Kurt Busch to Attempt The Indianapolis-Charlotte Double
posted by Phil Allaway
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Andretti Autosport announced this morning that Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet in the Sprint Cup Series, will attempt the Indianapolis 500 in a fifth entry for the IndyCar Series team. Once the Indianapolis 500 is completed, Busch will fly from Indianapolis to Charlotte, jump in his No. 41 Chevrolet and compete in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Busch considers the opportunity to do the double as an old-school throwback moment.
“This is really to challenge myself within motorsports,” Busch said in Andretti Autosport’s press release. “Perhaps I am a bit of an old-school racer; a throwback, I guess. I enjoyed the era of drivers racing different cars and testing themselves in other series. It is tough to do now for a variety of factors, but when the opportunity is there, I want to do it. While NASCAR is my home, I have been fortunate to compete in Pro Stock on the NHRA circuit a number of years ago and test a V8 Supercar. This opportunity was a talk with Michael [Andretti] over dinner one night, a “What if,” and now it’s becoming a reality for me to drive in the Indy 500 with Andretti Autosport. It’s literally a dream come true. To go to the famous Brickyard with the iconic Andretti name, it doesn’t get much cooler or better than that.”
Busch will be doing the Indianapolis-Charlotte double as a Memorial Day mission to men and women serving in the U.S. Military via the Armed Forces Foundation. Fans can contribute to the cause by texting AFF to 50555 to donate $10.
Busch, who has never raced an IndyCar, passed Rookie Orientation at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year during a test session. At the time, Busch was more or less testing the Dallara DW12 for fun.
Busch will be the fourth driver to attempt the Indianapolis-Charlotte double. John Andretti was the first driver to attempt it in 1994. After finishing four laps down in tenth in Indianapolis, Andretti crashed and had engine problems in the 600. Robby Gordon has attempted the double five times, most recently in 2004. However, Gordon failed to make it to Charlotte on time and did not start the 600 in 2000 (P.J. Jones started Gordon’s No. 13 Ford in that instance). Finally, Tony Stewart has attempted the double twice (most recently in 2001) and is the only driver to ever complete all 1100 miles. Neither of the three drivers has won either leg of the double. The best finishes are Stewart and Gordon’s sixth-place finishes at the Indianapolis 500 (although Gordon’s came in 2000, the year he didn’t make it to Charlotte in time to start the Coca-Cola 600), and Stewart’s fourth-place finish in the 2001 Coca-Cola 600.
Danica Patrick, Justin Allgaier Talk About Phoenix Incident
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
A disappointing start to the year for Danica Patrick won’t include continued conflict. Patrick met with rookie Justin Allgaier Sunday, shortly after the Phoenix Cup race after a wreck ruined both drivers’ days. Patrick, who was critical of the No. 51 car on the radio, claiming Allgaier was “driving all over the track” appeared receptive to a conversation that quickly settled differences over what will be a long season.
“She was just upset because she got involved in the crash that we had,’’ said Allgaier to the Motor Racing Network. “She says she’s been through this and that she felt like I needed to settle down at that point. I explained my position on why everything happened. I think she understood where I was coming from. It doesn’t fix either one of our racecars. It doesn’t fix either one of our days. Unfortunately, we were both having pretty decent days.’’
Allgaier wound up 30th due to the incident while Patrick was 36th. The incident, which was caused by Allgaier’s spin also involved the No. 32 team and Travis Kvapil, which wound up 38th after sustaining heavy damage.
Camping World Close to Extending Title Sponsorship of NCWTS
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Marcus Lemonis, CEO of Camping World, Grand Marshal of Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway, and star of CNBC’s “The Profit,” made the announcement over the weekend that the retailer is very close to announcing a deal that would continue its title sponsorship of NASCAR’s Truck Series. The original agreement with NASCAR is scheduled to conclude after the 2015 season.
According to the sanctioning body, no formal contract has been signed, but “the agreement between the two parties has proven to be a beneficial one.”
“In about a month, we’ll be announcing a significant extension to that contract. It’s been great for us,” said Camping World’s Lemonis in a statement. “The NASCAR relationship has worked well for Camping World. When we started, we had 35 stores. Now, we’re up to 120 stores. As we travel the country and we meet new customers in stores, they always are very appreciative of our relationship with NASCAR. It’s been good.”
Gaining a long-term commitment from Camping World to sponsor the Truck Series would be a relief for NASCAR, which is set to lose Nationwide Insurance as title sponsor for the NASCAR Nationwide Series at the end of the 2014 season. The sponsorship of the Cup Series by Sprint runs through 2016.
The NCWTS is back in action on March 29th at 2:30 PM (ET) when the trucks visit Martinsville Speedway in the Kroger 250, which can be seen on Fox Sports 1. Ratings for the season opener were up 11 percent.
Harvick Takes Win At Phoenix In Second Race With New Team
posted by Justin Tucker
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Phoenix International Raceway has become Kevin Harvick’s home away from home. Sunday Afternoon was no exception as Harvick charged to the front early and would dominate for much of the day, leading 224 of the scheduled 312 laps to record his record fifth win on the one mile oval and his third win in the last four races at Phoenix.
Harvick, coming off of a disappointing Speedweeks which was capped by a last lap crash in the Daytona 500 in his debut with Stewart-Haas Racing, set the tone on Saturday by winning both practices while having the best 5 and 10-lap averages in the first practice of the day on Saturday. On Sunday, Harvick and his No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet was nothing short of flawless as he was able to hold Dale Earnhardt, Jr. by .489 seconds after a late race restart to claim his 24th career Sprint Cup Series victory.
“Man, this is awesome,” Harvick said after his dominant victory on Sunday. “Man, this just solidifies so many things and so many decisions. It’s been so much work with all the time and effort that these guys (the crew) have put in—but what a race car.”
Stewart Haas Racing co-owner Gene Haas shared in Harvick’s excitement after the race.
“It took long enough,” Haas joked. “This is phenomenal. I think there was a lot of skepticism last year about what myself and Tony (Stewart) what we were up to, was there a lot of madness to this. Quite frankly, it’s a great team, there’s a lot of synergy at the shop, people working together. I don’t know what we did, but I think we put together a great organization.”
Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt, Jr. continued his hot start to the 2014 season. Earnhardt Jr. would finish second on Sunday, marking his seventh consecutive top 10 finish since the end of the 2013 season. Earnhardt Jr. was pleased with the effort after a coast-to-coast whirlwind week after winning his second Daytona 500 and also gave great praise to the efforts of Harvick and the No. 4 team.
“I’ve got to congratulate Kevin. Those guys were two-tenths faster than everyone all weekend in practice. They were just phenomenal,” Earnhardt said. “To be able to run with them all day was a big confidence builder for us.”
Joining Harvick and Earnhardt in the top 5 of The Profit on CNBC 500K were Brad Keselowski with his second consecutive top 3 run of 2014 in third. Keselowski’s Team Penske teammate Joey Logano would finish fourth, and Jeff Gordon would come home fifth in his No. 24 Pepsi Max Chevrolet.
Jimmie Johnson finished in sixth, followed by Ryan Newman with a nice rebound after Daytona in seventh. Carl Edwards would carry the banner for Roush Fenway Racing by finishing eighth, Kyle Busch was ninth, and Jamie McMurray would finish tenth.
A look at the Profit on CNBC 500K by the numbers. There were 14 lead changes among eight different drivers, there were eight cautions for 39 laps which slowed the race pace to 109.229 MPH.
Next Sunday, the Sprint Cup Series heads to Sin City and the Las Vegas Motor
Starting Lineup: The Profit On CNBC 500K
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday March 1, 2014
Drivers in RED (i) are those ineligible to collect Sprint Cup points
Daytona 500 TV Ratings Down
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Wednesday February 26, 2014
What was the longest weather delay in Daytona 500 history turned out to bring NASCAR lower ratings and TV viewership Sunday night than expected. According to a report Monday from FOX Sports, the 56th running of the Daytona 500 airing at 8 PM (ET) posted a 5.6/10 national household rating/share which averaged 9.3 million viewers. That’s down 44 percent from last year’s 9.9, easily making it the least-watched Daytona 500 of all-time.
Due to the six-hour, twenty-two minute rain delay in Daytona, the race was up against the primetime coverage of the Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony from Sochi, Russia on NBC (15.25 million viewers). FOX also reported that 69% of the pre-rain delay viewers of the race, which began at 1 PM (ET) kept tuning in.
In comparison, the 2013 Daytona 500 on FOX was the most-watched race in five years, posting a 9.9/22 rating/share, commanding 16.7 million viewers. The Daytona 500 in 2012, the first to ever be run on a Monday and in the primetime slot did a 7.7/13 overnight rating/share which resulted in 13.67 million households viewing the race according to Nielsen TV ratings data.
Earnhardt, Jr. Claims Second Daytona 500 Victory
posted by Justin Tucker
Wednesday February 26, 2014
Ten years is a long time. For Dale Earnhardt, Jr., it felt like an eternity. NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver endured many near misses and close calls at the Daytona 500 since his only win in the Great American Race in 2004. Earnhardt had finished second in two of his last three Daytona 500s coming into Sunday’s race. He was also riding the tail of a 55-race winless streak, dating back to Michigan in 2012.
However nothing would stop Dale Jr. on Sunday, not even a 6 hour and 22 minute rain delay from capturing his second Daytona 500 win. Earnhardt Jr. led a race-high 54 laps on the evening and used some timely drafting help from teammates Jimmie Johnson and, on the final restart, Jeff Gordon to separate from the pack and secure the victory.
“Winning this race is the greatest feeling that you could feel in this sport besides accepting the trophy for the championship,” said a jubilant Earnhardt after pulling into Victory Lane. “We could fight off battle after battle. We got a little help at the end there from Jeff to get away on the restart. This is amazing. I can’t believe this is happening. I never take this for granted, man because it doesn’t happen twice, let alone once.”
Aside from the race itself the big story of the race was the 6 hour and 22 minute red flag, which threatened to move the race to Monday evening (had the race been postponed, FOX Sports’ Chris Myers had tweeted that the race would resume at 5:00pm EST). However, Mother Nature would cooperate and would allow the race to be run under different conditions from which they practiced this week. Once the race resumed, the intensity picked up from the changing track conditions. This allowed the pack to race side-by-side and at times 3-wide up to seven rows deep.
Joining Earnhardt Jr. in the top 5 for the 2014 Daytona 500 were: Denny Hamlin who closed out a spectacular Speedweeks in second, Brad Keselowski in third, Jeff Gordon in fourth, and Jimmie Johnson who overcome two wrecks leading up to the 500 in fifth.
Rounding out the top 10 in the Daytona 500 were Matt Kenseth in sixth, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. in seventh and Greg Biffle would bring his No. 16 Ford home in eighth. Austin Dillon would come home ninth in his first Cup Series race in the iconic No. 3 for Richard Childress Racing, while Casey Mears would round out the top 10.
A couple of major contenders for the Daytona 500 win would see their hopes dashed early on as Martin Truex, Jr. would blow up just 30 laps into the race, relegating him to a 43rd-place finish in his debut for Furniture Row Racing. Crew chief Todd Berrier was already in Nashville for a test session before the race was even over. Kyle Busch, meanwhile would have a pit road violation just before halfway and would spend much of the race battling back from that mistake. Busch would eventually finish 19th after leading 19 laps.
Danica Patrick would also be bit by bad luck as she was caught up in a multi-car wreck on lap 145. Patrick would lead her second consecutive Daytona 500, but wouldn’t have the finish to show for it finishing 40th. Tony Stewart would encounter a frustrating evening as well, with a fuel pickup problem derailing his quest for his first Daytona 500 win. Stewart would finish 35th.
A look at the Daytona 500 by the numbers. There were 42 lead changes among 18 drivers, while seven cautions for 39 laps would slow the race pace to 145.290 MPH.
Next week, the Sprint Cup Series heads to the “diamond in the desert,” Phoenix International Raceway for The Profit on CNBC 500K. The Green flag is scheduled for 3:15pm EST.
Nationwide Series Post-Race Quotes: Drive4COPD 300
posted by Thomas Bowles
Tuesday February 25, 2014
Frontstretch Interviews – Courtesy Mike Neff
ELLIOTT SADLER – FINISHED 4th
Thoughts on the race?
It’s definitely a lot different racing than what we’re used to.
Comfortable with it?
Yeah, it’s just different. You’re worried about what you’re doing, but you’re also worried about what everyone else is doing and they’re not doing more than you’re doing. Physically pushing a guy is way better than just riding so you just gotta time it right and push it to the edge.
Happy to start the year with a top 5?
Yeah. Hell, that was the worst we ran all day, I think. I have no idea how they put the 3 car in front of us on that last restart. I hadn’t seen the 3 car hardly all day. When they put us from fifth to sixth, on the outside line, it just really boxed us in. I would have really restarted behind my teammate and given him a good push to the front. Anyways, it is what it is; we’ll take it and move on.
Looked like you were up front all day.
The guys did a good job. We had a fast race car. Great pit stops, just really proud of these guys. The car’s in one piece and we can take it to Talladega now. Great job by my guys. A lot of effort came into coming down here to Daytona and giving ourselves a shot to win. We had that chance to be up front and make some things happen. Fifth is not what we want, but we’ll take it and move on.
Bumping vs Pushing?
It’s way harder. You don’t want to lay on the guy in front of you, so it’s tough racing. A lot different than what we’re used to, ‘cause you gotta go. You gotta drag the brake too ‘cause you don’t want to hit the guys and you don’t want to stay on him. It’s a lot harder mentally than what we’ve done in the past.
Car was strong all day. Pushing vs. Bumping, is that harder to do than just getting on somebody and pushing them?
Yeah, it is a little bit. When you bump ‘em, you jar ‘em, it kinda jacks ‘em a little bit. It’s a little more abrupt, obviously. I thought it was OK there at the end. It was certainly fun and hopefully entertaining. But a little bit of a struggle in the early part of the race and the midpart of the race to see a good race. And that’s unfortunate for the fans. You can’t do that the whole race, you can’t tear up your stuff, knock your grill in, overheat your motor, all that stuff so there’s no sense in doing all that until you get down to the last lap. The 7 and the 6, they did a good job. Man, the 7 really held the 22 and I tight on the bottom. I was rubbing his door and hitting the apron at the same time, no room whatsoever. So it was good; wish we were the ones who could have won but a lot better now than what we were last year.
Going home in one piece makes it a lot better, right?
Yeah. My back feels good. My foot feels good. Past years here, I’ve been going home with pain so I’m alright.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Truck Series Post-Race Quotes: Daytona (Exclusives)
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday February 22, 2014
When you’re on the outside like that, how frustrating is it?
It’s so hard. Timothy Peters has won here. Kyle Busch has won everywhere. Ron Hornaday has been running Trucks forever, probably before I was even born. I was surrounded by veterans there, and like I told them I don’t have a rookie stripe but I’m a rookie. This is only my fourth Truck race ever, my fourth superspeedway race, and man, I figured out when the 17 got up in front of me, I pushed him. And as soon as I pushed him, he took off. And I went with him. And I just kept doing it, and before I knew it, he was leading. And I saw Ron in my mirror, backed up to him, and if it wasn’t for him, I don’t know what would have happened. I gotta thank him big time for that. That was a true teammate move right there. I really appreciate that. He just bounced off me and we got to the front. I tried my hardest to sidedraft Kyle. I was probably touching his door.
Top 5 in the No. 30 truck. This deal come together at the last minute, but you had a heck of a truck. Tell us about your night.
Yeah, I’ve got to thank Turner Scott Motorsports. The guys worked so hard on this Rheem Comfort Products Chevrolet. Exciting! Just got hung up on the outside and had to wait for my teammate there to catch up. And then he got to the bottom, so… I got the old 32 and started pushing ol’ Ryan to the front. So, it’s not bad. We’ll take it. You just don’t want to step over that boundary. You don’t know how far to push and shove. We bumped about six times down the straightaway without latching onto them. Hopefully, that was OK and we came home with a top 5.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Budweiser Duels Post Race Quotes
posted by Matt Stallknecht
Friday February 21, 2014
BUDWEISER DUELS POST-RACE QUOTES
They’re saying the wheel bearing burned up in it. I don’t know what caused it, they’re taking it all apart to figure out what the heck happened. Something abnormal that’s for sure I don’t think I’ve ever had that happen at all. Hopefully, we made the race and hopefully we can fix the problem before Sunday.
WHAT WAS THAT LOUD BOOM ONCE YOU TURNED INTO THE GARAGE?
Loud pop was a tire… thankfully, it popped, hopefully it didn’t hurt anybody. All the heat created in the left front that popped was pretty weird.
REALLY GOOD RUN. WHAT DID YOU THINK OF IT?
Yeah, it was good. We have a car we can work with for the 500. Got a good starting spot, so we’re going to rest easy, fluff and buff our car for a couple of days and get ready for Sunday.
ANY DIFFERENCE ON WHETHER THE TOP OR BOTTOM LANE WORKED?
Yeah, I was just moving around, trying to stay with the flow. For me, this car works on all parts of the racetrack. So I’m pretty happy with it.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.
GOT SHUFFLED BACK, AFTER PIT STOPS AND THEN COULDN’T GET BACK UP TO THE FRONT. WHY?
Nah, we were just sitting there waiting until the last few laps to make a move. You didn’t want to pull down and get sent to the back. Seen a couple of guys get sent to the back really quick so we were just kind of waiting for the end. I felt like we had a good situation there with Ambrose behind us — we had a good run off Turn 2 and I went. It was the last lap, time to go do something, nobody went with us but hopefully Sunday is a different story.
We got a great car. We don’t have to work hard. We learned, we got a good race car. Got a car in one piece, ready to go so we’ll try and get through the next couple of practices, deliver it to the starting group this Sunday and we’ll be real happy.
YOU’RE IN THE DAYTONA 500!
Yeah, it’s pretty awesome. This Whitetail Chevrolet was so fast that I knew all I had to do was stick it behind smart, intelligent drafters and we could have a good finish. That’s what we did in the Duels and I’m excited. I’m excited to go do some stuff with the Nationwide car and have some more practice with this. But to know that we’re locked in the Daytona 500’s pretty cool.
YOU WERE OBVIOUSLY IN FRONT OF THAT MELEE AT THE END. WHEN YOU WERE UP FRONT THERE IN THE BEGINNING, WERE YOU HOPING TO JUST STAY IN LINE AND LET YOU FINISH TOP 5?
I was pretty content to ride and luckily I knew a lot of people around us were. It was nice to have a little calm and not really have to be racing hard the whole time. I knew that the pit stop was going to shake everything up and that’s exactly what happened. Fell back a little bit there but made the right moves at the end to get a good finish.
HOW STRONG ARE THESE RCR CARS?
They’re very strong! They definitely have the capabilities to be winning one of these races.
YOU’RE IN THE TOP 5 FOR YOUR HEAT IN THE DAYTONA 500. YOUR PRIMARY CAR IS SITTING RIGHT IN THE GARAGE, KIND OF WADDED UP. DID YOU THINK THIS ONE HAD IT IN IT?
Yeah, it’s a brand new car also. It’s just not quite as good as the primary but still a damned good car. I’m just proud of everybody at RCR for building such fast race cars. All of our cars have been fast, ECR motor’s been strong, even our affiliate teams have been qualifying really good and racing good. So… excited about 2014! It’s going to be a good year.
WELL MAN, YOU STARTED IN THE BACK BUT WORKED YOUR WAY TO THE FRONT WHEN IT COUNTED MOST. WERE YOU JUST BIDING YOUR TIME THROUGHOUT THE RACE?
Eh, you never know if you’re going to get back up there or not. We had to start at the back, we had to make a run early and see what we could do. We drove right to 10th, or something like that and then it got stagnant. We tried to make something happen, and went to the back again. Drove back up to the front. Again, just really proud of my guys. Matt Kruder did a hell of a job on that pit stop getting just enough gas in to gain some spots there.
RCR CARS SEEM PRETTY DARNED STRONG. DO YOU THINK THE RCR CARS HAVE SOMETHING FOR THEM ON SUNDAY — ESPECIALLY THE THREE JOE GIBBS RACING CARS THAT SEEM TO BE THE CLASS OF THE FIELD RIGHT NOW?
Oh yeah. The 20 car was extremely fast. The 11 didn’t qualify that good, but he’s a good drafter. I think he won. We definitely have something for him.
Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
Last week, NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee Rusty Wallace raised some eyebrows saying he felt that NASCAR needed to reduce the Cup schedule from 36 races down to 32. Then, earlier this week, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. chimed in that he felt shortening the schedule was a fine idea, too. And you know when Earnhardt speaks, that’s going to cause a buzz.
I’ve been advocating a shorter schedule for over a decade now and I think it’s high time NASCAR start at least exploring the idea. The current Cup slate, with 38 weekends of competition is the longest in professional sports. The only “season” that comes close is Major League Baseball, whose schedule begins a month after the Daytona 500 and concludes a month before the Homestead finale. NASCAR’s list of races stretches from President’s Day to the weekend before Thanksgiving, with only two weekends off during the whole ordeal.
Once upon a time, that was workable. The sport was soaring in popularity and new tracks were popping up around the country like dandelions on the lawn in spring. All those new tracks were clamoring for a Cup race date because as soon as those seats were built, the arena was sold out. Naturally, the established tracks on the schedule weren’t eager to surrender their dates, either, since all the races in those days were cash cows that typically sold out months in advance of the event.
Area hotels and motels got giddy, seeing the size of the crowds races were drawing and doubled, even tripled their rates often insisting on four-night, minimum stays for the fans. Local cops got in on the action, setting up speed traps to capture unwitting, out-of-state fans who didn’t realize the limit dropped from 50mph to 35mph for no apparent reason.
Everyone was making money and life was grand. Now? Well, not so much.
NASCAR helped contribute to the decline with this ridiculous concept of the Chase. Basically, that devalues the worth of the 26 regular season races while promoting the final ten events that will decide a champion. A difficult economy, gouging by the hospitality industry, tracks charging too much for tickets, food and drink, the price of gas and the shrinking size of the “blue collar” class in America have all contributed to shrink crowds to the point there’s an embarrassing amount of empty seats at these speedways most weeks.
I have a friend here in the area, where I’ve been living going on seven years now. I’d say he’s doing pretty well, has a nice home, some cool toys and put two kids through college, with one in his sophomore year. When I first moved here, he and his family used to attend both Pocono and Dover races each year. Then, they decided to cut back to one race at each track annually. This year, for the first time they decided to go to Dover in September and skip Pocono all together. Like Wallace stated, supply simply outstrips demand at least in this economy and given the lack of quality racing the last few seasons.
Here’s the problem; even with that “pullback” mentality, race fans don’t want to see those arenas they call their “home track” lose a race date. If we’re going to cut back on the schedule, they’d prefer it be at somebody else’s expense… the old “not in my backyard” theory. So how would I go about reducing the schedule?
I’ve talked about my feeling about Cup car races on road courses several times over the years. I know that a lot of you really enjoy those road course races and actually, some of you wish NASCAR would add more to the schedule. I will grant you both road course races last year were pretty exciting. So we’re just going to have to agree to disagree on this one, all you right-turn advocates. I’d still start by eliminating Watkins Glen, New York and Sonoma, California from the schedule. That’s not just because I don’t like them. It’s a matter of economics as well.
The bigger teams actually have separate cars they run at these two courses. Building two cars that will only be raced once annually is a huge expense that simply isn’t worth it, one that penalizes the smaller teams who have to try to convert over a short track car to road course specifications. The costs of building separate cars for the plate tracks and road courses is one of the reasons that running a full competitive season has swollen so obscenely; now, even the big teams struggle to find sponsors willing to write large enough checks to back a race team. And let’s face it, the NHL doesn’t have a few contests a season where teams get a win for having the best aggregate score in a figure skating competition rather than playing hockey.
You want to see full-bodied cars run on a road course? Watch the Rolex or American LeMans series.
Two down. Next up, we’ll tackle the issue of reducing the supply in a region to meet the demand. Let’s look at “regional” groupings of tracks; I’ll start with my home base here in the Northeast. Pocono, Dover, and New Hampshire each have two race dates on this year’s schedule. All are within reasonable driving distance of my home here at Eyesore Acres, though I’d rather eat bugs for Thanksgiving dinner than go to another race at NHMS. Starting in 2013, I’d award one of those tracks two dates and cut back the other two to one date apiece. So in 2013, NHMS and Dover might have one race each while Pocono would have two. In 2014, Dover would have two races while Pocono and NHMS would have one, and finally in 2015 NHMS would get two dates and the other tracks would get one event.
The next regional grouping that comes to mind is Texas, Talladega and Kansas City. There’s also a “West Coast trio” of California, Phoenix and Las Vegas, but in that group Phoenix has two dates a year while Vegas and Fontana have one. In this instance, Phoenix will still have two races, but that “extra date” would alternate between Vegas and California the next two years. I’d make that same sort of arrangement for Michigan, Indy, and Kentucky. Though they are in relatively close geographic proximity, I’d keep my hands off Richmond, Martinsville, and Bristol.
We need at least (and preferably more) those six short track dates on the schedule.
Now, by paring regional groups of three down to four races a year I’ve actually eliminated more events than I have to — my ideal number of races would be seven months’ worth. To address this problem, I’d restore a race date to North Wilkesboro to rectify a calamitous decision NASCAR made many years ago. I would also add a race, preferably within the final ten to Rockingham, another cherished venue NASCAR abandoned. And of course, I’d move the Darlington race date back to the Sunday afternoon of Labor Day weekend, so we can have a real Southern 500 again.
Any race in July or August at a track with lights (and those without them would strongly be encouraged to add them) also would be run on Wednesday nights, with qualifying that afternoon to turn those races into one-day affairs. Race distances would be reduced to the point we could run those Wednesday night races in a three-hour time slot, 8:00 PM – 11:00 PM EST, including ten minutes of pre-race and fifteen minutes of follow up after the event.
Why the change to midweek events? I want my Saturdays and Sundays off during the summer to ride down the shore, dodging shoebies in their minivans yakking on the cell phone. Wouldn’t you like your weekends free, too?
Oh, and I’d add an (obviously non-points) “Seniors Race” at Martinsville open to any retired Cup driver who won a race during his career and still physically capable of racing 100 laps (just 50) miles to the schedule. Guys like Bill Elliott, Rusty Wallace, Terry Labonte, and Ricky Rudd could have at it again with men like Petty and Pearson if they chose to participate. The Seniors Race would be a 90-minute TV package on a Tuesday night.
As for the Bud Shootout and the All-Star Race? GONG! Thanks for playing, we have some lovely parting gifts.
More radical cuts in the schedule might be necessary in the future. Tracks that can’t sell seats or venues that produce too many boring races as decided by a fan vote would get the axe, encouraging track promoters to market their races better or improve their tracks to a greater extent. Ideally, I’d like to see the NASCAR Cup season end on Labor Day weekend, a two-day affair consisting of a Truck Series/Nationwide doubleheader on Saturday and the crowning of a Cup champion on Sunday evening.
There’s an old saying amongst us gearhead types, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Well NASCAR, it’s broke — so fix it.
©2000 - 2008 Matt McLaughlin and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
If there are races to be cut, I’d definitely take them from 1.5-2 mile tracks. There are just too many of them during the season and they haven’t been producing very good races.
NASCAR’s still around?
Yes we will have to agree to disagree on the road courses. I like the diversity. I would like to see a road race in the Chase myself. Everything else I am good with! I wont hold my breath waiting for these changes however.
Yes, shorten the schedule.
NO, do not remove the road courses. If anything, add a couple more. Remove a race or races from Kansas, Chicago, Pocono, Loudon, Vegas or Texas please.
i like the idea of rotating tracks. probably not the best for track economics but something drastic is going to have to happen to turn this around. even better i like an idea like a 200 lap/mile even (with few exceptions) 20 or so guaranteed starters based on qualifying times the remainder of the field filled out by qualifying races. (would be as exciting as hell, but ill not hold my breath.)
Most other sports do not try and compete with the NFL. What makes Nascar think that it can? They cannot. If they could they would get better network televsion coverage during the Chase.
Why were people surprised when Steve Addington admitted that they were trying to get the team in good position for the Chase? I thought Jimmie Johnson won 5 championships doing that. It is time to call the first 26 races of the season for what they really are: “Nascar’s pre-season”. You can draw up a list of 8-10 drivers, most of whom, but probably not all, will make the Chase on consistency. That does not leave much for the rest.
Those are some drastic changes and I like most of them except running during the week if I were to attend any of those events. Racing for me has become more about tailgating than racing lately due to the crap we have to suffer through during the race. It would be hard to take the time off and get some good tailgating in on a Wednesday especially if you had to travel very far to the event.
I also disagree about the road courses. As a matter of fact, running the July race at Daytona on the road course might be intriguing.
I would completely nuke the schedule and start from scratch using the following principles:
1) Daytona, Martinsville, Bristol, Dover, & Richmond would keep 2 dates each.
2) All other tracks get 1 date each.
3) North Wilksboro, Rockingham, and Iowa get added to the Cup schedule.
4) The season would still begin at Daytona and end at Homestead.
5) The Southern 500 gets moved to Labor Day weekend like the Good Lord intended it.
I could go along with most every suggestion, especially ending the Season on Labor Day weekend. Where I run into a problem is the midweek racing. Like MilChad if I go to a race it has evolved into more emphasis on the tailgating/campout part than the actual racing part. I also, and perhaps there is too much Old South in me, would not be fond of Wednesday Evenings because, though I do not, I have a number of friends who are NASCAR fans for whom Wednesday nights mean Church.
I really like the Seniors race idea, however. The addition of Seniors competition did wonders for the PGA, but I would restrict the NASAR version to a one-off event as you suggest.
Why don’t they just take a year off…
That would build a bit of demand…
Or maybe not…
I have long had the idea of reducing the schedule, but with categorizing the tracks with how many race dates they receive. GROUP A — these tracks get two races per season (Daytona, i.e.) … GROUP B — these tracks receive two races in odd-numbered years, but only one race in even-numbered years … GROUP C — these tracks receive two races in even-numbered years, but only one race in odd-numbered years … GROUP D — these tracks receive one race per season each season. I believe a nice 30-race schedule could easily be achieved with that method. On another subject … reducing race lengths … I would like to see a rule where when a tracks has two races per season, their races must be of different lengths (like most were in the 60s). Who does that now … just Daytona and Charlotte? I.E., Darlington — move the SOUTHERN 500 back to Labor Day … and bring back the REBEL FOUR-hundred (though I guess it would need a new name!).
Any track of 1.5 miles in length should get one date a year, or be in the floating pool of getting 2 dates some years, and 1 date other years. Every race track capable of supporting NASCAR should get at least one date, and that includes Fontana for the haters. Charlotte should also be kept with two dates, because its the “home track” and the crewmen will love having the time at home. The others, such as Texas, Kansas, Michigan, would be reduced to one race to make room for Iowa, two dates at Darlington, and possibly North Wilkesboro or Rockingham.
Easy solution: Every track gets one race a year with the exception of Daytona and the short tracks (Bristol, Martinsville, Richmond). Add Iowa and you end the season in early October.
I’m all for adding Wilksboro, but it’s growing weeds so that’s a bigger problem than just getting a race there.
“Fill it up & plant bass”… I thought Kyle Petty said that about Darlington
I thought it was Bristol myself.