Kurt Busch to Attempt The Indianapolis-Charlotte Double
posted by Phil Allaway
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Andretti Autosport announced this morning that Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet in the Sprint Cup Series, will attempt the Indianapolis 500 in a fifth entry for the IndyCar Series team. Once the Indianapolis 500 is completed, Busch will fly from Indianapolis to Charlotte, jump in his No. 41 Chevrolet and compete in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Busch considers the opportunity to do the double as an old-school throwback moment.
“This is really to challenge myself within motorsports,” Busch said in Andretti Autosport’s press release. “Perhaps I am a bit of an old-school racer; a throwback, I guess. I enjoyed the era of drivers racing different cars and testing themselves in other series. It is tough to do now for a variety of factors, but when the opportunity is there, I want to do it. While NASCAR is my home, I have been fortunate to compete in Pro Stock on the NHRA circuit a number of years ago and test a V8 Supercar. This opportunity was a talk with Michael [Andretti] over dinner one night, a “What if,” and now it’s becoming a reality for me to drive in the Indy 500 with Andretti Autosport. It’s literally a dream come true. To go to the famous Brickyard with the iconic Andretti name, it doesn’t get much cooler or better than that.”
Busch will be doing the Indianapolis-Charlotte double as a Memorial Day mission to men and women serving in the U.S. Military via the Armed Forces Foundation. Fans can contribute to the cause by texting AFF to 50555 to donate $10.
Busch, who has never raced an IndyCar, passed Rookie Orientation at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year during a test session. At the time, Busch was more or less testing the Dallara DW12 for fun.
Busch will be the fourth driver to attempt the Indianapolis-Charlotte double. John Andretti was the first driver to attempt it in 1994. After finishing four laps down in tenth in Indianapolis, Andretti crashed and had engine problems in the 600. Robby Gordon has attempted the double five times, most recently in 2004. However, Gordon failed to make it to Charlotte on time and did not start the 600 in 2000 (P.J. Jones started Gordon’s No. 13 Ford in that instance). Finally, Tony Stewart has attempted the double twice (most recently in 2001) and is the only driver to ever complete all 1100 miles. Neither of the three drivers has won either leg of the double. The best finishes are Stewart and Gordon’s sixth-place finishes at the Indianapolis 500 (although Gordon’s came in 2000, the year he didn’t make it to Charlotte in time to start the Coca-Cola 600), and Stewart’s fourth-place finish in the 2001 Coca-Cola 600.
Danica Patrick, Justin Allgaier Talk About Phoenix Incident
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
A disappointing start to the year for Danica Patrick won’t include continued conflict. Patrick met with rookie Justin Allgaier Sunday, shortly after the Phoenix Cup race after a wreck ruined both drivers’ days. Patrick, who was critical of the No. 51 car on the radio, claiming Allgaier was “driving all over the track” appeared receptive to a conversation that quickly settled differences over what will be a long season.
“She was just upset because she got involved in the crash that we had,’’ said Allgaier to the Motor Racing Network. “She says she’s been through this and that she felt like I needed to settle down at that point. I explained my position on why everything happened. I think she understood where I was coming from. It doesn’t fix either one of our racecars. It doesn’t fix either one of our days. Unfortunately, we were both having pretty decent days.’’
Allgaier wound up 30th due to the incident while Patrick was 36th. The incident, which was caused by Allgaier’s spin also involved the No. 32 team and Travis Kvapil, which wound up 38th after sustaining heavy damage.
Camping World Close to Extending Title Sponsorship of NCWTS
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Marcus Lemonis, CEO of Camping World, Grand Marshal of Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway, and star of CNBC’s “The Profit,” made the announcement over the weekend that the retailer is very close to announcing a deal that would continue its title sponsorship of NASCAR’s Truck Series. The original agreement with NASCAR is scheduled to conclude after the 2015 season.
According to the sanctioning body, no formal contract has been signed, but “the agreement between the two parties has proven to be a beneficial one.”
“In about a month, we’ll be announcing a significant extension to that contract. It’s been great for us,” said Camping World’s Lemonis in a statement. “The NASCAR relationship has worked well for Camping World. When we started, we had 35 stores. Now, we’re up to 120 stores. As we travel the country and we meet new customers in stores, they always are very appreciative of our relationship with NASCAR. It’s been good.”
Gaining a long-term commitment from Camping World to sponsor the Truck Series would be a relief for NASCAR, which is set to lose Nationwide Insurance as title sponsor for the NASCAR Nationwide Series at the end of the 2014 season. The sponsorship of the Cup Series by Sprint runs through 2016.
The NCWTS is back in action on March 29th at 2:30 PM (ET) when the trucks visit Martinsville Speedway in the Kroger 250, which can be seen on Fox Sports 1. Ratings for the season opener were up 11 percent.
Harvick Takes Win At Phoenix In Second Race With New Team
posted by Justin Tucker
Monday March 3, 2014
Phoenix International Raceway has become Kevin Harvick’s home away from home. Sunday Afternoon was no exception as Harvick charged to the front early and would dominate for much of the day, leading 224 of the scheduled 312 laps to record his record fifth win on the one mile oval and his third win in the last four races at Phoenix.
Harvick, coming off of a disappointing Speedweeks which was capped by a last lap crash in the Daytona 500 in his debut with Stewart-Haas Racing, set the tone on Saturday by winning both practices while having the best 5 and 10-lap averages in the first practice of the day on Saturday. On Sunday, Harvick and his No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet was nothing short of flawless as he was able to hold Dale Earnhardt, Jr. by .489 seconds after a late race restart to claim his 24th career Sprint Cup Series victory.
“Man, this is awesome,” Harvick said after his dominant victory on Sunday. “Man, this just solidifies so many things and so many decisions. It’s been so much work with all the time and effort that these guys (the crew) have put in—but what a race car.”
Stewart Haas Racing co-owner Gene Haas shared in Harvick’s excitement after the race.
“It took long enough,” Haas joked. “This is phenomenal. I think there was a lot of skepticism last year about what myself and Tony (Stewart) what we were up to, was there a lot of madness to this. Quite frankly, it’s a great team, there’s a lot of synergy at the shop, people working together. I don’t know what we did, but I think we put together a great organization.”
Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt, Jr. continued his hot start to the 2014 season. Earnhardt Jr. would finish second on Sunday, marking his seventh consecutive top 10 finish since the end of the 2013 season. Earnhardt Jr. was pleased with the effort after a coast-to-coast whirlwind week after winning his second Daytona 500 and also gave great praise to the efforts of Harvick and the No. 4 team.
“I’ve got to congratulate Kevin. Those guys were two-tenths faster than everyone all weekend in practice. They were just phenomenal,” Earnhardt said. “To be able to run with them all day was a big confidence builder for us.”
Joining Harvick and Earnhardt in the top 5 of The Profit on CNBC 500K were Brad Keselowski with his second consecutive top 3 run of 2014 in third. Keselowski’s Team Penske teammate Joey Logano would finish fourth, and Jeff Gordon would come home fifth in his No. 24 Pepsi Max Chevrolet.
Jimmie Johnson finished in sixth, followed by Ryan Newman with a nice rebound after Daytona in seventh. Carl Edwards would carry the banner for Roush Fenway Racing by finishing eighth, Kyle Busch was ninth, and Jamie McMurray would finish tenth.
A look at the Profit on CNBC 500K by the numbers. There were 14 lead changes among eight different drivers, there were eight cautions for 39 laps which slowed the race pace to 109.229 MPH.
Next Sunday, the Sprint Cup Series heads to Sin City and the Las Vegas Motor
Starting Lineup: The Profit On CNBC 500K
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday March 1, 2014
Drivers in RED (i) are those ineligible to collect Sprint Cup points
Daytona 500 TV Ratings Down
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Wednesday February 26, 2014
What was the longest weather delay in Daytona 500 history turned out to bring NASCAR lower ratings and TV viewership Sunday night than expected. According to a report Monday from FOX Sports, the 56th running of the Daytona 500 airing at 8 PM (ET) posted a 5.6/10 national household rating/share which averaged 9.3 million viewers. That’s down 44 percent from last year’s 9.9, easily making it the least-watched Daytona 500 of all-time.
Due to the six-hour, twenty-two minute rain delay in Daytona, the race was up against the primetime coverage of the Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony from Sochi, Russia on NBC (15.25 million viewers). FOX also reported that 69% of the pre-rain delay viewers of the race, which began at 1 PM (ET) kept tuning in.
In comparison, the 2013 Daytona 500 on FOX was the most-watched race in five years, posting a 9.9/22 rating/share, commanding 16.7 million viewers. The Daytona 500 in 2012, the first to ever be run on a Monday and in the primetime slot did a 7.7/13 overnight rating/share which resulted in 13.67 million households viewing the race according to Nielsen TV ratings data.
Earnhardt, Jr. Claims Second Daytona 500 Victory
posted by Justin Tucker
Wednesday February 26, 2014
Ten years is a long time. For Dale Earnhardt, Jr., it felt like an eternity. NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver endured many near misses and close calls at the Daytona 500 since his only win in the Great American Race in 2004. Earnhardt had finished second in two of his last three Daytona 500s coming into Sunday’s race. He was also riding the tail of a 55-race winless streak, dating back to Michigan in 2012.
However nothing would stop Dale Jr. on Sunday, not even a 6 hour and 22 minute rain delay from capturing his second Daytona 500 win. Earnhardt Jr. led a race-high 54 laps on the evening and used some timely drafting help from teammates Jimmie Johnson and, on the final restart, Jeff Gordon to separate from the pack and secure the victory.
“Winning this race is the greatest feeling that you could feel in this sport besides accepting the trophy for the championship,” said a jubilant Earnhardt after pulling into Victory Lane. “We could fight off battle after battle. We got a little help at the end there from Jeff to get away on the restart. This is amazing. I can’t believe this is happening. I never take this for granted, man because it doesn’t happen twice, let alone once.”
Aside from the race itself the big story of the race was the 6 hour and 22 minute red flag, which threatened to move the race to Monday evening (had the race been postponed, FOX Sports’ Chris Myers had tweeted that the race would resume at 5:00pm EST). However, Mother Nature would cooperate and would allow the race to be run under different conditions from which they practiced this week. Once the race resumed, the intensity picked up from the changing track conditions. This allowed the pack to race side-by-side and at times 3-wide up to seven rows deep.
Joining Earnhardt Jr. in the top 5 for the 2014 Daytona 500 were: Denny Hamlin who closed out a spectacular Speedweeks in second, Brad Keselowski in third, Jeff Gordon in fourth, and Jimmie Johnson who overcome two wrecks leading up to the 500 in fifth.
Rounding out the top 10 in the Daytona 500 were Matt Kenseth in sixth, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. in seventh and Greg Biffle would bring his No. 16 Ford home in eighth. Austin Dillon would come home ninth in his first Cup Series race in the iconic No. 3 for Richard Childress Racing, while Casey Mears would round out the top 10.
A couple of major contenders for the Daytona 500 win would see their hopes dashed early on as Martin Truex, Jr. would blow up just 30 laps into the race, relegating him to a 43rd-place finish in his debut for Furniture Row Racing. Crew chief Todd Berrier was already in Nashville for a test session before the race was even over. Kyle Busch, meanwhile would have a pit road violation just before halfway and would spend much of the race battling back from that mistake. Busch would eventually finish 19th after leading 19 laps.
Danica Patrick would also be bit by bad luck as she was caught up in a multi-car wreck on lap 145. Patrick would lead her second consecutive Daytona 500, but wouldn’t have the finish to show for it finishing 40th. Tony Stewart would encounter a frustrating evening as well, with a fuel pickup problem derailing his quest for his first Daytona 500 win. Stewart would finish 35th.
A look at the Daytona 500 by the numbers. There were 42 lead changes among 18 drivers, while seven cautions for 39 laps would slow the race pace to 145.290 MPH.
Next week, the Sprint Cup Series heads to the “diamond in the desert,” Phoenix International Raceway for The Profit on CNBC 500K. The Green flag is scheduled for 3:15pm EST.
Nationwide Series Post-Race Quotes: Drive4COPD 300
posted by Thomas Bowles
Tuesday February 25, 2014
Frontstretch Interviews – Courtesy Mike Neff
ELLIOTT SADLER – FINISHED 4th
Thoughts on the race?
It’s definitely a lot different racing than what we’re used to.
Comfortable with it?
Yeah, it’s just different. You’re worried about what you’re doing, but you’re also worried about what everyone else is doing and they’re not doing more than you’re doing. Physically pushing a guy is way better than just riding so you just gotta time it right and push it to the edge.
Happy to start the year with a top 5?
Yeah. Hell, that was the worst we ran all day, I think. I have no idea how they put the 3 car in front of us on that last restart. I hadn’t seen the 3 car hardly all day. When they put us from fifth to sixth, on the outside line, it just really boxed us in. I would have really restarted behind my teammate and given him a good push to the front. Anyways, it is what it is; we’ll take it and move on.
Looked like you were up front all day.
The guys did a good job. We had a fast race car. Great pit stops, just really proud of these guys. The car’s in one piece and we can take it to Talladega now. Great job by my guys. A lot of effort came into coming down here to Daytona and giving ourselves a shot to win. We had that chance to be up front and make some things happen. Fifth is not what we want, but we’ll take it and move on.
Bumping vs Pushing?
It’s way harder. You don’t want to lay on the guy in front of you, so it’s tough racing. A lot different than what we’re used to, ‘cause you gotta go. You gotta drag the brake too ‘cause you don’t want to hit the guys and you don’t want to stay on him. It’s a lot harder mentally than what we’ve done in the past.
Car was strong all day. Pushing vs. Bumping, is that harder to do than just getting on somebody and pushing them?
Yeah, it is a little bit. When you bump ‘em, you jar ‘em, it kinda jacks ‘em a little bit. It’s a little more abrupt, obviously. I thought it was OK there at the end. It was certainly fun and hopefully entertaining. But a little bit of a struggle in the early part of the race and the midpart of the race to see a good race. And that’s unfortunate for the fans. You can’t do that the whole race, you can’t tear up your stuff, knock your grill in, overheat your motor, all that stuff so there’s no sense in doing all that until you get down to the last lap. The 7 and the 6, they did a good job. Man, the 7 really held the 22 and I tight on the bottom. I was rubbing his door and hitting the apron at the same time, no room whatsoever. So it was good; wish we were the ones who could have won but a lot better now than what we were last year.
Going home in one piece makes it a lot better, right?
Yeah. My back feels good. My foot feels good. Past years here, I’ve been going home with pain so I’m alright.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Truck Series Post-Race Quotes: Daytona (Exclusives)
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday February 22, 2014
When you’re on the outside like that, how frustrating is it?
It’s so hard. Timothy Peters has won here. Kyle Busch has won everywhere. Ron Hornaday has been running Trucks forever, probably before I was even born. I was surrounded by veterans there, and like I told them I don’t have a rookie stripe but I’m a rookie. This is only my fourth Truck race ever, my fourth superspeedway race, and man, I figured out when the 17 got up in front of me, I pushed him. And as soon as I pushed him, he took off. And I went with him. And I just kept doing it, and before I knew it, he was leading. And I saw Ron in my mirror, backed up to him, and if it wasn’t for him, I don’t know what would have happened. I gotta thank him big time for that. That was a true teammate move right there. I really appreciate that. He just bounced off me and we got to the front. I tried my hardest to sidedraft Kyle. I was probably touching his door.
Top 5 in the No. 30 truck. This deal come together at the last minute, but you had a heck of a truck. Tell us about your night.
Yeah, I’ve got to thank Turner Scott Motorsports. The guys worked so hard on this Rheem Comfort Products Chevrolet. Exciting! Just got hung up on the outside and had to wait for my teammate there to catch up. And then he got to the bottom, so… I got the old 32 and started pushing ol’ Ryan to the front. So, it’s not bad. We’ll take it. You just don’t want to step over that boundary. You don’t know how far to push and shove. We bumped about six times down the straightaway without latching onto them. Hopefully, that was OK and we came home with a top 5.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Budweiser Duels Post Race Quotes
posted by Matt Stallknecht
Friday February 21, 2014
BUDWEISER DUELS POST-RACE QUOTES
They’re saying the wheel bearing burned up in it. I don’t know what caused it, they’re taking it all apart to figure out what the heck happened. Something abnormal that’s for sure I don’t think I’ve ever had that happen at all. Hopefully, we made the race and hopefully we can fix the problem before Sunday.
WHAT WAS THAT LOUD BOOM ONCE YOU TURNED INTO THE GARAGE?
Loud pop was a tire… thankfully, it popped, hopefully it didn’t hurt anybody. All the heat created in the left front that popped was pretty weird.
REALLY GOOD RUN. WHAT DID YOU THINK OF IT?
Yeah, it was good. We have a car we can work with for the 500. Got a good starting spot, so we’re going to rest easy, fluff and buff our car for a couple of days and get ready for Sunday.
ANY DIFFERENCE ON WHETHER THE TOP OR BOTTOM LANE WORKED?
Yeah, I was just moving around, trying to stay with the flow. For me, this car works on all parts of the racetrack. So I’m pretty happy with it.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.
GOT SHUFFLED BACK, AFTER PIT STOPS AND THEN COULDN’T GET BACK UP TO THE FRONT. WHY?
Nah, we were just sitting there waiting until the last few laps to make a move. You didn’t want to pull down and get sent to the back. Seen a couple of guys get sent to the back really quick so we were just kind of waiting for the end. I felt like we had a good situation there with Ambrose behind us — we had a good run off Turn 2 and I went. It was the last lap, time to go do something, nobody went with us but hopefully Sunday is a different story.
We got a great car. We don’t have to work hard. We learned, we got a good race car. Got a car in one piece, ready to go so we’ll try and get through the next couple of practices, deliver it to the starting group this Sunday and we’ll be real happy.
YOU’RE IN THE DAYTONA 500!
Yeah, it’s pretty awesome. This Whitetail Chevrolet was so fast that I knew all I had to do was stick it behind smart, intelligent drafters and we could have a good finish. That’s what we did in the Duels and I’m excited. I’m excited to go do some stuff with the Nationwide car and have some more practice with this. But to know that we’re locked in the Daytona 500’s pretty cool.
YOU WERE OBVIOUSLY IN FRONT OF THAT MELEE AT THE END. WHEN YOU WERE UP FRONT THERE IN THE BEGINNING, WERE YOU HOPING TO JUST STAY IN LINE AND LET YOU FINISH TOP 5?
I was pretty content to ride and luckily I knew a lot of people around us were. It was nice to have a little calm and not really have to be racing hard the whole time. I knew that the pit stop was going to shake everything up and that’s exactly what happened. Fell back a little bit there but made the right moves at the end to get a good finish.
HOW STRONG ARE THESE RCR CARS?
They’re very strong! They definitely have the capabilities to be winning one of these races.
YOU’RE IN THE TOP 5 FOR YOUR HEAT IN THE DAYTONA 500. YOUR PRIMARY CAR IS SITTING RIGHT IN THE GARAGE, KIND OF WADDED UP. DID YOU THINK THIS ONE HAD IT IN IT?
Yeah, it’s a brand new car also. It’s just not quite as good as the primary but still a damned good car. I’m just proud of everybody at RCR for building such fast race cars. All of our cars have been fast, ECR motor’s been strong, even our affiliate teams have been qualifying really good and racing good. So… excited about 2014! It’s going to be a good year.
WELL MAN, YOU STARTED IN THE BACK BUT WORKED YOUR WAY TO THE FRONT WHEN IT COUNTED MOST. WERE YOU JUST BIDING YOUR TIME THROUGHOUT THE RACE?
Eh, you never know if you’re going to get back up there or not. We had to start at the back, we had to make a run early and see what we could do. We drove right to 10th, or something like that and then it got stagnant. We tried to make something happen, and went to the back again. Drove back up to the front. Again, just really proud of my guys. Matt Kruder did a hell of a job on that pit stop getting just enough gas in to gain some spots there.
RCR CARS SEEM PRETTY DARNED STRONG. DO YOU THINK THE RCR CARS HAVE SOMETHING FOR THEM ON SUNDAY — ESPECIALLY THE THREE JOE GIBBS RACING CARS THAT SEEM TO BE THE CLASS OF THE FIELD RIGHT NOW?
Oh yeah. The 20 car was extremely fast. The 11 didn’t qualify that good, but he’s a good drafter. I think he won. We definitely have something for him.
Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
Mike Neff · Monday June 25, 2012
Editor’s Note: Matt McLaughlin is off this week. He’ll be back next Monday for Kentucky.
The Key Moment – Michael Waltrip Racing had a coming out party at Sonoma. The organization led 86 of the 112 laps with Clint Bowyer doing the majority of the work with 71 of those 86 laps. The race went two extra circuits thanks to a late-race spin but Bowyer held off charges from Kurt Busch and Tony Stewart over the last two spins around the road course to notch his sixth victory of his career and third in the history of MWR.
In a Nutshell – Between an incessant amount of commercials and a serious lack of attention to detail by TNT, a tremendously boring road course race was somewhat salvaged by a late-race flurry of heated racing at the front of the field. The first 82 laps of the race went caution-free and the timing of that first caution gave several teams, including Tony Stewart, an opportunity to throw on fresh skins for the final run to the checkered flag. When the green went in the air with 26 laps to go, Busch put an all out assault on the lead and Bowyer withstood the attack at each and every turn. As the laps were winding toward the end, Stewart carved his way toward the front and needed a caution flag to make a final charge possible. That yellow flew with three laps to go and lined Stewart up behind Bowyer for the final double-file restart. As the cars thundered through the first two turns, Bowyer was able to hold off Busch, who forced his way down in front of Stewart and made one final rush toward the lead. Unfortunately, he had a failure in the rear end of his car that rendered his car nearly undriveable. Stewart got around Busch on the final lap but ran out of time to put on a serious charge into the final hairpin, which allowed Bowyer to log his sixth victory of his career and first with MWR.
Dramatic Moment – Busch put his car in contention to win late in the race and had the potential to make a pass on Bowyer but made contact with the tires on the inside of turn 11 late. The contact damaged his right front suspension and rear end, basically ending his chance to win the race and knocking him back to third by the finish.
What They’ll be Talking About Around the Water Cooler on Monday
What some were billing as a kick, scratch and gouge battle to the finish turned into a parade with only five spins occurring during the race (three of which were not shown on television) and one accident which brought out the first caution of the race on lap 83. With the constant talk this year about the lack of cautions and overall aggressive driving, the twists and turns of Sonoma didn’t do anything to appease the “only watch for the crashes” crowd.
Commercials pay the bills for television but when the people watching the race telecast are taking out stopwatches and timing the amount of racing between commercials, there just might be a few too many. The average amount of race time for the first 82 laps of the race between commercials was in the neighborhood of three minutes. The commercial time was slightly less than that. While the 18-minute stretch of action at the end of the race might have increased the total coverage time of the broadcast, it was hard to swallow after being subjected to the barrage of early commercials.
In the past, a driver could overcome the car at road courses if the team missed it on the setup but the current crop of drivers is so much better at road racing now that it no longer is possible. Marcos Ambrose set a new track record in qualifying and led the first 11 laps of the race. From then on, he was constantly battling with an ill-handling car and had to pull a rabbit out of the hat to come home in eighth place. The thought that Ambrose would guarantee a spot in the Chase with two road course wins is out the door now and he’ll need to score that elusive oval victory to have a shot at a wildcard berth in the Chase.
Continuing to prove that road course ringers have passed their usefulness Boris Said was the highest finishing hired gun for the road race at Sonoma. Said crossed the line in 29th position two laps down.
Kurt Busch came within a bump and run from being the first unsponsored car to win a Cup Series race since Richard Nixon was president.
The Indycar Series finally took an unprecedented step this weekend and actually held heat races for qualifying for one of the elite national touring racing series. NASCAR constantly takes heat for their top 35 rule and the socialist system that ensures teams make it into races every week. Heat races would be the ideal solution to allow all of the teams to race and only the drivers who earned it the opportunity to race in the main event.
For another weekend the Nationwide Series only had 43 cars show up to attempt to run in their race. It is a shame that the number two series in the NASCAR pecking order is unable to attract enough cars to have even one be bumped out of the field. Technically there were 44 at Road America but one withdrew before qualifying. On the plus side, only five cars developed the dreaded overheating, vibrating, brake ignition before lap five.
The Hindenburg Awards for Foul Fortune
Denny Hamlin managed to have another malfunctioning race car at Sonoma. For the third year in a row the only positive thing for Hamlin out of his trip to Wine Country was the fact that his travel expenses are less thanks to his relocation to Arizona.
Kyle Busch managed to come home in 17th but his car was laying down on him at the end of the race for the fourth race in a row. While there isn’t much chance that he and his brother switched bodies before the race, his tirade on the radio near the end of the race was as close to his brother’s monkey and football reference at Richmond as it can get. For those fans who remember A.J. Foyt climbing out of the car at Indianapolis and calling it a tub of S$##, Busch referred to his several hundred thousand dollar stock car as a bucket of F$#%.
Regan Smith wasn’t having the best day at Sonoma when he was dumped during the first lap of the G-W-C finish. Smith was already a lap down and ended up not only getting dumped and tearing up his race car, but didn’t get to make it back to the finish line for either of the last two laps.
After winning at Michigan last week Dale Earnhardt, Jr. was poised to win 20 of the remaining 21 races on the schedule, but he knew that a top-10 finish at Sonoma would be bigger than another trophy on the shelf. Earnhardt did have the No. 88 poised for a possible 10th or better finish at Sonoma before Jeff Burton gave him the impetus for a roundy round on the next-to-last lap. Fortunately for Burton he won’t be in the series too much longer to have to deal with the hate mail from Junior Nation.
The Seven Come For Eleven Award for Fine Fortune
Tony Stewart was on a three stop strategy and was looking like he’d be well behind the two stop teams before the only real caution of the race flew. Fortunately for Stewart, he was able to get fresh skins and fuel and then put on an assault to the front of the field that resulted in a second-place finish.
AJ Allmendinger was not only on a three stop strategy but, after leaving the pits from the third stop, his crew chief came on the radio and told him that he was still two laps short on fuel. Luckily for Allmendinger the caution came out and he was ultimately able to parlay his talents into a ninth place finish.
Kurt Busch side swiped one of the groups of tires in turn 11 at Sonoma which, in prior years, were not affixed to the track. While the tires didn’t move and they caused some damage to Busch’s car, it wasn’t enough to prevent him from coming home with a podium finish.
Not that long ago, Michael Waltrip Racing equipment was a bit less than top of the line. Luckily for Clint Bowyer it has made a substantial step forward in 2012 and the result is he is going to most likely make the Chase while his former employer is going to be lucky to have one car make the playoffs.
What’s the Points?
Matt Kenseth is still in the lead, extending his advantage over second place to 11 points which is now occupied by Greg Biffle after Earnhardt, Jr.’s misfortune during the G-W-C finish. Earnhardt is now in third, 14 points back and well within striking distance. Jimmie Johnson held onto the fourth spot, 25 behind Kenseth.
Tony Stewart jumped up three spots with his runner-up finish and is now just a mere 63 points from taking over the points lead. Harvick holds serve in the sixth spot while Bowyer rides his victory to a two-spot jump to seventh in the points. Denny Hamlin’s bad luck dropped him three positions to eighth, while Martin Truex’s late race spin-o-rama cause him to slide two. Brad Keselowski continues to occupy the 10th spot in points.
Kyle Busch and Ryan Newman still occupy the Wild Card spots for the Chase.
While Jeff Gordon failed to visit Victory Lane, he’s now 18th in points. If he is able to notch two wins, he should be a lock for the Chase at this point, but two wins is far from an easy task.
Overall Rating (On a scale of one to six beer cans, with one being a stinker and a six pack an instant classic) — This one was on the verge of being a rancid, skunky can of six-year-old Schmidt before the final 25 laps of the race. Kurt Busch’s run at Bowyer and Tony Stewart’s final lap charge added a small amount of life, but just a little. Give this one a whole two cans of cold Anheuser-Busch product thanks to that late-race excitement. The lack of people making banzai runs into the hairpin or muscling their way ahead of others in the esses prevents it from getting anything more.
Next Up — This week the series heads to the Bluegrass State to Kentucky Speedway. The folks at Kentucky and SMI have invested a truckload of money and time to try and alleviate the parking maladies that befell the event last season. Provided another mile-and-a-half cookie cutter race with tires that don’t wear out doesn’t scare you away, it should be a fun way to spend a Saturday night.
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I seem to remember that Alan Kulwicki won a race in an unsponsored car right before Hooters signed on. Maybe it was a runner-up finish. My memory ain’t what it used to be. As a long-forgotten stand-up comic once said, “A mind is a terrible thing.”
Credit where credit is due… I’ve said Kurt Busch is a punk for quite a while now, but if not for him, this may have been the most boring road race in a long time. And after the race, even though he was frustrated he didn’t bite the head off of any baby kittens or reporters.
Was Carl Edwards even in the race yesterday? Does Bob Osborne still have a job?
This is why I record the races. I commented to my wife (after using the amazing fast forward button) how often the commercials seemed to be popping up. I guess TNT has to get in as many as possible before their “Wide Open” coverage at Daytona in a couple of weeks. I must disagree on the racing though. I’ll give this one 4 cans due to the technicality of the course. On road courses, I don’t mind so much when it gets strung because you still have the drama of “will someone make a mistake”. These guys can drive ovals in their sleep. You won’t see a guy spin out while leading by 5 seconds in the final 5 laps on an oval. I believe Mr. 5 time did just that at Watkins Glen a few years back. Also, isn’t it refreshing to see a a spin not bring out a caution…
Carl, I remember that comedian, he had “Dain Bramage”! That was a classic bit. Bob Nelson was his name and he went on to have several bit acting parts on screen and TV.
The commercials are killing my interest. I joined in with 50 laps to go and it seemed like 15 minutes before I saw any racing. Maybe a sponsor could just pay to have a camera on their car for 2 minutes or something. With all the signage and cars, drivers and the track covered with sponsorship the whole thing is like one big commercial…then they have commercial
I was actually hoping for a caution free race as long as it didn’t go fuel mileage. At least it would be a true race, with the fastest car, best strategy, getting the win.
Edwards was running twelfth when the last caution came out. After the drivers went brain-dead during the gwc he wound up in the twenties. Just like his whole season so far.
I watched the telecast of the 1986 second race at Atlanta (when it was a real race track – an oval) on ESPN Classic and saw everything that is wrong with the current telecast. Most of the current complaints were not evident. No concentrating on the chosen few, showing racing all around the track, describing the action on the track and not following some script, etc. And they had real race cars that looked like the showroom models. What a concept! Thank you, Brian, for the progress.
Richie… Thanks for reminding me of Bob Nelson’s name. I youtubed his football routine and it’s still as hilarious as it was the first time I saw it.
Mike said: “His victory was the first for Michael Waltrip Racing since David Reutimann at Kentucky Raceway in 2010.”
Ok, I’m sorry to call you guys out on this, but what the hell? Kentucky wasnt even a Cup race in 2010, and Reutimann won at Chicago that year.
Thank you, Brian, for the progress.
Don – I am far from any kind of BF apologist; but, that ball was rolling long before he got a chance to kick it. I think his dad laid the foundation in the early 90’s, then when money started to play a larger factor in how the “show” was being run (think things like top 35 rules, broadcast rights, the chase, etc.), the powers in Daytona Beach couldn’t help ‘growing the product’ since it also grew wallet sizes too. I wonder if Bill Jr would have handled that differently if it all had started happening 5 years earlier… What I will blame BF for is the implication that the fans should stop saying s&!t when they smell it in the ‘product’. I get the sense that tarps don’t pay as much for seats as fans do…
I always enjoy pulling out tapes of races from the 80’s to watch. Winston Cup racing (yeah, I said it) usually represented the best of the best drivers that had earned their stripes in lower series to be considered for a ride. I won’t paint with too broad a brush here – I know there are younger drivers out there with some pedigree – but, back then it wasn’t about your marketability and q-factor as much as driving ability.
Plus I love seeing some of the older tracks, in previous incarnations – before the advent of luxury suites and beer gardens. I miss the shed roof at Darlington… :(
I love road course races but the TV coverage made this unwatchable. I was once again forced to resort to trackpass, twitter and the radio feed to get any decent information about what was happening on the course.
Isn’t TV supposed to be about pictures? I understand that commercials pay the bills but when there is no coverage when the commercials aren’t on either, why should I even bother to turn this junk on?
Apparently someone on Gordon’s team can’t calculate fuel milage – sheesh, the car that was fastest in all 3 practices runs out of gas on a segment? How poor is that?
Not only where the commercials bad, they then had to go to the 18th place car in car camera so they could advertise more.
Best Race Recap I’ve read in a long time. Are you sure that other guy is coming back next week?
Last year’s Southern 500 was won by a unsponsored car, as the car owner has his own businesses on it, not any entity outside of the ownership.
Carl, I don’t remember if Kulwicki had a win before Hooters signed up either. The last unsponsored car I remember winning at the Cup level was in 1985, when Greg Sacks won the Firecracker 400 in an unsponsored DiGard R&D car.
I was actually looking forward to TNT televising a few races. Not. The racing is bad enough, but the inept race broadcasting and the sheer amount of commercials make it look far worse then it is. There were so many commercials that by the end of the race I felt beat down and disdn’t watch the end of the race. And this is coming from a 30+ years fan. SOS!
I get so tired of the same commercials being shown every time they go to commercial. We are bombarded with TNT constantly patting themselves on the back. Is there any way that they could change the commercials, because what they are showing again and again is turning all of us into blithering idiots on raceday. Fast forward is a wonderful thing and I do not suppose the advertisers are happy about that. Oh Well, I do love my NASCAR Racing!
Taping is the only way! I really enjoyed the turns at Sonoma, Infineon Raceway and hope for another bent race track event in the future… and one in the Chase too! My wife blew my mind this weekend while I was watching the race as she pranced around the house in a spoof of the NASCAR logo tee shirt with the word BORING on the front! She picked it up at http://www.nascarwidows.com and it was quite funny. Can you imagine that, calling a road race track boring… oh well…
Frankly I was happy to see a mostly caution-free road course race. We haven’t had one in a long time. The problem wasn’t the lack of cautions, it was the lack of proper coverage from TNT. There was lots of great racing throughout the field and we saw NONE of it.
And if these guys need a reminder how to do it, they only have to look at SPEED. Unfortunately commercials are still pretty frequent, but the guys who cover GRAND-AM do an amazing job of letting you see everything happening throughout the top 10-15 or so.
How come Nascar didn’t throw the yellow when there was crap all over the track after Jr’s spin on the green flag lap of the green/white/checker. Nascar pulls the “safety” card when a cotton ball is on the track most weeks, but in this situation they don’t, and then wonder why they have a credibility issue with their fans.
Bob Nelson’s skit about the football player was great! Whatever happened to that guy.
Its definitely apparant that TNT, in order to do their wide open coverage at Daytona, has to make up for it with their other races by selling more commercial time.
@Steve Heck there was no reason for a full course caution when Paul Menard spun out. He was just sitting there because he was waiting for traffic to clear and it would have been a couple minutes before the leader got to that area of the track. But i guess GWC’s and the following destruction of equipment just looks really good for TV doesn’t it.