Kurt Busch to Attempt The Indianapolis-Charlotte Double
posted by Phil Allaway
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Andretti Autosport announced this morning that Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet in the Sprint Cup Series, will attempt the Indianapolis 500 in a fifth entry for the IndyCar Series team. Once the Indianapolis 500 is completed, Busch will fly from Indianapolis to Charlotte, jump in his No. 41 Chevrolet and compete in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Busch considers the opportunity to do the double as an old-school throwback moment.
“This is really to challenge myself within motorsports,” Busch said in Andretti Autosport’s press release. “Perhaps I am a bit of an old-school racer; a throwback, I guess. I enjoyed the era of drivers racing different cars and testing themselves in other series. It is tough to do now for a variety of factors, but when the opportunity is there, I want to do it. While NASCAR is my home, I have been fortunate to compete in Pro Stock on the NHRA circuit a number of years ago and test a V8 Supercar. This opportunity was a talk with Michael [Andretti] over dinner one night, a “What if,” and now it’s becoming a reality for me to drive in the Indy 500 with Andretti Autosport. It’s literally a dream come true. To go to the famous Brickyard with the iconic Andretti name, it doesn’t get much cooler or better than that.”
Busch will be doing the Indianapolis-Charlotte double as a Memorial Day mission to men and women serving in the U.S. Military via the Armed Forces Foundation. Fans can contribute to the cause by texting AFF to 50555 to donate $10.
Busch, who has never raced an IndyCar, passed Rookie Orientation at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year during a test session. At the time, Busch was more or less testing the Dallara DW12 for fun.
Busch will be the fourth driver to attempt the Indianapolis-Charlotte double. John Andretti was the first driver to attempt it in 1994. After finishing four laps down in tenth in Indianapolis, Andretti crashed and had engine problems in the 600. Robby Gordon has attempted the double five times, most recently in 2004. However, Gordon failed to make it to Charlotte on time and did not start the 600 in 2000 (P.J. Jones started Gordon’s No. 13 Ford in that instance). Finally, Tony Stewart has attempted the double twice (most recently in 2001) and is the only driver to ever complete all 1100 miles. Neither of the three drivers has won either leg of the double. The best finishes are Stewart and Gordon’s sixth-place finishes at the Indianapolis 500 (although Gordon’s came in 2000, the year he didn’t make it to Charlotte in time to start the Coca-Cola 600), and Stewart’s fourth-place finish in the 2001 Coca-Cola 600.
Danica Patrick, Justin Allgaier Talk About Phoenix Incident
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
A disappointing start to the year for Danica Patrick won’t include continued conflict. Patrick met with rookie Justin Allgaier Sunday, shortly after the Phoenix Cup race after a wreck ruined both drivers’ days. Patrick, who was critical of the No. 51 car on the radio, claiming Allgaier was “driving all over the track” appeared receptive to a conversation that quickly settled differences over what will be a long season.
“She was just upset because she got involved in the crash that we had,’’ said Allgaier to the Motor Racing Network. “She says she’s been through this and that she felt like I needed to settle down at that point. I explained my position on why everything happened. I think she understood where I was coming from. It doesn’t fix either one of our racecars. It doesn’t fix either one of our days. Unfortunately, we were both having pretty decent days.’’
Allgaier wound up 30th due to the incident while Patrick was 36th. The incident, which was caused by Allgaier’s spin also involved the No. 32 team and Travis Kvapil, which wound up 38th after sustaining heavy damage.
Camping World Close to Extending Title Sponsorship of NCWTS
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Marcus Lemonis, CEO of Camping World, Grand Marshal of Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway, and star of CNBC’s “The Profit,” made the announcement over the weekend that the retailer is very close to announcing a deal that would continue its title sponsorship of NASCAR’s Truck Series. The original agreement with NASCAR is scheduled to conclude after the 2015 season.
According to the sanctioning body, no formal contract has been signed, but “the agreement between the two parties has proven to be a beneficial one.”
“In about a month, we’ll be announcing a significant extension to that contract. It’s been great for us,” said Camping World’s Lemonis in a statement. “The NASCAR relationship has worked well for Camping World. When we started, we had 35 stores. Now, we’re up to 120 stores. As we travel the country and we meet new customers in stores, they always are very appreciative of our relationship with NASCAR. It’s been good.”
Gaining a long-term commitment from Camping World to sponsor the Truck Series would be a relief for NASCAR, which is set to lose Nationwide Insurance as title sponsor for the NASCAR Nationwide Series at the end of the 2014 season. The sponsorship of the Cup Series by Sprint runs through 2016.
The NCWTS is back in action on March 29th at 2:30 PM (ET) when the trucks visit Martinsville Speedway in the Kroger 250, which can be seen on Fox Sports 1. Ratings for the season opener were up 11 percent.
Harvick Takes Win At Phoenix In Second Race With New Team
posted by Justin Tucker
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Phoenix International Raceway has become Kevin Harvick’s home away from home. Sunday Afternoon was no exception as Harvick charged to the front early and would dominate for much of the day, leading 224 of the scheduled 312 laps to record his record fifth win on the one mile oval and his third win in the last four races at Phoenix.
Harvick, coming off of a disappointing Speedweeks which was capped by a last lap crash in the Daytona 500 in his debut with Stewart-Haas Racing, set the tone on Saturday by winning both practices while having the best 5 and 10-lap averages in the first practice of the day on Saturday. On Sunday, Harvick and his No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet was nothing short of flawless as he was able to hold Dale Earnhardt, Jr. by .489 seconds after a late race restart to claim his 24th career Sprint Cup Series victory.
“Man, this is awesome,” Harvick said after his dominant victory on Sunday. “Man, this just solidifies so many things and so many decisions. It’s been so much work with all the time and effort that these guys (the crew) have put in—but what a race car.”
Stewart Haas Racing co-owner Gene Haas shared in Harvick’s excitement after the race.
“It took long enough,” Haas joked. “This is phenomenal. I think there was a lot of skepticism last year about what myself and Tony (Stewart) what we were up to, was there a lot of madness to this. Quite frankly, it’s a great team, there’s a lot of synergy at the shop, people working together. I don’t know what we did, but I think we put together a great organization.”
Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt, Jr. continued his hot start to the 2014 season. Earnhardt Jr. would finish second on Sunday, marking his seventh consecutive top 10 finish since the end of the 2013 season. Earnhardt Jr. was pleased with the effort after a coast-to-coast whirlwind week after winning his second Daytona 500 and also gave great praise to the efforts of Harvick and the No. 4 team.
“I’ve got to congratulate Kevin. Those guys were two-tenths faster than everyone all weekend in practice. They were just phenomenal,” Earnhardt said. “To be able to run with them all day was a big confidence builder for us.”
Joining Harvick and Earnhardt in the top 5 of The Profit on CNBC 500K were Brad Keselowski with his second consecutive top 3 run of 2014 in third. Keselowski’s Team Penske teammate Joey Logano would finish fourth, and Jeff Gordon would come home fifth in his No. 24 Pepsi Max Chevrolet.
Jimmie Johnson finished in sixth, followed by Ryan Newman with a nice rebound after Daytona in seventh. Carl Edwards would carry the banner for Roush Fenway Racing by finishing eighth, Kyle Busch was ninth, and Jamie McMurray would finish tenth.
A look at the Profit on CNBC 500K by the numbers. There were 14 lead changes among eight different drivers, there were eight cautions for 39 laps which slowed the race pace to 109.229 MPH.
Next Sunday, the Sprint Cup Series heads to Sin City and the Las Vegas Motor
Starting Lineup: The Profit On CNBC 500K
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday March 1, 2014
Drivers in RED (i) are those ineligible to collect Sprint Cup points
Daytona 500 TV Ratings Down
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Wednesday February 26, 2014
What was the longest weather delay in Daytona 500 history turned out to bring NASCAR lower ratings and TV viewership Sunday night than expected. According to a report Monday from FOX Sports, the 56th running of the Daytona 500 airing at 8 PM (ET) posted a 5.6/10 national household rating/share which averaged 9.3 million viewers. That’s down 44 percent from last year’s 9.9, easily making it the least-watched Daytona 500 of all-time.
Due to the six-hour, twenty-two minute rain delay in Daytona, the race was up against the primetime coverage of the Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony from Sochi, Russia on NBC (15.25 million viewers). FOX also reported that 69% of the pre-rain delay viewers of the race, which began at 1 PM (ET) kept tuning in.
In comparison, the 2013 Daytona 500 on FOX was the most-watched race in five years, posting a 9.9/22 rating/share, commanding 16.7 million viewers. The Daytona 500 in 2012, the first to ever be run on a Monday and in the primetime slot did a 7.7/13 overnight rating/share which resulted in 13.67 million households viewing the race according to Nielsen TV ratings data.
Earnhardt, Jr. Claims Second Daytona 500 Victory
posted by Justin Tucker
Wednesday February 26, 2014
Ten years is a long time. For Dale Earnhardt, Jr., it felt like an eternity. NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver endured many near misses and close calls at the Daytona 500 since his only win in the Great American Race in 2004. Earnhardt had finished second in two of his last three Daytona 500s coming into Sunday’s race. He was also riding the tail of a 55-race winless streak, dating back to Michigan in 2012.
However nothing would stop Dale Jr. on Sunday, not even a 6 hour and 22 minute rain delay from capturing his second Daytona 500 win. Earnhardt Jr. led a race-high 54 laps on the evening and used some timely drafting help from teammates Jimmie Johnson and, on the final restart, Jeff Gordon to separate from the pack and secure the victory.
“Winning this race is the greatest feeling that you could feel in this sport besides accepting the trophy for the championship,” said a jubilant Earnhardt after pulling into Victory Lane. “We could fight off battle after battle. We got a little help at the end there from Jeff to get away on the restart. This is amazing. I can’t believe this is happening. I never take this for granted, man because it doesn’t happen twice, let alone once.”
Aside from the race itself the big story of the race was the 6 hour and 22 minute red flag, which threatened to move the race to Monday evening (had the race been postponed, FOX Sports’ Chris Myers had tweeted that the race would resume at 5:00pm EST). However, Mother Nature would cooperate and would allow the race to be run under different conditions from which they practiced this week. Once the race resumed, the intensity picked up from the changing track conditions. This allowed the pack to race side-by-side and at times 3-wide up to seven rows deep.
Joining Earnhardt Jr. in the top 5 for the 2014 Daytona 500 were: Denny Hamlin who closed out a spectacular Speedweeks in second, Brad Keselowski in third, Jeff Gordon in fourth, and Jimmie Johnson who overcome two wrecks leading up to the 500 in fifth.
Rounding out the top 10 in the Daytona 500 were Matt Kenseth in sixth, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. in seventh and Greg Biffle would bring his No. 16 Ford home in eighth. Austin Dillon would come home ninth in his first Cup Series race in the iconic No. 3 for Richard Childress Racing, while Casey Mears would round out the top 10.
A couple of major contenders for the Daytona 500 win would see their hopes dashed early on as Martin Truex, Jr. would blow up just 30 laps into the race, relegating him to a 43rd-place finish in his debut for Furniture Row Racing. Crew chief Todd Berrier was already in Nashville for a test session before the race was even over. Kyle Busch, meanwhile would have a pit road violation just before halfway and would spend much of the race battling back from that mistake. Busch would eventually finish 19th after leading 19 laps.
Danica Patrick would also be bit by bad luck as she was caught up in a multi-car wreck on lap 145. Patrick would lead her second consecutive Daytona 500, but wouldn’t have the finish to show for it finishing 40th. Tony Stewart would encounter a frustrating evening as well, with a fuel pickup problem derailing his quest for his first Daytona 500 win. Stewart would finish 35th.
A look at the Daytona 500 by the numbers. There were 42 lead changes among 18 drivers, while seven cautions for 39 laps would slow the race pace to 145.290 MPH.
Next week, the Sprint Cup Series heads to the “diamond in the desert,” Phoenix International Raceway for The Profit on CNBC 500K. The Green flag is scheduled for 3:15pm EST.
Nationwide Series Post-Race Quotes: Drive4COPD 300
posted by Thomas Bowles
Tuesday February 25, 2014
Frontstretch Interviews – Courtesy Mike Neff
ELLIOTT SADLER – FINISHED 4th
Thoughts on the race?
It’s definitely a lot different racing than what we’re used to.
Comfortable with it?
Yeah, it’s just different. You’re worried about what you’re doing, but you’re also worried about what everyone else is doing and they’re not doing more than you’re doing. Physically pushing a guy is way better than just riding so you just gotta time it right and push it to the edge.
Happy to start the year with a top 5?
Yeah. Hell, that was the worst we ran all day, I think. I have no idea how they put the 3 car in front of us on that last restart. I hadn’t seen the 3 car hardly all day. When they put us from fifth to sixth, on the outside line, it just really boxed us in. I would have really restarted behind my teammate and given him a good push to the front. Anyways, it is what it is; we’ll take it and move on.
Looked like you were up front all day.
The guys did a good job. We had a fast race car. Great pit stops, just really proud of these guys. The car’s in one piece and we can take it to Talladega now. Great job by my guys. A lot of effort came into coming down here to Daytona and giving ourselves a shot to win. We had that chance to be up front and make some things happen. Fifth is not what we want, but we’ll take it and move on.
Bumping vs Pushing?
It’s way harder. You don’t want to lay on the guy in front of you, so it’s tough racing. A lot different than what we’re used to, ‘cause you gotta go. You gotta drag the brake too ‘cause you don’t want to hit the guys and you don’t want to stay on him. It’s a lot harder mentally than what we’ve done in the past.
Car was strong all day. Pushing vs. Bumping, is that harder to do than just getting on somebody and pushing them?
Yeah, it is a little bit. When you bump ‘em, you jar ‘em, it kinda jacks ‘em a little bit. It’s a little more abrupt, obviously. I thought it was OK there at the end. It was certainly fun and hopefully entertaining. But a little bit of a struggle in the early part of the race and the midpart of the race to see a good race. And that’s unfortunate for the fans. You can’t do that the whole race, you can’t tear up your stuff, knock your grill in, overheat your motor, all that stuff so there’s no sense in doing all that until you get down to the last lap. The 7 and the 6, they did a good job. Man, the 7 really held the 22 and I tight on the bottom. I was rubbing his door and hitting the apron at the same time, no room whatsoever. So it was good; wish we were the ones who could have won but a lot better now than what we were last year.
Going home in one piece makes it a lot better, right?
Yeah. My back feels good. My foot feels good. Past years here, I’ve been going home with pain so I’m alright.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Truck Series Post-Race Quotes: Daytona (Exclusives)
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday February 22, 2014
When you’re on the outside like that, how frustrating is it?
It’s so hard. Timothy Peters has won here. Kyle Busch has won everywhere. Ron Hornaday has been running Trucks forever, probably before I was even born. I was surrounded by veterans there, and like I told them I don’t have a rookie stripe but I’m a rookie. This is only my fourth Truck race ever, my fourth superspeedway race, and man, I figured out when the 17 got up in front of me, I pushed him. And as soon as I pushed him, he took off. And I went with him. And I just kept doing it, and before I knew it, he was leading. And I saw Ron in my mirror, backed up to him, and if it wasn’t for him, I don’t know what would have happened. I gotta thank him big time for that. That was a true teammate move right there. I really appreciate that. He just bounced off me and we got to the front. I tried my hardest to sidedraft Kyle. I was probably touching his door.
Top 5 in the No. 30 truck. This deal come together at the last minute, but you had a heck of a truck. Tell us about your night.
Yeah, I’ve got to thank Turner Scott Motorsports. The guys worked so hard on this Rheem Comfort Products Chevrolet. Exciting! Just got hung up on the outside and had to wait for my teammate there to catch up. And then he got to the bottom, so… I got the old 32 and started pushing ol’ Ryan to the front. So, it’s not bad. We’ll take it. You just don’t want to step over that boundary. You don’t know how far to push and shove. We bumped about six times down the straightaway without latching onto them. Hopefully, that was OK and we came home with a top 5.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Budweiser Duels Post Race Quotes
posted by Matt Stallknecht
Friday February 21, 2014
BUDWEISER DUELS POST-RACE QUOTES
They’re saying the wheel bearing burned up in it. I don’t know what caused it, they’re taking it all apart to figure out what the heck happened. Something abnormal that’s for sure I don’t think I’ve ever had that happen at all. Hopefully, we made the race and hopefully we can fix the problem before Sunday.
WHAT WAS THAT LOUD BOOM ONCE YOU TURNED INTO THE GARAGE?
Loud pop was a tire… thankfully, it popped, hopefully it didn’t hurt anybody. All the heat created in the left front that popped was pretty weird.
REALLY GOOD RUN. WHAT DID YOU THINK OF IT?
Yeah, it was good. We have a car we can work with for the 500. Got a good starting spot, so we’re going to rest easy, fluff and buff our car for a couple of days and get ready for Sunday.
ANY DIFFERENCE ON WHETHER THE TOP OR BOTTOM LANE WORKED?
Yeah, I was just moving around, trying to stay with the flow. For me, this car works on all parts of the racetrack. So I’m pretty happy with it.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.
GOT SHUFFLED BACK, AFTER PIT STOPS AND THEN COULDN’T GET BACK UP TO THE FRONT. WHY?
Nah, we were just sitting there waiting until the last few laps to make a move. You didn’t want to pull down and get sent to the back. Seen a couple of guys get sent to the back really quick so we were just kind of waiting for the end. I felt like we had a good situation there with Ambrose behind us — we had a good run off Turn 2 and I went. It was the last lap, time to go do something, nobody went with us but hopefully Sunday is a different story.
We got a great car. We don’t have to work hard. We learned, we got a good race car. Got a car in one piece, ready to go so we’ll try and get through the next couple of practices, deliver it to the starting group this Sunday and we’ll be real happy.
YOU’RE IN THE DAYTONA 500!
Yeah, it’s pretty awesome. This Whitetail Chevrolet was so fast that I knew all I had to do was stick it behind smart, intelligent drafters and we could have a good finish. That’s what we did in the Duels and I’m excited. I’m excited to go do some stuff with the Nationwide car and have some more practice with this. But to know that we’re locked in the Daytona 500’s pretty cool.
YOU WERE OBVIOUSLY IN FRONT OF THAT MELEE AT THE END. WHEN YOU WERE UP FRONT THERE IN THE BEGINNING, WERE YOU HOPING TO JUST STAY IN LINE AND LET YOU FINISH TOP 5?
I was pretty content to ride and luckily I knew a lot of people around us were. It was nice to have a little calm and not really have to be racing hard the whole time. I knew that the pit stop was going to shake everything up and that’s exactly what happened. Fell back a little bit there but made the right moves at the end to get a good finish.
HOW STRONG ARE THESE RCR CARS?
They’re very strong! They definitely have the capabilities to be winning one of these races.
YOU’RE IN THE TOP 5 FOR YOUR HEAT IN THE DAYTONA 500. YOUR PRIMARY CAR IS SITTING RIGHT IN THE GARAGE, KIND OF WADDED UP. DID YOU THINK THIS ONE HAD IT IN IT?
Yeah, it’s a brand new car also. It’s just not quite as good as the primary but still a damned good car. I’m just proud of everybody at RCR for building such fast race cars. All of our cars have been fast, ECR motor’s been strong, even our affiliate teams have been qualifying really good and racing good. So… excited about 2014! It’s going to be a good year.
WELL MAN, YOU STARTED IN THE BACK BUT WORKED YOUR WAY TO THE FRONT WHEN IT COUNTED MOST. WERE YOU JUST BIDING YOUR TIME THROUGHOUT THE RACE?
Eh, you never know if you’re going to get back up there or not. We had to start at the back, we had to make a run early and see what we could do. We drove right to 10th, or something like that and then it got stagnant. We tried to make something happen, and went to the back again. Drove back up to the front. Again, just really proud of my guys. Matt Kruder did a hell of a job on that pit stop getting just enough gas in to gain some spots there.
RCR CARS SEEM PRETTY DARNED STRONG. DO YOU THINK THE RCR CARS HAVE SOMETHING FOR THEM ON SUNDAY — ESPECIALLY THE THREE JOE GIBBS RACING CARS THAT SEEM TO BE THE CLASS OF THE FIELD RIGHT NOW?
Oh yeah. The 20 car was extremely fast. The 11 didn’t qualify that good, but he’s a good drafter. I think he won. We definitely have something for him.
Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
Matt McLaughlin · Monday June 11, 2012
The Key Moment – With under four laps to go, race leader Mark Martin bobbled just enough that second place Joey Logano was able to execute a perfect bump and run to retake the lead.
In a Nutshell – A new track surface, a new race distance, and the youngest and oldest Cup drivers competing hammer and tongs for a win.
Dramatic Moment – The final ten laps featured some of the best racing of the season. It sure did look like Martin (who isn’t competing for a title) and Logano (who only had an outside chance of making it to the Chase prior to his win) were actually battling for the victory, not just willing to settle for a good points day.
What They’ll Be Talking About Around the Water Cooler This Week
OK, less is more. The 400-mile race Sunday was better than most of the recent 500-mile ones held at Pocono, especially in the middle stages. This year’s event took just three hours, three minutes; but wouldn’t 300-mile races here be even better still?
Zone 10, the final timed segment on pit lane became something of a Twilight Zone on Sunday afternoon. 22 penalties were issued for speeding and nineteen of them occurred in that single segment. Something had to be amiss. (Or perhaps NASCAR hired the East Brandywine police department to enforce the speeding rules. I’m told today there was no speed trap on Horseshoe Pike for the first time since Christmas Day.)
Editor’s Note: That final segment was part of an expansion of timing lines at Pocono, from nine to ten that occurred during the repaving this offseason. Crew chiefs confirmed they were notified of the changes, given a detailed diagram and several mapped out pit road for their drivers. Speculation on the incident from NASCAR teams, at press time ranged from faulty wiring to the “pit out” line drawn in the wrong place (some teams speculated by as much as ten feet) or even straight-up driver error. However, NASCAR Vice President of Competition Robin Pemberton vehemently denied there were any problems, telling Jeff Gluck of SB Nation and others, “There’s nothing wrong with the loops. There’s a time to pass over them, [they] calculate the speed and that’s the end of it. Pretty simple.”
Anyone else notice with the speeds at Pocono a lot of the teams had their cars dog-tracking again? (In other words, the body is skewed off-center from the chassis.) At Michigan next week, you’ll probably be able to read the numbers off the door standing dead straight ahead of those cars.
Why do the caution periods have to be so long at Pocono? It takes two and a half minutes for the pace car to circuit the track with the field in tow. That ought to be plenty of time to grab an errant piece of debris; instead, three cautions to clean it all up took an average of about five laps apiece. Oh, and whatever brand of oil dry they use at Pocono, it’s time to switch to something else.
Good manners “refrains” me from dwelling too long on this week’s one-race suspension Kurt Busch earned for his postrace comments to the press after the Nationwide race at Dover. I’ve watched a lot of “fans” pile on the reporter involved, but here’s the deal. If a driver feels a question is inappropriate or leading, how difficult is it to simply reply, “I have no comment on that?” It’s a lot more social than expressing a wish to do somebody bodily harm. Secondly, I hate this notion that Busch isn’t hurting anyone but himself. Busch’s attitude is keeping the No. 51 team from signing a sponsor and that puts the jobs of those hard-working guys and gals at James Finch’s shop at risk. My guess on how this one plays out tomorrow (Tuesday) when Finch and Busch have their “come to Jesus” meeting to discuss what happens going forward? Busch will keep the ride but he’ll lose it before August for mouthing off on the radio yet again. The former Cup champion’s career has suffered a fatal, self-inflicted wound; it’s just going to take a few weeks to bleed out.
Speaking of self-inflicted wounds… why the hell was qualifying allowed to start on Saturday with the track so covered with Speedy-Dry that clouds were forming behind the cars as they entered Turn 1 (and started a sideways trip towards the outside wall.) C’mon, really, NASCAR is supposed to be a professional sport, right? If nothing else, they could have learned a lesson from the Daytona 500 and soaked the offending parts of Pocono with Tide.
In Friday practice, Stephen Leicht hit a woodland mammal out on the track he told his team he thought might have been a beaver. Fortunately, the car wasn’t too extensively damaged but Ward, I think there’s something wrong with the Beaver. Run-ins with wildlife aren’t uncommon at Pocono, with everything from squirrels and rabbits right up to whitetail deer having wandered onto the track during races. I’d say the most bizarre instance of “wild life” intruding on the track was a drunken fan, back in 1993 who decided to sprint across the speedway directly in the path of race leaders Kyle Petty and Davey Allison. Ward, I think there was something wrong with that fool as well. (Said rocket scientist then hopped over the wall and got lost in the woods. Seeking help, he set a signal fire which allowed State Police troopers to find him and place him under arrest.)
Anyone hear a rumor that Twitter and NASCAR have formed some sort of alliance? Yeah, talk about it has been so incessant this week even I figured out how to go look at the #NASCAR page. I felt like an adult attention deficit disorder sufferer at a really bad cocktail party. There were tons of people talking incessantly without saying much of anything. Though it’s still lost on me, I’m told one of the charms of this whole Twitter thing is the egalitarian nature of the medium. But with this #NASCAR tag, a Twitter team decides whose comments get posted and which don’t make the cut. They say they are “curating” the comments. I guess “curate” is French for “censoring.” Editor’s Note: NASCAR has maintained there is no censoring involved, as an algorithm goes into selecting the Tweets. No NASCAR employee was reportedly part of the actual Twitter selection process so as to maintain a sense of independence.
Vanilla Ice at a NASCAR race? Really? Vanilla Ice driving a late ’80s 5.0 Mustang convertible replete with the ugly ass “GT” batmobile body cladding and chromed wheels? I think I felt a little vomit in my throat. (But for the record, Mr. Ice was once a championship-caliber motocross racer.) I’m fearful Meatloaf might be the Grand Marshal at Michigan.
I guess I’ve never understood NASCAR, which bills itself as a family sport (and it is if you happen to be a member of the France family) being used to promote an R-Rated movie. That’s just me. I don’t understand domestic violence being used to sell fried chicken, either.
Ten teams employed a start-and-park strategy at Pocono, the most ever. Ever wonder why NASCAR doesn’t limit the field to 33 competitive entries to end this foolishness?
Even though he finished eighth, most of the email I’ve gotten so far about Pocono has been about Dale Earnhardt, Jr.’s incredibly awkward post-race interview. According to USA Today’s Nate Ryan, Junior thought the interview was taped, not live and an unruly fan looking for autographs distracted him to the point that he wanted to start over.
Yes, I heard the rumor that Jerry Springer is considering sponsoring the No. 51 team and Kurt Busch. Sounds to me like an adept marketing ploy by both Springer, to get his name out there and the Phoenix Racing team to remind folks they are looking for sponsorship. Sure, Kurt Busch in the Jerry Springer Chevy… with Lindsay Lohan filling in on weeks Busch is suspended.
The Hindenburg Award For Foul Fortune
For the second straight weekend, Kyle Busch’s efforts were derailed by engine failure. Busch was 30th in line when the pay window opened.
Greg Biffle led a lot of laps and clearly had a fast car before losing a cylinder and falling off the pace en route to a 24th-place finish.
Kasey Kahne charged into the top 10 late in the race only to slide sideways into Denny Hamlin. That apparently bent up the No. 5 car badly enough that eventually, Kahne lost a tire and slapped the wall hard. He wound up 29th in the final tally.
To finish first, first you have to finish. This obvious lesson was apparently lost on Aleks Gregory, who managed to wreck out on the pace laps in Saturday’s ARCA race.
Carl Edwards qualified for the outside pole but on the first lap got hit by Denny Hamlin from behind. That shoved a fender into his tire, though fortunately for the No. 99 team, a caution flew that same lap. Edwards then got nailed for speeding on pit road and an additional penalty for failing to line up where NASCAR directed him to do so for a restart. After that type of beginning, maybe an 11th-place finish wasn’t a complete disaster?
A questionable “fuel only” call by his crew chief late in the event sent Jeff Gordon back onto the track deep in the field. He eventually finished 19th. Yep, passing was difficult at Pocono but his teammate Earnhardt employed the same strategy and emerged from the pits just one position ahead of Gordon; in that case, the No. 88 went on to finish eighth.
AJ Allmendinger emerged from his car shaken and sore after a hard impact with the Turn 2 wall. He wound up 31st.
The “Seven Come Fore Eleven” Award For Fine Fortune
Jimmie Johnson was hit twice with pit road speeding penalties, then had his car get out from under him on a late restart, surrendering about a dozen positions. Still, he soldiered on and surged back to a fourth-place finish.
Despite hitting Edwards on the first lap and getting hit by Kahne late in the going, Hamlin still managed to finish fifth at one of his best tracks.
Clint Bowyer was yet another unfortunate recipient of a speeding penalty but he managed to drive on to a sixth-place result. It’s a lot easier when a third of the field has the same problem…
What’s the Points?
Kenseth takes over the championship lead after Pocono and is now ten points ahead of second-place Earnhardt. Former points leader Biffle slides down two spots to third after his engine woes. Hamlin and Johnson hold station in fourth and fifth places, respectively, with more than a full race’s cushion on eleventh-place Carl Edwards.
Kevin Harvick (+1), Martin Truex, Jr. (-1), Stewart, Bowyer (+1) and Keselowski (+1) round out the top 10 in the standings. Kyle Busch, whose mechanical problems had him tumbling three spots now moves to the first “wild card” position in 12th place. Paul Menard leapfrogs up three spots to 13th in the standings, still winless and would miss the Chase if the season ended now along with Edwards. The second “wild card” position is actually a tie; Ryan Newman and Logano have the same number of points, but Newman’s extra top-5 finish is enough to give him the edge.
Further back, Kahne’s wreck dropped him two spots to 16th. Teammate Gordon’s still mired at 22nd in the standings (down a spot from last week), just ten points ahead of Martin who has sat out three races this season.
Overall Rating (On a scale of one to six beer cans, with one being a stinker and a six-pack an instant classic) — I’ll give this one four icy cold bottles of Corona with a Gentleman JD chaser added for the final ten laps.
Next Up – The Cup series heads off for a Father’s Day weekend stop in the Irish Hills of Michigan. It’s the second straight visit to a track that’s been newly repaved.
©2000 - 2008 Matt McLaughlin and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
I am ECSTATIC for Joey Logano! Congratulations on your first, over the finish line win!
Lots of good stuff here, but none for Kurt Busch. Whatever dreams he may have had in his head about being asked by Coach Gibbs to take Joey’s place next year (under the Gibbs / John Riggins reasoning) are now done.
As for the Twitter thing I have a bit of investment advice if anyone is interested in getting rich: be quick and copyright/register the spelled out/spoken phrase “Hashtag NASCAR” even if you have to change your name to “Hashtag NASCAR” do it. It was used extensively on the Sunday broadcast and I expect it will be in the future perhaps to the point will begin to believe that is the sport’s name. If a similar thing could happen to Vince Furnier it can happen to NASCAR.
Wow, I thought I was the only one that noticed the cars “crab-walking” again, because I never heard anyone mention it. Thanks Matt!
i noticed the “crab walking” a week or so ago. thought it was odd how the rear-ends were crabbing again.
i was wondering what was wrong with jr….it looked to me like he had a gut full of ulcers during that post-race interview.
“Anyone else notice with the speeds at Pocono a lot of the teams had their cars dog-tracking again?” – Wondered if it was just me. First noticed it on Fri during qualifying when Speed focused on Reutimann’s car while discussing Kurt’s suspension. Also, if Pocono continues w/that boring looking trophy, the least they could do is wrap it with a Schaefer tall boy decal as a throwback to Pocono’s beginnings. Schaefer: The one beer when you’re having more than one.
Really good race—how ironic that we’d be this far into the season and saying that POCONO had the best race so far!?
Great finish, and I’m a lifetime, die-hard Mark Martin fan. That was as good as racing gets, and good proof that when you generally reduce corner speeds, and put handling back in the driver’s hands instead of pure aerodynamics, it doesn’t matter how fast the track is overall.
But watch your back Joey, Mark Martin doesn’t forget. ;)
“There were tons of people talking incessantly without saying much of anything.”
One of the announcers said that Johnson needed a caution to get closer to the front. How long after that did he get one?
How many more speeding penalties were there after the drivers stopped accelerating at the wrong line? NASCAR told and showed everyone where the lines were before the race. It seems they were accelerating before they got to the yellow line at the end of pit road. There was a yellow line at the start of pit road too. DUH!
Why was Larry Mac back on TNT? I noticed @hollywoodham wasn’t.
Ever wonder why NASCAR doesn’t limit the field to 33 competitive entries to end this foolishness?
I thought that was because the ‘broadcast partners’ were guaranteed full fields for each race, otherwise there would be financial penalties…
And as far as Kurt Busch goes, has there been a faster case of a driver going from champion to toxic than him? It doesn’t even seem like drugs are involved…
You whoa down to 55mph at the line entering pit road and you accelerate after you get to the line exiting pit road. Unless there was a sensor beyond the exit line on pit road, all speeding penalties seem valid to me. This business of telling the drivers where the sensors are seems ridiculous to me, but maybe I’m missing something here. If so, someone explain it to me.
Re: “NASCAR has maintained there is no censoring involved, as an algorithm goes into selecting the Tweets. “
What’s to keep them from setting the algorithm up to ignore phrases like: “boring race”, “fake debris”, etc.. It is still being censored, it’s just being done by a pre-defined program instead of human eyes.
Why did those caution laps take so long? I don’t know but it sure seemed like NASCAR wanted to take fuel mileage out of the equation by running so many caution laps. Which was great for those that took a chance but not so great for those who played it safe. I’m not a big fan of fuel mileage races but we were robbed of a nail-biting last couple of laps.
were these drivers “tweeting” during the race? i know here in GA, texting and driving is illegal. i’d think tweeting is same as texting. i see the tweeting during race as being a distraction for the driver, even if he tells their spotter “tweet this or that”.
also, sensors are on pit road, if you get busted speeding between two, you’re busted. use to be where you’d slow down to enter the pits, maintain pit road speed, and then floor it when you hit the end of pit road. now it’s manipulating the sensors in pit road. kind of like racing between redlights on a city street. racing between sensors is too much tought into driver making a pit stop in addition to getting in the pit box the correct way. guess i’m just getting old and don’t like to think so much.
Bill B, I so agree with you, it hurts! They don’t need a person to employ censorship, just someone who can write appropriate code.
I, too, was amazed that NASCAR let that caution go on so long. I only wonder why they manipulated so that the fair haired boy didn’t win.
If there is one thing that offends me with NASCAR it’s when they think their fans are too stupid to tell when someone is p*ssing on their head and telling them it’s raining.
Glad I wasn’t the only one that noticed the long caution periods. Does Nascar really have to open pit road every caution, especially when they have only run 5 laps. I’m thinking Nascar needs to go back to the old days regarding pit road. Keep it open all the time (unless there is a safety issue) and let the chips fall where they may. This might add some excitement to a sport that badly needs some too.
I was pleasantly surprised at the racing. Tony Stewart mentioned it was very hard to pass, but it looked like there was some passing going on. Could it be the fact that TNT actually showed battles on the track maybe?
How come the newsletter said Kyle Busch at Kentucky was the last win-from-the-pole driver and Matt says it was Ryan Newman?
Bill B, in a word, yes, NASCAR does think the fans are that stupid. This isn’t 1960 and the fans are already tech savvy – probably more than NASCAR itself.
Just like Pemberton calling the fans “needy” for wanting to see the debris.
Is that rain I feel? LOL
Matt, maybe the questionable decision by Jeff Gordon’s team to pit him has to do with the fact that he has the worst crew chief when it comes to race strategy? As a result, I wouldn’t expect to see Gordon near the front at the end of the next two races either, because for different reasons, strategy will be involved.
And I can’t figure out why the debris cautions took 10-15 minutes. On a debris caution, or a caution for a minor spin, NASCAR usually opens the pits for all cars by calling a “quickie caution”, meaning all cars can pit, regardless of their standing in the race.
But Steve, keeping the pits open when the caution is thrown can (and usually did) cause major scoring problems, which is why the rule closing the pits when the caution comes out was instituted in the first place. Often the leaders would pit when the caution was thrown, which allowed others to make up laps by not pitting. Rusty Walace once made up two laps in the 1989 Daytona 500 by doing so.
Another problem with keeping th pits open when the caution is thrown is that when some of the leaders pitted, NASCAR didn’t even know who the leader was. In the 1986 Daytona 500, there was such an instance and actually caused three drivers (A.J. Foyt, Rick Wilson, and Lake Speed) to be penalized one lap in the 1986 Daytona 500, because the pace car driver didn’t know who the leader was.
Re: Kevin In So Cal, Matt M. is correct. Correction to come in tomorrow’s Newsletter, Jeff was off. The irony to this whole record is the last two victories from the pole came in back-to-back races: Kyle Busch in Kentucky and then Ryan Newman at Loudon the week after.
Maybe the cautions are dragged out to allow for more commercials. Maybe.
Making up laps under caution, isn’t that the wave around we have now?
This was one of the best Pocono races I’ve seen. Shortening the race 100 miles turned out to be a great decision, similar to when California Speedway’s race was reduced to 400 miles.
Matt, Glad to hear someone else is offended by that atrocious KFC ad.
#NASCAR is like inviting your parents to listen in on the upstairs extension…when there was such a thing!
Hey maybe Joey Logano can take some of his winnings and buy Tim Bainey Jr. a new race car
My guess on the pit road speeding problem – it is a factor of time elapsed over distance. The time they get from the transponders and the distance is already programmed into the computer – what if transposed digits so the distance used in the calculation was feet short of the real distance? Having the wrong distance would give an inaccurate speed…and NASCAR only said “There was nothing wrong with the loops”. They never said that the entire process to calculate speed was correct!!