NASCAR Changes Qualifying Format
posted by Summer Bedgood
Tuesday March 11, 2014
Following safety concerns regarding NASCAR’s new qualifying format, the sanctioning body is introducing some changes in preparation for this weekend’s race at Bristol Motor Speedway. According to the Associated Press, NASCAR is banning teams from cool-down laps after their qualifying attempts, but will instead be allowed to hook up cool-down units to the engine through hood flaps.
Late Tuesday afternoon, a release from NASCAR fully detailed the changes. Teams will be allowed a single cool down unit to be connected through the right or left side hood flap, however the hood must remain closed. Additionally, two crew members will be allowed over the wall while cooling down.
“The qualifying is new to all of us and as we have said over the past several weeks, we are looking at it from all aspects,” said Robin Pemberton, vice president of competition and racing development. “Following discussions, both internally and with others in the garage area, we moved quickly to make a few revisions that will be effective starting with our two national series events at Bristol Motor Speedway this weekend. We believe this will only enhance and improve what has demonstrated to be an exciting form of qualifying for our fans, competitors and others involved with the sport. Moving forward we will continue to look at it and address anything else that we may need to as the season unfolds.”
The move comes after three weeks of NASCAR’s new knockout qualifying system, where multiple cars are allowed to make qualifying attempts at the same time instead of the traditional one-car-at-a-time procedure. Drivers and teams had complained that the new rules didn’t allow them to cool their engines down on pit road, and the cool-down laps caused a dangerous situation with slower cars staying on the track at the same time that other cars were running by them at much higher speeds.
The rule will begin this weekend in Bristol, a track that has a much narrower racing surface than Daytona, Phoenix, and Las Vegas.
Kurt Busch to Attempt The Indianapolis-Charlotte Double
posted by Phil Allaway
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Andretti Autosport announced this morning that Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet in the Sprint Cup Series, will attempt the Indianapolis 500 in a fifth entry for the IndyCar Series team. Once the Indianapolis 500 is completed, Busch will fly from Indianapolis to Charlotte, jump in his No. 41 Chevrolet and compete in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Busch considers the opportunity to do the double as an old-school throwback moment.
“This is really to challenge myself within motorsports,” Busch said in Andretti Autosport’s press release. “Perhaps I am a bit of an old-school racer; a throwback, I guess. I enjoyed the era of drivers racing different cars and testing themselves in other series. It is tough to do now for a variety of factors, but when the opportunity is there, I want to do it. While NASCAR is my home, I have been fortunate to compete in Pro Stock on the NHRA circuit a number of years ago and test a V8 Supercar. This opportunity was a talk with Michael [Andretti] over dinner one night, a “What if,” and now it’s becoming a reality for me to drive in the Indy 500 with Andretti Autosport. It’s literally a dream come true. To go to the famous Brickyard with the iconic Andretti name, it doesn’t get much cooler or better than that.”
Busch will be doing the Indianapolis-Charlotte double as a Memorial Day mission to men and women serving in the U.S. Military via the Armed Forces Foundation. Fans can contribute to the cause by texting AFF to 50555 to donate $10.
Busch, who has never raced an IndyCar, passed Rookie Orientation at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year during a test session. At the time, Busch was more or less testing the Dallara DW12 for fun.
Busch will be the fourth driver to attempt the Indianapolis-Charlotte double. John Andretti was the first driver to attempt it in 1994. After finishing four laps down in tenth in Indianapolis, Andretti crashed and had engine problems in the 600. Robby Gordon has attempted the double five times, most recently in 2004. However, Gordon failed to make it to Charlotte on time and did not start the 600 in 2000 (P.J. Jones started Gordon’s No. 13 Ford in that instance). Finally, Tony Stewart has attempted the double twice (most recently in 2001) and is the only driver to ever complete all 1100 miles. Neither of the three drivers has won either leg of the double. The best finishes are Stewart and Gordon’s sixth-place finishes at the Indianapolis 500 (although Gordon’s came in 2000, the year he didn’t make it to Charlotte in time to start the Coca-Cola 600), and Stewart’s fourth-place finish in the 2001 Coca-Cola 600.
Danica Patrick, Justin Allgaier Talk About Phoenix Incident
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
A disappointing start to the year for Danica Patrick won’t include continued conflict. Patrick met with rookie Justin Allgaier Sunday, shortly after the Phoenix Cup race after a wreck ruined both drivers’ days. Patrick, who was critical of the No. 51 car on the radio, claiming Allgaier was “driving all over the track” appeared receptive to a conversation that quickly settled differences over what will be a long season.
“She was just upset because she got involved in the crash that we had,’’ said Allgaier to the Motor Racing Network. “She says she’s been through this and that she felt like I needed to settle down at that point. I explained my position on why everything happened. I think she understood where I was coming from. It doesn’t fix either one of our racecars. It doesn’t fix either one of our days. Unfortunately, we were both having pretty decent days.’’
Allgaier wound up 30th due to the incident while Patrick was 36th. The incident, which was caused by Allgaier’s spin also involved the No. 32 team and Travis Kvapil, which wound up 38th after sustaining heavy damage.
Camping World Close to Extending Title Sponsorship of NCWTS
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Marcus Lemonis, CEO of Camping World, Grand Marshal of Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway, and star of CNBC’s “The Profit,” made the announcement over the weekend that the retailer is very close to announcing a deal that would continue its title sponsorship of NASCAR’s Truck Series. The original agreement with NASCAR is scheduled to conclude after the 2015 season.
According to the sanctioning body, no formal contract has been signed, but “the agreement between the two parties has proven to be a beneficial one.”
“In about a month, we’ll be announcing a significant extension to that contract. It’s been great for us,” said Camping World’s Lemonis in a statement. “The NASCAR relationship has worked well for Camping World. When we started, we had 35 stores. Now, we’re up to 120 stores. As we travel the country and we meet new customers in stores, they always are very appreciative of our relationship with NASCAR. It’s been good.”
Gaining a long-term commitment from Camping World to sponsor the Truck Series would be a relief for NASCAR, which is set to lose Nationwide Insurance as title sponsor for the NASCAR Nationwide Series at the end of the 2014 season. The sponsorship of the Cup Series by Sprint runs through 2016.
The NCWTS is back in action on March 29th at 2:30 PM (ET) when the trucks visit Martinsville Speedway in the Kroger 250, which can be seen on Fox Sports 1. Ratings for the season opener were up 11 percent.
Harvick Takes Win At Phoenix In Second Race With New Team
posted by Justin Tucker
Monday March 3, 2014
Phoenix International Raceway has become Kevin Harvick’s home away from home. Sunday Afternoon was no exception as Harvick charged to the front early and would dominate for much of the day, leading 224 of the scheduled 312 laps to record his record fifth win on the one mile oval and his third win in the last four races at Phoenix.
Harvick, coming off of a disappointing Speedweeks which was capped by a last lap crash in the Daytona 500 in his debut with Stewart-Haas Racing, set the tone on Saturday by winning both practices while having the best 5 and 10-lap averages in the first practice of the day on Saturday. On Sunday, Harvick and his No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet was nothing short of flawless as he was able to hold Dale Earnhardt, Jr. by .489 seconds after a late race restart to claim his 24th career Sprint Cup Series victory.
“Man, this is awesome,” Harvick said after his dominant victory on Sunday. “Man, this just solidifies so many things and so many decisions. It’s been so much work with all the time and effort that these guys (the crew) have put in—but what a race car.”
Stewart Haas Racing co-owner Gene Haas shared in Harvick’s excitement after the race.
“It took long enough,” Haas joked. “This is phenomenal. I think there was a lot of skepticism last year about what myself and Tony (Stewart) what we were up to, was there a lot of madness to this. Quite frankly, it’s a great team, there’s a lot of synergy at the shop, people working together. I don’t know what we did, but I think we put together a great organization.”
Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt, Jr. continued his hot start to the 2014 season. Earnhardt Jr. would finish second on Sunday, marking his seventh consecutive top 10 finish since the end of the 2013 season. Earnhardt Jr. was pleased with the effort after a coast-to-coast whirlwind week after winning his second Daytona 500 and also gave great praise to the efforts of Harvick and the No. 4 team.
“I’ve got to congratulate Kevin. Those guys were two-tenths faster than everyone all weekend in practice. They were just phenomenal,” Earnhardt said. “To be able to run with them all day was a big confidence builder for us.”
Joining Harvick and Earnhardt in the top 5 of The Profit on CNBC 500K were Brad Keselowski with his second consecutive top 3 run of 2014 in third. Keselowski’s Team Penske teammate Joey Logano would finish fourth, and Jeff Gordon would come home fifth in his No. 24 Pepsi Max Chevrolet.
Jimmie Johnson finished in sixth, followed by Ryan Newman with a nice rebound after Daytona in seventh. Carl Edwards would carry the banner for Roush Fenway Racing by finishing eighth, Kyle Busch was ninth, and Jamie McMurray would finish tenth.
A look at the Profit on CNBC 500K by the numbers. There were 14 lead changes among eight different drivers, there were eight cautions for 39 laps which slowed the race pace to 109.229 MPH.
Next Sunday, the Sprint Cup Series heads to Sin City and the Las Vegas Motor
Starting Lineup: The Profit On CNBC 500K
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday March 1, 2014
Drivers in RED (i) are those ineligible to collect Sprint Cup points
Daytona 500 TV Ratings Down
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Wednesday February 26, 2014
What was the longest weather delay in Daytona 500 history turned out to bring NASCAR lower ratings and TV viewership Sunday night than expected. According to a report Monday from FOX Sports, the 56th running of the Daytona 500 airing at 8 PM (ET) posted a 5.6/10 national household rating/share which averaged 9.3 million viewers. That’s down 44 percent from last year’s 9.9, easily making it the least-watched Daytona 500 of all-time.
Due to the six-hour, twenty-two minute rain delay in Daytona, the race was up against the primetime coverage of the Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony from Sochi, Russia on NBC (15.25 million viewers). FOX also reported that 69% of the pre-rain delay viewers of the race, which began at 1 PM (ET) kept tuning in.
In comparison, the 2013 Daytona 500 on FOX was the most-watched race in five years, posting a 9.9/22 rating/share, commanding 16.7 million viewers. The Daytona 500 in 2012, the first to ever be run on a Monday and in the primetime slot did a 7.7/13 overnight rating/share which resulted in 13.67 million households viewing the race according to Nielsen TV ratings data.
Earnhardt, Jr. Claims Second Daytona 500 Victory
posted by Justin Tucker
Wednesday February 26, 2014
Ten years is a long time. For Dale Earnhardt, Jr., it felt like an eternity. NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver endured many near misses and close calls at the Daytona 500 since his only win in the Great American Race in 2004. Earnhardt had finished second in two of his last three Daytona 500s coming into Sunday’s race. He was also riding the tail of a 55-race winless streak, dating back to Michigan in 2012.
However nothing would stop Dale Jr. on Sunday, not even a 6 hour and 22 minute rain delay from capturing his second Daytona 500 win. Earnhardt Jr. led a race-high 54 laps on the evening and used some timely drafting help from teammates Jimmie Johnson and, on the final restart, Jeff Gordon to separate from the pack and secure the victory.
“Winning this race is the greatest feeling that you could feel in this sport besides accepting the trophy for the championship,” said a jubilant Earnhardt after pulling into Victory Lane. “We could fight off battle after battle. We got a little help at the end there from Jeff to get away on the restart. This is amazing. I can’t believe this is happening. I never take this for granted, man because it doesn’t happen twice, let alone once.”
Aside from the race itself the big story of the race was the 6 hour and 22 minute red flag, which threatened to move the race to Monday evening (had the race been postponed, FOX Sports’ Chris Myers had tweeted that the race would resume at 5:00pm EST). However, Mother Nature would cooperate and would allow the race to be run under different conditions from which they practiced this week. Once the race resumed, the intensity picked up from the changing track conditions. This allowed the pack to race side-by-side and at times 3-wide up to seven rows deep.
Joining Earnhardt Jr. in the top 5 for the 2014 Daytona 500 were: Denny Hamlin who closed out a spectacular Speedweeks in second, Brad Keselowski in third, Jeff Gordon in fourth, and Jimmie Johnson who overcome two wrecks leading up to the 500 in fifth.
Rounding out the top 10 in the Daytona 500 were Matt Kenseth in sixth, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. in seventh and Greg Biffle would bring his No. 16 Ford home in eighth. Austin Dillon would come home ninth in his first Cup Series race in the iconic No. 3 for Richard Childress Racing, while Casey Mears would round out the top 10.
A couple of major contenders for the Daytona 500 win would see their hopes dashed early on as Martin Truex, Jr. would blow up just 30 laps into the race, relegating him to a 43rd-place finish in his debut for Furniture Row Racing. Crew chief Todd Berrier was already in Nashville for a test session before the race was even over. Kyle Busch, meanwhile would have a pit road violation just before halfway and would spend much of the race battling back from that mistake. Busch would eventually finish 19th after leading 19 laps.
Danica Patrick would also be bit by bad luck as she was caught up in a multi-car wreck on lap 145. Patrick would lead her second consecutive Daytona 500, but wouldn’t have the finish to show for it finishing 40th. Tony Stewart would encounter a frustrating evening as well, with a fuel pickup problem derailing his quest for his first Daytona 500 win. Stewart would finish 35th.
A look at the Daytona 500 by the numbers. There were 42 lead changes among 18 drivers, while seven cautions for 39 laps would slow the race pace to 145.290 MPH.
Next week, the Sprint Cup Series heads to the “diamond in the desert,” Phoenix International Raceway for The Profit on CNBC 500K. The Green flag is scheduled for 3:15pm EST.
Nationwide Series Post-Race Quotes: Drive4COPD 300
posted by Thomas Bowles
Tuesday February 25, 2014
Frontstretch Interviews – Courtesy Mike Neff
ELLIOTT SADLER – FINISHED 4th
Thoughts on the race?
It’s definitely a lot different racing than what we’re used to.
Comfortable with it?
Yeah, it’s just different. You’re worried about what you’re doing, but you’re also worried about what everyone else is doing and they’re not doing more than you’re doing. Physically pushing a guy is way better than just riding so you just gotta time it right and push it to the edge.
Happy to start the year with a top 5?
Yeah. Hell, that was the worst we ran all day, I think. I have no idea how they put the 3 car in front of us on that last restart. I hadn’t seen the 3 car hardly all day. When they put us from fifth to sixth, on the outside line, it just really boxed us in. I would have really restarted behind my teammate and given him a good push to the front. Anyways, it is what it is; we’ll take it and move on.
Looked like you were up front all day.
The guys did a good job. We had a fast race car. Great pit stops, just really proud of these guys. The car’s in one piece and we can take it to Talladega now. Great job by my guys. A lot of effort came into coming down here to Daytona and giving ourselves a shot to win. We had that chance to be up front and make some things happen. Fifth is not what we want, but we’ll take it and move on.
Bumping vs Pushing?
It’s way harder. You don’t want to lay on the guy in front of you, so it’s tough racing. A lot different than what we’re used to, ‘cause you gotta go. You gotta drag the brake too ‘cause you don’t want to hit the guys and you don’t want to stay on him. It’s a lot harder mentally than what we’ve done in the past.
Car was strong all day. Pushing vs. Bumping, is that harder to do than just getting on somebody and pushing them?
Yeah, it is a little bit. When you bump ‘em, you jar ‘em, it kinda jacks ‘em a little bit. It’s a little more abrupt, obviously. I thought it was OK there at the end. It was certainly fun and hopefully entertaining. But a little bit of a struggle in the early part of the race and the midpart of the race to see a good race. And that’s unfortunate for the fans. You can’t do that the whole race, you can’t tear up your stuff, knock your grill in, overheat your motor, all that stuff so there’s no sense in doing all that until you get down to the last lap. The 7 and the 6, they did a good job. Man, the 7 really held the 22 and I tight on the bottom. I was rubbing his door and hitting the apron at the same time, no room whatsoever. So it was good; wish we were the ones who could have won but a lot better now than what we were last year.
Going home in one piece makes it a lot better, right?
Yeah. My back feels good. My foot feels good. Past years here, I’ve been going home with pain so I’m alright.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Truck Series Post-Race Quotes: Daytona (Exclusives)
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday February 22, 2014
When you’re on the outside like that, how frustrating is it?
It’s so hard. Timothy Peters has won here. Kyle Busch has won everywhere. Ron Hornaday has been running Trucks forever, probably before I was even born. I was surrounded by veterans there, and like I told them I don’t have a rookie stripe but I’m a rookie. This is only my fourth Truck race ever, my fourth superspeedway race, and man, I figured out when the 17 got up in front of me, I pushed him. And as soon as I pushed him, he took off. And I went with him. And I just kept doing it, and before I knew it, he was leading. And I saw Ron in my mirror, backed up to him, and if it wasn’t for him, I don’t know what would have happened. I gotta thank him big time for that. That was a true teammate move right there. I really appreciate that. He just bounced off me and we got to the front. I tried my hardest to sidedraft Kyle. I was probably touching his door.
Top 5 in the No. 30 truck. This deal come together at the last minute, but you had a heck of a truck. Tell us about your night.
Yeah, I’ve got to thank Turner Scott Motorsports. The guys worked so hard on this Rheem Comfort Products Chevrolet. Exciting! Just got hung up on the outside and had to wait for my teammate there to catch up. And then he got to the bottom, so… I got the old 32 and started pushing ol’ Ryan to the front. So, it’s not bad. We’ll take it. You just don’t want to step over that boundary. You don’t know how far to push and shove. We bumped about six times down the straightaway without latching onto them. Hopefully, that was OK and we came home with a top 5.
Connect with Mike!
Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
Matt McLaughlin · Thursday May 31, 2012
Down here, there’s just winners and losers,
With the conclusion of the World 600 we are now 1/3rd of the way through Cup season and approximately halfway through the “regular season” that precedes the Chase. With that in mind it’s time to review who is off to a good start this season, who’s off to a poor start and who is living a horrific nightmare through the year’s first 12 races.
Winner: Greg Biffle Prior to the start of the season few people were even mentioning Biffle as a potential Cup champion. Long regarded as a driver who, while capable of the occasional win but not a full season run at a Cup title, Biffle and the No. 16 outfit have long appeared as a tertiary team at Roush Fenway Racing. That was especially true in the last season or so, a winless, Chaseless year leaving them at the bottom of the totem pole within the organization. Not anymore. In addition to having already won at Texas, Biffle has been leading the points since after Las Vegas, the third race of the season. In these first 12 races, Biffle has already scored seven top-5 finishes. He’s King of the Mountain right now and the ride to the title goes through the No. 16 team.
Loser: Jeff Gordon If the start to Biffle’s season has been a pleasant surprise, the start to Gordon’s has been a nasty shock and a bitter disappointment to his legions of fans. Short of being struck by lightning or audited by the IRS, Gordon’s season has been a horror story worthy of a Dean Koontz novel. Twelve races into the season, Gordon has managed just one top-5 finish and a total of three top 10s. That’s left him mired a disastrous 22nd in the points, easily a career worst at this point in the season. Unfortunately for the No. 24 bunch, there’s no clear area that needs improvement. It’s not that their cars lack horsepower, don’t handle well or that the driver isn’t up on the wheel. Those sort of problems you can work to correct. It’s simply been a season of bad luck worthy of Job for Gordon — and there’s no fixing luck.
Winner: Matt Kenseth If last year’s four Roush Fenway drivers were the Beatles, Kenseth would be George Harrison… the quiet one with immense talent but who rarely draws attention to himself. Well, the deal is when you win the Daytona 500, even in the wee hours of a Tuesday morning, people are going to stand up and take notice, sort of like when George used to do the guitar solo in “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”. (OK, so maybe that was actually Eric Clapton… you get my point.) Kenseth is currently second in the standings and has top-10 finishes in eight of this season’s 12 races. Wouldn’t it be deliciously ironic if Kenseth were to win the Chase with just one victory this year? After all, the whole Chase farce was an overreaction to Kenseth’s single win Championship back in 2003.
Loser: Earnhardt Ganassi Racing Both Juan Pablo Montoya and Jamie McMurray have been struggling to date this season. They are currently shown 18th and 21st in the standings, and neither driver has scored a top-5 finish yet this season; between them they’ve led just eight laps. Montoya has his chance at redemption at this season’s two road course events but McMurray’s stock is dropping like Facebook. What surprises me is with all the difficulties they’ve endured, there are no rumors that EGR will shift to Dodge for next season. After all, would you rather be a big fish in a little pond (hell, the only fish in the pond) or a small fish in the great big Chevrolet sea? If you have to run into a jet dryer and cause it to explode to get any TV airtime, you’re doing something wrong.
Winner: Michael Waltrip Racing MWR had, since its inception been a bit of a joke no one found particularly humorous. (Just like the blowhard whose name adorns the front doors.) But this season to date, Truex is ranked sixth in the standings with seven top-10 results. Recent transplant Clint Bowyer is twelfth in the standings with five top 10s. Even part-timer Mark Martin has managed a pair of poles and four top-10 finishes in just nine starts. What’s going on here? My guess is that as Waltrip himself steps further and further away from day-to-day operations of his race team, pursuing his broadcast career he’s leaving people more competent than himself in his wake to pull the strings at MWR.
Loser: Richard Childress Racing Childress described his team’s performance in 2011 as “embarrassing.” 2012 isn’t off to a much better start. While Kevin Harvick’s season isn’t off to a terrible beginning, seventh in the standings with top-10 finishes in half of this season’s 12 points races, you can’t say the same about his teammates. Paul Menard (13th in the standings), and Jeff Burton (17th) have fallen off the radar, respectively while the fourth team was “sold off” by race six. RCR has also yet to score a single win this season. How come? Again, it’s only conjecture on my part, but it seems the Nationwide and Truck teams out of RCR are flying high. Is the proud grandpa of the Dillon brothers focusing too much of his attention and resources on getting his grandkids into the big leagues?
Winner: Denny Hamlin After narrowly missing a title in 2010, Hamlin fell into a self-acknowledged funk that saw him phoning in his performance last year. In 2012, he’s come out of the gate like a rodeo bull out of the chute. Hamlin has already won twice and has a total of seven top-10 finishes in this year’s first 12 races. He finds himself third in the standings and several tracks that have been good to Hamlin lay directly ahead on the schedule. So far, so good for new crew chief Darian Grubb…
Loser: Joey Logano Have you noticed nobody has referred to Logano as “Sliced Bread” lately? Logano is sixteenth in the standings, has led just two laps, and has yet to manage a top-5 finish this season. His average finish to date in 2012 is around 18th. Rumors are already circulating Logano will find himself demoted to the Nationwide Series next year if he’s to stay at JGR.
Some Indeterminate Shade of Gray: Kyle Busch It’s hard to say that Busch’s season is off to a terrible start. He is, after all, eighth in the standings, has seven top-10 finishes, and won at Richmond. Ironically enough, in the season’s other two short track races he finished 32nd at Bristol and 36th at Martinsville. The thing is, this portion of the season is the one where we’ll all used to seeing Busch win multiple times in all three of NASCAR’s top three touring series, and to date he’s been pretty much an afterthought. I remember my normally playful and energetic Golden Retriever laid near motionless in the stone foyer for a week after he was “neutered.” Busch didn’t lose his balls after his outrageous conduct at Texas last fall. He just had to hand them to Joe Gibbs, who keeps them tucked away in a safe until after the season ends.
A Slightly Darker Shade of Gray: Carl Edwards In 2011, Edwards lost the championship by a single finishing position to Tony Stewart. This year, he’s become the sport’s invisible man. Edwards currently finds himself with no wins and just two top-5 finishes but with a total of eight top 10s. He’s a scant four points inside that “safe” top-10 points position so even one bad afternoon could force him to start battling for wins just to make the Chase. Maybe if Gordon, Keselowski, Newman and Edwards have to spend the summer battling over those two playoff berths fighting for victories, fans will get to see some real racing again. We all know all four drivers are capable of pulling off multiple race-winning streaks. “We shall see,” the cat said, licking his lips hungrily, waiting for the robin to land in the front yard.
Winner: Dale Earnhardt, Jr. Let’s be truthful. Over the last three years, Earnhardt, Jr. has become sort of the Kim Kardashian of NASCAR. He’s famous simply because he is, popular for no discernible reason related to any sort of talent or results, and seen most often in commercials during a race, though not in the top 10 afterwards. Well this year, Earnhardt is actually giving his myriads of fans something to cheer about other than his having won five bucks in a scratch-off lottery game. While he still hasn’t won a points race since the last Bush administration, Earnhardt did in fact win the preliminary event to the All-Star Race. He’s currently fourth in the standings and has four top-5 finishes and nine top 10s. Those four top-5 results match how many of the same sort of finish Earnhardt had all of last year, and that was the most top 5s he’s managed in the last three years. In a season that fans have found boring to date, Junior actually contending for a title even if the races remain placid is going to have millions of fans and media members dancing about like Holy-Rollers seeing the first bag of rattlesnakes entering the room.
Still Whitish But Fading to Black: Tony Stewart Yep, he’s won two races this season; Stewart, Keselowski and Hamlin are the only three drivers to win more than a single race this year. But Stewart only has two other top-5 finishes in addition to those victories. Some weekends, Stewart and his equipment are simply out to lunch and he’s just out there turning laps and trying to stay out of the way, as has his teammate Ryan Newman as of late. It’s odd that Stewart throughout his lengthy Cup career has typically started the season slowly then gotten white hot late in the year. Is 2012 a case of premature congratulation?
Clouds Giving Way to Bright Sunshine: Kasey Kahne Early in the season, it appeared Kasey Kahne and Jeff Gordon were carpooling to work and the same black cat was crossing their path in the parking lot each day. But while Gordon is still struggling, Kahne is putting his floundering start to the 2012 season in his rear-view mirror. He’s had six straight top-10 finishes, culminating with his victory in the World 600 on Sunday. But here’s a word of advice: Objects in the rear-view mirror may be closer than they appear. Lady Luck is fickle, and she tends to be a bit of a b*tch from time to time.
Winner: Brad Keselowski Keselowski’s season got off to a slow start, with 32nd-place finishes at Daytona and Las Vegas, but he’s since rebounded nicely by scoring wins at Bristol and Talladega. Eleventh in points, Penske’s top driver has those two wins up his sleeve to play with if needed to fight for a Wild Card berth.
Loser: AJ Allmendinger The season started off with great promise for Allmendinger, who managed to land a ride in one of Penske’s Dodges after Kurt Busch’s meltdown at Homestead. But despite running in what is arguably the best equipment of his career, Allmendinger just isn’t putting the numbers on the board. True, he did finish second at Martinsville, but that’s the lone highlight in a season leaving him 24th in points. Ironically, that’s five positions behind Aric Almirola, who took over the seat in the No. 43 car Allmendinger had vacated. While he’s run better than his numbers indicate and, like Gordon, he’s just suffering through a string of incredibly bad luck, Allmendinger only has a one-year contract with Penske in a “What have you done for me lately?” type of business.
©2000 - 2008 Matt McLaughlin and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
Matt—you worked tertiary and Dean Koontz into the same article, that’s damn cool.
Good Grief, Kenseth as Harrison? I do so hope not. Not only did Clapton’s version of the lead on “weeps” end up on the record, on his way out the door Eric scooped up George’s wife. Later George lost a copyright suit over “My Sweet Lord”, was stabbed in the neck by a robber and then he died of cancer.
Can’t Matt be Ian Stewart or Bill Wyman instead?
I’ve noticed that when one EGR driver struggles, they both do, and when one is running well, so does the other. That tells me it’s not the drivers, but the cars. EGR seems to have fallen behind the other teams.
Should Stewart be penalized for driving the wrong way (twice) on the pit road when he spun around at 9000 rpm? They penalized a gas man when he looked like he was 6 inches out of the box!!! Is Childress a victim of his own research?? Didn’t he come up with the $1200 springs years ago?
I think Kyle Busch is laying low in anticipation of a Jimmy Johnson-styled chase.
Just think if we had Kyle and Junior in a neck and neck run for the championship! The fans would forgive NASCAR of all its sins. Although given their records, both would fall out in the last race and Kenseth would get it.
Great article and full of playful snark. I liked the one about premature congratulation.
A whole article without a single mention of Danica Patrick. Matt, you are the man!
Matt, You forgot the biggest losers of all!! Us, The race fans. Having those goofball , clown Waltrip brothers insult our intelligence week after week. And poor Larry Mac, he’s a nice guy, hard worker, but he’s no broadcaster, he’s terrible. So to me the biggest losers are the TV viewing audience. Welcome TNT, you can’t come soon enough!!