Try it next week, you might like it!
I am sure Jimmie Johnson is a nice guy but with Nascar’s coverage, I am sick to the point of turning off my TV when we lap after lap after lap after lap of JImmie Johnson. I feel for the sponsor’s who waste good money and their sponsored cars are never shown. Just call it the Johnson race, not the Nascar race. I am not even sure there were 43 cars in the race. After the start, they were not shown.
I was at the race, so at least I could watch it w/o having to deal with the Foxed up mess on TV. I agree with Matt that I hate it being called the Southern 500 -no, it’s not, I’ve been to it when it was, so I know this isn’t it.
Gordon’s bad luck this season is just astounding and even more amazing to me was that NASCAR waited to throw the caution UNTIL he got onto pit road, thereby screwing his chance of staying on the lead lap. Sure, I’m a fan of his so that makes me biased, but I was there and they didn’t come out and pick UP any debris so I have to think the caution was a good excuse to get some other drivers back onto the lead lap or to try and up the excitement value with a restart. No idea.
Kurt Busch is such an idiot – doing that sort of thing on pit road is just beyond stupid, but doesn’t surprise me at all.
Although I am not usually in favor of NASCAR taking the drivers to task for their comments, I do have to say that I’ve reached my personal limit with the tweets and comments from the media – including DW, sirius radio personalities, NASCAR’s mouthpiece Robin Pemberton AND the drivers who think that contempt for the fans is an appropriate way to express their feelings to the fans.
My interest in the sport has already been on a downturn due to the chase, the ugly car and the pooor TV coverage and pretty bland racing (that would be because of the points racing for the chase) I’ve seen for the last several years. Telling the paying customers that we are stupid, needy, “don’t get it” or as Truex said in his tweets at Dega – hope the fans are happy now – does not make me say – gee what am I going to do this Sunday? Watch NASCAR? Spend $ to go to a race? Hmmm, as unappreciated as I feel,why should I bother? If they don’t like the way the fans feel, maybe having less fans will make them all happier?
Whatever happened to fan appreciation? Oh yeah, the drivers don’t need us any more.
“When will someone finally get tired enough of Kurt Busch’s bratty behavior to whip his wormy little punk ass?”
Remember Jimmy Spencer?
I’ve been saying it for two years people; If you watch the race live on FOX, mute and MRN are a must. Better to DVR though. Watching green flag racing only and no commercials was almost enjoyable! CAN’T WAIT FOR THE END OF THE FOX COVERAGE SEASON! Mike Joy needs a better network!
Yeah, I was going to say, only another month or so of FOX, then this might be more watchable. Unfortunately, Darlington is my favourite track and it’s only in the FOX roll now…
I love all of todays comments, hey ed. Any chance of you forwarding these to Nascar/Fox? Doubt they would listen but… I have spent every racing weekend since ’99 in front of the tv(was engaged before that so only about 60pct of em before ’99) and can say I am close to the end,my passion has become my sadness, single file parades,aero issues,HORRIBLE broadcasts(is Ken Squier avail?) its gotta stop, make the cars like the mid 80’s again,real bodies,no sealing off the car,real curves,minimum frt spoiler clearance(6ins at speed… minimum) if I wanted to watch Formula ewe, I would watch Formula ewe. Please fix it,please!!! your time is running out guys,when I’m gone… I’ll never be back… If you care at all, you better get it right. Ps, I am not into wreck-fests but would love to see more Busch-Craven type finishes. The, I’m in 3rd so I’m cool crap is sad, mabye 1st should be a 10pt or 15pt premium over 2nd and 3rd place as incentive to get up there, or 10/7/5 for 1st-3rd so theres at least an effort to “RACE” for something… jus sayin….
For the record, Matt, “I for one for instance”, (thank you, Mel Brooks) have never referred to any race at Darlington as the, whatever you said, unless said race is held on Labor Day weekend. I shall not even do so in print. This is a fact. You have it here in electronic black and white.
Point Two: Today no one I know was talking about the race at all. Every single bit of water cooler talk (I actually contracted two years ago with a water company so we would have one — You are “stimulating” the economy) was all about Carroll Shelby with special oohs and ahhs to the one person who ever drove an original. It was not me. I have sat in one and it was signed. I stared at the Sharpie track.
Other than that you are, as usual, spot on and as I check my files I see that once again you are because you somehow get into my secure files and steal my copy.
I would ask you to stop, but I am lazy and have no column of mine own. :)
for the conspiracy theorist….wonder if stewart/haas racing will get extra special engine this coming weekend for the all star race?!
ah yes, I forgot to mention the massive coverage that Sparkle Pony (thank you AR, love that handle) in the 10 car got during the race. Amazing considering how quickly she was lapped and then continued to be lapped. She did keep the car in one piece for 500 laps, but that’s the only positve I saw. Gordon, after coming back onto the track, asked before he pulled up to pass her if she was racing the car in front of her for position. The answer being “no”, he pulled out and went by.
Her prescence was a story only because TV made it so, not because she was competitive – even in a very well-funded car.
Am I the only one who finds it interesting that two Hendrick cars, Johnson and Stewart, seemed to have some extra horsepower under the hood?
They were the only ones late in the race that could pass seemingly at will. Especially Stewart. He was driving through the field like everybody else was down a cylinder.
I’m sure they passed inspection though…..but they’re still John Middlebrook just in case.
While Carroll Shelby’s death may be “old news” to some, his amazing life and the contributions he made to high performance development and motorsports needs to be remembered and celebrated. Thanks Matt, for using your column to honor the greats and the pioneers.
Ghost of Curtis Turner, you hit the nail on the head when you said we need to return to the days when races were CALLED and not SCRIPTED…Amen to that!
I’m in no way a fan of Hendrick or Jeff Gordon but I wish JG could have gotten that 200th win…
Oh well, on to the next week of hype and empty promises…is this what it’s like to have a substance addiction and it’s no longer fun but you can’t seem to put it down? Time for rehab…
Yea, it wouldn’t be a surprise if in fact Tony did lay back and let JJ win. The finish reminded me of the July Nationwide race at Daytona in 2010 with the big #3RCR/Wrangler/Dale Jr. promotion ($$$). On the last restart leader Dale Jr on the bottom row, and 2nd place Harvick on the outside row, both in RCR cars.The TV announcers asked Harvick during the caution if he could beat JR? Harvick responded; “he’d hoped a Chevy would win.” Didn’t take a lot of “Rocket Science” to figure out who was going to win that “fixed” race. Also reminded me of the last 2 restarts in the 2008 Bud Shootout both times with the Stewart/Gordon on the bottom lane and Dale Jr./JJ on the top lane. This was Tony’s first race in a JGR Toyota and Jr’s first for HMS. Rick Hendrick came on the 24 radio during both cautions to remind Gordon about “Brand Loyalty”, meaning don’t push Tony into the lead ahead of Jr./JJ. Gordon ignored it on the 2nd to last restart, and then laid back on Tony on the final restart, and we all know who won that “fixed” race. The Sheep of Jr. Nation still crying about JJ owing JR. for pushing JJ to the spring Talladega race win last year, have selective memory about how Jr. won that “fixed shoot-out race.
Danica and DW: Finishing 31st ahead of 1 OTHER DRIVER still running (without problems) is not an A+!!
As a recipient of a donated lung, I’d like to thank you for the plug for organ donations. Without my donor, I’d be looking at the grass from the wrong side by now. Again, thanks for the mention.
GinV24, I believe JG would have been 3 or 4 laps down if the “debris’ yellow hadn’t fell as he had slowed for the lap before he pitted and if they would have continued under green he would have lost more than 1 lap.
And everyone seems to forget that the second yellow fell just as Hamlin was getting ready for a green off sequence gas stop which may have put him out of the race.
As for TS letting JJ get the jump on the GWC he still owes the fellon for giving him JJ’s stuff for the chase last year.
It is nicer doing other stuff and then watching the parts you want after the fact plus you don’t have to hear the booth baboons. Glad to hear the princess finished with such a nice looking car and good grade.
Ku Busch should be greeting people at WalMart.
And last but most importantly, Thank you Carol Shelby for all the remarkable things you did for us from the organ transplant foundation to the really great cars and your fantastic racing accomplishments.